A Year in Seattle – Week 11 – One Crisis Over

A Year In Seattle

Week Eleven

Thursday, August 31st, 2056 – Me and my shadow

Well, me and my new best-buddy and roommate got off to an interesting start. He showed up at my door, suitcase in hand. I was not expecting that. He’s planning on watching over me 24-7.

That could prove interesting. I know he already doesn’t like my motorcycle riding and then there’s the whole thing of the motor-medic going out ahead of the truck. Hard to keep track of me that way.

He’s an interesting one our Marshal Jason Casey. He insisted we take his car to the station. I asked him what he preferred to be called, in the hopes he’d guess I’m not too fond of “Miss Miller”.

“Casey,” he told me. “Casey or Case..”

I nodded as we headed into the station house.

“What do I call you?”

I smiled, it worked. “Jess, ever’body calls me Jess,” I told him. “Unless they’re pissed off at me and then they call me…” ‘Cap supplied: “MILLER!”

I didn’t even get to finish the sentence, but there it was.

I smiled at Casey. “Like that,” I told him with a slight nod and then went over to talk to the Captain.

“Miller, what are the rules about bringing visitors into the station?”

I bit back the smart response of reciting the regulations and shook my head. “He’s not a visitor,” I answered. “He’s my babysitter,” I added jerking my thumb over my shoulder. “Marshal Jason Casey, Captain David R. Daltry.”

Cap gave me one of his sternest looks to date and demanded an explanation. When I finished, he nodded.

He wasn’t too crazy about the situation, but he agreed that it was nice to have us full up on medics for a change. Then he turned and said it was ’bout it being time I had somebody watching out over me.

I’d just gotten Casey setup with a locker when Ray rolled in. I was about to introduce him when Ray just grinned.

“Case! Haven’t seen you in ages.”

My jaw dropped. Turns out at least half the folks at the station house know him. As he was saying ‘hey’ to all his old friends, Ray was giving me that sideways ‘what’s up?’ grin. I was just about to explain when a call came through. Casey started to follow me, until he noticed I was pulling on my helmet.

“What are you doing?” he demanded as he wheeled me around by the arm.

I was surprised by the strength in his grip, but I still managed to meet his gaze. “I’m responding to the call,” I answered nodding towards the bike. “Ride with Ray, I’ll meet you at the scene.”

I could see the wheels turning in his mind as he studied me. I gave him a wink. I wasn’t being headstrong and thinking I was invulnerable, well, I was being headstrong, but I know I’m not invulnerable.

Believe me, I know just how mortal I am, but I’ve got a job to do, and I’m not about to crawl under a rock and give up. If I do, they win, and I just can’t cope with that. I think he could see that in my eyes.

“Miller,” he growled as he let go of me. “You be careful.”

I nodded. At least he understands… and that means this may just work out.

Friday, September 1st, 2056 Concessions

Casey insisted on taking the couch, after thoroughly checking out the condo. He found a few security goodies the boys had installed that I didn’t know about, and then he added a few more. I watched him as he did it, studying the equipment.

I wasn’t making small talk, anything like that interests me, always has. That’s how I’ve learned half the things I know. Casey was patient enough to answer my questions, but I could tell he was concentrating on security. Makes sense, both our lives depend on it I guess.

Then he concentrated on me. What I do, how routine my life is, where I go and who I know. If he was a surprised by the Missing Person’s visits or the John Doe checks, he hid it really well. All he said when I finished was, “I figured it was something like that.”

That earned him a long hard stare.

He waited until I got over my semi-snit and started telling me what I could and couldn’t do. First and foremost he told me that there was no way I was to ride my bike until this whole thing was over; I was too vulnerable. He was already moving on to change number two when I insisted we back up a little.

I understand that the man has a job to do, but there has to be a balance, and I just wasn’t getting it. He was taking the approach that he called the shots and I towed the line. There was, in his book, no room for negotiations, I felt that there were compromises that could be established on all sides.

