his imprisonment inside the massive information system known
throughout the world as the Internet, while blocked from certain
things, Lothos had discovered the ridiculous ease of acquiring other
information in, of all places, chatrooms. It was by sheer good luck
in one particular chatroom, that one Patrick Cromwell had given him
nuggets of information that with only minor manipulation would,
without doubt, allow him to achieve the objective that came a hard
second to his primary goal – to rid the world of Dr. Samuel
Beckett. In addition to
learning of Patrick Cromwell’s affliction, he learned of the
conventions given to bond with the visitors who remembered Project
over the information he had learned, Lothos couldn’t help but
‘smile’. In 1966,
Patrick Cromwell was a young man who claimed that he had experienced
memory losses in time that thoroughly mystified and frustrated him
to the point that it consumed all of his free time.
As the years went by, he utilized every new method of
research to discover the reason for his memory loss. It wasn’t
until 2005 that he found the answer when he’d received a
mysterious e-mail from one J. T. Beckett.
Patrick had attended the initial chatroom meeting and caught
the attention of J. T. Beckett.
While all of his questions didn’t receive completely
satisfying answers, it was enough for Patrick to put that brief
period of his life in perspective and move on.
Cromwell’s unique situation had been discussed in rather animated
and detailed length by J. T. Beckett and Samantha Josephine Fuller.
That discussion had gone on for more than an hour after the
last chat participant had departed. Lothos had noted with great delight, the involved and
specific details they had shared.
He agreed with much of that conversation and had a new
admiration for the depth and breadth of J. T. Beckett’s reasoning
at last young Mr. Beckett and his associate had closed the chat,
Lothos had lingered, pondering all the information he had just
acquired. Whatever he was at that moment, he ‘smiled’.
“Thank you, Mr. Beckett,” he whispered and vanished into
the vastness of the Internet until he was found and set free at
Project Liberty by the unsuspecting fascination of a young girl for
puzzles. Paige Arlyss
never heard the whispering, “Thank you,” that Lothos had given
unto her along the corridors of the Internet.
one bright shining moment, Lothos had believed that he had decimated
the man who had been righting wrongs.
It was discovered that the good doctor had leaped into a
depressed young woman who had tried to commit suicide.
Watching the good doctor slitting his own throat and
beginning to close his eyes, Lothos had pulled his chief leaper out
of the Timestream and waited for history to unravel.
It didn’t. The
news had ripped him a new reprisal against the good doctor.
free from the confines of the ‘Net’, he was able to look upon
his minions as they went about their daily routines.
He had already set in motion how certain players would be
split apart. Knowing
that his Chief Leaper, Vaughn Rickar, and Observer, Johanna Royden,
couldn’t be together to fuel their budding feelings for each
other, Lothos felt even more confident that his plan would work.
As Lothos observed Vaughn stepping into the accelerator, and
a moment later being engulfed in the power stream vanishing in a
flash of red light, he knew without a single doubt that this time,
Samuel Beckett, was going to die.
Benito Veterans’ Memorial Ninth Grade Academy
had been a long, hot, humid day.
It didn’t matter that most of the inhabitants of the city
were used to the sweltering heat.
Marla MacDale would never be used to it.
She sat behind her desk, her head propped up by one hand as
she graded the first pop quiz of her English classes.
It seemed that she had her work cut out for her since the
grades seemed lower than previous years.
‘What are they teaching these kids in junior
high?’ she wondered.
marked yet another low grade of forty-two at the top of the test
paper in front of her then flipped the paper over to begin grading
the next one when she heard the rap at the door.
Looking up, she flashed a smile for whoever it might be,
knowing that it could very well be a parent and she didn’t want to
appear unapproachable. Her smile brightened more when she saw the brilliant blue
eyes that belonged to her next-door neighbor, Patrick Cromwell.
I swear if you get any more muscles under that shirt, you
could portray that comic book character, the Hulk.”
Do I look that much like the green monstrosity?” asked the
bald young man who took a step into the room as he flexed his
muscles and assumed an ‘angry Hulk’ pose.
laughter filled the classroom.
“Oh yeah, all you need is hair and green body paint,” she
pointed out to him before she stood and went to give her neighbor a
hug. “I’m glad
you’re back in town. Danni
was worried about you.”
dog was worried about me? Are
you sure that you weren’t worried about me?” he asked as she
pulled back from the hug but kept her in his arms.
eyes danced as she gave Patrick a light playful slap on his chest
and stepped back from the friendly hug.
“What’s to miss?” she teased as she returned to her
desk and sat down. Picking
up the red grading pen she glanced at the paper before her then
looked back up at Patrick who had come to perch on a corner of her
desk. “So, what
brings you back to school? Need
shook his head, chuckling. “No, I didn’t come for
‘tutoring’, Ms. MacDale,” he affected a slightly nasal tone as
a sort of match for her playfulness.
As she chuckled and asked, “Then why are you here?”
Detective Cromwell’s expression shifted to a more considering
mood. “I came to talk
to you about Lucas.”
lightness of the moment faded as Marla MacDale’s eyes became
didn’t realize she had dropped the red pen as she met his
brilliant blue gaze. “And?”
she uttered the abrupt one-word question.
wasn’t the first time that Patrick Cromwell had heard that tone. It was always used with a client unwilling to hear what he
had been paid to find out. In
this case, it didn’t help that this was his friend – not a
client - as well as a neighbor and someone he had come to discover
that he cared about maybe more than he should.
I was in Lake Charles checking on Lucas’ last job there, I came
across something... disturbing.”
He waited for the attractive redhead to say something and
when she didn’t he continued on.
He doubted that he’d get to finish telling her all that
he’d learned about San Benito’s newest school board council
not who you think he is. He’s….”
men are never who you think they are,” Marla said simply as she
turned in her chair slightly to look at her neighbor.
She had lived beside him for ten years and although she was
physically attracted to him, she knew that a relationship with him
wouldn’t have budded. They
seemed too different. “Look
at you,” she couldn’t help but grin at the thought that flashed
through her mind. “A
Mr. Clean in a nice cute package.”
Cromwell rolled his eyes at the analogy.
“If I had a nickel for every time someone’s said that,”
he responded with a wry grin, “I’d be rich by now.”
He appreciated the lightness of her corresponding giggle, but
it didn’t remotely deter him from telling her what he had decided
to go and find out on his own.
he began, the tone of his voice dropping slightly. It was enough to get those brilliant green eyes fixed on his
face. “The reason I
went out of town these past few days, was because I was doing some
background checking on Lucas Abernathy.”
red pen Marla had picked up clattered back to the desk as her eyes
widened at what her neighbor had said.
Marla blinked as she looked into his concerned, handsome
Patrick, why did you do that? I didn't ask you to go out and do a
background check on my fiancée."
Blinking again, Marla leaned back slightly in her chair as
she watched Patrick Cromwell, a man she had trusted
now for over eight years, pick up the scissors from her desk and
begin playing with them under her gaze.
She would have almost laughed at the way he was playing with
them since she had witnessed Lucas playing with them yesterday when
he was in the room talking with her about their upcoming marriage.
"Why would you do such a thing?"
sighed softly under his breath as he fiddled idly with the scissors,
listening to Marla MacDale's somewhat annoyed reaction to his
confession. Still, for
all of it, it didn't change the why of his inquiries or, even more,
the specifics of what he'd discovered.
"Well, for starters, it was a job," he said evenly
then hesitated when the scissors slipped from his hands, clattering
onto the desk. "Sorry about that," he apologized as he
picked them up, this time handling the cutting implement more
carefully, turning them end to end, even opening and closing the
blades a time or two. Glancing up to find the attractive woman's
gaze fixed on him, he nodded and continued.
was a job," he repeated. "The
county school board advisor, Mr. Mayberry, contacted me about doing
background checks on the two new candidates.
It's standard procedure for anyone looking for a position on
the school board, and the election is coming up in about eight
paused to take a breath and assess Marla's expression.
What he saw in her eyes told him he was facing an uphill
battle, but it was an aspect of his job that Patrick was familiar
with, namely giving unpleasant information to a person, usually a
client, that didn't want to hear it.
This was tougher still than that; Marla wasn't his client and
what he was about to say also crossed the line into her private
life. Her somewhat cool, "If you're working for the school
board, why are you divulging whatever you discovered about Lucas to
me instead of them?"
placed the scissors carefully on the desk as he stood up and moved
to stand in front of it. Bracing his hands on the edge of the desk,
he looked intently into the teacher's eyes and said, "I'm
telling you what I discovered because, first and foremost, Marla,
you are a good friend, and friends, good friends, look out for each
when it means sticking their nose into private personal business
when they weren't asked to do so?"
nodded, keeping his gaze fixed on Marla's determined expression.
squared her shoulders as she crossed her arms over her chest.
One eyebrow arched slightly.
"All right, then what did you find, Patrick?
Just come on right out and tell me.
Don't hem and haw. What?"
up, the private detective put one hand into his pants pocket as he
sorted through the information he had to tell her.
None of it was good, so he decided to ease into it.
"Well, for starters," he said carefully.
"Lucas Abernathy doesn't exist." He watched the
determined expression on Marla's face fade, startlement taking its
place. Seeing her mouth
open and close a couple of times, Patrick said firmly, "And
before you tell me, it's a lie, I’m telling you that it's the
lying, Patrick Cromwell!"
sighed but didn't hesitate. "Birth certificates don't lie,
MacDale wasn't exactly sure what to do.
This information was coming from a man that she had known for
ten years. She had
never known him to lie, let alone be a bad person, but she couldn't
accept the information that he was obviously trying to tell her
about her soon to be husband. "What
is this? Some kind of
new ruse to get me to not marry him?
You know, I remember how you looked at me when I told you
that I was getting married to Lucas.
You didn't approve then and you’re just making this up so
that you can get your way."
stood from her desk, pushing away the chair, not bothering to pick
it up when it tilted over and landed on the floor.
"I'll not stand for this, Pat... Mr. Cromwell.
Take whatever information you have and..."
Before she finished her thought, she started toward the door
of her room, her full intent to get away from the man who obviously
didn't want her to be married to the most honorable man she had ever
Patrick said as he started after her.
didn't stop to think, he simply reacted, moving quickly around to
the side of the desk where he'd stood a moment before, effectively
cutting off Marla MacDale's attempt to walk out on the unexpected
unpleasant news he was trying to give her.
Lightly, he put his hands out before him and against her
upper arms, not allowing her to pass by him.
only reason I'm telling you this, Marla, before I tell the school
board, is because I care about you... as a friend,"
Patrick reiterated, though deep inside, he couldn't deny her words
about one of their last encounters. However, he brushed that aside,
determined to get the information said to her, no matter what her
reception of it resulted in. When
Marla took a sudden step back from him, he reacted reflexively when
she misstepped, tripping over the fallen chair behind her.
Grabbing her again, this time to steady her, he wasn't
prepared for her reaction. "Marla...
Marla, take it easy," he insisted. "I'm just trying to
keep you from falling." His
good intentions however, were rewarded by the teacher regaining her
balance, followed by an accusing glare and a frosty, "Get your
hands off me, Mr. Cromwell."
just looked at her for a moment then stepped back until he was again
beside the desk. He watched his angry friend as she righted her chair again,
this time shoving it under her desk before beginning to thrust the
papers she'd been grading into a dark tan briefcase and patently
ignoring his continued presence in the room.
Blowing out a breath, he decided to continue with the
discovered the problem with the birth certificate when I went to
Abbottsville, Ohio and checked in the Registrar of Births records.
There wasn't a single birth registered, male or female, under the
name of Abernathy for the date on the birth certificate Lucas
Abernathy turned in."
there any Abernathys listed for any other dates?" Marla paused
long enough to spit the question.
what?" she turned toward the man apparently bent on destroying
her future happiness. "Obviously
somebody in that office made a mistake and mixed Lucas' birth
certificate up with someone else’s."
took a deep breath; she wasn't going to like this. "The last
Abernathy born in Abbottsville, Ohio or the surrounding area was
born back in 1901."
just looked at the man standing before her and shook her head at his
what I'm talking about, Patrick. Someone must have screwed up.
Lucas doesn't have a... a conniving bone in his body!"
only known him for five months, Marla," Patrick simply stated.
"How can you..."
don't care!" she stated emphatically.
"I know him! He
what?" Patrick asked as he reached out and placed his hands
back on her upper arms.
jerked out of his hold and glared at him.
"He's a decent guy, Patrick.
I love him and you aren't going to take that from me."
Turning, she shut her briefcase, grabbed it and then turned back to
the man blocking her way. "Get out of my way, Patrick."
please listen to me. You
need to know what's going on with this man."
said, get out of my way," she said with even more animosity.
Patrick Cromwell came back firmly,
not having budged so much as an inch to allow her to pass.
"Not until you hear what I came here to tell you,"
he told her, his manner now forceful and professional.
"After that, if you never speak to me again... so be
doubt that you'll have that availability.
Goodbye, Mr. Cromwell."
Marla had enough of a surprise factor with those words that
she was able to slide by his side, but he was quicker than she and
he grabbed her upper arm and held her tightly.
Marla dropped the briefcase she was holding and immediately
began to peel back his fingers from her arm.
"Dammit, Patrick, let go!"
until I tell you what I came here to tell you," he repeated
calmly, his eyes coming to rest on her concerned features.
"No! I don't want to hear what you have to say.
Just... leave me alone," she finally whimpered when she
couldn't release his hold.
Benito Bank and Trust
Abernathy finished up the last of the work that had kept him
occupied in his office for the better part of the day—finishing
the fourth quarter payroll reports that he was preparing for one of
his several business clients. Closing
the file folder, he put it neatly into the top right-hand drawer of
his desk, made sure the surface of his desk was immaculate with
every item precisely in its place before he at last stood up and
pushed his chair under the desk.
