To those who brought STARMAN to life and to its fans, wherever they may be. To you this work is dedicated. Long may the Blue Lights shine.
My special thanks to all those who have taken the time to read my STARMAN stories. I do like to hear your comments on my concepts and style for without you, there is no reason for me to write them.
"Trials and Triumphs" follows "A Byte of Time" and "Down to Earth". All these stories are this author's interpretation of things left unanswered when STARMAN made an undeserved departure from a purposely unnamed network's scheduling. This story winds through "Starscapes, The Test", and beyond. Long may Starman's legacy remain in our heart and attitudes.
This is a work of fiction and represents an undaunted infatuation with both the STARMAN movie and the television series. The STARMAN concepts contained in this story result from much thought and a very vivid imagination. As with "A Byte of Time" and "Down to Earth", Paul Forrester and Scott Hayden are still in the Pacific Northwest.
Though the Quileute and Makah are Coastal tribes of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, the peripheral characters and events are purely fictitious and any resemblance to actual events or to real persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental. The tribal information is historically correct, subject to some literary license necessary to move the story on to its destination. The descriptions of the area are personal reflections of the places and people from past visits to the area. I hope you enjoy "Trials and Triumphs".
Copyright © September l993. Sheeplady46. This is a non-profit, amateur publication and written purely for the enjoyment of STARMAN fans. It is not meant to infringe upon copyrights, or otherwise, held by Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon, Henerson-Hirsch Productions, Michael Douglas Productions, Columbia Pictures Television, or the purposely unnamed network.
Materials contained herein may not be copied or reproduced without the express written permission of the author.
What follows is a work of fiction. Names, characters, or incidents are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or to persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Trials and Triumphs
© September l993
Starman date, September 7, 1987
Surprised, but overjoyed, the entire Foster and Doran families felt their vacation plans complete when they found evidence that Paul and Scott were back at the mountain camp. Their arrangement with George Fox still fresh in their mind, Roy, June and Kathy knew they had questions they must ask.
Lured away from the camp to help pick blueberries, it soon became evident to Paul his friends really had no intentions of doing so. Though he knew remaining undiscovered key to his son's future, he also knew relying on people to keep his secret was, risky. When the family told of their very unusual adventures with Fox and honestly asked if there was any reason they should not have Fox and his agency investigated, to protect everybody, he felt an obligation to tell them the truth. Revealing his secret allowed the family to put Fox's irrational behavior on the trail in perspective with his accusations.
Feeling responsible June told Paul about Fox's belief that his eyes could take control of people's minds. Wanting Paul and Scott's eminent departure to be with some good news, but unaware Fox had instructions to remain in Wenatchee to see the Sheriff, June and Kathy told him Fox had returned to Washington, D. C. As the Starman and his son left the Fosters and Dorans at Spanish Camp, Paul felt confident the three would do their very best to keep his secret.
Now we must go back a couple of days to pick up on George Fox.
Following his separation from June Foster and Kathy Doran at Eastern Washington's Pangborn Field, a highly agitated, George Fox, drove west across the Columbia River into the City of Wenatchee.
It is difficult to reconcile the help I have received from the alien's friends with the way I have treated them these past couple of days, he thought. With the alien in custody I acted like a lion protecting his kill. Yet they voluntarily kept my weapon out of the hands of the authorities and told the deputy Forrester ran off apparently unhurt? Of course they weren't really lying, only bending the truth a little by omission. That favor alone will save me a great deal of trouble when I have to face Sheriff Foley again in the morning.
In addition, they could have left us at the trailhead after Deputy Frasier left; yet they went out of their way to take us to the airport. Having Wylie back in Washington will definitely help me get out of this mess and back on Forrester's trail.
In the city, he drove into the first motel he saw with a vacancy sign. Walking into the room he tossed his bag on the bed and immediately began undressing. He hung his damp, odoriferous clothes over every available thing in the room. Opening his suitcase he grabbed a change of clothes and his toiletries' bag. "Now it's time to get into the shower." A half hour later a renewed George Fox walked out of the bathroom clean-shaven, groomed and wrapped in a towel.
"Now that's better," he mumbled after he tucked the tails of a clean shirt into clean slacks. "All I have to do is call in my location to the Sheriff's office then I can go for a bite to eat at the restaurant I saw down the street."
After a fine meal he walked back toward the motel. Remembering the mess he had left in the room a new plan began to take form. "I have to pack everything into my suitcase for the ride home tomorrow, so I better launder all the wet clothes. The washing machine isn't going to do my suit any good, but the way it smells I surely can't put it in my suitcase, or even carry it in polite company. I'll stop at the motel office and ask for their laundry room key."
Receiving the key, he returned to the room. Stuffing both his and the borrowed alien's soiled clothes into his dirty laundry bag, he hung his super dirty suit over his arm and left for the laundry room. He switched on the light. "Only a single laundry pair," he grumped. "This is going to take longer than I expected. I guess I'll do my stuff first."
He stuffed the contents of the laundry bag into the washer and when the cycle finished, emptied it into the dryer. "Now I'll wash my suit on gentle.. When I get home I'll take it to the cleaners," he mumbled. When the second washer finished the first dryer load was not. "I think I'm going to need more quarters. I'm sure I can get change at the front desk." By the time he returned the dryer had finished its rolling and rumbling. He took out the clothes, put in his suit then started folding and separating things into two stacks, his and the Starman's. When the machine stopped again, he folded his suit and put all of his things into his clean laundry bag.
With all of the alien's things over his arm he returned to the room. Placing the suitcase on the bed he put his white bag of clean clothes in one side, closed the lid and placed it down beside the bed. He then dropped the clothes borrowed from the alien on top. I'll pack in the morning, he thought. Now it's time to crawl between the sheets. Except for the two hours I spent under the influence of my own tranquilizer the alien's friends graciously gave me, I haven't slept in three days. I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep, clean, dry, warm, and alone in a real bed. He turned off the bed light.
A short while later he turned the bed light back on so he could read his watch. I've been tossing and turning for almost an hour already' he confirmed. On the road so much I guess I got used to the harsh ugly noises that emitted from Wylie. Now I think it's just too quiet. My body needs rest, but I can't seem to fall asleep.
Rolling from side to side, another half hour passed to the turmoil of conflicting thoughts. Finally he opened his eyes and focused on the outline of the large window in the room. All I can see is the light from the street leaking in around the draperies. I might as well face it; this sleeplessness isn't because I miss Wylie. Learning more about these aliens has me spooked. I can't stop thinking about how easily It gets to us when It needs assistance. Though I didn't realize it before, now I can see a basic consistency of dedication in all those I've encountered. He shuddered. Unaware, do they remain forever in Its service?
It must use some kind of post hypnotic suggestion to retain control. Look at me. Even aware, I'm lying here in a jumble of contradictory thoughts. He trembled. Though I still have no sound evidence to support this theory, I know I must fight these feelings. His muscles tensed and his attention focused on the blinking light in the overhead smoke alarm. "This is stupid, George. Stop watching for the battery indicator light to blink. This isn't going to help you sleep. Roll over and close your eyes."
Minutes passed. Words are easy to say, but this clicking in my mind is illogical. It's as though I'm in some highly charged electrical field. Is this evidence of what It has already done to me? I wonder how long it lasts. It's frightening to think there might be other side effects I don't know about as well.
I only wish I could have convinced the Fosters and Ms. Doran to go with me to the lab. Maybe I'll have them picked up anyway. Promises or not, this is far too important. With them being the latest conquests, the effects should be obvious. He rolled onto his back. Suddenly his eyes popped open wide. My God, they're not the latest conquests ... I am. How might I do if It was in danger? I think a better idea is to check myself into the lab. When the scientists find and isolate the part of the brain where this mental activity originates, they can work on a treatment. Right, that's what I'll do. I'll check into the lab. He heaved a deep sigh. Okay, now I have a plan. He rolled again and closed his eyes. Now sleep.
For several minutes demand made tense muscles relax, but his mind, reaching ever further for answers caused them to again tense into knots. His eyes opened again. Still, mind control alone doesn't explain everything I've seen. I must believe I've overlooked something. How did It run that out of service monorail train? How did It discharge a cigarette lighter or flatten all those tires on the police vehicles? At a mental hospital where they have all the windows locked, how did It get in and out while I had guards at every door?
The time we were in Seattle, Wylie said It appeared to be listening to a tape recording without a player. While I stood face to face with it the first time I'm sure It was somehow altering the recording. At a time like that, why would It be listening to itself singing? The tape is still in my properties file. I should take it to the FBI specialties lab for further analysis. Maybe there is some residual information on it they can identify. Yes, that's one of the first things I need to do when I get back. Still none of these things make any sense unless It has access to other powers as well. ... But if It has other resources available, why didn't It escape right away?
He rolled onto his back and his eyes again focused on the smoke alarm. It all must have something to do with the eyes business. A post hypnotic suggestion would explain why no one in that California hick town would talk to me about the aerial display. Even so, that doesn't explain the lights. They were there. Both Wylie and I saw them dancing in the sky before we got into town. It must have taken a tremendous amount of power to create and sustain anything that large. Is it possible somebody might have caught it on radar, or maybe on a military satellite photos. We've been examining them only for incoming intrusions. I'll have Wylie to check and double-check them.
His mouth contorted to one side. Of course that could present a problem. Getting access to the military photos might take leverage at a high level. Wylie will never manage that by himself. I'll just have him start checking the Weather Bureau scans. After a brief moment, he blurted, "Oh, damn! Now, I'm more agitated than ever. I have to stop this. I must relax! … Damn, I sure wish I didn't have to stay here until Monday."
He forced his muscles to relax, but his mind continued wandering. Its message through the woman was, when I can take Its hands and look in Its eyes, I'll know what It is. I wonder if all the others unknowingly accepted that innocent invitation. With what I know now, I have to shudder just thinking of what might have happened if I had done so. Still ... I wonder why I couldn't. I'll have to wait for that answer. Now, if I want to go to sleep I have to stop asking questions, because a possibility only brings on another question.
Could it be I'm somewhat immune to Its demands because I'm aware of what It is? he considered. Still, by refusing to participate maybe I was showing prejudice toward someone different. I wonder what I would have seen. Would I have been aware of something happening to me? ... Probably not. None of the others apparently have.
He closed his eyes and rolled over onto his stomach. I have to admit I still know very little about It. It said It wasn't a …'something', but a 'somebody'. It also confessed It is different and that it actually exists within Paul Forrester's body. His nose wrinkled in disgust. How can two beings occupying one body and how do they get in?
As his arm slipped over the edge of the bed he realized his hand had fallen on the alien's clothes and he jerked it back as though touching a hot stove. His eyes snapped open again and he began to shake. Now why did I react so strongly?
Time passed slowly. "I've used every trick I have ever found helpful to fall asleep," Fox mumbled irritably. Though I need rest, I'm afraid I'm losing this battle. Each time I close my eyes something else comes to mind; possible explanations for the unexplainable, or just more questions. Why did It offer me those clothes? What did it, say? 'While there is a possibility I care about your welfare, I believe you might prefer something to support your own narrow perspective.' I'm not sure, but I think It was being sarcastic. Was It simply trying to point out that I had It at a disadvantage? ... Hmm ... I didn't even consider that with my weapon I really could have taken the cover ... the air mattress ... anything. He frowned. If our positions had been reversed, I wonder if I could have left It out in the cold? Sharing in time of need, even if it is with an enemy, is a basic humanitarian gesture.
His face contorted and he could feel a hard deep crease form between his eyes. How did our conversation get on to world survival problems and why should It care? Then what was it It said about truth. The inability to accept truth is more of a problem with people in power than ordinary citizens. That's certainly not true. I'm in a position of power and easily could have accepted seeing what It is. I wonder how much It would have chosen to show me?
Could it be Its victims live within one of those illusions It creates? Is that what has been happening to me? That requires some deep thought. For that to be true, the rest of the world revolving around me would have to exist within the same illusion. That's obviously not the case. Maybe I'm immune. He heaved a sigh and shook his head. No, that can't be true, either. With what has been going through my mind, I know It has definitely working on me. Right now I have to wonder if I have it all together. I know my mind still functions and I'm feeling all right, but my God, on several occasions I actually questioned my resolve to bring It right in. I was going to ignore an obligation to my country, Wade's military machine, and the rest of the world. Several times I was virtually ready to put my judgment ahead of national, and planetary, security.
His thoughts drifted, then returned to the alien. Why didn't It try using another illusion to escape from me? It just laid there, submitting peacefully to being chained to a tree. Spontaneously, he threw back the covers. It sure is hot in this room! I guess I forgot to turn off the heat after I took my shower. Maybe I'll fall asleep if the room is cooler. Getting out of bed, he turned the air conditioner on sixty-two and returned to bed. I'll lie on my side. That is the position I usually find best for falling sleep.
For some time he lay quietly, but still sleep was not to be his as thoughts churned in a constant desire to make logic out of chaos. For something that said It couldn't talk to us, It actually talked a lot. It even got a little impatient at times, but other than that acted almost subdued as a lamb. As his eyes shot open, they rolled back. "A lamb?" He groaned, then laughed confidently. "Now that's a poor comparison. It's something, but surely not a lamb." His laughter died and again his forehead wrinkled into a contemplative frown. But, It did just lie there ... almost accepting Its fate like a lamb on the way to slaughter. Only a moment passed. Why am I doubting myself again? I think in keeping with reality It is a wolf in lamb's clothing preparing for a slaughter.
Perhaps It did nothing because all along It knew the others would help. The old saying, The best helping hand is always at the end of your own arm, normally applies, but why shouldn't he prefer using human against human to save himself? Could it be I was watching too closely, or maybe he didn't want me to know the full extent of his power? Did he want to hold onto all his aces for a real emergency? That makes some sense. If he hadn't been relatively sure of their help, he wouldn't have allowed us to get so close to the end of the trail. If they hadn't performed, as expected, I have to wonder if we would be at Peagrum anyway. I wonder what he could have conjured up for me if they hadn't come through?
Fox rolled onto his back again and sneered. He said so many things that on face value I just cannot accept as the truth. 'Isn't it sufficient evidence of our intention that nothing has happened to your world for the past sixteen years'? "Now what kind of garbage is that," he said with contempt, "after all, he and the boy are here!" And that dream. It could have been a carefully calculated ruse for sympathy so I might readily accept his offer to see everything. Besides, no one remembers dreams that fully. ... Still I do have to admit he did appear to be dreaming. His descriptions and the actions I observed fit the story; he even had me completing the punch line. I wonder if he had it planned for me to insist he tell me about it? He shook his head and closed his eyes, attempting to stifle a new and conflicting thought. Was it a ruse, or...? His eyes exploded fully open again and he swallowed hard, but his thought exploded loudly. "Or what, George, ... a prediction?" He pounded the pillow to plump it, closed his eyes and rolled again. "Go to sleep."
Momentarily his eyes opened again. It's no use. All I can see is the look he gave me when I gave the injections. It wasn't an alien look. It was a very distressed and battered human face and it was looking at me. What did he mean when he said the experience was bad? Maybe I should have taken the time to listen to his grievances?
Why, why? Perhaps, perhaps? Maybe, maybe? ... Maybe I shouldn't be allowing myself to think like this? ... The truth is I can't stop it.
He drew in a quick breath. "George, do you realize you've been referring to It as he, like It was human! Stop it!" He grimaced. Oh, God…. What a world it would be if even a small percentage of the population fell under a spell such as this and this has to be mild, because I know I'm fully aware of it. Those poor farmers said they felt no different. Little did they know...? Maybe the first ones to fall will be the lucky ones. They'll never see what happens.
He reached up and turned on the bed lamp again. I might as well get up! This isn't getting me any closer to sleep anyway. He sat on the edge of the bed holding his head in his hands, then gulped a breath of air. I have to get control of myself or I'll be put in one of those padded rooms at the funny farm. Attempting to clear away the cobwebs, he let go and shook his head vigorously. I know. I must write everything down while I still can. When this feeling passes, I'll be able to sort everything into some logical order. He grimaced I probably won't need to bring in any of the others right away. I hate to admit it, but I know I'm the one the scientists need. I should be able to provide all the data they need to find out how these aliens get to us; maybe, then, they can help me. I know I have to write it down now or run the risk of losing it to another post-hypnotic suggestion. If I continue to decline into servitude, a record must be available for Wade.
He looked at the stationery provided by the motel and shook his head. Not enough, and too small. Rummaging through his suitcase, he found a manila envelope of authorizations.. He addressed the front:
FROM: George Fox, Special Agent, Federal Security Agency. In the event I am for any reason considered incapacitated, physically or mentally, deliver this personally, and with all due haste, to GENERAL MARTIN WADE at the Pentagon, Washington, D. C.
He pulled his authorizations out of the envelope. Turning them over to the blank side, he grabbed the hotel pen from the desk and started writing.
RE: FILE 617W - SUPPLEMENTAL FOLLOW-UP REGARDING ALIEN INTRUSION
General Wade, I have just had a close encounter of the third kind. If you have received this, it is likely I have already fallen under alien control and probably am no longer trustworthy to act in the best interests of the United States. The appointment of an aggressive successor to continue our quest should be made post haste. Get the best, for the alien presence may by more insidious and dangerous than even I imagined. Please do not dismiss what I have written here.
++ POSITIVE IDENTIFICATION OF ALIEN BEING: For more than forty-eight hours, I have been in close personal contact with Paul Forrester and have verified the body is, in fact, controlled by an alien being.
++ WARNING - BELIEVE IT TAKES CONTROL OF OUR MINDS AND WILL: Eyes and touch might prove a danger to humans. Believe once under initial control It relays further instructions to victims at will.
++ POTENTIAL POWER: Illusions, coercion. An X force?
++ NUMBERS: I have been unable to determine how many may more might presently be on Earth. This determination should be a priority.
++ POSSESSES UNUSUAL ABILITY TO ADAPT TO CHANGING CONDITIONS: The human body suffered no ill effects after a massive overdose of tranquilizer and an hour of CPR under basic field conditions. It didn't even show signs of hypothermia. It also said it could hear while body totally dysfunctional.
++ PERSONAL OBSERVATION: When given same drug by unsuspecting victims, I remembered nothing. This leads me to believe whatever these aliens are they are a highly resilient life form that somehow becomes a part of the human host.
++ THE SPAWN: Though it seems to display a genuine human relationship and parental concern for the child It spawned, I remain dubious about the objective of leaving a child in the first place. Why do they choose to sneak back? Suspect they could be growing human children as the basis for invasion forces. Think about it? Doesn't it sound totally reasonable? They would have nothing to lose in any battle. A way must be found to tell theirs from ours before any defensive strategy is possible.
++ CONTROL OF OTHERS: Almost without exception the victims will do anything to help It. Even after I told latest conquests It possessed their minds they chose to trust It as a friend over me, a representative of their government. Examine me carefully for I may hold the key to the power used to control us. Please excuse the quality of this report for I must hurry. I am feeling some residual effects this very moment.
++ OBSERVATION: Odyssey II & III. I remain convinced It had something to do with reactivating II. The big question remaining is why? Look for an ulterior motive. If I become incapacitated someone is to interrogate Katherine Bradford (File 617W-San Jose, CA). I feel she knows more than she has disclosed. Do whatever is necessary to secure cooperation.
++ INFORMATION OBTAINED FROM ALIEN UPON INTERROGATION: Stated to me, directly, that we are technologically deficient to defend against them. (a) A threat or advice? (b) Said trying to dominate or control an intelligent species they consider work. (c) Another statement offered to me, is if a species has enough intelligence it will finally manage to control itself. Though much of what he said sounded logical, if taken in the context of his situation there must have been some special reason for offering the information in the first place. (d) Said there is some rudimentary agreement among them we hold some promise. The question is, promise for what?
++ PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS: (a) This one unquestionably intelligent and clever with words. (b) Excellent memory and grasp of language. (c) To the uninformed It would easily pass as a normal human being. (d) Told me he feels as we do: pain, fear ... love, etc. If I am able, I have much of general interest to tell you from my encounter, but now I must not waste what remaining lucid time I have. It could be short.
++ QUESTIONABLE PERSONAL ACTIONS: Under adverse climatic conditions, It let me have dry clothes and offered to share bed. Believe generosity a calculation to obtain close proximity and foster control.
++ INSIDIOUS INTRUSION INTO MIND: Without me even becoming aware, he got me to question my resolve? From thoughts that continue to haunt me, he must still have some control.
++ CONSENT: If I should be unable to do so personally, let this memo be my consent to being examined. If things get worse, you may use me for any research deemed necessary or desirable in furtherance of the cause. Do not trust me if I begin questioning my duty or show signs of falling further under his control.
He looked proudly at his effort. There, at least I have that much in permanent form. His eyes locked on his hand. Why couldn't I take his hands? What does he look like? I still have a lot of question I need answered, but I better get this dated and signed. I can always add more as I think of it. Signing, he leaned back in the chair and wiped the heavy perspiration from his face. Suddenly he jumped up out of the chair and began pacing vigorously back and forth across the small room. Oh, no; the conflicting questions are beginning again. What kind of thing is It that can still be doing this to me? There really is a lot more to add, and I should do it now.
++ ADDENDUM: When you have Paul Forrester, or any alien being in the lab for questioning, it is important you avoid eye contact at all cost. He...
"Damn!" he exclaimed as he sat down and looked at the document. "I've been referring to the creature as he again." Highly agitated, he found and replaced the errors, then unable to calm his agitation, continued putting down anything he thought significant during the past months of pursuit.
The memo grew and he used most of the motel's paper as well. Finally satisfied, he returned to the top of the list. Now, it's time to move on to my suggestions. He looked at the whole document. This isn't my writing. It looks like the scrawling handwriting of a college student trying to take notes too fast. I hope I can read it myself now that it's gotten cold.
He started writing suggestions carefully and in great detail, but soon found he had to squash things between the lines then up and down the meager margins. I allowed room at the start, but part way down the second page I got in too much of a hurry and didn't leave sufficient space. I guess I'll put reference codes where I need them and finish on another page. Now I know I'll have to get Edna to type it when I get back to the office. I think she's the only one capable of reading it anyway.
Looking back at his final comments his mouth contorted to one side. I think my capacity is diminishing, because that almost sounds as though I'm complimenting the creature. He shuddered. I must hurry.
Rushing to get done, the comments became simpler and more inclusive, Obtain in laboratory examination, or obtain during interrogation. By page five he had them shortened to 'I' for interrogation or 'R' for research.
Okay, now I believe I have everything in a permanent form. Even alien beings cannot overcome the written word.
Carefully folding the papers, Fox placed them back in the envelope, then placed the envelope in his suitcase. He looked at his watch. It's five-thirty. That's eight-thirty back home. Wylie should be in the office by now. As soon as the agency can straighten out the legal charges out here for me, I'll be on my way back to work.
He gave Wylie his instructions, then told him to transfer him over to the director. Finally hanging up he felt good. The director said he would make arrangements with Interior and Justice Departments to FAX the necessary directives to the Sheriff's attention. Satisfied his problems and those of the helicopter pilot would be resolved by inter-agency calls and memos, he went to breakfast. From the restaurant, he drove directly to the County Courthouse.
At precisely eight o'clock in the morning as Starman and Scott were making the final climb to cross Ladies Pass on their way back to Spanish Camp, George Fox was walking briskly into the Sheriff's Department in Wenatchee. "My name is George Fox. I believe the Sheriff is expecting me."
"I'm sorry, but the Sheriff won't be in until nine," the desk sergeant returned.
"Nine!" Fox exclaimed. "What am I to do until nine? I need to get back to Washington."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Fox, but except for emergencies, the Sheriff never gets in until nine."
"Give me some directions. I'll go see him at home."
"That won't do you any good. Your office called about your case, but we're still awaiting a couple Faxes' from Justice. Besides, the Sheriff doesn't like to be disturbed at home except in emergencies. Between six and seven this morning, we transferred three calls from Washington. The boss said no more. I don't think a federal plea directive instead of bargaining would be very high on his list of emergencies. Just as soon as everything they promised gets here, I'm sure you'll be right on the top of his list. I will say, when he gets riled I'm not quite sure I'd like being there. Just take a seat."
Fuming inside, Fox sat in a nearby chair. He fidgeted for ten minutes, then noticed a man talking to the desk sergeant looking suspiciously his way a number of times. Fox strained his neck. Eavesdropping on the conversation, he heard: "Isn't that the guy that was here a couple months back looking for Paul Forrester?" the stranger whispered.
"Yeah, George Fox," the sergeant returned. "It ticked off the sheriff that time, but nothing next to having our guys out another three days this week looking for Forrester."
"What do the Feds want with him?"
"They won't say. I think that's what has made the Sheriff a real bear the last few days. He has a thing about secret government agencies, anyway, but this Fox's attitude makes the boss think the Feds are just yanking us around. They think all they need to do is wave those two sacrosanct words, national security and everyone jumps through their hoop. Hey, I have played soccer with Forrester and his kid. They seemed nice enough to me."
"Ted Bundy seemed like a nice guy too!" the man returned succinctly. "It's not your job to make the calls. You protect the rest of us by bringing them to justice. Hey, I heard someone around the station say this Forrester lived a couple months with that computer guru across the river."
"Yeah, that's Dale Taylor," the desk sergeant confirmed. "Dale says he felt like a kid next to Forrester. He's convinced the guy knew about everything there was to know about computers."
"I've heard that from some others outside these marble halls. In fact no one I've talked to can believe such a mild mannered man could ever get himself in this kind of trouble. I understand Forrester and his boy helped Taylor's son through a drug problem. That's how I got interested. Taylor's boy helped mine. I told him I'd try to get to the bottom of this. Have you heard anything else?"
"Something I saw pass through this morning said Paul Forrester is some famous photographer," the desk sergeant offered. "Maybe he's been shooting things he shouldn't?"
"Photographer?" Moments passed, then the man grinned broadly. "Of course ... Paul Forrester. I knew his name sounded familiar. I'm going to have to do some more digging."
"You plan on doing an article or something, Dan?" the sergeant asked.
"Or something," the man replied lightly. "I will need more information, though. I understand your field work ended last week." He gestured toward Fox with a flip of his head. "Can you give me any idea of why this Fox is back here now? ... You know, I'll need all the regulars, the 'who, why, what, when, where and how's'."
Damn!' Fox thought. A reporter! That's all I need. His patience already near the breaking point, he jumped from his chair and charged for the desk.
The sergeant continued. "Well, I do know he's in some trouble with the Forest Serv..."
Fox slammed his fist on the desk. "Do you understand the meaning of the words national security " he barked into the sergeant's face. Turning to the reporter, he ripped the man's pad of notes from his hand. "I'm confiscating this and I'm officially advising you, if anything about Forrester appears in print, you'll both be cooling your heels on the inside looking out." Both the sergeant and the reporter shrunk from the attack as Fox's eyes met theirs. His steel-hard look left no question his words were more than a mere threat. Hurrying off, the reporter looked back only when he reached the outside door before Fox finished with the sergeant.
Half an hour passed before the sergeant walked over. "Mr. Fox, the last FAX has arrived from Washington. I've called the Sheriff. He will be here in a few minutes," he offered coldly.
"It's about time," Fox returned.
The Sheriff passed a few moments before nine and the sergeant motioned Fox to follow him. Once inside, Fox walked over and pounded his fist on the Sheriff's desk. "A while ago I overheard your desk man talking openly with a reporter about this Paul Forrester matter," he shouted. "I put a stop to it immediately, but I want this stopped. I am here on a highly sensitive issue involving our national security." His face turned red as he glared at the Sheriff who, blatantly, continued reading through the documents on his desk. "I will repeat this, so there is no misunderstanding. I expect it to be treated as such."
The Sheriff looked up, straightened his glasses, and glared back. "Mr. Fox, there was no formal gag-order received from Washington directing me or this department from talking about this case."
"I advised you I was with Federal Security."
"Doesn't that insinuate we're dealing with Security?" Fox rebuffed. "Now, I'm not in any mood to play word games with you."
"Neither am I, Mr. Fox. What I would like to do is remind you the subject resided across the river. He has done a lot of work in this city; work, which I might say has been more than satisfactory. Our people remember. We pride ourselves in being a big, little city. That's a place where people know and care about each other; a place where a man's problems are a concern to all his friends. Many of my men and their families know Mr. Forrester personally. By adding a federal security label, it is you have made it a big deal. By blowing it all out of proportion to its importance, it is you who have made security next to impossible."
"To your government it is a big deal," Fox retorted loudly.
"Then tell me why?" the Sheriff returned sharply.
"Information is on a 'need to know' basis only," Fox replied. "With the lax security I've seen here, I am even less encouraged to extend you that professional courtesy."
"Until you came back demanding assistance again, everything had blown over," the Sheriff argued. "Your return and the things coming in from Washington all morning have started stories circulating. It is you have made it newsworthy. That is something I am impotent to stop. In inter-agency law enforcement, operations and gag directives are usually in place before we are involved in the action. They are also presented in writing. Here is a piece of paper - start writing. I'll impose whatever you direct on my men, but I cannot and will not attempt to impose such a directive on private citizens, or the free press. That's your arena, sir."
"You call this a law enforcement department?" Fox barked back. "You let Forrester slip in and out, right under your nose."
"Sir," the Sheriff returned with rapidly growing ire, "you are beginning to annoy me!" He looked at the stack of papers then picking them up, waved them in Fox's face. "These directives annoy me! The only reasonable order in this whole stack is one from the U. S., Attorney General's Office informing me that he has contacted the local Federal Magistrate about the pilot. That man, John Gross, just happens to be a life-long friend of mine. Our families go to the same church. Each Thursday night he and his wife play bridge at my house. At this moment, the only thing pleasing me is I will have the pleasure of telling John that you have had all the charges against him dismissed and he will be getting his chopper returned.
"Now…." The Sheriff took a deep breath then let it out slowly. "While in this jurisdiction, you have personally violated a number of federal laws and other complaints have been filed by citizens of this state. Under the shelter of government security, it looks to me like you are to be getting off almost scot-free." He took another deep breath. "You have consistently said the government would stand behind you." He picked up the stack of papers, shaking them again. "From the tenor of these, it appears they have." He leafed down through the papers and laid them open. "The rest of this bureaucratic BS I consider a miscarriage of justice. Regarding the wilderness violations filed against you, the Attorney General has arranged a reduction in the charges and has directed you be at the Federal Court House in Seattle by 1:00 on Tuesday to put in a formal appearance. He has advised me to tell you to enter a guilty plea and to quit wasting time and money."
From the way the Sheriff is looking at me, leaves no question in my mind about what he thinks of federal agents, Fox thought smugly. "Are you through yet?" he asked curtly.
"No, not quite," the Sheriff returned. "Mr. Fox, twice in two months you have tied up almost all my deputies for days. You refuse to confide the nature of the crimes committed by this Forrester and his son that allow you to run roughshod over this department. As a defender of the law, I feel that personally derogatory to our integrity. In essence, Sir, I have been summarily advised to keep my nose out of this." His scowl reflected his peaking annoyance. "I resent secrecy between government law enforcement agencies, particularly when this one has been directed to provide the manpower. I have told your superior as much."
Leaving Fox no chance to reply, he continued. "In addition, we have spent our money for your chase while the taxpayers who pay our wages must do with less than adequate protection. I have advised your agency that a statement for our services will be submitted, in quadruplicate, or whatever they require. On the federal matters, I must agree to have no jurisdiction." He took a deep breath and his eyes reflected an earned smirk of satisfaction. "... But on the civil charges within this county, I do.
"John Gross gave me a statement saying you shot at and apparently injured someone. This is a felony offense. My father is with the Justice Department. My call to him had your superior calling me. We have agreed that the next seventy-two hours of your time belongs to me. During that time you will remain here to see if anyone comes forward to file an injury complaint. If so, we will be talking again, but at my level. Mr. Fox, you may consider yourself under house arrest and for those seventy-two hours you will remain within this jurisdiction. If no one has come forward by then, your superior has instructed you to get yourself over to the Federal Courthouse in Seattle and take care of things, then to return to Washington."
Fuming, Fox spoke confidently to the man confronting him. "Your father notwithstanding, your jurisdictional charges worry me little. But if my superior has directed me to stay, I must. I would, however, like to say something to you, sir. You have my number at the motel." Fox pulled out and displayed Paul's picture, "But if by some stretch of the imagination this man does show up to complain of injuries I might have inflicted, please be sure to hold on to him this time. When I receive your call it won't take me long to get here. Believe me it would give me great personal pleasure to sit securely behind your bars next to my accuser." Fox stood up. "Now, may I go!"
Seething, Fox left for the motel. Without a clue as to what he let slip through his fingers, the Sheriff had no right to talk to me like that. Imagine him pulling strings to keep me waiting here. I'm sure my superior didn't argue on my behalf figuring to give me a lesson in humility. The director knows Forrester will never come in to file a complaint. His furor passed by the time he entered his motel room and his mood mellowed. Three days isn't a lifetime and I have to admit the agency doesn't like men in the field breaking laws that require asking for official favors.
Looking around the room, he saw the clothing still piled on top of his suitcase. I must admit this encounter with the alien has me disturbed. Now, with the memo to rely on for facts, I should be able to relax. If I'm going to function efficiently, I need to get some sleep. Undressing, he crawled into bed and was soon fast asleep. The morning and afternoon passed into history until hunger pangs finally awoke him.
While Fox was making another trip to the restaurant, Scott was watching his father prepare their evening meal at Spanish Camp. Dad is usually talkative when he's cooking, he thought pensively. Now he hasn't said ten words to me. He hasn't even asked me to help. It's totally out of character. Though on the way, every time we stopped he told me more about Spanish Camp, I notice he's been in a blue funk ever since we got here. He surely has something on his mind. I have to assume he just isn't quite ready to share it with me. I guess I'll just have to be patient. I wish he'd say something. I know what will break the ice. "Dad, what do you want me to do?"
I can hardly believe it, Fox thought. Was I that exhausted that after sleeping all day I also slept right through the night. I've rested now and am ready for work, but now I'm being forced into wasting two more days playing games with the local Sheriff then probably another day in Seattle. I know. I'll give Wylie a call and find out if his monitoring has turned up anything of interest.
The phone rang until he heard the click announcing the start of the official office recorded message. Damn! I forgot. It's Saturday. He won't be in unless I gave him a direct order. No matter, I'll just call him at home.
"About as I expected," he rebuffed as he hung up the receiver. "He's not at home either." He glanced at his watch. It's still early. I guess I could take a walk. It might get the cobwebs out of my head from so many hours in bed.
After walking a few miles, he returned to his room and turned on the television. It took less than ten minutes before the ultimate in boredom began. His mouth pursed to one side, then he jumped up to turn off the television. Since I'm stuck here anyway I think I'll make better use of my time by paying the Taylor family another visit. I must be cunning with my interrogation. My interest is more in their attitudes toward me after separation from the alien. It might give me some idea of how long I might expect these strange thoughts and feelings to continue. Yes, that should take up a large part of this afternoon.
Hearing a car coming to the house, Ellen Taylor looked out the kitchen window. Recognizing Fox she gasped apprehensively. After Paul and Scott left I heard rumors around work that he had someone watching our house. Now, he's back. She stepped back from the window so Fox couldn't see her. Can I pretend I'm not home? No good. The car is in the carport. Walking to another window she looked down the hill beyond the man standing on the porch. I see the service van is down at the shop so Dale is still here. I guess there's no escape. Gathering courage, she walked to the front door to answer the demanding bell. "Good morning, Mr. Fox" she offered with a broad smile. "Aren't you a long way from home?"
Her gracious greeting took Fox by surprise and he answered pleasantly, "Good morning to you too, Mrs. Taylor. I guess I should have called first, but I will confess I'm pleased to find someone at home. Is it possible I might have the continuing good fortune of catching your husband and son around this morning as well?"
"I'm sorry. Ted is in Seattle," she offered. "He won't be back until tomorrow afternoon." She looked toward the shop again. "I see Dale is still here. He was planning to finish some work for delivery this afternoon."
"Would it be possible to speak to you and your husband for a little while?"
"I can't speak for Dale, but I can't think of any reason to say no," she replied. "Why don't you come in and have a seat. Our intercom is out so I'll have to walk down to get him."
I would like to observe her husband's initial response to me, as well, Fox thought. "I'll just walk down with you."
"Sure," Ellen confirmed amicably as she glanced at her watch. "Actually, I think it will be a waste of both our time and effort. Its lunchtime and Dale will be coming up in a minute. I'll just start getting ready." Ellen stepped back, inviting Fox to enter.
As he stepped into the house Fox noticed the family dog, the pit bulldog they called Brutus, had slipped in behind him. Following Ellen, Fox turned nervously around.
Seeing Brutus sniffing and Fox's nervousness, Ellen smiled. "You will stay and have a bite of lunch with us, won't you?"
"I wouldn't want to put you to any bother," Fox replied, glancing uneasily at the dog.
"No bother. We have plenty. Come into the kitchen while I get things prepared. That way we can talk."
With the dog at his heels, Fox followed. When the dog passed to position himself between them, Fox heaved a sigh of relief. Once in the kitchen he saw a clock on the wall. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to get here at lunchtime."
Motioning Brutus back to his pad in the corner, Ellen saw Fox relax. "It's no problem," she replied. "I just put on a fresh pot of coffee before you came. Would you like a cup?" Observing a confirming nod, she removed a cup from a pegboard on the wall. "Black, if I remember, right?" she questioned as she filled it. Fox nodded. Smiling, she set the cup in Ted's place at the table. Without question, Fox accepted his seat assignment. Sipping the steaming coffee, he listened to her humming as she prepared lunch.
A few minutes later Ellen glanced out the window to see Dale walking up the hill from the shop. She met him at the kitchen door. "Dale, we have unexpected company from the other Washington."
Dale looked around her and seeing Fox sitting at the table, nodded. He walked over to the coffee pot and poured himself a cup before moving to the table. "Long time no see, Mr. Fox," he said offering his hand. After they shook, he took his place across the table. "Did you manage to catch up with Paul?" he asked guardedly.
"Unfortunately not," Fox replied.
"Then this isn't a social visit?"
"I don't visit socially," Fox returned truthfully.
"Then what can I do for you?"
"Hey, business can wait," Ellen advised firmly. "We're going to eat first," she said, placing a generous bowl of steaming soup in front of Fox. "I don't like cold soup."
While they ate, Dale listened while Ellen kept a running conversation of busy talk going about the weather, business and local affairs. This is a surprise, she thought. Fox seems totally interested in listening to anything we say. Still I have to wonder why he's really here. While Ellen poured another round of coffee, Dale removed the dishes from the table and placed them in the sink.
When Ellen refilled Dale's coffee cup, Fox noticed the hand done artistic work and Dale's name on it. Examining the one in his hand, his eyebrows rose. "Am I to assume the Paul' on this cup is Paul Forrester?" he asked suspiciously.
"Why yes," she acknowledged. "Scott has one, too. A friend made us a set as a wedding gift."
"You got a cup for Forrester and his boy as a wedding gift?"
"Bernice knew how special they were to us."
"Why do you still have it hanging in your kitchen?"
"I leave them there hoping someday they might come back."
"If they do, can I assume you'll give me a call?" Looking her in the eye, Fox knew the answer.
Dale, eager to get the man on his way, decided there had been enough small talk. "Mr. Fox, now what exactly can we do for you?"
"I just happened to be in the area. I wanted to talk to the whole family, but I understand your son isn't around."
"He missed a lot of school this year and had to make up some classes this summer. He's in Seattle with his speech class giving a presentation on drug addiction," Dale confirmed.
"I understand he has done well in overcoming the problem," Fox acknowledged. "It takes a lot of support."
