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Chapter 02

Home Chapter 02

Copyright 2012 Banzai Ben and Amazing Anastasia


Present – Mira – At the cabin


Ms. Morgan and Ms. Donaldson have performed a most amazing act and I will be forever indebted to them. They have presented me what I have needed most: An end to my life with my twin sister Irina (who I will always hold dear in my heart) and the opportunity to start life anew. Hopefully I will commence my improved existence with the children I wish to conceive.


I arrest the eyes of each individual and gratefully acknowledge their contributions, "Thank you my family and friends for this honoring of my beloved sister and thank you Ms. Morgan for your words. Yes, my sister Ira is not truly terminated! She will continue to live in all our hearts. Now if you would not mind I would like some time alone with the monument to my sister."


They all smile, nod and quietly leave me as I wished. I lie on the ground, beside my sister's memorial, stroke it and remember her, complete with all the occurances we experienced together then I slowly drift off to slumber…


I awaken sometime later to the mournful sound of a dog howling.1 There is a slight mist and I observe a shadowy figure cloaked in the mist. I immediately arise to my knees, cross myself and command, "Be gone evil spirit - back to where you originated."


1 In Mira's culture, and some others, when a dog howls it means there is a death or the dog has seen a ghost.


Then something amazingly, unthinkable occurs…


Present – Liz – At the cabin


It's getting late, the sun is down and a light mist has crept down the mountain. I worry about Mira but as I look outside, I can't believe my eyes and I yell, "Everyone outside - right now!"


Then I run out the front door.


Present – Jens – At the cabin


I've been busy looking at all of Ben's clothes that are still stored here. I remember how sexy he looked in his dress blues and realize that part of his life… of my life… of our lives is gone forever.


I begin to set up my room (which should be our room) when Liz yells about getting outside. I grab a rifle and head toward the front door.


Present – Jack and family – At the cabin


Damn this is a great cabin and reminds me of the times I'd spent here with Ben between missions. And after it was destroyed, Jens did a great job having it rebuilt so it was even better. I'm reconnecting with Masha after she did the video analysis and she admits, "Jack my husband I have not been totally honest with you."


I hug her and reply, "Masha, I don't care about who you were or what you did in your past. What I care about is our future."


She starts to cry and then we hear Liz yell about heading outside. I order Masha, "You stay here and keep Ivan safe. I'm going to see what's going on."


She replies, "No my husband, from now on we do everything together."


Alexi and Ivan have become great friends and are playing on the floor. Alexi offers, "Do not worry. I will stay here and look after my younger brother."


I grab a rifle from the doorway and see my lovely wife Masha pull a pistol from her purse. I remark, "That's a sweet Tokerev, you don't see many of them in hard chrome."


She grins at me, "I hope, my husband, that you will not be seeing it very often."


Present – Bernie – At the cabin


I've been thinking about… well I’ve been thinking about Liz. We've had a great friendship since before she left CCCN and helped me escape with her. I've always wondered if there could be more between us. I mean in many ways we are already like husband and wife…


My thoughts are interrupted by Liz yelling about getting outside. I jump up to see what the hell is going on now…


Present – Linus – At the cabin


We're doing our damned best to break or wear out the bed. Damn! Matt was right - there's nothing like a Latina lover. Yes Maria has a fiery personality and she's used it to set me on fire. It's been a long time, no that's not right - I've never felt like this for any other woman.


We are regrouping for another round when we hear Liz yell something. I look at Maria and say, "I think we need to see what's going on."


She grins at me and replies, "You'd rather do that than this…"


And Maria is right, I forget all about seeing what the yelling is about for right now…


Present – Matt and Jim – At the cabin


We're in a hell of a nice kitchen just polishing off our third hamburger when we hear Liz yell, "Everyone outside right now."


Jim says, "Shit what's going on now?"


I answer, "I don't know, but I'm taking a rifle."


Present – Byron and Thom – At the cabin


We're in a nice as hell library which has about every game imaginable and an even better collection of books. I know where I'm going to be spending most of my time.


