Whatever Tomorrow Brings, Part 2, Conclusion

Act 3

Billy was sitting with Lee on the couch. They’d heard nothing in the past few hours.  Melrose tried to remind himself of the old saying that no news was good news.

The doorbell rang and Lee practically jumped off the couch.

“Easy Scarecrow,” Bill told him.

Seconds later, Francine entered the room and Billy instantly began to grill her.

“How did you do with Foster?”

She shook her head.

“I think we’ve hit a dead end. I’ve gone through every recorded visit and phone call since he’s been in prison. He’s hardly had any contact with anyone other than the prison staff. His wife filed for divorce and the only contact there has been through their legal staff. The children have disowned him and haven’t made even one attempt to contact him. Other than that, there have been a few visits from a woman. The staff says she’s apparently some old acquaintance but even she doesn’t visit much. No letters, no calls, nothing.”

“Damn,” Lee grumbled. “There’s got be something. Who’s the lady?”

“A Tanesha Williams. There’s isn’t much on her.”

“Tanesha. Where have I heard that name before?”

Francine shrugged.

“One of your old girlfriends.”

Billy looked at her sternly.

“I know, can it.”

Lee paced around the room, trying to remember where he’d heard that name before.

“That’s it,” he suddenly exclaimed.

“What?” Billy asked.

“When I called Joe’s office the other day, a secretary answered his line because he wasn’t there. I think her name was Tanesha.”

“Francine,” Billy began.

“I’m already on it,” she told them as she headed for the kitchen to use the phone.

“We’ll find them,” Billy told Lee.

“We better. I have a feeling we’re rapidly running out of time.”

Fifteen minutes later, Francine returned.

“You’ll never believe this.”

“Tell us.”

“Tanesha Williams is currently employed by DC Quality Temps and you’ll never guess where her current assignment is?”

“The EAO?”

Francine nodded.

“She’s supposed to be assigned to someone named Carlton but she’s been helping Joe out for the past week.”

“Now we’re getting somewhere.”

“Wait, there’s more,” Francine told them. “Tanesha has a twin sister. You’ll never guess who she’s employed by.”

“Save the games Francine,” Billy growled.

“She’s an elementary teacher, currently assigned as the home school teacher for the Prime Minister of Estoccia’s son.”

“That’s our connection.”

“This just proves what Aimee already told us. Foster’s up to his neck in this” Lee racked both hands through his hair. “Let me call her again and see if she has had any more luck decrypting the disk.”

***SMK***

Aimee was decrypting the final sections of the disk when her phone rang.

“Your nickel.” she replied breezily.

“Aimee-it’s Lee-do you have anything more from that disk?”

“Hey, Straw Man-do you have great timing or what? I’m finishing up the last few sections now. I should have it all in an hour or so.”

“I don’t have an hour-tell me what you have so far.”

“OK-well the disk seems to be about something called Argus. It’s a group of people-there’s a list of names and companies. There’s a lot about strategies for control and cornering commodities by strategic disruption of vital infrastructure in vulnerable parts of the world…”

“Disruption of infrastructure?” Lee was puzzled.

“Yeah-anyhow your guy Byron Foster and his guy Prescott are listed here as well as a bunch of other names. There’s also a list of properties and holdings.”

“Anything here in the DC area?” Lee was desperate for a lead.

“There’s a property-listed as a warehouse/shipping/transfer point.”

“Give me the address.”

She related the address in a seedy run-down industrial part of DC. “There are places like this all up and down the east coast-some on the west coast-a few in the gulf. I think they use shipping for transport. What is all this about anyhow?”

“I think Foster and his cronies are still in operation-they were stealing from the EAO a few years ago and it looks like we didn’t shut down the whole organization.”

“That sounds kinda creepy. There’s a list of five names: Edmund Truesdale, Charles McGillicuddy, Leslie Chamberlain, Carroll Winchester, Mikos Spiropolous. They seem to be the leaders of this Argus organization. Foster and Prescott are listed as “inactive in reserve.”

“That means they are in prison. Are there any other addresses in the DC area listed?”

“I still have part of the disk to go. But not so far-that’s the only warehouse listed in the DC area.”

“I’ll bet that’s where they are holding them. I owe you big time, Aimee-name it, and it’s yours if all this pans out.”

“Well Straw Man, there’s a media convention coming to town this summer-and a VIP pass with backstage access to the guests would be a good start.”

“You’ve got it. I gotta go. Thanks.” Lee hung up and took the slip of paper with the address.

“I’m going to drive out to this warehouse and take a look around.” Lee grabbed his jacket and key from where he had thrown them earlier.

“Lee,” Billy yelled.

“This one’s mine,” Lee told him. “This is my family we’re talking about and I’m not taking any chances. Now, are you coming with me or not?”

