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TV or Not TV, That is the Question - Part 2

By: Timer


Chapter 4: Cutting It Close


We’re zipping up the highway toward the Addams’ place in Mac’s Corvette. Seemed more appropriate to the mission than my Lexus SUV. I’m driving (a major concession on Mac’s part, I fully realize). She’s wearing a light wraparound dress that I’m betting matches, or at least compliments, her bikini. Oh, I sure do hope it’s a bikini.

I’m sporting a light shirt over my shorts, which are over my trunks, which are over the tightest jockstrap I could stand, given Mac’s challenge. No way am I giving her the ‘winner’s right’s’ in this contest. I’m not letting her see me get hard unless she lets me see her nipples do the same.

That’s it. My bottom line. It may seem petty, but a man has to draw the line somewhere.

Exactly where I’d like to draw the line, in what direction and which way gets me a little confused. “Maacc???”

“Yes Harm,” her beleaguered sigh would fit very well into her character as my wife. Jeez, do all wives secretly resent their husbands? Or do they just put up with them?

I’m not sure I want to know.


The Addams Manse
McLean, VA
1200 (local), Saturday, July 21

Once again I wonder if Quasimoto is sequestered somewhere on the third floor of this way too big house. (They don’t even seem to have kids, how can they possibly justify having a house this size?)

Once again the massive door slowly squeaks open.

Once again a man who is way too tall and way too gray beckons us in.

Well, there is something to be said for consistency.

Following his lumbering steps down the hallway, I try to memorize the layout of the first floor. It’s tough since most of the hallways off the main hallway jig before they open to a room. Almost as if the architect didn’t want anyone else to be able to follow his plan.

The giant leading us stops, turns and puts a hand on my shoulder. “Uhgghmph” he gestures toward a door. Guess I’ll go in there. What choice do I have? The guy’s got close to six inches on me, god knows how many pounds and I don’t even want to speculate how many IQ points he is below me. That’s just not nice.

I enter and find a most accommodating changing room. It even has little lockers that I can use to keep the rest of my stuff dry and safe. Good god! When did I start waking up on the Addams Family side of the bed?

I shake my head and take a look in the mirror. OK, I’m honest with myself. I’m almost 40 years old. Can’t look like a young stud forever. (Can’t live like one either, I think.)

But overall, I think I’m looking pretty good. I’ve stayed in shape, running, playing basketball, lifting weights. Self-consciously I turn and check out the rear view.

OK, I can live with this. I’m a mature adult alpha male. I’ve seen them in the zoo. They often have a harem of sorts (no way is that gonna fly with Mac, or with me). But mature alpha males are self-confident, right?


Outside the Addams Locker Rooms
1230 (local)

I carefully walk out of the locker room. Never know when some motion sensor will go off.

Strolling down a beautifully tiled hallway, I follow the sounds of laughter and conversation to an amazing indoor pool. Who would have thought that in the DC area, with its oppressive summer heat, someone would build an indoor pool?

But, if you’ve got the money, it makes sense. In the summer when it’s too hot and muggy to deal with the weather, you don’t have to. In the winter, when it’s too cold and snowy to deal with the weather, you don’t have to.

Perfect solution if you’ve got the dough. Most of us don’t. But however Gomez gets his money, I’m betting that it has nothing to do with trading military secrets. OK, I know. No evidence yet. Just weirdness. Maybe that’s enough for me...I feel Mac’s presence.

“Mac?” I see her walking out of the ‘ladies’ area. My god. She looks so fantastic I can hardly stand it. It’s not just her physical beauty. Although that is hard to ignore. It’s her strength.

“Kay?” I quickly correct myself.

Her look combines Marine steadfastness, womanly seduction and a little bit of a young girl who wants to be taken care of. My god, how can I stop the world from hurting this woman ever again? I don’t know but it’s my newest assignment. One I intend to last the rest of my life.

I take a deep breath. It can’t be too long, or too bad, this pool party.

Little did I know.


Addams Pool
1245 (local), Saturday, July 21

Walking out to the perimeter of the pool, a few questions come to mind. Almost as many as my observations.

Noticing all the women have fantastically toned legs, impossibly flat tummies and unbelievably big boobs, I figure they’re all on a first name basis with their personal trainer. And their plastic surgeon.

I meet Mac at pool side. “You sure do know how to fill out that, well I’m not sure there’s enough fabric there to call it a swimming suit, Marine.” I take advantage of our cover stories by clasping her hand and whispering in her ear.

Just a tiny bit of tension courses through her. That’s good. A little tension is good.

She squeezes my hand. “I notice your trunks are pretty baggy, Harm. Any special reason for that?”

I’m not gonna win this one, am I?

“Don, Kay!” We turn as Gomez walks up to us. He’s wearing a smoking jacket? Complete with white ascot? Hey, I like to dress well but that’s ridiculous. One drop of chlorine-treated water on those satin lapels and it’s history. In the junk pile. Wait. Why should I care?

I’m not usually this fashion-conscious (well, yes, I’m fashion-conscious, not obsessed). But this whole adventure has been fraught with weird fashionistas.

Once again Gomez kisses Mac’s hand. Once again she refrains from punching his lights out. As noted previously, there is something to be said for consistency.

“So glad you could make it to our little soiree.”

Man, that fake French accent could peel wallpaper.

