Fade to Black
Part 2

All disclaimers and notes may be found in the introduction.


My head feels like an anvil just crashed down on it, and I want to roll
over and wrap my arms around Lisa and go back to sleep. I try to do just
that, but Lisa isn't in our bed. Her side isn't even warm. How late did I
sleep? Cracking open one eye, I try to ignore the assault on my vision
brought about by the wane light filtering through the curtain. It's not
working. I glance at the clock, and nearly bolt out of my skin. It cannot
be that late! I'm late for staff, Cathy will have my head, Leo will kill
me, and Josh is probably just as late. Then I remember. I don't have
staff today, because I'm not allowed to go to work. Suddenly the pounding
in my head seems to rip through my brain. This is so not good. I'd be
miserable enough today, but with a hangover too......

Wait. A hangover? When did I go drinking? I remember the hearing in all
the vivid and idiotic detail of someone whose life just fell apart, and I
remember going back to the White House with Josh. Then Leo called me to
the floor and ordered me to lay low for a while. He made sure I knew I
was still employed - he just won't let me come to work. I should have
asked how long a while was. Until after the campaign? That's nearly a
year from now. I don't think I can make it that long. After that, I went
to see, well.... I tried to go see Laurie, but she was in court, so I
went and sat on her steps for a while. They already found out I'm crazy,
so what's a few pictures of me on her doorstep?

Actually, I don't remember too much after that. I know I gave up on
waiting for her, but I don't remember coming home. That must have been
when I went out and got drunk.... or came home and got drunk, I really
don't remember. Finally, I give up on sleep, and throw off the blankets.
It's freezing in here, and I cannot believe Lisa would have slept in here
if it were this cold. Wait, did Lisa sleep in here? Now I have to get up.
Grabbing a sweatshirt from off the floor, I pull it over my head. I'm
halfway downstairs before I hear it. There's music playing. Yo-Yo Ma,
sonata in G minor. That is so strange I cannot put words to it. Lisa
doesn't even like the cello, and for her to have left this song
playing.....

But there's no coffee on in the kitchen, and there's no newspaper on the
couch. There's no lights on in her study, and I fail to believe for once
she remembered to turn them off. I stick my head into the laundry room,
and I stop cold. That is not my dress shirt. That cannot be my dress
shirt. What happened last night? Closing my eyes, I try to remember
anything after I left Laurie's front steps. Nothing. Shaking my head, I
grab the shirt, and a bottle of stain treater, and dump it in the washing
machine, with the rest of the colors. As long as I'm forbidden to come to
work, I might as well work on my skills as a househusband.

*

I think my jaw is still somewhere on the living room floor. To say I was
shocked when I got the paper and opened it up to the front page is the
understatement of the century. I was expecting to see the headlines
screaming about the President's advisor being manic-depressive. Instead,
there's a picture of police swarming all over the Capitol steps, and even
without reading the caption, I can spot Lisa standing next to James
Sattler. Laurie's dead? I can't believe.... dead.

The reporter spends five inches talking about the inappropriate
assignment of Lisa profiling Laurie's killer. I know Lisa isn't fond of
her, and I know I did sleep with a call girl that one time, which I will
never live down, but my wife is not the kind of person to let a killer go
free because of her personal feelings. At least, I hope not.

Then there's a pounding at the door, and Josh is yelling at me to open
the door. What now? Did we declare war on someone? I open the door, and
he rushes inside, slamming it behind him. "Where's your shirt?" My shirt?
What shirt? "The shirt you had on last night! Where is it?" I tell him
I'm washing it, and since he's seems to know what's going on, I ask him
about last night. "Did you see the paper?" Yeah, I saw it. Then Josh is
going full speed ahead, telling me that he called Lisa, and the she slept
on Jamie's couch, and that she definitely unhappy about something, and he
hadn't been able to place it until...... "People saw you two together
last night. The press is all over CJ about it, and Lisa stayed with
someone else last night. Not only did she not come home, she didn't come
to my place either. Think about it, Sam." I'm thinking about it, and.....
wait, if Lisa wasn't here this morning, who put in the cello music?

I don't understand. People saw me with who? With Laurie? Does she think
that...... Lisa couldn't think that. I mean, I slept with Laurie once.
Does she really think that I'd be stupid enough to do it again,
especially when I have her to come home to? Wait, Josh is asking about my
shirt again, asking if anyone's seen it, telling me that when we're done
washing it, he's going to get rid of it. Josh, calm down! You're acting
like I...... Shit! Josh, tell me you don't think I killed Laurie! I could
never, I mean, no, not ever do something like that.

