Disclaimer: See chapter 1

Warning: Themes of violence 

 

Chapter 13 

"Take no prisoners!" Sounded the cry.

 

 

"Iíd like to kiss you right now, Josh!" exclaimed the President to a rather concerned Deputy Chief of Staff.

 

"Sir, Iím thinking that maybe a handshake or a pat on the back would probably do the trick for me," suggested Josh.

 

The President put his head back and roared with laughter at his nervous aide. He was feeling good right now. This week was definitely beginning to show some possibilities.

 

"Should we send them in?" he asked the room with eyes twinkling. Toby and Leo exchanged a look and then Leo turned to the President.

 

"Are you sure you are ready for this?"

 

"Youíre joking, right. Wild horses couldnít drag me away from this, Leo. Bring Ďem on!"

 

Leo gave the people around him one more look. He wasnít used to playing the game this rough and it weighed on him. However, what he saw in the eyes of his colleagues and of his president, was both clarity and fire. They had no doubts about what they were about to do and he was going to have to trust that. He went out to get the intended victims.

 

"Welcome Gentlemen! I hope that you all had enough time to consider my offer," said the President as the three senators entered warily. He waved them to the couch in front of him.

 

"I assume that you are here because you are ready to deal," he smiled broadly.

 

"Sir, it pains us to be doing backroom deals with the President of The United States," said Senator Sherman with pursed lips.

 

"Well, Shelly, my advice to you would be to get over it," the President said cheerfully.

 

"We might be willing to consider the original deal. The one we had before the "or" change," said Senator Holling.

 

"Although, the only votes we can guarantee would be our own," Senator LaBrandt added.

 

"This is the best we can do. And we will face consequences for it, all of us." Sherman was trying a little drama.

 

"Well, thatís not even close, Gentlemen. Try again," Jed offered.

 

"But sir, you had indicated that you were willing to considerÖ" objected LaBrandt.

 

"Well, I changed my mind. The "or" stays right where it is. And you will guarantee all of the votes on the list that Toby will give you tonight," Jed said firmly.

 

"This is ridiculous. We have nothing more to talk about," said LaBrandt as he rose from the couch. The others began to gather up their things.

 

"Sit down!" Jed Bartlet thundered. Leo jumped out of his skin. LaBrandt literally fell back into the couch. The room flooded with tension.

 

"We are not going to play around. This is not that kind of situation," Jed informed them. "I have questions to ask you now. And I expect clear and immediate answers." No one moved.

 

"Senator Sherman, do you remember having an employee named Lydia Sparks?"

 

"Sir, what does that have to do withÖ" Sherman began.

 

"Senator Sherman, your president has just asked you a direct question," reminded Jed sternly.

 

"She was my office manager for about five years."

 

"Did you fire her?"

 

"I donít recall the circumstances under which she departed," Sherman mumbled.

 

"He canít give a straight answer to save his life," Jed informed the rest of the room. "Josh, what do you have for me? I think we need to help the senator out."

 

"I have a letter here dated April of 1998. It states that Lydia Sparks was fired for gross incompetence," said Josh before picking up further pages. "These are copies of her performance evaluations over the five years of her employment. They were all exemplary. You even went so far as to call her and I quote, "Öthe most efficient office manager you have ever known." Josh looked at the senator.

 

"What is this? I had very solid reasons for letting her go," insisted Sherman.

 

"Well you never told her what they were despite several letters requesting that information," Josh said holding up pages of material.

 

"Senator, were there accusations of sexual misconduct reported within your office that summer?" Jed asked.

 

"They were false claims. The girl recanted those accusations," Sherman wasnít looking at anyone.

 

"Ah, yes, I see. Actually the day after Ms. Sparks reported to you that she helped a young woman file charges, you sent her this memo," the President was no longer asking Sherman anything. Facts were facts. Sherman shifted uncomfortably.

