Best Show You Don't Know About

Best Show You Don't Know About
Leverage

Monday, October 22, 2012

Quick Reviews

I finished a bunch of movies over the weekend- Here are the quick reviews- Triangle- this is the first time we had seen this one- Very cool sci-fi horror. A single mother of an autistic child goes on a weekend boat trip with a man she just met and 4 of his friends. They get stuck ina storm and their boat overturns. They are rescued by a large ship passing by, but, once onboard, they cannot find anyone else on board and they finally see a masked person (but not in a Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees way) trying to kill them. The single mother slowly figures out the mystery and has to figure out how to stop it. It just keeps building and building and building and gets much more twisty than originally suspected.While rated R, if you have cable, watch for it to come around on a commercial station- I doubt that it would be hard at all to do a TV edit. Film-7 Movie- 7 Marc Pease Experience- Although only 84 minutes long being written and directed by Todd Louiso (the one who is NOT Jack Black who works with Cuscak at the store in 'High Fidelity') and starring Jason Schwartzman, ben Stiller, and Anna Kendrick, this is one of the most botched films I have ever seen. It has plotlines that go nowhere, non- resolutions to the main conflicts in the story (even though the film seems to think it resolves everything and goes for a happy ending, a botched sense of comedic timing, an epilogue that, again, serves no place in the story- just really disappointing and sad, even though there were a few moments here and there (since it deals with the insanity of putting on a high school musical version of 'The Wiz' and many quirks from my drama days can be seen. Film-1 Movie- 1 Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist- This is trying to show a wild crazy night of unpredictability (a la Adventures in babysitting), love of music (High fidleity) and finding one's true love (Pretty in Pink, et al), again, it works on almost no level. Although Michael Cera and Kat Dennings try very hard, I just didn't like either of them enough to care if they got together or not, the love of music is discussed but doesnt really show in the characters and the way they talk and behave and obsess (which High Fidelity did so well), and the wacky hijinks in order to find a drunk friend who disappeared and trying to find a favorite band's secret show don't really work as being very wacky (except for the travel of one character's wad of chewing gum throughout the night). Cera and Dennings do all they can, but all told, not very good. Although it was a HUGE step up from Marc Pease. Film- 4 Movie- 5 Cincinnatti Kid- 1965 Steve Mcqueen film which also stars Karl Malden Edward G Robinson, cab Calloway, a very young and thin Rip Torn, Ann Margaret, Tuesday Weld, Jack Warden, Joan Blondell... McQueen is a young, hotshot stud poker player in 1930's New Orleans who is going to go up against living poker legend played by Robinson, in a several days long poker event. This is about Poker in the way that Charlie's Angels was about law enforcement. A great character study where there is no real good or bad guy (following the lead of 'The Hustler'). While you root for McQueen because he's McQueen, he's not really a good, or nice, guy. But he is always cool. I am very surprised that my dad never showed me this one the way he did Great Escape or Bullitt, as I would put it right up near the top of my list of McQueen movies, just under Escape, Bullitt, and Papillon. Film- 9 Movie- 8

Monday, October 1, 2012

Chapters 29-31- The end of TIMEOUT

It took a lot longer than I was expecting, but here it is, the end of Time Out! I hope you enjoy it and that it has been worth it. After a couple of days off, I will be starting on the sequel... CHAPTER 29 Jon picked up the paper from the floor. It was card stock, but slightly thinner than a concert ticket. The back of it had a lot of small writing which Jon couldn’t make out, due to his pounding head, but he flipped the ticket over. There was a tic-tac-toe board on the other side, which had many small scratches on it. “What the hell-?” Jon thought. He squeezed his eyes tightly together and looked at the explosions of color that shone before him as he brought the paper closer and re-opened his eyes. Looking at it this close, it was obvious that the 9 sections of the tic tac toe board had been scratched off with a coin. The middle vertical column showed a winning row of $1500. Above the board, it read “Massachussetts Lottery Commission”. Jon scanned the rest of the front of the ticket and in the lower left corner, he spotted it- Copyright by Dutton printing. “Oh, shit.” He stood up and made his way to the locker room door and the basketball court. Aleisha leaned in closer to Greg as he flipped through different files. “These files have all sorts of information in them, but the most basic information was passed over by everybody! You have Ford’s file, correct?” “Yes.” Aleisha searched and found it. “When was he born?” Aleisha scanned the file. “April 26th, 1072.” “And Dutton?” Aleisha found his file. “April 26th, 19… 72.” “And Adams?” “April twenty-six- how is that possible?” “It’s not. That is also, Hobb’s birthday, Bernard’s birthday, Clark’s, Dutton’s….” “What does it mean?” “In reading the police reports of everybody’s, I just started noticing that the ages mentioned in the police records didn’t match up to what their year of birth would have been, and, when comparing everyone’s birthdates…. I have a strong suspicion that Stan and Jon may be the only 17 year olds on the team.” They looked at each other. “Oh, shit.” Jon came out of the locker room and made a beeline for Greg and Aleisha. He was holding his side and shaking his head slightly while closing his eyes tightly every few steps. Jon noticed that Greg and Aleisha were frantically flipping through files and did not see him as he made his way up to