Like everything on the desk's surface, so was he as
particular about the chair's placement.
won't be exactly the same in the morning, Lucas," Sheila
Fenwitty, his secretary teased lightly as she waited to walk out
with him as she'd done each evening since coming to work for him
four years before. "The cleaning crew will move it to vacuum
under the desk like they do every night."
it grated on Lucas Abernathy's nerves at the thought of walking into
his office, knowing that the precision he left it would be
disturbed, but not by even a flicker of an eyelash did he let it
show on his face as he picked up his briefcase and moved to the
door. Flipping the light switch off, he closed the door then as
casually as ever, strolled down the hall to the elevator and rode
down with Sheila, parting ways with her outside the main door,
watching her lock it.
what are you doing this evening?" Sheila asked, following her
employer down the few steps in front of the building.
paused to turn back and watch the pleasant middle-aged woman who
wore sensible clothing and shoes descending the steps.
"Thought I'd stop at the school and pick up Marla and
take her out for an early dinner."
He smiled waggishly, gaining a chuckle from Sheila when he
added, "After eight hours cooped up with those renegades also
known as the cream of the next generation, she could probably use a
good meal, a glass of wine and some intelligent conversation."
laughed merrily at the comment as she stopped beside him.
"No doubt," she said lightly. She said good-bye
again but didn't move as she watched her employer walk over to a
dark blue Chrysler four-door and get in then drive away.
As the vehicle disappeared down the street, she roused
herself and went to her own car.
Lucas Abernathy could be difficult to deal with from time to
time, but Sheila had been so grateful to him for hiring her when
she'd needed a job most and at that time most of the jobs were going
to the much younger women in the local work force.
for oncoming traffic, she pulled out into the street and headed for
downtown. As much as her aching feet wanted her to get home and out of
her shoes, she was determined to make a stop at the local china shop
to put another payment on the large bone china platter she had
selected from Marla MacDale's registry list as her gift to them.
She wanted to make sure that her employer knew how much she
she waited at the next traffic light, Sheila mused under her breath,
"I wonder where he's going to take her for dinner?"
The sudden sound of a car horn honking behind her yanked her
out of her reverie and she stepped on the gas and continued to her
away from the office, Lucas made his way as quickly as he could to
the San Benito Veterans’ Memorial Ninth Grade Academy, and in
spite of the heavy Friday afternoon "going home" traffic,
reached it within twenty minutes.
his car into a parking slot across the way from the school, Lucas
got out, locked his door then allowed the warm September late
afternoon sunshine to relax him. He stood on the curb, waiting for a couple of cars of parents
come to pick up their children to pass, then strolled across the way
and up the walk of the school.
A couple of girls were just coming out of the school. He
smiled affably at them, waving off one girl's, "Excuse
us," then entered the building.
he headed down the main hallway toward his fiancée’s classroom,
Lucas spoke to a couple of teachers as they passed by. At the corner
where he turned right to go to Marla's classroom, he paused to look
around, noting that he was, at the moment, the only person in the
hall. He nodded to
himself and continued on his way. However, he had only gone about
four steps when he heard Marla's voice, shouting—by her tone her
anger was thoroughly engaged.
he forgot about the quiet dinner and evening he had been planning
for them; instead, rushing forward, his only thought now was to come
to the aid of his future wife. Lucas was within ten feet of Marla's
half open classroom door when he skidded to a halt as he heard Marla
demand, "Dammit, Patrick, let go!"
For a moment Lucas just stood, his thoughts becoming
agitated. Only one of
Marla's friends was named Patrick—Patrick Cromwell, a private
until I tell you what I came here to tell you," Patrick
Cromwell's voice was clear and of a volume to be heard over Marla's
own insistent tone.
welling up of nerves within him was squelched as quickly as it had
appeared as Lucas half turned to look back the way he'd come,
listening acutely for the sound of any possible approaching
footsteps from the main hallway.
Hearing none, he turned back forward and moved carefully and
very cautiously forward. He
wanted to hear, he had to hear what Mr. Cromwell was about to tell
MacDale glared at the man before her.
She couldn't believe his audacity.
She tried to push past him but he quickly matched her step
and stayed ahead of her. Marla's
jaw tightened. "I
told you, Patrick, I don't want to hear anything that you have found
out. Don't you
do understand that it's difficult to hear something about someone
who you thought was honest with you and they weren't."
shifted only slightly as her hand came up and connected with the
side of Patrick's face. Instant
anger rushed through her and whatever she had seen in the handsome
man before her vanished immediately.
"Go to hell!"
expected her anger, and even the yelling. In the ten years of their
acquaintance, he had seen Marla’s temper roused to this level a
couple of times, but never had it been directed toward him, until
now. The slap just
caught his own normally even temper oddwise, his reaction a sort of
the attractive woman by her arms, Patrick shook her hard a couple of
times then force-walked her backwards.
Only when the back of her body abruptly collided with her
desk did he stop pushing. Maintaining his grip on Marla's upper
arms, Patrick pushed his face closer to hers. "You may not want
to hear what I've discovered about Lucas Abernathy, Marla, but by
God you're going to, like it or not!"
Her renewed struggle to escape him he blocked easily, his
greater height and weight his advantage. "Marla, Lucas
Abernathy's real name is..."
Marla screamed when her now former friend refused to let her go.
"Someone help me! Hel..."
his grip on one of her arms, Patrick clamped his hand over her
mouth. "I'm not attacking you, Marla," he said forcefully.
"I'm just trying to tell you something that may
was that moment that Marla sank her teeth into his hand.
Yipping under his breath, the tall man jerked his hand away.
As Marla began to yell again, Patrick's gaze flitted downward,
raking across her desk. It
was a spur of the moment reaction, and one of the more stupid things
he'd ever done in his career, hell, in his life, but he was
desperate to make his friend listen to him.
It was, highly probable, the last civil conversation they
would ever exchange.
forward, his action pressing his body against the teacher, Patrick
grabbed the pair of scissors from where he'd dropped them moments
ago and, holding them like a knife, pushed the sharp tips against
her throat. Like evil magic, Marla MacDale's cries ceased, her anger
instantly replaced by fear.
minutes, Marla," Patrick insisted passionately, staring down
into her wide green eyes. "After that, I'll leave you alone and
you can do whatever you want, but you are going to hear what
I have to say." It made him feel sick to his stomach the way
she carefully nodded her head ever so slightly. He was still pressed against her and in that position he
could feel how her heart was pounding in her chest.
out a breath, Patrick took a step back while maintaining the
scissors at her throat. He
studied Marla MacDale's now pale face a moment then licked his lips,
took a breath and blew it out again and opened his mouth to speak.
man you know as Lucas Abernathy," he began, speaking each word
clearly, "is really..."
The words that were to follow never reached the private
detective's lips as he was, from one second to the next, overwhelmed
by a huge wave of the worst dizziness he could ever recall
shook his head and closed his eyes a second in an effort to clear it
but it just got worse and then suddenly....
Abernathy had listened to the confrontation and he slowly slid to
the far side of the hallway to be able to look into the room.
When Marla yelled out for help, he took a step toward the
room but he wanted to hear what the investigator had to say.
It was obviously something very important and he wanted to
know exactly what he had to tell Marla.
It was hearing the P.I. mention his name that made Lucas step
even closer to the door. Then
it was seeing the man pressing his body against his fiancée that
irritated Lucas more than anything else and he took yet another step
toward the room.
her,' he snapped in his head. 'Tell
her,' he reiterated again when he blinked several times at the
scene before him, his curiosity of the information driving him to be
still. He shook his
head slightly then leaned forward as he put his hand against the
frame of the door and watched the expression of the man change.
mouth opened in awe as he watched as the man holding Marla MacDale
moved the scissors away from her neck and in one swift move turned
them in his palm, raised his hand and plunged them into her chest.
A painful gasping moan escaped his fiancée and Lucas
Abernathy blinked as the man brought his hand up again, sinking the
scissors into her chest once more.
closed his eyes and leaned against the frame of the door totally in
shock at what he had witnessed. "Why Cromwell... why?"
Lucas asked softly, causing the man to turn back to look at him as
his hand twisted the scissors in his fiancée. Lucas blinked as he
saw the man smile slightly then turned back and pulled the scissors
out to raise his hand once again.
smile was enough to make Lucas shut his eyes and when he opened his
eyes again, he saw the private eye pausing slightly in the final
blow. "Marla," Lucas whispered softly as the man slightly
stumbled, his hand coming down again, the contact point this time
her neck where he had already placed the scissors before.
"No," he mumbled softly as he leaned against the
door as he watched his beloved now bleeding profusely from the last
point of contact with the scissors in addition to her other mortal
Gate, New Mexico
days and three nights had passed without so much as a false alarm of
the leap chime that always signaled when Dr. Samuel Beckett had
leaped into his next life in which something needed setting right
from its original occurrence in history.
In that time everyone, including the project's chief observer
had gotten at least two good nights sleep.
The staff, individually and collectively, had been able to
make a sizeable dent in whatever portion of the never ending
paperwork that was theirs to deal with, make any minor repairs and
do diagnostic testings that had to be set aside in the midst of a
morning, Al had wakened early and even gone for a run in the desert
outside the complex, followed in order by a shower and dressing, and
even a more or less leisurely breakfast with his wife. From there he
had gone straight to the Control Room to assist Dom and a couple of
the other most senior technicians in working on adjusting a minor
fluctuation in the synchronometer.
the charged handlink handed to him, Al walked up the ramp and into
the Imaging Chamber. As
the door sealed behind him, he stepped onto the center pad in the
chamber and said, "In position. Commence diagnostic."
on synchronization initiation beginning in five seconds," Ziggy
announced and then counted down the seconds. "Five... four...
three... two... one... initiating," she announced.
he stood on the pad, his gaze on the handlink that was dark in his
hands, Admiral Albert Calavicci took a deep, slow breath and exhaled
softly. Patience was the key with these particular diagnostics.
They could last five minutes or, if, as he had once commented
sarcastically, "The planets weren't all in proper alignment
today," when one particular diagnostic had kept him 'caged' in
the Imaging Chamber and standing on that center pad for over two
hours. Now, as the seconds slipped by and Ziggy didn't abruptly halt
the progression of this test, Al was getting a good feeling that
this was going to be one of those blessedly brief tests.
In the fleeting space left between two thoughts, the
observer's good feeling was wiped away with the sudden slight
darkening of the room.
what the hell...." The
rest of the question was lost as the Imagining Chamber, already
online for testing, was instantaneously shifted to full active
status and the power feed into the chamber surged up.
Where two seconds before he had been looking at the Imaging
Chamber's pristine white walls, Al Calavicci suddenly found himself
encased in the all too familiar swirling tornadic tunnel of past
history. A glance at
the handlink showed that it, too, was fully activated and he punched
in a brief coding to mark the beginning of the leap.
had barely closed his eyes and taken a breath as he always did in
preparation to the lock being made but even that was denied him.
His eyelids never fully shut as Ziggy announced, "We
have a lock," and the time tornado vanished as wherever Sam had
landed in history coalesced into a clear holographic scene.
He looked to the right and saw desks arranged in four rows
across and five deep. ‘He's landed in a school room,’ Al
thought. Then he looked
to the left and his jaw went slack. He didn't even feel the handlink
slip from his hand and clatter to the floor of the Imaging Chamber.
Al yelled. "MY GOD, SAM... NO!"
But his words were too few, too late. Stunned beyond even
blinking, Al Calavicci watched in horror as the man he called his
best friend, looked up at him at the same instant he saw Sam pulling
out a pair of scissors from a young woman’s chest then lurched
clumsily, the scissors in his right hand plunging fatally deep into
the neck of the already bloody female body sprawled backward over
couldn't move, not even when the leaper seemed to shake off his
confusion and jerked his hand back. Al cringed at the sickening soft
sucking sound made as the bloody scissors exited the wound.
He watched as Sam just looked stupidly at the instrument of
death in his hand before dropping it and, uselessly, pressed his
hands to the spurting stream of blood coming from the lacerated
carotid artery in the woman's neck.
was all too surreal as he stood there, staring at the carnage his
friend had clearly wrought, now yelling for help at the top of his
lungs. Al didn't know
what to think when Sam's eyes found his and pleaded for his help.
What came out of his mouth was anything but that.
"My God, Sam," Al whispered, making no move to get
closer to the leaper. "You murdered her."
no, I didn't...."
bald-faced denial was the slap that jerked Al from his stunned
reverie. "I saw you do it, Sam!" he shot back, his voice
with only a hint of unsteadiness in it. "I watched you stab
those..." his gaze dropped to the bloody scissors on the floor
beside Sam's feet. "I
saw you stab those scissors into her neck." He paused, licked
his lips then reiterated more strongly, "I know what I saw,
Sam, and I saw you kill her."
didn't get a chance to say anything more to Sam, as suddenly the
classroom was swarming with people. Male teachers, the principal and
an off-duty police officer who had come to pick his son up from
school, converged on the leaper and amidst shouting and cries of
shock and horror at the viciousness of the murder of a beloved
stayed with Sam through the hours that followed, from Sam being
hauled off in handcuffs, to the interrogation to the booking.
Neither Observer nor Leaper had any clear notion of exactly
how much time had passed when at last, the cell into which Sam
Beckett had been shoved had its door slammed shut.
it all, Sam kept insisting to every officer and detective who got in
his face that he was innocent. All through the booking and strip
search and the putting on of a one-piece orange jumpsuit with the
word "PRISONER' in two-inch high letters across the back of it,
not once did Sam waver from his declaration of innocence.
the officers who had shoved him into the cell finally left the
cellblock area, silence descended over the area.
Sam continued to cling to the bars of the cell, his face
pressed against them, his eyes fixed on the door that led out of the
area for several moments. At
last he stepped back, brought his hands up to his face and hid in
his palms for another minute. Lifting his head, Sam sighed and
turned to go sit on the bare mattress on the narrow cot and froze in
his steps, unable to move before the unflinching, accusing stare of
the man he trusted more than any other in his life.
he began. His heart
dropped through the floor when instead of coming closer to him,
Albert Calavicci, without once looking at the handlink, punched a
sequence of buttons, summoning the Imaging Chamber door, stepped
through and closed it. Not a word had passed the observer’s lips.
Now the silence in the cellblock began to grow to deafening
knowing what else to do at this moment, Sam walked slowly to the cot
and sat down on it, scooted back till his back met the wall. Drawing
his knees up before him, he crossed his arms atop them then laid his
head down on his arms and closed his eyes.
