Chapter 25




Officer Nelson was going through the events of the day in his mind as he always did.  He did it everyday toward the end of his shift, sometimes out of boredom, but mostly to pre-condense things so it wouldn't take as much time to fill out his reports later.  He liked being a cop, but the paperwork was the bad part of the job that you took with the good.

The rain was coming down almost sideways and the thought of a hot bowl of chowder was sounding better by the minute.  His stomach began to growl.  Whether it was in anticipation of food, or as an objection to all of the coffee he drank today remained a mystery.  He saw the CLOSED sign in the door as he pulled in the 'Deck' parking lot.  Immediately felt that something was wrong.  Mike couldn't remember that last time 'The Deck' had been closed on a Saturday.  He wasn't even sure that it ever had been.

He quickly turned on his spotlight and ran the beam from one end of the place to the other.  There were a few lights on inside, behind where he knew the bar to be, other than that the place looked dead. He focused his spotlight back the front door and then quickly called in his location to the dispatch sergeant.  Then, more out of habit than because it was raining, he put his hat squarely on his head and got out of his squad car.  He had his long black aluminum flashlight out before he reached the door and shined it through the small opening in the window as he tried the door.

Locked.  He wasn't sure if that was a good sign or a bad one.  He knocked on the door, knowing that Luke lived in back.  No answer.  He knocked again.  Looking through the window, nothing seemed out of place except the fact Luke wasn't open for business.

"Well, everyone deserves a day off once in a while," he muttered to himself, "especially ol' Luke."

But as he walked back to his car, his professional side told him again something wasn't right.  He knew it wouldn't leave him alone until he investigated further.  Besides he knew, as most cops did, that intuition had saved more butt and solved more crimes, than any other abilities put together.

He decided to walk around back and have a quick look around.  Might as well, he thought, he was already soaked with the rain coming down as hard as it was.  As soon as he turned the corner of the building, he saw Luke's truck sitting in its normal spot.  Strange.  Not like Luke at all, to be gone from the tavern on a regular day, and not even in his own vehicle.  He proceeded around the next corner of the tavern to the emergency exit by the bathrooms.  He expected it to be locked, but was surprised to find it open.  He didn't see any signs of a break in, but he opened the clasp on his holster and clicked off the safety on his pistol just to be on the safe side.  Then he went inside.

He walked past the doors to the bathrooms, shining the light in front of him, and turned the corner into the main part of the tavern.  At first glance, everything looked normal enough.  Then he swung his light to the left, and saw the pinball machine continuously flashing 'TILT'.  As he swung his flashlight back to the right, he caught the sparkles of broken glass covering the floor.  He reached for his gun, and then continued his sweep of the tavern, quickly aiming at the room behind the bar where the light was coming from.  Twenty seconds later he was behind the bar, where he found Luke lying in a pool of blood, pieces of television everywhere.

At first glance, he just knew Luke was dead, but he had to be sure.  While staying alert for other potential dangers, although he was beginning to think this was just an accident, he bent down to check for a pulse on his neck.  Nothing.  The skin was cool to the touch, but not cold and stiff.  Either Luke was just recently dead, or…  He checked again for a pulse.  He couldn't be sure, but he thought he felt a faint one, but it could have been his own.  Or his imagination just playing tricks on him to keep him hoping everything was going to be all right.

"Shit!" he whispered to himself.  He had never been good at the medical part of the job, never in school, never in follow-up training, and now, never in practice.  He tried to tell him self he was a cop, not a friggin' paramedic.  Still, he had to know what kind of situation to call in to the station.  He didn't want professional rescuers hauling ass through the wind and rain, risking their own lives and who knows how many innocent bystanders, to find an obviously dead who could have waited until tomorrow.

Then he remembered one of his instructors joking with him, and telling him when all else fails, stick a mirror under the nose.  They had been joking after Mike had failed the first aid test for the second time that month, but it sounded pretty good now.  He looked around quickly, but the only mirror was the huge one in back of the bar.  He spotted a big piece of the television screen lying by Luke's feet.  The back of it was coated with something and he could see his reflection in it.  He quickly grabbed it, cutting himself on one of the edges, and placed it under Luke's nose.   He managed to cut Luke's face at the same time, and a small trickle of blood formed above his lip.  Dead men don't bleed, do they, he asked himself?  As he tried to remember the answer to that question, a slight mist formed over the jagged piece of glass.

