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Controling the Savages
This was suppose to
be another Control story, but I guess Frank Savage didn't get that memo. He was
only cast as a support character, but I turned by back for one minute and Control
was standing aside and letting Frank take the lead. Who was I to argue with an
unstoppable force and an immovable object, I let them have their way. Thank goes
to TAE for beta reading and getting me hooked on RL, and Liz who got me curious
about Frank Savage.
tall, lean, dark haired man sighed contentedly. He was actually having a fairly
good day for a change; which was surprising because, as Control, he was the terror
of the intelligence community. There were fires in the world, but none of them
were of his creating or had anything to do with the parts of the globe he was
responsible for; that meant they were headaches, but not his. He knew where all
of his agents were and that they were all relatively safe. The committee, for
once, was pleased with him and so busy with Jason Masur and his latest fiasco
that it would likely be some weeks before they had time to get upset with him
again. Life was good.
"Sir?" His secretary inquired as she rapped on the
door, reminding him of one of the best reasons life was good; China Berry was
"Something you need, China?" He asked as the tall willowy mulatto
woman came in. She was looking a little haggard, but then the phone had been ringing
off the hook today and she was already swamped with paperwork. Anything he could
do to help her day he would be happy to do.
"There was a call from accounting
while you were out, I forgot to mention it until now," she apologized and braced
herself for a storm.
"That's all right, I'm sure the delay hasn't hurt
anything, what did they want to know?" He asked. If it was accounting it would
not be something life and death so no damage done by the slight delay. Besides,
China had only once before in two years failed to get his messages to him promptly.
He had not been pleased and she got the message; it was also one of the few times
he had ever yelled at her.
"There were several questions about your expenses
from the trip to Pakistan that you and Robert went on. I managed to clear up two
of them but I wasn't certain about the others."
"Oh? What were the ones
you cleared up, just out of curiosity?" He asked, light blue eyes dancing with
amusement under bushy eyebrows. With China's intelligence she was perfectly capable
of straightening out misunderstandings and had more than once, but, due to her
sense of humor, it was usually done in an unorthodox manner.
uncertain what to do about the Kaffiyeh and Hookah. It seems they didn't know
what either one was. I told them the Kaffiyeh was a type of head gear worn by
Arab men and that you had undoubtedly found yourself having to go into the desert
and, not wanting to get heat stroke, you had purchased the appropriate protection.
I would love to see a photo of you in it, but I seriously doubt that one exists,"
she sighed. Control no doubt had looked quite handsome in his new accessory.
there wasn't anyone around to take the picture," Control smiled. "What about the
She started shaking her head and smiled broadly. "That was the
funny one. Evidently, they though a hookah was a fancy word for a bong."
stared at her in disbelief. "They thought I had gone into a drug house and not
only used illegal and addictive substances, but put them on my expense report?"
Still laughing, she merely nodded her head. Stifling her giggles finally,
she managed to answer. "I explained that it was a type of smoking pipe using water
to cool the smoke and that if you went into a hookah house you were probably meeting
an informant and were smoking to fit in. I told them that if they wanted to see
some I would be happy to conduct a field trip to a new Mediterranean restaurant
that I know of, but they would have to buy lunch."
"I appreciate your getting
that straightened out, I hope the other questions were a little less fantastic,"
he growled. It had not been that many months ago that China herself had been on
suspension after being set up on charges of drug possession. And, he admitted
to himself, there was the fact that HE was planning on taking her to that restaurant!
were also wondering about the camels on your expense report from the trip," she
"What about the camels?"
"According to them the camels
were never authorized. You were, however, authorized to buy two elephants and
they need to know where those are," she explained.
"I had to buy the camels
to replace the elephants because somebody stole them. I have no idea where the
elephants are and there wasn't time to get permission to buy the camels," Control
replied straight faced while China goggled at him.
"Where are the camels
then, that might appease the accountants."
"I had to use the camels as
a distraction to get Robert and me out of there," the senior spook replied.
looked at him in disbelief. "Makes perfect sense, on behalf of the number crunchers
I thank you."
"Go back to your reports, I'll call accounting and explain
the whole thing," he offered.
"Bless you, I would never have been able
to get them to understand that," she chuckled, shaking her head. There were a
lot of reasons she was not a field agent; situations involving elephants, camels,
and distractions was one of them.
"Oh, one other thing," she said as she
left. "They're also not happy about your upgrading to a three star hotel."
my fault, Robert wanted bathrooms instead of an outhouse and in that region that
means three star accommodations. I'll explain that as well," he said, smiling
at her as he shooed her out of the office.
He was reaching for the phone
to call the accounting department and explain when his personal line rang. Only
a handful of people knew that number and none of them would be calling him here
if it was good news.
"Hello?" He inquired picking up the line.
A familiar voice, similar to his own rumble, came through the instrument.
Frank, it's good to hear from you," he answered, wondering why his uncle, General
Frank Savage, was calling him at this number. They talked about once a week or
so but Control usually called him and that was done from his apartment, not the
"Good to hear you as well, son. If this is a bad time I can call
you back," the older man offered. While he didn't know exactly what it was his
nephew did he knew it probably involved national defense or security in someway;
having spent his life in the military he knew how jobs like that could be.
no this is fine; things are actually going smoothly right now. Is there something
I can do for you?" It wasn't like the older man to hem and haw; but then it wasn't
like him to sound this unsure of himself, either. All of Control's flags were
"I...I need a favor," came the sound of a proud man asking for
help. Control never before could recall his uncle asking for assistance from anyone.
you the one that taught me that between family members there is no such thing
as a favor because helping one another is part of being family?" Control asked,
leaning back in his chair, twirling a pencil between long fingers.
me, what I need will be a favor," the retired general sighed.
it?" Control inquired. If his uncle was hesitating to ask him, then one thing
for certain was that the task was not going not be easy; and that it was very
important to the older man.
"I want you to try and find Nancy for me,"
came the soft reply.
Control swore under his breath. His cousin had walked
away from her father and his family years earlier. She and her father had always
clashed, to put it mildly and almost as soon as she was able, the girl had left.
The general, still reeling from his wife's death, had been crushed that his daughter
had left as well.
"John?" His uncle asked after minutes of silence.
here; can you tell me anything at all that might be a lead on her?" He asked.
maiden name was Wilson; Nan might be going by that. And I know in sixty-five she
was living in Cincinnati with that bum she took off with," the general responded.
that gives me a start. Can I ask why you are asking this now?" Control asked hesitantly;
it was personal but it was a question Nancy would be asking him and he wanted
the answer for her.
"I was at Wiley Crowe's funeral last week, got me
to thinking, I guess," came the quiet answer.
"I didn't know he had passed
away, I'm sorry to hear about that," Control sympathized. He knew what it was
to lose a friend, though not one as close as the two generals had been. Robert
Mccall was as close as he came to that and the dark haired spy shuddered to think
about losing his friend and senior agent. Control was a man with few real friends
and Robert was that rare treasure; he was a true friend as well as an old one.
it got me to thinking, though, about the fact that I'm not young any more." There
was a long silence and Control was a wise enough man not to interrupt it. "The
only regret I have is Nancy; I want to make peace with her before I pass on, whenever
that might be."
"I understand, I'll see what I can do. Did you see her
in Cincinnati or just her boyfriend?" Control asked, sitting back and preparing
to hear the details. Nancy may have been annoying and irritating, as he remembered
her, but she was family and so was the general.
cringed when he saw the apartment house. He knew she was in the low rent district,
so he had prepared himself for about just anything, but this was unbelievable.
No self-respecting cockroach would live in this building, much less the neighborhood,
and yet this was where his cousin lived. He was glad the general wasn't seeing
the slums his daughter was reduced to living in.
It was a house that had
been converted into multiple small apartments, a lot of the neighboring houses
looked like they had as well. None of the buildings had been cared for and the
yards, such as they were, got no attention either. There were hookers on the corners
and he was fairly certain he didn't want to know what was going on in the alleys
between the buildings. What he did know was that this was no place for Nancy;
hopefully she would let him and the general help her out. As stubborn as she could
be, though, there was no guarantee of that.
Shivering in the early December
cold he decided to go and wait someplace warm for her to get home from work. There
was a bar across from her building, he could wait in there and see when her living
room light came on so he would know when she was home. Not to mention that he
was getting a bit hungry and could probably grab something to eat there, he never
had been able to eat airline food, unless he flew first class, and he hadn't this
A short drive and a dash through some snowflakes got him into the
bar. Since following orders was not a new habit, though the committee might disagree,
and the sign upfront said to seat himself, he did so. He found a booth seat with
his back to a wall and with windows facing Nancy's apartment; it was perfect.
tried to remember what he knew of his much younger cousin. She had been more than
ten years his junior and to be honest they had only meet a handful of times and
he hadn't spent a great deal of time with her. By the time she was old enough
to do anything with he had been in his teens and, like most teenage boys, had
better things to do then entertaining a child. What he remembered more was the
excitement of his uncle when he had found out he was going to be a father and
the near panic when the baby had come early and they had nearly lost her and her
mother. He also had strong memories of his uncle frequently holding the little
girl who would nestle in his arm and go to sleep. In fact, it had come to be a
kind of joke that his strong, quiet uncle could get his girl to sleep far easier
then his more high-strung wife could. Nancy, he suddenly realized, had in fact,
very much been a daddy's girl until her teens had hit.