“Allow me to introduce you to some of our friends.”

Here comes the good part, I can just feel it.

“Meet our dear friends Rob and Laura.”

And I thought Gomez’ smoking jacket was an odd wardrobe choice. These two have him beat by a mile. Rob is wearing a gray (of course) suit with the skinniest lapels and tie I’ve seen since Elvis Costello in the early ‘80’s. And Laura? I didn’t know you could find capri pants and flats like that these days.

I’m beginning to wonder more about possible black market fashion connections than national security breeches.

“Nice to meet you.” My grandmother said you could always fall back on manners. I hope she’s right. “Don Parker, my wife Kay.”

They smile and nod, then Rob waves to someone across the way. “Excuse us, please,” he says, “we’ve been trading phone messages all week.”

Right, because you’ve never heard of e-mail or even telephone answering machines.

As I watch them walk away, I see Rob almost fall over the end of a chaise lounge. As he nimbly jumps over the hazard, I can only shake my head and laugh.

“What is it, Ha...honey?” Mac asks quietly.

“Oh nothing, just saw Rob narrowly miss tumbling over the end of a lounge chair.”

“Oh, well, pool side accidents can be nasty. Good thing he avoided it,” is her sincere response.

She’s kidding, right?

“Danger, danger Will Robinson!” I hiss into her ear, Gomez still being close by. I feel Mac heighten her awareness.

“Who and where is this Will Robinson and how is he a danger to us?”

“Mac, come on. Have you no cultural perspective at all? We were just introduced to Rob and Laura!”

“They seemed nice enough.”

“Rob and Laura!?!”

I realize Mac is gonna be absolutely no help at all on this investigation. It’s like being in bridge tournament with a partner whose card skills top out at Crazy 8’s. Although, come to think of it, these guys don’t appear to be playing with a full deck, so maybe it won’t be so bad.

I notice a wiry older man standing a little off from the crowd. Not too far off, just enough to kinda give him an outsider’s perspective on the gathering. He’s rocking back and forth on his heels a bit, his thumbs hooked into his pants’ waistband. The look on his face says he’s watching the proceedings with, what? Amusement? Confusion? Interest? All of the above?

Gomez follows my gaze. “Oh, that’s Jed. He’s new to all this.”

“All this? What, the neighborhood?” I ask innocently enough.

“Oh, well, yes, the neighborhood. But more than that. Money. He’s new to money. Word is he struck oil on his property. Some god forsaken nowhere place in the hills. Now he’s worth a fortune. Just moved here, still rather rough around the edges, but I think he’ll make his way. Better here than in Beverly Hills. Can you imagine? Some idiots tried to convince him to move there! Smart man that Jed, he knew to go where the real power is: Washington, DC.”

I can’t help myself. I’m so far into sitcom overload nothing I say seems to matter anymore. “Well, technically, Gomez, you know we’re not in DC here.”

Hearing a high-pitched female scream I scan the pool area. Now what? This seemed innocuously eccentric up ‘til now. Hope it’s not turning dangerous.

I quickly spot the source of the commotion. Two teenage girls are diving into the pool. Well, one just kinda cannonballs in, whooping at the top of her lungs. The other does a perfectly executed jackknife. Just from that I can tell they are completely different, yet, they are identical twins.

”Those twins don’t seem like they’re much alike, do they?” I ask Gomez, knowing what the answer is gonna be.

“That’s ‘cause they’re not twins. They’re cousins. Just met each other a couple of months ago. One lives in England. You ask me, she’s a bit of a prig. But the other one, now she knows how to have a good time.” He wiggles his eyebrows and smirks. “A really good time.”

I’m not sure I want to know how much of a good time Gomez has had with that cousin. “Anyway...” he directs me down the length of the pool.

Somehow along the way Mac has dropped off. I look back to see her talking with a guy dressed in an Air Force uniform. Hey, no way buddy. Back off. She is not the girl of your dreams and she hasn’t disappear into a bottle for years.

“Oh Don, you’re in for a treat. Here comes my neighbor Ginger. And it looks like she’s worked herself into a state again.” Gomez’ verbal leer almost prepares me for what is coming towards us.

High heels, waay too formal cocktail dress covered in sequins (at a pool party? Where did these folks get their sense of fashion?). Red hair in a helmet bouffant rendered immoble by copious quantities of hairspray. And that chest! Wow, her boobs are so pointy a guy could lose an eye trying to get fresh with her.

She breathlessly addresses us. “I’ve lost Gill, again. That man just vanishes like a boat in the Bermuda Triangle sometimes.”

Gomez tries to reassure her, as I get the feeling he’s done before. Maybe in more intimate ways.

“I’m sure he’ll show up soon, how far could he go?”

“The other week we were on vacation in Venice. We were booked for this fabulous private tour of some grand palazzos and he just disappeared. For 3 hours. Missed the whole tour. I still don’t know where he went.”

Gomez puts his arm around the distraught woman and gives me what he no doubt thinks is his ‘man about the town’ look.

“Ma’am, I’m sure your...” husband, groupie, fellow delusional weirdo?...”Gill will turn up, again, soon.” With that I excuse myself, much to Gomez’ delight I see, and go in search of Mac.

Wandering around the pool is like taking a stroll through the Nickelodeon scheduling department. Just before my brain starts broadcasting a test pattern I find her.