"Well I'll be damned."




Janice pulled her Nissan Sentra into the entrance to Fort Canby State Park, and immediately headed for the jetty, ignoring the signs to the right that would have directed her into the campground.  Once on the road paralleling the jetty, she clicked on her high beams.  The rain coming down so hard made seeing anything nearly impossible.  She clicked the lights back to low and looked over to Granite.

"What do you think," she asked aloud, not really knowing what else to say, especially to a dog.

“Granite like this place.”

"Great.  When this is over, we can take a nice little walk on the beach, maybe look for some driftwood," Janice said bitterly, out of frustration more than anything her faithful companion had done.

“Stop car.”

Janice did as she was instructed.

“Hey, look Granite, I didn't mean to bite your head off."

“Gotta pee.”

"Okay," she said as she reached over and opened his door.  "But don't go too far…”

Before she could finish her sentence, Granite was out of the car and running up the road faster than she ever seen him move.  Soon she lost him in the rain ahead.  Realizing he wasn't planning on coming back in the near future, she shut his door.  The passenger seat was already soaked.

"Great.  Just fucking great!" Janice shouted at the top of her lungs.

"Calm down," she told herself.  "He probably knows what he's doing more than you do."

She put the car in drive and headed up the remainder of the road until it came to a dead end near a small turn around and a couple weather beaten plastic outhouses.  Above all the other noise, she could hear the sound of crunching oyster shells under her tires.  One of the Honey Buckets doors was banging back and forth in the wind, seeming to grow stronger with every breath she took.

"Fine night for a family reunion," she muttered to herself.  "Whose idea was this, anyway?"

She swung the car around to face oncoming traffic, turned the lights down to parking lights, and turned off the engine.

Once the noise from the four-cylinder engine was gone, she was suddenly aware of the overwhelming sound of wind and rain slamming against her car.  She looked out her front windshield for signs of Granite but saw nothing but the dune grass bending back and forth in the eerie glow of her yellow parking lamps.

She switched them off too.  It would be better to see them coming, and from where she was, that way she would have at least a minutes warning.  To do what, she didn't have a clue.  She laid her head on the bucket seat and tried to gather her thoughts.  The only thing that kept coming to mind in any coherent manner was how badly she felt she needed a beer.

"Yeah right, good plan," she said to herself.  "That would be like trying to talk your way out of a D.W.I. and asking to have a drink with the judge during sentencing."

Distantly, over the sound of crashing surf, wind and rain, she heard the howl of a dog.  Not any dog, but her dog.  As faint as it was, she was sure it was Granite.  And the message it carried needed no translation to human words.  She could feel the words in her bones, feeling them wash over her mind.  All this time, she had forced him to be like her.  Now the tables were turned.  And she understood.  He howled again.

"Okay Granite, I got ya," she said quietly while concentrating on beaming a message back to him as she spoke.

"Yeah, I heard you.  Be strong.  Be fearless.  Be ruthless, have no mercy.  Be quiet.  Be ready.  Yes, and what was that, be all that you can be?  Huh?  In the Army?  What the hell are you talking about?"

“Heard on TV.”

"Granite, we need to talk."

“No talk.  Car come.”

Janice looked toward the park entrance and saw Granite was right.  The car beams were broken by the occasional sand dunes, but there was no doubt that they were on the road to the jetty.  Could be anybody, she told herself, but on a night like this?

"I see it," she spoke again, "do you think it's them?"

“Granite know it them.  Be strong.  You not alone.”





Mark and Cathy Potter pulled up in front of the Slippery Deck Tavern just as Officer Nelson was finishing his call to the station.  Cathy rolled down her window to greet their new friend and saw the look of anguish on his face under the vapor light on the telephone pole in front of the parking lot.

