Disclaimer: The Sentinel and its characters are completely the property of Paramount and Pet Fly Productions. I use them out of reverence, solely for fun and not for profit.

Rating: PG-17

Warnings: Deals with mature themes; reader discretion is advised. Not for those without nerves of steel.

Author's Notes: See extensive notes appended to the story for further information.


Three Happy People
by
Ismaro

ligela@sympatico.ca

 

Sunday
July 14, 1974
Seattle, Washington

Man, but this was a perfect day!

The gorgeous redhead shook off her faded madras bandanna and combed her long, long tresses with slender fingers. She had ironed her curly hair to straighten it, and with its length and weight had pulled most of the curl out of it, but it still fell in lovely, loose waves down her back.

She was looking good, but she didn't seem to notice that. She was too busy looking around the park at the beautiful view and soaking up the 90F heat. She could never get enough of the heat.

Sunshine everywhere, the beach full of college coeds taking a break from summer jobs and summer school, radios sending out rock and roll tunes and folk songs that tickled the ear and commanded the throat to sing along. This was heaven on earth.

There was a group playing volleyball, boys against girls, a few yards away with a collection of onlookers, young and old, and the redhead watched for a while, then looked over to the bandstand where races were ongoing at the Rainier Brewery company picnic. A young man caught her eye.

If she was looking good, he was looking great!

The redhead slipped off her sunglasses and surveyed the sights. Mmm, hmmm! Blond, five-ten or so, about her age, 24 or 25, shy grin and snapping bright eyes. Her big blues widened with pleasure and she broke into a smile herself without even knowing it.

It was a magnet for men. The dream in jeans and a white T drew slowly closer, and the redhead didn't even notice the sling on his left arm at first. But when he winced, she frowned in concern and dropped her gaze.

There was no question who he was headed towards. The redhead sat up on her beach towel, primping the spring green bikini spattered with strawberries which she had bought the autumn before on sale, fluffing up the ruffle on the bottom half, trying not to appear completely desperate.

"Hi," came a voice that had a smile in it.

"Hi, yourself," she said and looked up into a face that was so charismatic that she nearly gasped.

Oh, yes, a little flirting was just what this afternoon needed, she decided with delight.

"Um, I don't want to be a bother," said the blond with a slight British accent that spoke of Carnaby Street and London pop music, "but I was wondering if you could help me." He winced slightly again and clutched at the wounded arm.

"Are you okay?" the redhead asked with sincere concern. "That looks painful! Please, sit down!"

The dream's smile wiped away her frown as he sat carefully next to her. "Yes, I'm fine. Well, I hurt my arm playing racquetball, but I'm really fine."

"That's good! Oh, I should introduce myself!" There was a moue of slight confusion. The dance went on. "I'm Naomi." She held out her hand.

He shook it firmly and held it the requisite extra few moments to make the touch last. "Ted. Do you live around here, Naomi?" came the next question in the minuet of mutual appreciation.

"Yes, I do. Close by the university."

"You a student?"

"Uh-huh. Working on my Master's in Psychology, but I'm not sure I'll be able to finish it." For a moment the big blue eyes were cloudy. He leaned closer.

Lake Sam gleamed and splish-splashed in the background.

"How come?"

"Oh, the usual. Money. You know."

"Oh, yeah, it's tough being a grad student. I'm in law school myself. I know how it goes."

His ready sympathy brought the perkiness back to her stance. She crossed her long legs at the ankle and stretched out her arms behind for balance.

"Well, I'm applying for grants and loans, but I'll have to see."

He nodded and she brought her knees up and wrapped her arms around them, her head back.

There wasn't all that much to the bikini top, and the law student's smile grew wider.

"Like I said, I don't mean to be a bother..."

"Oh, you're not bothering me!" The redhead sounded horrified. "Stop that!" she scolded with a playful swat to the dream's knee.

Two women on other beach towels blinked and one smiled secretly while the other's face scrunched into an envious prune shape.

"Do you think you could help me with something?" he asked again.

"I don't know. Could I?" Her eyes were twinkling.

"I'm having trouble getting my sailboat loaded onto my car."

A dark-haired Adonis cruising for action scowled. He had been just a minute too slow and the blond had beat him to his goal. He decided to stroll a little further and move a little faster.

The volleyball game went on and the races went on and the flirtation went on. Everyone knew the rules.

"I'm having trouble loading my sailboat onto my car," the dream said. "I just can't quite manage it with this." He gestured to his arm and winced a third time.

