Chapter XV DECEMBER 17, 1955 KEARNEY, NEW JERSEY Sam hadn't leaped. Al heaved a mental sigh, as Sam walked up the path to Gena's front door. ``What now?'' Sam asked Al, climbing the front steps. ``Uh, Ziggy's working on it, Sam.'' ``Was there a problem with Ziggy I should know about?'' Al had left the Imaging Chamber, briefly, while Sam was waiting for Dora to arrive at the hospital. Donna and Sammy Jo were the only two manning the Control Room. The others had gone into town for some last minute Christmas shopping, including Sabina and Claudine. Sammie Jo was running yet another systems check on Ziggy. As before, she found nothing. ``Not really,'' Al told him. ``Sammie Jo's theory is that she was trying to make up for lost time by processing too much, too quickly.'' It sounded plausible. Though Ziggy was the most advanced computer ever built, even she had her limits. And it sounded like something the computer would do. Sam nodded, apparently satisfied with the response. He unlocked the door and stepped into Gena's house, with Al right behind him. ``Mom!'' Dorothy came running. Eudora was on her heels. ``What happened? Are you all right? Where have you been?'' ``I'm fine, Dorothy. Timmy Carmichael almost drowned this morning,'' Sam said, sitting down in the armchair. ``What?'' Eudora breathed, taking the one across from Sam. Using the same excuse he used on the police, Sam said, ``I, uh, had a premonition that something was going to happen to him, and it involved the pond in the park.'' Neither woman question this, and Sam proceed to tell them how Tony saved the little boy. After the police had arrived on the scene, Sam had expected to leap. He didn't of course, so Al got on Ziggy to find out all about the Carmichael children and Alice's boyfriend. While Ziggy was working on that, Sam accompanied Timmy and Alice to the hospital. The police retrieved Dora Carmichael from church, and based on the reactions of Dorothy and Eudora, they must have done it very discreetly. Once she showed up at the hospital, the police asked for statements. By then, Al had returned with information for Sam. Timothy went on to own his own business. Alice went on to marry and have a family of her own, but not with Tony. He went on to be a very successful pediatrician. And that was his original destiny, too. Al had explained the reason why Tony had a bad rap was that his older and younger brothers were always in trouble with the law. People figured that he was no good, too. Once the story got out about Tony's involvement in the rescue, people changed their opinions. Which left both of them wondering why Sam was still there. Eudora shook her head, when Sam had finished his narrative. ``Amazing. Well, we've eaten. I can make you something, if you're hungry.'' ``Yes, please. I, ah, I'm going to my room to, ah, freshen up.'' ``I'll call you when it's ready,'' Eudora told him. Dorothy came over to Sam and hugged him. ``I'm glad you're all right, Mom.'' ``I wasn't in any danger, Dorothy,'' Sam protested, gently. He nonetheless returned her hug. ``Yes, you were. The rest of the ice could've cracked,'' she pointed out. ``I think I'll go outside and watch Dwight and Lowell,'' Dorothy suddenly, an odd look on her face. Sam watched her go, and then turned to Al. ``Have Ziggy go over *everything* on this family,'' he murmured to his friend as they slipped into Gena's room. Al gave him a look that said `We've gone over that already'. Sam returned it with a look of his own that said, `Do it again'. While Al was punching in the request, Sam pulled Gena's rocking chair up to the window, and watched her grandson throw the football at Lowell. As before, the man was giving the little boy instruction. Dorothy appeared in the yard, bundled up, and stood watching them. ``Ok, here we go. Again.'' Al said after a few minutes. ``Lowell Montgomery's a lawyer,'' Al made a face, ``and Dorothy get married in about a year and a half from now. They move out to California and have a couple of kids.'' He paused. ``Oh, this is interesting. Sam, Lowell was kicked off his college football team for unsportsmen-like behavior.'' Sam looked up. ``What did he do?'' ``It says he seemed to be penalized for unnecessary roughness a lot. Too much, in fact.'' The scientist looked out the window, watching. Al peered over his shoulder. ``What about Dwight?'' Sam asked. ``Let's see. Okay. He goes on to play college football, doesn't go pro, and ends up studying . . .law.'' ``Just like Lowell,'' Sam murmured. ``Al, do you think that, well, that Lowell might be grooming Dwight to be like him?'' ``Well, other than a few cases in high school where a kid from the opposing teaming got a broken limb, Dwight was never penalized half as much as Lowell.'' Sam bit his lip, obviously struggling with an idea. ``What type of record does Lowell have, with his cases?'' Al checked. Ziggy sited several cases, all of which Lowell won. In fact, Lowell never lost a case. Al sorted. ``He's never lost a case. Says here, the motto in his high school yearbook was --'' ``Winning is everything?'' Sam guessed. Al looked up, surprised. ``Yeah.'' ``That's what I'm here to do,'' Sam said, decisively. The admiral blinked, confused. ``Excuse me?'' Sam stood up. ``Don't you see? Lowell is telling that little boy that winning, at any cost, is more important than anything else.'' Al looked at him as if he'd just landed from another planet. Where did he get *that* idea from? Al wondered briefly if Sam was tuned into another Observer, but he went with it anyway. ``Yeah, but . . .what if you change everything for the worse for these people? I can't believe I'm about to say this, but that doesn't make Lowell a bad person just because he's never lost a case.'' ``Lowell Montgomery doesn't sound like the crusader for the little people, Al. Besides, you said he was in California. He's probably some hotshot Beverly Hills lawyer, making boatloads off his rich clientele.'' The handlink squawked a negative. Al consulted it. ``Actually, Sam, he practices law in,'' he paused, waiting for Ziggy to give him the data. He felt the room spin a moment when he saw where Lowell practiced law. ``San Diego,'' he finished softly. He tried not to think of who had also worked there as well, as a lawyer. It appeared as if Sam was thinking along the same lines. ``He didn't work with . . .?'' Sam trailed off. The link chirped and Al automatically looked. ``Uh, no.'' Sam shook his head. ``What does Ziggy say about my odds of being here to change the course of Dwight's life?'' Shaking the memories of other times, Al queried the computer. He felt Sam was still reaching for straws, and was more than a little surprised when Ziggy answered the query. ``She's saying one hundred percent.'' Al shook his head. ``But I still want to know *how* you're gonna do it.'' Sam looked out the window, looking stumped. How indeed? Curious to know why Ziggy was so sure about all this, Al started requesting data. While he was doing this, Eudora came in, and joined Sam at the window. She snorted. Sam looked over at her, and said, ``He's determined to make a football player out of Dwight.'' ``Yes, I know,'' she agreed. ``But I don't think Dwight really wants to be a football player, but he's afraid to tell that to Lowell, for fear of him getting mad.'' Sam perked up at that. So, maybe he was on to something after all. Al had forgotten Sam had been with the family a few days before Al had shown up, and therefore had observed everyone's reaction to Lowell Montgomery. Sam had *known* Eudora wasn't overly fond of the lawyer. ``Also,'' Eudora continued, ``you know how he's always saying that he wants to be an engineer, like his father?'' Sam nodded. ``Well, the other night he was telling me that Lowell thinks he should become a lawyer,'' Al consulted the link as she talked. Ziggy confirmed the occupation of Dwight's father and added that Dwight had minored in Engineering. Al wondered how that was possible. A little more digging revealed that Dwight had started out with Engineering as a major, and then, for no apparent reason that Ziggy could detect, his major was changed in his second year. Al relayed that information on to Sam. The scientist was lost in thought for several minutes. ``I'm going outside,'' he announced.