"Is something wrong, Mike?" she asked, instantly feeling stupid upon closer look at his face.

"God I'm glad to see you.  You're a nurse, right?" he asked so quickly she wasn't sure she understood him correctly.

"Ah, yeah, sure.  What's up?" she asked, already going into professional mode.

"I got a man, hell, a good friend, about a breath away from death inside, if he ain't already.  Nearest medical unit is giving me an E.T.A. of fifteen minutes.  I need your help, now!"

"You got it!" Cathy said instantly.  "Mark, grab the kit out of the back of the car.  Where's your man?"

"Inside, don't look good.  I thought he was dead until… well never mind.  Behind the bar, be careful, there's a lot of glass."

The two ran inside with Mark soon right behind them.  By the time he got there, Cathy was already checking for a pulse and evaluating the patient's condition.

"Mike's right," she stated quickly but calmly, "he's alive and he probably doesn't have fifteen minutes.  Not like he is now.  Mark, break open that kit, get me some gauze packets, some wraps, and any antiseptic in there.  He doesn't have much blood left, but let's save what he does.  Mike, round up some blankets or something, he's in shock."

"God, I should have done that before…" Mike started to say.

"There’s no time for second guessing now, just move it.  When you're done, see if you can raise that helicopter again.  No screwing around, straight to Astoria with this one.  Tell them we're talking major blood loss, lacerations, and probable spinal trauma."

"You got it."

"Here ya go," said Mark as he handed her the items she requested.  "Some second honeymoon, huh?"

Cathy looked up at him and smiled.

"Couldn't have been better."

"How's that?" asked an astonished Mark Potter.

"Hold this in place while I wrap it, will you?  Careful not to touch anything but the bandage."

"I'm serious, Cathy."

"So am I.  God only knows where this sailor's been, and I don't want anything nasty you may have picked up in the hospital getting into this wound."

"That's not what I meant!"

"I know.  I just love having you for a patient and a medical partner and a lover all in one day."

"In that order, I presume?" Mark said.

"Don't get happy, hero, hand me those scissors, stud muffin then break open that CPR kit.  Chances are we're gonna need it."




"Jesus, Eddie," said Jonathan tensely, "I can barely see the road."

"Slow down if you have to.  This road only goes to one place," Eddie replied much too calmly to suit Jonathan.  Or maybe that was good?  Who the hell knows anymore, he finally decided.

"What if she's not there?"

"Then we can just go home," said Eddie, knowing all ready that she was there, and they weren't going anywhere in the immediate future.

"I think I see something, or someone, up ahead," Jonathan said, suddenly wishing he had kept his mouth shut.

"Stop the car, Jonathan."

"It was probably nothing, Eddie.  Nothing but the rain."

"I saw it too.  Turn off your headlights, Jonathan."

Jonathan did as instructed, wondering what Eddie was up to.

"Now what?" Jonathan asked.

"Drive on to where that car is, what else?"

"But I can't see a damned thing, Eddie," protested Jonathan.

"Jonathan, it's time you started using your brain for something besides a sponge to keep your ears apart.  Close your eyes, and use the power.  Don't try and figure it all out at once, just the next twenty feet or so."

"I don't see anything, Eddie," complained Jonathan.

"We don't have all night Jonathan, try again," Eddie replied, with an edge of impatience in his voice.  What surprised Jonathan was there wasn't any sign of the usual reprimanding tone, in fact, Eddie seemed to be going out of his way to be gentle.  Jonathan tried again.

"I don't know Eddie.  I don't think it's working."

"Try again, Jonathan.  I know you can do it.  It's in you, just like me.  Trust me, you'll see."

          Jonathan tried one more time.  Really tried.  He wasn't even sure why he was making the effort.  Except that he was becoming more curious.  Curious about the possibilities if what Eddie said was true.  That he really did have the power too. More than just being some kind of human radio transmitter/receiver.  Several seconds later, Eddie's voice broke through his deep concentration.  He found himself upset at the intrusion, because for a fleeting moment, he thought that maybe, just maybe, he had seen something.

