Hi Folks. First I'd like to thank you guys and you ladies too for all of the comments and letters on last week's story. Some of you seemed to get really upset about it. It left me wondering if your anger was really about the story, or simply your feelings about the theories on birth order. I got a lot of E-mails from people who explained how badly they were treated or how they were ignored whether they were a first child, a middle child or the baby. My favorite was of course the guy who described himself as a practice kid.
Anyway, it was only a story it was only entertainment and the cool thing about stories and fiction in general is that it's all made up. We can change anything we want just by turning the page. It's almost like the old joke about what happens when you play a country song backwards. You get your wife back, your dog back and your house back. My new series is called, "Turn the page," and like my "Cheaters in..." series it will pop up from time to time. In Turn the page stories, I'll explore what happened after the end of a certain story and how things changed or didn't after the story ended.
The first of these stories is a story I wrote a couple of years ago called, "In the Interest of National Security." A lot of readers were shocked by the ending of that story. I got so many letters from people who wanted to see the story end differently. Most of them wanted to see the beautiful Asian agent survive somehow. I think my view is a little bit more twisted, but she's in there, somewhere. Some of you have already re-read the original story. (I did suggest that on Twitter this week) If you haven't now might be a good time to do that to refresh your memory. If you do decide to read the original I have to apologize for its roughness. I didn't have the incredible Mikothebaby looking over my shoulder when I wrote it. I'm also not promising you that you'll all be happy with this ending. Maybe I'll do another alternate ending someday, who knows anything can happen when you "Turn the page."
In the interest of National Security: conclusion
The pre-dawn silence was shattered with the sound of the gigantic warehouse doors opening. Almost before the doors were fully open, the driver piloted his large truck through them.
The driver, Corporal Timothy Dennings was just about to shift into a higher gear and floor it, when suddenly a figure appeared before his truck.
Dennings rolled down his window as the figure stepped over to the driver's side.
"Get your ass out of that truck so I can talk to you boy!" shouted the figure, craning his head to see Dennings.
Dennings jumped down to the ground and still towered over the figure. His heartbeat was so loud that he was sure the man could hear it. His worst nightmare had just come true. The small man in front of him was the bane of all of the military truckers' lives. Master Sergeant Donald Dockerty was the man in charge of everything that came out of or went into the warehouse.
"What are you attempting to transport out of my base," asked Dockerty with a sneer.
Dockerty, at only 5'2", was an imposing figure despite his lack of height. He also had a funny voice that had earned him the nickname "Donald Duck," among the enlisted men. Dockerty wore mirrored sunglasses 24/7 that just seemed incongruous here in the dark. But the way they masked his eyes, effectively rendering his expression unreadable, was very potent. Sometimes you couldn't tell if Donald Duck was seriously out to get you, or if he was just yanking your chain.
"Let's see your load manifest," he spat.
"That's a hell of a lot of ordinance," he continued, "Where's it going?"
He cranked his sunglasses down onto the tip of his nose and just glared at Dennings.
"I think it's going to Iraq sir," croaked Dennings.
"The troops over there need all the firepower they can get," Dennings said in a small voice.
"But they won't get it if you don't get that God Damned truck off of this base," said a voice from behind them.
"Duckerty," said the voice, mispronouncing the name so it sounded almost like the Sergeant's hated nick name.
"Yes Sir, Lieutenant Sir," shouted Dockerty, snapping to attention.
"Did you notice who signed the shipping orders on the manifest you're holding in your shit stained hands?" asked the Lieutenant.
"Yes sir, I did Sir," shouted Dockerty "It was General Hammond, sir."
"Then why are you giving the corporal a hard time?"
"Just doing my job Sir," said the sergeant.
"Get that fucking truck out of my fucking sight before I have you scrubbing fucking latrines for the rest of your fucking life Sergeant," said the Lieutenant, turning to walk away.
"You heard the Lieutenant, Corporal, get the hell out of here," snapped Dockerty, turning and walking in the direction directly opposite of the one the Lieutenant had taken.