them. “Hey! I got it!” His voice made Greg and Aleisha jump. “So do we!” Greg blurted. “Dutton’s family printing business printed a bunch of fraudulent lottery tickets in Massachusetts.” Aleisha stopped Jon. “Wait! What? Did you say lottery tickets?” “Yes!” Jon yelled, “Lottery tickets!” Aleisha flipped through Adams’ and Clark’s files. “Adams shoplifted lottery tickets and Clark worked at convenience stores which sold lottery tickets!” Jon’s mind was going a million miles an hour. “So, how does this work? It is illegal to bet on high school sports!” “We haven’t had time to do the math, but I think you and Stan are the only people on the team who are actual high school students! All of the other players’ files have been altered- unless we have the statistical anomaly of having all of the players on the team have their birthday on April 26th of 1972.” “23!” Jon shouted. “What’s 23?” Greg asked. “That was what Nick said to me as his dying words- he kept repeating 23. He was 23! That’s what he meant! Ages! The information was all in the files! We just didn’t put 2 and 2 together.” Jon noticed that Aleisha was looking at the gym door. He looked back and saw nothing. “What’s going on, Aleisha?” “And Mandy is a cheerleader and dating Clark. She’s handling the book for the school!” Aleisha deduced. Jon started piecing it all together. “If the Warriors win, they would be able to get a lot of money, but if they lose, could they make even more money? With a nationwide audience, I would bet there are a thousand and one bookies taking bets on this game with Grissom Junior- that is why this team has been so skewed. I’ll bet that Coach has a lot of money riding through an illegal bookie, maybe even Mandy, and it is all going to be based on some point spread.” He turned back to Greg and Aleisha. “Keep looking! Nail down the numbers! I’m going to put a stop to this!” “You got it!” Greg assured him. Jon made his way back to the court. He came up from behind Coach Malone, who was yelling to Hobbs on the court. “What’s the spread for the game?” Jon shouted in his ear. Coach stopped yelling and froze. “What’s the spread for the game?” Jon asked again. Coach turned to face him. “How did you-?” “It doesn’t matter. It’s over, Coach.” “But, we still have the game-!” Mackay put another 2 points on the board. “I will make sure that the game is stopped. It’s over, Coach.” Coach Malone looked at Jon and then into the stands and nodded. Pat Hreinson (Mustache) stood up and walked toward the far wall of the gym, unseen by Jon. “Coach, you have the right to remain silent…” Coach Malone wandered back to the water table and leaned onto the table, putting his weight on it, lowering his head. Jon looked around for Kate. Not finding her, he yelled to Greg. “Greg! Where is Kate?” Greg put his hand up to his ear. “Huh?” Stan got the ball and went to pass it in. Jon cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled even louder. “Where is Kate?” Greg shrugged his shoulders as the fire alarm started echoing through the gym. The gym erupted with motion. Immediately, the front rows of spectators headed for the doors Coach reached under the table and came out with a gun. He turned to his left. Jon saw the gun and rushed toward Coach to stop the shot, but was too late. Malone pulled the trigger and hit Natalie’s camera dead center, showering the news anchor with sparks. Jon ended up slamming into Malone’s side. The two of them pushed the water table several feet before it eventually toppled over, sending liquid all over the Warrior’s side of the gym. Escaping individuals slipped in the water and fell down, causing the people behind them to fall as well, creating a literal traffic jam of people. Jon’s hit sent Malone’s gun to the floor. Malone grabbed Jon by the shirt and walloped him in the chest, sending a new set of lightning shots of pain into Jon’s chest. Malone scrambled and found the gun on the floor. The table was creating a barricade around Jon and Malone, so there was an amazing amount of free space around them. Coach stood and found Junior Grissom on the court. He raised the gun. Stan had seen the tussle between Jon and Coach and was running to get closer to them, although he was running against the tide of people. Seeing Coach raise the gun toward the basketball court, Stan took the basketball and flung it as hard as he could- -hitting Coach Malone in the face, breaking his nose. Malone’s gun fired and the bullet went through Grissom’s leg. Grissom was running to get out of the gym, but the bullet took him down. Grissom Junior fell to the court and ended up in a sitting position. Jon struggled to stand up and made his way to his gym bag. He fumbled through the mass of supplies and ended up just starting to dump his bag onto the gym floor. Greg and Aleisha were piling the reports into bookbags to keep them all together. Jon found his pair of handcuffs and went to Coach Malone and handcuffed him to the table. “…anything you say, can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Kate found a door leading to the gym from the upper hallway. It led to one row of seats in a “balcony” type position. While wondering why they weren’t being used, Kate noticed that while the seat shells were there, with the backs and the arms, no actual seats were there. Her gun was drawn. As she looked down below, she saw that Coach Malone was handcuffed to the table and Stan was holding a gun on him, Grissom Junior was seated in the middle of the court holding his leg while bleeding, Jon was walking to a pile of supplies on the floor, several groups of people were extracting themselves from piles on the floor, Greg and Aleisha were headed to the opposite door from the one that would lead into the school each with a bookbag in hand and scouring the gym, looking for someone else to help, and several stray people were finding a door to go out of while holding their ears as the fire alarm rang out. Even with the fire alarm, kate could hear the fire engines already approaching. She smiled