Chapter 13




1995   Jonathan slowed down to fifty to negotiate the turns along Highway 101 when he came to the bridge over the mouth of the Naselle River.  It was usually one of the most beautiful parts of the drive, with Long Island and the south end of Willapa Bay out to his right, and the marshes of the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge to his left, but today it had been reduced to a landmark telling him that he was only about forty minutes away from his destination.

He had just finished crossing the long and high graceful looking cement bridge when he began to get the feeling that someone was searching for him again.  He slowed down al­most without thinking about it this time, not wanting to have another accidental near miss, or not-so-near miss.  He was afraid it was going to be Eddie again, not expecting anyone else, when Janice's voice popped into his head.

          “Well, sur-prise, sur-prise, sur-prise!” she said, in a south­eastern accent that was supposed to remind Jonathan of when they used to watch the Gomer Pyle Show, starring Jim Neighbors.  He wasn't amused.

          “Ah, shit!” he sent back to her.

          “What's wrong, big brother, you're not happy to hear from me?” she asked, trying to break the ice.

          “I'm not happy to hear from anybody anymore who doesn't use a goddamned phone.”

          “That's why I never call you,” she replied.

          “Fuck, not you too!”

          “Afraid so, Jonathan.”

          “Well, hit me up.  It's gotta be bad news.  My birthdays not until March.”

          “I just wanted to wish you an early Happy St. Patty's Day.”

          “Right!  How come everyone in the family but me has to be a smart ass?”

          “You're just the only one in our family without a sense of humor, dude.”

          “Maybe you should check in on Eddie someday, he hasn't been too funny lately.”

          “Been there, done that, and you're right.  What the fuck is going on?”

          “Is this a secure line?”  Even Jonathan had to chuckle to himself at that one, even though he was deadly serious.

          “Pretty good, Jonathan.  There may be hope for you yet.  I'm not sure, so let's keep this short.  You'll know if he starts horning in, kind of a feeling you'll probably get.”

          “My turn, been there, done that.”

          “Really?  That's interesting.  I just got off the phone to him, so to speak, and he says he hasn't talked about you, but said dad is sick, and you're on your way to see him.”

          “Bullshit!  I've talked to him twice today.  Once even us­ing a real phone!”

          “How sick is dad?”

          “That's bullshit too!  The reason I'm off to see Dad is to try and find out just what in the hell happened back when we were in Nebraska, tell him how sorry I am, and hopefully to enlist his help in aiding me stop Eddie.”

          “To stop him from doing what, Jonathan?”

          “I think he's responsible for the deaths of at least two people I know of, not counting anyone in our past.  I don't know where he will stop, and it's probably my fault.  But what's done is done.  I just want to make sure there's no more blood shed.  I can't believe I've been so stupid!  I know this is going to sound weak, but it's like I'm just waking up from a bad dream.”

          “My turn brother.  Been there, done that.  But don't blame yourself too much, I had to get professional help to figure it out myself.”

          “How long have you known?”

          “Don't ask, okay?  Now listen up Jonathan.   How far are you away from dad's place?”

          “About forty minutes, give or take a few, but I'm sup­posed to meet the Triple E, God, I mean Eddie, at an airfield not too far from there.  He doesn't want me to see dad at all.”

          “That little fuck, he said you were both going to meet him, and that he needed to get you back to Olympia as soon as possible!”

          “Yeah, he told me that too, it's mostly politics Janice.  That's my fault.  The two people he killed, or arranged to have killed, or did whatever it is that he does, were two people that were running against me in the upcoming elec­tion.”

          “No wonder he didn't want me to go to the D.A.”

          “What did you say?” asked Jonathan.

          “I knew that something was up, and I could tell that it was bad.  Now I know what it was.  I threatened to go to the Washington State D.A.'s office in Olympia if he didn't tell me where you and dad were.  I also made him promise me that you all would be there in one piece when I got there.”

          “I appreciate the concern, but Eddie's gotta be livid!”

          “Yeah, I know.  I already pissed him off enough to cause a couple of wars, trust me.  This needs to be between me and Eddie.  You and dad aren't even ready for what he can do, do you hear me?”

