Chapter 9


	Verbena stood, arms folded, in the center of the control room, regarding
Ziggy's main terminal sternly.  Donna, nursing a cup of coffee, stood
nearby.  Sammie Jo waited by the terminal.

	"Well, Ziggy," Verbena addressed the computer, "Are you going to apologize
to Dr. Fuller for teasing her cat?"

	"*I*," the computer replied, stressing the word haughtily, "did nothing of
the sort."

	"Yeah, right," Sammie Jo muttered.

	"Sammie Jo, please be quiet," Verbena advised her.  She turned her
attention back to Ziggy.  "Do you observe the cat when Dr. Fuller is not
around?  I remembering you once telling me that you monitor the staff's pets."

	"I do," Ziggy replied.

	"Do you ever speak to the animals?" Donna asked.

	"I am *not* Dr. Doolittle, Dr. Elesee."

	"You know what she means," Sammie Jo snapped.

	"Sammie Jo," Verbena warned.  The squabbling between Ziggy and Sammie Jo
was nothing more than sibling rivalry.

	"Ziggy," Donna said to the computer, "you're holding back information from
Admiral Calavicci.  Now, we'd be happy to discuss these accusation with
you, but leave Al out of it and continue giving him the information he needs."

	"*He* believes *her*," Ziggy sniffed.

	"Then do it for Sam," Donna snapped.

	Ziggy sighed.  "Very well, Dr. Elesee.  I will continue processing the
information," she conceded.  Verbena hid a smile.  Ziggy's loyalties lie
with both men.  If Donna couldn't persuade Ziggy to cooperate by appealing
to her loyalty to one, she always went for the other.  "And for your
information," Ziggy continued, "I keep Dr. Fuller's cat from clawing the
furniture, eating her plants, and drinking from the commode."

	"See!" Sammie Jo exclaimed.  "That scares him.  Ziggy, I can move my
plants, keep the bathroom door closed, and the furniture isn't that
important to me.  You tell *me* what he's doing, and I'll take care of it."

	"Very well, Dr. Fuller.  I will prepare a full report on his activities.
It will be waiting for you later, in the morning."

	Satisfied, Sammie Jo bid the other two women good-night, and left.

	Verbena stared at Donna.  Both blinked.

	"Children," Verbena observed.


	Sam divided his attention between his Observer, the presidential debate at
his table, and the pool instruction going on across the room.

	The young pilot was instructing his future bride in the art of shooting
pool.  Both wore serious teacher/student expressions, but Sam could tell Al
was taking advantage of every opportunity to touch her.  A couple of times,
Sam swore Beth purposely gave him a reason to put his arms around her.

	A look of pride crossed the pilot's face at his pupil's achievements.
Sam, remembering his own lessons given to him by Al, and wondered how he
had explained proper cue handling to a woman.

	The future version of the couple, had continued their surveillance of the
room.  They walked arm-in-arm, talking quietly, and reminiscing.  Al
periodically consulted the link.  Either Ziggy was still in a snit, or she
had nothing new to tell him.

	The debate was winding down beside him.  Janet and Kelly had found a
lively conversationalist and the three had basically ignored ‘George'.  It
was plainly obvious that Sam was going to have a hell of a time convincing
the red head to breakup with Henry.

	"So, George," Henry said, suddenly, "I appreciate you looking out for
Kelly's safety.  You know, I worry about her driving alone at night."

	Sam regarded the younger man.  He seemed sincere.  "Does she call you when
she gets back?  To let you know she's fine?"

	Henry blinked.  "No.  I never thought of that."  He turned to Kelly.
"That's a good idea."

	"But I make it back, sometimes, before you get to your apartment."

	Henry made small frown.  "Well, in those instances, I should call you."

	Changing the subject, Sam asked, "So, what do you do?"

	"Oh, I work for a small electronics company," he replied.  "In fact," he
said, turning to Kelly, "I have a conference next weekend."

	Kelly pulled out a pocket calendar and annotated it.

	"Are you from around here?" Janet asked him.  Sam glanced at her.  It was
exactly what he was about to ask.

	"No, I'm from Kansas."

