Summary: Lee decides to visit his uncle and make up for all their lost time.
Disclaimer: The main characters belong to Shoot the Moon and Warner Brothers Production. This story is for enjoyment only and is a creation of my imagination.
Timeline: This takes place after The Wrong Way Home but before All the World’s a Stage
Feedback: Please. Thank you.
“Billy, I’m done here. I’m going to take a couple of days off. I’ll see you on Monday.”
Lee hung up the phone. After his plane landed, he took a cab to the Air Force Base. He showed his agency ID to the solider at the gate.
“Who are you here to see, sir?” He asked.
“I know the way, Airman.”
“Yes, sir.” He waved the cab through.
Lee walked into his uncle’s office.
The sergeant at the desk addressed him. “May I help you, sir?”
“I would like to see the Colonel.” Lee said.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Stetson, the Colonel isn’t in right now. He is with the General but I do expect him soon, sir.”
Lee looked at the young woman. He never met her before. “How do you know who I am?”
“I have seen pictures of you, sir, and the Colonel has mentioned you.”
Lee smiled to himself.
“You may wait in his office if you would like, sir.”
“Thank you, sergeant.” Lee went into his uncle’s office.
The Colonel’s office reminded Lee of his childhood. He could remember being sent here by his teacher when he misbehaved. The harder his uncle tried to discipline him the more he misbehaved. Lee couldn’t remember why he felt it so necessary to give his uncle such a hard time; he just remembers that they never got along. The only family he had and they barely could be in the same room for five minutes without arguing.
The office was a refection of his uncle’s life. Behind his desk was the President’s picture and on one side was the American flag and on the other was the Air Force flag. The wall to the right was covered with pictures. There were many pictures of the Colonel with his flight crews and the men under his command. There were pictures of him with two of the presidents and several generals. He had pictures of many of the planes he had flown.
The office was a refection of his uncle’s military life; so it surprised Lee to see two personal pictures on his uncle’s desk. One was of a skinny kid with two missing front teeth, grinning ear to ear holding up a fish that barely weighed a pound. The other was a recent picture of the Colonel and Lee that Amanda had taken on his last visit to Washington.
He turned to his uncle.
“I can’t believe you still have this picture.” He said holding up the picture of himself.
“I think that is my favorite picture of you. You were happy there. I thought you were starting to come to terms with your parents death.”
“That was before we were transferred for the first time. I had to leave my friends.I think that was the worst part; I always seemed to be saying goodbye to someone.”
“I know it wasn’t fair.” His uncle walked to his desk.
“I learned early that life wasn’t fair.” Lee picked up the other picture on the desk. “How did you get this?”
“Amanda sent it to me.” He said. Lee smiled. Then his uncle added, “I like her, Lee. She reminds me of your mother.”
“You think so? It scares me sometimes, I can’t remember them as much as I would like to.”
“It’s been a long time and you were very young. How long can you stay?” The Colonel asked.
“Just the weekend, I have a flight Sunday night.”
“I’m off this weekend we can spend some time together.” His uncle smiled. “Where are you staying?”
Lee didn’t hesitate when he answered, “With you.” It wasn’t a question.
The Colonel smiled he couldn’t believe Lee wanted to be with him. “Have you eaten?”
“Officer’s club alright?”
“That will be fine.” The Colonel thought for a second that maybe Lee’s double was standing there in front of him but he decided to enjoy the new Lee.
They walked in silence to the officer’s club. The Colonel introduced Lee to some of his friends and then they sat at a table near a window.
“The steak is very good here.” His uncle said to break the silence.
“That sounds good.”
When the waiter came over the Colonel ordered two steaks, baked potatoes and salad.
“Lee, would you like wine or beer?”
The waiter brought the beer and salad. Lee took a drink.
“So what’s wrong, Lee?” His uncle asked.
“What makes you think something is wrong?”
“We haven’t disagreed yet and it’s been what about an hour.” The colonel said looking at his watch.
“I think I’ve matured.” They both laughed. “Seriously, I needed to talk to someone.”
“I would have given my bars to have heard you say that when you were younger.”
“I guess I gave you a hard time. I’m sorry, I wish we could start all over again.”
“You were a round peg that I was trying to put in a square hole.”
Lee laughed. “Maybe you should have used a bigger hammer.”
The Colonel laughed. “I thought about it.”
“Sir, I would like us…” Lee stopped he wasn’t good at this especially with his uncle.
“I would like to make up for all the time we missed together.” His uncle didn’t say anything. Lee continued, “I want you to be part of my life and I want to be part of yours. We’re all we have. I want us to be a family.”
“I guess I wasn’t the best choice for a parent. At the time I thought it was my duty to raise you but I would do it again in a second because I want to not because I had to. This time I would do it differently. It would have been a lot easier if children came with a how-to manual.”
They finished the meal with small talk until the waiter brought coffee.
“Did you ever think about getting married?” Lee asked his uncle.