Billy sighed. He knew there was no stopping Stetson now.

“Francine, you stay here with Amanda. Keep us posted if you dig up anything else.”

She nodded.

Warehouse

“This is the address that Aimee gave me.” Lee pulled the ‘Vette to a halt, looking up at the dingy red-brick edifice. “They have to be here-all I need to do is find a way inside.”

“Wait a minute, Scarecrow-you can’t go in there without backup.”

“Billy, I don’t have much of a choice-those are my stepsons in there-and we’re running out of time.”

“I understand where you’re coming from Lee-but-”

“Amanda’s counting on me.” He thought of his wife, sitting at home, worried sick-his chest tightened with fear. This was not what she needed right now-not with their child on the way.

“I have to do this.” He looked over at Billy-who sighed.

Billy picked up the car phone to call for backup. It was dead. “I guess there isn’t any reception here-we can drive a bit until we can use it…”

“Billy-we don’t have time for that! I’ve goy to get in there and rescue the boys.”

Billy nodded in resignation. “Very well-I’ll take the ‘Vette and go for backup-I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

Lee clapped the older man on the shoulder. “Thanks-I won’t forget this.”

Billy nodded again. “Take care of yourself.”

Pulling his gun from its holster, Lee got out of the car, approaching the warehouse. There didn’t seem to be anyone around. The snow was falling steadily now-it crunched underfoot as he drew closer to the building. An ominous creaking caused him to look upwards-he could see what remained of a rusty fire escape, moving slightly in the wind. Staying close to the walls-his gun at the ready-Lee moved around the side of the building-he could see the main door-it had been locked. He slid the double diamond out of his collar stay, working the lock until it finally it clicked open. The doors creaked slightly as he pushed them and entered the building.

Stacks of crates greeted Lee as he stepped inside-the only illumination filtered down from the fluorescent lighting above. Looking down at the dust-covered floor he could see other footprints-evidence that others had been here-his hopes rose.

“Looking for something?”

Before Lee could react, something hard was jammed up against his back.

“I wouldn’t try anything if I were you, Mr. Stetson,” a man’s voice told him. “Not unless you want your head blown off. Drop the gun now-kick it away.” Lee did as he was told-the man patted him down-checking for other weapons.

“And now, I think it would be best if you joined the rest of our little company.”

4247 Maplewood Drive

Frozen in time-that was the phrase that came into Francine’s head as she watched the tableau before her.

Carrie sat at the table, looking blindly at the now cold cup of tea that had been sitting there untouched for quite some time now. Beside Carrie sat Dotty, who was holding a now-empty mug-staring out the window at the now rapidly falling snow. Amanda stood at the kitchen sink, mindlessly scrubbing the same plate that had been washed several minutes ago. Francine’s head was going back and forth, studying each of the women who were dealing with this shock in their own unique way. She sympathized with them, she really did. She wished that she could do more to help them, but Francine had been in this business long enough to know that an outcome could never be rushed, no matter how hard one wished.

When Amanda rinsed the plate for the fifth time, Francine decided that enough was enough. She stood up from the table, where she herself had been flipping back and forth through the pages in her folder in a desperate attempt to discover some missing key that she had previously overlooked.

In as gentle a voice as Francine could muster, she spoke to the pregnant woman.

“Amanda, you need to sit down.”

“No, no. I need to finish these.”

From the tone of Amanda’s voice, it was clear that this situation was getting the best of her. Francine, who was very much worried about Amanda’s condition, continued.

“No, you don’t. You’ve been washing that same plate now for ten minutes.”

“I have not! Look Francine,” Amanda spoke hurriedly as she now kept wiping the dishtowel across the plate. “These need to be done before Lee and the boys get home.”

Francine watched as Amanda’s hands began to shake.

“They’ll be home soon, I know they will and I need to have the kitchen clean so that when they get here…”

The plate that Amanda had been holding slipped from her shaking hands and clattered to the floor. It shattered when it hit the floor, sending fragments flying across the tile.

“Oh my gosh,” Amanda whispered.

“Amanda-darling.” Coming out of her stupor Dotty rose from the table-moving to one side of her daughter-Francine quickly moved to the other side and took Amanda’s hands in her own.

“Sit down,” she pleaded.

Amanda pursed her lips together as she looked down.

“I’m not really holding together very well, am I?”

“You’re doing fine,” Francine said. Together she and Dotty led Amanda over to the table-Dotty helped Amanda to lower herself into the chair.

“You sit down, darling. We’ll clean this up.”

Carrie just sat there, looking back and forth and not saying a word.

As Francine began sweeping the broken pieces up with the broom, she wondered just how well she would fare if she were in either of their shoes.