His waitress was
approaching. She was a bit short, but appeared taller than she was due to her
lean build. She was a handsome woman with dark red, curly hair and light blue
eyes. Control smiled.
"What can I get..." the woman stopped mid question
and stared at him.
"Coffee and maybe if there's a sandwich you can recommend?"
He smiled at her.
"Did HE send you?" She sighed.
"Excuse me?" He
asked, slightly confused.
`My father, the general? The man you look like?"
she snarled quietly.
"Not exactly, he asked me to try and find you, he
didn't ask me to come and see you; that was my decision," Control responded. This
was not looking to be a good beginning.
"And of course, you had to come
here," she growled.
"I didn't know you worked here, I was just looking
for some food and a place in out of the cold while I waited until you got home.
I though you worked a place called Gilly's," he replied.
"I did until their
license got pulled, but that was almost two years ago," she explained, her eyes
showing the barest hint of amusement at his expression of surprise.
have got to get a better research team, if they couldn't let me know something
as simple as where you work," he grumbled. "Could I have hot coffee and a sandwich?
And a chance to talk with you?" He asked her. Obviously she was already in a hard
place; the last thing he wanted to do was make things worse for her.
your coffee, and the barbeque chicken sandwich is pretty good. I'll let you know
about us talking," she informed him, while pouring a cup of black coffee for him.
smiled and nodded as she went quickly to the other tables that had already been
waiting longer than they should have. He watched as a group of young kids obviously
just out of school for the day came down the road in little groups. One boy was
separate from the others and didn't seem to be in any of the groups. The kid was
one of a small group that went in at Nancy's building. He raised his eyebrow a
bit when he saw the solitary boy through the window in his cousin's apartment.
It would appear the general was a grandfather!
Sipping his coffee, he smiled
as watched the youngster get a snack from the kitchen and settle in to watch cartoons.
His uncle would be sorry if he missed out on any more of the lad's childhood,
it was unfortunate he had missed out on this much of it; the general would have
loved playing the doting grandfather.
"There's not time for me to talk
now, but if you come by the apartment tomorrow around ten we'll talk, then I'll
decide then if I want to talk to daddy or not," Nancy informed him as she set
a plate in front of him.
"I appreciate that," he told her, smiling. She
might not have agreed to talk to her father, but she was willing to discuss it,
and she still referred to him as daddy. This might not be as difficult as he had
thought; she still seemed to have some regard for the general. If she wasn't willing
to let her father help, maybe she would at least allow him to be involved in her
and her son`s life. Even if she wasn't letting him help, he could at least offer
support that way.
She nodded an acknowledgement and left to serve other
customers. Taking a bite of his sandwich, he looked at the boy again. Evidently
there were time limits on the television watching, since the kid had turned off
the machine and was taking papers out of a beat up backpack. It looked like he
was working on math, since he was counting on his fingers. The man smiled, remembering
so many afternoons spent at another kitchen table doing homework after a quick
snack and, if they were lucky, the radio would be allowed to play in the background.
He couldn't remember off hand if math had been a problem or not; probably not
or he would have remembered it. History and geography had been his best subjects,
since he found them interesting with their tales of far off places that were a
lot more interesting than a farm in Pennsylvania. He had been so certain at the
time that he was never going to get off that farm; now, he never seemed able to
spend enough time there. Time, or maybe God, certainly did have a perverse sense
under his breath about winter driving on the snow, he carefully pulled up outside
his cousin's house the next morning. The main roads were plowed, but there was
ice under the snow that still made it difficult driving. Getting to the house
had been a real joy, since it appeared that no one was in a hurry to get the plowing
done on these roads.
Looking at the house, something seemed off to him
somehow. He stared at them, wondering what it was that didn't seem right. He swore
again as it clicked. There was no steam coming out of the vents, so evidently
there was no heat in the building. What kind of landlord would keep his properties
in this state? He rented out apartments in his house, but it was kept in pristine
condition and excellent repair. He had done that even when he himself had not
lived there. No one should be forced to live in these conditions.
out, he pulled the fur collar on his coat up as he headed for the stairs that
led to his cousin's apartment. He was less then shocked to find the stairs were
outside and covered in ice. It was a minor miracle, in his estimation, that he
got up after only two near falls. He couldn't imagine a child on these or what
it must be like to take them in the dark like Nancy did every night after work.
He made a mental note to call the building inspectors, health inspectors and anyone
else he could think of when he had the general's family out of here.
dark haired, blue eyed boy answered his smart rap on the door. Control had to
smile; he had seen a thousand pictures of this lad. He was in every photo ever
taken of his grandfather, as well as the general as a child, not to mention Paul,
his cousin and adopted brother, or himself. It would seem that the dominant Savage
family genes were at work in yet another generation.
"Hi, is your mom
home?" He asked, smiling down at the tall slender child. Once grown, Nancy son
was probably going to be at least six-foot; but then none of the men in the family
were known for being short.
"One moment," the boy said politely. "MOM,
SOME GUY IS HERE TO SEE YOU!" He bellowed, turning his head to the inside of the
apartment so his guest was only partially deafened.
"Frankie, don't yell
in the house. Let him in and close the door, we don't want the heat getting out,"
his mother instructed, coming over.
Control came in at his young cousin's
bidding. At least he supposed that the son of his cousin would be his cousin.
it's freezing in here and you don't have heat, pack up a bag for you and Frankie
and you can come stay at the hotel with me for a couple of days," Control instructed.
child looked skeptically from the tall stranger to his uncertain mother.
I haven't decided what I'm going to do yet," she half snarled. There was no way
she was going to be pressured into a decision.
"Nan, this has nothing to
do with you and the general. It's cold and you don't have heat, I'm offering you
a place to go that's warm; accepting it doesn't mean you have to agree to working
things out with your dad." He assured her. "You'll be in the room adjoining mine;
you don't have to even see me if you don't want to."
"Why? What are you
possibly going to get by paying for us to spend the weekend in a hotel room if
we don't have to have anything to do with you?" Nancy asked quietly.
may not get anything out of it except the satisfaction of knowing that for a few
days at least you're living in a warm, decent place. If I'm lucky, I'll get to
know the two of you better and maybe the general will get to make peace with you
like he wants," Control answered easily.
"Mom?" The boy asked, totally
confused by the conversation the adults were having.
"Frankie, this is
my cousin, John Smith. John, this is my son Frank," She introduced the two.
didn't know my mom had any cousins," Frankie smiled, relaxed now that he knew
the man was safe.
"She has two, me and my brother Paul," the dark haired
man smiled down.
"Can we go to the hotel, mom?" The youngster pleaded,
turning to his mother with a snuffle.
Nancy sighed and shook her head.
"Okay, go get a bag together, Frankie," she instructed.
The child dashed
"Frankie?" Control raised an eyebrow.
"I happen to like the
name Frank; he is not named after daddy!" She snapped.
"Sure, Nan, whatever
you say," he smiled, his mouth compressing momentarily as he tried not to laugh.
still don't understand why you're doing this, but thank you. A weekend someplace
warm might get him over that cold before it really gets started," Nancy smiled
"You're family," he shrugged.
Giving him a final look
of non-comprehension, she retreated to her own room to pack a bag. She didn't
have to understand to accept.
knocked lightly on the door separating the adjoining room from the one he was
staying in. He was glad that he was able to get this room for Nancy and Frankie.
The thought of them in that roach and rodent infested dump with no heat didn't
bear thinking about.
Nancy opened the door and let him in.
in here?" He inquired. Looking in he could see that Frankie was happily laying
on the bed reading a book about an Irish Setter and a boy, if the cover was any
"Yes, thank you. Since you're in town to talk to me about the
general, why don't we go in your room and talk? I'll let Frankie know where I
am and he'll be fine," she assured him.
They told Frankie they were going
in the other room and adjourned to talk; it couldn't be put off any longer.
Wilson, as she was calling herself, chuckled. "I still can't get over how much
you look like daddy."
"It looks like I'm not the only one that resembles
him," John Smith answered, chuckling with her.
"Well, considering that
his father has never given him anything, it seems fitting somehow that he didn't
give him any genetic traits either," Nancy responded somewhat bitterly.
sorry," Control offered sympathetically. He didn't know what else to say. The
odds were that if Frankie's father had been as young as Nancy had been when she
had the boy, then he had not been ready for the responsibilities of being a father.
Situations like this seemed to be getting more and more common.
but you wanted to talk about my father, not Frankie's," she reminded him, sitting
in one of the chairs.
He stared out the balcony door and watched the snow
falling, not certain where to start. "He wants to make peace with you, Nancy."
ignored one another for over a decade, why does he suddenly want peace?" She asked,
with a sarcastic tone.
Control bit off the stinging reply he wanted to
make; antagonizing her would not help his goal, here.
"His friend Wiley
Crowe died recently, and it suddenly occurred to him that he isn't a young man
any more, himself. He did a little soul searching and the only thing he regrets
is that the two of you had a falling out. He'd like to mend his fences, but it's
up to you. He won't try and force his way back into your life," he replied, answering
her question, turning to face her after he`d answered her question.
basically, he needs me to tell him all is fine and dandy so that he can feel good
about himself?" She snorted.
"Hardly. He wants to talk to you because you
are his only child and he loves you," he replied, confused by the bitterness in
her voice. Whatever had caused the split a decade earlier had not healed at all,
and had, apparently, only worsened over the years.
