Watchtower, Pt. 2
Disclaimer: These characters, aside from
the originals, are not mine. They belong to Michael Sloan and Warner Brothers.
No copyright infringement is intended.
Paul had woken up just after midnight from a nightmare.
He was running in the jungle, trying to get to the LZ. Every time he jumped for
the helicopter, he missed and fell to his death. Paul knew he couldn't go back
to sleep immediately, so he thought he'd go downstairs and get something to drink.
He put on his slippers and walked downstairs in his pajamas, the top unbuttoned.
Paul walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge. He stood in front of the door
for five minutes, seeing nothing. Shutting the door, he took a rocks glass out
of the cabinet and filled it with ice. He opened another cabinet and removed a
bottle of scotch. He filled the glass, topping the last quarter inch with tap
water. Paul took his glass of scotch and walked to the living room, shutting the
door behind him. He walked to the piano and turned on the clip light on the music
stand. Paul set his glass in the coaster and sat on the bench. Opening the cover,
he reached up and took a mouthful of scotch before he started to play. Soon he
was lost in the music, unaware of time or anything else
Annie rolled over in bed and reached for him, only to find his side of the
bed empty and cold. She listened to the house and it was quiet. Annie stood up
and put on her bathrobe and slippers. She left their bedroom, walked down the
hall and started down the stairs. When she reached the landing, she smiled. Paul
was in the living room, playing the piano. Music was always a source of solace
for him. She continued down the stairs, trying to recognize the sad jazz piece
he was playing. She opened the door to the living room quietly and walked in.
There was no break in the music. Annie walked to one of the love seats opposite
the piano. She sat down, kicked off her slippers, and tucked her legs beneath
her. Paul continued to play. Annie didn't have a watch on, but she didn't care
what time it was. She was warm, happy, and with her husband.
Paul paused and took a sip of his scotch. There was a noise in the room, very
soft, across from him. He looked over but couldn't see anything in the darkness.
He started to play again. The piece was slow, sad, and dark. After a long time,
Annie finally said something.
"Hey, soldier, come here often?" Annie said,
walking up to him from the darkness of the love seat.
"Hi, babe. Sorry to wake
you." Paul said, taking his hands from the keyboard to put them around her waist.
"I woke up and you weren't in bed. I was worried." Annie said, biting her bottom
"Annie, I'm sorry. I woke up and needed something to help me relax." Paul
said, hedging the truth.
"Did you have a nightmare?" she asked.
answered quietly, lowering his head.
Annie reached for his face and made him
"Was it about Vietnam?" she asked.
"Yes," he replied, staring
up at her face.
"Was it the same dream?" Annie asked.
"No, it was a recurring
dream. I just haven't had it for a while." Paul said, turning his head to kiss
Annie put her hands around the back of his head and drew him to her.
Paul put his head between her breasts and felt the warmth of her through the thin
bathrobe. She ran her fingers through his hair, listening to him breathe in the
stillness of the house. He hugged her tightly and she traced circles on his back.
Slowly he stood, loosening his hold on her slightly.
"I love you," Paul whispered.
"I love you, too." Annie replied.
She took his hand and led him away from
the piano to the general darkness of the center of the room. He trusted her as
he always did, but still began to feel slightly anxious in the dark. Sensing his
mounting anxiety, Annie turned him to face her. She reached to put her arms around
him and was somewhat surprised that his pajama top was unbuttoned.
you cold?" she asked, sliding her arms to feel his bare back.
"Not with you
near me." Paul said softly, as he put his hand to her jaw, guiding their kiss.
Annie returned his kiss softly. It was a game they enjoyed playing; soft sensual
kisses and caresses until one or the other lost control and panted 'uncle'. It
had been several weeks since they had last been intimate. His sleeplessness and
nightmares had taken the place of foreplay and sex. This morning, Annie was in
charge and he was thankful. Paul wanted her desperately, but he didn't trust himself
to be gentle. Her words, 'you scared me' still echoed in his ears.
you okay?" Annie asked, pulling back a little, feeling him distance himself.
sweetheart, I'm fine." Paul said, evading her question.
"Don't you want to
make love tonight?" Annie asked, her hands on his face, feeling his emotions.
"I do, Annie with all my strength, I do. It's just..." Paul said, his voice
Annie felt the tremor in his body and she understood. She felt down
for his right hand in hers and led him out of the living room and up the stairs.
Walking into the bedroom, she removed her bathrobe and slippers. Paul stood by,
not knowing what was about to happen.
"Paul, would you please just hold me
tonight? I just need to feel you with me." Annie asked, getting into bed.
didn't think he could speak without tears so he simply got into bed silently.
He lay on his back, her head nestled into his shoulder, his arms encircling her.
Her left arm lay across his chest, gripping it tightly. As her breathing slowed,
her grip lessened. He tilted his head and kissed the top of hers, blinking back
the tears, before he fell asleep himself.
The doorbell rang and there was a pounding on the door.
Paul and Annie both woke up. Paul got out of bed and walked to the window, pulling
the curtain aside.
"It's okay, it's Kermit. I'm going to go let him in. Be
right back." Paul said and left the room.
He walked slowly down the stairs
and opened the front door. Kermit walked in and looked at him closely.
you'd be rough, today, but Jesus, Paul. You look like hell. Look, take a shower,
I'll start the coffee. Is Annie up?" Kermit asked.
"Awake, yes, up, no." Paul
replied, closing the door.
"Just ask her, no never mind, tell her I am making
breakfast. Paul we need to be on the road no later than seven-fifteen to get your
car." Kermit said.
"Uhm, okay." Paul said, walking back up the stairs.
walked into the bedroom and started to disrobe. He walked into the closet and
pulled out a sports coat, trousers, shirt, tie, socks and shorts.
making breakfast. I need to shower and shave. Do you want to join me or get some
more sleep?" Paul asked, leaning over her and giving her a kiss.
one step a head of me! Yes, I'd love to join you in the shower. You may shave
by yourself." Annie said when she reached her hand out to touch him and felt his
"Meet you in there," Paul said, picking up his pajamas to hang on
the back of the bathroom door.
He looked around the bedroom to see if there
were any traps on the floor and spied her slippers.
"Slippers, two o'clock,"
"Yours or mine?" she quipped , stepping to pick them up.
he said, turning on the water.
Paul opened the shower stall door and walked
in. This was their one extravagance. Six years ago, for her birthday, Paul had
a five foot square shower installed. The floor was a special composite no-slip
ever surface. The same surface covered grab bars that were at Annie's elbow level,
and were on all the walls, including the door. The two shower heads were attached
to the ceiling and simulated heavy rain. Paul stood under the steady stream of
hot water, trying to revive, when the door opened and Annie slipped in. She heard
the water break across his back. Annie reached for him, turning Paul to face her.
Their wet bodies touched, slick to each other as they kissed passionately. Annie
and Paul kissed, touched, and explored until Annie again felt Paul hesitate. Gracefully
she reached for the soap and started to soap his back, diffusing his emotions
Fifteen minutes later, Kermit
heard the shower turn off. Annie arrived first, pink and clean in her bathrobe
and slippers, her wet hair pulled back.
"Morning, Kermit." Annie said, stopping
at the doorway until she heard him.
"Morning, Annie," Kermit said, walking
to her and kissing her cheek. "Tea on the table. Pot at twelve o'clock. Omelet
will be done in a minute. How is he today?"
"Better, tired still, but better."
Annie said, sitting at the table and pouring her tea.
"Morning, Kermit," Paul
said, walking into the kitchen.
He looked like a new man, clean shaven, hair
brushed back out of his eyes, crisp clean shirt, polished shoes and clear eyes.
"Hi, Paul. Cereal good for you?" Kermit said, handing him a mug of steaming
Paul walked to the fridge to grab two ice cubes, and looked at his
watch: seven o'clock.
"Nah, just coffee. That will be fine for now," Paul said,
putting the ice in his mug.
"Fine then, Annie, would you call him at noon and
order him to eat something?" Kermit said, as he joined Annie at the table, giving
her the plated omelet.
"Most definitely," Annie agreed as she started in on
Paul sighed and sat down at the table opposite her. He drank
his coffee quickly and went to pour himself another cup.
"More coffee, Kermit?"
Paul asked, holding up the pot.
"Please," Kermit said, half turning in his
chair and holding out his mug.
They finished breakfast in silence until Kermit
skidded his chair from the table.
"We have to get going, Paul." Kermit said.
Paul stood up and took his mug to the sink. He returned to the table and leaned
over to give Annie a kiss on her cheek.
"I love you. Please don't ever doubt
that." Paul whispered into her ear.
"I love you too; and I've never doubted
it." Annie whispered back.
Paul stood, cleared his throat and wiped a tired
arm over his face. He walked out of the kitchen, leaving Kermit in his wake.
worry, Annie. I'm watching him." Kermit said, squeezing her shoulder.
you have his six." Annie replied, softly.
Kermit walked out of the house and found Paul leaning against his car. They
looked at each other briefly and then got into the car. Kermit drove to the Skunk
Pit without a word. Paul looked out the window.
"Great," Kermit said, driving
into the parking lot.
Paul's car was there, but one tire was stolen and the
passenger's side window had been broken. Paul quietly got out of Kermit's car
and walked to his.
"Here you go," Kermit said, tossing him the keys.
caught them deftly and opened the trunk. The spare was there and intact. He removed
his sport coat and tie, putting them in the trunk. Then Paul yanked out the spare
and rolled it up to the front right hub. Kermit removed his coat and tucked his
tie into his shirt. He walked to Paul's trunk and pulled out the jack. Fifteen
minutes later, Paul was lowering the sleeves of his shirt and putting back on
his sport coat and tie. Paul shut the trunk and got in the car. It started up
immediately and he drove off to the office with Kermit in pursuit.