Warehouse

“Right this way.” The man opened the door to the room, shoving Lee inside.

“Lee!” Phillip exclaimed.

Lee said nothing for a moment as he took in the scene in front of him. The Prime Minister sat on a crate, his arms wrapped protectively around his son Ja’Shaun. Joe, Jamie, and Phillip were up against a nearby wall- a thin man in a dark jacket stood nearby. Lee could see how Jamie physically shrank from the man-the younger boy’s face was pale-his eyes huge and frightened behind his glasses. Something had happened here-Lee’s anger started to grow.

Without warning he was shoved from behind-losing his balance Lee fell to the floor, his palms stinging as he hit the concrete. Slowly he picked himself off the floor, turning to face the older man.

“Look who decided to join us, Renny,” the man behind him said. “Perhaps he’ll be able to tell us more about the disk-I’m afraid that Mr. King hasn’t been very helpful so far.”

“I’ve told you everything I know.” Joe’s voice shook with anger. “There isn’t anything else that I can say.”

“That’s a pity-but perhaps Mr. Stetson might be persuaded to tell us a little more-with the right incentive, of course.” The older man snapped his fingers. Lee watched as Renny pulled a knife from his pocket, approaching Jamie, who shrank back against the wall-

“Stay away from my brother, you creep!” Phillip rushed at the man with the knife-taking the man by surprise. The knife clattered to the floor as the two grappled-the Prime Minister reached for the knife-but by that time Renny had risen from the floor-he shoved the minister hard-the smaller man slid across the floor and hit the crates-he stayed there, clutching his knee.
Lee took the distraction of Phillip’s move to jump the older man. They grappled as the fight on the other side of the room ensued.

“That does it, kid-” Renny growled as he grabbed Phillip by the neck and drew back his fist. “Now you pay.”

“No!” Pushing Phillip to one side, Joe hit the younger man square in the gut. Renny doubled over gasping for air. Phillip used his knee and brought it up to meet the man’s face. His nose broke with a crunch and he went down.

Lee and the older man were still grappling, and the older man reached into his pocket. Lee executed a roundhouse kick-hitting the man’s wrist and knocking the gun from his hand. The man tried for a right cross aimed at Lee’s jaw but Lee blocked the punch and came in with an uppercut-followed by a left cross-the man’s head snapped back and he fell, sliding against the wall and down to the floor.

4247 Maplewood Drive

Francine had just dumped the last fragments into the garbage can when she heard Amanda let out a low whimper. She quickly turned to look at her.

From the look on Amanda’s face, whatever had caused that whimper had hurt.

“Are you okay?” she asked her worriedly.

“I’m not sure,” Amanda replied.

“Maybe you should lie down for awhile,” Dotty suggested.

Amanda shook her head.

“No, really, I’ll be fine.”

Francine was not convinced but she kept it to herself. Instead, she chose an alternate approach.

“I’m going to go check with the fellows, see if there’s anything new. I’ll be right back.”

Both Amanda and Carrie nodded.

Once Francine had arrived in the living room, she looked at her fellow agents who were now camped out all through the living room.

“Anything new?”

Beaman shook his head.

“Not yet. We’re still waiting for Scarecrow to check in. How are things in there?”

“To be perfectly honest, I’m worried about Amanda. All of this stress can’t be good for either her or the baby.”

“Do you think we should call her doctor?”

Francine wrapped her arms around herself, hugging herself to ward off the cold chill that she had.

“I’m not sure, but you’ve got his number handy, right?”

“Right here.” Beaman pointed to the card lying in front of him.

Fielder spoke up.

“I sure hope she doesn’t have to go to the hospital in this weather. Did you see how much it’s snowing out there?”

Francine walked over to the window and peered out through the curtains. A deep white blanket of snow covered everything and there was plenty more of the stuff falling down from the sky.

Keeping her voice low, she spoke to the fellows.

“Leatherneck’s the best driver there is in this stuff. Would you mind giving him a call and asking him to come on over, just in case?”

Beaman nodded and went straight for the phone.

“Better than waiting for an ambulance, if it comes down to it.”

“Let’s hope it doesn’t.” Francine added, shaking her head, “let’s hope it doesn’t.”

Warehouse

Using handcuffs, Lee secured their now-unconscious captors to a pipe and that was when he saw it-hidden away in the corner of the room. For a moment all he could do was stare-looking at the numbers as they counted down-fifteen minutes-fourteen fifty-nine-fifty eight-

“Is there a difficulty, my friend?” The Prime Minister hobbled over.

“How’s your knee?” Lee asked, his eyes frozen to the timer as he spoke.

“It’s not perfection, but I think I’ll live-oh my-” the Prime Minister’s eyes widened as he saw what Lee was staring at. “Is that what I think it is?”