Maybe this was all just a cruelly, horribly bad dream.
God,” he prayed softly. “Please, this has to be just a bad
as the Imaging Chamber door closed, Admiral Albert Calavicci
remained silent. Screwing up his mouth, he handled the handlink for a moment
before he took in a breath and let it out heavily. Moving into the Control Room, Al went directly to the
mainframe and without saying a word and not particularly caring if
the handlink was caught or not, tossed it toward Dominic.
Dominic called out as he fumbled then caught the handlink.
"Al, what's wrong?"
didn't bother answering. He
walked out of the Control Room heading toward his office.
His step echoed in the hallway.
As he passed by Ensign Sharpe, Al blew off the salute the
young man gave and blew out his breath before he entered his office.
If it had been a normal door, he would have likely slammed
to his desk, he sat and rubbed his left hand down his face, then
covered his mouth and chin as he leaned on his elbow thinking back
over what he had seen. He
didn't want to believe it, but how could he deny what he had seen?
His eyes flew over his desk as he went over everything again,
his vision blurring, not really taking in anything that was actually
on his desk.
saw you, Sam," he whispered against his hand.
"The question is... why?"
was the one thing that Al couldn't come up with.
It didn't make sense. He
had watched his best friend kill a woman, then immediately turn
around and begin trying to stop the bleeding that couldn't be
pull up any and all information on the man that Sam's leaped into.
I want all the data."
Admiral," Ziggy replied. The
parallel-hybrid computer paused slightly before she asked, "Are
you all right, Admiral Calavicci?"
eyes shot up to the conductive unit in his ceiling that he
considered to be Ziggy's eye into his office and immediately
answered the computer with a low military voice. "Get me the
data and display it on my computer."
moment later, a chime from his computer indicated that the
information was up for him to peruse.
Propping his head in his hand, Al began reading the data.
He had barely gotten into the midst of reading the
information on one Patrick Cromwell when a musical sound indicated
that someone was outside his office door wanting admittance.
rolled his eyes and closed them trying to get his anger under
he said and waited to see exactly who was going to disturb his
inquiry of Patrick Cromwell.
everyone at the project, especially the most senior staff assigned
to the Control Room and surrounding areas, Verbena Beeks was used to
the leaping chime interrupting whatever she happened to be doing at
any given moment. Like
everyone else, when that chime sounded, everything else took a
backseat to the leap commencing.
However, this time, she had been caught utterly unaware when
instead of hearing the familiar leap chime, Ziggy’s voice
announced into her office, “Report to the Waiting Room
immediately, Dr. Beeks.”
she dropped what she had been working on to grab the notepad and pen
she always kept handy, Verbena said, “I didn’t hear the
hadn’t been time for further questions as Ziggy reiterated her
immediate presence being needed in the Waiting Room.
“On my way,” was had been her response.
the Waiting Room, though cloaked in Samuel Beckett’s aura, Verbena
recognized by mannerisms and bearing alone, that the Visitor was an
adult male. The
interview went more or less as a typical initial interview went,
except that this man asked her as many probing questions as she put
to him. By the time she exited the Waiting Room, she had been able
to discern enough basic facts about him to enable Ziggy to get
started on an information search.
outside the Waiting Room, Verbena had stood for a moment, pondering
the interview, and even more, the Visitor.
Pulling her notepad from her jacket pocket she had perused
her notes, pursing her lips then chewing lightly on the inside of
her lower lip as she read. Somewhere
in that brief span of moments, she reached a decision and turned and
marched through the halls until she reached the door with the
nameplate that read: “Admiral Albert Calavicci”. Knocking firmly, Verbena had the door open and was inside the
office on the first syllable of the command to, “Enter.”
Holding up the notepad up for the project’s Chief Observer
to see as she crossed to stand in front of his desk, she asked
plainly, “What’s going on?”
gazed narrowed subtly as she tossed the notebook down before him.
“The chime never sounded,” she stated firmly, her dark
eyes fixed on her colleague’s face, “So I repeat, what’s going
on, Al?” His answer blindsided her.
blinked as he leaned back in his chair and folded his arms over his
chest and resolutely said, "What's going on is that Sam killed
a woman with a pair of scissors."
Verbena asked astounded.
saw him do it and he's claiming that he didn't do it."
Shaking his head also in disbelief, Al pushed himself up from
his chair and began pacing behind his desk.
"His hand went down with the scissors.
It landed on her chest.
He pulled them back out, stumbled then got her again in the
neck. I saw him
a moment Verbena Beeks lost her cool. "That's insane!" she
finally said when she got her thoughts under control again.
"Sam Beckett does not kill... unless it's self-defense
or he's protecting somebody. Did
you see anybody else in the room?
Was there a fight going on when you got there?"
began shaking his head almost immediately to her questions.
He took in a deep breath then let it out slowly before he met
her gaze. "Verbena,
I'm telling you when I got there, Sam had her pressed almost
intimately against the desk, pushing her upper body down on the
desk. The scissors were
in his right hand and I saw him and called out to him as he went
down the first time with the scissors.
you must be mistaken, Al. Sam
saw him bring down his hand the second time hitting her neck,
cutting her carotid artery. Verbena, he..."
Al. Sam wouldn't... couldn't..."
was as if Verbena had just told Al that he had lied to her about
what he had seen with his own two eyes and just the thought of it
made his temper rise faster than Mt. Vesuvius.
"Dammit, Verbena, don't you think that I know
that!" he exploded. "That's
why I can't believe it still! I know what I saw! I
saw my best friend kill a woman!"
Al blinked, closed his eyes then shook his head.
It was as if he was on automatic as he made it to his desk
and lowered himself back into his chair, seemingly to melt into it,
and then met her gaze once more.
"I saw him do it, Verbena," he whispered, the tone
of his voice so different that he seemed like a little boy caught
with his hand in the cookie jar, apologizing quietly for his
knew that it took a great deal to be able to rattle Al Calavicci,
and for a moment she didn't reply to his quiet response.
For a moment neither of them said or did anything as both
tried to wrap their minds around the unimaginable mental picture of
Samuel Beckett deliberately and without provocation killing another
human being. Slowly at
first then more determinedly, Verbena began to shake her head
negatively as she again looked into Al's eyes.
of what you think you saw," she said her voice firm if quiet.
"There's more to... to what you saw than... what you saw."
She knew that sounded like double talk but she didn't budge from it.
Turning on her heel, she went back to the door and opened it.
are you going?" Al called after her.
psychiatrist paused just long enough to look back at him and say
crisply, "To do my job." She paused a second then added,
"I do not now nor have I ever worked for a murderer, and I
intend to start looking for proof to refute what you saw,
didn't stick around to see how that last part had been received.
Instead, Verbena’s mental
batteries were recharging as she began considering what questions to
put to the current Visitor to find out what his grievance had been
with the woman Al had said was killed by Sam.
the Waiting Room, Patrick Cromwell had turned quickly at the sound
of the only door into the room opening.
He chose, for the moment, to hold his tongue when the
handsome black woman walking toward him informed him that he was
safe and would be kept so for the duration of his stay there.
He maintained steady eye contact with her as she stopped a
few feet from him and said, "I have some questions to ask you.
Your answers to them will aid us in getting your situation
resolved. Now, sir,
what is your name?" As
he sized her up, he had no way of knowing of the man sitting in an
interrogation room, bound with handcuffs and being accused of
dull ache that had begun to throb behind his eyes during the booking
and incarceration procedures had developed into a full-blown
pounding by the time Sam Beckett was retrieved from his cell and
taken to an interrogation room.
He hadn't said anything when upon entering the room, he saw a
pair of detectives and another man dressed in a gray suit, all three
of them staring at him as he shuffled in and sat down at the table
in the middle of the room.
the handcuffs off my client, Detective," the man in the gray
suit requested firmly.
uniformed officer who had escorted the prisoner to the interrogation
room looked to the senior detective.
Seeing Hal Grayson nod, the officer took a key from his
pocket and unlocked the handcuffs when the prisoner lifted his hands
to him. The officer
took the handcuffs and exited the room, leaving the cuffs with the
officer assigned to stand guard outside the door.
the room, Sam carefully chafed his wrists, just nodding when the man
in the gray suit said, "Are you all right, Patrick?"
been better," Sam said quietly.
other man nodded his head at Sam's words. Leaning forward on the
table, he regarded the private investigator carefully.
"What's going on Patrick?
What... what happened in Marla MacDale's classroom?"
don't know," Sam said softly.
can't help you, Patrick, unless you talk to me and tell me what
Dennis studied his client's face closely a moment before looking up
at the two detectives ready to start their interrogation.
"I need some time to confer with my client," he
told them, his attitude and voice level, calm.
Grayson matched looks with the attorney for a moment then met his
partner's gaze and jerked his head toward the door. Both of them
went to the door.
the blinds, if you please, Detective Grayson," George Dennis
requested. "And turn off the intercom, too."
watched without comment, his gaze going from his attorney's face to
the detectives, not in the least inclined to say anything to anyone
at the moment. Together,
he and the attorney watched the detective close the blinds then exit
the door, closing it solidly. For
a moment he stared at the closed mini blinds before murmuring,
"I wonder if they really aren't listening?"
Dennis sat down in the chair beside Patrick Cromwell and said, his
tone spelling out for the man exactly how serious his situation was.
"They aren't going to do anything so stupid as to violate
attorney client confidentiality and risk you getting off on a
in his chair so he was facing his client as he sat facing the table,
the attorney said simply, "What happened in that classroom,
looked at the man and he thought back on what he knew about the
Leap, and came up with nothing.
Imaging Chamber door opened and Al stepped out looking at Sam
Sam heard the door open and close behind him he kept up with his
Oh God, I wish I knew."
looked down at the handlink, and then cut off anything that the
attorney was saying as he began, "You might want to tell him
looked at his holographic partner and couldn't help but see the
wearied, tired, frazzled look.
waiting for Sam to respond to him with someone else in the room, Al
began, "You've Leaped into Patrick James Cromwell.
Age: thirty-four. Patrick
is a Private Investigator and he had been sent out by Tom Mayberry
to investigate the latest two additions to the school board.
The applicants had signed that it would be okay for them to
go digging into the past to look up how they were in other schools.
Anyway, according to our Visitor, he knew something about one
Lucas Abernathy. He's
not that sure what he had found out, but he said that it was
sorry, what did you ask, sir?" Sam asked his attorney.
when do you call me sir? What's
wrong with George?" he asked with a smirk.
you are my attorney. I'd
hate for someone to think that I'm not showing you the respect that
you have earned," Sam said with a slight shrug.
Dennis gave his friend a slight smile.
"I appreciate that. Now, Patrick, what happened?"
glanced over at Al for a slight second then swallowed and leaned
back in the chair. "The county school board director," he began.
Mayberry," Al supplied knowing that Sam would need that
information for his attorney.
Mayberry," Sam continued, "contacted me about doing
background checks on the two new candidates, Walter Merriweather and
Lucas Abernathy." Sam
turned his head slightly to the right and downward as he found
himself connecting with Patrick Cromwell's thoughts.
"It's a standard procedure for anyone looking for a
position on the school board, and the election is coming up in about
eight weeks, so, Tom, er, Mr. Mayberry asked me to do my job.
A man's got to earn a living, even if it's not the best job
in the world."
turned his head slightly to look at his best friend and folded his
arms over his chest as he listened to what Patrick Cromwell was
giving them to work with.
found out some rather interesting information about Lucas Abernathy.
Marla MacDale is my neighbor and... she needed to know who
she was about to marry. I
look out for my friends, George, and when I find something that's
not right about someone they are involved with, I'm not going to
close my mouth and just leave it alone."
pushed back his chair and stood up and slowly began to pace behind
his chair. "I... I
went to the school to talk to her.
She... God, George, you know that feeling when you wish you
had what was in front of you and you know that you can't have it?
Marla's that item for me.
We are so almost right for each other... and yet... not right
for each other." Sam
shook his head slightly a bit confused at what he was saying
himself, but allowed the words to come flowing out of his mouth,
hoping that they weren't going to pull him deeper into a hell that
he couldn't get out of.
when she found out that I had researched Lucas, her fiancée, she
got hot. Really hot. Never
had Marla hit me before with such maliciousness.
I wasn't going to let her leave until she heard.
We struggled as she tried to get around me, but she was so
determined. I was
trying to save her life here. That
maniac is not to be trusted, George.
So, I reverted back to the basic primal nature to get what I
wanted—fear. I picked
up the scissors and put them up to her throat to get her to listen.
I told her, 'Two minutes, Marla.
After that, I'll leave you alone and you can do whatever you
want, but you are going to hear what I have to say.'
She was so scared. I
felt her heart beating from how I had her pinned against her desk...
but I had to tell her. I
her what, Patrick? What
did you find out about Lucas Abernathy?"
stopped and turned to look at George Dennis in complete and utter
shock wishing that his host had given to him the answer that the man
was looking for. Sam quickly looked over at Al hoping that his hologram had the
answer and when he saw Al slightly shrug with a hand gesture from
the handlink and a shake of the head, Sam turned back to the man
sitting at the table. "I...
won't say until trial," he finally answered.
Dennis had been an attorney going on seventeen years, and in that
time had handled a good many criminal cases.
In some of those cases, his client was acquitted, in the
other cases, his client wound up paying for his or her crime in
prison, and the rest fell somewhere in the area between those
extremes. He'd heard a
lot of excuses as well as explanations and all sorts of reasoning. Now, listening to Patrick Cromwell explaining how he had
wound up in the San Benito Jail staring at a first-degree murder
charge, George kept his mind open. That didn't, however, prevent him
from mentally starting to inspect more closely the plausible, on one
hand, explanation that in another breath, took a slight bend that
made him wonder. It was
Pat's response to his question about what he'd learned about Lucas
Abernathy that made him turn in his chair to face the big man who
could have been a model for a genie popping up out of some Aladdin's
lamp. He could see the
anxiety clearly in the younger man's face along with the hint of
determination that had colored those last words.
he said clearly. "This
isn't the first time you've used my services but this is the first
time you've been on this side of the table so to speak." He
watched the other man nod at that. "I'll tell you now, like
I've told every other person I've represented in a criminal matter.