They arrived fifteen minutes late to work, but no one said anything when they
walked into the precinct house. Paul walked into his office and shut the door.
Kermit paused for a moment, then walked to his office, leaving the door open.
Moments later, there was a knock. Kermit looked up.
"Anything I should know?"
Frank Strenlich asked.
"Nah, just give him some space. He'll be fine." Kermit
"I understand he is now an expert marksman with sniper rifles." Frank
"Someone wanted him to test a new rifle..." Kermit replied lamely.
"Right, okay, just keep me in the loop." Frank added.
"Always intended to,"
"Check your inbox, there was something Caine wanted you to
look up for him. He's out on a stakeout." Frank said.
"Okay, will do," Kermit
Frank left Kermit alone to start his research.
Paul took off his sport coat and hung it up. Loosening his tie, he poured himself
a fresh coffee and sat down at his desk. He looked at his inbox and sighed at
two piles ten inches high. He reached into his shirt pocket and removed his glasses
before settling down to reading.
"Captain? Your wife on two." The temporary receptionist announced.
"Thanks. Hi, Babe, how is your day going?" Paul asked.
"Fine. I wanted
to remind you to eat something. You're getting too thin." Annie chided.
right, I'll order a sandwich." Paul relented.
"I'm going to go to the mall
with Mary Jane. I'll be home by five." Annie said.
"Okay, have a nice time.
I don't think I can get out of here until at least seven." Paul said, sadly.
will have a lovely time. Please eat something, and if you get tired, just take
a nap on that couch." Annie said.
"What couch?" Paul asked innocently.
dark brown leather one to the left of your office door." Annie replied.
get Kermit for that." Paul replied.
"Actually, that information came from your
son." Annie said.
Paul chuckled. "All right, I understand. Please don't worry."
"I do and I always will whenever you're not with me." Annie said
"I love you. See you soon." Paul said.
"Love you too, see you tonight."
Annie replied before hanging up.
Paul looked at the phone and then clicked
"Yes, captain?" the voice replied.
"Would you mind ordering
a roast beef sandwich on rye with lettuce and mustard for me?" Paul asked.
at all, sir. Consider it done." She replied.
His sandwich had come hours before and Paul only ate half
before getting distracted by the paper work.
"Come on, Peter's in trouble."
Kermit said, bursting into Paul's office
Paul jumped to his feet and put his
jacket on, following Kermit.
"What happened on the stakeout?" Paul asked.
don't know for sure. Shots fired." Kermit replied.
Kermit opened the door of
his Corvair, slid in, and stretched to unlock Paul's door. Both in the car, Kermit
drove swiftly to the stakeout location. Even with their beacon, the beat cops
wouldn't allow them closer than three blocks.
"What gives? We need to get closer."
Kermit asked flashing his badge.
"We have a sniper. He's already picked off
two officers. So you're car stays here and so do you." The uniform replied.
looked around and saw the SWAT truck. He took off at a run with Kermit in pursuit.
Arriving at the truck, he saw a familiar face.
"Paul? Hot damn! Okay, we have
two bad guys in that warehouse over there. They have three police officers pinned
down." Fitz said.
"Yeah, one of them is my son. Where's your sniper team?"
Paul asked, removing his tie and unbuttoning the two top buttons of his shirt.
"Directly opposite. They say they can't get a shot." Fitz said. "I need you,
Paul. I have a spotter on that red brick building and he says he does have a clear
shot. Trouble is I don't have a qualified shooter for that distance."
me with comms." Paul ordered.
"Thanks, Billy is waiting for you." Fitz said,
turning back to the truck.
"No, Kermit is my spotter, no one else." Paul replied,
his eyes dark blue.
"All right, okay. No time to argue, anyway." Fitz replied
after a moment.
Kermit stood next to him, getting his own comm set fitted.
Fitz handed the M-21 to Paul and extra bullets as well as the spotter's kit to
Kermit. As they turned to leave, Paul took the worn baseball hat from Fitz's head
and put it on, shading his eyes from the lowering sun.
Paul took off, cradling the rifle in his hands. Kermit ran beside him. They
reached the target building and then started up the four flights of stairs. Neither
man was in perfect shape and yet they appeared barely winded when they got to
the back side of the roof.
"This is Blaisdell, we're on the roof, getting into
position." Paul said, crouching as he walked to his position.
a voice replied.
Paul looked up as he started to round the corner of the elevator
housing and saw a man in black crouched behind the parapet. Paul reached to the
rooftop and picked up a pebble. He tossed it towards the man who turned around
quickly, a sight in his hands. He motioned for them to come ahead.
Kermit ran to the parapet and dropped to their knees. Paul pivoted his cap, brim
facing backwards and looked over the edge through his scope. Kermit looked over
the edge with his spotter's scope. Billy had been right. They had an unobstructed
view through a side window of the sniper's room. There were two men with rifles
in black clothing. Paul watched as they raised their guns and each took two quick
"Distance, eight hundred point three two one meters. Down one point
two meters. Wind is at ten crossing left to right." Kermit reported.
four, minus one, left two," Paul replied.
The chatter on the comm system exploded.
Someone yelled officer down, and the voices stepped on top of each other trying
to get information. Kermit reached over and turned Paul's comm set off. Switching
to the backup frequency, Kermit announced.
"We are taking the shot." He said,
tapping Paul on the shoulder lightly.
Paul exhaled and shot twice. Both men
were dead before they hit the floor. The whoops and hollers from the other sniper
team were heard without the need for electronics. Paul picked up his cooling empty
casings and put them in this pocket. He stood and turned his hat back around.
Billy and Kermit stood as well, looking down to the street below. Kermit reached
over and turned Paul's comm set back on.
"Blaisdell, Blaisdell, come in, damn
it." A voice Paul recognized to be Frank Strenlich, yelled.
"This is Blaisdell,
over." Paul replied, keying his mike.
"Good shooting, Peter's okay. One of
the uniforms caught a ricochet." Frank reported.
"We're on our way." Paul replied.
The three men started to walk toward
the staircase when Paul stopped. Kermit looked at him and knew what was going
"Go ahead. He just needs some air." Kermit said.
Billy nodded and continued
to the stairwell. Kermit reached over and gently took the rifle from Paul's hands.
He noticed they were shaking. Clumsy, with his hands full, Kermit directed Paul
to the wall of the elevator house where he crouched, his back slightly bent over
his feet, his buttocks touching his heels. It was a comfortable position that
he learned in Vietnam, when they were waiting in muddy fields. Paul was breathing
fast and he took off his cap to brush his sweat-dampened hair back with his hands.
Kermit leaned the rifle against the wall within reach and put down the sniper
kit and box of ammunition before squatting next to him.
"You okay?" Kermit
"I'm not sure." Paul admitted, looking down onto the gravel-covered
"When you're ready, we need to go downstairs. You just added two hours
of paperwork to the day." Kermit tried to joke.
The door to the roof burst
open and Paul was on his feet sighting his rifle at whoever was coming around
the corner, protecting Kermit. Peter Caine skidded to a stop, raising his hands
above his head. Kermit reached over slowly and pushed down the rifle, looking
at Paul's intense face.
"Paul? It's me, Peter." Peter cried.
the rifle from Paul's limp hands. Peter lowered his arms to his sides and walked
up to his father. He looked at him and was scared at the fear he saw in his father's
eyes. For the first time in his life, he pulled Paul into a hug. Peter felt his
father tighten his grip and thought he might have heard a sniffle.
Paul." Peter said, softly.
Paul couldn't speak, he just held on as tightly
as he could. He felt another set of hands on his back and knew that Kermit had
joined his son to calm him. He took a deep breath and relaxed his grip, taking
a step backwards, wiping his face with the sleeves of his jacket.
"Man, I need
a scotch," Paul said, trying to lighten the mood.
"Yeah, I think we all do.
Here kid, make yourself useful, carry this." Kermit said, handing him the spotter's
kit and box of ammo.
Peter smiled and took the items from him and headed down
the stairs. Paul walked to the elevator house wall and picked up the rifle, cradling
it again, and followed his son down the stairs. Kermit, as always, brought up
the rear, shutting the roof-access door behind them.
The three men exited the building to the madness of a shooting site. Paul looked
for Fitz, who was waiting anxiously for his weapon. They walked up to each other
and Paul handed him the M-21.
"It tugs a bit." Paul reported.
I'll have to clean it now that you used it twice." Fitz said, trying to tease
Paul pulled off the ball cap and handed it back. Fitz put it on and Peter
looked over at him. As he handed Fitz the spotter's kit and ammo he noted the
words on the cap: An Khe 1966.
"Paul? Paul?" Frank said, making his way to
"Yes, Frank." Paul said wearily.
"You and Kermit need to go
and talk to I.A. and also the investigators over there. I'm sorry but I will need
your reports today." Frank said.
"Let's go, Kermit." Paul said, walking towards
a group of men in black ill-fitting suits.
"See you Fitz, Peter." Kermit said,
hustling to catch up.
"Uhm, bye Kermit, Paul." Peter said, confused.
Paul's kid?" Fitz asked.
"Yes, I'm Peter Caine." Peter said, directing his
attention to this older man.
"Jack Fitzsimons, I'm a friend of your old man's."
"Pleased to meet you," Peter said, shaking his hand.
Look, I'm gonna give it to you straight. Your dad's going through something right
now. Just give him some room, okay?" Fitz tried to explain.
"What do you mean?
What's going on?" Peter asked.
"Your father or Kermit will have to give you
details. I'm simply suggesting as a friend of your father, just give him some
room to work this out." Fitz said.
