Chapter 6 FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14, 1960, BOQ,NAS PENSACOLA George's room was empty. Al stared at the rumpled bed in confusion. Where was Sam? The sound of running water, coming from the head, finally registered. "Great," he said, aloud. No point in waiting around and startling Sam. He punched a few keys and found himself outside the barracks. Al looked at his surroundings, remembering. He found it wasn't as painful to recall his tour at Pensacola, as it once was. Another indication he was easing his way into his new life; however, there was only so long he could stand around, looking wistful, in an almost empty parking lot. If he was going to take a trip down memory lane, he needed a few familiar faces, or at least a more populated area. He began to punch in a request for Ziggy to center him on himself, when a better idea came to him. Ziggy dutifully sent him to the revised location, without comment. The images shifted and Al found himself . . . Not where he thought he should be. *This isn't the Burn Ward.* It wasn't even the critical care unit. He was about to get on Ziggy's case when he looked behind him at the main nurses' station. "Hello, nurse," he murmured, walking up to the desk. Sitting at the station, flooded with paperwork, was Beth. Al studied the young woman a moment. "Ziggy?" "Yes, Admiral?" "Are you . . . transcribing, at the moment?" he asked, hesitantly. "No, Admiral. This function is only employed during your conversations with Dr. Beckett." "Do you know if . . ." He stopped. Al was afraid to ask, afraid of the answer Ziggy would give. "Do you know if she was *really* happy with Dirk?" The computer was silent, and Al knew he wasn't going to like the answer. "There was a 65% chance that the Simons would have been divorce by this time, next year." Al looked up at the ceiling, out of habit. "What do you mean?" he asked suspiciously, momentarily ignoring the fact that she hadn't answered his question. "Since 1996, I have been monitoring the Simons--" "Ziggy!" Al cut her off. "You shouldn't be doing that!" "As I was saying," the computer went on, coolly. "I have been monitoring the Simons--" "Had." "--and determined that they were a happy, well-adjusted, family." Al closed his eyes. He was right. He didn't like the answer. "However," the computer continued, "in the past six months, I have also determined that, based on email, telephone calls, and unusual credit card activity, Mr. Simon has been seeing another woman." Al's eyes popped open. He didn't bother correcting the computer's verb tense. "What?" "It appears that Mr. Simon has been entertaining another woman; a younger woman, I might add." Al was shocked into disbelief. He stared at the young Beth. "That nozzle!" he said outraged. Al knew he was guilty of infidelity himself, at least with his former ex-wives and girlfriends. But not when it came to Beth. Al could not fathom being unfaithful to Beth. From what he could remember, there was never a need to look elsewhere. It occurred to him that Beth herself may have lost interest in Dirk, driving him away. "I was gathering data to send to Mrs. Simon, in regards to her husband's infidelities, Admiral," the computer announced. Al's jaw dropped. "Ziggy," he said, breathlessly. "I believed that Mrs. Simon would then file for divorce, and thereby be available for you." Al stood, wide-eyed and gaping first at Beth and then up at the ceiling. "Tell me you didn't." "Unfortunately, I had insufficient data at the time, Admiral. Dr. Beckett's untimely disappearance from Cokeburg hindered my efforts in obtaining crucial information." Al let his breath out, explosively. He hadn't realized he had been holding it. "Thank God! Ziggy, that would have been the worse thing to do to her." "I thought you wanted her back, Admiral. I was trying to be helpful." Ziggy was obviously upset with him. Al gathered his wits. "I appreciate your efforts, Ziggy, and yes, I wanted her back, but not that way. He paused. "It's a moot point now, but I don't know if it would've work out. I mean, picking up after seven years apart, give or take a few months, is one thing; but that would have been over thirty years." He shook his head. Al's gaze shifted back to the image of the woman he loved. "And how do you know if she would have taken me back?" * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * "Hi, Sam." Sam jumped, startled. Wearing boxer shorts, socks, and a t-shirt, he stood in front of George's open wardrobe. Al had popped in, instead of using the Door. He didn't turn around to face his hologram. "Sorry, Sam." Sam could almost sense, now that he knew Al was in the room, the Observer peering over his shoulder. "Tough choice, huh?" The wardrobe was filled, mostly, with