Summary: Filler scenes for "Remembrance of Things Past." What happened during those three days between the attempt on Lee's life, and his "funeral"?
. . . As the attacker ran away, Lee tried to remain perfectly still. He didn't want to move too much until he was sure how badly he was hurt. He hoped it wasn't too bad, and he thought it probably wasn’t, simply because he was able to think clearly. His jaw was hurting where the man had punched him, though, and he knew he was bleeding pretty badly where he had been stabbed. He shifted his body just enough to grab his handkerchief and stuff it against his wounded shoulder.
A blond woman had crept up cautiously and was standing over him. He didn't recognize her, but he thought she must have been the source of the scream that had chased the man away. "Are you all right?" she asked.
"I'm not sure how bad it is," Lee admitted. "I'm going to need some help." He didn't want to go the hospital, but he knew he would probably have to. "I guess you'd better call an ambulance," he said, clenching his teeth against the pain. He was trying to decide whether or not to give the woman the number to Billy Melrose's direct line, when he heard tires squealing up to the curb. Billy jumped out of his government issue Dodge and rushed up to the wounded agent.
"Lee! Are you all right? What happened?"
"It was the guy, Billy. He was waiting in the car. He had a knife. I couldn't get away."
"OK, OK, let me take a look." He opened Lee's coat, pulled away the blood-soaked handkerchief, and tore open his shirt, popping off several buttons in the process. Lee was going to need some stitches, but it didn't look like there was any major damage. The bleeding was already beginning to slow down.
"Billy, I thought you left."
"I stopped at the newsstand. I was just getting in the car when I heard somebody scream, and I figured you'd gotten yourself into trouble." Billy looked at the woman. "Ma'am, he's going to be fine. I think we can handle it from here."
"Yes, of course," she mumbled and quickly walked away, glad to be free of the situation.
"Can you get up?" Billy wanted to know.
"I think so," Lee replied. He started to sit up, but suddenly thought better of it. He lowered his voice. "Billy, what if the guy's still watching?"
"What do you mean?"
"If he sees me leave with you, he'll know he missed. He might try again."
"Hmmm. You're right about that. Let me call an ambulance, and if he's watching, he can watch you get hauled off. I think you're just going to need some stitches. We can get you taken care of at the Agency."
"No, we can't, Billy. Whoever this guy is, he's probably on the inside. Remember the camera? That didn't get into my desk by itself."
"No, it didn't," Billy admitted. He gave it some thought. "OK, Lee, just hold still. I've got an idea."
From his car phone, Billy dialed the DC Metropolitan Police Department and asked to speak with Frank Foster. He knew Foster well, and he liked and respected him. The detective was about Billy's age and had worked in homicide for more than twenty years, preferring active duty to a desk job. He had become Billy's contact within the MPD, and he had worked with Billy on several occasions when cases had crossed jurisdiction between the federal government and the local constabulary. Billy trusted him completely, and he needed his help now. "Frank," he said, when his friend came on the line. "It's Melrose. I need a favor . . ."
Several minutes later, an ambulance rolled up to the curb, preceded and followed by marked cruisers, with lights flashing and sirens blaring. A crowd began to gather, but the uniformed officers held them back. Among the crowd was a middle-aged man, nondescript, except for a patch he wore over one eye. He watched with great interest the scene that was unfolding before him.
A couple of plainclothes detectives, dressed as paramedics, hopped out of the ambulance and spent a few minutes attending to Lee. Another detective waited in the driver's seat. They retrieved a gurney from the back of the ambulance and loaded him onto it. To the dismay of all but one in the crowd, they covered Lee's body with a white sheet before lifting the gurney into the ambulance.
As the ambulance rolled away, silently this time, Frank Foster and another detective pulled up in an unmarked car. Foster spoke with someone on the radio for a couple of minutes, then got out of his car and pulled a waiting Billy Melrose out of earshot of the already dispersing crowd. "They're taking him to GWU, Billy. That's far enough across town that our killer's not likely to follow him. They'll get him stitched up, and my men will stay with him until you get there. Hopefully this nut won't notice we didn't do things in exactly the right order here, but I didn't want your man to have to wait any longer to get to the hospital. I'll get my guys to make this look like a murder scene, and I'll take care of all the paperwork personally. You want it in the newspapers? Television?"
"Not just yet. Maybe tomorrow. I don't have this whole thing figured out yet. I'll call you when I do. Thanks, Frank, I owe you one."
"Sure thing, Billy, just let me know what you need me to do."
In the back of the ambulance, Lee pushed the sheet away from his face. He was starting to feel a little queasy from having lost some blood.
"You doing OK?" one of the officers asked him.
"Yeah, I think so." He took a deep breath and immediately felt better. "I just needed some air. Listen, I appreciate you guys helping me out."