          “Janice, you can't take him on by yourself!”

          “Maybe there's another way to do this, but for right now, you've got to do exactly as I say!”

          “Like I haven't heard that in the last half hour?”

          “I mean it Jonathan!” she said.  “How far from dad's is this airport that Eddie's heading for?”

          “Damn near across the street.  A couple of blocks at the most I guess.  I've never been there, but Eddie says it's real close.”

          “Listen Jonathan.  I'm not going to be there for a while.  You've got to get to dad, then both of you get the hell out of there before Eddie locates you.  It's you he wants, but with all that's happened as of late, it's me and dad that'll be next on his shit list.  He'll deal with us in whatever order he gets a hold of us Jonathan.  So you have to get dad out of there now!”

          “What if he doesn't want to go?”

          “Kidnap his ass, I guess.  I don't know.  You're just going to have to do what ever it takes to get him out of there.”

          “Okay, whatever you say, I guess.  Damn, Janice, I'm not afraid to tell you that I'm scared as hell.”

          “Welcome to the club, Jonathan.”

“Yeah, Club Dread.  I'm not so sure I want back in.”

          “Too late dude, you're a charter member, but I think it's time to elect a new president.”

          “I second the motion.”


          “What do you want me do once I grab dad?”

          “Do you know where Fort Canby State Park is?”


          “Meet me there, in the parking lot down by the end of the jetty.  I'll be in a brown Nissan Sentra.”

          “Janice, I'm getting that feeling again, and it's really strong!”

          “You haven't heard from me dude.”  And she was gone.




          Thomas stopped in mid sentence as he was telling his story to Luke, almost dropping the glass of brandy out of his hand.

          "Thomas.  Are you all right?  You look like you've just seen a ghost," Luke Perry said with concern.

          "Heard from a ghost would be more like it," he replied, swallowing the remaining half glass of brandy in a single gulp.

          "Edward again?" asked Luke.

          "No.  Janice.  But it's the same feeling.  Like she's trying to get a hold of me too, I can feel it."

          "It must be nice to be wanted," joked Luke, but knowing it was probably the last thing that Thomas needed right now.

          "I'd rather be wanted by the FBI," he said sadly.

          "You don't really mean that now, do you Thomas?"

          "You can take it to the bank, Luke.  All I really want from what's left of this miserable old life is to be left the fuck alone!" he nearly shouted.

          "No you don't, Thomas.  Not really," returned Luke with a sullen face.

          "Look Luke, you're the best friend a man could ask for, but don't go tryin' to psychoanalyze me."

          "Thomas, I'm afraid that there comes a time when a good friend has to get in the face of another.  I've been listening to you for the last three hours.  You've obviously been through hell, and it looks like you're going to have to go through more.  But at least you're alive.  And you're not alone, as much as you say you want to be.

          "Let me tell you about alone, my friend.  Alone is when I lock the doors for the night and turn off the open sign.  Alone is when you and all of my other regulars go back to their lives and finish off the day.  They might not have much, but they have somebody or something to go back to, even if it's only something to run from, or run to.

          "I ain't got shit.  Not even a fuckin' nightmare waiting for me at night, just me and a limp dick that missed out on a lot of pussy.  That's alone my friend.  I'd fight all the demons in hell for what you've got.  I'd give both my nuts, not that I have any use for them these days, to find out that I had a family trying to find me.  So they're the Addams Family, who gives a rat's ass?  It beats being alone.  Really fucking alone.

          "Thomas, I love you man, but don't come in here crying that alone shit to me anymore, okay?"

          "Okay, but you're not getting my Bud Lite, Luke," said a teary eyed Thomas Engelhart, quoting a popular television beer commercial.  They both broke into laughter, and for the umpteenth time, Luke refilled their brandy glasses.

          "Sorry, Thomas, I guess that just kinda slipped out.  I know you got a lot on your mind right now," apologized Luke as he set the refilled glass in front of Thomas.

          "Yeah, but I needed to hear what you just said.  Do me a favor, would you?" asked Thomas.


          "Don't ever change.  Get laid… but don't ever change."