 

"In the memo, you excoriate her for going to the police with this young woman. You say that she should have kept this "matter" in house. You explain that there are ways to rid of these situations," Jed looked at him darkly.

 

"Iím going to tell you what you did, okay. You have an aide named Grey who is a privileged bastard. Thinks that laws are for other people. You keep him around Ďcause his father has very deep pockets. He has no respect for women and abuses them. Thatís what he did two and a half years in your office and thatís what he did one week ago in mine! And I wonít have it!" Jed Bartletís face was angry and red. He was speaking to Sherman through clenched teeth. No one dared move.

 

"Lydia Sparks believed in justice. She did what any good person would do. She helped this young woman seek protection under the law. You fired her for that. You also let Grey go after this young woman. You let him drive her out of this city. And you covered his tracks for him. You are as complicit as the rapist himself. She killed herself, Sherman. Did you know that?" the President was yelling into the manís face.

 

"This is absurd," Sherman said without conviction. He looked at his colleagues. "There is no proof of any of this."

 

"I think we have some nice evidence right here. And if you have nothing more to hide, perhaps, you would let the FBI take a look at the personnel records in your office."

 

"They can come anytime. IÖhave nothing to hide," Sherman had a frightened look on his face.

 

"Well good. Is it good enough, Josh?" the President turned his head to his aide.

 

"It sounds like permission to me," he went to The Presidentís desk to use the phone.

 

"What is going on? What are you doing?"

 

"The FBI auditors are at your office right now. They were just waiting for my word."

 

"You canít do that. I need timeÖto think," Sherman said frantically. LaBrandt and Holling were beginning to move away from him on the couch.

 

"Sorry, Shelly. Timeís up," said the President curtly. He turned away from the frightened man.

 

"What do you want?" Sherman cried desperately.

 

"You know what I want. That bill passes tomorrow. You guarantee it. Plus you put Grey out on his ass. You make it clear that he never works in this town again," Jed said firmly.

 

"Okay, I do all of that and the FBI disappears."

 

"Theyíre not going anywhere, Shelly. You do what I want and I donít talk about you on Larry tonight. Youíre going down, Shelly. Make no mistake about that. The only concession Iím giving you is time to bow out gracefully. Avoid the headlines. Go home and enjoy the sun for a little while before you are indicted."

 

"Everything rests on this vote. You do the right thing and I donít go on Larry with your sordid tale in hand." Jed looked at the men on either side of him. "Itís important that a man have friends at a time like this. It will be interesting to find out if you have them right now. I know you well enough to know that even if they try to abandon you, you have their skeletons hanging somewhere in your closet. You probably have enough dirt on these two get you through this one last vote." He gave all three man one more disgusted look before turning to Josh.

 

"Get them out of my office. Theyíre stinking up the place," Jed Bartlet turned and walked away. The three men stared after their president with looks of shock and horror. Josh gathered them up without ceremony and deposited them in the outer office. They tried to plead with him and but he had nothing to offer them other than a hard look. He felt nothing even resembling sympathy for these men.

 

Toby and Leo followed the President out of his east exit.

 

"Regrets?" Jed said walking down the hall looking straight ahead.

 

"Iím trying to think of one. Nope. The truth is that Iím feeling pretty good right now," Toby said matter-of-factly.

 

"Leo?"

 

Leo was silent for a minute. "He was part of damaging someone important to me. He can go to hell for all I care," Leo responded darkly. Toby and the President exchanged a quick look. Sometimes Leo could be the biggest enigma of them all.

 

"I still got to go on Larry?" Jed whined.

 

"Yep," Leo said like a parent to a child.

 

"CJ is waiting for you in the car," informed Toby.

 

"You got the other thing tonight still. Right?" Jed asked

 

"Yeah, we do," Leo said softly.

 

"Iíd give my right arm to go with you," he said wistfully.

 

"Itís not in the cards, Jed. Besides youíve had your fun. We got to spread around the entertainment a little," Leo said.