"Fitz, I'll need that rifle. Where are the
empty casings?" a man whose ID identified him as Jason Gately, asked.
check with Paul Blaisdell. They're probably in his right jacket pocket." Fitz
said, handing over the rifle.
"Which one is he?" Gately asked.
one in the plaid sport coat, salt-and-pepper hair, six feet tall. See him?" Fitz
"Is he with Griffin?" Gately asked again.
"Yes, Kermit was his spotter."
"Well, that ought to be a good story." Gately said, walking away.
"Nice meeting you. I have to get back to the precinct." Fitz said.
meeting you, too." Peter replied, standing by himself in a group of sixty policemen.
Paul stood talking to the investigators,
accepting a cup of coffee from a young man on the sniper team.
"Are you Paul
Blaisdell?" Gately asked.
Paul turned to face him. His badge hung out of his
breast pocket. Kermit stood nearby.
"Yes, I am Captain Blaisdell, what can
I do for you, Detective Gately?" Paul asked, slightly irritated, reading his ID.
"Fitz said you might have the M-21 casings." Gately explained.
"No, I don't
have them." Paul said, looking at him in the eye.
"He suggested you look in
your right jacket pocket." Gately said, softly.
Paul shifted his coffee to
his left hand and reached into his pocket. He pulled out the two shell casings
and handed them to Gately.
"Thanks," Gately said, walking away.
the man's back as he vanished into the crowd. Kermit tugged at his sleeve.
get back to the precinct. We still have paperwork to do. You might want to call
Annie before Peter does." Kermit advised.
"Oh, God. What time is it?" Paul
"Five o'clock, approximately, why?" Kermit asked.
"She was going
to the mall with a neighbour. She might have heard the whole thing on the radio
by now. Get me to a phone, please Kermit." Paul asked.
"Just follow me, I saw
a pay phone on the corner." Kermit said, leading the way.
Paul followed him
closely. They reached the pay phone and Paul pulled a quarter from his trouser
pocket. The phone rang and the machine picked up. He left a message anyway, even
though Annie was still out shopping.
"Hi, babe, it's me around five. I just
want you to know that I'm okay. There was a shooting at work but I'm fine. I'll
be home around seven. Please call me. I love you." Paul said, and then hung up.
"So?" Kermit asked.
"She wasn't there. I left a message." Paul said.
get to the office, then. We still have to fill out reports and speak to IA." Kermit
"Yeah, great," Paul muttered.
Kermit chuckled and put a hand on his
friend's shoulder, guiding him to the Corvair. They got in and Paul slumped, leaning
his head back against the seat as Kermit drove to the office. Fifteen minutes
later, Kermit parked his car. He looked over at Paul and knew he wasn't asleep.
"I have aspirin in my desk." He said.
"That will be a start," Paul said,
opening his eyes.
They got out of the car and walked into the precinct. The
officers were remarkably subdued as they walked through to their offices. Paul
opened the door to his office and removed his jacket, tossing it on the chair
in front of his desk. He noticed the temp had washed and cleaned his coffee cup
as well as brewed a fresh pot of coffee. She might have to stay, he thought. Paul
poured a cup of coffee and sat down heavily in his leather chair. He took a tentative
sip and put the cup down on his desk, resting his left hand across his eyes. He
heard Kermit at the door and motioned him in with his right hand. Opening his
eyes, he sat upright in the chair with a sigh. Kermit had a cup of water and three
aspirins. He picked up Paul's sport coat and laid it on the couch, before sitting
in the chair himself. Paul tossed the aspirins back and chased them with the water.
He squinted at his watch, trying to estimate when the pounding in his head might
cease. Then he noticed the stack of messages. Again, the temp was marvelous. She
had separated the messages into work, personal, and who knows. He looked at the
personal messages, one from his brother in Manhattan, one from Caroline, two from
Peter, and three from Annie.
"You okay?" Kermit asked.
"Check with me in
a half an hour. See if this headache is gone. Do me a favour, turn out the overheads
on your way out?" Paul asked.
"Yeah, sure." Kermit said, doing as instructed
and then closing the door behind him.
Paul picked up the phone and started
returning messages. He spoke to Caroline, left a message for Peter and another
for Annie. He took a sip of coffee and then returned the call to his brother.
"Yes?" the voice answered.
"Got your message." Paul said.
brother, I don't know what you've gotten yourself into but it's been keeping me
up at night. You want to talk about it?" Jim Blaisdell asked.
"Yeah, but I
can't; not yet, not now. I'm just calling to tell you that I was involved in the
shooting but that I'm okay." Paul said, softly.
"Do you need me to come up?"
Jim asked again.
"Don't worry about me, just continue to save the world." Paul
replied with a small smile.
"You and me against the world, remember?" Jim queried.
"That was a lifetime ago." Paul said, sadly.
"Kermit still with you?" Jim
"Yeah, it seems to fit him. Less stress than if he worked for you. What
about Robert?" Paul asked.
"He quit the Company." Jim replied.
Well I always knew Robert had balls, just not that big." Paul responded with a
"Yes, well, let's just say the process is ongoing, shall we? I have
to go. Take care, Paul. When you're ready to talk about it, just call." Jim said.
"Where are you now?" Paul asked.
"Uhm, I'm not at home. That's the best
I can do. Give my love to Annie, and the kids." Jim said.
"I will. Jim?" Paul
"Yes?" Jim replied.
"Thanks for the call." Paul said.
Jim said, hanging up the phone.
Paul hung up his receiver and sipped the cooling
coffee. He opened his desk drawer and pulled out the reports that he needed to
fill out if he was ever going to leave the office. He fed them into the typewriter
and started to work.
There was a knock on the door.
Paul answered, as he stopped typing.
The door opened and two men in black suits
"Randolph and Watkins, we're from IA." The taller man said, flashing
"Have a seat." Paul said, sipping some more coffee.
have a few questions. We know that Chief Strenlich called you and Det. Griffin
in to the scene. How did you become the sniper?" Randolph asked.
team was in the wrong place but that didn't really matter because the shooters
saw them. If they had moved, the officers who were pinned down would have been
shot immediately. The shooters didn't know the sniper team had no shot. I came
on the scene and Fitz said that it was up to me. He had a spotter who had a position.
He just needed a long-range sniper." Paul explained.
"And you happened to be
sniper qualified?" Watkins asked.
"Yes, I am rated expert marksman in pistols
and rifles." Paul said.
"Two shots, two kills?" Randolph asked.
said, rubbing his temples.
"Well, I think that's it for now. If we have any
more questions we know where to find you." Watkins said, standing.
to his desk lamp, and tilted it away from him, leaning back in his chair, his
Randolph frowned, standing, and the two men opened the door and
left the office. Kermit walked in, shutting the door behind him and right in the
face of Randolph.
"No better?" Kermit asked softly.
"Migraine coming. I...I
drank coffee but it didn't help." Paul said.
"Do you have your meds with you?"
"No, they're at home. I haven't had a migraine in six months."
Paul said, every word feeling like a dagger to his brain.
"We gotta get you
home." Kermit said.
He walked to Paul and helped him to his feet. Leaning him
against the desk, he helped him on with his jacket. Then Kermit reached into his
own jacket and produced another pair of dark glasses.
"Paul, try opening your
eyes now." Kermit instructed.
He opened his eyes and the pain was constant,
not increasing due to the light. It was a very slight improvement, but he would
take what he could.
"Captain Blaisdell is leaving for the day. Any personal
calls, direct them to the house. Any work calls will have to wait until tomorrow."
Kermit said to the temp.
"Yes, Detective." The temp said, looking at her boss
and his co-worker in their dark glasses.
"Excuse me, what is your name?" Paul
"I am Sally, Sally Michaels, sir," Sally answered, standing.
"Thanks for coming to work today, Sally." Paul said.
"You're welcome, Captain.
Feel better." Sally said.
The two men turned and walked to the door.
smart and good looking. You need to keep her." Kermit said, not out of earshot.
"Yeah, don't I know it." Paul replied.
The chime rang as Kermit pulled into the driveway. Paul had told him he kept
the migraine medication in the refrigerator, so Kermit pulled the car to the back
of the driveway. Paul opened the door, but barely had the strength to stand. Kermit
reached in and grabbed his shirt, pulling him to his feet. He pulled Paul's left
arm over his shoulder and held him tightly around his back with his right arm.
They got to the back door and Annie opened it.
"Kermit, is that you?" Annie
asked, knowing he was the only one to drive to the back of the driveway.
yeah. Paul is having a migraine. Where do you want him?" Kermit asked.
Annie swore softly, "the study is easiest and darkest for him."
"Let me get
him to the sofa and I'll come back for the medicine." Kermit said.
Annie said, softly.
Kermit helped Paul into the study and gently onto the sofa.
He pulled Paul's sport coat, harness and gun off and set them on the floor. He
pulled Paul's loafers off and eased him back against the cushion.
Paul." Kermit said softly.
He left the room and walked back to the kitchen.
Annie had turned on the overhead in addition to the small light that turned on
when she entered any room in the house. Kermit opened the refrigerator and looked
for the pills.
"Check the door, top shelf, toward the hinge." Annie recommended.
"Yep, here they are. Two tablets, okay." Kermit said, taking two from the container.
"Here's water, make sure he drinks the whole glass." Annie said.
are you coming with me?" Kermit asked.
"I will when he's down. He's in so much
pain, Kermit, I can't bear it." Annie said.
"I understand; I'll be right back."
He walked quickly back into the study. Removing his dark glasses,
he turned on the desk lamp to the first click. Walking to Paul, Kermit sat next
to him and put one hand on his shoulder. Paul opened his eyes and looked at Kermit.
He put the pills in Paul's hand. Paul put them in his mouth and swallowed them
dry. Kermit handed him the glass of water. Paul took a small sip.
all of the water, Paul." Kermit said, softly.