“It is.” Lee nodded.

“That’s not much time.”

“No it’s not-and you smell that?”

The Prime Minister sniffed. “Burning-coming from outside?”

Lee nodded again. “They probably have it set up on a timer-something to trigger an accelerant-and I bet this isn’t the only bomb in the place-they’re planning on blowing us sky-high.”

The other man’s voice shook-he and Lee’s eyes met as comprehension dawned.

“We’ve got to get out of here.”

4247 Maplewood Drive

Half an hour later, Leatherneck was sitting in the den. He had turned on the television and seemed deeply enthralled with the Weather Channel’s current broadcast of the latest weather conditions. Many of the major highways in the area were slick and some roads were shut down because of accidents.

Francine watched him study the running blue bar scrolling additional information along the bottom of the screen and she knew, though it didn’t seem so, that he was playing just as an important role in this as everyone else. If it came down to it and any of them had to go anywhere, he would be their man. He’d know the alternate routes and could handle driving in a blizzard, if need be.

If nothing else, she felt more reassured by his presence.

“Oh!”

It was Amanda-the cry had come from the kitchen. Francine ran in there to see the woman bent over, clutching the countertop for support. Dotty stood beside her daughter, holding her hand and rubbing her lower back.

“Keep breathing, darling,” Dotty told her. “Just keep breathing.”

Francine realized that it wasn’t just any breathing-it was that type of breathing that women always did when they were about to-a sinking feeling formed in the pit of her stomach.

‘This can’t be happening now-’ Francine thought. ‘Not without Lee here-what the hell am I supposed to do?’

Then Amanda looked up at her-Francine could see her own apprehension mirrored there-and Amanda opened her mouth and uttered those two words.

“It’s time.”

Warehouse

“This place is gonna blow,” Lee said. “We’ve got to get out now.”

“But, what about them?” Jamie asked.

Lee looked down at the two unconscious men. The burning smell was growing worse, he realized-tendrils of smoke beginning to make their way through the bottom of the door.

“There’s no time.” He turned to the Prime Minister. “Will you be all right walking?”

“I will get out of here if I have to crawl on my hands and knees.”

“That might be what we have to do.” Lee put his hand against the door-thankfully it wasn’t hot to the touch-but the smoke-”Okay,” he told everyone. “Keep low and follow me.”

Together they their way down the smoky hallway.

“Which way?” Phillip asked.

Lee took a moment to look around and then pointed to their right. “Get moving.”

As quickly as they could, the group headed down the hall.

Lee knew his instincts were right when they reached the end. Sure enough, there was a metal side door that he knew would lead to the outside.

Joe went to pull it open, only to find that it wouldn’t budge.

“Oh, come on!” he yelled.

“Dad?”

Joe looked back at Phillip, whose face was now showing concern.

“It won’t budge.”

“Probably locked from the outside,” Lee growled.

“What about the big doors where we came in?” Ja’Shaun’s voice was high-pitched from anxiety.

“No-that’s where the fire is.” His eyes were stinging-Lee quickly looked around for another option, knowing that if they didn’t find one soon it would be all over.

That’s when he spotted the dirty windows.

Desperately, he headed to them. He shrugged out of his jacket as quickly as he could and wrapped it around his hand.

“Stand back,” he told everyone. Then he slammed his fist through the glass as hard as he could. It shattered at the impact.

With his covered hand, Lee tried to wipe away any remaining shards. Then he looked out.

Sure enough, there was the rusty fire escape-just inches away from the window. He didn’t think they would have any trouble jumping onto it. Not that it mattered. It was their only means of escape.

“We’re going down that way.”

Act 4

“Amanda,” Francine spoke through gritted teeth. “I can’t-feel my fingers.”

“You-think that’s pain-you should try being on my end,” Amanda gasped as she tightened her grip on the woman’s hand.

“Never-not in a million years-do you hear me?” Francine’s fingers cracked-she swore she could almost feel the bones breaking-then the contraction was over. Francine’s fingers tingled as circulation began to creep back into her hand. Amanda lay back against the seat, clearly spent.

‘What am I doing here?’ Francine lamented. ‘I know nothing about birthing no babies.’

“How far apart are the contractions?” She heard Leatherneck ask. He was keeping his eyes on the road as he steered his 1989 GMC Jimmy down the icy highway towards Galilee General.

“Far apart?” Francine’s voice rose slightly. “How am I supposed to know?”

“You’re supposed to be timing them-remember what Dotty told you.”

“Well I forgot, all right? I was too busy panicking-and anyway, Dotty should be here-not me.”

Leatherneck’s voice was irritatingly calm. “We left her behind, remember? To hold down the fort with Carrie in case Joe and the boys come back. Dr. Adams said we should bring Amanda in right away-he didn’t want to risk her being stranded in this weather.”

