Play It Again, Sam
[Rated R for violence and language; By: AndrBernar]
Summary:Play It Again, Sam (Rated R for violence and language). Gene Hackman plays a top CIA agent, Sam Colton, who has to make it appear as though he has fallen in love and retired from the CIA. The CIA is actually using him to uncover a traitor who is leaking information to terrorists. The woman agent assigned to play Coltonís newfound love never shows, and Colton has to recruit a woman he just met. Will they pull it off, and where does the pretence of love begin and where does it end?
Play It Again, Sam
At CIA Headquarters in Washington, the Director, Jim Blake, sat at his desk deep in thought. His office was decorated in shades of gray from the ceiling down to the carpet, and his gray hair and gray suit offered no diversion of color to the room. The intercom on his desk crackled, and his secretary's voice came over the speaker.
"Sam Colton is here to see you, Jim."
"Send him in, Barb." Jim Blake stood and passed his hand over his short-cropped hair.
Sam Colton, the CIA's top agent, entered the room. Jim smiled warmly. He always liked Sam and more importantly, always respected him. "Sam, it's good to see you."
"Jim. You're looking fit," said Colton as he smiled and shook hands with Blake.
"Sit down, Sam. Look, I'll get right to the point. I know you'll appreciate that." Blake smiled then continued. "We've got a rat. The Operations Director informed me that every time we get a lead to one of Saddam's gunny sacks, we find nothing." Gunny sacks was a CIA term for Saddam Hussein's hiding places. "We've got a traitor, Sam, and you're the only one I'm trusting with this at this point. The traitor doesn't know we suspect him yet, but he'll soon know we're aware of the betrayal and will be sniffing him out. You're my best agent. Whoever this traitor is, you can bet he'll suspect you're on the case."
Sam looked intrigued but waited patiently for Blake to go on. He knew by Blake's demeanor that Blake was going to ask him to do something he wouldn't like.
Blake continued. "Your term to opt for retirement is coming up next week. And that's what this meeting is about. I'm informing you of your options, and you're to get back to me on Friday with your decision. You'll accept retirement, Sam. Now, no one's going to believe that you opted to retire, but you play the part. But this traitor, and his people, if he has anyone working with him, will be checking and nosing around our guys to see what they're doing and what they're finding out. You're the one they'll worry about the most. And they won't buy that you retired, so the focus will be on you. But that's what we're counting on. We'll be watching to see who's following you." Blake sat back in his chair, took a deep breath and said, "There's more. But are you with me so far?"
Sam leaned forward in his chair and said, "Yeh, Jim, I'm with you. We've got a traitor, and you want me to sit around with my thumb up my ass. I can't believe you of all people would even ask me to do this."
"Sam, that's why this will work. The traitor will focus on you, and we'll be watching." Blake knew Sam would be itching to go after the traitor himself, not sitting on the side lines, but he also knew Sam could see the sense in this.
"Jim. You said there's more. Go on. I can't wait," said Sam.
"I'm flying a new woman agent in from Chicago tomorrow. She's new, clean, no track record. She'll run into you at that restaurant/bar down the road from your apartment building. You'll accidentally meet, hit it off, and play it out like an all-time romance. When you come in on Friday, you'll use this new romance as one of the reasons you're accepting retirement. You're getting old, you met someone and you want to make a life for yourself. Then, when we inform everyone we have a traitor among us, the traitor will suspect that we must have been on to him, that your retirement was part of a scheme to divert them from you, he'll be scared, and they'll be all over you. Everywhere you go, everyone you talk to will become suspect as part of some big scheme. They'll look into this woman agent's past history, they'll be all over the place, chasing a whirlwind, but we'll be watching."
Blake filled Sam in on the rest of the plan. Just in case anything went wrong, Sam was to wait at the Dartmouth ahead of time disguised as an old man. There was to be no paperwork on this, no files, so Blake described the agent to Sam and advised him she would be wearing a navy blue raincoat. She would arrive at five p.m. When she arrived, Sam was to leave and then return as himself for their accidental meeting.
The next day, Sam shuffled into the Dartmouth disguised as an old man. He arrived a few minutes early, but he glanced around to check whether the agent had arrived early. After he satisfied himself that she wasn't there, he approached an empty barstool next to an attractive, dark-haired woman. "Do you mind if I sit here?
The woman smiled sweetly at the old man. "No, I don't mind."
Sam settled on the bar stool and ordered a beer. He turned to the woman and asked, "So, what's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?"
They both laughed, and the woman replied, "My car broke down. I'm waiting to hear from the mechanic. I don't like sitting here, but the tables and booths are only for parties of two or more."
Sam wanted to get a better view of the entrance. "Well, this stool is killing me. I'm Albert. I won't be staying long, but perhaps we could share a table for a while. Would you do me the honor of joining me?" Sam played the kindly, old gentleman to the hilt.