Paul's hands were shaking badly,
so Kermit held the glass while Paul guided it to his mouth. Kermit put the glass
down and helped Paul lie down on his back. Kermit removed the dark glasses and
spread the wool blanket on top of him. Quietly, he put the glass on the desk and
hung the jacket and harness on the desk chair. Paul's breathing was ragged as
he waited for the medicine to catch up. An eternity later, Paul heard a click,
and the pain was gone as he slid into the darkness of sleep.
Kermit walked into the kitchen, jingling his change.
"I poured you a scotch.
Would you like to stay for dinner?" Annie asked.
Kermit noted the hope and
fear in her voice.
"I would love to, thank you." Kermit said, picking up the
glass of scotch and draining half of it.
"It's just chicken..." Annie started.
"It will be wonderful, as always." Kermit said.
"Kermit, would you hold
me, please?" Annie said.
"Oh, of course." Kermit said, setting his glass on
the counter and embracing his best friend's wife.
"I listened to the messages,
but he didn't tell me what happened." Annie said, breaking from the embrace to
stand at the stove.
Kermit gave her the short version without Paul's encounter
with Peter on the roof.
"How long is he out with this medication?" Kermit asked,
picking up his scotch, standing with his back to the countertop, looking at her.
"It's seven-thirty now. He won't be awake until five a.m. and he won't be one
hundred percent for another twelve hours after that, sometime tomorrow afternoon."
"Strong medication." Kermit said.
"That's one of the reasons
they're in the refrigerator. We were scared for Kelly when she was little so we
always put it in the fridge. He's been so much better recently. He hasn't had
a migraine for several months." Annie said.
"That's what he said. Well, he's
sleeping, now. What can I do to help with dinner?" Kermit asked.
"You can set
the table." Annie said.
"I can handle that," Kermit said.
Annie cooked and
Kermit sipped scotch for the next half hour, just chatting about inane things,
until the phone rang. Annie picked it up quickly, while Kermit walked to the stove
to continue stirring the risotto.
"Hello?" Annie asked.
"Hello, Mom, it's
Peter." He said.
"Hello, Peter, how are you?" Annie asked.
"Uhm, fine, how's
Paul?" Peter asked.
"Well, right now he is sacked out in the study, sleeping
off a migraine that he got at work today. Do you want to come for dinner? Kermit
is still here. We're having chicken." Annie asked.
"No thanks, Mom. Rain check?"
Peter asked, remembering what Fitz had advised.
"Sure, Kelly is back from her
school trip on Saturday and I have some beef stroganoff for you." Annie said,
"Great, thanks, Mom. I love you." Peter said.
"I love you too,
Peter." Annie said.
"Goodnight," Peter replied.
"Goodnight," Annie said,
and hung up the phone.
"I think the risotto may be done." Kermit announced.
"Oh, Kermit, thank you, I almost forgot." Annie said, resuming her role as
Kermit helped to finish the meal, carving the roast chicken and dishing
"Would you like wine, or are you happy with your scotch?" Annie
"I am most definitely happy with my scotch." Kermit said, chuckling.
"May I pour you a glass of wine?"
"Yes, please. There's an open bottle in the
door." Annie replied, walking to the table.
Kermit refilled his scotch and
poured Annie her wine. He carried the plates to the table and then the glasses.
He sat down and sighed.
"Long day?" Annie tried to joke.
"Long month," Kermit
replied, taking a sip of his scotch.
They ate dinner in relative silence, trying
not to talk about Paul.
"Would you like any more?" Annie asked, standing.
thanks. It was wonderful. What can I do to help clean up?" Kermit asked.
you go check on him? Make sure he's warm." Annie asked.
"Sure," Kermit said,
walking out of the kitchen.
opened the door of the study and took off his glasses. Paul was still on his back,
not having moved. Kermit adjusted the blanket so it covered him from chin to the
bottom of his feet. He put on his glasses and left the room.
"Snug as a bug,"
Kermit said, as he walked into the kitchen.
"Thanks," Annie said, wrestling
the chicken into a smaller dish.
"Let me help you with that," Kermit offered.
"I can do this!" Annie said, forcefully.
Kermit waited a moment. "I know
you can, Annie. I just wanted to help."
"I'm sorry, Kermit. You are the last
person I should be yelling at." Annie said.
Kermit helped her clean the kitchen
in relative silence. Finally, everything was clean, food in the fridge, breakfast
things laid out.
"I think I'll be going, if you're okay." Kermit said, holding
her hands in his.
"We'll be fine, thanks. Unless you see him at eight, he's
taking a sick day." Annie said.
"Right, have him call me when he's better.
Oh, and tell him I'll get the window and tire fixed, then I'll drive his car over
at some point tomorrow. I still have that extra set of keys." Kermit said.
you, Kermit. Really, some days I can't think of our life without you." Annie said,
kissing him on the cheek.
Kermit blushed deeply, squeezing her hands in return,
before he left through the back door.
Annie walked to the study and opened the door. She heard Paul's quiet breaths
but little else. Walking into the room she located a chair and the spare blanket.
She moved the chair so it was opposite the sofa, yet close enough that she could
put her feet up on it. Sitting in the chair and spreading the blanket over her,
she settled for the night.
Thursday 5:00 am
Paul groaned in pain and rolled
onto his right side, away from her. Annie woke immediately and sat on the sofa
beside him. She put her left hand on his shoulder while her right hand traced
circles lightly on his back. Paul reached up and held her left hand tightly, fighting
the medication and the fleeting pain. Slowly, his grip on her diminished and he
fell back asleep. Annie slipped her hand from his and returned to her chair.
Paul started coughing in his sleep and woke himself. He sat
up and faced Annie, eyes closed, face red. Annie dropped to the floor in front
of him, reaching up for his face.
"Paul, we've been here before. Just listen
to my voice. You're all right. It's the medicine. Just slow down your breathing.
Listen to me, sweetheart; in one two three, out one two three. That's it." Annie
said, in a monotone voice.
Paul grabbed Annie's shoulders and held on tightly
while he coughed. After several minutes he got his breathing under control.
you like some water?" Annie asked.
Exhausted, Paul could only nod. Luckily,
Annie still had her hands on his face. She stood up and walked to the kitchen,
searching for a plastic go-cup. Finding it, she filled it with cool water and
walked back to the study. Annie walked to her chair and sat down. She reached
for him and found his right hand. She placed the plastic cup firmly in his hand.
"Here's your water, Paul. Drink all of it." Annie recommended.
the glass and drank slowly, eventually finishing it. He sat back on the cushion,
the cup in his lax hand. Annie got out of the chair and felt for him. He was very
close to sleep but Annie wanted him to lie back on the sofa.
"Paul, you have
to help me. Please stretch out on the sofa." Annie said.
Paul leaned to his
left and swung his feet up to the sofa. Annie reached for the wool blanket and
spread it over him. She waited for several minutes, listening to him breathe,
before she decided to go upstairs and take a shower. Annie knew that he would
be sleeping on and off for the day, trying to fight the side effects from the
rolled over and woke up. He was thirsty. He stood up, unsteady at first, and walked
to the door to the study. He staggered his way to the kitchen and had to use the
fridge door to hold himself upright. Suddenly, there was a knock at the back door.
He looked up, but couldn't really focus on who was there. He heard Annie before
she came into the kitchen. As she walked into the room, she sensed he was there.
Annie opened the door and Kermit walked in.
"You're up! Great. I dropped off
your car. I can't stay; I had a uniform tail me. See you tomorrow." Kermit said,
kissing Annie on the cheek, handing her the keys, and leaving again.
sweetheart. Can I help you?" Annie asked, putting the keys on the hook by the
"Water?" Paul croaked, walking two steps towards her voice, holding onto
"Orange juice coming up. How are you feeling?" Annie asked, as
she poured the juice into another plastic cup.
"Dizzy, tired, just hurt." Paul
"Drink this and then let's get you into bed. You'll sleep better
there." Annie said, handing him the juice.
Annie didn't let go of the cup,
sensing he didn't have a good grasp. Instead she helped guide the cup to his lips.
"Did you drink it all?" Annie asked, taking the cup from him.
"I think so.
Having a hard time focusing." Paul admitted.
"Well, it's not as if we haven't
done this before." Annie said, sliding an arm around his back.
"You know, the blind chick helping the police detective."
Annie said, with a smile.
and Paul walked slowly up the stairs to their bedroom. He stood with his back
to the bed, swaying slightly. Annie loosened his belt, opened his trousers, and
they fell to the floor. She reached up to his shirt and started to unbutton it.
Paul reached for her out of reflex.
"Sweetheart, you need to sleep. Just help
me get you out of your clothes." Annie said.
"Any time, babe." Paul replied,
as she pulled his shirt off of him.
Annie smiled to herself, at any other time
she would have loved to disrobe her husband and make love to him, but not now,
when he was so vulnerable. She helped Paul sit on the bed and pulled off his trousers
and socks. Dressed only in his shorts, he shivered.
"Get into bed, sweetheart."
Paul lay back on the bed as she covered him with the sheet and
comforter. Annie sat on the edge of the bed and listened to him breathe. Finally,
she heard his breathing deepen and even out, knowing he was truly asleep. She
got up and shut the door, walking downstairs to the living room.
Paul woke up in his bedroom, alone in the dark. Quickly,
he reached for the lamp and knocked it onto the floor, breaking the light bulb.
He swung his legs over the bed and put his feet on the floor. The door opened
quickly and Annie walked in, activating the motion detector lights. Paul started
to calm down immediately.
"Hi, what happened?" Annie asked, walking to him.
"I'm sorry; I knocked over the lamp and broke the bulb. It was....it was dark
and I..." Paul stammered.