	*I'll have Al check that out.* Sam thought.

	Chip came in, just then, with the three new pilots.  Janet was asking
Henry how he came to work in Florida.  Sam was only half listening.  He'd
rather hear what Ziggy had to say.

	"Hey, George," Chip called out, leading the new arrivals to 
their table.  "I want you to meet the new guys."

	Sam was introduced to the new arrivals, but he scarcely paid 
any attention to their names.  He wanted to talk to his Observer, but short
of walking over to where he stood, Sam was at a loss on how to get the
hologram's attention.

	"So," the tallest, Paul (at least that's what Sam thought his name was)
said to Chip, a bit arrogantly, "who's the best in the squadron?"

	Sam half-expected Chip to either say himself or George.  Instead, he
turned and pointed to the pilot teaching pool.  "Bingo.  He's the *best*
assigned to the *station*."

	Sam was a bit taken aback.  If Chip hadn't said it so matter-of-factly,
he'd of believed Chip was just saying that because they were friends.  Chip
was serious.  The other two new pilots were suitably impressed with Lt.
(j.g.) Al Calavicci's flying record, as narrated by Chip.  Paul, on the
other hand, was more impressed with a certain brunette.

	"Who's the doll he's with?"

	Sam spoke without thinking. "His wife."

	"Wife???" Chip, Janet, and Kelly chorused.

	"Bingo's never gonna get married," Chip added.

	*That's what you think!* "Just a slip of the tongue," Sam said aloud.
"She's his girlfriend."

	"We'll see if I can change that."

	"Change what?"  Sam heard the Observer say from behind the new pilots.
"Oh, hi Chip."

	"Excuse me.  I have to make a quick phone call," Sam informed his guests,
just as Al was saying, "Sam, I need to talk to you."

	Sam headed for the phones, with the invisible couple in tow.  Sam had
intended to call JP, or at least leave a message, informing the man he
would be over later then normal.  Part of him hoped that he would leap out
that evening, but after listening to Henry, and seeing them together, Sam
conceded it might take longer.  If only Henry would do or say something
that Sam could use to convince Kelly her life was in danger.

	The Observer was trying to get his attention.  "Sam."

	Sam held up a finger as the phone was ringing.  The maid answered.

	"Yes.  This is Lt. Whitmore-Jones.  Could you please tell my grandfather I
will be there sometime after noon tomorrow."

	"Yes, sir."

	"Thank you."  He didn't replace the receiver.  "Al.  Has Ziggy got
anything on Henry's past?  Where he's from?  How he ended up working in

	"Well, he's from Kansas, went to college in Florida, and then worked in
various companies across the state," Al replied promptly, consulting the
link.  Beth, still holding on to Al's arm, was busy watching Gino's patrons.

	"That's the same thing he just told Janet and Kelly."  Sam looked down at
the handlink.  "It looks like Ziggy's talking to you again."

	"Yeah.  I have no idea--" He stopped abruptly.  Beth was tugging on his
arm.  She was pointing, for Sam's benefit, to a couple who just came
through the door.

	"Tom Crenshaw," Al informed him.  He turned slightly and kissed his
unsuspecting wife.  "Good work."

	Sam studied the new arrival.  Tom was scanning the room, looking for
someone.  Sam held his breath.  Another couple, on the far side of the
room, caught Tom's eye, and he waved to them.  Sam sighed.  Then something
occurred to him.

	"Where was he the night she was murdered?"

	"Which time?"

	"Either. Both."

	"Let's see.  Uh.  Oh." Al looked up, grim.  "They didn't come here.  They
went to a movie.  Both times."

	It looked suspicious, but if he was with his girlfriend, when could he
have killed Kelly?

	Beth was pulling on Al's arm again.  "Sam, Beth says Janet's getting
suspicious.  You better get off the phone."

	"Is George cheating on her?"

	Al looked gravely at him and nodded.  "He doesn't think I know."  Al
paused.  "Call Maryland."


	"So you have a legitimate reason for being on the phone."

	Sam obediently dialed the number Al gave him and asked, "Who am I calling?"

	"Adam.  But you'll get a member of the household staff.  Just confirm JP's
travel arrangements."

