It was a bright sunny day. The temperature was in the low 40s. Rather warm for the second week in January. Steve’s wife Pam had gone to visit her sister in Ohio, so Steve was on his own with the kids.
“Come on guys!” Steve called as the kids finished breakfast. “I have to drop you three boys off at school, and then your sister at daycare. So let’s get a move on.”
Nine-year-old Jacob walked over to his dad. “We could walk to school you know, it’s only in the next block.”
“I know that Jake, but I prefer to drop you off if you don’t mind.” His mind whirled back to his eldest son’s first day of kindergarten. That man had followed them all the way. He had also been there when Jake got out of school. No. He wasn’t taking any chances. If he were still walking them to school when they were in college, so be it.
“Ok then we’re just about ready.” Jake grabbed the bowls off the table and placed them in the sink.
Steve zipped his 6-month-old daughter into he snowsuit. The six-year-old twins needed a little help putting on their boots.
‘Here guys” Steve laughed. “Let dad help.” He put Missy in her stroller and helped Jeff and Tyler slip their boots on.
“Ok Troops.” He lifted his daughter out of the stroller. “Everybody ready?”
“Yea!” the three boys echoed.
“Well then let’s go!” They stepped out onto the porch.
“Dad. What’s that?” Jacob pointed to a box by the front door.
“What’s what Jake?” Steve was trying to hold the bulky baby in one hand and keep Tyler from sliding on the slippery porch with the other.
“That!” Jake continued to point to the box.
Steve turned in the direction the boy was pointing. “I don’t know.”
Just then they heard a whining sound coming from the box. Jake bent down and pulled back the blanket that covered it.
“It’s a puppy!” He cried out. “Can we keep him dad? Please say yes.”
“I don’t know. But he’s to little to stay outside in the cold. Put him in the garage for now. I’ll have to talk to you mother about it.”
“Can’t I put him in the house.” Jake wanted to know.
“And have him make a mess on mom’s brand new carpet. I‘d join him in the dog house.” Steve pointed to the pooch. “Now come on Jake put him in the garage, and be quick you’re going to be late to school.”
“Ok dad.” Jake picked the puppy out of the box; the puppy licked his face all over.
“See dad he likes me.” Jake smiled.
“The garage Jake.” Steve headed down the steps with the other kids.
As Jake carried the puppy to the garage Steve didn’t see the car parked across the street. He was also to busy settling the kids in to notice the man lift up his car phone.
“Hector? It’s Agee “ Agee spoke into the phone. “It looks like the pup was a great idea.”
“Yea. The transmission is wonderful on this end. I heard the whole conversation between him and the kids.”
“Wonderful.” Agee pulled away as Steve was getting the kids situated in the car.
“Bout time Jake, what took so long?” Steve looked over at his eldest son. Out of the three boys, Jake most resembled him, brown hair blue eyes. The twins favored their mother and thank goodness so did Missy.
“I was getting the pup some water.” Jake announced as he put on his seatbelt.
“That’s nice, what did you use?” Steve wondered.
“Huh?” Jake wondered.
“What did you put the water in?” Steve made himself clearer.
“That bowl on that plate holder thing.” Jake explained.
“The plate holder thing…you don’t mean the buffet?” Steve sounded upset.
“I guess that’s what mommy calls it.” Jake wondered why what he had done was wrong.
“Son, that’s mommy’s good china.” Steve told him.
“I’m sorry daddy, it was the first bowl I could find.”
“Well he’ll certainly be a well decked out puppy.” Steve laughed. “We won’t tell mommy ok?”
”Ok daddy.” Jake giggled.
After he dropped the boys off at school and Missy off at Day Care he headed for the OSI.
“Hey Steve.” Rudy greeted. “How is it going with Pam out of town?”
“Well it went pretty smooth this morning, of course you can’t burn cold cereal.”
“That’s true.” Rudy laughed. “What are you going to do about dinner.”