 

"Sucks," Jed concluded. Leo smiled.

 

"Be nice to CJ tonight. She didnít get to go to this thing and she doesnít get to go to the other one either. Sheís going to be a little sour, I would imagine. All she gets to do tonight is sit in the producerís booth and watch you screw up on national TV," suggested Leo empathetically.

 

Jed nodded.

 

"Speaking of CJ, gentlemen, I was wondering if I could stop you all briefly and ask a favor," Toby said mysteriously. "That is, unless the two of you have had your share of subterfuge for one week."

 

Jed stopped dead and Leo pricked up his ears. Toby knew he had them. There was nothing like a little deception Toby style. Toby began to outline his plan.

 

 

 

 

Sam couldnít get over the opulence of the conference room of the law firm. It was large and foreboding. He wondered if the firm used rooms like this to intimidate opposing clients and their lawyers. He and the others had been ushered in here ten minutes ago, and still there was no sign of opposing counsel or Grey. Sam was drumming his fingers nervously on the conference table.

Around him, others were getting restless as well. It was a large group. Everyone wanted a piece of this meeting. Toby and Leo paced and spoke to each other in hushed tones. Josh hovered over Donna trying to assure himself that she would be okay. Margaret sat with a defiant look on her face. She wasnít interested in any sort of hovering. Leo had tried to approach her a couple of times and she had nodded impatiently in response to his concern. She was determined to face Grey with her head held high.

There was another contingent in the room. These were the people who had been drawn into this situation by the events of the last week. Detective Jacobs stood suspiciously at the back of the group. He wasnít sure that he had any trust in this process, but he wanted to be around just in case. Lydia Sparks sat quietly, a stranger among these people. She had resigned herself to whatever fate awaited her at the end of this meeting. Freida was attempting to hold control of the room. She could tell that it was going to be difficult with so much charged energy coming from everyone simultaneously. She had clarified her role as lead counsel for this meeting and had indicated in no uncertain terms that she was not interested in any cowboy behavior coming out of anyone. She gave Josh an especially hard look after she said that.

Donna sat wordlessly while the tension fluctuated around her. She was ready for this. There was a great deal at stake for her this evening yet she now felt the conviction of her beliefs. No matter what happened tonight with this, she would always know that she had done the right thing by standing tall. A little part of her, in fact, was looking forward to facing him. She wanted him to see that she was strong. She wanted him to know that he hadnít destroyed her.

The large door to the conference room opened and lawyers entered. Sam counted fifteen of them all wearing somber suits and expressions. He felt like he had just entered a Stepford world. Grey followed them in with an imperious look on his face. His entrance was charged for the people seated across the table. It seemed unnatural to see this man enter yet not be allowed to approach or address him with all of their pent up feelings.

Everybody needed a minute to settle themselves. The Stepford lawyers did a little dance about the descending order in which they should sit. Across from them, Josh and Jacobs refused to take seats. They stood against the wall, arms folded, their eyes attempting to annihilate Grey.

 

"Welcome," said the lead suit, a man named Smith. "We are pleased that you are looking to settle this so quickly. I know we would all like to see this unpleasantness behind us."

 

Josh snorted and Freida put up a warning hand against any further outburst. She gave a quick look. He needed to hold it together or he needed to leave was the message in her eyes. He settled himself and returned to giving Grey a dark stare.

 

"Well, we are interested to hear what you have to say," she said.

 

"You called us," Smith retorted.

 

"And you cleared your calendar with four hours notice so it seems to me that we all have a lot to say."

 

Smith gave Grey a quick look. He smoothed his suit and then gave Freida a piercing stare. "We do have something to talk about. It seems that this all could be settled so easily. We are not interested in causing Ms. Moss any undue stress, but we are concerned about the damage she could cause to my clientís career. We need some assurances that she will not continue her slanderous accusations and that she take steps to rectify the damage already done by her egregious claims."

