The West Wing
Finished on: March 1, 2005


"Scarlette P. Jennings, 34, was critically injured in a fall in the west wing of the History Museum on Crenshaw Street on Tuesday afternoon at 3:15." Gary quickly read to himself off of the paper.

Gary dashed through the doors of the museum and rapidly asked an employee where the West wing was at. The man, puzzled, gave him directions down a certain hallway. Gary mumbled a quick thank-you and ran in that direction.

After getting turned around for a moment, Gary finally found the west wing. It was filled with all kinds of things; from paintings to antiques. And there, up on a ladder, was the woman

Gary had come to rescue. She was standing about seven feet off of the ground, trying to hang up an ancient painting of an old woman.

Gary watched as she started to lose her balance and fall. He took quick action and caught her, just a few seconds before she would have hit the hard tile floor. The woman was quite shook up as Gary gently led her over to a chair.

"Are you alright?" He asked her, concerned, even though the article had disappeared.

"Yes, yes, I am." She replied, a little breathless, "Thank you so much, Mr. uh…"

"Hobson. Gary Hobson." Gary replied, smiling.

Then, at that moment, as she shyly smiled back at him, did he realize how beautiful she was; she had a fair complexion, sparkling blue eyes, and thick, shiny, auburn ringlets that fell around her shoulders.

"Well, Gary Hobson. I probably should be getting back to work. Thanks again for your help. It could have really turned out bad if you hadn't been here." She stood up and began to climb back up the ladder, with the painting in her arms.

"Please," Gary said, suddenly, "Why don't you let me do that for you?"

"Thank you," She said, allowing Gary to help her step down from the ladder, "I appreciate that very much. To tell you the truth, I've never liked heights that much."

So, Gary took the painting and started up the ladder. When he reached the top he hung up the painting on a nail.

"How's that?" Gary called down.

"Oh, it's beautiful! It's hanging just right!" She replied, pleased with this good-looking man's efforts.

He quickly made his way back down. He didn't care much for high places either and always felt safer when his feet were on solid ground.

Gary glanced at his watch. He had to go make another save within twenty minutes. He was disappointed that he had to go so soon, but the Paper was his responsibility and he had to honor that.

"I'm sorry, Ms. Jennings, but I really have to be going now." Gary explained.

"How did you know my name, Mr. Hobson?" She asked, puzzled.

Gary cleared his throat. "Well, you see, I was, uh, I…" He stammered.

"Yes?" Scarlette asked, expectantly.

"I, uh, read your name tag." Gary hurriedly said, "Right there... on your shirt."

Scarlette laughed. "Oh, of course! How could I be so forgetful? Well, thanks again, Mr. Hobson."

"Gary." He offered her.

"Well, thank you, Gary and you can call me Scarlette." She said, shyly.

After the 'good byes' were made, Gary left the building in a daze. He was certain that Scarlette Jennings was the most beautiful woman he had ever met.

He glanced down at the Paper in his gloved hands, and again, read the article about a man who would be robbed at a mall.

Gary sighed. This was supposed to be the last save of the day until eight-thirty that night. He was tired. He had left at seven o'clock that morning and had been out ever since. It was a busy news day.

Gary quickly made his way to the mall and started looking around for a fifty year old man named, John McArthur. John was to be robbed of 50 dollars, so Gary was going to help him out, by keeping his wallet full.

The Paper said that the robbery would happen in the food court, so Gary headed that way. He spotted; who he thought might be John McArthur.

"Excuse me sir." Gary asked the man, who was sitting at a table, "Are you John McArthur?"

"Yes. Why?" The man replied.

Gary glanced at his watch for a moment and then said; "Mr. McArthur, I really think you should come with me."

"And why should I do that?" McArthur asked suspiciously.

"Well, I've, uh, I've got something to show you, Mr. McArthur!" Gary replied, hastily.

John McArthur finally gave in and followed Gary to other side of the food court. Gary, not knowing what else to do, led him around various places until the article in the Paper disappeared.

"I'm sorry, Mr. McArthur, but I just can't seem to find what I wanted to show you. I'm very sorry." Gary told him.

