Title: Uninvited Guest - Part 1 of 7
Author: Rhonda Dossett
Character: CJ, but everyone gets to play
Summary: Is the White House haunted?
Spoilers: Minor possible spoilers up to and including
"The Day Before."
Disclaimers: The normal disclaimers apply.
Thursday 7:30 pm
White House Briefing Room
The room was crowded and noisy. The theater style seats were
all filled. A dozen or more rumpled reporters accessorized with
pens and note books leaned against the south wall. Multiple
cameras lining the opposite wall were ready to record every
detail of the briefing.
Scattered television monitors allowed the action at the podium
to be seen by everyone in the room and in offices throughout the
building. The noise level increased dramatically as the door to the
right of the stage opened.
"CJ!" first one reporter and then another shouted.
Ignoring the reporters, the tall women with reddish brown hair
proceeded to the podium and set out her notes on the flat surface
in front of her. Adjusting her reading glasses, she finally looked
out on the individuals vying for her attention.
"I have a short statement about next week's trip to California and
then I'll take questions. Carol?"
A dark haired woman in her early thirties started passing out
sheets of paper to those assembled.
Briskly reading the note in front of her, CJ rattled off the
following information: "Carol is giving you a copy of the latest
itinerary for the San Francisco trip. The shuttle bus will be
leaving from here at 4:30 am on Monday morning, wheels up
at 5:15 am, wheels down at approximately 7:45 am local time.
The President will be getting his security briefing immediately
upon getting to the hotel. Then he will meet with staff for no
more than 45 minutes. The President is meeting with an
environmental group at 11:00 am and then attending a 1:00 pm
luncheon with the State Democratic Campaign Chairman and
various party officials. After lunch the President is meeting with
Rev. Bennington and touring his homeless shelter. There will
be photo opportunities during the tour and at the following
League of Women Voters reception. The President and senior
staff will then attend a fund raiser "black-tie" dinner at
Phil Green's mansion. The dinner is by invitation only. We
will be leaving for D.C. at 1:00 am California time with touch
down at approximately 7:15 am local time."
Taking a breath, CJ added, "Of course you know that what I
just told you is subject to, and probably will, change without
Pointing to a reporter in the first row, CJ barked, "Gary."
"Is the President going to veto the economic stimulus bill?"
"Okay, no questions about the trip, I see" quipped the Press
Secretary with a smile. "The President is in favor of an
economic stimulus bill that will not only benefit business but
will put extra income immediately into the hands of working
families. Hopefully any bill landing on his desk will be
something he and the American people can support."
Pointing to a women leaning against the wall, CJ said,
"I've got a source that says there was incident in the White House
last night, something about an intruder?"
CJ lowered her glasses to half-staff and peered at the reporter
over the top of her tortoise shell frames. She smiled and stated,
"I have no information about any intruder, and I'm sure that's
something the Secret Service would have mentioned."
A few chuckles were heard and another bout of questions about
tax relief ensued. Ten minutes later CJ walked into her office
and shut the door. Sagging against the door she took a deep breath
and shut her eyes. The sound of a male voice clearing his throat
caused her to jerk upright and her eyes to shoot open.
Danny Concannon was lounging on her couch. In a mater of
fact voice he stated, "You didn't think you were going to be able
to keep the ghost a secret did you?"
Thursday, 8:00 pm
Stalking over to her desk, CJ tossed her files and glasses down
and turned to face the smiling nuisance, "How did you get in
"Oh, you know me. I can walk through walls. Which reminds
me of my original question. Did you really think you were
going to be able to keep the ghost a secret?" Danny asked.
"I don't know what you are talking about. Have you been
writing with Magic Markers and sniffing the caps?" replied
CJ while riffling through a stack of files on her desk.
Danny stood and headed toward the door, looking over his
shoulder he tossed out the following while leaving, "CJ,
I have a named source who was there. Tomorrow, my paper
is running with the story, with or without a comment from
the White House."
Three days earlier, Monday 10:30 pm
CJ was sitting in a lotus position on the floor in the corner of
her office. She was leafing through a book propped opened in
front of her. The week before Margaret had suggested that yoga
might be a good way for her to relieve stress. Not having time
for regular meals much less time to attend a class, CJ asked Carol
pick up a book for her on the subject. The President overheard
Margaret suggesting possible book stores to Carol. One thing led
to another and the President ended up directing Carol to visit his
favorite antique book shop. Only due to Ron Butterfield's
intervention did the President finally agree to let Carol do the
Carol returned with several books for the President on the
history of modern agriculture, CJ's yoga book, and one used
book on magic. She gave the magic book to CJ as a Halloween
joke, saying, "If the yoga doesn't work, you can just cast a
spell and get rid of all your problems."