Wow, this whateveritis (still having trouble calling it a mission) just redeemed itself. She’s in a chaise lounge that’s built for two. And I’m gonna be the second!

“Hey, honey,” I say as I stretch out next to her. She turns her beautiful face to mine and sighs “yesss?”

Oh damn. This is it. This is where she gets me. I’ve processed the “we’re both almost naked” part of this scene a bit too late.

She rolls toward me. Languidly. She’s gonna milk this for all it’s worth. I’ll never be able to hold up my head around her again if I get hard now.

Damn! What an incredibly stupid choice of words for me to think!

Now she’s running her hand up and down my arm. She’s just waiting for the tent to start forming, I know it.

Suddenly she stops. She stops everything. Even breathing.

“Harm...”

Gotta be bad if she broke character. I roll toward her, putting my arm over her to shield her from whatever threat this might be.

“What is it?”

“The lawn service just showed up.”

Like so what? She gets my adrenaline catapulted into a 9G turn for guys on riding lawn mowers? Am I the only sane person left in my world??

“It’s the same lawn service that my apartment building uses. That crew. They’ve seen me countless times. In my uniform.”

OK, maybe I’m not the only sane person left in my world.

Wanting to reassure her but not really wanting to let her leave this oh-so-nice embrace we’re in with barely any clothes on I say “But Mac, they’re out there and we’re in here. They’re gonna be focused on cutting the lawn. Why would they look in here?”

She pulls away from me just enough for me to get the full benefit of her scathing stare. “Harm, remind me again. You are a man, right?”

What the hell does she mean by that? Of course I’m a man. I had to duck behind a dishwasher and hide behind Ma Barker two nights ago because I was being a man.

I settle for just giving her a quizzical look.

“That lawn crew is guys like 18 to 22 years old. There are a lot of really well-endowed bikini-clad women in here. You think they’re not gonna spend as much time as possible trimming the lawn close to the windows around this pool house?”

Well, when you put it like that.

Damn. This mission (OK, I said it) is gonna get mowed down by the lawn boy?? Not on my watch.

I have a perfect solution. Sure hope I live through it.

Slowly (never spring things on a Marine, I’ve learned that much over the years), I draw Mac closer to me. I cover her lips with mine. I kiss her for all I’m worth.

I never want to stop, but eventually oxygen deprivation sets in and we have to part.

“What was that?” she murmurs.

“Most people call it a kiss. But it was also a most pleasant way of hiding your face when the lawn boy rode by.”

“Is he coming by again soon?”

Oh yes, he’s most definitely coming by again, even if he’s actually at the other end of the yard.

I hear a lecherous chuckle that can only be coming from Gomez. “Well, I didn’t realize you two were newlyweds.”

You know, he could save a lot of money on his cooling bills if he just did that eyebrow thing in the right place at the right time.

“Well my good man,” I can’t help myself, “for some lucky couples the honeymoon never ends.”

I stand up from the lounge and extend my hand to Mac, who does the most graceful, sexy rise I’ve ever seen. It gets Gomez’ attention too, judging from his gape.

“So I’m sure you’ll understand if we find ourselves suddenly needing to get back home.”

Gomez’ cigar is staying off the floor only because it’s stuck to his bottom lip. If his eyes bug out any more he’ll be a great Marty Feldman impersonator.

“But of course, my good man,” Gomez has recovered his ability to speak. “By all means, have an enjoyable afternoon.”

I somehow keep Mac and myself upright despite the gale-force winds generated by his eyebrows.

“Thank you so much, Gomez. Give our best to Tisha. Maybe we can have dinner together soon?” Mac is all polite.

Dinner? With them? After what I saw on that buffet the only way I’ll eat anything around those people is if I cook it myself.

Walking around the pool I notice a few newcomers. Mostly still in black and white, and yes, gray. But a few in color. Wonder who are those three young ladies swarming around Jed?

Well, no matter. We’re outta here and I’m taking Mac home with me. Yes, really taking her home with me, if she’ll let me. But I’m thinking she will.

As we head for the front door, the butler appears (I’d almost say “materializes”) behind me, planting a death grip on my shoulder.

“Urrrgh,” he explains.

Sure big boy, I know exactly what you mean.

He half drags me to the hallway off the back corner of the foyer. “Hey, we’re just leaving. No need to throw us in the dungeon now.” I’ve had it with this whole gig. I have WAY more important things on my mind.

“Urrgh,” he repeats.

Well, that clarifies matters.

Mac is kinda scurrying around us, trying to figure out how she can attack this situation. Good luck, Marine. Hey, I know she’s an ace kick boxer and highly skilled at hand-to-hand combat, but this guy has at least 12” on her and god knows how many pounds.

He’s dragging me down the hallway; Mac’s bringing up the rear.

“Urrgh.”

He really needs to expand his vocabulary.

“Weebbbb.”

Webb?? Did he just say Webb? This is Webb’s inside man!?! Oh yeah, leave it to Webb to pick a 6’9” freak with a conspicuously gray complexion as his inside man who can blend into the background. But then again, given this crowd, maybe it wasn’t such a bad choice.

Lurch (OK, I don’t know what this guy’s name is, but he hasn’t given me one so that’s the one I’m going with) pushes us into a room and gives a parting “Urrgh.”

