Title: Loss of Control Author: Rhonda Dossett Character: General West Wing Rating: PG13 Summary: Bones are found under the Press Room floor Spoilers: Minor possible spoilers up to and including "Gone Quiet" Disclaimers: The normal disclaimers apply. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Leo's Office Monday 8:10 pm The sun had long since lost its fight. Lamps provided the only light in Leo's office now. Having finished his dinner, another tasteless meal in a paper sack, Leo anticipated the peace of the next half hour. He was about to experience the highlight of his day. Usually he did this in the early morning, right after breakfast. But a few matters of national importance, and a lot of matters of little importance, had managed to delay his participation in his one remaining vice until now. Taking a deep breath and stretching out on his office sofa, Leo picked up his daily newspaper, already folded to the proper section. His meditative state was almost immediately interrupted. "Leo, what's the meaning of this?" CJ asked as she barreled into the room, waving a piece of paper. Looking up from the crossword puzzle, an impatient Leo barked, "What?" "This," she said waving the note somewhat closer to his face but still at least 3 feet away. "What? Here give me that." He sat up and grabbed the note from her in mid-wave. Glaring at her, he adjusted his glasses and read what was written on the paper. Without looking up at her, he calmly asked, "Why didn't I know about this?" "More importantly, why didn't I know about it?" countered an exasperated CJ. Continuing to read, he dryly sarcastically replied, "I don't think this is a plot to cut you out of the loop, CJ." Glancing at her, he joked, "Especially, since I'm the loop master and don't know anything about it. You should just talk to the Governmental Service Administration about how long it's going to take them to finish. Arrange to set up for briefings in the East Room for a few days." "Leo, I'm getting deposed this week on the MS thing, the tobacco lawsuit is beginning to smoke, and there's the perennial turkey thing going on. I don't have time for this now. Can't they replace the carpet in the Press Room another time?" begged CJ, rubbing the wrinkled spot between her eyes. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't I sign off on a requisition for new carpet for the Press Room at your insistence." Pacing the room, she stopped in front of him again. "That was over two years ago," whined CJ. "Well the government works in mysterious ways. Better take it when you can get it," he concluded going back to his crossword. "Hey what's a 12 letter word for loss of control, starting with the letter - i - ?" Looking up again, he found himself alone. Frowning he said, "Well, I probably didn't want to know the answer to that anyway." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ An Undisclosed West Wing Office Monday 8:30 pm A single desk lamp was switched on in a darkened office. With only their hands and the top of the desk illuminated, two people were sitting across from each other. A whispered conversation was going on. One pair of hands clenching into fists, "I thought you had taken care of this!" "I did the best I could. I delayed it for almost two years." Another pair of hands came into view, palms up. One hand no longer fisted, slapping the desk, "What if they find the body?" "There's no reason for them to find anything," two hands pressing together, fingers interwoven. One hand, fingers drumming on the wood, "What if they do?" "Then we'll do what we have to, just like always." Two hands shaking, sealing the agreement. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ White House Press Room Tuesday 8:00 am The morning light illuminated millions of dust particles floating in the air. Toby and CJ stood in the Press Room doorway surveying the disaster within. Well, CJ thought, maybe it only looked like a disaster. Her podium had been relocated along with most of the electronics to the East Room. The remaining items had been boxed for temporary storage. The theater style seats had been unbolted and stacked in the outer hall. Maintenance workers were ripping up the old carpeting with a vengeance exposing the wooden floor below. Charlie walked up behind the pair. "Toby," the President needs to see you. Looking over his shoulder, Toby answered, "When?" "Now," said Charlie looking into the Press Room. "Hey, I heard they were laying new carpet in here today." Pointing to a cutout on the floor, "What's that? An escape hatch for press secretaries?" Smiling, CJ joked, "No way. That's where I stuff the bodies of all the reporters I slay with my rapier like wit." "Actually, it's a trap door to the old pool area," supplied Toby, as he walked off down the hall. Following Toby, Charlie called over his shoulder, "Gotta go, he wants me to find Sam, too." "Is something going on I need to know about?" CJ shouted after him. Charlie just shrugged his shoulders and kept going. Talking to herself, CJ muttered, "Well this is typical. I'll probably find out about it when a reporter blind sides me with it." Walking down the hall toward her office, she continued complaining, "No one tells me anything." Passing an amused Carol, CJ directed her next words to her. "Don't laugh, I swear I'm going to quit some day." She punctuated her statement by slamming her office door. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ An Undisclosed West Wing Office Tuesday 8:30 pm There were no lights on in the office. The blinds were closed and the door locked. The words from one side of a telephone conversation were audible. "Did you hear that they found some termite damage?" The voice paused, "Well you should care! The maintenance men are talking about replacing parts of the floor." No sound was heard but the tapping of a pencil on wood. "Do I have to spell it out to you? If they replace the floor boards, they'll go down below." Again the voice paused, then responded, "Yeah, I know." Listening for a moment. Whispering, "We have to move it late tonight. I'll meet you there." "Yeah, okay, 3:00 am." The creak of the chair echoed in the room. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ White House East Room Wednesday 9:20 am The East Room had been transformed into a temporary Press Room. Microphones and power cords snaked through the rows of metal folding chairs arranged in front of CJ's podium. A few tables had been set up in the back for the reporters' use. The morning briefing was winding down. The reporters were contemplating donuts and smoke breaks. CJ could almost smell the cup of very strong Starbucks coffee waiting for her in her office. "Ok, one last question." CJ started gathering up her briefing notes. Looking up, toward the back of the room, she pointed to a reporter from the New York Times. "Yes, Allan?" "CJ, I just received information that part of a human skeleton was found under the Press Room floor. Does the White House have a comment?" The sound of notebooks flipping open filled the suddenly hushed space. The crowd in the room waited for her response. She may have swayed slightly, but to her credit, CJ didn't break eye contact with the reporter when she joked, "I'm not aware of anyone being missing, but I didn't do a head count this morning. Did your source say whether it was fresh or not?" Persisting, the reporter continued, "Seriously, CJ, my source is reporting that the workmen found some bones this morning." "I'll have to check into it and get back to you. That's all until this afternoon." Walking briskly out of the room she made her way to her office. "Carol?" she called out before slamming her briefing book on her desk. "I'm on it," Carol shouted back before heading down the hall. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ An Undisclosed West Wing Office Wednesday 9:30 am He was watching the television monitor when CJ got the question. For a moment he forgot to breath. The telephone on his desk started ringing before the live feed stopped. "Yeah," he spit into the receiver. There was a long pause while he listened to the voice on the other end of the line. "Well, obviously, we didn't get all of it. Did we?" His fingers twisted the phone cord while listening to the response. Impatiently, "We have to find a better hiding place since we won't be able to put it back in the pool, like we planned." "You had better think of one, fast." The receiver banged against the cradle. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Leo's Office Wednesday 10:00 am "What was it they found?" a puzzled Toby asked from his perch on Leo's couch. Looking at the Secret Service report in front on him, Leo replied, "Two ribs." "That's all?" Leo, continuing to read, "Bones are probably from an adult female." Rubbing the top of his head, Toby got up and began to pace. "How old are these bones?" Sitting back in his chair, Leo pulled off his glasses. "They need to have some tests run on them, but the estimate is that the individual died more than one year ago, but less than ten years." Toby asked, letting out a deep breath, "So these bones could have been down there during the last administration?" "Sure, but with our luck . . . ," Leo left his sentence unfinished. "Okay, I better get this information to CJ. Can we get a medical expert to answer questions at her next briefing?" Toby questioned. Picking up the telephone receiver, Leo replied, "I'll see what I can do. Right now I need to let the President know what's going on." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Toby's Office Wednesday 1:15 pm "Toby, CJ's on the phone. She says she has a bone to pick with you." Ginger smiled while relaying the last part of her message. Toby sitting at his desk, was reviewing Bruno's latest campaign advertisement proposals. He wondered what suggestions Bruno might have for spinning this bone thing to gain a political advantage. Picking up the telephone receiver, he answered, "What?" Ginger, waiting to give him some additional notes from Bruno, stood in the doorway listening to Toby's side of the conversation. "No, Leo says they don't have any more information yet." Rolling his eyes, "I know you brief again at 2:00 pm." "Yeah, as soon as I find out anything." Disconnecting, he looked up to find Ginger gone and Sam standing in his doorway. "What do you want?" Toby gruffly asked. "I need you to come with me to my office." The ringing of the telephone interrupted their conversation. "Hold on a minute, Sam. I need to take this call." Toby talked with Bruno for several minutes while Sam paced the room. Distracted, finally Toby said into the receiver, "I'll have to call you back." Looking at Sam, "I don't have time for this. Where did Ginger go? I need that information she was . . . " Finally noticing the strange look on Sam's face, Toby abruptly stopped in mid-sentence. "What's wrong?" "I need to show you." Sam turned and left. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Sam's Office Wednesday 1:20 pm Toby reluctantly followed Sam to the adjacent office. "Okay, I'm here. Show me." Impatiently Toby scanned the room. Sam shut and locked the door. "It's in there." Leaning against the door and pointing, Sam directed Toby's attention to the bottom drawer of a lateral filing cabinet located in the corner of his office. Seeing that Sam had no intention of opening the drawer himself, Toby walked over to the cabinet. Bending over, he slid out the drawer. Straightening up, he turned and looked at Sam. "It's empty. What did you want me to see?" Sam quickly walked over to Toby and peered over his shoulder into the open file drawer. Whispering, Sam replied, "It can't be, I just saw it in there." "What did you see? Dust Bunnies, mice, the Magna Charta, what?" "Bones, I saw bones in there," Sam stated. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ West Wing Men's Room, First Stall Wednesday 1:35 pm Under the stall door in a West Wing men's room, four feet are visible. "Okay, I got them out of there just in time." "Not really, Sam Seaborn saw them first." "Hey, I didn't say I was perfect. You know, you've got a real negative attitude." "Don't worry about my attitude. Worry about going to jail. Where did you put them?" "Steam pipe distribution venue." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Sam's Office Wednesday 1:45 pm "I don't see anything Sam." Josh's voice was muffled since his head was in the file drawer. "Oh for God's sake, get your head out of there," Toby demanded, chewing on a soggy cigar. Sam, rubbing his eyes, "We've already covered that. We know there's nothing in there." "Hey, Spanky, doesn't hurt to double check the facts before crying wolf," Josh said with a pointed look towards Sam. Of course since his hair was now standing straight up (a bad case of file drawer head), his words lost some of their impact. "I know what I saw. There was a canvas duffle bag in there filled with bones." Sam got up from his chair and walked back and forth. "I went to get Toby and by the time he finally agreed to come with me, they were gone." "Did you ever consider locking your door or even the file drawer before you left these alleged bones unattended?" Toby asked. "I'm not stupid. I locked my door." Turning suddenly and facing them, Sam realized, "Whoever has the bones, has a key to my office." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Communication's Bullpen Wednesday 1:45 pm "Ginger?" At the sound of her name Ginger looked up from her computer screen to see Ainsley standing beside Bonnie's desk with her arms full. Smiling Ginger responded, "Hi, can I get you something?" "Actually I was hoping that during Bonnie's absence today, I might use her desk. Unless of course you think that my using her desk would be disruptive, or that Toby would disapprove of my presence here." "Sure you can use the desk. Bonnie wouldn't mind and Toby probably won't notice, not that he would care if he did. Is there something wrong with your desk?" Ginger politely asked. "Not the desk, no. It's the office. I'm used to it being too hot and noisy down there. But the pipes are rattling more than normal today. Besides the noise, there's a strange smell. Probably something crawled into one of the pipes and died. I've called maintenance but they're busy with the Press Room renovations until later this afternoon. In conclusion, my immediate problem is that I have to prepare a brief for Oliver by 4:00 pm, and I can't concentrate down there for worrying about what might shoot out of one of the vents and land in my lap. A dead mouse did that once you know." Ginger just stared at her in awe as Ainsley finally took a breath and dumped her load of books and note pads on Bonnie's desk. Resuming her word processing, Ginger typed a few lines before glancing up at the air vent above her head. Cringing, she shifted her chair a little to the right. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ An Undisclosed West Wing Office Wednesday 2:00 pm "Did you hear her?" "Yeah, now what do we do?" "We have to get them out of there and we have to do it now." "Let's go." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ White House East Room Wednesday 2:00 pm The number of reporters who filled the East Room now was significantly more than the number that had attended the morning briefing. The metal folding chairs were filled and standing reporters lined three walls. The already high noise level increased when Carol stepped into the room. "If I can have your attention please, the briefing is about to start." Carol made the standard announcement minus the instruction to take their seats. All the seats were already filled. She made a note to get some more chairs in here before the next briefing. CJ briskly walked into the room, accompanied by an unknown man in his sixties wearing the standard dark suit. CJ went to the podium. Opening her briefing book, she arranged a few yellow sticky notes to her satisfaction, and then raised her eyes to the crowd. As she stood there, the noise slowly ceased. When the room was quiet, she began. "I have very little new information about the two bones found under the floor of the Press Room. The bones appear to be rib bones from an adult female and may be as much as 9 years old. DNA testing is being