"Damn it Eddie!  I almost had it."

"Too bad we're not in Nebraska playing horseshoes, Jonathan.  I could give you a point for being close.  You either had it, or you didn't.  It's that simple, bro," Eddie stated firmly, but gently.  Then he raised his voice, and began speaking very fast.

"Do you know what's up ahead, or am I just wasting my precious time?  Tell me what you see, Jonathan, right now, don't even think about it, just tell me damn it!"

Eddie's sudden rapid-fire outburst shocked Jonathan and he instantly felt his ears and cheeks grow hot from embarrassment.  He didn't give a damn if no one was around to hear him get put down by Eddie.  He decided he was going to show that little son-of-a-bitch right now that he wasn't as dumb as he thought he was.

"It goes straight for about fifteen feet and then slowly turns to the right!"


"Then it straightens out again for the next hundred feet or so," said Jonathan to his own surprise, without a shadow of doubt.

"Exactly, bro."


"You're exactly right.  You can do it, Jonathan.  Unfortunately, I'm the only one in this car with the sense to realize it.  Can we get moving now?  The lesson's over."

"Okay.  Right Eddie.  So do I keep my eyes closed, or what?  I mean, I don't really know how to work this yet."

"Open one, close one.  I don't really care.  Let's just get going.  You're the one behind the wheel, and I trust your judgment dude.  And Jonathan, from here on out, it's Triple E, bro.  Got it?"

"Got it."

"Got what?"

"Got it, Triple E," returned Jonathan smartly, not feeling bad for having said it for the first time in his life.    

"That's my man.  Now let's go."




Janice watched as the cars headlights went out.  A little later she felt, rather than saw, it was still approaching.  Granite was right.  It had to be Eddie and Company.  She rolled her window down all the way, and her left side was drenched within seconds.  No biggy, she thought to herself.  There was really no place to have a covered picnic around here anyway, getting totally soaked was going be part of the bargain.  If all she got from this mess was a case of pneumonia, she'd have beat the odds-makers by an overwhelmingly profitable margin.

She laughed to herself at the thought.  A gambler she was not.  Her one and only trip to Reno on a thirty-dollar fun flight had ended up costing her two weeks pay, a missed flight, and the biggest hangover she had ever experienced.  Free drinks had a way of doing that to her, she acknowledged, and God could she use one of those now.  She didn't care what kind of rotgut it was, as long as it was at least eighty-proof.

"Where's Poncho Villa when you need him," she chuckled nervously to herself, thinking about the time she had bought a half gallon of cheap Poncho Villa tequila.  That had been her second worst hangover.

She quickly focused on the dilemma at hand, as she heard the car in front of her crunching the oyster shells on its way to what could only be the final showdown.  Now was the time to panic if she was still going to have the time to do it.  To her surprise, a sudden calmness set over her as she flashed back to a story her martial arts instructor had once told her.  It played back in her head as if she was watching a high-speed video.




Janice, you worry too much about what you cannot do, and focus only on the reasons you perceive to be obstacles to your goals.  I must tell you a story; perhaps you will gain the wisdom you need to overcome your inner fears in the future.

There once was a boy who was born with only one arm.  His left arm was totally missing.  There was no stub even to attach an artificial one.  As he grew, the children around him exploited his physical misfortune and being tormented by them became a way of life for him.  Upon his mother's insistence, he was enrolled in the town's only martial arts school.  There, the boy learned many of the lessons in life that he so desperately needed, such as discipline and respect for others.  Yet all through the first year of instruction, his master only taught him one martial arts move.

When the boy asked his master why he would not instruct him in any of the exercises the other children were learning, the master simply replied that he had been shown all that he would ever need to know, only he must strive to perfect the one move that the master had shown him.  The child obeyed, and continued to work diligently at his master's instruction.

Then came the day when the master announced that five of his best students would be traveling with him to a far off city, to enter a grand tournament of martial arts.  To his surprise, and eventually greatest of fears, the boy was one of the five chosen.  Most of the other students felt that special attention was being paid to the boy, but none expressed their feelings out loud, for fear of incurring the wrath of the master.  The boy knew of their feelings, and questioned the master on the way to the event.

