The Mod Squad - Trouble Starts At Home - Chapter One –

(A story written as an offshoot of the episode, 'Hello Mother, My Name Is Julie')

Julie Barnes stretched and then turned over in her bed. The sun was peeking in through her orange and pink psychedelic curtains and she smiled. It was Saturday, she and Pete and Linc had just finished a case yesterday, and the Captain had said take the weekend off. They were going to come pick her up soon, and she had promised to make the picnic. She kicked out of bed, removing a long blond strand of hair from her eyes as she did so.

She loved packing picnic lunches, or frying burgers, or doing anything that she could make nice and homey for her friends. She had just bought some colorful napkins from a five and dime down on the pier. Washed up, they looked groovy, and would go great with the plastic plates and cups she had found at the drug store. A few minutes later she came out of her shower, her head wrapped in a towel and her mind busy with plans. The phone rang.

"Hey, I'll bet you never had a bologna and pickle sandwich before," she said, expecting Pete's voice on the other end.

"Julie, is that you?"

The voice she heard now made her heart both jump in surprise and then sink in trepidation.

"Mom?"

"Julie honey, I've got some news!"

"Is that all, just that you've got some news? I haven't heard from you in six months!"

"Oh, I've been so busy, you know with that new man in my life… well, listen, Julie, that's why I'm calling. It's Chess, he has a younger brother, you know."

"Oh?"

"Well, dear… I…" her mother's voice faded into awkwardness. "I think we should get together don't you? How about for lunch?"

Julie bit her lip. She knew that tone in her mother's voice. The woman never meant to, but Julie could see her putting the figurative blinders on.

"I'm sorry, Mother, but I have plans for lunch. Linc and Pete are taking me for a picnic in the hills."

"Oh?" her mother didn't bite. She was too focused on whatever it was she wanted. "Well, dear, how about breakfast then? You know it's been too long since I've seen my little girl."

Julie sighed. Family was important, and besides Linc, Pete and the Captain, her mother was the only family she had.

"Yes, all right mother," she agreed. "Just let me finish getting ready."

A half-hour later Julie looked at her little white watch. Her mother was a few minutes late. She saw a phone booth across the street from the diner she was to meet her mother in, and she ventured over to it, waiting for two cars to pass. The wind ruffled her flared blue jeans and the berry-red shirt she had tucked into the waistband. Her wide hair band kept her hair from blowing in her face. She entered the booth and put in a dime.

"Lincoln Hayes," the voice was brief, competent, and practical.

"Hi, Linc."

"Julie, where are you? Sounds like too much noise to be at your pad."

"No, I'm not there. I'm meeting someone for breakfast and I'm waiting to go in. It's… my mother called."

There was a brief hesitation as Linc processed, but that never took long. He was too smart.

"You want some company?"

"No, thanks," Julie smiled. "I just wanted to let you know where I was. I'm still planning on meeting you guys for our picnic. Don't think you can get out of it!"

"Don't think, just drive. Call us if you need anything, you dig?"

"Yeah, I dig."

"Solid."

She smiled down at the phone as she replaced it in the receiver and then noticed movement out of the corner of her eye. There was her mother, waving eagerly to her across the street. And standing beside her mother was not just one man, but two. Soon the four of them were seated at a table in the cafe, and Julie's mother was pathetic in her eagerness to have things go right.

"There now, Julie, I've sat you beside Herb, so you two can get better acquainted. He couldn't get over that picture I have of you."

Julie cast the man beside her a glance. He looked at her too, but his eyes didn't linger on her face. And if they did, it was more as if he were seeing her as packaging. She'd been a cop for almost a year now, and there was no mistaking her instincts. This cat was bad news. She looked up at her mother, and then let her eyes shift to the square, broad, and slightly paunchy man beside her.

Chess, her mother's new man, had a fixed smile of charm on his chiseled features. There was no reading she could make of him.

"Excuse me," she said, making the fellow beside her get up so she could exit the booth. She headed for the ladies room. Once inside she leaned over the sink, putting a hand to her stomach.

With her cop friends she had faced bad crowds, bad works and bad weather. But no one could put her under quite so fast as her mother. The door to the restroom opened and her parent sailed in with a smile, which faded to a worried desperation as soon as they were alone.

"Julie, honey, why did you hurry off like that?"

"Mother, what is this?"

"Nothing! I just wanted you to get acquainted with Chess!"

"All right, but why bring that other man?"

"Herb is family! And didn't I say he was interested in meeting you?"

"Interested how?"

"Young lady, I don't like your tone."

Julie put out an imploring hand on her mother's arm.

"Not again, Mother, please."