Dennings jumped into his truck and was soon off the base. It was a good thing the lieutenant had been there to intercede for him. They wouldn't have wanted that fucking Donald Duck to snoop too much into this shipment.
Dennings expertly piloted the big truck down the road. A few miles down the road, he was passed by a charcoal gray Mustang GT that went by him like he was standing still. The driver of the car gave him the thumbs up sign as he shot past the lumbering truck.
'After a few more of these extra-curricular loads, I'm going to get a car just like that one, ' thought Dennings.
20 minutes further down the road, Dennings pulled into a freeway rest stop. Before the truck had stopped moving, a big Hispanic man, whose name was Tito got into the cab next to Dennings.
He didn't say a word just tipped his baseball cap down further over his eyes and leaned his head back into the seat.
"Hey, I'm right on-time," said Dennings cheerfully.
"So fucking what," said the man in heavily accented English.
Dennings drove another 50 miles in absolute silence. He pulled into a parking lot on the outskirts of a National Forestry park just outside of West Virginia and waited.
Within 5 minutes, another truck approximately the same size as the one Dennings was driving pulled up next to him. Dennings left his truck's motor running and stayed in his seat. His passenger got out of the truck and went to the rear.
Another man and a woman got out of the second truck and joined Dennings' passenger.
Suddenly, a car came down the road and pulled up behind the truck. Dennings could see through the trucks rear view mirror that it was the same Mustang that had passed him on the road over an hour ago.
The driver of the Mustang got out. He was about 30 or 40 feet away from Dennings' passenger and he yelled over to him.
"Hey Dude, are you sure I can't use your phone?"
Recognition was instant as Tito's eyes lit up and he reached for his hidden gun. The Mustang's driver was quicker though and shot Tito before he could raise the gun.
Both the man and the woman watched Tito drop to his knees. The shot went completely through his shoulder and wasn't fatal but was obviously a serious wound. The man raised his hand and they noticed that they had those red lights from a laser targeting system all over their bodies. They raised their hands slowly and got down on their knees as well.
"You should have let me use that phone, Dude" said the man who drove the Mustang.
Black clothed figures surrounded both trucks. Dennings put his foot on the gas and considered making a run for it. At the sound of him giving his motor a little gas, a rocket launched from somewhere over the trees and lit up the sky as it exploded and tore up the ground only 20 feet in front of the truck. The debris from the explosion pelted the windshield of the truck, scaring the shit out of Dennings.
Game over, Dennings raised his hands and climbed down out of the truck.
He was escorted into a van, where he found himself handcuffed to Tito, the 2 people he'd met with, and his lieutenant.
Dan Almond sat on the hood of his Charcoal Gray Mustang GT. He took off his Kevlar vest as he was joined by Arnie Sizemore, his section chief and friend.
"Well, this one's wrapped up and we got all of them," said Arnie.
"Good job, all around," he said. "But you confronting them like that was still pretty fucking cowboy, Dan. I thought you had all of that drama out of your system."
"Take tomorrow off," he said. "But stop by my office to debrief when you get back in."
"Uhm Arnie..." said Dan. "It's an hour's drive back to DC even the way I drive."
"Yeah?" said Arnie.
"Well, the hospital's visiting hours are over in 2 hours," said Dan.
Arnie sighed and looked down.
"Dan," he said quietly "it's been over 6 months." He paused before continuing.
"The doctors did the best job they could," he continued. "They saved her life when no one thought it was possible." He paused again to let his words sink in. He knew he was on very shaky ground. And whether he was Dan's superior or not, it was only their friendship that had allowed him to say what he'd already said and live through it. Dan was one of the deadliest men alive.
"At first, we all thought that it might be one of those remarkable things we all read about in first year psychology," he said. "You know, those cases where an object goes completely through a person's brain and leaves them relatively unharmed." Dan's eyes narrowed slightly.