to herself. It may have been messy, but it looks like Jon had it handled. Then, she saw a man with a large mustache reach and grab Aleisha as she was only a few steps behind Greg who had already made it to the door and exited. Aleisha screamed and Jon, Stan, Junior Griisom, Coach, and all other people still in the gym turned automatically and watched as Pat Hreinson put a gun to Aleisha’s head. Jon grabbed his towel with his gun wrapped in it and whipped the free end of the towel. The gun came spinning out of the towel and Jon grabbed it as it did so, cocking the gun and drawing a bead on Pat. “Let her go!” Kate knelt from her spot high above, rested her arm on the railing of the balcony and also got Hreinson in her sights. “You son of a bitch!” Pat yelled. “All we wanted to do was finish the game! The Warriors were going to lose, no matter what! We just needed to beat the spread of 16 points, which we were, by the way! Even though you weren’t part of the plan, we were still going to give you $25,000 just so you would shut up about everything! But you just wouldn’t play ball!” “Don’t bullshit me!” Jon called. “You and Coach tried to find me and kill me yesterday, just after you killed Nicholas, but, since you weren’t sure who else might’ve been there, you decided to just get out of there! You never wanted to share the money! Hell, I’d be surprised if even half of the players got their supposed “share” before they turned up dead!” “Jon!” Aleisha cried. “I got him, honey, just be calm,” Jon’s voice had no emotion to it, as he talked to her. “No, Mr. Page, I have your girlfriend. You are going to let me walk out of here, unharmed, and let me disappear. I will take her with me and then I will call you in an hour and let you know where you can pick her up.” “I’m not going to do tha, sir, because you are not taking her out of this gymnasium.” Hreinson was slowly moving toward the exit. As he did so, he crouched a little further behind Aleisha. “I will take her and you will let me go, otherwise, she dies.” Aleisha’s breathing changed as she tried to control her emotion. “Aleisha,” Jon’s voice was mostly flat, but his voice cracked, betraying his emotion as he said her name. “I just need you to do me a favor and don’t let him take you. Don’t fight, but don’t let him take you out either. You hear me?” Jon was steadying his hand while he talked to her. Aleisha nodded. Jon smiled. “Good. We’re not going to let him take you, you know that, right?” She nodded again. “Good.” Jon could hear her feet start to drag as Pat tried to pull her closer to the doorway. Jon swallowed and steadied his breathing, ignoring the white hot pain in his chest. “Stan? How you doing back there?” “No one is going anywhere, Jon.” Stan replied. Kate estimated that Pat only had about 3 steps left before he would be in a position to make a break for it, which could include killing Aleisha. She took a long, slow, deep breath and got a lock on Hreinson. “Listen to me, Aleisha. I just need you to do me one more favor, okay? Remember the song that Kate & I played at the talent show finals?” “Mmm-hmm,” came Aleisha’s reply. “As soon as you have a chance, I need you to become one. Okay?” Jon asked. Pat looked at his escape route and knew he was just about able to take it. “Mr. Page?” Hreinson called. “I’m right here, asshole! What do you want?” “She won’t have the chance because she will-“ Greg opened the outside door directly behind Pat and Aleisha. “Aleisha!” he called. “You okay?” That moment was all that was needed. Aleisha ducked immediately to become a ‘small person’ and Hreinson made his break. Jon immediately fired as soon as Aleisha got out of the way. “Greg! Move!” Stan yelled. He saw Pat raising his gun. Stan & Kate fired simultaneously. Jon was still shooting. Greg slammed the door and put all of his weight against it as he slid down to the ground, giving Pat no place to go. Jon’s first shot caught Hreinson as he turned. It went straight through Hreinson’s temple, killing him instantly. Stan’s shot tore through Hreinson’s knee, which would have stopped him from running, and Kate’s shot went straight into Hreinson’s chest. Jon kept firing until he had no more bullets left. Only one of Jon’s bullets missed Pat and it went through the door. Hreinson’s body was left as a large dead weight against the door. The few civilians who were left in the gym were glued to their positions. No one dared move until the gun shots stopped reverberating through the gym. “Aleisha!” Jon called, “Are you hurt?” Aleisha had flattened herself against the wall and ducked down. She raised her head. “I’m not shot, if that’s what you mean!” Stan stood up and kicked Malone. “Son of a bitch!” “Grissom!” Jon yelled. “How are you?” “Better than the guy by the door!” Kate stood up. Jon turned at the movement and leveled his gun at her, but lowered it as soon as he saw who it was. “Nice shooting, Tex!” she called. “Good job!” Jon stood and dropped his gun on the court. He didn’t answer. He listened to the hollow echo it made. He walked over and helped Aleisha stand. Greg finally opened the door again. “Holy shit! What just happened?” “I’ll let you read the report,” Jon said as he walked Aleisha outside. Walter Bender and Chad Peterson entered the gym. Chad went straight for Coach Malone and uncuffed him from the table. Walter yelled up to Kate. “You okay, Thompson?” “Yea.” Kate spoke no more above a normal voice tone. The fire alarm continued sounding as the first emergency personnel entered the gym from the door Jon and Aleisha had just used to exit. Ninety minutes later, Aleisha was sitting in an ambulance, silent, staring at the floor. “I’ll be by the hospital and see you as soon as this mess is cleaned up.” She didn’t respond. Jon watched as the paramedic closed the doors and pounded on the back to let the driver know to take off. Jon walked over to Greg and Stan. Greg had been sitting on a stretcher, but the paramedics were just laying him down to get ready to transport him. “You sure that he’s going to be fine?” Jon asked. The paramedic nodded. “For the fourth time, yes. A bullet just grazed his shoulder. He’ll be fine. We’re taking him over to Cottonwood. You can visit him there.” “Hold on a second,” Jon told the paramedic. Jon knelt by the stretcher. He grabbed Greg’s left forearm. “Thank you.” Greg nodded. “You shot me, you know.” Jon laughed. “Grazed you. I do seem to have a bad habit of shooting the good guys.”’ Greg returned the laugh. “You’re welcome. Always.” They looked at each other. Jon then stood up and patted the stretcher the same way the paramedic did to the back of Aleisha’s ambulance. Jon then went to the curb where Stan was sitting and sat next to him. “Thank you,” he told his friend. “I have no idea what would’ve happened in there if you hadn’t stopped Malone.” “Don’t mention it.” “You okay?” “I was fine as soon as I kicked the dick. That’s all I needed.” “You ever need anything, I owe you big time!” “You can say that again!” They sat in silence and watched as Greg was put into the ambulance. “Aleisha going to be okay?” Stan asked. “Should be. I’m going to do whatever it is I need to do here and then I’ll head over to the hospital and get myself checked out and look in on Greg and Aleisha. You headed over?” “I’m going now, yup.” Stan stood up and offered his hand to Jon. “I’ll just hang out until everyone gets the all clear.” “Thanks again.” “Anytime.” They shook hands and Stan turned to get his car. Jon looked around at the mess of ambulances, fire engines, police cars, Earl Stanley and his crew, the TSC news van which had Natalie reporting live, just as she had been since she got out of the gym, the crowds of people… …and Kate. He watched her as she walked over to him. “Hey,” she said. “Hey back.” Jon replied. They stood in silence looking over everything. “My car is still at the church from the funeral yesterday. Come with me in the Agency car to pick it up?” Jon watched as Natalie broke for a commercial. “Sure,” he answered. Walter Bender watched as they climbed into Kate’s Agency car. Chad Peterson walked over to Bender as Jon & Kate drove away. “Do we know who was up on the balcony when I was talking to Kate?” “No clue. I think we got all the bad guys we know about, but your covers are blown. You’ll both have to be transferred out of the area almost immediately.” “Does she know that?” “Know? I don’t think so, but I’m sure she has a strong hunch.” They were about halfway to the church before Jon said anything. “Thank you for having my back.” “You knew I would.” “I did, but it was crazy there at the end. Thank you.” Kate turned a corner. “You’re very welcome.” She drove down the street and turned right, into the neighborhood where the church was located. “You did a good job, you know that?” “It doesn’t feel anything like I thought it would. It feels good, but, at the same time, I feel empty and confused, and lost..” he trailed off. “You’ve had a hell of a week, Mills. No doubt about it. What you are feeling is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. After I get my car, we’ll head over to the hospital, get you looked over and we will also have a therapist come in and talk to you about the hell you have just been through.” “I don’t need a therapist!” Jon protested. “Yes, you do! No ifs ands or buts, you definitely do!” She waited for any other protestations. “You never answered my question, you know.” “Which one?” “Do you know that you did a good job?” Again, Jon didn’t respond. “You are just proving my point about needing the therapist. You can’t even acknowledge that you did a good job.” “What did I do, huh?” Jon asked. “I got an innocent player hurt. Grissom didn’t do anything!” “We don’t know that yet, Jon. We still have a lot of people to interview and information to uncover…” “I am putting a teacher from my school behind bars and I killed another person today!” “I know, Jon! You did what you were supposed to do and you helped your friend, you helped Grissom, you found the murderer of Nicholas and, probably Spencer! What did you think this was going to be? A cakewalk? Why did you even agree to do this in the first place, huh? It has been a week of up and down emotions for you! You have either been happy and overjoyed at doing this, or you have been sullen and angsty all week! I am tired of either training you or yelling at you! What did you think this job was? Why did you take it-“ “You, okay!? I took it for you!” Now it was Kate’s turn to be speechless as she turned into the church parking lot. “Me?” she pulled into a parking space about 10 feet away from her car. “Yes, you! Are you blind? Until this week, I was too scared to speak to Aleisha Madsen! Then, you waltz into my life and you are interested in me and you like me for who I am! You know who I am more than I do because you have been watching me for a while! You picked me for this job! And, by the way, have you looked at yourself recently? You are amazingly hot and sexy and what 17 year old boy would not do whatever you asked him to? It’s a good thing that you don’t use your feminine wiles for evil, I can assure you!” He paused. “I took it for you.” Kate felt ashamed. “I’ll be honest- the thought never crossed my mind.” A tear dripped from her eye. She dropped her gaze and did not look at Jon as she got out of the car. “Switch!” Jon got out and went around the front of the car, as did Kate on her way to her car. She stopped him. “You are an amazing person, Jonathan Mills. But, I am just your trainer.” Jon couldn’t believe his ears. “What about the other night? When you told me about your past?” She smiled. “I’m seeing a therapist for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well, Jon. I’m way more screwed up than you are at the moment. I screwed up. I let my emotions go this week and I led you on and I apologize.” “You apologize?” “I apologize for leading you on. I didn’t mean to. This has been a crazy week and we all let it get away from us. You are fantastic! You are an absolutely amazing person, Jon! Aleisha