Whatever Tomorrow Brings, continued

ACT TWO

March 1st – Thursday Evening

The same man who had visited Tanesha the previous night now stood beneath the protective cover of the overhang, just outside the glass doors of the fine restaurant that he had been dining in when he had received the telephone call.

Now, as he stood waiting, he rubbed his cold hands together to keep them warm, all the while keeping an eye on the flowing traffic before him on the wet streets.  The night was dark and rainy, downright chilling to the bones.  He really despised the fact that he had to be outside when he could have been inside, enjoying his evening and his dinner companion by the fireside table that he had been able to procure thanks to a little persuasion of the green variety.

Finally, just as he was seriously beginning to contemplate returning to the warmth of the establishment, the black limousine that he had been waiting for pulled up to the curb.  The back door swung open and he quickly darted from beneath the overhang and into the waiting vehicle.

He was scarcely settled on the leather seat when the car pulled out into the traffic flow and began to move down the street.  He eyed the occupants that were already inside and knew that they would be waiting a progress report.

Anxious to be out of their presence, he quickly brought them up to speed, assuring them that Tanesha was ready to take the next step.  Once he had finished, the eldest man spoke.

“I would hope that she is.”  Then he shook his head sadly.  “It would rather be a shame for such a pretty face to meet the same sort of mangling that Harvey did.”

“Regrettable,” said one of the other men.

With obviously no sympathy or remorse, the third man added, “That’s the breaks.”

“She’ll be fine.”

The eldest man tilted his head a little, perhaps in questioning of Tanesha’s abilities.

“She had best be.  Since learning that those files still existed and were never removed from the premises, everyone has been, how shall we say…a little anxious.  Because they are not in our hands, we need a little reassurance.”

“I still don’t understand.  They’re still in jail, how can those files be of any help?”

The eldest man laughed but it was not a particularly happy sound.

Technicalities, my boy, technicalities.  You do understand that one of the perks of belonging to our little club is access.  Access that includes a very good lawyer who, even now, is looking into that.  They might be serving jail time, but I rather doubt it will be as extended of a stay as what was originally planned.”

The elder man then leaned forward in his seat and gazed very intently across the vehicle, right into the eyes of their newest passenger.

“The existence of those files serves a multitude of purposes.  One of which can help determine how long our dear friends might stay in jail, as well as determining how much and how quickly we all get our dividends.  Now, you leave us to worry about what’s on the files and you just concentrate on doing your job.  Harvey didn’t quite get that concept, but I rather expect that you shall.”

He shook his head sadly before sliding the small interior window aside to speak to the driver.

“You can return to Le Jardin’s now.”

For several minutes as the limousine passed along the wet streets there was an eerie silence within the interior of the vehicle.  Not one of the occupants said a word.  Instead, they sat quietly and still, almost as if they were nothing more than some kind of robots awaiting their next command.

Finally, the vehicle came to a stop and when it did, the eldest man spoke one more time.

“Harvey was a bumbling idiot.  I rather suppose one should have expected nothing less from a good-for-nothing.  You, on the other hand, could achieve high expectations.  How high will all depend on you, my dear boy.”

He leaned over and clicked the lock mechanism of the door.

“Enjoy your evening,” he said as he nodded to their guest, who wasted no time in exiting the automobile.

For a few long and cold moments, he stood outside on the sidewalk, the falling rain bouncing off his trench coat as he watched the red taillights of the black vehicle roll away into the dark wet night.  If it were not for the money, he would seriously consider packing a few things and catching the next one-way flight out of DC.

*** SMK *** SMK ***

March 2nd – Friday morning

Lee sat at his desk in the Q-Bureau, enjoying his morning cup of coffee in the silence that surrounded him.  With Amanda’s due date rapidly approaching, Billy was earnestly trying to make good on his promise to keep Lee as far from the action and as close to home as was possible.

So far, so good for at the present there were only a few files taking up space in the bin on Lee’s desk.  He knew that they needed nothing more than some simple follow-ups, assignments that could easily be delegated to some of the newer rookies.  Lee simply needed to review them and then pass them out.

He had no more than snatched up the first file when the door opened and the morning peacefulness that had surrounded him dissipated as Billy entered the room.

After Billy had shut the door firmly behind him, Lee almost groaned as he took in his boss’s facial expression.  He recognized a new assignment headed his way as well as he knew his own name.