Annie touched his shoulders and helped him stand.
She embraced him tightly and he responded, burying his head in her hair. She rubbed
his back, feeling his breathing slow to normal.
"Well, you are on schedule,
it is five o'clock, are you interested in supper?" Annie asked.
for a moment. "I'd like to take a hot shower, and then explore my options."
touched her face and kissed her deeply. The buckle on her belt bit slightly into
his torso as her sweater rode up. He held his ground, though still a little dizzy.
Annie kissed him passionately, feeling the old Paul return.
"I think you're
ready for your shower, now." Annie said, breaking the embrace.
Paul took a
breath, trying to calm his racing heart. "Yeah, a cold one at that." He joked.
"I'll be in the living room." Annie said, finishing with a kiss.
Paul stood in the bedroom, feeling cold in just his shorts, yet flushed with
passion. He looked at the broken lamp and carefully knelt down to pick up the
glass shards from the carpet. He put the glass in the bathroom waste paper basket
and made a mental note to remind Annie. Paul pulled off his shorts and turned
on the shower. He opened the door and stood under the hot spray, slightly uncomfortable
with the pressure on his bruised shoulder. He soaped and washed twice, trying
to get the cordite smell from his skin. He knew if he could smell it, Annie definitely
could. Paul stepped out of the shower, dried off, then padded back into the bedroom
for some clothes. He chose a V-neck soft brown wool sweater, grey pants, and moose
hide slippers. Paul brushed back his hair with his fingers and walked downstairs.
He walked to the living room and found Annie reading. Paul walked into the
room and turned on the first table light.
"Hi, babe," Paul said, softly.
put her book to the side and stood, waiting for him.
"How are you feeling?"
Annie asked, embracing him.
"Tired and a little anxious; the usual." Paul replied,
hugging her in return.
"What do you need? Something to eat? Something to drink?"
"Can we just stay here?" he whispered.
Annie said, sitting on the love seat.
Paul walked over, picked up her book,
and put it on the coffee table. He sat down and felt Annie's strong arms surround
him. He took a shaky breath and put his arms around her. It seemed forever since
they'd simply held each other, no kissing, no tender caresses. He leaned back
on the love seat and she followed, lying on top of him comfortably. She rested
her head on his chest, one arm on his shoulder, the other on his waist. His arms
embraced her comfortably.
The phone rang, waking them both up. Paul reached over his head and
searched for the phone that he knew was on the end table.
"Hello?" he said.
"Hello, Dad," Caroline said.
"Hi, how are you, Caroline?" Paul asked.
I interrupt something? You sound tired." Caroline asked.
"Your mother and I
were just taking a nap. What's up?" Paul asked, tightening his hold on Annie.
"Oh, uhm, I'm just checking up on you, I guess." Caroline said.
I'm fine." Paul replied.
"They said you didn't come in to work today..." Caroline
"Sweetheart, I had a migraine. You know I get them from time to time.
Mom thought I should take the day off. I'm fine." Paul said.
"Okay, if you
say so." Caroline said.
"I don't just say so, I am." Paul said, getting annoyed.
Annie jabbed him in the ribs.
"Your mother wants to talk to you." Paul said,
handing her the receiver.
"Hi, are you coming for dinner Saturday? Kelly will
be back and I think Peter is coming." Annie asked.
"Sure, Mom. We'll be there."
"I have to make dinner for your father. I didn't realize
how late it was." Annie said.
"Okay, Mom. Say goodnight to Dad and tell him
to get well soon." Caroline said.
"Goodnight," Annie replied.
"We're having a family dinner party on Saturday." Annie
said, hanging up the phone and sitting up.
"Apparently," Paul said, dryly.
"They're worried about you. What is wrong with that?" Annie asked, facing him.
"There's nothing they can do. It's a waste of time." Paul said, quietly.
stood up and stalked out of the living room to the kitchen to make dinner. Paul
swung his legs over to the floor and put his head in his hands. He'd screwed up
and now Annie was furious. The problem was, he couldn't see a solution. He stood
up and walked into the study. He poured himself a stiff scotch. Paul leaned against
the desk and felt the liquid slide down his throat. He pulled a cigarette out
from the drawer and a pack of matches. Carrying his scotch, he walked out the
front door, hearing the chime, and sat on the stoop. He lit the cigarette, enjoying
the rush, and sipped his scotch in the chilly evening air.
Annie heard the door open and blinked back tears. She continued to heat up
dinner and hoped Paul would come back inside. She was mad at him, but madder at
herself for leaving him like that. She set the table for dinner and felt the clock;
he had been out there for more than half an hour. Double checking that everything
in the kitchen was safe from burning, she walked to the front door and opened
it. She smelled the cigarette smoke and grimaced.
"Sweetheart? Are you still
out here? Dinner will be ready soon." Annie said.
"I'll be in in a minute.
"Paul replied, not looking up.
Annie shut the door softly and leaned against
it. The walls that came down yesterday had gone back up again. She could only
hope that she could reach him tonight. Annie walked back to the kitchen. She finished
the potatoes and peas and heard the front door open. Paul walked in and stood
in the doorway.
"Would you slice some chicken?" Annie asked.
said, walking to the counter where the chicken was.
He carved the chicken and
placed the slices on the plates. Paul carried the plates to the table where Annie
had already poured wine. She sat down, not paying attention to him. Paul sat down,
feeling miserable now for the way he had spoken to her, in addition to his fatigue
and stress. They ate in silence, hearing the clock from the stove tick in the
"I'm sorry, Annie." Paul said quietly, putting down his fork, finally.
Annie raised her face towards him. She looked so sad that he stood quickly
and walked to her. Kneeling before her, he put his hands on her face and kissed
her passionately, feeling the tears fall down his face. Annie put her hands to
his face, feeling his tears.
"I love you so much, Paul, but you are so hard
on yourself." Annie whispered in his ear.
"I love you but I don't deserve you."
Paul said, holding on tightly to her.
Annie felt her watch. It was eight thirty
and about the time when the medication from the migraine should have run its course.
This depression was Paul's current state.
"Help me clean up the kitchen, okay?"
Annie said, pulling away and holding his face in front of hers.
Paul said, his breath hot on her skin, standing up.
He helped pack up the food,
load the dishwasher, and clean the countertops. But by the time he was done, he
was truly exhausted.
"What do you say we go to bed early?" Annie asked.
great to me. Let me start turning out the lights and I'll be right up." Paul said.
Paul double-checked the door in the kitchen and started turning out the room
lights. He got to the front door and double-checked it as well. He walked upstairs
and Annie was in bed, covers up to her neck. Paul went to the walk in and stripped
down. He walked to the bathroom and put on his pajamas, again not buttoning the
top. He reached down and turned on the nightlight just inside the bathroom. He
got into bed and leaned over Annie to turn off her light. The weak light from
the nightlight made little impact. Paul settled on his back and soon felt Annie
resting her head on his shoulder, her arm on his waist.
Friday 12:00 am
Like clockwork, Paul woke up, heart pounding, sweat
streaming down his chest, from a nightmare. This one was real; this one wasn't
fiction. He sat up and rotated his wrists, subconsciously; touching them, feeling
the scars. Paul stood up and walked out of the bedroom to find his haven. He walked
first to the kitchen for a scotch. Having poured that, he walked to the living
room. Closing the door behind him, he turned on the table lamp and walked to the
piano. He removed the old scotch glass and put the fresh one in the coaster. He
sat at the bench and took a breath. He put his fingers on the keys and started
woke up to the alarm. She hit the off button and rolled over to feel Paul. Annie
sighed heavily, feeling the cold empty sheets beside her. She got out of bed and
put on her bathrobe and slippers. Annie walked downstairs and stopped at the study.
The door was open and she walked in to listen. It was silent. She felt the sofa.
It was cold and empty. Annie walked back into the hallway and entered the living
room. She listened again. It was quiet. She walked to the loveseat and put her
hand down. She felt Paul, in his pajamas, cool, not warm. Annie knew there wasn't
a blanket in the living room. She walked back to the study and took the one from
the back of that sofa. Annie carried in into the living room and spread it over
her husband, feeling his body react to the warmth. She kissed him lightly on his
forehead and walked to the kitchen to make breakfast. Annie set the kitchen alarm
for seven a.m. and went to work making coffee, tea, and scrambled eggs.
The kitchen alarm went off
and Paul was still sleeping. Annie turned of the alarm and went to the living
room to wake Paul up. She walked into the room and knelt by him.
up. Time for breakfast." She said.
Paul opened his eyes and groaned. Two hours
of sleep sucked, no matter what. He sat up and put his feet to the floor.
time is it?" Paul asked.
"A little after seven." Annie replied.
rather I eat before I shower?" Paul asked, softly.
"I have scrambled eggs and
coffee ready now." Annie said, not really answering.
"Great, I'll have breakfast
then." Paul said, standing slowly.
Annie walked out of the living room and
Paul followed her to the kitchen. He pulled a mug from the cabinet and poured
coffee, stopping at the fridge to get a couple of ice cubes to cool it down. Annie
handed him a plate of scrambled eggs and he walked to the table and put the plate
"Can I help you?" Paul asked.
"No, I'm all set." Annie said, walking
to the table with her tea and eggs.
They sat down and ate breakfast in silence.
"Paul, did you get any sleep last night?" Annie asked, quietly.
he replied. "My piano playing is improving, though." Paul said, smiling.
isn't funny. This has been going on for weeks. You can't exist on two hours of
sleep every night, forever." Annie said, angrily.
Paul stood up and took his
plate and mug to the sink. He turned and faced her.
"Leave it alone Annie,
please." Paul begged quietly.