"We were lucky we found out in time," Ellen offered, studying the calm look on Fox's face. "For that we'll always be indebted to Paul and Scott."
"I heard that too," Fox replied.
"Mr. Fox, will you please get to the point," Dale said impatiently. "I do have work to do."
"I guess I can say what I need to," Fox replied in complete control. "Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, I know you conned me and sent me on a wild goose chase the other time I was here."
"Why?" Dale asked, trying to look surprised.
"I know you were protecting Forrester and his son."
"I'm sure we don't know what you're talking about," Dale returned.
"Don't try that innocent look on me. I know you were all up to your eyebrows in Forrester and his son's escape."
Dale took a sip of his coffee. "Then you're here, to arrest us?"
"I'm thinking about it," Fox replied smugly.
"Mr. Fox, you're not fooling us," Dale challenged. "I don't believe you have any proof or you wouldn't be just 'thinking about it'. Just cut to the chase and tell us the real reason you're here."
Fox studied the determined look on the man's face. I can't reveal the real reason for this visit, he thought. Still, to get the kind of feedback I want, this needs to remain informal. "I just have some additional questions I'd like to ask," he said pleasantly.
"About what?" Ellen returned nervously.
"I think you know about what. First I want to ask if you knew where Forrester and the boy were going when they left here."
Since his question is specific, we don't have to lie, Ellen thought. "No," she replied. I hope he doesn't try to dig further because it's only a little over a week ago the Billingsley's told us they'd been living on an island north of Seattle.
"Mrs. Taylor, do you have any idea of why I'm looking for Forrester and his son?" Fox asked probingly.
Dale responded defensively. "Mr. Fox, I'm guessing your questions are leading somewhere. If you're waiting for us to incriminate ourselves in something, I distinctly remember the words your associate gave me in Seattle about volunteered answers later being used as evidence. We don't have to talk to you without an attorney being present."
"I haven't offered the Miranda Rights because I want to keep this visit off the record," Fox said submissively. "I'm merely asking for some of your time." He looked Dale in the eye.
"If that's true, I'm sure you wouldn't mind putting that into a written grant of immunity. I also would like to check to make sure you're not making any recordings. I believe you have just accused us of assisting fugitives. After the way you treated my son and me the first time our paths crossed, I'm not really sure I trust you," Dale returned pointedly. Seeing Fox eyeing him intently, he felt it necessary to break the eye contact.
He's naturally suspicious, Fox confirmed, but direct eye contact seems to unnerve him as well. When I get the aliens, prosecuting these people will be meaningless anyway. Now, I must proceed further. "Get me some paper."
Fox stood and began emptying his pockets on the table. When Fox raised his arms to show his voluntary submission to a physical search, Ellen went for some paper and a pen. Carefully patting Fox down, Dale found nothing unusual except his service piece secured in its shoulder holster. "Okay, so you're not wired," he acknowledged.
As Ellen picked up paper and pen from the writing desk in the living room, she looked at the painting on the mantel. That painting of the stars shining in daylight will always be on display in my home as a reminder of our man from the stars, she thought. Grinning lovingly, she picked up their tape recorder and returned to the kitchen. Handing it to Dale, she set the paper and pen on the table in front of Fox.
A sly smile crossed Fox's face as he wrote a short grant of immunity. Then a grin bloomed across his face when Dale placed the tape recorder beside him for backup. "You're not very trusting Mr. Taylor" he said candidly.
"Under the circumstances, would you be if you were in our place?" Dale replied.
Fox caught Ellen's eyes, seeking any reaction. "Perhaps you have reason to be nervous?"
"I think we should get on with this," Dale demanded. They formally identified themselves for the recording and Dale asked Fox to read his waiver. They then repeated the earlier questions and answers for the record.
Fox repeated his last question. "Mrs. Taylor, do you know why I'm looking for Forrester and the boy?"
To answer this question about Paul requires I lie, Ellen thought with distress. If a lie is what it takes to keep another trust, so be it. "No," she replied softly.
Fox looked Dale in the eye. "And you, Mr. Taylor?"
Dale offered a supportive, "No."
I have them now, Fox confirmed. "Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, I know you're both lying," he replied decisively. "I know Forrester told you everything."
"Mr. Fox, everything is pretty inclusive. In the two months we lived together in this house we discussed a lot of things, but I can hardly believe it included everything."
"Both you and I know Paul Forrester is possessed by an alien being," Fox offered with smug confidence. He looked intently from one to the other. Now is the time to search for reactions or unusual movements indicating the beginning of any protective alien post-hypnotic suggestion, he thought. After a moment his mouth pursed to one side. I don't see anything except a growing look of anxiety on the woman's face and defiance on the man's.
A long moment of silence passed as Dale and Ellen exchanged glances before looking back at Fox. Feeling Fox's brash and open statement might truly be designed to trap them, neither wanted to acknowledge it. Dale finally asked: "What are you trying to imply?"
"I'm not implying anything. I'm telling you, I know you're lying."
"I'm going to be blunt, Mr. Fox," Dale advised. "We do not wish to say anything more to you. I think you'd better leave."
"Look, I've extended myself completely to guarantee your immunity. This is unofficial," Fox replied sincerely. "Forrester told me that you know he's, in simple words, not of this world."
Ellen grimaced with her assumption. "You caught them?"
"Yes ... well..." Fox stumbled. "Uh ... No. Uh, actually with help from some other misguided people I couldn't hold on to him for long. But during the time I did have him, he did let it slip that you aided in the earlier escape. Now, I'll ask you again and totally off the record, when I was here before, did you or did you not, know Paul Forrester was an alien being?"
Unsure of what to say, Ellen finally could see no benefit in trying to deny the truth any longer. "Yes, he said that, but..."
Fox interrupted. "And with that knowledge, you just let this menace and Its half-breed offspring walk away."
"They aren't a menace," Dale retorted.
"Mr. Taylor, on behalf of all the governments of this planet, do you feel you're qualified to decide about the hazards of allowing aliens to roam free among us?"
"Are you?" Dale snapped back.
Fox glared back defiantly. "No …Not entirely. We're dealing with something entirely new. But our government has made it my responsibility to find out what they're doing here."
Ellen frowned. "Since you said you had Paul ... for a while, can I assume you talked with him?"
"Yes, I questioned him, but..."
"Questioned is not talking," she insisted. "I want to know if you took the time to talk to him. From what I'm hearing, I don't think so. I believe you asked questions with your mind so thoroughly set on what you believe, you were unable to listen."
"Mrs. Taylor, the truth is, there are the many things he didn't say that I must officially challenge. I can't do that at a distance." Fox took a deep breath. "Now, there are some other things I want to ask you."
"Ask away," Dale replied icily.
"At the time you let them go, were you fully aware of the penalties for aiding and abetting federal fugitives?"
"Of course," Dale confessed.
"And you thought nothing about the consequences?"
"Not for one moment." Suddenly Dale began to grin. "Mr. Fox, do I understand you correctly? Paul only told you… You have nothing in writing?"
"No," Fox replied. "I don't have anything official."
"Without a sworn statement, you have no case against us. It's merely your word against ours."
"Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, I believe you are basically honest people. If asked to testify under oath, I can answer truthfully ... can you?"
"Can you, really?" Ellen asked candidly. "Remember, we hold your signed waiver and a recording wherein you agree you will not use any part of this conversation against us." Now determined to stand her ground, she continued. "May I ask, if you know all of this why are you asking at all?"
"You could say I came here to observe."
"Observe us?" she returned, with annoyance. "Why?"
"I wanted to check your present attitude toward me, and your government's search for these aliens."
"For what purpose?"
"I want an upgrade on your past tenacity in defending them. I'm trying to determine the extent of any residual control Forrester might have over you."
Dale's eyes narrowed into a deepening frown. "Now wait just a minute," he offered, soon exchanging his frown for a widening grin. "Do I understand you correctly? You're trying to insinuate that Paul controls us?"
"Exactly," Fox replied, confidently. "I would like to have your entire family volunteer to come into our lab for examination. I guess you might say I'm asking for your help. I need to determine exactly what hold this creature has on us and if it diminishes with time."
Ellen eyebrows rose suspiciously at Fox's unusual choice of the collective then grinned openly. "On us?"
"Us," Fox confirmed meekly. "I told you I had him for a while. We actually spent quite some time together this past week. During that time it was my assumption he was in my control. Now I have good reason to believe it was the other way around. After I finally understood what was happening, I could feel this alien controlling my thoughts. I need you to corroborate the extent of that influence."
"I can assure you Ted can't help you. He doesn't know anything," Ellen said defensively.
Fox eyes narrowed. "He doesn't know?"
"Paul was worried about his ability to keep a secret and asked us not to tell him," Dale offered. "He said his safety depends on as few people as possible knowing who he is."
"One of my operatives reported you seemed to be remaining silent, but that's a consistent pattern in all the others." Fox looked at them curiously. "Would you tell me what made Forrester decide to tell you?"
"I see no reason not to tell you. It was because of something I happened to see," she replied freely.
This is what I have been waiting for, Fox thought. She is about to corroborate my suspicion. "Something unusual in his eyes, I'll bet?"
Ellen looked at Fox curiously. "No."
That's not the answer I expected, Fox thought. Maybe I need to do a little directing. "Didn't he ask you to look into his eyes?"
"Are you implying he was doing something to me with his eyes?"
"I don't know," Fox offered. "That's what I'm asking you. Tell me, have you ever looked deeply into his eyes?"
"Like I said before," Dale interjected, "it would be difficult for us to be around him for almost two months without looking him in the eye."
"Mr. Fox, we're not talking any longer," Ellen said forcefully. "You have made an assumption and you're trying to lead us where you want. You see, when you don't listen you head off in the wrong direction. If I had not observed what he did, I'm almost sure Paul would never have told us."
"Can you be more specific?"
"It was almost beyond belief, which is probably not the answer I suspect you're seeking. Your menace from another world told us because in an emergency he felt he had to help a stranger." Obviously very interested, she saw Fox's eyebrows shoot up. "While driving to Seattle, even though trying to escape, Paul insisted we stop to help someone in trouble. While his son waited for Mountain Rescue, Paul, Scott and I walked into the wilderness where we found his father. We were far from any medical aid so I was going to use my first aid training. Then Paul took over. Somehow, he knew if something weren't done immediately, Tony would die. He said his heart couldn't stand the pain and stress of his injuries. I stood there watching a miracle. With Scott's help, Paul repaired badly broken bones. Mr. Fox, I saw Tony walking without pain on what I could not question had been a fractured femur."
"This Tony's name wouldn't be Billingsley, would it?"
Her eyes opened wide. "Yes, how do you know?"
Fox shook his head slowly. "It doesn't matter."
"In fact, a couple of weeks ago, the whole Billingsley family stopped in to see us. They wanted to know if we knew anything more about Paul, or where they might find him. It was immediately obvious Tony hadn't told his family about what happened, so we never mentioned it either. The truth is we had no idea of where Paul and Scott were going, but even if we did, we certainly wouldn't tell you. We made a promise."
"Then what did you tell the Billingsley's?"
"About how we met; Paul's work with Dale; and the help he gave us with our son. Just the normal stuff. But one thing I do know, Tony Billingsley believes himself the recipient of a miracle."
Hmm, Fox pondered. Her description corroborates the child's story. Still, like in politics, trying to tell too many versions of the same story can get you stuck between a rock and a hard place. Fox's face contorted in contemplation. "Has Forrester ever invited either of you to take his hand?"
"Does one need an invitation to take the hand of a friend?" Dale replied.
"Will you tell me what you felt?"
"A warm hand," Dale returned.
Dale frowned. "What are you getting at Mr. Fox?"
"As I said before, I believe this alien does obtain control of human beings. I need to figure out how." He took a deep breath. "I'm asking again, will you come to the lab? I'm the latest conquest and from me they will already have much of the basic research completed. That will give them an idea of what they're looking for. All we will need from you is to compare the findings and hopefully determine how long the effects might last. It shouldn't take very long."
"Do we have a choice?" Dale probed.
"Do you mean, will I make you go? ... No, it will be strictly voluntary." Calculating, Fox's eyebrows rose, simultaneously raising the corners of his mouth, "But I would consider it a personal favor. Right now, I'm carrying on this investigation myself. If you choose not to cooperate, I don't have the paperwork necessary to have you brought in." He resumed his look of conviction. "Rest assured, if we decide you are vital to the investigation that will have to change. Remember, you can be brought in on the charge of aiding and abetting."
"If we have a choice, I don't think we want to do this, Dale," Ellen stated clearly.
For once a rejection doesn't disappoint me, Fox thought. On the contrary I was almost sure they wouldn't volunteer. He chuckled quietly. This is really a twist. At present I'm really the most important piece of evidence in my own investigation. "Remember, when they find out what's wrong with me, I will have to take the steps necessary toward compliance by whomever I chose. Are you sure you wouldn't like to reconsider?"
"I think Ellen gave you our answer," Dale confirmed quietly.
That could be a wise move for them, Fox thought. If they wait, they may not be at the top of the list. The Foster's and Ms. Doran would probably be better subjects. The doctor and the astrophysicist are also people who know about the alien. Perhaps better than any of them would be the two con men in Los Angeles. No one would probably miss them. Fox no longer listened as he continued to contemplate his options. Any, or all, probably can provide what I need. He studied the two. I can afford to be patient for I know I'm experiencing the after effects of my encounter.
Awaiting a response from the agent, Dale finally asked for one. "Is there anything else you'd like to know, Mr. Fox?"
"What? Huh?" Fox mumbled, separated from his thoughts.
"I said, is there anything else we can do for you?" Dale returned.
"No," Fox replied, pensively.
"Then can I get back to work?"
"Yes." Fox stood and then extended his hand to Dale. They shook, then he nodded to Ellen. "Good-bye, and thank you very much for the lunch. It was very good." He started toward the door. "You don't need to see me out ... but I may be back."
Back at the motel while Fox added additional comments to his growing memo, Starman sat on a mountainside not far from Spanish Camp. There, he told Scott what had happened.
On Sunday morning while Paul and Scott had a glorious day hiking to the lakes above Spanish Camp, George Fox awoke rested and increasingly impatient. I can't stand this waiting, he thought. At least yesterday I did get something accomplished. Here I am, stuck for another day in this berg with nothing to do while the alien puts more distance between us. He looked in the mirror then straightened some unruly hair standing out over his right ear. Though I'm sure Wylie will have nothing to tell me I'm going to call him at home anyway. I'd be willing to bet he didn't get in to the office at all yesterday. Fox dialed. Finding Wylie still in bed, he vented his growing frustration on the man. "Well, at least he hasn't disappointed me," he growled, dropping the receiver on the unit.
Taking a long moment to regain his composure, he looked toward the door. Maybe I should take another walk. It might settle my nerves and loosen up my muscles as well. First I better do some stretching exercises. He twisted his torso one way, then the other. Yes, I still have a lot of sore spots. I'm not getting on another horse as long as I live. After two miles of speed walking, he returned to the motel and showered. There, now I feel better. I think I'm ready for some breakfast.
Walking from the restaurant, Fox sucked in a deep breath of fresh air. I've stretched breakfast until eleven. Now what? he thought looking up, then down the street. What am I doing? It's highly unlikely I'll see anyone I know here. I might as well go back to the motel.
Back in the room he picked up his memo. I've looked at this long enough too. I think it's time to put it in the bottom of my suitcase. I'll try the television again. Flipping between the multitudes of cable channels, he caught a news program that lasted until the top of the hour. A few minutes into the next program, he could no longer suppress his growing feeling of confinement. The Sheriff might as well have put me in jail, he thought in disgust. He jumped up from the bed. One thing I still do have control of is this television drivel. He put out the eye.
Sitting on the edge of the bed he looked around the empty room. I have to admit the efficient use of leisure time has never been my forte, but this is ridiculous. I have to face it. Not only is this distressing, it's boring as well. What am I going to do for the rest of the day? My last visit to this area was like a whirlwind of total activity though I never really saw much more than miles and miles of miles. I guess I could drive around and really see some of the country. Then again, I've never been the tourist type either. Wait, I have another idea.
He got into the car and again drove across the Columbia River Bridge into East Wenatchee. Parking the car he walked out toward the soccer field. Watching a fast moving game is one way to take my mind off my emotional roller coaster.
Looking around, he saw the Taylor's standing near the bleachers. I think they're getting ready to draw up teams. It won't be long until I have something to keep my mind occupied. His eyes returned to Ellen Taylor. I think she sees me. I only came to watch the game, but she probably thinks I'm here to watch them. I'll just stay over here by the fence.
Ellen pointed Fox out to Dale. "I wonder why he's came here again."
"God only knows," Dale replied. "Should we go to him or wait for him to come to us?"
"Whatever, we do, let's do it with a smile," Ellen suggested.
"I know he's digging for something, but he doesn't seem so pushy anymore," Dale advised. "If he wanted to, I'm sure he could have had us hauled in for whatever he has planned. After yesterday we don't want to get him stirred up and create a scene in front of everybody." They acknowledged Fox's presence with smiles and a wave.
Even after yesterday, they can smile at me, Fox thought. He felt the corners of his mouth rising as he returned a subtle nod of recognition, then lowered his eyes. I never noticed what a pleasant smile she has. Maybe this really wasn't a good idea. I expect she'll be uneasy with me around after he leaves for the field.
As the last of the players disappeared to the drawing, Dale's eyes lit up. He turned to Ellen. "I've got an idea." Twice his eyebrows rose and fell rapidly.
Ellen grinned. "You remind me of Paul when you do that."
Dale laughed. "I liked the way he did that, too. Have I got it right?"
"Pretty good," she giggled.
"I will have to admit, I've been practicing." He took her hand and they walked toward Fox.
They're coming this way, Fox thought.
Dale was smiling broadly as the gap closed. "I see you appreciate the game, Mr. Fox. Would you like to join us?"
"I do like the game, but I don't have any gear." Fox quickly advised.
"What size shoes do you wear?" Dale asked. "We always keep extras around for times like this." Reluctantly, Fox stated his shoe size.
"We wear the same size. I have a pair of shoes, shorts and a tee shirt in the van."
"I couldn't," Fox advised.
"We're one short today. Come on, it's all good fun," Dale urged sincerely.
"I better not," Fox replied apprehensively.
Fox looked toward the bleachers where the players were doing stretching exercises. "I just came to watch."
Dale slapped him lightly on the back. "Soccer is definitely a participating sport. It's more fun to play than watch."
I'd really like to give it a try, Fox thought. After watching their informal game, I decided to find something similar back home. With the nation's capital always seemingly a bore, I have to wonder why I procrastinated looking for a group. I might have been in better condition for the horseback riding. His mouth contorted to one side as he mulled the offer over for a long moment. For Pete sake, George, why did you say no when you meant yes? You want to do it and it will surely keep your mind off your present problems. Just say, yes. Smiling weakly, he looked at the Taylor's then over to the group at the bleachers and back. His smile vanished as he caught Dale's eye. "I haven't played the game for years. No one wants a greenhorn on their team."
"Nonsense," Dale replied, heartily. "A couple other guys brought guests. They're in the same situation. It always balances out fine." He took Fox by the arm. "Come on. Before you say no again, let's check the gear."
In addition to being a diversion that will effectively use up this afternoon, Fox considered, it will give me a feel for how I'll stand up to the physical activity. "Okay," he said, no longer resisting the hand urging him toward the familiar van parked nearby.
"Great, you'll be on our side," Dale laughed. "You can change in our van. I'll wait for you." Dale led Fox off at a trot, shouting to the new team captains, "I've got the last one. It'll be a couple minutes, so keep stretching a little longer." They returned five minutes later. George Fox, lacking only their dark tans, looked like all the rest. After several minutes of stretching exercises, they walked out on the field toward the waiting players and Dale made the introductions. "George, I think you already know some of the guys."
Fox's eyes got wide. My God, we're on a first name basis. Now what brought that on? Almost immediately, he got his answer for Dale introduced all the team players by their first name. The two team captains tossed for starting possession and the games began.
Though slow at the start, Fox soon found himself completely caught up in the excitement. Remembering team strategy, he spent the rest of the afternoon with his eyes on a black and white ball. Proving a willing competitor, when the games ended he received hardy handshakes followed by return invitations from many players.
I almost exhausted myself until I got myself paced, Fox thought with satisfaction as the players began departing for home. Though we lost, I feel good for I did my best for the team. I should thank the Taylor's. He looked around until he saw them standing over by the fence. His eyebrows rose as the old George Fox returned. It seems their son has returned. Perhaps I should interview him briefly before I leave.
As he neared the family he saw a worried foreboding appear on Ellen's face. Maybe I should reconsider, he thought. They said the boy doesn't know anything so I can see no real reason to bring a teenager in on this and possibly destroy the rapport I've established with them. He extended a hand to Ted, reintroduced himself, and they shook hands. He looked at Dale. "May I use your van to change?"
Dale grinned. "Certainly."
Recognizing the concession being made by the agent, Ellen walked over to the van as George Fox reappeared. "Thank you for not getting Ted involved," she said appreciatively. "Would you have dinner with us tonight, George?"
"Thank you for the invitation, Mrs. Taylor, but I should get back to town."
"It's still early," she advised.
Fox smiled. "No, I really need to go back. There are things I need to do so I'll say good-bye. I want to thank you for a very enjoyable afternoon." Fox turned toward his car.
"Good-bye," the Taylor family returned.
George, you're an idiot he chastised as he reached the car. Why didn't you accept her invitation? You know you have absolutely nothing to do in town unless you like eating alone and want to spend the rest of the evening the same. You know that means more thinking time. He stood beside the car gazing longingly back as the family busily loaded equipment into the van. Though I don't really know much about them, I feel strangely attracted to these people. This miserable job needed a loner. Having it has me living in apartments or motels most of the time. Until now, I've never missed having someone waiting for me at home.
"Mr. Fox was sure in a hurry to leave," Ellen offered, as she placed the soft drink cooler into the back of the van.
"I will admit, he sure put his heart into the game," Dale added. "Once he got wound-up, he played like a dynamo. He almost acts like a human being when he gets his mind off Paul's case."
"I think he is a very unhappy and misguided man," Ellen offered. "I asked him to come to dinner. I'm rather disappointed he didn't take me up on it. I think talking further with him might help Paul."
"The leopard doesn't change his spots, my love," Dale replied. "Come on, let's go home."
George Fox smiled and his eyes lit up. I can still justify accepting their invitation. I can use more time to watch for further evidence of alien control. I wonder if their expressions will change if I approach them saying I changed my mind about dinner. Walking back toward the Taylor's van he suddenly shuddered. My God, what's going on? What is this sudden attraction to the enemy? These are the people that a while back embarrassed me royally; the same people who yesterday refused to help with my investigation. Is this the beginning of the post-hypnotic suggestion? I must get away from here ... now. He turned and rushed back to the car.
Trying to control his racing thoughts, Fox found he was driving far in excess of the posted speed limit on the way back across the river. What is happening to me? Those people appear cordial, but what drew me to them in the first place? Why did they accept me like a member of the family, today, when yesterday they wouldn't give me the time of day? Maybe they can't help defending the alien. Still knowing what's going on, why should I care? Could this happen when I get in close proximity with any alien conquests? Do they always become friendly, gracious and happy being together.
His mind reeled, then he sucked in a breath. "The alien's forces!" he blurted. "Like the half-breed children in training, do all the conquered minds become additional forces?" His eyebrows shot upward. "What a simple way to take over?"
I must keep a log of how many times my thoughts run in their direction. Now that I have an idea of how It gets control, I know I can overcome it. I must add these thoughts to my memo before I forget. He drove straight to the motel. In his agitation, his hands wouldn't stop trembling and it took several jabs before the key would enter the lock. The door swung open and Fox burst into the safety of his room and slammed the door behind him.
As Fox was sealing himself in his room, Starman and Scott were returning to Spanish Camp after a glorious day at the upper lakes. After hearing the nickering of horses below, it came as no surprise to find the Foster, and Doran families there.
After being confronted by June, Roy and Kathy and telling them the truth Paul and Scott knew they must again leave Spanish Camp. This time for the last time. Pushing hard they got some distance before it began getting dark. Selecting a camping spot protected by dense trees they prepared their meal. We were going to stay in camp until morning, Scott thought, but Dad pushed on so hard I didn't get a chance to ask any questions. We have the dishes washed and ready for morning. Now it's time to find out what happened to ruin my reunion with Amy.
Paul freely told Scott about Roy, June and Kathy taking him aside to talk about what Fox had told them. He told of confirming Fox's story to prevent them from demanding an investigation into Fox's activities. Paul saw his son simply accept what was too often a fact of his young life. It hurts having to deny Scott another day with Amy, he thought, but I am happy to see no evidence of the animosity my son had often verbalized for Fox. In furtherance of his acceptance, at this time I will not share Fox's newest error about me taking control of human minds.
As darkness continued its descent, Scott placed his sleeping bag on a piece of plastic. As his father prepared a place beside him, Scott noted the sadness on his father's face, but his mood perked-up as he watched his father's air mattress begin filling. I think Roy and June's birthday gift will give me a chance to do a little kidding, he thought. It could lighten the mood for both of us. "Dad, I think you're getting soft," he chuckled.
Deeply involved in pondering over very human thoughts it took the Starman a moment to respond. "Soft?" he questioned.
"Now you get to sleep on a nice soft bed instead of the ground," Scott returned with an impish grin.
Paul looked back with an equally impish grin. "Not soft ... comfortable," he replied. "There is a difference."
"Just so you carry it," Scott emphasized. "Each thing you stick in the duffel just makes it heavier."
"I'll carry it," Paul replied. He took out the knife Scott had given him for his birthday. "Just like I'll carry this gift."
Scott smiled and remembering his father's birthday party, his mind also began wandering. Dad called me a gift to Mom. Though Dad's world is less of a mystery to me since the night the ships came, I still have a lot of questions to ask. What better chance will I get to ask dad. "Dad, can I ask you more about your home?"
"Shoot," Paul returned.
"Where did you learn that?" Scott asked curiously.
"From Fox." Paul looked perplexed at seeing Scott's critical frown. "I thought it meant to go ahead and ask your question. ... Was Fox making a joke?"
"I think you probably guessed right, but I don't think he's capable of joking." Scott's face contorted. "Now what was I going to ask?" He paused for a moment then his eyes brightened. "Okay. ... If there are no children on your world, why does it seem so easy for you to teach?"
"Scott, it isn't any different than here. Everything has to learn, be it a child, an animal or one of us strange creatures from space. We all learn from the time of our creation to the end of our allotted time. When I came here, duplicating this body did not provide me with Paul Forrester's memories. I had no access to what he had learned during his lifetime. Day by day I also have to learn to utilize what this body genetically has to offer."
"What do you mean?"
"I interpret many things differently within Paul Forrester's body than I did in your father's. For instance, this one enjoys playing games for money, while your father's felt quite satisfied with winning only enough money for you and your mother. I also perceive its pleasures differently. This body is attracted to the opposite sex far more than your father and it enjoys things that are not always good for it."
"Knowing the feelings of two different people must be confusing?"
"Yes, it is."
"How do we compare to your world?"
"On my world most aptitude is genetic, but still that only provides a basis. Supportive details for development still require learning techniques and experience. To any living being, learning is a process that continues throughout a lifetime, but is only cumulative to the individual."
"You mean we are the total of what we learn?"
"Yes. I have noted, animals are mostly genetic in their responses, yet by their actions they do seem to teach their young to be wary of things that may cause them harm. With an intelligent species it is the responsibility of each individual of to make sure knowledge of what they have learned passes to the next generation, so we are all, in one way or another, either teaching or learning. My world exchanges accumulated information with many and when this one achieves the necessary maturity, our ships will return."
Scott smiled broadly. "Then you don't think we're hopeless?"
"Not at all," Paul returned, matching his smile. "In our view, no intelligent life form is hopeless, though during the necessary evolutionary processes, many do prove unsuccessful. Much depends upon the teachers and leaders they choose. For a civilization to progress, each individual within it must develop the responsibility to consider the effect of his or her actions on the rest. The more one learns and understands, the easier it will become for that individual to make correct decisions, both for those around him and in the selection of leaders."
"Well, I think I've got the best teacher available," Scott returned.
"Thank you," Paul replied with a beaming smile. "I consider that a vote of confidence coming from you."
"You're welcome," Scott quickly returned. "But Dad, I really mean it."
Paul rapidly raised and lowered his eyebrows. "Will you still mean it the next time I insist on asking questions to test to see if you have retained anything of what you have read?" Scott was silent, but Paul knew his son was, as he should be, mulling over another lesson. The silence extended with Scott's contemplation and the Starman observed a nostalgic look on his face. As with all teenagers I've encountered so far, I know my son's sequence of thoughts can change rapidly. I believe I will benefit by seeking further insight into the workings of the teenage mind. "What are you thinking about?"
"Oh, I was just thinking about what happened with Amy. I thought after Kelly Jordan I would never have another girlfriend, but with Amy it just seemed so easy."
"You enjoyed many of the same things," Paul offered. "But from what I understand, you're supposed to like many girls before you grow up and decide on one."
"I wonder if the day will ever come when I'll be able to keep a friend," Scott offered despondently.
"You have me."
"I mean a girlfriend I can consider permanent."
"I understand what you mean. Like the relationship I wish to have again with your mother."
"If we don't believe it will come, Scott, we might as well give up and march right into Fox's office."
Trying to sound enthusiastic, Scott replied, "One day at a time, right?"
Paul noticed Scott had reverted to his nostalgia. I know he will begin again when he has his facts collected. I will wait.
Scott's grin of organization finally bloomed. "You know, I really liked it on the farm."
Fluttering his eyebrows, Paul replied teasingly, "Yes, I do know. So did I."
Scott looked his father in the eye then smiled. "I liked riding the horses, the green fields, driving the tractors and stuff. It was also interesting working with the animals." He paused in retrospect. "At first I thought it was cruel the animals had to be killed, but I never thought about the potential of all things to overpopulate the world if not held in check."
"It has also been interesting to me, for I never thought of it as a necessity here. By the time my world reached maturity, much of our diversity had disappeared. Much more disappeared before we finally managed to balance our numbers so we could give up a constantly colonizing nature." Starman smiled. "I always find things to compare and think about everywhere we go."
Scott smiled. "Though we had to work hard, I'll always remember everyone getting together to do it. Just look." He doubled his right arm at the elbow, then braced it. "I have a muscle in my arm from working instead of only muscles in my legs from running." His smile subsided then re-bloomed as other things came to mind. "I really liked everybody." He looked over at his father, presently putting the finishing touches on his sleeping place and grinned with satisfaction. "I do feel better about one thing."
"I'm really glad you decided to do something about June's back."
"I know," Paul returned. "Since they knew and we had to leave anyway, there was no reason not to. At the moment it was all I could think of and was little to exchange for what they had done for me ... for us."
"We still have our memories of everyone," Scott announced, patting the camera bag.
"Our photographs are only reminders. The memories of things we've shared with others, is what makes them go on forever. Those memories are here." His father tapped his temple lightly. "Here on Earth, the ability to build on and physically share those memories, is what I find makes being human so very special." He placed his hands in the middle of his chest. "You call it, heart, though it has nothing at all to do with the pump inside."
"I understand now, Dad. It's how and what we remember of others and how they remember us."
"Right," Paul smiled then sighed. "After the family freed me, I wish I might have had an opportunity to try talking further with George Fox. I believe I might have gotten somewhere with him if we could have had an exchange without the restraints being imposed on me. Right now I do not believe he thinks well of me in his heart." Paul broke a slight smile. "I will confess I am not looking forward to seeing him again anytime soon, for I fear ours remains a contest in our heads."
"I hope we never get another chance at him," Scott replied, ungraciously.
"If you really want to live that normal life you just spoke of, I know I, and you will have to face him. I feel sure it will work out all right. Someday he will realize his error." Paul grinned at the disgusted look that appeared on his son's face. "Okay, that is something we must do at another time and another place. For now, I think it best we let more of the water we have to let run under our bridge, do so, right"? Paul's grin disappeared again and his mouth contorted to one side. "Hmm..."
"Now what?" Scott asked at his father's changing expression.
"Talking about the future reminds me of something in our combined history still unresolved."
"I still owe you a birthday present for your last year."
"How about a Cougar?" Scott replied, his eyes dancing.
One of Paul's eyebrows rose contemplatively as he mulled over such a strange request. "What do you want with a large quadruped of the cat family, tawny in color and...?"
"Mercury Cougar, Dad," Scott interrupted somewhat impatiently. Suddenly consciously aware again of his father's true origin, he grinned. "It's a car."
"I'd like to get you what you want, Scott, but we must be practical," Paul said apologetically. "Right now we really don't need a Cougar ... or any car."
"You don't need to worry yourself about a present," Scott replied, still grinning at his father's puzzled expression. "If I see something practical I really want, that doesn't weigh much or take too much space I will let you know."
"I know what I'd like to give you."
"Don't tell me," Scott replied anxiously. "If you're not going to give me the chance to tell you what I want, I want it to be a surprise."
Paul grinned, "It would be a present for both of us anyway." His grin changed to sincerity. "I'd like us to find your mother. Would that be a good enough present?"
Scott smiled at his father. "The best."
"Scott, I just have a feeling we're going to find her soon."
Memories of an afternoon of pleasure, interspersed with periods of self-doubt and fear, invaded George Fox's mind as he continued writing to his memo. Reading it several times, he finally replaced it at the bottom of his valise. Now, I have everything in perspective and myself under control, he thought proudly. It's a good thing I recognized what was happening in time to get out of there. It's almost impossible to believe It could assume that much control without me even being aware of it. He felt his stomach rumble. I guess it's time to go out for something to eat.
Putting on his jacket, he walked down the street to the restaurant. Packed with families out for Sunday dinner, he selected a seat at the counter. I'll try some casual conversation. He turned to the man next to him. "Nice day," he offered. The man grumbled and turned away. There's no one sitting on the other side. ... I guess it's just as well. I don't think I can carry on a reasonable conversation anyway. Giving the waitress his order he reviewed some of the high points of the afternoon soccer game. After finishing his meal he walked slowly back to the motel.
Once again inside his sanctuary, he stood in front of the mirror studying his expressions. "What is wrong with me?" he asked. Moments later, when he realized he was carrying on an open one-sided conversation with himself his agitation level raised again. There would be little rest this night.
In the morning Paul and Scott arose as the pink of dawn began to silhouette the mountain peaks lining the eastern horizon. After breakfast, Paul took out the map June had taken from George Fox's pocket and studied it briefly. "Scott," he said, motioning his son over and pointed to the map. "This solid line on the map means a road. Last night I located our position and we are here. Roy was right. There are many other trails out of this area of the mountains. If we continue following this trail for, I would estimate another half mile," he ran his finger down one dotted line to another, "it will meet this one that will take us down to the road. It looks a lot shorter."
"I agree and though used to the walking, I can't see any reason to go back the same way we came," Scott offered. "We'll get a chance to see something new."
"Then you agree?"
"Sure, let's hit the trail." They packed-up their meager belongings.
Monday morning Fox called the Sheriff's office. "Is the Sheriff satisfied that Paul Forrester isn't coming in to sign a complaint?" he asked the officer to whom the switchboard operator transferred him.
"Is this George Fox?" the man asked.
"Who are you expecting?" Fox shot back impatiently.
"Please hold," the man said. "The Sheriff asked to speak with you personally."
"It's seven-thirty in the morning. I thought the Sheriff never came in until nine," Fox asked.
"He asked me to transfer your call to his house," the officer returned. "Please hold."
Fox waited. Finally he heard a familiar voice at the other end.
"Yes," Fox replied with ire. "I'm calling to confirm that I have permission to leave. Your man said you wanted to talk to me."
"I just wanted to let you to know I could hold you here longer," the Sheriff said.
"My order was that you remain within my jurisdiction during your house arrest. Yesterday I know you violated that order when you left this county."
"You had someone following me?" Fox shot back in disbelief.
"I didn't need to have you followed, Mr. Fox. Is your memory so short you have forgotten that several of my people play soccer in East Wenatchee? They saw you and said you joined the game."
Oh no, Fox thought. He's right. I didn't even give a thought to the other side of the river being outside his jurisdiction. He took a deep breath. "Well what are you going to do?"
"I said I could hold you."
"You're not?" Fox asked curiously.
"Why have you decided to do me a favor?" he asked suspiciously.
"I guess because I see you as more of a human being now."
"To what do I owe this sudden appreciation?" Fox asked, puzzling over the man's strange choice of words.
"One of my guys told me when you lightened up, you played a good game."
Relieved, Fox blew out a large quantity of air. For a moment I thought I might have found another alien conquest, he thought. He grinned. "Please have him convey to everybody that I really enjoyed the afternoon."
"I will, but I would also like to give you a piece of advice before you leave our fair city."
"Think light, relax and stay cool. With that I wish you a pleasant trip home."
Fox heard the connection break, then hung up the receiver. Now what would have prompted him to say such a thing to me? With a deepening frown he shrugged his shoulders. "And good-bye to you too."
Fox visited a travel agency down the street. Twenty minutes later he had tickets on the first available flight into Seattle. He dropped the rental car at a local office; paid the extra charges; and accepted a ride to the airport. Examining the tickets so he could direct the driver to the proper East Wenatchee carrier for the ride into Seattle, much to his chagrin he found himself booked on Jim's Air Taxi. Now accustomed to accepting whatever happened to him in Washington State he told the driver to go and forty minutes later the small prop plane was heading west.
After almost two hours and five miles of downhill hiking on a very steep trail that left legs quivering, Paul and Scott came to what looked like a well-traveled gravel road. Unhappily, no cars came along and they returned to walking toward civilization. "Hey, I think we're coming to a campground," Scott announced after another half mile walking the road. "Maybe we can find a ride to a highway?" They walked the road that apparently circled through the campground.
"There doesn't seem to be anyone around," Paul offered.
Scott pointed to a small building on a slight rise above the narrow one-way road. "I think I see a restroom."
"Good," Paul replied, "maybe we can wash up."
Walking into the rustic building, Scott announced with pleasure, "There's even flush toilets and running water. I'd say pretty fancy after our time in the mountains."
Paul proceeded to run some water on his hands and rubbing them vigorously together to removed most of the dirt. Then he splashed an ample amount of water on his face and repeated the process.
While his father washed up, Scott continued poking around. "Hey, there's also shower." He tried the faucets, ... but no water."
Curiously, Paul walked over then pointed to a sign above the door of the shower stall. "It will provide hot water for twenty-five cents per minute. Do you have any quarters?" While Scott searched his coat pockets, Paul turned when he heard someone walking into the room.
"Cal left a dime in the coat," Scott offered. "That won't help much." He looked at his father hopefully. "Do you have any quarters?"
"I didn't bring any money," Paul replied. "Roy told me I wouldn't find anything to buy in the mountains."
Dejected, Scott turned away. "Even if it had been a quarter, a minute is hardly enough time for us to shower. Besides, there's no soap."
Grinning broadly, the man washing at the sink walked over. "I couldn't avoid hearing your dilemma." He reached into his pocket. "I've got some quarters that shower didn't get." He looked at Scott. "I'll trade you my four quarters for your dime, son."
When Scott held out his dime, Paul intervened. "That is not a just exchange."
The man laughed. "I think it's very little in exchange for the benefits I could be providing to mankind."
Bewildered by the response, Paul's head cocked to one side. "My son would be learning that cheating is acceptable and where would that be any benefit to mankind?"
"It's only a dollar," the man laughed self-consciously.
"A dollar, or a thousand dollars, the principle is the same," Starman stated honestly.
"Then let's just call it my gift to the civilized world."