“I’m not going to like this, am I?”

“Depends,” Billy replied as he took the seat in front of Lee’s desk.  “The latest is that you’ve been designated to head up a security detail.”

Lee raised a questionable eyebrow.  This certainly was not the type of assignment that he wanted right now nor was it something that Billy would have willingly handed him.  No, Lee quickly surmised that someone else was in control of pulling these particular strings.

“How bad?”

“Do you remember the Prime Minister of Estoccia?”

Lee chuckled.

“Of course and yes, he arrives stateside tomorrow afternoon.”

“You knew?”

Lee grinned.

“I have my sources.  And I also know that Joe King’s picking him up at the airport tomorrow.”

“And you’re not worried?”

Lee shrugged.

“Should I be?”

“Maybe not.  To my knowledge there aren’t any false rumors about his death circulating around but someone dropped us some feelers.”

“Oh, come on Billy.  He’s here for basically nothing more than a vacation, a few small business matters to attend to.  He’s even bringing his son, Ja’Shaun.  He’s younger than Jamie but we’ve already arranged some time for the boys to hang out together, so they’ll be under my eye a good bit of the time.”

“Well, I guess since you’re already on top of it, you really were the right choice for the job.  I was, for the record, doing my best to keep your duty load light.”

“Ah,” Lee said.  “Let me guess, Smyth’s viewpoint on the weight of the duty load was a little different?”

Billy nodded.

“He rhymed something about past experiences and gurgles of brewing trouble before he disappeared with an annoying accompaniment of bubble gum popping.”

“Too bad they don’t make an eliminate stupid rhyming gum,” Lee suggested.

Billy smiled in agreement.

“Anyhow, just to let you know, I’ve already started Francine working on this for you.  Figured you’d appreciate a little help.”

“Sounds good to me.  You know the Prime Minister is considering enrolling his son in an American boarding school next year?  That’s one of the reasons for his visit.”

“Well, whatever the reasons, Smyth wants you to be the man in charge of keeping an eye on him.”

“Not a problem.”

Billy stood up.

“Leaving so soon?”

“Unlike some people,” Billy cast an eye over Scarecrow’s all but empty desk.  “I have work to do.”

Lee would have laughed at Billy’s comment as Melrose exited the Q-Bureau but the ringing of his telephone as the door swung shut behind his boss interrupted him.  Lee snatched the receiver up.

“Stetson.”

Aimee’s cheerful voice greeted him.

“Good morning Straw Man!”

“Hey Aimee?  What’s up?”

“Would you like a little insight on your enigma?”

“I’ll take that as a hint to come down to your universe?”

“Aye, aye captain.  That would be an affirmative.”

Lee hung up the telephone.  As he stood up, he glanced down at the files that he had planned on going through.  The rookies would just have to wait.

*** SMK ***

Tanesha was once again sitting at Kendra’s computer, rapidly typing away on some documents for Joe.  She stole a quick glance at her watch and realized that the signal would not be long in coming.  Mentally she calmed herself, counting slowly to ten as she pretended to review the papers that she had been entering data from.

She had reached nine when, right on the dot, Joe’s telephone rang.

“Yes?”

“Hello Lucy.”

“A package? ”

“No, no, that’s okay.  I’ll come down for it.  I need to stretch my legs anyhow.  Thanks.”

Joe hung up, then stood up.

“Tanesha, I’ve got to go down to reception to pick up a package.  I should be back in a few minutes.  Will you take any messages?”

“Sure,” she told him.  “Not a problem.”

Tanesha waited patiently for a few moments, just to be certain that Joe didn’t unexpectedly come back into the office.  Then she pulled the small plastic baggy from the pocket of her blazer.

In no time at all, she was at Joe’s desk, taking apart his telephone as she had been instructed.  With ease, she soon had the tiny device inserted and the telephone back together.

Joe King would never be the wiser.

*** SMK ***

A few minutes later, Scarecrow was seated at the desk in Aimee’s cubicle, looking at her computer screen.  The only problem was that the mess of characters, if that was what they could be called, meant absolutely nada to him.  Frowning, he swung around in the chair and looked at her.

“I don’t get it.”

“That’s the whole point,” Aimee informed him as she stood beside him, hand flying another one of her little spaceship models in the air in front of her.