The man angrily left in a huff and Gary sighed. Well, at least that was over. Thirsty and tired, Gary walked over to one of the little fast-food places and ordered a soda.

A few moments later, he was leaving the food court and heading home. He was putting a ten dollar bill in his pocket, when suddenly; somebody snatched his money out of his hands.

Gary turned quickly and saw no one. Well, he saw lots of people, but that was the problem. He couldn't tell who stole his money in such a big crowd. He glanced at the Paper. It said nothing of the robbery, but that was because Gary said nothing to the police. It was only ten dollars, so why report it to them and make a big fuss. Yes, it was much better this way.

Tired and worn out, Gary started for home. It had been a very long day.

When Gary reached McGinty's around five o'clock PM he went and sat down at the bar. A few minutes later, Marissa came over and sat down beside him.

"Well, how was it, Gary?" She asked him.

"How was what?" Gary mumbled a reply.

"How was your day with the Paper?" She asked him.

"Don't ask." He replied.

She didn't say anything for a few moments, and then she smiled and walked off towards the kitchen. Gary went into the office. He had some paper work to do; bills, not the newspaper.

Time flew and eventually it was eight o'clock. Gary had to go make one last save for the day. A family was going to leave a restaurant and accidentally leave their eight-year-old son behind.

Gary walked down the two blocks to the restaurant called, 'Peter's Pizza Place'. As he walked he thought about Scarlette. He couldn't keep his mind off of her.

When he got to the restaurant he made it just in time because when he saw a large family with six children leaving the building.

"Um, excuse me, but, uh, don't you have one more kid?" Gary asked the man and woman.

Startled, they turned around and counted.

"Oh, sir, thank you so much!" They exclaimed, "I can't believe we did that!"

After they retrieved their son from the restroom, they left. Gary also left, and despite the fact that leaving your child at a store isn't funny, he laughed. He didn't know how they kept up with so many children all at once.

When he got back home, he helped Marissa close up McGinty's and said good bye to her for the night. Then he went upstairs to bed.

As he lay in bed, he thought about Scarlette Jennings. She was beautiful and very polite. He thought about her until he fell asleep. And he thought about her while he slept. Yes, Scarlette was all he was sleeping and breathing.

When he woke up the next morning he wearily shut off his alarm clock. He slowly made his way to the door, opened it, and pulled the Paper out from underneath the cat. As he read the pages he was relieved to see that today was a very light news day. There were two saves between ten and twelve o'clock and three saves between two and six o'clock.

He slowly buttoned up his red plaid shirt, put his jeans on, and tied the strings of his boots. The he went downstairs, carrying the Paper in his hands.

Marissa was just walking in the door and by the looks of how warmly she was dressed; it was colder today than yesterday.

"Good morning, Gary." She greeted him, taking off her coat and hat.

"Good morning." Gary replied, pouring himself some orange juice.

He sat there silently. He was still thinking about Scarlette. He couldn't seem to get her off of his mind.

"Gary?" Marissa said.

"Mmm?" Gary replied.

"Gary, who is she?" Marissa asked him.

"Howzat?" He asked her, his thoughts interrupted.

"You've met a girl, haven't you?" Marissa said, grinning from ear to ear

"What? How would you know?" Gary asked her. After all these years he still didn't know how Marissa knew so many things without him saying anything at all.

Marissa didn't reply at first. Then took a sip of her water and said; "Mmm, I thought so, Gary. Where'd you meet her?"

"At the History Museum." Gary replied, reluctantly.

"Which one?" She asked him.

"The one on Crenshaw Street. Her name is Scarlette, Scarlette Jennings." Gary replied.

"Scarlette. That's interesting." Marissa said thoughtfully.

"What?" Gary asked her.

"Well, I just don't hear the name, 'Scarlette' very often." Marissa explained, "So, is there anything interesting in the Paper today, Gary?"

"Nope, just the usual things." Gary replied flipping through the pages, "I've got a purse snatcher at ten-thirty this morning and then some other things later."

"Anything around supper time, Gary?" Marissa asked him.

"The last save is around five-forty-five this evening." Gary informed her.

"Ask her out, Gary." Marissa told him.

