Disclaimers and Author's Notes: See Part 1
Someone In The Shadows - Part 3
I guess since we knew where she was the other
assistants and myself arrived before any of the other
staff. Ginger was standing in the middle of the entry
with a white florist's box in her hands. Even from
where I'm standing, I can see that she is shaking.
Mike, the guard inside the front entry, comes through
the door that leads to the outside. He looks relieved
to see the rest of us there as he tells Ginger the
apparent good news.
"It's okay now. I got rid of it."
"Got rid of what?" Margaret asks. Thank God one of us
had found a voice.
"A snake," Ginger whispered.
Bonnie approached her and putting an arm around her,
led her to the nearest couch.
"It's him," Ginger continued, "he left us another
message." She paused, as if to gather strength. "It
said, 'None of you are safe.""
My eyes grew wide with fear and I could see the
others' terror building.
"What the hell happened?" Leo's voice shook the
foundation as he and the rest of the senior staff came
rushing into the entry.
Uh oh, this was serious. We were going to have to do
some fast-talking if we were going to get out of
explaining the whole story. I could see that Mike was
telling him the whole story.
"Guys, we're going to have to tell them something if
we want to keep this secret, because Mike is telling
them what happened."
"Ma'am, I'm going to have to take that box," a Secret
Service agent, assigned to guard the West Wing entry,
"Take it," she said, quickly passing him the box, "I
don't want to see it ever again."
The agent gave us a nod and headed off to analyze or
test or whatever they do when stuff like this happens.
Leo and the rest of the senior staff approached us.
"We can't tell them," Ginger whispered, "They've got
better things to worry about than this weirdo." We
echoed her sentiment quickly and quietly as our bosses
reached our gathering.
"Ladies, you'll be happy to know that it was just a
garden snake," Leo informed us. We let out a
collective sigh of relief.
Josh shifted uncomfortably. I know that look. It's
the 'I really need to know the answer to this
question, but I don't want to ask the question' look.
He cleared his throat.
"Mike said that it looked like all of you knew what
this was about. Would you tell us what's going on?"
He looked at me like I was supposed to tell him. I'm
sorry Josh, but I care about you too much, and I'm not
going to burden you with my problems. Before I had a
chance to say anything, Ginger stood up.
"Forgive me, this is all my fault. This is a personal
matter that got ugly. I'm sorry for scaring
I noticed that she was trying to look them in the
eyes, but was looking over their shoulders instead.
With this many politicians in the room, they'll pick
up on that for sure.
"Pardon me Ginger," Toby spoke up. Damn, I told you
so. "I can tell you're lying."
Before anyone had a chance to respond, there was a
commotion in the hallway leading to the West Wing.
"What's going on? If you don't let me through, I'll
plow down you guys anyway. You know I'll do it too!
I have to see my staff," President Bartlet's voice
"Showtime," Cathy muttered as we all stood when the
"Good morning, Mr. President," we replied.
"Leo, what in Sam hill happened? Is everyone all
right?" the President asked.
"Everyone is fine, sir," Leo calmly explained, "but we
were trying to find out what happened."
"But I already told you what happened," Ginger spoke
"Ginger, you're not a good liar. You were looking
over our shoulders the whole time," Sam gently pointed
We all looked at each other. Our backs were to the
wall; we had to do something. We all started to speak
"It's not a big deal…"
"Some sick weirdo…"
"Didn't want to bother you with our problems…"
"Whoa, everybody be quiet," the President ordered.
"My office, NOW."
An executive order was something we never questioned.
In unison, our heads dropped and we followed our
bosses to the Oval Office. Busted. We were quickly
losing our nerve.
We entered the Oval Office, the President sat at his
desk, senior staff took seats on the couches, and the
six of us lined up in front of them like we were
"I don't know what would make you think that any of us
were too busy to care about what was going on with any
of you. You're part of this family, just like the
rest of us. Please tell us what's going on,"
President Bartlet begged us.
Now that I can speak from experience, President
Bartlet lays on a pretty good guilt trip. But none of
us broke. We felt so strongly about this, it was
going to take something extra for us to spill our
CJ took a turn. "Whatever happened has terrified you,
I can see it in your eyes. Is someone harassing one
She's good. Her concern is so evident that my
resolve breaks. We were definitely not handling the
situation well on our own; maybe a few reinforcements
wouldn't be so bad. Apparently I'm not alone.
"Okay!" Margaret exclaims.
She and the others look to me to continue. For some
reason, I have become our spokesperson throughout our
first two years here. I can do this without breaking
down. Deep breath, here goes nothing.
"Well it all started two nights ago when we all got
the same prank phone call. No one answered when we
picked up, but there was definitely someone there
because you could hear them breathing. When we
discovered that we all got the same call, it freaked
us out, but we thought maybe it was a coincidence."
I paused to gather myself before I continued. I can
feel Josh staring at me. He's probably upset because
I didn't tell him about this from the beginning.
"But then last night, we got dead flowers with notes
saying 'I'll be watching you…' Then there was the
thing this morning…" I can feel myself starting to
cry. Margaret grabs my hand for encouragement.
President Bartlet and the senior staff were very
quiet. Their eyes showed the shock they must have
felt as they heard about our ordeal.
Josh won't stop staring at me. Is that worry I see in
his eyes? He finally speaks.
"Why didn't you tell us?" Thank God Bonnie jumped in
with an answer because I would have lost it.
"Well, I guess we were protecting you. It seemed like
we had finally gotten past the shooting, and we didn't
want to seem like we couldn't handle our problems.
You had enough to worry about."
I think it took a little bit for all that to register,
because the next thing I know the President yells,
"Mrs. Landingham, get Ron Butterfield in here now!"
With those words, the staff jumped into action.
"You shouldn't be alone tonight," CJ commented as she
joins us. "Carol, why don't you and Margaret stay at
my place. I have an extra room and the couch pulls
"I'm already staying at Bonnie's tonight," Ginger
"Then I'll stay with you guys," Toby said.
"Toby…" Bonnie started.
"No questions. You are my assistants, and it's my
turn to help you out," Toby remarked. Wow, Toby can
be sweet when he tries.
Sam looked at Cathy. "Don't even try to argue with
me, does your couch pull out?"
She nodded, too tired to complain. That left me.
Josh looked at me.
"I've already discovered the comfort of your living
room couch, and that's where I'll be staying tonight.
You've been brave long enough. It's time for us to
help you get through this."
END PART THREE
Someone In The Shadows - 4