The 9 to 5 Caper

Chapter 16

Suzanne passed the word, Mr. John Emerson had made an appointment with Stu for three o'clock and asked that Kookie and Roscoe be there. Stu did more than a little fussing at first, until Suzanne repeated just what Mr. Emerson said. "Tell Mr. Bailey that his being there is a matter of life or death. His."

"Alright, alright, I'll be in my office. You can buzz me when the mysterious Mr. Emerson arrives."

Kookie found someone to sub for him as the parking attendant and when he got to the offices he found Roscoe already there. "Curiosity's got me too, Kookie. "

No one dared try to get Stu to come out of his office before it was time to buzz him. So he didn't get to see what Suzanne, Kookie and Roscoe saw walk in the front door to 77 Sunset Strip at five minutes of the hour. He was dirty, he was ragged looking, he desperately needed a shave, but he was home. Kookie let out a yell and ran to embrace him, Roscoe followed suit. Suzanne began screaming and couldn't stop. She put the switchboard on hold and ran to a very much alive Jeff Spencer and threw her arms around his neck, kissing every square inch of his face. It didn't take long before a disgruntled looking Stuart Bailey came charging out of his office. "What's all the racket out here? I can't think it's so . . ."

What he saw stopped him in his tracks. And then he ran towards the man standing in front of him and they all got out of his way. Stu threw his arms around his partner and held him tight, and they saw the kiss Stu planted on Jeff's cheek. Then he buried his face in the taller man's shoulder and Jeff felt the sob that escaped from Stuart. "I don't know how and I don't care. You're alive!" And then, as if to recover some of his dignity, he pulled back from Jeff while still holding on to his shoulders. Stu made a face and wrinkled up his nose before saying, "But you do need a bath."

Jeff burst out laughing as Stu let go of him with one hand. Suzanne, Kookie and Roscoe joined the circle of friends that quickly turned into a giant hug. There was indistinguishable chatter that didn't stop for almost ten minutes before Stu pulled him away and into Bailey's office. The door was closed and the embrace resumed, and this time Stuart didn't try to hide the joy he felt at seeing Jeff alive. When they pulled apart there was a tear running down Stuart's face. "We thought you were dead . . . no, wait, we knew you were dead. How are you standing here now?"

Stu let go of his very much alive partner and both men sat on the couch. "It was simple . . . I wasn't on the boat when it exploded. Stu, look, I know you want to hear the whole story, and I'll tell it to everyone over at Dino's when we crack the champagne. But I have to go home and take the longest shower of my life first."

"I'm going with you. I'm not letting you out of my sight until I'm sure you're real."

Jeff grinned. It was a hell of a welcome home, but he had something for them to do first. "You have to come out to the parking lot and meet John Emerson. Yes, there's a real John Emerson, and he's the only reason I'm here now. Come with me." They went out the back door and found a very big man waiting for them. As they walked up to him Stu couldn't help but notice what Jeff had seen earlier.

"He looks like your dad."

"Doesn't he, though." When they got within earshot, Jeff made the introductions. "John Emerson, this is Stuart Bailey, my partner; my brother. Stuart, this is Johnny Emerson. He saved my life."

They shook hands, warmly, "If you ever need anything, Mr. Emerson, ANYTHING, you call me and I'll get it taken care of for you."

"Thank you, Mr. Bailey. You've got a hell of a partner here."

"And believe me, I know it." Stu wrapped his arm around Jeff's neck and pulled the taller man down. "I wouldn't want to work with anyone else. Or play with anyone else. Thanks again for whatever part you played in bringing him home."

Johnny looked at Jeff quizzically before saying, "You haven't told him yet?"

Jeff shook his head. "No. I want to go home and take the longest shower known to man, shave and put on clean clothes. Then I'll tell everyone over at Dino's. Johnny, I wish you'd stay and join us."

"We'd love to have you stay."

Johnny shook his head. "I'd love to, boys, but I'm gonna have to say no. I've gotta drive that truck on up to Sacramento and deliver my cargo. Jeff, I've got your phone number. I'll give you a call when I get back and we can get together for a drink."

"It sounds good, Johnny. I can't thank you enough . . . " Jeff had to stop and gather himself together before he could go on. "You saved my life. I'll never forget that." Jeff looked around before asking, "Speaking of trucks, where is yours?"

"Right around the corner on the other side of Dino's. Don't forget now, a drink at Dino's when I come back."

The mood got very serious as Jeff told Johnny, "I could never forget. Just be sure you don't." A hug finished off the good-byes, while Stu and then Jeff watched the trucker walk away. "If I live to be a thousand I can never repay that man."

"Nor can I," Stu added in all seriousness.

The partners walked back inside and told everyone to be at Dino's for a private celebration at six o'clock. "Suzanne, call Dino's and tell them we want the whole back room, with champagne and drinks for all five of us. And this half of Bailey and Spencer is picking up the tab. 'Bring the fatted calf and kill it. Let us feast and celebrate. For this brother of mine was dead and is alive again! He was lost and is found!'"

Roscoe just looked up and said, "Huh?"

"It's from the Bible, Roscoe. Luke 15:23-24. With a slight alteration," Stu explained.

"Stuart, you'll have to drive. I left everything behind on the boat, and some poor shark is attempting to feast on it now. Good thing you've got a key to my place."

"Amen," Roscoe threw in. "That's the only religious talk I know."

Everyone laughed at Roscoe, and Stu and his long-lost partner headed for Jeff's car, which Kookie had already pulled up in front. "Filled with gas and ready to roll," Kookie announced, and as soon as Stu was behind the wheel they pulled out into traffic on Sunset Blvd.

"I missed this," Jeff announced as they drove down the street.


"The noise, the traffic, the horns, the sirens. Oh God, the sirens. We forgot. . . "

"Gi!" both men cried at the same time.

"You know, I think he'll understand. This is for family; our family. But I will call him while you get some of that smell off of you."

"You didn't mind that smell so much when you first saw me, Bailey."

"That was thirty minutes ago. Now, I mind it."

Jeff laughed that all's-right-with-the-world laugh he had, and for just a moment, it was.

The End