uniforms and flight suits. Several pairs of tan slacks and a number of shirts (mostly blue), hung at one end. "Well, Sam, you can rule out the uniforms today. My closet looked just like his," Al added. "Now I think I understand why you dress the way you do," Sam commented, as he pulled a pair of pants and one of the blue shirts from the closet. Closing the wardrobe, he turned to get dressed. Al stepped out of his way, and Sam noticed the slightly furrowed eyebrows. Al hadn't sounded as upbeat as he had earlier. Sam frowned. *Trouble in paradise already,* Sam thought as he pulled on the slacks. "Before you ask," Al started, "everything is well . . . under control, back at the project." He had obviously seen Sam's look, and his tone told Sam it was also time to get down to business. "What do you have on Kelly?" "Let's start with some background stuff," Al said, as he began to pace. "Earlier this year, in July, another nurse was found murdered." He then proceeded to fill Sam in on the details of Lenora Dubois' mysterious death. "So," Sam said, once Al concluded, "her murder was never solved then?" "No. Both deaths are still a mystery." "What about the specifics on Kelly?" Sam asked as he started to make George's bed. "Kelly broke up with her boyfriend Tom Crenshaw, who's also in the Navy, in August. A few weeks later, she met a guy named Henry Carson. He's a civilian." "Was he ever implemented in her murder?" "I was getting to that. On the night she was killed, she met him in town at her favorite restaurant. Kelly preferred to drive, instead of Henry picking her up." Al sighed. He looked sad. "She told me once it gave her more control in her relationship. She could come and go, when she wanted, you know?" Sam nodded. If Kelly did not want to go back to Henry's place, she could simply come back to the base. "Did they have dinner?" "Oh, yes. Plenty of witnesses at the restaurant said they had a pleasant dinner. No one heard either of them raise their voice, and several said they heard them laughing." "It wasn't the boyfriend, then?" "Well, no. At least, it couldn't have been. According to witness at the restaurant, Henry escorted her to her car, and in the parking lot, he met an old friend. The friend invited the couple back to the restaurant for drinks, but Kelly reportedly declined the invitation. Henry and his friend went back in and Kelly headed back to base. Witnesses say they were at the bar for several hours, just shooting the breeze." Sam frowned. "Airtight alibi." "Yeah." Sam mulled over the information. Over the course of leaping, he had picked up a bit of instincts. Something about this didn't sit right with him. Sam decided to follow a hunch. "What about her old boyfriend? Why did they break up?" "Kelly told us that Tom had been looking for a position in her father's company. When that fell through, he wasn't nearly as nice to her. He was renting a house from a Marine friend and she lived out there with him for a while, but she kept her barracks room, just in case." Al shrugged. "I guess she finally decided, enough was enough." "Did he beat her?" Images of his own sister formed in his mind. "No, thank God." "Do you think he tried to get her back?" "Ah, no. In fact, he told the investigation that he had found a new girlfriend, a local girl." "What happens to Tom, after all this?" The fact that Tom had been interested in Kelly for purely mercenary reasons, bothered Sam. "He dies in a house fire in March 1961." "How did she die?" The look of sorrow that came over his friend's face, caught at Sam's heart. It was apparent that Kelly meant a great deal to him, if only on a platonic level. "She was . . . strangled, Sam," came the quiet reply. Sam needed more information, but Al wasn't ready to continue. Sam had finished George's bed, so he disappeared into the bathroom, giving Al some space. He closed the small bathroom window, which he had opened earlier to let the steam out, and wiped down the sink basin and shower stall. When he returned, Al had regained his composure, but still looked sad. "We'll save her, Al," he told him, confidently. Al took a deep breath and said, "She was found behind Bob's Diner. It used to be an all- night place, but he wasn't making any money, so he changed the hours to 0200 to 1700. Strange, I know, but those were his best hours." "And no one saw anything?" "Well, the diner sits on a side road and there's very little traffic down that road after five." Sam sighed. This wasn't going to be easy. "Is there anything else to go on?" Al shook his head sadly. "No. The investigators combed the crime scene, trying to find clues." They remained silent for a moment, each lost in his own thoughts. Sam broke the silence. "So, what does Ziggy suggest now?" "Well in