Another blurb on a rainy day…maybe I'll update this one…thanks for reading and for the feedback!
C.J. looked over at Matt who had been hitting the Scotch pretty hard since the news flash came in about the airplane crash that took place somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. Not much was known about what happened but somehow, the plane had lost altitude and plunged nose first into the unwelcoming surface of the ocean where it likely broke up into many pieces.
Over 150 lives were lost including Matt's ex-fiancée Elizabeth. Matt had just ended his engagement to the heiress the day before and she had been jetting to Tahiti on her honeymoon without a groom or a husband. Matt had been awaiting news of a critical merger at the time when the news flash came up on CNN over the ticker tape. The talking head looking appropriately grave in a smart business suit cited the few known facts on the crash and said that the airline would be appearing before the media soon to issue a statement.
Matt had hit the liquor cabinet in nothing flat at the news for days. And the Scotch bottle had been there waiting for him. She knew that he felt grief at the loss of the woman he loved and despair for what could have been.
But what shook everyone up inside the suite that morning was that he also felt tremendous guilt, the kind felt by people who narrowly avoid their own deaths due to some decision they made that sidestepped them away from that fate.
"Houston…you can't think…"
He turned towards her, his eyes reddened.
"I should have been there with her," he said, "I should have gone down with that plane."
She just shook her head at him, rejecting the vision of altered events he had painted. She would never accept that he should have died with the woman who he had just broken up with the day before.
So she held her ground and folded her arms, looking at him.
"No Houston…you can't…"
"Don't tell me what I should or shouldn't think C.J.," he said, "In fact why aren't you happier about this?"
That shocked her.
He ran his hand through his hair and got up and started pacing. But at least the Scotch bottle remained on the table that was a start.
"You were jealous of her from the start, weren't you," Matt said, "You said so yourself before the wedding."
She sighed, not believing where he was going with his tirade.
"Houston…I felt a little insecure at losing you…as a friend…and you set me straight on that and I thanked you for that."
She tilted her head, tossing her hair back.
"No Houston…this is not about me wanting a woman you walked away from to be dead along with over 100 people in some tragic crash…so just don't even go there…"
"Why don't you just admit it," Matt said, "You didn't want me to marry her."
She tried to rein in her impatience in light of his grief and his own feelings of guilt.
"You didn't want to marry her," she said, "and rewriting the script of what actually happened isn't going to change anything."
She spun on him again, her heart aching at what she had to say.
"Oh yes you are Houston," she said, "And it's been a week and you need to decide what you're going to do. Are you going to wallow here in booze and pointing fingers or are you going to continue to blame everyone around you for something that no one's to blame for."
He shook his head, reaching for his glass.
"How dare you…"
She put her hand up.
"No…I'm not going to listen to this anymore," she said, "You're my best friend in the world and I love you but I can't listen anymore…"
He got up from his seat and grabbing his jacket walked towards the elevator.
"I'm going to take off then," he said, "See you later."
She followed him.
"Houston, you've been drinking…"
Roy came out of his office blocking his path.
"She's right and you're not getting behind the wheel," he said, "You know better than that or you did."
Matt looked between the two of them and then turned around and went into his office closing the door.
C.J. looked over at Roy who just shook his head.
"I'm worried about him," Roy said, "but no one can help him but himself."
She agreed with that.
"I know and that's the hardest part…"
C.J. headed to her own office, wanting to be anywhere else but only a few yards away from the man whose life appeared to be heading in a tailspin since the news about Elizabeth's plane crash. She knew his guilt tied into his decision not to marry her after they both realized they just weren't suited to fit into each other's lives. Elizabeth wanted a husband who was predictable and kept to a regular routine in his days and that so wasn't Matt at all.
Matt never knew each day he woke up exactly what he would be doing, where he would be how long and whether or not he even would be coming home at night. And even C.J. knew that Elizabeth would have shriveled up inside a pool of neediness before long in that kind of marriage.
Chris had dropped off some paperwork to sign not even wanting to approach Matt in his state. C.J. had smiled and had agreed to do all the signing off for the time being. Damn, Matt had really worked himself into a state of so many complicated emotions intertwining with each other. And she just couldn't go along with his belief that he should have died along with Elizabeth, not if it meant losing the most important person in her life. Didn't he care about those he'd leave behind to mourn him? Right now, clearly not so wrapped up was he in the tragedy.