"You're my husband," Annie said, standing to
walk to him. "I can't leave it alone. What affects you, affects me."
can't help me with this." Paul said, kissing her softly on her forehead before
turning to leave the kitchen.
Annie listened to his footsteps as he walked
away. She turned around and wiped the tears from her face.
Paul walked up the stairs to the bedroom. By rote, he pulled out his clothes
for the day and laid them on the bed. He pulled off his pajamas, hung them on
the door hook and showered. He shaved in the shower, toweled off, got dressed
and came downstairs to get his gun from the study. He reached into the sport coat
he had worn two days before and pulled out his badge, wallet, and house keys.
Double checking he had everything, Paul walked into the kitchen. Annie was sitting
at the table, her hands around a steaming cup of herbal tea, her eyes red, her
cheeks tear streaked. He walked up to her, his shoes making soft noises on the
linoleum. She didn't look up at him. Paul reached for her and helped her stand,
enveloping her in his embrace. He pulled back and wiped her face gently, kissing
her cheeks softly.
"I'm not trying to hurt you, babe. I just don't know what
to do." Paul whispered.
"I'm scared, Paul." Annie said, bursting into tears
"Please don't be scared. I'm trying to figure this out. I'm not trying
to upset you." Paul said.
"I know, I know. Just hold me, please." Annie said,
feeling his arms tightening around her.
Paul didn't want to leave her, but
he had to go to work, having missed the previous day. He pulled back from her
and kissed her forehead.
"I've got to go to work, babe. I'll see you tonight."
"Call me a couple of hundred times today, would you?" Annie asked.
"Yes, ma'am," Paul said, smiling.
He took his keys off the hook by the door
and gave Annie one last passionate kiss before leaving for work.
Paul walked into the precinct with a sigh.
Captain. How are you feeling today?" Sally greeted him brightly.
Sally. Much better, thanks," Paul replied, heading for his office.
Griffin was asking for you this morning." She said, over her shoulder.
changed directions and headed to Kermit's office instead. He knocked on the door
and went in. Kermit was deeply engrossed in his computer.
"Hi, looking for
me?" Paul asked, sitting down in a chair opposite the desk.
said, looking up at him for the first time. "You look worse than yesterday, if
that's possible. Did you get any sleep?"
"A couple of hours before the nightmare
set in." Paul said, looking at the floor. "Kermit, I don't know what to do. Annie
is scared. Hell, I'm scared to go to sleep at this point. I don't know which nightmare
I'm going to get and what my response will be."
Kermit walked from around the
desk and put his hand on his friend's shoulder.
"I'm gonna make some calls."
"No shrinks, Kermit. I can't talk about this to them." Paul said,
"I have an idea of who to call." Kermit said.
"Okay, I'm going
to go to work now." Paul said, standing wearily.
"I'll see you for lunch."
Kermit said, to the disappearing figure.
Paul walked into his office and took off his jacket, hanging it on the coat
tree. He sat at his desk and started in on his messages before he attacked his
Kermit opened a file on his
computer and read the coded number. He picked up the phone and placed the call.
did you get by me?" Sally asked the man standing in front of her desk.
I'm his brother, Jim. Is Kermit in?" Jim asked.
"Yes, his office is in the
corner over there," Sally said, pointing.
"Thanks," Jim said, walking away.
Jim knocked on Kermit's door and walked in. Kermit looked up and took(DID)
a double take. He always forgot how much they looked alike.
"Jim, good to see
you," Kermit said, standing to shake his hand.
"No hand shakes, Kermit," Jim
said, walking around the desk to give his friend a hug.
"You look good," Kermit
"Thanks. Paul's right, this place does agree with you." Jim said
you stop by the house?" Kermit asked.
"Yes, I saw Annie, told her the plan,
and picked up some things. Are you squared away here?" Jim asked.
be up sometime tonight. Do you have your sat. phone?" Kermit asked.
call me before you leave the city." Jim said.
"Will do," Kermit asked.
me luck," Jim said.
"Good luck," Kermit replied.
Jim left his office and
walked a short distance and knocked on the door, before opening it. Paul was deep
into the open file on his desk. Jim hadn't seen his younger brother for over a
year and was shocked at how thin he had become.
"Hey, kid!" Jim said.
What on earth are you doing here?" Paul asked, standing up to walk to his brother.
"I'm here to drag you away. Put your coat on." Jim said, hugging Paul.
can't leave work," Paul said, backing out of the embrace.
"You can and will
leave. This is a paid sick day." Frank Strenlich said, from the doorway.
got to call Annie," Paul stammered.
"Done," Kermit replied.
up and saw Kermit standing behind Frank. Kermit nodded once to Paul who nodded
in return. He sighed and put on his jacket. Picking up his glasses, he folded
them and put them in his pocket.
"Guess I'll see you Monday." Paul said to
Frank as he passed him in the doorway.
"Take care, Paul." Frank said.
you later," Kermit said.
"Right, Sally, I'm gone until Monday." Paul said,
walking by her with Jim in tow.
"Okay, have a good weekend," Sally said, returning
to her typing.
Jim and Paul walked
"I parked over here." Jim said, walking towards a jeep.
getting in the passenger side. He put his seat belt on and sighed.
would you please? We're going to the cabin. I picked up some stuff from your house,
a coat, for instance, for you. Annie says there are plenty of clothes up there.
We'll pick up some food at the general store." Jim said, pulling out of his parking
Paul was silent, just looking out the window, but Jim could tell from
his body language that his emotions were all over the chart.
The drive to the cabin took three hours. They stopped at the store where Jim
purchased enough food for an army. Paul listlessly walked the two aisles.
a couple of bags, Paul. We're ready to go." Jim said.
Paul walked back to the
check-out counter and picked up two paper bags. Jim had the hatch opened on the
jeep and Paul put his bags in, noting two large black bags lying diagonally across
the back cargo area. He got back in the Jeep and buckled up. Twenty minutes later,
Jim drove up to the cabin door. A light rain had started to fall. The man at the
general store said there would be snow by midnight. The temperature had already
begun to drop. Paul ran to throw the switch on the generator and the outside light
came on. They carried the bags into the cabin, putting them on the kitchen table.
"I'll get the rest of the things out of the back. Would you put this stuff
away?" Jim asked.
"Yeah, sure," Paul said.
Paul put the food away and folded
the paper bags. Jim brought in the large black duffle bags and the two small bags
from the Jeep. He looked at his younger brother, catching him in a yawn.
don't you change out of those clothes, put on something comfortable and take a
nap on the sofa? I'll start a fire in the fireplace." Jim said, walking to the
"No, I'm fine." Paul said, standing uncomfortably in the kitchen.
"Paul, it's just you and me here. You need to sleep." Jim said, kneeling at
Paul walked to the master bedroom without a word. He changed
out of his jacket, tie and trousers, opting for corduroys and a thick wool sweater.
He walked back into the great room to the heat from the fledgling fire.
got some paper work to do. I'll be sitting in the kitchen if you need anything."
Jim said, walking back to the kitchen to set up his portable office.
across the great room to the open kitchen, watching his brother for a minute before
sitting on the couch. He pulled off his shoes and groaned slightly when he rolled
onto his side. Jim looked up briefly from his work.
The fire had died down to embers and the great room was dark
with a flickering shadow on the ceiling. Paul was caught in the throes of his
nightmare. Jim walked into the room to watch him. Suddenly Paul woke up and jumped
to his feet, his hands rubbed at the scars on his wrists. He started to panic
in the darkness.
"Paul, it's me, Jim. I'm here. You're okay." Jim said.
dark, have to get out, have to get out." Paul said, the fear in his voice palpable.
Jim reached down and turned on a light. In the pale glow, he saw the sweat
on Paul's face and the terror in his eyes.
"Paul, it's over, now. We're at
the cabin, remember?" Jim said, reaching for him.
"Jimmy?" Paul asked, still
caught in his nightmare.
"Yeah, it's me, Paul. Come here and give your brother
a hug." Jim said, standing with his arms open.
Paul walked to him quickly,
just as he used to do when they were boys. Paul was the quiet son and Jimmy was
outgoing. Then they were drafted and went to Vietnam and they became much closer,
more like twins than brothers born ten months apart.
"Are you remembering the
tunnel?" Jim asked.
He felt Paul stiffen and realized that was part of it.
He pulled him tighter.
"You want to talk about it?" Jim asked.
"No, I can't,
not yet, not now." Paul said quietly.
"I'm letting you off the hook for now,
but we are going to talk tonight. That's why we're up here, you know. You have
some things you need to say, so I'm here to listen." Jim replied.
back and dragged his arms across his eyes, like he used to do as a child.
kid, time for you to earn your keep. It's going to get very cold tonight. Please
go chop wood, not a foot or an ankle, please, just wood." Jim said.
you going to do?" Paul asked, slightly annoyed.
"I'm going to make dinner."
Jim said, walking to the kitchen to pack up his office.
Paul thought for a
moment, put on his shoes, grabbed his coat and went out to chop wood. As soon
as the door closed, Jim's sat. phone rang.
"Yes?" Jim answered.
me. I've gathered everything you need. Are there any changes?" Kermit asked.
but you were right to call me. He hasn't been this rocky since our parents died."
"Okay, see you in three hours give or take." Kermit said.
Kermit, I just remembered, one gallon of Rocky Road ice cream." Jim added.
yeah. He still loves the stuff. Annie stopped buying it. Said it was making him
fat." Kermit said with a chuckle.
"Yeah, well, this weekend, he gets what he
wants. Drive safely and I'll see you soon." Jim said.
"Bye," Kermit said, hanging
up the phone.