Not wanting to get into a conversation on ethics, the Starman studied the man closely. He is about my size, though not too long into human maturity; I would judge twenty-five years. A truly distinguishing feature setting him apart from all I've met is his hair. It is the color of freshly oxidized iron; what Roy called 'rust' when we scraped it off his farm machinery before painting the metal with a non-oxidizing hydrocarbon polymer. He continued studying the man intently. Another odd feature is it seems very strange to find a young man out here in such a remote area dressed in a light gray business suit.
The man soon responded to the examination. "Look, I can smell you've spent time around a campfire on your clothes and I know you've been perspiring heavily."
"Oh," Paul said self-consciously. "Yes, what you say must be true. We have been in the mountains for several days. When everyone smells the same, no one notices."
"I guessed as much when I saw you coming down the road carrying your things. I'll guess you're waiting for someone to come for you?"
"What made you think that?" Paul questioned.
"I watched you walk almost the entire campground loop, so I figured you were looking for somebody. It's obvious you haven't found them, so you're waiting."
"No one s coming," Scott volunteered. "We were looking for the rest room."
"My mistake," the man replied. Familiar with the area, it was now his turn to look confused. "If no one is coming for you, how are you planning to get from here out to the highway?"
"Hitchhike," Scott offered.
"It's Monday and with the general camping season over for the year, there isn't going to be much traffic coming or going on this road."
"Then I guess we'll have to walk," Scott returned glumly.
"It's at least fifteen miles back to the highway, son."
Scott turned to his father. "Your short cut isn't going to save us anything, Dad. We saved a few miles by coming down that steep trail, now we may have miles to walk down another deserted road hoping for a vehicle to come along." Dejected, Scott looked at the man then put the dime back in his pocket. "If we have fifteen miles to walk, I guess we don't really need a shower anyway."
The man laughed. "Son, I know what it's like to be down and out with only a thumb for passage. I'll give you a ride back to the highway, but there is one condition."
Paul looked at him suspiciously. "Condition?" he questioned.
"You take my quarters," he lifted his arm and sniffed, "and take the shower."
"Perhaps we can do something for you in exchange," Paul offered.
"You're about the most honest man I've ever met, mister, and except for me, the most argumentative about accepting a gift."
"I'm not trying to be argumentative," Paul replied. "I believe in honesty and earning my way."
"Okay, then you can earn your wages, but I want to pay you in advance." He handed Paul the four quarters.
"That is not all?" Paul questioned. "If I am offensive, taking a shower will not change it. Scott has a change of clothes, but I do not."
"You've been back in the mountains without a change of clothes," the man replied critically. "A few days ago, you would have been in deep trouble. I heard there was a lot of rain in the high country."
"I also saw many inches of snow," Paul offered. "But I did not go into the mountains without extra clothes to wear. I had to let someone else use them. He got very wet and had brought nothing dry. He still has them."
"Letting someone have your dry clothes during bad weather, is really being the Good Samaritan."
"A friend in need, Dad," Scott offered. A do-gooder."
"Could you have refused someone in need?" Paul asked, simply.
The man paused as he studied Paul's face then smiled. "Probably not," he offered. "Hey, if you don't mind going casual, I brought a jogging suit I didn't use this weekend. It's faded, but clean. Let me give it to you."
"I couldn't just take..."
"Let's just say I care for you, like you cared for that guy who needed your clothes. I believe you may be on to something that is going extinct. Caring, sharing and courtesy can become contagious if we meet others who practice them regularly."
"But the circumstances are much different," Paul offered.
"Hey, it's not that much different. You need a change of clothes. I have extra." He laughed heartily. "Are you going to stand there and turn down my offer and walk back to the highway?"
This man laughs a great deal and I am unable to fault his conclusion, Paul thought. He smiled appreciatively. "A shower and clean clothes would feel good. Thank you."
"When you're finished in the shower, come over to my car. It's straight out the door, second campsite on the right. Actually, I think I'm the only one left in the entire campground. My friends cleaned up our camp before they left last night, but you can pick up around some of the other campsites. One thing, if you want to accept my offer of a ride out to the highway, you'll have to start hustling. I have a time schedule and don't want to cut myself too short. I'll be back in a minute with a towel and the clothes." He left.
Laying the quarters on the bench in the shower dressing room, Paul saw Scott frowning at him critically. "What?" he asked.
Scott spent moments gathering his thoughts. "Would you explain why you turned down his dollar without working for it, but accepted his jogging suit? That isn't a fair exchange."
"Yes, but it's acceptable. He gave me his clothes as a gift, but he wished to exchange his quarters for your dime. That was an uneven exchange."
"I don't see the difference."
"The exchange was uneven for you became richer and he poorer."
"Then it would have been all right if he had given me the quarters?"
"It would have become a gift by a willing giver. Both parties would share in the joy of giving and receiving."
"Why didn't you just avoid the whole thing and turn on the water with your magic marble?"
"That would be dishonest, for others must pay to shower here. Now we will provide a service for the quarters and I may accept his gift."
"... And we better hurry or we'll miss our ride," Scott offered as he heard the opening door announce their benefactor's return.
"Here's a bar of soap," the man offered. "It smells funny, because it's a special formula I have to use for my hyper-sensitive skin, but it will get you clean."
Paul smiled appreciatively and took the soap. "Thank you again."
"I'll set the towel and clothes out here on the bench where they will stay dry. I'll see you shortly."
As they finished undressing, Paul noticed their reflection in a metal mirror. Standing here beside my growing son, I must marvel at the phenomenal natural growth of a human teenager. Since we met, I would calculate Scott has grown taller by more than eight inches in the common standard of measurement here. His grin broadened as he followed Scott into the shower. At this rate, I will soon be looking up at him.
"Gotcha this time Dad," Scott laughed. "You left the quarters on the bench. Without them this is going to be a very dry shower."
Without a word Paul stepped out again to retrieve the quarters. Returning, he shoved a quarter into the coin box...
Racing the clock meant efficiency of water usage and they felt pride in completing the shower before the meter requested the last quarter. "Dad," Scott offered as he dried his father's back, "all of our money and most of our things are still at the farm. Shouldn't we try to go back?"
"What about Fox?"
"I don't think we need to sweat it. You said June and Kathy told you Fox was on his way back to Washington."
"But he could still have someone watching the farm."
"We know our way around there pretty well. I think I can sneak in for it after dark and no one will even know we've been there."
Paul nodded his approval. "I think you're better at sneaking than I. Besides, it is best I stayed concealed just in case you need protecting."
"You mean for back-up?"
"Yes, back-up. I remember that from a television show. When I thought about the use of the words together they had nothing to do with the elevation of one's back. I finally learned they referred to protection by someone else one cannot see. I think it better for me to be your 'back-up'. I don't think you have been practicing enough with your sphere to be mine." Paul looked at his son with concern. "There are some things I should be teaching you to add to our safety."
"I agree," Scott replied. "I didn't understand what I felt when you called me from the mountains." He grimaced. I hope talking about lessons doesn't remind Dad that school is starting again. If he thinks about it, I'll have to go. I don't know why he insists on public school. I can learn so much more listening to him.
Paul picked up the unused fourth quarter from the top of the coin box and looked at it. "This and your dime are not going to get us back across the ferry."
"I guess we'll have to find another pool game."
"You know I don't like taking advantage of people," Paul offered, slipping the quarter into his pocket.
"It isn't taking advantage, Dad. You're just better at it than the average guy." Scott saw his father's critical look then grinned as he stuffed their dirty clothes into the duffel bag. "Dad, consider it an emergency. In an emergency we have to do whatever it takes." Scott picked up the wet soap and towel and they walked out of the restroom to pay their indebtedness.
Once outside they responded to the man's wave and walked over to a late model full size automobile. The man offered his hand.
"I guess I should introduce myself. The name's Robert Johnson; but everyone calls me, Bob. I live in Wenatchee."
Paul took the offered hand, "Paul Forrester and this is Scott."
"Your son," Bob confirmed.
Paul nodded. "I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Bob."
Bob's eyebrows narrowed curiously. "Somehow I get the feeling we might have met before?"
Paul focused on Bob's hair. "I don't believe so. I could never forget hair of such a bright color."
"I was told it came from my grandfather, but I wouldn't wish it on any guy," Bob replied almost automatically, but his concentration remained on Paul. "Maybe it's the name. Forrester sure seems familiar." After a moment of deep thought and getting no closer to any connection, he shrugged his shoulders. "What do you have to do to make a living other than hiking the mountains?"
This man might be familiar with Paul Forrester's work, or since he's from Wenatchee, he may know of me from working with Dale, Paul considered. I will tell him, "I make maps."
Bob frowned. "A cartographer doesn't ring my bell, either. Where are you from?"
"Chicago, but anywhere I can find work."
"I guess making maps would keep you on the move," Bob replied. His forehead wrinkled as though searching for something just beyond reach. "All I can say is Forrester sounds familiar." Suddenly his grin returned. "Maybe it will come to me."
I hope not, Paul thought, but I am not going to turn down a ride on a possibility he might make some connection. I will take a chance on fifteen miles of keeping his attention on conversation, instead of me.
Though concerned about the man recognizing his father, Scott could not control his growing interest in his name. "We have been looking for a Mr. Johnson whose first name begins with an R. Do you have a sister named Kelly Simpson?"
Bob shook his head. "Sorry."
"Our Mr. Johnson must be much older than Bob, Scott," Paul offered. "Remember, he moved after he retired."
"I sure wish I could help you," Bob grinned, "but if we keep talking, I won't be packed and you won't have your debt paid. I assume you still want to earn your wages." He handed each a paper bag. Milling around the area the litter soon disappeared.
"Hey, Paul, Scott, would you come here a minute," Bob called. He grinned coyly as they approached. "If you need some more cash, I have another job for you. ...It seems you may have the gremlins on your side."
Paul's eyebrows rose." Pardon me?" he asked.
"In exchange for having you clean up the campground, it seems the little imps have left me a flat tire. It's worth ten bucks to me, if you'll change it. I have places to go today and can't afford to get my suit dirty."
Seeing his father's eyebrows rise and fall, Scott grinned. "Ferry fare." Paul nodded.
Bob loaded the bags of trash into his trunk then stood back and watched as they changed the tire. When Paul snapped the hubcap back in place, Bob motioned them to the car. Paul settled into the front while Scott climbed into the back. "Where are you two heading?"
"Anywhere," Paul advised. "We don't have a clue of where to search for Mrs. Simpson or Mr. Johnson."
"I have to assume you've been searching for quite a while already," he said as he drove out of the campground and onto the gravel washboard road. "Where have you looked?"
"So far only Seattle and further north," Paul replied. "As Scott mentioned, the Mr. Johnson we seek has a sister named Kelly Simpson."
Bob shook his head. "That's pretty definite. I wish I could help you, but there are so many Johnson's around."
"We have discovered that," Paul confirmed.
"May I ask why you're looking for these people?" Bob asked, his curiosity peaking.
"Mrs. Simpson is a friend of Scott's mother, Jenny Hayden," Paul advised."
Scott took over relating the story of their search for his mother. Scott was finishing as they arrived at a road junction. Bob pulled over to the side of the road. "Highway delivery complete," Bob announced. Eastern Washington is to the right; Western to the left." He sighed. "I'm heading west. I had hoped you might be, too. I sure hate traveling alone, but since you've searched northern Puget Sound and are this far east I assume you'll be continuing east. I guess this is good-bye." Paul and Scott exchanged glances. "We have to stop at the farm for the rest of our stuff."
"The farm"? Bob questioned.
"The place we stayed while we searched," Paul returned.
"I guess we could check further south," Scott added.
Paul smiled broadly. "Thank you, Bob. We would be more than happy to keep you company, at least part of the way."
Waiting at the intersection for an approaching car to pass before making a left turn, Bob said, "It would be interesting to help you dig further, but I'll be taking classes the rest of the week."
"You're still going to school?" Scott asked.
"I'm expanding my education. I have to complete final registration at the University School of Law in Seattle this afternoon. Before that I have some stuff to drop off downtown and can't afford to be late to either." As the car passed, he turned toward Western Washington and smoothly accelerated to the posted speed. "It might be hard to believe, but I'm a deputy Prosecuting Attorney for this county. They're paying the tab for me to go to this seminar on effective prosecution. It's supposed to make me a better agent for the criminal justice system."
Paul took a quick concerned breath. I wonder why we so often come in contact with people working either for the law, or against it. I think we have committed ourselves to several more hours of conversation. I might as well get started. "Tell me about your work. It must be interesting."
"There is never a dull moment in a Prosecutor's Office," Bob offered. His head snapped for only the briefest moment at his passenger. "Actually, I like the investigative and research work better than the trial end," he offered freely. He glanced in the rear view mirror at Scott. "Scott, you did say your mother mentioned this Kelly Simpson on an audio tape you received from a lawyer's office."
"I might suggest you take the time to contact the attorney who sent you the tape. If your mother mentioned her, it's possible he might have her address in his file as well. Do you remember his name, or the name of the firm? If I'm familiar with them, maybe I can arrange for you to get in for a quick consultation."
"I really didn't pay too much attention," Scott said meekly.
"Do you know someone who might know the name?"
"Mrs. Tamarkin might."
"Who is she?"
"She's the social worker in charge of the place the police took me after the accident."
"It probably would take days in a courtroom to get them to release any information," Bob acknowledged. "Anyone else?"
"Did I understand you to say this Mrs. Simpson was your step-mother's aunt? If there is a family relationship, it's likely the attorney that handled their affairs will have what you need. From an investigative angle, I think it's worth a try."
Paul turned in the seat to see Scott still searching his memory. When Scott looked up, Paul nodded slightly. Together they announced, "Rick!" An excited Scott continued. "Rick Gonzalez bought our flower shop."
"This is the part of law I like," Bob said with a growing grin. "Unraveling the mystery by chasing it back to the beginning is much more exciting. Where is this Rick?"
"In Seattle," Scott returned.
"Hey, I still have a little time left. If it's not too far out of the way, I'll take you." Scott described the part of Seattle. "That isn't five minutes off the freeway. Let's go for it."
"How can we ever begin to thank you?" Paul said politely.
Bob looked sympathetically at Scott in the rear view mirror. "Just find his mother. You see, we have a great deal in common. I'm adopted. Though my adoptive parents were always there for me, while I was growing up I always wondered what things would be like with my birth parents. I guess it always left me a little less than satisfied with what I had. Two years ago, when my mom and dad died in an automobile accident, I used my legal connections to find out about my origins. My mother was a teenager and she disappeared without a trace right after she signed the relinquishment papers, but I finally found my father. He had another family and didn't even want to see me," he replied sadly. Driving up to the flower shop, he glanced at Paul. "You've already found one of your parents, Scott, and I can tell he cares. You're very lucky."
"I know," Scott acknowledged. Hearing Scott's reply, the Starman reveled in the warm feeling he felt spreading throughout his human body.
To George Fox, the Boeing Field arrival turned out more convenient. Transportation into downtown Seattle awaited the regular commuters. The Federal Court House was its third stop.
The matter at the Federal Court began as no problem. With his agency identification he soon stood before the Clerk of the Court. "Mr. Fox, the charges against you have been negotiated by inter-governmental memos," the man stated with certainty. We do have one small problem, however. The original complaints and paperwork haven't yet arrived from Wenatchee. They should be along soon. You're already on the Court's docket so as soon as the paperwork arrives we can squeeze you into the first opening. There are benches in the hall. Have a seat."
Hurry up and wait. Your normal bureaucratic nonsense, Fox thought. I guess the plan is to make me a player. He took a seat next to the door.
The cheerful little bell at the door tinkled at the flower shop and soon Rick Gonzalez appeared from the back room. He welcomed Scott and Paul with a broad satisfied smile. "I'm sure glad you dropped in again. I have..."
Excited, Scott interrupted. "We have something we need you to check for us, Rick."
"There is no excuse for being impolite, Scott," Paul corrected. "Let Rick finish."
"Scott has always been impatient, Paul," Rick offered. "You'll get used to it." Rick put his hand on Scott's shoulder and urged him toward the back room. Acknowledged his father's correction, Scott responded by following silently. "Scott, after you left I looked through my papers regarding the purchase of the shop. Eileen's aunt, Kelly, handled everything." He reached into a desk drawer. Pulling out an envelope he handed it to Scott.
Looking at the envelope, Scott recognized the name. "That's what we wanted to ask you about," he confessed as he took out the contents and unfolded a letter.
Looking over Scott's shoulder, Bob glanced at the letterhead then eased the paper from Scott's hands. "We've got it made. I went to law school with Bud Sutherland. Hey, I'm heading for the Federal Courthouse. His office is in a building across the street."
"Bob," Paul said politely, "I would like to introduce Rick Gonzalez. Rick ... Bob Johnson."
"This isn't the Johnson I told you about," Rick offered suspiciously.
"We know," Paul replied. "Bob is an attorney we met this morning."
Bob extended his hand to Rick. "I'm trying to help them locate Mrs. Simpson. I just happen to know her attorney." He looked at his watch, then at Paul. "I haven't got too much time. We have to go. Someone is probably at the courthouse and waiting for me."
"Thanks, Rick ... Bob," Scott replied vigorously.
Paul shook hands with Rick. "Yes, thank you. I wish we could stay longer, but we have to go." They rushed back to the car.
Bob started the engine. "We made good time coming over the mountains this morning and the cross-town traffic has been light. If we stay lucky, I might have enough time to put in that good word for you."
Paul grimaced, feeling for his billfold. "Will this visit to an attorney cost money?"
"Hey, Bud owes me a favor. It was one I've wondered if I would ever collect. This seems far too important to your son to quibble over this time." Paul remained silent, graciously accepting another gift.
George Fox looked both ways down the busy corridor outside the courtroom then rechecked his watch. Eleven-thirty ... I wonder where that messenger is? His instructions probably were to get here at the last possible moment. He got up and walked into the clerk's office. "Any news yet?"
The woman at the counter glanced at the clock on the wall. "Mr. Fox, this is at least the eighth time you've been in here. I have work to do. I know the present case is going to continue up to the lunch break. Might I suggest you go get some lunch? If you go left at the entrance then left again at the corner, you'll find some cafes up the next block"
Fox's mouth contorted to one side. She may be right, he thought. Nothing will be going on during the noon hour anyway. I'm not really very hungry, but I might as well get off this seat for a while. After yesterday's soccer game I could use a walk.
Avoiding major traffic areas, Bob skirted expertly through the city streets. They arrived at the courthouse just as a car began backing out, providing the miracle of an available parking place anywhere in downtown Seattle. Since Bob knew he was going to have to make introductions then hurry off for his one o'clock appointment at the courthouse and the education seminar, he suggested they carry their things with them.
Fox sucked in a deep breath of air as he left the building. Following the clerk's directions he was shortly climbing one of Seattle's infamous hills. Those in the vehicle waiting for the parking place were not watching pedestrians on the sidewalks, and Fox's concentration was effectively focused toward his destination, the traffic control light at the top of the hill.
Luck continued for the three investigators. The receptionist advised that Mr. Sutherland was in his law library completing a research brief. When Bob told her he was an old school friend, she advised the boss and was told to show them in. Bob hastily explained the situation and Bud had his legal secretary bring him the Simpson/Lockhart files. After leafing down through a chronology of his legal records, Sutherland looked up at the anxious boy. "If you're Scott Hayden, can you tell me where you were born?"
"Madison, Wisconsin," Scott replied, voluntarily adding his date of birth.
Bud leafed through some more papers. "Where did they take you after the accident?"
"To a hospital, then to Leland Hall," Scott returned without hesitation.
Bud continued leafing through papers. "After the accident, this office sent you a recording. Can you tell me about it?"
"It was from my mother, Jenny Hayden."
Leafing through a second file, the attorney asked: "Before the accident this office sent an unusual item to you through the Lockhart's. Can you tell me what it was?"
Scott looked at his father then back at the man. He took his sphere from his pocket and displayed it. "This. It was a gift from my father."
Bud Sutherland drew in a deep breath. "It seems you must be who you say, son, but understand, I can't just give you information about a client. I don't know any reason why Mrs. Allen wouldn't want to talk to you, but I must ask her first."
"Mrs. Allen?" Paul questioned. "But we're looking for Kelly Simpson."
"Kelly got married about two years ago," he offered. "I'll just give her a call." He dialed then waited.
"Hey Bud," Bob said, glancing again at his watch, "I'm going to have to run." He plopped his briefcase down between Paul and Scott. Opening it, he pulled a card from an inside pocket. "Let me leave you a business card with my home phone and address on the back. Please let me know how you make out with this."
As Bob scribbled on the back of the card, Scott looked on pensively, but his eyes widened as they focused on the subject name in a letter lying in the top of Bob's briefcase. 'Re: In the United States District Court for Western Washington. USA and Interior vs. George Fox'. He glanced quickly at Bob, then back at the letter in time to see the name 'Paul Forrester' jumping out at him from half way down the page. Moments later, Bob handed his card to Paul, pushed his paperwork back into the briefcase. Snapping it shut he slid it off the desk. Scott's eyes followed Bob as he headed toward the door.
Paul accepted Bob's card and smiled appreciatively. "Thanks again for all your help. I feel we might be getting close to our goal. I'll catch-'ya later," he said to a disappearing friend.
Still holding on the phone, a smile was spreading across the attorney's face. "Kelly ... Bud Sutherland, here. Hey, I have Scott Hayden sitting here in my office with a Paul Forrester. They'd like to come over to see you." As his father pulled his billfold out of his pocket to put in the card, Scott moved to the edge of his seat. "Yes," Bud Sutherland said in his continuing one sided telephone conversation, "I'm sure he is. ... Then it's okay to give them directions out to your place? ... Yes, I will. ... I'll let you talk to my secretary. I'm looking forward to seeing you too." Bud pushed a button on the telephone and hung up. "Okay, Kelly says she'll be watching for you." He wrote out her name, address and directions and handed it to Paul. She lives out on the Olympic Peninsula in a town called Forks. It's almost on the coast." He turned to Scott. "Good luck, son. I hope you find your mother."
"Thank you, Mr. Sutherland," Paul offered politely.
"Thanks," a now nervous Scott offered as he took his father's arm and skillfully urged him toward the door. "I think we need to go now, Dad," rushed anxiously off his tongue.
Virtually pushed out of the attorney's office into the hallway, Paul stopped. "What's the hurry?" he asked, more than a little annoyed. "Bud just did us a big favor. Like with Rick, earlier, in your impatience you have acted impolitely."
"The time wasn't right for being polite. It was time to get out of there," Scott offered, urging his father toward the elevator. "Dad, those papers in Bob's briefcase have something to do with George Fox. I also saw your name in the letter on top. Maybe that's why it seemed familiar to him."
"You must have been mistaken," Paul offered. "Do you realize the odds of us meeting with such a person are astronomical?"
"Whatever the odds, I know what I saw."
"Then I agree," Paul said, automatically hastening his pace. "Not only is it time to get out, but time to move faster." Not waiting for the elevator, they did the stairs in record time and rushed out of the building. Seeing a bus at the corner, they ran even faster. As the bus door started closing, they knocked on it. The driver glanced into his rear view mirror and seeing cars effectively blocking his departure back out into traffic again, opened it.
On his way back to the courthouse after his walk, Fox checked his watch. Ten to one, then his brow wrinkled and his eyes showed his continuing impatience. I wonder how much longer I'm going to have to wait. He glanced into the window of a magazine shop. I see they have Sports Illustrated. He closed his eyes and visualized the alien's battered face. I think I need something non-alien related to get my mind off all that has happened. Opening his eyes again, he caught a reflection in the mirror-like window that quickly drew his attention to a passing city bus. Focusing, he saw Scott Hayden's face.
Sitting in the window seat, Scott turned anxiously watching for Bob's return from the courthouse. Suddenly his body stiffened and he turned forward again. "Dad, our odds have just gone up again," he whispered.
Scott closed his eyes. "I just saw Fox." Scott reached for the stop cord as soon as the bus turned another corner and together they rushed toward the exit.
Fox spun around for a better look, but the bus has passed. All I can see is the back of someone's head. The hair is the way the boy normally combs his, but... His eyes narrowed, trying again to picture the face. "Could it be...?" he mumbled uncertainly." No, he thought. That's just too much of a coincidence! Why would they be down here? He watched the bus turn at the next corner. Still, I can't ignore any possibility. I'll grab a cab and have him chase it down. He glanced the other way down the street. Right now I'm almost glad I don't see a cab, he thought. He shook his head and grinned. I think I've had nothing but those two on my mind for so long; I see them everywhere. He looked back in the store window. I think I need Sports Illustrated more than a ride in a cab chasing a bus.
Magazine in hand he emerged four minutes later. Now back to the courthouse. The papers must have come in by now. I'll get everything signed and be on my way to the airport and home.
Bob rushed, panting, into the Court Clerk's office; plopped his briefcase on the counter and pulled out a stack of papers. He handed them to the woman at the counter. "I just came in from Wenatchee. I believe this case is on your afternoon docket."
The woman took the packet and looked at the cover letter. "It is," she acknowledged as she pulled a book out from under the counter, made an entry in it, then stamped official receipt numbers on all the documents.
Upside down, Bob watched her writing the defendant's name in the large book then grinned. "So that's what I've been carrying. I've been so busy this weekend, I never even looked. I understand this George Fox has been causing quite a stir over our way," he said."
"He's been causing quite a stir around here, too," she replied, rolling her eyes. "He got here about ten and every twenty minutes since then has been asking what happened to you. Luckily he left for lunch when I suggested it or Wenatchee was going to get a call from me. Why couldn't this come over by mail?"
"They told me there could be a jurisdictional mandate that might have required a continuance. They hoped someone would come in claiming injuries from something this George Fox did," Bob offered. "I guess in his search for a couple federal fugitives, he ticked off our Sheriff, big time. He disappeared for days while most of our regulars were on stakeout for him, then comes waltzing in and shrugs off the whole operation with 'they got away'. He wouldn't even give the Sheriff the professional courtesy of explaining why we had so many of our guys out there."
The woman handed the file to a young man at another desk. "Take this to Judge Clarke. Tell him it's the file we've been waiting for."
"You're giving him priority treatment?" Bob asked.
"That's not my choice, but it is my instructions."
"I guess the Sheriff is the only one who got any satisfaction at all," Bob admitted. "Someone told my boss the Sheriff knew a fugitive would never show up to file a complaint, but he got his dad to pull some strings in the plea bargain and made this Fox have to hang around Wenatchee for the full seventy-two hours."
"The cover letter did say something about a Paul Forrester being shot in addition to the Wilderness violation. That must be the jurisdictional conflict."
Bob's eyes popped open. "Paul Forrester? ... Are you sure?"
"That's what it said," she offered.
Bob looked again at the papers being delivered directly to the judge, then raced around the counter to the first phone he found. "Would you look up the number for Bud Sutherland. His office is across the street. Hurry, this is an emergency."
The woman pulled her attorney's register from behind the counter. Shortly she recited the number, adding, "And don't forget to dial nine for outside."
Bob dialed, waited only a moment then announced into the receiver, "Bob Johnson, I was just in. Is Bud still with the clients I brought him?" Bob fidgeted nervously. "They've gone? ... Bud's gone too. … No. … There's no need to have him call when he gets back. Thanks. I'm going to try to stop them myself." He dropped the receiver onto the base and raced out of the office.
Approaching the door of the Clerk's office, George Fox dodged aside to avoid a collision with the fast moving body. "He's sure was in a hurry," he said, glancing back over his shoulder as he walked casually up to the woman at the desk.
"He must have missed an appointment, or something," she replied. "He shot out of here like a misguided missile."
Fox returned his attention to the woman and smiled. "Remember me?"
"How could I ever forget you, Mr. Fox?"
Fox checked his watch and expecting the worst, announced, "It's one-ten. Has anything come in yet?"
"The missile that just passed must have seen you coming and made a break for it. He got it here right at one. I've entered the papers and Judge Clark has them. Why don't you take your seat? I'm certain the judge will squeeze you in as an ex parte' matter before the afternoon session begins. That should be within the next ten minutes."
Obediently Fox walked out. He took a seat, joining several others and continued to wait.
Bob raced down the flight of stairs and out onto the street. Not seeing Paul or Scott, he ran to the next corner and looked up and down the street. Obviously disappointed, he returned to the Clerk's office, picked up his briefcase and thanking the woman, walked back into the hall. "I can't believe I was with them not more than twenty minutes ago," he randomly said to anyone in the world listening. "I just missed a collar that might have gotten me a promotion; maybe a plush government job."
Fox stood when he recognized the man. "So you're the misguided missile who has kept this Federal Security Agent waiting around here for more than three hours!" he announced adamantly. "I was expecting you hours ago."
"If you're George Fox, I have something to tell you. Call Bob Sutherland. He can tell you where..."
Fox was in no mood for excuses. "I wish you could have had something to tell me several hours ago," Fox replied loudly. "If I thought I could get anywhere by filing a complaint over in Wenatchee, I would, but..."
The Bailiff stuck his head through the door of the courtroom. "George Fox?" he called. When he saw Fox look his way, he motioned, "You may come in. The judge can see you now."
"Listen to me for a minute, Mr. Fox!" Bob offered excitedly. "It wasn't my case, but you need to..."
"I'm not in any mood for advice right now," Fox retorted, "especially not from another Eastern Washington incompetent who shows up late for court." Following the Bailiff, Fox stomped off to his appointment in the courtroom.
As Fox disappeared through the two-way swinging doors, Bob rolled his eyes and proclaimed loudly, "Well, pooh pooh to you too. I'm a representative of the courts, but I don't have to put up with your BS either. Find them yourself. Just don't come back our way next time." Seeing all eyes in the hallway focused on him, he strode off angrily. "No one can say I didn't try," he mumbled. "It's not my fault if the government man refuses to listen. Right now I'm late. I'm certainly not chasing into any federal courtroom after him." Turning, Bob's pleasant grin returned and he started down the stairway. "Actually, I think I like them a lot more than him. Now, I've got some further legal education courses to take." He cleared the remaining stairs two at a time.
George Fox stood quietly before the bench for the reading of the charges. Entering a formal guilty plea the judge wasted no time in setting bail. Fox signed the paperwork, then pulled out his checkbook and wrote a check for the arranged minimum $500.00 fine. Within twenty minutes the information desk on the ground floor directed him to the nearest travel agent and in another half hour he had tickets in hand for his flight home.
He hailed a cab to the airport. Less than two hours later he was releasing his seat belt as the aircraft left a comet-like vapor trail heading east. His memo tucked safely in his suitcase; George Fox was more than eager to return home. In a few hours he would be back to his only total commitment in life ... the job of pursuing his alien.
After a short discussion with the bus driver about the meaning of 'exact change' and 'transfer', Paul and Scott rode the bus as far north as it would go. There they transferred to another bus and rode it as far north of Seattle as it would take them. A transfer to another bus system running a little late got them down to the Whidbey Island ferry terminal just in time to watch the ferry pulling away from the dock.
Not wishing to remain standing at the dock, they walked to a bookstore nearby and while Scott assumed the duty of watching for the ferry's return, Starman browsed through a used book rack.. Finally a book on the shelf caught his attention and he pulled the compact volume from the crowded shelf of used paperbacks. After my confusion with CPR, I think I should have this information, he thought. He opened the book and leafed rapidly through the pages. Yes, I should understand the recommended medical aid in common use here. He saw a small round sticker pasted on the front. It's only thirty cents.
He reached into his pocket for his billfold. Between bus fares and paying for the ferry tickets, I have only fifteen cents remaining of the ten dollars we earned for changing Bob's tire. Wait. He reached into his front pocket. ... Yes, I still have the last quarter we earned for the shower. With the tax the clerk handed him three cents just as Scott announced the ferry had arrived.
They went from car to car on the ferry and soon found a ride toward the farm and Paul had their host let them off at a corner almost a mile from town. They walked the trails they had often used when horseback riding, then waited until after dark in the forest a short distance from the Foster home.
Seeing no one either coming or going, Paul took over guard duty as Scott sneaked down to the house. Approached from the pasture below the house, he gathered their things and money from the camper. Not wishing to enter the house for fear someone might be watching he decided to leave the borrowed items in the camper. A short note in Roy's pickup truck promised the return of the sleeping bags. With the man in the moon's smiling face being the only witness to the intrusion, Scott slipped back into the darkness.
Catching another northbound ride, they made a simple camp on the beach about a quarter mile from another Washington State ferry terminal. In the morning they caught the ferry that would take them from Whidbey Island, across Puget Sound's Admiralty Inlet to Washington's Olympic Peninsula.
On his way to make deliveries along the coast, a grocery truck driver answered the next request for a ride. He gratefully accepted help with unloading deliveries until the time came to part. They left him at a modest shopping center in the small logging community of Forks and with Bud Sutherland's directions they quickly found Kelly Allen's street at the edge of town. There were only two homes and several undeveloped lots on the block. Cautiously watching from a safe distance, they saw several cars pass during the next hour, but nothing appeared overly suspicious. Then a car stopping at the curb in front of the house drew their attention. No one got out, but a woman appeared on the porch then walked out toward the car. The driver leaned far over to the right and handed something out the window. "I'm sure that's her," Scott said. "I remember her staying with us."
The woman appeared to be in her early fifties though her hair was almost as white as snow. She was tall, almost thin, and had a stately appearance when she walked. She glanced up and down the street then talked momentarily with the driver. As the car moved off, she returned to the house. Shortly she reappeared and walked slowly around one side of the house toward a backyard. "I think she's alone," Scott whispered to his father. "Let's get closer." They walked back another block then crossed the street. Moving ever closer they easily vanished into the trees on some empty lots. "Dad, let me go talk to her. You stay here to cover me just in case Fox might be in the house, Knowing he was infinitely more capable 'back-up', Paul remained without comment.
Scott moved cautiously among some bushes in the yard to get close to the woman. She was standing relaxed at a table next to the house working on a potted green plant. "Mrs. Simpson ... uh, I mean Mrs. Allen?" he called softly.
Looking in the direction of the voice, she replied, almost automatically, "Yes." Seeing no one, she spun around in alarm and her arm smoothly swept the pot off the table. When it hit the ground it broke into several pieces.
Scott peeked out from behind the bushes. "I'm sorry," he said apologetically. "I didn't mean to frighten you."
"Scott?" she asked hesitantly. Seeing a nod, she smiled. "Give it no mind. I have plenty of pots and plenty of plants, but I have only one nephew. I'm so glad you came. It only takes a few hours to drive over here, so I was expecting you last night. I'm afraid I thought you might have changed your mind."
"Without a car it takes a lot longer," Scott offered.
"Well you're here. Now come out and let me take a look at you," a warm smile demanded. As Scott stepped cautiously out of the bushes her smile broadened. "Other than getting much taller, I'd recognize you anywhere. You're a spitting image of your mother." Wrapping her arms around him, she pulled him close.
As she let go, Scott, almost afraid to ask, finally found the words. "Please, Mrs. Simpson ... I mean Mrs. Allen. Tell me you know where Mom is?"
Her face reflected immediate distress. "I wish you had asked me anything else," she replied compassionately. "I would surely tell you if I knew."
The wind went out of Scott and his lower lip began to quiver. "You were the only person I remembered her mentioning," he sniffled, sadly. "How are we ever going to find her?"
She took him into her arms again and held him. "I'm so sorry."
Feeling rather awkward in the arms of almost a stranger Scott stepped back as she loosened her grip. First things first, he thought, regaining confidence. "Has anyone from the government been around to visit you?" he asked self-consciously.
"Yes, just a little while ago." She pointed across her back yard at a car in the next street. Immediately, Scott made a leap back into the bushes. "In fact there he goes, now," she said. Astonished to find herself standing alone, she frowned as she looked around for the elusive boy. "Scott, where are you?" Momentarily she saw him peeking apprehensively from behind another large bush.
"Was his name, George Fox?" Scott whispered.
"His name is Leonard Tull," she replied openly. "He's our mailman." She studied Scott's face. "What are you afraid of, Scott?"
"There are some government people I really don't want to see," Scott replied.
"Why?" she asked. Awaiting an answer and when offered none, she jumped to an obvious conclusion. "Are the juvenile authorities still looking for you?"
"Probably," Scott replied evasively.
"I'm so sorry about all of that," she said sympathetically. "Donald and I were in Switzerland when Bud Sutherland finally managed to find us. You see, if anything happened to Kent and Eileen; they appointed me your guardian. Even though Bud told us the juvenile authorities had taken you and that you were safe in a state home, we started for home but arrive too late. You had already run away." She looked curiously at the obviously healthy and rapidly growing teenager. "Where have you been this past year? We had flyers out for months."
Scott's shoulders drooped. "A lot of places." Though I'm afraid I'm not going to find what I want here, he thought, at least I can ask some questions. "Can you tell me anything about Mom?"
"There really isn't much to tell. I met Jen when she answered my ad for a bookkeeper and general helper at the lakeside resort I used to own. Maybe I felt sorry for her. I could tell she had been through some hard times and I could easily relate to being a single parent. It didn't take long to figure out she wanted a place out of the fast lane more than she needed a job." She paused, "My word. That's more than twelve years ago." She smiled as she continued remembering days of long ago. "Though your laughter around the place made me miss my daughter, I soon stopped moping over whether I was ever going to be a grandmother and became one for you."
"Was Mom happy?"
"I think so; at least for a while. Jen was both a good mother and an honest worker. I really liked her and we become close. One day she asked what I would do if I felt giving up my daughter would make her life better. I couldn't begin to think she was talking about herself, not the way she dotted on you. I told her it was a decision no mother should have to make except in a life and death situation. A couple days later, she told me all about the government trying to find her and you and asked for my help. I guess she just couldn't cope any longer. She wanted someone to take you, but adamantly insisted on not getting involved in any adoption."
Kelly Allen's face got very somber. "I tried to tell her there had to be another way, but when she told me it might well be a life and death situation, I naturally thought of my niece, Eileen. She and Kent had been on a waiting list for several years, but adoptable children were scarce. As Eileen and Kent got older, I'm afraid they weren't getting any closer to the top of the list. When your mom said she wanted to find a safe place for you, I approached Kent and Eileen and they agreed to talk to her. Kent insisted on having something in writing before he would consider taking any youngster directly from his mother.
"Still they were taking a considerable risk. Your mother could have changed her mind at any time. She moved to Seattle for a few weeks to check things out and finally agreed to leave you with them. She gave them power of attorney and a written consent to their appointment as your legal guardians. Though Eileen and Kent didn't ask for money, Jen set up a trust fund at a bank to provide for your support. She wanted it very clear she was not deserting you."
"She never even came to see me," Scott said almost bitterly.
"She insisted it was necessary for you to remain safe. I couldn't argue with her. I also think she didn't want you torn between two families." Seeing the distraught look on the boy's face, she defended Jenny's decision. "Scott, she was so afraid. Believe me. It was very hard for her. Giving up your baby has to be the hardest thing a mother can ever have to do. She came back to the resort, but I know she was going through hell. Still, in her heart I think she believed she had done the right thing."
"Why did she leave the resort?"
"It was so sudden I never really got to ask. One day a guest mentioned some people from the government snooping around and asking a lot of questions. Jen just came unglued. She told me she was afraid of being forced into leading the government to you. It didn't take her ten minutes to pack what she needed and take off." Kelly shook her head. "One of the 'men from the government' showed up at the resort the next day."
"George Fox!" Scott asked caustically.
"No, that wasn't it. Actually, I can't remember the name, but I know everything turned out about as I expected. Poor Jenny. She certainly was never in any danger and you were the last thing on Earth they wanted. The government agents were from the Department of Game out investigating calls about someone hunting out of season. In the back of my mind I have always wondered if those scary government agents provided the excuse she needed to run away from some bad memories."
"Then you haven't heard from her at all?"
