Written by: J.P.G.

{"Beneath the Mask" is pure fiction. As I am writing this story, I am above the age of 21. If you want a story with lots of sex, look elsewhere. This is a love story. Seeing, as it is a love story, sex is in there, but it is in realistic balance in the characters' lives.

Any similarity to any real events, names, or life events is purely accidental. If you are underage, (according to your state laws, a minor), if this literature is offensive to you or to anyone around your viewing area, or it is illegal for you to view such content where you are reading it, stop reading the story.

This story cannot be distributed in any way, shape or form without author's express written consent.}

Story Written by: J.P.G.

Editor: Daddy Rick

Editor: Trevor

I have a home page for you to see what the characters look like or what the places look like. If you want to walk in their shoes, please go to: http://jacobmillertex.com/

Chapter 53


It was difficult for Matt to get through all the road blocks leading to the temporary command center near Providence Hospital. Every time they hit a road block, the officers manning them tried to turn them back. No matter how hard they tried, Matt fought them on it and won each time.

By the time they got to the temporary command center, the off duty officers that were called in, the FBI agents and some of the National Guard troops had just gotten their orders and were heading out. They ran past Matt and Franseca so fast, they almost knocked them down. Neither cared because they liked seeing them in a hurry.

When they reached the tent, the officers standing at the entrance stopped them from going any further. Matt tried to explain who they were, but the officers wouldn't let him get more than two words out. Then all of a sudden a voice came yelling out, which snapped the officers to attention.

"Let those poor people in damn it!" The officers pulled open the flaps, letting Matt and Franseca in. As they walked in, they looked around and couldn't believe how fast they got things set up. There were computers, radios and other things that they had no idea what they were used for already running.

"I am so sorry for what is going on Mrs. Garcia." A middle age guy in civilian clothes walked up, extending his hand. "I know nothing I can say will make a bit of difference here. However, I am doing everything I can to make sure we get your son back alive even if that means I have to order my people to shoot their fellow officers to get that done." Matt and Franseca looked at the guy stunned by what he just said. "The moment they took the law into their own hands was the moment they were no longer police officers. They joined the criminals they swore to protect society from."

Franseca tried to smile, but couldn't. "My kids are my world sir and I will die for them. Please do whatever you have to in order to get my son home." The guy turned and said something to another officer before turning back to give Franseca his undivided attention. "I know you people look at my son as a criminal because of his past, but please don't do that. He has changed to the man I knew was in him, deep down inside."

"Mrs. Garcia I don't look at your son that way. I know the Governor and if he believed in your son, I do as well. He has turned his life around. Even if he hadn't, it doesn't give the officers the right to do what they are doing right now. I swear as a father of two teenage kids of my own, I will get your son home alive."

The guy was asked another question as he turned to deal with the officer, Matt placed who he was. "Mom, that guy is the new police chief. He was just sworn in today." Franseca looked at him a little closer and realized it too. They saw him on TV at the substation giving his first interview after being sworn in.

"Mrs. Garcia forgive me, but there are a few things that need my complete attention right now." Chief Falster showed Matt and Franseca to seats where they could see and hear everything that is going on. "Please take a seat here. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask me. I am here to help you in any way I can."

Franseca thanked him and so did Matt as they sat down. Chief Falster nodded his head and walked over to the center of the tent. He started talking with the officer that was trying to get his attention. Every word that was being said, Matt and Franseca were able to hear them. James was not trying to hide a thing from them.

Just as the officer finished briefing the Chief on where they are with the search, several officers from the Westside substation came in. They walked over to their new chief and asked to speak with him in private. Matt was ready to hear James say yes, but when he said `no, whatever they had to say, they could say here' surprised him.

"Sir there are civilians that are able to hear what we are talking about. Don't you..." James interrupted the officer. "I already told you it doesn't matter that they are able to hear what you have to say. It is time for the police force to stop covering up from the people they are sworn to protect. So spit out whatever you came here to say, or put your badge on the table and leave my command center. I have no time for games!"

Stunned, the officer started to speak. "Sir, we know the officers that have the three civilians. They're not stupid, but at the same time they are creatures of habit." Falster yelled at the officer to tell him whatever he came to say. "Sir, I think we know where they might have taken the three individuals."

The officer walked over to the table where the map was. "I know you're not familiar with the city, but we all grew up here and know where to go where others won't look for us." The officer looked closely to the map and put his finger down. "They more than likely took them here." Chief Falster looked down at the map, but had no idea where in the city the officer was pointing at.

"Chief, this is an elementary school almost on the outskirts of town here on the Westside. All you have to do is go down Mesa Street until it ends, and turn right on Doniphan. Go down maybe a mile or two and there you turn in Lindbergh Street."

"Let me guess, the elementary school is called Lindbergh Elementary." Chief Falster asked as he looked up at the officer who was nodding his head. "I need you to be one hundred percent sure that is where they went. I can't pull officers off the search grid on a fool's errand. Resources are already spread way too thin."

"Sir I am certain that is where they went. However, if you want, me and my partner will go down there and check it out. If I'm right, I'll call it in and you can send who you want down there to end this." Just then a call came over the radio from 911 about strange people running around at the very elementary school they were talking about.

Falster looked at the officers that were giving him the information and going over the call that just came in over the radio in his head. His gut was telling him that is where he needs to send his officers to, but everyone else is telling him that he is searching in the right place. Going with what has never let him down, his gut, he walked over to the radio.

"All officers fall back from your search grids, regroup here at the command center. I repeat, all officers, fall back from your search grid and regroup here at the command center immediately." James placed the radio down and walked over to the table to take one last look at the map, before heading out.

Matt and Franseca followed the Chief and the rest of the officers that were in the command tent out to the parking lot of the grocery store. They only had to wait a few minutes before the officers started to come in. About ten minutes after that, all the officers, National Guard and FBI agents had made their way back to the command center.

"I just got reliable information from two sources that we have been looking in the wrong place. A couple of our fellow officers stepped forward and informed me where they believe our AWOL officers are at. To back up their assumptions, a 911 call just came over the line from a resident near Lindbergh Elementary School. This concerned citizen reported several strange guys around the school.

With these two bits of information coming to me at the same time, I would be a fool not to believe that is where we need to be. I need you to all to get into the vehicles you came in and go down to this school, surround it, but do not, I repeat, DO NOT move in until I give the order! I want everyone to walk out of there alive."

Falster started walking towards the car he was driven down in, stopped and turned around. "However, if the officers in question aim their guns at any of you or the hostages they have, you have the green light to take them out." Every law enforcement agent was stunned hearing the order just given.