"Right," she sneered,
"He's all goodness and light and all he needs is to fix his daughter to get a
He shifted back as if he had been slapped with her last comment
and his lips tightened. "I've never known any argument to be the fault of only
one of the participants." He wanted desperately to slap or spank her, but it wouldn't
help the situation. "Besides, the only one that ever wanted to put a halo on the
general's head was your mother."
"Yeah, well he was a better soldier than
he was a husband or father," she shot back, getting to her feet.
makes you think that?" He asked, watching her.
"My mother was dying and
he left me and her to go serve in a war like a good soldier," Nancy responded
"She may have been your mother, but remember that she was also
his wife, Nancy! He was at least as hurt by her death as you were. He didn't want
to leave you two, but not going to Korea was not an option. Serving in that war
was his job, Nan. And as I recollect, he didn't leave you two alone; you both
came and stayed with my folks. Something that I'm guessing was done so that you
wouldn't be dealing with your sick mother alone. He might not have been able to
stay, but he did the best he could to make arrangements for you," Control offered
by way of an explanation.
"If he knew she was sick then the best arrangement
would have been if he had not left!" Nancy almost screamed in frustration.
how could he have taken care of the two of you if he had left the Air Force?"
Control asked, maintaining his calm reasonable tone.
"There was the farm,"
Control looked at her in disbelief. "How do you think he would
have managed the farm? He would have been miserable. He's no more a farmer than
Paul or I am."
"But he would have been there when mom died!" She howled.
looked at her sympathetically, his parents weren't young and he knew it was going
to hurt to lose either of them. He couldn't imagine growing up without both of
his parents. That had to be every child's nightmare and then to not have the other
parent available would make it that much worse.
"Yes, he probably would
have, and he also would have made it in time if your mother had allowed your father
to be contacted and told how bad she really was but she wouldn't hear of it. She
was convinced she was getting better, so didn't want him troubled," he argued.
mom didn't want him troubled?" Nancy asked quietly. Evidently this was news to
"That's right. Dad told me about it once. He had never felt right
about not telling Uncle Frank just how sick Aunt Mary was, but she was adamant
that he not be told so they abided by her decision. If they hadn't decided in
the end to ignore her wishes, then he wouldn't have even made it back in time
for her funeral," he explained. He felt for her and understood her grief, and
had a feeling that at last they were getting to the real reasons for her separation
from the general.
"Then the least he could have done would have been to
stay with me after mom died instead of going back," She said angrily as she sat
on the bed.
"Nan, there was a war going on that no one was calling a war,
the Air Corps had been the Air Force less than five years and was still in transition.
And to top those stresses off, Uncle Frank was called out of combat to bury his
very much loved wife who he had been told was getting better. I don't think it
was that he didn't want to stay there with you; I think it was that he had nothing
left to give and no idea what you wanted or needed from him. One thing I know,
though, is that he loves you," Control said soothingly as he sat next to his cousin
on the bed and put an arm around her.
"All I wanted or needed from him
was HIM! I just wanted him to love me!" She wailed, sobbing now with tears that
had not been shed in more than twenty years. " Why couldn't he ever see that?"
"Because I was blind," came a rumbling voice that was the duplicate of
Control's thickened a little with age and emotion.
"Daddy!" Nancy Wilson
looked up and seeing her father for the first time since she was a teenager, she
ran into his open and waiting arms.
"I've missed you so much, baby," he
said, his eyes wet with unshed tears as he enfolded his daughter in his embrace.
He hadn't known she was here or he wouldn't have intruded, as it was he had not
been sure if he should say anything, but her questions needed answers only he
Frankie Wilson stood next to this new person, whom he had just let
in, and looked, from him to his mother to his new cousin. Maybe it had been wrong
to let the man in? He had heard the man at the door and assumed that mom couldn't
hear it since she was crying and Mr. Smith couldn't answer the door because he
was taking care of mom. It was amazing how much the older man resembled mom's
cousin. Of course, mom seemed happy to see the old man, in fact she called him...
"Is he my grandpa?"
She nodded and sniffed. "Yes, honey, this is your grandpa."
general gave the child a smile as he continued holding his own child, and guiding
her towards the bed where they both sat down. The second that youngster had opened
the door to him, he had known who he was. He had missed out on so much in the
boy's life, not to mention his mother's; maybe he could start to change some of
"Nan, why don't I take him and we can catch lunch and do some
shopping while you and the general catch up?" Control asked. He had a feeling
emotions were going to be running high in this reunion and not all of them would
be good, but at least they would be out in the open and dealt with.
only response he got was a nod from the head that was resting on the general's
shoulder. Motioning Frankie out the door, Control quietly collected his coat and
"He seems like a good boy," Frank offered a few moments
later, as he and Nancy were left alone and her crying was subsiding to the occasional
sniffle or hiccup.
"Frankie's a great kid!" She gushed, smiling up at her
dad. Her son was the only accomplishment she had in her life that she felt good
about. He was a good, clean, honest, respectful and well behaved boy. The few
times he had gotten into trouble it had been the kind of minor offenses that every
healthy growing boy got into at times.
"You, you named your son after me?"
The general asked, surprised. He hadn't known that Nancy thought that highly of
"I liked the name Frank, and it certainly gave him a better namesake
than his father`s name would have," She said with a derisive snort.
take it his dad isn't in the picture then?" Frank asked, hesitantly. The child
looked to be about ten, and that would be about the right time. He really hoped
he hadn't made things worse by what he did that day in Cincinnati.
he left before I even had a chance to tell him I was pregnant. I had just begun
to suspect myself that I might be." She snorted "He didn't even tell me good bye,
he just never came home one day."
"I'm sorry, sweetheart," he said. He
was sorry for the pain that was evidently still there, but to be honest, not sorry
that the bum he had talked to that day had opted not to return and hurt her more.
If he had known she was in the family way, he might have acted differently, but
all he had seen was the guy leaving their flea trap of a house and the fresh bruises
his baby was sporting. At least she had been rid of her abusive boyfriend, and
her son had never had to live with an abusive father.
"Not your fault,"
she said, and looking into his face, pulled back a bit. "Or did you have something
to do with it?"
"I might have had something to do with it. I was worried
about you so I went to Cincinnati looking for you," he began slowly, she might
resent his interference.
"I remember you came to the door wanting to talk
to me, but I wouldn't see you. I, well, I wasn't looking too good just then,"
she said, ashamed. "And I was still pretty angry with you."
girl, I saw you. I was waiting for him to leave so I could talk to you alone,
and I saw the bruises on you when he left. I couldn't get you to come home, so
I protected you the only other way I knew of. I explained to that hoodlum exactly
what would happen to him if he ever hurt you again. I'm sorry that it made things
so hard for you and Frankie, I had no idea you were expecting. And don't you ever
be embarrassed about what that man did to you; it was not your fault!" He instructed,
holding her close again.
"If I had known what you had done at the time
I would have been furious," she admitted. "But looking back on that whole mess;
thank you. And don't worry about making things harder for us, I`m not sure that
you did. If he had stayed I would still have been working full time and struggling
to make ends met, and what little I saved he would have drunk so it's better that
"I was just taking care of my little girl, all I ever wanted
was what was best for you, I just never seemed to be able to figure out what that
was," he confessed. He had never been certain what to do with a daughter and he
always seemed to end up doing the wrong things, based on her reactions.
I needed was to know that you loved me," she told him with sniffle as she tried
not to cry.
"Honey, I do love you, I've always loved you. From the moment
your mom told me you were coming I loved you," he assured her.
left me," she said, starting to cry again.
"There was a war on."
know, daddy, but I needed you so badly. I can't even remember mom, but I remember
you not being there when she died and your leaving again after she had been buried."
thought I was doing what was best for you, honey. I thought you would be better
off with your Aunt Becca than with me. She knew about raising kids, I had no idea
what to do with you or for you."
"I was five years old! Just being there
would have been enough," She said in a slightly raised tone of voice.
know that now, back then I didn't get it. I tried to make up for it by being there
for you when I got home. I know it wasn't the same as if I had stayed after mom
died, but I really did try," he said, his eyes again damp.
"You were certainly
there every time I had a boyfriend you didn't approve of, which was most of them,"
she said with a snort of laughter.
"It's not my fault if none of them
were good enough for my baby," he said in a voice of mock indignation.
mom's family never thought you were good enough for her?" Nancy asked, hesitantly.
Her mother was a subject that had not been brought up since she had passed away.
were certain that she could do a lot better than some Yankee pilot," he growled.
you were always convinced that I could do better than those pacifist hippies or
biker hoodlums," she answered.
"I think I proved that I did all right by
your mother. I certainly took better care of her than any of those men did of
you," he shot back, and instantly regretted where this looked to be going.
was a long silence as the two looked at one another, both recognizing the old
fight starting again.
"Dad, do you remember mom?" Nancy asked. Her mother
was a topic that had never been talked about. When asked about her, the general
would give short curt answers or simply go silent.
"Yes, I remember her.
Do you remember her? You were really young when she passed on," he said, realizing
suddenly that Nancy evidently remembered nothing of her mother. He had never meant
to not tell her about her mother, but thinking of her had hurt so much that he
hadn't been able to talk about her.
"Not really, would you tell me about
"Now that I can, I'd be happy to. Why don't we get something to eat
and I'll tell you about your mother and you can tell me about my grandson?" He
Biting her lip, Nancy stared at the floor.