"Master, I am deeply humbled by your decision, but I am afraid that I will only shame you.  There must be better students to take on this trip.  I only know one exercise."

"Have you studied it well, as I have taught you?"

“Yes, master.  I can do it in my sleep."

"Then perhaps you feel that I have made an error in judgment?"

"I mean no disrespect, master."

"I have taught you all that you need to know.  If you have the heart of a warrior, you will succeed."

"Yes, master," replied the boy.

In his first match, the boy won easily after applying the one move his master had taught him.  His confidence grew.

In his second match, it took much longer, but again he succeeded.

By the time of the third match, the final match for the honor of being the best first year student, the boy approached his master again.

"Master, I am grateful for this chance to make you proud, but I am afraid.  How can I defeat this person, with only one move, and no left arm?"

"Have I not told you that it is all that you need to know, this one exercise, or are you having a difficult journey in finding the heart of a true warrior?"

"I will do my best, master."

"That is all one warrior can ask of another.  But you must believe, before you can do your best.  Do you believe?  Do you believe you have the heart of a warrior?"

"We will see, master."

"Yes, we will see.  It is time."

As the one armed boy entered the main arena, he ignored the crowd that had come see him fight.  He ignored the screams of the fans for his opponent, he ignored the cheers of his fellow teammates, focusing only on the one exercise he knew, and the belief that he had begun to have in it.  Unfortunately, his opponent had also seen the only move the boy had, and avoided it throughout much of the match.  No matter how hard his counterpart tried, the boy struggled out of any attempt by his opponent to engage in warfare.  Finally, out of frustration, the opponent charged the boy, and he executed the only move he knew perfectly and with such faith, that his rival ended up flat on his back.  The match was over.

The one armed boy didn't celebrate his victory, but chose to instead to walk over to his master, where he bowed and acknowledged his respect to his instructor.

"You were right, master.  I did exactly as you showed me, as you had me practice a thousand times.  But how did you know I would succeed?"

"I did not know that you would succeed.  You decided that, with the heart of a true warrior."

"But with only one move?"

"Yes.  You felt inferior to the others because you lack one arm, am I right?"

"Yes, master."

"But you overcame the challenge."

"Yes, master.  Because of the heart of the warrior?"

"In part, yes.  But more important, you used your weakness against them, and to your own advantage."

"How is that, master?"

"The exercise I taught you, the one you learned so well, is the only one you needed."

"Why is that, master?"

"Because there is only one defense against what I have shown you."

"What is that, master?"

"To grab the opponent's left arm."




Janice had never forgotten the story, and now she was beginning to understand what the weakness was that she would somehow have to turn to her advantage.  She got out of the car, and walked out in front of the Nissan, stopping in a defiant stance, hands on her hips.  The wind and rain threatened to blow her over, but instead she drew strength from them, and found herself standing even taller.

The Ford came to a halt inches in front of her.  She looked through the front windshield as the wipers gave her a temporary glance into the car, and saw Jonathan with his eyes closed.

“You can open your eyes, Jonathan,” she transmitted.  “You're here now.  Just remember what I told you, and otherwise, stay the fuck out of the way.”

“You hear that bro?” transmitted Eddie for all to hear who could.  “We got us a three-way party line going here.  More like a conference call.  And we don't even have to get wet.”

Jonathan snapped his eyes wide open but could barely make out the person standing in front of his car.  Instinctively, he turned on the headlights.

"Janice," Jonathan said out loud, half out of surprise of seeing her so close to his car, and half out of awe.  To him she looked liked some kind of female warrior out of a low budget Conan movie, albeit without the oversized breasts and token skimpy armor.  Her face had changed little over the years, but her eyes were definitely not those of the frightened young woman/child he had last seen so many years ago.

“Why don't you come in and join us, Janice?  There's plenty of room, and you look awfully wet,” asked Eddie via their mental modem.

“No thanks.  I'm sure the air is fresher out here.  You could always join me, Eddie.”