“Yes, in fact I was engaged for a short while when I went into the service. Then I decided to make a career out of it, Marge didn’t want to be married to the military and she left. Why do you ask?”
“I was wondering.” Lee answered.
“Does Amanda have anything to do with this?”
Lee smiled, “I never cared about family until I met her. I think that’s when I fell in love with her.”
“Have you told her how you feel?” The Colonel asked.
Lee shook his head, “No, in fact I tried to discourage any relationship between us but I can’t fight it anymore, I’m in love with her. What if she doesn’t feel the same?”
“Lee, I made a mistake when I let Marge walk out of my life. If I had to do it all over again, I would have stopped her.”
“This is different. Amanda is my partner. I got her into the agency and I love working with her. The agency won’t let us get involved; they will split us up or make us resign. I don’t want to work with anyone else.” Lee took a deep breath. “I want to marry her.”There he said it now if he could say it to her. “I just don’t know what to do.”
“Only you can decide what is important to you. Amanda or the agency.”
When they arrived at the colonel’s quarters, he called his aid and had her bring Lee’s bag over. Lee was looking at the pictures on the wall behind the couch. The central picture was of Lee’s grandparents and on one side there were pictures of his uncle, his father and other family members. On the other side was Lee’s graduation picture. Above that were pictures of the Colonel with Lee and below it were pictures of Lee and his parents. Most of these pictures Lee never saw before because he never cared but now family had become very important to him. Lee pointed to the pictures on the wall. “I haven’t seen a lot of these.”
“You could have.”
“I know. I was too busy being angry and hating everyone.”
Lee nodded. “I was afraid to love you. I thought you would go away if I did. For a long time I thought it was my fault that my parents left. I thought it was because I was bad.”
“You never told me.”
“I guess we both stopped short of telling each other what we should have.” Lee said.
“We should have had this talk a long time ago.”
His uncle told Lee about the day he was born and how nervous his father was.
“Your father called me at three in the morning to tell me that I was an uncle. He was so happy. I wish your father could see you now.” His uncle put his hand on Lee’s shoulder. “Lee, he would be so proud of you.”
They talked about Lee’s grandparents and parents.
“Lee, I have something for you.” His uncle disappeared into his bedroom. When he returned he had a cardboard box that had Lee’s name on it.
“I saved these things for you. I never had the room to save a lot but I thought these would be important.”
Lee opened it and inside was a shoebox. Lee smiled he recognized it. It was his treasure box. In it he had a baseball cards, some fishing line and a hook, his lucky rabbit’s foot, a dried up snake, a couple of his father’s metals and other assorted things.
There was small box that contained some of his mother’s jewelry and his father’s watch and Army ring.
“I thought of saving your parents wedding bands for you but I decided to bury them with them.” He uncle said and Lee nodded.
Lee took out a shinny green box; he knew what was in it. He opened the box and took out the star from the top of their Christmas tree. He never let his uncle use it. Lee’s smile faded when he found a picture in a small frame with cowboy decorations on it. The picture was of Lee and his parents taken about a week before they died.
“I put that picture next to your bed when you came to live with me but you threw it away. The doctor told me you weren’t ready to accept their death. He told me to put it away until you were ready to talk about it. You never did.” His uncle had crossed over to the couch and was sitting next to Lee.
Lee looked at his uncle, “I didn’t know you knew I threw it away. I was angry with them for sending me to live with you. I didn’t understand death, I just thought they left, I thought they didn’t love me anymore.”
His uncle put his hand on Lee’s arm, “I wish we would have talked like this when you were younger.” Lee squeezed his uncle’s hand.
There was a photo album and some loose pictures. Lee looked at the pictures and his uncle told stories about them. Lee and his uncle talked half the night away.
They spent Saturday just talking. His uncle told Lee many stories about his father and his grandparents. He told some war stories, too. Lee told a few of his own stories. But mostly they became friends.
Sunday came too fast and his uncle drove him to the airport.
“Have you made a decision about Amanda?” His uncle asked.
“Yes, I am going to tell her how I feel.”
“Good. Lee, I think she has been good for you and for us.”
Lee smiled, “That’s why I love her.”
The announcement of his plane interrupted their goodbyes. Lee shook hands with his uncle but neither of them let go. There were still many things they wanted to talk about.
Lee pulled his uncle closer and hugged him.
The Colonel returned the hug. “You take care of yourself, my boy.”
“I love you, Uncle Robert. Thanks for everything you’ve done for me.”
“I love you, too, Lee. I meant what I said, you’re parents would be very proud of you; I know because I am.” They hugged again and Lee turned quickly so his uncle couldn’t see the tears in his eyes. The Colonel turn just as quickly for the same reason.
Lee found his seat and took out a picture that his uncle slipped into his pocket. It was a picture of Lee and his uncle right after Lee came to live with him.
His uncle watched until the plane took off. He made a mental note to call Amanda and thank her for this weekend. He didn’t feel so alone anymore and neither did Lee.