I'm here to represent you and your best interests, but I have to
know all of the facts. All of them, Pat."
Dennis stood up and faced his client, looking him squarely in the
eye and told Pat Cromwell what, by this hour of the evening, just
about everybody in San Benito knew.
"You're not in a position to bargain, Pat," George
said. He shook his head and held up a hand to indicate to his client
to let him finish. "I
believe what you've just told me, but Patrick, no matter that it's
the truth... or even if it isn't..."
it is!" Sam insisted earnestly, stepping up to the lawyer.
George said, giving him a firm look that achieved the acquiescing
nod from his client he expected. He didn't further waste precious
time. "Listen, Pat, as I was saying, I believe you, but,"
he paused then said, "there was an eye witness who heard you
arguing with Marla MacDale AND who saw you kill her."
couldn't move, just stand and stare at the lawyer.
Slowly his head started to shake negatively.
"No," he finally got the word out. "I... I
didn't see... no, there wasn't anyone else in the room."
reached to put a hand on Patrick's shoulder to still him. "He
wasn't in the room," he told his client. "He was in the
hallway... in the doorway." He stopped, giving Patrick a few
seconds to absorb the damning comment. "I've seen a copy of the
statement he gave to the police, Pat," George told his client.
"The witness told them that at one point—just after you
stabbed her the first time, he made some little noise and... and you
turned your head and looked right at him and..."
what?" Sam instantly pressed.
had witnessed, in the past, a few incidents of Pat Cromwell's temper
when aroused. Now, it was looking like those instances might come back to
haunt him. "The
witness said you looked at him and smiled. He said then you turned
around and stabbed Miss MacDale through the heart and twisted the
eyes widened as he searched the lawyer's face looking for some
inkling of a joke, hoping and praying that it was a joke.
He instantly found himself shaking his head negatively.
"I... I couldn't. I
Sam looked down again as he felt the high nauseating wave of
psychosynergy that crossed over him.
"NO!" he hollered as he backed up away from the man
before him. "NO!"
the door opened and the two detectives stepped into the room to
assess the situation and were more than amazed to find their
prisoner pressing himself into the corner of the room, sliding down
the wall, instant hot tears streaming down his face.
didn't kill Marla MacDale!" both Sam and Patrick Cromwell cried
out at the same time. "Oh
God... Marla... no!"
as the men started toward Sam, George Dennis took a step toward his
client and shook his head and motioned back toward the door.
He was more than surprised at the response that Patrick had
given to the news. It
was as if the man had just found out that she was dead.
Once the officers nodded and with a look of disdain left the
room, George looked at Pat and shook his head not understanding what
was going on.
moved to Sam as the handlink squealed out in response to what was
happening around him. Reading
the link, Al said, "Sam, it seems that it was in the same
moment that George Dennis told you that Verbena told Patrick in the
Waiting Room about what happened to Marla.
The connection is rather strong between the two of you
because Ziggy's climbing the walls about how the two of you reacted
the same way. Both
cowering to a corner in response."
glanced up at Al and he wiped at his face before he looked up at his
lawyer. "I didn't
do it," Sam said softly. "I didn't kill Marla."
wasn't the first time a client had reacted with passionate intensity
to something he had just told them. It happened more often than it
didn't, so when the two detectives had stepped suddenly into the
room, George Dennis had moved a couple of steps to place himself
between them and where Pat Cromwell sat huddled in a corner.
After a moment the two men exited the room again and George
turned and walked over to stand close to his client.
He waited a second then squatted on his haunches, resting his
forearms on his knees as he studied his distraught client.
"I believe you, Pat," he said in a plain, quiet
voice. "But you've got to tell me everything."
When Pat lifted his head in order to meet his gaze, George
spelled out in simple, stark words what was facing the private
investigator/ bounty hunter.
eyewitness heard you arguing with Marla, Pat, and he saw you stab
her repeatedly. By the man's description, at one point you looked at him and
grinned like... like you were enjoying what you were doing to
numb to the center of his being as the enormity and the cold hard
facts being told to him, as well as a sense of weariness came over
Sam. He turned those few hard nuggets of damnation every which way
in his mind but they repeatedly gave back to him the same
conclusion. Hearing the lawyer's last comment, Sam sighed and closed
his eyes a moment, leaning his head back against the wall. Only one
question was able to assemble in his thoughts and then successfully
cross his lips. "Who?" he asked softly. "Who is 'he'?"
felt like a vast chasm suddenly opened in the floor beneath the
Leaper, the color draining from his face as if sucked out by a
vacuum when George Dennis said quietly, "Lucas Abernathy."
Gate, New Mexico
moved so quickly from the Imaging Chamber to the Control Room that
he was even a bit shocked at how fast he went calling out as he
went, "Ziggy! I
want any and all information on a Lucas Abernathy from San Benito,
Texas. Do whatever you
need to, but I want to get the same information that Patrick
Cromwell had found out and I want it two weeks ago!"
Admiral," Ziggy replied and immediately began to process
through the information as she watched the Italian walk from the
Control Room toward the Waiting Room.
knew exactly what had to be done now, and he hated waiting for the
answer so he was going to go straight to the source who had already
had the information somewhere in the midst of his Swiss-cheesed
mind. Waiting only a
moment as the doors of the Waiting Room opened, he walked in and
approached the man lying on the bed just staring up at the ceiling. "Get up, Mr. Cromwell.
We need to talk."
turned his head to look at the small man that had entered the room
and just looked at him wondering if he just ignored him if he'd go
away. Seeing the way
that the older man was looking at him, he slowly sat up and wiped at
his face. "What do
you want?" he asked softly.
didn't skim around the issue, but came straight to the point.
"What did you find out about Lucas Abernathy?"
held his counsel at the terse demand, as he looked the older man
over. "Who wants
to know?" he asked, his tone making it plain he wasn't
intimidated by his questioner's authoritative attitude.
years in the Navy, as well as the on the job experience he'd gained
since Sam had begun leaping, had taught Al Calavicci well. He'd
seen, experienced and dealt with just about every attitude a human
being could throw at him. The
one the Visitor was presenting was quite familiar and he handled it
as he always did.
a deep breath and blowing it out, Al moved from the foot of the
hospital bed around to stand beside it, putting him eye to eye with
the still seated Visitor. "My name is Al and I'm in charge of this place," he
informed the private investigator. "Before you ask, all you
need to know is that while your arrival here was somewhat unusual,
nonetheless, it is important. And
that importance at this moment lies in your telling me what you
ascertained about one Lucas Abernathy during your investigation of
his suitability to serve on the San Benito School Board."
He didn't miss the way the other man reacted to that tidy
piece of proof. "And
before you try lying to me, Mr. Cromwell... don't.
Here, I have irrefutable methods of knowing if you're
lying." Al paused,
took another breath and gave the Visitor a moment of silence during
which anyone looking down from the observation deck would have seen
what appeared to be a staring contest between the two directors of
Project Quantum Leap. It was the Visitor who 'blinked' first.
do you want to know?" Patrick Cromwell asked, his tone
reasonable though his body language was definitely a controlled
didn't budge or back off an inch. "For a reason likely very
similar to yours, Mr. Cromwell," he stated, his tone and manner
straightforward. "To assist a friend who is in a dicey
situation that deals directly with Mr. Abernathy. Now, Mr. Cromwell, what did you find out about Lucas
Abernathy that was most likely the proximate cause of Marla MacDale
looked at the man standing beside him for a long moment before he
nodded. "I know
that you want to help Al," Patrick began, "but it's one of
those things where I'm not sure if anything is up there anymore.
When that woman... Beeks came in questioning me, I really
wasn't able to tell her much."
is better than nothing," Al conceded.
"Now, let's just start from where Mr. Mayberry asked you
to investigate the two new candidates and just see what we come up
as Patrick looked down and seemingly searched his memories, he began
with little pieces of information to try to connect the dots.
As time began to stretch on, Al joined Patrick sitting on the
bed and did his best to be patient in finding the information that
he needed for Sam. He knew and believed what he had seen when this
unusual leap had begun but he couldn't just accept that.
He had to prove, to himself if no one else, what his
guts were telling him, namely that what he had seen had been a lie,
and that Sam Beckett wasn't guilty. But he had to have somewhere to
Gate, New Mexico
and patience seemed to be the enemy during this Leap.
Time kept flying by at the speed of light while the
information that he needed was slow in coming.
Even Ziggy had to stop her search in finding anything on
Lucas Abernathy for an essential update that Dominic was sincerely
apologetic for. She was
kept offline for over three days but that didn't stop Al from
visiting with Pat to find out more information.
daily visits with Patrick Cromwell were so regular that Patrick was
usually waiting for the Italian even as the doors opened with an
inkling more of what he had found out from his Swiss-cheesed memory.
was during the last meeting with Pat that there seemed to be an
interesting development in his memories.
Al looked at the younger man as his head popped up in sudden
had something to do with his marriages," Patrick finally said
as he snapped his fingers. "Yeah... he was married... uhm...
God... it's right here on the tip of my tongue."
He closed his eyes and willed the memory to come to him, but
when it didn't he cursed. "Dammit. I'm as bad as a nursery rhyme that won't go... nursery
rhyme... a nursery rhyme... now why did I say that?"
shrugged one shoulder with a shake of his head.
"I don't know, Pat."
stood up and began pacing as he put his hands up on his head.
"Ugh, if I had hair, I would be bald by now, you know
that?" he said as he raised his arms then let them flop to his
rhyme... nursery rhyme... it was something like a riddle.
You know like the one where you ask how to spell 'that'
without any i's... but it was about..." he closed his eyes and
stopped pacing for a moment and finally said it, "cats."
Al asked carefully.
Patrick said a bit more adamantly.
"I'm sure of it. Really
the loudspeaker announced through the room, calling Al's attention
toward the ceiling.
are wanted in the Control Room."
Hearing Dominic's voice, he was more than curious as to why
he was called out from talking with Patrick.
"Thanks Pat. We
are making progress."
progress. A memory of
something about marriages and a nursery rhyme about cats.
Some progress," Patrick replied cynically.
turned to look at the man he had grown accustomed to within the past
four days and said, "Remember with what we started with, Pat.
A little is better than nothing."
the man nod, Al left the room and hurried down the hallway to the
Control Room. As he entered, he found the whole team assembled which
immediately put him on instant alert.
"What's going on?" he asked.
Lofton looked up from his position at the main control panel at the
Observer's, "What's going on?"
said that the moment we could recommence contact with Dr. Beckett,
that you were to be notified instantly...." He was interrupted
by a familiar sound that hadn't been heard in the past seventy-two
hours, that sound bringing a broad smile to his face as he saw the
same recognition come over Al Calavicci's face.
"The Imaging Chamber is coming online, Admiral.
You may enter the Imaging Chamber now. Synchronometer
engagement will begin in one minute and counting, sir."
didn't need hearing or telling twice.
As he marched swiftly past the main console, he held out his
hand, his fingers curling firmly over the charged handlink slapped
against his palm. By
the time he entered the Imaging Chamber and stepped onto the central
pad in the room, he was almost antsy.
Not until he heard the subtle power shift, noted by Ziggy
saying, "Synchronometer engaged," did Al take a breath,
only releasing it a few seconds later when he heard the four words
he'd been going nuts to hear.
have a lock," Ziggy stated clearly.
The words were still fading within the acoustically perfect
Imaging Chamber as the white chamber walls coalesced into Samuel
Beckett's current location. It
was instantly clear that it was going to be a one-sided conversation
in the cell that the project's director, now clad in prison garb of
jeans and a long-sleeved blue shirt, occupied with another prisoner.
For a moment he and Sam just stared at each other.
When the leaper suddenly shifted around on his cot and rolled
onto his side facing the wall, it confused Al for a moment until he
saw Sam turn his head a bit to peer up at him, beckoning him with a
slight gesture with his chin before facing the wall again.
okay! Gotcha, Sam," Al said as he had Ziggy relocate him.
If Sam's cellmate had been able to see Al, the man likely
would have started yelling about a ghostly face sticking out of the
wall. As it was, the
man spared Sam a brief look then climbed up onto the top bunk, a
well-thumbed paperback in hand.
the hell have you been?" Sam hissed so softly under his breath
that the hologram had to lean so close to hear him that if they had
been able to touch, someone might have thought the two were about to
Sam. Ziggy had to have
some thingamabob that I'm not sure exactly what it's all about but
we're back online. I've
been talking with Pat about what he remembers.
It's been slow but he barely remembers anything.
What I have from him is a town, a pastor, something about a
nursery rhyme about cats and Abernathy's marriages."
blinked at the hologram before him and shook his head.
"Three days. Three
days and that's all you've got?" he asked a bit heatedly albeit
doing the best that I can, Sam.
His memory is full of holes and getting that much in the last
three days is better than not getting anything at all, don’tcha
closed his eyes and sighed heavily.
"I just want outta here," he said a bit too loud.
ain't the only one, bud. I
want outta here as bad as you do," the man from the top bunk
looked up at the mattress and shook his head then glanced back at
Al. "They think
that I did it," Sam whispered.
bed moved slightly and the man who shared the cell leaned over and
looked down at the man below him.
believe you that you didn't do it. I didn't rob that bank
either," the guy said then chuckled as he leaned back to
situate himself on the bed once again. "You keep telling yourself that, Cromwell.
It still doesn't help your case any."
up, scumbag," Al muttered, casting an irritated glance at the
shook his head slightly as he glared up at the bunk above him.
He was about to reply to him when a rattle of keys caught his
attention and he turned to the cell door to see the guard opening
on, Cromwell. You've
got a meeting with your lawyer, then you get to have your
arraignment tomorrow," he said.
stood up and gave a final glare at the man who shared the cell with
him and started toward the cell door.
He wanted to say something but he decided to keep it to
himself to save himself the trouble.
the way down the hallway, Sam looked at Al.
"So, we don't have anything to go on?" he
questioned softly as he brought his hand up to cover up that he was
asking anything of his holographic pal.
"No. Not really." As
they continued to walk down the hallway, Al pulled up Ziggy's
holographic representation and asked, "Anything?"
has majorly changed, Admiral. Since
my upgrade, I was able to ascertain that Dr. Beckett was supposed to
be here to help find Marla MacDale.