 

"Exactly how would you like to help my client ease out of this matter?" Freida asked.

 

"She needs to recant false claims with the PD. She would need to make an apology to Mr. Grey. We also think that a restraining order is appropriate. We do not want her to try and approach him again. She will have to sign a gag order."

 

"And if she does all of this?" Freida asked nicely. She felt the people around her shifting restlessly at the outrage of this offer. She ignored them. If any one of them got out of hand in any way, she would eject them without a backward glance or a thought to their power and position. She couldnít afford to be seduced by the prestige surrounding her. The only person she was concerned with right now was Donna. She kept her seated next to her so that she could gauge her reactions.

 

"She gets to avoid financial ruin. She can stay right where she is and resume a normal life." He said with satisfaction. "I would imagine that you and your client need a little privacy to discuss the advantages of such an offer. Donít take too long though. This offer is only good for the next ten minutes," Donna tried to keep her face expressionless, but it was impossible. The lawyer was speaking with such certainty about this deal. Donna could feel the fear creeping back into her face.

 

"Well, Edward, that is your name isnít it?" Freida asked. She got surprised look from Smith that she took as an affirmative. "Ed, We wonít need to discuss your deal in private. In fact, we wonít need to discuss it at all. I was just asking so that we would more things to laugh about at the bar later on. I am sure you understand."

 

"Iím afraid I donít. This is a very good deal."

 

"Your deal is horse crap, Ed. Itís only worth its comedy value."

 

"I donít think you understand what can happen to your client," he offered in a patronizing tone.

 

"Ed, the deal is rejected. Itís dead on the table. How do you white guys say it? This dog wonít hunt, Ed," she shook her head as if sympathetically.

 

"Then why are we all gathered here, Ms. Williams?" Smith said curtly.

 

"We are here this evening to decide the consequences for your client," she said clearly.

 

"This is a waste of time," he said getting up and signaling to the others. They all began to repack their briefcases. Freida sat back with arms folded and the smile of a Mona Lisa on her face. Toby, Leo, and Josh were frantically trying to get her attention. Donna looked at her lawyer and wondered what was happening. Grey had not gotten up with the rest of his team. His eyes settled on Freidaís enigmatic smile.

 

"Stop!" he ordered his lawyers never taking his eyes off Freida. "Weíre not going anywhere until we know what the hell is going on. And what the hell is she doing here?" He pointed at Lydia. She met his glare. It had taken him several minutes to recognize her. She found that amazing. She knew his face like she saw it every day. It still lived in her dreams most nights.

 

Smith and the other lackeys returned to their spots at the table. The Stepford lawyers unpacked their briefcases once again.

 

"This is the nosy little biÖwoman from my office two years ago," he informed his lawyers.

 

"Whatís happening here?" Smith was trying to stay in control of his hefty retainer.

 

"The game has changed. Weíre here to tell you that," Freida said, her eyes sparkling with excitement. She lived for moments like these.

 

"Details, Ms. Williams, details," Smith said impatiently.

 

"First off, this is Ms. Lydia Sparks. She was the office manager of Shermanís office who wasÖ"

 

"We know who she is," Smith interrupted. Leo saw this as a good sign. He was losing his composure.

 

"We had a deal," Grey accused her across the table.

 

"No, we had no deal. You took my job and threatened my life. That doesnít seem like much of a deal to me," Lydia said quietly in return.

 

Smith had his hand on Greyís arm. It was a clear signal for Grey to shut up. "Weíre not interested in entertaining any sort of hearsay," he said.

 

"Oh, I get that, Ed. Thatís why we brought the three phone conversations she taped with your client two years ago." Freida said it slowly for impact. "The threats are clear. Would you like a listen?" she offered politely.

 

Smith ignored her. He noticed that Grey had started to fidget in his seat.

 

"Is this the extent to your theatrics, Ms. Williams?" he said trying to sound unconcerned.