“Encryption, file locks, this little baby has all the frills.”

“So, the disk isn’t damaged?”

She shook her head at him.

“Whoever created this went to an awful lot of bother to make sure that it would look that way to your average Joe though.”

“Yeah,” Lee said slowly as he thought about it.  “Something tells me that whatever is on there is more than average.  Look, is there any way to get into the data, to see what it really is?”

“Straw Man, there’s a lot of info on there.  I’m gonna need some more time.”

“By tomorrow morning?”

“Data I’m not and I’ve got no Geordi to fall back on,” she retorted somewhat skeptically to him.

“Huh?”

Aimee impatiently waved her hand in the air in front of him, motioning for him to vacate her chair.

“Never mind.  Look, I’ll see what I can do but honestly, this isn’t going to be easy.  Someone’s trying to cover their tracks and this is going to take a lot of Spock thought by the ton full.”

“Okay, okay,” Lee relented.  “So, I’ll owe you, even more.”

“Big time Straw Man, big time.”

“Sure.”  Lee stood up; his eyes still feeling crossed from staring at the screen of gibberish.  “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

He had turned to leave her cubicle and was almost past the walls when her voice spoke out.

“Ya know he had it all wrong, don’t you?”

“Who?”

“That fellow that wrote the story.  The Scarecrow shouldn’t have been asking for a brain, he should have been asking for a bigger pay check.”

Lee looked at her and grinned.

“I’ll see if the Wizard’s still taking requests.”

*** SMK ***

Later in the day, the telephone on Joe King’s desk rang.  Unbeknownst to him or the caller, somewhere else in the DC area an automatic recording device clicked into action to record every moment of the conversation.

“Joe King here.”

“Hey Joe, Lee.  Can you talk?”

“Sure.”

“Remember that disk that you gave me?”

“Yeah.  Did you find anything?”

“Not much, yet.  Though I can tell you that it isn’t damaged.”

“Really?  Do you know what’s on it?”

“Nah, too early to tell.  It’s padlocked or something.  Oh, Amanda said to tell you that the recruiter called back.  He wants to set up an appointment sometime next week.”

Joe laughed.

“I guess Phillip hasn’t changed his mind yet.  Okay, I’ll get with her later and we’ll set something up.  Thanks for updating me.”

“No problem.  Talk to you later.”

The telephone line went dead after the call completed and after about thirty seconds or so of silence, the automatic recorder shut itself off as well.  The man who had been secretly listening to the conversation leaned back in his leather chair, contemplating what he had just heard.

“I think we just hit pay dirt.”

He reached for his coffee mug and took a sip.

Indeed, if this were the same disk that they had been searching for, and he felt rather certain of it now, then it was of vital importance to regain possession of it.  Obviously, it was no longer in Joe King’s possession and more than likely was no longer within the walls of the EAO.

Complicating matters more was the fact that someone else was attempting to take a rather thorough look at it now.  If that individual managed to break their way into the files and do some research, a lot of names could be linked to things that were best kept secret from prying eyes.

He slammed his hand down upon his desk in irritation, causing the contents of his cup to spill out.

Damn Foster and Prescott for their bumbling stupidity.  If they would have gotten things right the first time both here and in Estoccia, they would not be scrambling now to try to resolve the issue.

It seemed that the hands of the clock were now ticking away faster than originally planned.  Depending on how skilled this unknown individual was they might even be at risk of running out of time too soon.

Now it seemed that they had to have a new plan of action and that plan was going to have to involve Joe King and whoever this Lee person was.

He reached for his telephone and began dialing.  It was time for some research of his own to be conducted and then, this time, he was going to make sure that things were done correctly.

ACT THREE

Late Friday Afternoon

Dotty West stood still in the doorway of the new nursery, amusedly watching her very pregnant daughter repeatedly fold the same baby blanket over and over.  Finally, not able to stand by quietly another moment more, Dotty decided to take matters into her own hands.

“Amanda, what in heaven’s name are you doing?”

Amanda turned to face her mother, unfolding the blanket in the process.

“I was trying to get things put away.”

Dotty sighed, then walked closer to Amanda and took the blanket from her.

“Amanda, trust me when I say this…there is nothing else left to do in here.”

