Chapter 38. Marvelous Marta

I’ll get it—I’m expecting someone from Westside Security,” Brian announced when the doorbell rang just before 7:30 the next morning.  He had just returned from taking Keller out.  Liz had long left for work. 

The three O’Connell children and the Martin twins at the breakfast table didn’t respond. They were in various stages of waking up and eating their scrambled eggs and toast.  

Brian was letting Kevin sleep in.  He needed the rest.  Marta would wake him up and give him breakfast and his meds when she came at 8. 

Brian ushered the Westside Security technician into the music room where the wires had been separated and discussed the incident with him for a few minutes. 

When he returned to the kitchen, Liam asked “Is that about the alarm going off last night? What happened?”  

“What alarm?” Sean asked.  I didn’t hear anything.

“Yeah,” Brian laughed.  “I guessed that you might not have heard it.  You’re a heavy sleeper.  Someone tried to open the window during the night to get in, and in doing so, separated the security system wires on the window, setting off the alarm.  The man is here today to reconnect the wires and to make sure they weren’t damaged.  No worries.  Probably just a homeless guy looking for a warm place to stay.”

“He did say that Hope Chapel discovered a middle-aged homeless man sleeping in the attic of their parish hall last week.  Apparently, the lock to the parish hall wasn’t secure, and he was getting in that way.  Someone at the church gave him a ride to Turn Around—and they replaced the locks.”  

Anna chimed in, “I know that place.  Liam and I volunteered there for our community service. We went with a group from Hope Chapel.  The church gets a group together once a month to make dinner and sack lunches for the residents. 

“Well,” Brian replied.  “It probably wasn’t the same guy who was at Hope Chapel. Whoever it was, the guy from Westside Security is repairing the wires on the window to keep us secure.” 

“Good morning, Marta,” Brian said, when Marta entered through the kitchen door. 

“Good morning, Mr. Brian.” 

Marta stowed her purse and jacket in the closet and rejoined them in the kitchen.  

She engaged the children in conversation as she went about her work. She had met the Martin twins during their prior stay, and welcomed them with a smile.

Sean was anxious to try his latest knock-knock joke on Marta.

“Marta, “knock, knock” Sean said.

Picking up the plates from the table, Marta responded, “Who’s there?”

“Doctor,” Sean replied.

“Doctor who?” Marta called, over her shoulder while putting the dishes in the sink.

“No, Doctor Strange!” Kevin chortled.

The kids–all aficionados of the classic BBC show Dr. Who—erupted into laugher, and Marta joined in. 


After Brian left to take Sean and Liam to school, and Anna and the Martin twins left, Marta went upstairs to wake Kevin up so that he could get ready for his lesson with Mr. Morris.  It wasn’t easy getting him out of bed—so she tried Sean’s knock-knock joke on him.  

That did the trick.  Kevin was a card-carrying member of the Dr. Who fan club and woke up laughing at the joke.  He stumbled out of bed into the bathroom, almost tripping over the too-long pajama bottoms.  

Watching him, Marta made a mental note to put the pj bottoms in Liz’s sewing center for hemming after she washed them.

While Marta was pulling clean clothes out of the closet to leave on Kevin’s bed for him, Keller was doing his part.  He had bitten on the end of one of Kevin’s running shoe laces and was pulling the shoe over to the side of the bed.   

“Good job, Keller!  Go get the other one,” Marta instructed, as she pulled a clean pair of socks from a drawer and stuffed them in the shoe.

Eager to please, Keller ran over to the other shoe and dragged it to the side of the bed next to first shoe.

Marta left Keller in Kevin’s room to keep him company while he dressed, and went downstairs to make him breakfast. 

Remembering that Kevin told her about the caper Keller pulled off on Tuesday when he applied his acrobatic abilities to jumping on a kitchen chair to access the table, she pushed in all of the dining room and kitchen chairs close to the tables to avoid a repeat performance.


Liz was drafting an ordinance in her downtown office when the email from the opposing counsel on the DDS case popped up on her screen. 

As expected, DDS filed an appeal of Judge Morales’ denial of their Petition for Writ of Mandate. Appeals were time consuming, but the City Attorney’s Office prided itself on handling their own appeals, instead of handing them off to outside counsel, as was the practice in many other municipal law offices. 

Liz wasn’t worried.  DDS had a very slim chance of prevailing on such an appeal, where the Superior Court judge had cited substantial evidence in support of her ruling. 

She had just pulled up DDS’s opening brief to print and review when her cell phone rang.

“Liz O’Connell,” she answered.

“Yes, I submitted an entry on behalf of a group of women—Sisters in Suffering.”  

“You’re kidding!  We won??”

“Well, great! Thank you!”

“Yes, I’ll contact the others and let them know.  When is the grand opening?

“Sunday, May 9th?  Isn’t that Mother’s Day?”

Liz ended the call—and immediately texted her SIS friends. 

“We won the naming contest for the Carnegie library shops—”The Old Library Nooks” will be the official name—but apparently the developer liked that it will probably be nicknamed ‘The Nooks.’ They want us at the Grand Opening on May 9th. Save the date! Yay!”


Brian called Liz a few minutes later on his way into his office after Abbey’s hearing.

“The hearing went as expected,” Brian reported.

“Is she out on bail?”

“She will be shortly. She is being processed, and Lou is driving her to her house.  Judge Chaffey set bail at $100,000, imposed house arrest pending her trial, required her to surrender her passport, and she will have to wear a SCRAM.”

“What’s that?” 

“It’s a Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor. It’s an ankle bracelet that detects when a person is drinking alcohol.  Don’t ask me how it works—something about reading perspiration on the skin.  The judge doesn’t want her drinking.  Period.”