this case, Tina suggested you double-date." Al looked down at the handlink. "According to Henry's statement, she calls him at 1300 hrs and they make a date for tonight." "So," Sam interjected, walking over to where Al stood, "I basically have to convince her and her boyfriend to go with me and . . ." "Janet Thomas," Al supplied. "Instead of going alone," he finished. "So, if it *was* random," Al said, sounding hopeful, "she won't be at the same place, at the same time tonight, and you'll leap out. *After* the date, because I doubt George would go through with it." "And if it wasn't random?" Al looked into Sam's eyes. "I don't know why anyone would want to kill her, Sam. She was sweet, beautiful, funny, kind. Her family was rich, but George's family is wealthier, and you'd have to know her personally to know she came from money." "Where is she, right now?" "At work." Sam went over to the desk and starting searching the drawers for George's car keys. "I'll go over right now and talk to her." "Ah, Sam, you can't do that." "Why not?" "Two reasons. First, she's a nurse. She's busy, Sam. She takes her lunch break at noon. Second, you've got to go see JP." "Who's JP?" "George's grandfather. He's staying at Admiral Johnson's house. Every day, George spends the morning with JP. Then, while JP takes a nap, George goes out for lunch and runs errands. He comes back to the admiral's house and spends the early evening with JP. Sometimes he even stays for dinner." Sam stared at Al, nonplused. "And what does he do while he's with his grandfather?" Al shrugged. "Talk. Listen to his old war stories. Reads to him. Oh, and the stories are the best, Sam." "I'll die of boredom." "No, you won't, Sam. If you can get him to tell you the stories about his youth, I'll guarantee you won't be bored." * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * "Good morning, George." Al looked over at Sam. "Say, ‘Good morning, Grandfather'." Sam complied and Al turned his attention back to JP. The old man was sitting up in a full- size bed. Al smiled fondly, remembering the good times he had spent with the old sea dog. On one of those rolling hospital tables beside the bed was an arrangement of photos. Sam took a seat next to the bed and Al positioned himself across from Sam, on the other side. While Al was repositioning himself, he noticed Sam glancing at the photos on the table. A look of surprise crossed Sam's face. The look did not escape the notice of the other two men. "What?" both said in unison. "I, ah, I, ah, was wondering . . . " While Sam stuttered, Al walked through the bed to get a better look at the pictures. There was a picture of Adam, a pair of little twin boys (Adam and his twin, Al could never remember his name), George, Al, Lady Catherine (who Al momentarily mistook as Hope), and Beth. *Beth? * Al was surprised as Sam. "Well?" JP demanded of his ‘grandson'. "I, ah, I can't remember," Sam threw a panicked look at Al, who had repositioned himself, again. "If I asked you why you had a picture of Beth. I was just wondering." *So am I,* Al thought. Adam *swore* George was the only person he ever told about his indiscretion with Betty Townsend. Al blinked. He actually remembered that conversation. "She reminds me of my Catherine, that's why," JP was saying. Before Sam could open his mouth and ask, "Who's Catherine?", Al spoke up. "She's your, er, George's grandmother, Sam." Al pointed to the oldest picture. "That's her, right there." Sam leaned closer and looked from Beth to Catherine. Decades, continents, and upbringing separated the two women, but now that Al knew what to look for, he could see a family resemblance. He just hoped Sam didn't. JP moved Beth's picture and Al once again moved around to see. JP had placed her picture between Al and George. "They make a handsome couple, don't they?" JP commented, looking pointedly at ‘George'. Al became uneasy and Sam actually squirmed in his seat. "Who?" Sam asked. "Well, who do you think? Granted, I wouldn't mind if *you* managed to win her over, but I've seen Al with her and I doubt you'd come through with your nose in one piece." Sam grinned. "You're right." Al began to relax. The maid came in just then, with Sam's breakfast and the morning paper. She handed the paper to JP. "Hey, Gushie?" Al called out. Sam looked at him inquiringly. "Yes, Admiral?" "Would you get a chair for me, please?" "Right away, sir." Sam went back to his breakfast. JP, oblivious to Al's presence, read the paper and make the occasional observation to Sam. Al sat down, once Gushie had positioned it behind him. Sam was giving him an odd look. *Probably wondering, if everything is wonderful back at the project, why am I hanging around here watching him be bored.