"Keep in mind if you have no other choice but to shoot, take them out! Aim at their heads to stop them. They will be wearing bullet proof vests." The officers were even more stunned at this order than the first one. "I know for many of you it will be hard, but we need to save each and every one of the hostages. That is our goal and we will meet that goal when all this is over and done with."

Seeing that their new Chief was serious, no one questioned his commands. They all got into their vehicles and started rushing down to Lindbergh. Some of the officers hoped that by the time they get to their fellow officers, they had done the deed and got rid of the three individuals. However, most of the officers rushing to Lindbergh wanted to get there before their fellows officers carried out what they have planned. They already have two black eyes. If the officers actually carry out what they want to do, there is no recovery.

Meanwhile, Alex and Earl were looking down at the two officers walking towards them. They know the officers don't know where they are right now, but it would be just a matter of time before they do. Both of them were hoping that before they do, they would be found and walk out of there alive.

The two officers that stayed with Ashton were getting more nervous by the minute. They knew if they didn't carry out what they have planned very soon, they won't be able to. So the one that put the plan together got on the radio and asked his fellow officers looking for Alex if they have found them yet.

"We are moving as quickly as we can, but there are so many places they could have gone." One of the officers radioed back.

"Look we can't be looking for those two fools much longer. It's only a matter of time before our fellow boys in blue figure out they are searching in the wrong place and expand their search. Once they do that, we are going to be found if we haven't been found yet since we have been here a lot longer than we had planned."

"We all know that, there is no need to remind us of the obvious." The officer shouted into the radio as he reached the second set of portables. "We are sure they didn't leave the school grounds, but that doesn't mean it's a cake walk. As I said before, there are a lot of places for these two to hide and we're checking them all out."

Alex could hear what was being discussed, and that scared him because they are now almost on top of them, in a manner of speaking. Both he and Earl looked down nervously as the officers made their way past the tree line, looking around each tree as they walked towards them. Not once did they look up, which made Alex breathe a little easier.

However, when the officers got to the tree they were up in, they stopped and started talking to each other. Neither Alex nor Earl moved an inch, but that didn't matter one bit. The slash on Alex's leg was still bleeding, and it had soaked through his pant leg. The blood was dripping onto the tree and Alex could see that it was starting to make its way down.

He slowly started to move his leg up. Being as careful as he could to not make any noise or drip blood down on one of the officers. Just as Alex thought he had moved his leg far enough so blood would to drip down or drip on the officers, and it did the exact opposite. The breeze blew the blood, and several drops landed on the shoulders of both officers, but they didn't feel it.

Earl looked down at Alex's leg and back up at Alex. He knew there was nothing neither of them could do, but hoped that no more blood dropped on the officers below. As he turned his attention back to the officers, they started to walk towards the school. With a half-smile on his face, Earl breathed a sigh of relief.

The officer that was in charge of keeping an eye on Alex and Earl radioed back to the other two guarding Ashton that they hadn't found anything. As he was talking to them, his partner noticed the wet spots. He reached out and swiped his hand across his partner's shoulder, and then looked at it. When he saw it was red, not clear, he quickly patted his partner on the shoulder. They both looked down at the blood, and knew it could only have come from one place.

At the same time they looked back at the trees they had just come from, but this time they weren't looking down. They were looking up, scanning each tree. When they couldn't see anything, they turned and started walking back to the trees. Alex knew that they figured where he and Earl were and started to panic.

"You need to stop moving around so much." Earl grabbed a hold of Alex and pulled him closer to him. "All they know is the blood came from somewhere over here, but exactly where they don't know. We are well hidden and the only way they are going to find us is if we make a stupid mistake like moving."

Alex understood, and listened. He stopped moving around and hugged his part of the tree even more. If he could become one with the branch at that very moment, he would. Since he can't, he had to make do with getting as close as he could and blending in.

As both he and Earl were getting as close as they could to their branch, they watched as the officers got closer and closer to them. They weren't looking at the foot of the trees this time, but above, in the branches. The closer they got, the more nervous Alex and Earl became.

Somehow the officers didn't see them up in their tree, and they moved on. Alex figured the only reason that happened was that the dark of the morning was playing in their favor for the first time. However, that was about to change. As the officers were making their way back, searching the tops of the trees, the sun was coming up. Alex knew that if they didn't pass them in the next few minutes the game was up.

Both of them started to move around the branch to hide their bodies even more, but it didn't do the trick. The officers looked up just as the sun rays shot through the tree branches and they saw Alex and Earl. They started to laugh as they began to shake the tree. Between the two officers, they were getting the tree to move back and forth.

"Come on down you little monkeys, come on." The officer that was guarding them shouted. "You thought that you were going to get away, didn't you? The officers started to shake the tree even harder. "Either you come down on your own, or we are going to make you fall out of that tree. Who knows, maybe the fall will do what we plan to do to you guys, to kill you."

Just as the words left the officer's mouth, Alex came crashing to the ground. Unlike Earl, he didn't have his hands in front to grab onto the tree branch. So there was not much he could do. As he landed on the ground, he felt his legs breaking. He thought in a split second on his way down that he might be lucky since it looked like he was going to land on his feet, but now he sees and feels how wrong he was.

Yelling in pain, Alex rolled around onto the ground. With his wrists still handcuffed together behind his back, he couldn't reach down to where the pain was. All he could do is roll from side to side, yelling out for the officers to help him. However, the officers didn't care about Alex and his pain. All they wanted was Earl out of the tree and they didn't worry if he ended up right beside Alex on the ground.

Earl yelled out to officers to stop shaking the tree, because he was coming down, but they didn't listen. They just kept shaking the tree. Even when they saw Earl trying to climb down, they didn't stop shaking the tree. Instead, they started to shake it even more, hoping that Earl would fall.

When Earl made it to the ground on his own, they forced him face first to the dirt next to Alex who was still rolling around in agony. He wanted to do something to help Alex, but the officers put their feet on his back. As they started to push him even more into the ground, they started cursing him.

"Sir, we have them." The officer that was originally in charge of guarding Alex and Earl radioed back to the other two officers. "They were up in a tree like little monkeys hiding from us, but the wound on the cholo kid's leg gave them away."

"Good job, get them over here so we can finish off what we started and get the hell out of here." The officer in charge said in a commanding voice as he walked to the fence. The other officer that was there with him followed him to the tree line to see if he could see the other two bringing Alex and Earl over. Both of them weren't paying any mind to Ashton, which he saw and started thinking of a plan to save himself.