Jim hung up his phone and looked out the window. He saw chips
flying from beyond the corner of the cabin. He watched for a while, comfortable
that Paul was in a rhythm. Jim cleared off the kitchen table and thought about
dinner; steak, potatoes, Annie said liquor was never an issue up here. Jim walked
to a cabinet and upon opening it found forty bottles of wine, mainly reds. He
chose a Zinfandel, four bottles, and brought them to the counter top. Jim took
the steak from the fridge and proceeded to make a marinade. He covered the steak
and returned it to the fridge, noticing the time. He took a can of cashews and
a can of peanuts and mixed them in a large bowl to keep them going until Kermit
arrived. Jim looked around the cabin and started lighting kerosene lanterns throughout,
creating a soft glow. He cleaned the fireplace, getting it ready for the new firewood.
Luckily there was a fire shed so the firewood was dry and ready for the fire.
The door opened abruptly and Paul lurched in with an armload of firewood.
took the top two logs off and set them on the floor. Paul carefully dumped the
rest into the log carrier to the side of the fireplace. Jim stirred the embers
as Paul brought more firewood in. Twenty minutes later, Paul finished bringing
in the firewood. He took off his coat and brushed back his hair with his hands.
Jim looked at him and squinted. He walked over and took Paul's hands, turning
them over, palm-side up. Jim looked into Paul's face.
"Sit down," Jim said,
directing him to a kitchen chair before he walked to the bathroom for the first
Returning, Jim sat next to Paul. Carefully, he reached over and took
Paul's hands gently, laying them out, palm side up on the table. The blisters
from the axe were open and bloody on both hands. Jim knew they ached. He stood
up, retrieved a glass, and poured two fingers of scotch, setting the glass in
front of Paul. Jim took Paul's right hand, the more damaged one, and put the numbing
anti-bacterial ointment on it. Paul looked at his hand distantly. When it was
bandaged, Jim put the glass of scotch closer to Paul's hand. Paul took the glass
and started to drink the scotch while Jim cleaned and bandaged his left hand.
When he was done, Jim returned the first aid kit to the bathroom and walked into
the great room to finish adding some kindling to the fire. Pleased with the result,
he lit it and replaced the screen.
"Paul, open the black bag with the blue
stripe, would you?" Jim asked.
Paul walked over to the two bags and picked
up the one with the blue stripe. He brought it into the great room and opened
it. It was an electronic keyboard with a stand.
"Annie said you'd been playing
the piano again. It has eighty eight weighted keys. Why don't you give it a try?"
Paul took the keyboard out and set it aside. He set up the stand
and then placed the keyboard on it. Paul plugged the power in, took a chair from
the kitchen and sat down. He hit a key and a squawk emitted from the machine.
Concentrating, he read the manual and reset the system. Paul hit another key and
it sounded more like a piano.
"Uhm, there's one more thing..." Jim said, picking
up one of the smaller duffle bags.
He removed a small speaker.
this wire and the sound of the piano will come out the speaker. Or at least that's
what the man at Sam Ash said to me." Jim said, smiling.
Paul plugged in the
speaker to power and the piano to the speaker. He hit a key and smiled. This was
the smile that Jim remembered and the one he had always counted on. He squeezed
Paul's shoulder and returned to the kitchen to think about dinner. Paul started
to play the same dark jazz piece he'd unknowingly played for Annie.
The snow had begun to fall outside, but the cabin was warm.
Paul had been playing the piano for over an hour and was totally focused. Jim
refilled Paul's scotch glass and put it within reach on a side table. He sat down
in the kitchen and lit a cigar. Listening to Paul play piano, sipping his own
glass of scotch and smoking his cigar, he floated.
Half an hour later, Jim
lit the oven, getting ready for dinner. Kermit should be there soon.
on cue, there was a brief knock on the door. Three men walked in, covered in a
light dusting of snow. Paul stopped playing and looked up in amazement.
Matthew? Kermit? What is all this?" Paul asked, standing.
"This is an impromptu
meeting of the Apostle Team. I believe you needed to see us." Matthew Steadman
Paul looked uncertainly at Jim and Kermit.
"It's okay," Kermit
Paul walked up to his friends and they hugged.
to drink, Paul?" Andrew asked.
"I'm running this operation, Andrew, and yes.
We have scotch and a lovely zinfandel for dinner." Jim answered.
"Then I will
have a scotch." Andrew said, lugging his duffel into the spare bedroom.
have the same," Matthew said, following Andrew.
"Make that three," Kermit said
with a grin, dumping his gear in the great room, knowing that he had the couch.
Jim put the steak fries in the oven
and set the timer. He opened one bottle of Zinfandel to breathe.
playing again?" Andrew asked, looking at the keyboard.
"Yeah," Paul answered,
Andrew and Matthew exchanged glances. They picked up their scotches
and stood together.
"To Team Apostle!" They said.
"To Team Apostle!" Paul,
Jim and Kermit echoed.
The timer went off and Jim put in the steak, resetting
the timer. While Paul played the keyboard, the other men caught up.
would you set the table?" Jim asked.
"Sure thing, Jim." Kermit replied.
minute later, the five men sat down to their first dinner together since 1968.
Paul had gone quiet again, thinking about something. Jim tried to engage him in
conversation, but he knew that look and gave up.
"Great dinner, Jim." Kermit
said, wiping his mouth.
"Yes, Jim, excellent." Andrew and Matthew echoed.
men looked at Paul. His colour was gray and he was staring at his plate.
You okay?" Kermit asked.
"Tell us about it, Paul." Jim urged.
a cigar and pushed his chair away from the table. Matthew did the same. Kermit
hunched over the table and watched Paul.
"In '65, I was assigned as a sniper
on a LRRP team. We had four members; leader, communications, ordinance/medic,
and sniper. It happened near Pleiku, we went into a village, looking for VC. There
were tunnels and I was ordered to go flush any VC out of them. I handed my rifle
to the ordinance guy, Clark, took my knife and my pistol and went in. I walked,
well crawled really, maybe thirty yards and there was an explosion. When I woke
up, my hands were tied behind me and then up to a hook." Paul stood and started
Kermit looked at him and knew that Paul thought he was in Vietnam
at that precise moment.
"I got the call that the LRRP team was missing. When
my team found him it was three days later." Jim said quietly.
Paul was rubbing
at the scars on his wrists now, continuing to pace.
"They had killed the other
members of Paul's team the first day. On the second day, B52s pounded the area,
collapsing the tunnels." Jim continued.
Paul started to shake and squatted
on the floor in the corner of the kitchen, the same way he did on the rooftop
earlier in the week.
"When I found him, he was in a chamber, in the dark, with
four corpses. To this day, Paul cannot be in a dark room. When he first married
Annie, it was a huge problem. She, of course, had never needed light. I had his
house wired with motion detectors so when Annie walked through the house lights
would turn on. There are also nightlights everywhere." Jim said softly.
You okay?" Kermit asked.
Paul looked up at his friends, his face grey with
fatigue, eyes red rimmed from stress.
"No, I don't think so. I'm scared to
go to sleep. I'm scared what dreams will invade there." Paul said, standing slowly.
"Are you tired?" Andrew asked.
"I can't describe to you how tired I am."
Paul said, honestly.
"So go to bed. Sleep on the couch and get the heat of
the fire. We're not leaving you, Paul. You won't be alone." Matthew said.
"I don't know," Paul admitted.
"I do, let's go, little brother."
Jim said, standing.
Paul walked to the couch, sat down, kicked off his shoes
and then lay down. Jim spread a woolen blanket over him and squeezed his shoulder.
"I've got first watch," Kermit advised, refilling his scotch glass and walking
into the great room.
"Fine, where are the cards, Jim?" Andrew asked.
you have any ice cream?" Matthew asked.
12:01 am Saturday
Paul woke up and grabbed Kermit, throwing him against
the wall near the fireplace.
*"Nhung duong ha o dau?"* Paul shouted.
Jim, Matthew and Andrew ran in from the adjoining kitchen.
"I'm okay," Kermit
said, although Paul had his forearm on his windpipe.
"Paul, we've got to Di
Di out of here, buddy." Andrew said, quickly.
"Nah, this guy knows where
the tunnels are." Paul repeated, not moving a muscle.
*"Lai day,"* Matthew
said, in a low voice.
"Sir, this prisoner knows where the tunnels are." Paul
said, looking at him, but keeping his grip on Kermit.
"Captain, Lai day,"
Paul dropped his arms and walked towards Matthew. He stopped
about one foot away. Paul's face was flushed and his pupils were dilated. He was
hyperventilating and perspiration flowed down his face. Matthew pointed to the
*"Nam xuong."* Matthew ordered.
Paul looked at the couch, walked
over and lay face down, arms folded under his head. Jim walked to his side and
started tracing circles on his back, knowing that Paul would remember that feeling
and relax. Twenty minutes later, Paul was asleep.
"Is this what he's been dealing
with, Kermit?" Matthew asked.
"From what I can tell, yes. Since the shooting
at the zoo, when he sleeps, he goes back to Vietnam. He thought he had a handle
on it until Annie told him he tried to strangle her and that she was scared. He's
spiraled since then." Kermit replied, watching his friend sleep.
the story of that day in June 1966.
Jim motioned everyone into the kitchen
to sit at the table. Pouring fresh scotch for everyone, he asked, "Does anyone
have any ideas on what to do?"
"First of all, that's not what happened." Andrew
"What do you mean?" Jim asked.
"Matthew wasn't doing the hooch
search." Andrew said, looking at him.
"No, and Andrew didn't pull the gun from
Paul's hand." Matthew said quietly.
"What the hell happened out there?" Jim
"It was true, I felt a foreboding, I guess, when we got to the village.