done, but unless or until we have a comparison sample, the results won't tell us much. To my left is Dr. Ian Mitchell, a forensic anthropologist. Dr. Mitchell is a tenured professor at Harvard University and is on contract with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Virginia's Medical Examiner's Office. Dr. Mitchell has extensive experience in identification of human remains and has examined the rib bones. I am going to let you direct your questions to him." Stepping to the side, CJ prompted Dr. Mitchell to step up to the microphone. A ten minute question and answer session ensued which was 8 minutes longer than what was required to convey the known information. Laying her hand on Dr. Mitchell's arm, CJ retook the podium and gathered up her briefing materials. "Okay, that's all for now. The next scheduled briefing will be at 7:00 pm." Ignoring the shouted questions which continued to be hurled after her, CJ left the room followed by Carol and Dr. Mitchell. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ White House Steam Distribution Pipe Venue Wednesday 2:00 pm Ainsley's office door is closed. Only the desk lamp is on. One individual is on a ladder, reaching into a disconnected pipe with one hand and holding a flashlight with the other. Another is waiting below, holding a large canvas duffle bag. The bag appears to be about half full. "Is that all of them?" "I think so, I can't feel anymore in the pipe. It's hard to tell with this glove on." "Take the glove off." "The pipe's too hot." "Why did you take them out of the duffle bag, anyway?" "I told you, the bag wouldn't fit in the pipe. I was also afraid of blocking the pipe so bad that it exploded." "I'm surprised that even occurred to you." "Hey, Einstein, I don't see you coming up with any better ideas and I'm getting a little tired of you blaming me for everything. Just remember it wasn't me that swung that tripod like a baseball bat." "I know. I know. Just hurry up, anybody could walk in here." "Hold the bag up higher. I've got a bunch of finger bones here, wouldn't want to drop them." "Damn." "What?" "This bag has a hole in it." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Communication's Bullpen Wednesday 2:15 pm Getting up from her borrowed desk, Ainsley walked over to where Ginger was doing some filing. "I've got to go down to my office for a reference book, and I'm going to stop by the Mess. Can I get you something?" Ainsley offered. Looking at her watch, Ginger smiled and said, "No thanks, I'm still full from lunch." "Okay, I'll be back in a few minutes." Grabbing her purse, Ainsley headed downstairs. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ White House Steam Distribution Pipe Venue Wednesday 2:15 pm Ainsley's office door is closed and the desk lamp is on. Two individuals are crawling around on the floor, putting things in a canvas bag. "I think this tape is going keep the hole closed. But we're going to have to be careful." "We need a new bag." "No, what we need is to get these bones in the ground somewhere." "Well, when you come up with a plan to get them out of the West Wing without security catching us, let me know." "What was that?" "What?" "What did you just put in this bag?" "What do you think? A bone." "That wasn't a bone." "Yes it was." "You idiot, that was pencil." "Well it's dark in here and you won't give me the flashlight." "Come on we've got to get out of here." "Alright, but don't blame me if we've missed some." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ White House Steam Distribution Pipe Venue Wednesday 2:18 pm Walking into her office, Ainsley was surprised to find only her desk lamp on. Successfully juggling her purse, a poppy seed muffin and an apple, she flipped on the overhead lights and walked over to a book case. Searching for the reference book she needed, she knelt down to look on the bottom shelf. Pulling out the desired volume, she put one hand down on the carpet to push herself up. That's when she noticed it. Right by her hand was a little bone. "Damn it, they need to get an exterminator down here now. I shouldn't have to work in a place like this," she angrily exclaimed. Grabbing a tissue from her desk, Ainsley gingerly picked up the bone using the tissue. Wrapping the tissue around it and securing it with a rubber band, an indignant Ainsley grabbed her purse, the book and the bone. Headed for Leo's office, she got two steps outside her door before returning to grab the muffin and apple. Turning she started out again, but stepped on something. Raising her foot, she looked down with some trepidation. A human tooth lay on the carpet. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Leo's Office Wednesday 2:45 pm They were all gathered in Leo's office and everyone was talking at the same time. Toby, CJ, Sam, and Ainsley sat around the conference table. Donna, Ginger, and Margaret were sitting on the couch. Josh was slouched in a upholstered side chair. Leo was sitting behind his desk. "Alright, everybody shut up," Leo growled. Clearing his throat, Leo stated, "Dr. Mitchell confirmed that the bone Anisley found and the tooth are human and from the same woman as the rib bones." "This woman moves around pretty good for someone in her condition," Josh joked. That comment earned him a glare from the sisterhood. "If I can continue?" Leo asked. Not expecting a reply, he went on, "The Park Police are in charge of the investigation based on the assumption that the victim died in the West Wing or on the grounds of the White House. Of course, the Secret Service and the FBI are involved. Since all of you know him, I've drafted Ron Butterfield to tell you what we know to date." The tall Secret Service Agent, who had been standing unnoticed by the door, gave a quick recap. 