Author's Notes: This turned out to be a short Chapter. It's really two small chapters, really. I hacked out a lot of stuff. Chapter 6: Good-bye, Lenora 2000 HRS. FRIDAY, JULY 15, 1960. POST CHAPEL, PENSACOLA NAS Services for Lenora Dubois were finally being held. The investigators had given the go-ahead earlier that week. Beth's fears were put to rest: no evidence was found to support drug use. Cause of death was strangulation and she had been dead several hours before her body was dumped. The investigators kept running into dead ends and the trail was getting colder. At first, it looked as if Janet's information would be the big break. Janet had a name It turned out to be an alias. However, an unexpected witness, a bus boy, identified Lenora's boyfriend from police photos. He was a small-time thug, and it was speculated that she never knew this. The witness told the SP that the man fled the area the day after she was found. A fresh trail led the investigation to New York, but it was too late. He was found murdered, execution-style in an alley two days ago. The case was offically closed. Beth came to the viewing, alone. Al, not big on seeing dead bodies, had begged off. He had been reluctant about attending the funeral, but Beth had begged him. She didn't want to attend the funeral alone. Lenora's casket was open, but Beth had expected it to be closed. Lenora was to be buried in her full dress uniform. Beth was impressed with the morgues capabilities to preserve Lenora's body this long and still make her look almost life like. Seeing Lenora like that made her think of her mother's funeral *Clinging to Gran's hand, she watched as the priest performed the rites over first, her grandpa and then her young mother. She looked at the others who had come. Mostly, they were strangers to her, but Gran had assured her that these people were friends. Some had worked with Grandpa and others were friends of her mother's. Without exception, all the strangers snuck looks at her. She knew why, even then: she had no daddy*. Beth shook herself and turned to leave. Standing just outside the sanctuary, was Al. She found herself wondering how long he had been standing there and why. As she moved closer, she realized he was holding a bouquet of red roses. "I was hoping to catch you back at the billets," Al said quietly. "I wanted you to put these on her casket." Beth studied him. Al was reluctant to enter and Beth could sense it was for a deeper reason than the sight of a dead person. She took the bouquet from him. "Guilt?" She asked softly. "Yeah. I was pretty sharp with her on my birthday." Beth looked at him quizzically. "You're not feeling guilty for giving her the brush-off entirely, are you?" Al had the decency to look sheepish. Beth rolled her eyes at him. She left him standing by the door. With great care she laid the bouquet on the closed portion of the casket and left the sanctuary. As they headed for separate cars, Al asked, "What time do you want me to pick up tomorrow?" "0915 hrs." 0930 HRS. SATURDAY, JULY 16, 1960. POST CHAPEL The casket was closed and mourners were already filing into the chapel. Beth and Al sat in a middle pew on the far end. Lenora's father, an Army colonel assigned to Fort Polk, Louisiana, had arrived last night with Lenora's mother, three younger brothers, and most of his extended family. Rumor had it that the colonel was not happy with the way the Navy was handling the investigation. The colonel was talking to the chaplain. Layton was there also, with a woman Beth supposed was Lenora's mother. The three brothers, all younger, sat as straight as boards, behind their tall, imposing father. Kelly came down their row, alone. "Where's Tom?" "We had a fight," Kelly replied softly, sitting next to her, "last night." Al was immediately interested in this news. "What happened?" "He didn't hurt me physically, Al, so don't get yourself all worked up," she assured him. "It's just that he doesn't seem interested in me anymore." She stopped and shook her head. "No, I know why. He was hoping to get a position in Daddy's company, a high-salary, corner-office job. Daddy offered it to someone with more experience." She sighed. "He hasn't *said* he doesn't what to see me anymore, yet." Beth and Al were shocked, speechless. "Janet told me once, that some guy she was dating in college did the same to her. He was a medical student, hoping to get a residency at the hospital her father is chief of surgeons." Kelly sighed. "I hope something like that never happens to you, Beth." *Not likely*. "Al's *already* a Navy pilot, Kelly," Beth said without thinking. Al looked up