I didn’t get too far with that before he was reviewing my schedule. There was nothing he could do about the work schedule, so he didn’t even bother with that. But then came the questions of ‘What do you do after work.’ Now, for the most part, I go home, play with the cats and go to sleep, but when I can I like to watch cartoons with Mike on Saturdays, and I’m *not* going to give that up, besides, I can’t think of a safer place for me than Council Island these days.

Still, I was to be his charge, his passenger, in all things. That was the hardest part. I’m used to going where I want, when I want. Guess I’ve been alone too long. He told me I could still move about freely, within reason, and with him ‘attached at the hip.’

He’s okayed my ‘Breakfast engagement on Council Island,’ again without a second glance, and my Missing person’s check, although he insists I can do it over the phone. He’ll allow me a trip to the morgue since it’s in the middle of Star Territory. As for traipsing over half of Seattle looking at John Does, that was right out.

And I was just getting used to the routine. From the looks of things… I get to work like a maniac and then get cloistered at home until this whole thing blows over.

I think Casey’s pretty happy about that.

Well, at least he was until I got my first call of the evening. Traffic accident and car fire. We were all on it. Took up most of the night too. After shift, I grabbed a quick shower and Casey drove us to Council Island.

I was expecting a full inspection since I was a) in a car and b) with Casey, but the guard just smiled and waved him through. I was suspicious enough that by the time we reached the Walkers, and when Mike called him Uncle Casey that I just gave up. The man knows everybody.

Mr. and Mrs. Walker seemed relieved that Casey was now my bodyguard, and Mike, bless him, thought it was ‘cool.’

When we headed back to the condo, Casey just looked at me. His expression was… mystified?

“What?” I asked.

He shook his head. “You’re full of surprises Jess, that’s all.”

It was something interesting to contemplate on the drive back to the condo.

Saturday, September 2nd, 2056 – Confessions

I woke up this ‘morning’ to the sounds and smells of Casey cooking breakfast. The man was actually cooking real food– right there in the condo! On a work day even! I don’t know where or when he got the food, but it actually smelled good.

He smiled at me questioningly as I came out of the bedroom and headed for the shower. “You want some?”

I looked at it, and I have to admit it smelled good, but– me and real food don’t always agree and first thing in the morning about all I can tolerate is coffee and a bagel. I told him as much and shambled off to get ready for work.

Work was pretty uneventful, which was both a blessing and a source of worry for most of us. Ray and I have been at this long enough to know that when everything is quiet, somebody, somewhere is doing their best to make our lives interesting.

If they were however, we were busy having problems of our own. At about 3 AM the station lost power. A quick look out the window revealed that everyone else on the block still had power. This little mini-blackout was all ours.

It wasn’t all that bad, we’re a fire station after all. We’ve got flashlights, searchlights– we’ve even got mini generators. Looking back it was more an inconvenience than anything. In the dark, it took us a while to get to the root of the problem, and in the daylight, it was obvious. It looked like something very large had used our transformer as a scratch post.

For everybody else it was a curiosity. For me– another bone-chilling sign that I really shouldn’t have helped Fin out the other night.

We only had one more shift for the week, but protective custody was really looking good to me. The only problem was– this was something of my own doing. It gave me quite a bit to think about on the way home.

Casey noticed how quiet I was being and didn’t say a word until he’d gotten me home. He studied me for a really long time before he asked, but I could feel the questions building up.

“Jess,” he asked softly. “This isn’t the first time you’ve been in – trouble is it?”

I shook my head. “This is kinda mild in comparison to some of the things that have been going on since I got here.”

He watched me patiently as I pulled up a pillow and sat down on the couch cross legged.

“Wanna talk about it?”

His tone was gentle, but I could see that he also wanted to know exactly what he was up against. I can’t say as I blame him.

Finally, I nodded. I didn’t plan on it, but I ended up telling him everything that had happened since I arrived here. I even told him the parts I hadn’t told Mario and Trina; the parts I hadn’t told Andrews or the Walkers.

He listened to it all then finally nodded. “You know… the Azzies aren’t too fond of people messing with their– things.”

