An American Hero Story
by Lisa Christine Svenson
Peter was taking his morning run through the
park. He was an extremely tall man and extremely muscular, as
well. When he ran, people cleared a path. No one dared cross him,
for obvious reasons. This morning's run was different, though.
He was running earlier than usual, and when he ran by a small
pool, he stopped dead in his tracks. He found a large tree behind
which he hid. A nude woman was bathing and swimming and Peter
tried to observe all he could in the dim morning light.
The woman was quite shapely and Peter thought she was good-looking, although with the distance between them and the poor lighting, he realized, she could be uglier than his Aunt Hilda whom he considered to be possibly the ugliest woman ever to set foot on this planet. He wasn't sure about other planets, but he figured she was uglier than anyone on any of them, too. But that was not important to Peter now. This woman fascinated him and, although he needed his workout, he just couldn't seem to move his feet. Finally, after nearly an eternity, the woman stepped out of the water and dried herself in a bed of ferns. She put on her clothes and disappeared into the park, but not before Peter got a good look at her face. It was beautiful.
Peter wiped his brow. He had worked up more of a sweat by watching the mystery bather than he had in the first five miles of his run. The second half of his run went by faster than usual. All he could see was the beautiful woman and his heart beat faster the more he thought of her. He went home and showered and after he had donned fresh clothing, he walked to the park to see if he could find any traces of the woman who so intrigued him. It wasn't long before he found her tent.
There were holes in the roof of the tent and only a shabby cotton blanket inside. There was a trunk under a low-hanging branch of a nearby tree in which Peter found some beautiful flowered dresses. He decided to sit on the trunk and wait for the lady to return to her home. He had to meet her.
When Anita returned to her tent, she discovered a large man sleeping on her trunk. She was a bit frightened, but decided to wake him by gently shaking him on the shoulder. This didn't work, so she shook harder. This still didn't work, so in a moment of desperation, she let out a blood-curdling scream, which caused the poor man to jump so high he hit his head on the low branch of the tree.
"I'm sorry, sir. Did I frighten you?" were the first words Peter heard when he regained consciousness. The mystery lady's face was inches from his own. Her voice was as beautiful as the bird's song, her breath as sweet as the morning fog, her eyes shone bluer than the paint on the walls of his efficiency apartment. "Are you okay, sir? I didn't mean to startle you!"
Peter sat up and flashed an embarrassed smile. He felt the lump on his head and, realizing it wasn't too large, he stood up. He didn't look when he stood and again hit his head on the branch, but not quite so hard. He maintained consciousness this time. He turned crimson with embarrassment and fumbled for the right words to say. Finally, he found them.
"Hello, ma'am, my name is Peter. Peter Nelson." He extended a clammy hand.
Anita took his hand in hers and they shook hands vigorously for several moments until Anita was able to free her hand from Peter's strong grip. "How do you do, sir? My name is Anita Walker." She smiled at this man who looked so silly holding the lumps on his head.
"I saw you earlier today," Peter said, "and I just had to find out more about you. Do you actually live here?"
Anita set a cloth on the trunk and produced a battery-operated portable stove on which she made a pot of tea. The two of them sat on either side of the trunk and drank tea. Anita began her sad tale.
"I own the Walker mansion, but the townspeople won't allow me to go there." She wiped away a tear. "After I was born, my parents started to lose their sanity. They developed this rather odd habit of pushing each other down the spiral staircase. They were, of course, very wealthy, so Dad had the staircase carpeted with extra padding so they would only get large bruises instead of broken bones. Well, one day Mom caught Dad off-guard and pushed him down the stairs. Instead of rolling, his body somersaulted and by the time he reached the bottom, he was quite dead. Mom was so upset at what she had done that she threw herself off of the balcony and, with a loud thud, she met the earth void of life."
Peter looked confused. "I'm confused," he said. "Why can't you go to the house?"
"Oh, that's easy. Because the townsfolk have set up roadblocks all around it," was Anita's overly simple answer.
"But why won't they let you there?"
"That's obvious!" Anita laughed boisterously. "I was, according to them, the reason my parents lost their sanity, despite the fact that the insanity happened before I learned to talk. I was old enough when they died to try as a juvenile, but they couldn't find enough evidence. Although they could never prosecute me, they blame me for my parents' deaths, so this is how they punish me. They feel I was responsible for everything. If only they knew the real reason they went crazy, but how could I prove it?"
"What is that?" Peter was fascinated by Anita's tragic tale.
Anita shuddered as she spoke. "They began putting thermometers in the blender and drinking them with orange juice. It was the mercury that made them mad. The coroner wouldn't do an autopsy or else they would have discovered that the real reason my parents died was because of mercury poisoning and not because of parenthood."
Peter smiled an understanding smile. "I understand," he said. "I think I can help you. Would you join me for dinner?"
