All I Have To Do Is Dream!
by Andrea Lena DiMaggio
"Yeah...I'll write some, I guess, and I'm going to keep in touch via e-mail with Pastor Melanie. Hey, it's not like we won't still be best buddies...just I've got to get away and get my head on straight, okay." Kevin shrugged and looked away.
It had already been four months since he had killed someone, but the gunshot woke him every night; that and the pain in his heart over the lost time and regrets of the past that accompanied the tears that tucked him in each night…..
“Fuck, Kevin, you…what the fuck?” Terry stared at her for a moment. He had gone through this once before when Donna had transitioned, but he had expected the change. This one was not only unanticipated, but remarkable. Don had always looked a bit androgynous, but Kevin always looked like your best buddy; the guy you shoot pool with; the one you’d elbow when a pretty girl walked by. But now, Terry was amazed because Kevin had become that pretty girl.
McDonald's on Rt 30N
Sherri Caruso looked out the window of the car as the two ate their lunch in silence. They had scarcely passed any words between them since they set off to meet the others at the motel. It was too awkward by half again as Terry stared at her.
“What, Terr? What? Am I such a freak to you? God you of all people should understand.” Apart from the moments after his erstwhile partner had killed Rick Danvers, Terry had never seen the person next to him…the strange next to him….cry. But Sherri cried none the less, making a difficult situation that much more complicated.
“Oh, no you don’t!” Terry shook his head
“No fucking waterworks.” He wadded up his McD’s bag and tossed it into the back seat.
“No fair. You gotta talk to me in a language I fucking understand, Reilly!”
“See, right there…It’s Caruso…Sherri Caruso. Kevin Reilly is dead, Terr…he’s gone, and he’s not coming back. Don’t you get it? I’m not the same person…Jeez, Terry…your own sister-in-law went through this and you had no problem. I’m your best friend. I’m the same person I always was.” She had just contradicted herself, but actually both statements were true. Outwardly she had changed, but the inner person, the person who actually had been Sherri all along, hadn’t changed at all.
“No, not that….I didn’t put up with crying with Donna; you have to tell me whatever you want me to know; I’m not a fucking mind .reader, and I’m sorry about the name…I just met you as you. I don’t know Sherri, but I’ve known Kevin Reilly since we were both beat cops in South Philly. Whatever you think you are, what you are not is someone who’s going to get away with not fucking talking, so spill it!”
“After I left the bureau I went and saw my mom and my sis. Mom was in the last stages of pancreatic cancer, and if I hadn’t taken the time off I would have missed her passing; she never even thought to call me when she found out. Between her death and me killing Danvers I couldn’t keep going on without looking at what I was missing.” She looked at Terry who just shrugged his shoulders.
“When I was eight I remember writing my name on my notebook…the one I never let anybody see... ‘Sherri Reilly.’ Well my mom found it and she got upset; not because I wrote my name, but that I didn’t tell her. She said not to worry, it would be our secret. But it wasn’t like the cute stories you read; she wanted to keep it a secret because she didn’t want my Dad to know. I didn’t tell anyone else except my sister, but my Dad found my notebook when he was moving my desk to fix an outlet and it fell on the floor. He was upset, but it wasn’t because I didn’t tell him but because he just didn’t want another girl in the family. I was his son, and I just had to get over being stupid and foolish; his words.” Sherri shook her head.
“I went out for baseball, track, you name it, whatever screamed boy; I was in for it.” She winced; the memory felt as if it were happening then and there.
“Your Dad never seemed that stuck on stuff, from what you used to say about your family. Was he that bad?"
“No…he just didn’t understand, and I didn’t know it was okay for me not to say yes to everything he expected, so I just kept trying to please him, even when he stopped asking. After a while I didn't know where I stood. He sent me a letter just a few weeks before he died. He apologized for never telling me….” She put her hand to her face and began to weep.
“He knew? You’re not telling me he understood. Fuck…Kev…Sherri…that’s too fucking easy.” Almost too pat one might say; which it was.
“No, he never understood. He was apologizing for not trying to understand. He was sorry that he spent my childhood being a father instead of being my dad, if that makes any sense.” Terry nodded his head.
“I tried so hard and all he had to do was say, good job…or even, nice try, but it was always a stare and a shake of the head; I felt like I had been a disappointment. I turn thirty four in three weeks and I have never had anyone tell me they’re proud of me.”
“Listen, I’m not going to pretend I understand all of this, but I’m going to give it a shot, okay?” She nodded okay and he continued.
“You spent all of your adult life trying to be something you weren’t and when your parents died you realized that no matter how they felt about you, you still had to be who you needed to be, is that about right?”
“Yes…I’ve been this all my life, but when they died, I realized I put everything about what and who I was away to satisfy them, when nothing I ever did would satisfy them. “
“So you realized finally you could be who you thought…who you knew you were.”
“Yes.” She said the word quietly and lowered her head.
“Listen, Reilly, you don’t have to be ashamed with me. We’re friends, and that hasn’t changed. Just because I don’t get it right away doesn’t mean I’ve stopped liking you.” Her expression changed as her eyes widened in surprise.