Mac and I look at each other then look around the room. It’s completely filled with DVDs and VHS tapes. Shrugging at each other we grab for the nearest stack.

“Leave It To Beaver, season 1,” I read aloud.

“The Andy Griffith Show, season 1,” Mac responds.

We grab a few more.

“The Addams Family.” Well, that was a given, wasn’t it?

“The Patty Duke Show.”

“The Beverly Hillbillies.”

“Petticoat Junction.”

“Mac, the Addams aren’t terrorists. These people have a tenuous relationship with reality, at best. I can’t believe they are trading in international military secrets. Hey, I can’t believe they could trade baseball cards.” Suddenly it all makes sense, sort of.

“They’re bootlegging ‘60’s sitcoms!?!” What was once weird has now become other-worldly. I look at Mac, I can tell she’s still not totally with the program here.

“Mac, TV shows 40 years old? There has to be a statute of limitations on this kind of thing.” Jeez, and Webb thought these were state secrets? Spy vs. spy my eye!

“I don’t know Harm,” Mac speculates, “maybe they’ve figured out a way to encrypt information into the program without it looking suspicious.”

“Yeah, like if you watch Barney Fife carefully you’ll see that his wild hand gestures are really secret signals. Or if you play the theme song to Petticoat Junction backwards you’ll hear a voice saying ‘I buried Paul’.”

I snort derisively. Oh, that’s not gonna help me get into Mac’s ... uh, good graces? (Boy that military training. I just can’t bring myself to think “into her bed”, wait, didn’t I just?)

“These people are spooky Mac, but they’re not spooks.”

“But then what’s all this?” she gestures to the thousands of DVDs and VHS tapes carefully stacked around the room.

I grab a DVD and hand it to her.

“Stick one of these down the front of your bottoms, Mac.”

“What?”

“Well, we don’t really have many places to hide one, now do we? And we’ve got to get it outta here.” I gesture at our nearly naked bathing suit clad bodies.

“Yeah, well, you stick it down your trunks, they’re bigger than my bottoms.” She realizes what she’s said but gives me her most defiant glare, daring me to react to it.

“Um, humm,” I’m not sure how I’m gonna say this without sounding lecherous or egotistical. Oh, hell. “Mac, if I put it down my trunks it’s gonna look a little anatomically odd.” There, I said it without stammering or blushing. Until I watch her deliberately lower her eyes, carefully inspect my crotch and slowly raise them to my now flushed face.

“I see your point.” God, four words laced with equal parts of sarcasm, sass and sexual innuendo. This assignment just may kill me.

A/N: I poke a little fun at our hobby in this one, but it’s done with tongue planted lovingly in cheek. Remember, I’m the author of FF who spends waayy too much time on the boards myself!


Chapter 5: Debriefing


Mac’s Corvette
1500 hours (local), Saturday, July 21

“Thanks for letting me drive, Mac. I know how you feel about your ‘vette.”

She’s ticked. Out of the corner of my eye I watch her reach into her barely-there bottoms. With all the drama that would normally be associated with opening an envelope on the Academy Awards, she produces a DVD.

If I pull over right now and ask her if I can hold it, would she think it strange?

Probably.

“This is what you wanted me to smuggle out of the Addams’ house, isn’t it?”

“Yes, Mac. That’s it. But we need to talk before we brief the Admiral and Webb.” She has to see this for what it is. Doesn’t she? Hell, a blind man could see this. Right?

“Sure Harm. Find a gas station.”

I check the fuel gauge. Plenty. Guess she needs to visit the “little Marine’s room”. God, if she knew I even thought that she’d kill me. ‘Course I would deserve it.

Well, well, well, here is a conveniently located gas station, complete with mini-market and restrooms. I pull in.

“OK for you, Mac?”

I see the look on her face and realize that somehow, somewhere I took a wrong turn in the last few minutes.

How did I do that?

I didn’t want to do that.

I didn’t mean to do that.

Damn.

Mac stalks to the back of her car and retrieves a sea bag.

“I’m changing into my uniform before we report to Admiral Chegwidden,” she states in the flattest tone I’ve ever heard from her. “I suggest you do the same.”

Sure, well, OK. Gee, what’s with the anger here?

She leans against the driver’s side of the ‘vette and extends her right arm, palm up. No question in my mind who’s turning the steering wheel from now on.

But I do wonder why she’s so angry all of a sudden. I just can’t figure out what I did. Or did wrong.

“Here Mac,” I hand her the car keys trying to clasp her hand at the same time.

She rips them from my hand pining me with a glare.

Where is this coming from? OK. Enough of this nonsense. It’s too completely weird that we’ve been dumped into a ‘60’s sitcom universe, but Mac getting all pissed off about nothing? I’m not taking it and I’m gonna let her know.

On the other hand, Grams always said ‘you catch more flies with sugar’....

“Mac,” I hope that sounds as gentle as I tried to make it sound. “I don’t know what you’re mad about, but if I caused it, I’m sorry.”

Absolutely no change in attitude. Damn, I’m in deep here.

“Really, Harm. You have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what has me ticked off?”

Oh, I sure wish I did. I’m furiously scanning my memory banks for any infractions, perceived or real.

Maybe that DVD down her swim suit bottoms rubbed her the wrong way. Oh damn! I hope not literally. But come to think of it, she did walk a little funny while she had it hidden there.