 

"Oh no, Ed. We wouldnít trouble you all for just these tapes. Youíre a busy man. We wouldnít want to do that to you," she cooed in his direction.

 

Smith, the Stepford Lawyers, and Grey waited for the next shoe to drop.

 

"Did you know that your client has been kicked off the hill this evening?" she asked innocently.

 

"What?!" Grey thundered.

 

"Sherman fired you about two hours ago." She related unimpressed with his rage. "You are, in fact, barred from all of the Capital buildings."

 

"This is craziness. He couldÖwould never do that do me." Grey reasoned wildly.

 

"Well he did. It was his neck or yours. Heís going to put as much distance between you and him as humanly possible, is my guess," Freida ventured. Leo and Toby had relaxed. They were beginning to enjoy themselves. Donna had to remember to breath. The tension and excitement were palpable. Margaret found a smile creeping its way onto her face. "Try to call him," Freida suggested. Grey knew that this was no bluff. His face began to change from red to a deathly pale.

 

"The FBI is there, Grey. They are going to audit everything from Shermanís financial records to the personnel files. They will also be interviewing all of Shermanís employees over the last three years. Geez, I wonder if your "friends" and colleagues are going to have anything to say once a herd of agents is parked on their front door. Do you have a lot of female friends, Tucker? My guess is no. Trust me when I say that this is will be no small time investigation. Lydia here has an appointment with them later this very evening. I am so curious to see what they find," she cocked her head at the desperate man.

 

"Why arenít you at the police?" he challenged. "Why are you here explaining this whole thing? Why donít you wait until Iím in handcuffs, sitting in the county jail? I think you know that you cannot make anything stick. You know that I will never see the inside of a jail cell."

 

"Be quiet, Tucker," Smith begged. He put his hand on Greyís arm again. This time Grey brushed him away.

 

"Thatís a good question, Tucker. I would really like to answer that for you," she looked him in the eye. She could tell that he wasnít used to getting that from a woman. The room pulsed with anticipation. Donna sat up as straight as she could. She wasnít going to miss one minute of this.

 

"Tucker, forgive us, but we were interested in watching your world disintegrate around you. We may not all be proud of that, but thatís where itís at right now. There will be no deals this evening. The FBI is working under direct orders from the President. You have gotten a little too sure of yourself. You really never thought you could be touched. But Iím sitting right here tonight to tell you that you are going to get a hell of a lot more than touched by the time this is over."

 

"So thatís it?" he looked at her incredulously.

 

"Well, we are going to need you to drop your lawsuit this evening. Thatís the last thing before we go. We donít want to generate any more paperwork on this silliness." Freida said frankly.

 

"Itís not going to happen," said Grey shaking his head incredulously.

 

"Ed, tell your client how stupid it will look having this suit against Ms. Moss in the midst of all of these other allegations. "Cause you know what, I am betting dollars to donuts that there are going to be more allegations rolling in once the FBI starts talking to people. You wanna take that bet, Ed? Or maybe, you all would like to go to trial on this craziness. I already got a call into Court TV. We can let the court of public opinion form some conclusions about your client. There is no one more well-loved in this country than a spoiled rich guy. You wanna put your money on that, Ed. Weíll put everyone in this room on the stand. And in a week, weíll have about fifty other witnesses to add. Do you think I am bluffing?" she said all of this in confident, clipped tones. At her final question, she fixed Smith with a look of false innocence.

 

"I need to talk to my client," Smith said in low tones.

 

"Okay, weíll give you five minutes. Then we go. These are very important and influential people here. We wonít waste any more of their time. Beside, my new friend, Sam Seaborn and I, have all kinds of media contacts to make this evening," she brought out her enigmatic smile again.