Jonathan felt a slight ease of tension as Janice signed off, then felt the full wallop of an irate Eddie transmitting at maximum output, neither one of them realizing that the only thing separating them at the moment was a layer of clouds and about six thousand feet.

          “Jonathan, speak to me Goddammit!” yelled Eddie via thought transmission.

          “Yeah, Eddie?  I mean Triple E.  You don't have to yell, I can hear you just fine.'

          “Good,” replied Eddie, toning it down some, glad to be able to save his strength.  “Listen up, I don't want to have to repeat myself.”

          Eddie sounded extremely strained to Jonathan.  His sister must have really got through to him.

          “I'm listening.”

          “There's been a slight change of plans; we'll be driving back in your car, so don't be dilly-dallying around.  Remember, straight to the airfield, bro.”


          “How long until you'll be there?” asked Eddie, quick and to the point.  Jonathan couldn't help but notice that his brother's irritating sense of humor was now gone.   He took a chance and padded the numbers a little, ironically enough, a trick he had learned from watching Eddie over the years.

          “About a half an hour, I guess,” Jonathan quickly lied, hoping Eddie wouldn't be able to pick it up in his voice, or his mind, or whatever it was that his two siblings honed in on.

          “We'll be waiting for you.”


The pressure inside Jonathan's head began returning to normal.  Soon all that remained was his pounding head­ache.  Eddie was gone again.  Whew!

          It was all getting to be too much for Jonathan.  He knew it was going to be next to impossible to sneak in and get his Dad without the all-powerful Edward of Oz finding out.  Damn!  What a mess.  He was beginning to wish he had just left his Dad out of it, and joined the Foreign Legion instead.

          At least he had bought himself a little precious time.   He caught a little white rectangular sign from the corner of his eye, telling him to slow to 35 mph.  After all of the billboards boasting the numerous motels, cabin rentals, and restaurants, it was hardly noticeable.  The local cops prob­ably made a fortune off of that little speed trap, he thought to himself.  He quickly braked down to the limit, realizing a traffic ticket was the last thing he needed right now.

          As he looked straight ahead, he could see a big green sign with two red lights alternately flashing on top of it.  It marked the intersection of the highway he was on with Highway 103.  The sign had arrows pointing right and left, and read 'North to Long Beach and Ocean Park, South to Ilwaco and Astoria'.  He braked to a stop at the intersection, looked to his left, and when he saw that there was no traffic turned right onto Highway 103, north.  Ahead he saw a sign that read, 'Ocean Park 13, Klipsan Beach 11'.

          He knew that if he pushed it a little after getting out of Long Beach, he was only about fifteen minutes away from the Slippery Deck.  Unfortunately, he also realized that his brother would already be sitting in a plane on an airstrip just across the highway and down the road a few blocks.  He tried to concentrate on his driving as he went through Seaview and came to the downtown area of Long Beach.  What little traffic he might find would be here, and during the tourist season, you never knew when someone would dart across the street to get to one of the many shops and eateries.

          As he passed Marsh's Museum, home of Jake the Alligator Man and a Real Shrunken Head, he was amazed at how few people were out and about.  It was a Friday, after all, though it was the off-season and the weather sucked.  Still, he expected more people downtown.  The place was dead.  Maybe they heard the Triple E was coming, he thought morbidly to himself.  I sure wouldn't be here now if I had the option.

          Option!  He laughed to himself.  All of his options were just about gone; a scary place to be for a politician who usually had to keep a position directly on the middle of the fence, ready to jump to either side depending on the latest poll.  He reprimanded himself.  He felt that he actually had quite a firm grasp on where he wanted to go, and what side of the fence he was on.  It was Eddie that had continuously persuaded him to change course, to take advantage of the latest trends.

          He realized now that Eddie's intuitive mind was probably what had gotten him so far so fast, and in the end, was the reason why he had kept the little bastard around.  There was no sense of pity for your little brother happening there, Jonathan, he told himself.  You needed him!  Hell, you still need him!  God, what a disgusting thought, he realized.  In the political arena, where I have made and spent my entire adult life, I am nothing without Eddie.

