Fade to Black
Remember my violence warning? Well, here's another.
All disclaimers and notes may be found in the introduction.
For the first time, I'm actually thankful for the existance of Dr.
Freeride. After all, if Donna didn't finish college, then she couldn't be
a lawyer, and she couldn't be the target of this nut. She's not a lawyer,
and she's not important..... not to anyone but me. She's not a lawyer,
she's not important, she's not influential, she doesn't have dark
hair...... Donna will be fine. In my heart of hearts, I know Donna will
be fine, but Lisa...... She's all those things. She's a lawyer, and she's
important, and she has dark hair......
I've never seen a crime scene before, and I'm not sure if I want today to
be the first. Cars and sirens are swarming all over the grass, and James
is already out of the car, stalking down the hill, when I realize I can't
move. It's not that I physically can't move, I just can't bear to know.
What if Lisa is down there? What if this thing, this insanity was
orchestrated by some criminal mastermind she put in jail? I'm not ready
Sam's standing next to my door though, and he pops it open and steps
back. One of those movies last night, about firefighters.... they had
this motto, 'if you go, I go'. Lisa and I have always had a link like
that, and Sam and I have always had a link like that, and I guess
whatever's waiting at the bottom of the hill...... I'm going.
My eyes are focused on the grass under my feet, and I can see Sam's
loafers a half step ahead of my wing tips. The noise, the sirens..... If
I never hear sirens again...... Please don't let this kill Sam. I squeeze
his shoulder a little, as I watch his loafers stalk down the hillside.
Lisa's his life. It's too loud. Arlington should never be this loud.
Don't the dead get to rest? Is someone I know resting down there? Is my
best friend resting down there? Please, let this be a nightmare. Wake me
The loafers stop, and my head snaps up in response. James disappeared
into the crowd, and I know that somewhere in the center of the crowd is a
body - the body of a woman that some maniac stabbed and posed and covered
with an American flag from some time past...... and I just pray I don't
know that woman. Was this how Sam felt when he found out about Laurie?
Will this be worse? Why does this have to happen? How can any God let
this happen? Okay, stop yourself, Lyman. You're getting philosophical.
The crowd parts again, and even though Sam and I crane our necks we can't
see past James' broad shoulders. He looks pale, and when he opens his
mouth, I feel the energy radiating off of him.... feel the anger. "There
was no ID with the body." Sam starts to say something, but whatever it
is, I don't quite understand it. James must though, because he answers
with "I can't." He and Sam just stare at each other, and I think I'm the
one being left out of the loop now. "Can't one of the others....." What
are they talking about? Someone has got to clue me in here. "No." That
look on Sam's face.... He looks like he just got an early birthday
present. What is going on, and why are they not clueing my in here?
"Could you....." James is talking to me. Could I what? "We can take the
body down to the M.E.'s for an ID, but if you want to....." I step
forward. I have to know if it's Lisa. I have to know. Knowledge is power,
right? Knowledge is power, and right now, I don't have any of either.
James turns and leads me throw a sea of uniforms and suits, until we
stop. He lay this girl on top of a grave. There's this lump in my throat
now, and I kneel down, trying to ignore the pooling blood in the grass,
and the circular stain on the center of the flag. I'm not sure Old Glory
was meant to be used this way. James reaches out to pull back the flag
for me. His hands rustle the flag and it shifts just a little. Really,
it's just the tiniest fraction on an inch, but as he looks up to ask
permission to show me her face, a thin blond hair escapes.
I clap my hand over my mouth as the bile rises in my throat, and
painfully nod to James. The world spins in slow motion for the moment it
takes to peel the blue field away from her face. No! She wasn't supposed
to be a target! She wasn't a lawyer, she wasn't influential. She
just...... she just worked for me, and took care of me, and loved me. She
wasn't supposed to be a target! The Secret Service followed me all day,
and Donna died. I don't..... I can't breathe..... I can't..... I
won't...... I have to touch her, but an officer stops my hand. "I'm
sorry, sir, but the evidence....." Whatever he was going to say, James
stops him, but I can't...... She's not evidence! She's my Donna! Oh God,
I know I'm an idiot, but can't you take me instead of her? Can't you take
me back to Rosslyn and let me die there? If I had, Donna and Lisa
wouldn't have even been together today...... Donna would still be
alive..... I just..... I can't move. I can't move, and I can't move, and
I can't move.