"I'd love to," Anita said. They walked together through the park.
Peter brought Anita to the local Italian restaurant, "Willie's World of Pasta and Other Italian Delights," and people stared at him in disbelief. Since the accidental death of her parents several years earlier, no one had had any contact whatsoever with poor Anita. They were seated at a table in the back room by themselves so none of the other guests would see them. Neither found this arrangement at all upsetting and both sat down to feast with voracious appetites.
Anita smiled over the top of the excessively large candle in the center of the crate that served as the table at which they ate. "Is your seat comfortable?" she asked with a giggle.
Peter looked down at the head of cabbage on which he was sitting. "I must say, I've had better. This is awfully hard to balance."
Anita laughed. "I bet this is a storeroom they seldom use."
As she spoke a chef walked in, lifted the candle, opened the crate with a crowbar, pulled out a dusty can of tomato paste, blew the dust into Anita's face, sealed up the crate, and returned the candle to the table.
"Pardon me, sir," the chef said to Peter. "This is a storeroom we seldom use. I hope I didn't disturb you too much."
After the chef left the room, Peter drew Anita closer by rolling her cabbage, and addressed her in a quiet voice. "You mustn't repeat this to anyone." Anita nodded and Peter continued. "I work for the Federal Bureau of Detection of Unjust Treatment of American Citizens. It is our job to search out unjust treatment of American citizens and do what we can to justify the situation. We are a more secretive group than any of the others, so you must not reveal my identity to anyone. Unless, of course, I forget and need to be reminded." Peter smiled reassuringly.
Anita was at a loss for words. "I'm at a loss for words," she said. "What can you possibly do to help me?"
"First, we must dig up your parents' bodies, with your permission, of course. If we find mercury in their remains, then we know for sure that your story is true. Do we have your permission?"
"Of course you do! Maybe it will help to clear my name."
"We can only hope so."
They ate the mediocre meal in silence. Anita
was happy that someone finally believed her. Peter was happy that
he'd found some injustice in this small town. When they left the
restaurant, it was raining with thunder, lightning, and occasional
bursts of hail with pellets as large as golf balls. Anita frowned
in dismay as thoughts of her wimpy tent flashed through her mind
while the lightning flashed through the sky.
Peter put his arm around Anita to protect her from the hail. "Anita, I can't let you sleep in your tent tonight. I think I have a bare spot on my floor large enough for your body and I have extra blankets and pillows if you trust me enough to stay at my place."
Anita smiled at the thought of staying dry. "I'd love to stay and I trust you, too. I'm probably safer there than I would be in the park, anyway."
When they arrived at Peter's home, Peter let Anita borrow a tee shirt and sweat pants, which wouldn't stay on her properly. She finally made a belt from rope that Peter had been using to practice noose-making and it remedied the situation. The clothes were several sizes too large for Anita and made her body look miniature despite the fact that it really wasn't.
Peter's apartment was small. It was larger than Anita's tent, but Peter would never have been able to stand if it had been as small as the tent. He probably wouldn't have rented an apartment if he hadn't been able to stand fully erect in it. The single room was sparsely furnished but there wasn't room for much else. It was tidy and the blue paint was fresh. There was a small bathroom with a stool in the shower because the shower head was too low for Peter to wash his hair standing. Anita slept soundly on the floor and found Peter gone when she awoke. He had left a note stating that he was jogging.
Anita went into the bathroom and showered. The warm water felt heavenly against her skin. Plus there was no algae to wipe from her skin and comb from her hair. She stepped out of the shower and wrapped herself in a soft, terry cloth towel. No twigs to contend with, nor the lack of absorption of the fern leaves. This was the good life, she thought.
When Anita emerged from the bathroom, she found Peter smelling of sweat and desperately needing a shower himself. He had brought her trunk to her. She could wear clean clothes. While Peter was showering, Anita put on her prettiest dress and fixed a large breakfast for the two of them. They ate in silence, Anita enjoying the roof, Peter enjoying the taste of good food. His own cooking had been a problem he had tried in vain to deal with rationally since his high school days. Somehow the gift of food preparation had not been given to him, although it did have its advantages. He was able to stay thin.
"You were right!" Peter said as he finished his coffee.
"I was right about what?" Anita asked, with more than a little confusion in her voice.
"Your parents. Some of our boys were in last night. They dug up the graves, did the tests and found lethal doses of mercury in their systems. Plus glass fragments. They should have died years before they did from the mercury. We can't let the news out yet, though. We have to get you into your house first."
Anita was thrilled. "I'm thrilled!" She threw her arms around his neck. "Thank you so much!"
Peter freed himself from this embrace. "We have just started this battle." He sat on his bed to think and practiced noose-making for a few hours.
Anita cleaned the dishes and fell asleep on her bed on the floor again.
