Epilogue – There was no need to tell your mother about this…
"Shawn, I'm not an invalid."
Henry defiantly glared at his son and made move to get up from the sofa. Shawn jumped forward and tried to push his father down by the shoulders, but Henry shook his hands off.
"The doctor said no strenuous activities. Which, just because I love reminding you about it, includes absolutely no yelling."
Henry glared at Shawn again and got up from the sofa despite his son's protests. "I'll save the yelling for later, don't you worry about that. But I'm fairly sure that the doctor didn't want me to be back at the hospital within a day because I caught a case of food poisoning. So if you don't mind, I'll go into the kitchen and make dinner now."
Shawn watched as his father brushed past him and vanished into the kitchen. In fact, he was a little glad that the fight was back in his father. During the past days at the hospital, he had seen his father too subdued or too exhausted once too often, he was glad that his physical condition had improved enough for him to be released. Besides, it gave him the once in a lifetime chance to turn the tables and tell his father what to do. He didn't worry about his father exhausting himself while preparing dinner, but it was too much fun to tell him that he was actually in no condition to do so.
As he turned around, Gus came out of the kitchen. "I thought you wanted to take care of dinner. What's your father doing in there pulling out pots and pans?"
Shawn shrugged. "He insisted."
Shawn wasn't entirely sure, but he thought that a look of relief crossed his friend's face at those words. He decided to ignore it and led the way back into the kitchen. Henry was already chopping up things at the counter, and for a moment Shawn just watched his father. He had lost a couple of pounds during the past week and a half, and some signs of what he had been through were still visible, like his eye that was still slightly swollen, and the cuts on his forehead and back of his head which were still healing. But he was looking quite healthy again, and that was what counted most.
"Anything you need help with?", Shawn asked.
Henry looked up and raised both eyebrows at the question. "You're offering to help me? In the kitchen?"
Shawn nodded. "Sure. It's no big deal, right?"
Henry suppressed a grin. "Even if you have to use a whisk?"
Shawn raised both ands, palms up, as if to ward off something evil. "There are some definite borders I'll never cross, Dad. Whisk away for all you like, but don't involve me in it."
Henry grinned and continued to chop peppers. Shawn sat down at the kitchen table and had just comfortably settled on doing nothing for a while when suddenly his cell phone rang. He pulled it out of his pocket and answered without bothering to check the caller ID.
Whatever the person on the other end of the line said, it was enough to make Shawn pale and stutter.
"Could you…just a moment, all right?"
He pulled the phone off his ear and covered the mouthpiece with his hand. "Damn."
"What is it?", Gus asked.
"Damn", Gus agreed wholeheartedly. Henry, however, didn't seem to understand what his son and Gus were so worried about. He wiped his hands on a dishtowel and came over towards the table.
"What's the problem about your mother calling you? Here, let me, I haven't spoken to her in ages."
Before Shawn knew what was happening his father had pulled the phone out of his hands and had brought it up to his ear.
"Margaret? It's Henry."
The scream that came through the line sounded clearly through the entire kitchen, and Henry quickly pulled the phone away from his ear.
"Shawn, what's going on here?"
Shawn got up from his chair and hurried over to his father's side. "Well, right now Mom is probably asking herself since when there are phone lines in hell."
He tried to pull the phone out of his father's grasp, but Henry held on tightly.
"You told her I was dead?"
seemed like a good idea ", Shawn hissed, "seeing that it
was the general consensus at the time. I thought it qualified as news
she might be interested in."
Henry finally relented his rip on the phone and Shawn quickly brought it up to his ear. "Mom? Mom, listen, I know this all sounds weird right now. It's a long story, really, but the bottom line is it was a huge misunderstanding. No, I can't explain in a few words how such a misunderstanding can happen. Yes, I could have called you earlier, I'm sorry. I promise I'll call you tonight and explain it all in detail, but right now I need to stop Dad from killing me. Bye Mom."
He hung up and tossed the phone onto the kitchen table as if it might bite him. Henry stared at him for a few long seconds, clearly at a loss for words.
"You called your mother?", he finally brought out.
"Well, yes. I called her. You know, I figured she might want to know that her ex-husband and father to her only child had supposedly drowned at sea."
Henry leaned back against the counter. "And yet you didn't figure that she might want to know that I am still alive?"
Shawn raised his hands. "Don't start that with me, all right? I had quite a number of things on my mind over the past week, I forgot."
"You forgot to tell your mother that your father is still alive", Henry stated, his voice filled with disbelief.
"Yes. I'm sorry, all right? It won't happen again."
Henry shook his head.