Amanda glanced around the room, an anxious look on her face.

“Nothing left to do?  Mother, before we know it the baby will be here and since I don’t exactly have an exact arrival date, I have to make sure that everything is ready.  I can’t wait until the last minute.”

She walked over to the bassinet and then turned to face her mother again.

“We need to have the diapers and the blankets and the baby powder ready.”  Amanda moved over to the changing table, then shook her head.  “Do I have diaper rash cream?  Oh, I have to make sure that my bag for the hospital is packed and I really should defrost the refrigerator.  Have you looked inside it?  It’s a horrible mess.”

Despite herself, Dotty couldn’t help but laugh.

“Darling, there really isn’t anything left to do but wait.  The nursery, the clothes, the diapers…all of the bases are covered and trust me, I know a thing or two about this.”

“I guess.”

Amanda frowned as she looked around the room.

“I just want everything to be perfect.”

“And it will be,” Dotty reminded her as she folded the pastel colored blanket and then put it exactly where it needed to be for when the time came.

“Amanda, I know how hard it is.  You’re anxious and excited and probably more than ready enough for all of this to be over.”

Now Amanda smiled as she glanced down at her tummy.

“I guess you’re right and it is silly, I know.”

Dotty smiled at Amanda.

“You’re not being silly, dear.  It’s perfectly natural.  I remember how it was before I had you.  Your father simply couldn’t stand it.  He said that just watching me made him tired and he threatened to divorce me if I didn’t sit still.”

“Daddy wouldn’t have done that.”

Dotty smiled at the fond memory, and then she placed a comforting hand on Amanda’s arm.

“No, he was just teasing.  Besides, he was as anxious as I was.  Now, why don’t we go ahead and see about getting your hospital bag packed before the boys get home from school?”

*** SMK ***

Late Friday afternoon –

The back room of Vincent’s came at a high price but the men who were meeting there were the type who would hardly bat an eyebrow at the exorbitant cost.  The food and service were five-star and the swanky establishment afforded them the privacy that they desired without any questions.

They had gathered here for the latest update but waited patiently while the server situated their food and drinks on the table.  It was only after she left that they began their conversation.

The elder of the men was the first to speak.

“We have a dilemma, gentleman.”

They all nodded in unison but said nothing.  They were used to him being the man in control, their leader, and therefore, they waited patiently for him to continue.

“The disk is no longer within the walls and that leaves us in a very vulnerable position.”

The skinniest of the men pursed his lips together.

“Prescott is expecting a clean return.”

“So he is, my friend.  So he is.”

The elder man lifted his wineglass to his mouth and took a sip.

The shorter of the men then spoke.

“Plan of action?”

As their leader dabbed delicately at his lips with a pristine white napkin, he smiled.

“A plan of action?  Of course.”

Then he opened up a folder that sat just to the right of his dinner plate.  He pulled several sheets out and passed them to his nearest colleague, who in turn passed them onto the next until all possessed a copy.

Once they all had a sheet, the elder of the men spoke again.

“It’s really very simple.  We eliminate our, how shall we say, weaker links while obtaining a foothold within the new playing field.  Once the disk is back in our possession, we eliminate the entire field.  The new game plan is specifically laid out for you.  Please take a moment to review it and memorize your position.”

Silence fell upon the room as each of the men studied the sheet of paper they had been given.  Then, one by one, as they finished reading they looked back to their leader.

Once all eyes were focused back on him, he spoke again.

“By the time Prescott and Foster are released, the old playing field will have vanished without a trace.  No links, no mess.”

He raised his wineglass and the others followed suite.

“And you, my dear friends, your checkbooks will be substantially healthier.”

*** SMK ***

Sunday Evening –

The old large wooden desk where Aimee Delozier had her home computer stuff set up had taken on the appearance of a small disaster.  Several large manuals and a few note tablets with all manners of scribbling on the pages were scattered about.  A trail of pages had flowed from the printer down onto the floor and still, she had not quite cracked the nut.

An untold amount of time had passed since she had given up the battle with her long hair and haphazardly twisted it up on her head with her pencil.

Now, as she glanced at the screen yet one more time, she realized that her pencil was nowhere to be found and she needed it to jot down more notes.

“Where on earth?” she mumbled as she looked around.

Then, she slapped herself lightly on the forehead as she realized where her pencil was.