"Oh, for quite a while I heard from her regularly. I even made frequent trips to Seattle so I could keep her informed about how things were going for you." She smiled at the memory. "She seemed pleased when I described how easily you adapted to Eileen and Kent. You know they came to think of you as their own son."
"They were always good to me, Mrs. Allen," Scott acknowledged, "but they're gone. Now I want to find my mom. Did she ever give you an address?"
"No. I think she was still afraid. The last time she called, she said she'd had another run-in with the authorities and didn't want to get me into trouble too. She sounded terribly disturbed and I advised her to seek professional help. That was five years ago. I remember it distinctly because three days later my granddaughter, Mary, was born."
Scott noticed Kelly pausing momentarily as though the events stirred bad memories. "Did she mention other friends?"
"She didn't make friends easily. In fact, with her fear of the government she was always very reserved about opening up to strangers. One thing I can tell you. She usually called late in the evening so I assumed she must be somewhere in our Pacific Time Zone or further west. I sold the resort a few years ago and moved back east. If Jen tried calling after that, it would have been almost impossible to find me."
Scott heaved a heavy distressed sigh and lowered his head. "The possibility of ever finding her seems hopeless. You were our only lead."
"I'm sorry. I just have no idea of where she might have gone."
Scott's eyes narrowed as he studied the woman's concerned face. "Did Mom ever tell you anything about ... well, uh ... my father?" he asked guardedly watching for her reaction. Her smile broadened. "Jenny told me all about how very special you are, Scott." Her smile vanished and she became very reserved, before continuing, "And a very strange story about your father." Her eyebrows rose, then lowered. "I can only say she said you were the result of a ... well ... a very interesting experience."
Scott's eyes narrowed as he studied her face. I guess Mom trusted her enough to tell her so I can just ask questions and not worry about saying too much.
Seeing a concerned look on the boy's face, Kelly lifted his chin to look into his eyes. "As I said, Eileen and Kent appointed me your legal guardian. If anything happened to them, it was their wish and mine that you come live with me. I discussed it with Donald. You'll stay here with us."
"Thank you," Scott returned, "but we'll probably just keep on looking for Mom."
"We'll?" she questioned. "Oh, that's right. Bud did mention you being with someone." She looked at Scott, curiously. "Didn't he come over with you?"
Seeing his father peering out of the trees some distance away, Scott gestured for him to join them. Kelly jumped as Paul walked up behind her. Seeing her surprise, Scott moved quickly to smooth things over. "Dad, I'd like you to meet Kelly Allen. Mrs. Allen, I would like to introduce my father, Paul Forrester."
Surprised at first, she quickly regained her composure. "Your father?" she questioned. "Jen said your father was never coming back."
"He found a way and stayed to help me." Scott looked proudly at his father. "Dad, Mom told her."
Kelly slowly extended her hand. "I am very pleased to meet you, Mrs. Allen," Starman said, taking her hand gently in his. "We have been searching for you for a very long time." His head cocked slightly as he puzzled over a strange mixture of emotions he felt.
"What did you just do?" she asked with mild alarm as she pulled her hand away. "I felt something warm."
"I wished you well,"
"Are you empathic, or something?" she asked
"I'm Scott's father."
She grinned impishly. "I don't think you really want to say it exactly like that, Mr. Forrester. You see, Jen told me Scott's father was an alien from space. She said she watched him grow from an infant into the form of her dead husband. Then he made her take him across the country. Her story notwithstanding, she did confess that in the three days you spent together, she..." She stumbled over the words. "She said she didn't even think to ask your name."
"He was like her husband then," Scott offered, "but now he's Paul Forrester."
She carefully looked over the man standing before her. "Mr. Forrester, you don't look like someone from outer space."
"What does such a someone look like?" Paul asked.
"Are you saying you are?" Her eyes narrowed, impatiently. "What do you take me for, an idiot? Jenny had a wonderful marriage. When her husband died, it left her empty and isolated from everything she loved. Then you come along, offering her a way out. In her desperation and loneliness she runs away from all the hurting memories. Jen believed, and told her husband she couldn't have his child. I can only imagine the terribly guilt she must have felt when she found herself pregnant from a one night stand. She reacted by creating a fantasy to explain that indiscretion. At one time or another we all do. It helps us keep our sanity during times of stress."
Paul's head tilted to the side. "You think it was a fantasy?"
Scott saw his father puzzling over her words. "Mrs. Allen, he is my father."
Kelly Allen's eyes narrowed, critically. "I believe you're his father, but hey, a long time ago I knew someone like you. My mother had died and barely fifteen, he talked me into running away with him. When a couple months later I found out I was pregnant, instead of the joy there should be at being a father, he took a powder and left me to raise Melissa. I never returned home, but I told everybody my husband died in the service of his country. Come on, Mr. Forrester, the facts tell the truth, why can't you. Jen was vulnerable and you took advantage of her pain. I just don't understand why you decided on this alien from space nonsense. I guess Jen was naive enough to believe it. I'm not."
Suddenly her eyes sparkled with a new awareness. For a joke, he sure can keep a straight face, she thought, grinning broadly. "Okay, now I understand." She rushed off behind some of her shrubbery. "Jen, how did you find me? Come out. I know you're here. It's been so long. I'm so happy to know it was you who came for Scott."
As the woman moved off, Starman's face reflected an even greater confusion. He turned to Scott. "Are you sure she knows?"
"I'm beginning to doubt it," Scott confessed as he watched the woman looking behind every bush. "I'm sorry. When she said Mom told her I was special and from an unusual experience, I guess I just assumed..."
Unsuccessful, but still smiling, Kelly returned in time to hear Scott's statement. "To any mother, her child is always special," she offered. Then she shrugged her shoulders. "I give up. Just tell me where she is." Seeing no offer, she continued her search by moving off toward the alley.
"Dad," Scott whispered in his father's ear, "Mom told her, but I don't think she knows she knows." He took hold of his father's arm. "I already know she doesn't know where Mom is. Let's get out of here."
"Scott," Paul whispered, critically, "she believes Jenny was like Angela, living in a world of fantasy."
"Dad, we know better," Scott said, urging Paul back toward the bushes. "That's all that really counts."
"But she is also making a joke out of a very enlightening experience in my life."
"Look," Scott whispered softly, "you don't have to defend yourself to her, or anyone else. That is, unless you want to start explaining everything." He pulled on his father's arm again. "Let's go."
"I know you're right, but I hate to let a friend of Jenny's think she lied to her."
Seeing the woman returning from the alley, Scott's head suddenly snapped toward another familiar sound. "I hear a car," he announced, nudging his father in the ribs with his elbow.
Paul looked toward the corner of the house as he too heard an automobile. He looked back at the woman. "Mrs. Allen..." he began, only to turn away again when he felt Scott's elbow slam even harder into his ribs.
"Mom isn't here with us, Mrs. Allen, and I think it's time we leave," Scott said anxiously. "Good-bye."
Temporarily confused by his son's assault, Paul rebounded from the elbow to see a look of urgency on his son's face. "Good-bye, Mrs. Allen," he said politely. "It has been nice meeting you."
Why is Scott so anxious to leave, she thought. He is trying to urge this man he calls his father away from me. I can't let that happen. She grabbed Scott's arm firmly then glanced at her watch. "That's probably Donald. He's right on time. Scott, you don't need to be afraid," she offered with assurance. "I told you I'm your legal guardian. Bud Sutherland will take care of everything for us."
"Sure," Scott returned bitterly. Feeling himself temporarily trapped, he looked at his father, gesturing with his eyes to make a run for it. Seeing no answering response, he accepted her restraint.
Holding Scott's arm firmly Kelly peered around the corner of the house and down the driveway. Her face brightened immediately then she waved. "Donald, I'm back here." She turned to Scott then glared at Paul. "Don't try to leave or I will call the police." She watched Paul intently then slowly released the hold she had on Scott. Only when she felt confident her actions backed her threat did she step from behind the corner of the house to greet the person she called only by a first name.
"Now what do we do?" Scott rebuffed under his breath.
"For the moment, we stay," Paul whispered in return. "You're right, I don't think it's necessary to say anything further, but I would like to try smoothing this over first. I'd prefer she change her mind about holding us rather than call the police. If Fox is still in Seattle, it wouldn't take him long to get here."
Scott nodded, acknowledging his father's wisdom, but he could not restrain his thoughts, I still think it would be better to put more distance between this threat to our freedom.
A man appeared from around the corner. Kelly Allen gave him a kiss then took his hand and brought him over. "Donald, this is Scott, Eileen and Kent's boy, and this," she gave Paul an icy look, "is the biological father, Paul Forrester."
Paul looked calmly at the man. This is her husband, he concluded. Her Donald is a sizable man. His body is definitely strong and muscular, and he is taller than I. I would guess his time of existence does not exceed fifty Earth years. He has a round face and it is strange to see a man with such long black hair. Like Kathy Doran, to keep it out of his face he has tied it back at his neck. High facial bones and his dark skin remind me of Rick and Amy. There is one thing I know for sure. His clothes have the distinct odor I remember from Matteo Gionetti's and the Foster's boats. It is one of having been used for catching fish. Paul cocked his head ever so slightly. Still, his broad smile does not denote a threat.
Approaching confidently, Donald Allen extended a large, callused hand to Paul, "Don," he corrected. They shook then he offered his hand to Scott. "Welcome."
"My love," Kelly offered to regain his attention. "I'm not exactly sure of how to tell you this, but we're harboring a fugitive. Scott is still running from the juvenile authorities."
"We wish to leave now, Mrs. Allen," Paul advised.
"I don't want you to leave," she returned. "Certainly not until I get to the bottom of this."
"Mrs. Allen, we believe someone from the agency looking for us, may contact your attorney," Paul said confidently. "He will send him here. We cannot remain."
Paul looked on as Scott told her about visiting with Rick Gonzalez then searching for her brother for more than two months.
"My brother's name was Ronald," she offered with a wavering voice.
Am I seeing an emotional response? Paul thought as he continued to observe. The words seem difficult for her to say.
"We saw the man from the government in Seattle, Mrs. Allen," Scott relayed. "He may have found out we were in Mr. Sutherland's office. If he's coming here, he won't call. He'll just come after us."
"I'll check right now," she returned. "Let's go inside."
Paul offered no resistance when Don took him by the arm. Inside, Kelly Allen walked to the telephone, dialed and waited. "Kelly Allen here ... I need to talk to Bud. ... No, I don't want to talk to his secretary. I need to talk to Bud," she repeated vigorously. "... Yes, I'll wait." She turned to the waiting three. "He's with a client, but they know I'll wait as long as it takes."
She waited for what seemed like an eternity before beginning to talk. "Bud ... Kelly. Yes, he got here a little while ago. Scott told me someone may be trying to find him. Has anyone contacted you? ... No. ... Okay. ... If someone does, would you tell him they're on their way to Anchorage. ... Yes, Alaska. …They'll be leaving within the hour and will meet him there. ... No, they said they have to find a place when they get there. Have him check in with the housing authority... No. ... That's too bad. He'll be sad to hear that. ... I will. ... Yes, I have an appointment for a week from Friday. ... Yes, I understand we're ready to sign the rest of the papers to close Kent and Eileen's estates. I'll bring everything with me. ... Just a minute and I'll ask." She turned to Scott. "Bud says he never thought to ask whether you got the insurance money from Kent's sister."
"Yes ... well kind of," Scott replied.
"Mrs. Wayburn agreed to keep the money invested for Scott's education," Paul offered.
"Did you get that, Bud? ... Yes, I'm sure they wouldn't mind if you checked with her. ... No. ... Fine. ... Sure."
She grinned. "Bud, you know I never forget an appointment. I'll see you a week from Friday. ... No," she laughed. "Bye." She set the receiver back on the stand and turned to her husband. "Donald, Bud said it looks like he's not going to get over to go fishing with you for two weeks. He said 'good luck'."
Don shook his head. "That's Bud. Always the busy attorney he forgets about everything except work. He's going to be old before his time."
Kelly looked back at Scott. "There, now that solves your problem. If you're worried about the authorities finding you here, Bud will send them to Alaska." She heaved a heavy sigh. "Now ... will you stay with us?"
"I don't think it's a good idea," Paul offered honestly. "It is best we keep moving."
"That's nonsense and it's certainly no way to raise Scott," she returned belligerently.
"It isn't nonsense," Paul replied. "It is also best you not be seen with us. Now that you know we are running from the law, if you assist us in any way, it is called aiding and abetting."
She took a deep breath. "I don't care."
"I do," Paul returned. "I do not wish to cause trouble for anybody."
Her face got stern and unyielding and she voiced her pent-up frustration. "Mr. Forrester, I consider Scott my nephew. His real parents appointed me his guardian. I'm going to be blunt, Mr. Forrester. I want to know right now why you deserted both Jenny and your son."
"I had no choice," Paul returned calmly.
"He didn't, Mrs. Allen," Scott added.
Seeing an unquestioning look of acceptance on Scott's face, she countered. "Scott, everyone has a choice. Your mother's wild story was her choosing to defend," her head whipped back to Paul, "'his' choice. At the same time she was telling me to stop prying. Though I couldn't have been happier for Eileen, I watched Jenny sacrifice the most important thing in her life. She had to do that simply because your father wouldn't accept his responsibility."
"Believe me, at that time, I had no choice, Mrs. Allen," Paul returned, honestly. "If I had tried to stay, I would have died. Tell me how that would have been accepting responsibility or how it would have provided Scott with a father? I left Jenny the only thing I could provide; the funds to raise our son and when my friends came for me, I had to leave. I returned to my work. Work that took me far away."
"Mrs. Allen," Scott begged, "as soon as he understood I had problems, he came back. I love him."
"Now, I understand." Kelly looked Paul in the eye and her look hardened. "You're not on the run because the authorities are looking for Scott; it's you they're after and you're dragging him down with you!"
"Scott was in danger before I joined him. Now, we are both in danger. Mrs. Allen, I am trying to protect him in the only way I can. As you suggested, I have returned to accept responsibility for my son. In your eyes, is that not worth something?"
"You sure took your sweet time doing it," she returned icily. "My God, he's already fifteen years old." Her eyes narrowed into a determined frown. "Who is looking for you?"
"It is all very complicated, Mrs. Allen, and it is best you know nothing more. That knowledge could put you in danger, as well."
"Mrs. Allen, if we get caught it is almost certain Dad will die," Scott said in desperation.
"My God, man," she blasted, "Scott says someone is trying to kill you. How can I just forget that?"
"Perhaps that is not what they seek, but it will be the result."
She frowned deeply. "Don't you think you're being a bit dramatic? No one is going to kill you for taking your son."
"Not for taking him, but for being his father," Paul replied.
Kelly drew in a quick breath and her eyes got wide. "You're involved with the mob!"
Paul looked quizzically at her. "The what?"
Anxious at the direction of the conversation, Scott jumped to his father defense. "He isn't a criminal, Mrs. Allen."
"Like he said, Scott, even if he's only a wanted man, helping him is aiding and abetting a fugitive. You're staying here with us and I'm calling the police."
"Please don't do that, Mrs. Allen!" Scott retorted. "He hasn't done anything wrong and he's not a threat to anyone." He turned to Paul. "Dad, let's go."
"Kelly!" Don said emphatically. "Have you thought about what you're planning to do? Under Kent and Eileen's wills you might be Scott's guardian, but Mr. Forrester is his father. On a best-case scenario, you'll be sending that father to prison. What do you intend to do, chain Scott to a wall? That's surely the only way you'll keep him here."
Kelly's lower lip quivered and tears formed in her eyes. "As usual, you're right," she acknowledged. She looked longingly at Scott. I can easily read in that face the love and total acceptance of this errant father's return into his life. On his father's face I can see a year together has developed into genuine concern and acceptance of his parental responsibility. "Do as you must, but at least stay for supper. While I have a chance, I would like to get to know my nephew again."
Reluctantly, Paul nodded. Kelly took Scott by the arm and led him toward the kitchen. Paul followed until a large hand on his arm held him back.
"Let them talk together for a while," Don Allen offered softly. "Before Kelly has supper ready, your son will understand her only concern is for his welfare."
"Okay," Paul returned uneasily, glancing back over his shoulder toward the kitchen as Don urged him into another room. I should try to avoid further conversation about our problems, Paul thought. This could be a volatile situation. Standing in the living room he turned to face Don Allen. "Can you tell me where I might find the nearest pay phone. I need to make a call."
"First may we talk?" Don asked sincerely.
What can I say to such a request? Paul thought. Seeing a nod of compliance Don took him far from the kitchen. "Mr. Forrester, I can understand why you wish to leave. I agree, Kelly was out of line, but I'm asking that you not judge her too harshly. She has very personal reasons for wanting Scott to stay." He took a deep breath then sighed. "Three years ago she lost her sister, Donna, to a stroke. Not a month later, Ron died of cancer."
Paul's eyebrows rose. "Her brother, Ronald?"
Don nodded. "Yes."
Paul glanced back in the direction of the kitchen. "I feel sorrow for her losses." He turned back to Don. "I have also been impolite. I should not have interrupted."
"That's all right. I understand." Meeting Paul's eyes, Don saw real compassion. "But that isn't all. The past few years Kelly has really had a hard time. Her daughter, Melissa, had followed a business career. Marrying late she wanted to get started on a family, but right after Mary came, her husband took a powder. Kelly moved back east to fill the void. Then two years ago, coming home from the market, Melissa and Mary happened into the crossfire between two street gangs. Mary died instantly, but Kelly watched Melissa struggling for life only to see her die in the hospital. Then last year it was Eileen and Kent."
"When Bud found us in Europe, we decided to take their son..." He paused weighing his words. "I'm sorry … your son. She felt doubly responsible for him, because of Kent and Eileen, but also because of your Jenny. When Jenny lived with her, Scott became her first grandchild. When he had to leave, at least she could still be an aunt.
"When we got back and Bud told her Scott had run off into the unknown, it was about all she could handle. Can you understand, in her eyes he is the last surviving member of her entire family?" Suddenly a memory brought a grin to his face. "If you could have seen her face when Bud called yesterday and told us about Scott. She got so excited she grabbed me, and we danced without music. She said 'Scotty is coming home'. All she could talk about was redecorating the second bedroom just like Scott was still ten years old. Now you have won him and another dream is to vanish."
"But she must understand, I cannot let her keep my son. We must be together."
"Don't worry," Don said with compassion. "In her heart, I'm sure she knows that already, Paul. She's tough, but she is a totally caring person ... one whom I have come to love dearly. She'll be all right, but I'm asking you for a favor. Please consider staying, even if all you have is a few days. Give her a chance? Remember, she took Jenny in; acted as a liaison for her, and when things got too much for her, found your son a good home. I think you owe her something."
"We cannot stay in your home," he reiterated. "It is too dangerous."
"Don't worry. I'll think of something." Don picked up the receiver of a table phone and handed it to Paul. "Here, make your call."
"My call is long distance," Paul advised.
"Consider it a thank you for bringing Scott home. Though our house will be empty, at least Kelly will have the peace of mind of knowing he's okay and with someone he loves." Don looked at Paul, searching his face. "And whom, I believe loves him too." Seeing Paul's affirmation, Don walked back to the kitchen.
Paul dialed. Luckily he found Liz Baynes at home. "Liz?"
"Paul, how are you?"
"Fine. Have you been receiving our pictures?"
"Yes." She paused a moment, reflecting. "You know, you have my Paul's touch with a picture. Actually, I'm glad you called. A month ago I showed a friend some of your photographs and some of Paul's I had packed away. He said if I'd put together a collection, he'd try to arrange a showing."
"He would find a gallery willing to display your work. That's the way an artist or photographer advertises his talent to the critics," she explained patiently. "They judge the artist's overall skill and most important, can purchase the product."
"Well, he called a couple of weeks ago. He has arranged a showing in Portland. The gallery asked if you could be there."
"To give autographs."
"Auto graphs?" Paul questioned.
"Autographs ... one word," she laughed. "It's just writing a short personal note to show it's an original."
"I'm getting pretty good with signatures, so I think it will be all right," Paul returned. "We are not too far from Portland, now. ...When will it be?"
"The gallery had been hanging loose while I waited for you to call. They finally set the date for two weeks from Saturday. If you can be there, I'll send some copies of In the Eye of the Storm for you to sell at the showing. Book sales mean more bucks."
"We can surely use some credits on our account. You have been very good to carry us like you have."
"It has been purely my pleasure. Oh, hold on a minute." For a moment there was short silence then Liz returned. "I had to get the gallery address and telephone number from my purse. Are you ready?"
"Yes." Paul listened intently as Liz rattled off the information. "Okay," he acknowledged.
"Have you got all that written down already?"
"No," Paul confessed, "but I will remember."
Of course you wouldn't forget, she thought as once again she remembered she was really talking to two separate entities; her Paul and a man from the stars.
After a long silence, Paul asked, "Liz, Is something wrong?"
"Oh! No. I just caught myself worrying about you forgetting something as minor as making a phone call. I guess I keep forgetting who you are."
"Thank you," Paul said appreciatively.
"Be sure to call them to confirm you will be there, okay?"
"So, what else is new?" she laughed.
Paul told her of finding Kelly Simpson and the disappointment of her not knowing Jenny's whereabouts.
"I must assume you've been keeping ahead of Fox all right?"
Not to worry her unnecessarily, he told of the weeks at the farm and about the trip into the mountains. Guardedly he brought her up to date on his encounter with Fox. "Everything is fine now," he said to ease her mind. "This call is proof we are running strong and staying ahead in the race."
"Do you need money?"
"Not presently." His head turned toward the kitchen. "I hear Scott announcing that dinner is ready. I must go. It has been good talking to you. Good-bye, Liz Baynes."
She laughed. "Good-bye, Paul Forrester. Enjoy your dinner."
"Please call more often."
He grinned happily. "I'll try. Catch 'ya later." Hanging up the phone, Paul walked back into the kitchen.
Taking another bite of his potatoes, Paul looked up in time to catch Kelly watching him. It is difficult to feel comfortable for each time I look up I see her scowling. Though this has been an elegant meal, I find it hard to enjoy it as I should. The tensions of earlier remain. I know she has unconsciously chosen to exclude me from her conversation. I know she is highly critical of what she perceives as desertion of my family. In some ways I cannot blame her, for without believing what Jenny told her to be the truth I might feel the same.
I know she resents me for depriving her of Scott's company, but as with Mrs. Wayburn, I will not let her take him from me. Liz Baynes was right. Being a parent is a bigger responsibility than I ever anticipated. It takes a lot of years to raise a kid. I lost fourteen of them and wish to lose no more.
He glanced at Don. I know Don wants to keep everyone happy. He is picking at his food because he is trying to come up with an amicable solution. I sensed him to be an honorable man and I know he cares very much for his wife. Worried about her mental well-being he asked that we stay. I would like to do as he asks, but her attitude makes staying here uncomfortable and risky. She could decide to turn me in for whatever she believes I have done. I am sure I will not agree to stay if we must remain in their home. The atmosphere here is definitely unhealthy.
Paul laid his fork down beside his plate and folded his napkin. "That was a wonderful meal, Mrs. Allen. Thank you."
"Yes, Mrs. Allen, that was excellent," Scott confirmed. "Thank you."
"Mr. Forrester, Scott, will you please call me Kelly."
I know a first name basis by all would be a step toward relieving the tension, Paul thought. "Yes, Kelly, and it's Paul, please."
Don Allen folded his napkin and finally broke his contemplative silence. "Kelly, I think it's time we discuss what we're going to do. I know you want Scott to stay here with us, but I have to agree with Paul. If there is even a possibility the government might trace him here, I don't think that would be a wise move for any of us."
"Under any circumstances we cannot stay long," Paul offered. "I just accepted a job in Portland."
"Portland?" Scott questioned.
"Liz found me some work."
"Right away?" Kelly asked, obviously disappointed.
"Soon," Paul confirmed.
"How soon, is soon?" Don asked, remembering his earlier plea for time.
"Two weeks from Saturday we must be in Portland, but traveling as we do, we must allow plenty of time to get there," Paul offered, truthfully.
"What would you normally do until then?" Don asked.
"Stay low, keep moving and keep looking for Jenny. Any telephone book has a list of possibilities. We can search down the coast from here. It also gives us a chance to see something new."
"Paul, I do understand why you don't want to stay with us," Don offered. "If you're just going to stay low and keep moving, will you at least listen to what I have to offer?." He looked at his wife. "My love, I know you want to get to know Scott better, but I know Paul cannot feel comfortable here with us. I would like to suggest we have them stay at Rod's."
"Are you sure that will be all right with Rod?" Kelly asked.
Don heaved a heavy sigh. "Rod isn't at the house right now." He took a deep breath. "I might as well tell you." He paused uncomfortably. "Last weekend Rod got picked up again for driving while under the influence."
"Oh, no," Kelly said with remorse. "Why can't he see what he's doing to himself?"
Don shook his head sadly at his wife's distressed look. "I don't think my brother can see anything clearly any more. Kelly, you've tried to mother Rod through this, but don't you understand there are some things you can't change?"
"I'll go talk to him again. Maybe I can convince him to get into another program."
"He is in a program now, but what about after that?" Don offered, his distress at the subject growing obvious. "It's not going to do any good unless he accepts he has a problem. He's already been through the weeklong program three times. Accept it. He's a failure."
"Donald, how can you talk like that ... he's your brother? You can't just forget him."
"I've stood up for him for years. I've given him a job and a home, but he spends every cent he makes on booze. I've given up," he returned decisively.
"We have to keep trying."
"Kelly, you haven't been around him nearly as long as I have. I've accepted the fact ... my brother is an alcoholic and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. You've encouraged him to stay sober; you've taken care of him when he's blitzed. Has it done any good? It isn't really fair for the public to keep footing the hospital bills to get the booze out of his system when he doesn't want to stay sober. Now I think it's time you look at the facts. It's going to require a major miracle for anything to change him and I'm afraid I'm past believing in miracles."
Paul looked intently at the man then his head tilted sideways ever so slightly. I do not understand how drinking alcohol could become obsessive. The feeling is only temporary pleasure followed by much pain. Could Rod's problem be like Joe Connell's? Joe believed there was nothing new or exciting in his future. He thought he had seen all there was to see, but he lived within the turmoil of cities. Why would someone living in a place this beautiful feel so?
I see Mr. Forrester watching us intently, Don thought. He is listening and interested, but he is a virtual stranger and I don't want to hang out any more of our dirty laundry. He turned. "Kelly, my love, right now I think we need to find out what it's going to take to get Paul to stay for the time he has available. The house will provide at least a temporary solution to our problem so let's not worry about Rod. He has bought a good solid roof over his head and no booze for a while. Other than that, what does he need?"
"Can we just take over his house?" Paul asked.
Don looked at Paul again. "He has just taken it as his. It belonged to our parent's, and while I would never deny him a home, it belongs to both of us. I also can't think of any place better for Paul to avoid the law. It's on the reservation and separate from U. S. jurisdiction without a lot of special legal processes."
"Reservation?" Paul questioned.
"It's Tribal," Don returned. "I'm Quileute."
Paul noted a look from Scott silently suggesting he not ask any more questions. "Oh ... that's nice," he offered. "A safe place until we go to Portland would be welcome, but what are we going to do around here?"
"Scott can spend his time with Kelly," Don suggested, then turned to Paul. "Do you like fishing?"
The Starman thought of the hours spent on the Foster's boat, and with a reciprocating smile, replied, "Yes, I like fishing a lot."
"Well, with Rod now gone for awhile, I really could use some help on the boat. Have you ever been on a commercial fishing boat before?"
"Once," Paul answered truthfully, "but only as a passenger."
"Don't worry. I'll give you a crash course." Don laughed. "Around here, I'm considered a pretty good teacher."
When Scott saw his father's eyebrows rise, he thought his father must be thinking about the crash of his ship and decided to beat him to the question. "He means on the job training, Dad," he hastily offered.
Recognizing Scott's assistance, Paul raised one eyebrow then he smiled warmly. "I am also considered a pretty good learner."
"Then you'll stay," Don confirmed happily. "Let's go over to the house."
"May Scott and I discuss it a moment, first?" At Don's nod, Paul motioned Scott into the other room. "I can see you are not very enthusiastic. I want to explain." He told Scott what Don had said about Kelly's family and of Don's concern for her well-being. "Perhaps we do owe her something for what she did for you and your mother. I know this will place a greater burden on you, Scott, but like Stella, she thinks of you as her family. It's up to you. If you don't want to stay, tell me now."
Scott heaved a sigh. It appears Dad does want us to stay. The places he decides are interesting do often turn out to be so. "I guess Mrs. Allen might know more about Mom than she thinks she does," he returned with distinct reservation. "Maybe, if I find out more about what she liked and disliked, we can make a better guess about where she might go." He heaved a sigh. "I just don't think finding out what I want to know is going to take very long."
"Remember, the job in Portland will give us a reason to leave whenever we think it proper?" Paul advised. Scott conceded and they returned to the kitchen.
"We will stay for a while," Paul announced. "Before we go, we must get our bags. I left them hidden in the alley."
Don drew in a deep breath of relief. "Kelly, it's best not to rely on Rod's laundry practices. I'm sure we'll need some clean sheets and pillowcases for the beds. If you'll gather them and some towels, I'll help them get their things in the car."
Don drove west as the last sliver of the sun's fiery rim slipped silently into the Pacific Ocean. In a little while they passed a sign that said, Welcome to the Quileute Reservation. Feel free to visit, but please remember this is our home. Treat it with the respect you would your own.
Within minutes Don stopped. Even in the disappearing light I can see this is a nice home, Paul thought.
Reaching the front door, Kelly produced a key, opened and reached inside for the very familiar light switch. "What a mess!," she exclaimed in disgust as the light illuminated the interior. "And the smell!"
"You know Rod," Don returned with deep emotion. "This used to be the best kept home around here. I'm glad Mom isn't here to see it."
"Don, this is totally disgusting," Kelly said as she stuck her head in the door of another room. "You had a good idea, but I wouldn't ask anybody to stay in this pig sty."
Don heaved a sigh. "Well, boss lady, do you have any other ideas?" Before she could answer, his look brightened and he turned to Paul. "Would you consider staying on the boat? I lived on it before we got married. It might be a little cramped for two, but it is clean, neat and dry. There's also a galley so you can keep some groceries aboard for Scott." He looked at Scott. "I can still remember how it was as a teenager."
"Live on a boat. Great," Scott returned enthusiastically.
Feeling a satisfactory alternative almost within his grasp, Don urged them toward the door. "We'll take you down there. Look, then you can decide for yourself."
While inside, the last twilight ad relinquished its dominion to the shadows of the coming darkness. I know this must be a town, Paul thought as they rode several blocks further. There are no streetlights, but I can see the silhouettes of many homes.
"I keep the boat moored at the tribal docks along the river," Don offered.
Paul frowned. Now, I am confused. Is this place 'Reservation', 'Quileute' or 'Tribal'?
As Don parked the car, lights in the distance created strange, eerie silhouettes of the objects between, but not enough for clear identification. Grabbing a flashlight from the glove box, Don led them out onto a wooden dock and past many boats. Soon the flashlight's beam illuminated the stern of another. Across it was a strange word, Tschwahatcha. "What does Tush wa hat cha, mean?" Scott asked, dividing the word where he felt it appropriate.
Obviously pleased at a willingness to try, Don replied as he handily jumped over a railing onto the deck, "Close, but close only counts in horseshoes, Scott. It's 'shaw wee cha'. In Quileute, it means 'Chinook or King Salmon'."
Ah, ha, Paul surmised with satisfaction. Quileute must be this place.
Don reached inside the boat cabin and when a light illuminated the deck, he offered Kelly a hand on board. Extending it again, Paul also accepted his assistance.
The Starman looked around. "This is a large boat. Much larger than the fishing boats we have been on before, but much smaller than a ferry."
Scott's eyes widened as Don led them inside the cabin. "Gee, this is pretty fancy. It's sure bigger than the camper we lived in this summer," Scott offered.
Don looked hopefully at the two. "What I want to hear is it's satisfactory."
Paul smiled graciously. "It is quite satisfactory."
"Okay. I'll tell you what I'm recommending. We'll come in early in the morning and take you out to breakfast." Seeing Paul's agreeing nod he looked hopefully at Scott. "I would like to see you spend the day with Kelly."
"Is that all right with you?" Paul asked his son. When Scott nodded, he saw Kelly smiling appreciatively.
"Now Paul, you said you would like to go fishing with me. The tide will be changing just after eleven. We'll take the boat out in time to hit the fishing grounds about nine. We'll fish the last of the outgoing tide and about an hour of the incoming, or until the fish stop biting. We clean our catch then head back to port. Cleaning the boat will take another couple of hours." He turned to Kelly. "That computes to you having Scott back here about three." She acknowledged her limitations with a cool nod.
Scott, feeling forced out of the interesting opportunities, asked, "When can I go out with you?"
"Anytime you want. Maybe Kelly would consent to going along," Don said with a hopeful grin. "We'll talk about it. Now, I imagine we should get you settled in."
They walked back to the car to get the linens and Paul and Scott's belongings. Returning to the boat, Don showed them how to create beds from seats. He gave a brief tour of the cabin and pointed out the location of the controls they might need during the night. He then demonstrated the proper use of the marine toilet. Finally satisfied, he took Kelly's hand. "Come my love, it's time for us to go home. We'll be back around seven." They exchanged goodnights and the Allen's walked off hand in hand.
Slipping into bed, Scott immediately adapted to the slight rolling motion and sounds the wash of the river water beneath the boat produced. With the light still shining in Scott's face Starman soon heard him drift off to sleep. Not tired, Paul began examining the boat's equipment, but decided not to turn anything on for fear of waking Scott. As he moved from one to the next something unusual caught his eye. What is this Don has tied to this piece of equipment with the label, Loran? It combines together a stone held by cord, some round pieces of wood, bird feathers and other organic items I do not recognize. Since I will be spending the day with Don, I must make it a point to ask. Now, I suppose I too, should go to bed. Slipping between the sheets, he reached up to turn off the light.
Still awake after more than a half hour of listening to the sounds of the night Paul sat up and looked out the window. As it rises in the east, Earth's satellite moon currently has its full face turned this way. Its light is now casting shadows as definitive as its star on a cloudy day. It is beautiful, yet I feel unable to concentrate on that beauty. I wonder if staying here is the right thing to do. Do we really owe Mrs. Allen anything? Though she and Jenny lived together, was she really Jenny's friend? After all, she never believed what Jenny told her.
I can sense Don's sincerity. Thinking it over and, knowing Fox might still be in the area I still feel uneasy about his proposal to separate from Scott. It could prove a disadvantage if Fox finds either of us. As with Antonia Wayburn, Mrs. Allen might feel giving me to Fox to be in Scott's best interest. Fox has shown in the past that he will promise whatever it takes.
Maybe I should awaken Scott and we should leave now. No. I can't do that. I told them we would stay. I'll wait and see what morning brings. Now, I better put myself to sleep. The mental system of this body is requesting time to correlate new material with the old. Being in this non-functional rest state, and the dreaming it produces, continues to puzzle me, yet I know depriving this body of rest for extended periods can be injurious. Still, I worry when I know Fox might still be around for it leaves me vulnerable to a surprise visit. Now, I must apply myself to the task of sleeping. He lay quietly for a few minutes and finding the movement of the boat soothing, he descended softly into sleep.
Awakening early, Paul and Scott looked out the window of their new home to view the surroundings in the daylight. What has become another temporary home is the last and largest boat of many tied to one of several long docks jutting at right angles out into the river, Paul thought. Though not large by some standards, I estimate this slow moving river measures close to two hundred feet from bank to bank. Though I heard no one during the night, the dock is now alive with people. They seem to be coming and going to the other boats. "Scott, we have more than an hour before the Allen's come," he said as he finished tucking his shirt into his jeans. "Shall we do some exploring?"
"Great idea," Scott replied, enthusiastically. He opened the cabin door. "Let's go." As he crawled over the boat railing he saw a piece of paper hanging from two fish hooks in a cork float at the rear. Handing it to his father, he laughed. "Read this."
"It says 'Paul and Scott have my permission to sleep aboard the Tschwahatcha'." Don had signed it. "No wonder no one disturbed us. I think Don Allen could easily become a friend."
Tucking their hands into coat pockets against the early morning chill, they walked toward shore. Word travels fast in the small community and many of those on the dock acknowledged their presence with a smile and a 'welcome aboard'. Stepping off the dock onto solid ground, they made a visual survey of the area to identify their location. "There's a sign advertising a fishing resort and cafe," Scott advised, pointing to the left.
I am assuming the resort is the lights I saw last night, Paul thought. Directly ahead I see a town. It appears to occupy many square blocks. I think Scott has made our decision, he thought as he saw Scott start walking. We are going right to follow the direction of the river flow and he hastened to catch-up with his ambling son. "This entire area smells of many fish out of water," he offered. Soon they saw another larger dock with a large metal building at the end. A sign, 'Quileute Fish Company, LaPush, Washington' hung on its shoreward side. "Oh, now I believe the name of this place to be 'LaPush'."
"I think I hear the ocean," Scott announced, returning his attention to their line of travel. "Let's go take a look." They moved off with increased energy.
Over a small rise they found the shoreline littered with large and small beached logs marking the domain of the extreme high tide. The jumbled flotsam formed a barrier many feet wide that softened and often felt the combined fury of wind, tide and driven surf. Today only a wispy breeze occasionally rifled the water's surface as the rolling swells beat a rhythmic tattoo on a sandy beach. Crossing the log dam they walked south along the beach stretching for at least a mile to the south of the river's mouth. Beyond the sand and for as far as the eye could see to the western horizon, lay the vast Pacific Ocean.
After walking the beach for a while, Scott checked his watch. "Don't you think it's time we start back? Don and Kelly will be coming soon and we don't want to be late for breakfast."
"You're right, but first let's see what's on the other side of this hill." The shoreline's wave action had pushed up logs and trapped sand to form a barrier higher than they had encountered so far. Jumping and climbing from log to tangled log, they reached the top and found a road on the other side. "I believe this is the main road coming to LaPush," Paul said. "It seems to end at the river." Remembering worrying the previous night, he said, "I think we should prepare a game plan in case Fox shows up?"
Scott grinned broadly. "Indian reservations are considered separate nations, Dad. Fox doesn't have any authority here."
"Do you think a nation's boundary would stop him from what he believes is his duty to the world?" Paul questioned.
Scott heaved a sigh. "I guess you're right. Like in San Francisco, maybe we could use the boat to get away?"
"With everything so open in this town, it would be difficult to sneak aboard. Also, Don's boat would be very distinctive on such an empty ocean."
"So the boat's a bad idea. What do you suggest?"
"Since we are being separated today, we need a definite place to meet." He gazed around the area then pointed. "Over there is a large forested area. If something goes wrong, wait until dark then meet me behind the large dead tree near the edge. It is important you not forget your sphere today, okay? If I don't get there by morning, call Liz."
"Okay, but I get so tired of having to make plans for leaving a place before I really know much about where we are," Scott replied, disgruntled. "I thought the reservation was going to be different."
"I know," Paul offered sympathetically. "That's just the way it is. Scott, since you have mentioned the 'reservation', why didn't you tell me everything you knew about it last night?"
"You never asked. I just figured you knew." Scott looked at his father. There is his critical look again, he thought. Because he learns much faster than I do, sometimes I forget who he is. I should know he can't learn something if no one tells him.
"Can you define the word Quileute for me?" Paul asked
"While we were making supper last night, Kelly told me Don is a full blooded Quileute Indian."
"Like it said last night on the sign?"