"I'm Linda. And, Sir, it would be my honor." Linda liked the old man instantly. Sam noticed Linda was drinking coffee, so he asked the bartender to send a fresh cup over to their table. Sam picked up his beer, offered Linda his arm, and together they made their way to a table. On the way, Linda stumbled and bumped into a small table where two men were sitting. Sam caught her before she fell, and she was surprised at his strength. She apologized to the men at the table, and she and Sam made their way to a small table a few feet away.
"That was an experience," said Sam, as though the walk had tired him some. He placed his beer on the table and waited for Linda to sit before he too took his chair.
"Yes," said Linda, "I thought that one guy was going to have a fit when I bumped into his table."
"Ah, he's a putz," said Sam. Linda laughed.
The waitress came over with Linda's coffee, and Sam nodded to her that he was fine with his beer.
"So, what's wrong with your car?" asked Sam.
"I don't know. It just stopped going. It's old and might not be worth fixing. So after I talk to the mechanic, I'll decide whether to have it fixed or just take a train or a bus."
"Take a train or bus where?" Sam asked.
"Toronto," said Linda.
"Toronto! Only whores and hockey players come from Toronto," said Sam lightheartedly.
"My mother comes from Toronto," quipped Linda.
"Oh, what team does she play for?" asked Sam.
They both laughed, and Linda said, "You led me into that one nicely."
"I'm old, but there are things I can still do," said Sam.
"You know, you don't seem old," said Linda.
"No?" said Sam. "Maybe it's my charming ways."
"Yes, you are charming." Linda found the old man pleasant.
"Well, let me warn you, my dear, I can still run with the best of them," Sam said.
"And, let me warn you, my dear," Linda replied, "I can't. "
They both laughed, and as Albert kept his eye on the door, he asked, "So why Toronto?"
"I'm visiting a cousin there. If I can find a job, I might stay."
"What kind of job?"
"Ah, lawyers. Oh, I'm sorry. I guess you like lawyers."
"Like 'em? I worship the ground they slither on."
They both laughed, and Linda continued. "Well, anyway, my cousin tells me there a lot of lawyers there."
"Yeh, and I hear half of them are hockey players," said Sam. They laughed again, and Sam excused himself to go to the men's room. The agent was late, and Sam was beginning to worry. He went to the payphone by the men's room to call Jim Blake.
"Jim, it's Sam. What's going on?" asked Sam.
"Sam, she's snowed-in in Chicago. We'll have to forget it," said Blake. There was silence on the phone. "Sam, are you there?"
"Yeh, I'm here. Look, Jim, I've got an idea," said Sam. "I'll get back to you."
"Wait," said Blake. "Sam!" But Sam had already hung up the phone.
Sam shuffled his way back to his table and told Linda he wasn't feeling well and wanted to leave. He put money down on the table for the coffee and tip, and Linda thanked him.
"Is there anything I can do, anything I can get for you?" Linda asked.
"No. I just need to go home and lie down." Sam said.
"Well let me help you to your car," Linda offered.
"I took a cab here. I'm fine," said Sam.
"Well, I'll walk you out," said Linda. She walked Sam to the door, flagged down a cab, and helped him into it.
"Albert, thank you. I enjoyed your company. I hope you're going to be okay," said Linda.
"I'm fine, really." Sam closed the door and waved to Linda as the cab pulled away. Linda went back into the Dartmouth and took a seat again at the bar. She was going to miss the old guy.
Sam took the cab back to his apartment, called the Dartmouth and asked for Linda, pretending to be her mechanic.
When the bartender answered the phone, he told the "mechanic" to call Linda at the payphone and gave him the number. The bartender told Linda her mechanic would be calling her at the payphone in the back. Linda thanked him and went to the payphone near the restrooms. When the phone rang, she answered it and was surprised to hear what sounded like Albert's voice.
"Linda. It's me, it's Albert," said Sam.
"Albert? You sound different. What's going on? Are you okay?" Linda asked.
"Listen, Linda, it is me. It is Albert, but my name is not Albert, it's Sam. Please give me a minute to explain. I work for the CIA. I was there in disguise to meet somebody, but something went wrong. I'm coming back to the Dartmouth. I need to talk to you. I'll approach you and introduce myself, like we met earlier. Please just go along and give me a chance to explain. Act like we're hitting it off, like we hit it off earlier. I need your help. If after you hear me out and you don't want to be involved, no harm done." There was no response. "Linda?" asked Sam.
"Yes, I'm here. But I really don't understand any of this. Is this some elaborate scheme or something?" asked Linda.
"Please, Linda, just give me a chance to explain. You'll be safe sitting there just talking," said Sam.
"Okay," said Linda, "I guess I'll see you soon."
"Thanks. I'll be there shortly," said Sam.
Linda hung up the phone and went back to the bar. The phone rang, and the bartender answered it. Looking angry, he turned to Linda. "It's your mechanic again." Then into the phone he said, "Didn't I tell you to call on the other line?" He looked over at Linda. "He doesn't know what I'm talking about. And this genius is fixing your car?" Then the bartender spoke gruffly into the phone, "Look buddy, call back at 555-3131," and hung up.