"What?" Gary asked surprised.

"You heard me." Marissa said, "Ask her out. You like her don't you?"

"Well, yeah, I do, but every time I try to get involved with a girl, the Paper gets in the way." Gary explained, "You know that, Marissa. It has for the past six years."

"But not tonight, Gary," Marissa persisted, "Ask her out for dinner tonight. It'll be good for you."

After a bit more persisting from Marissa, Gary finally agreed to ask Scarlette out for dinner. Gary opened the phone book and looked up the history museum on Crenshaw. He called the number and waited while it rang.

Finally somebody answered; "Hello? Crenshaw Museum of Chicago History."

"Um, this is Gary Hobson. Can I speak with Scarlette Jennings?" Gary asked.

"Yes. Please wait while I page her." The woman on the other end said.

Gary was getting nervous now. What if she said, 'no'? She hardly knew who he was. He was thinking that he should probably hang up right then when Scarlette came to the phone.

"Scarlette Jennings speaking." She said.

"Um, Scarlette, this is Gary Hobson. From the museum the other day." He reminded her.

"Oh, hi Gary!" She exclaimed, "How are you?"

"I'm fine, thank you. Um, Scarlette, I was wondering something. Remember, you don't have to say 'yes' if you don't want to." He stated.

"What is it, Gary?" She laughed.

"Well, I was wondering if, well, maybe you would like to come to dinner with me this evening."

Scarlette was quiet for a moment and then said, "Sure, Gary. I'd love to go."

"Okay, good. Why don't we meet at that Chinese place on Fifth Street around seven-thirty tonight? Is that okay?" He asked her, pleased that she had said 'yes'.

The deal was made and when Gary hung up the phone he was relieved. He just hoped that the Paper would let him have a peaceful dinner.

That evening, he was tying his tie, trying to get it just right. As he did, he talked to Marissa.

"I sure hope this turns out okay." Gary said, yanking on his tie, while standing in front of the mirror.

"Why shouldn't it, Gary?" Marissa asked, "There's nothing in the Paper for you, is there?"

"Not, yet." Gary replied.

"Listen, Gary. Just take her out to dinner and enjoy yourself for a change. Forget about the Paper." Marissa tried to tell him.

"I can't do that, Marissa." He replied.

"Can't do what?" She asked him.

"I can't forget about the Paper." He said, "What if an article changes and I'm not paying attention?"

"Why should an article change, Gary? What have you done to change the Paper?" Marissa challenged him.

"Well, nothing… yet, but something like that always happens when I get involved with a girl." Gary explained, "Why should it be any different now?"

"Just stop worrying about it, Gary. It'll be fine, you'll see." Marissa told him.

Gary looked at his watch again. Where was she? He was waiting at the restaurant for Scarlette. He looked down the sidewalk again. Finally, she saw her coming. He was beginning to think she wouldn't come. For once, he wasn't the one late.

"Hello, Scarlette." Gary greeted her.

"Hi, Gary," She said, smiling up at him, "I'm sorry I was so late, but I was late getting home from work."

They found a table to sit at and ordered two dinners and drinks.

"So, how long have you lived in Chicago?" Gary asked her, as they waited on their dinners.

"Oh, all my life. I was born right hear in Chicago and I stayed here." She replied, "What about you, Gary?"

"I grew up in Hickory, Indiana." Gary told her, "I run a bar over on Illinois and Franklin; McGinty's."

"I believe I've heard of McGinty's before, Gary." She said, "Didn't it used to be a fire department?"

"Actually, it did." Gary replied.

"Yeah, well, I've worked at the Crenshaw Museum for many years now. I really enjoy it." She told Gary.

A few moments later, Scarlette excused herself for a few minutes and while she was gone, Gary pulled out the Paper from underneath his coat.

He scanned the pages in shock. There wasn't a single thing for him to deal with in the paper at all. Not a single thing. Maybe he would be able to enjoy his dinner with Scarlette after all.

After Scarlette got back, their dinners came and they ate and talked. Time flew and it was starting to get late. Gary stood up and put his coat on. Scarlette did the same and the two walked out the restaurant door.

Gary walked Scarlette home and when they reached her house they exchanged good byes.

