Chapter 20

"You got him drunk?" Leo said, fixing Toby with a glare as he pushed past him into the apartment.  Sam followed with Josh bringing up the rear.

Toby made an exaggerated show of looking up and down the hall before planting his eyes on Josh.  "Anybody else coming, Josh?  Donna?  Charlie? Members of the press?  Should I run out and buy snacks?" Toby said in a tone saturated in sarcasm.

"They wanted to come," Josh said, shrugging his shoulders as he worked his way past Toby who was standing in the doorway.

Toby followed them in and found Leo prodding Jacobs with his foot. "What happened here?" Leo inquired.

"He showed up at the park like this.  Wasnít feeling so good about taking me in, I guess.  He was starting to pass out under a tree.  I didnít know what else to do," Toby said making exaggerated gestures at the sleeping figure.

"Heís not going to arrest you?" Leo asked hopefully.

"Well, not while heís wasted, anyway.  To be honest, I donít think he knows what to do," Toby theorized.

"You brought him home," Leo said, shaking his head in amazement.

"Yeah, itís unbelievable.  I gotta sober him up, get him on his feet, and hand over my freedom.  I mean, Leo, what the hellís next for me!" he said, waving his arms around at the absurdity of the situation.

"Calm down, Toby.  Weíll figure this out," Leo counseled.

"Josh, do something with him.  Heís your friend," Toby ordered.

"Heís not my friend," Josh denied.

"Talk to him.  Help him.  Get him out of my living room, for Godís sake!" Toby implored.

"I donít know what to do!" Josh yelled back at Toby.

"Hey! Enough! Both of you!" Leo thundered.

"Weíll take care of it," Sam said quietly.

"What do you want to do?" Josh challenged.

"You and I are going to get him into the car and take him over to your place.  Weíre going to make some coffee, some aspirin, and sober this guy up."

"Not in my apartment, Sam," Josh argued.

"Yeah, we are.  Toby shouldnít have to deal with this right now.  We shouldnít even be here," Sam said firmly. Toby was unprepared for the depth of impact that comment had.  He tried to maintain an impassive expression.

Aw dammit, Sam.  Help me get this corpse on his feet," Josh said as he reluctantly capitulated.

Toby remembered the 39 cent notebook in his left breast pocket.  It contained notes for Sam on three major policy issues that he would have to help The President address in the next month. He was suddenly embarrassed that he had it. Sam hadnít asked him for help.  He wouldnít presume help if it hadnít been requested.  He wasnít the Communications Director.  He wasnít even an employee of The President anymore.  Technically, he shouldnít even have called Josh.  There would be a protocol now.  He wouldnít have direct access to these men any longer.  It was all too risky for the administration.

Sam and Josh had propped Jacobs upright, and Sam began engineering the trip to the elevator.  Toby stood back and watched his former friends and colleagues maneuver the drunk man to his feet and steer him out the door.

Leo stopped at the doorway and looked at Toby.  He could see the deep sadness in his eyes.  He started to say something, but Toby waved him off.  "You guys gotta go now.  I know.  Iíll have my attorney call Lionel when it happens.  Just to keep you in the loop."

"TobyÖ" Leo began.

"I shouldnít have called."

"Itís okay, Toby.  Youíre a friend," Leo said giving him a weathered smile.

"Yeah," Toby replied unconvincingly.

"Do you want to talk?" Leo asked.

Not now, Leo.  Maybe there will be time for sentiment later.  Right now, we all gotta do what we gotta do.  Right?" he said softly.  Leo nodded in agreement and disappeared down the hallway.

 

 

"What time is it?"  Donna asked looking up from the box upon she was seated.

"New rule!  You can only ask what time it is once an hour," Bonnie stormed.  She was elbow deep in a box crammed with paper.

"How are we going to know when we canÖ"  Donna complained.

"Not every five minutes!" continued the bleary woman to her right as she squinted to make out the print on a document under the inadequate lighting of a storage garage.

"Okay, you guys, itís 5:30 a.m.," CJ said wearily looking over the top of her glasses.  She was sitting up against a concrete wall, studying a small pile of papers that Margaret had assembled for her.

"Iím cold.  Iím tired. Iím dirty. My arms and legs are cramped. And I am due at the office in 45 minutes," Ginger complained.