With the sun out now, he was able to see his surroundings a lot clearer. He looked to his left and then to his right to see which direction would be the better one for him to go. He then looked back to the officers in front of him and saw that they were still not paying any attention to him. Knowing what the officers had planned for him, he knew it was now or never.

Getting up slowly, Ashton kept a close eye on the officers in front of him. Once he was on his feet, he started to move slowly to his right, not once taking his eyes off the officers. When he felt he was far enough away from those that were guarding him, he started to run to the tree line.

The ones that were bringing back Alex and Earl were the first to see Ashton running, and pulled out their weapons. They yelled at the other two officers that were supposed to be guarding them to turn around. As they did, they pulled out their weapons. All four officers having their guns drawn started to fire.

Ashton heard the guns being fired and knew they were aimed at him. He even saw several of the bullets hit the trees in front of him, some of them barely missing him. Just as he made it to the tree line, he felt a sharp pain in his right arm, but didn't stop to see what was causing the pain because he knew, that one of the bullets that went flying past him actually hit him.

Grabbing a hold of the arm that was hit, he kept running. It was difficult because his hands were still cuffed, but his will to live made him do things that he never thought he could do. All he wanted was to get out of there alive at any cost.

Breaking through the tree line, Ashton didn't look back once. He kept running through the open field. There were houses in front of him and one house to the right of him, but he didn't run towards them because he knew that is what the officers expected him to do. Instead he turned left and ran towards the street, in hopes of disappearing into the crowd.

Somehow he made it to a side street without any of the officers catching up to him. When he got a moment to breathe, he looked at his arm, and saw he was right. One of the bullets had gone right through, but he was not going to try and fix it there because he had no idea how far away the officers were.

He ignored the pain where he was shot, beaten and what had brought him into the ER the day before. Knowing that the officers chasing him weren't going to give up easy, he started to run, and didn't stop until he made it to Doniphan Street. Just as he was about to cross the street, he saw a line of police cars heading in his direction.

Not knowing what to do, he turned around and hoped that none of them will see him, which they didn't. One by one passed him and didn't slow down. Ashton figured the only reason he wasn't seen was because the officers weren't looking for him or anyone on foot. They looked like they knew where they were going, and weren't going to stop for anyone or anything.

Trying not to attract any attention from anyone around him, or the passing police cars, Ashton walked towards the bus stop. When he got there, he sat down. He saw a newspaper on the bench beside him and grabbed it. Placing it over his hands, to hide the cuffs, Ashton stood and joined others waiting for the bus.

As the bus approached, he remembered that he needed bus fare. Quickly he started going through his pockets, but only found a few wrappers and lint. Stepping back, he started looking around, trying to figure out another way to get from there to downtown when a guy that looked like he was in his fifties walked up and handed him a dollar.

"I have been where you are at right now young man. Take this and get to where you need to go." Ashton thanked the older guy, but pushed it away explaining that he has no way of paying him back. "No need to pay me back. All I ask is that you pass it on down whenever you see a person in need of help step up and do what you can. "

Ashton took the dollar, thanked the guy and followed him onto the bus. Both paid their fare, and sat together. Neither of them said another word to each other, they just sat there looking out the window as the bus made its way down Mesa. When the bus was about two miles away from downtown, the older guy got off, but before the bus came to a complete stop, the guy leaned down and whispered in Ashton's ear.

"I watch the news and I know who you are. I don't know why you did what you did, but if you somehow get over the border, make something out of your life. You are young and I truly believe that is why you did what you did." The guy started to walk towards the door, but turned around and walked back to Ashton. "Oh, one last thing, I don't condone murder no matter why it was done. You will have to answer for that someday here in this country, but if you never do keep in mind the day you die you will have to answer for it to the man above and he as well doesn't condone it either."

The only thing Ashton could do is nod his head to what was being told to him. He agreed completely and wished that he had made different choices. He was brought out of his thoughts when he felt something fall on his lap. He looked down and couldn't believe what it was. Starting to shake, he looked up and saw the older guy smiling back at him.

"I am a retired officer. The only reason I am giving you that key and not turning you in is because I do believe in the uniform. What those guys that are wearing the uniform today are doing is wrong and they are as much a criminal as you are. You should have been arrested, not beaten by the looks of it. Get out of here and please do not make me regret the faith I am putting in you. Again, change your life for the good and make something out of it. Do nothing but good if you succeed on getting over that border."

The bus driver yelled for the older guy to either get off or sit back down. The guy looked over to the bus driver, waved at him as he made his way to the rear door and got off the bus. As the bus slowly pulled away from the curb, Ashton looked out the window and saw the former officer looking back at him. He could see in the guy's face that he was unsure of what he just did, but he didn't look like he was going to call 911.

When he couldn't see the retired officer anymore, Ashton turned his attention to the front of the bus. He started to scan the rows to see if anyone was looking at him. When he was sure no one was, he nervously took the handcuff key from his lap and started to undo the cuffs around wrist. Once he had them off, he put them in his pocket, along with the key and faced forward.

The rest of the way to the downtown plaza, he kept to himself. Not making eye contact with anyone on the bus. He didn't want any of them to see him, recognize him and start screaming or something worse like calling 911. Less than a mile from the bridge, he is close now to getting away.

As the bus drove around the plaza and came to a complete stop near the Jack-n-Box, Ashton got up, but kept his head down as he walked towards the door. When it opened, he didn't push his way through. He patiently got down from the bus with the others. Once he was off, he started his way down North Oregon Street.

Just as he reached the end of the plaza, he took the handcuffs out of his pocket and threw them into a trash can, but kept the key. He looked around to make sure he wasn't seen before he crossed West Mills Avenue. Keeping his head down, he walked a couple blocks down until he reached East San Antonio Avenue and turned left.

He started to feel a little anxious because he was so close to freedom. Keeping control of his emotions, Ashton walked down the two blocks on San Antonio Avenue. to Stanton Street and turned right. He could see the bridge, barely. Wanting to run, he kept his cool, and kept walking not making eye contact.

The eight blocks felt more like eighty to Ashton. Every second of the way, he worried that someone would recognize him. How no one had so far, he'd never know and didn't care. When he reached Laredo Bridge, he couldn't help but smile. Looking both ways on 8th Ave., he made sure there were no oncoming cars before crossing the street.

Ashton turned around and took one last look at El Paso before making his way to the entrance of the bridge. When he got to the teller, he didn't make contact as he slid the thirty five cents that cost to cross the bridge. The teller wasn't paying attention to the customer at the window because he was watching the football game on television. He glanced down at the money to make sure it was the right amount and handed Ashton a receipt. Ashton took it, thanked the guy and started his way across the bridge.

