By ten oíclock the joint was jumping.
Well, as jumping as you can get with most of the people just about able to clap their hands and shimmy while sitting.
Two days before Christmas, it was snowing and he was stuck in a room filled with geriatrics looking for music from a live band. Scott McCall shook his head. This wasnít what he had dreamed about when he became a musician.
From the small stage in front of the exclusive Adult Community Complex Center of Seabrook Estates, Scott vowed to take a pound of flesh from the hide of his business manager. He was the one who set up this gig, which had been part of a package deal that culminated in his band working Zeebianaís Club on New Yearís Eve. Zeebianaís might be the hottest new place on the East Coast, but Scott wasnít so sure that it was worth doing this gig. His guys didnít exactly do golden oldies, and this group looked older than even the golden oldie generation. But fortunately most his group had jazz training which included the standards of the American Songbook in the repertoire, so they could handle anything.
He was on the stage doing soft harmony for an old romantic rumba that Gigi was singing. She sounded great.
Okay, he had to admit that there seemed to be a few younger revelers at this party too. Scott guessed that they were families of the people who lived in the Estates. There were just a few in their twenties, and most seemed to be fifty or so. But they all looked loaded with money. Gowns and jewelry sparkled everywhere you looked.
The snowstorm outside was a bad one. Scott had to call his father at the last minute and beg his help in getting a van that could hold all the equipment the musicians needed and get it through the blizzard. Scottís own van would never have made it. Luckily, his dad had been wrapping up one of his Equalizer cases and happened to have a large Company, snow-chained, off-road vehicle at his disposal. He also had Mickey Kostmayer and Jimmy available to drive and help load the van.
Scott looked around the place. Seabrook Estates seemed to be the perfect place to retire, but it must cost a fortune to get in. The halls were sure decked out. There was a full Christmas tree in the corner of the room, each table had candles and flowers on it, and the china and crystal gleamed with gold highlights. The room was set up for about one hundred and fifty people, fifteen large tables with room for ten at each. Scott shrugged, maybe there were more rich old folks around then he ever imagined.
Whatever the case, the dance floor had been filled with couples moving to the music the minute they started playing. More then usual had two women dancing together, it was probably because husbands usually die off before the wives. But the overall feeling to the night was festive Ė and a little charming.
He noticed his dad tripping the light fantastic with the Centerís manager, a fifty-something woman with a European air and handsome appearance. Scott had to chuckle. His dad always seemed to meet the best looking mature babes wherever he went. That sheís very interested in him must be the reason that his dad, Mickey and Jimmy were even invited to the party, much less seated at her table.
As he scanned the dancers, Scott had also beheld the amazing sight of Mickey Kostmayer smiling and rumbaing with a woman who looked to be about eighty! What a kick! Jimmy was at their table, talking to an old guy and drinking like a fish.
Mickey and Jimmy had been a Godsend that day. Because of the snow some of the band wasnít there, and without those two guy's help theyíd never have been able to set up in time. With only half the band they couldnít do any hard rock songs, which were out anyway with this crowd, but then they also couldnít do any big arrangements of the Christmas dance songs. Good thing he'd heard about the storm early and had time to get the small arrangements in order.
The people here were sure in a cheerful holiday mood. More than one peppy old lady, beaming with happiness, had cornered him to rave about a granddaughter who would be perfect for him, or for any unmarried member of the band. Gigiís sparkling low cut dress was complimented by the women as they surrounded her like admiring grandmas. Every member of the band had been flattered and thanked, and that was something that didnít happen a hell of a lot in most of the places they worked.
Scott went for the big glissando finish, flashed his brightest smile at the audience and stood up with the others to receive the applause.
He saw the dessert carts being rolled into the room and people began to sit back down at their tables. It was time for the musicianís break and Gus was slated to do some cocktail piano bar type tickling of the keys while the room had their coffee.
Looking around, he noticed his dad in animated conversation at his table. There was the good looking lady manager, Mickey, Jimmy, a husband and wife in their late sixties, and Mickeyís eighty-something dancing partner sitting next to a man of about fifty. They all seemed to be having a nice time.
Gus, on piano, started playing a jazzy version of "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" and it looked like the night would be a success after all. He was just about to go into the back room for a bathroom run and more coffee when his dad caught his eye, waved, whispered something in his lady friendís ear, and then got up and started making his way over in Scottís direction. His dad had a pleased look on his face as he walked around the tables and waiters.