"Youíre calling in sick," Margaret said simply.  She was all over the garage shifting, moving, and arranging boxes so that she could maintain some order between the boxes that had been searched and those waiting.  Margaret had Bonnie, Ginger, and Donna on the front line doing the initial scan through documents.  Anything that mentioned the name of a cigarette company, talked about cigarettes, or any known employee or associate of a cigarette company went onto a small pile for CJ to study.

"All of us are calling in sick?" Donna inquired.

"Yup," CJ said without looking up from her work.

"We are so going to be in the doghouse," Bonnie warned.

"Leoís never going to believe Iím sick.  After all, I donít get sick," Margaret announced, ignoring the eye roll that Ginger offered as she put another box in front of her.

"Weíre going to say that we all ate the same thing at lunch yesterday.  Voila! Food poisoning," CJ said patiently as she held up a document to the weak garage light above her.

"Sam will never believe that I ate the same thing Ginger did.  He knows she eats a whole host of things I wouldnít feed my dog," Bonnie offered. Ginger switched her eye gymnastics to Bonnieís line of sight.

"Theyíll close down the cafeteria," Donna guessed.

"Itís already hard enough to get them to make a salad the way I like.  Wait Ďtil they find out what we did to them," Margaret warned.

"Guys, I am sort of starting to wish I was here by myself again," CJ said letting her impatience peak through.

"Sorry, CJ," Donna said apologizing for the group.  For a while, they worked in silence, studying the paper before them for the obscure reference that might mean evidence against the drug companies.

Do you think it will get warmer in here when the sun comes up?" Ginger asked.

"Weíre inside a building," Donna clarified.

"I know, but Iím thinking that maybe the sun will warm the concrete on the outside which will, in turn, warm the concrete on the inside of the building, thus warmingÖÖ

 

 

Josh stirred from his spot on the couch.  He was laying over one end with his head hanging over the edge.  The protests coming from his neck, as he lifted it, told him that a headache was going to be the order of the day.  He reached over and nudged Sam who was sprawled over the back of an armchair.  Samís head popped up and he worked to orient himself to his surroundings.

Josh looked over to the other end of the couch to check on Jacobs, and found it empty.  He sat up with a start and looked around the room.

"Heís gone," he gasped.

"What?" Sam replied foggily.

"Jacobs, heís gone," Josh said, his voice attaining pitch.

"Shit!" Sam said, unable to produce anything more eloquent in the moment.

"Time?" ordered Josh as he struggled over his socks.

"7 a.m."

"Crap!  There are about seventy things I should be doing right now."

"Our girls will cover," Sam said with confidence.

"Sam, thatís a very dangerous thing to call a woman.  You do understand that?" Josh was up and heading off to the bedroom for a new shirt and tie.

"I know.  I know," Sam said as he fumbled with the buttons to his shirt.

"Coffee?" said a voice standing in the doorway to the kitchen.  Sam jumped a little at the sound of someone on the other side of the room.

"God, Jacobs, youíre a shit.  You know that," he growled in irritation.

"At least, Iím sober.  I should get some points for that," he said taking a sip of the steaming liquid.  He was freshly showered, his jacket slung over his arm.

"Josh!" Sam yelled.  Josh came out and gave a visible sigh of relief at seeing the police detective.

"Have some coffee," Jacobs offered.

"We thought youíd gone," Josh mumbled as he accepted a mug from him.

"Iím about to go."

"Do you remember what you did and said yesterday," Josh said hopefully.

"You can get tired of the hypocrisy and the lies, you know," Jacobs offered as explanation.

"So fight it.  You were right to feel what you did."

"I canít walk away from this.  Besides, if I do, someone else will just pick up where I left off."

"But you know this is wrong," Josh pleaded.

"And the two of you, politicians no less, have never participated in something that compromised what you believed, I suppose," Jacobs retorted.

"Itís a manís life," Sam said in a low voice.

"Allan, we see the struggle youíre having.  You donít want to do this.  I donít think you can," Josh said appealing to him.

"You thought I was drunk because I couldnít do it.  I knew that I was drunk because I could.  That was my struggle.  Now itís time to live the reality."

With that, he put down the coffee mug and walked past them out the door.  Josh threw his cup of hot coffee at the door as it closed.  He turned away as the shards of ceramic littered the floor.

 

 

"Oh my God!  This is it!  This has to be it!  It has everything!  Look at it!"  Donna shouted as she waved a manila folder filled with papers.  Heads from around the cold, dimly lit room jerked up in her direction.  A long arm reached over and snatched the folder out of her hands.

 

 

The Endgame - 21

 

 

 

Home        What's New        Author Listings        Title Listings