She vanished the night after she wed Lucas Abernathy.
She was never found. Now,
with the way that history has been re-written, Patrick Cromwell
murdered Ms. MacDale in jealous passion and will be executed for his
crimes on September 10th, 1968."
Ziggy turned to her creator and slightly tilted her head.
"Sorry, Dr. Beckett. It
looks rather grim."
he walked along with Sam and the guard escorting him to the visiting
area, Al didn't have to look at his friend to know what he was
thinking. Instead of
things taking a turn for the better, Ziggy's comment appeared to
just tighten the noose a bit more around her creator's neck.
the visiting area, Sam waited for the guard to unlock the door,
simply nodding when the man told him, "Cubicle Six," and
stepped into the room. He didn't stop to look back when the door was locked behind
him, just went straight to Cubicle Six where he found George Dennis
waiting for him. Only
this time, the attorney had another man with him. Sam had barely sat
down when George began with the court appearance the next day.
arraignment is set for ten o'clock tomorrow morning, Pat,"
George told him matter-of-factly.
"You'll be transported to the courthouse with the others
being arraigned at that time."
nodded his understanding then cut his gaze to the man sitting beside
the attorney. "Who's this?" he asked without preamble.
Dennis had always appreciated Patrick Cromwell's
get-down-to-business attitude in previous such situations, and he
appreciated it now. However, it wasn't he who answered Sam's
question but the attorney's companion.
David McKinney smiled kindly at the man sitting on the opposite side
of the table. "I'm surprised you don't remember me, Mr.
Cromwell," he said. "Last
week we had a rather long conversation when you were in
was encouraged by the way the man's eyes brightened measurably as he
parroted, "Abbottsville...last week." Still, he considered
the man's current situation and reminded him of his name. "I'm
Pastor McKinney," the man of the cloth supplied.
"We talked at some length about a man named Lucas
Abernathy... well, that's what he calls himself now. But that wasn't
his name while he was at St. Ives."
was so startled that he dropped his cigar and almost the handlink as
well. "Did he say
St. Ives?!" He
didn't see the odd look Sam managed to slide his way, he was too
busy punching instructions and questions into the handlink even as
he issued orders aloud. "Ziggy,
have Verbena check with the visitor. Have her ask him if the nursery
rhyme that he can't think of was about St. Ives."
Almost as an afterthought he added, "There's cats in
was a five-minute wait before Al got a response, but it was the best
five minutes since this leap had begun.
He was almost bouncing off the walls when he relayed what the
prompting had done for the Visitor's memory.
he said urgently, moving to his friend's side, the handlink in his
left hand a rainbow of flashing colors. "Get this Pastor...whatshisname
to tell you about Lucas' other life at St. Ives."
Ives?" Sam said uncertainly.
David McKinney responded, thinking the young private investigator
was speaking to him. "Charles
Kitwell... that's Mr. Abernathy's real name... was a patient at St.
Ives Mental Hospital for several years."
Dennis saw both the immediate interest and surprise in his client's
eyes. He took as an encouraging sign that Patrick's seeming apparent
temporary amnesia about his working trip to the small Ohio town had
been cleared away. He
chose for the moment not to interrupt but instead to watch and
listen and make notes of whatever might surface from the murkiness
of his client's cloudy memory of the last few days.
wasn't the only one taking full advantage of the information that
was beginning to come out. Al
had re-summoned Ziggy's holographic imagine to observe as well.
He thought that her 'physical' presence as she retrieved and
filled in information would do Sam's emotional and mental well being
more good to hear it from Ziggy's own lips, as it were.
fast, nay faster than thoughts, Ziggy processed the new information
as Pastor McKinney related it to a leaper who had up until that
moment, whether he realized it or not, had begun to entertain
fleeting little whispers that this time he was at the end of his
rope, both figuratively and literally.
a few minutes, Sam asked, "Why was he in that place...St.
Dennis' answering of that question made both leaper and hologram's
skin crawl. But as the
time crept by, both were equally beginning to believe that they were
starting to see a glimmer at the end of what had been till now a
long, long black tunnel from which Sam couldn't escape.
after they had heard and learned a bit more than they had wanted to
about Charles Kitwell, a/k/a Lucas Abernathy, Sam had a restless
night's sleep before he was transported to his arraignment hearing.
He was escorted through the halls with the cuffs chafing his
wrists, but Al was consistently by his side, which he appreciated
more than anything else. After
being without a friend to even talk to for three days, it was a bit
more comforting to have this pal around even if they couldn't talk.
shoved into the room with the other men, Sam looked for his
attorney, found him and went toward him until a guard stopped him.
"Stay still. When
it's closer to your time, you'll get called up.
Until then, sit."
Sam nodded and did exactly as the guard said.
Looking at Al who gave him an encouraging smile, Sam nodded
in acknowledgement then played the game that he was beginning to get
tired of in this leap -- the Waiting Game.
hours later, he was more than grateful to stand when George Dennis
asked for his client. Getting
up, he went to stand with his attorney.
Once beside George, he licked his lips as he looked over at
the young woman who was on the prosecuting team for the state of
Texas. He met her gaze
only for the woman's eyes to narrow before she turned back to her
he looked up at Judge Martin Sandoval, who seemed very passionate
about his work and finally turned his gaze on the newest arrival.
Sandoval adjusted his glasses on his nose and leaned back in his
chair then raised his gavel and let it flop down on the desk.
"Bailiff Monrow, what's our next case?"
Number: 54328, State of Texas VS. Cromwell, Patrick.
in the first degree."
Cromwell," Judge Sandoval looked at the man standing beside
George Dennis and finally found why Cromwell looked so familiar to
him. The man had
brought in one of the most hated men to his court for prosecution.
He appreciated the PI's help, but now, it looked as if he was
on the wrong side of the law. "Mr. Dennis, how does your client plea?"
out of the corner of his eye that George slightly looked at him, Sam
replied, "Not guilty, your honor."
Sandoval's thick eyebrows quirked somewhat at the plea offered then
shifted his gaze to the prosecution.
"Ms. Greene, I trust that the prosecution has satisfied
the criteria for a first-degree murder charge?"
Your Honor," the tall, slender woman with dark hair pulled back
in a stylish twist and wearing a dove gray suit responded crisply.
"We have an eye witness to the moments leading up to the
moment when Mr. Cromwell viciously and repeatedly stabbed Marla
MacDale to death in her classroom at San Benito Veterans’ Memorial
Ninth Grade Academy."
Sandoval nodded. "Bail?"
Greene came back promptly, "Considering the heinous nature of
the crime, the people request remand, Your Honor."
Sandoval's gaze flicked to the defense even as he nodded and gaveled
the case. "The defendant is remanded to the custody of the
Sheriff's Office to await trial.
Al watched as Sam turned to his lawyer to shake his hand and start
back toward the back of the room, he couldn't help but notice Lucas
Abernathy sitting behind the prosecuting table watching.
After learning what the man had done, Al shook his head,
flicked his cigar ash from the end of it then started after Sam.
arrived as Sam and George met up with Pastor McKinney, who was
talking with a rather attractive, nicely dressed blonde who kept
batting her eyes at the man before her.
had heard that you were coming down to Texas to help out in a trial.
So, I thought that it was the best way to show my earnest desire in
backing you in your endeavors, Pastor McKinney," she said
simply as she looked him up and down before she turned to the men
who had approached from the side.
woman glanced at the men who approached and did a double take as she
looked at them before she stuck out her hand to them.
"Lulu Logan," she introduced herself.
"I'm one of Pastor McKinney's fold and I wanted to let
you know that I'm a prayer support for you in this time in your
life," she said as she stepped up in front of Sam.
was about to shake hands with the young woman when one of the other
people in the gallery brushed past them, pushing them further apart.
small gasp escaped her and one word slipped out then others quickly
you're the one that came last week to Abbottsville, aren't
you?" she asked carefully.
Ms. Logan. I did,"
Sam said carefully then reached over and shook the pastor's hand.
"Thank you Pastor McKinney.
I really do appreciate everything that you've done.
Thank you for coming."
McKinney smiled then put his hands on Lulu's shoulders and slowly
moved her away from in front of the young PI.
"Anything to set things right," he said softly.
nodded at the pastor when he felt a hand on his elbow and turned his
head to see the guard. "Okay," he said then turned to each
one of them in turn; Lulu, George, David… and Al.
"Thank you," he said simply then turned and walked
away from the group.
a rather interesting fellow. I...
I think that I've met him before," Lulu said simply.
met him last week when you were in church," David answered with
a smile. "Don't you remember?"
was too busy listening to your sermon," she said as she
fluttered her lashes. "Do you know that you and he look... alike?"
turned to look at the young woman before he looked up at Pastor
don't look anything alike... Patrick's bald... but... McKinney sorta
looks like Sam... but not that much."
Picking up the handlink, Al quickly recentered himself back
on Al unaware that Lulu had turned her head to look seemingly
through him as if she had actually seen something there.
Country Criminal Courthouse
to the heinous nature of Patrick Cromwell's crime, George Dennis had
petitioned the court for a change of venue. He had won his point
that it wasn't likely that his client could receive a fair and
impartial trial, and so the venue for the case had been moved to the
Cameron County Criminal Court in nearby—Brownsville. He had also waived, with his client's authority, all appeals
and delays, requesting that a speedy trial be set.
Sam's point of view, he wasn't so sure about the speedy aspect of
the trial when the judge to whom the case was assigned put it on his
trial calendar a mere ten days hence, but what else was there that
he could do? Nothing
but literally sit and wait, and, of course, give his full
cooperation in defense of his host.
It helped that moments of psycho-synergizing helped fill in
spots of information about Patrick Cromwell but Sam still awoke the
morning of the trial with an even stronger uneasiness in the pit of
passed on the breakfast brought to him, opting just for the cup of
orange juice and a few sips of the coffee, before putting on a dark
suit that George Dennis had brought to him from Patrick Cromwell's
apartment. Even though
it was nearing the end of October, Sam found himself sweating as he
waited in the holding room off the courtroom until it was time for
the trial to begin. The
air conditioning in the building seemed to be not working to him,
but Al, who hadn't left his side since appearing while he was
dressing, assured Sam that this was most likely due to nerves.
was obvious, by the sight of Al Calavicci attired in a conservative
slate blue suit and tie just how seriously he was taking the trial
of Patrick Cromwell since his best friend was the one who would, God
forbid, end up serving time, or worse, be executed, if found guilty.
too soon Sam was brought into the courtroom to stand next to George
Dennis. The handcuffs
were removed shortly before the bailiff called out in a strong,
clear voice, "All rise. The Criminal District Court for Cameron
County, Texas is now in session. The Honorable Bertram T. Oswell
presiding.” Every eye
watched in silence as the judge emerged from the door to the right
end of the bench and walked up and took his seat then banged the
gavel smartly. The bailiff faced the courtroom again and intoned,
"Court is now in session. Be seated."
swallowed and looked over at his lawyer and saw the small smile
before he turned and glanced at the gallery and saw the pastor as
well as the beautiful blonde sitting beside him.
Nervously, he looked back up at the judge and saw him
focusing on the prosecuting attorney.
him, Al placed the chair kept in the Imaging Chamber for occasions
when he was in there for long periods, beside Sam at the defense's
table. He had the handlink firmly in hand as he settled down to
listen and, if needed request information from Ziggy about anything
that was said.
Greene," Judge Oswell called out.
"Are you ready to proceed?"
Your Honor," she said looking directly at him.
"The State is prepared."
Oswell's gaze turned to George Dennis.
"Mr. Dennis, are you ready to proceed?"
Your Honor," Mr. Dennis responded as he stood up and met the
"Fine. Then let us proceed. Opening
hour flew past as both sides gave their opening statements as to how
each intended to prove the guilt or innocence of Patrick Cromwell,
Private Investigator. As Sam heard how viciously the attack had come, a bit of him
wondered if he had somehow
aided the attack in the leap in.
He didn't want to think that he was the one that caused her
to die, but he couldn't help but wonder.
It bothered him that there were some things that he had no
control over. However,
he knew what he could do and he was going to do his damnedest to
free Patrick Cromwell of this sentence.
first witness called by the Prosecution was Detective Grayson.
The man answered the Assistant District Attorney's questions,
as well as the cross-examination by George Dennis.
After that, in rapid succession, Grayson's partner and then
the coroner were called to the witness stand. The few graphic
pictures of the scene of the murder as well as the victim caused Al
to turn a little green but he didn't budge. Sam, on the other hand
studied the blow-ups of the pictures intently.
It wasn’t the sight of the blood or the unfortunate victim
that made his stomach tighten. Rather, it was the knowledge that
through no fault of his own he had been thrown into the awful mix.
the noon hour approached, Sam's head was awash in the testimony of
the teachers and other school personnel who had rushed to their
colleague's aid. Though
he appreciated the skill of his attorney's cross-examination of
them, Sam couldn't help but silently give high marks to the
prosecution. As each of
their witnesses testified, he began to mentally hear over and over
in his mind the hard, metal clang of a prison cell door swinging
irrevocably shut behind him. It
was twelve fifteen when the judge recessed for lunch and Sam was
escorted back to the holding area.
After an escorted trip to the restroom, he was taken back to
the holding cells in the basement of the courthouse where he was
given a light lunch. But he had no appetite, settling for a plastic
cup of iced tea that he sipped as he paced the confines of the cell.
the time the trial resumed and the rest of the defense witnesses
were summoned and questioned, Sam was totally in shock at the amount
of evidence that the state had compiled against Patrick Cromwell.
If he had been one of the twelve members of the jury, he
would have already been convinced that Pat Cromwell had murdered the
woman because he was a jealous bastard who didn't want Lucas
Abernathy to have a chance with his beautiful next-door neighbor.
the afternoon continued to crawl on, Sam felt the final slam of the
door when the last witness, Lucas Abernathy, walked to the stand to
give his testimony.
Greene glanced down at her notes and then walked in front of the
witness stand and said, "Please state your name for the
Greene moved smoothly on with her questions.
"What was your relationship with the deceased, Mr.
MacDale was to be my wife, Ms. Greene," Lucas said simply.