"Well done, Scott," his dad said as they shook hands. Scott felt himself grin like a kid and he led them both to the back room the musicians used. When they got there, his dad put his arm around his shoulder and directed him to an empty corner.
Scott was thrilled. For his father to put his arm around him in public must mean that heís really proud of him! Scott almost felt giddy with delight!
"Iím glad the evenings going so well, dad, I thought that what with some of the band missing thatĖ"
"I need to get a message to Control and I need it done now!"
Surprised, Scott looked at his father and saw that his face still had that easy-going smile on it, but his voice was sharp, quiet, but intense.
"Whatís going onĖ?"
"No questions boy." His dadís face still had that pleased look on it, but now his eyes were boring into his. "And keep that grin on your face."
Scott stretched his lips into a smile and tried to keep his real emotion off his face. "OK, Whatís going on?"
"I need you to nonchalantly get to a phone and call Control. Tell him that the Poliorketes have turned up."
"The Polly or Kateyís?" Scott was confused. "I donít understand."
His dad sighed. "Thatís close enough. Control will know what I mean. Tell him where we are and that the son is here too. Itís up to him to take it from there. Iíd better get back to the table before anyone thinks my long absence is strange."
"Make that call and then come to my table," his dad murmured and then said louder, obviously for the benefit of the other members of the band in the room, "I want to introduce you to my dinner companions." Then he sauntered out.
Scott turned to his musicians and announced. "Iím going to check with the local police about the roads being plowed. Iíll be back in time for the next set."
"Want some company?" Gigi asked, her sparkling red dress winking at him.
Anywhere they went with her in that outfit would be sure to attract attention. "Naw, Gigi, I need to use the john too, so itíll be a rush."
Gigi giggled. "OK Scott, maybe we can go off for a walk another time?"
Must be the Christmas season, Gigi had never been this friendly before! "Great, another time," he said and he went off in search of a phone.
He got to the lobby and saw that there was one woman sitting at the main desk on duty. She looked at him with a bored stare and he smiled. "I need to make a phone call."
"Pay phones are at the end of the hall to your right," she said, her voice nasal and flat.
"Thanks," Scott flashed his brightest smile again and scooted down the hall. He fished change out of his pocket, fed the coins into the phone and dialed the phone number his dad gave him way back when he was eight and his parents had divorced. It was a private number for Control and he had only used it a few times in all those years. He had made himself memorize the number after he called it two years ago, when he had discovered his father missing and his home ransacked.
Scott checked that no one was around him to listen as the phone rang once then picked up. Like the last time, no voice said anything, just a beep sounded.
"Hi itís Scott. Dad says that the Polly or Katyís and the son have turned up at the Adult Community Complex Center of Seabrook Estateís Christmas party." He hesitated a moment, feeling foolish, "Oh, okay so anywayÖ Merry Christmas." Then he hung up. Again checking around him, he saw that he was alone and he walked back to the festivities.
When Scott got near to the ballroom he heard the usual hum of people chatting and eating but he didnít hear any sounds of music. Worried, he stepped up his pace. Maybe Gus had just finished a song and was about to start another, but silence wasnít what they were paid for. He jogged around to the musicians back room and still no music. That wasnít good. Walking into the room he saw that all of the musicians were there, and they all had plates of food.
"What the hell, all on a break at the same time?" He found he was shouting. "You know better!"
They all looked up with huge grins on their faces as they chewed. Thatís when Scott noted the manager in the room, Mrs. Ducharme, the lady that had taken such a fancy to his dad.
"Iím afraid itís all my fault Scott." She stepped towards him, her face had a handsome pout on it. "Your people have been doing such a lovely job for us tonight that I thought we should thank them with some food while itís still warm."
Scott tried not to show his surprise. For any management to serve good food to the musicians, and during the gig, was something special. Scott figured his dad must have had something to do with it. Mrs. Ducharme must be trying to make a good impression on him.
"Itís almost the end of our party, our residents canít stay up too late you know. Right now, people from our community are going to make some holiday remarks, so I thought you and your musicians should take this time to rest and eat." She was aiming a smile so bright at him that Scott could see what his dad saw in her. She was a good looking woman, for any age.
"That was very nice of you Mrs. Ducharme. We all appreciate it."