“We’re taking home something.” They were both walking toward Oscar’s office. “We found a puppy on our porch this morning. The boys insist we keep it.”
Rudy opened the door to Oscar’s office. “What will Pam say? After Buddy she swore no more dogs…”
“Steve, Rudy.” Oscar indicated when they stepped into his office. “Have a seat. What’s this about dogs?”
“Nothing” Steve, said as the two sat down. “We found a puppy on the porch this morning. Nothing important. What did you call me in for? It sounded important on the phone?” Steve wondered “Remember, I’m playing mommy and daddy this week.”
“I remember. What I need you for you can be handled during the day. And if there is trouble, Rudy agreed to watch the kids.”
“He did, did he?” Steve turned toward Rudy and gave him a suspicious look. “Thanks a lot.”
“Sorry Steve, I really had no choice.” Rudy smiled.
“Yea, I can just about imagine.” Steve laughed. “Ok boss what is it?”
“Have you heard of a retired OSI scientist by the name of Dr. Emil Losey, Oscar pulled the file out of his desk.”
“Yea, wasn’t he working on that hydrogen fusion project?” Steve stated.
“Yea he is, now he’s back in the states, he finally found what he needed to complete the project. So he’s come back to the states to finish.”
“Well that’s good.” Steve said. “So what do I do?”
“I want you to pick him up. I’ll give you the address…” The phone interrupted them Oscar picked it up. “Yes he’s here.” He handed the phone to Steve.
“Who else has my private number?” He eyed Steve.
“Sorry Oscar, I gave it to the principal at the boy’s school this morning.” He took the phone from Oscar.
“Yes.” He listened for a moment. “Yea I have something I have to do, but I suppose I can drop something by. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
He handed the phone to Oscar and then stood to leave. “Jake had a little accident at school; I have to take him some clean clothes. I’ll be back.”
“Steve. Why don’t you let Rudy take Jake his clothes?” Oscar sounded demanding.
“It will only take a minute Oscar. From what the principal said, Jake was in a fight with another boy and he got his pants all wet.” Without waiting for Oscar to respond, Steve left the office.
Steve pulled up in the driveway and opened the garage door. “Oh I forgot about that puppy.” He thought to himself.
Steve got out of the car and walked across the floor of the garage. He picked up the puppy and Pam’s good china that Jake thought would make the perfect watering dish and carried both inside.”
“I’ll see if I can’t find you something to eat.” He spoke softly to the puppy. “Let see.” He fumbled through the cupboards and came across an old box of dog biscuits they had had from another dog. “I bet this will work.” He crunched up the biscuit and put it on a paper plate. “You stay there. I have to get clean clothes for my son.”
Steve ran into Jake’s room and grabbed a clean pair of jeans and another shirt. He then headed back to the kitchen. The puppy had finished eating and was sleeping on the rug.
Steve walked over to the phone and dialed Oscar’s number. “Listen Oscar.” Steve started. “I just thought. To save time why don’t you give me that address and I’ll swing by as soon as I drop of Jake’s clothes.”
“Great idea.” Oscar read off the address and Steve repeated it back to Oscar. “That’s right Steve.” Oscar replied.
In their hideout in the back of an old tire store Hector, Agee and their boss Gene Finny listened to the entire conversation via the small transmitter hidden in the pup’s collar.
Finny turned to his two stooges. “You heard?”
The two nodded.
“Well what are you waiting for?”
After dropping off Jake’s clean clothes and making sure his son hadn’t been injured enough to require treatment, Steve headed for Braxton Maryland to pick up Dr. Losey.
Steve pulled around the corner just in time to see Hector and Agee force Losey into their car.
Steve sped up the street and jumped out of his car. He grabbed Hector by the collar and threw him across the street.
Upon seeing this Agee lunged at Steve with his gun.
Steve grabbed the gun out of Agee’s hand and bent the barrel back. “Now try to shoot it.” Steve hissed.
He grabbed the dumbfounded Losey out of the car and put him in his own. “Come on I’ll get you someplace safe.”