I nodded. The only excuse I had was not knowing what I was getting into.

He smiled at that. “Just like the organ leggers, or the chemicals– or even the Lydia Greenwood case.”

I shrugged. “Just lucky I guess,” I answered with my best-lopsided grin.

He chuckled. “You, Jess Miller, are what we in the business like to call a ‘trouble magnet.’

I nodded. “Yeah, that’s one way of putting it.”

Again he studied me and finally asked the question that’d been bothering him. “What’s with this case in Baltimore?”

I shook my head and ended up taking out a little bit of aggression on the fringe of the poor hapless pillow in my lap. “I used to date the man,” I finally answered. “He was getting more and more possessive, almost mildly abusive. I’d had enough, told him so. Figured that was ‘end of story.’

I stopped shaking my head. ‘He had a slightly different ending in mind.”

Casey studied me for a good five minutes as he made his own conclusions and pieced things together. “Sorry,” he said softly.

I nodded. “Guess I’ve been a trouble magnet for a while– just that here, they give ‘trouble’ a whole new meaning.”

Casey nodded. “Get some rest,” he urged. “I’m going to make a few phone calls.”

I know my eyes flared at that. Usually, when people have a few calls to make, I end up in even more trouble. Then again, I had admitted to being an accessory to *something* to a federal officer– what do you expect?

I figured it would be a while before I managed to get to sleep, and it was. I kept hearing what sounded like a jaguar crying outside my window. I’m pretty sure it was my imagination.

Sunday, September 3rd, 2056 – respite

This morning Casey was all smiles. It made me nervous, which only seemed to make him smile more.

I finally broke and asked him what was up.

“They found Eleanor Kapisniak, former Senior VP of ValenzBioChem,” he told me.

That made me perk up some. “How? Do they have enough to put her away?”

He smiled at me. “We did,” he answered. “But the point is rather moot– someone already put her away permanently.”

That surprised me a bit, but then I shrugged. She believed that in this world the little fish got eaten. She must have run across a bigger fish. I nodded.

“That doesn’t surprise you,” he commented. “Good, maybe there’s hope for you yet.”

Now, the explanation for that, I just had to hear. He told me that I was too much of an optimist, I needed a good dose of cynicism if I was going to make it in the mean streets of Seattle.

“Yeah,” I answered wryly.

He nodded. “That’s a start,” he told me. “Keep it up, I’ll make a cynic of you yet.”

I chuckled at that, but I knew both of us were thinking about whatever bowled Ms. Kapinsniak over, and wondering if it would be visiting any time soon. Still, in the world of intrigue and corporate shadows, she’d committed the cardinal sin, she’d gotten caught. Hopefully, I’m a small enough fish that they’ll let it go at that. Not that I’m about to relax after everything that’s happened lately.

At this point, I’m wound so tight, it’s going to take a year for me to unwind. A year, or a whole mess a’ crabs. Make that a year and a whole mess a’ crabs.

On the way in, Casey gave me the other bit of news. It wasn’t really good, but it wasn’t bad either: He’d gotten my case put back on the slate. I go in Tuesday to testify before a review board. If I prove my case, it gets tossed out, otherwise, I end up back in Baltimore on criminal charges. Hopefully, Aaron and his investigators haven’t managed to twist things around too badly and the truth will still win out.

Thing is, I’m not enough of an optimist to believe I’ll actually be done with him, just– over for now. Sometimes I think, that’s all you can hope for.

Monday, September 4th, 2056 – closing in the ranks

Since I was due before the Board of Inquiry tomorrow, I decided to combine the Missing person’s check and the only acceptable portion of my John Doe check, the morgue. Looking at it through what I imagine to be Casey’s eyes, it’s kinda a sad existence really. I work 48 hours a week, spend most of my spare time either looking for my brothers or getting myself into trouble.

Not really much of a ‘lifestyle.’ I don’t know. I can’t stop looking and it is the reason I’m here– to find out what happened to my brothers. There was nothing new, but we all went through the motions anyway.