“I’m gonna get my uniform on. Ya know, Harm. Uniforms, military rank?” I hear scorpions have strong venom. They’re amateurs compared to Mac.

I take her hint, subtle as it is, and go to the men’s restroom to change into my uniform. Given the ‘unusual’ report we’re gonna be giving, I agree that it’s best for us both to be in uniform.

Sadly I realize that means she won’t be in a bikini anymore.

Watching her walk out of the ‘ladies restroom’ I’m dumbstruck. Dumbfounded. No, I realize, I’m just plain dumb.

I’ve worked with this woman, loved this woman (yeah, admit it Rabb, no one else is around to hear your confession) for years and I haven’t let her know it? I haven’t tried to get her to love me? I haven’t touched her in a way that lets her know how much more I want to touch her?

Hey, I started to fix that, didn’t I? I thought the whole ‘her letting me hold her’ thing was the next step. Apparently not.

She’s walking, no, marching, back to the car. I’d swear I can see tiny wisps of steam exiting her ears.

She stops just inches from me. I can tell, this is Mac in command. I know better than to question.

“Sailor,” she cracks the verbal whip as only a Marine can. ‘Sailor’? Wow, this is gonna be a full-blown dressing down. I just swallow and get ready to take it.

“I hope you’re thrilled with your job performance.”

The term ‘caustic’ comes to mind only because I don’t think Marines know how to keelhaul someone. That someone being me.

“Just trying to do my duty, ma’am.”

There is no way she’s gonna let me get away with acting the stupid junior officer. She may think I am, but she’s not gonna let me use that as an excuse to get away with whatever she thinks I’ve done.

She steps closer to me. As close as she can to get into my face to issue Marine instructions.

How is it she seems taller than me when she’s doing this? I know I’m taller than her. By quite a lot. Humm....

“I suppose you think it’s appropriate for you to tell, not ask, a senior officer to stick a DVD down her ... “ she sputters.

“It seemed like the best plan at the time, ma’am.” Oh no. She is really mad if she’s pulling the ‘senior officer’ bit.

“And did you notice that the DVD you selected for me to smuggle out in my crotch was a copy of season 1 of Leave It To Beaver?”

OK, I got it now.

“No ma’am. In the heat of the moment, I didn’t, ma’am. No disrespect intended, ma’am.”

“In the heat of the moment, with thousands to choose from you just happened to choose that one?”

“Ma’am, given the situation I just wanted to get us both out of there safely.” I sneak a peak and see her mouth starting to do that funny little thing it does when she’s trying to hide something.

She knows Ive seen it. She knows I know she’s seen me seen it. Here’s where it gets interesting.

I watch her make a decision.

“Someday, sailor, someday soon, I’m going to task you to an undercover assignment with me. You will be expected to perform well above and beyond the normal call of duty. It will be a very special op. You *will* distinguish yourself. And the Cleavers will be nowhere around. Have I made myself clear?”

I sure hope so. “Yes ma’am!”

Good thing she’s driving or we’d be nothing but tangled sheet metal on the highway.


Adm. Chegwidden’s office
JAG HQs
1545 (local), Saturday, July 21

“Sir, I honestly don’t think there is any national security breech from the Addams.” I stop myself just short of saying “Family”. “Their ‘interesting associates’ seem to all imitate characters out of ‘60’s TV sitcoms.”

I can see AJ’s having a bit of a difficult time with this. But I have faith. He did read Mad Magazine, right?

“Could you be more specific, Commander?”

Here goes. I take a deep breath. “Well, Mr. Addams’ first name is Gomez, at least he says it is. His wife’s name is Tisha, but he always calls her ‘my Tisha’. A trusted family friend, who Gomez thinks of as an uncle, is a Franciscan monk named Chester. They have neighbors named Rob and Laura. A neighbor named Ginger had just lost track of Gill, again. Two teenage cousins who are physically identical but polar opposites in demeanor were at the party. A newly oil-rich friend is named Jed. And the butler is at least 6’9” tall and gray.”

I’m not quite sure how to interpret AJ’s face.

“Oh, and yeah, the butler’s Webb’s inside man.”

Now why was it that last piece of information is the one that has grabbed AJ?

“Anything else?” he asks.

What, that’s not enough?? OK, I’m convinced. I *am* the only sane person left in my world.

“Sir, they were all mostly dressed in black and white...”

“and gray, “ Mac chimes in.

“again. And, well, their fashion choices were as odd today as they were last night. All vintage ‘60’s and ‘70’s and totally inappropriate for a pool party. I mean Ginger was in sequins and had the pointiest ahhh...”. Whoops, backed myself into that corner pretty tight, didn’t I?

Mac’s eyebrows are reaching yet new heights. AJ’s doing that stoic I’m-not-gonna-let-them-see-me-laugh thing. Webb, clueless as always, jumps in with both left feet.

“Pointy what, Rabb?”

“It’s the fashion nowadays for a more natural look for a woman’s bustline.” Hasn’t he noticed?

“Was this Ginger dressed in black and white too?” The Admiral queries.

Finally, an intelligent question.

“No, of course not, Gilligan’s Island was in color.” How can that answer sound so ridiculous yet so perfectly matter-of-fact at the same time?

Fortunately for me, I can see AJ’s getting on board.

”I didn’t know you were so into fashion, Harm.” How is it when Webb says that it somehow sounds dirty?