They started out while he drove he called Oscar’s office. Oscar answered.
“Say what?” Oscar bellowed into the phone.
“You heard me Oscar just as I rounded the corner, two goons were forcing Losey into their car at gunpoint.”
“How do you suppose it happened?” Oscar wondered.
“Some one must be listening to your conversations, I suggest having Tom Dempster sweep your office for bugs…” Steve thought a moment. “While he’s at it, have him check my place. I spoke you to on the phone from my house. Remember?”
“Yea, I’ll get him on it.” Oscar hung up and called Tom Dempster. Within moments Tom had dispatched a team to Oscar’s office and one to Steve’s house.
Steve dropped Losey off at the lab and headed for Oscar’s office. “So what’s the verdict?” Steve wondered.
“Both places are clean Steve.” Oscar gave him a suspicious look.
“What’s the matter Oscar?” Steve stared back at him.
“I was hoping you could tell me Steve. Just how did those two get the address, no one knew but you and me.”
“Oh come on Oscar, you don’t think I…”
“What else am I supposed to think? First you leave here after receiving a mysterious phone call…”
“Nothing mysterious about it Oscar. I told you it was Jake’s school.” Steve defended himself.
“I’m sorry Steve. I’m afraid I’m going to have to look into this further.” Oscar’s expression was somber…
“Oscar what is there to look into?” Steve was becoming angry.
“Steve someone leaked this information.” Oscar noted.
“Look, if I had wanted these guys to get Losey, why would I have taken Losey away from them?” Steve demanded.
“I don’t know Steve.” Oscar shook his head. “Like I said. You get a mysterious call on a phone number no one but a hand full of people know about, then you just leave…”
“I told you Oscar, my son had a problem at school” He was reading the expression on Oscar’s face and he didn’t like it. “Look why don’t you call the school and ask. I’ll give you the number.” Steve started to write it down.
“That’s ok. I’ll have Callahan look it up.” Oscar pressed the button on the intercom. “Yes Callahan, would you please get me Oak Street Elementary?”
In a few moments Oscar was speaking to the principal of Jacob’s school. “Yes. This is Oscar Goldman. I need you to clarify something for me.”
“What might that be?” The principal wondered.
“Did call my office a little while ago and request Jacob Austin’s father?”
“As a matter of fact yes. The boy got into an altercation with another child. Jake fell into a puddle of water. I called his father to bring him some clean clothes. If Col. Austin is with you tell him Jake is doing just fine.”
Oscar looked at Steve. “Yes I’ll do that. Thank you.” He hung up the phone. “The principal told me to tell you Jake is doing just fine now.”
“Well that’s good. Now we have to find out who leaked the information. I still say there is a bug in your office.”
“Dempster already swept both places. They are both clean.” Oscar narrowed his eyes as he looked at Steve.
“I don’t like what you are insinuating!” Steve snarled.
“I’m sorry Steve, what am I supposed to think?” Oscar grumbled back.
“I don’t know Oscar, but you would think you could have a little trust in me.”
“I do trust you Steve.” Oscar stated.
“Yea? Well you sure have a strange way of showing it.” Steve stormed out of Oscar’s office.
Oscar once again called Tom Dempster to have him sweep his office once again. There had to be an explanation somewhere.
“I don’t know what to do Rudy.” Steve sat across from him in his office. “I just don’t think Oscar trusts me.” Steve sighed as he related the story to Rudy.
“I don’t know what to tell you Steve.” Rudy was concerned for his friend who seemed quite depressed about the situation.
“Well I have to pick up the kids from school. I’ll see you later.”
“Sure Steve. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. Losey is safe though?”
“For the moment anyway. Look I really have to go.”
See you later then. Call if you need anything.” Rudy called after him
“I will.” Steve assured as he left Rudy’s office.
After Steve left, Rudy headed down to Oscar’s office. “What’s the problem Oscar? I just spoke to Steve. He seems very upset.”