“You mean you don’t hate me?” She pled. Her hand rose up and covered her face.
“Hell, no! You’re my best friend. That will never change.” Terry smiled warmly, treating his friend like a sister for the first time. She began to cry again and he sighed in frustration until she held her hand up as if to tell him she was okay; she really wasn’t, but she would be.
Back at the Motel
“This girl is your…brother?” Dani raised her left eyebrow in Spock-like fashion.
“No…he’s my sister!” It would have sounded snide except for the half-frown on the girl’s face.
“She’s like me…you know…like you?” Jill looked at Donna and smiled. Donna nodded.
“We didn’t know there were more kids in your family; hon…the file only mentions the three of you.” Dani said as she looked back and forth between the picture and the girl trying unsuccessfully to avoid the rest of the scene depicted in the photo.
“She’s his kid!” Jill said as she shrugged her shoulders.
“How much older is she than you? She looks like you but she’s not a kid.”
“I think she’s about nine or ten years older, but that’s just a guess. She was very nice to me.” The girl said it proudly.
“She was hurt like you, honey. Did you ever talk about it?” Dani bit her lip. This was the worst case she had ever worked on, unofficial or no, and the thought of all the psychic carnage for each victim simultaneously enraged and nauseated her.
“She used to help dress us…you know…for them” Jill looked over at the front door to the motel room, expecting to be interrupted by an eavesdropper or something worse.
“I know honey. What do you mean help you dress?” Donna said as she rubbed the girl’s wrist.
“Well we had to….get dressed for them…they all wanted it… like it was a show. She helped us get ready.” She shrugged her shoulders almost apologetically.
“You think she did something wrong, honey? What did she do?”
“NO, NO, you don’t understand…you fucking don’t understand.” The girl became immediately hysterical. She went to grab the laptop off of Dani’s lap, but Donna grabbed her from behind in a bear hug.”
“Let me go! Let me go!” She struggled in Donna’s arms but slowly the tension left her body as she calmed down.
“We just want to understand what happened to you, honey. We didn’t mean anything by it.” Dani looked up and half-smiled as she spoke in as soothing a voice as she knew to speak.
“She helped us…You don’t understand. If we didn’t look good we got beat, no matter what they did. But if we were pretty and we acted nice, they didn’t beat us…they would only beat her. And if we did....what they wanted us to, she would only have to do it once....If we weren't pretty enough... well...Just her…She helped.” The girl collapsed in Donna’s arms and wept.
“It’s okay, honey…It’s okay.”
Later that evening
A knock came at the door at dusk; they didn’t take any chances, but it was almost like the first ever meeting of the Greater Metropolitan Philadelphia Area Murder Suspects club.
“Inga Olerud sends her regards.” The voice came from the other side of the door. Dani opened it to find a very non-deceased looking Terry Manahan and an attractive redhead.
“Come here, you big….” Dani had grown closer to Terry than any other person besides her parents and Donna; he became the big brother she never had. She hugged him tight and kissed him on his ear before handing him over to Donna.
“Hey, Caruso, what are doing with this big lug?” She said as the woman entered the room. Donna looked around Terry’s shoulder and said,
“Sherri? My God…I didn’t know you went back.” Terry looked at Donna and shook his head.
"You knew?" He stared at Dani who laughed softly and shrugged her shoulders.
"Just before I left the Marshal's office Sherri and I worked on solving a check-fraud case."
"Oh, gosh, I never expected to see you here," Donna said. Terry once again looked put out.
“TG support group in Penn Wynne; I’ve known her as Sherri for about eight months. Dani looked at Sherri Caruso and then her eyes darted back and forth between Donna, Jill, and Terry.
“I feel sorta left out,” she said, pointing to the wig lying on the night table and then to her own black hair.
“Well, think of how I feel,” Terry said, looking at the collection of women in the room.
“You know, bro, it’s not too late,” Donna laughed.
“Still plenty of time to take the plunge.”
“I consider my body the best birthday present I ever got, and I like it just fine.” He felt awkward the moment he said it; needlessly he discovered as everyone laughed. After a few minutes of hugs and pats on the back they decided to get some take out and plan their next move.
“Like I told Terry, the Bureau’s got your back, but they’re not broadcasting it; we want them to think you’re hung out to dry. Nobody but me and you know that Terry is still alive. With what you’ve got, we’d go straight to the DA, but we have to find out where the boy is being held.” At Sherri’s words, Jill’s ears pricked up. She had returned to her crossword puzzles after feeling left out.
“You really think he’s still alive?” She jumped up and hurried to the table in sitting area of the suite.
“Yes, Jill, I do. I think that the man behind this can’t afford to hurt your brother until he finds out just what he’s up against and what everyone knows. I’ve been talking to a friend of mine in the West Virginia State Police, and he said your sister Stacy and her family are fine. We’re going to find Jimmy and get him back home to his foster family and put the people who hurt you in jail for a long time.” Sherri actually punched her left palm with her fist.
“And my sister Kim, right?” Donna went caution the girl about not getting her hopes up but Terry just reached over and offered his hand to shake. The girl grasped it cautiously as Terry nodded.