After all the grief Thom has been giving me on the trip here about my 'wife', I really enjoy saying, "Fifteen-two, Fifteen-four and the rest don't score. If I'm not mistaken that's the game again."


Thom complains, "Dammit Byron, you have to be cheating somehow."


I grin at him and argue, "No way Thom, you know I'm better at cribbage than you are. Want to play another game?"


He grins but says, "How about we switch to chess."


I wave my hand and comment, "Unless you've been practicing you're going to lose again."


Thom grins and tries to get to me, "Don't you think you should be checking on your wife?"


 I get ready to lay into him when we hear, "Everyone outside, right now."


I look at Thom and question, "You think trouble followed us here?"


He replies, "I sure as hell hope not, but this place is a bunker so I'm not worried."


I grab my rifle, Thom grabs his pistol and we head toward the door.


We get to the doorway but it's a huge traffic jam. Thom yells, "What the hell is the emergency?"


Jennifer says, "I don't believe it."


Matt yells, "Neither do I."


Jack says, "I can't fucking believe it."


And I order, "Get out of the way and let us see."


We all boil out of the cabin and see Liz and Mira and… I can't believe it! I tell Thom, "That has to be Mira's sister Ira."


Jennifer says, "Yeah that has to be Ira. I thought she was dead."


Then Jennifer notices something else and yells, "Oh My God, where did you come from!"


Then she takes off running…


I look at Thom and ask, "What the hell is Jennifer all excited about?"


Linus walks up behind us and laughs, "Shit where did he come from?"


I question, "Ben?"


Linus answers, "I wish it was Ben but hell no. It's that damn dog that Jens adopted…"


Jack finishes, "Yeah, on the mission to rescue Ben. What was its damn name?"


Masha remarks, "It reminds me of the dog in the famous Russian movie The Heart Of a Dog. It is one of Ivan's favorite movies. The dog was named Sharik."


Linus and Jack agree together, "Yeah that's the name she called him!"


We see Jens crying and hugging the dog while Liz, Mira and Ira are crying and hugging each other.


Thom looks around and states, "How the hell did Ira and a dog sneak up on us. Wasn't anyone standing watch?"


Present – Mira and Ira – At the cabin


I can not believe it! My sister Ira is alive! At first I believe her to be a ghost and cross myself to ward away the evil spirit. Then Ira questions, "Mira, is this the manner in which you greet your prodigal sister?"


I jump up from the ground, we run to each other and fully-joy embrace with salty liquid flowing from our visual canals. Shortly we are joined in our embrace by Ms. Morgan who states the obvious, "Ira we thought you died."


Ira replied, "I would have succumbed if it was not for this brave hound who helped save me. He is almost an exact replica of the famous dog prince…"


I finish for my sister Ira, "…you mean from our beloved movie Собачье сердце. His name was…"


We both declare in unison, "Sharik!"


I look over and see Sharik and Ms. Donaldson embracing and question, "How does Ms. Donaldson know Sharik?"


Ira answers, "That I can not ascertain, however Sharik did seem to know where he was relocating, so I followed him."


Ms. Morgan states, "Ira and Mira, you must be starved. Let's get you two inside and get you some food while you tell us your story, Ira."


We turn and perceive that Thom is in the process of down-dressing the others. Liz remarks, "I wonder what has him fired up this time."


But I do not care because my long lost and presumed dead sister Ira is joined with me again. I know she will tell her sanitized story to everyone else, but I will hear the total story when we are alone together. I can see evidence on my living sister's face the creases of many burdens and ordeals…


Present – Jens – At the cabin


I can't believe it! Not only is Mira's sister Ira still alive, she somehow brought my dog Sharik who I thought was dead with her. I hug the hell out of Sharik and say, "My long lost dog prince, how did you find me."


He pulls away, sniffs the air and lightly woofs. I decide he's trying to tell me he smelled me, but that seems almost impossible.


Mira, Ira and Liz walk over and Liz announces, "Jens, I'm going to make some food for Mira and Ira and Ira's going to tell us her story."


I look at Sharik and say, "And you've become skinny again and need some food and then a bath."


Sharik jumps up and down and barks and Ira questions, "Ms. Donaldson, how is it that you know Sharik?"