We were tired, it was raining, but there was something else. Paul ordered us in,
hell we'd waited for two hours, the weather wasn't getting any better; so we went
in. Harris set off the first bouncing betty and Francis set off the second. Paul's
back was covered with shrapnel; his uniform, covered in blood, but he didn't seem
to notice. He started a hooch search and found the woman spitting the betel juice.
He turned to give me some instructions and she raised an AK-47 from under some
reeds. I pushed him and shot twice, killing her instantly." Andrew said, a slight
tremor in his voice.
"The sound of the gun was deafening at that distance.
Paul was livid; angry with himself and mad at the victim.
"So here were the
five of us, thirty five klicks from Vietnam, in deep shit." Andrew finished.
went in search of anyone who could tell us where these two NVA guys were. I found
a young man whose family had just been wiped out He was more than willing to be
our guide." Matthew said.
"Paul was freaked. The rain had started again, and
Steadman was in charge because he had the guide, so Paul felt, uhm off-balance.
We walked for three days. Paul said maybe one word the whole time. When we reached
the area where the NVA guys were, I pulled Paul aside. I looked in his eyes and
I knew the problem. He had gone to LRRP school with us in Australia, but he had
never actually shot a human long distance. He was nervous and his conscience was
bothering him." Andrew said.
"I watched him strip and rebuild that gun four
times. The stock had been destroyed when Francis was killed; that was the only
damage. But Paul wasn't as convinced. The next morning we went out for the hit.
He was a different man; cool detached, void of emotion. Two shots; two kills.
Totally textbook," Andrew said, sipping his scotch.
"But it was one thousand
feet out. At that time, there were maybe four guys who could do that shot in East
Asia and that was his first?" Jim asked.
"Yeah," Andrew replied.
nightmares too, I think." Jim remarked.
"That's not all of it. Tell them about
Jensen." Matthew urged.
"Our mission accomplished, we called for a dust-off.
Unfortunately, our LZ was hot. Paul led, not Matthew. Paul provided cover for
the team. He was unstoppable, or so we thought. Cavanaugh got shot and then Jensen,
who was right next to Paul. Paul picked him up and threw him into the Huey. He
turned to jump into the Huey and slipped on the blood, he was holding on by his
hands as the VC were shooting at us and we were gaining altitude. Matthew and
I grabbed him and pulled him into the chopper. It was truly heroic. Paul turned
Jensen over and saw he had no face after the gunshot. He looked at me and Matthew
and we all started to bawl like kids. We had been out for ten days, ran out of
food after seven, lost four members of our team, finished the job, and were still
alive." Andrew said, running a nervous hand through his hair.
"You landed and
were all covered in blood. I never saw such a thing. Paul got out of the Huey
and started walking towards his hooch. I kept calling for him but he never responded.
He just kept walking." Jim said, softly.
"He walked into the hooch, leaned
his gun against the wall, and sank to the floor. He was shaking, covered in blood,
dirt, and something else." Kermit said.
"He was covered in what was Jensen's
brain. They were four inches apart when Jensen got it." Matthew said.
him to give me his gun, strip, shower, and then go to sleep." Kermit said.
was his saviour in his first nightmare, you were his saviour in his second. What
had him so upset?" Jim asked.
"He hasn't talked about the Huey ride back."
Matthew said softly.
He looked at Andrew and then to the floor.
you guys not telling me?" Jim asked.
"They're not telling you that I let go twice." Paul said, from the living room.
Jim stood and walked in to help Paul to the kitchen table. He was pretty shaky
and sat down on the nearest chair.
"What do you mean?" Jim asked.
Jensen on the Huey and I jumped, catching the bottom glide of the door. I was
tired, I didn't know you were still alive," he said, looking at Jim. "and I had
shrapnel in my back, so I let go. The first time, Matthew caught me, I don't know
about the second time." Paul said,
"Let's get something straight, shall we?"
Matthew said, standing to bleed off some energy. "You didn't let go. You passed
out. Yes, I caught you the first time; Andrew the second. When Nancy came to look
at you in your hooch, she was surprised at how advanced your malaria was. Said
she was amazed that you were able to stand, let alone go out on a mission."
surrounded the table.
"I don't know about you guys, but I'm tired. I'm going
to bed," Kermit said, standing up.
"Me too," Andrew replied, looking at Matthew.
"Oh, yeah, right. See you guys in the morning. Great dinner, Jim." Matthew
Andrew and Matthew went to the spare bedroom and shut the door. Kermit
walked into the living room, put three more logs on fire, stretched out on the
couch, and fell asleep. Paul looked at Jim and smiled.
"Ready to go to bed?"
"Only if you're in the next bed to watch me." Paul replied.
I've been doing that all your life." Jim said, walking to the master bedroom.
"I know, I've come to depend on it." Paul said, following him.
Jim stretched in the cold morning air and looked at Paul's
bed; it was empty. He cursed silently and walked out into the great room, dressed
in his shorts.
"He left about an hour ago. He took your bow. Needed to clear
his head he said." Kermit replied from the kitchen.
"Be back in a minute."
Jim said, padding back to the bedroom.
Jim dressed quickly, ignoring a shave.
He walked into the great room and put on his wool coat.
"Hunting hats in the
main closet." Kermit noted.
Jim opened the main closet and pulled out a hunting
vest and hat. He put them on quickly and walked out the door.
The front door opened loudly as the Blaisdell brothers arrived
with breakfast. Ever inventive, Paul shot lake trout with Jim's custom bow. Kermit
smiled and took the rack of trout and started to clean them.
"They up yet?"
Jim asked, gesturing to the quiet bedroom.
"Not to my knowledge." Kermit replied.
Paul smiled and walked into the great room to start a fire in the fireplace.
Jim cleaned the arrows and put away the bow into the black case with the red stripe.
Soon, the cabin smelled like fish and the bedroom door opened.
a glorious smell!" Matthew said, as he emerged in pajamas with matching bathrobe
"Trout, terrific!" Andrew said, equally resplendent in a long
bathrobe, with only pajama bottoms visible.
"Paul and Jim went hunting this
morning." Kermit advised as he continued to cook.
"Paul hunted the fish, I
hunted Paul." Jim clarified, pouring coffee for the newcomers.
else are we eating?" Andrew asked.
"Aside from fresh lake trout? I could rustle
you up some potatoes." Paul said.
Jim looked at him. "Since when do you cook?"
"I'm married, remember. Annie has her dishes and I have mine. We
try to split the cooking up evenly." Paul said, reaching in to pull out the potatoes.
"Will wonders never cease." Jim said.
Jim lit a cigar, as did Matthew, as did Andrew, and as did
Kermit. Paul looked at them, confused. He wished he had a cigarette. Jim handed
him his cigar.
"Take a hit. Remember, not into the lungs if you want to live
another twenty years." Jim grinned.
Paul took a hit, holding the smoke in his
mouth, feeling the burn. He exhaled and handed the cigar back.
"Not yet." Paul
said, suddenly remembering something and walking to the mantelpiece.
a brick and another brick pushed back out. Paul pulled a box of English Ovals
out and lit one. Blowing smoke rings, he looked at his friends and started to
laugh. Soon the others joined him, feeling relaxed.
"Hey kid, any dreams?"
"Just of Annie. I really screwed up with her." Paul said, softly.
Jim checked in with his office while
the others did the dishes and fed the fireplace. There was five inches of snow
on the ground. Jim's office reported another five to ten inches on the way. The
cabin was warm and comfortable. Paul played the keyboard and relaxed.
Paul heard a car horn and stopped playing. Who would be
crazy enough to be driving in this weather, he thought. Suddenly, he knew and
ran out of the cabin without a coat or hat.
Annie stood by the car with Kelly.
Paul ran through the snow and stopped in front of her.
"Hi, babe. Want some
lunch?" he said, trying to be casual.
Annie broke into a wide grin and held
her arms out to him. Paul hugged her, pulling back only to kiss her passionately.
"Dad, should we go inside?" a voice said.
Paul broke and looked at the source
of the voice.
"Hey, Caroline, hi, Todd. Yeah, Uncle Jim is inside with some
friends. Maybe you can help Kermit." Paul said, turning his attention to the quiet
child to his right.
"Hi, Kel." Paul said.
"Hi, Daddy." Kelly said, nervously.
Annie had told her that her father was very tired and not to expect too much
"What? You go to Washington on a field trip and you can't kiss your
old man?" Paul asked.
"Oh, Daddy," Kelly said, flinging herself at him.
missed you too, Kel. Uncle Jim is inside. Be sure to tell him thanks for the special
tours." Paul said.
"Dad, it was great we," Kelly started.
us all at lunch. I want to be able to really listen." Paul said with a smile.
Kelly looked at her mother and suddenly understood, and turned to go inside.
"Hi, there." Paul said, again kissing Annie intensely.
"Ah, this is the
Paul Blaisdell I married." Annie breathed into his ear.
"I'm so sorry, Annie.
I want to make it up to you." Paul said.
"Oh, yeah?" Annie asked.
Paul said, kissing her again.
soft skid sound of tires on snow and Paul knew who had arrived.
Paul greeted the tall young man.
"Hi, Dad. Mom, I'm not late, am I?" Peter
asked, always a little insecure.
"No, you're perfect. Go in and talk to Uncle
Jim." Annie directed.
"Wow, Uncle Jim is here?" Peter said, walking quickly
to the cabin.
"Now, where were we?" Paul asked.
"You want to make it up
to me." Annie confirmed.
"I can't wait to make it up to you or make out with
you in every which way." Paul growled.
"We have a full house tonight, sweetheart."
Annie reminded him, planting kisses on his cheeks.
"I am infinitely patient."
Paul said, reaching his hand to her breast, through her clothes.
Annie replied, reaching up to his face to kiss him passionately.
She held him
tightly, sensing that he was better, but not completely well. One step at a time.
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