"But Meg isn't there anymore," said Arnie quietly. He chose his words very carefully because he really did not want Dan to go off.
"The doctors say that she could wake up at any time," snapped Dan.
"Okay," snapped Arnie back. "What if she does wake up and is a vegetable?"
"Or what if she can't remember you at all, or can't remember anything at all?" continued Arnie. "Is that really a life?"
"And let's say that this miracle you're hoping for does come through, what then?" he asked. "She'd still be a fucking murderer and a serial cheater," he snapped.
"You were divorcing her yourself," said Arnie. "In case you don't remember, that was the straw that broke the fucking camel's back and drove her completely bat-shit nuts."
"She couldn't handle life without you, so she shot a fellow asset and then shot herself," he said.
"So for all of our sakes, I think it would be better if she just never regained consciousness," he said.
"But you do what you want," he said, turning to leave.
"Dan," he said softy "I need you to take over the case that she was working on when it all went down, if it's not too painful for you."
"I'll have the files delivered to your office, before you get back to work day after tomorrow," he said.
Barely over an hour later, Dan strode purposefully into the nursing ward in a hospital back in DC. He smiled at the nurse behind the desk and pointed to a door. The nurse smiled back and nodded her head.
Dan entered the room and looked around, the flowers he'd had delivered only a couple of days ago were already fading. They would have to be replaced. He'd bring new ones when he came tomorrow.
Dan crossed the room and looked down on the figure lying on the bed. If he didn't know what they'd been through he would have thought that she was only sleeping.
He looked at the monitors and saw that she was fine. Over the past 8 weeks, he'd gotten to the point where he could interpret her readings nearly as well as the medical personnel could.
"Well, we closed down my arms dealer case today," he told her. "That's why I was late."
"Yes Meg, I wore my vest, just like you always tell me to," he said.
Dan always spoke to the sleeping woman as if she was awake and listening to him.
"Okay, where did we leave off in the book?" he asked, as he picked up the book from her bedside table.
Dan sometimes spoke to his wife for hours, and read to her too. He massaged her legs, arms and back and rolled her over at times to avoid bed sores. Sometimes he sat her up, other times he left her lying down. He moved her joints everyday to avoid muscle atrophy. He brushed her hair daily. He'd started just after the stitches in her head had been removed. He had insisted on plastic surgery to fix the scar on her forehead where the bullet had entered. He didn't want her to have an ugly scar when she woke up. Dan always said when because he was sure that she'd come out of this.
Sometimes it seemed as if he was pushing a boulder uphill alone. After a month, even her mom had started to only visit twice a month. She was sure that he or the hospital staff would let her know if there was any change in her condition.
Dan was extremely sure that Meg was going to pull out of this. He wasn't a religious man. He never had been. He'd seen too many things during his career to believe that anything or any God that was sane could allow people to treat each other so badly. So in his mind, there was only random chance. And Meg had a long history of beating the odds.
It had been a near miracle that she had survived the gunshot wound to her head that brought her here in the first place. She had died twice on her way to the hospital. Only the luck of the draw had put her in the hands of EMTs so talented and driven that they had refused to let her die before she reached the hospital.
Then it had been touch and go for several days after her surgery to remove the bullet fragments that remained in her skull. Even more frightening for Dan had been the first few moments when they had taken her off of the ventilator to see if she was capable of breathing on her own. At first nothing happened and Dan couldn't believe it himself when he started crying. The doctors had warned him that there was an above average chance, that Meg would never take another breath. Why should he care any way, he'd been on the verge of divorcing her for cheating on him for almost a year with several different men.
But as he looked at that beautiful face; a face that he had lived with and loved for more than 10 years, things changed. He realized that he might lose her, he had in fact lost her, but he didn't want to lose her to the serenity of death.
So it surprised even him when through tears he didn't even realize he had shed, he heard his own voice choke out the words "Damn it Meg, start breathing right now. I can't do this one for you."