Frank offered, realizing the position he had put her in. His girl had every bit
of the Savage family pride and if his guess was right, she was not doing well.
Hopefully she would let him help, whenever he had tried in the past it had backfired
"Thanks, can we do room service in case I start crying again?"
She asked, smiling.
"Whatever you want, baby," he assured her, leaning
over and fishing a menu out of an end table drawer.
A few moments later,
two lunch orders had been called in and they were seated at the table by the window.
see, Frankie stories..." she said thoughtfully. "Well, the first week he was in
school he got in a fight with three fourth graders."
"Does he fight as
a habit, or was there a reason for it?" Frank asked. The boy hadn't seemed like
the fighting kind, if anything he seemed kind of quiet and shy.
that they were taking the little kids lunch money, and when they got to him, he
decided he would rather fight them than give them his money. I told him next time
to give them the money and then tell the teacher or me what was going on. He said
that he couldn't because the next boy was even smaller than he was," she related,
shaking her head at the memory.
He chuckled, that sounded too much like
something he or his nephews would do. "Sorry, honey but it sounds like you've
got a Savage there."
"Oh, don't I know it, and truth be told I couldn't
be happier," she smiled.
Lunch arrived and they retired to the table to
"Tell me how you and mom met?" She asked.
"Well, It was about
a year before I became a POW..." he began.
"YOU were a POW, Daddy?" Nancy
asked in shocked amazement.
"Yes, it was in 43, I had crashed in France
..." he began telling a story that he tried to tell as little as possible, but
if anyone had the right to hear it, it was his daughter.
looked down at the boy with him, what did you do with a ten year old boy? He had
mentioned shopping and eating, so he supposed that was as good a place to start
as any. "What`s your favorite food?"
"Chicken," came an uncertain answer
from the youngster looking up at him.
"Chicken it is, then," he smiled
down "Better go get your jacket."
"Okay, do you think we could go to Walgreens
on the way?" The child asked, cautiously.
"I'm sure we can find one while
we're out," Control assured him, as they quickly went in the second room.
jacket was retrieved while the book about the boy and his dog was tossed in a
battered backpack and a handful of change gotten out of one of the pockets. "Thanks,
I want to pick up mom's Christmas present, she's really going to like it."
we had best make sure and do that next," the man smiled down at his companion
as they left the room.
The drive to the drug store was quiet, with Control
concentrating on driving in a city he was not familiar with and Frankie looking
out the window.
When they got to the store, Frankie was out almost before
the car had stopped. His cousin John followed a little more leisurely. The boy
had evidently been taught well, since he waited at the door for the tall man.
They entered and the youngster went over to a counter of cheap plastic jewelry.
He picked a necklace of pastel stones and took it, smiling.
"Got what you
came for?" he asked, as Frankie trotted back over to him holding the gift.
can we look at the models since we're here?" He asked hopefully.
nodded, and was led into the toys and hobby section where boxes of model planes
resided. "Do you have a favorite?" He asked.
"They're all really cool,
but I like the planes more than the jets," Frankie responded.
one there is a B-17 like your grandpa flew in the Second World War. He called
her the Piccadilly Lily," Control pointed out, smiling at the memories of the
stories his uncle told of his exploits in that plane.
"Really? That's too
cool," the child explained, picking up the box to look more closely at the picture
on the cover. His grandfather had actually flown in one of those.
you like that as a kind of early Christmas present?" The man asked, smiling.
I really?" Frankie looked up in amazement. He had never actually been able to
afford one of the models.
"I wouldn't have offered if I wasn't ready to
get it for you," he assured him as they headed to the checkout line.
do you think grandpa will tell me about his Piccadilly Lily?" Frankie asked, hopefully.
you asked him, I don't see why he wouldn't, he told Paul and me stories about
his war years when we were your age."
"What kind of stories?" Frankie
probed, looking for information on his unknown grandparent.
"The one that
comes to mind is actually something that happened while he was between the Second
World War and Korea. It was the only time he was late to a meeting, he claims,"
Control chuckled, as they got in the car and headed for lunch.
"Well, he was on his way to the base and as he came around a corner, a
little brown blur made a dash to cross the road."
"Did he hit it?" The
boy looked over at his cousin, appalled.
"He tried really hard not to,
but yes, he did end up hitting it. He pulled over and got out to see what the
blur was and if he could help the little creature. He ran back and there was a
little brown terrier dog."
"Was the doggie all right?" The child asked,
"Well, he was limping and hopping around and crying like he
was in pain. The general felt bad, so he took..."
"Grandpa's a general?"
Frankie interrupted, goggling. That was even better than Sam, whose dad was a
policeman, or Adam's, whoes grandfather had been a fireman.
"Yep, he was
a one star during WWII, got his second right after the war, and retired in the
sixties with his third. In fact the meeting he was late to on the day he hit the
dog was the ceremony to award him his second star," Control enlightened the youngster.
he late because he helped the puppy?"
"The dog looked bad, but the general
put him in a spare blanket he had in the trunk and took him to the vet. After
helping the dog he arrived at his own promotion ceremony late," Control related.
happened to the dog? Did he make it?" Frankie asked, as they headed into a Denny's.
Control had chosen that place because since it was a national chain and he knew
the menu, and it had chicken on it. Not to mention that the food was generally
"Well, Uncle Frank had just gotten back to his office after the
promotion ceremony when he got a call from the vet saying that the dog would be
fine with a little work on his leg, but since he didn't have an owner they were
going to put him to sleep."
"That's mean," the little boy sulked. "I bet
if they had looked someone would have wanted the dog!"
"The general happens
to agree with you, so he said for them to go ahead and patch up the dog's leg,
and he would take the dog home and find a home for him," Control grinned at Frankie's
"He found a home for the dog?"
"He certainly did, Joey owned
the general for almost twenty years, or at least thought he did," Control chuckled
remembering the feisty little terrier that had been his uncle's companion and
friend for so many years.
"He kept him?" Frankie laughed.
that dog was a terrorist in a little fur coat, but he and grandpa got along fine.
I seem to remember that your mom loved him a lot, too."
"I would love to
have a dog, but mom says we can't in the city. When I get big enough to have a
job I'm going to see if she'll let me have a kitty if I pay for everything it
needs." Frankie, evidently an animal lover, sighed.
"I have cat at home,
myself. A black one named Isis," Control told his companion, while taking a bite
of his steak.
"That's kind of a weird name for a cat, isn't Isis from a
story or something?" Frankie asked, trying to remember where he had heard that
"Well, I got her in Egypt, and Isis is a Goddess from Egyptian
mythology so it seemed to fit," the man explained.
"I remember I read about
her once, she was pretty cool. She was married to Osiris and when he got killed
by another god she went and collected all of the pieces so they could have a son,
but I never figured out exactly how that would work if he was dead," Frankie answered
in a confused tone.
"That would certainly be difficult," Control agreed,
"Do you think that my mom and grandpa will like each other again?"
Frankie inquired, chewing on his lip worriedly.
"Well, they're both Savages,
which means they tend to be, ah... firm minded, when they decide something or
feel they've been wronged in any way, but since they both seem to want to like
each other again, I think the odds are good that they'll figure out a way to get
past their problems," Control assured the child without lying to him. The things
that had annoyed him most when he asked questions as a child were being lied to
or being told he was too young to understand; luckily his parents had rarely done
the first and never the second.
"Savage is a bad name for an Indian and
they're not Indians."
"Savage is also the general and your mother's last
name," he informed the child.
"Mom's last name is Wilson, not Savage,"
Frankie corrected him, eating the last of his fries.
"She was born with
the last name Savage," Control informed him.
"Wilson must have been my
dad's last name, I guess, I didn't think he and mom had ever gotten married, though."
might have married, I don't know, but I think your mom goes by Wilson because
it was her mother's last name," he explained, finishing his steak.
thought grandma`s family didn`t like mom?" Frankie asked seriously.
don't think they had anything against your mother, they just didn't like your
grandpa particularly," he explained, setting money on the table for the bill as
they got up. He wasn't about to go into the fact that Aunt Mary's family, who
had never thought General Frank Savage to be a great catch for their daughter,
also blamed him for her death.
"Okay, I guess I can see that," the boy
responded slowly and thoughtfully as he followed his mom's cousin.
blue looked down, but weren't met by a matching pair. He hadn't intended this
outing to end on such a somber note and he didn't like that his young cousin couldn't
seem to meet his eyes at the moment.
"There's a pet store over there,
son, should we go see if they have puppies or kittens?" He asked spying the place
on the other side of the parking lot.
"Yeah! Hey, that store next to it
looks cool too, can we see what's in there?" he asked looking up pleadingly.
Frankie, this is your outing, we can go where you would like," Control smiled
down, thankful for the resilience of youth.
The bell over the door tinkled
as they entered the small and rather dingy pawn shop. Frankie went up and down
the aisles fascinated by the variety of things he saw. Control went with him,
giving the name and use for the things Frankie had never seen before.
we can't sell those things, we`re not buying them; who ever heard of pearls being
this weird color and sorta wrinkly?" a voice snarled nastily from up front.
on alert for potential trouble, the man looked from his cousin over to the altercation.
There was a little old white haired lady in front of the counter, being told off,
evidently, by a large burly man behind the counter.
"They're a special
kind of pearl called a Black Pearl, and they `re supposed to look like this. My
late husband brought them back from Tahiti for me after the Second World War.
You won't have trouble selling them, please," she asked.