Peter woke Anita by stepping on her head. "Oh, Anita, I'm sorry! Are you still alive?" He lifted her body from the floor and put it on his bed.
Anita laughed. "I'm okay, I think." She didn't move at all. It had been so long that she coultn't remember ever sleeping on a mattress and it felt good.
Peter began to reveal his plan to her. Anita listened intently and thought it sounded reasonable. Apparently Peter had some assistants coming into town and all she and Peter had to do was wait for nightfall. The associates would work out the details.
"Could you move over a little, kid?" Peter pushed Anita to the other side of the bed. "We ought to sleep now as we'll probably be up for most of the night."
He promptly began to snore quietly. Anita felt safe and warm and cuddled close to the large man sleeping beside her and soon she, too, was asleep.
A sharp knock at the apartment's single window awoke Anita and Peter from their sound sleeps. The knock at the window was followed by several knocks along the outside of the walls, then the door and finally, again, at the window. Peter opened the window and let in his fellow federal agents.
"Anita, this is Walter and this is Mitchell. They both head large divisions of men and both work under me." Peter pulled Anita to her feet and put her over his shoulder. "Guys, this is Anita Walker, by the way." With those words, he carried her through the window and down the fire escape to the waiting car.
When she entered the car, she was instructed to change her clothes. Peter also had to change his clothes. He put on a tuxedo, she put on a wedding gown. Anita could not help noticing how odd this seemed to her. Here they were leaving by night and dressing in wedding clothes. She kept this to herself. They were transported to a remote location outside of town where they were transferred to a limousine filled with spilled champagne and loose flowers.
"We have to act like newlyweds when we get to the roadblocks," Peter said as he put a jet black wig on Anita's head. "They can't know who you are. They won't recognize you like this." He put glasses on her eyes. "There, now you look perfectly dreadful!"
"Thank you so much," Anita replied, with more than a little sarcasm. "But seriously, Peter, do you think it will work?"
He put his hand on hers reassuringly. "It has to work. We can't have you bathing in ponds and sleeping in tents forever."
Anita put her head on Peter's shoulder and shuddered somewhat. She was terrified of what the townsfolk would do if they found it was her. A voice from the driver derailed her train of thought.
"Roadblock ahead!" he shouted. "Get into position!"
Peter grabbed Anita and forced her to lie on the seat. He sat on the floor beside her and kissed her quite passionately. She was a bit shocked at first, but then she realized it was part of the act and she played along quite willingly. The guards looked in and saw them and the flowers and smelled the champagne.
"Newlyweds!" one exclaimed. "It sure warms the heart. Go ahead, you two, and good luck! Of course they aren't listening." They all had a good chuckle as the limousine drove past.
The driver looked back and saw Anita and Peter still in their embrace. "Okay, you two, it worked. You can stop now."
Peter jumped up a bit reluctantly, Anita thought, but he did jump up and lean over the seat to converse with the driver. Anita sat up and watched out the window as the familiar sights went by her. Soon they were at her mansion. She handed Peter the key to the gate and he climbed out to unlock it. Within moments she was home again. There were already more men there than she could count. Peter came into the car and put Anita on his shoulder. He carried her into the house and brought her to her room.
"Don't leave this room!" Peter instructed her sternly.
"What about food?" she asked.
"Let's go to the kitchen now." He bent to lift her.
"Peter!" She stopped him. "I think I can walk."
"Oh, sorry." He held the door for her.
They went to the kitchen and she cooked a can of soup for the two of them to share. The men had brought fresh supplies. The ones from before her parents' deaths were not safe after all these years.
"Peter?" She checked to make sure he was listening. She sat beside him. "How can I ever repay you?"
"We haven't finished yet," he said, leaning closer.
"But we've come so far." Anita leaned still closer.
"When it's over, you can rent me a room." Peter leaned closer still.
"I wouldn't even dream of making you pay for it." Anita pulled her face to within inches of Peter's.
Peter leaned closer still as if to kiss her when a loud yell of dismay stopped any further attempts.
"Excuse me, sir!" It was Mitchell. "You weren't actually going to kiss her, were you? You're the one who says a man can't be tough if a woman has him in her claws. I think you were telling secrets. You would never kiss a woman. Oh, what a relief! You really worried me, sir. The men are ready for their orders, sir. Shall I take the prisoner upstairs, sir?" Mitchell stood at attention.
"Relax, Mitchell. You're too tense." Peter was cold toward Anita now. "Miss Walker is not a prisoner, fool. She's a victim of society and we're doing our duty by freeing her from the bonds they have made. Oh, I love talking like that! Pack some crackers and water for her and take her to her room. I want you to guard the door. She is not to leave and no one is to enter until I give the word. I'll go address the men. I have a wonderful plan." With those words he left.