 

They filed out rapidly, the Stepfords not even bothering to gather up their things. The room let out a collective release of tension. Conversations started all around. Freida reached for Donnaís hand and Donna smiled at her gratefully. Margaret gave the table a victory slam with her good hand and Leo started to fuss at her about keeping at least some of her bones intact. Josh caught Donnaís eye. He winked at her and hoped that she could feel his considerable support. He didnít approach her. This was hers right now. He would let her stand alone. Lydia tried to hold back the tears, but it was too much. They were going to get him. She never believed it was possible. She sat with a wet face and tried to hold her composure. A hand reached for her shoulder and squeezed. She looked up to see Detective Allan Jacobs smiling down at her.

Freida tried to not to give into the emotion of the room. It was not yet time for her to shift her focus. She waited patiently for them all to return. When the door opened, she was ready.

 

They all filed in and stood at the conference table. No one took a seat. Grey was not present. Smith looked at Freida. "The suit is dropped. The paperwork will be at your office in the morning." Then he turned without further comment and left. The Stepfords followed rapidly.

 

Freida lowered her head for a moment and then raised it, pumping her fist into the air. Everyone joined her with shouts of happiness, hugs, and pats on the back. Donna sat stunned watching the celebration around her. She tried to blink back the tears, but they were too insistent. She felt a hand on her shoulder and turned to find Josh looking down at her. He opened his arms and she gratefully accepted his embrace.

 

"You let me know if you ever get bored in New York. I have plenty of opportunities waiting for you right here," Leo said to Freida shaking her hand amidst the noise of victory.

 

 

 

 

"Where are we going? We have to celebrate. We must doff our hats, throw them in the air, and sound our victory cries. We should honor our glory with champagne. Weíll bathe in it. Weíll share it with the masses." Joshís soliloquy was reaching a crescendo. The others looked on in amazement. He grabbed Freida and twirled her around the parking lot. "Freida, you are queen tonight over all you survey. We are subjects. Where shall we feast, miílady?" Everyone laughed as Freida worked to disengage herself from his arms.

 

"Josh, you are drunk on victory. Adding alcohol to that would only serve to totally freak me out," she said finally free of her ebullient friend. "Besides, Sam and I have a thing to do this evening."

 

"What the hell is up with you two?" Josh demanded.

 

"Do you forget why you hooked me up with Freida in the first place?" Sam asked shaking his head.

 

"We have ten teen-age girls sitting alone in a luxury hotel. Do you really think they are doing their homework right now? My guess is that at this very moment, the concierge is hip deep in interesting situations that could only be dreamed up by adolescent females with time on their hands. Last night, they toilet papered the lobby at 4 a.m. while the night manager slept," she added.

 

"The hotel puts up with this?" Toby asked with surprise.

 

"Two things. First, the manager was finally able to prove that the night guy slept on the job. He got canned this morning. And secondly, the girls gave the manager a copy of the book a couple of days ago. He has been a benevolent dictator ever since. He sends them treats all day long."

 

"Besides I promised them another Monopoly tournament tonight. Last night, Janice mopped the floor with me. Tonight is payback." Sam added.

 

"And they are going to leave the pool open until 1 a.m. tonight just for us. You guys have fun. Weíre off to the slumber party from hell," she linked arms with Sam and they headed off looking for a cab.

 

"What do you suppose is going on there?" speculated Josh as he watched his two friends walk off together.

 

"Donít be so suspicious. You donít have to be a part of everything," Donna said, hitting him playfully.

 

"Okay, but the rest of us will drink from the keg of glory, right?" he persisted.

 

"Josh, you know I canít be caught dead in a bar. The tabloids would have a field day with that," Leo reasoned. Toby nodded in agreement. Margaret felt oddly disappointed. "You guys go. Have your fun. Iím going back to my hotel. I have some briefing material I should go through."

 

"Thatís it! Leo, your hotel has great room service. We can have drinks there," Josh suggested.

 

"Yeah, but maybe Leo wants to go to sleep," Margaret added.

 

"Actually, I think that this would be a fine idea. You all know the way?" Leo asked. "We have two cars, donít we? Would you all mind if Toby and Josh rode with me? I would like to brief them on a thing thatís going to happen tomorrow with the banking committee."