"Not a problem," the other man answered. "Foster had us filing reports tonight. We were glad for a chance to get out of the office."
"So what's going on?" the first officer wanted to know. "Somebody's trying to kill you, and you want him to think you're dead?"
"Yeah, that's about it. I'm pretty sure he'll try again if he finds out he missed."
"So what are you? CIA?"
"Not exactly," Lee replied. He knew better than to say any more.
The ambulance pulled under the awning of the emergency entrance at George Washington University Hospital. Frank Foster had notified the emergency room staff, and they were ready for Lee's arrival. He was able to step out of the ambulance and enter the waiting room under his own power. He didn't think it was likely that the attacker had followed the ambulance, but he was sure he would draw less attention to himself if he just came on in. After all, he told himself, dead bodies get hauled out of hospitals, not into them. The attending physician thought differently, however. She met him at the door with another gurney and insisted he lie down again right away. Looking around the crowded waiting room, Lee wondered if every emergency room patient got this kind of attention, or just government agents who knew somebody who knew somebody.
He was wheeled into a private examining room. The doctor helped Lee remove his overcoat. She cut through the rest of his clothing while another nurse filled out some forms. "Allergic to anything?" the nurse wanted to know.
"Penicillin," Lee told her.
"How about your last tetanus shot?"
"I think about three years ago."
"Sign here, please."
Lee reached for the pen and immediately regretted moving his left arm. He did his best to sign the page where the nurse was pointing.
"OK, Mr. Stetson,“ the doctor began. “I'm going to be cleaning this wound and putting in . . . oh, I'd say no more than three or four stitches. I'll deaden it first. Are you going to need anything else?"
Lee understood her meaning. "I don't think so. Maybe just some pain killer for later."
The doctor had just finished stitching Lee up as Billy came into the room. "Lee, are you all right?" he asked.
"Yeah, Billy, I'll be fine." He sat up and tried to button his shirt. It was a mess, all torn and bloody, and most of the buttons were gone.
"Don't worry about that, Mr. Stetson. I'll have someone bring you something else to wear." The doctor helped him get out of the ruined shirt. She rolled it up and put it into a plastic bag, then threw it unceremoniously into the trash. Lee was disappointed. That had been one of his favorite shirts.
"See that he gets some rest," the doctor said, turning toward Billy. "He should try not to move his arm too much for the first day or so. The stitches can come out in about a week. I'll call in some antibiotics, and you can pick them up for him at the hospital pharmacy. Mr. Stetson, you can rest right here until you feel like going home."
Lee and Billy thanked the doctor. After she had left, Lee spoke. "Billy, I can't go home. I can't defend myself like this, and this guy could be anywhere."
"I know. I've been thinking about that, and I think you need to stay out of sight. If the killer thinks you're dead, you need to stay dead until we catch him. Why don't you stay here, at least overnight? I'll pull some strings, get you into a private room, and I'll get one of Frank's men to watch your door. I can bring some things over for you, if you want. As soon as you're feeling up to it, you can start an investigation. But I don't want anyone at the Agency in on this, Lee. This killer could be anywhere. And anybody."
"I'm afraid so," he replied, as he removed his coat and hat. Billy couldn't look at her. He hated lying. But he was a professional, and sometimes, deceit was part of the job.
"What happened?" she demanded.
"I was with him at Monk's. I walked him to his car. The killer was hiding in the back seat. Lee never had a chance." Billy shook his head sadly. He wasn't enjoying this. Need to know, he reminded himself. Need to know.
"Lee's car doesn't have much of a back seat." Francine observed.
Billy raised an eyebrow at her, briefly wondering how she knew so much about Lee's back seat. "His Porsche was in the shop. He was driving a loaner."
"Oh." She was silent for a moment before she spoke again. "Why did this have to happen, Billy? To any of them? It's so completely senseless!"
Again, he shook his head. "Why does anything happen, Francine?" he said, as he sat at his desk.
"So . . . what are the . . . arrangements?"
"An autopsy sometime today. Frank Foster's office is handling all that. I thought we could schedule a private service through the Agency, since Lee doesn't . . . didn't . . .have any immediate family. Maybe for the day after tomorrow."
Francine nodded her agreement. "All right. If there's anything I can do, you'll let me know?”
"Of course, Francine. Thank you for offering."
Billy felt sorry for Francine, but he wasn't ready to bring anyone else in on the situation. Besides, although she wasn't a suspect, Francine had indeed proven to be a link among all the victims. Billy didn't think he could tell her anything just yet. He shuffled some papers on his desk, hoping she would take the hint and get back to work, but she wasn't showing any sign of leaving. He really needed to get back to the matter at hand, which was figuring out what to do with Lee until the killer was caught.