I reply, "Well first I want to hear your story, then I will tell you all about Sharik."


She responds, "Well he is certainly one in a thousand dogs and he saved my life."


We're interrupted when Alexi runs up and almost knocks Mira and Ira over in a huge hug…


Liz looks at me and grins, "Now this is what I call a homecoming!"


I look at Liz and slightly frown, "Yeah there's only one person missing."


Sharik nibbles at my hand and Liz promises, "Don't worry Jens, we're going to find him for you. And when the time is right, then you can make him pay for his sins."


I remember the dream about Aerosmith because I know exactly how I'm going to make him pay. Then I say, "Come on everyone let's get some food."


Present – Linus – At the cabin


The group starts heading toward us and I look at Maria and say, "Now this is a happy day."


She grins at me and says, "It sure is because I have some news for you too."


I question, "You do?"


She begins to answer, then that damn dog of Jens' runs up and begins barking and snapping at me just like in Afghanistan. Maria yells, "What is his problem?"


I shake my head and explain, "We got off on the wrong foot in Afghanistan and he's been on my case ever since."


Jens runs up and laughs, "I see that you two are getting re-introduced. Now I need to introduce Sharik to Maria. Sharik this is Maria, she's my girl Friday. Maria this is the dog prince, Sharik."


The damn dog sits in front of her and holds up his paw. Maria bends over, takes his paw and then he licks the back of her hand just like he's kissing it.


Maria remarks, "Wow he's such a gentleman dog." And I can only think 'oh great one more person, other than me, that this damn dog gets along with…'


Present – Thom – At the cabin


I finish giving everyone hell by saying, "From now on there will be someone standing watch at all times because I don't want someone sneaking up on us again."


Jennifer walks up and says, "Thom that's not necessary. I forgot to turn on the alarm system. With it armed no one will be able to get within a mile of here without us knowing."


I suggest, "Well, I think you need to show everyone how to operate the alarm system."


She answers, "Yeah I'll do that right after I get Sharik some food."


Her damn dog jumps around and barks like crazy so I question, "Can't you keep that damn beast under control."


Then her dog begins to bark and snap at me and Linus walks up and says, "Well you've done it now. That dam…" The damn beast turns and growls and Linus and he continues, "Sharik doesn't like to be insulted."


I smack my head and say, "What? He's just a stupid beast."


Then the damn beast really gets serious. So serious, I'm damn sure he's going to bite me and I threaten, "If he bites me he's a dead damn dog."


Jennifer exclaims, "Thom if you dare hurt Sharik I will kill you! Now you apologize to him immediately."


I look at Jennifer and I swear there's fire in her violet eyes. Byron whispers, "Thom I'd do what she says – and quickly."


In this case, discretion is the better part of valor so I look at the damn beast and apologize, "Sharik, I'm sorry I insulted you." He sits down in front of me and raises his paw. I reach down shake his paw, then he takes off and is over at Jennifer's side again.


Linus complains, "Hey, why did you forgive him and not me?"


The damn beast turns towards Linus and growls at him. Jennifer giggles like a little girl and says, "I guess you haven't completed enough penance yet Linus. Come on let's head inside."


 Liz, Mira, Ira and Alexi walk past, I look at Byron and question, "Damn Byron, Mira and Ira look exactly the same, how are you going to tell which one's your wife?"


He gives me a dirty look and surprises me with the answer, "Thom cut the crap! I'm surprised you of all people missed the difference."


I query, "What difference?"


Byron states, "Mira is left-handed and Ira is right-handed."


I say, "What, how could you tell."


He says, "Unlike you, who was thinking what it would be like to 'experience' twins - I was watching something besides their asses."


I reply, "I never…"


Byron interrupts, "Thom don't try lying to me - I know you too well. Come on, I want to hear the story of Ira's escape."


Damn him! I hate it when he's right but I'm sure as hell not going to tell him…


We all head inside, Jens take a moment to turn on the security system and announces, "Now we can relax."


Liz is already working in the kitchen, then Jens joins her while the rest of us sit around the table and Ira starts on her story…