"Listen, I ain't
never seen anything like them and I say they won't sell," the shopkeeper retorted
"May I see them?" Control asked quietly, as he approached the
two people. He glared at the other man, and then smiled reassuringly at the old
woman. He was still trying to find the right gift for China, and Black Pearls
might be just the thing. Besides, you never, ever spoke to the elderly like that!
woman smiled at him as she handed him two earrings and a necklace to inspect.
The stones were a silvery-blue, and had a beautiful silver setting. "These were
hand made weren't they?"
"Yes they were, Harold brought them home to me
after the war. He's gone now and, well ..." She trailed off.
you're looking for jewelry for your old lady, we've got some nicer stuff over
here I can show you," the huge man running the store said.
"No thank you,
my lady is a unique and extraordinary woman and needs accessorizes that show that.
What I saw over there would only detract from her beauty," Control informed the
"Do, do you think she might like those?" the senior citizen
"Yes, she would; she would like them a lot I think," he smiled at
her. "Would you be willing to sell them? I know you said they were from your late
husband, so they must be very dear to you," he said, compassion in his voice for
the reduced state that must have brought her to selling her jewelry.
life has taught me anything, it's that stuff is just stuff, it's the memories
that count. I would like to be able to keep those, but I have the memories so
I can stand parting with them. And this way another young woman will have memories,
of her beloved bringing her back something from a trip," she smiled at him, and
patted his hand to assure him that he was not doing wrong by buying her keepsakes.
The other man glared angrily as the dark haired man and the old woman
agreed on a price. Frankie had come up beside his cousin and beamed at the jewelry.
"Those are pretty," the child commented as they left.
"I have a
friend at home who will like these for Christmas," he explained, smiling.
bet your friend's a lady. Look they do have puppies!" Frankie exclaimed almost
pulling his companion into the pet store, all thoughts about his cousin's friend
gone. Smiling, Control let himself be led.
Frank Savage took a deep breath. "How are you really doing, baby?"
doing all right, dad. Not great, but we're getting by," She answered after a moment.
would like to help you out, if I can," he said, choosing his words carefully.
He didn't want to offend her pride, but he had a hunch she was not really doing
all that well.
"Dad, I said we were getting by and we are. I admit things
are a little tight, but I was unemployed for nearly a year. I've had my job for
almost a year and a half, I'm off welfare, and I was able to get a couple of Christmas
gifts for my son that were not charity donations, not to mention that I have been
able to start saving a few dollars for Frankie's future. That might not sound
like a lot to you, but it's better than I've ever done!"
"I'm not saying
that you can't make it on your own. I just want to help, is all." He gazed at
her earnestly for a moment, but then looked down and away, "If you'll let me,
"What did you have in mind?" she asked, reminding herself to
hear him out with an open mind. Somehow, when she was with him she ended up reacting
to things like a spoiled brat, and her father had raised her better than that.
The last few hours had brought up painful and difficult subject for both
of them, but they had managed to get a lot of issues talked through without resorting
to yelling, slamming door or walking out. He had been more flexible and tolerant
than she remembered him being, and she had honestly tried to see things from his
point of view. Maybe, just maybe, they were both ready to try being a family again.
didn't have anything particular in mind, I thought you might be able to tell me
what I could do," He responded. "I'm proud of what you've done to get back on
your feet again, honey, and I don't want to take that away from you, I want to
add to it if I can."
She looked at him, pleasantly surprised. Her father
had never been one for asking how he could help; he was more likely to, with the
best of intentions, tell you what to do and what it was he was going to do to
"The biggest help would just to be around, be part of my life and
Frankie`s. That`s all I ever wanted from you daddy, just to be part of your life,"
she smiled, giving him a hug.
"I promise, I'm not going to be a stranger,"
he assured her, returning the embrace.
"I'm glad, I'm just sorry it's taken
this long for us to find each other again," she answered, looking away. He had
evidently been looking for her but she hadn't been looking for him, having convinced
herself that she didn't want to see him. Hopefully she could start making up for
her foolishness now.
"I'm sorry, too. Do, do you think that maybe you and
Frankie could spend Christmas with me?" He asked, looking at her with hope in
"Do you still do the big family get together?" She inquired,
smiling as she remembered the wonderful time they would spend at Christmas with
her aunt and uncle and cousins.
"Yep, but we could do it just us if you
rather," he offered, leaving it once more up to her to decide. "If you're not
quite ready for that I'll understand, I just thought it would be nice. I know
the rest of the family has missed you as well."
"I know I can probably
get a few days off work, and I would love to spend them with you; speaking of
work..." she tailed off with a smile.
"Just let me get my coat and I'll
be happy to take you," the general offered.
"Thanks dad, and not just for
the ride," she answered, hugging him tightly as they headed out.
welcome, and not just for the ride," he answered, smiling. This was one Christmas
he had never thought he would live to see, one with his own family.
like a nice quite night at home with family, is there?" The general commented
with a slight smile while looking at his cards.
"Nothing like it, I don't
get nearly enough of them myself," Control answered, almost chuckling. "Do you
have any eights?"
"None, Go fish."
Control drew a card, and both
men waited for their young companion to play. They were seated at the table in
Control's hotel room that he was now sharing with his uncle.
flew here in your own plane?" Frankie asked in amazement as he looked at his grandpa.
really did, the one I came in is called a Cessna; she's not the Lily but she's
pretty good," the older man smiled down at his grandson. It still amazed him that
he was a grandfather!
"Could I see it sometime?" The boy asked timidly,
not daring to look at his grandfather.
"As long as it's all right with
your mother, I would love to show her to you. Maybe we could even go up for a
ride; I'll ask her," he promised, ruffling the boy's hair as he reached over and
"That would be great! I've never gotten to ride in a plane
before," Frankie gushed, beaming up at his grandpa.
The metallic ringing
of the phone interrupted as the card game was resumed. Reaching over, Control
took the instrument. "Hello?"
"John? It's Nancy could you or dad come and
get me?" A tired voice asked.
"Of course we can come, are you all right?"
He asked, concerned. Her shift wouldn't be over for hours, so why did she need
a ride home this early?
There was silence on the other end of the line.
"I'm fine, but I got fired, so if I could get a ride back I would really appreciate
"We'll leave right now," he assured her as Frankie and the general
listened in silence.
"Hang on for a minute, one of the officers wants to
ask me something," she said in a tone devoid of emotion.
"Frankie, I need
to talk to the general for a minute alone, so I need you to go into you and your
mom's room," Control instructed.
"Is mom in trouble?" A small voice asked,
as the child looked uncertainly from one adult to the other. They were nice men
and he liked them, but he didn't really know them all that well.
in trouble, she just needs a little help and we have to figure out the best way
to do that," he assured the boy, while the general got up and walked with him
to the adjoining door.
Crouching down, the older man squatted in front
of the boy. "Listen, everything will be fine, whatever happened we'll find a way
to take care of it," he reassured the boy, giving him a hug before sending him
into the other room.
"What happened, John?" He asked, turning immediately
to his nephew, who was still on the phone.
"I don't know; she called and
said she had been fired and could one of us come and get her. I told her we would
be right there and she said that one of the cops wanted to talk to her and I should
hold on for a minute."
"Cops?" the general asked sharply.
Control said, returning to his call, "don't worry and you'll explain everything
when you get here?"
Hearing that, the general began pacing like an expectant
father. His girl was in trouble of some kind, and all he was hearing as a series
of sound of understanding punctuated with occasional `ah's', `I see's' and `that
makes sense'. A lifetime in the military might have taught him to wait, but it
hadn't taught him to like it.
Frank Savage snatched up his jacket as his
nephew laid the receiver in the phone cradle.
"Sir, why don't you stay
here with Frankie; I have contacts in law enforcement that might be able to help
here," the younger man suggested. He understood why his uncle wanted to go, but
someone had to stay with Frankie and his contacts as Northern Control might help
"John, that's my little girl out there, and I may not have been
there for her when she was growing up, but I'm going to be now!"
lost her job again didn't she?" Came a shaky voice from the door that neither
man had heard opening.
"I'm sorry son, but, yes it looks like she did.
Like I told you earlier, though, it'll be okay, we'll get through this together,"
The older man said, pulling his grandson in for a hug. Normally he would have
corrected the child for listening in, but he was already distraught enough.
I come with you to get her? Then we can all go instead of one of you having to
stay here with me," Frankie asked, looking at the two men.
at one another as the child looked from one to the other. "Your call, general,"
John Smith said, doing something some people thought he didn't know how to do,
giving control to someone else.
"Get your jacket, son," he instructed,
sending the boy off at a run.
"I sure hope our new apartment is going to
nicer than the one we have now," Frankie commented from the back seat, as the
trio went to retrieve the clan's absent member.
"What makes you think you're
going to have to move?" The general asked, turning to look in back. Control was
driving, so couldn't look at them, but he was listening with rapt attention.
was silence, as the boy chewed his lower lip nervously.
"Son?" the older
man asked quietly in a gentle tone.
"Well, it took mom a long time to find
this job, and I overheard one of her friends say after what she did she was lucky
to get it because it was the only place around here that would hire her. If they
fired her too, then there aren't any places around here for mom to work, and we
don't have a car so we'll have to move to someplace where mom can get a job,"
"If you were going someplace better would you mind
moving?" The general asked after a couple of minutes.