          You have truly sold your soul to the devil, haven't you Jonathan?  The only thing was he couldn't remember was the part where he had to sign on the dotted line.  That probably happened only in the movies, he told himself.  In truth, sell­ing your soul to the devil is something that happens gradu­ally over a long period of time.  Then you wake up one morning and find the devil sitting on your head and taking a dump.  You do your best to wash and comb the shit out, but when you think you've got it accomplished, you look in the mirror and find out you look like Newt Gingrich.  Then you spend some time with a blow dryer, a toothbrush and a tube of ultra-conservative-bright toothpaste.  Voila!  The horns don't even show anymore and you have a permanently cheesy Lord Fauntleroy smile that hides your forked tongue.  Now you can promote cutting Medicare, raiding the Social Security fund, overturning en­vironmental laws, and giving a tax break to corporate America for sending jobs overseas.  Now that's politics buddy!

          His stomach felt worse than ever and he rolled down his window to spit out the bile that was rising into his throat.  Everything he thought he believed was being shattered in front of his own face, induced by his own mind no less.  Yes, he paused and relished the thought, his own mind.  What a concept.  He still had one didn't he?  He wasn't sure, but he was damn willing to find out.

          He remembered his conversation with Janice.  She had told that he wasn't ready for what Eddie could do.  She might be right about that, but how the hell did she know?  He hadn't heard from her since he had left for col­lege, and she had left the year after him, according to Eddie.  As far as he knew, nobody had heard from her since.

          I know one thing, Jonathan told himself with a renewed sense of purpose, I'm gonna stop Eddie.  I don't know how, but I am.  He began to wonder if it might be easier just to let things be at this end and deal with Eddie later.  Then he could think things out more.  Maybe get in contact with his sister and father on the side, compare notes, and come up with some kind of plan.

And Eddie won't even get a clue, will he?  Piece of cake.  We'll just get together at a Red Lion Inn somewhere, do lunch, have a conference, and decide when and where we we're going to nuke Eddie.  Yeah, right!  Then he remem­bered what his father had told him along time ago.

          'The quickest way to get from here to there is in a straight line.  Just do what you have to do today and be done with it.'

          He was right, just as he had been right all these years.  Just as Janice was probably right.  He felt like he was the star in a Nike commercial.

          “Representative Jonathan Engelhart knows how it is…” he envisioned as the camera focused in on him tying up his shoes, “Just Do It!”

          He shook his head to get rid of the daydream and real­ized that somehow he had passed through Long Beach without hitting anything.  He stomped on the accelerator pedal and pushed the Ford up to sixty.  It was pretty much a clear stretch from here to his destination.  All he had to do was point his Taurus straight ahead, and keep the pedal to the metal.  Ten minutes, and he would be at the tavern.  Too bad he didn't know what he wanted to say, he wouldn't have long to say it.




          Eddie had just began to settle back into a resting trance when he heard Joe cut back on the throttle of the Cessna and bank it to the right.  Without opening his eyes he could feel that they were beginning to drop in altitude and he rightly assumed that Mangione was beginning his final ap­proach to the airfield.

          He knew they would be getting there ahead of Jonathan, which would work perfectly into his plans.  The only thing he worried about now was having enough strength to deal with every detail that he had to cover in the near future.  Once Magione was out of the picture, he still had to deal with Jonathan, his father, and finally with that bitch of a sister.  It would all have to be done today, unfortunately.  Even though he hadn't heard from his sister in thirty-three years, he had a feeling that she wouldn't hesitate to make the phone calls as she had threatened.

          Janice obviously knew too much, though exactly how much he couldn't be sure.  She had asked enough questions to make him believe that she was fishing for some of the an­swers, but how many of them were her way of testing him?  He didn't know.  He realized that she was probably in the same position he was to some extent.  Neither of them knew the full potential of the other, and both realized that the answer to that question was most likely changing every day.

          She had done well to hide herself from him, never toying with her inquisitive powers to give away the fact that she too had the power.  Until now, damn!

          He was glad she hadn't shown up out of the blue somewhere, or even made those threatened phone calls in­stead of contacting him first.  That could have been ugly, although repairable, he smugly reminded himself.  Never the less, he would have to be careful how he dealt with her.  He was sure she would prove to be a lot harder to deal with than Jonathan and the others.