“Of course I remember,” Francine snapped.

“Francine-” Amanda began.

“Before we left the house they were ten minutes apart-are they any closer?”

“Oh, so suddenly you’re the birth expert, Leatherneck-ahhhh!” Francine gave a cry of pain as her fingers were constricted once more.

Leatherneck’s voice held a faint note of amusement. “Yep-I’d say they’re definitely closer together.”

“Need to hurry-please,” Amanda whispered.

“Something wrong, Mrs. Stetson?” Leatherneck asked.

“Not exactly-but my water just broke.”

“Couldn’t you have waited for that until we got to the hospital? Thank goodness we decided not to take my car.”

Francine looked over at Amanda who gave her a dirty look. “What?”

Warehouse

Joe poked his head out the window.

“It looks like it could collapse any minute,” he said quietly to Lee.

“Doesn’t matter. We’re running out of time. I’ll go down first, test it out. Then you start getting the boys out the window.”

Joe nodded.

They watched as Lee hopped over to the fire escape. The thing shook and rattled as his full body weight impacted on it.

The Prime Minister grimaced.

“Let us hope it holds.”

Lee made his way down it precariously, with it shimmying and squeaking all the way. He jumped down from the last step onto the ground.

“One at a time. Get moving!”

Joe turned to Jamie. “Get going.”

“Dad.” Jamie’s face looked slightly pale at the thought of traversing down the rattling rusty piece of metal.

“Quit being a ninny, dork face,” Phillip told his brother. “It’s no different than climbing down the trellis.”

“We’ll discuss the trellis later,” Joe interrupted. “Get moving.”

Jamie slowly made his way out of the window. He took a deep breath and then jumped the few inches over onto the metal, which shook even under his slight weight. Then he looked down at Lee, who was waiting for him at the bottom.

Lee encouraged him. “Come on son, you can do it!”

Inch by inch, Jamie made his way down until he’d reached the last rusty step. Then he jumped down to where Lee awaited.

“Get over there behind those bushes until we all get out,” Lee pointed to him. Then he looked back at the group.

“Next!”

Joe took the hand of the Prime Minister’s son.

“Ja’Shaun-it’s your turn.”

“Oh, I can’t,” the young child whimpered.

“Sure you can,” Phillip told him. “Hop up on my back. I’ll give you a piggy back ride.”

The youngster looked at his father who gave him an encouraging smile.

Joe scooped the child up and settled him onto Phillip’s back.

Phillip didn’t even hesitate. He was out of that window as though he’d done it a million times. And, although the fire escape swung back and forth, the teenager didn’t flinch.

He scurried his way down the rusty contraption while his passenger squeezed his eyes tight the whole way down. At the bottom, Phillip leapt down onto the ground.

Lee gave him the same instructions and Phillip hustled over to the bushes.

“It is your turn,” the Prime Minister told Joe.

“Are you kidding? You need help getting out the window with that knee. I’ll go last.”

By this time, the smoke was getting heavier in the room and both were coughing.

“But I will go too slowly.”

“We’ll argue about it down there-now scoot.”

With that, Joe began helping the Prime Minister out the window.

He managed the short jump over to the fire escape but collapsed under his own weight.

The grimace on his face from the pain was obviously visible.

“Get going,” Joe waved him on.

With a nod, the Prime Minister crawled over to the handle and began to inch his way down.

Joe watched as his old friend slowly made the journey down, with Lee waiting at the bottom to catch him.

He opened his mouth in shock as a bolt popped out of it’s holding on the wall and the entire thing shimmied like there was a massive earthquake. Somehow, the Prime Minister managed to hold on to the railing.

The smoke was getting heavier and Joe pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and held it to his mouth. His eyes and his throat were beginning to burn now and knew that he would have to get out of there soon.

Galilee General

“We’re going to have to move you into the delivery room right now, ma’am,” the nurse told Amanda. “It doesn’t look as though this baby wants to wait.”

Not wanting to wait, Amanda thought dryly -of course that would be Lee’s child.

“But my husband. I-” Amanda could feel another contraction coming.

“We left a message at the number you gave us,” the nurse reassured her. “I’m sure he’ll be here as soon as possible. You’re doing great. Now blow out a nice cleansing breath.”

The contraction subsided. “Thank you.” Amanda stared up at the ceiling, looking at the lights as they flew by.

‘Please let him be here soon,’ she offered up a silent prayer to whomever might be listening. ‘And please let my boys and Joe be all right-please.’

Warehouse

He was ready the moment the Prime Minister jumped down onto the ground. Lee was ready and scooped the man upward to stand.

“Hurry Joe,” Lee yelled up at him.