“I don’t know what else to think Rudy. I’ve had Dempster sweep my office twice. It’s been clean both times. Steve’s house is ‘clean’ I don’t have any other explanation…”
“How bout trusting Steve simply because he’s a friend?” Rudy spoke calmly even though he wanted to grab Oscar by the shirt collar and shake him till his teeth rattled.
“I suppose you’re right. I’ll call him later and give him my support.”
“That’s more like it.” Rudy snorted as he left Oscar’s office and headed toward his own.
That night Oscar stopped by Steve’s house on his way home from work.
“What do you want?” Steve growled when he opened the door.
“I just came to apologize Steve. I’m sorry. Will you help us find the persons responsible for leaking the information?”
“Of course I will.” Steve led Oscar into the family where Jake and the twins were watching TV.
“Jake. Take your brothers up to your room and play.” Steve suggested.
“Yea sure dad.” Jake took the six-year-old twins and they headed upstairs. “Can we take Tiger with us?”
“No. Tiger needs to stay in the kitchen. And I told you not to name him. We have to ask mommy first if it’s ok to keep him.” Steve reminded.
“She’ll say yes. I know she will.” Jacob smiled.
“We’ll see.” Steve gave his son a pat. “Now upstairs all of you, and don’t wake up your sister.”
“We won’t “ The three promised.
“What was that all about, and who’s Tiger?” Oscar asked as the children drifted up the steps to their rooms.
“We had a little surprise on the doorstep this morning. Some one abandoned a ten-week-old puppy. The kids want to keep it. After I left your office I took him to the vet. The vet says he’s about ten weeks old.”
“Oh I see. Anyway back to Losey.” Oscar began.
In the kitchen the puppy was making all sorts of racket. Then they heard a thud.
“I think he wants some more water. Come on out to the kitchen I’ll get it for him.”
“Steve you didn’t say anything to Jake when you stopped by the school?”
“I don’t like your tone Oscar.” Steve reached down and picked up the dog bowl he had bought at the vet’s office. He filled it with water and set it on the floor. The puppy quickly lapped it up.
“Look Oscar I think you better let me drive Losey to and from.” Steve suggested.
“I don’t know…”
“Still don’t trust me?” Steve sneered
On the other side of the transmitter Agee and Hector were joined by their third partner Finny. “How is it going?” Finny asked.
“Not very well.” Hector started. “Goldman has stopped trusting Austin We are waiting to see if Goldman will continue using Austin.” Hector finished.
“That is a problem I did not expect.” Finny frowned. “We may have to move on to our alternate plan.”
“What’s that?” Agee wondered.
“If Goldman refuses to trust Austin, I’ll have to come up with something else. But if Austin continues we will have to grab both Losey and Austin.
“Of course I trust you Steve.” Oscar gave in. “You’ll start driving Losey in the morning. I’ll call and give you the address.”
“That’s great. Call by eight, and then tell Losey I’ll be there by nine. That will give me enough time to drop the boys off at School and Missy at daycare.”
“Ok Steve. I’ll know by seven. I’ll call and let you know. By the way when will Pam be back?”
“Not for a while Pam was visiting her sister she got sick. Pam is staying to help out.”
“Well that’s nice of her I guess.” Oscar headed back for the living room. Steve followed hooking Missy’s gate behind him to keep the puppy in the kitchen.
“I’m calling Pam in just a bit to see if the kids can keep the puppy. The vet said he’s healthy I went ahead and got him his shots. I don’t want him around my kids if he’s not up to date on all the shots.”
“Can’t blame you there.” Oscar left and Steve called his wife.
“…. Are you sure the pup is safe?” Pam asked.
“The vet said he was fine.” Steve assured.
“Then tell Jake he can keep him if he takes care of him.” Pam gave in.
“He will.” Steve hung up the phone and went upstairs to tell the kids the good news. “You have to take care of him Jake.” Steve warned.
“I will dad I promise.” Jake was busy jumping up and down.
“If he makes a mess on the carpet he’s out of here, that’s what mom says anyway.” Steve warned.