          Speaking of the others, he wished that he hadn't insisted on Sara coming along.  She was just going to be in the way now, asking questions that didn't need to be asked.  She was one more thing to worry about in a scenario already too full of unpredictable behavior.  This wasn't turning out like he had planned at all, and that made him furious.

          He was supposed to be the master planner, designer of all to be, and handler of the unexpected.  There was far too much at stake for him to fail now, a plan to be realized far greater than any sexual fantasy he might have envisioned.  He knew it to be true, and never felt the need to question why.  With that re-established in his mind, he quickly de­termined that if Sara were a liability, she would have to meet the same fate as the others who got in his way; like that prick Mangione.

          The thought of Joe Mangione brought him right back to the present.  He opened his eyes and looked out the window of the Cessna as the pilot maneuvered the plane to­wards the airfield.  There wasn't anything to see but clouds again, but Eddie wasn't looking out the Plexiglas of both sides of the plane for hopes of a view.  He was more inter­ested in the wings, the flaps, the ailerons, and just how the wing struts were attached.  He turned his body around enough to look out the back of the aircraft.  He watched the tail rudder and the elevators move back and forth in their dance to keep the plane flying the way the pilot intended.

Having done that, he quickly scanned the control panel, taking in the center boxes that were obviously the radio and the navigation devices.  Next, he looked around the inside of the cockpit, observing the rivet lines around the windows and the doors.  He looked down at his own seat belt buckle, and turned it around with his hands enough to get an idea of just how it functioned mechanically.

          They broke through the overcast at that point, and Joe turned around to speak to Eddie.

          "There's the peninsula in front of us.  All we gotta do is drop down a little and follow the main drag right up to our landing spot.  Five minutes tops, counting a flyby before we land," Joe yelled over the background noise.

          "Do it," replied Eddie in a loud enough monotone for Joe to hear.

          Sara had turned back to look at Eddie as the two had their quick verbal exchange.  She cared even less for what she saw than the last time she had looked over her seat at him.  He was obviously tense and his eyes almost seemed to be hollow sockets.  There were dark blue circles under his eyes and he looked like he hadn't slept in weeks.  She turned around and shuddered at the vision still in her mind.  When she looked at Joe, he returned her stare.  In an instant she knew that he had seen the same thing.  She wished they could talk but knew it would be crazy to do so with Eddie sitting right behind them.

          She turned her head to look out her side window and watched as the small trees and houses slowly began to rise up to meet them.  She had found it so peaceful, up above the clouds, with the sun shining and Eddie seemingly fast asleep.  Now, even with the thought of having her feet once again on terra firma, she wasn't sure she wanted the flight to end.  Eddie was up to something, and it wasn't good.

She thought that his animosity was directed towards Jonathan, and what ever it was that had made him take off in such a hurry.  Until this morning, she didn't even know that their father was alive.  How could one old man, he must be getting old by now she reaffirmed, cause such a furor?  Jonathan had left before the word came out about Bob Perryman and Chris, so it couldn't have anything to do with that.  Or could it?

          This whole day had been turned upside down from the beginning, and now she wished she had stayed back at the office.  Better yet, she wished she had been given the rest of the day off as Eddie had originally offered.  Then again, she wouldn't have rested until she knew if Jonathan was okay.  When this day is over, she told herself, I'm going to plop my butt into a steaming hot bathtub until I shrivel up like a prune.  Then I'm going to try and get a grip on my life, starting with finding a new place to work.  Jonathan or no Jonathan, life's too short to have to deal with the likes of Eddie.

          She didn't know just how right she was.




          Thomas looked at the yellowing, plastic Budweiser clock above the bar.  It read one fifty-five.  Like most bar clocks across the country, it ran about fifteen minutes fast.  They were set that way to help insure that no liquor was be­ing served past what ever time each state decided would be appropriate.  In the State of Washington, that magical mo­ment had been set at two in the morning.  Thomas figured that to be fair enough.  Hell, if you can't get a decent drunk on by two a.m., you might as well go on home and get some sleep cause it just wasn't meant to happen.  Besides, there was always tomorrow.  He wondered if he was ever going to get a buzz going himself today.  He had lost count of the brandies being poured back to back from the hid­den well, but gladly received another as Luke sat down on his stool across the bar from Thomas.