Linda apologized to the bartender and went back to the payphone. Seconds later the phone rang, and she answered it. "Hello, this is Linda," she said.
"Miss Banks. It's Bruce down at Phil's Garage. Your car needs lots of work, estimating approximately $900, including labor. The bad news is, we got to order you a carburetor, and that'll take two days to get here. You want us to go ahead?"
Linda smiled to herself. Wasn't $900 bad news, too? "No, not yet. Can you hold off? I have to think about this. Can you wait till you hear back from me?" she asked.
"Sure thing, Miss Banks, we'll wait to hear from you," said Bruce.
"Okay, thanks," said Linda.
Linda went back to her seat at the bar and tried not to look towards the entrance. She didn't want to see every man who came in and wonder if he was Sam. She tried to appear calm and played with the wet napkin sticking out from under her coffee cup, and she wondered why a bar had napkins with little pink clouds on them.
A few minutes later, a tall, handsome man with black hair sat down at the barstool next to Linda. "Excuse me, Babe. Do you mind if I sit here?" he asked.
"No. That's fine." Linda politely answered. She thought ironically that Albert should teach Sam how to act. Calling her "Babe!" So the real Sam was a Don Juan.
"Hey, Babe. Why don't you join me for dinner? I'm good for the digestion," said Don Juan.
"I like that in a man," said Linda, ironically.
Another man came over to the bar and sat next to Don Juan. To Linda, he said, "Is this man bothering you?" Linda almost laughed with relief. She recognized Albert in his voice. So this was Sam. He had an honest, nice face, and she smiled to herself when she recognized a little of Albert in him. "No, he's not bothering me. But thank you."
"What's it to you, Buddy? I'm just talking to the lady. Mind your own business," said Don Juan loudly. Then hitting his right fist into his left hand, he asked, "You looking for an argument?"
"No," Sam answered, laughing, "I'm looking for a fight." Sam hauled off and punched the guy in the jaw. Don Juan fell to the floor and passed out. No one seemed to care, but the bartender came over and said to Sam, "Look, Buddy, clean up your mess."
Sam pulled Don Juan to his feet and dragged him outside. He came back in and walked over to Linda. "Miss, let me apologize for that scene. Are you okay? Let me buy you dinner."
"No, thank you. I mean, yes. I'm sorry, I'm a little nervous. And thank you. That guy was nauseating but harmless, I thought. But the way he reacted to you . . . Thanks."
Sam and Linda walked to the back of the restaurant to a quite booth. Linda was thinking the people who worked there probably thought she sat at bars all day, joined guys at a table, made them sick and leave, and then had coffee with the next guy. Sam was thinking that little disturbance would make everyone there, if questioned later, remember him and Linda. That was a plus.
When they were seated, Sam quietly reminded Linda they should appear as though they were having casual, getting-to-know-you conversation.
"So, what's this all about?" Linda asked.
Sam took out his wallet so she could see his ID, but to all other eyes it appeared as though he was showing her a photo. "I'm in a bind. As I told you, our agent never showed. I was supposed to make it appear as though I met someone and that we were hitting it off. And I need you to be that someone. There's no time to get someone else. That's all I can tell you, but you'd be helping your Country," Sam explained.
"Well, what exactly do you need me to do?" she asked. "Just act like we're hitting if off, and then we leave, and that's the end of it?"
"Not exactly. In a few days, we'll probably be followed for a while and . . ."
Linda cut him off, "A few days? Followed for a while?" she asked, incredulous.
Sam gently put his hand on hers, looked around, and smiled. "Please, stay calm. Yes, a few days, probably longer. You don't have to do anything more than pretend we're hitting if off and getting serious about one another."
He felt she wanted to help but was scared and uncomfortable. His instincts told him she was more uncomfortable with having to act intimate with someone she just met. He decided how to deal with that, knew his idea was chancy, and he wisely decided to put it off until they were alone.
They sat and had dinner, and while they ate, Linda told him about the mechanic's call and about the car. They were a little tense, so Sam pretended to laugh at one point even though nothing funny was said. This struck Linda funny, and she cracked up laughing. The tension eased, and soon they were laughing and talking.
After dinner, Sam suggested they drive to a coffee house he knew. When they were in the car and on their way, Sam took his chance. "You know, Linda, since you are or used to be a hooker, I knew you'd be perfect for this."
Linda was too dumbfounded at first to speak, and Sam quickly plunged ahead. "And with my having an aversion to hookers, this will work out fine."
Linda couldn't believe her ears. "Wait a minute. Oh, you're kidding me."
Sam didn't respond.
Linda said, "No you're not, you're serious."
Sam said, "Look, it's okay."
"No, it's not okay. In the first place, what makes you think I'm a hooker?" asked Linda.
"Look, does it matter how I know? I'm telling you, it doesn't matter," said Sam.
"But, Albert. . . Sam, it does matter. Look, you still didn't answer my question. Why do you think I'm a hooker?" asked Linda.