"Scott, call me Mélisande, please." Taking his arm, she started to lead him out of the back room and into the main ballroom. "Do sit with your father while I attend to some of my duties as manager. I must make an appearance to those of our guests who are in our Extended Care Wing, they arenít well enough to attend the festivities in the ballroom."
When they got to the table his father stood up with his usual suave manners and took Mélisandeís hand. An unknown man, bald and doughy, who was older than his dad by at least a decade also rose.
"Iím going to the bar." He threw his napkin down on the table, "Muriel is somewhere yakking to the other women. Since sheís away, nowís the best time for me to have a few real manís drinks, not the ones with fruit and umbrellas she permits me to have." He smiled at the other people at the table. "Would anyone care to join me at the bar? Tabís on me."
Jimmy was up in a flash. He was a little out of place in his sweater and workpants, "Iím in."
Mickey also stood up and addressed the one remaining elderly lady at the table. "Pardon me, Patricia, but Iíve learned never to pass on a free bar. Iíll be back for our next dance when the band starts to play." Mickey grinned, looking to be in a good mood.
"Iíll pass," the one remaining unknown man at the table said, "but thanks."
Mickey, Jimmy and the older man left to go towards the bar.
"That was Myron Fredericks," his dad said. He was still standing and went to pull the chair out next to him for Mélisande.
"No please Robert," Mélisande said, "I brought your son here to keep you company while I give my holiday greetings to the others who arenít able to get around, to let them know that they are included in the spirit of the season."
"That is a fine idea," the eighty-something lady at the table said. She turned to the olive skinned man at her side. "Eric, please accompany Mrs. Ducharme, this would be a good time to visit your father in the hospital wing. I will stop off later tonight and sit with him then." She had a hint of some sort of accent Scott couldnít place, and her tone had a kind of ring to it that made him think that few people ever refused to obey her commands.
Her son, who looked to be about his dadís age, touched her hand. "Are you sure mother? I donít want to leave you alone."
The old woman waved her son away, "Donít be silly. Mr. McCall and-" she looked at Scott, "-his son, I believe, will be here to keep me company. Go on. I want you to see to your father."
Her son stood up, smiled and took the managerís arm. They walked away.
Scott was about to sit down when his dad said to the old lady. "Might I introduce my son Scott. Heís the leader of the band." His father chuckled at the old joke, "And this lovely lady is Patricia Pollack, that was her son Eric who left with Mélisande to visit his father."
He offered his hand to the woman but she smiled and waved him down to sit. "Thatís all right young man, do take a seat. Wise Mélisande brought you here to sit by your father, so that no other younger woman might place herself next to him. Sheís quite taken with you Robert. As was I. "
Scooting his chair closer to the table, Scott barely had the time to wonder about the last part of that sentence when a waiter put a fresh place setting of glasses and silverware down in front of him. Another waiter came up, and a plate with roast beef and vegetables was set in front of him. "Wow, Scott said, "Classy!"
"Our Mrs. Ducharme runs a tight ship," Mrs. Pollack said. "Please do start your meal" She smiled at his dad. "Heís a very handsome boy, a bit like you at that age I think."
"Excuse me?" his father said with an exaggerated air of bewilderment.
"Is your mother French, Scott?" Patricia asked.
Scott stopped cutting his beef for a moment. He was really confused. "No, my momís an American. Why did you ask?"
She smiled and nodded, "I didnít want to perhaps make some trouble for your father. But as you are obviously not as yet thirty I can speak freely."
Baffled, Scott turned to his father, only to see his dad stare at the woman.
"Donít you recognize me Robert? I know itís been thirty years and I have changed quite a lot. I donít want to appear coy but have you no memory of me?" She smiled at his dad.
"Thirty years?" his dad said, staring closely back at her.
"Cyprus, 1960, we knew each other well then," she smiled "Actually, very well. My name was-"
"Pelicia?" his father whispered.
"Ah," the old lady said, her eyes shinning. "So you do remember me?"
Scott thought he saw a gleam come into his father's eyes, but then he glanced at Scott and the look died down.
"I asked about your mother young man, because your father was involved with this pretty little thing at that time, a Frenchwoman. Her name wasó"
"Manon," his father said.
Scott nearly choked. "You mean?"
"It was a long time before I met your mother. I was young and working for a French company, intent on doing business with the new Cypriot government that Britain, Greece, and Turkey had negotiated to begin in mid 1960. I met Mrs. Poliorketes Ė"
Scott tried not to jump. Mrs. Poliorketes?