"No, I don't really
have any friends so I wouldn't be leaving anything behind, but I know mom can
barely afford where we are now, so there's no way she could afford anywhere nicer,"
Frankie sighed. He had really hated some of the places they had lived before.
don't you have any friends?" Control asked. Frankie seemed like a nice boy so
it seemed odd that he hadn't made any friends.
"The only kids I meet are
the ones at school, and I guess I just never wanted to make friends with them.
Besides mom's kind of, well, she wouldn't like a lot of the kids. A lot of them
get in trouble and stuff, so mom probably wouldn't let me play with them if I
"You're right, she probably wouldn't want you being friends
with kids that get in trouble. I'm really proud of you for not getting in trouble
like the other kids do, Frankie," the general praised the boy.
In the rearview
mirror John could see his cousin turning several shades of red, while beaming
at the praise. He couldn't remember his grandfather, really, but he knew that
at that age, he had lived for praise from his uncle and father. Hearing one of
them praise him for something still had him beaming, just like a word of correction
from either man still hurt.
"Frankie, I want you to stay in the car while
we go get your mother," the general instructed, as they pulled up to the bar.
The cops were still around, but for the most part things seemed to have quieted
"Nan," the retired officer called as the two men walked toward the
"John, Daddy, if you're both here who's with Frankie?" She asked,
hoping they hadn't left him alone. He was okay home alone for a few hours but
not in a hotel room that he wasn't familiar with.
"We brought him along,"
Control admitted, bracing himself for the storm he saw building.
my son here?" She growled, glaring at her cousin.
"Honey, he was with us
when you called and heard you were in trouble, he wanted to come with us," Frank
explained. "Besides, there was no way I was going to leave a child alone in a
hotel room worrying." Well, his daughter obviously had ever inch of his temper;
what a surprise.
"So I guess that you told him I lost my job, too," she
sighed, calming down, but now looking tired and defeated.
"I'm sorry Nancy,
he heard everything on my end of the conversation and figured it out," Control
"How did he take it?" She asked, looking for
information so she would know what to prepare for, and how best to prepare her
son for the hard times ahead.
"Well, he mostly seemed worried; he thinks
you won't be able to get a job around here again and you'll have to move and you'll
end up in a worse place than where you are," her father answered, bringing her
up to speed on what Frankie had told them.
"Yeah, well he's had to live
some pretty crappy places, but we'll find a way to get by, we always have," she
said, sighing tiredly.
"John, why don't you go check on Frankie," the general
Nodding, the younger man headed back to the boy and the car.
Evidently they were in need of some privacy.
"Nancy, I want you to think
about something, okay?" He asked, sounding almost nervous.
"What is it,
and I'll tell you if I'll think about it," she responded.
"I was wondering
if, maybe, you and Frankie would come and live with me. Just until you get back
on your feet," he added quickly, seeing her bristling. "I know I wasn't a very
good father, but maybe I can be a better grandfather. You could get a job in town,
I've got two working vehicles and only need one so you could use the other. You
could stay as long as you wanted, or needed to. Like I said earlier, I'm not going
to force my way back in your life, this is just an offer I want you to think about.
Please," he said, not looking at her, and worrying his lip, like his grandson
had done earlier. It had been a lifetime since he had given in to the nervous
habit, but then he couldn't remember the last time he had risked this much.
a very nice and very generous offer; I'll think about it, dad, I promise," She
smiled at him reassuringly.
"Ma'am, none of the underage customers at your
tables had alcohol, so you're free to go," a young officer said as he approached
"Thank you, is there anything else I can do?" she asked.
think we have everything, but if you could leave a number where we can reach you
if we have any more questions, I would appreciate it," he answered, moving unconsciously
away from the intense man she was talking to. Something told him that, senior
citizen or not, that was not a man he wanted angry with him.
"This is the
number of the hotel I'm at for the weekend, and this is my home phone number where
I'll be after that," she said, handing him a slip of paper with two phone numbers
"Thank you very much ma'am, you've been a big help tonight," he
said, taking the paper and smiling at her.
"Let's get you home, you're
starting to shiver standing out here in the cold," he mock scolded, leading his
daughter towards the car.
Nancy took a deep breath, he may as well know
just how bad things were. "Daddy, home for me is the right hand side of the third
floor on that house over there," she said, pointing at a converted house that
had no outside lights and still had no steam coming from it.
looked at it and cringed. There was no way he wanted his baby in that wreck of
a fire hazard. "You will consider my offer, right?"
"I'm considering it.
You understand that Frankie is my responsibility, and that I have the final say
on raising him, right?" She asked.
"He's your son, of course he's your
responsibility and you will definitely have the final say. I just want to help
out a bit, but only as much and as far as you want my help," he assured her quickly.
It sounded like she was leaning towards taking him up on the offer.
we agree that this is temporary. If I agree to this, it isn't me moving back home
and living off of you. I get a job in town as quickly as possible and help with
the bills and such and while we're there," she stated firmly.
you get a job, and when you have one, you can help out with the bills if you insist,"
he told her. "You're not coming home, and you're not living off me, you're just
coming to stay with me while you get back on your feet, however long that takes,"
he replied, assuring her that she would not be losing her independence.
daddy, I just wanted to make sure we understood one another while I think about
your offer," she said, giving him a hug. "It really is sweet of you to offer,"
she continued softly, with a teary sniff.
Hugging her back, the general
helped her into the back seat, next to her son.
"Mom!" Frankie just about
leaped into her arms.
"Hi, sweetheart," she said, hugging him tightly.
did you lose your job?" He asked nervously.
"I'm afraid so, but it'll be
okay," she assured him, smiling.
"We're going to have to move, aren't we?"
He asked, swallowing hard.
"I'm afraid so, what you think about moving
near Dayton and living with grandpa?" She asked.
"We can live with Grandpa?"
he asked excitedly.
"Well, It's a possibility," she responded, mentally
taking note of how excited her son was about that idea.
"Living with grandpa
gets my vote!" he stated emphatically.
"I'll keep that in mind," she said,
reassuring him with a hug.
Nancy," Control greeted her the next morning as she came into their room after
a knock to be certain both men were up and decent.
"Yes, it is," she answered
sleepily, while taking the mug of coffee her dad was holding out, having gotten
up and poured it for her. "Thanks, daddy."
"You've never been a morning
person," he chuckled.
"I don't remember you ever sleeping past dawn," she
"Growing up on a farm and then going into the military, I was
expected to have half a day's work done by breakfast," he chuckled.
you than me." she snorted.
"So, what's the plan for today?" Control asked,
sipping his coffee and putting his current paper down with the other three newspapers
he had finished reading. Luckily, he had already called China and gotten updates
on everything, as well as connecting with Robert and having him run a few errands.
I've been thinking about your offer, daddy," she said, joining her cousin at the
"I'd love to have you come and stay if you want to," Frank reiterated,
sending a silent prayer that she would accept his offer.
"Thank you, we
accept," she said, laughing as the general scooped her into a hug when they had
both put their mugs down.
"Are we really going to go and live with grandpa?"
Frankie asked, bursting into the room and joining in the hug.
are, son," the general beamed.
"What exactly happened last night, Nan?"
Control asked, after Frankie was sent to take a shower and get dressed before
they all headed out to breakfast.
"Well, I was serving my tables and one
of them ordered a round of beers. They looked a bit young so I asked for ID's.
I make it a habit to card anyone who is not obviously over twenty-one. The guys
raised a fuss, but I told them no beer until I saw legal ID's from all of them.
That was when my boss took me aside and told me to quit chasing away customers.
I told him that I didn't want to get in trouble with the law so I was not going
to serve alcohol without checking ID's. He said if they ordered I was being paid
to serve. When I told him that anyone underage would have to be served by someone
other than me, he fired me," she explained.
"You did the right thing, baby,"
Frank said, beaming with pride.
"I just did what you would have," she smiled,
basking in her father's approval; something she remembered as a rarely when she
was child and was finding she still wanted.
"He can't legally fire you
for refusing to break the law, Nan," Control informed her.
"I know that,
but right now, whether I was legally fired or not is the least of Mike's problems.
Seems he apologized for my behavior and served the group himself. At which point
he was arrested for serving to minors. They raided the whole place, and Mike lost
his license. I got off Scott free because I refused to serve them without ID's
and because none of the minors in my area had been served alcohol," she laughed.
chuckled at the story.
"It sounds like that man had it coming," The general
commented, snickering at the ironic justice.
"Did you call the cops like
you did last time?" Frankie asked uncertainly from the door.
"No, I didn't
call the cops, and how did you know about last time I lost my job?" She asked,
looking pointedly at her son.
"I didn't mean to, but I overhead Hazel telling
you that you were lucky to get a job at the bar after calling the cops last time,
and since there were cops this time I thought you might have called them again,"
he answered, not looking at any of the adults.
"Honey, laws are made to
protect people, and my last boss was breaking some of them and endangering other
people because of it, I had to call the police and tell them. Mike wasn't endangering
anyone with what he did, but he was helping some people hurt themselves, and I
wasn't going to help him do that," She explained.
"I take it your last
boss served minors as well and you called the police on him?" Control inquired.
didn't know he was until I saw the kids leaving and the next morning they were
in the paper after a drunk driving accident. I called the police and told them
where the kids had gotten the drinks. They looked into it and pulled Sam's license."
for you, Nancy," Frank said, proud of his daughter for doing the right thing even
when it meant her job.