* "I like the old guy," Al explained. "I miss him sometimes." Sam gave him a look of understanding. Sam, after all, knew he never met his own grandfathers, and JP had filled that gap. Al turned his attention back to Beth. He punched in a request and Ziggy, via the handlink this time, informed him that his wife was still sleeping peacefully, that there was no update of the girls' arrival, and that George was still causing headaches for Beeks. As usual, Ziggy had given him more information than he asked for. Al gave Ziggy another request and, while he waited for her to download the information, he saw JP hand a copy of *A Tale of Two Cities* to Sam. JP requested that he read it aloud. While Sam began reading about the best and worst of times, Al reread the statement he gave after Kelly's death. There wasn't much to it. He knew very little about Henry and their relationship to point an accusing finger at the man. Sam's interest in Tom made Al read over the statement Tom had made, too. After their break up, Tom had immediately taken up with a local girl and seemingly forgot all about the existence of Kelly. Almost as quick, Kelly met Henry. According to Henry's statement and what Al could remember hearing from Beth (who got it from Kelly, of course), the couple met, accidently, in a local bookstore. A chance meeting. Al queried for background information on Henry and nearly fell out of his chair when he read the whole thing. Henry worked in sales at an electronics company. The day after Elections, he was found murdered, execution-style, in Miami. *Too coincidental,* Al thought. Lenora's boyfriend was found in the same condition. Al sent another request for the computer to find all similarities between the two cases. Another idea occurred to him as he glanced up at Sam. Tom Crenshaw had died, too. Just to be on the safe side, he had Ziggy pull up the case involving the fire. Al couldn't remember much about it. He was at sea at the time, and by the time he returned, he was too busy preparing for his wedding. He couldn't remember if it was arson or accidental. The investigation was inconclusive, and was declared ‘accidental'. The Marine who owned the house had filed a lawsuit against the Crenshaws for damages, who in turn filed one against him for negligence. It was settled out of court. Ziggy came back with the similarities. Most of them were the obvious ones: both nurses had civilian boyfriends who were later found murdered. Kelly and Henry did not frequent the same places Lenora and her boyfriend had; therefore, Ziggy could not connect them to the same people, other then the military personnel at Pensacola. Neither had been raped and all the possessions they carried, or wore, that evening was still on them. Lenora's purse was found, untouched on the pier, Kelly's was still on the passenger seat. There were so many unanswered questions. If it was a random killing, then Sam was guaranteed to be successful tonight. If it was something more sinister, like a mob killing, Sam was going to have his hands full trying to keep her safe. Ziggy refused to offer any odds on this or if Tom's death was linked to the others. Al looked over at JP and noticed he was dozing. Al looked at the clock. It was 1130. "Sam, I think we should head on over to the hospital. I'll meet you outside." * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Sam crossed over to where the hologram paced by George's car. "You didn't have to rush out like that." "Don't whine, Sam. I wanted to talk to Ziggy." Sam climbed into the passenger seat. "What about?" "I am having her check all the deaths, accidental or suicide, of nurses in a 900-mile radius over the course of ten years, starting with 1956." Sam glanced at his friend. He looked grim. "Isn't that a bit excessive?" Sam asked. "No. Ziggy hasn't come up with a scenario or projection that does us any good. I am running down every possibility." "What was that you were doing earlier?" "I had Ziggy give me every police report and statement that might provide us with clues. I found something interesting about Henry." Al filled him in on what he had found. "So," Sam asked, once he was finished. "You think it might be mob related?" "It's just a possibility, Sam. First, let's eliminate the possibility of a random act." "I've been thinking about that, Al. It's too neat, too clean." The added information about Kelly's purse and the fact she was not raped, made things too perfect in Sam's mind. Sam was absolutely convinced it was *not* random. He couldn't come right out and say it to Al, knowing she meant something to him. Al sighed and was quiet for a moment. "What about a stalker, Sam?" There was a small note of hope in his voice. Sam nodded, eyes on the road. "There's that. I mean, the person didn't necessarily have to know her, just her habits." *Though, I'm still not convinced it's that either, Al.