And then her chest, to the amazement of everyone present, started to rise and fall. At first tentatively and irregular but over the next few minutes it became stronger and regular. Everyone had cheered and Dan's tears flowed freely. It was at that moment that he knew that he had to put thoughts of everything except getting her well again behind him. There'd be plenty of time for divorces and perhaps further revenge when Meg was on her feet or at least conscious. And Dan knew as well as he knew the sun would rise the next morning that Meg would survive this.
Meg had once told him that her heart beat in response to his. Well, his heart was still beating so hers had to keep on as well.
"Speaking of heart beats," he said aloud. "Yours is just a bit higher than it's been Meg. Calm down. This book is really good but it isn't so frigging good that you need to have a heart attack." He'd been reading a book called, "When we were married," to her. Somehow reading a story about a divorce to the woman he'd been about to divorce just seemed right.
"Meg, how would you feel about me finishing your last case?" he asked.
"Arnie wants to assign me to it, he says there's been movement on that front again," said Dan.
"I think I'd like to finish it for you. It would be almost like we'd worked this last case together," he said. "What do you think?" he asked, taking her hand. Dan squeezed Meg's hand because it felt different today. Her hand was warmer and her pulse was stronger.
"Meg, honey wake up," he said. Dan studied Meg's face looking for a reaction.
Did her right eyelid just flutter slightly?
Just then the nurse opened the door silently and tapped on the wall.
"Mr. Almond, visiting hours were over a while ago," she said. "I let you stay a bit longer because you got here late."
"Thanks," said Dan, then to Meg, he added. "And you, my girl, I'll be here all day tomorrow, we need to do your workout to get you back in shape."
The nurse laughed. Like many on this floor, she'd gathered bits and pieces of Meg and Dan's story from several sources until she thought she knew the entire story.
Supposedly, Meg had cheated on her husband and he'd decided to divorce her. Had even gotten a lawyer and had the papers drawn up. He was having lunch with a female co worker when Meg had gotten served and she just snapped. She shot the woman Dan was with and then herself before anyone could move.
She didn't believe any of it. In the first place, Meg would've had to have been stupid to cheat on a man as devoted to her as Dan was and she didn't look stupid. Secondly, if you loved a man so much that you'd literally kill anyone he was interested in and then yourself, why would you cheat on him?
There was also the fact that Dan clearly loved his wife beyond all reason, divorce or no divorce, those two could only be separated by death.
"Can you keep an eye on her tonight?" asked Dan. "She's a little warmer than she'd been and her heart rate is up just a bit."
"Mr. Almond, the doctor already explained to you that everyone's vitals vary from time to time. It's just her biorhythms." said the nurse.
During the drive home, Dan thought back on the events of the past few months. First, of course, there was his unanticipated experience of seeing his wife having oral sex with her partner. That was the big one, the one that started the snow ball rolling.
Then, of course, there was his revenge against Ray. That was another snowball. Dan had used a sniper rifle to literally castrate Ray. He felt bad about doing it now, because the doctors had not been able to restore function to Ray's penis. He used a catheter now for urination and without radical advances in medicine would have to for the rest of his life.
Ray's wife, Betty, had left him when she found out the circumstances behind his injury and what he'd been doing at the time. So Ray didn't really have to worry about a sex life, but if he did someday find some needy woman, who was willing to put up with his physical disfigurement, there was always the option of using a strap-on.
Dan felt bad about being the instrument of Ray's castration, but not about it happening. He stuck his dick somewhere that it didn't belong and it got taken away from him, Dan thought.
Perhaps the strangest thing that had occurred as a result of Meg's affairs was Dan having to arrest a mortician. Though Dan didn't feel responsible for Ray's situation, he did feel terrible about what happened to Kelly.
Kelly was smart, beautiful, and headed for a very bright future. But she'd made the mistake of stepping between two objects that were probably fated to be together. It was kind of like those idiots on TV who make a living sticking their arms in an alligator's mouth and everybody feels bad for them when they finally get bitten.
