Back In The Saddle, Sam
[Rated R for violence and language; By: AndrBernar]
Summary:Back In The Saddle, Sam (Rated R for violence). Gene Hackman returns as CIA Sam Colton and rescues his wife, who has been kidnapped.
Back In The Saddle, Sam
On a late Saturday evening in May, Sam sat on the side of the bed, a green towel opened out beside him. On the towel lay pieces of a 15" blue barrel 45 Colt Sam had bought years ago because he had admired the style. In his hands were an oiled cloth and one of the inner workings of the pistol, and he worked over the piece with the cloth. Linda stood at the closet door, putting items away in the closet.
"Sam, remember when we were in the restaurant at the Briton and you went to call Jim? I forgot to tell you, I saw that butcher from Joe's Deli, not the shorter one, but, you know, the one that always looks like he has a good idea," said Linda.
Sam stopped working the cloth. "What do you mean? Are his eyebrows always raised?" asked Sam.
"What do you mean?" asked Linda, turning to face Sam.
"You know, like this," said Sam, raising his eyebrows.
"Oh, Sam," laughed Linda, "You look so funny! I guess you never get any good ideas because I never saw that look before."
"What, what did I do?" asked Sam, innocently.
"You made a surprised face. Does it surprise you when you get a good idea?" laughed Linda.
"Hey, Linda, I've got a good idea," said Sam, and he made a surprised face.
"Never mind," said Linda, laughing.
"Well, what do you mean, he always looks like he has a good idea?" asked Sam, smiling.
"You know, the one whose head is shaped like a light bulb," said Linda, as she turned back to her chore in the closet.
Sam again stopped his chore.
"Hey, Linda, come here for a minute," said Sam.
"What, Dear?" asked Linda, as she walked over to the bed.
"Come sit with me," said Sam, patting the space next to him on the bed
Linda sat on the bed next to Sam and looked at him expectantly. "Yes, Sam?"
"Linda, I want a divorce," said Sam.
"On what grounds?" asked Linda, smiling now.
"Mental cruelty," said Sam.
"Why do you say that, my little Poughkeepsie?" asked Linda, tracing the left corner of Sam's mouth with her finger.
"His head is shaped like a light bulb!? He looks like he has a good idea!?" said Sam.
"Oh, Sam, you know what I mean," said Linda, placing her arms around Sam's neck.
"I'm afraid I do, Mrs. Colton," said Sam, and he kissed Linda back onto the green towel.
"Sam," laughed Linda, "Is that your pistol or are you happy to see me?"
* * *
Early Sunday afternoon, Linda walked into the kitchen, and Sam was routing around in the cabinets.
"Oh, you're ready," said Sam. " I was going to start making the sandwiches. Do we have any rye bread?"
"Oh, Sam, I'm sorry. When I went shopping this morning and got in line, I realized I had forgotten the rye bread. The supermarket was crowded, but I decided to go back for the rye bread, and when I was in the dairy section, I saw a little old lady slip on a wet spot and fall. She was okay, but seeing her fall was so upsetting," said Linda.
"Linda, why did you go to the dairy aisle to get rye bread?" asked Sam, deciding he better sit down for this.
"Because you like whipped butter on your rye bread. So, I got the whipped butter but forgot the rye bread again, so I stopped at the 7 Eleven on the way home. The parking lot was full, so I pulled around to the side. When I got out of the car, I saw two guys in the back of the 7 Eleven, putting a box into the back of some ugly blue van. One of them looked up and saw me, and he motioned to the other guy, and they looked as though I had caught them at something. I tried to smile, friendly like, and acted nonchalant, but one of them followed me into the store. I was so nervous I just went to the counter and bought a pack of gum," Linda explained. She felt as though she was rambling, but talking about it brought back some of the tension she had felt at the time. "Oh, Sam, you must think I'm silly for being frightened over nothing really," she said, trying to smile. Feeling the need to be in his arms, she walked over to Sam and sat on his lap.
"Not at all, Linda. You should always trust your instincts," said Sam, placing his arms about her waist. "Why didn't you tell me about this until now?"
"Because you didn't ask me about the rye bread until now," replied Linda, "And I don't want you to think I didn't care about your rye bread."