Saunders smiled at me and pretended to call up the records. I knew he already had them for me, but he pretended to look up the data. “Nothin,’ he told me gently, I could see the apology in his eyes, but then he was back to business as usual.

On the way out he told me to ‘stop bothering him,’ and something about getting that ‘poor excuse for a bodyguard out of his office.’ I didn’t miss his encouraging wink. Neither did Casey.

One thing about Casey, he misses very little. Even the cats haven’t been able to scam him, and there are times they’ve managed to convince *me* that I haven’t fed them a half an hour after feeding them.

So, the missing person’s visit was a bust, which is no real surprise. I’m pretty sure that if anything had come up Andrews or Saunders would have told me personally. Our next visit was to the morgue and Dr. Chen.

I wish we hadn’t found anything or, at the very least, that Casey hadn’t been with me. We found out why the investigators from Baltimore never showed up at the station. Technically I guess they had, just not the way we were expecting.

Casey knew immediately that I knew them, and when he found out who they were, it was all I could do to keep him from taking me into full protective custody then and there. We reached another compromise, which was that I would stay on Council Island until things cleared up. He also was reaching for the phone to cancel the review board hearing.

That was too much. I’d geared myself up for this, I was ready for it now. Postponement now meant way too much stress for me. I’d waited long enough, trying to second guess what the investigators and Aaron had managed to piece together to get things to the point that there even was a review board.

Again Casey found a compromise that kept me as protected as I could be. Instead of bringing me to the review board– they would come to Council Island and convene there. They agreed, which surprised me, but then again, anything Casey is involved with seems to have that effect.

So, tomorrow I will have my day and hopefully explain the circumstances thoroughly enough that I’ll be staying right here.

Wonder if I can file harassment charges against Aaron? That’s the real problem, I could slam dunk him right here, right now, but I won’t play his game. Hopefully, in the long run, that’ll make the difference, but for now– I wait and worry.

Tuesday, September 5th, 2056 – The board

It’s funny. I knew I was innocent, I knew (that if there was justice in the world) that they would find me innocent of any wrongdoing, but I was still nervous. This is more than my job we’re talking about here. Its who I am. I can’t stop being a medic anymore than a leopard can changes his spots: a leopard or a jaguar.

Another thing that’s interfering with my work, or has the potential to. Maybe I should take some time and rethink what I’m doing here. If what I’m doing in my off time keeps affecting my job, maybe I should stop.

The only problem is, I can’t stop. This search and all the trouble I’ve managed to get into is part of me too. Usually, I can accept it as the way things are, but right now, with everything I’ve done up against a microscope, I have to think about it. Sometimes I wish I could turn a blind eye, that I could just– ignore the strange things that have happened and just do the job I was meant to do.

Yeah, right. I can’t turn my back on a mystery any more than I can turn my back on a call; it’s just not in me. All the tension, all the worry I’ve had over the last few weeks, it all comes down to this: a board of inquiry.

I didn’t eat all that much at breakfast, much to Mrs. Walker’s chagrin. She reminded me of my visit to Mike and how bad it would look if I passed out in front of the board. I tried to eat more, but I was just too nervous.

It was miserable. The line of questions, the expression on the board’s faces– they’d already made up their minds and it was up to me to convince them otherwise. Aaron and the investigators had really done a number on this case. The version they had was that I, a duly sworn paramedic had turned my back on an obviously harmless man. That I had attacked a known mental patient who (had I tried) could have been talked out of it.

Oh, yeah, they’d laid it on thick.

I took a deep breath and forced myself to remain calm, but my hands were shaking. ‘Harmless mental patient.’ A harmless mental patient who’s been stalking me for three years and has tried explaining his feelings to me with a ‘Louisville Slugger’. Actually to be fair, the first time, I think it was a ‘Cal Ripken the IVth,’ but the sentiment was the same.

I did the right thing then, and I pulled out my folder on Aaron, that I keep just for such occasions. I’d made copies and I let them review those for a while. The file was complete, I started it after I’d filed the restraining order and continued to date.