Her mother reared back, for Julie was never to bring out into the open things which she wanted to pretend never happened.

"Julie, this is important to me, do you understand? Now come and be civil! I know I taught you to behave like a lady, no matter what!"

Breakfast was long, filled with her mother's chatter, Chess's jovial questions, and radiating vibes from Herb. Julie smiled politely but had little to say and no interest for the toast and juice she had ordered. At last the meal was over. They rose and headed for the door.

"No, Julie, don't worry about any trouble," her mother said, in a bright voice. "Herb has agreed to give you a ride home!"

Her mother ignored the stricken look on her face, filled the air with a patina of false cheer, and got into a nearby car with Chess. Julie looked down at her tennis shoes once she was alone with Herb. Finally she raised her eyes.

The man spoke to her for the first time.

"You don't look like a little girl the way your mother says," he stated. "You look like a woman."

"I'm capable of taking care of myself, if that's what you mean."

"Huh," the man chuckled. "You're a real looker. Even better in person. Why don't you let me take you out? I'll show you a real good time."

The man leaned close, reached out a hand, and trailed it right down from her cheek to her neck, familiar like his list of clichés. Julie stiffened.

"No thank you," she said, her voice cold. "Please excuse me now. I've got a few errands to run."

The expression on the man's face transformed, right in front of her eyes.

"Listen you little tease!" he growled, snaking out a meaty fist and grabbing her arm. He squeezed until his fingertips turned white.

Julie had learned a few things. She stomped hard on his foot and then snatched her arm away. She hurried away from him, across the street despite the honk of a startled sedan. She was faster moving than Herb's bulk, anyway. Soon she had lost him.

(Change of Scene and Point of View)

Pete Cochran watched as his friend Linc paced the ten steps it took to cross his apartment and then to stop and stare at the phone.

"Still no call from Julie?"

"Nope, and I don't like it. She was looking forward to going out."

Pete shook his head.

"Picnic in the trees. She makes it seem like a five-course-dining experience."

"To her it is."

Pete chuckled.

"How come you know so much about what makes me and Julie tick?"

"Comes with the territory."

The phone rang, and they both sat up straight in relief. Pete moved to answer it.

"Hello Julie, that you?"

"Hi," she said, her soft and expressive voice revealing all that she was feeling, as usual. Julie never played games, and only lied doing undercover work because she had to.

"What's wrong?" he demanded, his gaze connected with Linc's, who already stood hovering at attention, taking in the information.

"I'm at the park, you know by the Lid Dazzle shop? I need a ride."

"You okay?"

"I'm fine," she assured, "but hurry."

She hung up and Pete frowned. Linc was already digging the keys for the Woody out of the pocket of his white jeans and shrugging on the matching white jean jacket.

"Come on," he said.

When they drove up and pulled over in front of the park, Julie was easy to pick out. Her long shiny hair trailed in the wind, and her slender form contracted in the cool breeze. The water was whipped up this morning, and she stood on the grass that edged the beach. They walked up to her and she turned, and there it was; the connection that bound the three of them, Pete could feel it like a tight band. It was what made him want to hit the pavement every day.

"Hey," he said.

"Hi," she replied.

"What'cha doing way out here? I thought you wanted to trek the hills."

"I don't know. I just started walking."

"Come on, Julie," Linc interrupted. "Spill it."

She stopped holding back, and they could see how upset she was.

"What's the point in spelling it out?" she wailed. "It's the same old story you've heard a hundred times! I don't want to talk about it!"

She waved her arms and turned away, but Linc stopped her movement. He was looking down at her arm.

"Where'd you get that bruise?" he said.

She froze, her dark brown eyes unblinking. Then she rubbed her forehead.

"Let's go home," she said.

"Okay," said Pete, touching her elbow and walking towards the car. "But don't think we're done talking about it."

By the time they got back to her place Julie was talked out. She was right that the story didn't take long to tell. Linc sat behind the wheel and stared straight ahead, waiting for what was going to happen next. Pete sighed as he sat, drawing in his thoughts before he moved to let Julie slide out of the car.

"So what about that picnic?"

He grinned into her eyes, the same grin that had won him a date with Tina in High School and the silver spoon from his mama. Julie found her smile, and the clouds lifted from her face. He was glad to see it.

"It's getting kind of late for a trek in the hills."

Linc spoke up.

"So we'll go to the pier. Find a good spot on a blanket out of the wind."

A little bounce returned to Julie's step as Pete moved to let her out onto the sidewalk. She leaned in.

"Come back in half an hour," she invited, now fully recovered. "I still have that thermos I borrowed from the Captain, and I'll make the coffee real hot."

It was too bad that none of them got to enjoy it.