Paul's eyebrows rose, then he grinned. "Now I think I understand. Don was referring to a group of people, separate from others, as Quileute. They are his 'tribe' and they call their land 'tribal'. We can stay relatively safe here because they are a nation separate from the United States. Their nation includes the Quileute river?"
"You got it," Scott returned. "But Kelly did say for some reason the river got a name different from its people. The people spell it 'Q u i l e u t e' while the river is spelled 'Q u i l l a y u t e'."
"It is confusing when two words pronounced the same, have different spellings."
"I think that happens because our country has so many people who speak different languages."
"And greater chances for misunderstandings," Paul returned.
Scott, with the sheer energy of youth, began shadow boxing with an imaginary rival as they continued walking the streets toward the harbor of the sleepy Indian village.
Always observant, Paul had to share a growing distress. "I wonder why so many houses look like they need repairing? It reminds me of the inside of Don's brother's house."
"Yeah," Scott replied. "And look at all the rusting cars in the yards. Don't they throw anything away?"
"Maybe they plan to fix them?" Paul offered.
"I think they're beyond repair, Dad. If everyone followed the request they made on the road sign that welcomed us to the reservation, it would be a real dump." Scott laughed. "I guess some people like rust more than recycle."
"This seems to insult the natural beauty of their tribal lands. I suppose everyone does not share the same idea of beauty."
Scott glanced at his watch. "It's almost seven. Maybe we better stop chatting and get moving." Scott lengthened his stride and Paul followed. They reached the dock as the Allen's drove into a parking slot.
This is encouraging Paul thought as he sat across the table from Kelly Allen. This morning she seems more talkative and less critical. I wonder what she and Don talked about last night to bring about this more tolerant attitude toward me. For her sake I will try to make this work, but if I perceive any danger, we're out of here. Paul finished his stack of hot cakes, then folded his napkin. Placing it beside his plate he glanced at his watch. "Thank you very much for breakfast. May I be excused? Earlier I saw a telephone booth outside. I need to make a call."
Kelly looked up from chatting with Scott and nodded. "I promise to have Scott back by three. We'll see you then."
Paul nodded. Smiling at Scott he stood to leave.
"I'll be out in a minute," Don offered. "The boat's fueled and ready to go. All we have to do is stop at the fish company for ice and bait."
Nodding his understanding, the Starman walked to the phone. He called the gallery for directions and confirmed he would be in Portland for the showing. As he hung up the phone Don joined him. Together, they walked back to the dock.
"After we leave the fish company, it will take about an hour to get out to the fishing grounds," Don advised as he skillfully maneuvered the large boat from its moorage. A few minutes later he eased it up to the fish company dock. Five hundred pounds of chipped ice soon flowed down a chute into a large compartment in the rear and several buckets of bait stood on deck. Untying the mooring lines, Don eased the boat out into the deepest part in the river channel. "As soon as we get out into the ocean, I'll set the course and put us on auto pilot. Then I'll show you standard operating procedures for fishing aboard the Tschwahatcha."
Paul watched attentively. It seems Don must often change directions in the river. I have noted all initial directional changes to memory. Now that we have reached the ocean he is using other equipment.
"There. All set," Don offered. "The boat will take us where I want to start fishing." He walked out of the cabin, gesturing for Paul to follow.
I have now memorized these settings in the event I get an opportunity to operate this craft, Paul thought as he walked aft. Though its navigation machines are crude, I feel confident I could easily find my way back to the dock.
Don began explaining his operation. "The Tschwahatcha is a trawler. We fish with hook, line and bait like any sport fisherman. If the fish aren't in a biting mood, we go home empty. That's the name of the game. Paul, your job will be baiting, unhooking and stowing. I'll set the course, operate the winch and make the sets." He walked to a control panel. "Watch while I lower the stabilizers. You'll get to do it tomorrow."
A motor hummed and two long poles that had stood upright piercing the sky high above the deck, began moving out to either side. When the poles extended out at forty-five degree angles, in a continuing action two large flat pieces of metal lowered slowly until they disappeared into the water. "These are stabilizers. They keep the deck from swaying so much." Paul noticed the boat stopped rolling with the movement of the large ocean swells lumbering toward the rugged shore four miles away. Don handed Paul a set of rubber clothes. Following Don's example, in a few minutes they both looked like northwest fishermen. "Now let's hope something is biting."
An hour has passed and under Don's excellent tutelage I am beginning to feel functionally proficient in my assigned tasks, Paul confirmed. As the long line rolls off the drum of the winch, I put bait on the separate hooks. I then allow them to slip over the side, but must be careful they do not tangle. Don has carefully demonstrated this important technique for at the same time I must avoid getting the sharp hooks caught in my fingers. There is a definite benefit to the development of coordination. Don has the boat's controls set on automatic so we keep moving along slowly and he is 'baiting hooks' on the other side. He says the boat is a trawler and when we lower all the baited hooks deeper into the water we are 'trawling'. Don has finished. It's time to lower the lines and increase speed. While we trawl Don will watch the lines and decide when it is time to 'pull up'.
Don returned to the cabin and increased the speed. "Now, we have time for a breather," he announced.
A short time later Don returned to the winch controls. "It's time to reverse the drum and unhook the fish we've caught," he advised.
During our breather Don showed me the safest and most efficient way of getting the active fish off the hooks. So far I haven't hooked myself. I am also getting more efficient in getting the fish properly aimed for the chute that takes them down into the ice filled holding tank. As soon as we have these fish 'stowed', we will start another 'set'.
By the end of the third set, Paul had his duties mastered. They caught fish on each set and around one o'clock Don announced the end, with, "The fishing is dead. Now it's time to start cleaning." He secured the fishing lines, then demonstrated how to field dress the fresh fish.
Paul worked slowly at first to avoid cutting himself with the sharp knives. After a dozen his speed increased dramatically and he felt secure in carrying on his job while asking a question preying on his mind. "Don, why have we caught so many fish? Surely you can't eat them."
"These fish will soon be on their way to the grocery stores, Paul. I'm a fisherman."
"I have only been fishing with two other friends. They also called us fishermen, but we ate the fish we caught."
"I thought you knew. I fish for the commercial market."
"No," Paul offered. "I do know we have fished differently than the other times someone has taken me fishing."
"Well the bottom line is if I, or others like me, don't catch fish to sell there wouldn't be any fish in the stores to buy."
"I see. Then like the friends I know who grow farm animals, you grow fish."
"Well, not quite. Your friends raise the animals. In the ocean the fish grow themselves. I merely harvest their bounty."
"It's amazing the fish multiply adequately to keep providing for everyone."
"I'm afraid that's not to be the case for much longer," Don lamented. "With an increasing worldwide demand for fish, the bottom line is many ocean stocks are already being over-fished."
"But if their numbers diminish, that food supply will be lost."
As Don slipped the last of the fish down the chute, he turned the salt-water hose to the task of washing down the boat. "That's going to become a very real problem if world populations continue to increase. While my operation will never have a long-term effect on fish populations, there are many bigger more efficient boats here too. With technology providing detailed studies of the fish's life cycles to anyone and constantly improving instruments for finding them, there's no place for the fish to hide anymore. Out in the oceans many countries fish with nets many miles long to economically provide food for ever increasing urban populations."
"I have heard others talking about these things," Paul returned. "They described the environment and human economics as issues heading in different directions, but on a collision course."
"That's an interesting way of saying it."
"Do you think solutions may be found if more people talk about these things?"
"I'm beginning to wonder if many people want to think about it," Don offered. He turned off the water pump and hung the hose back in place on its hook. "Well, the cleaning took about an hour," he said looking at his watch. "I guessed today's harvest pretty close. We took two hundred and twenty-six fish. I'm guessing they'll average about eight pounds each. At eighty cents a pound, that's about $1,500.00 for the day. That's the best catch I've had in a long time." He slapped Paul heartily on the back. "Maybe you're good luck for this Indian fisherman. Now it's time we get our fresh fish on their way to market. The irony of it all is by the time they reach the consumer other parts of the marketing economy will have increased the price to between four and eight dollars a pound."
Don showed Paul how to bring in and secure the stabilizers then they took off the rubber suits, hosed them down and hung them up to drip-dry. "Well, it's time to get your home headed back," Don said walking into the cabin.
"May I?" Paul asked, walking to the control bridge.
Don bloomed into a good-natured grin. Like everyone else, he's intrigued with piloting a boat, he thought. He looked toward shore visually orienting his position. There's nothing dangerous this far out. "Go ahead and see what you can do." After a moment, he added, "But be sure to keep an eye on the sonar."
"The depth finder." Don pointed toward an instrument screen. "It shows you the bottom. There are partially submerged rock shoals out here. It would be embarrassing to have the Tschwahatcha perched on top of one."
Don watched in amazement. Instead of merely steering, Paul drew upon his observations of earlier. He located their position with the digital range finder then set the compass to correspond to the map coordinates. "There," he announced, "I believe that should take us back to the mouth of the river. Would you check to see if I have done it right?"
Don double-checked the equipment and after Paul shifted the boat into gear, he set the automatic pilot. "You may not be a fisherman, but I see you've operated navigational equipment before."
"I've navigated, but with much different equipment than this."
"It's good to have somebody aboard who has some idea of what they're doing. There are hazards out here on the Great Mother most don't realize."
"Our 'mother ocean' is very large," Don rattled almost without thinking. "A lot of would be sailors can hardly read a compass, let alone follow one. Often they go out and they don't come back."
Paul recognized a similarity to the last words Ralph Woolery's had told him. "You mean they die?"
"More often than we like to admit. People don't use good common sense. They just storm out here without a compass or a current barometric report. The weather can change in a matter of minutes from calm, like it is now, to gale force winds. A barometer detects, in advance, the atmospheric pressure changes that produce those strong winds. But a barometer doesn't tell a fisherman if fog is going to form while he's out here. It can get so thick you can't see anything. That's when the compass has to become your eyes. Still, you must be observant. If you're not familiar with an area, it's easy to drift for miles. Going straight toward shore, you'll find that much of our shoreline is rocky. It doesn't make for a happy landing."
"I must have you teach me more about boats and fishing," Paul asked. "Thank you for asking me to come with you."
"Come with me?" Don questioned. "You've been working for me. Ten percent of the money we get at the fish company goes to the crew. That's you."
Paul smiled broadly. "I think I like working for you."
"Thank you, Paul. Remind me tomorrow and I'll show you how to run the winch and use the radio." He looked at Paul curiously. Even though he thought he was just coming along for the ride he has worked like a dog. His interest and willingness to learn make him one of a dying breed. I hope he'll feel comfortable enough to stay until they have to leave. Originally, I almost had to beg to have Paul stay for Kelly. Now, I wish there was more time available. I think I would like to know him better. "What do you normally do for a living, Paul?"
"I'm a photographer, but I have done many things."
"I work on computers. I'm also a pilot."
"I know little about boats."
"You fly?" Don asked with increasing interest. "Large or small."
Paul smiled. There is a great difference between what Don has assumed and my reality, but I can easily answer his question truthfully. "Both."
"Have you been in the military?"
"I used to."
"I've always wanted to learn to fly," Don returned with obvious regret. "I wonder if I'll ever get to try."
"Learning new things is always exciting," Paul offered. "I constantly find new things I want to do ... and experience."
Don smiled. "That's the way life should be."
Paul, feeling the direction of the conversation had gone far enough, turned his attention to a change in the outside conditions. "I note the water is beginning to stand up in peaks. I think the wind is rising."
"Usually does about this time of day," Don confirmed. "This morning's barometer told me there's nothing to worry about."
I carefully observed Don's use of the available navigational equipment when we came out this morning. I think I would like to further this part of my education. "May I steer the boat back to the river practicing courses and corrections on water, instead of using your automated system?"
"Sure," Don offered without hesitation.
As the Tschwahatcha moved steadily toward the mouth of the river, Paul glanced often at Don. He has been watching me for so long it is beginning to make me feel uncomfortable. I don't know what to say to break this silence. He checked the location coordinates. At least I have learned Loran is a crude instrument used to locate position from coordinates while out on Mother Ocean. Maybe I should make a mistake. Paul, his head cocking curiously to one side, smiled. He pointed to the item he noticed the previous night. "Don, would you show me what that does?"
Surprised, Don looked where Paul pointed. Laughing, he untied the subject of the question from its place and lovingly handed it to Paul. "It's my tribal talisman. The central feature is the moonstone. In our culture it is believed to bring good luck. When my grandmother was a girl, she found many of the stones near one of our tribal summer camps down the coast. She brought them home and over several months made many pendants like this one. Each is a little different. She continued to give one to each member of the family as they came of age. When she passed on to the Great Spirit, my mother took on the tradition with one slight modification. Mom decided to withhold the gift until we completed high school."
The Starman held the stone up toward the light and his eyes focused thoughtfully on it. Though I can see right through the stone, the milky opaqueness of the interior reminds me of a galactic nebula frozen in time, he thought. He grinned. Though I am becoming more and more a Planet Earth person, there are still many things that remind me of home. He looked at Don. "The stone is beautiful. You call this a talisman?"
"Yes. It's a combination of items, each having a special significance to my people. My grandmother made many other things. The tribe considered her an artisan." He held the item tenderly. "The necklace is Indian tan seal skin." He ran his finger down a long thong, stopping about midway. "Here she split it to create several smaller strands suitable for beadwork then wove them into a basket to hold the stone in place. Now, the technique is all but a lost art known only to a few of the elders. In this design, there is a short woven piece to secure the stone then these handmade beads of local red cedar separate it from the bear claws and shark teeth below it. At the end of each small thong is one of the small flight feathers of the great Thunderbird, the bird you call the bald eagle. I wear my talisman to tribal gatherings. It gives testimony to my family heritage."
"I have never seen anything 'quite' like it," Paul said returning the pendant. "Thank you for telling me about it."
Don's eyes sparkled. "Any time you have a question, feel free to ask."
Paul nodded his acquiescence and breathed a silent sigh of relief when he saw Don replace the necklace, then get up and walk aft. Now he will not be watching me so I can turn my full attention to navigation. He glanced forward then verified his course calculations. I need to get a feel for the breeze and wave action variations so I may hold the craft on an absolute course with the compass. Though these instruments are not totally accurate, they are adequate to compensate for tidal movements and wind variations. This reminds me of my work on the ship except when navigating at speed within the gravitational attraction of many celestial bodies one's calculations must be precise.
Watching the compass, he turned slightly. There, I think I have everything corrected. He looked forward. Yes, we are heading directly toward the large rock I saw on the right as we left the river. I assumed it to be a local reference landmark. It is interesting to translate complex calculations of celestial navigation then be able to check them by simply looking. A familiar scent wafting through the cabin made Paul sniff the air. I smell coffee. He turned to look.
"Here's a sandwich and a cup of coffee," Don said, carrying two steaming cups braced on one finger. He set the cups down then handed Paul the sandwich. "It's time to refuel our engines."
Paul thought momentarily about Don's remark. I believe the engine he refers to, is our bodies, he concluded. "Thank you," he offered, gratefully accepting the offering. "I am getting hungry." Keeping one hand on the wheel, he took a bite. After swallowing, he asked, "Don, would you tell me about your brother?"
"What would you like to know?"
"How did he get into trouble?"
Don saw no reason to hide the truth. "Because he's an alcoholic," he said with more than a little bitterness.
"He drinks too much."
I believe he is saying his brother drinks too much alcohol, a mind-altering drug. He took another bite of his sandwich. "There must be a reason why he has become alcoholic?"
"Who really knows? It wasn't something he learned at home. To my knowledge, Pop and Mom never touched a drop." Seeing what looked like genuine concern and interest on Paul's face, he decided to share with another, what had long brought sadness to his life. "Rod was a late comer."
"Pardon me?" Paul questioned.
"I was fifteen and already in high school when he was born. He was three when Dad died and there was no denying it, Rod was great company for Mom. I don't think the additional attention she gave him separated us or that I was ever jealous; we just never enjoyed the things little kids do together while they're growing up. There was too much difference in our ages and interests.
"Involvement with friends and school had me away from home a lot. After graduation, like the rest of my friends, I joined the Navy to see the world. I imagine Rod was lonesome. Ours has never been a large tribe and already only a small number lived permanently on the reservation. If you weren't involved in fishing or logging, you had to leave and find work in the city. That necessity still takes most of the young families away."
Don paused momentarily before continuing. "Rod always made good grades in school. He even made the varsity football team his sophomore year. He was good enough football material the coach encouraged him to apply for a college scholarship. "I think his life turned around when, in the middle of his senior year, Mom died suddenly. We continued living together at the house and I tried to be a father figure. While I worked long hours for a construction company to make ends meet, he started hanging out with a bunch of renegades. You know - the kind you don't want your kids to associate with."
Paul nodded. This I understand a little, he thought. It sounds like the same thing Ted Taylor did, though perhaps for different reasons. It seems Liz said it correctly. You do your best and take your chances. So far I have been lucky.
Seeing Paul nod of understanding, Don continued. "Rod began getting drunk at his teen parties. Soon his grades slipped and he lost his sports eligibility. I just couldn't talk to him anymore. I even worried about him graduating at all, but somehow he muddled through and got his diploma. Figuring he'd get away from his friends at the same time getting the rest of his education, I urged him to join the service. Luckily he missed all the overseas action, but I'm afraid he couldn't handle the discipline and mustered out after his enlistment.
"Unlike most who left for Seattle for more school or to find work, everything seemed to go Rod's way. He found a good job at a local lumber mill and managed to marry a daughter of one of our tribal councilmen. They moved to Forks and Doreen gave him two beautiful daughters. A year after Colleen, the youngest, was born, I began noticing subtle changes. I think that was when his social drinking turned to dependency. He always had a reason for stopping off at a local tavern. He told Doreen that having a short one with the guys after work helped him unwind. It didn't take long before the unwinding took many 'short ones'. She said sometimes he didn't come home at all."
Paul's face soured at a memory. "I had a gin and tonic, once, but chose not to have another. It left me with a terrible ache in my head."
"Hangovers are miserable," Don offered.
"That's what I thought."
"It wasn't that way with Rod. I can't tell you why he chose the bottle to solve his problems. Maybe we got the genetic predisposition some think. It is true that alcoholism has always been one of the most destructive diseases on this and many other reservations. It's a sad legacy for native peoples. I know once it got Rod, it didn't take him long to start the downhill slide that cost him his job. He tried to cover by telling everyone they fired him because he wasn't white. It was obviously an excuse. Over the years, the mill has employed many tribal members.
"With lots of time on his hands he started hanging around the bar during the day and began harassing everyone about how the whites put down the Native Americans. He even decided to take a Quileute name. He chose Obi, a Shaman who fought the invading white settlers in the late eighteen hundreds."
Paul's head cocked to the side. "A 'shaman'?"
"A Shaman to the Quileute is a tribal religious leader, like a priest or a reverend is to the Christians."
"Oh," Paul acknowledged, and having little knowledge on the subject he decided to try to move along. "Please continue."
"Now, where was I," Don offered.
Paul smiled. "I'm sorry, I have interrupted you again. You said 'he started hanging around the bar during the day harassing everyone about how all the whites put down Native Americans'."
Don cocked his head slightly. "Right," he acknowledged, surprised by the complete recital of his words. "Anyway, most of the local bartenders finally refused to serve him, so he had to buy his booze at the liquor store. With bottles full on hand instead of just a drink, it wasn't long before he hit bottom. He'd spend the entire unemployment check getting snockered, then go home and take out his frustration on the family. Once, he even put the baby in the hospital."
"He injured his child?"
"She wouldn't stop crying so he hit her. Finally Doreen had enough and turned him in. The court didn't give him much choice, jail or the rehab program."
Not wishing to ask another question, the Starman pondered. By rehab, I believe he means rehabilitation; the same type of program that helped Ted Taylor with drugs. "I am only familiar with a 'rehab' program for drug addiction." Recognizing immediately Don understood he told of Ted Taylor's success.
"The programs do work, but not for everyone. Rod has been through it three times and it hasn't done any good."
"Perhaps because he never asked for the help. He'd get picked up and they would give him the same choice. When they released him, it was back to business as usual. He got so obnoxious Doreen finally took the girls and moved back to the reservation with her folks. Rod followed. I was living in the house then and hoping he'd get his act together, let him move in with me. All he did was give Doreen trouble. I tried to talk to him, but it didn't do any good. Finally, afraid and desperate, she packed up the girls and took off. I can't blame her. With no money coming in, she had to find a job.
"When she left it jolted him back to reality. She came back when he promised to quit drinking. Instead things got worse and when he threatened her, she moved to the city and filed for a divorce. When her parents died a couple years ago she disappeared. Colleen must be in first or second grade by now." Don stared briefly ahead then lowered his eyes. "Though they try to tell me alcoholism is a disease, I can't keep from feeling ashamed of my own brother."
"What does Rod do?"
"Shortly after Doreen left I got this boat and he came to work for me. We've had our ups and downs, but three days ago, that ended."
"Three days ago?"
"I made him a promise the last time that if he got picked up again he was on his own."
"But what will happen to him?"
Don's jaw set with grim determination. "Frankly, I don't give a damn any more. I've always tried to help him because he's my brother, but I can't help someone who refuses to help himself." He shook his head slowly. "The way he drives when he's loaded, it's a miracle he's still alive. I can only hope when that call I know is coming, comes, he has killed only himself and not taken others with him."
"They let him drive!"
"The state took away his license a long time ago, but it's hard to stop him. He may be drunk, but having lived around here most of his life, he knows every place a four-wheel drive can take him. He also knows when he's on the reservation it's difficult for the civil authorities to get to him. The police only got him this time because he was in town. The bartender called them when the fistfight started. The fight was over before the police could get there, but someone said they saw his jeep parked down a block. They waited. When he started the engine, they arrested him not only for drunk and disorderly conduct, but for driving while intoxicated as well."
"That was good," Paul offered, looking at Don with compassion. "Like my teenage friend, if Rod has a good enough reason, he might change."
Don frowned deeply. "Ever since we got married, Kelly has tried to convince him he has a future. For a while he seemed to respond, then something set him off again and probably rationalizing that he didn't ask for her help I noticed him beginning to get mouthy with her. I couldn't put up with that and told him so.
"My guess is he started hitting the bottle heavy again about a month ago. Rod, like most alcoholics, gets clever at covering the beginning of their problem, but he can't fool me forever. When he comes to work late with a lame excuse, I get suspicious. For example, one morning he told me he couldn't get back from town because he couldn't drive. Everyone living on the reservation knows he has no license. Several had already mentioned seeing him driving into town. Another excuse is the stomach flu. After years of dealing with an alcoholic, I recognize a hangover when I see one."
Don's expression became hard and unyielding. "If I am to make a living with our short fishing season, I need someone I can depend on." He looked Paul in the eye. "When you leave, I'll have to hire somebody. I wasn't kidding when I told Kelly, Rod will require a miracle. Where he's concerned I'm afraid I don't believe in miracles any longer."
Don took the wheel from Paul. "I better take us into the river. For this boat there's only one route deep enough."
Paul yielded operations. Now that I have time to watch Don, I see much hurt on his face. I only wish there was something I could do to help. He quickly returned his attention to quietly reviewing and mentally mapping the eccentric course Don was following into the river.
Before long the boat nudged gently alongside the fish company dock. A young man ran over from the shed to attach the mooring lines then helped with the unloading. At a signal from the young man another man came out of the office and handed Don some cash. Don handed Paul some of the cash.
"I see Kelly and Scott are back," Don announced, waving up the river toward the parking lot at the dock. "In fact I think your son has seen us and is on his way over."
Racing the shoreline distance between the two docks and out toward the boat, Scott leaped aboard just as the dock-man removed the docking lines. The engine chugged slowly and Scott watched Don maneuver from the dock back out into the channel. He then joined his father for the final leg of the day's journey announcing an event of major importance. "Kelly and I fixed stuff for a picnic. We figured on going down to the beach. Afterward she wants to show us around the area."
Paul placed his hand on Scott's shoulder. "That sounds very interesting. I already know this place is very beautiful from the water."
Kelly walked the dock to join them as Don skillfully brought the boat into its berth, then she secured it front and rear. Shutting down the engine, Don leaped over the rail and they embraced. Paul and Scott's floating home had returned.
Picking up two baskets at the car they all walked down the river to the beach. While they ate, Paul watched with growing interest the interplay between his son and Kelly Allen. I see, after spending the day with her, Scott has relaxed. I also suspect he is having a buffering effect on her attitude toward me. I will ask him about it tonight.
After eating, together they watched the returning tide rolling the surf relentlessly closer until it had devoured the entire beach. A larger wave, slapping in close to the log serving as their seat, urged them to move back. A minute later another came even higher, splashing water all over the newly vacated log. At a third, they all hastily relinquished temporary custody of the beach to Great Mother Ocean and returned to the car.
This tour gives me a better feeling for the lay of this land' Paul thought as Don drove to several interesting viewpoints around the area. This is important for there is always the possibility we may have to make a hasty departure.
It was nearly dark when they exchanged cordial goodnights and the Allen's drove away. Paul and Scott walked the dock back to the boat.
Finally alone again, Scott, smiling broadly, beat his father to the first question. "Now, tell me ... how was your day?"
"My day was fine," Paul returned with a smile. "Don paid me to go fishing with him." He took out his billfold, opened it and leafed through the cash.
Scott's eyes gleamed at seeing the large bills. "That's a lot of money for just one day."
"I worked hard, but I also thought it was a lot."
"Did you learn anything interesting?"
"I learned a lot about fishing commercially."
"What do you mean?"
"The fish Don catches go to the markets for people to buy. We caught 226 fish today."
"Wow, that's a lot."
"Yes, but think about how many people will be able to eat fish."
"Well, what did you have to do to earn your pay?"
Paul tried to describe what he had been doing, but seeing only bewilderment on Scott's face, tried again. Describing and demonstrating with his hands did little more. Finally tired and frustrated, he said, "Don said he will take you on the boat. It will be easier to show you, than continuing this."
Seemingly satisfied, Scott asked, "Where did you go?"
"Out in the ocean."
Scott smirked, slightly perplexed by his father's over generalization. "Well, what did you do out there?"
"I learned how to use some crude navigational instruments." He raised and lowered his eyebrows quickly when he saw Scott's smirk increase at his choice of words. "It was all new and interesting to me and one never knows, some day that knowledge may prove valuable."
Scott couldn't tell if his father was kidding or not. He decided, in light of his father's true origin, to play it straight. "If you say so," he offered while watching for any changing expression. I don't see one of Dad's uncontrollable smiles so I must assume he means it. Unaware, he shrugged his shoulders. "Well, what else did you learn?"
"I learned more about Don's brother." Paul told Scott of the man's problem then smiled. "Now, how was your day?"
"It turned out better than I expected," Scott returned eagerly. "At first I was apprehensive about leaving the area, but Kelly took me up into Olympic National Park. It was a long way, but you can't imagine what a rain forest is like. Long columns of moss hang down from the biggest trees I've ever seen. The self-guiding tour said they were Sitka Spruce and they start to grow on trees that died and fell down. They called them nursery logs. Hundreds ... maybe thousands of seeds sprout on a single log suspended, sometimes high above the ground.
"Over the years only a couple of the strongest survive and their roots keep growing down over the log until they reach the dirt. When the old log rots away, it leaves big empty spaces under the growing ones. The trunks are strange at the bottom. They look like a whole bunch of small trees all hooked together up higher. After many years all the roots grow together to become the trunk. It was amazing." Holding his arms almost straight out from his sides for emphasis, he said, "Some of them are huge."
"That must have been very interesting," Paul returned.
Scott pulled out a brochure. "It says here, the Hoh Rain Forest gets over 200 inches of rain a year. It also says not fifty miles east on the other side of the Olympic Mountains there is less than fifteen. If we have enough time before we leave, maybe we can go up there again." Scott's look sought open approval, "I'd like you to see it."
"I think I would like that, too," Paul confirmed. "What else did you do?"
"On the way back, Kelly stopped and we picked some wild blackberries. Between us we had a gallon in less than an hour." Scott showed his hands to his father.
Paul frowned. "They're purple and you've got scratches on your hands and arms."
"The berries are purple and they have sharp thorns."
"Do you want me to fix them?"
"No," Scott said decisively. "I don't want mine any different than hers." When his father looked reflective as he understood, Scott continued. "I told Kelly how sorry I was about her losing her family. She told me meeting Don saved her life."
Paul smiled curiously. "What do you mean?"
"He made her feel like she wanted to live." Scott looked appreciatively at his father. I wonder where I would be now if Dad hadn't come back. I think he has grown on me.
"Can someone feel so badly they would prefer to die?" Paul asked.
"Kelly thinks so." Scott paused for a moment then decided to lighten the conversation. He grinned confidently. "You would appreciate how careful she's being. Before she would take me back to her house, she called her neighbor to find out if anyone had been snooping around." Scott's grin faded to a deep frown. "Don't you think if Fox found out about us being at Mr. Sutherland's office he'd have shown up by now?"
Though I must be critical of the look I see on Scott's face at mentioning Fox, I will choose to ignore it instead of ruining what must have been an enjoyable day. Things are looking much better for remaining here for a few days. "Yes," Paul offered. "Bob did say he was just delivering some papers. Maybe he never looked at them." He smiled. "Well, what else did you and Kelly, do today?"
"There wasn't time to do anything else. By the time we got back to the house it was time to fix everything for the picnic and come home."
Paul grinned as he thought about how easily his son referred to any place as home. "Well, did you find out anything more about Jenny?"
"Yeah. Kelly said she liked art and didn't like living in the city. I know it's not much, but I'll keep working on her. Maybe she knows something else she doesn't know she knows."
"This information does give us many new places to look," Paul replied.
"She also told me a lot of things I didn't know about Kent and Eileen."
Seeing a look of self-satisfaction on Scott's face, Paul grinned. "Then I am assuming you are enjoying your time with Mrs. Allen."
"Yeah, and she really does like to be called Kelly. Dad, she really is a nice lady. Yesterday I think it was her concern for my future that made her so awful. I gave her a good pep talk about how traveling with you is an education. I said you're a great teacher and told her about helping you with the lectures this summer."
"You didn't help me, Scott. You provided a vital part of the program."
"Thanks," Scott said grinning broadly as he studied the sincere look on his father's face. "I think what impressed her most, is when I told her we carry school books. I don't know how much she believed, but I was decisive on one thing. She knows I would never stay here without you. I don't think we need to worry."
"Whew," Paul blew with relief. "That was one thing I did worry about."
"No sweat. Trust me. I've got the lady under control."
Seeing the tiny refrigerator in the cabin reminded Paul of something else he needed to do. "We need to go to the grocery store in the morning to get something for breakfast."
"Kelly said they're coming in, anyway. She wants us to eat together. Now I think she's going to be trying to figure you out."
Impishly, Paul's eyebrows rose and lowered, twice. "In that case, I'll be on my best behavior. I'll even pay for breakfast."
They continued chatting. After a wide yawn Paul got up then walked over to lay out the cushions for his bed. "I'm going to hit the sack." A Starman, tired, but much more relaxed than the night before, dropped off to sleep to attend to his adopted body's needs. Scott took the hint. It had been a long day and neither heard the visitor.
The changing tide moved the fishing time schedule about an hour later, but the second day on the reservation began almost the same. Don and Kelly arrived for breakfast at seven-thirty. Don advised her to return Scott by four and they exchanged good-byes. Paul paid the bill then walked back to the boat with Don. They pulled out into the river just before ten.
Though they caught about the same number of fish, the fishing dropped off slightly earlier than anticipated. After cleaning the catch, Paul accepted the wheel and set the coordinates for home. In a short while, he set the controls on automatic and went looking for Don. "Is it normal for the radio to be silent?" he asked
"Very unusual," Don replied. He walked inside and checked all the channels. "I'd guess it's somewhere in the wiring. Salty air is highly corrosive and makes for bad connections. I'll check for a burned-out fuse first." Opening a small door covering the fuse box, he soon reported, "It isn't a fuse. I'll have to go down below to check out some other things. It could be in the antenna. Momentarily, Don watched Paul. "I notice you're using the compass, Paul. All you have to do is just keep us moving toward James Rock."
He pointed forward. "Hadn't you noticed? It's the high rock you see in the distance. It marks the mouth of the river."
"I noticed that yesterday. Now I know it has a name. I've been practicing using the compass and location finder together and adjusting for wind and wave variables to check my calculations."
"You're really into navigation, aren't you," Don said curiously.
"It comes naturally," Paul returned. He smiled as he thought of the past. Perhaps I should also create a map to remind me of my work on the ship.
"Well, just keep us going home." Don walked out of the cabin, pulled up the hatch cover on the deck and disappeared down into the hold.
Leaving the radio on it was a long while before Paul heard the resumption of marine communications. "It's working again," he announced as Don returned, looking rather disgruntled.
Glancing toward home to estimate their progress, Don hastened to claim the wheel. "I'd better take over. I didn't realize that little job had taken so long. We're heading into the river already. Realizing the boat was headed for the proper channel he relaxed and started explaining the problem down below. "I saw a rat the other day, so I picked up everything edible. I don't know how they get aboard, but without food around it managed to eat completely through the antenna wire. I spliced it temporarily, but nothing is safe until I eliminate the cause. If you've seen one, the problem is usually much larger."
"Can I help you catch them?"
Don smiled as he visualized his deck hand running after rats in the engine room. "Tomorrow, we'll use both old and modern methods of rodent control. Remind me in the morning to give you the keys to Rod's. I keep traps and poison stored there for such occasions."
After unloading the day's catch, they returned to the moorage. Paul moved to secure the boat fore and aft as he'd seen Kelly do the day before. He checked his watch. "Don, if you don't need me for anything, I'd like to go down to the grocery store before Scott returns. I want to get some things to keep on the boat."
Don glanced up. "Sure, I can finish here. I'll give you the keys now and you can swing by the house. That way I can get the stuff set out tonight." He pulled a ring of keys from his pocket and handed them to Paul.
Paul stood, awaiting instructions, but none were forthcoming. "Don, I know the house is close by, but it was dark the last time I was there. I'm not exactly sure of where it is."
Don pointed down the dock and straight up the street. "It's two blocks straight, then a half block to the right. It's the only yellow house on the block. I keep the traps and poison in the shed out back. You'll find the poison in the cupboard to the right of the door. The box has the appropriate skull and cross-bones on it. The traps are hanging on the back wall." He saw Paul nod and watched him leave. He shook his head slowly. Now, I'd described Paul Forrester as one pleasant guy ... and so polite. I wonder how he managed to get into so much trouble.
Surprised when Paul returned a few minutes later, he laughed, "Well that was a quick trip. Did you forget something?"
"Don, do you know how we might get hold of Kelly? I'm sorry, but we have to leave right away."
"As I left the dock, I'm sure someone was following me. Though this man wore jeans and a tee-shirt and most of those I have seen following us wear suits, I cannot take any chances."
"Could you be mistaken?"
"He walked when I walked, and stopped and ducked away when I turned to look."
"Sounds like he's after you, all right. Can you describe what he looked like?"
"His skin was very dark and his hair long, much like yours."
"Then he may be Indian. If he's from around here, I might know him."
Paul looked at Don, then accessing the memory, his eyes narrowed. "I only caught brief glimpses of him and though taller and much thinner, he also looked very much like you." I see Don taking a deep breath, Paul thought. Now, he is slowly releasing it. His expression says his thoughts are causing him distress.
"People say Rod and I look much alike," he offered, lowering his head. "I'm afraid I didn't tell Kelly everything yesterday. The truth is, there are other charges filed against Rod in addition to the license violations and driving while intoxicated. A while back he punched a couple people in the bar hard enough to send them to the hospital. They filed assault charges with intent to do bodily harm and the local judge sentenced Rod to two years jail time. After a couple of days without a bottle, he'll volunteer for anything, so he got his attorney to convince a visiting judge that he's one of our downtrodden Native Americans. The judge ordered him released directly to the hospital into some new extended term in-patient rehab program. I understand they have tight security on their criminal referrals, but I've got to know for sure."
Paul watched Don walking toward the phone booth at the restaurant. He returned fifteen minutes later. Leaping over the railing, he said, "Well, that told me who. The hospital said Rod took off last night."
"But why should he be following me?"
"I don't know the why, but by now he probably has a snoot full of booze and doesn't need a reason. You're white and if he saw you on the boat that is probably a good enough reason."
"Don, I'm worried about Scott. I still think it best we leave."
"I wish you wouldn't. If he's following you, he'll keep it up. The hospital told me the only way he will be accepted back into the program is if he walks in himself. I'd like to go one more inning and try to talk him into going back. If he's in town, he'll surely show up at the house. I'll swing by there when we get back."
"What about us?"
"I'll arrange with some of the other fishermen to watch the boat."
Paul looked at Don with compassion. "You say you don't care about him, but it is obvious you still do."
"He's my brother and he's the only family I've got left," Don returned sadly. "If he would show any sign of turning his life around, I'll be with him all the way. I'm afraid the problem in this addiction game, is the ball just keeps bouncing in his court."
Paul contemplated momentarily over Don's words. He talks of this as a game, but the look on his face and the language of his body says something quite different. He cares, but knows his brother must also care. Perhaps it will help if they talk. "Okay, if our staying will help you with your brother, we will stay tonight."
Paul turned when he heard 'Dad' ring out across the water. Seeing Scott and Kelly coming toward them, he smiled.
Don looked at his watch and grinned. "That's Kelly, always on time, and from the size of the basket your son is carrying, it looks like it's about suppertime." Anxiously, he looked back at Paul. "Please don't say anything to Kelly about Rod. I want her to enjoy whatever time she has with Scott, not be dragging him around trying to square things for Rod." Paul nodded and they exchanged greetings.
Kelly and Scott had another meal prepared and they decided to eat on the boat this time. Between bites of a wild blackberry pie, and bread piled high with berry jam, Scott boldly claimed as partly his, he turned to Don. "When do I get to go out with you guys?"
"How about tomorrow?"
Distressed, Kelly looked at Scott then said hesitantly, "Scott, I wanted to surprise you and I don't know for sure yet, but think I've got us tickets to the band concert they hold down the coast each year. Bands come from all over just to jam. It's over a fifty mile trip down there so if my source comes through with the tickets it's going to be a long day."
Don grinned. "So my love, it looks like you're trying to tie up all this young man's time. When does Uncle Don get a chance to teach his nephew about fishing?"
Kelly grimaced. "Scott, your father..." She stumbled over her words. I..." She looked at Paul uneasily. Finding him smiling, she blushed. "I'm sorry." She turned back to Scott. "I surely don't want to miss a minute of the time you've given me, but one thing Eileen and I shared was a certain lack of enthusiasm for boats. Sitting here tied to the dock is about as close as I like to get to the ocean."
"I know why you're not wildly excited about going out," Don acknowledged, "but if ever, tomorrows would be a good time to give it another try. The weather forecast is calm seas and a following tide for the next few days."
I know Scott has mentioned several times that he likes boats, Kelly thought. Since Don offered to take him, I knew, sooner or later this invitation would be coming. She saw Scott's beaming face. Mr. Forrester is only giving me a few days. I don't want to waste even one by waving good-bye at the dock. She heaved a heavy conceding sigh. "On the way home tonight we can stop for some motion sickness pills. If the tickets don't come through, we'll go out tomorrow otherwise we'll plan on Saturday. I guess it's a small price to pay if Scott wants to go fishing."
Don looked at Scott then chuckled. "You don't know what a sacrifice your aunt is making." He winked impishly. "I think she likes you even better than me. I couldn't talk her into going out on the boat at all." He felt a warm glow when he saw Kelly blush.
"I like her too," Scott replied, bringing a broad grin back to Kelly's face.