"I had a really good time tonight, Gary." Scarlette said, again, smiling up at him, "If you'd like, maybe we can do it again sometime."

Gary agreed and after they talked a few more moments, Gary left. He felt like he was in Heaven. The paper hadn't messed anything up; not one single thing.

When he got back, McGinty's was closed and Marissa had gone home. He went upstairs, drank some milk and got ready for bed. He fell asleep easily that night, hoping for a good news day tomorrow.

"You seem happy this morning, Gary?" Marissa said the next morning.

"I am." Gary replied cheerfully. The Paper was again, letting him have a break, "There is absolutely nothing for me in the Paper today."

"Well, how did it go last night?" Marissa asked.

"How did what go?" Gary replied.

"Your date; how did it go?" Marissa said.

"I told you, Marissa." He replied, "It wasn't a date. It was just dinner."

"Mmm-hmm." Marissa said.

"It was!" Gary exclaimed.

Marissa just smiled and left the room, heading for the kitchen.

"It wasn't a date," Gary muttered to himself, "It was a dinner, just dinner."

Time went by for weeks, just as it had been going; the Paper slowed down on some days and on those special days, he and Scarlette would spend time with each other. They would rent a movie, go out to dinner or lunch, or they might go to a movie. Gary eventually gave in and admitted that he and Scarlette were now dating.

Gary was enjoying his time with her. He learned that she had one sister and one brother, she played the piano, and that she had always been interested in Chicago's History; ever since she was a child.

He also learned that she was hard to get a hold of. She never answered her home phone because she was always getting home late.

Gary knew that he would soon have to tell Scarlette about the Paper, but he wasn't quite sure how to do it. Should he just come right out and say it or should he bring it out more slowly? Either way she wouldn't believe him. And where was the right place to tell her? Certainly not during dinner or a movie. He should probably tell her someplace quiet, like; at a park or up in the loft, or maybe, the museum.

And that's what he decided. He'd tell her at the museum. She'd be around what she loved most, which was, of course, history.

"And that's what I'll be after I tell her; history," Gary muttered to himself on the way to the museum, "She's not going to want to have anything more to do with me after this."

He walked as slow as he could towards the museum. He hadn't seen or heard from Scarlette for three days. He figured it would better, telling her this way. He was dreading it with every step. He began thinking that maybe he should just turn around right then and there. He could tell her later. No, he'd better tell her now and get it over with.

Opening the front door to the museum, he was met with the now familiar scent of the Crenshaw History Museum. Gosh, did he want to leave and never tell Scarlette about the Paper.

He walked down the hall and waved 'hello' to the receptionist. By now, after about two months of coming and going to visit Scarlette, he was pretty well known.

He walked into the West Wing, where Scarlette was usually working at. He looked around, but couldn't find her.

"That's strange." He told himself.

He walked around a little more, but he had to face the facts. Scarlette wasn't in the museum. Where could she be? She was supposed to be here. Her working hours were Monday – Friday, from nine o'clock in the morning until six o'clock at night.

He walked over to the receptionist, Mrs. Hawkins. She was busy jotting down some information on a piece of paper.

"Excuse me, Mrs. Hawkins." Gary said, tapping his fingers on the desk.

"Oh, hello, Mr. Hobson! How are you?" She greeted him with a smile.

"I'm doing fine, but can you tell me if Scarlette is coming in today?" Gary asked her.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Hobson," Mrs. Hawkins replied, smiling sympathetically, "but Ms. Jennings hasn't been here for the past… two days!"

"Well, thanks anyway," Gary sighed, "I'll see you later, Mrs. Hawkins."

Gary left the building relieved, but confused; very confused. He was glad he didn't have to tell her his secret right now, but he was worried. He was ready to pull out his dark, wavy hair. Where in the world was Scarlette Jennings?

He went back to McGinty's and poured out his story to Marissa. She listened thoughtfully, but patiently.

"Have you tried calling her, Gary?" Marissa suggested, "Maybe she's home sick."

Gary ran his fingers through his hair, "Yes, Marissa, I've tried calling her. She didn't answer the phone."