 

"No problem. Margaret and I will be right behind you," Donna said. She and Margaret headed for the opposite end of the parking lot. She was feeling good. She hadnít even found time to worry about what might happen to her job in the morning. For the first time in a week, she knew she could handle whatever came her way.

 

"A drink in Leoís hotel room," Margaret laughed as they reached the car. "Mrs. Landingham is going to have a fit if she finds out."

 

"Donna." She heard before she could answer her friend. It was a deep, familiar, and horrifying voice. She stood paralyzed at the door of her car. Out of the shadows, came her worst nightmare walking straight for her. Margaret gasped as Tucker Grey emerged into the light.

 

"You didnít win, Donna. Donít you see that? Am I in handcuffs? Am I in jail? Do you really think any of that is going to happen to me?" his face carried its earlier shade of angry red.

 

"Do not come near me," she said trying to control her breathing.

 

Iíll do what I want, Donna. Thatís how itís always been and itís how it will always be," he was shaking his head at her foolishness.

 

"What do you want?" she asked breathlessly.

 

"I want you to know that tonight was nothing. You just donít understand who I am."

 

"I am not going back down, Grey. You are not going to terrorize me," she promised him through her fear.

 

Neither of them paid any attention to Margaret on the other side of the car. She was searching her bag, looking for something to use, but all she could find were a pen, keys, and perfume. She dropped her purse and looked down at the spray perfume in one hand and the keys in the other. She didnít know what she was doing, but, by god, she was going to do something.

With her cosmetic weapons in hand, she rounded the car and went straight for Grey. Before she could reach him, she was grabbed from behind by two strong arms. She screamed and struggled, but they did not loosen. A man ran past her.

 

"Not this time, Margaret," Leo said into her ear while he held her securely.

 

Josh barreled into Grey. They landed hard on the pavement. They rolled around, both their faces red with rage, until Josh untangled himself long enough to land a right to Greyís face.

 

"Stop!" Donna screamed and then Toby was there. He moved into the fray and attempted to pull Josh off. Josh struggled and fought against him. Leo joined Toby, and together, they were able to get Josh to his feet. He stood there breathing heavily, his face wild and his clothes rumpled, looking down at Grey who lay on the pavement in a defensive posture. He tried to shake off his friends, but they werenít having any of it.

 

Donna stepped in front of Josh, standing between him and Grey. She put her hand on his chest and felt his heart pounding wildly.

 

"Itís over," she said firmly to him. He couldnít see her yet. He was still trying to reach Grey. "Listen to me, Josh." She reached for his face and brought his eyes to hers. Itís over. Heís not worth it." His breathing started to slow and his eyes began to focus. Toby and Leo were able to stand back.

 

"Look at him," she moved her head so that he could see the man still lying on the pavement. Grey had his arms up covering his face as if waiting to be hit again. He said nothing, but he wore an expression of terror. "Is that what I was afraid of?" she asked softly. "Heís a coward. He waits for women in the dark. Look at him shake with fear. Heís pathetic, Josh, a weak and damaged man. Heís not worth our time." Her tone was soft and soothing. Josh found himself hypnotized by her tone and the sight in front of him. She gently, but firmly turned him away from Grey.

 

"The police are on their way," Leo said. Margaret had come to stand next to him. Toby joined them, standing silently beside them. And so it was. There is in the hazy light of an urban parking lot, they stood, all of them staring down at a man who had caused so much pain. They felt disgust and anger as they stared at him. And yet there was something else that inspired an emotion akin to pity. In front of them, lay a man so wrong that they could not imagine any potential for goodness in his soul. They were in a circle observing this curious, but revolting human phenomenon with some detachment. As she leaned against Josh, Donna felt the fear within her dissolving and she knew that she would never make so much room for that emotion again.

 

Feedback is appreciated. Sheila

 

Standing Tall - 14

 

 

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