          "Shouldn't be long now," Luke said in matter of fact tone after noticing Thomas look up at the clock.

          "Yeah.  I guess I should wrap up this tale while there's still time."

          "I'm ready when you are, buddy," replied Luke, taking a long drink of his brandy.  Unlike Thomas, he was beginning to feel the affect of the alcohol, and had gone back to mixing his with coffee again.

          "Let's see," said Thomas.  "Where was I?"

          "In the hospital," Luke said.

          "Right.  I decided to take Doc's advice and just play dumb for the next few days.  The kids came in to see me from time to time, but I could tell something was definitely differ­ent about them.  Jonathan did most of the talking.  Janice spoke very little, and Edward seemed to be acting as a some kind of a watchdog more than anything else.  About all I got out of him was hello and good-bye.

          "Both Jonathan and Janice looked like something out of 'The Invasion of the Body Snatchers'.  But Edward, he was as bright eyed as ever.  It was the strangest thing.  Maybe no one else noticed it, I don't know.  As their father, it was as plain to me as if they had all dyed their hair green and rolled in fresh dog shit.

          "Nobody spoke about what had happened in the house before the tornado.  Maybe they didn't know somehow, though I'll never see how that could have been possible.  Doc and his wife tried to explain it to me later, something about a mental block.  I think it was more like mental blackmail, myself.

          "Anyway, as soon as I got the word that I was to be re­leased from the hospital, I called Doc McNally up, and asked him if he would pick me up.  Alone.  He said that he would be more than glad to and that it would give us a chance to talk.  He sounded excited and told me that he and his wife had made excellent progress with Edward.  I asked him right away what he meant by that, but he said he wanted to wait so he could explain it in full to me face to face.  I wish now that I had pressed him more for at least some kind of an answer."

          "Why's that, or do I dare ask?" Luke said, as he watched that sullen expression wash over Thomas' face again.

          When Thomas didn't answer right away, Luke re-appraised his friend's physical condition.  Thomas had begun to start shaking and his eyes were rapidly filling with tears.  Within seconds, the tears overcame his efforts to hold them back and began dropping like large raindrops onto the bar.  He bowed his head down to try and hide them from Luke.

          Luke turned away from his friend and began an almost ridiculous search for his pack of cigarettes, knowing damn well they were on the shelf below the taps were he always kept them.  He found his own eyes tearing up, not quite knowing why.  Of course he felt bad for Luke, he told him­self, but he was sure he would be as dry eyed as a snake if it weren't for all the brandy.  They both quickly dealt with their mutual embarrassment.  Thomas managed to wipe away his tears with one shirtsleeve while mopping up the bar with the other and Luke blinked his away at the same time.

          "Shit," exclaimed Luke, turning back to face Thomas.  "There they are, right where I left them.  I must be getting senile."

          Both men began going through the ritual of lighting up their cigarettes.

          "They say the mind's the second thing to go," said Thomas, back in control.

          "I'm not going to ask what the first is," returned Luke, glad for the embarrassing moment to have passed.  He waited for a few seconds, and then asked.  "Another accident?"

          "Yeah, if you still believe in accidents.  Officially, a leaky gas tank.  His car blew up in the driveway, with him in it."


          "There’s more.  Remember me telling you about a friend of Lt. Taylor's who was staying around the house when the Doc was gone?" asked Thomas.


          "He had been leaning on the car talking to Doc when the damn thing exploded.  They found him in the next-door neighbor's yard.  Most of him anyway," added Thomas sadly.

          "God, that's awful.  How did McNally's wife take it?"

          "She had a massive heart attack.  She saw the whole thing through the front window, I guess.  Nobody knows for sure, Eddie was the only one with her at the time."

          "That's incredible," was all Luke could say.