It had medical records from both attacks, dates and times I’d been visited by him. The case number of every call I made to the star about him, copies of the police findings from Baltimore, compliments of Saunders. I even had notes about the arrival of the investigators and the questions they’d asked as well as the feds. It had everything.

After they’d finished reading that, I further explained that a) I was not an active paramedic at the time of the attack, b) that I was in no shape to administer first aid and c) had I done so, I would have endangered myself and the ‘victim’, which is clearly against regulations.

I could see them try to resolve what I’d told them with the ‘facts’ in the case. Then I was asked to leave so they could deliberate.

I think that was the worst part. Sitting there knowing that my future depended on seven men weighing my truth against Aaron’s. On the bright side, Casey, Mrs. Walker, and Mike were waiting for me outside the council chamber they’d commandeered for this case.

Mrs. Walker handed me something to drink and something to eat. I looked up at her and she gave me one of the sternest ‘mom’ looks I’ve ever seen. I accepted it and ate. There are some arguments, you just can’t win.

I was a nervous wreck by the time they called me back in. I could barely stand without shaking. Mike gave me a smile and then I was back in front of the board.

They started to draw it out, telling me how they’d weighed the evidence and that they had the solemn duty to protect the citizenry… almost fifteen minutes before they finally told me that they found that I had acted accordingly and that the matter is closed.

I think the chairman was enjoying making me squirm. They filed out and the Walkers came in. I was collecting up my folders when Mrs. Walker started reading through one of them.

“He… did this to you and they…”

I nodded. “Its why I keep the medical records… Pictures can be faked. Memories can be… manipulated, but x-rays are forever.”

I was so relieved. I was still a medic and I would not face criminal charges in Baltimore.

Casey entered the room after seeing the board off. “That went better than expected,” he commented.

I nodded solemnly. “I’m not leaving here in handcuffs,” I offered after a minute.

“Little chance of that,” Casey assured me with a chuckle.

I thanked him for his vote of confidence, but he just shook his head. “Council Island belongs to the Salish Shidhe Council, a sovereign nation without reciprocity. They couldn’t have taken you if they’d wanted to.”

It took a few minutes for that to *really* sink in. No, Casey doesn’t miss much at all. Its good to know he’s on my side.

Wednesday, September 6th, 2056 – a day off

After all the tension– it was like I’d been stuck in a small dark room only to find that there was a whole bright world out there.

When I got up in the morning, I went for a jog with Jonathan. Well, Jonathan and Casey, we’re joined at the hip as he put it. But even having Casey as my shadow, I still felt more relaxed than I have in a very long time.

Its good to know you aren’t alone in the world. You would not believe the celebration we had last night. I called Mario and Trina and filled them in. They were quite relieved as well. Mrs. Walker told me to invite them so my ‘family’ could celebrate my good fortune.

Its hard to feel down when you’re with the Walkers. The celebration was the perfect release after all the tension I’ve been facing. When I woke up, I realized I’d slept better than I have in ages.

I think it’s the Island and the people here. I’ve got family. It’s a good feeling and I think up until now, I hadn’t really realized just how– unprotected I’d been feeling. Between the Walkers and Mario and Trina– I have a very full family, and they’re functional!

Mike and I spent a few hours just cloud watching, talking about nothing and everything. He’s doing a lot better, but I can still see the slightly haunted look in his eyes. I can’t help but feel for the kid. I think he finds it easier to talk to me because I’m kinda in the same situation.

I keep wondering if things would have been different if I had moved out here two years ago when the boys had invited me to move in. I understand him, I also understand that ‘what if’ is a game you can’t win.

So we talked, and played, and thought. It was a peaceful way to spend the afternoon. I wish I could stay here forever, but that’s not in my nature either. I have to go back tomorrow, start work all over again.

But at least I got a respite. A taste of how life can be, it’s enough to see me through another week, that and another taste of Mrs. Walker’s cooking.

Copyright 1999 – M.T. Decker

June 21, 2018

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