"Linda, I know you take care of me. But listen to me; the next time you're in a situation like that I want you to call me."
"But I told myself I was probably just being silly because I was a little upset, and now I'm sure that's all it was," said Linda. She felt so good and safe in Sam's arms, and she hugged him and kissed her favorite spot on the left side of his mouth, and hugged him again. "Oh, Sam, I'm so happy just to be sitting here with you."
"Me, too. Even though I'm rye-less," teased Sam.
"Well, you're not whole wheat-less," said Linda. And she and Sam threw together a picnic lunch, grabbed a blanket, and headed out to the large, old oak tree at the back of their apartment building.
Linda loved the sound of Sam's voice, and she would often ask him to read out loud to her. After they had finished their picnic lunch, Sam leaned back against the tree, and Linda lay down on her stomach facing Sam, her chin resting in her hand as she settled down to enjoy watching and listening to Sam as he read to her. Sam picked up where he had last left off reading from Larry McMurtry's The Lonesome Dove.
He reminded her, "Okay, when we left off, the old Mexican cook had arrived at the camp, and he and Gus were discussing biscuits." Linda smiled. Sam would read the parts true to the character, and she loved the way he did the old Mexican.
'I hear you make good biscuits,' Po Campo said, smiling at him.
'That's right,' Augustus said. 'There's an art to biscuit making, and I learned it.'
'My wife was good at it too,' Po Campo remarked. 'I liked her biscuits. She never burned them on the bottom.'
"Where's she live, Mexico?' Augustus asked, curious as to where the short old man had come from.
'No, she lives in hell, where I sent her,' Po Campo said quietly, startling everyone within hearing. 'Her behavior was terrible, but she made good biscuits.'
There was a moment of silence, the men trying to decide if they were supposed to believe what they had just heard.
'Well, if that's where she is, I expect we'll all get to eat her biscuits, one of these days,' Augustus said. Even he was a little startled. He had known men who had killed their wives, but none so cool about admitting it as Po Campo.
'That's why I hope I go to heaven,' Po Campo said. 'I don't want nothing more to do with that woman.'
Pretending he still read from the book, Sam adlibbed, continuing with a Mexican accent:
"Once, not long before I killed her dead, I tried to poison her at a picnic because she forgot to buy me the rye bread."
Linda laughed out load. Sam looked up at her as though surprised by her laughter.
"What?" he asked.
How could she resist him? She decided she could not. Smiling, she got up and straddled Sam's legs, kissing him with all her heart.
"Gee, I guess you really like this book," said Sam.
"It's the impromptu author I find hard to resist," she said, kissing him again. "My Sam."
Sam pulled her closer, kissing her yet again.
"It's getting warm out here, Linda. Let's go inside."
"Yes," she said.
"You realize," said Harold the pigeon from his perch in the oak tree above where Linda and Sam were gathering their picnic items, "That we're never going to get to hear the end of this book."
"Yes, Harold," said Henrietta, her beak stretched into a smile.
* * *
Monday afternoon, Linda pulled into the driveway and parked in her usual parking place. She grabbed the grocery bag, got out of the car and headed towards the apartment building. As she got to the glass door leading into the lobby, she held the door open for an elderly couple who were on their way out. They smiled and nodded their thanks to her.
Linda got off the elevator on the fifth floor and walked toward the apartment. She got her keys out of her purse and had just opened the door when she heard the door opening that led to the stairs. She turned to see who it was, and the man who had followed her into the 7 Eleven the other day rushed at her and hit her over the head with the butt of a gun, knocking her unconscious. He had followed her home the day before, but no opportunity to take her had presented itself at that time without his being seen.
The man dragged Linda into the stairwell, where his partner stood waiting.
"Now what?" asked the man who had waited in the stairwell.
'What do you mean, 'now what'?' asked the other. "This was your idea, Joe."
"Well, we can't just drag her out the front door, you idiot. Ed, you were supposed to point the gun at her, and we were going to walk out of here, all three of us together. You weren't supposed to knock her out."
"We'll wait till she comes to," said the idiot.
"Never mind, I've got a better idea. Check the hallway," said Joe.
"It's clear," said Ed.
"Okay, give me a hand," said Joe, "Let's get her in the elevator."
