Fade to Black
Part 17

All disclaimers and notes may be found in the introduction.


"Let's take this from the beginning." Leo sits down, and Josh and I look
at each other. When I walked in, Josh was barking at Margaret, and
thumping his head against the table. Twenty minutes later, we were both
having one of those 'Eureka!' moments that you always see on TV. That's
not where Leo came in though. See, first we called Konrad and Connelly.
We got exactly the answer we expected from Connelly. He said Lisa was
welcome to check out whatever files she wanted, and what she did with
them was her own business. Of course, he also invited us to show up with
an executive order, and then we could have the keys to the temple for all
he cared. Konrad taught me 23 different ways to say "I'm not letting you
idiots near this stuff" and nearly gave Josh an aneurysm. That's when Leo
came in. He backs us up three times and makes us explain it all over
again. When we've finally explained everything to his satisfaction, he
doesn't yell, he doesn't fume, he doesn't even holler for Margaret.
Instead, he points at me, and he orders me to get my wife in this room
within the hour.

I dial her cell phone number, and instead of her voice, or even her voice
mail, I get that stupid message about the phone being out of service, and
to please try again later. I must have dialed the wrong number, because
with the kind of calls she must be getting, I don't think she'd leave the
phone off, even for a moment. The second time I try, I get the same
message. Okay, so she turned the phone off. I shrug at Leo. I'll just go
find her. I'll go find her, because I..... I'm not sure why her phone's
off.

Josh jogs after me, and before I manage to even think of a game plan, his
hand is on my shoulder. "Sam, why not take your pills?" I can't, Josh. I
take them, and I forget whatever it is I'm trying to remember. He's
asking me now, about what I'm trying so hard to remember, but I just, I
can't place it. I lean against the wall then, and I feel his gaze shift
with mine. My hand..... I'm staring down my arm to the back of my hand.
My palm is planted against the wall while bells and whistles go off in my
head. The shirt.... theshirttheshirttheshirttheshirt. Yeah, I'll go take
my pills now, but Josh, tell me where Lisa is? You've got to know. You
always know. She tells you everything, so tell me where she is. Please,
Josh, Leo wants to see her. She needs to know this, Josh. Please?

*

Josh insisted that I sleep after I took my pills. I didn't think I would.
When I wake up, it's already starting to get dark. I guess I was wrong.
Josh is sitting in the chair with his back towards me, and he's talking
softly on his cell phone. Lisa, we were supposed to find Lisa. Josh must
hear me moving around, because he turns around. Then he hands me the
phone. I bring it up to my ear, and I start to ask who it is. Her voice
stops me though. Lisa is upset. She's not crying. She's not shouting. She
talking to me, and I can hear it in her voice. It cracks just a little,
and the pitch, it isn't quite right. I don't have to ask though, because
she's not keeping secrets, not anymore.

I just..... I have to ask her to repeat herself, because I swear I
misunderstood. Jamie cannot have died this morning. Aren't the good guys
supposed to win? I know they are. The good guys are supposed to win. I
can hear voices in the background, and I want to ask why she didn't call
me this morning. I want to ask why she didn't come find me. I would have
been there for her. She's...... she's my wife, and she should let me help
her when she's in pain. She stops for a moment, and whispers something
about the boys. Damn, I nearly forgot about the boys.

She's rambling a little though, and the next thing out of her mouth is
about Havverson and his office. Yeah, did Josh tell you about the bank
statements? Oh. Sure. He had them faxed to the police station. That would
make sense. Look, there's something I've got to tell you. There's
fingerprints. Everything stops on her end of the phone, and then I hear
her take a quick breath. "Whose fingerprints?" The killer's. Then, I tell
her about the shirt. I had dreams about that shirt. I tell her about the
shirt and the Polaroids. The next sound I expect to hear is a dial tone,
or tears, or hell.... maybe she'll read me my rights, but I don't expect
silence, and I don't expect her to ask for Josh. Confused, I hand the
phone back over.

I want to listen in, see what I can figure out from Josh's half of the
conversation, but the pounding on the door yanks me out of bed. CJ's
standing at the door, and she's ranting about being our first call. I'm
not sure what we've done this time..... well, other than the obvious, but
I'm not sure why that's worth yelling at us. "Next time you guys take on
Konrad, could you warn me! Danny keeps pestering me, like we went to war
and didn't tell anybody." Oh, right, that.

Josh hangs up the phone, and manages to shoo CJ out of the room without
making it look like she's being shooed out of the room. That is talent.
If I would have done that, she would have stepped on me, or at least,
today, she would have stepped on me. As soon as the door closes, Josh
grabs his knapsack off the table and slings it over his shoulder. For
just a second, he looks like he's carrying a thousand pounds on his back,
then he tells me to get it together, we're going out. It's ten-thirty and
Josh wants to play detective?

Apparently this isn't the Josh-and-Sam-show because Leo meets us in the
lobby. Now, this is one of those moments when I think we should turn
around and walk away. There are professionals. There are professionals,
and I'm not sure why we don't leave these things to them. Leo's driver is
waiting outside with a car, and I duck into the backseat next to Josh. I
don't quite get up the nerve to ask where we're going, 'cause I still
feel a little fuzzy. It's some hotel. We stop outside some hotel, and Leo
and Josh jump out. This is sort of weird actually. Josh stops at the door
and turns to look at me. He tips his head and that face.... Josh has a
bad poker face. I unsnap the seat belt and climb out of the car.