Seeing satisfied grins all around makes me happy, Don thought. "My love, now that we have that settled I have a couple errands I need to take care of before we head for home. Why don't you wait here? This shouldn't take long." Not waiting for a reply he leaped over the railing onto the dock and rushed off.
Kelly helped Paul and Scott clean the dishes. By the time Don returned they had everything back in the picnic baskets. Don came aboard then checked his watch. "It's almost seven o'clock. I don't think we should impose on our guests any longer. It's time for us to head home."
Kelly gave Scott a hug. "I'll call about the concert tickets as soon as I get home. Tomorrow we're either on our way down the coast or out on the boat." Seeing Scott's smile, she realized he won either way. She accepted Don's hand off the boat and they soon walked hand in hand back toward the car. Paul looked at Scott and seeing a happy grin, decided not to tell him about Don's brother.
In the morning Kelly and Don arrived early. As Paul and Scott stepped from the dock to greet them, Kelly grinned as she held up the concert tickets. "Donna even managed to get me dressing room passes so we can visit with the performers."
"Hey, great," Scott replied anxiously.
"I figure the sooner we get going, the sooner we get to visiting. Are you ready for breakfast?"
"Always." Scott took Kelly's hand and they started toward the restaurant.
Paul hesitated as he looked down the riverbank. There's Don's brother again. The tree he is standing behind is not adequate to conceal him. Uneasily, he followed Don toward the restaurant. He glanced back again then stopped. He follows but hides again as soon as I look, so he is aware I know he's there. Hurrying to catch up, Paul placed his hand on Don's arm. "Don, I think your brother is still following," he whispered. "Did you talk to him yesterday?"
Spinning around to look, Don replied, "I went to the house, but he wasn't there."
Paul pointed. "Isn't that him running toward the beach?"
"Yes, that's him. He's already got too much of a head start for me to ever catch him. I'm sorry. I know he's been at the house, but he might have seen me coming. Though the authorities impounded his truck, I know he has wheels again. He's an excellent mechanic when he wants to be. He apparently got the old truck I had parked at the house running. Even if it's old, having a four-wheel drive and the reservation to run to, he could evade the authorities for a long time. When they catch him, this time he's going to spend a long time in jail." He heaved a sigh. "I did leave a note on the back door asking him to come see me, but I will try again when we get back."
Noting Don's concern, Paul replied, "Thank you." They hurried to catch up with Kelly and Scott.
Half an hour later, Kelly Allen was driving a highflying teenager to the concert. Though not her kind of music, Kelly knew she had found something her nephew could truly enjoy and she took with her a determination to do the same.
Returning to the boat, Paul remembered he still had to get the traps and poison. Digging in his pocket he pulled out the keys and rattled them for Don.
Surprised at first, Don said, "Right. The traps. I wasn't thinking. I could have got them last night." His face reflected a growing concern. "Maybe I should go for them." He held out his hand for the keys.
Looking around, the Starman chanced to see Rod step behind a hedge. He is still around, so I know Scott is safe. Though Don wishes to protect me, I am not totally without defensive resources. When I see him again, I will stop him. If he refuses to stop this harassment, we will have to leave. "I'll get them," Paul stated with purpose.
"Are you sure you want to go up there alone?"
"It's okay," he said confidently.
"Well, if you can run that errand, it will save us time. The boat needs refueling and I can be taking care of that. You're sure?"
"Yes. It will be okay."
"I'll wait for you at the fish company dock."
"Okay," Paul confirmed, putting the keys back in his pocket. Walking briskly, he left Don at the next street. I cannot keep myself from watching for Don's brother. Why should he choose to follow me? He stopped to search again. I will admit I do not like this feeling. It is as bad as watching for Fox. He took a deep breath. What if he had decided to follow Scott instead?
Finding the house, but still uneasy, he looked around several times before entering the litter strewn backyard. What a contrast to Kelly Allen's backyard, he thought. The shed has almost disappeared among the unpruned trees and vigorously spreading blackberry vines I now know are common to the coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest.
He reached into his pocket for the keys then had to push aside several tree limbs before he could get to the door. His first try proved to be the wrong key. Changing, he guided the other into the lock and unlocked it. Placing the keys back in his pocket he pushed with both hands until the door swung open. I heard something, he thought. Reacting quickly he spun toward the sound, but not fast enough to prevent one of his arms from being pulled back and forced up his back. The Starman groaned as a sharp pain raced through his human shoulder.
Though I cannot see this man, I know he is large and powerful for I am unable to resist being moved across the yard toward the back door. The pain this body is experiencing directs me to cooperate though I know it is probably not in my best interest. Physical pain, unknown in my world, makes me want to weigh again my earlier assumptions about whether feeling is good or bad. I smell a familiar odor. It is alcohol. It is obvious I am soon to be face to face with Rod Allen. Unfortunately, as it has been at times with Fox, I am at a disadvantage. Presently my sphere is in my other pocket where I can't reach it.
Further discomfort brought his attention back to the present. Now, he has me shoved against the wall and is pushing my arm even higher. Paul groaned again. I must stand still for movement causes only more pain. I see the note Don left him is still here. Perhaps he never saw it.
He has the back door open. I am unable to resist going inside, nor to being steered through the house. Where is he taking me? What plans does he have to change my future? I remember this room from coming here with Don and Kelly. It's the living room. He groaned. Why does Mr. Allen have to jerk my arm up so hard? He shows little concern for the pain he inflicts. Now, he is shoving me forward again. He has let go. Paul fell face down on the floor.
I would like to turn over to face him, but the pain in my shoulder is too great. I must assume control before he should decide to tie me. The Starman bore the intense pain and rolled enough to reach into his pocket. Feeling the smooth roundness of the sphere in his hand, he cautiously rolled further. The positioning of this man's leg indicates he intends to kick me!' Instinctively raising his free arm protectively over his face, the Starman rolled away from the anticipated threat.
I felt again a human instinct for self-preservation by first protecting my face from injury then rolling away from the threat. This is good, but in doing so I have created another problem of my own making. Though I have the sphere in my hand, rolling against my elbow has my hand jammed in my pocket and I cannot get it out. I must roll back toward Rod to free it. Moving slowly, he looked over his shoulder, finally meeting the eyes of the man glaring down at him. Though he threatens physical harm he has not delivered. Now he is moving away from me. I think he is going to sit in a chair. I believe I will try keeping eye contact, for though potentially dangerous, the situation does not merit defensive action. I will assess the entire situation first.
The Starman studied the man. Even from here, though he is much thinner I see all Don's general facial features in this brother. I also would estimate him at least six inches taller. Curiously Paul continued his examination. Is it his thinness that makes him look old, or perhaps his unhealthy appearance is the result of the toxins he continues to use? This body's pain was too great when he forced me in here for me to sense anything but anger. I will try conversation. "My name is Paul Forrester. I don't think we have met."
Paul waited, his expression clearly reflecting he expected an introduction in return. Long moments passed. Well, that got me nothing. Maybe he wants me to do the talking? I will do what I must to try establishing communication. "May I ask why you are doing this to me?"
The man's eyes narrowed. "You know."
Recognizing belligerence in the voice, Paul hesitated, then replied truthfully. "No. I don't."
"You take my job and expect me to like it!"
"On the boat!"
"Don asked me to help him."
"I saw him paying you."
Maybe he isn't aware that I know who he is. I think I will try approaching him on a first name basis for I believe it friendlier. Don told me he prefers being addressed by his native American name, so I will use it. "Receiving pay for helping was a surprise to me, Obi. When I went with him I did not expect it."
Surprised by the stranger's use of his chosen name, Rod asked, "How do you know my name?"
"Because Don has told me about you," Paul returned, his eyebrows rising.
"Sometimes my big brother talks too much."
"Working with your brother these past two days I have found him to be a very kind and caring person worthy of anybody's respect."
"If you were only more like my wonderful brother you wouldn't be taking my job!"
"Don told me he cannot have you working for him any longer. He said if he is to make a living with the short fishing season, he needs someone he can depend on. He said he told you this before." Paul looked him in the eye. "So, in reality, I am not taking your job, it is you who have lost it."
"Be late a couple times and you're out?"
"You know there's more."
"And so he has picked my replacement?"
"I am not replacing you," Paul returned with confidence.
"Look, it doesn't take a college degree to see my kind and caring brother has chosen you to replace me."
"Don knows I already have a job waiting for me in Portland. My son and I will be leaving in a few days." Paul looked at Rod with critical compassion. "One fact remains. Even if Don had hired me to take your place, you have no right to treat me, or anybody else he might have chosen, like this."
"Then let's just say I'm getting even for the things you've done to my family," Rod shot back.
His face again reflecting great confusion at such an accusation, Paul replied defensively. "I have done nothing to your family."
"You know what I mean, white man," Rod said with unmistakable wrath.
"Why do you choose to speak to me in anger?" Paul asked. "Also I do not understand your derogatory use of white in the same context with the word man?"
Rod glared back defiantly. "You know darn well what I mean!"
Paul grimaced. "No, I have already said I do not know what you mean."
"If you are using 'white' to mean this skin is lighter in color than yours, I guess you may call me white. Then am I to assume it is your desire to separate people into categories by the amount of biochemical in their skin? "
"White men do."
The Starman looked him right in the eye. "I don't."
"Then you're an exception."
"The fact is, beneath the normal variations in pigmentation I find the human species all very much alike."
"It doesn't really matter. What I mean, is it's you versus us."
"I still don't understand. You are you; I am me; and here, together we are us. Who is us, versing?"
"I am not an 'us' with you. I'm Native American and proud of it."
"Are you saying 'us' only refers to 'Native American'?"
"We were here first, but when you came you either took or ruined everything ... our cultures, our hunting grounds, our homes and finally our self-respect. What has happened is your fault."
A frown evidencing his deepening confusion, Paul looked at the man. "I remember Don saying this house is the home of your parents and now you use it as yours."
"You know what I mean. You've taken all our land."
Paul grimaced at the continuing accusations about something yet unknown. "I have taken no land from you." He thought back to Roy and June Foster, his only memory of a complaint of having land taken. "But I do know of others who say their land is being taken."
"You do?" Rod replied, eager to hear the plight of others. "What tribe?"
"Don't you understand simple English?" he replied with growing impatience. "What Indian tribe are you talking about?"
"The only Indian tribe I know is Quileute."
"You're kidding me!"
"No," Paul replied honestly.
"Where have you been 'white man'!"
"I must admit I have been far away," Paul confessed.
"And that's where I wish you had stayed," Rod retorted with purpose.
Paul heaved a sigh and stretched out on the floor. "There have been times I have wished for the same. I am also sure I will have many more times when I long for the peace and tranquility of what used to be. For now that is not to be so I must adapt. In so doing I am learning many new things. If you will explain, I would be happy to exchange ideas."
Waiting, Paul thought. 'His response is not so quick this time. Could it be he must take time to reorganize his thoughts? Perhaps it is time to move in another direction. "I must crane my neck to look at you. It is very tiring. Would you mind if I sit in a chair?" Seeing a succinct nod of approval, Paul rose. Settling into a chair next to his adversary, he continued. "A moment ago, knowing nothing of me, you called me 'friend, but from the way you speak, I do not believe you really think of me as such. Obi, I would like to be your friend, but if I am somehow responsible for something I cannot remember, perhaps you will teach this 'white man."
"When you came, you took our land and put us on this reservation," Rod rattled with the zeal of much practice. "My great great great great grandparents lost everything."
"Your ?" Paul rattled, mimicking him in tone and speed. Thinking back, his eyebrows rose as he separated the words. 'Could this be something I recognize from other human relationships? While in my world only one member of a genetic code may exist at any single time, here there can be many. "Is 'greatgreatgreatgreat grand parents' like 'grandmothers and grandsons?"
"What's the matter with you," Rod replied, impatiently. "Don't you understand anything?"
"I understand a lot of things, but obviously this is not one of them."
Rod gathered his remaining resources as the request for a full explanation pierced his chemical enhanced belligerence. "Haven't you studied history?"
Paul smiled subtly. "I have been studying history with my son, but there is much to learn. Teach me these things."
Rod looked critically at Paul, but seeing only non-judgmental curiosity his look slowly softened. Finally challenged, he responded in a normal tone of voice. "Great great great great grandparents and grandmothers are the same. Grandsons are the opposite."
"Thank you." Paul smiled. "Please tell me if I am correct in my thinking. If 'great great great great' grandparents and 'grandmothers' are alike, and 'grandsons' the opposite; then each single use of the word, great separates a generation of those who came before or after you?"
Rod nodded. "Congratulations. I think the white man is finally catching on."
Narrowing one eye quizzically, the Starman's forehead wrinkled as he pondered upon the quasi-mathematical problem presented. I can come to one conclusion. "This theft must have occurred very long ago?"
"About a hundred and fifty years, but someone must remember for my ancestors ... my people."
Can I assume in his context, 'ancestors' is another more inclusive word for several generations of grandparents? Starman thought. He cocked his head. "Are you saying you are holding me personally responsible for something that happened to your people many generations ago?"
"In the religion of the 'white man' it teaches us ... the sins of the fathers..."
"Obi, your accusation has nothing to do with generalized doctrines. It has to do with you and me. I am innocent for this is something far beyond my control."
"As far as I can see, all whites are equally guilty," Obi offered. "I think you all deserve to know how it feels to have to fight for your existence."
"Does your fight for existence mean threatening and treating other strangers as you have me?" Paul asked. "Don't you understand, when you treat a stranger like an enemy, he will normally respond as one."
"You're all the same. No one feels any responsibility for what happened."
Paul eyed his place on the couch. "May I ask, is this the way you would like my son to treat your daughters for the way their father treated me? Your way solves nothing for the injustices will repeat forever. Neither you, nor I, can turn back time, nor can we change what happened to your ancestors. I can only treat you with the same respect I would anyone. On this world, all must struggle to remain a part of its constant changes. Those who are successful, move forward. I believe you are trying to tell me, the unsuccessful harass others about how their ancestors had been treated."
Rod's eyes narrowed. "Over the years I've talked to a lot of people like you."
"I doubt that," Starman returned with some amusement. "You really know nothing about this white man. Until now you haven't talked to me, yet you feel justified in personally blaming me for things that happened almost a hundred and fifty years ago. Your ancestors must have adapted to the changes in their world or you would not be here. In nature, things adapt or become extinct. With intelligence there is memory and knowledge, but if adaptation stops, intelligence will stagnate. Obi, in this changing world you are not the same as 'your ancestors'."
Rod slumped into his chair and took his head in his hands. When Paul reached out and placed his hand on Rod's, Rod looked up again. "But the struggle is easier if you're white," he said.
Paul took Rod's hand in his. "The color of one's skin, hair, eyes or even their language matter little, "he said softly. It is what you find inside a person that creates a friend, not their physical appearance." Starman pondered over the mixture of emotions emanating from the man. "If the sadness I feel deep inside you is over injustices of the past don't try to seduce those who do not understand. Teach them, so in the future others shall not be made to endure the same injustices. Direct your energy away from things you cannot change and move to change what you can. Then you will make a difference for all those still to come."
Two heads turned as one toward knocking at the door. Rod jumped from his chair. Rushing to the corner of the living room window, he pulled back a narrow edge of the window drape. A narrow ray of invading sunlight illuminated the dust particles billowing from it until they resembled a negative reflection of a star filled sky.
"It's the cops," Rod whispered. He slowly allowed the drape to hang straight again, then backed away.
Responding almost automatically, Paul had bolted into the hallway. Noticing Rod had followed he turned to face him. "Don said when you ran away from the hospital that you would be arrested. Could that be why they're here?"
"The hospital let me go."
"You are lying to yourself?"
"I am not."
"Don called them. They called it escape and said you must go back."
"I can't go back there," Rod shot back. "They treated me like a criminal. Besides they can't arrest me here on the reservation."
"The law says you are a criminal when you drink then drive or when you hurt others," Paul returned. "When you agreed to accept help with your problem you became a patient in the hospital. Now you have run away. By the rules of the system you have returned to being a criminal and if you keep running, they will chase after you. When they catch you things will only be much worse. I will go speak with Don. I know he will want to help."
Seeing Paul looking apprehensively around the corner of the hall toward the door, Rod's manner suddenly changed from defensive to attack. "Hey, mister, you ducked into this hall even faster than I did when you heard it was the cops. If you're as innocent as you would have me believe, why don't you go answer the door?" Seeing Paul's hesitation, Rod pulled a sleeping bag out of the hall closet. "I'd say it's pretty obvious you're not exactly happy at seeing the law, either." He looked smugly at Paul. "Should I make a guess?" Seeing no immediate response, he continued. "Since you're in trouble with the law, I don't think you should be trying to counsel me on what I should do."
"You're right, I am in trouble with the law," Paul returned with dignity. "But my problem is not the same as yours. I have never threatened or harmed anybody. My only crime might be viewed as illegal immigration."
Rod smiled. "So that's it. You're in the country illegally and they're going to throw you out when they catch you. Hey, you know you don't have to worry about them while you're out here on the reservation."
"I remember you saying I cannot remain here," Paul returned. "The truth is I will be imprisoned if they catch me, but I don't believe it is possible for them to simply 'send me back', nor do they desire to do so. But if you tell them you want to go back to the hospital, imprisonment for you may not be inevitable." Paul looked toward the door at the persistent ringing of the doorbell. I know it isn't Fox, he thought. Rod's words confirm what Don said so it must be tribal policemen. I believe I have to take a chance on this Native American immunity if it might help this man.
"Wait here and I will try speaking with them for you." He walked boldly toward the door. At another ring, he called loudly, "I'm coming." As he figured out the dead bolt lock, he heard a door close behind him. Turning, he heaved another sigh. Rod Allen has made his choice, he confirmed. If only I could solve Scott and my problems as easily as Rod could solve his, I would choose to stop running.
Gathering himself, Paul heaved a heavy sigh before opening the door. Seeing the two officers standing on the porch, he gulped in an apprehensive breath. Their arm patches say they are County Sheriff, not tribal police. I should have looked first. I hope my gesture will not prove to be a mistake.
"Is Rod Allen at home?" one officer asked.
They are looking for Rod, Paul thought with relief. "No," he offered freely.
"When do you expect him?"
I see no benefit in telling them he just left, but at least I can continue to answer their questions honestly. "Presently I do not know where he is, or when he will be back."
The second officer looked at Paul curiously. "They told us Mr. Allen lived here alone. For the record, who may I ask are you?" The men seemed satisfied with Paul's explanation when they saw he had keys. "Would you mind if we come in and look around?" Paul stepped aside, a gesture he knew meant to enter. They wasted no time examining every room.
"If you should see him, please tell him the Tribal Council feels greatly embarrassed by his actions. They have granted us authority to come onto the reservation to look for him. Tell him it will be better if he comes in himself."
"I will tell him if I see him," Paul confirmed. He watched them write some notes in a small book, then seemingly satisfied, they thanked him and left.
Paul looked at his watch and bolted for the back door. Now I'm really late. Don must have expected me back at the boat long before this and I still have to find the things he wanted.
Don spotted his tardy deck hand far down the street. At least he's got the lead out. If it wasn't for Kelly's arrangements getting us off to an early start this morning, I'd consider a lecture on tardiness due. He started the engine then watched Paul running toward the fish company dock. Noticing Paul's obvious clumsiness as he ran down the dock toward him, he grinned then broke out laughing as Paul got closer. No wonder he looks so clumsy. He didn't put everything in a box so the traps are banging into him. He was still chuckling as he untied the boat while Paul clamored aboard. "Where have you been all this time?" he asked impatiently as he cast-off the lines.
"I'm sorry for taking so long," Paul heaved as he jumped over the rail amid a clatter of metal on metal. "Your brother was at the house. I tried to talk to him, but he ran away when two officers from the Sheriff's Office came looking for him."
Don's grin vanished, replaced by a guilty look. "After you left I never gave a further thought to the possibility he might be there. I'm sorry, and embarrassed."
I need to tell Don what Rod and I discussed, but I will omit telling him about how he treated me. I do not want him to get angry. I know his brother is seriously ill.
Don listened to Paul's narrative as they chugged slowly into the river, then he heaved a heavy sigh. "I wish I knew what to do for him," he offered. "Maybe this is for the best. Having an arrest warrant hanging over his head and no reservation to run back to may keep him away from the taverns and liquor stores for a while. Maybe he'll sober-up enough to start thinking. He has to decide he wants to help himself."
In deep despair, Don remained sullen as he maneuvered the rest of the river channel. Not until the boat plowed out of the river into the vast openness of the ocean, did his troubles get left behind. He gave Paul a reserved smile "Would you like to take the wheel?" Seeing a nod he pointed to the map. "This is where I want to fish today." He watched in awe at how fast Paul completed plotting the course. "Paul?" he asked, seeking attention. When Paul turned his way, he continued. "I've been meaning to ask if you've decided when you have to leave?" he asked hesitantly.
"In four days. By Friday, we must be in Portland."
Don lowered his head then glanced upward to catch Paul's eyes. "Do you have any plans after Portland?"
"Only to continue our search for Jenny Hayden."
"Is there a possibility you might consider coming back here?" Don asked hopefully.
"Don, our goal is to find Scott's mother. We cannot do so if we remain here."
Don heaved a heavy sigh. "First, I want to say Kelly and I would love for you and Scott to stay here permanently, but we realize that isn't possible. Secondly, I will freely admit I'd like Kelly to have as much time with Scott as she can, but this request is born out of pure selfishness." He looked Paul right in the eye. "Our commercial fishing season lasts only a few more weeks and I really do need someone. You've proven more capable than I ever expected. If you would consider coming back, I have a friend I can get to fly you to Portland and back."
I know Don is sincere, Starman considered, and the money would be welcome. I estimate I could earn enough money in two weeks to pay off most of my gambling debt. Yet if we come back here, I might have more trouble with Don's brother. He heaved a sigh. Why does life here on Earth have to be so complicated? I think I need to be entirely truthful. He took a deep breath. "Don, I didn't tell you the whole truth about this morning..." When Paul finished, Don looked at him apologetically. "Again, I'm sorry. I should never have let you go up to the house alone."
"There was no harm done, but I still think we had better move on."
"But if you leave because of his actions, he will do the same thing to anybody I hire. One way or another, I have to stop him."
"One way ... or another?" Paul questioned with concern.
"The next person might not be so lucky. If I can't find him tonight, or if he refuses to turn himself in, I will have to report what he has done to the tribal council."
"Then there would be another charge against him, wouldn't there?" Paul asked.
"I guess so," Don replied
"Don, I want you to know your brother desperately needs help. Physically he is not well."
Don shook his head slowly. "I know I shouldn't be asking you to get involved in my family problems, but I don't know what else to do. With you here, it might be easier to get Rod to come out of hiding."
"I would like to help, but I am not alone. As a parent I worry your brother may do something to Scott. I do not want him in any more danger than he already must endure."
"Scott and Kelly will be gone all day and tomorrow and we'll all be out on the boat. I arranged to have the dock community watch last night. I'll have them do it again. Until Rod's found, you and Scott will never be alone. I'll look for him tonight and when we get back tomorrow I'll get some friends to help me hunt him down."
"I thought you said he knows all the places to hide?"
"Yes, he knows his way around, but so do I."
"If we can get things resolved with your brother, and Scott approves, I would be happy to help you after Portland, but only until the end of the season. Then we must continue our search for Jenny."
Don and Paul experienced another successful day of fishing and tied up at the home moorage about five o'clock. Paul accompanied him as he visited other Indian fishermen who readily agreed to keep a vigil over the residents of the Tschwahatcha and to join in any chase. Paul heaved an additional sigh of relief when one fisherman just returning from the city said he passed Rod driving toward Forks.
It was well past dark before Kelly and Scott returned. After consuming a boxed meal Kelly had purchased at a fast food restaurant, the foursome separated into twosomes. As Kelly and Don drove away, the boat residents again prepared to retire. Lying in bed before saying goodnight, Paul told Scott of Don's invitation. Scott protested the delay until his father mentioned the futility of a search with no direction and his desire to pay his gambling debt. Scott agreed. Retiring, this night Starman knew he would not sleep
Saturday, Don and Kelly arrived early enough to find Scott still in bed. While Kelly waited on the dock for him to dress, Paul told Don of the decision to stay. "Great," Don expounded. "I also want to tell you, we have a change in our plans for fishing today. Kelly and I talked last night and after breakfast we're heading north. I'll give you all a grand tour of the northwestern coast of the lower United States. We'll fish the tide change wherever we are this afternoon."
"That would be very nice," Paul replied.
While Don navigated the river channel, Paul began explaining the fishing gear to Scott. As the boat plowed into the ocean, Don gave Paul the wheel and destination. Paul demonstrated to Scott the use of the navigational equipment, then assigned him the course to plot.
Completing his computations, Scott set his coordinates and looked up anxiously. A smile bloomed when he saw his father's nod. "You mean I got it right?"
"I'd give you an A+," Paul returned grinning proudly.
"It seemed easy."
"Many things will continue to get easier as you grow-up."
Scott's grin broadened as he gazed appreciatively at his father. I wonder if this is another developing gift of my alien heritage? he wondered. I'll ask Dad tonight when we're alone.
Kelly sat quietly in the galley watching and listening attentively. These past few days I really haven't been around Scott's father much. Now, I have to agree, Donald is right. He's an easy person to like and does have a gift for teaching. He shows, explains and then presents a problem to solve. When successful, without doting on it, he gives praise where due. After listening to his explanation of how to translate coordinates to a compass, I might even be willing to try it. For now I will just continue to watch.
Soon, still intrigued over what Scott had been telling her, she walked over to Paul. "Scott said you have been giving lectures on our space programs."
"We have taught as a team," Paul corrected. "Teaching the young is very rewarding."
"He also said you tutor him in other regular school courses."
"Yes. Scott is a good student."
"I know. He's really is a nice young man."
"Would you show me what you just showed Scott about navigation?" she asked.
"Of course," Paul agreed. He patiently took her through navigation 101 and she seemed to understand. After a trip to the galley she returned on deck and continued watching from a distance. Seeing a serene look on Paul's face as he watched the far horizon, her thoughts turn to possibilities, "I have to wonder what this man did before he got in trouble. Her eyes narrowed. Why would he ever let himself get mixed up with gangsters? Listening to him, he doesn't seem the type. Could it be an unfortunate choice, or maybe some help from some well-meaning friend or relative?
It was good to know he didn't leave Jenny destitute with his child coming. She told me he won a lot of money in Las Vegas. ... Won? Was that another excuse for not explaining? Maybe he got involved in money laundering? Though it may have been dirty money, he did use it to provide for his family before he went into hiding. I also have to respect him for choosing to come back when he found his son was in trouble. My God, he's been on the run for over fifteen years. Why didn't he just go to the government? He must know something they would have exchanged for protection and a new identity. Of course, we all have choices to make. He made his and now he has Scott convinced to share it with him.
She shook her head subtly, as she listened while Paul explained to Scott all the technical instruments available on the bridge, then she smiled. After being together for such a short time, their relationship seems so free and easy. So different from the normal conflicts experienced by parents when children reach their teens. They seem like best friends. All I know for sure, is Scott loves him. I will never forget how direct he was in telling me he would not leave Scott here. I also can't deny Scott has totally accepted this man who now has them both on the run. As Don reminded me, I must respect their relationship even though it is one that will deny me the same. I have to wonder what Don told Mr. Forrester to make him change his mind about staying. Whatever, I'm glad he was more diplomatic than I.
They cruised up the rugged coastline with Don pointing out the sights. Stately evergreens grew everywhere, responding to the readily available moisture and temperate climate created by the influence of Mother Ocean. Often jutting far out into the ocean magnificent rocky headlands and detached islands, accessible only at low tide, bore hats of living trees clinging desperately to life. The boat traveled between headlands bypassing the protected coves where the deposited sand created numerous crescent shaped beaches. In the coves, tall living sentinels often leaned heavily as though trying to meet the counterpart of those who had already lost their struggle for life. They lay as tangled driftwood and salt bleached logs with roots sticking high above the sand. In some places, landslides left living trees hanging from high bluffs over the debris-covered beaches.
Looking out the window, Kelly focused on the distant horizon. So far the motion sickness medicine is working, but I don't want to watch the rising and falling sea swells for long. Maybe it's wise to go outside for a while. Walking to the cabin door, she bloomed into a wide grin when she saw Scott following. Moving to the railing, she gazed toward the shore. I know Scott is standing beside me, she thought. His life on the road hasn't seemed to curb his spirit much. I know they will be leaving and I also know I am going to miss him, but if I don't stop thinking about it, I'm going to cry. She turned toward him. "Don is right. It is so beautiful out here. We'll have to go out again."
At the helm inside the cabin Paul, always observant, said, "Don, I haven't seen anyone on the beach for many miles."
"Our reservation is the only break in public ownership within a coastal strip about sixty miles long that became a part of the Olympic National Park," Don explained. "There is only one area, other than here, where there is road access to the beaches. The only way you can get to the water is on foot. It's getting late in the season and many of the backpackers who hike them have returned to school or have children who must. Since there can be no development in the park, it's like increasing the size of our reservation. Those lands, though not in title, will soon be ours to roam again."
Traveling north for more than two hours, Don continued to point out and give names to various landmarks and Indian historical areas. He finally pointed to a large logging clear-cut. "This is the southern reservation boundary of our northernmost coastal tribe, the Makah. Theirs is the largest reservation in Western Washington. Like the Quileute, before the approach of western civilization, the Makah were primarily fish, whale and seal hunters. It wasn't difficult for some unscrupulous whites to talk the elders into letting them represent the tribe in the sale of timber from the reservation. For years they bilked them out of a valuable asset for only a fraction of its worth."
"I recognized clear cutting, but I see a new crop is growing," Paul said, remembering Roy Foster's advice about the necessity of replanting any crop.
"Not until recently," Don replied. "The lumber barons brought plenty of cutters, but no planters. Long before the United States Government required reforestation of timberlands, both private and all National Forest, on Indian lands they left control of the resources to the Indians. The tribal elders figured the timber would go on forever." He shrugged his shoulders. "I guess there were some drawbacks to being separate nations. With little experience the tribes were easy prey to the greedy, for Native concerns were of getting enough to eat not dealing with international commerce. The sales made many very rich whites and also a few rich Indians who felt no responsibility to their people. The bottom line was the money never got into the tribal coffers to benefit the Makah people. The United States government finally agreed to help. Your tax dollars subsidized the replanting of these forests. I'm afraid the experience in commerce cost the Makah much of what remained of their heritage."
"Your brother spoke of injustices of many generations past."
"There were many. If you want, I can offer you what I call a quick study of our history?"
"I am always interested in learning new things," Paul confirmed.
Don smiled broadly. "It would be my pleasure to indoctrinate you into the world of the Quileute. Our earliest legends say Kokibatt, the Changer or Transformer, created the Quileute from the wolf. Our Kokibatt might easily equate to the God of the white man. What came first, our warring nature or the legends is impossible to say, but we had always been a raiding tribe. At one time or another, we have attacked every saltwater tribe between Vancouver Island and the Columbia River, including our neighbors, the Makah. I will be candid by saying if you expect to hear the glib accountings of our wholeness with the land, we better stop here. By modern standards, our cultural practices have not always compared to those of angels as many now would like to believe."
"I would like to learn," Paul returned.
Don glanced back toward the reservation. "Though geographically, close to the Makah, we do not share the same tribal roots. Artifacts have shown they came here from Canada about five hundred years ago. Culturally their customs and beliefs are quite different, though they also delighted in sending raiding parties our way. I have theorized all the raiding might have developed to keep young men busy, leaving the old men tending to the tribal business. The elders made most of the decisions and settle inter-tribal disputes over territory. Since they were already tired of warring, I think they agreed there was plenty of room for everybody.
"Examining our early history, I find only minor differences between our tribe and White tribes. Though we may claim our culture had, since its creation, lived in harmony with nature, the truth is Native peoples had no choice. Survival demanded it and we lived by nature's rules. That mandated a high death rate among our young and old. That is probably why our numbers never became so large we needed to expand by taking more territory."
"Then your tribe did not take land?"
"Not claiming territory..."
Has Don purposely left his statement unfinished, seeking a question, Paul thought. Of course I must ask. "Then what did you take in your raids?"
"Slaves," Don returned bluntly.
"Slaves?" Paul asked, his eyes widening."
Don grinned. "You look surprised, my friend. Rest assured, your people did not invent slavery. Slaves represented from twenty to twenty-five percent of our tribe's population and almost all of its general labor force. In the context of today's world it sounds barbaric, but that is the way things were. In the early years, with no natural harbor here at LaPush, we remained isolated from contact with your people. Between tribes we took and lost people to slavery, but when a shipwreck provided opportunity, legend tells of enslaving whites as well. When they proved hard to handle; as with any slave, we killed them." Don looked at Paul, obviously awaiting a negative response.
Don expects me to comment, Paul thought, but it is not for me to judge what happens now, let alone to argue about the rightness of what is long past.
With no response, Don continued. "With slavery as a basis, as with your culture, ours developed a very strict social caste system."
"What I mean, is rank, wealth and property passed from generation to generation. It is much like the current system in the United States. If born to a high ranking elder, unless captured and reduced to a slave, one could expect to remain privileged. Within the tribe there was little chance for upward social mobility. The best hunting grounds, the finest boats and most productive locations for fish traps virtually belonged to an aristocracy. In addition, a high-ranking person could demand additional tribute from those under him. The majority owned little and slaves nothing. On occasion, if a slave possessed any new or highly beneficial skill, the tribe might accept him or her as a tribal member. Any so accepted would then become eligible to marry. Most we sold like any other possession."
"You sold people?"
"Or traded," Don said honestly. "Sounds familiar, doesn't it?" He laughed. "Of course there were other things we traded as well. Lacking sheltered moorage for trading ships, the Quileute missed one cross-cultural trade that proved almost disastrous to many other tribes, including the Makah."
"And what was that?"
"In the mid eighteen hundreds, two Makah men returning home from San Francisco brought gifts for the tribe. Having befriended a crewman on the ship they brought an additional unseen gift, smallpox."
Paul looked at Don quizzically, "Small pocks?"
"You've never heard about what smallpox did to the natives?"
"What is 'small pocks'?"
"Hey, I can still remember getting my shots," Don laughed.
Shots, not shot, Paul pondered. I remember Scott 'getting shots' for school. He told me they were to prevent disease. Could these 'small pocks' be from a disease of common knowledge I should know about? I will use the response that has often proved adequate. "I've been away."
"Since you were a kid? You must be joking? Hey, I'm not that much older than you, my friend. I don't know how you could have missed vaccination time." Don's eyebrows narrowed, studying the strange look on Paul's face. After the other day, I know he has been away, but the pox is still common in many other parts of the world. I'm not going to pry because I do want him to stay for the rest of the season so I'll just move on. "Well, it isn't every day I find someone who wants to listen to me talk about Native American gripes," he said lightly. "I think I'm going to take advantage of the moment."
If I ask the right questions perhaps Don will contribute to solving my quandary, Paul thought. "What about the two men who brought the small pocks?"
"One died, the other survived, but the disease started spreading like wildfire through the Makahs. Native peoples had no resistance to the white man's diseases. For the majority smallpox, measles and cholera were almost 100 percent fatal."
My logic has served me, Paul thought. It is a disease. With no resistance, the Native American reaction must have been as it was with me. When I contracted a virus, being created from the basic genetic code this body had no immunity to any of the diseases common to the general population. Listening, I would have received the definition and not had Don looking at me so strangely. Now I must continue listening.
Without conscious thought, Paul cocked his head sideways, "This small pox disease must have been very serious?"
"Smallpox reduced the Makah population from about 2,000 to about 650 by 1861," Don advised.
"There were dead and dying everywhere. The tribal Shamans couldn't keep up with proper preparation for entering the next world. A trader staying with them buried what he could. When he couldn't keep up, he dragged the bodies out onto the beach and let the tide and the crabs take care of them. When those remaining saw friends and family dying in such numbers, they reacted by launching their canoes and heading north. Some, already sick, asked to stay with related tribes on Vancouver Island and spread the infection further."
"The Quileute were lucky."
"Yes, win a few, lose a few. Life goes on," Don returned. "We managed to miss it, but that was about all. Native Americans did get partially even for the white man had no resistance to some of the diseases of our world we now call syphilis and gonorrhea. The whites, in turn, brought them back home and many died or became sterile. For a long time, I guess I shared much of Rod's anger over what white civilization had done to us, but when I got out into the world, I discovered, like those I despised, I was lumping them all together.
"The enemy is not the white man, but greed, caste, and injustice, wherever it exists. Not putting people in categories allowed me to fall in love with a white, Irish, English, American crossbreed. Since then my white woman has been the one spurring the initiative to establish a cultural center on the reservation. She applied and received several grants available for historical preservation. When complete, we will have a home for our tribal artifacts and a library in which to complete a written history of our people."
"You have no permanent history?"
"Early on we never developed written language or mathematics. That's probably one reason, we as a people, never developed technologically. The skills of survival and our cultural history had to pass by word of mouth."
"Without permanency for reference, that can be unreliable," Paul stated.
"True, but in the old days, each tribe had historians charged with educating the next generation. They repeated stories and legends passing them on to the children. Those who could recite them the best became the next teachers. Each generation enhancing the stories to keep them interesting is how the legends developed. Do you know most of the history of my people has been written by yours? Now it is for us to collect what remains before those who can still remember, pass on. We can't depend on stories any longer for so few young families remain on the reservation." He looked at Paul and could see he was anxiously awaiting more. "I'm afraid I am not one of those selected to teach," he confessed. "I could try to explain our culture, but one must live with the old people to truly understand."
"Thank you for what you have shared with me," Paul replied with a growing smile.
"I can try to tell you a little about our history with the white man, if you wish," Don returned.
"In the early years, we traded freely with the white man. They wanted things common to us, like berries, preserved fish and sealskins. In exchange we got things we never imagined existed. Metal knives we especially valued for they aided in hunting and therefore, enhanced our chances for survival. Later, along with goods they offered words on paper in exchange for promises to behave. No one desired the almost nine hundred square miles of forest we hunted, and they were liberal in the goods they offered. But as more settlers came, the white man's government began to challenge, then change words in their paper treaties whenever another group of white people wanted something more."
Listening to Don's words, I note he talks about his people as we, us and our and whites, as they, them and your. Still he is honest about the history of both cultures and their coming together. He is a part of the entirety, yet maintains pride in his heritage. I believe this an admirable quality.
"More and more white people came," Don continued. "This time they wanted the trees for building ships and houses and docks and fences, and ... and ... and... When our young men decided they had taken enough, they tried to stop them. We soon found out that while you felt free to sell us knives, you kept the guns for yourself. The tribe lost many people. It seemed like for each white killed or driven off, two more came. The wise Chiefs finally decided continuing at war would mean the end of our people, entirely. They also knew fish, seals and whales remained abundant so they signed yet another paper treaty and much of our hunting lands were ours no longer. Then the government told us, we could no longer hunt the whale or seal. What could we do? The strangers were many, the Quileute few.
"Traders came and offered some of our young men a few guns for many seal skins. Fed up with the whites, they raided a store for more weapons to continue the fight. The settlers convinced the government it was the tribe and demanded we be sent to a reservation. Understanding we would have nothing left, we refused to leave our ancestral home and your government proposed another treaty, granting the Quileute sole use of 837 acres of our own land here at LaPush. Over the years and a few more convenient changes, only 594 remain.
"Finally wiser, we went to the white man's courts with our claims. They decreed, under the Constitutional laws of the United States, an unlawful confiscation of tribal lands had occurred and directed compensation be paid. In 1963, four local tribes received a money exchange for aboriginal title to our hunting grounds, 688,000 acres of prime old growth timberland. The Quileute and the neighboring Hoh, together received just over $112,000."