They half carried, half dragged Linda into the hallway and walked the few steps to the elevator.
"Push the button," said Joe.
The elevator was still on the fifth floor from when Linda had come up. They dragged her inside. After the doors closed, Joe pushed the emergency stop button.
"What are you doing?" asked Ed.
"We're going to put her on top of the elevator. By the time she's found, if ever, we'll be on the plane and well on our way," said Joe. "Did you bring the rope?"
"No, I didn't bring the rope," said Ed.
"Okay, don't panic. Help me up through the trap door and then help me get her up there. I'll wait while you go get the rope. And get a rag or something to gag her," said Joe.
After they had this accomplished, Joe pushed the trap door back into place, and Ed pushed the first floor button. No one was around when he left the elevator, so he ran out to the van, grabbed the rope and searched around the floor for a rag. He put the items inside his jacket and ran back to the building. A boy and a girl were just getting off the elevator, and they ran past Ed, laughing. "Last one to the end of the parking lot is a rotten egg," said the boy
Ed got on the elevator, and when the doors shut, he called up to Joe.
"Joe, are you still there?" asked Ed.
Joe rolled his eyes to heaven. "Yes," he said with all the patience he could muster. He opened the trap door. "Push the 5 and then hit the emergency stop."
Ed did as he was told and then asked, "Do you want me to come up there?"
"No. If someone gets the elevator going before I'm done, you act all annoyed about having been stuck. I can do this," said Joe, "Throw up the rope."
Ed threw the rope up twice before Joe was able to grab it. Joe tied Linda up then asked Ed to throw up the rag.
"It's dirty," said Ed.
Joe decided not to comment. He stuffed the rag halfway into Linda's mouth then secured it with the extra length of the rope. He jumped down into the elevator, released the emergency stop button and pushed the first floor button.
"I tied the rope to some doohickey on the top of the elevator so she can't move around much and make noise when she comes to."
When the elevator reached the first floor, no one was around, and they left the building.
Ten minutes after they left, Linda started to come around. The top of her head was pounding. She opened her eyes and the pain in her head only worsened. She started to remember what had happened. She saw that she was in an elevator shaft, but she didn't know whether it was her own building or somewhere else. She tried to see how she was secured, but the pain in her head throbbed harder with any movement she made. She tried to make noises in her throat, but the sound was so low, she decided she should wait till someone was in the elevator before she would try again.
When the pain in her head subsided a little, she tried to scrape the rope that held the rag in place in her mouth against the rough top of the elevator. After twenty minutes of hard work, she had only managed to loosen it a bit. She tried to be patient, waiting for someone to take the elevator. She remembered it was Monday, but she had no idea what time it was and no idea how long she had been there. Trying not to panic, she decided to rest a little before trying again to work the ropes. After ten minutes, she tried again with no success and only succeeded to cause her wrists and ankles to bleed. She lifted her head up a little and passed out again.
* * *
Monday evening, Sam had just come home from working late, and as he walked down the hall towards his apartment, he saw a loaf of rye bread on the welcome mat outside his apartment door. He smiled and bent to pick it up, thinking Linda had left it there purposely when he noticed that her keys still hung from the lock outside the door. He opened the door and saw a grocery bag and box of crackers lying on the carpet just inside the door.
"Linda?" called Sam, trying not to panic, hoping she had just gotten home and perhaps had to run into the bathroom. "Linda?" he called again as he went from room to room looking for her.
Sam ran to the phone in the kitchen and called Jim Blake at his private home number. Jim Blake was Sam's boss, the Director of the CIA.
"Blake," said Jim.
"Jim, someone took Linda," said Sam, trying to speak calmly.
"Listen to me, Sam. Stay put. I'll be right there," said Jim.
Within minutes, police had arrived and not long after, Jim Blake, accompanied by a team of CIA agents. The apartment was thoroughly fingerprinted and examined, tenants questioned, and no other evidence of what had happened could be found, not even a receipt for the items Linda had purchased. A trace was underway on serial numbers on the bread and crackers to trace the items to the place of purchase in case that information would later prove useful.