Sam devised, "When I first came in the bar, I overheard an ex-cop I know pointing you out to another ex-cop as a hooker he once arrested."
"Well," Linda said, "Maybe this guy was pointing out someone else. Why didn't you talk to him? He was probably pointing out someone else."
"I couldn't approach him while I was disguised as Albert. Listen, after this is all over, I could probably clear your record," offered Sam.
Linda couldn't believe this. "This is incredible. Sam, I have no record. You're CIA. Have it checked out."
"Under the circumstances, I can't have it checked out. Look, I told you, it's okay."
Knowing the emotional ups and downs would get her in the frame of mind needed to pull this off, Sam added a little wood to the fire. "Look. I don't hate hookers. Hookers are people, too. It's just that, unlike most men, I feel an aversion to them sexually. I think you're a nice person."
"Gee, thanks. Aren't you worried about the guys down at your precinct or whatever you call it when this is all over. They'll be on your back for months. 'Yeh, good ole Sam hooked up with a hooker. CIA Sam, he sure knows how to pick 'em.'"
Sam responded. "Guys don't care about that. But of course you can't hook while we're together."
Linda laughed. "Well, gee, I'll try to control myself. And don't these guys you work with know about your aversion to hookers?"
"It never came up," Sam said.
"You know, you've got me crazy here. For a minute I was worrying whether Albert thought I was hooker, too. Anyway, I'm surprised you even talked to me in the first place." Linda was upset, but Sam knew if she believed he thought she was a hooker and that he had an aversion to them, she would feel less threatened by him.
Sam said, "Look. Just forget about the hooker thing. We better not get into an argument. We're supposed to be falling in love."
"Yeh, I promise I won't hate you until I get to know you better," said Linda.
They pulled into the parking lot of the coffee shop, and on the way in Sam said, "We probably won't be followed for a few days, but in the meantime, we can get comfortable with each other. We need to act natural. You know, try not to act like you think someone is watching you."
Linda said, "I know how to act. I've ridden subways before."
Sam laughed. "Yeh, subways can be rough."
"You're not kidding," Linda said, "Once a guy sitting next to me was trying to pick my nose."
They entered the coffee shop laughing, and Sam slid in the same side of the booth next to Linda. Although Linda was smiling, on the inside her stomach twisted. It hurt that Sam thought she was a hooker. Sam sensed her mood and said, "You know, you're okay. When this is all over, if it turns out you're not a hooker, maybe we could get together."
Linda turned to Sam. "Sam, you've only known me a few hours, but we've spent time together talking. You overhear someone say that I'm a hooker. I looked you right in the eye and told you I'm not. Do you think that's something I can just forget and say, 'Oh, okay, someone else tells you I'm not a hooker and now you believe it. Let's go to a movie.'?"
"Well, maybe we could be friends then," Sam said.
"No. That wouldn't work either," said Linda.
The waitress came over to get their order, and this time they both decided on decaf. Sam soon had her laughing, and they sat and talked, trying to get to know one another better.
"So, Sam, where did you grow up?" Linda asked.
"Poughkeepsie," Sam said.
"I never heard of it. Where's that?" asked Linda.
"You never heard of it?" asked Sam. Sam couldn't believe it.
"Never," said Linda.
"It's in New York," said Sam, "Poughkeepsie, New York."
"I'm sorry, Sam," said Linda, "I never heard of it."
"Didn't you ever see that movie, The French Connection?" Sam asked.
"Yes. Oh, was that movie made there?" asked Linda.
"No, but don't you remember that guy, you know that actor, I can never remember his name, he was always saying, 'pickin' your feet in Poughkeepsie.' You don't remember that?" asked Sam.
"I'm sorry, Sam, I don't remember," said Linda.
"He kept saying, 'pickin' your feet in Poughkeepsie, pickin' your feet in Poughkeepsie,'" Sam said.
"Why did he keep saying that, Sam?" asked Linda, "Was he retarded?"
Sam put his elbow on the table and rested his chin on his hand. "Linda, are you sure you saw the movie?" asked Sam.
"Yes, Sam, I'm sure I saw the movie. I'm sorry I don't remember that part about pickin' feet since it seems very important to you," said Linda.
"No, it's not that. It's just that I can't believe you saw the movie but that you don't remember that part, that's all," said Sam.
"Well if you say some retarded guy kept saying, 'picking your feet, picking your feet,' then I believe you," said Linda.
"He wasn't retarded," said Sam.
"Oh, I'm glad," said Linda.
The waitress came over and asked if they wanted refills.
"Linda?" asked Sam.
"Yes, thank you," said Linda to the waitress.
"And you, Sir?" asked the waitress.
"Yes," said Sam, "Thank you. Oh, Miss, wait a minute. Did you ever see that movie, The French Connection?"
"Sorry, no," said the waitress.
"Thank you," said Sam.
"So, you grew up in New York," said Linda.
"Yes," said Sam.
After a short time, Sam said it was time they kissed.
"In a restaurant?" Linda asked.