Joe needed no additional encouragement.

The fire escape shook as his weight landed upon it.

He had taken several steps down, when another bolt pulled loose and the whole thing seemed to pull away from the wall. Joe lost his balance and pitched sideways. He was able to grab hold of the rail with one hand and hang on as it swung back and forth.

He held on with everything he had.

Lee had just gotten to the bushes and turned around to see where Joe was when it happened. He held his breath as he watched Joe struggle to hang on.

Then, the fire escape’s horrible shaking eased up and Joe began to make his way down.

Joe King had only gone down a few more steps when the entire side wall of the building blew apart in a brilliant burst of flames and a loud bang. Bricks and debris flew through the air and Lee hit the dirt, face down.

He could feel the stuff raining down upon them.

Act 5

“The paramedics checked the boys out.” Billy made his way over to where Lee sat, a blanket draped over his shoulders, staring blankly ahead. “Physically they’re just fine-but I’m having them sent to the hospital to be checked out there-just as a precaution. They’re going in with the Prime Minister and his son, who are being treated for minor injuries.”

Lee slowly nodded his head. “How are the boys emotionally?”

“Hard to say.” Billy shrugged. “It’s not going to be easy for them-losing their father like that.”

“No-” Lee thought back to his own losses. “It never is.”

“What exactly happened?”

“The warehouse was rigged to explode.” Lee put his hand on the back of his neck and blew out a deep breath. “Apparently-Argus planned to get rid of us along with all the evidence-I tried to get us out as fast as we could-I guess it just wasn’t fast enough.”

“You can’t blame yourself, Lee.” Billy put a hand on the younger man’s shoulder. “You tried your best.”

“Maybe. Joe was a real hero though-made sure everyone got out first.”

Billy nodded. “His sons can be very proud of him.” There was a buzzing sound-Billy pulled out his pager, staring at it.

“Oh my gosh,” he said softly.

“What is it, Billy?”

“You need to get to the hospital fast-Amanda’s about to give birth.”

“Oh my-” Lee’s mind whirled in twenty different directions at once. “But the baby-it isn’t even due yet.”

Billy smiled. “You really thought your baby would play by the rules, Scarecrow?”

“But-the boys-I-”

“Don’t worry-you go-I’ll arrange for transportation to take Mrs. West to the hospital-she can meet the boys there.”

“Thanks, Billy-I owe you one.”

Galilee General

“You made it!” Amanda exclaimed as Lee burst through the doors of the delivery room.

“Hey-you knew I wouldn’t miss this.” Lee took her hand in his. “I would’ve been here sooner if they hadn’t made me put on this get-up.”

Amanda smiled faintly. “Actually, I think you look kinda cute, Stetson,” she teased.

“Very funny.”

“Lee-the boys-are they all right?”

“Don’t worry-they’re just fine. They’re in the waiting room with your mother.”

“And Joe?”

Lee wasn’t sure how to answer at that point-thankfully he didn’t have to-Dr. Adams spoke first.

“You’re fully dilated, Amanda-I need for you to push with this next contraction”

Lee took his place behind his wife, supporting her head and shoulders-her hand gripped his tightly-she grunted, her eyes squeezed shut with the effort.

“Keep breathing, Amanda,” he told her, remembering how they had practiced this in their classes-inwardly surprised that he could even remember all that stuff. Amanda stopped pushing and leaned back against him, her breath coming in gasps.

“The head’s crowning,”  he heard the doctor say. “I need you to push again.” Lee gasped as his wife squeezed his hand-harder than he’d ever thought possible.

“I’m stronger than I look” -Amanda had told him that once. And now she was preparing to bring their child into the world.

“The head’s out,” the doctor said. “Stop pushing.” Lee flexed his now-numb fingers-realizing now why Francine had been pressing an icepack on her hand in the waiting room. The doctor carefully rotated the head, suctioning out the nose and mouth.

“One last push, Amanda.”

Lee and Amanda’s eyes met. “I love you,” he whispered. Grabbing his hand once more Amanda pushed with everything she had. The next sound to fill the room was a high-pitched wail.

“We have a girl-” Dr. Adams announced. “A beautiful baby girl.”

A girl-Lee swallowed hard-surprised at the sudden rush of emotion as he heard those words. His mouth opened-he couldn’t seem to speak. He looked at Amanda and saw that she was smiling, her eyes bright with tears.

“A baby girl,” she gushed. ” Lee, we did it.”

“Mr. Stetson, would you like to cut the cord?” A nurse asked him.

“Go on,” Amanda told him. Lee let the nurse lead him over to the baby-he stared at the tiny red creature in the doctor’s hands-amazed that something so tiny could create so much noise. He mentally counted her fingers and toes-thank God-she seemed to have the right amount. The nurse handed him a pair of surgical scissors.