Sam stood at his living room window, looking out into the night, and a breeze entered through the opened window, stirring the curtains Linda had hung there. Sam pictured Linda's smiling face when he had come home one night to find her all happy about the curtains and how anxious she was for Sam to like them. He thought of the day when he had come home, and Linda was hanging curtains in the bedroom. He had teased her about them, and they had laughed and made love. Sam barely noticed Jim's reflection in the window as Jim walked up behind him.
"Sam, I've got people going through your files for the past year, looking for anyone who might want to get revenge or perhaps try to hold Linda in exchange for something from us. I'm sure we'll come up with something," said Jim. "We'll continue to check with the tenants we didn't find at home."
Sam turned to face Jim, and Jim was surprised by the look in Sam's eyes. He had never seen that look before, and he had worked with Sam for over twenty years.
"Jim, Linda told me something yesterday about seeing two men at the 7 Eleven just off the highway. At least that's the one it must be if she was heading home from the supermarket. She saw two men putting a box into the back of a blue van, and when they saw Linda had noticed them, they acted suspiciously. I should have questioned her more, but she said she had probably imagined it." Sam started to head for the door. Jim tried to stop him.
"Sam, let me send someone. If that's what this is about, your showing up there might make things worse. Your wedding picture is right there by the front door. If you're recognized, it might make them panic and do harm to Linda. Sam, you can't go. Besides, you're not yourself right now. You need to stay here in case someone calls. We'll keep working on all possibilities from your files and this other incident around the clock. Now, I could be of more use down at headquarters, but I'm not leaving here until you give me your word that you'll stay put," said Jim.
"I hear you, Jim. You're right," said Sam.
Jim noted the ambiguity in Sam's response, but he hoped Sam would stay put. Jim did not know how he himself would react under similar circumstances, and he could only hope that Sam would follow his advice.
Everyone had left. Jim had wanted to leave a few men with Sam, but Sam had insisted he'd rather be alone. Sam went to the bedroom closet, looking for a certain box. While he searched, he saw the velvet box that held his 45 Colt, and he remembered how Linda and he had laughed just last night when she had laid back onto the pieces of the pistol. His stomach wrenched again, and Sam forced himself to keep a clear mind. He found the box he was searching for, and minutes later, Sam, disguised as an old man, left his apartment. It was the same disguise he had worn when he first met Linda, and he hoped it would bring him luck.
Sam drove his car a block away from the 7 Eleven and walked the rest of the way, using an old man's gait and walking slightly bent over. There were a few cars parked in front, and one was just pulling away as Sam entered the 7 Eleven's double glass doors. He shuffled over to the counter and asked for Captain Black tobacco. The young man who worked the counter looked to be about 17 years-old. He located the tobacco and placed it on the counter and rung it up.
"$3.99 plus tax, that'll be $4.22," said the clerk.
Sam reached into his pocket and handed the clerk four one-dollar bills and made a time of it, counting out the 22 cents.
"Young man, do have any empty boxes you could give me?" asked Sam.
"I'll take a look. Just let me wait on these next two customers," said the clerk.
"Take your time, young man. I'm old and have no place to rush to," laughed Sam. He then coughed and wheezed. "I'm all right, I'm all right," he assured as he stepped aside for the next customer.
Sam meandered casually toward the door that led to the back of the store, looking at different items on his way and humming to himself. When he got to the back doors that led to the back room, he peered in the small glass pane on one of the doors. The clerk came back and asked him to move aside and went into the back. He came out with a box.
"It's got an oil mark or something here on the side, but will this do? All of the other boxes and trash were put out earlier," said the clerk.
"Yes, yes, this will do fine. But I do need another. May I go out back and look around?" asked Sam.
"Help yourself," said the clerk.
Sam shuffled outside through the front doors of the store and made his way to the back. While inspecting through the trash for a box and still humming to himself, he studied any tire markings he spotted and tried to take note of anything that might tell him something. Sam heard footsteps behind him, and he turned and saw Vince, one of his co-workers standing there.
"May I ask you what you're doing here, Sir," asked Vince.
Sam was relieved Vince didn't recognize him. "Just looking for a box, my young man. Ah, here's one," said Sam. And Sam shuffled away, holding a box in each hand.