“You have my word on it; we’re going to find her and bring her to a place where she can be safe.” He was going out on a limb; just to find the girl had been a daunting task when they first discussed it, but a quick search of the internet proved to be not only fruitful but horrifying. Terry had thought the girl looked familiar, and he was gladdened and disappointed at the same time to find that he was right.
“We’re going to take a trip tomorrow. I want you to promise me you’ll do everything Donna and Dani ask you to, but I’m sorry honey. Where we’re going, you can’t come. It’s too dangerous and we want to make sure you’re safe, okay?” The girl began to tear up and Dani went to hug her cautiously. She looked at Dani and nodded.
“I know I still have to make that list,” she said as she pointed to her shoulders. Dani walked behind the girl and hugged her neck and kissed her temple.
“Sherri and I are going to drive down and visit some folks I know from my job, okay. We should be fine, but we’ll call the Bureau first thing tomorrow to be safe. We’re going to call the office over the river in Camden, just to be cautious; that’s where you’ll be heading tomorrow. I’ll keep on the cell so we can make sure you’re okay.” He caught Donna’s attention with his eyes, and she took his lead.
‘Big day tomorrow. Why don’t you and I go get ready for bed, alright?” She struggled with her treatment of the girl, even though she had worked with Asperger’s kids at the residential program where she interned. Jill presented herself physically as a sixteen year old girl even though she was anatomically still a fifteen year old boy. In addition, she was so smart but so beset by her lack of emotional development that it was like dealing at times with a teenager and other times like dealing with a preteen. Every word was sifted through Donna's experience training, but she still measured each thing she said to Jill.
“I’ve always liked crossword puzzles; I like to do them in ink. I find it challenges me.” She said.
“Yeah, me too. Most of the ones in the paper are too easy.” She held up the magazine and smiled.
“I’ll pull out a couple of ‘difficult’ for us, okay?” Donna nodded and said finally,
“Let me say good night to everyone real quick, sweetie. I’ll be there in just a second, okay?” The girl nodded and walked through to the sleeping area of the suite. Donna looked over and saw that Terry had a very pained look on his face.
“This is fucking sick! I’m glad you’ve got internet access here, but this is so fucking disgusting I hope to God this guy points a fucking gun at me so I can blow his fucking head off.” He pointed to the screen, where a link appeared to the Philadelphia Inquirer. An article popped up with an accompanying picture.
“Edward Penhurst, President of Penhurst TechnoServices of Philadelphia, announced the acquisition of Gypsy Lane Technologies. Both companies combined have nearly three hundred employees, and the acquisition includes an expansion with a possible fifty more hires before the end of the year.” The article was the standard three-paragraph above–the-fold, section B fare, but the picture was what caught everyone’s attention. Standing in the middle of the photo was Penhurst with an attractive woman in her late twenties with the caption, “Penhurst shakes the hand of City Council President Phillip McKenzie. Standing next to McKenzie is Penhurst’s new bride, Kimberly McKenzie, daughter of Phillip.”
“Holy shit,” was all Dani could say as she shook her head.
“Sacre Excremento!” Terry laughed, but it was because he would have screamed if he hadn’t laughed.
"That fucker married his own son off to his business partner! What a fucking pervert!"
Terry’s new boss had just gotten ‘married’ to Jill’s brother Kim. Which meant his own employer was part of the conspiracy, and probably responsible for running his car off the expressway into the river. While being nearly killed by his employer was bad enough, this settled it; for Terry Manahan, it had just gotten personal!
Early morning, the living area of the motel suite
Terry lay in the fold out cot. He looked peaceful; likely owing to the anticipation of solving the case; the thrill of the hunt was almost always anxiety-producing for most people. With Terry, it was like the kid who knows that Santa is going to bring him that bike he wanted; he slept peacefully in confidence.
It wasn’t at all like that for Special Agent Sherri Caruso. Ironic in that she didn't feel special at all. She lay on the couch in the living room opposite Terry’s cot. The glow of the clock radio time was the only light in the room, but it provided just enough light to reveal the sad look on Sherri’s face as she dealt with yet another sleepless night. Her eyes were wide open and her gaze was fixed on Terry’s sleeping form. She struggled with so many things for so long; many of which had been either resolved or consigned to “it is what it is.”
She didn’t know what to do with her feelings at three-twenty-seven in the morning. All she knew was that they had returned after being long dormant and thought literally to have died a few years ago. She sighed and turned her face to the back of the couch and wept bitter tears. Once this case was over she’d return to her job, and the feelings would once more be interred with her old self, as she resolved never to tell the man sleeping across from her just how much she loved him.
I can make you mine, taste your lips of wine
Anytime night or day
Only trouble is, gee whiz
I'm dreamin' my life away
I need you so that I could die
I love you so and that is why
Whenever I want you, all I have to do is
Drea-ea-ea-ea-eam, dream, dream, dream
Drea-ea-ea-ea-eam, dream, dream, dream
Next: Dream Lover - The Finale of Defender's Dream
All I Have to Do is Dream
words and music by
Felice and Boudleaux Bryant
as performed by
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