“Cut as close to the clamp as possible,” she told him. “Don’t worry-there are no nerves in the cord-it won’t hurt a bit.”

Carefully Lee managed to cut through the cord as the nurse held it up. The next few moments he watched as the nurses carefully weighed her-6 pounds, 3 ounces-measured her-19 inches, bathed her-finally wrapping her in a pink blanket and matching cap. By the time they finally handed him his child she was sound asleep and no wonder, Lee thought-if he had to go through all that he’d be pretty tired too. He held his daughter carefully, supporting her head-she felt so small and light in his arms. She opened her eyes, just a little, peeking at him-

“Amanda-she’s just beautiful,” his voice chocked with emotion. “Welcome, to the world, Emily Jennifer Dorothea Stetson.” He kissed her forehead, before placing the tiny bundle in his wife’s arms.

Tag

Rain beat softly on the tent covering the casket and the mourners around it. It wasn’t nearly large enough to cover all the people who had come to pay their respects, so many stood with umbrellas beyond listening to the priest speak of peace in the hereafter. Most of the snow had melted away, though there were still small piles of it up against stones where the sun hadn’t been able to reach in the past few days.

Amanda held the baby wrapped tightly in her new pink blanket tight to her chest. She tuned out the words of the priest as she held back the tears that had been brimming at the surface for the last two hours. She glanced around at the many faces blurring slightly around her.

The boys had each dealt with their father’s death in different ways. Phillip of course trying to be the strong one still hadn’t cried, at least not in front of anyone else. Jamie on the other hand was more emotional in the last three days he would be speaking and then excused himself to cry in his room. Amanda hoped that Phillip would finally let his emotions go, if not today, then soon. She didn’t think it was healthy to hold all that in, like Lee always tried to do.

Lee’s hand reached over and squeezed her leg, as if he knew she was thinking of him. She shifted Emily more snugly into one arm and took Lee’s hand with her free one. A squeeze from him made her feel a little more safe, a little more in control.

Amanda looked down the row past her boys to Joe’s wife Carrie, who seemed to be holding up as well as could be expected. Her eyes of course were a blotchy red and her hands were clenched tightly around a tissue in her hand. She too was looking at the people around her and Amanda caught her eye and gave her a sympathetic half smile.

The Prime Minister stood replaced the priest at the small little microphone stand. He took a deep breath and slowly looked around the crowd of people whose attention he now commanded.

“As a dignitary, I have met many people. In the United States and abroad I have been introduced to people of all walks of life. There are few however who have made such an impact that I will never forget them. Joe King was one of those people.

My life and the life of my son will forever be owed to this man. He was not trained to protect us, nor was he expected to, but he did so to the best of his ability. His sons, Jamie and Phillip, were not trained to protect others, but did so to the best of their ability. This is a great honor to their father and his memory.

I am honored to have known him and I will do my best to accomplish as much as possible with the life he has given me with through the loss of his own.

There are many here today I am sure who have been greatly affected by Mr. King and his family. He was a great man and that greatness will live on in the sons he left behind.”

The tears that had been threatening her finally dropped as Amanda looked at her two sons. They seemed to sit up straighter with the words of the Prime Minister and as the priest said the last words all the people began to come past the coffin to pay their respects to the widow and the boys.

Amanda stood and walked to the Prime Minister. She embraced him softly with Emily between them. “Thank you.”

“It is my pleasure. I will miss him greatly.”

“So will we, sir. So will we.”

He looked down at the bundle in her arms. “I think that Joe would say whatever tomorrow brings. We must not forget the past, but we must not live in it.”

Amanda nodded and followed his eyes beyond the tent where the rain had stopped and the sun was now shining.

“Whatever tomorrow brings,” Amanda repeated softly.

21 Comments

  • By Heather, April 3, 2009 @ 6:17 pm

    Oh, wow. I was really not expecting that, with Joe. I was on the edge of my seat throughout this whole episode. It was very well written and definitely worth waiting a month for. (Though I’d rather not go through that again, thank you very much!) Great job, ladies.

  • By Karen, April 3, 2009 @ 8:25 pm

    Very good story, I had the sinking feeling something bad would happen and to whom it did. Was holding my breath during the fire escape scenes.

  • By Kelly, April 3, 2009 @ 10:50 pm

    Wow… What a conclusion! I also wasn’t expecting that with Joe. Great detail in setting up a vivid image of a scene. I’m curious to how Lee will deal with this twist in upcoming episodes.

    Hmm… Also wondering if we will see Aimee come up in any future episodes.

    Excellent episode!