"We had set the date for December 31st, but I was going
to suggest that we move it up to be a simple impromptu wedding this
weekend. I was going to
ask her that evening at dinner what she thought of that," he
said with an even smooth tone as he looked at her before he glanced
at the man he knew as Patrick Cromwell.
you acquainted with the defendant, Mr. Abernathy?"
At his affirmative answer, the prosecutor asked him to
know Pat Cromwell through Marla.
She introduced us when I began dating her.
It's not every day that you meet a man of his stature and
ability. He definitely
made an impression on me."
Greene nodded her head then asked, "So, you would know his
voice if you heard it?"
course, I would. Pat
has that smooth, deep lilt to his voice.
Even Marla said that he had a charming nature."
George Dennis called out firmly. "Hearsay."
the judge ruled, looking at the jury and adding, "The jury will
disregard the witness' last comment." Shifting his gaze to the
witness, he admonished, "Just answer the questions asked, Mr.
sir," Lucas responded with the right degree of respect in his
tone and expression.
Greene let a few seconds pass then continued her examination of the
prosecution's star witness.
Abernathy, on the afternoon of Ms. MacDale's murder, please tell the
court how you came to be at the school at that particular
listened, pleased at how well his preparation for testifying had
gone. Everything about
his manner and voice now reflected what she had instructed him:
"Just tell the truth, Mr. Abernathy. Do not embellish what you
heard or observed. Trust me when I tell you that the facts of this
case will convict Mr. Cromwell."
when he repeated again about taking Marla MacDale out to dinner that
evening and his decision to surprise her with that suggestion,
Justina took a breath and let it out slowly then moved to stand at
the far end of the jury box, turned to face him and said, "As
you approached Ms. MacDale's classroom, what did you hear, Mr.
George Dennis said crisply. “Council
is leading the witness.”
rephrase,” Justina Greene said and did so.
“Mr. Abernathy, as you approached Ms. MacDale’s
classroom, did you hear anything?”
She watched him lick his lips then start to speak and then
hesitated as he took a sudden breath and blew it out.
"Just take your time," she reassured him when he
apologized for the hesitation.
another deep breath, he finally began, "I heard my fiancée
speaking angrily with someone then I heard her say, 'Dammit,
Patrick, let go.'" It
was at that point that Lucas paused.
"I know that it's not polite to curse, but I'm just
letting you know what she said.
I heard Mr. Cromwell tell her loudly, that he wasn't going to
let her go until he told her what he had come to tell her what he
had found out."
shifted uneasily in the chair and said, "When I heard the
argument, I moved down the hallway to make sure that she was okay. I
knew that Patrick was a friend and if he had a hold of her that he
wasn't going to hurt her, at least, I thought he wasn't."
Lucas looked down slightly then turned his gaze back to the
prosecuting attorney. "It
was an argument about something that she didn't want to know, yet
when he mentioned that it was about something that a loved one might
not have been honest about, I heard a slap and Marla's curt words of
'Go to hell.' Marla
wasn't easy to irritate. She
works with students who try to push her buttons, it was quite
obvious that Mr. Cromwell had not only pushed them, but crossed the
was the argument about from what you could tell, Mr.
Abernathy?" Justina asked carefully.
me. I think that he
knew that he was going to miss out on something he had an
opportunity to have and got jealous and took it—her from me.
I finally decided to look in just to make sure that Marla was
okay. She couldn't see
me. She was facing Mr.
Cromwell and he was between her and the door.
I saw him pick up the scissors and use them as a tool to get
her to listen to him and then he turned them and stabbed her with
you stand and show us how the motion was carried out?"
stood and performed the same motion that he had seen, a downward
plunging motion with his hand in a fist acting as if he had actually
been holding the scissors. As
he went back to sit back down, he slightly stumbled and regained his
footing. He looked up
at Justina Greene and saw the concerned smile on her lips.
Abernathy, did you at any time say anything to Mr. Cromwell?"
I did," Lucas said as he turned to look at the man at the
defense table. "I asked him why. He
only looked back at me with a maniacal smile then plunged the
scissors back into her body. I
saw him stumble slightly and I had entered enough into the room to
see the blow to her neck. I
then left for help. Marla
was gone and that... sorry son of a bitch killed her," Lucas
said hotly as he turned back to the man and glared at him as tears
came into his eyes.
Greene carefully made her way up to the stand and placed her hands
up on the wood as she looked at him consolingly.
"The state is sorry for your loss, Mr. Abernathy,
however, could you answer one last question?"
Seeing his nod, she continued.
"Please tell the court why you didn't try to stop Mr.
odd expression crossed his face before he stood up and motioned
toward his body. "I'm five foot eight.
Marla was a mere five foot seven.
He's well over six three.
Even if I was in my prime, I don't have a chance in hell
against him. I was just
hoping that I could get help before it was too late for Marla."
Dennis watched and listened closely to the prosecutor's questions
and the answers given by Lucas Abernathy.
He jotted a few notes, issuing no more than the one objection
he’d already raised to one of the witness' answers. Several
minutes passed and finally Justina Greene returned to the
prosecutor's table and sat down.
George glanced at his notes for a moment, formulating a
question. When it was
the way he wanted to put it to the witness, he did so.
Standing up but not moving from the defense's table, he
looked across the room to Lucas Abernathy.
Abernathy, you loved Marla MacDale, didn't you?"
eyebrows dipped in a vague frown of puzzlement but his voice was
firm, a trace of annoyance in his tone when he responded, "Yes,
of course, I did!" He
looked directly at the attorney. "We were going to be
Dennis nodded, "For better or worse, in sickness and
Lucas' voice remained strong. "Wedding vows are meant to be
they apply only within the strictest context of marriage, is that
Abernathy considered the question.
He had an ally in wondering about the question as the
prosecutor addressed the judge, "Your Honor, does Mr. Dennis
have a point?"
Oswell's gaze shifted to the defense attorney.
"Make your point and move on, Mr. Dennis."
Dennis acknowledged the instruction and got to the kernel of his
Mr. Abernathy, you stood in the doorway of that classroom, with an
unobstructed view of my client allegedly stabbing Marla
MacDale... your fiancée, and all you did was to ask him why?"
George Dennis' tone was incredulous. "You never stirred a foot
or lifted a hand to go to her defense?"
face darkened at the suggestion of the questions as he reiterated,
"Like I said," he said defensively, his gaze sliding to
the man sitting beside George Dennis before returning to the defense
attorney’s gaze. "He's bigger than me. I'd have likely wound
up getting hurt or killed, too."
George dug in the spurs. "In
that moment, your love for Marla MacDale was an
not true!" Lucas shot back, shifting agitatedly in the witness
seat. "We were
going to be married..."
George Dennis moved away from the table and took two steps and
stopped. "But you
didn't go to her aid, Mr. Abernathy."
just kept pressing harder. "We're about the same height, Mr.
Abernathy," he pointed out.
"But if that had been my fiancée being attacked so
viciously, even by a man with the same build as my client, wild
horses... nothing would have stopped me from going after him with
everything I had to aid and protect the woman I loved."
Greene was on her feet in an instant. "Your Honor, counsel is
badgering the witness!"
Dennis' chin came up a bit as he looked steadily at the witness,
noting the man's discomfiture even as he said, "I'll
a breath, he said, "Isn't it true, Mr. Abernathy that your
reason for not going into that classroom to try to save the life of
your fiancée was more about protecting yourself than it was to
attempt, perhaps even save, the life of Marla MacDale?"
fought to keep his head, to not lose his cool as he maintained eye
contact with the attorney. "No,"
he stated in a flat, unflinching voice. "She was already dead
from when he stabbed her through the heart," he said.
"There was nothing I could do for her at that point."
cocked his head slightly to one side as he studied the witness.
"So you just stood there and watched him mutilate the woman you
loved and never lifted a finger to even try to stop him."
twisting what I said," Lucas began but didn't get any further
as the defense attorney said, "I have no more questions for
this witness at this time. However
I reserve the right to recall him at a later time."
Oswell eyed the defense attorney for a moment then turned his gaze
to the man in the witness box and excused him.
Neither he, nor the prosecutor, missed the way Lucas
Abernathy cast a narrow, considering look at George Dennis as he
returned to his seat in the gallery.
Gate, New Mexico
Patrick Cromwell paced in the Waiting Room, he began to feel a bit
dizzy as he walked and stopped to lean against the bed to steady
himself. Even as he
straightened up, his mouth dropped open as his memory seemed to
flood him with things that he had been searching for.
He blinked in shock and then spun around to look at the door
of the room. Shut. His eyes shot upward and he searched the dome that he was in
and he finally just licked his lips nervously and said a bit louder,
"Listen, I... I know that someone is listening to me. I... I
need to talk to Dr. Beeks or Al.
I... I remember. Oh
God, I remember everything."
who had consistently monitored the Visitor at all times picked up
immediately on what Patrick had said and went directly to the source
that he wanted. "Dr.
Beeks, Mr. Cromwell requests your presence."
was just in there, Ziggy. What
does he want?"
Ziggy had been in holographic form she would have smiled and tilted
her head slightly as she responded, "He says he remembers
stopped in mid-step and turned and started back down the hallway
toward the Waiting Room, hoping that he wasn't pulling her leg.
If he remembered, it might help with the trial that she knew
that Sam was in.
to the door, she turned to smile at Eddie Sharpe then entered the
room and smiled warmly at the man waiting for her.
"Do you need anything else, Mr. Cromwell?"
I do. I need your
beg your pardon?" Verbena responded, looking closely at the
Visitor's intense expression.
got to the point. "I remember... about Lucas Abernathy,"
he told her straight out. "Don't
ask me how but I was pacing around in here and boom! It all came
back in a rush to me."
kept a tight hold on the initial urge to let excited relief take
control. "What exactly is it that you remember about Mr.
going to need to write this down," he told her.
worry about that, Mr. Cromwell," she reassured him.
"Even if my pen runs out of ink, not a word of whatever
it is you say will be lost. Now,
what is it... what is it exactly that you remember?"
studied the handsome woman's face a moment and then began.
"I know who Lucas Abernathy is."
A glance at Dr. Beeks' face told him he had her undivided
attention. Turning away
from her, he paced a few steps, his hands pressed together, as if
praying, the tips of his fingers just touching his chin.
Turning abruptly to face her again, he said, "I told you
earlier he was really Charles Kitwell?"
and that he was institutionalized in St. Ives Mental Hospital.”
returned quickly to Verbena. "About fifteen years ago, he
escaped from there. It’s near Abbottsville, Ohio." He paused but didn't
wait for her to ask the obvious question.
"To make a long story short, Lucas... I mean Charles
Kitwell was charged with murdering his elderly parents but he never
spent a day in prison. His
attorney convinced the court that he was crazy and so wasn't
responsible for his actions."
Visitor paused to take a breath then hurried on, resuming his pacing
as he talked as fast as he could so he didn't let any of what he'd
remembered slip away.
was only in St. Ives Hospital for about sixteen months when he
nodded at the doctor's wide-eyed reaction. "I remember there
was a nationwide manhunt for him. It was front-page news all over
for weeks. They tracked and hunted him for the better part of three
years but they never found him, and it eventually died down and
people forgot about it. I
had heard about Kitwell again while I was in training.
He mysteriously appeared then disappeared again."
what does this have to do with..." Verbena started but Patrick
held up a hand to stop her.
getting to that, Ms. Beeks. Kitwell
interestingly enough was married several times."
not uncommon," Verbena said trying to keep up with him, but not
obviously understanding where he was going with any of it.
really? How many people
do you know that have been married six times, Dr. Beeks?"
a fleeting second it was like a teasing snippet of a memory
fluttered at the edges of the psychiatrist’s memory at the
question. Then it was
gone and she shook her head lightly and refocused on the Visitor.
"Well other than Elizabeth Taylor or Zsa Zsa Gabor, no one that
I know, personally," she replied her tone light but not
the intent expression in the Visitor's eyes, she reiterated about
multiple marriages not being the norm but that such wasn't unheard
private investigator fixed Verbena with a close look.
"How many of those marriages ended because one of the
spouses, in Kitwell's case, his wife, just vanished into thin
felt a cool shiver across the back of her neck at that. "People
don't just vanish into thin air, Mr. Cromwell," she began, even
as she thought about how Sam did pretty much that very thing each
time he leaped.
however, wasn’t swayed by the doctor's comment.
"All six of Kitwell's wives did," he said with
conviction. "The police went over every square inch of his
life, his house, everything."
Verbena suggested though she knew by his facial reactions that he
was going to knock that suggestion out of contention as well.
ransom notes, no phone calls," Patrick said simply.
He didn't make any move to approach Dr. Beeks, just
maintained a steady gaze on her.
He shook his head slowly when she suggested, "Insurance
of his wives had an insurance policy on her life while married to
Kitwell but nothing big. I
think the biggest policy was on his third wife, and that was only
ten thousand dollars." Saying that, Patrick lapsed into silence for a moment or so,
allowing Verbena the opportunity to digest that.
did just that, assimilated and assessed what the Visitor had told
her but it just didn't add up.
"That's an interesting story, Mr. Cromwell, but what has
that got to do with Marla MacDale?"
time, Patrick did more than just hesitate, falling back a step as he
reviewed what he was about to say.
It hadn't been easy to get his own mind wrapped around it
when the last piece of the odd and, he'd discovered, chilling puzzle
about Charles Kitwell's—a/k/a
Abernathy's—string of disappearing spouses had flipped into place.
He started his answer by again reciting the nursery rhyme,
moving slowly to within a few feet of Verbena Beeks, his gaze fixed
I was going to St. Ives, I met a man with seven wives.
Every wife had seven sacks, every sack had seven cats, every
cat had seven kits. Kits,
cats, sacks and wives, how many were going to St. Ives?"
was just a child's nursery rhyme; it shouldn't conjure anything more
than a teasing lilt in the teller's voice.
‘So why does is it making me think that someone is
behind me?’ Verbena thought.
She didn't voice that thought, instead she swallowed and
licked her lips lightly before speaking, keeping her tone
professional and calm. "Again, Mr. Cromwell, what does a
children's nursery rhyme have to do with Marla MacDale?"
was going to be his seventh wife," Patrick said softly.