Josh looks sad, and he says he knows I wouldn't deliberately hurt
someone, and that's why we have to do this. I'm a lawyer. I work for the
President. I cannot let someone orchestrate what might be a cover up.
What if I saw what happened? What if my shirt would help find the killer?
Josh must sense my thoughts, because he digs into his pocket, grabs a
handful of change and throws it at me. "You're on retainer. This is
privileged." This is silly. I know I didn't do anything.

Then why do my wife and best friend think I did?

*

Josh answers the phone when CJ calls. The FBI is having a press
conference, and Lisa's going to talk about her profile of the killer.
She's not going to say much. I've seen her give the press two lines of a
twenty page profile, just enough to get people looking, but not enough to
give away everything they have. He grabs my remote control, and flips
through the channels until he finds it. Right now, the DC police are
giving a formal statement on the crime. They don't tell us anything we
don't already know, but I hang on every word, trying to wrap my mind
around the fact that Laurie's dead.

When the police spokesman introduces Lisa, I nearly choke on my tongue.
Elizabeth *Lloyd*? What's the deal? Did we get divorced at some point
last night? I just don't understand this. Even through the fog of the
hangover, and Josh's tension, and my own confusion, I latch onto Lisa.
She doesn't look like she just spent the night on someone's couch, but
I've also never known her to be unprepared for anything. I should expect
nothing less now. She's telling everyone that the FBI and the DC police
will be working together closely, which I know is a lie. The FBI and the
DC police have been in a tug-of-war for years, but it's pro forma. Now
comes the good stuff. She's going to give her profile, and Josh can stop
acting like he's in a bad remake of 'All the President's Men'.

When she steps away from the podium, Josh is fixing me with this look.
She said the suspect was most likely a white male, mid to late thirties,
and some sort of professional. You know, Josh, if my best friend doesn't
believe me, I'm not liking my odds with the rest of the world. I didn't
kill Laurie. I didn't even see Laurie last night, so stop telling me
people saw us together. I was depressed over the thing with Lillianfield.
I went out and got drunk. I don't remember much of it, but if I'd killed
someone, I'm sure I'd remember. Right?

He's not listening to me. Instead, he's grabbing a trash bag from the
kitchen and my shirt from the washing machine. He stuffs the still wet
shirt into the bag, and that bag into his knapsack. Josh! Listen to me,
this isn't necessary. I think it's noble that you're willing to do this
for a friend, noble but stupid, but I didn't kill anyone. I know I
didn't! Josh! Josh!

As he leaves, he puts a hand on my shoulder, and looks me straight in the
eye. Then he tells me that if I ever want to work in politics again, I'll
just keep my mouth shut, and let Lisa find the killer. I can't do that
Josh, I mean, I know I didn't do it, I'm sure I didn't do it, so why does
the shirt matter? "Your wife didn't come home last night, Sam." Alright,
so maybe I'm an idiot for ever sleeping with a call girl, but that does
not mean she thinks I killed her. She's probably just a little out of
sorts from the whole fact that it's Laurie, or maybe they worked late and
she just crashed at Jamie's to save the trip home, or maybe..... But the
point is, Lisa doesn't think I did it, Josh, and you shouldn't either. He
just shakes his head, and turns to leave. "Promise me, Sam. Don't say
anything." Alright. Since I didn't do it, it shouldn't matter if I say
anything. "I promise." He turns and walks out the door, and under his
breath I hear him muttering something.

*

The house is dark, and I'm laying on the couch, staring at the ceiling.
My head won't stop spinning, and I'm starting to wonder about the wisdom
of mixing large quantities of alcohol with my pills. Obviously not the
best idea I've had to date.

Lisa came home almost an hour ago, and she threw some things into an
overnight bag and left, saying Donna wasn't feeling well, and so she was
going to sleep there tonight. I don't believe her. I mean, I want to, but
I can't. If Donna were sick, Josh would have mentioned it, and Josh would
be taking care of her, not Lisa. I tried to talk to her about Laurie, to
tell her that I haven't slept with Laurie since that one time, and she
just looked at me, with these pools of water building behind green eyes,
and said she trusted me, and that she'd be home tomorrow night. I hope
she comes home tomorrow night, and I hope she finds the real killer so
Josh can stop acting like a reject from some B movie crime flick.

I must fall asleep, because I don't remember anything else until I wake
up on the couch the next morning. The TV's still broadcasting, and
they're running a news broadcast. I almost think they're still talking
about Laurie's murder, until I see the screen. There's been another
killing, and the anchor's talking about a possible serial killer.

 

Fade to Black - 3

 

 

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