"Is that good?" Paul questioned.
"It was a token payment to legalize a land grab of monumental proportions."
"That must be what Rod spoke of when he said your land had been taken."
"You better believe it!" Don expounded.
"I believe injustices experienced by your ancestors could be partly responsible for your brother's deep sadness," Paul returned.
Don's forehead wrinkled curiously. "Rod ... sad?"
"He is sad and he tries to cover it with anger," Paul replied.
"Do you think the past has been eating on him that badly?"
"At least partly. He spoke very harshly to me about being a 'white man', but I could sense great distress within his anger."
"Doesn't he understand it's history ... gone … over. We can't live in the past. He must think of his roots to this land with pride, but he must live in the present." Paul and Don looked away, momentarily acknowledging Kelly and Scott returning to the cabin. Don continued. "It's true, many of our elders still look on the past as our way. They speak of losing our culture. I must agree. There is no doubt the old ways are disappearing as the children leave home to earn places in a rapidly changing world, but to survive as an individual, or as a people, we must continue to adapt to change."
"Adaptation is still required," Paul offered.
"Yes, and many have already 'adapted' too much to 'white' civilization to ever go back to living as our ancestors did. Still, in adapting, even on a reservation, we have benefited. We live in houses and even way out here we now have many conveniences like running water, electricity and sanitation. Vaccination and modern medicine saves the lives of many, particularly our children and old people. As fishermen, we operate better boats and make use of modern navigational instruments. Modern communications have saved the lives of many on the sea. We have embraced vehicles for transportation and refrigeration and freezing provided variation in our diets and preserves our food. While fishing used to be for subsistence, now we have ice to preserve our catch and the sale of fish provides capital to improve our lives."
"Those things do make life easier," Paul added.
"... But our greatest gain has been the ability to read and write. Having our reservation and a written history, any of our people wishing to learn about their roots can return home to do so. While there still is injustice, more and more non-natives showing an interest in our culture gains us respect in the outside world. In the process people are beginning to understand what happened to indigenous peoples making it less likely to happen again." Don paused momentarily. "While I'd like to continue, Paul, Kelly has most of the information she has collected at the house, including many original recordings of interviews with the old ones." He looked at Kelly. "I'm sure she wouldn't mind letting you read or listen to whatever you like?"
Kelly nodded. "I'll bring some out in the morning."
Paul smiled at her warmly. "Thank you. I would appreciate it."
"It cannot be denied, there were many mistakes made by both native and white societies," Don offered. "They are unavoidable when two vastly different cultures come together. While it is true we received a pittance for our lands, someone finally decided things had to be made right. We finally got paid in money for the land they had taken, but they could not return the land for ownership had already passed through generations of whites. We learn that time does not heal such mistakes for they are almost impossible to reverse. Those who benefited in the past are generally not those who now have the land. We cannot hold them responsible for what happened long ago. To take it from them would be as unjust as the original act. Rod cannot see that."
"That is history," Paul offered. "If it does not remain so, there will never be peace on this world. To the contrary I think you would make a very good teacher."
Kelly stood with Scott, listening to the ongoing conversation. Her eyes narrowed as she studied Paul Forrester. Very well put, she thought, but you're the man who in a few short days will be taking my nephew away. I just can't figure you out. You talked like someone who has never seen injustice, but quickly grasp the difficulty in changing what has happened. I believe I may have misjudged you. These past few days of being with Scott, I know I have made many mistakes by jumping to conclusions. Scott says you teach. Perhaps you have taught philosophy or ethics. If not, I think you might have missed your calling.
"When's lunch?" Scott asked, eagerly for a break in the current conversation.
"Soon," Don chuckled. "I have a special place in mind up around the bend."
They continued up the rugged coast and around Tatoosh, a small offshore island comprising the northernmost point of the Olympic Peninsula. He told Paul to steer in closer to shore. Giving the order to stop, Don dropped the anchor. Soon they were enjoying lunch on deck. "This is the southerly shore of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, gateway to Puget Sound," Don offered. "Here and to the west are some of the best salmon fishing areas in Washington State."
After lunch they turned for home. As the tide continued to lower, many rock islands and shoals appeared out water, evidencing the ceaseless power of erosion of wave after wave crashing upon the rugged landscape.
While Kelly packed the lunch things back into her basket, they turned toward home. The bow cut a pointed vee through the calm water until Don announced: "We're in fish country. It's time to get to work." Assigning jobs, he gave Kelly dominion over the cabin after instructing her in direction and the throttle controls. Scott reigned over bait preparation and operation of the winch, while Don and Paul baited hooks where experience kept fingers safer. With all hands working the lines flowed smoothly into the water and Kelly opened the throttle to fishing speed. Turning to Paul, Don said, "This all goes much faster with more hands."
"Why don't you hire more people?" Scott asked.
"I can't pay more than ten percent, Scott," Don advised. "The entire fishing season lasts about five months, but taxes, licenses, insurance, fuel and upkeep, and a hundred other unseen expenses on the boat continue all year. Divide ten percent between more crew and no one would make a living." Don continued explaining his simple form of economics until he called out to Kelly to stop and they began pulling in the lines. "It looks like a bonanza," he announced excitedly as he and Paul unhooked the energetic salmon and sent them sliding down the chute into the storage compartment. "I don't think anyone has been fishing this far north lately. If this keeps up we should have a record. Let's get the next set out." All hands worked swiftly and the lines were soon flowing over the side.
Hearing the word to go for it, a laughing Kelly increased the throttle speed. A few minutes later she locked the wheel to walk aft. "Don, I don't want to bother you, but the water temperature gauge just went out."
"That could be bad," he said. "I'd better check". He excused himself and followed her forward. "It seems there's always something going wrong." He tapped lightly on the glass and when nothing jumped, went to the fuse box. Taking out a box of replacements, he put in a new fuse. In a bright flash, it joined its predecessor.
Concerned at seeing the flash, Kelly asked, "What's wrong?"
"Regretfully, we're blowing fuses, my love," Don announced with good-natured annoyance.
Kelly again looked at the gauges then back at Don with increasing concern. "Don, I know the fuel gauge was working a few minutes ago." Mimicking Don, she tapped the glass lightly. "Now it's out as well."
Hearing the increasing concern in her voice and not wishing to worry her further, Don said, "It's probably a loose connection. I'll check it out. There's nothing for you to worry about. With the lines out be sure to keep our course steady."
Her confidence restored, Kelly smiled. "Aye, Aye, Captain."
Don walked out the door to find Scott cutting bait beside the winch. "I have to go below. In the past few days your dad has developed a pretty good feel for fishing. I'm leaving the decision of when to pull in, up to him. Pass the word on to Kelly when he thinks it's time."
"Okay." Scott replied, agreeably. He watched Don lifting the hatch to the engine room. "Is there anything I can do to help?"
"I'll call if I need anything. You'd better enjoy the rest of this beautiful day on deck." As Don disappeared down the ladder, Scott went to pass the message on to his father.
"Well looky here," Don guffawed to himself when a few minutes later he found a rat lying among the bundle of electrical wiring serving the engine "You little trouble maker, did all the traps and poison down here scare you into taking your own life? If not, Mr. Rat, this time I'm afraid you picked the wrong entree from the lunch menu. A taste for electrical insulation seems to have made you into the barbecue. Unfortunately your roasting has caused a short." He sniffed the air and looked back at his victim. "Maybe I should keep you from adding to the air pollution down here. From the smell, I don't think you're quite done yet. I guess I should get you off the grill first."
He grabbed the rodent to remove it. Jerking his hand back he shook it vigorously. "Damn, that's still hot!" With the fuse blown it shouldn't be. There could be more going on here than meets the eye.
He picked up an insulated screwdriver from a tool chest near the engine and carefully removed the deceased rat to a nearby waste barrel. "It sure is hot down here," he said, wiping perspiration from his face onto his shirtsleeve.
Moments later his nose wrinkled and he sniffed again. That isn't an organic smell, he thought. Is that smoke I see coming from the lower wiring access door? Leaning over he grabbed the latch near the floor. His hand recoiled. "It's hot, but not electrical. Oh, oh!" he mumbled apprehensively. "I' think I have a fire somewhere down here. I've got to get on it right now." Running across the engine room he grabbed the fire extinguisher and a pair of coveralls hanging on the wall. As he raced back, he wrapped the coveralls around one hand.
Sweating profusely, he dropped down on one knee. Opening the small door he directed a heavy stream of the flame-dousing chemical into the opening. "Ouch, my knee!" he exclaimed standing again. Bending over again he held his hand close to the floor. "There's a lot of heat under the floor," he mumbled anxiously. The heavy soles of my shoes must have insulated my feet. If there's fire underneath, I don't think I can handle this myself. I hope a couple extra hands with fire extinguishers can, but first I think I had better have someone call in our position. As he ran for the hatchway a small explosion blew off the door of a ventilation duct and a wall of fire belched, then rolled across the room, cutting off his exit.
Keep a level head, Allen! For the moment you're staying down here. You have to stop this fire here or you're going to fry. With his wrapped hand, he opened another hatch in the floor that accessed the sump pump and boat hull and sprayed generously...
That sounded like an explosion, Scott thought as he walked forward with his father's message to stop. Is that smoke coming from below? Instinctively, he yelled, "Fire!"
Kelly ran from the bridge at hearing the most dreaded word in a boat oriented community, for everybody on the sea knows there is no place to run. She saw Scott watching the smoke beginning to pour from below then saw his father rushing forward. Looking frantically around the deck, she asked, "Where's Donald?"
Horrified, Scott looked from Kelly to the hold, then at his father. "Dad, Don went below."
"Donald?" Kelly called frantically. She looked around the deck again hoping to see Don's smiling face popping up from anywhere. When it didn't, she looked down the ladder and screamed. "Oh Lord, no! Please, no!"
When Don heard her, he called loudly. "Kelly, calm down. Get Paul and go to the bridge. Have him figure our coordinates then call in a May Day on the Coast Guard emergency band. Hurry!"
"Scott, go forward with Kelly," Paul advised with decisive urgency. "You know enough already to figure the coordinates and I showed you how to use the radio. I'll see what I can do to help Don."
"I'm not moving!" Kelly screamed hysterically as flames began to lick up the ladder. "Don't you understand, Donald is down there!"
Paul put his hand on her shoulder and turned her so he could look into her eyes. "Kelly, I do understand," he offered calmly, "but having you standing here screaming is serving no useful purpose. Don just said it is important that the Coast Guard know where we are." With his hands on her shoulders he looked at her with unquestionable confidence. "That is something you can help Scott do. I will do whatever I can to get Don out of there."
Under Paul's calming touch, the fear drained from her face. As she rushed toward the cabin, Paul took Scott's arm. Holding him back momentarily, he displayed his sphere. "Keep her up there, understand?"
With his sphere I suspect Dad can easily handle the fire, Scott thought. I wish I could stay, but now he's saying Kelly is my job. He nodded then charged after Kelly.
Hot diesel fuel was spraying from a fuel line below the engine. When Don saw it billow into a rolling wall of searing, consuming flames he knew the fire was out of control. "The heat has ruptured the fuel line," he yelled. "Forget the Coast Guard! We're going down! Get into the dinghy and get clear in case she blows!"
The sphere glowed at the Starman's command and in a moment the yellow-orange of the flames filling the engine room turned a brilliant blue. The blue attached to and drained the heat from everything beneath the vessel's upper deck exceeding five degrees above the internal temperature of its director's human body. As the energy and fire faded, Paul heard voices behind him.
From the hatch door Kelly shouted hysterically, "The engine just quit,", "and all the radio and navigation equipment is dead. What now?"
With the fire under control, Paul moved toward the ladder. When he saw Kelly and Scott at the hatch he moved toward the ladder to stop them from coming down. "Don said to get into the dinghy!" he ordered decisively. "I'll see to him." He saw Scott urging Kelly away, then repeated his order. "Get into the dinghy! Do you understand?" I'm afraid my words may not carry sufficient authority to stop Kelly from coming down here, Paul thought. I must create something to stop her. In this smoke it is difficult to see and those small light bulbs are ineffective anyway. The sphere glowed again. Evacuate the heavy smoke up the hatch, he directed. There, that should form a barrier Kelly might find uncomfortable to enter. With a whirling vortex performed his bidding, he walked confidently toward the engine room, and Don.
With the smoke dissipated from the interior of the hold, Paul saw Don huddled in a far corner. Moving quickly to his side he saw portions of charred clothing clinging to his body. Grimacing, he called softly. "Don, I'm here to help you."
Almost unconscious from smoke inhalation, as the air cleared Don sucked in a breath. Rolling slowly toward the familiar voice, he looked up in pure anguish.
Seeing Don's face a bright red and covered with growing blisters, Paul cringed, then controlling a new emotional response kneeled down beside him. He quickly recalled from memory the section of his first aid book dealing with burns. 'Do not delay transportation of victim to the hospital'. Even if the engine will function, there is certain to be a long delay. What should I do? To use the sphere means I will have to tell Don something. To do nothing means this good man will die and Kelly will suffer the loss of another loved one. I don't think I want to choose either. I can only try to minimize our exposure. He took a deep breath and shook his head. I wonder how I always seem to get myself into positions where I must make such choices. He heaved a sigh. Perhaps I should feel fortunate I have the ability to do something.
Not able to obey Kelly braved the dense swirling smoke, but never questioned what had become of the fire. She held her breath as she began cautiously down the ladder, but when she finally had to take a breath she began coughing profusely. It never occurred to her to question why the smoke had vanished. She had only one goal in mind. She rushed toward where she saw Paul standing. Upon seeing Don, she froze in her tracks. "Oh, no!" she cried, turning away.
Getting up, Paul smoothly slipped the sphere back into his pocket. Again accessing his first aid, he said, "Don is hurt and it is important you not touch him." Seeing Scott's apologetic look and shrugging shoulders, he moved onward. "I will need some clean cold water to help remove the thermal heat from his body. I believe there is some ice to put in it in the refrigerator. I will also need a lot of smooth, clean cloth to put over him. Will you two go get these things for me?"
I know Dad doesn't need water, ice or cloth, for what he's planning, Scott thought. What he's asking is for me to take her away so he can work. Though I'd rather watch, I'll do my best to give him the time and space he needs. "Kelly," he said, placing his hand on her arm. "Trust Dad and everything will be all right. Right now let's do what we can to help." He looked into her eyes. "Dad told us what he needs. Let's go get it." He urged her back toward the stairs. "Trust me. Right now Don needs dad more than they need us."
Glancing back over her shoulder several times she continued to struggle against Scott's insistent guidance, until cohesive thought finally won out. "Is your father a doctor?"
"Of sorts," Scott returned. "He's asked us to get what he needs. Let's go get it, now. There isn't any time to waste." Having finally submitted to his authority she moved swiftly back toward the ladder.
When certain they had gone, the Starman kneeled beside Don again. With his knees on the floor, he rolled back until his buttocks rested on his heels, then placed his hand lightly on an uninjured area. It recoiled. Such total pain I have never felt before, he thought. This is much worse than Jenny Hayden, Tonita Cordova or Tony Billingsley. Regaining control of his body's responses, he looked thoughtfully at Don. He is already beginning to shake. Soon his system will begin to shut down from what they call shock. "Don, in good conscience, I cannot continue to allow you to endure this," he said softly. Retrieving the sphere, he activated it. "I will take away the pain."
I see compassion on his face, but I can't be certain of the meaning in his words, Don thought. Way out here, the only way anyone can help me is to put me out of this misery. Right now I think I would welcome it. He cringed and his body quivered when he saw Paul reaching toward him again. "Please, don't touch me!" he implored. "It hurts too much."
Respecting the words, Paul withdrew a hand intended only to comfort. "Don, for a proper result, it is important you remain relaxed and very still. Soon you will no longer hurt." He urged the sphere to full power. "There is nothing to fear, but I do need to concentrate. Until I am finished, you will be unable to speak or move anything not necessary to your body's general functions."
His statement of intent given, the Starman's concentration narrowed until he knew the pain had vanished. 'Sphere', he mentally directed, 'adjust and elevate the body'. Don rose slowly from the corner, straightened to his full length and levitated just above the floor. 'Remove what remains of the clothing'. The clothing seemed to dissolve, leaving only Don's watch on his body. Noting his omission the Starman addressed and energy toward the watch. The band separated and the watch fell to the floor. 'Turn the body so I may evaluate the full extent of the injuries'. His arms rigidly at his sides, Don slowly rotated like a roasting beef at a ranch barbecue.
The sphere's energy level lowered. "Don, the most serious damage is to the front of your body, your face, and your entire right side. I will begin with your side. Again, there is nothing to fear. You will continue to turn slowly as I work."
Scott, with one eye always on Kelly, slowly filled a large pan with water from a hand pump in the kitchen. I know the reason she's plowing through the cabin like a human tornado is because she wants to go back to Don, he thought. I think she has the kitchen towel. Yes, she's coming over.
"Here," she said shakily. "Now let's go."
"It's not big enough," Scott said dumping a small tray of ice cubes into the water. "You keep looking while I take the water down. Remember we're going to need a lot of clean cloth to cover him." He quashed a smile. I know there isn't another kitchen towel on the boat so that search should keep her busy for a while, he thought. He placed a lid on the pan of water, then waited until he knew her futile search had begun. Running out the door he quickly stashed the pan around the corner of the cabin. Returning he found her going through a tall storage cabinet. Pretty soon she's going to find the bath towels she brought for us. When he saw a towel in her hand, he countered. "Dad said the material needs to be smooth."
"Now I remember, I brought some bed sheets to the boat," she announced ungraciously. "They should be just right."
"We've been using them. They're not clean."
"I'm done. There isn't anything else!" she shouted hysterically. "Don needs me and with or without enough 'smooth' cloth, I'm going back."
Still trying to delay, Scott tried holding her, but the tighter he held, the harder she fought to get away. Finally squirming out of his grasp it didn't take her long to find the folded sheets under the cushions they used as beds. Grabbing them, she evasively rushed through the door. She's frantic and determined to be with Don. I can't stop her. He shook his head and followed.
In the engine room, Kelly stopped short when she saw Don's immobile and naked body. I'm too late! He's already dead!' She turned away. Tears filling her eyes she finally gathered her courage enough to look back. I don't know if I can do this again. It seems everybody I love dies. Still I must face the truth. With tears in her eyes she looked back at Don. Wait! Oh Lord, I see his eyes moving. He's alive. She looked from Don to Paul. Doctor of sorts, or not, this Paul Forrester has the audacity to tell me not to touch him, orders clean cloth to put over him, then completely undresses and lays him on the dirty floor. Now this man, who promised to help him, is just sitting there staring. I can take care of Donald myself.
Scott heaved a heavy sigh. Kelly, I must get your attention for now my job has changed. I have been around you long enough to know when you don't understand, you may react illogically to what you see. It is up to me to keep you calm and quiet so Dad can continue to help Don. I think to do so I must look at you. Gently, but firmly he held her shoulder. Feeling restrained Kelly turned her head and looked at him defiantly. You are afraid, but why should you be angry? Scott wondered. Oh well. Our secret is no more. Now, how can I best handle this? He turned her toward him and placed his hands squarely on her shoulders. Looking deeply into her eyes, he removed one hand then touched his index finger to his lips several times before mouthing the words, 'Be quiet and watch'.
They exchanged gazes for a long moment, then Kelly, noticing the boy's calm, glanced toward Don and back. Cocking her head slightly to one side, she studied Scott's face. "Are you asking me to just stand here and watch?"
Scott nodded, thinking with pride, yes, you understood. I know I did this one on my own. Motioning her toward the unfolding drama, they watched from a respectful distance. He smiled at her often, but always kept one hand firmly on her arm.
His concentration completely merged with the sphere, Paul did not hear them return. The regeneration of the tissue damage to Don's entire right side already completed he proceeded to direct his full attention to the burns and blisters on his legs, abdomen and upper body.
What is he doing? Don thought as he slowly completed a full rotation. He said I would feel no pain, and I don't. He also said I would be unable to move, and I can't. Do we have guardian angels? I don't remember anyone describing anything like this.
Held gently by her nephew, Kelly concentrated on what she could now see beyond Paul Forrester's back. I don't see any blisters on Don's chest and legs ... but, oh... The breath went out of her. Painfully she turned away, then slowly back. ... I can see his face. Suddenly her expression changed as she concentrated on the more complete picture. What I remember most when I first saw him, was his clothes burned and stuck to his body. She shook her head. I must have been mistaken? Perhaps the poor lighting only made it look that way.
Wait a minute. The lighting? If I remember right, the battery operated emergency lights are white. She looked around the room. They are white. That blue light is only over by Don. There has to be some rational explanation. She looked at Scott. He's just watching. Doesn't he even notice that something strange is going on down there? She looked back toward Don. Could Scott's father be using a flashlight? If it is, it gives more light than a dozen of those little white bulbs ... but why should Mr. Forrester have a blue flashlight? She shrugged her shoulders slightly. I don't really care what it is, or where it comes from ...just so it provides enough light for me to see.
Returning her attention to Don, she smiled, lovingly studying her husband's face. Even though those burns must be terribly painful, he seems so relaxed. If I hadn't seen his eyes move I would have assumed him to be... Her smile faded. I don't even want to think about it, she chastised. Donald must not die.
The Starman examined his efforts. With only minor errors, I believe the restoration of the body is complete. Now I must direct energy to carefully restoring the face. Humans are very conscious of how they look. He studied the damage intently. While I am about it, I should restore his hair as well. Hair compliments face. ... No, on second thought, I must not do a complete restoration if I want to keep our exposure to a minimum. Kelly must have seen the blistering on his face. It is easier to regenerate everything at once now, then recreate the appearance of damage.
Kelly watched what she could see with continuing calm then her gaze became increasingly focused. Her mouth slowly dropped open when she saw Don's grotesque burns vanishing. Am I seeing things? Her eyes widened then narrowed and her mouth fell open contorting the features of her face. What the...? Now I know I'm seeing things. I see his hair growing. Only when his hair grew until it hung neatly to the floor looking as though someone had combed it straight, did she realize Don was not on the floor.
I love watching Dad do something like this, Scott thought with growing pride. I wonder if I'll ever be able to do it. His grin widened. I see Don's eyes moving, so I know he's awake. I can only guess what he and Kelly are thinking about now. It isn't going to matter anyway. There's no turning back from the inevitable. We have to tell them something. I'm glad when Dad had to make another choice, he chose for Don. I can only hope they will be as obliging with us.
A few more minutes passed with a mesmerized Kelly watching and wondering. Suddenly her eyes widened. Now I know I'm seeing things. The blisters and singed hair are back again. She frowned. What's going on? The blisters disappearing might have been wishful thinking, but I know I saw his hair growing?
The camouflage completed to his satisfaction, the sphere in Paul's hand returned to its solid state and Paul let Don settle gently to the floor. In the diminished light he studied his deceptive handiwork. All that remains as evidence of Don's burns is a red face, puffy white spots, and some seared hair.
Kelly glanced around anxiously. The lights are dimming. The emergency system must be giving out. We need to get out of here. ... Wait. It's only the blue light that's missing. What was it? If it's a flashlight, why did he turn it off?
Paul saw Don's eyes shifting around. I know he is free of all pain and the sphere's restricting hold, but is probably confused and afraid to move. He placed his hand on Don's arm. "You can move again."
With Paul's hand touching me, I feel a warm tingling sensation instead of the excruciating pain of before. Cautiously responding to the words of encouragement Don lifted his head and looked around. "There was fire everywhere ... and terrible pain. I knew I was going to die. Then I heard you call to me and ..." Momentarily the words ran out and his eyes got wider. "The fire was gone and you said not to be afraid because I wouldn't hurt any longer ... I thought...?"
"You thought what?" Paul asked curiously.
"I thought ... you were going to put me out of my misery."
Paul frowned curiously. "I don't understand, 'out of your misery'?"
"I guess I never expected to wake up."
Paul's eyes got as wide as Don's. "You thought I was going to..." He took a quick breath, but couldn't say the words. "I would never do that."
"But I know I was badly burned."
"Yes," Paul confirmed, "over too much of your body. The damage threatened your continuation."
"What did you do?"
"I helped you."
Don placed his hand on his chest. In the dim light he raised his head to look down at himself. "This is impossible. My skin is smooth." His thoughts raced then his eyes narrowed and rationally he focused on Paul again. "You said I wouldn't be able to move or speak, but I could see. I know you were doing something," he pointed to the sphere Paul still held in his hand, "with that. ... How?"
"How, isn't important. What is important is I was able to do what was necessary. All that remains are superficial marks. Though they appear serious, they will cause you no pain and they will disappear before morning."
Don felt the roughness of his face. He let his head down then raised it again to study the calm, but concerned, expression on Paul's face. "You saved my life."
I feel Don's eyes examining me, and I know he has many questions that I must stop before they get started. Paul took a deep breath. "Don, I realize this is difficult for you to understand. I have a gift, but in sharing it, I could be exposing Scott and myself to grave danger. Now, I must ask for something in return. I know it will be difficult for you to give, and harder for you to keep, but you must believe my reasons for asking are valid."
"Just name it, it's yours."
"Promise you will say nothing of this to anyone ... not even to Kelly."
"How will I explain…?" Don asked.
"Like you thought of a way to keep Scott and me here, I feel confident you can think of something."
"Uh ... Dad," Scott called softly, drawing his father's attention to the complications before continuing negotiating with a single Allen.
Paul turned with a start to see Scott and Kelly standing in the shadows a few feet behind him. "How long have you been standing there?"
"Long enough," Kelly replied as she moved to Don's side. Between scrutinizing Don from head to foot, she glanced often at Paul. "Then, you are a doctor?"
"No," Paul replied.
"I don't understand. I've never seen anything like that. It has been like watching a miracle in progress." She looked critically at Paul. "I heard you telling Donald it's a gift. How can you ask anyone to keep such an ability a secret? It's something you should be sharing with the entire world."
Paul studied the look on her face. This is unfortunate after all the extra planning I had to do to reduce our exposure. I do not think Kelly will be easy to convince. I also know any answer will only lead to another question. "Can't you just accept my gift without making demands?" Paul asked decisively.
"At the very least, I think you owe us an explanation," she countered.
Don sat up. "I know it has something to do with that ball bearing he has in his hand," he offered openly.
Paul opened his hand and held the sphere for her to see. "Yes, this is what made it possible."
She looked at it. "You heal burns with a ball bearing?"
"Not exactly," Paul replied. "Doing so takes much out of me. Right now I am very tired."
She looked back at Paul, suspiciously, then back at the sphere. "Well now things are beginning to make sense. I'd be willing to bet that thing has something to do with you being on the run, right?"
Paul nodded, slowly. "Yes."
"Then it is the government looking for you?" Again Paul nodded affirmatively. "Why didn't you tell me it wasn't the mob?"
"I think you had already made a decision. Would you have believed me?"
She frowned. "Probably not." She looked back at the sphere. "How does it work?"
"That is something I am not at liberty to say."
"Then am I to assume you worked for the government and have stolen some secret technology?"
Perplexed at her accusation, the Starman replied, "I have stolen nothing."
"You mean it's something you invented?"
"I did not invent it. It is very old." Perhaps I should not volunteer to say anything further, he thought. He took a deep breath then slowly let it go. I will try the old reliable. "As I said before, knowing the truth could put you both in danger."
"Mr. Forrester, just hiding a fugitive has already done that," she returned with increasing animosity. "I didn't give a diddly squat about the risk a few days ago when we hid you here on the reservation. I care even less now, but believe me I'm going to find out what's going on even if I have to check with the government!"
Paul heaved a sigh. I note she is again addressing me formally, he thought. I am afraid I am losing her. I don't know why she insists on refusing to believe what Jenny told her. I will try to encourage her to understand Jenny was not living in a fantasy. He looked directly at her. "Mrs. Allen, Jenny told you the truth. The first day we came to visit, you said she told you, your government was chasing her to find Scott because he is my son. Since I returned it now seeks both of us. All I can do is repeat that I 'am' Scott's father."
"Let's not get started on that tired story again," Kelly rebuffed.
"What story?" Don asked impatiently. With no offering forthcoming he frowned critically. "Kelly, I don't understand."
"Kelly, Mom told you who Dad is," Scott interjected. "To him that metal ball is like a Swiss Army Knife. He can use it to do lots of things." He pulled his sphere from his pocket. "I have one too. He left it for me, but I don't know much about using it yet."
She snaked a glance at the sphere in Scott's hand, then back at Paul and her eyes reflected a growing anger. "Mr. Forrester, I can't understand why you continue lying to your son. ... When we get back home, I'm calling the authorities."
Scott moved over to face Kelly. "Mrs. Allen, you don't know what you're saying. If you ask the government about us George Fox will come. He will thank you and warn you not to speak of us to anybody else. Then he will take us to a laboratory!"
Confused and feeling left totally in the dark, Don's head continued snapping back and forth between them. Finally he had heard enough. Scrambling to his feet, he exclaimed, "Kelly, you're doing it again! Please stop!"
Kelly, taken aback by Don's demand tone, looked at him. "Doing what?"
"You're badgering the man who just saved my life." He offered Paul a hand, braced and pulled Paul to his feet. "Paul restored to me the gift of life and I, in turn, gave my word. As my wife, if you do not honor my promise you dishonor 'me'."
Unlike Don, who remains in control, I already know Kelly gets excited when under stress, Paul thought, but when she has time to consider the effect of her actions she acknowledges errors and quietly goes about correcting them.
Scott looked at the sphere in his father's hand, then at Kelly. Knowing Kelly a little better than Dad does, I know she needs some time. Maybe another demonstration will help. "Dad, Kelly fell yesterday and scraped her hand. If she won't believe what Mom told her, maybe you should give her a personal demonstration." Scott took Kelly's hand. Feeling her try to pull away, his eyes caught hers and he commanded her attention. "If you really want to know what is or isn't true, hold still."
I can see her relaxing, Paul thought. Knowing Scott has done this makes this human body surge with fatherly pride. I believe when he realizes he needs it, he is beginning to find his heritage is there for him.
"Would you like to do it Scott?" Paul offered.
"I'm afraid I wouldn't do it right."
Paul smiled. I think his abilities under stress are developing more rapidly than his confidence without it. This is all right for it will become easier as he accepts it. I am afraid it might not take as much time as I now hope for my son to reach his full potential. Paul took Kelly's hand from Scott. She is still glaring at me and though I can feel her tension, she is no longer trying to pull away. She has accepted Scott's challenge. He evaluated the ragged, but obviously minor scrape then activated the sphere. The blue light enveloped her hand and soon the damage faded.
Noting the sphere's return to a solid state, Scott said, "See how simple? No hurt, no mark."
Kelly carefully examined her hand then looked up at Paul. "But how can a piece of metal do this?"
Paul turned her hand over and placed the sphere in it. "Because this is more than a piece of metal. What you just saw is a part of who I am."
Glaring again, Kelly shoved the sphere back at Paul. "Mr. Forrester, you're still trying to say something, but not saying it." She looked curiously at Scott and frowned deeply. Why is it he shows no concern at all about his father having such a tool and refusing to share it with the world? Her memory clock began rolling back many years to an early spring conversation under a canopy of plum blossoms at Spirit Lake. Jenny did tell me something about Scott's father having several metal balls. She gazed back at the sphere Paul still had in his hand. I asked you if it was 'your invention' and you told me, 'it is very old'. What does old mean, as old as Scott, or ... or very old?
Still frowning deeply, she looked up to find Paul watching. Unable to meet his gaze, she lowered her eyes then looked lovingly at Don. Jenny also said something about being shot and waking up renewed. Remembering her first look at Don, she grimaced. I know I saw burned clothes ... and massive growing blisters. A scene from an old movie of a spacecraft landing in Washington flashed through her mind. What am I thinking? It was only a movie. People see flying saucers because they want to see them. They're not ... real!'
Suddenly her eyes grew wide as a story never believed, merged with miracles just seen. They came together to form a single, implausible picture. Before making a complete fool of myself by saying what I'm thinking, I will first explore this further. "Jenny said when she first saw you she knew someone, or ... something, was using her husband's body and demanding she help him."... My God, he's nodding! She shook her head, frantically. "You can't be!"
Again Paul nodded. "I am Scott's father."
Her mouth fell open and with her head still saying no, she said, "You are?" Wide-eyed and jaw dropping she stared directly into Paul's eyes.
"Paul, we've never doubted that," Don interjected innocently.
Kelly spent a long moment regaining her composure. "You're telling me everything Jenny told me was true?"
"I cannot speak for everything. You have not told me all Jenny told you," Paul offered. "What Jenny told you about me is true."
"Hey, when is someone going to let me in on this?" Don asked, politely.
Kelly glanced at him then returned to Paul's serene gaze. "I remember Scott saying you're not ... the same. Then you're not really Paul Forrester, either?"
Paul shook his head slowly. "I only recreated and occupy his form."
"Then you're not really a man?"
"Kelly, watch what you're saying," Don returned in disbelief.
Hearing Paul's quiet 'no', Kelly's eyes grew even wider. "Did you force yourself on her?"
I cannot address both Kelly and Don at one time, Paul thought. I must deal first with her purely emotional response. "Please, let me explain. Yes, at first I did force Jenny to accompany me. I needed help and she was there. But, I can assure you, I in no way intended to hurt her and certainly never forced myself upon her. After the same initial repulsion I now see in you, Jenny chose to help me escape from your army. On our last night together, we created Scott."
"Dad wouldn't hurt anyone," Scott added. "After Kent and Eileen's accident, he felt something was wrong and he came back. He's risking his life for me. The man we call George Fox thinks we should be kept in cages. That's why it's so important you tell no one."
Paul looked at her calmly. "Mrs. Allen, I have recently had a physical encounter with this Mr. Fox. He told me he has promised me to your military. In your mind can you form a clear picture of what that means for Scott as well?"
She looked at Paul. "I ... I...," she stammered over words that simply would not come. Her mouth dropped open again. Finally, a fixed stare was all she could muster.
"Kelly, speak to me," Don implored. "Kelly? ... Kelly!" he now demanded. He looked at Paul. "You're going to tell me what's going on, aren't you?"
Finally able to break her stare Kelly shook her head. "Don, it's really warm down here. Can we go up on deck?"
Conceding a point of fact, Don confirmed, "It is a little warm."
"The temperature is five degrees above my body's internal temperature," Paul offered. "That would be 103.6 degrees on your Fahrenheit scale."
"I never believed in others," Kelly offered shakily. "Where are you from? Why did you come here?"
How am I going to get an answer? Don thought. Kelly and Paul are so wound-up in something private right now that they don't even know I exist. I can barely squeeze in more than a few words at a time. I want answers. He looked around the smoke blackened room. An offer of a change of scenery might break this stalemate. "Kelly is right. I think we could all do with some fresh air and sunshine."
"Yes, I would like to see the sun," Paul returned. He leaned over and picking up Don's watch, handed it to him. "May I suggest you not go out in the sun like that."
Taking the watch, Don looked at Paul and blushed. "My clothes can't be much, but I guess I could put them on. Where did you put them?"
"They're gone," Paul said with unabashed certainty.
"The fire," he quickly offered. I guess suggesting the fire caused Don's loss, is truthful, he thought. The whole truth is nothing of the clothing would be recognizable to anyone without the ability to do a molecular analysis.
"This is embarrassing," Don said.
"Embarrassing?" Paul asked.
"Well, I am standing here in the all-together."
"The 'all together'?"
"Oh." Paul looked at him curiously. "I do not understand why you should be embarrassed by what you are."
"Didn't your mother ever teach you about modesty?"
Paul's eyebrows formed two expressive arches. "No."
At his father's answer, Scott smiled. Of course Dad's mother never taught him about modesty. He told me he never had a mother ... or a father.
Don's head cocked slightly in response to Paul's expression then he shrugged his shoulders. "I never sunburn, anyway. Let's go top side for that air."
"You will now," Paul offered. "Your skin is new and you need to give it time to adapt before exposing it to direct solar radiation."
"I usually keep a change of clothes on the boat, but the other day I noticed they were getting a little 'ripe' so I took them home to wash." He pondered the problem momentarily. "I guess I could put on my rubber clothes."
Remembering a similar situation, Paul smiled warmly. "That may not be necessary. I have clothes someone gave me when I needed them. I would very much like you to have them. Wait here. I'll get them."
I don't want them to start asking me about all of this, Scott thought. He bolted for the door. "I'll get them, Dad. You don't know what a mess Kelly made upstairs. She has our stuff scattered everywhere."
"I'm sorry," Kelly offered as she nervously ran her fingers through her hair. "I was so worried about Donald."
"I understand," Paul replied sympathetically.
Scott soon returned with Don Johnson's jogging suit. I hope Don doesn't offer to pay for these, he thought. If he does, we might be in for a lecture. He walked over offering them, then heaved a sigh of relief when Don took them and started dressing. Scott then moved to stand beside his father
Kelly locked her eyes on Paul. Never giving much consideration to the possibility of extra-terrestrial life existing, I still find this hard to believe, she thought. Though I know it's impolite, how can I stop staring at Jenny's ... something ... from somewhere? Her eyebrows rose. He didn't refuse to answer my questions earlier. Donald's interruption just changed the subject. I'll just ask again. "Where are you from?"
The Starman, trying to refuse as politely as possible, replied, "Where is not yet for you to know."
"Then why did you come here?"
How are you going to handle this Dad? Scott thought. I know Kelly likes asking questions and she's just getting wound up. He looked at Don. I wonder how long it will be before he catches on and joins in. This is going to be interesting. Watching Don tugging at the jogging suit, Scott started to grin. It's easy to see Don is much larger than either Dad or Bob.
"The answer to that question is simple," Paul said. "We responded to an invitation to visit found in your Voyager probe. I was chosen to attempt first contact. Your government's response was to send the military. They 'blew' me out of the sky, then by force tried to keep me from leaving. Without Jenny's help, I would never have made it to the designated rendezvous for rescue."
"So you left here?" Seeing Paul's nod, she asked, "Then why did you come back?"
This one is mine, Scott thought. "I already told you, he came back to help me."
Snugging the jogging pants comfortably around his waist, Don stuck his hand out in a gesture demanding attention. "Kelly, if all you're going to talk about is why Paul came back from wherever he's been hiding, I have a couple very relevant questions I'd like to ask first." When Paul attention changed in response to the demand, Don said, "Okay. Now, tell me how you put out that fire?"
"Your question is specific, and one easily explainable," Paul offered.
Losing her dominant position, Kelly glanced around the grim, poorly lit engine room, then at Don in a very tight jogging suit. Her uneasiness at having everything happening so fast, returned. "Please, can we go up on deck," she implored.
"Are you getting sick?" Don asked with concern.
"No, the pills are working. I just don't want to talk about fires down here. You can have Paul answer your question just as well upstairs."
As Paul and Scott moved toward the ladder out of the engine room, Kelly held Don back. She fussed momentarily while straightening the hood of his shirt before following. Near the top of the ladder, a hand suddenly appeared seeking to help her up the last few steps.
She has rejected my hand. Paul thought as Kelly froze on the ladder. I do not understand why. I do know there will be no benefit gained from insisting. Complying, he withdrew his hand and backed away.
Kelly climbed the stairs, and almost dragging Don, rushed past Paul to look for a place to sit. Squinting in the bright sunshine, she glanced up to see Paul watching her. He actually looks hurt. I'm sorry. I just don't know exactly how I should react to him?
She's just tense, Paul confirmed. I think it might help if I just go right back to answering Don's question. "Don, you asked me about the fire."
"Yes," Don replied, looking at him curiously. I know I couldn't have put it out with a fire extinguisher. How did you do it?"