"If this wasn't the weirdest thing I ever heard, it'd be
"Believe me, it is", Gus chortled. He stopped immediately when both Spencer men turned to glare at him. He shrugged uncomfortably. "Well, from my perspective it is", he mumbled, obviously glad when a knock on the back door saved him from saying anything else. Shawn turned towards the door.
"I'll get it."
He left the kitchen and went into the living room. When he opened the door, he was surprised to find himself face to face with Carlton Lassiter.
"Lassie! Now that's a surprise. What can I do for you on this fine day? We got a case?"
Lassiter frowned. "We don't have anything. I have a case, but that's not why I am here." He reached into his pocket and withdrew a plastic bag. "I'm here because of this."
He held the bag out to Shawn, who took it with a disbelieving frown. "You brought my Dad's toothbrush back? The toothbrush you used to try and identify a dead body in Ventura?"
Lassiter sighed. "The toothbrush we didn't use to identify the body. And I didn't bring it back because I thought your father might like it back, but because it's protocol to return items submitted for identification to their owners. I don't want to be accused of breaking protocol, Spencer."
Shawn shook his head. "Of course not. Breaking protocol, that's a sin right?"
Lassiter rolled his eyes. "Spencer. Don't start this with me."
Shawn laughed. "Oh come on, Lassie. Protocol, sure." He put the fingers of his right hand against his temple. "I'm getting something here. I'm getting excuse. Lame excuse. Listen Lassie, if you want to come and visit my Dad, you don't need to invent a near-breach in protocol to come here with lights flashing."
Lassiter was gnashing his teeth so hard that Shawn thought he might actually break something if he applied just a little more pressure to his jaw. Suddenly, Lassiter's hand shot out, grabbed Shawn by the wrist and pulled him down from the porch and onto the lawn.
"Listen Spencer, and listen closely because I am not going to repeat myself. We both know that you're not a psychic. So don't insult my intelligence by keeping up this little charade when nobody else is there to impress with this nonsense."
Shawn stopped short at the acid tone in Lassiter's voice and the emphasis on the last word. "What do you mean?"
"What I mean? By nonsense, you mean? Well, I don't know, but it's the word you used yourself the last time I asked whether you were having a "vision". But maybe you don't really remember because at that time you were busy recalling the smallest details from an event that lies over twenty years in the past."
Shawn swallowed against the sudden lump in his throat. At that time, he hadn't even thought about what he was saying. The important thing at that time had been finding his father, he hadn't been paying attention to every word he had said.
While Shawn was still busy trying to figure out what he was going to respond to Lassiter's accusations, the detective continued.
"So consider this your last warning, Spencer. I don't know how you're doing it, exactly. But if I had a little more proof than the slip of the tongue of somebody who wasn't in his right state of mind at the time, I wouldn't be talking to you right now, but to the Chief. I know that I'll get my proof, Spencer. Sooner or later you're going to screw up, and once that happens I promise you I'll be right there to expose you for the fraud you are."
And without waiting for an answer, Lassiter turned around and stormed back towards his car. Shawn stared after the detective for a moment, then he shook his head and went back into the house. Lassiter had been sceptical before, that one slip of the tongue certainly hadn't given him any ammunition he could use as proof.
His father was still busy fixing dinner when Shawn returned into the kitchen and tossed the plastic bag with the toothbrush on the kitchen table.
"Who was that?", Henry asked.
"What did he want? Why didn't you ask him in?"
Shawn shook his head and sank down in one of the kitchen chairs. "He needed to get going. He only came here to drop this off."
Henry put the lid back on a pot and came over towards the table. "Is that my toothbrush, Shawn?"
Shawn sighed. "Yes, it is."
"What exactly is Lassiter doing with my toothbrush, can you explain that to me?"
"I got you a new one, isn't that enough? It's in the bathroom upstairs, right where it's supposed to be, so how about we just forget about it?"
He took the plastic bag and tossed it into the trash bin.
"Shawn, I'm gone for a week and you start handing out my personal items? What for?"
Shawn pinched the bridge of his nose with his fingers and stared at the wall. "You want to know for what reason I gave Lassiter your toothbrush?" He turned back towards his father. "He needed it to identify a body that washed up in Ventura a few days after you vanished, all right? That's why I gave him the toothbrush. I would have given him your hairbrush, but let's face it, the only person Lassiter could have identified with that would have been Kojak. So excuse me for wanting to know whether or not I had a funeral to organise!"
Shawn stormed out of the room and up the stairs before his father had a chance to say anything else.
"Damn", Henry grumbled and went back to the stove.
Henry drew a deep breath. "Yes, Gus?"
"I know it's not really my place, but…"
"But what?", Henry asked and turned to face his son's friend. For the first time in many years, Gus didn't cower under Henry's stare. He drew a deep breath.