When he reached the middle, he looked up and saw the American flag flying above his head. Maybe two feet away from that flag pole was another that was flying the Mexican flag. With a big grin on his face, he took the remaining steps and crossed over to Mexico. When he passed that flag pole, he knew he was now safe.

Back at Lindbergh Elementary School, the officers that gave chase to Ashton turned around when they saw all the police cars coming down the street. They ran as fast as they could to the other two officers. Every few steps, they would look back, and see that the cars were getting closer and closer. As they reached Alex, Earl and the other two officers, they could see that police cars were surrounding the school.

Before they could say a word, the officer that was in charge yelled for them to drag Alex and Earl over to the portables. Not questioning the orders, they did as they were asked. They pulled Earl to his feet and started pushing him to walk. Alex on the other hand couldn't walk due to his broken legs. However the officers didn't care. They wanted him moved and they weren't going to carry him.

Somehow Alex mustered along through the pain and slowly followed the officers. Donny, the officer running things, every few steps would look back and order the other officers to hurry Alex along. Two officers, Cole and Sammie, that found Alex and Earl were in the rear. Each time Donny would shout out the order to hurry, one of those two would shove Alex, resulting in him to falling to the ground, yelling out in pain.

When Earl heard Alex yelling in pain the third time, he didn't care what the officers would do to him. He turned and walked back over to Alex. Picking him up the best as he could, which was hard due to him still being in handcuffs, he helped him make his way to the portables. At first, the officers didn't like it, but they let it slide because they wanted to get there for cover.

"What the hell happened to Ashton?" Donny looked at Sammie and Cole. "You guys went chasing after him and came back empty handed. Please tell me that you shot him and he is lying out there dead like we wanted."

"No, he got away, but he won't get far!" Donny slammed his fist against the portable several times. "There's no need to be worried about that guy. I'm pretty sure when he is seen by another of our fellow officers, they'll shoot first and ask questions later. There is just no way they are going to take any chances on him."

Donny didn't agree with Sammie. "Even if they don't bring Ashton in alive, we're still fucked. They know that we had him and when they look at his lifeless body, they will see that he was beaten. I know you're not dumb. When they see that, we are going to jail for beating a suspect while in custody."

Sammie and Cole both laughed. Wyatt, Donny's partner just stood there, lifeless. "Come on, you are worried that we are going to go to jail for beating Ashton? Look out there..." Sammie pointed to the parking lot of the school. "We are being surrounded as we speak. They are coming for us and by the looks of it they don't care if we're wearing blue like them. They want us, and more than likely dead or alive."

Donny popped his head around the corner of the portable they were standing by and saw his fellow officers making their way towards them. He knew if they stayed where they were, they were sitting ducks. So he started looking around for another place to go where they had cover, but didn't see anything. He had put himself and those that were following him in a place and situation that the end result will be them ending up dead or in handcuffs.

Wyatt knew what his partner was looking for. He had also come to the same conclusion that they were in a tough spot. There is no way they could make a run from the field to the houses because they would be in the open. So if they were to get any cover, they would have to get into one of the portables somehow.

He walked up the ramp of the portable they were leaning against and looked into the little square window. Pulling out his nightstick, he tapped the window to see how strong it was. After a few taps, he slammed his nightstick against the window, breaking it. Clearing out the glass first, he stuck his hand through unlocking the door.

"Come on! Get that asshole cholo in here quick!" Wyatt yelled as he pointed to Alex. "We don't have much time before those officers get to us. When they do, we need to be ready for anything because I'm sure they have orders to kill us."

The other officers nodded their heads as they made their way up the ramp with Alex and Earl in the middle. All the way into the portable, Alex was in agony, and Earl saw it. As he carried the young man, he could feel him trembling. Not because he was afraid but rather that he was in severe pain.

Once everyone filed into the small room, Wyatt closed the door. The other officers started going around, closing any open shades. While they were securing the room, Earl gently put Alex on the floor. As he looked down at Alex's pant legs, he saw they were soaked through with blood. He knew that there was no way that amount of blood came from the injury Alex got from the crash.

Carefully he started to move up Alex's left pant leg, but had to stop when Alex started to yell out in pain. Earl waited for Alex to stop yelling before continuing, which took a couple of minutes. When he did, Earl slowly started to move the pant leg further up Alex's leg, stopping when he couldn't move it any further.

Looking down at the leg, he could see the bones had broken through the skin. Blood was still coming out, and if he didn't stop the bleeding, he knew Alex would bleed out. He started looking around for anything that he could use to make a tourniquet. When he didn't find anything around his area, so he got up and walked over to the teacher's desk.

"What the hell do you think you are doing?" Cole yelled out. "Get your ass back over to that fucking cholo and sit down or I'll kill you where you stand."

Earl turned and looked at Cole. "I know you don't have the balls to back up your threat, so shut the fuck up and let me get something to stop the bleeding." The other three officers looked at Earl, surprised by what he just said to Cole. "Maybe you'd prefer finishing up on death row because Alex died while in your custody!"

They looked at Alex at the same time and then back to Earl. They saw him going through the teacher's desk. When he didn't find what he was looking for in the drawer he had opened, he slammed it shut and went to the next. By the time he got to the middle drawer, he was frustrated and just pulled the drawer out of the desk completely.

All he found were pencils, pens and papers. He tossed the drawer to the floor. Looking around the room, he saw on the other side of the portable two locked filing cabinets. Not caring on what might happen to him, Earl walked across the room, passing all four officer along the way. When he got to the filing cabinet, he struggled to get them open.

Sammie walked over to Earl and pushed him out of the way. Pulling out his nightstick, he hit the lock several times, smashing it. When he was done with the first cabinet, he went over to the second and did the same thing. Once he stepped aside, Earl walked up and started going through the drawers. When he got to the second last one, he found a whole bunch of rulers, exactly what he needed.

Grabbing the rulers, he walked back over to Alex and sat down next to him. "This is going to hurt and once I'm done, it's not going to get you out of pain. All it is going to do is stop the bleeding and give you a chance of getting out of here alive, okay." Alex nodded his head. "When I tell you to hold your breath and bite down on this ruler, do it."

Alex once again did a nod of his head as he grabbed the ruler from Earl. He placed the it in his mouth as he watched Earl take off his shirt and rip into strips. Once he got the shirt the way he wanted it, he wrapped it above the break, almost at Alex's knee. Taking one of the rulers, he tied both sides of the shirt to it, leaving him enough to tie it down when he got the bleeding to stop.