  • By Ilana, April 4, 2009 @ 1:30 pm

    WOW!!! What a nail bitter. I loved this episode. I guess with every birth there has to come a death, but I didn’t expect it to be Joe. You girls rock!

  • By Loretta, April 4, 2009 @ 6:52 pm

    very good second part. enjoyed it greatly. sorry that Joe had to die. But at least Amanda got the girl they all wanted

  • By Rut, April 4, 2009 @ 8:24 pm

    That was a wonderful 2nd part. They finally got their girl. How many episodes are there? This sounded kind of like a season finally. I guess it wasn’t though. Great job

  • By lookoutwife, April 5, 2009 @ 5:44 pm

    Thanks for the comments and to answer a couple of questions…we should be back on schedule now…No this is NOT the finale…we have more adventures for Lee and Amanda continuing through the month of June, and we wanted to do a sort of tribute episode to Sam Melville (Joe King) who sadly passed away March 1989.

  • By Anne, April 5, 2009 @ 6:07 pm

    Way to go ladies! Adventure, suspense, humor, mixed in with a happy, yet bittersweet ending. Great job!

  • By Melinda Gilliland, April 7, 2009 @ 1:29 pm

    Yes, I think this episode was a fitting tribute to Sam Melville (Joe King). I was very shocked to find out that Joe died. Now the boys will need Lee more than ever. This episode is a lot like life, great sadness mixed with great joy. Joe’s death and the birth of Lee and Amanda’s baby. Thanks for the story.

  • By theresa, April 7, 2009 @ 3:52 pm

    Wow what an episode, I can’t believe Joe died. Great season so far can’t wait for more!

  • By CA Kidd, April 11, 2009 @ 9:59 pm

    Bravo, Bravo!
    I too cannot believe Joe died. But you guys gave him a believable send off. I hope the follow up ‘episode’ gives us the boy’s views and thoughts.

    Great Job!

  • By Ana, April 19, 2009 @ 6:12 pm

    Amazing conclusion to the story! Fabulous job as always!

  • By calinour72, April 22, 2009 @ 6:24 pm

    I blubbered lika an idiot–I was definitely not expecting Joe to die but this has definitely opened up so many avenues for the writers and so many story line posibbilities. Just amazing!!!

  • By Mary R., May 5, 2009 @ 10:12 am

    Thank you for sharing your very moving story–full of suspense, sadness and joy. Bravo.

    You captured a roller coaster ride of emotions with Emily’s birth and Joe’s death. Both of the events were very touching.

  • By Annette, May 10, 2009 @ 3:56 pm

    Awesome episode. I was very surprised at what happened to Joe. Did not expect that at all. I am so happy baby girl Stetson has made her appearance. Superb writing ladies.

  • By Brittany, May 23, 2009 @ 10:00 pm

    I too wasn’t expecting that to happen to Joe! You all writing this season are all incredible writers!!

  • By TS, June 3, 2009 @ 8:13 am

    Finally back in the land of computers and I have to say thank you so much for finishing this one up for me! It stinks having techno problems but I’m glad to see that this story finally got up and wonderfully, I might add. Now, off to do some more catching up – which I’ve got quite a bit to do now!
    Thanks again ladies!!!!!!!!!
    TS

  • By Anne, June 3, 2009 @ 6:11 pm

    Glad you approve, Tera! We tried to channel the Twisted One…looks like we succeeded!!

  • By TS, June 4, 2009 @ 7:38 am

    Oh girl, I’m laughing silly.
    It might be a scary thing to channel the Twisted One. You never know what may happen :)

    TS

  • By Terry Kay, August 5, 2009 @ 8:17 pm

    Damn, I just wasn’t expecting it. Made me cry. Great writing. Thank you.

  • By Narelle, January 20, 2011 @ 12:46 am

    Wow girls!
    How amazing would it be to see this with the original cast members in an actual episode!
    Loved Aimee, she is a great Doyion the The Agency crew.
    The birth of baby Emily was wonderfully portrayed without being over the top and over balancing the other action that was paralleling it.
    To be honest, while Joes death wasn’t expected, I think it’s a good thing that something happened. After all, our dear friends all belong to The Agency, and losing friends and loved ones, while not wanted AT all, would be a reoccurring hazard in that line of work. Don’t get me wrong, I will miss his character greatly as at times there was the possibility of Joe being a great ‘foil’ for Lee.
    Man! That scene where the building blew up …….. I could just ‘see’ the look on everyones face as they see the sudden burst of light as their father and friend blew up, with Lee being in the foreground as he landed on the ground facing the other direction! Him slowly turning to looked incredulously, like the others at where the wall and Joe was…..then his reaction as he realized the boys saw it all. That would have been SOME scene, indeed!
    Great job, as I said, and I too can’t wait to read on and see the aftermath of this episode.

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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.