Hey, it’s not like I have a subscription to GQ but I do pick it up a couple times a year. Usually at the beginning of the spring and fall seasons. With a body my size you’ve got to dress right. There’s no shame in wanting to look your best. (Then why do I always hide any copies I might have laying around when someone visits? Hmmm.)

Well, no matter. The ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy doesn’t apply to metrosexuals. Does it?

Nahh.

“Admiral,” Mac steps up to the plate. “The butler led us to a room with thousands of DVDs and VHS tapes.”

“Ah ha! See, just as I suspected. They’re smuggling national secrets out of the country on DVDs and VHS tapes!”

Not that I recall Webb ever mentioning DVDs or tapes. Glancing at Mac and the Admiral I see they’re both thinking the same thing.

“Sir, a quick inspection revealed they were labeled with the titles of TV sitcoms from the ‘60s and ‘70s. The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, The Andy Griffith Show, Leave It To Beaver...”

Webb cuts Mac off. “Never heard of ‘em.”

“You’ve never heard of Leave It To Beaver?” All three of us say at once, in various degrees of disbelief and volume

Webb gets this strange expression. “Mother didn’t let me watch much television.”

The look Mac, the Admiral and I exchange says it all: Webb has finally secured himself a permanent, irrevocable designation as weenie.

“Sir, Mac was able to smuggle a DVD out.” Hey, have to give her credit, it was her crotch that walked it out. I have a feeling I’m gonna think about that a few more times before I’m done with it.

Webb snatches it out of Mac’s hand. “Great, good job. I’ll rush this to our cryptologists right away,” he says as he speeds out the door.

Hey, at least he did say “good job,” right? Ungrateful little jerk. We put our butts on the line and he’s gonna take all the credit. I just know it. But wait a minute, I did get to see Mac’s almost naked butt. And I still have the strongest feeling there isn’t gonna be any credit for cracking a terrorist cell going around on this op.

“Commander, Colonel, I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend,” is the Admiral’s dismissal.

“Aye, aye, sir.”

Exiting his office we run into Bud.

“Hey Bud, what’re you doing here this afternoon?” Mac inquires.

“Harriet’s having the carpets cleaned and I just wanted to get out of the way,” Bud sighs. He’s a good friend, but Harriet sure does have him whipped. Oh yeah, like I have room to criticize? Me, the guy whose latest fantasy involves turning himself into a DVD of Leave It To Beaver?

Bud brightens. “Harriet told me you two went to the Addams’ weekly cocktail party last night. What was it like?”

Mac and I share a look. “Really weird, Bud,” I say.

“Really, really weird,” Mac underlines. YESSS!!! She’s finally gotten it. She’s fully on board. There is another sane person in my world.

I’m convinced there’s nothing more than old sitcoms and decidedly strange people involved here, so I give Bud a run-down of the doings at the Addams’ Manse.

“But what I can’t figure is if Addams is really just bootlegging old TV shows, how could that possibly account for his obvious wealth?” I conclude filling Bud in.

He starts to nearly vibrate with excitement. Uh oh. What Bud-ness have I tapped into?

“Sir, those old shows have enormous cult followings out there in cyberspace. They have web sites, discussion boards, even some of the characters have web sites dedicated to them.”

I can tell he’s itching to get to a computer.

“Well, yeah Bud. I’ve heard some actors have web sites, but...”

“No, sir. Yes, sir.” Classic Bud-ism here.

“I mean plenty of actor’s have web sites, or fans that host web sites about them, but a lot of characters do too,” he explains.

“What, like Gilligan has a site dedicated to him?” Surely he must be kidding.

“No doubt, sir. And Gilligan’s site would be different from the Bob Denver one.”

There must be a whole lot of people out there with too much time on their hands.

“Fandom is a big part of the Internet, sir. Discussion boards where people chat about series, characters, review episodes. Some shows have conventions, but they’re usually called ‘cons’ or ‘fests’. There’s even this whole subset of fanfic...thousands of stories out there on the Internet.”

I have a feeling Bud should have stayed home with the carpet cleaners. He’s in danger of exploding.

“Fanfic?” I ask.

“Yes sir. Fans write stories using the characters of a TV show and post them on the Internet.”

“Bud, I thought that was just the ‘Drekkies’, the people obsessed with ‘Star Trek’.” Oops. Bud’s one of those, isn’t he?

“That’s ‘Trekkies’, sir. And no, it’s not just them. I could pull up dozens of stories based on The Brady Bunch in the time it takes to download them.”

“Bud, that’s the scariest thing I’ve heard in a long time.” What is this new technology doing to us? I wonder.

“Gee, Harm, I don’t know. Maybe it just shows how really bad the current programs are. Besides, it’s good to have a hobby.” Mac’s loving my discomfort, I can tell. “Baby Boomers rebelling against the awful stuff that is foisted on the public under the guise of ‘new programing’? And since when does the age of a program or its fans have anything to do with artistic value?”

“Mac, we’re talking about computer geeks obsessing over sitcoms that were canceled 40 years ago, not scholarly discussions about Renaissance art.”

“Some would argue there’s no difference in merit, Harm.”

“How can you say that, Mac? You didn’t even watch these shows!”

“Yeah, but it’s so much fun watching you get all worked up,” she coos while favoring me with a sexy smile. Well, when you put it that way...