"Okay Alex, at the count of three I am going to start twisting the ruler until I stop the blood circulation. You can't afford any more blood loss and this is the only thing I can think to do to stop it. So when I get down to zero, bite down on the ruler and hold your breath like I asked you to do earlier, okay?" Alex nodded his head.

Taking a couple deep breathes himself Earl started to count down. When he got down to zero, he began to turn the ruler, making the shirt around Alex's leg tighter and tighter by each turn. Alex bit harder on the ruler each time Earl twisted, because the pain was getting worse. When he thought he couldn't take anymore, Earl stopped and tied the tourniquet down into place.

Alex let out a sigh of relief, but it wasn't over just yet. Earl went to the right leg and started to move the pant leg up. When he got above the break, he got the remainder of his shirt and wrapped it around Alex's leg, just below the knee cap. He looked up at Alex and saw tears rolling down his face. He didn't want to put the kid through all the pain he was going through, but he knew if he didn't, Alex wouldn't make it.

"I know you're in a lot of pain and you want this to be over, but you're going to have to stay strong for me. I'm going to have to do the same thing on this leg as I did the other. So you're going to feel the same amount of pain, but it will stop the bleeding. So once again, do the same thing you just did when I get to zero, okay?" Once more Alex agreed moving his head.

Earl looked down at the ruler and started to count down to three. As he started to tighten the shirt around Alex's leg, he heard Alex scream out in pain. He stopped what he was doing and looked up and saw that he had passed out. Feeling bad for him, Earl knew he had to finish what he was doing. He turned his attention back to the leg, and finished turning the tourniquet.

Once he had secured the second tourniquet, he moved up to Alex until he was eye level with the passed out teen. Gently he moved Alex's head from his shoulder and placed it against the wall. He wanted to wake him up, but figured it was best to let him stay out because of the pain he has to be in.

The four officers turned their attention to the windows. As they looked out, they saw that their fellow officers had figured out where they were and started to surround the building. All they could do was stand at their windows and watch as their friends were preparing to come in if ordered to take them out.

Donny knew the procedure for hostage standoffs. He had not only gone through training to be on the team that dealt with this type of situation, he trained many of them that are currently out there right now. Knowing how everything works, he looked around for the sharp shooters, the go ahead team and the command post. Once he found all three of the things he was looking for, he turned to the others and pointed them out.

They started to make their plans when a box came crashing through the window on the door they broke to get in. At the same time, they pulled out their guns as they turned towards the door. When they saw it wasn't what they thought it, they holstered their guns and walked over to the box.

Before getting to it, Donny knew exactly what it was. When it started to ring, it confirmed his assumption, it was a phone. Pushing past the others, he grabbed the box and placed it on the desk. Before picking up the receiver, he looked into the eyes of each of the officers to see where they stood. He could tell they were getting nervous, but they weren't yet ready to run out the door and give themselves up.

Winking at them, Donny picked up the receiver. "Let me guess, this is Jamar. Before you say anything we're not coming out unless you get our demands met and don't try to play me. You know I know how things are done. So you will do what I ask, when I ask it, or the hostages we have in here will be killed."

"You are not talking to Jamar officer; you are talking with James Falster, the new chief of police." Donny almost dropped the phone when he heard the unfamiliar voice come over the line. "I don't know the procedure that is followed here in El Paso, but I am pretty sure if I ask Jamar what it is, he will tell me. However, I don't give a shit about that since you already know it as you just stated.

So let me tell you how things are going to go. You and the three other officers are going to surrender without any more bloodshed within the next fifteen minutes. If you hurt or kill any of the hostages in that room, I will order your former fellow officers to shoot. You know what that means don't you?"

The line went dead for a few seconds. "Yes I do know what that means, but you listen to me Chief what's your name. We have control here since we have three hostages that you don't want dead. So stop trying to prove that you have what it takes to run this department or you will lose three lives here today and more than likely your job."

Donny slammed the phone down on Falster and went over to window to see if Falster was a man of his word. However, he couldn't see a thing. He tried to look into the command area, but there were so many bodies swarming around, he couldn't make out anything. All he knew is the new Cheif was in the middle of all that giving orders.

"I need to know about everything there is to know about those four officers. Plus I need to know if there is a way to get into that tin box without going through the only door that they are covering." James ordered his officers as he looked out to the portable.

Neither Donny nor James knew they were looking directly into each other's eyes. They were both set on what they wanted to happen, unwilling to bend. At the same time they both thought they had the upper hand to get what they wanted, but one of them is wrong. Before the day is over, one will show the other that they were right.

Falster was brought back to reality when one of his officers tapped him on the shoulder. He turned and saw the officer standing there with a civilian. "Sir, this gentleman was the one that called 911. After he placed the call, he kept an eye on what was going on out on that open field over there." The office pointed past the portables. "He has some information I think you need to know about right now."

James looked over at the witness to see what more information he could give. "Well, like I told the other officers before being brought to you. I kept an eye on those guys while they were standing in the field between the school and my house. What I saw these guys doing I couldn't believe.

When I first noticed them there, they were all standing around. Then two of them took one of the kids in handcuffs and dragged him to the middle of the field. They were yelling at the kid and hitting him with their sticks. One of the others standing at the gate with the other two in handcuffs joined in.

That's when the two that were on their knees tried to get away. They ran past here and around the building with two of the officers running after them." The witness pointed out the direction Alex and Earl went. "After that, I didn't see anything else of those four guys, but the two officers and the guy they were beating stayed in the middle of the field, not moving at all.

Every few minutes they would talk on their radios. I thought at first they were calling for help, but when I saw the other two officers dragging back the two that tried to get away, I knew they were going to hurt these guys. That's when I called 911. I know I should have called right away, but those were officers; people that are supposed to be the good guys were out there hitting the kid in handcuffs."

James walked the witness to the seats that were set up and asked him to sit. "Don't beat yourself about when you made the call, you made it. If I was in your shoes and saw the things you saw, I might have done the same. In the end, you saw that those officers were bad and made the call." James put his hand on the witness' shoulder. "Can you tell me anything else that might help us end this whole thing?"

The witness nodded his head. "First, when they brought the other two back over, one them were hurt really bad. It looked like the poor kid couldn't stand up." Falster looked over at the officers and nodded his head. "The officers didn't care! They made the poor kid walk on what I could swear was at least one broken leg, if not both of them."