“I'll pass, but suit yourself.  Your father's here, you know, though I'm afraid he's passed out at the moment.”

“That'll work for me right now, as long as he's in one piece.  How's dad, Jonathan?”

“He's fine, just like Eddie said.”

“Like Eddie said?” asked Janice.  “Don't you mean like Triple E said?”

“Come on, Janice,” pleaded Jonathan.  “Why do you have to start some crap like that?”

“Oh, I don't know.  Just a hunch, I guess.  What do you want us to call you, Eddie?  I mean, Triple E.”

“Always the smartass, aren't you Janice?  It's good to see that some things never change.  You can call me anything you wish, it's your party.  But to move on, if we can, let me ask you a little question.  I'm here, your father's here, Jonathan's here, so where's the fire?”

At first it threw Janice off that Eddie was being so calm and courteous, but she had no doubt that his ulterior motives were no more honorable than her own.  This meeting would not end with chit-chat between disagreeing siblings.

“Cute Eddie, real cute.  Where should I start, Jonathan?”

“Huh?” replied Jonathan, secretly hoping he wouldn't have to participate at all in the conversation.

“Something happened today that started this whole ball of shit rolling, and it sure wasn't me.”

“Well, I guess I just got confused.  I'm awfully uptight these days, especially this close to elections,” said Jonathan, not quite believing what he was saying, or that he was in this situation.  Eddie had been right.  He didn't have what it takes to handle the messy stuff.  He was the 'on camera' guy, the public guy with the charisma and the policy.  All he wanted to do now was go back to Olympia and forget the whole thing, if that were possible.  The knot in his stomach argued that it probably wasn't.

“Jonathan's not totally to blame, I assure you,” added Eddie, trying to bolster his brother more than fool his sister.  “I've been a mess myself lately.  I've pushed him awfully hard.  And I've tried to kind of scare Jonathan into being more aggressive, which I can see was a mistake on my part.  I'm truly sorry, Jonathan.”

“You buying this crap, Jonathan?” asked Janice incredulously.

“I don't know, I guess.  It makes sense to me.  As much sense as anything else does right now.”

“Great.  Just fucking great!  What about Luke?  Remember Luke?”

“He, he pulled a gun on Eddie, and, and, well I guess…”

“It's okay Jonathan.  Just relax,” said Eddie kindly.

“Yeah Jonathan, just relax,” added Janice sarcastically, realizing that she had lost her brother to the demon with the forked tongue and matching tail.

“Janice, I know it sounds weird, but Eddie only acted in self-defense.  I didn't believe it at first either, but the more I think about it…

“You mean the more Eddie helps you think about it, don't you?”

“It was crazy, I'll admit.  But I think dad had Luke all worked up before we even got there.  They had both been drinking all day.  The next thing I know, Luke comes out of the back room with a gun and is threatening to shoot Eddie.”

“Just like that?”

“Well, not exactly, but, I don't know anymore.  It all happened so fast,” Jonathan said as if just waking from a coma.

“What's Dad got to say about all of this?”

“He's much too drunk to even know what day it is, let alone know what is really happening from one moment to another,” interjected Eddie.

“How convenient,” countered Janice.

“Don't take my word for it sister.  Ask him yourself.  If you can get him to wake up,” replied Eddie, wanting her to at least get out of those headlights.  Even to him, she seemed to have a much more powerful image standing there in the rain with her hands on her hips, wet hair blowing in the wind.  The whole scene made her look surrealistic, almost as if the light was coming from within her instead of just a reflection of her glistening wet skin.  There was no doubt in his mind that he would destroy her when the time came, but he needed to finish winning Jonathan over first if all of his plans for the future were to be salvaged.

“I think that I'll do just that, Eddie.  You just stay where you are.  Both of you,” she commanded without voice.  She walked to the passenger side of Jonathan’s car.  When she opened the door and the dome light came on, she glanced at Eddie first, ignoring both her brother and her father.

"See?  There's nothing to be afraid of, Janice," said Eddie peacefully and aloud this time.  Jonathan felt a wave of relief as the two returned to speaking as most humans did.  Although he could do it, the mind-thought conversations were a terrible strain on his mental attitude.