I hear Bud clear his throat. Focus Rabb, focus on the case, not the luscious woman in front of you. “Bud, if there’s such a big market for DVDs of old TV shows, why don’t the studios put them out? Why would they leave that much money on the table?”

“Well, sir,” oh oh, I can see Bud winding up for one of his conspiracy theory spiels. “There’s a lot of speculation about that on the Internet. Why indeed would someone walk away from that much profit? But mostly it’s not the studios, it’s the original producer. Sometimes that person’s dead and the rights are tied up in estates. But other times, well,” Bud lowers his voice, looks around and leans a little closer. “Some people think ...”

I hold my hand up to stop him. “OK Bud, that’s enough. It’s bad enough we’re caught up in this bizarre ‘60’s sitcom world; I’m not going down the Internet-speculation rabbit hole as well.”

I love Bud as a friend. I respect him as a talented lawyer. I envy him as a father and husband. But I also know that anytime Bud gets on a subject that includes the words ‘Star Trek’, ‘alien’ or ‘Internet’ we’re in trouble.

Yet somehow he’s managed to get us standing behind him while he boots up his computer.

“But sir, look at this,” Bud hits a few keys and the computer screen changes.

“What am I looking at Bud?”

“I just Googled The Addams Family. Look at that!” He points at a number in the upper right of the screen.

I can’t believe what I’m seeing. Over two and a half million hits for The Addams Family!?!

“That, sir, is a pretty strong motive for bootlegging.”

Well, when you put it that way....

Chapter 6: Nick At Nite


JAG Ops Break Room
0800 (local), Monday, July 23

“Bud told me all about your weekend with the Addams Family,” Harriet’s usual bubble is in danger of boiling over.

I’m gonna just hide behind my stir stick. Mac’s the Marine, let her secure this territory.

“Yes Harriet, it was pretty unusual.”

That’s my Marine. The mistress of understatement. A four-leaf clover is unusual. Our weekend with the Addams was from a galaxy far, far away.

While I don’t always enjoy being called to the Admiral’s office by Tiner, I’m thankful to see him right now.

“Sir, ma’am. The Admiral wants you in his office.”

“Ma’am, can we have lunch...” Harriet calls at our quickly retreating backs.


Admiral Chegwidden’s office
JAG HQs
0802 (local), Monday, July 23

Responding to the Admiral’s “enter,” Mac and I come to attention in front of his desk.

“Reporting as ordered, sir,” I say as I spy Webb standing by the fireplace. ‘Spy’ Webb? Jeez, even my internal dialogue has him firmly in the weenie camp.

Good. About time.

“Commander, Colonel. Mr. Webb has an update on the Addams, uh...” I can see AJ struggle for an appropriate term to describe the Addams whateveritis. “Situation,” he settles on.

I prepare myself to remember every bit of this, because despite the lack of any solid evidence, I *know* this is gonna be the mission that brings Webb down. Tiera Del Fuego will be too cushy a posting for him after this one.

I watch Webb preen for a moment. Let the show begin.

“Special ops raided the Addams house this morning and secured all the DVDs and tapes. We’re interrogating the suspects even as we speak.”

Great, get ready for total immersion in ‘60’s culture.

“The DCI has secured authorization to form a task force of cryptologists to study the contents of the contraband. We had to get emergency funding, but with the President’s support we got it. Twenty of our best will be studying every detail on those discs. It’ll take some time; we estimate over 400 hours of content. And that’s if the copies really are copies.” He’s so smug, so confident in his self-importance.

I want to scream. “Webb, you’ve got 20 of this country’s best code-breakers spending the foreseeable future watching reruns of Leave It To Beaver?”

“We’re convinced they’re code-encrypted attempts to smuggle national secrets out of the country.”

Yeah, like how to clean house in high heels? Special emergency funding!?! Our tax dollars at work. I hope they edited out the commercials. That’ll save us the CIA investigation of Maxwell House Coffee, Procter & Gamble and every other company that advertised on those shows. I can see the budget ballooning out of control.

“This team’s the best,” Webb crows. “It’s headed up by the country’s, if not the world’s, most amazing video technicians. Code names Barbie and Hope. They’re absolute gods when it comes to video capture, reconstruction, analysis, you name it.”

“Webb, if their code names are Barbie and Hope, wouldn’t that make them video goddesses?” I ask innocently with just enough hint of sarcasm for him to catch.

“Well, technically, yes.” Webb just hates it when I nail him like that. I just love it when I do.

“But the point is, Rabb, this team will find out just what secrets are on those tapes.”

“Assuming, Webb, that there are secrets on those tapes.”

“Well of course. Why else would we have had the Addams’ under surveillance? Why would I have sent you two in undercover?” Webb asks as if there is no other answer.

“How ‘bout your intel was wrong again, Webb? How ‘bout you just completed another totally screwed up mission? How ‘bout you’re gonna end up back in Tiera Del Fuego when the Addams sue the CIA for millions?”

AJ steps in. “Commander, I think we’ll have to let time and the technicians sort this out.”

Walking back through the bullpen I can’t help myself. “Maac, do you have any idea how much money Webb’s gonna waste on this? How many valuable assets will be squandered chasing Gilligan?”

“Harm,” wow, talk about being able to soothe the savage beast! That tone of voice has me completely not thinking about Webb anymore.

