Chapter 9

Bethesda, Maryland, June 16, 2000 1:21 PM

After speaking with Christina over the phone, Beth laid back on the bed, 
staring up at the white ceiling.  She thought over her conversation with 
Christina, wondering how and when she was going to tell Al about the 
existence of his one and only daughter.  When she spoke with Al earlier 
over the phone, he told her that he wished he had agreed to have 
children when they were still together.  He hadn't realized until later 
in life how much having children of his own meant to him.  A tear came 
running down Beth's cheek, and she almost told him about Christina then.  
But something stopped her.  Just like something stopped her when Dirk 
asked her if she and Al had any children. She started running their 
conversation through her mind remembering it like it only happened 

"Flying was his first love, the Navy was his second, and I guess I was 
his third.  But I knew that when I married him."

"No children?"

"He didn't believe in dragging kids from duty station to duty station.  
--He didn't understand what the children would have done for me while he 
was gone.  --In the 8 years we've been married, between sea duty and TDY 
assignments, we've actually lived together less than 2.  --And when he 
left for 'Nam for his second tour 4 months after the first ended, I 
almost divorced him."

"But you didn't?"



"You don't divorce a man whose flying off to fight a war."

"--Or when he's missing in action."

"I'm afraid that's just an euphemism for--dead."

As Beth thought over her conversation with Dirk those many years ago, 
the question Dirk had asked her, "No children?", stood out in her mind.  
Why didn't I tell him about Christina that day?  Why did I skirt the 
question and spout out Al's philosophy on children and the Navy instead?  
Was I afraid Dirk would run away and want nothing to do with me?  What 
made me do it?  

When Beth first met Dirk, Christina had been staying with Beth's mother 
in San Francisco.  She was only 2 years old at the time and a hand full, 
so Beth's mother offered to take Christina for a few weeks.  It was hard 
being a working mother with no one at home to help care for little 
Christina, so she agreed. Beth had packing all her daughter's few 
belongings, including her crib, and had a family friend drive them to 
her mother's house in their truck.  Beth felt guilty leaving her 
daughter with someone else for such a long period of time, even if it 
was Beth's own mother; but Beth knew she needed the rest.  Between the 
stress of caring for a 2 year old, her job, and not knowing whether Al 
was dead or alive, her life seemed almost unbearable.

Then Beth met Dirk.  He was so friendly and charming.  He practically 
swept her off her feet.  This continued for the entire time they dated.  
Even after the guilt of not telling him about Christina led her to 
finally tell him about a week later, he still wanted to continue seeing 
Beth.  He even adopted Christina after they were married in 1970.  But a 
few years after they were married everything changed.  They moved to New 
York right after they returned from their honeymoon.  Two years later, 
Michael was born and the pressures of fatherhood began to to take their 
toll.  Dirk couldn't handle the  responsiblities of a new born and an 
inquizitive 4 year old, who wasn't even his own child.  Dirk started 
staying out later every night, claiming he had to work. For years Beth 
believed him; but as time went on, she began to realize that perhaps she 
was only fooling herself.  

When Dirk finally did come home, he wanted to know what Beth had been 
doing all day, where she had gone, what she had done, who she had seen.  
He wanted to know every detail.  At first she thought is was flattering; 
but as the years wore on, it became obvious that to Dirk, Beth was his 
possession, not his wife.  

Then 4 years ago, Dirk announced to Beth that he wanted a divorce, 
saying he wanted to marry his mistress of 5 years, Debbie, the blond 
bimbo that had a cool breeze blowing between her ears.  What he saw in 
her, Beth never knew; but now he claims she dumped him.  Maybe Debbie is 
smarter than Beth gave her credit for.  That is, if what Dirk had told 
her was true.  Just then the phone rang.  Bringing Beth back to the 
present.  She reached over and grabbed the receiver.


"Hi Beth.  I called around and made some arrangments for a flight out of 
Bethesda in about 2 hours.--"

It was Al.  Her heart started pounding as she considered telling him 
about his daughter.

"--I called an old friend of mine back from my academy days, John 
Brinkman. You remember me telling you about him, don't you?"

Is now the right time to tell him?

"Yes."  Beth answered him.

"Well, now he's a state Senator; and, of course, has his own private 

Should I tell him?

"--and he owes me a favor.  So I called him on it."

"Uh, that's great Al."  What's preventing me from telling him?