sharply. He had been reading the memorial service program. "Navy blood. Interesting," Kelly was saying. "I don't know anything more about him. My father, I mean," she said quickly, hoping that Kelly would get the hint. Kelly took her hand compassionately. "I'm sorry." Apparently, Kelly assumed the man was dead. This was fine with Beth. "Anyway, Tom is going to move out of the barracks. He's going to rent a friend's house. The guy is a Marine who just go reassigned to Twenty-Nine Palms." Further discussion was prevented by the entrance of George and Janet. George was escorting the still grief-stricken woman. The deferential behavior that was bestowed on the man escorting his late daughter's best friend, piqued the colonel's curiosity. He looked inquiringly at Lt. Cdr. Layton. "Lt. George Whitmore-Jones is a descendant of the Naval hero, John Paul Jones." Layton was speaking in a voice the President of the United States could have heard from the Oval Office. "She needs her hearing checked," Kelly muttered as George shook hands with the colonel. The colonel looked impressed and Beth was sure it wasn't an easy thing to do. George was allowed to take his seat, up front of course, without being further embarrassed by Layton. He did, however, offer his condolences to Lenora's mother before returning to Janet's side. "Appearances. He only escorted her here for appearances' sake," Kelly said, disgusted. On the other side of Beth, Al stiffened. Beth put her hand on his and caught his eye. She shook her head, imperceptibly, and he slowly relaxed. She intertwined her fingers with his. It startled him, but it also kept him quiet. By the time services started, it was unbearably hot. Beth was on the verge of leaving, when the recessional music started. It was still fifteen minutes before Kelly, Al, and Beth were standing on the front lawn, under a tree for shade. Kelly was fanning herself, her face as red as her hair. Beth's mind drifted back to her mother's funeral and the events that followed. Her grandmother, now widowed, selling the home she had lived in since the day she married and everything else of value (except one or two small family heirlooms). Grace's friends had pleaded with her to stay, but Gran wouldn't hear of it. She had Beth to think about. "Beth honey?" Beth blinked. Al and Kelly were looking at her. "I'm sorry. I was just thinking about something." "Let's not go to the airfield," Al said. "It looks as if you could use a rest." Lenora's body was being flown back to Louisiana, to be buried in her family's plot. Beth nodded absently, and Kelly took her leave of them. "Did you and George have breakfast this morning?" Beth asked suddenly. She couldn't imagine why she wanted to know. Of all the things to take her mind off things, George wasn't even in the top one-hundred. "No. He has to leave for Miramar tonight. He'll be TDY until the 19th of August." Al paused. "I don't know if I mentioned this to you before, but I will be on leave starting the 11th. I should be back by noon on the 19th." "No. This is the first I've heard of it." "Sorry. It's been on the books since the day I got back, before I met you." "Where are you going?" "Home, to Illinois." MONDAY, AUGUST 1, 1960 MCGINTY RESIDENCE, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS Maureen McGinty opened the envelope that was postmarked Pensacola, Florida, with anticipation. Maureen, July 1960 I should be arriving on the 12th, hopefully by noon. As usual, I will go to the cemetery on the 13th. I must be back at the air station by noon on the 19th. Albert "That's it?" Maureen said aloud. She turned the sheet over and looked in the envelope. There were days she wanted to strangle that man. Maureen, Al's high school sweetheart, hadn't spent a whole day with him since he left for Annapolis. When he came to get his sister and learned that she was dead, his pushy friend dragged him back to Maryland. Then, last summer, he came again without advance warning and she was only able to see him for an hour because of a prior commitment. Maureen reread the short note. "Well, we didn't exactly part on good terms, did we Al?" she muttered aloud. She wanted him to stay in Chicago. He wanted to join the Navy and fly. She wanted him and a family. He, or so he thought at the time, wanted her and his career. Maureen knew Al no longer loved her the way she still loved him. Her parents still preferred him to any of her subsequent boyfriends, and their door was always open to him. But Al had made it clear that it would never be the same between them. Maureen, of course, had plans to change that. "I wonder if he's seeing anyone new?"