We reach my office door and stop. “You know Harm, I rented The Addams Family movie last night.”

She did?

“Now I understand what you saw all along...”

Vindication! I love it!

“Boy, Gomez and Morticia are hot.”

Say what?? Did Mac really say that??

“I rented the second movie, too. Wanna come over and watch it with me tonight? I’ll even cook.”

Hell yes! “Sure Mac, that’d be a great way to cap off this caper.” That’s right, don’t let her know you’d walk through fire to get to her tonight or any night.

She moves a hair closer, drops her voice the tiniest bit. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference.

“You know that really soft black long-sleeved pullover of yours? The one with the V-neck? Could you wear that tonight?” she asks.

Yes, yes, anything you want.

“And those wonderfully worn old black Levi’s. You know, the one’s you’ve had so long they’re a little faded in all the good spots.”

“And which spots would be the good spots, Mac?”

Just a little smile, she dips her chin as her eyes drop down to my waist, then travel lower.

I hasten to reply, “Sure Mac, I’d be happy to wear those tonight.” I’ll be even happier if I get to take them off tonight.


Harm’s office
JAG Ops
1630 (local), Monday, July 23

I leap up as the Admiral walks into my office. Must be something big, he doesn’t usually come to me.

He has a strange look on his face. “As you were Rabb,” he gestures for me to sit down and does so himself.

“I’ve just received an update on the ....” he’s still struggling with this... “Addams situation. The CIA video team shut it down after 6 hours. Apparently the two head techs, Barbie and Hope, determined the tapes were just bootleg old sitcoms within the first two hours. But they couldn’t resist letting their team watch classic reruns in mint condition for four more hours on the CIA’s dime.”

“Did they order in pizzas, too?” I laugh.

“Yes, Commander, they did.”

Boy, I sure wish I could meet those two. ‘Video goddesses put Webb in his place’. If only there was a newspaper that would print that headline.

“Excuse me, sirs,” Bud’s at my door. “But there’s something on the Internet I think you should see.”

“What is it, Lieutenant?” the Admiral asks.

“Well, it’s a new web site that has linked itself to a whole bunch of classic sitcom fan sites. It calls itself “The Video Goddesses Site’ and its posting today is titled ‘How the Goddesses Skunked the Spook’.”

I whip around to look at the Admiral. He’s doing, well, an admirable job of not cracking up. Oh, I’m dying inside. This is waay too perfect. I don’t care what it takes, someday I’m gonna find a way to thank those women.

“Thank you, Mr. Roberts, but I don’t think that concerns us,” AJ states as he strides out of my office.

Exactly what does one buy a video goddess as a thank you present? Maybe I’ll take them out for a nice dinner, assuming I can find them. Those CIA types can be pretty elusive.


Mac’s apartment, Georgetown
1900 (local), Monday, July 23

As I hustle down the hallway outside her apartment I wonder why Mac wanted me to wear these clothes tonight. I love the top and the jeans, but don’t usually wear them together. It’s a little too Johnny Cash for my tastes.

Or Morticia-like.

I stop in mid-step.

Long-sleeved V-neck black top with black jeans. About as close as I could come to matching Morticia’s dress without actually being in drag.

Naaa. No way.

But she did very specifically request this outfit. And she did say she watched The Addams Family Movie last night. And invited me to watch the second one with her tonight.

OK, either Mac has a slightly kinky streak I think I’m gonna love getting to know, or that grip I had on reality just let go.

Straightening myself, I proceed down her hall. Woah, when I said ‘straightening myself’ I didn’t mean that part. Down boy!

*Knock, knock*

“Come in...” lilts through the door. What, is this the same woman that busted my chops a couple of nights ago for doing the same thing?

“Hey Mac, good security there....”

That’s as far as I’m gonna get with that train of thought.

Mac’s standing in the doorway to her bedroom. She’s wearing a smoking jacket, a white ascot and reeeaaalllly high heels. As far as I can tell, that’s all she’s wearing.

I know my mouth’s hanging open but I don’t care. She has her hair slicked back, has painted on big eyebrows and a mustache. Hell, she’s even got a cigar. It’s not lit, but it’s a cigar. As she comes closer I get a strong whiff of chocolate. Should have known, a chocolate cigar.

“I’ve been waiting all day to get you alone mon cher. I’ve been thinking of nothing else but loving you as only I can.”

Sounds good to me but this is still pretty strange...

“Let me take you in my arms and make all your wildest dreams come true.” Boy, she sure is laying it on thick here. But, what the hey?

She starts kissing...my hand? Up my arm. Oh god, she really is doing the Gomez thing.

I wage a little war with myself. Maybe this is some deep-seated fantasy for her. Or maybe she thinks it’s my fantasy. How far can I go along with it? I picture myself in a long black wig. That might not be *so* bad. Lots of men have long hair.

“Mac, I’m not gonna put on a dress. I’ll do just about anything else but ...”

She’s reached my neck with her trail of kisses and pulls away enough to look me in the eyes. “A dress? Oh no, darling. This is the scene where we undress.”

Smiling, I lean in to kiss her, painted mustache and all. Yeah, this is the part the sitcoms of the ‘60’s never got to. We’re gonna go where Nickelodeon fears to tread.

Take that Ward and June!


                                                     
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