"Her husband was recommended as a contact to Colonel George Grivas and to Archbishop Makarios who was soon to be elected as president of Greece."
"Yes, your father managed to persuade me to talk to my husband so that he could do business in Cyprus." She looked at his dad. "How did that work out?"
His dad stared back at her with a solemn look on his face. "Where did you go? One minute we were together and the next you had vanished."
"The second you sat down at this table I recognized you Robert. You have those same marvelous eyes and cheekbones and that delicious British skin. I always did love your skin."
Oh ick! Scott had to work hard to swallow his mouthful of food. To think that his dad and this woman maybe, might haveÖ beenÖ But she was so old! God!
"I can understand why you didnít recognize me," she said with a laugh, "Thirty years on a woman over fifty does wreak a lot of destruction."
"As time does to all of us. But youíre avoiding my question," his dad glared at her, "I thought we had something special, that's why I deceived Manon for you. Why Ió"
He what? Trying not to show his repulsion, Scott took a sip of water
"I didnít know that my husband had made plans for us to leave Cyprus. One day he simply announced that we must leave." She looked down, "I had no way of contacting you to tell you about it. Iím sorry, I have always regretted it."
Looking back and forth between the two, Scott tried to imagine what they looked like thirty years ago. Heck, his dad would have been just a few years older than he was now. God!
Without being obvious about staring, he tried to see what the old lady must have looked like so long ago. She did have niceÖ AhÖ an attractiveÖ No, he didnít see it.
"I had such plans," his dad said.
Scott decided that it was about time he finished the food and got away from the table. He didnít much want to hear about his dadís sowing any wild oats, and he was a little disappointed to hear that he had cheated on Yvetteís mother. Scott had the idea that Manon was one of his fatherís great loves.
He finished the food and waved away the waiter with the dessert cart. "Sorry to leave, but Iíve got to look in on my musicians." Putting a polite smile on, he pushed his chair back, stood up, looked at the lady and said, "Nice to have met you. See you later dad." Then he beat a hasty retreat.
On the way, he saw Mickey, Jimmy and the other man, all holding drinks and heading back to the table. Scott hoped that no one else would hear about his dadís affair with the old lady.
In the backroom, the plates of food were gone and everyone was resting and talking quietly. Alex was fooling with his saxophone, polishing it and sucking on a reed.
"Whatís the news about the snow ploughs? Will we be able to get back to the city or will we have to sit up all night in the reception room?" Gigi asked.
"Huh?" Scott said, then he remembered that he had said he would find about the snow cleanup. "Oh, I got waylaid by some people. I never got to learn anything. Weíll find out soon enough."
He heard a hush come over the ballroom and he looked out. Mélisande was back, standing at the dais introducing someone. He guessed there would be a few minutes more before they had to start playing again. He found a seat and started talking to the others.
It was a quarter to eleven when the speeches were finished. Scott didnít think that the old folks in the ballroom would last much longer. Most were probably already up way past their bedtime.
Mélisande, looking all pleased and flushed, fluttered into the room. Scott was about to tell her they were going back onstage but she went directly to Gus.
"Now? Can you play that request now? Weíve almost finished talking about those who have passed this year and Mrs. Forsyth would so love to hear the song. It was hers and her late husband's song, their favorite. It was popular when they met."
Gus had already risen from his seat and was smiling his best professional piano bar smile. "Of course, no problem. I know it well."
"Weíre lucky enough to have a volunteer from the audience to sing it." She glanced at Scott and then addressed Gigi. "So my dear, thereís no problem about the lyrics. I quite understand that it was way before your time."
Then she hustled Gus out. The rest of the band was standing, ready to get onto the stage when the song was finished. Scott felt subdued, the way he usually got at the end of a gig. The main adrenaline was gone and was replaced with a mellow mood.
Gus was playing an old tune Ė what was its name? A World War Two slow, sad song.
Then Scott heard the lyrics being sung:
"There'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover
Tomorrow, just you wait and see"
The guy singing had a great voice. It sounded a lot likeÖ
"Scott isnít that your dad singing?" Gigi said.
"There'll be love and laughter and peace ever after
Tomorrow when the world is free,"
Scott rushed to the door and walked out on stage quietly. The piano was in a spotlight with the rest of the room dimmed. His dad was there, singing, and he was holding the hand of an elderly lady who was beaming a smile even though there were tears streaming down her face.