is lucky to have you!” “She hasn’t said a word to me since I killed that guy. Not a word. I don’t “have her” anymore.” Kate touched Jon’s shoulder. “You still have a chance. And, if she won’t ever talk to you again, then there are many others out there, I am sure. You will find somebody, Jon. I guess, if nothing else, I have broken your heart a little bit and made it ready for the next girl to come along, huh?” She took her right index finger and lifted his head up so that he looked at her. “I’m sorry for even giving you that impression. And I do love you, but not like that. You are the best Agent I have ever trained, and you will grow exponentially. I’ll bet you will become one of the Agency’s best men. There will be no stopping you.” Kate leaned in and kissed Jon on the cheek. “You’re a good man, Jonathan Mills,” she said in his ear. Jon impulsively reached and gave her a hug. “Thank you, Miss Thompson.” He said in her ear as they hugged. Kate was surprised by the amount of force Jon was putting into his hug, until she heard him start sobbing. Twenty minutes later, not another word had been spoken between the two of them. Kate had led Jon to the driver’s side of the Agency car, sat him down, and knelt by him as he let it out. All of it. All of the emotion- the happiness, the sadness, the terror, the guilt, the stress, the exhaustion, Jon let it all go. Kate had handed him a tissue from the car’s console. Jon’s eyes were red, hot, and burning from the crying and he was spent. His deep, gasping breaths were much calmer now, and she could hear his raspy breathing as his torn apart throat calmed down again. Jon could feel his lungs and chest again, they had almost been numb after the shooting, but now they had fired up the pain again. He looked at Kate with his red eyes. “I’m sorry.” He smiled at her. She smiled back. “Maybe you are more screwed up than me.” She patted his knee. “It’s okay. It actually makes you more human.” She stood up. “Wanna follow me to the hospital?” “Sure thing, just give me a second? I need to stretch. My muscles are revolting on me.” “Not a problem.” She walked to her car. Kate unlocked the door, got in, and shut the door behind her. Jon slowly lifted his hands above his head and stretched his legs starting from his toes upward through his legs. Kate tried a couple of keys in the ignition before finding the right one. Jon saw the fireball start in the front of the engine and quickly overtake the car. The explosion shot the car into the air. The shock wave blew Jon off of his toes and onto the ground. Flames licked at the car from both the interior and the exterior. Jon saw Kate’s body engulfed in flame at the wheel as he sat up. Now, it actually did feel as if his lungs were on fire. The heat of the explosion was all Jon could feel and taste and smell, but it only lasted a moment as he passed out. Earl Stanley was the first to get the call. He had just left the school parking lot. He flipped a Uturn and rushed over to the church parking lot and was there before even the fire trucks. Seeing Jon on the ground, he pulled up next to him, unlocked his back door, got out, tossed Jon’s lifeless body in his backseat and headed toward Cottonwood Hospital. As Sergeant Stanley left the neighborhood, the fire trucks were just pulling in. CHAPTER 30 It was late Sunday afternoon when Jon opened his eyes again. He was in a hospital bed. Dr. Bell was talking to Stan near the door across the room. Greg was seated next to Jon’s bed on the right and Aleisha was next to his bed on the left. “Greg!” Aleisha whispered. Greg saw Jon moving and his eyes fluttering. “Doctor!” he called. “Our patient is moving!” Dr. Bell came over to Jon’s bedside and looked into Jon’s eyes with the bright penlight. “Ow!” Jon protested as he brought his arm up and poked himself in the head with the IV tubes. “Ow, again!” Greg and Stan smiled. Dr. Bell turned off the light and Jon closed his eyes tightly and then opened and shut them several times in a row to get his vision back. “Mr. Page, you have a slight concussion and you fractured your elbow. Your ribs are all bruised, but not broken. You got beaten up pretty nicely, but you’ll be okay. We are going to keep you in the hospital until Tuesday for observation and, as long as there are no warning signs, we’ll let you go that afternoon.” Without another word, Dr. Bell left the room. Aleisha stood up and kissed him on the forehead. “Thanks for saving me. I’m glad you’re alright.” She then turned and picked up her purse. “Stan, Greg,” she acknowledged them as she walked out the door. “Aleisha!” Jon called out after her. “Let her go!” Greg said. “Lay back down.” Stan pushed his friend back into a horizontal position. Jon closed his eyes and squeezed them tightly. Opening them, he asked, “What happened?” Stan and Greg looked at each other. “Kate?” Jon asked, searching their faces. They shook their heads. “Goddammit!” Jon yelled. “Bender said that he would debrief you later, but he wanted us to keep an eye on you while you were here and he finished up the investigation, just in case,” Stan explained. Jon was lying down and had his eyes closed again. “Can you both please leave?” Jon asked, very quietly. Greg and Stan looked at each other. “Now, please!” While still very quiet, Jon’s voice was forceful. Stan & Greg rose without saying a word and left the room, going to the waiting room down the hall. Jon did not open his eyes, but he cried silently, alone in the room. When Stan & Greg knocked on the door two hours later, they found Jon asleep, snoring, and curled into a tight ball. Tuesday afternoon was Halloween. The fall air was cold and crisp as Stan pulled Jon out of the car. The first trick or treaters were starting their yearly parade. Greg handed Jon the wooden cane they had purchased at the hospital gift shop. Jon took a tender step forward and winced in pain. “You going to be okay?” Greg asked. “I will be fine,” Jon reassured his friends. “Thanks again. Sorry I was an ass the other day.” Stan