Matt was the toughest, most rugged guy she had ever known but he had a huge heart and hadn't been shy about showing how much he cared about people, whether it was his family, his friends including here or the women he had been drawn to and his seduction skills…legendary.
And what he said about her being jealous…so untrue…okay maybe a little but she had accepted him getting married because she wanted him to be happy and she thought Elizabeth did that for him in ways that other women had not.
Oh wait, she had told him while they were dodging a barrage of sniper bullets that she had loved him but that had quickly been forgotten about as he continued playing the field for a while and she nearly got snared by smooth talking but calculated killer Robert Tyler.
She remembered biting Matt's head off when he approached her with that news, that the man she loved who had asked her to marry him had tried to kill him and had been masterminding the kidnappings that his coverage had driven him up the ladder in the news industry.
Sighing, she picked up a file and began reading it, trying not to think about the man who she loved who sat in his office, grief stricken and striking out at everyone around him like a wounded tiger.
The two men met in the commissary inside the prison, both looking around them at all the activity. They were both tough men, who built up considerable muscular strength by lifting weights in the prison yard so they weren't approached unless the person was asked to do so.
"This food rots," one of them named Clyde said, "I can't wait until we bust loose from here."
The other man with a military haircut named Dallas nodded.
"The plan's set in motion," he said, "We'll be free men tomorrow hopefully with a head start of a couple of hours."
"Is everything set up on the outside?"
"Yeah…car and safe house…some money but we're not leaving the joint to play," Dallas said, "We've got work to do."
"I wouldn't exactly call it work," he said, "I'd call it paying a social visit. I can't believe some guy is actually paying us money to take care of something before we can take off."
"Well believe it," Dallas said, "Though I'd do this for free…It's been a long three years and it's time to pay it forward so to speak…You know that guy solicited ads everywhere for the right guys to carry out his plan…and we're it."
"Ah, the wonders of the internet," he said, "And those that lock us up from the world don't suspect that we can still access it."
"Well they won't…because we'll be long gone…once we finish the job in L.A."
With that, they both finished eating, happily aware that it would be their last meal on the inside even if the world around them didn't know yet.
Matt looked in the mirror and noticed the stubble growing on his face but had no desire to shave it off. He had showered in preparation for taking off on his trip to go visit an old friend. As for packing, he didn't need much because he'd be flying on his jet to Vegas to see Johnny Foster who was doing a show there, after spending the last two years on sabbatical from show business mostly to complete a stint in rehab and rebuild his life which had been shattered by alcoholism and broken marriages.
Johnny had invited him after he had called to check on Matt after hearing about Elizabeth's death and hadn't liked the way he sounded, frankly so he had invited him to come visit him and get away for a little while.
He turned on the radio while he cooked himself up a quick omelet and orange juice without Vodka. No, he had decided he had enough alcohol himself and he just really needed to get away and think.
C.J. had been avoiding him he noticed and he knew he had hurt her feelings, but he didn't think she would be receptive to him trying to apologize right now…maybe a few days apart would be good for both of them. When he had been in the office, she had been quieter; more subdued as well which must have been fallout from their latest argument.
"This is a KNX newsbreak…the Folsom State Penitentiary has released a statement that two of its inmates have broken out of prison…The escape wasn't noticed by correctional guards until the head count this morning indicated that the two men who were assigned to adjoining cells were missing…"
Matt went to wash the dishes and place them inside the dishwasher, thinking he would need to get on the road to the airport to avoid traffic on the side streets to LAX.
"Armed and dangerous…Law enforcement officials urge you not to approach either man but to call 911…"
Matt caught the last statement, prison escape? It seemed as if they were coming in waves lately. Hopefully no one too dangerous and that people would have enough sense not to try to be heroes and wind up dead instead. He grabbed his suitcase and headed out to his Mercedes after locking up his house.
C.J. sighed as she showered after having jogged for several miles. She loved running in the mornings because it cleared her mind just in time to go hit the office for a day's work or go out in the field with Matt.
Her heart panged when she thought of him, just as it did these past days and weeks. She had hoped that he would start feeling better, wanting the best for him even if he had been difficult to live with lately. But she knew that his snapping at her and at Roy and even the secretaries had been because he hadn't been able to cope with the guilt he felt. The latest she had heard from him was that he was going to pay his friend Johnny a visit in Las Vegas.
Now she knew Johnny had cleaned himself up and rebuilt his life including his musical career so Matt would be in good hands with a man who had lived through more pain in his life than most people. Hopefully when he returned…well they would have to wait and see if he had started to heal when he returned…whenever that would be.
