Chapter 18

Ten hours later, he sat on a park bench and waited, a small bag on the ground beside him.  He wondered if they would let him have his personal things once they got to the station.  It seemed sort of silly to have packed anything at all.  First off, it looked weak, somehow like he was a little boy getting on a bus to Grandmaís house.  Second, he didnít expect to be at the station for more than a few hours.  He had spent time with Lionel Tribbey the night before and was treated to an amazing display of amateur theatrics emphasizing both his stupidity and the injustice of the situation.  He was sure that Lionel was sitting at his desk this very moment burning up the phone lines on his behalf.  There would undoubtedly be a very good defense attorney to call when the time came.

Brown, fragile leaves skated past him on the sidewalk as he looked at his watch.  Jacobs was an hour late. Toby registered a look of disgust. This thing was going to be torturous enough without having his jailor play around with him like this. When he had called this morning, he had offered to come down to the station, but Jacobs had preferred a neutral location.  Toby was too tired to put up a fight about surrendering himself, and so now he sat, waiting for Jacobs to come and get him. 

He reached into his coat pocket and found his little 39 cent notebook.  There was no point in fidgeting anxiously.  He began to scribble furiously as was his wont.  There had been no opportunity to talk about his concerns with the Democratic plan to increase Medicare coverage. He began a memo to The President.



"Ginger!  I want the memo on Governmental Affairs dated September 30th.  This is the one from the 16th, dammit!" came a strained voice from inside Tobyís office.  To further illustrate his frustration, the offending memo came flying out of the office like a missile.  Ginger jumped as it landed on the floor in front of her.  She rolled her eyes in disgust, and then launched a frantic search for the correct document.

Josh was leaning against the door to the bullpen. He had stopped at the door as the drama was unfolding.  The flying memo portion of the scene inaugurated a pain in his temples that would undoubtedly follow him for the rest of the day.

He felt a hand rest on his shoulder and he looked around to see a very tired CJ standing next to him.

"Howís he doing?" she asked quietly.

"He keeps asking for the wrong memo.  He really doesnít want the September 30th one.  The October 13th memo is the one that Leo wants to discuss with him in twenty minutes," Josh said with a weary look.  "Gingerís got a look on her face like she might poison his coffee."

"More than any of us, Josh, heís going to need you right now.  I canít even imagine the pressure he must be feeling.  He needs his best friend," she said sincerely.

Josh nodded his head a little and fixed her with a look.  "I still wish you would go and spend the day with Toby."

"Oh, please, Josh, letís not have this conversation," she whined in an exhausted tone. "Itís just going make my ears bleed.  Okay.  So donít."

He was about to further push the issue, when another yell erupted from the office, "Do I have to come out there and find it myself!" Ginger pulled her head out of a file drawer with papers in hand, slammed it shut, and stormed into his office.

Get in there, Josh," CJ said giving him a push.  "Do something before Ginger thinks to stab him with the pen in her hand."  Josh stumbled forward under the force of her shove.  He stopped to administer an annoyed look, but was interrupted by the sound of Ginger yelling at her new boss.  He wheeled around and headed into the mix.

Closing her eyes, CJ leaned her head against the doorframe and wondered if things would ever feel normal again.  She was still blocking out the rest of her world when a voice startled her.  Her eyes popped open to see Carol giving her an apologetic look.  "Sorry, CJ, but there is a call holding for you.  She says itís urgent."



Toby looked up from his work to see Jacobs approaching slowly.  He took in a deep breath, and reluctantly began to pack up his things in his leather satchel.  The realization that he was about to be arrested slowly took hold inside his body.  His fingers fumbled with the clasp to the bag, and he took a moment to steady himself.  He wouldnít allow the detective to see anything other than a man with all of his dignity.

He raised his eyes to meet the detectiveís, but found that he couldnít catch the manís rather unsteady gaze.  While Jacobs stood in front of him, he kept his eyes on the horizon beyond Toby.  Toby waited for Jacobs to make a move.  The detective shoved his hands in his pockets, and rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet.  Toby noticed that the detective was not his usual fastidious self.  His tie lay loose and crooked around his neck, and his face was sporting the shadows of a missed shave and no sleep.

"Detective, Iíve been waiting for you in this park for the last four hours," he said impatiently, determined to keep his pride on this day.

Allan Jacobs fixed him with a weary look.  His eyes were glassy and red.  Toby was starting to wonder if his arresting officer wasnít drunk.  As he pondered the incredulity of this thought, Allan Jacobs spoke and left little doubt to his suspicions.

"Go home," the inebriated man said slowly. "I donít feel like arresting you today."  With that, he turned and started back down the path to the parking lot.

Toby sat with his jaw slack in stunned disbelief.  For a moment all he could think about was getting up and putting as space as possible between himself and the DC policeman.  However, Toby was a man who always had a healthy store of outrage at the ready, and the events of the morning made it difficult for him to keep it harnessed.

Toby scooped up his bag and took off after the retreating detective.

"Hey!  Hey, Jacobs!  What the hell is going on?" he shouted as he trotted up to the detective.

"Go away," responded the drunk man.

"I sat on a park bench and waited all morning for you to come and destroy my life.  You finally show up, slur a few words at me, and then walk off.  What the hell?  Iím supposed to go sit at home and wait for you to have another mood swing?!" Toby shouted, letting the tension of the last week release through his angry words.

Jacobs looked at him unsteadily.  He seemed to be concentrating on staying upright.

"You drunk bastard!" Toby hollered, throwing his satchel to the ground.

Jacobs stumbled backwards at Tobyís verbal onslaught.  He found support against a tree rooted next to the path.

"What are you doing to me?" Toby demanded.

"Iím never going to get used to the game," Allan admitted. "I have to arrest you.  I have no other choice.  I have a career, responsibilities, and some sort of oath, I think."  His words spilled over on top of one another.

"Donít play with my life," Toby pleaded urgently.

"Iím not much of a puppetmaster.  I havenít even been sober since Saturday," he reported with a smirk.  "I feel more like one of the puppets, you know.  Just like you.  Iím just waiting for them to orchestrate my next move."

Toby shook his head in disgust.

"You didnít do it, did you, Ziegler?  It all happened exactly like you described," Jacobs said as he slid down the tree and rested his head against the bark.  He regarded Toby with his head cocked.

Toby reached down and picked his bag.  Without acknowledging the detective, he walked away down the path strewn with the foliage of changing times.  He was determined to leave the detective to his self-pity. 

At the entrance to the parking lot, he turned his head one last time to find Jacobs.  There in the distance he was, still sprawled against the large tree.  He closed his eyes and willed himself forward.  When that didnít work, he cursed himself, dropped his bag in disgust, and headed back toward the helpless figure.



The Endgame - 19




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