Chapter Eight

     Upon landing at Washington National Airport, Sam rented
a car and, after finding the street he wanted on a map.  After
getting lost courtesy of a few one-way streets, the Leaper made
his way to his friend's last known address.  The snow was
ankle deep.  He couldn't remember the last time he had seen it

     Pulling the car up outside the small apartment building, he
was hesitant.  What if Al had returned to this address?  What
would he, what could he say to convince him that he was Sam? 
After all, according to Monica, he had died three years ago. 
How do you tell someone that, after three years, you're not
dead.  Sam stepped out of the car, resolved that, if Al did live
there, he would just have to make him see what had happened. 
Hadn't Al been part of the Project from the beginning?  Surely
he would be able to accept what had happened as not being just
a crazed woman's rantings.

     He walked up the front steps of the building, then through
the door.  Kara hadn't packed any footwear other than
sneakers, so by the time he made it into the building, his feet
were soaked.  Finding apartment 1A was easy.  First on the
left.  He knocked, then stood nervously waiting for a response. 
What's there to be nervous about?  It's just Al.  A young
woman, about 28, opened the door.  Just Al's age group, he
thought.  "Excuse me.  I'm looking for someone who used to
live here.  His name is Al Calavicci."

     "I'm sorry, but there's no one here by that name."  Sam's
face dropped, hope draining away.

     "Katrina, who is at the door?", a older woman's voice with
a heavy European accent, came from behind the portal.

     "A young lady, grandma.  She's looking for someone
named," she turned back to Sam, "what was it again?"

     "Calavicci, Al Calavicci."

     She turned her head, looking back behind the door again,
"Al Calavicci."

      Small, withered fingers grasped the edge of the door,
opening it wider.  An small, older woman wearing an apron
appeared.  She was wringing her hands in its base.  "Calavicci? 
Oh, yes, I know the name."  Sam's face lit up with renewed
hope.  "He used to live here many years ago.  I moved in after
he left, but sometimes I still get mail for him."

     "You wouldn't happen to know where he is, would you?"

     "No, I'm sorry, I don't."  Sam felt his heart drop again. 
"But, there is a person, a young navy officer, who comes once
a month to see if there is anything for him.  In fact, he should
be here tonight."

     Like a yoyo, Sam's hopes lifted again.  "Do you think I
could leave a note.  I really need to get in contact with him."

     "Certainly.  Do you have it with you?"

     Sam hadn't expected to have to leave any type of message. 
"Uh, no, I'm sorry I don't."

     "Well then, why don't you come in.  You can write your
letter for him here."

     The younger woman spoke up.  "Grandma, it's two days to
Christmas.  We've still got loads of baking to do."  Christmas! 
I completely forgot it was nearly Christmas!

     "All the more reason to let this young lady inside.  Katrina,
where is your Christmas spirit," she gently chastised her
granddaughter, then turned back to Sam.  "Come in, ...
please," she said, making the entrance wider, allowing the
Leaper to enter.

     The apartment was small, but felt cozy and well lived in. 
A Christmas tree twinkled in the corner, presents were strewn
under it.  "Here, dear, you sit down.  Katrina, get ... I'm
sorry, what was your name?"

     Sam hesitated.  What was Kara's real name?  "Consuela

      "Get Miss Ramirez some notepaper and a pen."  She
looked back at Sam.  "Would you like something to drink,
dear?  You must be cold after being outside."  She glanced
down at the Leaper's snow soaked shoes, making him fidget in
an attempt to cover them up.

     "No, I'm fine, thank you."  The young woman named
Katrina handed Sam a pad of paper and a pen while he took a
seat on the sofa, then left the room, following her grandmother
through an old fashioned wooden double-hinged door into what
he could see was the kitchen.  He looked down at the blank
sheet, but couldn't think of what to write.  From the kitchen,
he could hear the two women whispering.

     "Grandma, how could you let a stranger in? You don't
know what you're doing anymore?"

     "Katrina, where's your heart?  I thought your mother raised
you better than that."

     "Grandma, it's just ..."

     "You don't know anything about that young girl in there. 
Perhaps this Al Calavicci is her father, and she's looking for
him.  Did you think of that?  I thought not.  This is the time of
year when you should open your heart and home to strangers,
not ignore them."

     Al, my father!  Sam couldn't help but grin, picturing Al
being anyone's father.  It would serve him right to be the father
of the type of woman he's always chasing after;  to see what
it's like on the other side of the coin.

     The kitchen door swung open, and the older woman stepped
back into the livingroom.  "Finished?"  He hadn't even begun.

     "I, uh, I can't think of what to write?"

     "Well, what do you want to say?"  Sam knew he couldn't
come right out and tell this woman his story, no matter how
much like his own grandma she reminded him.

     "I just want to get into contact with him."

     "Well then, why not just say that, and include the address
or telephone number of the place where you're staying."  She
made it sound so simple.  It was then that he realized that he 
didn't yet have a place to stay.

     "Would you happen to have a telephone book?  I don't have
a place to stay yet.  I got off the plane and came right here."

     "Certainly, dear.  It's under the table in front of you.  The
closest one to here is the Candlelight Motel, on Rankin Street. 
It's not high class, like you're probably used to, but it's clean. 
The couple that run it belong to my church.  The telephone's on
the table at the far end of the sofa."  She left him alone again,
returning to the kitchen.

     Sam retrieved the telephone book and, looking up the
number, called them.  After getting a room booked, he returned
the directory to its place under the coffee table.  Now, what do
I say.

     He sat, staring at the blank piece of paper.  Just tell him
you want to get in contact with him.  You know he'll come. 
Sam began to write:

Al:  I know this is hard to believe, but I'm still alive. 
Something happened at the end of my last leap and I switched
places with another leaper.  It's too complicated to explain
here.  I'm staying at the Candlelight Motel, in Georgetown,
near where your old apartment is.  The one you used to live in
before the Project.  I don't know the room number yet.  Ask
for Sam Beckett's room.  I need your help to get back into my
own leaps, so that I can come home.   Please come.  Sam

     Folding the page, he placed it inside the envelope and
licked it shut.  He turned it over and wrote simply, 'Al
Calavicci'.  As the older woman came back into the room, he
stood.  "I've finished," he said, the envelope hanging loosely
in his hands.

     "Well then, I'll just add it to the stack."  She held out her
hand, and Sam slowly reached up, handing it to her.  She
turned and placed it on top of a small mound of envelopes, all
addressed to Admiral A. Calavicci.  He was sure he felt his
heart lurch.

     "Thank you very much.  I'd better be going.  I've got to
check in, and, ..."

     "We were just about to sit down to an early dinner.  Would
you like to join us?"  His stomach grumbled at the mention of
food.  The meal the airline had served was little more than a
snack.  Had it been that long since he had eaten breakfast at the
diner in Albuquerque?

     "I wouldn't want to impose."

     "You are not imposing.  I am inviting.  Here, give me your
coat."  She started to remove the coat from around Sam's
shoulders before he could protest.  "Katrina, bring another plate
out.  Our guest is joining us."

     A few hours later, Sam left the warm and familial feeling
in the apartment.  It had been years since he'd last enjoyed a
Christmas with his family, and this was the first time he could
remember in any leap feeling like he belonged somewhere, even
for a short time.  He stepped up to the car and, after brushing
off the snow that had accumulated, drove away.  As he pulled
from the curb, he didn't see the military car pull up in front of
the building.  A young navy officer stepped out, ran up the
steps and into the building the Leaper had just left.