“We can keep him in the kitchen. We’ll train him to stay out there.” Jake promised
“Yea, well I’ll buy a kennel tomorrow. I would have gotten one today, but we had to check with mom first. Now why don’t the three of you head for bed?”
The next morning Steve was trying to get the kids ready for the day. They were in the kitchen eating breakfast when Oscar called.
“Yea Steve it’s me. Here’s the address of Losey’s new safe house.”
“Ok Oscar let me get a pen.” Steve got a pen and jotted down the address. “Ok Oscar I have 135 Willow Creek Lane in Bethesda. Is that right?”
“That’s it pal I already told Losey you would be there around nine.” Oscar informed him
“Great I can’t get there before nine. Missy’s daycare opens at nine. I’ll call you after I pick him up.”
“I’ll be waiting for your call.” Oscar replied.
Steve hung up and returned to his family. “Well gang are we just about ready?” Steve reached over to pick up Missy. “Missy. You’re burning up.” Steve exclaimed.
He turned to Jake. “Would you take Tiger out, then we’ll get going.”
“Sure dad.” Jake responded
While Jake took the puppy out Steve went to the phone and called Rudy. “Could you spare Linda for just a bit.” Steve asked.
“Why, What’ the problem?” Rudy wondered.
Missy has a fever. They won’t take her at daycare if she’s sick. I have to drop Losey off at the lab. I won’t be but half and hour at best.”
“I’ll send her right over.” Rudy promised.
In their hide out Hector and Agee were getting ready to move. “We have a little while.” Hector reminded. Austin won’t pick him up till 9:00”
“I say we get there by 8:45 at he latest.” Finny snarled. “I don’t want to leave anything to chance this time.”
“Yea sure boss.” Hector agreed. “We’ll go right now.”
Ten minutes later Linda arrived. “I hear we have a sick baby.” She exclaimed.
“Yea I just took he temp. She has a fever of 101.2” Steve told her.
“I’ll watch her close. I’ll call Dr. Wells if it goes any higher.” Linda assured.
“I’d appreciate that.” Steve rounded up the older boys and headed them out to the car.
“Where did you put Tiger?” Steve asked.
“He’s in that kennel you bought in the garage.” Jake fastened his seatbelt.
“He’ll be fine till I get back. I’ll let him into the kitchen I just don’t want Linda to have to worry about him.”
After dropping the boys off Steve called Oscar “I’m on my way right now. I don’t have to drop Missy off she’s sick. Linda is with her.”
“Good I’ll call Losey and tell him you’re on your way.” Oscar hung up and dialed Losey’s number.
This time Steve was too late. He watched as Hector and Agee forced Losey into their car. When they saw Steve’s car they fired. Blowing out the windshield. Steve ducked to miss the glass and on coming bullet and in that instant Hector and Agee made their escape.
Oscar hit the ceiling when Steve informed him.
“Oscar there was nothing I could do. They were shooting at me.” Steve reminded.
“Steve I’m sorry I just don’t buy it. No one and I mean no one knew where Losey was.” Oscar told him.
“Oscar some one had to leak this.” Steve stated.
“I know. And I have a feeling I’m looking at that someone right now. I’m sorry Steve in view of all that has happened. I have no other choice but to suspend you till this is cleared up.
“Suspend me?” Steve shot him and angry glance. “Oscar! You can’t do that.” Steve argued.
“Oh can’t I? Steve. You’re lucky I’m not having you arrested…”
“Arrested? Oscar you can’t be serious?” Steve was dumbfounded.
“I’m very serious. “I’ll have security escort you out of the building. Don’t call us we’ll call you.”
“Don’t bother!” Steve shouted. He took his OSI ID out of his hip pocket and tossed it on Oscar’s desk “Shove it where the sun won’t shine ‘Pal’. I quit!!” Steve stormed out of Oscar’s office splintering the door behind him.
Shocked Oscar watched as Steve stomped down the hall.