"Too much of a coincidence, Luke, even for this non-be­liever.  A lot of the people in town felt the same way too, let me tell you.  There wasn't much left to investigate, so it all got written off as an unfortunate accident that took three more lives.  When we attended the funerals, most of the people avoided us like the plague.  Word gets around in a small town like Columbus, Luke.  First Louise, in my own damned house, then Taylor and Doc's brother in law, al­most in my fucking driveway.  Then Doc, his wife, and Taylor's partner, as they're watching my kids."

          "Man, I don't know what to say," Luke Perry said, astounded.

          "Don't feel bad, neither did I."

          "So what happened next?" asked Luke.

          "We all went back home, and finished out the rest of our sentences together," said Thomas.

          "What do you mean, sentences?" asked Luke.

          "We ended up like a little leper colony.  Nobody wanted to have much to do with any of us.  As far as most people were concerned, I was a nut case, and my kids were bad luck at best.  Jonathan was the only one that they couldn't quite ignore.  He damned near aced every test they threw at him.  He got his scholarship, a bunch of them actually.  He opted for the one that was the farthest away from us.  I imagine that's how he ended up in Washington.  Can't say I blame him.  Hell, I'm here myself.

          "Janice retreated into a shell that no one could seem to penetrate, not that anyone really tried very hard except for me.  Until Longhair came around that is.  I haven't seen her since they left for Colorado, but I got a feeling she's not too far away."

          "So what was it like with just you and Edward, after the others were gone?"

          "We tolerated each other, but I wouldn't say that we were close.  I imagine Edward needed me more than he would have liked to admit.  I kept a roof over his ass, and kept him fed.  Gave him a place to come home to where someone would at least acknowledge he was alive.  He didn't have any friends that I knew of.  Can't say I blame anyone but Edward for that, though."

          "No more unexplainable situations after the car blowing up?" asked Luke.

          "No, not a damned thing that I know of.  I'll have to ad­mit, I spent most of my spare time hitting the bottle pretty hard.  Things slowed down for me quite a bit at work.  Nobody local wanted to deal with me, but luckily my boss was a pretty good guy.  I kept my job as a mechanic, and still got to make a few extra bucks with commission sales on equipment to people who came in from farther away.

          "I got tell you Luke, it was the hardest time of my life.  I really missed not having Jonathan around, and if I had it all to do over again, we would have spent more time together.  Janice was an enigma to everyone after all that had gone on and we were never close again.  I can't even tell you how that feels.  There's nothing in this world like the love between a father and his daughter.

          “Don't ever believe the shit you hear about how important it is to have a son, someone to pass on the name and all that other crap.  You've got to be too hard on your boys, do­ing what you think at the time is your job, to turn them into men.  It's your daughter that you get to spoil, and hug, and kiss, and share most of the wonders of the world with.  I had that with Janice, when she was just a pup.  That girl could ask more questions.  There were times that I almost wished that we hadn't taught her how to talk.  Now, I miss those times more than anything else."

          Luke just nodded his head, and walked over to stir the pots of chowder and chili slowing simmering away.  Thomas suddenly realized exactly what Luke had meant when he had jumped on his back about being alone.  “Really alone,” he had said.  Now he felt like shit.  He had taken up most of the day talking about his fears, wishing away the things that Luke really would have given both of his nuts for.

          'But he didn't have Edward for a son, did he?' asked his conscious.

          'Maybe he would have handled it differently than I did,' returned Thomas to the voice in his head.

          'I doubt it,' came the reply.  'We both know what we've been through, so don't go tryin' to rearrange history just so you can feel sorry for yourself.'

          Great, thought Thomas.  One more voice in my head to make sure that I'll go crazy before the day is over.  But the voice was right, and Luke was right.  What scared him the most, Jonathan was right, he would have to help him stop Edward.  God only knows what he's done now, he told himself, but you know damn well what he's done in the past.

          "Thomas," said Luke firmly, bringing Thomas back to reality.

          "Sorry, Luke, I guess I wondered off on you."

          "Never mind that, we got company."

          Thomas turned around in his seat and looked over the curtains and through the neon signs in the front window.  He didn't see a car, but even after twenty-some years, there was no doubt in his mind as to who it was he was looking at peering in at him.

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