smiled. “That’s okay. If anyone deserves a dick day, it’s you. You kicked ass, my friend.” “Thank you.” Jon smiled. “I’m going to have to do this myself, so stay here while I walk to the door, but once I’m in side, I can easily make it.” Greg nodded. “You got it.” They watched as Jon slowly used the cane to get to his door. Fumbling for his keys, he eventually pulled them out and maneuvered them into the lock. He turned it (and watched as the fireball overook the car) And let himself in. he waved at his friends and turned around and shut the door. Greg and Stan pulled away and turned left, to leave the neighborhood. The house had a freshly scrubbed clean smell. There was a card on the steps leading up to the kitchen. Jon positioned himself and sat on the stairs next to the card. He picked it up and read it. “Jon,” it read, “welcome home. The Agency, as well as Sergeant Stanley (he may be an ass many times, but he does have a heart somewhere) have cleaned the house and brought it back to the cleanliness it should be at this time. We did have to get new plants, though. I know your parents are supposed to be back already, but you wouldn’t say no to winning a free 10 day all expenses paid trip to Hawaii, would you? Neither could they. This will give you the time necessary to rest and heal. Your teachers have been alerted that you will not return until next Monday. Please use that time to get caught up and feeling better. I will contact you next Tuesday and we can do our debriefing then. I have a lot to tell you. Agents will come in daily, bring you food, make sure the house stays in tact, and they will make sure that you are okay. It’s the least we can do. Take care.” Walter had signed it. As Jon went to put it down he saw two PS’s on the back. “PS. Stan & Greg will keep watch over you the next week. PPS- There was nothing you could have done. None of us saw that coming.” Jon kept the card in his hand and stood up, with some difficulty, using the cane. He balanced himself and slipped the card in his pocket. Jon then started the long process of going up the stairs. Stan’s car pulled up across the street from Jon’s house and he turned off the engine. Greg got out and ran to the front door, holding a handmade sign and a piece of tape. He taped the sign to the door and ran back to the car, where he settled in for an all night stakeout session. The sign on the door read- “No candy at this house due to the plague.” Although in a drug induced stupor, Jon slept soundly throughout the night. Not one child dared to ring the doorbell. It was Thursday morning, November 2nd, when Ms. Katsilias saw Jon enter her room. He was walking tenderly and slowly, his eyes were red, and he still looked tired, but she was glad to see him. “Mr. Mills! It is a pleasure! How are you?” “I’m okay. Sorry to miss so much class. What homework do I have?” As he left the classroom with a backpack full of books, Jon saw Aleisha walk by. “Aleisha!” He called out to her. She kept walking. Friday, November 3rd, Chad Peterson was just finishing packing up his desk when Walter came and sat down at Chad’s desk, blocking his way. “What’s up, Bender?” Without saying a word, Walter tossed a letter onto Chad’s desk. “This was in my pocket when we got back from Kate’s funeral. I didn’t see him there, but I didn’t see Stan or Greg, either, so I’ll bet it was him.” “And?” Chad asked. “I’m assuming that you have already read it?” “I have and that is your copy of it. I thought you might be interested.” “In a nutshell?” “He’s quitting.” “I’m sorry.” “Not like I didn’t see it coming. He was good-“ “Other than shooting me, though” “Other than shooting you,” Walter agreed. “He was one of the best. I’ll bet we could’ve kept him if it hadn’t been for the nasty surprise in Kate’s car…” his voice trailed off. “None of us saw that one coming, boss. It wasn’t your fault, either.” “I know.” Chad pushed Bender’s knee out of the way and filled up the final box with his personal items. He placed his copy of Jon’s letter on top. “She’s in a better place, you know?” “That’s what I hear.” Walter stood up. “Good luck.” Chad read Jon’s note after he brought his first load of belongings into his new apartment in Albuquerque. The load was in a metal wastebasket. Chad dumped the load on to floor and put the wastebasket down. He pulled a lighter from his pocket and lit Jon’s note on fire and dropped it into the metal receptacle. “Good luck, Jon.” Jon was already caught up on his schoolwork when his parents came home. The house looked better than they imagined it would look. Jon winced ever so slightly when his parents walked in the door and hugged him tightly. Neither of them noticed. CHAPTER 31 MONDAY, DECEMBER 25, 1989 “Walter,” Jon acknowledged his former boss. “Good to see you, Mills.” “You too,” was Jon’s reply, even though he had not yet looked around or even taken his eyes off of Kate’s tombstone. The graveyard was covered in freshly fallen snow. Jon had been standing in front of Kate’s grave for ten minutes before Bender approached. “I knew you would stop by at some time today, it was just a matter of when.” “My dad sent me to pick up my grandma for Christmas dinner while they finished up the turkey.” “How you been?” Jon scoffed. “I’m fine. I’m fine. I know it’s hard to think of anything to say to me, but I’m fine. I really am fine.” “You haven’t called the therapist yet.” “I’ll get to it.” Jon still hadn’t looked at Walter. “Greg & Stan?” “Doing well. Stan is getting next year’s team together. We had to forfeit all of our games this year since we didn’t have a basketball coach or any players other than Stan. He is doing all of the recruiting and training, but he will be at the University of Utah next year at this time, so he won’t even be able to play with them. Greg has been doing well in the drama competitions and has a scholarship to SUU in drama.” “Congrats on your scholarship to Utah State.” “Thanks, but I haven’t decided if I’m going yet.” “Why wouldn’t you go, Jon?” “What’s the point? I may