"Yes, in a restaurant. " Sam answered.
"Ooh," she said quietly, "Here comes the hooker to kiss you. Are you scared?" Smiling, Linda leaned towards Sam then she quickly pulled back, serious now. "Sam, when you say you have an aversion to hookers, do you mean when we kiss, you'll be fighting back gagging or throwing up?"
Sam threw his head back and guffawed his delight. He wiped the tears from his eyes and said, "No. I just meant that I'm physically not attracted to them. I just would never, could never . . ."
Linda put up her hand to stop him. "Okay, okay. I get the big picture." They leaned closer toward each other and kissed, softly at first, and then more passionately. In the back of the coffee house, someone dropped and broke a tray full of glasses, but neither Sam nor Linda heard. Both of them were strongly affected by the kiss, but each hoped the other would think any passion displayed would be attributed to their acting prowess. As the kiss ended, they both looked into each others' eyes, and for some reason, they busted up laughing.
Sam signaled to the waitress for more coffee. "We can float home," he said to Linda.
"So, what was it like, growing up in Poughkeepsie?" asked Linda.
"Yes," said Sam, distracted by someone entering the coffee house. It turned out to be a young teenager getting coffee to go. Sam gave his attention back to Linda. "I'm sorry. What was what?"
"Growing up in New York, what was. . . Aw," said Linda, compassionately, mistaking his distraction. "You're still upset about 'pickin your feet in Poughkeepsie,' aren't you?" asked Linda, placing her hand on his arm.
"No, not at all," said Sam, taking a sip of his coffee to hide his smile.
"Look, why don't you tell me. Why did that guy keep saying, 'pickin your feet in Poughkeepsie'?" she asked, kindly.
"I don't know," said Sam.
"You don't know?" asked Linda.
"No," said Sam. Sam was having a good time.
"I don't understand then why you're . . .," said Linda.
"Linda, you're missing the point," said Sam, stoically.
"I upset you," said Linda.
"I'm not upset," said Sam.
"You know, maybe I didn't see the movie," said Linda, "I thought you were talking about that movie where these two undercover cops try to bust up druggies in bars and try to catch some European smuggler," said Linda.
"That's the one," said Sam, decisively.
"Then, I didn't see it," said Linda, nervously.
Sam took a sip of his coffee and busted out laughing, spewing his coffee across the table.
"Oh, Sam, you black-hearted beast!" said Linda.
"Me? You were trying to patronize me," laughed Sam, wiping his face with a napkin.
"I was trying to pacify you," said Linda, smiling, "There's a difference."
"Well don't do it again," said Sam, laughing, as he rose from the booth.
"Oh, I won't," assured Linda, as she too got up from the booth.
They left the coffee shop, and Sam drove Linda to Phil's Garage. She told the mechanic to go ahead and order the parts. When she and Sam had discussed her car over dinner, Sam had told her to have it fixed. The CIA would pick up the tab, and the time needed to have the car fixed would serve as a reason for her not leaving right away for Toronto.
Sam helped her get a suitcase out of her car then gave her car keys back to the mechanic. They got in Sam's car, and she asked him if he would please drop her off at a hotel.
Sam said, "Linda. You should come to my apartment. We're supposed to move fast on this."
"But, Sam," Linda said, "We can still make it appear we're moving fast, but we don't have to spend the first night together."
"Are you really that naïve," asked Sam, "Or are you still trying hard to convince me you're not a hooker?"
"Fine," said Linda, a little hurt.
Sam was sorry her feelings were hurt, but he knew she'd be more capable to see this through if he let her believe he thought she was a hooker. And there was a slight chance they were being followed even now, and he couldn't protect her if she wasn't with him.
Sam's apartment building was a five-story brownstone set back off the main road. Tiny patches of snow lingered here and there on the lawn surrounding the building.
They took the elevator to Sam's apartment on the fifth floor. Sam helped her off with her coat and pointed to the bedroom. "That's the bedroom. You can sleep there, and I'll take the sofa."
"Sam," said Linda, "I appreciate your being a gentleman, but I would not be comfortable thinking you were trying to sleep on that sofa with your legs hanging off the end."
"Do you know how many times I fell asleep there watching TV? I'll be okay," Sam said.
"Sam, I prefer the sofa. I like to fall asleep with the TV on. I'll set the timer to shut it off. Really, I prefer the sofa," Linda pleaded.
Sam agreed and went to the hall closet to get her sheets, a pillow and a blanket, and then he set the TV timer for her. They both went to their separate beds, and both fell asleep instantly. It had been a long day.
The next morning, Sam woke Linda and handed her a cup of coffee. She smiled gratefully and took a sip.
"Good morning," he said.
"Good morning," she replied.
"Linda, I'm going to run out and get a paper and some breakfast sandwiches for us, and I'll be back in about half an hour. Is there anything you need?" Sam asked.
"No thanks. I've got everything I need in my suitcase. What are we going to do after we eat?" asked Linda.