He cleared his throat. "Francine," he began. "There is something that you could do . . ."
"Of course, Billy, anything. Just ask."
"You know where Amanda King lives, don't you?"
"Oh, no. Please, Billy. Anything but that."
"Francine, someone needs to tell Amanda. I don't want her to read about it in the newspaper."
"Then why don't you just call her?"
"I don't want her to hear it over the phone, either." What he really meant was that he didn't want to have to be the one to tell her. If lying to Francine was going to be this hard, lying to Amanda King would be nearly impossible. "I'm asking you to go to her house and get it taken care of."
"But, Billy . . ."
"All right, then, Francine, I'm telling you to go to her house and get it taken care of. Understood?"
"Understood," she replied glumly. Francine wasn't looking forward to her assignment, but Billy was right. Nobody deserved to read about something like that in the newspaper. Not even Amanda King.
Francine stood on the porch in front of Amanda's white Cape Cod, waiting for someone to answer the door. She assumed Amanda was at home; the station wagon was in the driveway. She knew the two boys wouldn't be at home; they would be in school that time of day. She sincerely hoped Amanda's mother wasn't at home, either. Mrs. West seemed like a nice enough person, but Francine wasn't in the mood to face her today. And she certainly didn't feel like having any strudel.
After a few moments, Amanda came to the door, dressed in what Francine assumed was housecleaning garb. Amanda opened her mouth to ask Francine what in the world she was doing there, but she never got the words out. Taking one look at Francine's face, Amanda immediately understood the purpose of her visit. Her face fell, and tears welled up in her eyes. She did her best to blink them away. After a moment, she turned and walked into the house without saying a word. She didn't trust her voice. Silently, Francine closed the door and followed her into the family room. Francine took a seat on the sofa and stared at the coffee table as Amanda leaned against the wall, her hands in the pockets of her jeans. She didn't feel like sitting down. Finally, Amanda spoke. "When did it happen?" she asked. She could barely form the words.
Amanda nodded. "How?" It was more a whisper than a word.
"The killer was waiting for him when he left Monk's. He had a knife."
Again, Amanda nodded.
For several moments, neither of them spoke. Finally, Francine broke the silence. "Billy's going to schedule a private service through the Agency. Probably in a day or two. I'll call and let you know."
Amanda nodded again. She didn't know what to say. There wasn't much to be said.
Francine stood up. "I'll let myself out."
"Thank you for coming by," she managed, as Francine left. Amanda slid down the wall and sat heavily on the floor. Funny, she reflected. I always thought Lee and I were sort of . . . on the same wavelength. I thought I would have . . . felt something . . . if it ever happened. A single tear rolled down her face, and she realized she didn't feel much like cleaning house anymore.
The morning of the service, Billy stopped by GWU to visit Lee, as he'd been doing a couple of times each day. He had finally hit upon a workable idea about what to do with Lee, and he was anxious to get moving on it. He had brought Lee some files to read, but the sooner Lee was in a position to do some real investigating, the sooner the attacker would be caught. He hoped, anyway. Billy needed his top agent on this case. No one else at the Agency or in the MPD had had a bit of luck with it.
"How are you feeling, Scarecrow?" Billy asked.
"Almost as good as new, thanks. Have you found me a place to stay? I don't think I can handle it here much longer. The food's terrible."
"I'm sure it is. And yes, I may have thought of a place that will work."
Billy hesitated for a moment, anticipating Lee's negative response. "You're going to stay with Mrs. King," he said, finally.
"What did you say?"
"Mrs. King. You can stay at Amanda King's house in Arlington."
"Look, didn't you tell me a few days ago that Amanda's family would be out of town this weekend?"
"Yes, but . . ."
"So stay at Amanda's house. You can run your investigation from there, and she'll be around to help you do whatever needs to be done."
"Billy, Amanda won't let me stay there."
"I don't know if I can explain exactly why not, I just know she won't go for it. If I show up at her place with a suitcase, she'll tell me to go straight to h . . . Well, no, she wouldn't say that. But she'd tell me to go to . . . to Guatemala . . . or something."
Billy chuckled. "Tell her it was my idea."
"Yeah, right. Why don't you tell her it was your idea?"
"Why do you people keep asking me that? Look, I'll have one of Frank's men drop you off in an unmarked car. Wait for Amanda's family to leave, then get in there and tell her the plan."
"Billy, she'll throw me right out into the street."
"I wouldn't think so, Scarecrow. She'll probably be awfully glad to see you. After all, you've been dead for three days."
"You mean Amanda doesn't know . . ."
"Nobody knows, Lee. Except for the two of us, Frank and a few of his men, and a very few people here at the hospital."