One look at Eddie and Jonathan told Janice everything she needed to know, but she knelt down and raised her father's head with both hands.  The sudden gush of cold air, wind and rain, coupled with the touch of her now frozen fingers roused him.

"Dad, can you here me?  It's your daughter, Janice.  You've got to wake up now, okay?  Come on daddy, please wake up."

"I don't think daddy's gonna wake up, Janice.  He's had enough to drink to water forty acres of primetime Nebraska cornfield," Eddie chided.

Janice ignored Eddie, and began gently slapping her father's face.  He rolled his head back and forth a couple of times then began to cough a little.

"It's useless, I'm telling you," added Eddie passively, quite sure that his father was out for the count.

"Eddie's right," reinforced Jonathan, "Let him sleep.  He's had a rough day."

She continued to ignore both her brothers and began shaking her father by his shoulders.  She was gentle at first; then she shook him harder and still harder.

"Wake up dammit!" she shouted, as she slapped him across the face so hard she stung her frozen hands.

"Wha…" her father uttered, eyes blinking open for a second and then closing again.

She slapped him again.

"What the hell?" Thomas spat out, covering his eyes with his arms.

"I don't really have time for this abusive reunion between a passed out drunk and his insensitive daughter, do you Jonathan?" asked Eddie quickly.

"The hell you don't!" shouted Janice.  "I'm gonna hear what he's got to say, and so is Jonathan.  You might as well sit back in your seat and shut the fuck up, Edward Eugene Engelhart!"

Hearing his full birth name used again for the first time in years brought Eddie to the verge of instant rage.  It had just as intense of an effect on Jonathan, but his was more of an instant awakening from whatever spell he had been under.  Janice ignored both, and focused on the effect it might have on her father.  Not entirely to her surprise, he snapped up almost straight in his seat.

"I don't know who you think you are Missy, but don't you ever mutter the name of that son of a devil's whore again as long as I live!"

"It's me, daddy!"

The old man blinked twice, then again, as if to shake the cobwebs caused by the sudden light, his immanent hangover, the recent past, and the years gone by.   It was too much for him to handle, and he began crying.

"Janice, is that really you?" he asked between sobs.

"Yeah, daddy, it's me," she whispered, giving him a big hug.  "It's me, and everything's going to be all right."

Thomas hugged her back then suddenly pushed her away.  He turned his head to his left, where a teary eyed Jonathan sat speechless.  Then he turned to where Eddie was sitting.  Without turning to face his daughter, he spoke as loud and clear as any sober man who had ever walked the face of the Earth.

"Janice, I love you.  Now I want you to leave.  Run from this place as fast as you can, and don't look back.  Forget about me, your brother Jonathan, and this piece of scum that's unfit to be used for toilet paper on Judas's ass."

"Dad, I'm afraid I can't do that," came the strong voice from behind his back.

"Don't be foolish, Janice.  This sorry slime I once called my son is a cold blooded murderer!" shouted Thomas, as tears of anger and frustration rolled down his cheeks to mix with the rain pouring through the open door past Janice's head.

"I know Dad, I know," Janice said sadly, but firmly, feeling the pain that her father must be going through after ignoring everything all these years and seeing his best friend killed.

"You know what?" asked Jonathan, eyes wide open like the proverbial deer in the headlights.

"The truth, Jonathan.  God’s awful truth!  What Aunt Louise knew; what Lt. Taylor knew, what Mr. and Mrs. McNalley knew, what Patti Warner knew, and what Luke knows… now.  What God only knows how many others else know, and what you really know too, Jonathan, if you ever really stop to think.  Face it, you're brother is a killer of innocent human beings.  What's worse, he has no guilt.  No remorse.  Dad's right, Jonathan.  Eddie is a cold-blooded murderer, and you need to wake up and face that fact before it's too late!"

"Too late for what?" Jonathan asked.

"To save your own ass, silly," said Eddie, matter-of-factly as if they were really on some kind of wonderful picnic at the beach.


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