James moves to cover her face again, but from who knows where, I find the
strength to open my mouth without throwing up. "No! No, I want to
see....." I can't finish. It's too much for me to say that, but he seems
to understand, because he moves the flag down. Her hands are folded over
her chest, and James follows my eyes, gently moving them aside with
gloved hands. If I put on gloves, would they let me touch her one last
time? Just, you know, brush her cheek, or touch her hair. He sets her
other hand aside, and I can see it clearly, the hole in her chest.
Someone's telling me that he stabbed her through the heart, just like the
others, and I want to scream. She's not just like all the others! She was
my Donna! She is nothing like them! She was not a lawyer! She was not
important! She was not...... she wasn't supposed to be here now. She was
supposed to be with me.
James sounds so calm, telling me she probably died instantly, and I know
I'm being indulged. I know I should stand up and leave. I know I should
leave so that they can work, but if I leave, I'll never see her again.
She'll be gone, and I'll be alone, and I would have gladly given her my
heart to use.... I already gave her my heart to use, so why didn't she? I
would have died for her..... I would have done anything for her. I
just.... I thought it would be Lisa..... I'd rather it were Lisa.......
Sam has his arm around my shoulder, but he hasn't said anything to me all
afternoon. When the FBI finished talking to us, James had someone drive
us back to the White House. Neither of us..... we couldn't go home..... I
couldn't go home, so we walked through the front gate, and I made it
clear to the bullpen before I broke down. I almost expected Donna to be
sitting at her desk, telling me why she was late for lunch. Donna's never
going to tell me she's late for lunch...... she's never coming back from
I lost it right there. I'm sure Sam panicked when I collapsed, but I just
didn't have the strength to take another step. Charlie and Toby carried
me into Leo's office. I just.... I tuned it all out.... Sam told Leo and
the President and..... everyone..... everyone but Donna, the whole story.
About the time my mind decided to focus, Leo was pacing the room, and the
President was just standing there.
"I.... I'm going to make some tea." Donna used to make me tea, and I'm
sure Margaret's will be nice, but it won't be Donna's tea. I'm not going
to get any more tea from Donna. I'm not going to get coffee from Donna.
I'm not going to get Donna. I am such an idiot.
"Why don't you both go home and get some....." "No." See, this is
interesting day. The President didn't even let Leo finish his thought.
That's a first. First crime scene, first time POTUS disses Leo..... A day
of firsts. "No, I think you should all stay at the White House. If this
lunatic is targeting high profile political people, then you are his
number one targets. I want my staff where the Secret Service can watch
them." A ripple of dissent washes over the crowd, but it quiets as soon
as Sam stands up. He tells the President it's a great idea. No, no Sam,
it's not a great idea. It's a horrible idea. I want to go home. I want to
go home, and find that bottle of perfume Donna left in my apartment. I
want to curl up with my shirt she slept in while I had the flu. I want to
cover up with the comforter I lay over her shoulders last night while she
slept in the chair....... "But first I.... I need to go home and get some
things." The President looks doubtful, but Sam reminds him that the
Secret Service and the FBI are all over his house, and mine.
The President nods, and Sam turns to leave. Toby suddenly says he's going
with him.... to keep an eye on him and pick up some things for himself
Lionel and Ainsley walk in then, with the briefs on Lillianfield's latest
round of hearings. No one speaks. No one even breathes, and it's as if
the pain and tension are palpable. Lionel Tribbey, for once in his life,
is silent. Myself, I can't help but stare at Ainsley..... Ainsley with
her pale skin and her long, blond hair.
Fade to Black - 7