* A stalker might have at least raped her. Sam pulled into the parking lot. "I should warn you. Beth's sitting at the main station." "How do you know?" "I came here while you were showering, Sam." *Of course.* Sam face lit up as he walked through the main door and saw Beth. He resisted the urge to run up to her and give her a big hug. Another familiar face, in a world filled with strangers. He wasn't so swissed-cheesed that he couldn't remember her from the new time line. She wasn't just the grieving nurse at the lookout anymore: she was a wife and mother, and a friend. "Beth!" "Remember, Sam. She can only see George!" The nurse looked up and smiled at him. "Hello, George. Have you seen Al yet, today?" "I'm right here, sweetheart," the hologram told her, as he stood next to her. Sam bit back a smile. "Not yet. I was wondering where I might find Kelly." "Kelly?" She asked, standing. "I could've told you that, Sam." "Yeah," Sam said, ignoring the hologram. "I wanted to see if she would like to go out tonight." Beth's eyes grew wide. "Bad word choice, Sam." "I meant," Sam said quickly, "on a double date with . . . " "Janet! Geez, Sam, it's not that hard of a name to remember." "Janet and me. Of course, Janet doesn't know about it either, so I should tell her first." He glanced over at Al, who looked like he was trying to remember something. Beth was still looking at Sam as if she found him odd. An idea came to him. "Why don't you come along with us, Beth?" "Hey! What about me?" Al demanded, indignant. The young nurse blushed. "What about Al?" "I love it when she blushes," Al said, wistfully. "You know, she still blushes, even after all these years of marriage." Sam continued to ignore him. "Well, you can bring him along if you want," Sam said, grinning. "Thanks a lot, Sam." Beth laughed. "Where?" "I, ah, don't know yet. You see, it's a spur-of-the-moment-type thing. I was going to plan it over lunch with Kelly and . . . and . . . " "Janet." Al supplied, drily. "Janet." Beth frowned and Sam knew he better make his escape before she had him admitted into the hospital for study. "Well, let me go catch them at lunch. See you later." Sam backed away from the station and headed down the corridor. Al didn't follow. "Ah, Sam," Al called after him, "You're going the wrong way." Once Sam caught up with Al, he whispered, "Well, at least she's not crying this time." Al looked at him. "What do you mean?" "Well," Sam explained, keeping an eye out for staff and patients. "When I was Jake, she cried in my arms. When I told her you were alive and coming home, she cried again." "That reminds me. She said she didn't remember being told about me." "She won't." "Why not?" But Sam couldn't continue the conversation; there were too many people around. They entered the cafeteria. "They're both here," Al announced. He pointed to the blonde nurse. "That's Janet. It's been a few years since I've seen her. Well, on the old time line." Sam was more interested in the redhead sitting across from her. She reminded him a little of his own sister-in-law, Colleen, but Kelly had short, curly hair. Colleen's was long. He approached their table. Both looked up startled. "Hi, Janet. Hi, Colleen. I mean, Kelly." "Now you can't remember *her* name." Neither woman seemed surprised at the slip up. They were still a little taken aback by his presence. "May I join you?" Janet recovered first. "Of course, George." Sam sat down. He got right to the point. "Janet, Kelly, I was thinking it would be nice to go on a double-date, tonight." Both looked at him and then at each other. Janet looked especially surprised. "This is sudden. I thought you said you didn't want to go out tonight?" "I, ah, thought it over." He looked up at Al, who shrugged. "Well, this doesn't give me a whole lot of time to get my hair done or anything," Janet said. Sam could hear the handlink chirping at Al. "Sam, I've got an idea. Tell her you're going to Gino's Pizzeria." "Well, I was thinking, that . . . because I changed my mind . . . we would just go up to Gino's. Nothing fancy. Just get off base for the evening." Janet looked mollified. "Oh. Ok." He turned to Kelly. "Do you think your boyfriend would mind?" "Well, I don't know . . . " Kelly looked uncertain. "Sam, you're not convincing her very much. Odds aren't dropping." There was a note of panic in his voice. Before Sam could speak, the handlink squawked, and he knew without looking, that the younger Al had just entered the cafeteria. He remembered that he invited the couple. "Oh and I invited Al and Beth." Kelly's face lit up. "Well, why didn't you say so in the first place?" "Sam, tell her you're picking up the