"Here take a look at these pictures and if you can, can you please point out to me which of these was the one that might be injured." The witness took the pictures and started looking at them. At first he didn't recognize Alex because the picture they had of him was him with short hair, unlike how he is wearing it now. When he got to the last picture, he started looking at them again. This time when he saw Alex, he pulled it out.

"This is the kid that's hurt. His hair isn't that short anymore, but it's the same kid." James looked over at Matt and Franseca. This was news that he didn't want to deliver them. He turned his attention to the officer on his right and whispered to him to make sure there was an ambulance ready to take Alex to the hospital when they got him out.

He then turned his attention back to the witness and thanked him before walking off, but the witness stopped him. "There was one more other thing I think might help you guys." James turned around and walked back over to the witness. He picked out Ashton's pictures and handed it to Falster.

"This kid was the one that was being beaten in the middle of the field, but he's no longer with those guys in the portable." That not only grabbed James attention, but all the officers in earshot. "When they brought the two that tried to get away back, the officers that was guarding that one stopped paying attention to him. While they were walking over to the fence, he got up and made a run for it.

The officers tried to stop him by shooting him, but they didn't get him. So two of them went after the kid, but returned about five minutes or so later, empty handed. They were more worried about you guys coming down the road than the guy that got away. That is when they grabbed the other two in handcuffs and made their way to where they are now. By the way the first kid I picked out, the way he was walking I can say for certain he's hurt bad."

"Thank you again sir, I wish we had more citizens out there like you. Hell, I wish we had officers as honest as you in our department." James shook the witness' hand as he walked to the other side of the make shift command center.

"You get an APB out on this Ashton character and get him before he gets across the border, if he hasn't already crossed." The officers nodded and made their way out of the tent. Falster knew what he had to do next. He didn't want to do it, but he knew he had to because he made a promise to Matt and Franseca.

He turned and walked over to them and knelt in front of Franseca. When he grabbed her hands, she started to cry. "Ma'am I am sorry it isn't what you think. Please stop crying, your son is still alive." Franseca tried to stop crying, but she had a bad feeling that her son was hurt really bad and there was nothing she could do to make him feel better like she used to do when he was a kid.

"According to the witness we have, your son and his body guard tried to get away, but were caught again. He didn't see what happened, but when they brought him back to the others, he wasn't able to walk. That could be many things, the wound he got from helping his friend has gotten worse or one of his legs could be broken.

Until we get him out of there, I can't say for certain." Squeezing Franseca's hands even tighter, he continued. "What I can assure you is this; I will get your son out of there alive and back to you no matter what it takes. He is one of the good ones and he won't die in a crappy place like that." Falster pointed to the portable.

He let go of Franseca's hand and got up. Then he leaned down and kissed her on the forehead before heading back to the phone. When he got to the table, he took a deep breath and got control of his emotions. He didn't want Donny or any of the officers to hear anger or weakness in his voice when called.

Once he felt he was under control. He picked up the receiver. A few rings later, Donny's voice came over the line. "You've had time to think about what I have said Mr. Chief. So this is what I want. First I want you guys to pull back to Doniphan Street. That includes the forward team and the sharp shooters you have on the roof tops and in trees pointing their rifles at this building. Once you do that, I and..."

"You are not in any position to be giving demands." Falster interrupted. "This is how it is going to go. The fifteen minutes I had given you has come and gone. Either you four come out, unarmed, or I will send in the entire police after you. If you harm your two hostages, you and whoever else took part will be taken as a threat and dealt with that way. You know what I mean by that since you know procedures."

"There is no way you will send in one officer while we still have hostages. So stop treating me like an idiot and do what I am asking. Move all officers away from this area, give us a car and a free route to the border. Once we cross over to Mexico, we will release the hostages." Donny slammed the phone down, waking up Alex.

Falster stood there with the phone still against his face going over in his mind what might happen if he does send the officers in. By the sounds of the guy's voice that he just talked to, he will kill the hostages. There is no way he is willing to let that happen. At the same time, there is no way he will allow the officers to get across the border.

Looking down at the map of El Paso, he looked at every route that led to the bridge downtown going to Mexico. Quickly he picked up a pen and started scribbling on the map. Once he was done, he ordered all officers to make their way to the parking lot. Matt and Franseca couldn't understand what he was doing, but they believed in him and didn't ask any questions.

Back in the portable, Alex tried to move himself up on the wall, but the pain in his legs was unbearable. He stopped moving around and looked around. He had no idea how long he was out, but by the looks of the light coming in the window, it wasn't long.

Donny, Wyatt and the other two officers were looking out of their windows. When they saw the officers falling back, they started to laugh. They walked to the middle of the room, high fiving Donny and patting him on the back for a job well done. Alex and Earl couldn't believe what they were hearing. They thought their nightmare was coming to an end, but little do they know, it has just started.

"That chicken shit chief of police folded just like I knew he would. I don't know the guy, but he is new and there is no way he is going to jeopardize his new job over these two." Donny pointed at Earl and Alex. "Now we wait for him to move back the sharp shooters and the forward team. Then we take these two and get into our car and get out of this city as fast as we can. Once we are over the border, we deal with them as we planned." Donny made his fingers in his right hand into a gun and shot it.

"Wait a minute I'm not going to go down for two murders." Sammie spoke up. "I'm all for what we need to do in order to get across the border, but if we get there we need to let these go as we promised. If we don't the new chief of police or they will never stop hunting us."

"Don't kid yourselves; they are never going to stop hunting us no matter what we do with these two, if we release them or not. When they don't get all three, they are going to think we killed Ashton. So we are going to go down for murder for a kid that actually isn't dead. Well if it goes that way, I want to actually do the ones I am going to jail for, for the rest of my life, if not death row!"

Donny didn't wait for Sammie or the other officers to respond. He walked over to the window and looked out to see if the sharp shooters had been removed. Just as he cracked the blinds, a bullet came through and hit him directly between the eyes, blowing the back of his head off. As his body fell back hitting the floor, the other three officers fell to the ground for cover. They couldn't believe that the order was given.

As they were trying to gather their thoughts, the phone on the desk started to ring, scaring them even more. Wyatt was the first to calm down. He crawled over to the desk and pulled the black box down. As it hit the ground, the receiver fell to the side and he picked it up, but didn't say a word.

"I know there is someone on the other end of this line and it isn't the guy I was talking to at first. So whoever it is, let me make myself very clear. This is the last time I am going to make this request. Open the door to that building, throw out all your weapons, and then walk out with your hands raised above your heads. I will give you thirty seconds to open the door, another thirty seconds to toss the guns. If you don't do what I am saying in the time frame I am giving, I will send in the SWAT team."

