Fade to Black
All disclaimers and notes may be found in the introduction.
The day seems gray and indistinct. I don't even remember the passage of
time, but I know time must have passed. I vaguely remember pictures of
Lisa and her mother outside her stepfather's estate. That's what this
looks like - the English countryside beneath a deep cloud of fog and
impending rain. The passing of time - it's been a blur. Honestly I
don't...... I don't know anything beyond the ache in my chest. Sam is
standing next to me, and I reach a hand towards him. As I pat his
shoulder, he nods numbly, and I can't believe...... First Donna, and now
this. His face is drawn, and the lines around his eyes make him look
older than Lisa, older than me.
The casket is buried beneath piles of roses and lilies, and I can smell
the sickening floral scent filling the air. My heart is racing, because I
can see the open top of the casket. I should walk up and...... I ought to
look, pay my last respects, but I can't manage it. Sam leaves my side
though. He leaves my side and steps forward to kneel beside the casket.
My eyes sting with what I know to be tears, and I turn my head to give
him some peace.....some space......some privacy.
I see the others then, arrayed loosely behind us. Lisa's father looks
ill, and Paul is there. It almost looks like he's got paint on his hands.
Blue and white paint, and I realize I've never seen him without paint on
his hands. Her mother and stepfather are there, but I can't quite make
out their features and I blame it on the fog. Sam calls my name then, and
I turn to him. He is still on his knees beside the body of his wife, and
something draws me forward to see her body. Tears are being ripped from
Sam's eyes, and his pain fills the air. God, Sam, I'm so sorry. I'm so
I can't find the voice. It's coming from somewhere, but I can't find it.
I turn, searching for it's source, but instead, I see James and Donna and
some man that looks only slightly familiar - familiar but out of place.
I can't find the voice. I can't find the voice, but I can feel someone
shaking me. Does Sam need me? Sam might need me, I should go to him. I
should go to him. I should.....
Sleepily I rub my eyes as Leo stares at me. Glancing at my watch, I
realize I had put my head down next to the computer and fallen asleep.
I'm sorry, Leo, I just.... I have this hunch, and Lisa said 99% of her
job was following hunches, so I thought, since she was in the hospital
and everything that I would.... Leo's not asking what I'm doing though.
He's sitting down wearily. "Should I persuade the President to go home?"
He's looking at me, and I can't help but wonder why I'm qualified to give
an opinion. "Lisa and Detective Bailey think it may be unwise to tell the
Secret Service." Okay, deep breath here Lyman. "Yeah, I agree with them."
That wasn't too hard to say.
Now, Leo asks what I'm doing here. I can barely contain my dread and
excitement. I put this part together. I really think I know all about
Havverson, Lillianfield, and Bennet. I open my mouth to tell him when I
hear the pounding on the door. Leo shouts at whoever it is to come in.
The detective comes in. George, George Bailey, just like the guy from the
corny Christmas movie. I ought to be able to remember that name better
than I do. "The FBI labs sent me a fax about an hour ago." He sets the
information down on the table. They identified the fingerprints. The
handprints from the shirt, the ones they used the luminol to see, they
belong to people with real names. I don't recognize the names though,
although the first seems vaguely familiar. "I looked them up on the
bureau's database. Mark Shepard, he's been dead for about twelve years.
The other, his bio was classified." Twelve years? How does that.... "The
shirt was stolen from an evidence room in the Hoover building three years
ago. He used to work with Ms. Lloyd."
Then it clicks. The name. The London subway bombing. Shit! This is bad.
This is very bad. "The other name is classified?" Leo's staring at the
fax. George nods at him, and Leo stands up, and rifles through the pile
of papers I've set next to the computer. He takes the personnel file we
found in Havverson's hotel room and opens it up. It's all starting to
click, except for..... "Were there any prints on the chessboard?" He
shakes his head, and my spirits dip. It doesn't quite fit with
Lillianfield and the bank statements. There has to be something else.
"The photo underneath..... it's Lisa and him." He taps Mark Shepard's
name on the page, and continues. ".... and there was a print on that."
Yes! This is my happy face. Do you see my happy face? "It matches an old
one in the system." I know what he's going to say before he ever says it.
The London Subway Bomber. See this? This is my unhappy face. Once upon a
time, there was a killer trained by the CIA, and one who practiced his
trade in a subway across the Atlantic and both ended up in a plot to kill
the President. This? This is definitely my unhappy face.
Standing up, I grab my cell phone, and Leo nods. He'll hold down the
fort. Leo will always be the last one out of the bunker, and right now,
he's barricading himself in for the long haul. My shoes hit the street at
a dead run, and with the lingering traces of my nightmare still flowing
through my veins, I hail a cab, and head for the hospital. I'm sure
visiting hours are long over, and won't begin again for a while, but I
have to make sure. I just have to make sure Lisa is alive and Sam is
okay. Just, you know, make sure.
I walk into the hospital room like I belong there, which I don't. No one
belongs in a hospital room at this time of morning - not unless they have
to be here. I'm not sure if I expect Sam to be here still, and I'm almost
certain someone will stop me and kick me out before I get to the private
room at the end of the hallway. I made it here though. I made it here,
and I can see Sam decided to stay because he's laying in the bed beside
her, and he's holding her gently while they sleep. Now that is one of the
fringe benefits of marriage, 'cause that's not something Lisa or Donna
ever did for me. I wonder if Donna would do that now if only..... Shaking
my head, I pull the chair a bit farther from the bed, and sit down
wearily. I should help the detective. I should help Leo. I should be
trying to save the President.
I can't do any of that now though. Now, days of no sleep and frantic
worry are ganging up on me. I haven't slept longer than that nap by the
computer since we arrived in New York. I have to sleep now. I have to
sleep now, because fourteen hours from now, the President of the United
States will speak to the Convention, and short of taking him back to DC
and putting him under house arrest, I'm not sure what to do.
Fade to Black - 23