"First, we'll go over to headquarters, I've got to check in. Think of something you'd like to do after that. I'll be back soon." Sam smiled and left.
Linda used the time he was gone to shower and dress. When Sam returned, they sat down at his kitchen table to eat, and Sam handed her a section of the newspaper.
From behind her section of the newspaper, Linda asked, artlessly, "Sam, may I have the hooker section."
Sam peered up at her over the top of his glasses.
As they were leaving Sam's apartment, Sam put his arm around Linda. Linda looked up at Sam and smiled. She too could play her part, but she was happy to have his arm around her, and both her day and her mood grew lighter.
Sam opened the car door for Linda, and he suggested she scoot over and sit in the middle.
"Surely," she said. She watched Sam as he walked around the front of the car, and she noticed how handsome he was. Sam got in the car, and as he started the engine, he noticed Linda was grinning ear to ear.
"What's so funny?" he asked lightly as he pulled onto the highway.
"Nothing." Her smile quickly faded.
"Tell me. I have a sense of humor," Sam said.
"Nothing, really. I just objectively noticed that you're kind of cute," said Linda.
"Cute? Do you know how much a man hates being called cute?" asked Sam.
"Okay, 'handsome' then," said Linda.
"Oh?" asked Sam, wiggling his eyebrows up and down. And then trying his best to imitate Don Juan from the bar, he asked suggestively, "Hey, Babe, do you want to go in the back seat?"
"No, Sam, I want to stay up here with you," she said innocently, playing along.
Sam chuckled. Then in his best John Wayne, he said, "Well if ya wanna park your wagon next to mine, Lady, I suggest ya behave yourself."
Linda laughed and put her arm through Sam's. "That was good, Sam. Now try to do John Wayne."
Sam looked at her seriously and said, "That was John Wayne."
Linda laughed out loud and said, "I know that was John Wayne. Oh, Sam, you're killing me." She couldn't stop laughing.
"Well," he said, smiling, "I figured anybody who can't remember 'pickin your feet in Poughkeepsie' might not remember what John Wayne sounds like."
"Oh no, here we go again," said Linda, laughing.
After a short while, Sam commented, "We're making good time."
"I noticed," said Linda.
"I didn't know you knew this area," said Sam.
"I don't," said Linda.
"Then how do you know we're making good time?" asked Sam.
"Because you didn't stop for any of the red lights," said Linda.
"What are you talking about?" asked Sam.
"You see," said Linda, "You just went through one now."
"That was a yellow light. Look, we're stopping at a red light now," said Sam.
"Yes, but that's because there's a car in front of you. Would you like me to get out and let him know you're back here?" offered Linda.
"No, the light's green now," said Sam, "And look at this guy. He's not moving."
"You see," explained Linda, helpfully, "That's because he's afraid you might be coming the other way."
"Oh, is that what it is?" asked Sam, smiling. "Oh good, he found the gas pedal."
"He must have seen you in his rearview mirror and knew it was safe to go," teased Linda, "Ooh, look out for that truck."
"That big, gigantic, enormous red truck?" asked Sam.
"That's the one," said Linda, "It was red, so I was afraid you wouldn't see it."
"Linda, would you like to drive?" asked Sam.
"No thank you. I like watching my life pass before my eyes. I had a happy childhood," said Linda.
"Well, when you get to The French Connection," said Sam, "Pay better attention."
"Yes, Sam," said Linda, smiling.
When they arrived at CIA headquarters, Sam told Linda she would have to wait in the lobby, and he made sure she was settled comfortably on a sofa. He leaned over and kissed her lightly on the lips, and said, "I won't be long." She smiled up at him.
When Colton went in to see Blake, Blake was not a happy man.
"Sam, you never got back to me," Blake said after he shut the door to his office.
"Well, I'm here now. And I'm here to tell you I'm retiring, just like you asked. We can go ahead." And Sam filled Blake in on Linda.
While Linda waited for Sam, she thought that since they would be together for a short while, she would just enjoy Sam's company. She liked being with him, and how often did she meet a guy whose company she enjoyed? Sam was a little gruff but always a gentleman, and he made her laugh. She knew she would miss him when this was over, and then she'd be kicking herself for not enjoying her time with Sam while she could. Yes, she even missed him now and anxiously looked forward to seeing him again.
Almost as if she wished him there, she heard Sam's voice. She looked up and saw Sam coming from the elevators as he waved to someone. She got up from the sofa and smiled as they walked towards each other. Sam took her hand and bent to kiss her lightly. As they walked out towards his car, he asked if she had thought of anything she would like to do. "No," she said. Then she pointed to the museum across the street. "Do they have anything in there on ancient Egypt?" she asked.
Instead of taking the car, they crossed the street and headed towards the museum. The wind blew the trees that lined the sidewalk, and they rushed towards the museum entrance holding hands. They browsed around the museum for a while then had lunch in the museum café. Linda loved ancient Egypt, and she asked Sam if they could go to that part of the museum after lunch.