This time Falster slammed down the phone and walked over to the portable next to the one that Alex, Earl and the remaining three officers are in. He looked down at his watch and started the first count down. In the portable, Wyatt could tell by the sound of Falster's voice, he meant what he was saying.

Crawling on the floor, he made his way as fast as he could to the door and opened it up, which was a good sign, at least Falster thought. When the second thirty seconds expired and he didn't see any guns being thrown out, he knew they had made their decision. They were going to go down in a blaze of gun fire.

James looked around to see if the officers were ready to take down one of their own. Before giving the green light to his sharp shooters to shoot whoever came to the window first, he spoke with his men in the parking lot. He needed to make sure if the men in the portable made the decision not to surrender, the men outside would follow the order he gives and take out the men that many depended on to make it home every night.

The speech was short, but to the point. As he spoke to his men, he scanned each of their faces to get a read on them. Just a few of them he saw in their faces that they wouldn't carry out the order if given. Those men were taken to the side and asked to go back to their precinct and wait for further orders. The remaining officers James knew they would put the badge before friendship.

Now is the time for the true test, James thought. If he misread any of the men, it could put all the rest of the men in jeopardy. Believing he didn't, he lifted up the radio and gave the order for the forward team to move and take the portable by force.

The first wave came at the officers in the portable from an area that they didn't expect them to come from. Sammie, Cole and Wyatt were pointing their guns either at the door or one of the windows. They weren't looking down at the floor until it gave way.

In just seconds, the floor blew from underneath the officers, and they were surrounded by their former officers. Not wanting to be taken that way, they started firing at the officers that came up from the floor, leaving them with no other choice but to shoot back. The first to go down was Cole, and then Sammie. Somehow through all the dust and bullets firing, Wyatt made his way to Alex and Earl. By the time the strike team realized that Wyatt had circled around them, he had his gun pointed at Alex's head.

"I know you were given the order to come in here, but I am sure in that order the new asshole police chief made it clear that he wanted the hostages to come out alive. So if you are going to be able to carry out the order to the fullest, you better think again before shooting me. You might get me, but before I go down, this little asshole will be dead."

"You are right! Part of my order was to bring out the hostages alive, but not you guys if you choose to go down this way." Wyatt moved Alex's body so he could see the door. Walking in was a guy that he had never seen before in civilian clothes, but he knew who he was. He also recognized his voice from the phone call.

"If you want this hostage alive, you are going to let me out of here and over that border to Mexico." Wyatt started yelling as he swung his gun around. "The choice is yours if he lives or dies, so make it..."

One shot was heard, and Wyatt slumped against the wall behind Alex. Everyone looked around to see who fired the gun. When they saw their new chief of police holding out his gun, down on one knee, they couldn't believe it. A shot like that is hard to make under good conditions. The conditions in that room were far from good with dust and the floor of the room almost gone.

The strike team snapped out of it and quickly secured Wyatt, Sammie and Cole's guns. Once they had their guns, they checked to see if any of them were alive while Alex and Earl were being attended to. Wyatt and Donny were dead, but Sammie and Cole on the other hand were hanging on.

When the officers called for a medic for them, Falster stopped the medics from going to their aid until they aided Alex and Earl first. The first and second EMT teams in the portable went to Alex and Earl, and the third team went to Sammie and Cole. A few of the members of the strike team weren't happy about that, but kept their thoughts to themselves and tried to aid their fallen men in blue.

Falster walked over to Alex and knelt down by his side. "Hey, I'm glad to see that you hung in there. I wanted to meet the grandson of Alejandro Garcia who turned his life around." Falster placed his hand on Alex's shoulder. "You make sure you stay strong and make it out of here because this is the second time in a month that you have been a hero. It's time that everyone knows what a great young man you are turning into."

The EMTs working on Alex informed Falster that Alex had lost a lot of blood and they needed to get him out of there. "These fine people are going to get you out of here and take you down to Providence to get you fixed up. I understand a Dr. Whitmore is waiting there for you. He has refused to go home until he has had a chance to give you a good bill of health. So you are in good hands. Plus your mother and boyfriend are out there waiting for you. Let's not keep them waiting any longer."

Falster got up from the ground to give room to the EMTs to get Alex up and onto the stretcher. Alex thanked Falster for everything as he was being rolled out of the portable. The other EMTs were trying to get out of the room at the same time with the wounded officers, but were asked to hold up to let Alex out.

As Alex was being rolled down the ramp of the portable, his mother and Matt came running up. They broke through the line to be there when Alex was brought out. Franseca started to cry when she saw her son's legs. She kept saying over and over again how sorry she was, which confused Alex. He pulled her in and told her that none of what happened was her fault, but still she wouldn't stop apologizing.

"I am your mother and I am supposed to keep you safe." Franseca somehow got out between tears. "This is not safe Alex. Nothing that has been happening to you in the last couple of months has been safe, but that is going to change!"

Alex pulled his mother over to him and held her tight. "I love you mom and as long as you are here, I know I am safe." Alex brushed the tears away from her face. "You have been there through all the wrong I have done and have never given up on me. I promise you I will never let you down again. I am going to be the son you know I can be."

Just then, the EMTs pulled Franseca away from the bed because they reached the ambulance. They explained that they couldn't let anyone ride in the back, but they will be willing to break protocol this one time and let only one in the back. There was no doubt who it was going to be.

Matt leaned over and kissed Alex on the lips and promised to be at his side as soon as humanly possible. They kissed once more, and were forced apart by the EMTs. Matt stepped back and watched as the door to the ambulance closed and the big vehicle started to take off with sirens blazing.

Once the ambulance was no longer in view, Matt started looking around for the SUV. He and Franseca were a mess when they arrived, so he can't remember where he parked the thing. It took him walking up and down the rows, but he found it. As he pulled out of the parking, he couldn't believe the sun was starting to go down already.

He snapped out of his daze when an ambulance came flying by him, scaring him half to death. For just a few seconds he lost control of his truck, but it didn't take much for him to get control of it again. He stepped on the gas and caught up with the ambulance that had almost pushed him off the road and followed it all the way to the hospital.

When they drove up, Matt broke off to park his truck, while the ambulance pulled into the ER entrance. As they came to a complete stop, several nurses and doctors walked out and helped the EMTs pull out the stretcher with carrying Sammie. One of the doctors looked him over as they rushed him into the ER, but couldn't do much because of the uniformed officers that arrived right behind the ambulance kept getting in the way.