Sam had spotted some recent tire tracks he recognized from work he had done on the sniper shootings in Virginia, and they were the same size tires that would be used on a small commercial van. There was a chance they could be from the same van Linda had seen. When he was out of sight of the 7 Eleven, he no longer bothered to continue his shuffle, and he threw the boxes in a dumpster near where he had parked, and he drove back to his apartment. He saw there were no messages on the phone, and he immediately called Jim with the tire information. Jim told Sam he would get right on it and told him the items were indeed traced to the 7 Eleven Sam had thought Linda had gone.
"Jim, we don't know what time this happened, but since it's been almost two hours since I came home and we haven't heard anything yet, we can probably rule out kidnapping or ransom." Sam didn't want to put his worst fears into words.
"Sam, there's still the possibility someone in your building may have seen something. Our agents are still questioning tenants. Everyone on your floor has been contacted and most of the other floors, but there are still people we haven't caught at home yet who may have seen something. And this might not add up to anything, but one of maintenance men in your building said the elevator was stuck for about five minutes and then not long after for about seven minutes sometime around one. Sometimes kids just push the buttons and run out, but as far as maintenance knows, no one was in the elevator, and no one has made any complaints about being stuck, only about pressing the button and nothing happening. Sam, don't give up hope," said Jim.
"Thanks, Jim." Sam placed the phone on the receiver.
Sam went out to the hallway and pushed the button for the elevator. It seemed to take forever to arrive. Finally, the doors opened, and Sam held the inner doors to prevent them from closing. He looked around the floor and walls of the elevator for any signs of a struggle and noticed nothing. Just as he was about to let the doors close, he noticed marks on the ceiling around the trap door. He pushed the emergency stop and called out. "Linda!"
He ran back into the apartment and got an umbrella and ran back to the elevator and pushed aside the trap door. "Linda!" He jumped up and grabbed the side of the opening and pulled himself up enough to look through the opening. He saw Linda.
* * *
"You're going to be fine, Mrs. Colton," said the doctor, who sat on the edge of the bed. Linda was propped up slightly on the bed, her wrists and ankles bandaged, and she held an ice pack on the top of her head. The doctor stood then put the covers over Linda. "Now you stay in that bed the rest of tonight and all day tomorrow."
Linda smiled at the doctor. "I will. Thank you."
"Thank you, Dr. Weiss," said Sam.
"I can find the door," said Dr. Weiss. He shook hands with Sam and left.
"Sam, did Jim find anything?" asked Linda.
Sam sat on the side of the bed. "They traced the tire markings and found the van at the airport. It was rented under a false name. We'll follow through checking this out, but it looks as though these guys are going to get away with whatever they were up to. They're long gone, perhaps out of the Country, but all that matters is that you're okay," said Sam. Sam put his hands on either side of Linda and leaned over to kiss her lightly.
"Sam, will you do James Cagney," asked Linda.
"Now?" asked Sam.
"Please. I love your imitations," pleaded Linda.
"Okay, James Cagney," said Sam. "You, you dirty rat. You killed my brother."
Then Sam did John Wayne: "Your brother was an idiot. That's what kilt him. He fell off'a his horse."
"Well, well, why didn't you try to catch him, you dirty rat," said James Cagney.
"If I got off'a my horse every time some idiot fell off'a his, I'd never be in this here saddle," said John Wayne.
"You're a stinker. That's what you are, a stinker. I oughta punch ya in the nose," said James Cagney.
"Well, if ya think I'm climbing off'a my horse just so ya can punch me in the nose, you're sadly mistaken, Pilgrm," said John Wayne.
"Nobody calls me a pilgrm and gets away with it," said James Cagney.
"Well, I'm riding due west. That's where I'll be if ya wanna find me," said John Wayne.
Then to Linda, Sam said, still doing John Wayne, "Hey, Lady, would you care to ride with me into the sunset?"
"Oh, Sam," said Linda, giggling, "Kiss me."
"Well, if you think I'm climbing off'a my horse just to kiss ya, Lady, ya better think again."
"Wait, I'll come up there," said Linda.
And Linda got up and straddled Sam's lap, facing him.
"Lady, you're supposed to face the other way. That ain't no way to ride due west, facing east."
"I don't care where you're headed, Cowboy. I just wanna see how good ya look gettin' to it," said Linda.
And they kissed.
Last Updated: 26 March 2003.
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