While they were in the Egyptian section, they walked arm in arm, talking about the different displays and pointing out items of interest to each other. Afterwards they went into the museum gift shop, and Sam bought Linda a little pre-Columbian god who sat with his legs crossed yoga style and who wore an impish smile on his face. The museum announced it was closing time, and they were both surprised by the hour.
"All of a sudden, I'm hungry," said Sam as they left the museum. "There's a great seafood place a couple blocks from here. Should we walk or take the car?"
"Let's walk," said Linda. "It's cold, but the air feels great."
They arrived at the restaurant, and the hostess escorted them to a small, intimate table towards the back of the restaurant. Flickering lights from the burning candles placed on each table danced about the room, and soft music played from speakers placed high on the wall. Sam held out Linda's chair for her, and when he was settled across from her, their waiter approached to ask if they'd like a drink before dinner. Sam ordered a beer and Linda, a diet soda.
Sam reached across the table and took Linda's hands in his. "You've been a good sport about this, and I appreciate it," said Sam.
"Oh, you make it easy, Sam. And if I hadn't run into you, I'd either be on my way to Toronto or staying in a hotel, waiting for my car to be fixed. So, I'm not doing anything extraordinary. But I appreciate your appreciation," said Linda.
The waiter returned with their drinks. "Would you like to hear today's specials?" he asked.
"Yes, please," said Sam.
"Today we have a fine linguini with clams in a white sauce, angel hair pasta in a red basil sauce with shrimp, clams casino, and ziti with your choice of shrimp or mussels marinara," said the waiter.
"Linda?" offered Sam.
"May I have the linguini, but instead of the clam sauce, may I have red basil sauce, and instead of the shrimp on that, may I have the mussels instead?" asked Linda.
Sam, trying unsuccessfully to keep a straight face, said to the waiter, "Maybe you better pull up a chair before you ask her if she wants the soup or the salad."
"Sam," said Linda, enjoying his lighthearted mood. Then to the waiter, she said, "Salad, please."
"And you, Sir?" asked the waiter, smiling.
"I'll have the linguini and clams and the salad," said Sam.
"Okay," said the waiter, "I'll be back with your salads."
"Thank you," said Sam.
When the waiter was out of earshot, Linda said, "Sam, I know you were just teasing me about my order, but was I being difficult?"
Sam said, "Now, let's see. The waiter named four specials, and the only one you left out of your recipe was the clams casino."
"But I don't like clams casino," said Linda.
"Oh, so that explains it," laughed Sam. "Enjoy your meal the way you like it, Linda. The waiter didn't mind."
A loud bang sounded out from the kitchen.
"I wonder what that was," said Linda.
"I think the waiter just gave the chef your order," teased Sam, "Good, "I'm hungry."
"I Only Have Eyes For You" come on over the speaker, and Linda commented that she loved the song. Sam asked her to dance, but she used the excuse that her feet hurt from standing in the museum all day. She felt more for Sam than she wanted to admit and knew if she danced in his arms, Sam would suspect the truth. It was fine walking arm-in-arm and holding hands, but Sam wasn't stupid.
Sam saw the hostess escorting two men to a table not far from where Sam and Linda were seated. Neither of the men glanced in their direction, and both seemed completely absorbed in reading their menus.
Sam said, "Come on, Linda, let's dance."
Linda noticed a slight, fleeting change in Sam's expression, so she accepted.
Sam took Linda's hand and walked her to the empty dance floor. Linda noticed the two men at the table and guessed they were the reason for that slight change in Sam. They started slow dancing, and Sam asked Linda, "How are your feet?"
"Big," answered Linda. Sam smiled and sang along with the song softly in Linda's ear, "And I only have eyes for you."
Linda smiled and asked Sam quietly, "Sam, are you worried about those two guys that just came in?"
"No," he said, "If they're following us, that's all they'll do is follow us. Don't worry."
The song ended, and Sam placed both arms around Linda's waist and kissed her softly. She responded to Sam's kiss and was sorry when it ended. She avoided Sam's eyes as they turned to head back to their table. The waiter had just arrived with their salads.
"Your food is ready. Would you like me to bring it out now?" asked the waiter.
"Yes, thank you," said Sam.
"Was the chef upset with my order?" asked Linda.
"Not at all," said the waiter, "As a matter of fact, he commented that that's the way he likes it," And the waiter went back to the kitchen for their food.
"That waiter is going to be a politician one day," said Sam, drumming his fists on the table.
Linda laughed. "He's got my vote."
Sam noticed in his peripheral vision that the two men were eating soup.
The waiter returned with a tray and placed their dishes on the table. They thanked him and started their meal.
"So, Linda, tell me more about yourself," said Sam.
"There's not much to tell. I grew up in Pennsylvania. But if you don't mind, Sam, I'd rather talk about something else," said Linda.
"Pennsylvania? Never heard of it," teased Sam.
"It's the state just south . . . Oh, Sam," laughed Linda.
The two men got up from their table and left.