By the time I make it inside, they're standing at the front desk, and I
overhear Leo asking for Glen Havverson. Josh pauses a half step on the
way towards the elevator, and I have to wonder what exactly we plan for
Havverson to tell us that he hasn't already. I mean, the bank records,
the whole act about Virginia pride, it might as well have been a
song-and-dance number.

We don't talk on the ride up, and I can't help but think that Bennet and
Lillianfield have pretty much guaranteed us the White House. This will
come out, Leo will make sure of it, and the whole scandal will derail the
Republicans for at least four years. This, this kind of scam, for
whatever purpose, is the worst thing they could have done.

The hall is pretty quiet, and I have to check my watch to remind myself
that it's not that late. Leo is knocking on the door the clerk gave us at
the front desk, but there's no answer, and Josh adds his fist, pounding
wildly. We're going to wake up everyone in the hotel before we get an
answer. Suddenly, I have an idea. Actually, I think it's a pretty good
idea. I push Josh aside a bit, and twist the handle. The door swings
open. Okay, it was a great idea.

Inside, everything's gone. Suits, luggage, papers, everything you'd
expect to find in a Senator's room during a national convention is gone.
Plus, there doesn't seem to be a Senator. This is, uh, rather disturbing.
I'm starting to think maybe we should have invited Lisa, or someone who
knows what they're doing along on this little venture, because I'm
starting to think that Havverson knows about more than fraud and misuse
of government resources. Actually, I think he's knows a lot more about
something other than that. Josh is wandering around, frantic to find
*something*, but Leo's already out the door. I'm sort of wondering what
exactly I missed while I was asleep when Josh barrels out the door
dragging me by the arm.

We're settled in the car when Josh produces a manilla folder from under
his jacket. What's the deal with all this cloak-and-dagger stuff? He's
reading from it though, and when I finally figure out it's a personnel
record, my eyebrows jump up as Leo grabs it away from him. Whatever he's
looking for, he finds it, and just stares for a second. Then he looks at
Josh, and tells him to get on the phone and remind Konrad that he serves
at the pleasure of the President. Josh gets way too much satisfaction
from making that call, but then again, I'd be pretty thrilled to yank
that particular thorn our of my side, and out of his bed to chew him out.
When he hangs up, he starts dialing again automatically. "Detective, I'm
sorry, I was trying to reach Lisa...... Oh, sure, I'll hold on." He sits
there, thumping his fingers impatiently against the door until he's
jolted upright.

The noise outside soundly frighteningly similar to gunshots and Josh
still reacts violently after all this time. Hell, Leo and I practically
jump out of our seats, so I guess it's not all Josh. I keep glancing
around, but I can't figure out where the noise came from. I can hear
Lisa's voice coming from Josh's phone though, and he's not answering her.
I take the phone away from him, and ask her where she is. That's my most
pressing question, but then she says something about Havverson's aide
calling about some files, and a bunch of bank statements that she can't
decipher. I'm starting to think this is about more than discrediting the
Republican leadership.

"Have you or Josh ever been fingerprinted?" Not that I know of. Why? She
doesn't answer the why, but she tells us we're going to be. She found the
shirt. Thank God, she found the shirt. The Feds work fast. Well,
actually, they should have had it months ago, so fast might not be quite
right. I put my hand over the mouthpiece and lean forward to tell Leo and
the driver about Lisa's sudden need to have us fingerprinted. Neither of
them react, and for a second I think they didn't hear me. Leo turns
though, and asks where we're going now.

*

Lisa isn't there, but some detective who I'm going to assume spoke to
Josh earlier is waiting for us. There's no press and really not many
people wandering around, so it's not as bad as I would have thought. Josh
bristles a bit at the need to be fingerprinted, and he keeps asking where
Lisa went. Good question, any one want to tell us? "Samuel, I always told
my daughter that you were no good, but I didn't expect to see this."
Peter Lloyd is leaning against the wall with this odd sort of smirk
plastered on his face. I think I'd forgotten precisely how little he
liked me until just now. While I wipe the ink off my hands, Leo and Mr.
Lloyd talk quietly. Leo says something to Josh then and turns to leave.
Whoa, can we back this up, because I have no idea what's going on.
Someone want to tell me what's going on?

Mr. Lloyd is leading Josh up the stairs now, and I trot across the room
to catch up. I have this feeling of being the proverbial lamb led off to
the slaughter, but when we get to where we're going, Lisa's sitting in a
chair, watching a tape of our testimony in front of the Oversight
committee. She pauses it right after I make the stupidest honest mistake
of my career, and dumps two Polaroids out of an envelope onto the table
in front of her. Josh, I'm going to beat you with a stick when this is
over. I thought the definition of best friend involved not giving
incriminating photographs to my wife.

She holds the first shot, of me with my arm around Laurie, out in front
of her at arms length, and glances between the still picture on the
television and the glossy print. Josh sees it first, but when I notice, I
can't help but wonder what the hell's going on. "The shirt's in the lab.
The luminol produced two sets of hand prints." I knew it. It took forever
to remember it, but I knew it.

 

Fade to Black - 18

 

 

 

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