"The shepherd will tend his sheep
The valley will bloom again"
Taking great care to be quiet, Scott sat down and listened and watched. His dad was always full of surprises and had the class and theÖ panache to bring everything off well. Scott knew the opposite was true about himself. He tried to be sure in his actions, but with a father like his, it was hard. It was difficult to know that heíd never be as good as his dad at anything.
The set ended and the lights came up. Scott found himself clapping and cheering with the rest of the room. Then Gus stood up and patted his hands in the air for quiet. His dad was about to walk the elderly lady to her table when Gus spoke.
"Everyone, Iím sure youíd like to thank our guest singer tonight. Our band leaderís own dad. Robert McCall."
As his dad gracefully accepted more applause Scott looked out over the audience and feelings of pride and happiness washed over him.
Out of the corner of his eye, he glimpsed some movement at his dadís table amongst his dining companions. Jimmy and Mickey were applauding with the rest, but two men in dark suits were talking to Patricia, his dadís old beau, and helping her up out of her seat.
Mickey saw Scott notice and just smiled at him and nodded.
In his best voice, Gus again addressed the audience. "Recently, I heard our fearless leader Scott and his dad do a wonderful holiday duet. Letís all put our hands together and see if they will perform that medley for us now." He turned and led the applause to direct it to him and his dad.
They had just performed at the charity Christmas Party at OíPhelanís earlier that week so Scott picked up his guitar without a secondís delay. He smiled at his dad, and was amazed to see an answering look of complete pride and love on his fatherís face. Wow.
It hit him to the quick.
Scott knew it was one of those moments he would remember forever.
The next few minutes went by in a blur. The opening chords of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," came out smooth as silk, and his fatherís voice joined in. It was one of those magical out-of-body performances that happen only every once in a while. There was a connection between his father and him, his guitar and his dad's voice, and a powerful bond to the audience.
One by one the other members of the band came onstage and joined in different songs in the medley, so that by the closing strands of "O Come, All Ye Faithful" every single person in the room had joined in. It was wonderful. The applause filled the air and as Scot hugged his dad, he saw that the room was filled with smiles.
Mélisande, applauding and dabbing at her eyes walked to the dais. She joined as another ovation washed over the room. "Werenít they just wonderful?" she asked the audience, and more clapping answered her.
She turned to the microphone again. "I hate to interrupt, but I wanted to let everyone know the good news. The snow ploughs have cleared the roads!" Cheering broke out. Mélisande laughed, "So the people who need to get back to the city can travel in safety. The road is also clear to the Seabrook Motel for those of you who have reserved rooms there overnight." The room broke out in applause again and she stopped for a moment to let it continue. "And now at the end of the evening I want to remind everyone that there will be a Christmas Eve Mass at our own chapel on Christmas Eve and all of you are invited to attend it with our community."
A general buzz of conversations filled the room. Scott checked his watch and it was eleven, the time he was told the evening would end. Some of the younger guests began to rise and kiss the older people at their table, obviously eager to hit the road home.
"Wrap up Boss?" Phil, holding his bass, whispered to Scott.
"Iíd say so. Do "The Christmas Song" while I get the OK from the manager."
Gigi stood up and started singing and Scott hurried around departing people to his dad's now crowded table. Mélisande was hanging onto his dadís arm.
"Weíre about to do our wrap-up, Mrs. Ducharme, that okay?"
"Oh yes, Scott," she took his hand in her own cool one, "And I want to thank you for a wonderful eveningís entertainment. Look at all the people who are taking your cards. I expect that youíll be getting a lot of bookings from tonight!"
Scott saw a crowd going to the piano to take the bandís card with all their information it. It did look promising.
His dad then took Mélisandeís hand. "And I shall pick you up next Friday for our evening in the city," then he kissed it. The woman looked like the cat that had eaten the canary, she was so pleased.
"Iím already looking forward to it, Robert." She kissed his dad on the mouth then Ė a big one. And with that she was swept away saying her goodnights to the residents and their families.
"Weíre going to do the finale, dad. If you, Mickey and Jimmy pitch in to help, we can be on the road in about thirty minutes. Iíll meet you in the back room, okay?"
"Sounds good, Scott," Mickey, standing next to him answered, and his father, whose eyes were on something at the side entrance, nodded.
Jogging around all the people preparing to leave, Scott got to the stage just as Gigi finished the last "Merry Christmas" of the lyrics.