Sam and Linda enjoyed their dinner then headed back to Sam's car. Sam, pretending to fix Linda's coat collar, checked behind them to see if anyone was following them. He didn't see anyone but knew they were being watched.
"I'll make some coffee when we get back to my apartment. How's that sound?" asked Sam.
"Great," said Linda.
By the time they reached Sam's car, they were chilled to the bone. Sam opened the door for Linda, then got in the driver's side and started the engine. Linda snuggled close to Sam, and he put his arm around her while the car warmed up. When Sam took his arm away to drive, Linda moved so closed to Sam, he said, "Why didn't you just tell me you wanted to drive." They laughed, and Sam put his arm around her again.
When they reached Sam's apartment building, Linda realized she had almost dozed off. They walked into Sam's building and headed toward the elevator. "Oh, Sam, I forgot the god you bought me in the car," said Linda.
"I'll go back and get it," offered Sam.
"No, Sam, you go ahead. I'm looking forward to that coffee. I'll get it," said Linda.
Sam handed Linda his car keys, and she thanked him and headed back out to the car. She opened the car door, got the museum bag and headed back in. She took the elevator to the fifth floor and walked towards Sam's apartment, suppressing a yawn. When she got to Sam's apartment, she could hear Sam's voice and another man's voice through the door. Their voices were loud and angry. Linda didn't know what to do. She stood frozen while she tried to make out what they were saying. Then she got a brilliant idea. She took off her coat, adjusted her bra strap up as far as she could and pulled her top down to expose the top of her breasts. She opened the door to Sam's apartment and entered brazenly. "Which one of you gentlemen called for a little company? I hope it's you with the big gun," she said brashly to the man who had a gun pointed at Sam.
That was all the diversion Sam needed. He dove at the man, and the two grappled on the floor. The gun went off, and the bullet skimmed Sam's left shoulder. Sam grunted in agony, and Linda screamed and looked around for something to try to help Sam. Sam wrestled the gun from the man's hand and hit him on the side of the head, knocking him unconscious.
Linda ran to Sam and helped him stand. She wanted to see to his wound, but Sam said he had to tie the guy up. "The bullet just grazed me," he said.
"Who is he?" asked Linda. "Do you know him?"
"Yes. He's one of our men. Tom Kenton. I guess we found our traitor." Sam was a little surprised. Kenton must have heard Sam accepted retirement and had figured out already that the CIA was on to him. Sam had always thought Kenton was an ass and he never trusted him, but he never thought of him as a traitor.
"So, that's what this was all about? A traitor?" asked Linda.
"Yes. But I never thought we'd catch him this fast," said Sam.
Sam made some phone calls while Linda searched in Sam's bathroom for the necessary items to see to Sam's wound.
Kenton, bound up on the floor, regained consciousness. "Sam," he groaned, "Sam, will you listen to me?"
Sam walked over to Kenton, squatted down next to him, and pulled him into a sitting position by the scruff of the neck. "There's nothing you can say that I want to hear, Kenton. You sold your Country out. You make me sick," said Sam.
There was a knock at Sam's door, and Jim Blake entered with two agents. Sam got up and walked over to Blake. The agents helped Kenton up on his feet and led him out.
Linda came out of the bathroom, and Sam said, "Jim, this is Linda. Linda, Jim Blake."
"So, you're the one who has been putting up with our Sam here," said Blake as he shook hands with Linda.
"Hi," said Linda, smiling.
"I'm afraid we don't have any medals yet for putting up with Sam, but we're working on it," said Blake. It was obvious Blake liked Sam and enjoyed teasing him. "Miss Banks, I checked, and your car will be ready tomorrow."
"Thank you," said Linda.
He turned to Sam. "Your shoulder?" asked Blake.
"It's nothing," said Sam.
"Well, I guess you saw those two guys who were following you," said Blake.
"We just picked them up outside. Sam, take a few days off," said Blake, "I'll talk to you later." He nodded to Linda and left.
Linda poured Sam a glass of brandy, cleaned up his shoulder and bandaged it, then sat next to him on the sofa.
Sam said, "Linda, sit here on my lap." Linda sat on his lap and placed a light kiss on Sam's forehead.
"Linda, do you trust me?" asked Sam.
"Trust you? Yes, I trust you. Why?" she asked.
Sam put his arms around her and said, "I never thought you were a hooker. I only said that to make you comfortable."
"Comfortable? So, you're an idiot." She tried to get up, but Sam held her in place.
"Think about it. I did the right thing." Sam tried to kiss her, but she pulled back.
"Sam," she said.
"Yes?" he asked.
"I just want to say . . ." But she never finished. Sam kissed her long and hard, and she melted into his arms.
"Sam, can I say, 'And they lived happily ever after'?"
"You just did," he said, smiling.
Sam moved to kiss her again, and as he winced at the pain in his shoulder, he said to Linda, "Remind me to fire the writer. Why do I always have to get shot?" He looked so frustrated.
"Because you're my little Poughkeepsie," said Linda. And they kissed.
Last Updated: 14 March 2003.
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