Rudy’s car was in the driveway when Steve arrived home. Linda met him at the door. “I had to call Rudy.” She stated. “Missy’s fever went up to 104.3.”
“Thank you Linda. Is Rudy in Missy’s room?” Steve asked.
“Yes he told me to send you up as soon as you got here.”
Steve dashed up the steps
“Rudy! Rudy!” He called as he ran up the stairs.
Rudy met Steve outside Missy’s room “Take it easy Steve. She’s fine. The fever leveled off. It’s back down to 101.”
“Well that’s a relief.” Steve whispered.
“Something wrong?” Rudy tried to read his expression.
“Come downstairs and I’ll tell you.” Rudy followed Steve down to the living room.
Feeling that what Steve had to say was serious, Rudy turned to Linda. “Why don’t you go on back up and stay with the baby.”
“Sure Dr. Wells.” Linda went on upstairs
Rudy turned to Steve. “It’s serious, isn’t it?”
“Very serious Rudy. Oscar and I had a terrible fight. I quit.” Steve informed him
“You what?” Rudy shouted.
Steve proceeded to tell Rudy what had happened.
“I can’t believe it.” Rudy sighed.
“Yea well you better believe. I’m telling you Rudy the man knows no boundaries. He actually accused me of treason.”
“That doesn’t sound like Oscar at all.” Rudy noted.
“Yea I know.” Steve stood to answer the doorbell that had rung three times in a row.
Steve opened the door. Oscar stood on his front porch. “Steve we have to talk.”
“I don’t know if I should speak to you without a lawyer present.” Steve snorted.
“Look Steve. I’m afraid you’re going to have to come with me. You see if you quiit,we can’t just let you run around…Oh good Rudy you’re here.”
“Why?” Rudy was instantly on guard.
“Let’s get back to the lab and I’ll tell you.” Oscar snorted.
“Oscar I won’t do it!” Rudy replied.
“You’ll do what you’re told! Now let’s go!” Oscar shouted.
“Give me a minute.” Steve started and headed for the stairs.
Oscar grabbed him. “You’re not going anywhere.”
“Oscar I have to tell Linda I’m going out. Missy is sick.” Steve tried to explain.
“I’ll come with you.” Oscar followed him up the stairs.
“Linda I have an errand to run I won’t be long.” Steve called from the door of Missy’s room.
“Fine Col Austin.” Linda smiled “Missy seems fine now.”
“Thanks Linda. I shouldn’t be to long. Well Oscar, shall we?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Losey said for the 12th time since Hector and Agee had grabbed him.
“We know you have been working on a project with hydrogen fusion. We want you to do it for us.” Agee finished by giving him a smack across the face.
At the OSI Oscar stayed with Rudy and Steve. “Let’s just go into the lab huh?”
“Why is he so insistent on going to the lab?” Steve whispered.
“Haven’t you figured it out yet?” Rudy turned toward him.
“Figured what out?” Steve was still wondering.
“You’ll find out.” Rudy whispered back.
“Sit down gentlemen.” Oscar began.
“Rudy and Steve sat beside one another on the couch in Rudy’s office. “Ok Oscar. Lower the boom.” Rudy muttered.
“I won’t beat around the bush.” Oscar stated. “I want Rudy to turn down your bionics till we get this resolved.”
“I won’t….” Rudy started
“No Rudy that’s ok.” Steve interrupted. “But.” He pointed his finger at Oscar, “Just remember this. Once it’s proved that I’m right, and you’re wrong, there is no way Rudy is ever turning me back up again.” Steve warned.
“Just do it Rudy!” Oscar ordered.
“Step into the office then Steve.” Steve followed Rudy into his inner office. “Are you sure this is what you want?”
“You dam right!” Steve nearly shouted.
“I really don’t want to. I’m afraid that I may not get you back up to speed…”
“Didn’t you hear what I just said? I said no matter how this turns out. There is no way I’ll allow you to turn them back up again.”
“Well ok then Let’s get started. I really hate to do this…”