"Not even Francine?"
"Not even Francine. She may still be a link in these murders, remember? After all, you fellows had all played backgammon with Francine . . ." Billy teased him.
"Not funny, Billy."
"So when's the service?"
Lee brightened. "Do you think I should go?"
"No, I don't think you should go. Our friend might be watching."
"Come on, Billy, I could have a little fun. Let me put together a disguise . . ."
"Not this time, Scarecrow. If this guy has any indication whatsoever that you're still in the land of the living, he's going to try again. I want you out of sight until Amanda's family leaves town, and then I want you working out of her house until we get the guy. I really don't think he'll be looking for you in Arlington. Let's hope he's not looking for you at all."
Lee gave it some thought. "So Amanda doesn't know . . ." he began. He looked at his boss with a devilish grin. "I could have some fun with this, after all."
"You wouldn't," Billy admonished.
"No, I probably wouldn't," Lee admitted, still grinning. "But it might be fun."
Francine Desmond left the Agency and headed toward the cemetery. She pulled into a florist's shop, intending to pick up a spray to take to the service. She hesitated to get out of her car. Lee hated flowers, she reminded herself, and suddenly the idea seemed totally inappropriate. She felt like she should do something, though. Maybe a donation of some sort, she thought. In Lee's memory. That didn't seem like a very good idea, either. Agents were expected to live fairly anonymously, and Francine supposed that meant they had to die anonymously, too. Continuing toward the cemetery, she passed a wine specialty shop that she knew Lee had frequented. An inspiration struck her, and she pulled into the parking lot.
"Dom Perignom, '73," she told the clerk. It would be a fitting farewell for a spy.
The clerk eyed her quizzically as he went to retrieve the bottle. It was an unusual request, but she looked like she could afford it. "It's not cold," he told her.
"Must be a pretty special guy you're going to share that with," the clerk offered, as he reached for her money.
"Yes," Francine replied sadly. "He was."
On the other side of the Potomac, Amanda King pulled out of her driveway. She was exhausted, having had little sleep the last two nights. Now, she felt almost numb, as she tried to concentrate on traffic. She had spent the last two and a half days in one of the loneliest places she had ever been: her own home. Amanda had lost a friend, but in her strange world of two separate lives, Lee Stetson had been a secret friend. None of her loved ones had known him, or even known about him. No one could help her grieve. Amanda had experienced grief before, but she had never had to deal with it alone.
She wondered if she even had a right to grieve. Lee had been the Scarecrow, a top intelligence operative for the United States government. Amanda had a part-time job in the same office. Still, they had managed to work together closely on several occasions. They had worked well together; there was no doubt about that. They had gotten each other out of some pretty serious scrapes on more than one occasion, and she suspected they had even managed to save the world a couple of times, at least indirectly. They had made a good team.
Amanda wondered what would happen at the Agency after the funeral was over. Lee would become nothing more than a memory to his co-workers, and he would certainly be nothing more than an unfortunate statistic in the eyes of the federal government. Where would that leave her? After all, Lee was the one who had indirectly brought her aboard. She wondered if Mr. Melrose would let her stay on. She had grown to love the work she was involved in, and she cared about some of the people she had met there. But she had never been assigned to work with anyone other than Lee, so she wondered if the Agency would have any further use for her. She wondered if she would even want to be involved with the Agency any more. Was it the job itself that was the attraction? Or had it been Lee?
Amanda knew she had shared something special with Lee Stetson. She had never met anyone like him. There were things she had admired about him, and there were things she couldn't stand about him. Now that she thought about it, she was pretty sure she'd had a similar effect on him, as well. From the moment they'd met, there had been some sort of connection between the two of them, although she didn't know exactly what it was. She had been aware of it, and she was sure he had known about it, too, although she suspected he would never have admitted it. The thing that seemed strange to Amanda now was that, although she knew Lee was gone, she wasn't convinced that the connection between them had been broken. She still felt it. She still felt him.
She had wondered briefly if it was all just some sort of cover, if Lee would show up at her kitchen window some night, assuring her that he was just fine and that everything was going to be all right. After all, deceit ran rampant in the spy business. But it had been three days, and he hadn't shown up. She thought that if he hadn't been there by now, there was no chance he was going to come. Besides, there was no doubt in her mind that Francine Desmond had been telling the truth when she had come by to break the news. No, there hadn't been any deceit this time. Lee was gone.
Amanda blinked back tears. She should never have allowed herself to become so attached. As she pulled into the cemetery, she wondered if the funeral service would provide some closure. She hoped it would. Perhaps then, she could go home and deal with her loss. Alone. She stepped out of her station wagon and slowly walked toward the small crowd that had already begun to gather around a flag-draped casket . . .