not even live through today.” Walter put his hand on Jon’s shoulder. “We have kept an eye on your high school and there is nothing to indicate that there are any other problems at Taylorsville High.” “There was nothing to indicate a bomb in Kate’s car, though, was there?” Walter didn’t respond. “Was there?” Jon asked again. “No one will come after you.” “Is that a guarantee?” “Jon, you know I can’t guarantee-“ “Then what good are you? Why are you even here?” “To check up on you.” “Then tell your conscience that I am okay and I will be fine.” Walter didn’t acknowledge Jon’s snarkiness. “She was proud of you.” He waited for any comeback from Jon. He continued when there was none. “She was so proud of you for the way you handled yourself that night. Your bullet hit Hreinson first. Even if she hadn’t have been there, you would’ve taken him down.” “But Stan and Greg and Aleisha all helped.” “Yes, they did, but you were the one who had the decision to make to pull the trigger first, and you did. And you kept pulling. You saved a lot of lives and she was very proud of you.” “Thank you.” Snow started falling again. Jon rubbed his hands together to warm them up. “I had probably better get going. My grandma will be wondering where I am.” “Have a Merry Christmas, Jon.” “You, too, Walter. You too.” They hugged. “Have a good life, Walter.” “That seems so final.” Jon nodded. “It is. I don’t want to see you again. Ever. Do I make myself clear?” Now it was Walter’s turn to nod. “Yes, you do.” “Have a good life, Walter.” Jon turned and walked to his car. Walter watched as Jon walked away, becoming more and more obscured by the falling precipitation. “See you later, Jon.” Walter said as Jon disappeared into the worsening Christmas snowfall.

Pitch Perfect

I just wrote an emotionally draining post and I am within a day or two of finishing my book, so it is time for just a fun movie review. I will admit that I originally saw the poster for this film and just thought- "There is no way that I will see that." I have now seen it twice, and hope to catch it once more in the theaters. What changed my mind between not wanting to see it and being extremely excited for it? I will admit- it was Anna Kendrick. The first time I noticed Anna Kendrick is when she more than held her own against George Clooney and Vera Farmiga and Jason bateman in 'Up in the Air'. She was nominated for an Oscar and I felt she should've won. She took a very boring type of role and infused it with energy, much in the same way that Michael J Fox turned Alex P Keaton into a loveable, obnoxious jerk (and that is meant as a compliment on both of their parts). Then, I noticed that Anna Kendrick played Bella Swann's best friend Jessica in the Twilight films. To this day, I feel that Anna and Billy Burke have been the 2 best things in those films. She has also had roles in Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World (I was sad that she wasn't in it more), the main reason that I saw 'What to Expect When You're Expecting' was for her, and she was the voice or Norman's sister in 'Paranorman'. Anna was also a large and important role in '50/50', a film which was my favorite film of 2011. Even though the subject matter hit very close to home and I was a sobbing fool in the theater for the last 15 minutes or so, her role as a therapist is one that I was able to watch from a different perspective (I am still seeing the therapist that I found when my dad died), and the entire film just really hit home for me. After watching 50/50, I wanted to know where she had come from and discovered that she actually was nominated for a Tony Award on Brooadway when she was 13. So, Anna sings as well (there is a certain level of amazement that goes into how talented some people are- Anna, Jack Black, Christopher Guest, harry Shaerrer- who are great actors on one hand and are amazingly musically talented as well). So, knowing that she had a singing background, now made me really want to see 'Pitch Perfect' to see that part of her talent. I also found out that the rest of the cast is just as incredible- Rebel Wilson who was also in Bridesmaids and What to Expect, Elizabeth banks, another great actress with a wide and varied resume from Seabiscuit to Zack & Miri to man on a Ledge and many more, along with several others really intrigued me. While I cannot say that 'Pitch Perfect is a totally original film or even, really a 'good' film (I doubt it will have any award nominations in a few months), I do think that it will be an audience favorite and will be remembered for a very long time. The basic storyline is like something out of 'Bring It On', only in the world of collegiate a ca pella groups- a female group has to recruit a motley assortment of members after an issue at the championships the previous year have made them the laughingstock of the groups. So, they recruit Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson, who has the most crack comic timing of the year) Stacie (the sexpot), Cynthia Rose (the tough black girl witha soulful voice), Lily(the girl with a soft voice who has many dark, hysterical secrets that she reveals throughout the film), and Beca (Anna Kendrick) the rebellious girl who is only joining so that her dad will help her move to LA for her DJing at the end of the year. The leaders of the group, Aubrey, a control freak, and Chloe (Brittany Snow)a co-leader who gets no say, try to get the group into performance ready shape. Personalities clash, and nothing new or surprising really happens with the group. However, the film plays things quite differently in several aspects. Beca's character has a reason for being so stand-off-ish, certain characters have little edges that are not quite the norm, and the boy from one of the other a ca pella groups on campus has an interesting effect on Beca. The plot, though, is not the reason to see this film. It comes down to the music, pure and simple. It starts with an a ca pella version of the Universal Pictures theme and continues through