1. "Two rib bones were found by GSA workers this morning at approximately 9:00 am. upon entering the old pool area under the Press Room floor." 2. "A canvas duffle bag possibly containing bones was reported seen in his filing cabinet at 1:15 pm by Sam Seaborn The bag and its contents allegedly disappeared from Mr. Seaborn's locked office sometime between 1:15 pm and 1:20 pm." 3. "Miss Hayes found a finger bone and a tooth on her office floor at 2:18 pm. Unlike Mr. Seaborn, Miss Hayes kept possession of the items until she turned them over to Mr. McGarry." 4. "Forensic testing of the bones and tooth has determined that the bones came from an adult female who died more than 1 year ago but less than 10 years ago." "I want all of you to consider a few things. Contrary to Josh's statement, these bones are not traveling around on their own. Someone or someones are moving them. My guess is the body was left in the pool area since death. The renovation caused the killer or killers to move the body." "But, they're sloppy. They missed the two rib bones. They were very close to getting caught when Sam found the bones. Our killers managed to relocate the bones to Miss Hayes' office, but then overheard her talking about calling maintenance to check out the pipes. The perpetrators moved the bones again. And, again they did a poor job, losing a finger bone and a tooth." Toby stood and walked over toward Ron. "So what you're saying is we know the killers. They are close enough to over hear our conversations and to go in and out of our offices. In short, they work in the White House, probably the West Wing," Toby concluded with a frown. "Exactly," replied the Secret Service Agent. Sam, tapping a pencil against the table top, "Well, following that line of reasoning, if we know the killers and the murder happened here, we must know the victim." Ron nodded his head in agreement. "How can that be possible? If someone was missing wouldn't we have noticed? Someone can't just not show up one day and no one say anything. Can they?" CJ asked, her voice rising in pitch. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Leo's Office Wednesday 3:05 pm Surprisingly everyone had a pet theory as to who the murderer or murderers were, but no ideas about the identity of the victim. Margaret was convinced that the murderer was a programer that failed to fix a certain glitch in one of the software programs on her computer. She had apparently been forced to put in multiple service requests before he ever showed up, and then he told her the problem wasn't the computer but her. CJ threw out Oliver Babish's name for consideration. But that might have had something to do with her MS depositions. At this point in the discussion, Ron Butterfield slipped out the door, saying he had a meeting to go to. He refused to take Toby with him, even though Toby offered him fifty bucks. Donna had her money on the murderers being frequent White House visitors, such as Mary Marsh or the Reverend Caldwell. "Donna, you have got to be kidding. I mean, okay, maybe I can actually see Mary Marsh as the Grim Reaper. But Al Caldwell, come on," commented an amused Josh. Raising her chin and her voice, Donna countered, "Josh, do you have any idea how many murders have been committed in the name of religion?" Several groans were heard within the room. "Look, I have a plan," Leo interrupted. "What kind of a plan?" Anisley asked. Sitting back in his chair and linking his hands behind his head, Leo answered, "We'll set a trap and catch the killer or killers holding the smoking gun, or in this case the bag of bones." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ West Wing Men's Room, in front of the sinks Wednesday 3:20 pm "You checked all the stalls right?" "Duh, no only half of them. I like to play the toilet version of Russian Roulette." "You're just a laugh a minute aren't you?" "Hey, someone in this partnership has to look on the bright side." "There is no bright side to this. Haven't you figured that out by now?" "What I want to figure out is what's going on in Leo's office right now." "All I know is that all the senior staff and their assistants are in there." "I saw Butterfield go in there too." "You think they're talking about the bones?" "The bones and us." "What do you mean'us'? Do you think they know who we are?" "No, they don't pay any attention to people like us. They hardly know we exist unless they need something." "Look, we can't stay in here too long. Where did you hide her this time?" "Some place she always wanted to be when she was alive." "Hey, I'm not in the mood for riddles. Is this some place where we won't have to move her again 10 minutes from now?" "As long as we don't get a flood or a hurricane in here, we should be fine." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Communications Bullpen Wednesday 4:30 pm The Communications Bullpen was a hive of activity. At least 20 staffers were milling around answering telephones, watching the television monitors, typing at computers, or sorting files. After getting a telephone call from Ginger, CJ walked out of her office and "accidentally" collided into Toby who was standing at the coffee station pretending to stir creamer into a cup of coffee. During the collision, she dropped a file full of papers and they both bent down to gather them up. Projecting her voice, CJ said, "Sorry, Toby. I'm not usually this clumsy." Toby mumbled something unintelligible, but it earned him a slap on the top of his head with the empty folder. Toby whispered, "If we're going to do this, do it now." She nodded and stood up, leaving Toby to pick up the scattered pages. "Is he crazy, Toby? Has he lost his mind?" CJ said in a stage whisper. She looked down at Toby and waited. Then making a small motion with her hand, she frowned at him. "Why whatever do you mean CJ," Toby proclaimed in a manner reminiscent of someone reading cue cards. Slapping the partition wall, CJ answered a little louder than necessary based on the distance Toby was from her. "Leo is crazy to let the FBI search the whole White House for those bones. I'll never be able to keep that from the Press." CJ looked at Toby and prompted him to comment by emitting a small "hiss". Standing up, Toby said in a loud voice, "Uh, where are the searches going to start?" In another stage whisper CJ responded, "That's confidential, but I heard from Margaret that they are starting in the lower rooms tonight and working their way though the public rooms, the West Wing, the East Wing, and even the residence. The only place that is not going to be searched is the Oval Office." Looking expectantly at Toby, she waited. Finally raising her eyebrows, she impatiently mouthed the word "when". Jump started, Toby spewed out, "Uh, when is this search supposed to be finished so we can get back to normal around here?" CJ moved closer to him and stated in a fake whisper, "That's just it, can you believe it? They plan to search the whole building and grounds by 8:00 am tomorrow. If the bones are still here, they'll find them tonight." Taking the pages from Toby and putting them in her file folder, CJ turned and walked back to her office. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ White House Mess Wednesday, 5:40 pm Two men in suits are sitting at a table in the Mess. Both have cheeseburgers and fries in front of them. Along with a dozen other staff members at scattered tables, they appear to be having dinner. "I'm not sure we should be meeting out in the open like this." "We're not meeting, we're eating." "You know what I mean. What if someone sees us and gets suspicious?" "People see us together all the time. We work together." "That's different." "Only in your mind." There is a pause in the conversation while they start eating. "Do you ever feel bad about what happened?" "No, she had it coming. She gave us no choice." "I don't know. Maybe we should have tried harder to convince her to stay quiet." "Get real. That little witch had one of the biggest mouths in the West Wing." "I just wish we could have handled it differently. You know how I feel about violence." "Yeah, you're philosophically opposed to it. Of course, that didn't handicap your swing when you caved her head in with that camera tripod." Looking around, "Don't talk about that here." "You brought it up. Getting all nostalgic over her." There is another pause while they resume eating. "Eating just reminds me of her." "Reminds you that she stole your food every chance she got. Forget it. Forget her. She was nothing but trouble when she was alive, and even more trouble now that she's dead." "Did you hear about the FBI search?" "Yeah, everyone's talking about it. You know the grapevine in this place." "Do you think we should try and move her again?" "Well, if the FBI searches the Senior Staff offices, they'll find the bag." "There's only one safe place to stash her." "I know. I just don't know how we're going to get her into the Oval Office without being seen." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Sam's Office Wednesday, 8:30 pm "Sam?" "Yeah," muttered Sam, frantically typing on his laptop. "Here's the research you asked for on the oil reserves in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge." "Oh, great!" Sam looked up from his desk at the individual handing him a stuffed file folder. "Hey, how are you doing? I heard you were going on vacation." "Yeah, I finally have both vacation time and money." Leafing though the data printouts he was just handed, Sam asked, "So, where are you going?" "Sailing in the Caribbean." Sighing, Sam pleaded, "Take me with you, please." "Sure, but I kind of thought that subpoena you got served the other day meant you had to testify in front of a House committee next week." "Don't remind me. That's just one more thing I have to worry about. Right now I have to get a position paper drafted on drilling oil in one of the last pristine places on earth." "Sounds to me like you already have a position mapped out." "Yes, but I was assigned to argue 'for' drilling." Looking up at his visitor's puzzled expression, Sam explained, "Leo gets a kick out of doing things like that to me." "Okay, I better let you get back to work. Oh, before I forget, can I borrow your foul weather gear? I mean if you're really not coming sailing with me?" "Sure, it's in a bag in the bottom of that credenza over there. You might want to air the pants out. They probably smell like stale beer. I think Josh wore them last." "Thanks. Is it okay if I just take the whole bag." Typing information into his laptop, a distracted Sam replied, "Sure, have a good time, Larry." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ An Undisclosed West Wing Office 9:00 pm "Did he fall for it? Did you get her?" "Yeah, she's in the bag over there under the desk." "I hope you have a plan to get her out of Sam's rubber pants and into the Oval Office. Rumor has it the FBI has almost finished the search downstairs." "Well, I think the first thing we need to do is come up with a distraction." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Oval Office Wednesday 9:15 pm "Tell me again why I have to leave?" Leo sighed and held out the President's jacket. "Because the only way the Secret Service was going to go along with this was if you and Abby were out of the White House." "But I should be involved in this," argued the President, as he slipped his arms into his suit jacket. "Couldn't I just . . ." "No," Leo interrupted him. "We've been over this several times, Mr. President. You can't watch from another room. You can't hide under a desk. You can't be here at all." "I never get to have any fun!" whined the Commander-In-Chief. "Believe me, no one is going to have any fun tonight. Besides which, you got to pardon two turkeys today, how much fun can you stand?" Opening the door to the outside walkway, Leo and the President stepped out and started toward the waiting helicopter. They stopped short at the sight of a woman holding an open newspaper sitting on the nearby concrete bench. On the darkened walkway, Leo strained to see the figure then growled, "Margaret, what the hell are you doing?" The woman in the black trench coat and matching fedora turned in his direction. She had a hole cut in the newspaper at eye level. "Shush, you'll blow my cover!" Leo moaned in exasperation when the President turned to him and said, "No fun, huh?" Before Leo could answer, he was saved by the bell, literally. The high pitched beeping of a smoke alarm sounded. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Communications Bullpen Wednesday 9:15 pm "I just want to go on record that neither Josh nor I have been building any fires," Sam proclaimed to all the staff members standing around the Communications Bullpen. Most couldn't hear him over the incessant beeping. The ones that could didn't care. Standing next to Toby, CJ whispered, "Do think there really is a fire or is this some kind of a ruse to clear the building?" "I don't believe in coincidences. Keep your eyes open," Toby replied scanning the room. "Besides the Secret Service, who's watching the Oval Office?" CJ asked. "Josh and Donna are in the reception area, and I think Josh drafted Ed and Larry to help them." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Reception Area Outside the Oval Office Wednesday 9:15 pm Putting down the phone receiver, Josh turned to Donna and Larry. "It was a false alarm. A trash can fire in the men's room set it off." "Do you think that was a diversion so that the killer could get the bones hidden in the Oval Office?" Larry asked. "Well if it was, it didn't work," Josh answered, strutting toward the Oval Office. "Look, Donna and I will hide in the Oval Office and you and Ed can . . ." He paused as he noticed they were one person short. "Where's Ed?" Larry smiled. "The President forced him to go to Camp David with him. He wanted someone to play golf with tomorrow. Ed jumped at the chance. You know Ed, always ready to play golf. He even had his clubs with him." "I played golf with the President once. It wasn't a pretty sight. The President is a terrible golfer. I hope Ed lets him win or we'll never hear the end of it." Cringing as he remembered chasing into the woods after one of the President's errant golf balls, Josh mentally extended his sympathy to Ed, the President's caddy de jour. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Covered Walkway Outside the Oval Office Wednesday 9:45 pm "Are you cold?" "No, Margaret. I'm fine. I'm still fine," Leo answered in a resigned tone. This was the third time she had asked him that question since he'd sat down on the bench next to her. With a stubborn tilt to her chin she continued, "Because if you're cold, you should go get your coat." "Margaret, please stop fussing. It's not that cold out here and I have on my suit jacket." "Still, you had pneumonia . . ." Interrupting, "That was last year, Margaret." Starting to lose his temper, he said, "You're not my mother. For the last time, I'm fine." "Okay, but you really should have a hat on. Do you know how much body heat you lose through the top of your head?" "Margaret, that's enough. No more talking about my clothes or my head." "Fine," crossing her arms at her waist, she sat quietly for about two seconds. Then she asked, "What would you like to talk about?" He started to reply, but instead suffered a violent sneezing attack. Raising her eyebrows, Margaret just looked at him. "Uh, I'll just go get my coat." Leo stood up and walked down the walkway towards his office. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Oval Office 9:45 pm "Donna, do you copy?" Josh pressed the button again on the walkie talkie. Shaking the small electronic gadget, Josh tried again, "Don-na, Donna?" Okay, I don't think this works. Maybe I should have replaced the batteries. Sticking his head up so that just his hair and eyes were above the top of the President's Oval Office desk, Josh looked toward the private bathroom. He put two fingers in his mouth and emitted a short, but shrill whistle Donna popped her head out the bathroom door. With an irritated look on her face, she mouthed the word "what?" Josh used one arm to wave her over to the desk. She shook her head, indicating "no." He urgently waved again. She shook her head "no" again. He waved again. Gritting her teeth, she crawled across the room on all fours, traveling behind a sofa, around a chair, and over to the back of the desk. "What - do - you - want - now?" she demanded in a hushed voice. "I'm hungry. Did you bring anything to eat?" Josh asked hopefully. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Oval Office Thursday 2:30 am The ringing telephone jerked Josh awake. For a minute he couldn't remember where he was or what he was doing. Crawling out from under the desk, it all came back to him. Flipping open his cell phone, he listened to the Secret Service tell him that the entire building had been searched. No bones were found. Hanging up, Josh looked for his cohort. Opening the private bathroom door, he found it empty. Turning around he took another look around the Oval Office. Nothing. Feeling the first surge of panic start to pump into his body, Josh opened the doors to the reception area. Donna was sitting at Charlie's desk playing solitaire on the computer. Larry was curled up under Mrs. Landingham's desk asleep. "Hey, how come you're not hiding?" Josh asked, rubbing his eyes. Turning to look at him, Donna yawned. "I was tired of sitting on the bathroom floor. Surveillance work is not much fun after a couple of hours." Trying not to give in to the urge to yawn also, he said, "Butterfield called me. They're finished. No bones and no suspects." "So what happens now?" she asked, standing up. "We let the Secret Service and FBI deal with it. The killers got the bones out of the White House somehow." They walked out of the room and towards Josh's office. Suddenly Donna stopped and grabbed Josh's arm. "What about Larry? Shouldn't we wake him up?" "No, let him sleep. I think this whole thing has really stressed him out. It's a good thing he's going on vacation tomorrow." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A Sailboat Somewhere in the Carribean Saturday 1:30 pm "You never told me how your golf game went with the President?" "He won, but I had to work at it." "Work at winning or work at losing?" "What do you think?" "I think we're very lucky." "Well, I'd rather be lucky than smart any day." Toasting each other with the best beer money could buy, they laid back on the warm teak deck. "I don't think we should push our luck though. My days as a double agent are over." "Me too. Anyway, I have no desire to ever live in China." Relaxing as the boat gently rocked from side to side, they contemplated their future and the woman who almost robbed them of it. "Too bad she can't have a headstone or something." "Don't worry about it. She was as much of an environmentalist as her boss and there's lots of nuts and squirrels out at Camp David. I don't just mean the human variety. She should feel right at home." The boat dipped as a third crew member came up on deck. "What are you two idiots plotting now?" Mandy asked. The end. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Epilogue WEST WING BONES IDENTIFIED by Daniel Concannon DNA test results on the bones found in the West Wing of the White House last week have been matched to relatives of Cathy Yamato, a former assistant to Deputy Communications Director Samuel N. Seaborn. FBI agents spent the last four days tracking down the whereabouts of 10 years worth of former White House employees. Only two female employees could not be located. DNA test comparisons of the bones with the DNA of the immediate relatives of the two employees led to a match with Ms. Cathy Yamato. According to her mother, Mrs. Etto Yamato, Cathy disappeared over two years ago, just after the Rosalyn shooting. When I asked Mrs. Yamato why she had not reported her daughter's disappearance to the authorities, she claimed that she had received a telephone call from someone identifying himself as Sam Seaborn, her daughter's boss. Mrs. Yamato said that the male caller told her that her daughter's life was in danger and that Cathy was entering the Federal Witness Protection Program. The caller implied that if Mrs. Yamato, who speaks very little English, reported her daughter's disappearance, she would be jeopardizing her daughter's new life. The White House refused to comment on Mrs. Yamoto's statements other than to deny any knowledge of the circumstances of Cathy Yamato's death or the real identity of the person who called Mrs. Yamato. A highly placed White House official told this reporter that Ms. Yamato mailed in a signed resignation on May 18, 2000, the day after President Bartlet and Deputy Chief of Staff Joshua Lyman were shot. The days following the shooting were very hectic and no follow-up correspondence with Ms. Yamato was made by Mr. Seaborn. Ms. Yamato's personal effects were mailed to Mrs. Yamato as requested in the May 18, 2000, resignation letter. The true author of the resignation letter is unknown. The FBI investigation remains open. Authorities are searching for the whereabouts of the other unaccounted for White House employee, former Media Director Madeleine Hampton. Ms. Hampton is wanted for questioning.