“I’ve been at this way too long,” she said aloud.  The only response she received back was the chiming from her clock, indicating that yet another hour had gone by.

She quickly realized that it was far later in the evening than what she had originally thought.  She had a telephone call to make.  Plucking the yellow post-it from the side of the monitor, she swirled around in her chair and grabbed the telephone.  Then, she yanked the pencil out of her hair so that she could use it to stab the buttons while she dialed.

As she waited for the telephone to be picked up, she hoped that she was not calling too late.

The telephone was picked up on the third ring, obviously by one of the boys.

“Lee Stetson please?”

Aimee bounced her head back and forth impatiently as she waited.

“Hello?”

“Hey Straw Man, it’s Aimee.”

“Hello there.”

“I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you.”

“As long as I understand what you’re saying, I’ll be happy.”

“Hint taken,” Aimee laughed.  “Well, to explain it in simple English, imagine you’re entering an embassy of some foreign country that you don’t speak the language of.  I’ve gotten past the front door and I can see all the available rooms, or rather folders.  The only problem is that each one of them is in an unknown language and I haven’t found my translator, yet.”

“Does that mean that you can eventually see what’s behind the doors?”

“In English?  Hopefully.  Anyhow, I just wanted to let you know that what I get done tonight will be it until Tuesday.  I’ve got an appointment with my dentist tomorrow, getting some dental work done so I’m taking the whole day off.”

“That’s fine.  To be honest, I’ll probably be at home tomorrow myself.  The boys are off school tomorrow and Tuesday anyhow for winter break and what I need to do for work can be done here.”

“Great.  As soon as I’ve got more, I’ll let you know.”

“Sounds good.  Thanks a lot.”

“You’re welcome.  Have a good night.”

Aimee heard the click as the line went dead and she hung up her own telephone.  She had to hand it to Lee.  Nothing was ever simple, whenever it came to Scarecrow.  Whoever had created this desk had gone to a lot of work, making it a challenge and a half.

Nonetheless, Aimee smiled.  Whoever they were, they had never anticipated it falling into her hands.  And she, as always, was more than ready to go boldly ahead and conquer.

She took another glance at the clock and then sighed.  She might regret it in the morning, but she wasn’t quite ready to give up.  Not yet.

“Warp twelve,” she mumbled as she stood up and headed to the kitchen.

ACT FOUR

Monday afternoon

The Arlington Mall

Despite the fact that it was Monday, the Arlington school districts were not in session.  At least not for the students, so what better way to spend the afternoon than to hang out at the mall?

The Prime Minister had agreed that it would be a wonderful way for his young son to get to know America better and so Phillip and Jamie had taken him to the local mall.  They had browsed for awhile at the record and then the bookstores, inhaled a few warm and tasty soft pretzels and guzzled a few sodas.  They, they had hung out inside the video arcade, playing several different games for a few hours.

Now they were on their way outside, exiting the mall to head towards Phillip’s car.  According to the weather report, heavy snowfall was expected to hit the area by dusk and Lee had given them firm orders to be home well before that.

Snow flurries were just now scattering about in the air, but so far, there had been no accumulation on the ground.  Knowing that they were well within their time limit and would be safely home before any accumulations began, they were laughing as they walked to the car.

Ja’Shaun especially had had a good time and, like so many other teenagers today, they didn’t have a worry other than deciding what type of pizza they wanted for dinner tonight.

As they neared the cherry red Mustang, Phillip pulled his keys out of the back pocket of his jeans.  He was just about ready to unlock the passenger door for Jamie and Ja’Shaun when a dirty green and white van with a floral delivery company logo painted on it pulled in beside them.

The van’s driver leaned his head out of the window and hollered over to them.

“Hey kid, excuse me but I’m lost.  Can you give me directions?”

“I guess so,” Phillip replied.  “Where to?”

The man looked down at the clipboard he was holding.

“The Martin Funeral Home.”

“Oh,” Phillip remarked.  “That’s easy Mister.”

Phillip turned and pointed to the mall exit at the far end of the lot.

“You just need to get back on the main road down there at the light.  Make a right, go down about four or five blocks.  You can’t miss it.  It’s on the right hand side.”

“Gee, thanks kid.”

“No problem.”