"Well, have you gone to her house?" Marissa gave another suggestion.

"Howzat?" He asked her.

"Have you gone to her house, Gary?" Marissa told him, "Maybe she's too sick to get to the phone."

"Yeah, yeah, Marissa." Gary agreed, feeling a flicker of hope, "Maybe she's sick. Maybe she can't get to the phone." Gary stood up and began to put on his black leather jacket, "I should go over there right now and check up on her. Thanks a lot, Marissa."

"Your welcome, Gary." Marissa called out to the hurrying man. She smiled. He needed to slow down every now and then; he might just live a little longer.

Gary walked down the non-busy street. He stopped in front of an old white, paint-chipped, wooden house. This was it; 6348 Lowell Street. Scarlette lived here. Gary opened the paint-chipped picket fence and let it swing shut on its creaky hinges. He walked up the brick sidewalk and climbed the few steps to the front porch.

He took a deep breath and noticed that there was no doorbell, so he knocked instead. There was no answer; no sound came from the house at all. He knocked again and looked around the yard.

There were weeds popping up everywhere. It looked like gardening wasn't one of his friend's habits. But the strange thing was.. he remembered that the one time before when he had been there before, though it had been dark, things had looked pretty nice. Now...

After knocking two or three more times, he tried the door knob. He was surprised to find out that it wasn't locked. He opened the door and walked inside. There were cobwebs hanging from the ceiling and the furniture was covered with sheets. Everything looked creepy.

"That's strange." He thought.

"Scarlette!" He called, "Scarlette, are you here? It's Gary!"

After wandering around the house it became clear to him that Scarlette was not in the house. Maybe he had the wrong house or something.

A now, very confused Gary left the house and walked across the street to a shabby, one story brick home.

He knocked on the door and a man opened the door. He looked like he hadn't shaved in a couple of days; he had a beer can in one hand, and a remote control in the other.

"Yeah, what do ya want?" The man gruffly asked.

"Um, I-I was wondering if you could tell me, well, if Scarlette Jennings lives across the street over there?" Gary asked, pointing to the old building.

"Mister," The man said, "Ain't nobody's been living in that dump for fifty years."

"What?" Gary exclaimed, startled, "Fifty years?"

"Yeah," The man said, taking a rather large drink from his can, "If you think somebody lives there, your nuts. Just plain nuts."

"Well, thanks for your help. I appreciate it." Gary thanked the man and turned around to leave.

Then man didn't say anything. He just shut his door. Gary shook his head in disbelief. Some people were strange.

He decided that he'd go back to the museum and look for Scarlette again. He didn't think it would really help, but he also wasn't ready to give up; not yet.

As he walked back to the museum he couldn't figure out where Scarlette could have possibly gone; for two or three whole days.

When he reached the museum he walked inside and hardly even picked up his hand to wave to Mrs. Hawkins. He was discouraged and he felt as though he had been betrayed or something. He wandered slowly into the West Wing and stood, staring helplessly at the pictures and artifacts around him.

As he looked around, he couldn't help but smile when he thought of the first day him and Scarlette had met; when their eyes had locked together in a gaze that didn't need words.

He wandered around the room and looked at the pictures that had been taken back in the 1800's.

Suddenly he felt as if his heart had stopped. He blinked and shook his head because he was sure he had seen wrong, but he hadn't. He took a step closer and looked at the picture that he had hung up for Scarlette on the day he had rescued her.

Yes, he was sure of it. There, in the picture, was a picture of Scarlette. She was wearing a different dress and her hair was in a different style, but he was sure it was her.

He remembered that the day he had rescued her, the photo had shown an older woman, around sixty, but here, in the same frame was Scarlette; Scarlette Jennings.

Gary felt eerie chills run up and down his spine as he thought about this. He told himself that it couldn't be. It just could not be true. But his thoughts were proved wrong and he shivered when he looked at the gold name plate underneath the wooden frame;

Scarlette Penelope Jennings

1863 – 1954

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois

This would always remain a mystery to him. Gary Hobson never saw or heard of Scarlette Jennings again.


Disclaimer:
I do not own any of these characters except for Scarlette P. Jennings and Mrs. Hawkins