"Mom, is the school bus going to come and get me
from here?" Frankie asked suddenly looking nervous.
"Well, I called your
school and talked to your teacher and since there is nothing important on the
schedule today, you get to stay with us," Nancy informed the boy.
can we have pancakes for breakfast?" Frankie asked, beaming that he was going
to be spending time with the grandpa and cousin instead of going to school.
we can, sport; you still like everything omelets, Nan?" The graying man asked
"Yes, Daddy, I still like those, although I'm surprised you
remembered that I like them," she replied with surprise.
"I remember a
lot of things, baby," the general smiled, wishing that he had let her know when
she was a child just how much he made a habit of knowing about her.
friend, Josh! He was the one you told about grandpa being a general!" Frankie
said out of the blue as the group headed out.
"Actually it was his mother
I mentioned it to, and how on earth did you know that?" Nancy asked in shock.
She hadn't seen Josh for a couple of years probably, and had only met his mother
a few times.
"I overheard the two of you talking," Frankie admitted sheepishly.
overhear more than you should," Nancy chided him gently.
"I don't mean
to, but it's hard not to hear all of the conversations at home, and at Josh's
I was coming in the room to ask you something when I heard you mention a general,"
Frankie explained, not wanting his mom, worse grandpa, to think he had been eavesdropping.
you remembered most of the conversation right," Nancy said, smiling and hugging
her son who was in back with her.
"What brought about your mentioning Uncle
Frank?" Control asked, his insatiable curiosity aroused.
"We'll I was
meeting a boyfriend's mother. She had never liked me because in her opinion I
was not in their class. But, Josh really wanted me to meet her, so I agreed to
come to his house for the day and meet her," Nancy began.
like a very pleasant woman," The general commented, as they entered a Perkins
"She wasn't. We were having coffee in the kitchen, trying
to make polite conversation, and I saw a picture on the wall. I commented that
it was a good picture of her husband in front of a B-52. She was amazed that I
knew what kind of plane it was and asked me how I knew. I figure that we had finally
hit on something in common and commented that my father had been in the military
before he retired," Nancy continued, while buttering her toast.
muttered something under his breath at that, that he had heard China use for Jason
Masur more than once.
"She snorted and said that her husband was a major
who flew bombers, not some airman who picked up airstrips and did guard duty.
I told her that was all right, because my Daddy wasn't an airman he was a three
star general who not only flew bombers, but led the missions the bombers were
on," Nancy laughed at the memory.
"I bet she didn't like hearing that,"
Frank chortled, before taking a bite of his scrambled eggs.
didn't believe her," Frankie added sullenly while eating his pancakes.
did in the end, sweetheart. Josh's dad had come in and heard me say my dad was
a general. He asked who my dad was, so I told him your name, Daddy. Well, it seems
that he remembered you. I guess you had flown a mission with him once and he was
very impressed. He had always been nice to me, and after that he really thought
I was great," Nancy finished.
"I take it things didn't work out with Josh?"
Frank asked. He hadn't seen evidence of a boyfriend, but that didn't mean there
wasn't one in the picture somewhere. If there was, she would probably not have
a been so quick to want to leave the area though, he reasoned.
mother never liked me much and he always did what she told him to," she explained.
"I haven't really tried dating again since then," she replied in a tone decisive
enough for there not to be any more questions about it.
"I'm sorry, honey,"
the general sympathized.
"Mom, when are we going to move?" Frankie asked
a few moments later, breaking the silence that had descended like a fog over the
"How soon can you be ready for us, Daddy?" she asked.
soon as you can come, I'll be ready for you. Do you have a lot of things to wrap
up here?" He asked.
"I rent by the month so I have until the thirty-first
there. Other than Frankie's school, there's nothing that needs to be done here,"
she said, suddenly aware of how empty her life must seem.
"Well, If Frankie
can start Christmas break a week early, you could come home with me now," the
general offered quietly, hoping that she wouldn't think he was pushing.
could hire a moving company to follow with your furniture and things," Control
"Not a whole lot of what we have is worth taking," Nancy admitted
with a sigh.
"Well, if you want to come now, John and I can arrange for
the Salvation Army to come and get the furniture, while you pack up what you want
"Okay, let me make a few calls and we might be ready to go tomorrow,"
Nancy smiled, suddenly realizing just how possible it would be to move that fast.
this mean that I can go in the plane?" Frankie asked excitedly.
adults chuckled at the child's enthusiasm.
"Yes, when we move we'll be
flying to our new home," Nancy assured him.
"Since you and I have calls
to make, Nancy, why don't we go back to the hotel and make our calls and Uncle
Frank and Frankie can go find boxes. Then after lunch you and Frankie can pack
while we haul the furniture downstairs for the Salvation Army?" Control offered,
taking a last sip of his coffee.
"Sounds like a good plan," she agreed.
received their marching orders, the troops filed out to tackle the day. Or rather,
three walked out while the youngest bounced out begging his grandfather for another
story, and the oldest happily complied, telling one of his well known stories
to a new audience.
"Between having you back in his life and having Frankie
around, Nan, I think the general is about fifteen years younger than when he arrived
here," Control chuckled.
"I think he's going into his second childhood
or something," she smirked.
"Considering some of the tales my mother has
told me about things he did as a child, I certainly hope he isn't going into a
second childhood," Control responded with a snort, his eyes dancing.
have no idea what he was like as a child," Nancy said sadly. She had always wondered
what he had been like when a youngster, but simply could not imagine her father
as anything but a three start general.
"Well," the spy began once he saw
that the odd couple were far enough ahead not to hear, "The story I remember most
was about the time that Uncle Frank and some neighbor boys were playing together.
They got the great idea of playing some kind of war game. Of course to do that
they had to have a hostage, and my mother was chosen. I don't know if she was
aware that she was chosen or not, but at any rate she became the hostage and was
properly tied up so she couldn't get away."
"Why does it not surprise me
that he would, even as a child have been playing a game like that," Nancy said,
shaking her head.
"I got the impression that the other boys picked the
game, and war is anything but a game to the general. He has lost far too many
friends and seen too many people die to think of war as anything glamorous or
fun," Control responded rather sharply.
"You're right, I'm sorry;" She
"The boys continued playing and were finally called
in to lunch. Granddad looked around the table and saw he was short one daughter.
He very calmly asked Uncle Frank if he had seen Becca anywhere that morning. The
three boys all went white as they realized that they had forgotten their hostage
back in her jail. The boys were informed that lunch was not going to be served
until they were ALL at the table so they had best go and rescue the hostage immediately.
The problem was when they went to get her, the boys couldn't remember exactly
where it was they had stashed her."
"Daddy had lost aunt Becca?" Nancy
asked, doubled over laughing.
"We hadn't lost her, just temporarily misplaced
her," came a growl from in front of them.
"Sounds to me like you lost her,
Daddy," Nancy countered, still laughing.
"She was eventually found and
no damage was done," the general responded, maintaining his dignity in spite of
his nephew and daughter laughing while his grandson looked at him in shock.
men from neighboring farms had to be called in to help search, before mom eventually
decided that she would not be in trouble for wandering off the farm and climbed
out of the hayloft where she was hiding, to tell grandma exactly what had happened,"
the younger man remarked.
"They had to call in help, and she was in the
hayloft the entire time?" Frankie laughed.
"The farm is a big place, and
she was a little girl, so they had to have help if they were going to find her,"
"Everything would've been fine if she'd stayed where
we put her," the general complained, winking at the boy next to him and enjoying
the laughter of his family.
"Why hadn't anyone looked in the barn for
her?" Frankie asked, slightly confused; that seemed the first place to look.
had looked there, sport, but mom was afraid she would have been in trouble, so
she hid from the people who looked in," Control illuminated.
snorted, sending his daughter and grandson into peals of laughter again.
did she think she would be in trouble?" Frankie asked, still confused.
wasn't allowed out of the fenced yard, and we had taken her out of the yard, so
she thought if mom knew she had been out she would get in trouble," Frank explained,
"Oh, I bet you were popular once the entire story was
known," Nancy chuckled.
"I admit that I was opting to eat meals standing
for a bit after that," Frank confessed, smirking.
"I can imagine," John
"If Becca saw fit to share that memory, I just bet she
didn't tell you about the time that she was coming home late from a date she wasn't
suppose to be on in the first place," Frank began as the group piled into his
nephew's rental and headed to the hotel, now laughing at the story about a young
lady trying to sneak in a window that was now locked. It was a good morning.
we're home!" Frankie called as he and his grandfather entered the boy and his
"How did the calls go?" Frank asked, looking around
and trying not to think about his daughter and her son living in this place.
Salvation Army will be here around two, we just have to have the things that are
going, downstairs," Control informed the group.
"With the ice on the stairs,
it'll be a trick, but we'll figure out a way get it done," Nancy assured him.
"After school lets out, Frankie and I need to go to the school and get his desk
cleared out and return his school books. I said I would call from the farm and
let them know what school to send his records to."
"Nan, we've got the
boxes, so you and Frankie work on packing, and John and I'll get the furniture
down," the general informed her, not wanting to think about her on that ice carrying
heavy furniture. He and John would find away to get the stuff down.
of what we're taking is clothes and knickknack things. Frankie, why don't you
get your clothes together and we can use our clothes to wrap the breakables in,"
The child excitedly ran off to get his clothes. They were
really going to do this. He and mom were going to go and live on a farm with his
grandpa, and they were flying there in grandpa's plane!