All three of the boys turned back towards the car, intent on getting home and feasting on the mouth-watering pizza they were going to have.

Suddenly, Jamie sensed a movement behind him and he turned.

Another man, wearing the same type of baggy coveralls and cap stood as the driver of the van stood there.

Jamie’s eyes widened as he realized the stranger was holding a gun half-concealed in his hands.

“If I were you kids,” the man told them in a quiet voice, “I’d get into the van.”

The stranger raised his hands a little, revealing even more of the weapon that was leveled directly with Jamie’s chest.

“Ah,” Phillip began hesitantly as he looked anxiously around them, trying to find someone to help them.  There was nobody close.  A few people were lingering at the mall doors but because Phillip had had to park a little more than half-way out through the parking lot, he doubted that they would be close enough to help much, especially if this nut decided to start firing.

Not wanting to give away the advantage, the stranger quickly moved to Jamie and shoved the gun into his chest, hard enough to actually cause the teen to groan aloud and take a step backwards.  His body thudded against the cold metal of the Mustang.

The man shook his head at them.

“No heroics.  Get in the van now or I start shooting.”

Phillip and Jamie looked at one another.

The stranger huffed aloud and then pushed little Ja’Shaun towards the van.  Left with no other choice, the little boy climbed into the van, followed by Jamie and Phillip.

Moments later, the green floral van exited the shopping mall.  It made a left turn at the light, taking the three boys with them and leaving Phillip’s beloved Mustang abandoned in the parking lot.

Shortly after, what little sun there had been for the day began to be overtaken with the darker storm clouds that were moving in from the North.  The snow flurries soon gave way to larger flakes that began falling in earnest.

In no time at all, the car and the area around it, as well as Phillip’s dropped keys, would become covered with a blanket of the white stuff.  Any evidence of their abduction would effectively be hidden from the common passerby.

To Be Continued – In Part Two

11 Comments

  • By Kelly, March 6, 2009 @ 7:23 pm

    Uuuugh you mean we have to wait 2 weeks to find out what happens!! It’s going to be a long 2 weeks :)
    Excellent story so far.

  • By Anne, March 6, 2009 @ 7:29 pm

    You’re twisted!!!…leaving us hanging there like that…but excellent story, Tera! Sitting at the edge of my seat…waiting to find out what happens next. I love your dialogue and characterization, especially Aimee. She’s an interesting character. I also loved the PM-his speech patterns-you nailed. :)

  • By Ermintrude, March 6, 2009 @ 10:42 pm

    Straw Man! LOL! It’s a really exciting episode–and now we all have to wait two weeks to see what happens with the boys. And all the rest. I loved the baby blanket scene–poor Amanda’s just ready for the baby to arrive! Looking forward to the second part!

  • By Jennifer Cannon, March 7, 2009 @ 6:00 am

    Oh no–a cliffhanger! I’m going to be sitting on the edge of my seat for two weeks now. Excellent story, and Aimee is a great character–loved the ‘straw man’ bit :)

  • By Heather, March 8, 2009 @ 12:11 am

    Ooh, first two-parter of the season! Leave it to you, Tera… ;)

  • By Sue, March 8, 2009 @ 1:59 pm

    Great job,Tera! I love Aimee and her entire Sci-Fi scene. Reminds me of you. LOL!

    These two-weeks better speed by, I can’t wait to see what happens to the boys and Joe.

  • By Ana, March 8, 2009 @ 3:41 pm

    Nooooooo!!!! Oh you can’t do this…I won’t last two weeks for part 2!!!!! Shoot…I’m fresh outta nails to chew on too…LOL!!!! Can’t wait!!!!

  • By Annette, March 8, 2009 @ 4:29 pm

    Ugh TS, you are so mean making us wait. You are off to a terrific start. “Straw Man” is just too cute lol. Looking forward to reading the rest.

  • By Loretta, March 8, 2009 @ 5:49 pm

    like part one of the story so far

  • By Weston Housewife, March 13, 2009 @ 12:13 pm

    Excellent story. Can’t wait to finish it.

  • By Soapie, February 13, 2013 @ 9:03 am

    don’t hurt Aimee! i think she’s my favorite secondary that i’ve read so far

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Disclaimer: Scarecrow and Mrs. King and its characters belong to Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Enterprises. No infringement is intended. This is written for entertainment purposes only.