She had checked her email because she had gotten some strange ones from some anonymous address, someone wanting to get together with her, an old high school friend who might be coming into L.A. for a business trip. But then more emails had arrived from strangers asking her to hook up with them…she had just sent them straight to spam until one of them had said he had seen her photo on a singles' site.
But she had no idea what he had been talking about, because she didn't post her picture online.
She had asked Roy what it could be and he sighed, saying that someone else probably had posted it somewhere for some reason. After several more emails, it had become clear that she had very little if any clothes on in the photos and that baffled her even further. But she had no idea where to look for them because none of her "admirers" had mentioned the location of the Web site. Because if she did find out that someone had done that, she would definitely pursue legal action to get them removed. After all, it was certainly illegal, right?
"I can't believe someone did this Roy…god, it's so infuriating…but I have no idea where to look…just these emails talking about my…"
Her face flushed and she felt self-conscious at talking about these things with Roy but his professionalism and concern for her put her more at ease. But his look now was serious, as if he were about to broach a difficult subject.
"C.J…is it possible that this could be someone you dated...or had a relationship with who's doing this?"
She sighed knowing immediately what he meant because the photos…if they were genuine, they had to come from somewhere right? She tried to think because she had been in several relationships and a couple of shorter, more intense vacation flings in the past several years. But as far as she could recall, none of her lovers had taken photographs of her.
"Roy…I had several boyfriends but none of the breakups were too acrimonious," she said, "Mostly it was because his life…my life or both just got very hectic."
"I know why…I feel like someone's either playing a bad joke on me…and maybe…but I feel like it's invasive like…"
"Being stalked," he finished, "I know that's what happened to you and Christian Dean a couple of years ago…and that it had been a nightmare."
She shook her head.
"No…this can't be stalking," she said, "That's when you get phone calls and unwelcome gifts…you get followed, or someone breaks into your house or…"
She sighed, still feeling the loss of her boyfriend Carl, the casualty of having been stalked by a megalomaniac like Dean. This…this was just some unwanted emails…spam really and the photos…maybe they existed and maybe not.
"Maybe you should talk to Hoyt about it," he said, "He can give you more information on what's been happening because it sounds like someone's harassing you only over the internet."
She sighed, putting her hand through her hair.
"But what's the big deal Roy," she said, "It's just online…not the real world…if I had to; I could just stay offline and whoever was doing it, would get tired and go away."
Roy didn't sound so sure.
"What about Matt?"
She looked towards his empty office.
"He's got enough on his mind," she said, "I don't want to bother him with something that's silly…"
She had made that comment several days ago and she knew he had planned to go to Vegas and probably had already left.
Chris interrupted them with a stack of paperwork which she handed off to C.J. She turned to leave and then stopped.
"Oh there's a guy on line four who wants to, how shall I put this, get together with you later for drinks because he loved your…picture."
C.J. just looked at Roy, thinking it was already getting to be a very long week.
Matt's plane landed in Vegas in brilliant weather, blue skies and sunshine caressing his shoulders. Vegas was one of the world's most popular playgrounds and maybe it was time for him to do a little of that. If only to relax a bit and not think so much about the past month, and Johnny said the hotel where he stayed had plenty to do.
"Come on, let's go get something to eat," Johnny said, "There's a great steakhouse actually on the fifth floor."
Matt followed him, feeling better already.
Dallas and Clyde remained holed up in an aged motel on the Sunset Strip laying out their plans. It had been facilitated greatly by an unanticipated break they had received which had left their quarry wide open.
"Any more instructions," Clyde asked, looking over Dallas' to the laptop he had booted up taking full advantage of the free wireless.
"He said that that the best entrance is the French doors facing the backyard," he said, "Just slip over the fence, use the standard all-purpose key and we should be in."
"That's good…easier to do it there than arranging a kidnapping…one less charge if we get caught."
Dallas shook his head at the very idea.
"We're not getting caught," he said, "I have no intentions of going back to prison and besides, our boss has arranged transport for us over the border."
"He must be very well connected," Clyde said, "to be able to pull all this off."
"Oh he's got his…fan base that's keeping him well oiled," Dallas said, "but like I said, the escape is enough for me, what's ahead is a bonus…I've sat in jail and waited for this day."
"You really enjoy…"
"Hell yeah…this person's most definitely got it coming," he said, "Now all we have to do is wait…."