"One of Kitwell's most telling quirks was that he had a
thing for three things: Women, cats and the number seven."
shook herself lightly and cleared her throat to rid herself of the
feeling that was trying to usurp her thinking.
She didn't get a chance to ask the question poised on her
lips as the Visitor resumed speaking, and what he was saying was
didn't get the first niggle about a connection between Lucas
Abernathy and Charles Kitwell until I went to Abbottsville.
While I was there, I talked to some of the locals and showed
them a picture of Lucas Abernathy.
Only one person recognized him, but not as Lucas Abernathy.
The pastor of one of the local churches took one look at it
and said, ‘That's Charles Kitwell!’ The man was startled to say
the least. I told him no, that his name was Abernathy and, well, we
wound up talking for a good while about the guy in the picture.
It was when he started telling me what he knew about the guy
that I started thinking about Lucas."
soft breeze Verbena had felt on the back of her neck made her look
at the man before her and couldn't help but just look at him
You’re right. It is... but it's true.
I've seen too much and know too much about that man.
I don't want Marla MacDale to be next on his list."
looked at him carefully. Even
as she saw the concern in his eyes, the genuine heartfelt
expression, Verbena knew somewhere in her being that Patrick
Cromwell hadn't done anything to Marla MacDale. Looking up into what she saw as Dr. Beckett's green eyes, she
tilted her head slightly. "There's
something else that you're not telling me.
What is it, Patrick? What
else is there about Lucas Abernathy that you are holding out
County Criminal Courthouse
the hot September afternoon dragged on outside the courthouse, in
Judge Oswell's courtroom the emotional tide was rising as the
defense called several character witnesses to testify as to Patrick
Cromwell's character and standing in the community.
The hands on the clock were reaching toward the four o'clock
hour when the judge excused the witness presently on the stand and
looked to the defense counsel.
many more witnesses are you going to call, Mr. Dennis?" Bertram
Dennis rose to his feet, meeting the judge's gaze as he did so.
"We have just one more witness, Your Honor," he
you anticipate a lengthy examination of the witness?"
Dennis kept his features schooled as he responded, "No, Your
Oswell nodded and made a note on the pad before him. "Very
well, Mr. Dennis. Call your witness," he said glancing up to
when the defense counsel spoke.
defense calls as its last witness Pastor David McKinney."
one in the gallery said anything as a tall, nice-looking man with
brown hair and wearing a conservative navy blue suit stood up and
walked forward to the witness box at one end of the bench where he
was sworn in. Responding
appropriately, he was seated and recited his name, address and
occupation for the record.
Dennis didn't waste any time. All
afternoon it had looked, he knew, like his client was surely facing
at the least, the rest of his life in prison or, at the worst, being
put to death. Glancing
at his notes, the attorney stood up and walked toward the witness,
stopping a few feet from him.
McKinney, how long have you known my client, Patrick Cromwell?"
McKinney looked over at the clearly anxious young man then back to
the attorney. "I met Mr. Cromwell about...ten days ago.
He said he had come to Abbottsville to do some sort of
background check on a man being considered for a seat on the school
board here in San Benito."
he tell you who the man was he was investigating?"
he said the man's name was Lucas Abernathy."
low hum of whispers began and the judge immediately used his gavel
sharply. "Quiet. Another outburst of any sort and I'll clear
the courtroom," he pronounced firmly, sweeping the gallery with
a stern look. When all was quiet again, he indicated for the
questioning to go on.
you know this Lucas Abernathy that my client was inquiring
about?" George asked.
pastor didn't hesitate. "I was born and raised in
Abbottsville," David McKinney replied. "And I told him
that, to the best of my knowledge, there wasn't anyone in town by
could you be sure that there wasn't a family or an individual with
that last name, Pastor McKinney?"
McKinney smiled. "The
population of Abbottsville has always been around four thousand
people, Mr. Dennis. In a small town like that, you pretty much know who your
neighbors and such are."
nodded. "Did Mr.
Cromwell show you a picture of Mr. Abernathy?"
pastor nodded. "Yes,
he showed me a picture, but I told him there had to be some
do you say that?"
I told him that the picture he showed me was of a man that I and
just about everyone with a long enough memory knew."
Dennis paused a moment, took a step to one side then asked,
"Who was the man in the picture that my client showed to you,
McKinney didn't hesitate as he looked straight at George Dennis and
said, "The man in the picture was about fifteen, maybe twenty
years older than the last time I saw him, but there was no such
thing as me not recognizing him." He paused and this time the
pastor's brown eyes strayed just to the left and behind the defense
attorney to fix on the man seated in the gallery behind the
prosecutor's table. "The
man in that picture was Charles Kitwell."
murmurings went through the gallery but Judge Bertram Oswell didn't
stop them immediately. His
first reaction was to snap his head around to look at the pastor for
a long solid moment before he picked up the gavel and rapped it
several times, achieving cessation of the murmurs and whispers,
before he let it flop back down onto his desk.
Judge Oswell looked through the gallery and found the man who
he was looking for- namely the man they had known previously as
his attention back to the pastor for a moment, the judge asked,
"You did say Charles Kitwell.
Is that correct?"
the nod that the pastor gave, he turned his attention back to the
man in the gallery and narrowed his gaze.
He didn't like people who perjured in his court.
he muttered. "Mr.
Dennis, continue," he said as he watched the man in the gallery
who had married his cousin, Meredith Littleton.
He watched him very closely indeed.
His family had searched for Meredith for years and he had
never given up hope that they would find her.
If what this Pastor McKinney had just said was true, he had a
lot of questions for which he wanted answers.
Questions, that he intended on getting answers for, one way
he muttered. "Mr.
Dennis, continue," he said as he watched the man in the gallery
who had married his cousin, Meredith Littleton, very closely indeed.
His family had searched for Meredith for years and while her
family had eventually accepted that Meredith was gone forever, he
hadn't ever given up hope that they would find her.
If what this Pastor McKinney had just said was true, Bertram
Oswell had a lot of questions for which he wanted answers.
Questions, that he intended on getting answers for, one way
or another from the man in the gallery who was oddly unreactive to
the revelation just made about him.
The sound of a throat being cleared followed by the defense
attorney courteously requesting, "May I continue, Your
Honor," brought the man on the bench sharply back to the
moment. Refocusing his thoughts, Judge Oswell looked intently at the
attorney and nodded. "Proceed,
Dennis waited a few seconds then turned once more to the witness.
"Pastor McKinney, can you think of any reason why this
Mr. Kitwell would be using an assumed name?"
As he waited for the middle-aged man to answer the question,
George silently reviewed again the startling information given him
by the private investigator he had hired to retrace his client's
investigation that had landed him in this courtroom accused of a
McKinney looked at the man sitting in the gallery and then looked
back at George Dennis. "I
would think that anyone who had spent time at a mental institution
would not want that to follow them around their whole life, Mr.
mental institution? What
mental institution was he in?"
was in St. Ives in Abbottsville, Ohio."
Dennis nodded his head as he cast a glance at the judge to see the
officiating judge tighten his jaw as he looked over the man they
were talking about seated in the gallery.
He wasn't sure why Judge Oswell was getting heated, but he
paused for a moment then looked back at the pastor.
"To your knowledge, why was Charles Kitwell
Greene stood up and immediately asked, "Your Honor, this line
of questioning has nothing to do with the current case.
This trial is not even about Charles Kitwell.
Honor," Mr. Dennis jumped in quickly.
"The prosecution does realize that we are talking about
their star witness in the case isn't who he claims to be.
If Lucas Abernathy is in fact Charles Kitwell, it does open
up another kettle of fish, however, it also does destroy their star
down, Ms. Greene. I
want to see where this line of questioning leads us to," Judge
Oswell replied then watched as the sullen young woman sat with a
re-ask my previous question, Mr. McKinney.
To your knowledge, why was Charles Kitwell admitted?"
looked at the defense attorney with adamant concern.
"To my knowledge, he was sent to St. Ives to deal with
some issues in his life."
issues were those?"
was suffering from mental exhaustion as well as physical
McKinney paused slightly then lifted his chin slightly.
"Mr. Kitwell had burned down his house to get rid of his
what were his problems exactly?"
Dennis stopped and frowned. He
knew that he had to ask questions that he knew the answer to;
however, the pastor caught him off guard with that answer.
"His parents were his problems?
Could you explain your answer?"
smiled slightly. "I
don't know if you asked but since it's going to come out in the wash
anyway, Charles Kitwell and I were roommates in college before I
went away for seminary school. I heard about his problems every day for three years. To
answer your question though, Mr. Dennis, Charles was always
inundated with calls from his parents, worrying about him, wanting
to know what was going on in his life.
You know, the normal day-to-day questions that any loving,
caring, concerned parents would ask.
When he came home to Abbottsville after his sixth wife,
Meredith, disappeared, he burned down his house to rid himself of
all his problems and those who caused them."
dawning realization came onto the lawyers face as he faced his
witness. Just the
thought of what the man was actually referring to was too much for
even him to think of. "So
you are saying that..." he swallowed then stopped to think
about what he was about to say.
Mr. Dennis," Mr. McKinney answered.
"Charles Kitwell burned his parents alive.
That was why he was sent to St. Ives for mental
hush fell over the gallery as they began to peer at the man that
they had known as Lucas Abernathy.
The man who they peered at remained calm and steady.
He slightly cleared his throat as he watched the man who was
in the witness stand.
a few more questions, Mr. McKinney.
The picture that my client showed you.
Who was that picture of?"
called the man Lucas Abernathy.
The picture was of Charles Kitwell," he reported
the man that you know as Charles Kitwell in the court today?"
the second row of the gallery.
He's in the third seat from my left."
again a low excited murmur began to buzz amongst the people in the
gallery, rippling like a fast moving wave. Judge Oswell grabbed up
the gavel and pounded it several times.
Order!" he called out strongly, the strength of it rising above
the whisperings and reaching to the furthest corner of the courtroom
as he slammed the gavel down mightily.
The percussion of the strike of wood on wood ricocheted
around the room, leaving in its wake subdued observers in the
Oswell, now on his feet, surveyed the entire room, his gray gaze
sharp as he surveyed those before him.
"If there is another outburst, I am going to fine
everyone in the gallery one hundred dollars."
He let that sink in, taking his seat again when he saw that
his words had finally gotten through to the people.
Shifting his shoulders slightly, he picked up his pen again
and turned a piercing look on George Dennis.
"Proceed, Mr. Dennis."
He watched the defense counsel nod then resumed his
questioning as if nothing had happened.
the defense table, Sam had reacted much as the spectators had,
sitting up straight as he stared at Pastor McKinney, his mouth
dropping open and then he'd turned in his seat to look across the
aisle, craning his head to get a look Lucas Abernathy.
What he saw caught his attention more than all the excited
murmurings or the judge trying to get control of his courtroom
again. It so struck him
that he turned quickly to Al, who was, it looked like, involved in
his own hand to hand combat with the handlink.
at him," Sam whispered to the hologram.
at who?" Al muttered as he paused to follow where Sam was
indicating, nodding a couple of times when he saw that his friend
was pointing subtly at the 'man of the moment' where he sat across
the way. "What
hasn't stirred a muscle," Sam hissed under his breath.
"He's just been revealed as an escaped mental patient
who murdered his parents, but....look at him."
just sitting there," Sam pointed out the obvious.
"He hasn't twitched a muscle."
saw what Sam meant but, "He's good under pressure.
That doesn't mean anything."
The hologram didn't get to say anything further since the
judge had just given the room an either or ultimatum and the
courtroom was quickly quiet again.
on with it, Mr. Dennis," the judge said sharply, his tone
clearly indicating he wasn't putting up with any more...anything.
Sam squarely caught the narrow, piercing gaze the jurist
aimed at him and held his tongue. He, however, was surprised when
one of the doors at the back of the courtroom opened and a man in a
plain blue suit came in and approached the
defense table, where he waited for George Dennis to reach
the hold-up, Mr. Dennis?" Judge Oswell asked sharply.
turned away from the man with a manila envelope in his hand, to face
the bench. "I'm sorry, Your Honor. May I have a moment?"
got one minute," Bertram Oswell snapped. "Exactly."
Flicking a glance at his watch, he made it clear he meant that
common phrase literally.
Dennis needed only half of that allotment during which he withdrew
two sheets of paper from the envelope handed to him then faced the
judge. He didn't wait
to indicate he was finished with the witness, turning instead to
face the bench, the two sheets of paper firmly in hand.
Honor, the defense would like to enter into evidence this report on
the fingerprints found on the murder weapon as Defense Exhibit
Assistant District Attorney was on her feet in a flash. "I
object, Your Honor," Justina Greene insisted.
"The people have not had a chance to examine this
only just reached me, Your Honor," George Dennis explained.
"I had a man literally waiting at the lab while this
second testing of the fingerprints on the scissors that killed Marla
MacDale was completed."
the judge said sternly, not quite snatching the papers from the
defense attorney's hand before perusing it quickly. It was evident
to those watching his face that something unexpected caught his
attention as he appeared to reread a passage a couple of times.
Satisfied, he handed the report to the District Attorney.
She didn't try to hide her thoughts as her eyes widened at
what she read before returning the papers to the judge. She slid a
sidelong look at George Dennis before schooling her voice as she
said, "The people have no objection to the evidence being
entered into the record," before returning to her desk. The
junior member of the District Attorney's staff who had been assigned
to assist her, looked questioningly at her.
Dennis, however, once more at the proper distance from the bench,
took control of the focus of the occupants of the courtroom, as he
said, "I have no more questions of this witness, Your
the witness was excused Judge Oswell ordered, “"Get on with
it, Mr. Dennis or I'll fine you as well for delaying tactics.”
defense attorney, familiar with this judge's ways, didn't press his
luck further. Lowering the prize in his hand, he said, "I recall to
the stand, Lucas Abernathy."
He stepped aside to allow Lucas to pass by him on his way to
the witness stand where the judge advised him sharply,
"Remember… Mr. Abernathy, you're still under oath."