Kelly had made the mistake of trying to come between Dan and Meg, and she'd gotten bit by the bullet from a security team member's gun that Meg had snatched.
Dan blamed himself because he had underestimated his own wife. You often heard people say things like they couldn't live without their significant other, or I'll kill her if she comes near you, but Meg was serious. She had literally loved her husband so much that she didn't want to live without having him in her life. But she was also not going to let anyone else try to get him and live.
So she'd shot Kelly, right through her eye and then shot herself. It all happened so fast that no one near them could react or prevent it. Dan had been splashed with Kelly's blood. The thing that seemed to make no sense though, was that Dan ran, not to Kelly, but to Meg. While everyone else on the scene checked on the supposed victim, Dan's concern as always was with Meg.
The next day, while Meg was in surgery, Dan just had to get away from the hospital. He'd felt badly about his lack of concern for Kelly, but he knew she was dead from the time Meg had shot her. He wanted to pay his respects, but he didn't feel as though he should go to either her wake or the public viewing of the body. He felt responsible for her death. So he decided to go and see her at the funeral parlor. That way, he could say goodbye and apologize to her while she still looked like herself; before they pumped her full of preservatives to make her appear natural.
Dan opened the door to the large funeral home and looked around. There appeared to be no one there. He went from room to room before he understood what he was looking for. Then he noticed that there were names on each door. He looked for and found the door labeled "Tamashita, K." Then he quietly opened the door and went in.
Inside, Dan saw a small man with very thick glasses and Kelly's body on a lab table. The fact that she was naked wasn't alarming but the fact that the little man was fondling her right breast with one hand and had his other hand in his pocket was.
All kinds of alarm bells went off in Dan's head, and he loudly cleared his throat.
"Oh, uh, you shouldn't be here," snapped the little man.
"Yeah, I should," snapped Dan, looming over the man.
Dan flashed his badge and saw the little man immediately grow paler.
"I'm agent Dan Almond," Dan said.
"I was a colleague of Kelly's and I wanted to pay my respects," he said.
"Then you should come back tomorrow or the next day for the viewing," said the little man.
"Well, I needed some time with her before all of that," said Dan. "I'm pretty sure that her family won't welcome me."
"You see, my wife was the person who shot Kelly, when she saw us together," said Dan quietly.
"I'll give you a few minutes then," said the little man. "But you understand this is against the rules."
Dan just nodded his head and watched the little man disappear. Dan had a bad feeling about the guy.
"Kelly, I'm so sorry about this," Dan began.
"We had just really met, and you didn't deserve this" he continued.
"I know that this won't make any difference to you, but Meg probably won't make it either," he said, and again at the thought of Meg dying, Dan started crying.
To be a good field agent, you needed an analytical mind. Unlike in all of the "Double O" movies where the agent in the field is a good looking sexual athlete, with the attention span of a Gadfly, who relies on scientists, special gadgetry, and analysts back at HQ; a real field agent lived or died by his ability to constantly analyze and dissect his current situation.
Dan was used to analyzing everything that happened instantly and his analysis of his feelings alarmed him. He hadn't cried because of Kelly's tragically and unnecessarily shortened life, but because of the thought of Meg not making it.
Despite everything that happened, Dan realized that he still loved Meg and probably would no matter what. Perhaps that was the reason he'd told Meg that he'd forgiven her. He told her that he couldn't trust her anymore, so they couldn't stay married, but he had forgiven her. When he said it, he'd been lying, but he realized now that it was true. So what would happen if Meg did manage to miraculously pull out of this?
Dan still had the bad feeling about the little man he found waiting just outside the door. The little man was silent as he walked Dan to the door. Dan's bad feeling increased as he heard the sound of the little man locking the big door securely behind him. Dan watched through the window as the little man headed back for Kelly's room.