	Sam picked up a napkin and took a pen from George's pocket.  The person
who answered the phone was the butler.  The conversation was brief, but
informative.  Sam made a show of still listening and taking notes, even
after the butler hung up.  "Does Ziggy have any idea what may have happened
that caused them to change their mind?"


	Sam sighed.  "This is frustrating, Al."

	"I know, Sam, I know.  Hey, maybe he got wind that ‘George' was picking up
the tab on this date and hoped to weasel in on it."

	Sam glanced at the new pilots with Chip, and then over at the new pool
shark and her doting mentor.  "Oh, by the way, I think I may have started
something that may change history.  You may want to check the odds of one
of those new pilots may trying to steal Beth."

	Al looked decidedly unconcerned.  "I wish him luck.  Beth doesn't go for

	He wasn't joking.  Sam blinked in confusion.  Beth turned to look at him.
Smiling, she nodded.

	Sam knew she couldn't hear him, but he spoke slowly and enunciated every
word.  "Beth, I hate to tell you this, but Al's a pilot."

	Her smile broadened and she winked at him.  Apparently, she understood
every word.

	Sam hung up the phone and Al said, "Uh, Sam, would you *please* feed the
jukebox.  Beth's having loads of fun as assistant Observer, but I invited
her to dance."  He paused and looked over at Janet.  "And you may want to
join us on the dance floor with Janet."

	That idea appealed to him, even though he knew very little about Janet.
He escorted the confused woman to the machine.

	Sam began feeding money into the machine.  The first selection was a
Platters' tune, and he was about to make his second selection, when a
better and more appropriate one caught his eye.  He made the selection and
went on to the third before any of his companions could identify it.

	"OK, Sam.  You don't have to put George's entire Trust fund into the
machine," Al commented after the fifth choice.  The Platters' tune had
started and Al was already pulling Beth gently into his arms.  For someone
who couldn't hear the song, Beth was managing rather well.

	A quick look over to their table and Sam saw Henry lead Kelly unto the
dance floor.  The younger Al and Beth were still shooting pool.

	Another momentary pang of guilt came over Sam as he watched the Observer
and wife dance.  The looked very good together, dancing off to one side
where no one was likely to walk through them.

	Janet interrupted his thoughts.  "Why were you on the phone so long?"

	"I called Maryland to confirmed JP's travel information, and left a
message with the maid at Admiral Johnson's." 

	Janet's expression was unreadable.  She shook her head.  "George, you've
been out of it, all day," she observed.

	"I've been kinda worried about Kelly.  Don't ask why, I just 
am."  He paused.  "What do you think about Henry?"

	She looked thoughtful a moment.  "He seems . . . artificial, to me.  But
mostly harmless."

	Sam smiled.  He felt the same way about him; she was able to put it into
words though.  Also, she was turning out to be a great dance partner.  It
wasn't going to be so bad after all.

	Sam dropped the topic, momentarily, as he heard the song end.  Sam looked
over at the Observer as the next song came up.

	The familiar strains of Ray Charles' song caught the Observer off guard.
He looked up at Sam, startled.  Beth, responding to his reaction,  looked
around.  Al's lips moved, and Beth looked directly into Sam's eyes.  Sam
couldn't stand still in the middle of the dance floor for another second
without arousing Janet's suspicion.

	Sam wasn't surprised to see that the song had lured the other pair from
their game of pool.  Both the pilot and the Observer held their Beths
close.  Both Beths looked contented; however, Mrs. Calavicci rested her
head, with eyes closed, on the Observer's shoulder, and Lt. Townsend, was
looking her partner in the eyes.

	Janet was smiling, pleased.  "You know, I'm glad you planned this.  I wish
you'd do this more often.  Now that Lenora's gone and Beth spends most of
her time alone with Al, we stopped doing this sort of thing."  She gave a
little sigh.  "I miss Lenora."

	"I wish I could've done something to prevent it, Janet," Sam told her

	The song ended, and Sam saw that the younger couple made no immediate
moves toward the pool table.  The handlink chirped behind him.  When he was
once again facing the spot where the holographic couple had danced, they
were gone.