tab on this date. That's enough to convince anyone's boyfriend." "And it's my treat," he added. "What's your treat?" a slightly, gravelly voice asked. Sam turned around. Standing behind him, was Al and Beth. "George is treating us all to Gino's tonight, Al," the redhead told him as the couple moved to the other side of the table. Beth sat down at the empty place. Al dragged another chair over and sat next to her. "So I've heard," the pilot said, looking at Beth. "Are you coming?" Sam asked him. Sam glanced up at the Observer. Al seemed to be waiting for his younger self to answer. Kelly, too, was interested in what Al would say. "It's up to Beth." The Observer looked happy with that answer. "Beth?" Sam said to the nurse. Beth toyed with her lunch for a second. "Well, we haven't been there in awhile. Not since Gino put those pool tables in." "You said you wanted me to teach you to shoot pool," the pilot reminded her. She smiled. "That's right, I did." She turned to Sam. "Sure, we'll go." "And so will we," Kelly added. The Observer looked relieved and he started punching up data. "Ok. The six of you go to Gino's tonight. I don't remember any of this, so don't ask." He was silent for a moment, waiting for the revised figures. Sam had to drop his eyes because the pilot across from him was giving him odd looks. "Damn! She still dies, Sam!" Sam wanted to ask him questions, but bit his tongue to keep from asking them. He also kept from looking at him. Sam knew that Kelly's death could no longer be considered random. Someone knew where she would be that night and followed her. "Kelly, would you do me a small favor?" Kelly looked at him. "What?" "Why don't you let me do the driving tonight? Sort of a designated driver. I'll bring you home whenever you want to leave, no questions asked." This earned him the strangest looks from his companions. The younger Al's eyebrow was arched and he was looking at him suspiciously. Sam wished there was a way he could tell him that he was concerned for Kelly's safety. Janet did not look pleased. The Observer, of course, was frantically pushing buttons and ignoring Sam. "I don't know about that," Kelly stated. "Please?" It came out sounding like a beg. "You know, Kelly," the pilot said, catching Sam's eye, and turning on the Calavicci charm. "I was just thinking. Maybe I'll let George do the driving, too. There's room for five in his car. How about it?" Sam glanced at the Observer, who finally looked over at the group. "You want to bet she says yes?" he said to Sam. Sam looked from Beth to Kelly and back to the pilot. Beth was puzzled, but not in the least put out. Kelly looked a little indecisive. "Well . . . " "Just this once." Kelly sighed. "Ok, Al. Just this once." "Thanks, sweetheart." "Told you," the hologram smirked. Sam sighed. "Then it's settled. Don't forget to tell your boyfriend that the dates on me," he said getting up. "I've got to get back to JP. I'll see you all later." He bent down and gave Janet a kiss on the cheek. She looked startled. "What time? I have to tell Henry something." "1900 hours," the Observer prompted. Sam repeated the time and started toward the door. "George, wait up." The pilot followed him. Once they were out of earshot, the pilot turned to him. "What was that all about?" "Don't ask. You wouldn't believe me anyway." "You looked worried about her. I figured you had to have a reason for begging her not to drive," the younger man pressed. "Al, you won't believe me. Trust me." The pilot glared at him. "How do you know?" "If I told you I knew she was going to die tonight, if she drove, what would you say?" "Sam," the Observer warned. "I'd want to know how she died." "Not, how I knew?" "Well, there's that," the pilot admitted. "Al, trust me on this, ok?" The younger man looked him in the eyes. His brows furrowed. Sam wondered if he was able to remember Marci and Lisa. An idea came to him. "Chip told me about what happened at North Island, around your birthday in 1957. He said you wouldn't let him out of your sight until dawn Sunday, because you were worried about him. It's sort of the same thing." He glanced at the Observer, who nodded. Sam was following the right lead. The pilot sighed. "Ok. I'll trust you. You're worried about Kelly, and I can appreciate that." "Thank you." The pilot went back to the cafeteria. "Well," Sam said to Al, looking around for eavesdroppers, "what's Ziggy say." "It's coming up now," Al said absently. "You did it. She doesn't die tonight, Sam." "What happens to her now?" Sam always wanted to know what became of the people helped. Sam watched the color drain from Al's face as he read the data from the handlink. Sam felt his mouth go dry. "Sam, Kelly is found strangled, behind Bob's diner, next weekend."