Dan estimated the layout of the building and ran around to the back, just in time to see the little man approaching Kelly's table. Dan reached inside his jacket pocket and got out his iPhone 5. The phone had a terrible problem with dropping calls but did everything else so well that Dan overlooked that minor flaw. One thing the phone did was to shoot high quality HD video. Dan pulled out a small piece of double sided tape and stuck the phone to the window and started recording. He looked and saw the little man fondling Kelly's massive breasts again. Dan moved back towards the front of the building. He had to move quickly. As Dan got out a lock pick set from his pocket, he wished that he had another phone to use to call the local police, but that would have to wait.
Inside the examination room, the little man was done fondling Kelly's breasts. 'This woman was amazing, ' he thought. 'I love my fucking job. Without it I'd never have a chance to even get close to someone like this. I need to be quick though, the body is already beginning to stiffen.' He poured some oil all over Kelly's pubic area and pulled down his pants and climbed onto the table. His large penis was as hard as a steel bar. He applied some of the oil to it and brought it to the opening of Kelly's vagina. He forced the head of his penis between her lips and just inside her vagina. It was soft and tight, if just a little cold. Then he couldn't go any further, he pulled back out and felt inside with one of his fingers. "Oh my fucking God," he thought. She was a God damned virgin.
The little man stuck his penis back into Kelly's vagina and this time he thrust firmly and broke through her hymen.
"You're finally a woman," he thought "Enjoy it baby."
That was his last thought though. He was so busy concentrating on screwing Kelly's corpse that he didn't hear Dan sneaking up behind him. Dan had knocked him out by smacking him in the back of the head with his sidearm.
Dan quickly ran back around behind the building and retrieved his phone.
He then used it to call the police and waited for them to arrive.
The agency had a pretty good relationship with the local PD, but even so Dan had to explain the situation to the responding unit.
"So you wanted to pay your last respects to a fellow agent, whom your wife shot?" asked the first cop
"Yep," said Dan. "That's how it started."
"And sleeping beauty here was sticking it to the stiff?" asked the second officer. "That is fucking sick."
"You know that when he wakes up, he's going to deny it," said the first cop.
"Look at the scene," said Dan
"Well, he does have his pants off and oil all over his dick," said the second cop.
"Damn that's a big one," he said. "Especially for such a little guy."
"There's also oil around the vaginal area of the corpse," said the first officer.
"And there's this," said Dan, showing them the video from his phone.
The video clearly showed the mortician mounting Kelly's nude body, prying her legs apart and him forcing himself into her and beginning to have sex with her. It also showed Dan sneaking up behind him and knocking him out.
"Damn it, they give you guys iPhones?" said the first cop.
That had been the strangest thing to happen as a result of the situation. Dan pulled into the driveway and looked at his home. Who was he kidding? This place hadn't been home since the day he found out about Meg's affair. It was just a place to keep his stuff and sleep. He rarely even ate here anymore.
Dan showered and got into bed so he could be up early and as he did with every day that he was off, spend it at the hospital with Meg.
Dan was quickly up and out of the house the next morning. He pulled his Mustang into a donut shop next to a familiar "Screaming Yellow," Mustang and went inside the shop.
"Pony still running?" Dan asked a familiar face.
"Every fucking day," snapped the man with a smile.
"You look like you're in a better mood," said Dan.
"You can't stay down forever," said the man, smiling as he went over to a table where a stunning young woman awaited him.
Dan got a box of donuts and coffee for the women at the nurse's station. He knew that the better he treated them, the better they'd take care of Meg. Maybe that wasn't exactly true. Most people in the medical profession really liked helping to make people feel better, but it couldn't hurt.
Dan couldn't get the image of the old man and that girl out of his head. There's a story to be told there he thought.
20 minutes later, Dan was at the hospital. He left the donuts with a pretty nurse behind the desk and went into Meg's room.