"Beth, honey, what's wrong?  You're acting strange.  I thought you'd be 
excited about finally being able to fly out here."

I've got to tell him.  Now.

"Um, Al?  There's something I want to tell you."

"Yes, what is it hun?"

Beth hesitated.  She felt as if her heart was beating in her throat.  
She opened her mouth, but nothing came out.

"I need my suitcases picked up from the airport near Albuquerque."  Beth 
finally blurted out.

She didn't tell him again!  Beth couldn't believe that she hadn't told 
him again!

"Don't worry, Beth.  I'll take care of it.  In fact, I'll send someone 
right now to pick them up for you.  They'll be ready and waiting in your 
room when you arrive."

Beth didn't say anything to Al's response, worrying Al.

"Are you sure you're alright?  You're acting like I just told you my 
hair turned green or something."  Beth giggled at the thought.

"It's nothing, Al.  Really."  She lied.  "I just still can't believe I'm 
talking to you after all these years of thinking I would never be able 
to speak to you again."  Beth began to sob.  --so I could tell you about 
your daughter.  Beth finished within her thoughts.


Las Vegas, Nevada, April 21, 1955 1:40 PM

For the last 25 minutes, Sam had been trying to talk to Randy about 
Sharon; but Matt starting telling about his days in the military and 
wouldn't stop.  Then when he finally finished his story Matt asked.

"So Norman.  How long have you known Sharon?"

Sam, not knowing exactly when Norman and Sharon first met, didn't answer 
right away.  This is when he heard the familiar sound of the imaging 
chamber door.

"How long have I known Sharon?"  Sam repeated to clue Al in that he 
needed  information fast.  Al took the hint and consulted the handlink.

"Yes, that was my question."  Matt said looking at "Norman" like he 
sprouted another head.

"5 years, Sam."

"5 years.  I've known Sharon 5 years.  Can you exuse me for a moment?  
I'll be right back."  Sam said and got up from his seat next to Matt.  
Sam whispered out of the side of his mouth to Al.  "Restroom, now."

"Did you say something Norman?"  Randy asked.

"I have to go to the restroom."  Sam weakly smiled at Randy as he headed 
to  the back of the restaurant entering the men's room.  Al stood 
waiting for him.

"So how's it going, Sam?  I see you found Randy."

"Yeah, with no help from you.  I roamed around for 2 hours looking for 
him when you could of had Ziggy center in on him within a few seconds."

"I'm sorry, Sam; but I needed to take that call."

"I know, Al.  So how's Beth doing?"

"Not so well, I'm afraid."

"Why?  What happened?"

"That Nozzle ex-husband of hers is now chasing her and threatening her 
not to come see me.  First, he tosses her out like an unwanted shoe; and 
now he acts like he owns her."

"Did she make it to Albuquerque?"

"No.  He followed her to the airport, so she never got on the plane.  
She ran instead, then called me.  I've made arrangements to have her 
flown out here in a private jet, and she should be here sometime this 

"A private jet?  Where did you get a private jet?  And don't tell me you 
shifted some funds from the motorpool and called 'Jets R Us.'"

"'Jets R Us?'"  Al gave Sam a strange look.  "No, I have an old friend 
who owes me a big favor, so I called him on it.  So how's it going with 

"Romeo?  Oh, you mean Randy?  Not good.  I've been trying to talk to 
Randy for the last half hour, but I didn't get anywhere because his 
brother, Matt, started telling a long story about his army days."

"That sounds interesting.  Did it involve any women?"

Sam just looked at Al.

"No.  It did not involve any women."

"Drat!  Well, you better get back out there and talk to Randy then."

Sam looked at Al.

"Go on.  You don't have allot of time before tonight you know."

Sam turned and left the restroom heading back to the table where he 
found Randy sitting alone.  Finally... maybe now I can get something 
accomplished.  Sam thought to himself as he sat down across from Randy.  
Al popped in, standing next to Sam.

"Where did Matt go?"  Sam asked.

"Oh, he left to meet a friend."

"Well, Sam.  I see you have everything under control here, so I'm going 
to go back.  I have allot to do before Beth arrives."

Sam looked at Al as he opened the imaging chamber door, giving him a 
pleading look for him not to go.  Al reading Sam's eyes, responded.

"Don't worry, pal.  I'll be back in time for tonight."  Then he was