"Oh, sure! I can help!" the redhead said willingly, and stood up, shading her eyes with her hand, turning around briefly. "It's just..."

"What?" he asked easily, standing also.

"I have... I can't find..."

"Mommy!"

A tiny ball of trouble latched itself onto the back of the redhead's right knee, tugging at the green ruffle.

"There you are, sweetie!" she said happily. "I couldn't see you for a moment! I'm just going to help this nice man..."

The tyke with the curly dark hair lit with gold by the hot, hot sun, unlatched himself and marched forward to stand between his mother and the stranger. He folded his arms across his chest and stood fast.

"I don't like you!" he announced firmly. "You're a bad man! You leave my mommy alone!"

"Sweetie! That's no way to talk! Haven't I taught you..."

The stranger had a strained look as he quirked up the corners of his lips. "No, no, that's okay," he started.

But the child cut him off.

"Mommy, he's a bad man. A really, really, really bad man! I'm afraid!"

And then there was an armful of crying child between the redhead and the blond, and she was helplessly trying to calm the boy and hopelessly shaking her head at the dream.

"I don't know what's gotten into him!" she said. "But I can't..."

"That's okay. I understand. He's just at the age to distrust strangers, right?" The blond was already backing away. A bawling five-year-old was obviously more than he was prepared to handle.

"No, he's never acted like this before," the redhead returned distractedly, still bouncing the boy on her hip and patting his back.

The bawling merely increased and the child started to choke on his tears.

"I think I'd better go," the blond said. "I'm sure I can find someone else to help out."

The redhead nodded and smiled a rueful goodbye.

"Hope he's back to par soon!" The charmer moved away swiftly and was gone.

"Sweetie, sweetie, sweetie," the mother crooned. "Please stop crying. Everything's okay now!"

The boy drew back his curly head and yelled fiercely, "No, it's not. It's not okay! It is not okay! Mommy, we have to move away. Now! He can come after us. He can come after you! We have to move!"

"What?" protested the flabbergasted mom. "Move? What on earth?"

"We can move... away, right? We can... move, Mommy, right? We can, can't... we?"

The urgency in the child's voice, the gulping for air as he fought back new tears, the desperation in his grasp on her shoulders, enough to leave tiny bruises on her fair flesh, swayed the mother.

"Well, yes, I suppose we can," she admitted. "But I have school..."

"You can go... to another school, can't you? I have to start... a new school, kinnergaren, right? We can both go to new schools, can't... we? Can't we, Mommy?"

The child was crying whole-heartedly as he gasped out the crucial questions.

The redhead thought quickly and realised that she could possibly wangle a transfer to the University of Rainier in Cascade for the fall semester, although she doubted the loans and grants she had applied for would be as portable as her Bachelor's transcript and last year's marks. But the money was really iffy and she knew the waitressing job wasn't bringing in enough tips to make the difference she needed and she truly doubted that she would be able to last out a whole year in university on what she had coming in. It had happened before.

Maybe a new city and new prospects was a good idea, she decided and looked down at her angel baby. Maybe taking a year off from school was part of the cosmic karmic plan for their lives.

"Okay," she announced with a determined nod of her head. "We'll move and then we'll both go to new schools in the fall!" She smiled and shook her hair at her son and went 'Grrrr!', a red-gold lioness.

"Thank you, Mommy," the cherub said, with utter faith that his mother would fulfil her promise, and with a huge gap-toothed grin promptly fell asleep in her arms.

He was a happy child.

Good choice, the redhead congratulated herself and kissed his hot brow. Being ballboy for the volleyball game and all that crying sure wore you out, didn't it, sweetie? But maybe we should make an appointment with Dr. Weisman just in case and find out what really scared you.

She laid her little firestarter down on the towel to sleep in the mid-afternoon warmth and began to make plans. There was still enough of the afternoon left for Blair to get in a long nap and be up and bopping the beach for at least an hour after that, she figured and settled down to thinking. Naomi had lots of time for dreams of a long, pleasant future for them both.

She was a happy woman.

Further down the beach the blond was talking to another woman, a brunette this time, one in her late teens, and she was smiling and perky and concerned and generous and nodding.

And that pick-up went according to plan. Ted had finally found his second victim of that sunny Sunday afternoon and all her dreams of a long, pleasant future were about to be destroyed. Mr. Bundy was in control.

He was a happy man.

~ End ~

Author's Additional Notes:


E-Mail Ismaro at ligela@sympatico.ca
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