"Okay, Meg, it's exercise time." said Dan. He started out by raising one of her long legs up a few inches and bending her knee so it looked like he was making her kick. This was supposed to stimulate her quadriceps muscles and avoid having them atrophy. He did this and several other exercises for her legs. Then he literally made her do sit-ups to help her abdominal muscles. He always did the arms and shoulder last because he had to be really careful not to disturb any of the feeding tubes or the leads to the various monitors.
"We're all done Meg, good workout," he said.
He squeezed her hand in an affectionate gesture like he'd done so many times before she'd been shot and went into shock.
When he squeezed her hand, he felt Meg clamp onto his hand gently and she wouldn't let go. Her eyes were definitely fluttering, not one eye like last night but both.
And then, in a moment that Dan would never forget, she opened her eyes and looked at him.
Dan was torn, he didn't want to let go of her, but at the same time he needed to let someone know that she was awake.
"Dan," Meg croaked out.
"Help," Dan shouted "Help!"
Meg coughed and tried to sit up.
Dan was puzzled, he didn't know whether or not to give her anything to drink.
The nurse who came into the room was so surprised to see Meg's eyes open that she almost dropped the clipboard she was carrying. She pushed an alarm button that Dan hadn't noticed and soon had a flurry of doctors and other specialists in the room.
"Sir, you're going to have to wait outside for the time being," said a doctor. Dan turned to leave and found that Meg wouldn't let go of his hand.
"Meg, let go," said Dan.
"Are w..." she began, and then started coughing. The doctor closest to her gave her a sip of water. Meg sipped the water and then looked at Dan.
"Are we still married?" she asked. Dan nodded his head.
"Then no," she said.
"No what?" asked Dan
"No I'm not letting you go," she said firmly.
"Meg, we'll have plenty of time, later," said Dan
"I don't remember a lot," she said, yawning. "But I know I did something really bad to you," she said. "I kept seeing your face and you weren't smiling. So I knew you were angry at me," she continued. "What did I do?"
"Meg, I give you my word that I will be here, when they're done checking you out," said Dan.
Meg slowly let go of his fingers, Dan could tell she thought that if she let him go, he'd never come back.
Dan left the room so the doctors could check Meg's condition. He pulled out his iPhone and called Meg's mom. Meg's mother was a school teacher and didn't answer so he left her a message. "Meg's awake," he'd said. It was short, sweet and to the point.
Dan debated about the second call he needed to make, should he actually call Arnie, his section chief and tell him that Meg was awake or not.
In the end, Dan did both, he dialed Arnie's number and waited for him to answer.
"Arnie," said Dan.
"Yeah Dan," replied Arnie's voice, he sounded tired even though it was still early morning.
"I've got a problem," said Dan. "So I want to ask for some advice. Not as my boss, but as a friend."
"OK shoot, friend," said Arnie.
"Hypothetically what would happen if someone, let's call her Peg, was to wake up?" asked Dan.
"If she woke up and I told my boss, he'd have to have agents here around the clock and trying to talk to her or arrest her, before we even found out whether or not there's any brain damage," said Dan. "On the other hand, if I didn't tell him, then I'd be guilty of dereliction of duty or at least impeding an ongoing investigation."
"So what would you do?" asked Dan
"Well, if it was me, and I was your boss, hypothetically," said Arnie. "I'd only need to know when she reached the point of being strong enough to either be moved from the hospital or leave on her own." he said
"If she can't get out of bed, she's no threat to anyone and no flight risk," he continued. "Especially if a qualified agent, was there to monitor the situation."
"Thanks Arnie," said Dan.
"Dan," said Arnie "Is there something you want to tell me?"
"Nope," said Dan.
"How is she?" asked Arnie.
"Well, she doesn't remember much," said Dan."And she just woke up so I don't know whether it's temporary or permanent or whether or not there's brain damage, all I know is she's awake and she's smiling."
"Smiling like an idiot or smiling because she's happy?" asked Arnie.
"Arnie, remember in sensitivity training we learned that we don't use words like idiot," said Dan
"Well, why the hell is she smiling?" asked Arnie
"I don't know, but I'll keep you posted," said Dan.