"What happened was hard on Shawn. You didn't see him when Lassiter dropped by and told him about the body that washed ashore. He was barely hanging on for the days until you were found, and honestly, I don't think that kind of conversations is really helping either of you right now."
Henry ran a hand through his short hair and sighed. He didn't want to fight with his son, either, but it simply happened, seemingly whenever they started talking to each other.
"Watch the stove for a moment, will you?"
Gus nodded and Henry followed his son up the stairs. He found Shawn where he had thought he would – in his old childhood bedroom, pacing angrily in front of the window. Henry stepped in and leaned against the doorjamb with his shoulder.
"Dinner will be ready in a few minutes."
Shawn stopped his pacing and interlaced the fingers of his hands behind his head. "That your way of apologising?"
"Maybe. Listen Shawn, we both know I'm not particularly good at this."
Shawn laughed. "No, you're definitely not."
"Neither are you, for that matter."
"No, maybe not."
Henry sighed. "I'm sorry that you had to go through all this."
Shawn ran his hands through his hair. "Listen, Dad, we've been through his. It wasn't your fault."
"Yeah, but it sure feels different." Henry shook his head. "How about we just try to have a quiet dinner for once."
Shawn nodded with a slight smile. "Sounds like it's worth giving it a try."
Henry led their way back down into the kitchen where Gus was standing at the stove, nervously watching the pots boiling away merrily.
"I think the potatoes are done."
Henry took over and started checking on the food. "All right kids, set the table. Dinner is ready."
They ate in near-silence, but that didn't have anything to do with the previous toothbrush-confrontation. Rather, it had to do with both Shawn and Gus wolfing down their food as if it was the last meal they'd ever be granted. When they were done, Gus pushed his chair back and folded his hands across his stomach.
"That was good, Mr. Spencer."
"Thank you, Gus. Now, what are the two of you planning for the rest of the day?"
Shawn shrugged. "I don't know. Isn't there a game on tonight?"
Henry shook his head. "Oh no, Shawn."
"Oh no what?"
"Oh no you're not going to baby-sit me. I'll tell you again that I'm not an invalid." He started putting the plates together and got up from his chair. Placing the plates onto the counter, he turned back towards the stairs. "In fact, I already have plans for tonight. But of course, if the two of you want to stay, you can help. I've been meaning to get Shawn to help me with this for ages, anyway."
A frown started to show on Shawn's face as his father went over towards the stairs. "What are you talking about, Dad?"
"I'm talking about all those boxes of yours in the attic. We're going to get them down, you'll sort through all the stuff that's been collecting dust up there for decades, and then I can finally throw out all the stuff you no longer need." Halfway on the stairs already, Henry turned again. "You know what? I think it's a great idea. We can watch the game and still get something done. I'll go get the first box."
He vanished up the stairs, and Shawn sank back in his chair with a groan.
"Great. Here I am worrying about my father's health, and he turns it into a chore of tidying up."
Gus shook his head. "Shawn, I don't think that's your biggest problem right now."
"No? Then what is?"
"Your father is on his way to the attic now."
Shawn shrugged. "I know. So what?"
"You remember what happened in that attic a few days ago? That little fit of destruction you had?"
Shawn's eyes widened. "Damn. I wanted to clean that up, but I totally forgot!"
"Well, your father is about to find out in a few moments."
Shawn got up from his chair and grabbed his jacket. "Come on Gus, we need to get going!"
"I certainly won't stick around to wait for my Dad to see the chaos up there!"
Gus got up from his own chair and reached for his jacket when a yell sounded through the house.
"Shawn! What happened up here?"
Gus was already hurrying out the door, but Shawn couldn't help turning towards the stairs once more. "Remember Dad", he yelled upstairs. "Absolutely no yelling! Doctor's orders!"
He was jerked into hurrying out of the house again by Gus' hand on his arm, and together the two of them ran out to Gus' car. When they pulled out of the driveway, Henry's face appeared in an upstairs window.
"You are going to clean that up, Shawn! You're going to glue every single shard back together, and if it takes you years! Do you hear me, Shawn? You're going to clean that up!"
Shawn buckled his seatbelt. "Go Gus, go!"
"Sooner or later you're going to have to face him again, you know?"
"I do, Gus. But I'll give him some time to cool off first. A few days should be enough. Maybe a week."
Checking the rear-view mirror, Shawn found his father on the street now, a threatening first raised after them. Shawn shook his head and tore his eyes away form the mirror. "Maybe two weeks. Just keep going Gus, before he gets it into his head to take the truck and follow us."
Gus shook his head and kept on driving. The most disturbing thing was that this wasn't the first time he and Shawn had left Henry's house like that. Things were finally back to normal.