Dennis barely allowed the witness to be seated when he moved to
stand before him, holding the report before him, and asked a single
Abernathy, please explain to the court why *your* fingerprints were
found on the murder weapon?"
Abernathy's face slackened as he looked at the man before him.
"My fingerprints? What
kind of ploy is this, Mr. Dennis?
You have the murderer sitting beside you and your going to
try to blame the man who loved her?"
the question poised to you, Mr. Abernathy."
narrowed his eyes at the man and then finally stated, "I was
holding them the day before while I talked with Marla at her desk.
I tend to play with objects on her desk.
Pencils, pens, the little puppy dog too, but none of those
objects were used to..."
Mr. Abernathy? Playing
with objects? Who's to
say that you didn't kill her and that Patrick came in afterwards and
tried to save her although it was already too late.
Several of the men who came in after the murder took place
said that they found Patrick Cromwell with his hands on her throat,
trying to stop the bleeding."
not what happened! Your
twisting things, again!"
your word against Mr. Cromwell's now, Mr. Abernathy, or should I say
Honor, In light of this new development, I request a continuance in
order that further investigation that may well exonerate my client
be conducted. And that Mr. Abernathy...or Mr. Kitwell's involvement
in the murder of Marla MacDale may be more fully examined."
Oswell slid a look at the man in the witness box and all ready came
to his decision without any hesitation in the matter.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you are here by
released until your services are required again when this matter
resumes in thirty days."
as the judge began to talk, Lucas Abernathy turned to look at
several people in the courtroom before he felt a wave of dizziness
and he put his hand on his head. He then somewhat straightened up and closed his eyes and
swallowed as he turned a menacing glare at the man sitting at the
defense table looking around in awe at the proceedings around him. He stood up and he shot out an accusing finger at the man who
was sitting at the table. "What's
the *matter* with you people!" he yelled hotly. "I saw it! I
saw it all. You weren't
there. I saw what
happened. I saw the way
he looked and the way that they killed her!
I saw it!"
Dennis didn't miss a word that Lucas Abernathy had yelled.
He stopped short and with a glance back at his client he
said, "Who is 'they'?" he asked over the gasping and the
thwacks of the gavel.
"Them! All three of them!" Lucas Abernathy spit out.
"I saw it! And that guy! He
saw it too!" Lucas said as he pointed to the man who sat at the
Mr. Dennis asked still wary of the man now standing in the witness
guy in the blue suit sitting off to the side, beside Cromwell!
He saw it! He
was there! Don't you
see him!? He's at the
defense table right now!"
Dennis turned his eyes to the defense table as did the rest of the
people in the court room to see no one sitting at the defense table
but the man they all saw as Patrick Cromwell.
He turned back to Lucas and was about to ask another question
when Lucas exploded.
"Dammit! I saw them! It
was Patrick Cromwell! He
was first. He held
Marla at bay with the scissors!
He was going to tell her about me and my wives at the boat
slip in the bay. I
wasn't about to let that happen!
But that other guy with the brown eyes and brown hair came in
and took over. He was
the one that plunged the scissors into her chest.
He turned and smiled at me.
Then that guy over there with the green eyes and the white
patch in his hair showed up and fell forward and finished her off.
I saw it! You
can't let them off! You
can't! I didn't do
Oswell's temper was sorely tried being kept in check as the
wild-eyed man in the witness box continued to ramble and accuse;
finally he reached his limit when the man he'd known as Lucas
Abernathy started with a description of not one but two other
supposed perpetrators of the MacDale murder.
Take Mr. Abernathy into custody," he ordered loudly.
can't do that!" Lucas Abernathy, his heretofore paranoia he
kept under strict control now running amok. "I won't let
you!" His gaze
flew around the room until it came to rest on the man at the defense
table, now on his feet. "IT'S
YOUR FAULT!" he screamed madly, spittle flying from his lips as
he rushed down from the witness box.
"SHE WAS GOING TO BE MY PERFECT NUMBER SEVEN!
YOU RUINED EVERYTHING!" Lucas continued screaming as he
started across the room, his rage boiling inside him. But he never
reached the defense table, in fact, he'd barely gone three steps
when the bailiff and two police officers on duty outside the
courtroom doors came pounding in and restrained the clearly berserk
him and get him out of here!" Bertram Oswell shouted as he
stood there behind the high bench and slammed his gavel
several tense moments, the courtroom subsided into hushed quiet as
every person present had their gazes fixed on the sight as a
heretofore respected member of the community was forcibly led away
in handcuffs, all the while raving that, "You're letting three
murderers get away!" Abernathy and the guards were barely outside the door when
the judge rapped his gavel again for their attention.
He didn't bother with frivolous word wasting.
Cromwell," he said sharply.
wasn't sure if he was supposed to stand up or not, but he did so
anyway. He was grateful
when George Dennis moved to stand beside him again.
It also helped his frame of mind that Al, about as wide-eyed
and at a loss for words as most of the people in the gallery was
getting to his own feet to his left.
"Yes, Your Honor?" the leaper said hesitantly.
He glanced over at his attorney when the man placed a hand on
his arm, indicating for him to be quiet.
Cromwell," Judge Bertram Oswell said in tone that brooked no
argument whatsoever. "In light of the new developments in this
matter, I am going to release you on your own recognizance."
He didn't miss the way Patrick Cromwell heaved a huge sigh
and let it out. "You
are not to leave this town for any reason until the matter of the
murder of Marla MacDale has been concluded and her killer brought to
watched the private investigator nodding vigorously and repeating
two or three times, "Yes, sir...yes, Your Honor."
beyond those borders for any reason, sir, and you'll find yourself
back in jail for the duration of the conclusion of this
matter." He didn't
bother to listen to the man's continuing assurances; instead he
aimed a sharp look at George Dennis.
"Keep him in line, Mr. Dennis," was all he said
then brought the gavel down very hard one more time. "This
court is dismissed!" Without
another word to anyone, Bertram Oswell moved down from the bench and
entered the door to his chambers and slammed it.
Sam watched the judge slam down the gavel for claiming that court
was dismissed, he’s still couldn’t believe it. The outcome of the case was even more than what he expected.
He couldn’t believe that Lucas Abernathy was Charles
Kitwell. It seemed so
surreal. Even as Sam
and his attorney left the building, they received any number of
handshakes from various people that were in the courtroom, but there
was only one person that Sam Beckett wanted to talk to – his best
friend. Although the
hologram was physically impossible to touch, Sam needed to hear the
comforting voice and his words of wisdom.
was only after conferring with Mr. Dennis about not leaving town
anytime soon that Sam was able to steal away some time to be with
Al. With of his hands shoved it deeply into his pockets, Sam met the
holographic representation of Admiral Albert Calavicci.
Looking at his best friend with suppressed emotion, Sam
asked, “What was going on in there, Al? It seemed almost like a
handled the handlink loosely, as he looked at Sam. “It was getting
a bit hinky in there. At one point, I didn’t know if Patrick
Cromwell was going to make it.”
know. They had wonderful witnesses. It’s too bad that they
didn’t get a chance to get that lousy son of a …”
did,” Al responded before Sam could finish his sentence.
did?” Sam queried.
yeah.” Al looked down
at the handlink and hit a few buttons to call up the information
that he needed. “According
to Ziggy, in the original history, Marla MacDale vanished from
existence two days after she married Lucas Abernathy.”
Looking up from the handlink, Al said, “But now, he’s
tried and convicted. Oh,
and Judge Oswell recused himself because it turned out that one of
the Kitwell’s victims was his cousin.
It’s really quite sad that Marla MacDale was destined to
die whether you had showed up or not.”
Now since that nozzle was found out, all of the bodies found
underneath the man’s boat slip are now laid to rest in several
cemeteries across San Benito.”
his boat slip?”
nodded and swallowed. Not
wanting to mess up on reading the information to Sam Beckett
correctly, he brought the handlink closer and cleared his throat.
“Patrick Cromwell pointed the police to the evidence that
he had found at the man’s boat slip. It seemed that what Lucas Abernathy, AKA Charles Kitwell, was
doing was he was marrying different women, killing them by cutting
off their head and placing it in a burlap bag that had pictures of
seven cats and seven kittens for each cat.”
Al shivered and shook his head slightly.
“The man was really living out the nursery rhyme before he
went back to St. Ives.”
shook his head in shock at what he heard.
what Ziggy says that she’s still not sure as to why you leaped
into Patrick Cromwell. She
says that she’d rather not discuss the issue since she can’t
come up with a logical solution.”
Putting the handlink back into his pocket, Al licked his
lips, his eyes flitting down to the ground before he looked back up
Al?” Sam said as he looked at his partner with considering eyes.
sorry, Sam, for not believing you. I should have known that the evil leapers were…”
okay, Al. You stood
beside me like you always do. That
means more to me than anything.
George Dennis called out. “Would
you mind coming over here? They
have a few questions for you.”
grinned at his pal before he turned and headed back over to the
group of people who still wanted some answers.
McKinney looked over at the group that Patrick Cromwell was walking
over to and immediately realized that the man was going to be
answering a lot of questions about everything that had happened in
the trial for quite some time.
He smiled when Patrick’s eyes found him then waved a final
goodbye before he started toward the parking lot where he had parked
his Oldsmobile Buick. He
was only halfway there when he heard a voice calling out to him and
he turned to find Lulu Logan coming up behind him. He offered his arm to her to be able to walk her arm in arm
the rest of the way to the parking lot.
her smile, Pastor McKinney smiled back at the attractive blonde as
she met up with him. “I
appreciate it that you came all this way offer support for me. I
think that your faith… ow!” he yelped suddenly as he looked down
at his looked down at his arm to see that Lulu had a beautiful
hatpin in her hand. “What
a lovely pin,” he told her with a smile as he turned to look at
the woman only to find a menacing look had replaced the smile.
Logan?” he looked at her carefully before he began swallowing
several times then brought his hand up to try to release the clothes
around his neck. He
suddenly felt as if he was being choked.
“Help… me?” he questioned her softly.
who had just come out of the building, saw the pastor somewhat
clutching his throat and he began jogging over to see what was the
matter. He barely got
half way when the pastor dropped to the ground.
Stopping slightly, he turned back look over his shoulder to
see the rest of the assembly coming out of the courthouse.
Sam knew that the pastor was the main reason why he wasn't in
the small cell with a roommate. "Help!" he called out, getting the attention of the
men and women who had just left the building.
"It's Pastor McKinney!
He needs help!" he yelled and saw several men starting
the rest of the way to Pastor McKinney, he saw the young woman he
had met earlier kneeling down beside him, calling out to him.
Coming to a stop, he dropped to his knees beside Pastor
McKinney and quickly placed his fingertips on his carotid artery,
and blinked when he didn't feel a pulse.
open the man's shirt, he began CPR immediately.
As he looked at the woman sitting slightly across from him he
saw her shaking her head. "How
do you do it?" she asked softly.
he asked breathlessly.
she said vehemently as she quickly slashed in the air with the
OUT, SAM!" Al called out.
"That thing is laced with poison," he exclaimed as
he looked down at the handlink for details about the death of the
recoiled from her reach then just as quickly grabbed at her arms.
Lulu shouted, frustrated fury coloring that single word as her
attempt to achieve her goal was thwarted.
She jerked back but it wasn't fast enough to evade the hands
of the man whom the dead man on the ground had helped with his
testimony. "Let go
of me!" she shouted, as the man's hands grabbed and held her
wrists tightly and shaking the hand in which she held the hatpin.
But Lulu forgot about the hatpin, she forgot about the man on the
ground, she forgot everything and everyone, even forgetting to
struggle when suddenly the strangest thing happened. It was like she
could see the very air around her expand then contract in a weird
warping before it regained its proper place and attitude in time.
Her eyes grew big then got bigger as she searched his face,
knowing its every nuance. From that first moment of beholding his
face, Lulu had engraved it on her mind and now she just stared.
are you?" Sam asked firmly, looking closely at her.
simple question jarred Lulu out of her startlement, her muscles
tensing instantly. "You!" she hissed venomously. It
apparently was enough to cause her accoster to lessen his hold on
her, and Lulu jerked mightily and escaped his grip.
She didn't waste time taking a second look. That one up close
look had imprinted his face in her mind even more intensely as she
took advantage of the crowd pressing in around to make her escape.
her!" Sam shouted, jumping up and made to go after her. But the
excitement of the crowd and the police officers, and even George
Dennis and the Assistant District Attorney rushing to join the
clamoring mob prevented him from following.
Frustratedly, Sam could only watch as the comely but deadly
blonde disappeared from sight. He kept pushing and after a couple of
minutes, got free of the crowd and ran the direction he'd watched
Pastor McKinney's murderer go.
He searched up and down the street and the alley between the
two streets but...
gone, Al," Sam said, frustration clear in his voice, his eyes
still scanning the area he'd just searched fruitlessly.
the midst of the melee, Al had ordered Ziggy to do a pinpoint lock
on the woman but it seemed the fates were in collusion with the
woman, as Ziggy had informed him that she couldn't achieve even a
momentary lock. After that, he'd stayed with Sam as the leaper
searched, in vain, for the absconded woman who had murdered a man in
cold blood in broad daylight.
to the tone of Sam's voice that told him his friend was blaming
himself for what had happened, Al glanced at the handlink when it
chirped. Pressing the
sequence of buttons to retrieve the new information about this leap,
he knew that it wouldn't be much comfort to his friend but it was
what it is.
to David McKinney's testimony, and the subsequent in depth
investigation of Lucas... I mean, of Charles Kitwell," he said.
"Patrick Cromwell was fully exonerated of having anything to do
with Marla MacDale's murder."
all it cost was a good, decent man his life," Sam said as he
walked slowly back along the street. At the corner he turned right
and returned to the main street and stopped at the sight of the
people milling about as an ambulance was just pulling away from the
may be," the hologram said soberly as he drew even with his
friend. "But it
saved the life of another good man," he said looking into Sam's
that didn't seem good enough to Sam and a determined look came over
his face. "Then
that man is going to see to it that David McKinney's killer doesn't
get away with murder," he said as he turned suddenly on his
heel and started back the way he'd just come but it was as far as he
got as between steps and without the usual inkling of its onset, Sam
Beckett was whisked away into the all encompassing blue as he