the finals with 2 fabulous mash-ups that I have not stopped singing since I left the theater. Anna Kendrick does have a strong voice and, in a very impressive display of coordination, even has a fabulous little song for her audition piece for the group. The Riff-Off scene is fabulous, the scene in the empty pool where the girls learn to be a team is great and toe-tapping. For all of the cliches this film has, it subverts them just enough (the old 'audition montage' which has almost been done to death is a show stopper for moments of both hilarity and singing talent, all done to Kelly Clarkson's 'Since U Been Gone) and has great singing and laughs that hit the wide range of humor along with just enough character development, that it surprised me. One caveat for those who can be sensitive to the MPAA ratings, while this does not cross any of the boundaries of PG-13, there are a few sexual jokes and innuendoes that do put it at a PG-13 level. One of my times seeing this was at a sneak preview and there was a family with 4 kids, all under 10 or 11, and the mom kept huffing and puffing wondering why a studio would release such a dirty film as a family movie. They didn't. It is PG-13 for a reason, but again, does not push any of those boundaries. While this is not necessarily at the top of Anna Kendrick's impressive resume, you can't fault her at all for going back to her singing roots and being at the center of such an entertaining ensemble piece. Film score- 5 Movie score- 8

My Last Promise to my dad and Uncle Gary

So, it has been almost 28 months since my dad died. His brother, Gary, died about 4 years before him. Gary was not a member of the LDS Church and so, only about 5 hours before my dad died, he asked me a question. He asked me the question and then he went to sleep for about half an hour. I had a feeling that my dad was fighting to stay alive a bit longer and I had an inkling that if I answered the question, then he would probably die. The question? When I die, will Gary be able to meet me since he is not a member? My dad was not so concerned about his actual death, it didn't seem like, he was more concerned about seeing his brother who had died a few years previous. When my dad woke up, I talked to him about it. By this time, he didn't really have the strength to hold his head upright a lot, and so he mostly looked down and would either nod or shake his head. I told him that when he died, Gary would be able to be there to meet him and that he would have the opportunity to teach gary The Gospel. I explained that he would be able to be by Gary and be a family again with his mom and dad and Georgie, a brother who had died at a very young age. My dad nodded the entire time, so I knew he understood me. After I got done explaining it, he looked at me, thanked me, told me he loved me and squeezed my hand very softly. He then asked me if I could make sure that Gary got his temple work done. I gave him my word that I would. That was the last actual conversation I had with him. I kissed him goodnight and got him more ice, but that was the last meaningful conversation we had. My father-in-law is a geneologist and I told this to him, and, at my dad's funeral, he gave me my Uncle Gary's "temple card" so that I could go and get the ordinances done for him. A lot happened in the next month and somewhere along the way, I lost the card. In July of 2011, I asked him to reprint the card, and he did. In May of 2012, Aleisha went and watched as I got baptized for my Uncle Gary. I felt an amazing peace as I did so. After, while I was getting dressed, I couldn't help but cry at the amazing feeling I had. In August of 2012, I had a goal to finish my book and get gary's ordinances done by my 40th birthday on September 6th. An illness, a pre-planned trip and a very major work project kept me from doing it, so I pushed those 2 major goals off to September 30th. On September 22nd, I had a lot of things on my list of stuff to do for the day (shopping, writing, housework)- none of it was a "bad" choice, but I couldn't decide what I wanted to do. I then had a distinct impression to "go to the Oquirrh Hills temple and do the initiatory and endowment for Gary. So, I got dressed and went. The timing was perfect. I was rushed a bit once I got there to make it in time for the sessions, but I made it with no extra time and I got home almost exactly 3 hours after I had left and I didn't have one moment of downtime in that 3 hours. I was kept moving, but I was able to do it. During the initiatory, I started crying the second that I was ordained a member of the Priesthood for my uncle and said his name during the blessing. I didnt hear one other word during the initiatory, to be honest. I felt that he was there with me and knew that he knew what I was doing. Friday, September 28th, I got home from work and was writing while Aleisha slept. When she woke up, I knew that we had a chance to do the sealing of Gary to his parents and complete Gary's ordinances. Even though I wanted to keep writing, I knew that this was more impportant, so I asked Aleisha to go with me and she said yes. We got there and took a bunch of other names for sealing. Again, we got right in and, as it came time to do Gary, I wanted to stand in for him. Aleisha was asked if she wanted to be proxy for my Grandmother. Aleisha asked me if she wanted to, and I said, "Sure, why not?" Another girl in the session stated that she would want to and Aleisha turned and said, "Well, she was a little crazy so we are hoping this helps." Aleisha ended up being proxy for my Grandma and I was proxy for Gary. Again, I could feel many others in the room with us, specifically gary and my dad. Now, the parents are sealed to 3 of their children. The other 2 are still alive and not members, either at this time. It took a while, but my last promise to my dad has been completed and now, there is nothing stopping the 2 brothers from being together again. Now, it is up to Uncle Gary. I love you, Daddy and Uncle Gary.