An hour later, Dan was allowed back in Meg's room. She had been cleaned up and her long hair was tied back. Her face lit up as Dan came back into the room.
"Dan," she said, smiling again.
"You're back." she said.
Dan noticed that she kept her gaze on him wherever he went in the room as if she was afraid he'd just disappear on her.
Dan moved over and sat down in the chair beside her bed. She immediately grabbed his hands and kissed them.
"We're still married," she said.
"Meg, how much do you remember?" Dan asked her.
The first thing I remember was smoke or mist covering everything. I couldn't see anyone or anything so I didn't know where to go, or what to do.
I remember sitting down and trying to think, but I didn't know what I was supposed to be thinking about.
I couldn't feel what I was sitting on, or for that matter I couldn't feel anything.
No arms, no legs, nothing. It felt like I was just a floating brain in the mist.
Then a thought came to me. Dan. That was all, just Dan.
"Very good," said a voice inside my head.
"I brought you back for one reason," the voice said.
"And now you know what it is," said the voice.
I tried to remember all of the details of my life so far, and after a while I started to remember. I remembered the first time I saw Dan at the academy. He'd already graduated but came back there to practice on the gun range. He didn't want to shoot at the range at his new job until he was at least as competent as the rest of the group there.
I watched how hard he worked, shooting at targets from different positions again and again until he was flawless and then starting all over again with a different weapon.
He'd already been rated as a military sniper, but that was different from field shooting with a handgun.
Over the course of a few weeks we got to know each other and were soon dating. I didn't fall in love with Dan after a few months of dating. I'd already been his long before we ever went out. I later found out that the only reason he came back to our gun range after the first visit was so he could see me.
I remembered more. I remember how much he loved the service and protecting our country's laws and sovereignty. I remember when I had goofed up a couple of easy assignments during my probationary period as a field agent and Arnie had been about to fire me and my then partner.
But Dan had stepped in and told Arnie that we deserved a second chance. Arnie had grudgingly agreed and I'd been assigned another assignment as a probationary agent. Then I remembered all of the partners and it suddenly came clear to me, what I had done.
When I looked at Dan and me, I could see a light emanating from us when we were together. It was a pure and beautiful light, and my actions had turned my portion of the light into a dark and nasty thing.
We needed both of us to make the light and my part was gone. To make things worse, I had hurt the only person I had ever really loved. I mean, I loved my parents and I loved my pets growing up. But there was only one person that I felt adult true romantic love for and I had hurt him badly.
To make matters worse, I had flown into a rage because he had given me the impression that he might be going to do what he thought that I had already done.
And I had killed, to make sure no one else would have him.
"Very good," said the voice in my head.
I was pretty sure the voice was God or fate or whatever there is out there.
"Did you learn your lesson?" asked the voice.
Before I could answer the question, the voice spoke again. "Answer my question and your second chance is granted."
"OK, what's the question?" I asked. I wanted to see Dan again badly.
"What did you do wrong?" asked the voice.
"And what will you do to make it better?" it continued.
"The answer to the first question is I cheated on Dan," I said.
"What else did you do wrong?" asked the voice
"I tried to justify what I did by coming up with reasons and conditions that made no sense," I said.
"Like it wasn't cheating because I only did oral, or it wasn't cheating because I did it for my job," I said.
"What else did you do wrong?" asked the voice.
"I can't think of anything," I said.
"What about murdering another person?" asked the voice.
All of a sudden I got pissed.
"That skanky bitch was trying to get her claws into my Dan," I snapped angrily.
"Okay, let's move on," said the voice.
"If you are allowed to return, what, would you change?" it asked me
"I'd never ever cheat on Dan again," I said firmly. "I'd spend the rest of our lives together making him the happiest man on earth."
"And?" asked the voice.
"And that's it, what more could I do?" I said.
"What about the murder?" the voice asked.
"If that bitch came near Dan, I'd shoot her again," I snapped. "With a bigger gun."