"Nan, do you want
to keep any of the furniture?" Her cousin asked.
"No, I got it all at the
Salvation Army and none of it's worth hauling it across the state," she stated.
about your kitchen things?" Frank asked. The women he had known could be very
particular about their kitchen equipment.
"Unless there are things you
don't have, may as well send those with the furniture."
"If we want to
get it done, we had best get at it," the general informed his nephew, as he went
to prop the front door open.
As he returned to his daughter's apartment
he saw a young woman in front of the other apartment door. She was in her early
twenties and balancing a baby on her hip, while holding a bag and trying to fish
her keys out of her purse. Smiling he took the bag for her, freeing her to get
"Thanks," she said timidly as she dropped her purse inside the
door and took the bag. As he handed her the bag, he saw that there was nothing
in the apartment. It struck him that at one time this had probably Nancy as well;
young, alone with a baby, and no money for anything.
"Honey, the woman
across the hall is a young single mother and doesn't have anything. I was thinking
maybe we could see if she would like the furniture we're getting rid of," he asked.
The stuff was Nancy's so it would be her call.
"That's a good idea, daddy,
I'll go over and ask her," she agreed, heading across the hall. It would be nice
to help out her neighbor, she had been in that position when she had first moved
A few moments later she came back. "She would love to have anything
we can offer."
The woman shyly smiled at Frank and John a few moments later
as they hauled a couch over. Half an hour later she had two beds, a table and
chairs, and a television, as well as two bookcases. Nancy had brought over one
of the boxes full of the kitchen supplies.
Tears in her eyes, the young
mother thanked them for their kindness in giving her the desperately needed items.
for thinking of that Daddy, it was a really good idea," Nancy said, hugging her
father. John smiled at them from the phone where he was canceling the Salvation
Army pick up.
"She got what she needed, and I didn't have to kill myself
moving furniture down those stairs," the general chuckled.
"We all won,"
John agreed, helping Frankie get his things together.
"Um, Nan, these are
Frankie's clothes?" The General asked quietly, seeing the badly warn and too small
clothes the boy was bringing out.
"Dad, he's a tall boy and good will is
all I can afford," she responded, embarrassed. She knew that Frankie needed better
clothes, but she couldn't do any better right now.
"I'd like to get him
some new clothes, if you don't mind," he asked, knowing how it might sound, and
hoping she wouldn't be offended. He was proud of how well she had done, but living
paycheck to paycheck was hard at best. "I'm really proud of how well you've done,
I know it isn't easy living check to check and I would like to do that for him."
you want to, that would be great," she agreed, her smile assured the older man
that he had not offended her.
On the counter next to her, waiting to be
carefully wrapped, was a photo of a young man in a bomber jacket with a cap on,
standing in front of a bomber. He still remembered the day that Mary had taken
that picture. It had been a nice summer day and he had actually been able to get
away. He had checked on the Lily's repairs before they headed out and she got
a picture of him in front of his beloved plane. It had been a good day. Neither
one had known that he would be shot down on his next mission, resulting in his
being a POW. So many times, the memory of that day had gotten him through until
"I didn't know you kept a photo of me," he said as she took
the picture and wrapped it in a towel.
"I got this one from Aunt Becca
when I was a child. I liked it, so she gave it to me, and when I left I took it
with me. I don't know why I did, but I'm glad I brought it along," she explained.
photo caught his eye; walking over, he picked it up. A short, red haired woman
in shorts and a t-shirt smiled back at him. She was sitting on a log outside of
a tent. He had forgotten how much they loved camping before Nancy came along.
his lip, he brushed his finger against her cheek. "I still miss her, Nancy."
know dad, I loved her too," Nancy responded, hugging her father. Only a few short
days ago she would have laughed if you had told her she and her father would be
sharing their grief over her dead mother.
He handed her the photo, after
one more look, and she lovingly wrapped it and placed it next to the first.
could you hand me my cigarettes?" Nancy asked as she picked up a picture of Frankie
as a baby and wrapped it.
"When did you pick up this vice?" Frank asked,
a slight look of disappointment. Hopefully she hadn't learned it from him, he
had been smoking most of his adult life.
"About the same time I left home,
but at least everything I smoke now is legal," she quipped back.
his hands and closing his eyes, the general turned slowly around. "You lied to
me. I trusted you and you lied to me," he stated in a soft, chilled voice.
Uncle Frank, why don't I take Frankie out for his clothes and to do his errands
at school while you two discuses this in private?" Control offered. He had lied
to his uncle once as a child, the results had not been good. His parents had found
out and after they had finished with him, had handed him over to his uncle.
that's a good idea," Nancy thanked her cousin. She and her dad had best have this
out now, and there was no reason for Frankie to be a witness to it. She hadn't
thought about what she was saying before offering her flip answer, but this was
probably for the best.
"Does this mean that we're not going to live with
grandpa?" Frankie asked, sniffing. He had really, really wanted to go and live
on a farm and get to know his grandpa who was a three star general and a war hero.
came his answer in two part harmony.
"Looks like you're stuck with me,
sport," Frank smiled down, ruffling his grandson's hair. Frankie beamed up at
"I did something bad when I was younger, and grandpa and
I have to work it out, sweetheart, that's all," Nancy told her son, hugging him
as he got his jacket on.
Reassured that his family was staying together,
the boy followed his cousin out the door.
"You. Promised. Me. You. Were.
Not. Doing. Drugs!" the general bit off each word, never getting louder, but with
each one getting colder.
"Yes, I did," Nancy admitted, not looking at her
father. She had always known his zero tolerance for drugs, but as a teenager hadn't
cared and hadn't figured he cared much what she was doing. As a parent herself,
she knew how wrong she had been.
"Why? Why did you..." he began, stopping
as he saw tears in her eyes. He had seen her defiant, angry, hurt, he had even
seen her happy a few times, but this was the first time he had ever seen her cry.
At least the first time since her mother had died.
"Why did I use? I don't
know, I was hurting and it made the pain go away for a while, I guess," she answered
"You did drugs, and I used scotch; neither one of us handled it
well. What I was wondering, though, was why you lied to me," He told her as he
laid a hand on her shoulder, uncertain if she would welcome a hug right now.
the way you felt about drugs? You would have ranted and raved at me for all night
and grounded me for a month at least; but you would not have been interested in
why," she explained, surprised at his having so easily accepted that she had used
and even more surprised that he had asked why.
"You're right that I would
have ranted and raved, and punished you; but I also would have asked why. And
pain, sweetheart, is something I would have understood," he corrected her.
had never heard her father sounding as tired, and as old as he did right now.
Turning to him, she saw how hard her absence had been on him. Wordlessly, she
turned and hugged him.
"I'm sorry I lied to you, daddy," She said, unable
to think of anything else, and unaware that she didn't need to say anything else.
sorry that you didn't think I would listen or understand," he replied, hugging
her back, relieved that she was part of his life again.
They stood holding
one another. Instead of the anticipated fight they had found forgiveness, peace,
and a brighter future.
Smith smiled and soaked the morning in. He really and truly enjoyed time with
his family. He tried not to think about the fact that in only a few days he would
be heading to Prague with Robert, and at the very least would be gone for a couple
The women were in the kitchen getting ready for the huge dinner
they would be eating that afternoon. Becca, Annie, and China were all great cooks,
and Nancy was eagerly learning from the trio. China's offerings to the table were
unpronounceable to anyone but her, but were evidently a traditional holiday meal
in the islands where her mother was from.
Frankie was still in shock from
all his gifts, but could not have been happier. He had gotten a train set from
Paul and his family. He had to wait to get home to set it up, but that was fine,
since at the moment he was busy playing with a black puppy that had been a gift
from hid grandfather.
All the women had ohhed and aaahed over the black
pearl earrings and matching necklace China had received from Control, who had
been properly kissed in thanks, even if the whole family was watching.
in all a good Christmas.
"Thanks for your help," came a rumble from behind
"You're welcome, Uncle Frank, all I did was find her, though; you
were the one who convinced her to rejoin the family," Control said, accepting
with gratitude the cup of coffee the older man was holding out.
men sat in quiet companionship, enjoying the day and watching the kids out playing
with the puppy.
"How are they doing?" Control asked.
got a part time job as a file clerk and is also working part time in the local
diner. She's really liking both jobs," Frank answered, his voice radiating joy.
glad to hear it, How's Frankie adjusting?"
"Like a duck to water. He's
already made friends with the sons of one of the men I board horses for," the
"You gave me my family back, son, you have any plans on
getting one for yourself?" the older man asked with a slight smile, as he thought
about hte looks his nephew and Chia nhad been sharing
"Actually I am planning
on it. I have to go on a trip for a while but when I get back, I'm going to see
just how insane China is. Hopefully she's crazy enough for take me," Control admitted.
man," the general responded, clasping his nephew on the shoulder. He was glad
that John had found someone who was as well suited to him as Mary had been to
him before her death.
`"Looks like the youngsters are starting a snowball
fight," Control commented.
"So they are, not very good at it though, are
they," the older man agreed, smiling evilly.
Not saying a word, Control
followed his uncle out to the hall, and into his outerwear.
the kids were squealing and running with the pup yipping and chasing everyone
about in a four way free for all snow war. Before long, the other men were joining
in as well, while the women watched chuckling in the house, commenting on the
`big kids' who were as bad as the little ones.
It was a merry Christmas,
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