Finally the ER staff had enough and ordered the officers to get out of the way and stay in the waiting room. They didn't like being talked to that way, but weren't given much of a choice but to do what they were asked. They turned around and walked back in to the waiting room to wait like everyone else.

As they sat down, Matt came running in and was greeted by several hospital staff, making the officers angry. They got back up and walked over to Matt and the nurses that greeted him. Without reason, they started calling Matt all kinds of names. It took hospital security and Matt's personal security to remove the officers, but when they did, they got a standing ovation from those that were waiting on news of their loved ones being treated.



{Welcome back one and all to a long awaited chapter of `Beneath the Mask'. I know you guys have been wondering how things were going to turn out for Alex, I hope I didn't disappoint you. I debated on what to do here, and I really like what I decided to do in this chapter and hope you come back for the future installments of this story.

With that said, I know I didn't leave you guys with much of a cliffhanger. I figured after the last chapter cliffhanger, you needed break. However, don't get used to that. Also since I am on the subject of cliffhangers, don't you guys know me by now? Many of you wrote me on last Friday's installment of `Shadow of My Father' and either said I lost my touch or you know what the conclusion of the cliffhanger is. Well, let me tell you guys, you don't. Trust me, when the next `Shadow' comes out, you will be surprised on what Patrick's father was arrested for.

Anyways let me get back to this story and this chapter summation. In such a short period of time, a lot happened once again in this story. We got to know a little more about the new police chief and how he reacts under pressure. I really like how he handled this whole thing with the standoff. He showed that he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep the citizens of the city he swore to protect safe.

He had a hard decision and that was to order of going in and killing four of his own. Yes they were bad, but they were once good. However, he gave those four officers plenty of chances to get out of it alive, and they chose not to take him up on it. Instead, they went down in a blaze of gunfire, with two dead now.

I am glad that Alex and Earl made it out alive. I hate that Alex got hurt, but knowing, like the others, he will make a complete recovery. As I am writing this, I am imagining my characters in the hotel, Jacob, Alex and Tom. I see the three of them sitting in a room with their legs up, unable to walk. I know it's mean, but if that happened in reality to a group of friends, it has to be a funny sight of them sitting there together unable to walk.

Here I go again, getting away from what this corner is about. Back to the story! I am surprised that Matt and Franseca were able to keep it together as well as they did. They were sitting there hearing everything that was going on. That had to be bad on their nerves going through all that. I surely don't want to ever be in their shoes.

When it's all said and done; the officers were still backing up their own. I guess you have to wear the uniform to understand that kind of connection, but come on. These four officers went bad and they lost all respect in my eyes and I am sure in the eyes of the citizens of El Paso. To prove my point, the ending of the chapter, enough said there.

I am pretty sure a lot more happened in this chapter, but I need to get the chapter off to my editors, so I am going to leave it here. If I missed anything, Trevor or Rick will catch it and put it in their corner. I hope again you all enjoyed this chapter and will come back for the future installments of this story. Until then, take care you all and thank you.

So Trevor and Rick, heads up please cover what I might have missed in my corner for the readers. In addition, there are a lot of open plots still dangling out there in the air that will come back and as well a whole lot of new ones. So please stick around as I have said and keep on reading. I hope that you all enjoyed what you have read and will keep coming back week after week to this saga.

I do not want to say too much more and spoil the future chapters to come, so I won't. I warn you though! Do not skip a chapter, or you will be lost. There is a so much to answer in the chapters to come. Keep reading the future chapters, and enjoy! Please email me and let me know how I am doing at jacob@jacobmillertex.com, Thanks!}


Well this chapter only covered the kidnapping and hostage situation but our new chief of police demonstrated that he wasn't going to put up with any shit from anyone. All the way through he made it clear to the four officers that he meant business but they didn't believe him.

I really felt the pain Alex must have been going through trying to walk with an open wound and two broken legs. The fact that he was able to keep going is evidence enough of how tough he is and poor Matt sitting there all that time not knowing if his partner was alive or dead. His mental suffering must have been just as great as Alex's physical pain.

I hope that Ashton takes heed of the guy on the bus and does stay out of trouble and try to make something good out of his life. That ex-police officer gave him every chance to do that and I hope he takes note. Do you think we will ever see him back in Jacob's stories again? Well you never know, anything can and does happen in Jacob's stories.

I must admit I felt let down not having a cliffhanger this time. A void appeared in my reading, but I'm sure it won't happen too often.

Well it looks like Dr Whitmore is going to fill the coffers of his retirement fund even more at the expense of Jacob's extended family, although I expect the El Paso police department will foot the bill or at least they should.

Once last point all those police officers being nasty to Matt at the hospital should lose their jobs, because they are there to serve the public not abuse them.

Take care and don't forget to let us know how we are doing we appreciate your comments and E-mails.

Hugs Trevor



It seems that Falster arrived and took his position just in time. Those that aren't bad in the EPPD are more like Keystone Cops* rather than true law enforcement professionals. James has a full plate getting the department back into shape; to be a department the city can have pride in and, more importantly have trust in.

It sounds like Alex has at least one compound leg fracture, if not two. That's going to mean casts from hip to toes. OK Jacob, you got yourself painted in a corner here. I want to see what your magic pen <fingers?> comes up with. Matt is going to be his primary care-giver after he's discharged from the hospital. Alex is going to need assistance taking care of "daily duties". This should be lots of fun! Yeah, writing about sponge baths is one thing...but there's more to daily life than bathing! Hmmm...thinking further, David is going to have to deal with such realities too with Tom in the "Jacob" story.

Ok, I'll move on.

I truly hope that the drama has come to an end for Alex. He has had a hell of a time with his past always coming up to bite him. I feel for Alex, but how about Matt and Franseca? Franseca's unconditional love for Alex makes these situations incredibly stressful. I hope that she is as strong as I suspect lest she have a heart attack or stroke over stress and worry for Alex.

Alex has put his life on the right track. He deserves to have peace in his life. Can it ever be so for him?

While Alex is recuperating, Matt is going to have to run the print shop solo. I'm sure he's most capable. Matt's dilemma is going to be being able to tear himself away from tending to Alex long enough to manage the print shop. It will be interesting to see if Alex's younger brothers step up to assist in Alex's care. With their young ages, I wouldn't be surprised if they need to be invited to participate. They probably wouldn't think of it on their own, but once prodded would, in all likelihood, step right up.

Thank you to the two readers that have written me personally. I am enjoying the e-mail exchanges greatly

Well, friends, the holiday season is upon us. I'm going to close out for now. It's still early enough in the day to get some shopping done.

Until Next Time,

"Daddy" Rick