Well, Halloween had long passed. Tonight was the first time
CJ'd had a chance to more than glance at the yoga book.
The result of which had led her to change into her workout
clothes and attempt to bend her body into a position similar
to one pictured in "Yoga for You."
CJ was not finding the position comfortable. In fact it was
just plain painful. Developing a cramp in both calves and the
beginnings of a headache, she unwound herself and tossed the
book in the nearby trash can.
After standing up and working the kinks out of her lower back,
CJ leaned over and pulled the antique magic book off her shelf.
She hadn't really looked at it too closely when Carole presented
it to her, but now she was curious.
The book was an odd size, about 12 inches by 14 inches.
It looked old, very old. The cracked leather cover had raised
letters spelling out the title "Spells, Potions, and Portents."
CJ made a note to ask Carol where she had found it. Surely it
didn't come off on a rack at "Walden Books." Carefully turning
the brittle, yellowed pages, CJ discovered that the print was
strangely primitive and the margins of the pages were filled with
faded handwritten notes.
The book appeared to contain formulas for homemade medicines.
Everything from cures for ear aches, scurvy, pleurisy, and
something called dropsy. The pages were filled with lists of
ingredients, some common, some obscure.
Chuckling to herself, CJ thought she might be able to find the
sassafras but she didn't have a clue as where she could purchase
wormwood, properly aged of course.
Deciding that she might as well get her things together and call
it a night, she replaced the book on her shelf. Walking over to
the clothes tree in the far corner of the room, she grabbed her
coat and pulled it on over her gym clothes.
Hanging her purse over one shoulder, CJ draped the suit she
had worn all day over her arm and turned to pick up her
briefcase. That's when something hard hit her on the back
of her head. Yelping and whirling around CJ looked for her
No one else was her office. The office door was still shut.
Rubbing the back of her head, CJ looked down at her feet.
The old book was laying there. It was open-faced on the floor
and one by one the pages were slowly turning by themselves.
Two Days earlier, Tuesday 10:30 am
"Damn it Toby, it happened" CJ was almost shouting. Pacing
in Toby's office, she recounted her "close encounter."
Toby was sitting in one of his visitor's chairs bouncing a pink
rubber ball against one wall, catching it, and throwing it again.
He managed to complete the process even though he had to
time his throws to avoid CJ who was walking back and forth
in front of him.
Finally, CJ grabbed the ball in mid-flight, "Are you listening to
me? The book flew through the air and hit me on my head."
In a resigned manner, Toby stood up and walked behind his
desk. In a careful voice he asked "Were you drinking last
night?" "Hitting the beer in the mess again?" Seeing her
blue eyes turn steely gray, he wisely backed up a step.
Instead of the quick retort, he was expecting, CJ just turned
It was a couple of seconds before he realized that she took
his ball with her. He got back to work muttering, "Damn she
got another one."
Two Days earlier, Tuesday 8:45 pm
Toby cautiously opened the door and peered inside. The office
was empty. Stepping into the office, he surveyed the contents.
Everything seemed normal. Noticing the muted televisions
reflecting the on-going briefing, Toby found the remote control
and turned up the sound.
He listened for a few minutes to CJ answering questions about
activities planned for the British Prime Minister's visit, then
hit the mute button again.
Wandering over to her book shelf, Toby tilted his head to the
left, reading the titles. Not finding what he was looking for,
he straightened and turned back toward the door.
The previously open doorway was now blocked. CJ leaned
against the doorframe, arms crossed, waiting for him to say
Toby looked at her with an amused expression on his face.
"Where's the book?"
She pointed to a spot under the sofa.
Raising one eyebrow, Toby questioned her "What, it crawled
"No, Toby. Just leave. I'm not talking about it with you again."
"CJ, I'm here to help."
CJ looked at his face, suspicious that he was teasing her, but
biting anyway. "How?"
He looked up at her with a deadpan expression stated
CJ straightened to her full height and strode around him to her
desk. She sat down and opened the top file resting on a stack
of files and briefing books. Adjusting her glasses, she began
reading, effectively ignoring him.
With his hands in his pockets, Toby stood there until it
became obvious that CJ was done talking with him. Grumbling
something derogatory, he turned and left.
As soon as he was out of sight, CJ warily looked up and glanced
over toward her sofa.
Sitting on a cushion was a little boy dressed in knickers and a
dark buttoned-up coat. He was tossing a pink rubber ball.
"I told you no one else could see me."