"By removing the heat. There was too much fire and not enough time to use your fire retardant. It also would have left everything very hot. It was easier to simply rob the fire of the heat of combustion."
How can you simply remove the heat from a fuel driven fire?"
Again Paul displayed his sphere. "With this."
"That's the next thing I was going to ask about. I know you used that to help me. What is it?"
"As I told Kelly, that is something I am not at liberty to tell you," Paul replied.
Don's eyes narrowed curiously, causing his nose to wrinkle. Confused, he looked around at everyone, then back at the sphere. "Somehow I get the feeling I've missed out on something important here. Is somebody going to fill me in?"
Calming, Kelly Allen looked at Paul Forrester in the revealing light of day. After what he has done for Don, how can I question this man's humanity? I have to stop trying to see something other than a kind and caring human being behind those eyes. I have to do as he says and overcome my fear and initial repulsion. It's time to move on. She smiled weakly. "My love, you are doing what I was. You're focusing on an item as the maker of your miracle."
"Don't give me any more riddles to solve, woman. Give it to me straight," he demanded.
"It isn't the metal ball producing miracles; it's Paul. Poor Jen. All along I thought I was being an indulgent friend. What must she have thought of me when she realized I never believed it when she told me Scott's father was an emissary from a distant world?"
"Huh?" Don grunted. Seeing a totally calm expression on Kelly's face, his eyebrows narrowed. "I don't think I heard you right. How about giving me the punch line?"
"I said Paul is an emissary from another world. Right now I'm sorry I never shared Jenny's story with you. The truth is, until Paul and Scott came I never told anyone. My love, right now I wouldn't touch this with a ten-foot pole. Ask Paul to explain." She looked at Paul then grinned.
I wonder how much I should share with them, Paul thought. Surely, not as much as I shared with the Foster's. I knew them very well and felt completely confident they would say nothing. I think a generalization will have to do.
Scott alternated his attention between watching Don and Kelly's faces as his father began a very short version of a long story.
Leaning against the railing, Don struggled to grasp what he was hearing as Paul told of his work; of finding an unmanned probe plodding through their assignment and the decision to investigate, and upon approaching Earth, being shot down. He told of finding Jenny and recreating her husband; their tenuous beginning and a trusting relationship that led to Scott's creation only to end in a tearful good-bye at the Arizona meteor crater
"Why did you leave when you knew she was expecting," Kelly asked.
"I had to. In addition to the danger, I was not properly prepared to remain here for more than a few days. After telling the ship of the loss of the landing craft, they declared this planet insufficiently advanced for interaction." He glanced at Scott. "Though I did not believe it possible to adapt to living here, I did come better prepared when I returned to answer a call from Scott. With the help of a friend's challenging words, I chose to stay. I am adapting and no longer wish to leave. Though not totally sure of how George Fox always seems to find us, he remains a continuing threat to our existence."
Paul told of Fox's pursuit and a couple close encounters. Looking at Kelly, he caught her smiling. Since we will have to leave immediately, I think it is time to change storytellers and ask Kelly to tell me anything reflective of Jenny's thoughts about our days together. "Kelly, would you tell us what you and Jenny talked about? It could help us find her."
"Mostly we talked about our children and what we had done when we were young. We shared a common problem of usually picking losers when it came to boyfriends then to men in general. She told me about meeting her husband skating and of falling in love at first sight. She said things were good for the first time in her life. I took it all as very romantic, but it wasn't until just over a year ago I found out what she meant." She looked at Don and from the look she gave him it was obvious Kelly Simpson had found what she needed in Donald Allen.
"Jen always cried when she talked about losing her husband in an accident. She said she began drowning her sorrows in alcohol. Then you came and went. She said she was happy being pregnant, especially after being told she could never have children. She said having Scott gave her a reason to live. It wasn't until she talked about being followed by someone from the government that she..." She stumbled over the words "… until she felt confident enough to tell me about you." She closed her eyes tightly. "I can only wonder how she must have felt when I started laughing. After that, anytime I mentioned Scott's father, she was the one who laughed. Now I feel like an idiot."
Don took her hand in his. "You never told me anything about her, only that you missed having Scott around the house when he went to live with your niece."
"Did she ever mention how she felt about..." Paul looked at her apprehensively, "About me?"
"No, and having the experience of being deserted by a man before, I felt so sure I already knew and didn't even bother to ask."
I can see sadness in Kelly's face, Paul thought. I also see a reluctance to say what she is thinking. He placed his hand on her arm. "I would like to thank you for being her friend."
"I could say 'you're welcome'..." She stopped mid-sentence, then glanced into his eyes. As tears began forming in hers, she felt a need to look away. Feeling Don's encouraging squeeze, she continued. "... Some friend I turned out to be. The only claim of friendship I can make is that of never telling a living soul what she told me. She should have grabbed and shook me until I listened to her."
"In a tape recording she left, she said you were her best friend and the only person she felt she could trust," Paul offered.
"That isn't true," Kelly confessed. "A real friend listens."
"There can be many facets to any friendship," Starman added. "You gave her work when she needed it. You provided a home for her and Scott, and when she couldn't handle it any longer, you did listen. You loved her and Scott enough to make sure he had the home he needed to grow. What more can anyone ask of a friend?"
I see tears of guilt, Don thought. I will try to help by asking more about this ... Starman. He held out a cupped hand, moving it slowly up and down to suggest something in it. "That must be quite a Swiss Army Knife. Your technologies must be much more advanced than ours."
"Of course. We are much older than you. Still advancement is relative only to the direction a society is going. I can say, by our standards this one must change a great deal before we ever make another attempt at contact."
"That's really too bad. I think we could learn a lot from you."
That's my Donald, Kelly thought. His easy going way allows him to talk to someone he has just learned comes from far off in space, as he did to a lonely aging woman on a train. He never fails to amaze me. She looked at him with ever growing affection. I think Donald has the ability to accept anyone and everyone at face value. I'm very lucky to have been on that train at the right time to latch on to this man. Scrutinizing Don entirely, she grinned. I think I have found something to talk about.
She started laughing. "Donald, I can see what Paul was talking about downstairs. You are going to have some explaining to do around the docks. I think you had better avoid your friends or come and go only in the dark or they're going to start calling you 'white man'." She glanced at Paul in time to catch a growing grin. It makes me feel a little better to see him see humor in the situation, she thought. Picking up her sunbonnet she plopped it on Don's head. "You hardly ever wear a hat, my love, but right now I think you need this more than I do." She laughed. "Hey, white skin and flowers, is really very becoming."
"Very funny," Don returned.
Don's look started her giggling. Then she looked him over again. "Love, you're also going to have to think up something to explain that." She pointed toward the vee formed by the partially unzipped jogging shirt.
"What?" he asked quizzically.
"Your tattoo is gone."
"I'm sorry," Paul said apologetically. "I could not reproduce the markings you had on your chest or your arm. There was far too much damage to the underlying tissue. Since I never saw the originals, I thought it best not to try."
Don unzipped the shirt further. Looking down he saw only clear skin. "It was done from a picture of my father in full tribal dress at a Potlatch many years ago." Though not returning Kelly's laughter, he did offer a solution. "It's no problem. I still have the photograph." He smiled as the subject stirred memories of the origin of the tattoo. "When I was in the Navy I bragged about the picture to some of my crewmates. When we had liberty in Hong Kong they dared me to put my chest where my mouth was. How could a full-blooded 'Redman', on liberty in Hong Kong and with four glasses of Chinese beer under his belt, resist. I have never been ashamed of it though and I can always find a better parlor and have it done again."
"There was another on your left arm," Paul said. "I could see it said something, but I couldn't read it."
"It said, Rachel," Don replied. He looked at Kelly with a broad, Cheshire-Cat grin. "She was a long, long time ago, but I bet Kelly is just as happy not to have to look at it anymore." Again Don shrugged his shoulders. "For the present, I guess I'll have to keep my shirt on and buttoned." Don's grin broadened. "Hey, I'll think of something. Right now, with so many questions I want to ask Paul, I'm not going to remain the center of attention."
Paul answered his questions truthfully, but remained guarded about the information offered. Though his questions could have continued for much longer, it was Kelly who looked beyond their growing curiosity to recognize a developing problem.
"Don, we can continue this later. Now, I think it's time we figure out how we're going to get home. I've heard stories of people drifting around out here for days. I didn't bring enough motion sickness medicine for an extended voyage."
"Everyone at the dock knows we were going sightseeing," Don advised. "They also know I have overnight accommodations. With our fuel range and no 'May Day' in to the Coast Guard, it could be days before someone might think of reporting us missing." Don looked around until he had his bearings. "Even without navigational equipment, I know where we are. I also know we've been drifting generally northwest. Soon we'll be out in the main coastal shipping lanes. I don't relish the thought of spending the night out here with a lot of fast moving freighters and no lights."
I do not wish to remain out here either, Paul thought. They will have time to think of too many questions and refusing to answer would be rude. "I agree," he offered. "We must find a way to get back home."
Don quivered slightly. "I guess it's time for me to go below and determine whether the Tschwahatcha is going to do it on her own. Kelly, go to the bridge and get out the emergency kit. If you see any ships, fire off a flare. If you get someone's attention, ask them to call in our coordinates to the Coast Guard and ask for a tow." Not desiring to 'go below' ever again, Kelly willingly accepted deck duty.
"I'll go down with you. Perhaps I can help." Paul said as he got up to follow.
"Maybe I can help too," Scott volunteered, eager to see how much more of his magic his father might offer
Climbing down the ladder into the darkness of the windowless hold, the residual odor of the fire left Don shuddering. He reached for the switch beside the door and some of the small white emergency lights glowed to illuminate the interior. "It appears we still have battery power, but I think we're going to need some flashlights to get a good look at things. Scott, there are a couple in that compartment on your right. Will you get them?"
Scott stopped and soon he was struggling with a strange latch. Finally managing to get it open he also found the light inadequate to see inside. Feeling around, he finally felt the familiar shape of a flashlight. Finding one he soon had three and brought them to Don.
Feeling a cold chill racing through his body, Don scanned the fire ravaged engine room. The distance between the ladder and the engine looked more like a mile than fifteen feet. There is the door that exploded into the room cutting off my escape, he thought. I see the rat's charred remains still here in the trash. Again he quivered. I can never forget the terror of those minutes in hell when the growing inferno sent me crawling into a corner to die. Waiting, all I could think of was I coerced Kelly into coming along and hoping, for once she would follow orders and abandon ship. I think the full scope of what happened here today is just beginning to dawn on me. These past few days I have worked shoulder to shoulder with, Paul Forrester, a man I learned to think of as a friend. This afternoon I am standing beside a man from a distant world. A man? … No, he thought. He isn't really a man. What is he? How do I address him? ... As Starman ... being ... friend? ... No, to me, he will always be Paul. Suddenly remembering he was not alone; he noticed Paul standing beside him.
With a power beyond any I can imagine, this man put out the blazing inferno consuming me. Without anesthetic and with the ability any surgeon would give his eyeteeth for, he took away the pain and restored my body. All that, yet he apologizes over a couple dumb tattoos. Returning with a start to the present, he saw Paul's eyebrows rise. Why is he looking at me like that? ...Oh! ... Allen, you're staring again, he chastised. Try to be subtle as you lower your eyes. You know this is going to happen again. It's the reason he said they have to leave. Now, I have to agree. Though I might want to, it will be almost impossible to think of either as ordinary any longer. I think you better get on with the job at hand.
He made a quick perusal of the engine then looked up at Paul. "The only obvious damage I can see is a broken fuel line and the fuel injector rubber has melted." Again the reality of the day hit him. His eyes locked on Paul and he felt unable to look away. I'm looking at an alien being that looks like a man. I bob around out here talking about a vast ocean while his was the universe. I talk about getting lost while I'm looking at a pilot and navigator who has come from God only knows how far. It makes me feel ... small ... unimportant. What can I do that he probably couldn't do much better with that metal thing? I suspect it could provide the power to get us out of this mess, but he doesn't offer. He doesn't seem to want to flaunt any special abilities. I wonder if he would have done anything at all for me if things hadn't been so bad.
He said he came back here answering a distress call from Scott. As he looked over at Scott, his face became sad and unconsciously he shook his head. Now they're both on the run from an inflexible government agent named George Fox. He looked back at Paul. I don't imagine he has really told us much and I can understand why. Yet from the way he acts and the things he says I cannot believe he means us any harm. I feel confident enough of that to protect these two to my last breath of air.
Don glanced down at the engine. Maybe if I put on a passable attempt at looking stumped, I might get some more alien help. Looking back at Paul, Don jumped when he saw Paul looking directly at him. Damn, I'll bet I've been staring at both of them. I see by the look on Paul's face that he's waiting for me to get this engine going. Now I'm going to try to make it take us home. To him, my efforts may be crude, but they will be my best. He pointed to the broken line. "I have extra fuel line and the fittings so that will be no problem. The injectors are another matter. The fuel might get through, but they may go at any time. Since I carry some, I think replacing them will be time well spent. They and the fuel line are in that bin of parts on the far wall, Paul. Would you get them?"
Oh great, Don thought. How do I explain to a celestial navigator that I want him to fetch and carry engine parts? "Never mind." He said, walking toward the bin. "I know what they look like. I'll get them."
Starman heaved a sigh. It's always the same. he grumped to himself. When someone does find out they lose their ability to talk then begin treating me like an alien. That progresses into carefully weighing each word they say. It's highly annoying. I found out long ago if I want to be myself, this normally is the time to leave, but at present we cannot do so. He put out a hand to stop Don. "I came down to help you," he said forcefully. "Just tell me what to look for and I'll get it."
Don's shoulders slumped. I'm doing just what he said I would if they stayed and it's annoying him, he thought self-consciously. I must do better than this. I have to see only the crewman I've worked with these past few days. He pointed to a T-shaped piece of metal joining short pieces of copper tubing and a gob on the engine. "If you can imagine what they used to look like, I need three of them."
While Paul went to get the parts, Don opened another door. Things all look good, he thought as he checked the output of several large batteries that ran the electrical systems. He returned to the engine about the same time Paul came with the requested parts. "Thank you," he offered. "It looks like lady luck is with us. The batteries escaped the fire completely and I thought to shut down the emergency power when we went topside, so the lights haven't drained it. As soon as we get these repairs completed, I think we may be in business. The fire started in the electrical wiring so I'm sure the wiring to the bridge has had it. I'll have to direct start the engine from here." Seeing Scott standing silently by, he paused momentarily. "Scott, I know Kelly's is upset. I know she doesn't want to come down here, but I'm sure she will if someone doesn't show up soon. Would you mind going up to keep her company? I'd really appreciate it."
I might as well, Scott thought. It doesn't look like Dad's going to help much and I'm not really doing anything down here. "No sweat," he offered handily. "If you need me for anything, just yell."
Two sets of hands worked diligently at the repairs. In about an hour, Don used a large screwdriver to hot wire the ignition switch. The starter ground, but the engine refused to start. "She's cold. The choke mechanism must be damaged. Paul, would you go back to the compartment where Scott got the flashlights? On the second shelf over to the right there are several spray cans. One of them says 'diesel starting fluid'. Would you bring it?"
Paul walked toward the storage compartment. I could easily have warmed the engine or created the energy necessary to start it, he thought. With some instruction I probably could have made the required repairs, but I think I will let him work on his problems. I will help only if there is no other way. In this way I am also learning more about these mechanical engines. Still I must marvel at the amount of knowledge Don does have of his crude machine. Reaching the cupboard, like Scott, he found he couldn't see anything inside. The sphere easily provided light and Paul found several spray cans. Checking labels he found the proper one. Returning, he held it and waited while Don checked the steering linkage.
Five minutes passed. Breathing a sigh of relief at finding things in order, he said, "I think were ready to see if she'll turn over. Paul handed him the can of spray. "Thanks." Don returned. He directed a spray of volatile smelling fluid into the engine breather as he shorted across the starter again. The engine groaned once, twice then on the third try it coughed-up a puff of heavy smoke before roaring to life. Its protest over, and totally unconcerned that fire had gutted the interior of its home, it chugged happily. After revving it several times until he felt it would respond to the throttle Don turned to Paul. "Will you go up to the bridge? We need to check out the gear shifter. I think it's all okay, but I want to make sure before we try getting underway. It's in neutral now. When I bang twice on the ceiling shift into reverse. If it's 'no go' I'll hit the ceiling once, twice if it's okay. If okay, go straight up the gears from one to seven."
"Neutral, reverse, then up one through seven," Paul repeated. Coming up through the hatch, he saw Scott and Kelly busy at the rear of the deck. "Don thinks we may be starting home soon," he called as he walked toward the cabin.
When all systems checked out, Don came upstairs and Kelly came inside. "I think we're ready to give it a try."
"With the power out to the winch, Scott and I cranked in all the lines," Kelly advised. "We got fourteen fish on the last set and put them on ice. All the bait was gone so I guess a bunch got off. Scott is waiting for word to take in the stabilizers."
Don smiled broadly. "Thank you my love. I just spoke with him. He's cranking on them now." With complete confidence, he turned to Paul. "I have to be down in the engine room to operate the throttle. Would you and Scott like to take her home?"
"Yes," Paul replied knowing this would be his last opportunity to continue his son's on the job training. "Thank you."
"First, I want to check her performance under load, so when I knock twice, shift into low gear. Same routine, one means no go and shift to neutral. Two is okay. We'll use fourth gear to go in. I'll adjust the throttle by ear to about four thousand revolutions per minute. Then I can come up for a while." Don smiled again as he left for below.
Everything worked well and Don returned shortly. For a while he marveled, watching a man from the stars teaching his son how to navigate a boat using only the map and a small manual compass. Finally thinking of other unfinished business, he stood. "I'm going aft to start cleaning the fish we caught."
"Do you need any help?" Paul asked.
"The total catch isn't big, but we'll make expenses," Don returned. "Just take us home. If anything goes wrong just yell." Both Paul and Scott nodded then returned to teacher and student.
When they reached the river entrance, Don returned. "We may have to anchor out here and use the dinghy to go in. I can't be downstairs working the throttle and up here navigating the channel."
"I have watched you in the channel," Paul offered confidently. "I know the way. I would like to increase my knowledge of boat handling in a confined area. May I take 'her' in?"
I know the channel is tricky to a boat the size of the Tschwahatcha, but Paul seems confident. How can I say no to someone who has piloted and navigated through the stars, besides ... what's the worst that can happen? Of course, it would be embarrassing to have to call in a tug to haul us out of the mud, but I suspect coming home with her in this condition I shouldn't have to do much explaining. Nodding, he walked aft. "Shift when I knock. I'll set the throttle to dead slow so you'll have time to maneuver. If you feel the bottom, shift her out of gear."
Don set the throttle when he felt the boat in gear then returned topside to offer any needed guidance. Taking a seat he quietly watched. Indeed, Paul has been observing, he confirmed after only minutes. It is almost as though he has each turn memorized down to the exact degrees and time. He said he was a navigator and I saw him learning to adjust for wind and wave action on the open ocean. The river channel adds flow yet he has easily adjusted for that as well. I wonder if space has waves, winds and flows. While I have an experienced celestial navigator at the helm, why should I worry?
"I think I'll go out and do the deck with Kelly," Don offered. Seeing Paul nod an acknowledgment, he walked outside. I see she has her eyes on the horizon again. With the excitement wearing off, maybe she's getting a little seasick. He gazed at her lovingly. My eyes never tire of watching that woman. Darn, she's turning. She must have heard me coming. "Well, my love, this is the first time I've had you out on the boat. It isn't always this exciting." He saw her smile. "It's also the first time I've gone through this channel as a passenger. It's nice looking at the scenery for a change." He backed up several steps to look again. His eyebrows rose and fell. He hesitated for a moment. "All of the scenery." He got his expected reward when he saw her blush. "Woman, you're the best thing that ever happened to me." He stepped forward again, taking her in his arms. How much do I love thee? Let me count the ways."
She quivered at his touch. "I love you too," she returned. Wrapping her arms tightly around him she nestled her face against his chest. "I will never forget this day. If it hadn't been for a man I have berated for years, this day I would have lost you to the sea." She looked up to meet his eyes and they exchanged a long passionate kiss and embrace. Afterward they stood together at the rail holding hands and gazed out across the river, each deep in his, or her, own thoughts.
While his father continued navigating the river, Scott completed the all too familiar ritual of packing their meager belongings.
With the distance to the dock rapidly closing, Don turned to Kelly. "I have to go down to the engine room to shut down," he announced as he walked off toward the hold.
As the boat nudged gently against the dock, Paul shifted into neutral. He looked at Scott. "Are we ready?" he asked. At a nod, Starman heaved the heavy duffel onto his shoulder before Kelly had time to secure the docking lines. As she waited for Don to appear from below, Paul announced, "It's time for us to go."
First into the cabin, Kelly saw Scott with the knapsack. "You're not leaving already?"
"We must," Paul advised confidently.
"But there are so many things we want to ... no, we need to ask you."
"That's the reason we have to leave," Paul returned with quiet resolve. He looked her in the eye, then at Don who had just reappeared from below. "You know I cannot answer your questions, so we will continue our search for Jenny."
"Maybe we can help," Kelly offered.
Paul extended a hand to her. "You have already helped. Though you could not tell us where Jenny has gone, you have told us of her likes and dislikes, and we will remain looking within the Pacific Time Zone. You have confirmed that she always loved Scott, so our search is not in vain. We are also happy to have finally met the only person we knew she looked upon, and confided in as a friend."
Kelly flushed with embarrassment. "You mean someone who didn't believe what her friend told her."
"You continued to be her friend in spite of what you believed. That is the best kind of friend of all."
Not totally convinced, but appreciative, she said, "Thank you." She took Paul's hand firmly and gave it a squeeze. Again she felt a surge of warmth and looking up at him, grinned. "Are you wishing me well?"
Paul smiled. "You remembered." He saw her blinking her eyes as moisture formed.
She looked to Don then wrapped her arms around Paul. "I will never forget you." Laying her face alongside his, she whispered, "How can I thank you for what you did for Don."
"It is not necessary."
"I am now thrilled to know my nephew is with his father. Please take good care of him."
"I'll do the best I can," Paul said reassuringly. When Kelly let go, he turned to offer his hand to Don.
Don offered two in return. "I don't know what to say."
"Nothing is necessary except good-bye. We must go," he offered with purpose.
"I know, but we still have one matter of unfinished business."
Paul's eyebrows shot up. "We do?"
"There is a custom among my people that when someone saves your life a piece of your spirit belongs to him and you are bound together as brothers. We can no longer be 'just friends', for I owe you that debt of kinship. May I call you 'brother'?"
Paul grinned. "I would like that very much."
"Then one thing must be done to complete the bonding. We must exchange gifts." Don walked into the cabin and soon returned. Placing his talisman around Paul's neck, he said: "Let this symbolize your family's union with mine."
"I can't take this, Don. It was a gift from your grandmother. Besides, I have nothing of family to exchange."
"I see your camera bag. What I would like to have is a picture of all of us together. We can have someone on the dock take it."
"My mentor was a photographer and I have been learning the trade," Paul offered. "I will set my camera to take our picture." He put in a fresh roll of film and programmed the camera. After taking the first picture, he noticed Don's blistered face and singed hair. "I wish to take more pictures, but I think I should do some preparation first." He pulled out the sphere and in minutes Don was restored to normal. "Now you will have no reason to explain to your friends," he offered. He took several more pictures and in each proudly displaying his pendant. Rewinding, the film, he handed it to Don. "Now, I think we are brothers."
Don grinned broadly. "Yes, but with this brother comes another of questionable value, and much family of various degrees. My brother may call on any if ever in need of help. I will advise the council of our joining so you may consider this reservation your home."
Paul slipped a new roll of film into the camera. "Before coming to Earth, I never had a brother ... or a family. It feels good." He snapped several more pictures. "These will be for us to keep with our memories." Replacing the camera, he closed the bag. Paul smiled when he saw Scott getting a hug from Kelly. "Saying good-bye is always sad. Saying good-bye to family makes it even harder." He reached for the duffel bag then felt Don's arms around him.
Drawing Paul to him in a bear hug, Don pressed his face against his friend's and received a surge of warmth in return. He wore a broad grin as they separated. "Good-bye, brother." He grabbed Scott, repeating his gesture. "Good-bye, nephew. Good luck to you both."
Paul's smile faded back to reality when he saw Scott pick up the backpack and camera bag. As Scott climbed over the railing onto the dock Paul took the duffel and hung it over his shoulder and turned to follow. As he stood on the dock he looked back for a moment, then with a simple wave, Starman and his son left the Allen's for what probably would be the last time. They walked the length of the dock then turning toward the ocean beach soon disappeared into a vivid sunset. Gazing out over the vast ocean as he walked, Paul's thoughts focused on the young man walking beside and momentarily he was home. The lengthening rays of light from the setting of this small star heralds the end of another day at the edge of this galaxy. Although I am far from home I know tomorrow will be another day.
They had walked down the beach only minutes, when Paul heard someone calling his name. I hope they have not decided to follow, he thought turning apprehensively. In the vivid colors of the sunset over the water, he saw somebody running toward them.
"Mr. Forrester," the voice called again, "please wait?"
I recognize the voice, Paul thought. It's Don's brother. Now what does he want? I guess I should find out. He and Scott waited.
Heaving from the exertion, Rod slowed to a walk as he approached. "You did say you wanted to be my friend, didn't you."
Finally standing face to face, Rod said confidently, "I need a friend and don't know who else to turn to."
Scott's mouth contorted to one side. This must be some new contact Dad hasn't told me about. Instead of trying to solve someone's problem, we should be getting some distance away from here.
"To have a friend you must act as a friend," Paul said, looking Rod in the eye. "Just what may I do for you?"
"I need someone to go to the liquor store and buy me a bottle of whiskey."
"No," Paul replied decisively.
"Hey, seeing you on the beach with bags at this time of day, I figure you're on the move again. You help me and I'll help you."
"That is not the kind of help you need, Obi."
"Okay, I know I drink too much. I am going to stop," he offered. "Like they say in the programs, I've been doing some thinking about what has been happening to me. Now that I know an obsession for the real freedom of our old ways drove me to alcohol, I know I can beat it."
"You can beat it, but real freedom is making choices."
"I did make a choice. I chose to fight to retain our Indian identity. If I could have gotten some help the cause would have grown and we could have won, instead I watched my brother join the white men."
"Are you now choosing to blame your brother for your problems?"
"I no longer have a brother."
Okay, Scott concluded with pride. This has to be Don's messy brother. He frowned curiously. I thought he was in a rehabilitation program.
Paul shook his head slowly. "So now you try to blame someone else for what is your responsibility to yourself." After looking sadly at the man for a moment, Paul turned away. Reading his father's intention to continue, Scott continued walking.
"Hey, Don isn't even a Native American anymore," Rod snapped as he dogged after them. "He even married a white woman."
I know Rod is intent on getting what he feels he needs, Paul thought, slowing his pace until they walked together.
"When Don speaks of you injuring people and of being put in jail, he says he has lost his brother, but it is that 'white' woman, you demean, who speaks for you. She recognizes you are family and worth trying to save. She is 'white, but unlike you, she is the driving force behind the cultural center being built for your people. She has taken the time to interview your tribal elders in an effort to preserve your history. She also helps them when they need it."
"I didn't know she was doing that," Rod replied.
"No, you don't talk to her. Because her skin is white you never look at her as a member of your family. While you speak harshly of prejudice, you fail to look in your mirror. Even more important than what she has done for your people, she is your brother's wife and he loves her very much."
"Don has abandoned his people for her."
"Don has never abandoned his people. He is skillful in explaining your history. He strives to maintain contact with his past, but recognizing he cannot live in it, he has chosen to move forward. For you it is easier to blame others for problems you make for yourself. You have done it so long it clouds your reasoning, for nothing can drive a 'free' person where he does not wish to go. Freedom is being responsible for steering your own course."
"It's too late. I don't know what to do anymore."
"Like you said, you need a friend. The best friends you can ever have are your brother and Kelly."
"My brother doesn't want me around anymore."
"Though Don may have said otherwise, he cares a great deal about you. He and Kelly both want to help, but to cross the street it is you who must take the first step. That first step is learning to care for yourself. Life changes continually and though you can remember the past, you do not now live in the time of your ancestors. Accept the fact that your actions have brought you to where you are now, and it is you who must change your course. I told to Don about our visit at your house. He and Kelly are still on the boat. They can help if you go to them, now."
"Maybe it would be better if I just leave."
"Would that be steering yourself in the right direction or blindly driving away with your problems? Even if you decide to leave here, you will need to address your addiction. Help is already available here however it will not wait for you much longer. It is necessary that you decide to return. Afterward, there will be no fences to keep you here if leaving is what you really want."
"But what can I do out there? Fishing is the only thing I know."
"That is also not true. Don said you worked in a lumber mill. Without the liquor I also know Don would welcome you back on the boat. You know the fishing trade and he has mentioned you are a very good mechanic. If those things are not what you want, then better yourself. If you get the help you need, many options will become available to you. Explore them and then get the education you need to obtain what you want."
"You mean go back to school? I'm too old for that."
"One is never too old to learn. There are many ways of getting an education, but you must take the first step. What you do with your life is up to you. To start down the right road, your first choice must be seeking the help you need with your drinking."
"You are not 'fine' or you would not be asking me to get you a bottle of 'whiskey'. You are not 'fine' or the police would not be looking for you. You ask for my help because you know the police are also looking for me. Do you believe I will be helping you by getting you more alcohol?" Picking up Rod's hand, Paul grimaced. "One thing I do know, if you do not change your course soon you will not have to worry much longer about anything. Your bodily functions are deteriorating rapidly."
"How can you possibly know that?"
"It doesn't matter how I know," Paul replied.
So he's on the run, Scott thought. It looks like he has more than one serious problem. Maybe Dad feels we have something in common. I'm only guessing, but I think they must have had at least one serious talk already. He shook his head slowly. I wonder how Dad does it. Though I recognize the logic he used with Ted Taylor regarding his addiction, I have to wonder how it is he seems to get through when no one else can. Can he be making direct contact with his mind as he did with Eric's father, or is it his logic is unquestionable? When I'm not with Dad all the time, I sure miss out in a lot of interesting people.
Paul looked compassionately at Rod. Though I would like to help him, Don is right. He must take the first step by choosing to help himself. We need to separate from him for we are at the dirt road I planned on using to get from the beach to the main road. Though I know there is another access up further it will make the walk much longer. Maybe I can persuade him to go back.
Though intending to walk past, Paul glanced up the dirt road. Something is blocking this path. He jerked nervously then stopped. ... It's a vehicle? I don't see anyone, but though Rod should likewise be showing concern, he is not. Could this be the old truck Don spoke of, and this place might be one of Rod's hiding places? He approached cautiously. I think I'm right for Rod continues to follow. Perhaps this is an opportunity to change the direction of our conversation. He stopped to study Rod's sallow, drawn face, before asking, "Would you like to see yourself as I see you?"
"I told you, I'm fine," Rod returned sharply.
"Obi, you came to me seeking a friend," Paul offered, walking confidently toward the truck. "As that friend, I have not asked for your opinion. I'm asking if you can face your future as bravely as your ancestors did theirs."
"I'm telling you, there's nothing wrong with me," Rod shot back.
Not looking at him, Paul asked, "Is that a yes, a no, or another single-opinion?"
"Just forget I asked for a favor."
"Obi, you came to me seeking a friend," Paul repeated. "One friend cannot let another 'just forget' something important. If you still feel the same afterward, I will try to help you."
"Okay, okay," Rod returned in frustration. "If that's all it takes, I'll look at whatever you want." He smirked, mumbling under his breath, "This should be good."
Paul reached into his pocket for his sphere. He took Rod by the arm and led him over to the truck and pointed toward the large side mirror. "Look!"
"What are you trying to pull?" Rod retorted. "I agreed to look and listen to your propaganda not play games." He knocked Paul's hand aside and reached for the door handle.
"Are you afraid to look into a mirror?" Paul challenged. "Can't you take a moment to look at your own face?" Paul placed his hand back on Rod's arm then turned him back until he stood looking directly into his eyes. Without losing contact, he directed the sphere to raise the diminishing light then to enhance the image of Rod's growing reality from what he could feel emitting from within. "Now look!" he ordered, again pointed to the mirror. "What do you see?"
Rod glanced at the mirror, then with a bewildered look he moved forward enough to look behind it. With more than mild surprise, he backed to look at the mirror again. "What's wrong with this thing? The reflection isn't me, it's someone else."
"It isn't! It's some tired old man!" He checked the backside of the mirror once again. "What's going on?"
"Obi, that is you. Inside your body is rapidly aging."
Unable to look away, Rod changed positions while he continued studying the image. I wonder how this reflection seems to be following my movements so precisely. Wait, I see Mom's face in this person. How can this be? Bewildered, he looked at Paul then back into the mirror. "How are you doing that?"
"Does it matter?"
"You're trying to tell me this is how I'll look when I get old?"
"On the course you have chosen you will not get much older. This is very close to your present reality. Your chemical addiction is destroying the very structure of your body. Very soon the damage will be irreversible. Then you will die."
"No!" he returned defensively.
"Obi, you berate others for what happened long ago to your ancestors. They lost their land because they placed more value on the lives of their families and their people. By choosing alcohol over your family you are helping destroy your people."
"Hey, wait. It was Doreen who walked out and took my kids with her."
"Don said she told him she was leaving because she feared for her life and the lives of your children. Children are the hope of your people. Soon you will be gone, but you will have helped to destroy their heritage as well."
Rod's face evidenced a growing anger as he looked at Paul. "You don't know how it was."
Paul put his hand on Scott's shoulder. "No, but I have learned how it should be. To be a parent, you are supposed to care for your children."
Rod glanced back at the image in the mirror. "This is some kind of trick meant to scare me, isn't it?"
Paul's look never faltered. "No trick. Would you like to see more?"
Rod looked back into the mirror then nodded. "But first, tell me how you do that?"
"That I will not explain," Paul replied decisively. "Would you like to see more?" he repeated slowly. Seeing Rod's subtle nod, he continued. "You will now remember what you have done during the past forty-eight hours that has brought you here seeking the help of one you know avoids the law." Paul saw Rod staring at him. "Don't look at me - look at yourself within the mirror."
Following the directions of a voice not easily dismissed, Rod Allen began a trip he would never forget. His eyes got wider as the show of images from his memory began. I'm looking back at the hospital. He smiled slyly, taking pride in his accomplishment. It took a lot of thinking to figure a way to get out of that prison. Now, I have to avoid getting caught. I'll use the back streets to get out of town. As the scenario continued, he became more and more involved in his memories. I'll go down to the lumber mill. Yes, no one will look for me there.
I've been waiting for hours. It's cold. His body contorted and he shivered openly. How much longer is it until morning? Okay, there comes John. He's always the first one to get to work and I know he keeps a bottle in his truck. I know he'll help me. As always, I see Joe and Tom right behind him. Here they come. I'll ask John for his bottle.
I thought Tom was my friend, but he's patting me on the head. I'm not a dog ... but I'm getting the shakes. ….Okay, that was easy. I'll do a ceremonial dance for you. ….What? ….Now they're all laughing. …. He frowned. ….They're laughing at me. That's enough of the dance. I've done what you asked, now give me the bottle.
John says he wants me to get down on my knees and beg. That's enough. I have pride. Just let me have it.
John is holding the bottle over my head. Is he going to play games with me? ….I'll jump for it. He wasn't expecting that and I got it. ….Now he's telling me my dance was only worth one swallow. I know John can get mean and it's three against one. After being in the hospital so long I have to have this drink. I'll just make it the biggest swallow I can.
While Paul and Scott watched, Rod began clutching at his throat. I've taken more than I can swallow. I can't get it all down. It's choking me. There, some of it has leaked from the corners of my mouth. Okay, I can swallow the rest. Luckily, I didn't lose too much. This has been disgusting.
Now, where am I? It's a grocery store? Yes, I recognize it. It's the store where Doreen used to work. It's always been an easy place to rip off a bottle of wine. John's swallow didn't do much. ….Now I have one under my shirt. I'm walking out with it. My heart is pounding. I have to get away. If I get caught they'll take it away. I'm out of the store and running into the alley. Oh! ... I didn't see that empty bottle on the ground. I've stepped on it and I'm losing my balance. ….I've fallen into an empty box. ….Damn, struggling to get out of the box my bottle has slipped out of my shirt. It's falling. ….Oh, no, the top has broken off. I have to grab it quick before I lose any more. Ouch! I've cut my hand on the top ... no time to wrap it. Have to move on or they'll catch me. Cross the street and dodge between the houses. Okay, there are some bushes. They'll never find me here. I can have a drink in peace. Crawling behind a hedge he flopped down on the ground. "Ah," he said in reflective pleasure."
Memories continued with another change in scenery. Oh! now I'm somewhere else. I'm climbing through a window. I recognize it. It's Don's house. No one is home. ….I found her bottle of cooking brandy. ...Now that's gone too.
I'm back on the reservation. Look at what I've done. Hoping to find a bottle I might have missed I've ransacked Mom's house. Why did she have to die?
Rod turned away, avowing to Paul, "It's all Don and Doreen's fault."
"Rod, it's not Don's or Doreen's fault," Paul rebuked. "What you see is your fault." When Rod looked back at his drawn and almost unfamiliar face in the mirror, he began shaking uncontrollably.
The show is over, Scott thought as he watched the image in the mirror fade to reality. This is like the technique Dad used with Joanna in Reno. I wonder if it will work again.
Rod's eyes narrowed as he sought the stranger's. Looking deeply, he asked, "Who are you?"
"Someone you've never seen before and probably will never see again," Paul replied with purpose. He motioned Scott to move away from the truck before turning back to Rod. "The reality of who we are has caught up with us again and we must leave. If your wish is to cause great damage to your family, tell others we have been on your reservation. The truth is I can do no more for you other than to speak to you as your friend. Rod, it is time for you to help yourself. Go to Don and Kelly right now while the help you need is still available."
"I don't know if I can," he whined.
"You can, and you must. They will help you get back into the hospital. As your family, they will support you through your illness and what follows." Paul's outstretched hand in Rod's path said decisively he no longer wished him to follow. Turning, Starman walked toward Scott, silently signaling to go up the road.
I think its logic, pure and simple, Scott confirmed as he started walking. If I read the look on Rod's face correctly, I think he understands. I wonder if Don and Kelly will ever tell him about us. How I wish Dad could get George Fox to think as logically as this alcoholic, but I guess to understand logic someone first has to listen. I'd like to stick Fox in a wooden box with only his head sticking out then I'd leave him and Dad together for a while. With no one to help him, he'd have to listen.
Watching the Starman and his son walking away, Rod Allen's mind reeled with questions and uncertainty. Out of his abyss he could find only one answer. Though he wanted to pursue his questions, somehow, he knew the opportunity was over and would never come again. As he watched the two disappear into the fading light, he heaved a heavy conceding sigh. Trembling, he turned to begin the long walk back toward the harbor.
Many Native American eyes watched with a deep sadness as Rod Allen, an alcohol degraded one of their number, walked down the main street of town toward the docks. Though the fishermen knew Don's guests had left a short while ago, they had also received word the council had authorized Rod's arrest on the reservation. Duty bound to restrain him for the authorities they followed.
Suffering more than just withdrawal tremors at the sad eyes of his people watching him, Rod spoke out loudly for courage. "I'm an alcoholic and this is the longest walk I have ever taken." At his words, the men allowed Rod to continue out onto the dock alone for they knew he was going to see his brother. Reaching the Tschwahatcha he stood silently for a moment before calling out for the assistance he needed. "Don ... Kelly? Can I come aboard? ... I need your help..."
END of Part 1