"Everyone on vocals, íWe Wish You A Merry Christmasí guys and lets make it peppy!" Scott sang out as he picked up his guitar.
By the time they got to the last chord, all the people left in the ballroom were singing and cheering. "Good night everybody" Scott called to what remained of the audience, "And a Merry Christmas." More cheering followed and the room began to clear out.
"Good job tonight," Scott said to his group. They all were grinning and in a cheery mood.
"Rehearsal at noon, Boss?" Alex, his saxophone hanging on his neck, a clarinet in his left hand and a flute in his right, walked with Scott into the back room.
"Noon rehearsal!" Scott shouted out to be answered by a few boos. "Noon!" he repeated. Then he saw his dad, Mickey and Jimmy and another man in the corner of the musicianís room. As he got closer he recognized Control as the fourth man!
"Whatís going on?" Scott asked when he walked up to them.
"And how did you manage to make Scott ask me to drive him here tonight?" his dad was saying with that familiar angry tone to his voice. "Did you somehow create this blizzard?"
Control took a deep breath as if controlling his own temper. "No, the storm was fortuitous. I had planned on tweaking Scottís own van so it wouldnít go. He would have called you for a ride. That was my plan."
"What? You were going to break my van?" Scott gasped.
Control caught him with a glare. "Scott, calm down, It would have been fixed by tonight anyway. I simply needed Robert to get here to ID the couple I had reports on."
Suddenly Scott remembered earlier in the evening. "Polly or Katyís?"
"Yes," his dad growled, he was still angry. "Control heard that the family might be here. He tricked me into identifying them for him."
"Was I wrong?" Control asked. "This way the woman confessed to you with no prompting. It looks a lot better in the World Court when an eighty year old isnít entrapped in a situation that leads to her arrest."
"But you involved my son! And I warned you about that."
"I got your son and his band a package deal that included well deserved jobs. He plays here and thereby works the best new place on the East Coast for New Yearís Eve. The job is his, free and clear, whether you recognized the Poliorketes or not."
"Huh?" Scott said, "This is all a setup?"
"You were all ready for me to make the identification, werenít you?" his father snarled, "Thatís how you got here so quickly, and in such a terrible blizzard, no less!"
"I was the one who brought the snow ploughs up this way, permitting everyone to get home tonight." Control muttered, "You can thank me later."
"Thank you? You blastedó"
He felt a hand on his shoulder pulling him away. It was Mickey. "How about I fill you in on whatís going on, while we go onstage and pack the stuff up. Okay?"
Scott took one look at Control and his father eyeing each other as if flame throwers were going to be brought out next, and decided to take Mickey up on his offer.
"Iíll get the speakers packed," Jimmy said and hurried in front of them and out to the stage.
"What's all this about?" Scott asked.
Mickey started to unplug and wind up some of the cables. "Old, nasty story kid. Your dad and Manon were assigned to Cyprus in 1960, trying to scope out what was going on with the settlement talks between the British, Greek and Turkish governments. It was just about your dadís first big mission after he joined the Company."
Scott stopped in his tracks. "His first mission and he was paired up with Manon?"
"Well no, it was his first year with the Company. Anyways, they were assigned to get Intel for the Company, nothing else. But while looking into the Greek Cypriot organization, the EOKA, led by Colonel Grivas and backed by Archbishop Makarios, your father found out that that one of their rabid murdering henchmen was working for himself. Grivas and Makarios had launched a campaign of widespread terrorism, murdering ruthlessly and indiscriminately, all in the name of working towards the annexing of Cyprus to Greece. That was political, outside the Companyís jurisdiction. But this one guy, a Kratos Poliorketes, was killing for his own profit and thatís a crime."
"Poliorketes? That was the name I called into Control for dad earlier."
Mickey nodded. "Yep, your dad and Manon were both working their way into the Poliorketesí lives, collecting evidence of their crimes. Unfortunately before they had made their case, Grivas discovered that Kratos wasnít killing for the cause, but killing for his own personal profit. He ordered Kratos and his wife and sonís heads on a platter. All three escaped Cyprus loaded with blood money. They completely disappeared Ė until now."
"Thirty years ago?" Scott was confused. "Can they still be prosecuted for their crimes? And why were the wife and son arrested?"
"She was the mastermind behind the schemes and responsible for smuggling the money out of Cyprus. Their son was in his twenties and was killing people right next to his father."
"Then her kid was about the same age as my dad when they became Ė involved? Oh gross!" Scott shuddered.
Mickey grinned. "As for prosecuting them, what happens after this arrest is up to the Company and the World Court. Itís best not to ask."
Scott looked at Mickey, "Not ask? Youíre kidding right?"
Mickey snorted, "Yeah kid, Iím in this job for the laughs."
A dark feeling came over him. He felt kind of sick that there were people in the world, even thirty years ago, who would kill people for personal profit. And the old lady looked so normal. What a thing to think about so near Christmas.
There wasnít anyone in the ballroom except the cleanup crews, and so he, Mickey and Jimmy worked getting everything ready to be loaded into the van in relative quiet
Suddenly he heard a small, soft voice speak. "Iíd like to thank all of your musicians young man."
A small elderly woman was standing in front of the stage. Scott smiled and got closer to her. Then he recognized her as the lady his dad sang "The White Cliffs of Dover" to.
"Iím afraid I have been amiss in my thanks." She had a lovely, earthy British accent, one that was very different from his dadís. "I should have thanked you earlier," and she held out her hand which had a wad of cash in it.
Scott laughed and shook his head, "No, thatís not necessary, really."
"Love, I know that musicians always need their tips. I was in show business myself Ė during the war, in Duxford. Thatís where I met my husband William, Mr. Forsyth. He was a Yank stationed in town. I chanced on him when he came to see me dance." The woman began to stammer a little, "I want you to know how much I appreciated that lovely manís singing of the song that my husband and I considered our own."
The old lady looked at him with a look of such sweetness that Scott felt like hugging her. "No need for tips tonight. It was our pleasure to perform it for you maíam." Scott took her hand, and in a moment of grace, such a one that had never come over him before, he lifted it to his lips in a gentle kiss.
Mrs. Forsyth blushed and smiled prettily, and Scott had an intuitive flash of what she had once been: a lovely young woman who lived through an awful war, fell in love with a soldier from an allied country and after the fighting had ended, followed him half way away across the world to live their lives together.
"Thank you so, youíve made my holiday," she said and walked away.
"My man, Scott," Mickey whispered, "Smooth move. I do believe you won her heart."
"She won mine first," he sighed.
"Are we all packed up and ready to go yet?" Scott heard his father call from the doorway.
"Just needs to be loaded into the van," Mickey chimed out.
"Scott," his dad said as he appeared on the stage, "Controlís offered all four of us a lavish meal tomorrow, to try and make amends for his lack of courtesy in tricking us into this evening. Will you be free to join us?"
"Huh? I thought you were ferociously angry with him. How can you accept a meal as an apology?"
Mickey snorted a laugh and picked up some equipment and headed for the door with Jimmy.
"My role is as a gadfly to Control nowadays. I make certain that he uses his conscience Ė when dealing with me at least." His dad got closer to him to whisper in his ear. "I did after all, have you call in my identification of the Poliorketes. If I didnít want them turned in, I never would have had you call Control. I also involved you because, as far as I could see, it was perfectly safe."
"But dad, you were involved with Ė that old lady, werenít you? You cheated on Manon for her."
"Oh Scott," his dad smiled wistfully, "Manon and I did love each other, but we werenít in Cyprus on a sightseeing tour or on a honeymoon. We had a job to do. If we didnít understand that, then we wouldnít have been assigned to work together."
Scott felt his mouth open in bewilderment. "It was okay with her?"
"We were doing what we had dedicated our lives to do. We were new to the Company, new to the cause. I was certain that working for the right objective sometimes meant doing what you never would otherwise. We both understood." He patted Scott on the back, "You did a fine job tonight lad, your talent has added to the joy of the season and to the happiness of every person in this room. Well done, Iím proud of you."
"Come on boss," Gus called out from the doorway. "Letís get going. Weíre all going to follow a plough back to the city. Lucky for us, itís headed our way!"
"Yeah lucky." Scott felt unbalanced. So many things had happened tonight that he had to think it over: good and bad and Christmas all rolled in together.
"Yes, we are lucky," his dad said as he helped Scott on with his coat. "Weíre together with friends, you were successful tonight in doing the job that youíve chosen. And we have our way back to our home cleared of snow, so we all shall be safe tonight. Thereís not much more to ask for."
Scott looked at his father. The feelings of peace and warmth came over him again. Bottom line, he loved his dad and his dad loved him. There really was a lot to be thankful for.
"Merry Christmas Dad."