Mitchell helped Anita with her supplies and locked her in her room.
Anita was glad she had left some unread books on her shelf. She read them all. Time seemed to pass slowly. Forty-eight hours had passed and it seemed like more. There had been some banging noises, but the men had, for the most part, been silent in their work. Anita became too restless and walked to her window. She stood behind the curtain and tried to watch the action outside by the light of the moon. She saw nothing but watched the breeze in the trees. She sighed and leaned against the window frame.
The door opened, but Anita didn't move. Peter's voice sounded panicky. "Mitchell, you fool, where is she?"
"No one has entered or left, sir," Mitchell replied.
"I'm right here, sir," Anita called as she stepped through the curtain.
Peter closed the door. "And what do you think you're doing by the window, miss? What if there are snipers out there? We don't want you to die before you get your house back. Why can't women ever sit still?"
Anita was very angry. "You listen to me, Mr. Nelson. I sat still for forty-eight hours. For forty-eight hours I have eaten crackers and had nothing to drink but warm water from a pitcher with a bug floating in it. There are hundreds of men in my house and for forty-eight hours I have seen no one. Mitchell was right when he called me a prisoner. Of course I'm going to look out my window after forty-eight hours of loneliness and boredom. I did get a little claustrophobic, after all."
"Excuse me, Anita, I'm sorry." Peter interrupted her. "May I say something?"
"Has anyone ever dared stop you before?"
"Do you always dress like that when you sleep?"
Anita looked at her attire. It was a Victorian-looking lace nightgown and robe and had always been her favorite. "When I'm not sleeping in a tent or in a strange man's sweat pants."
"Well, I hope you don't mind my saying so, but you look absolutely beautiful in it."
He caught her by surprise. "A tough man isn't supposed to notice things like that," Anita said as he put his hand on her shoulder.
"I'm also not supposed to notice how shiny your hair is, or how soft your skin is or how beautiful your eyes are or how curvaceous your body is, but I do." He leaned toward her as if he were really intent on kissing her.
Just then, Mitchell burst through the door. "Excuse me, sir! Action outside! Looks like I saved you again!" He left as quickly as he had appeared.
Peter and Anita went to the window. The townspeople were outside the gates with torches. Peter put his arm around Anita's shoulder.
"Now your liberation begins!" he exclaimed as he closed the curtain.
"Don't you have to lead the men?" Anita asked.
"No, dear, that's what Walter's for. Mitchell's pretty useless, but Walter's great!" He put his hands on her hips.
Again, Mitchell burst through the door. "Excuse me, sir!"
Peter turned around, sounding a bit perturbed. "What is it now, Mitchell?"
"The boss called from Washington, sir. He is flying in tomorrow, sir."
"Is that all?" Peter asked.
"Yes, sir!" Mitchell said.
Mitchell left and Peter returned to Anita. "An overactive assistant can sure mess things up." Peter smiled and leaned again toward Anita. "Do you mind?"
"Not at all," she said.
Yet again the embrace ended when Mitchell burst through the door. "Excuse me, sir!"
"Mitchell!" Peter shouted. "This is becoming annoying. Tell me what you have to and get it over with!"
"I'm sorry, sir." Mitchell seemed shocked by Peter's sternness. "I just wanted to say, sir, that the troops are doing as they were ordered, sir, and all is going well."
"Goodnight, Mitchell." Peter held the door for his assistant.
"Goodnight, sir. Goodnight, ma'am." Mitchell left quietly.
Peter walked to Anita and pulled her to himself. "I'm going to do this no matter what this time." He kissed her.
"Excuse me, sir!" Mitchell called as her burst through the door.
Peter didn't respond.
"I forgot to say, sir, pleasant dreams!"
"Do not bother me again tonight, Mitchell, unless something very, very important happens--like the roof falling or the house burning!" Peter slammed the door on Mitchell.
Anita was laughing and Peter joined her. They sat on the edge of the bed and kissed again. Peter stood up and stretched and yawned. Anita yawned. Peter yawned again. Anita took off her robe and got into bed.
"I'm exhausted," she said.
"You don't sleep with your robe on?" Peter asked.
"No, Do you sleep with your shoes on?"
He smiled at her. "No, I usually sleep in my underwear. Would it bother you if I did now? I think I need to stay here as your bodyguard tonight. I promise I won't try anything inappropriate."
"You're welcome to stay and sleep in whatever makes you comfortable."
Peter undressed and climbed into bed. Anita giggled. "You're wearing Mickey Mouse boxer shorts, Peter."
"I know that." Peter tickled Anita as he spoke.
They kissed each other goodnight and were soon fast asleep, oblivious to the action around them.
Anita awoke and screamed as she saw two sharp-dressed men in her bedroom. Mitchell was beside them. Peter awoke to Anita's scream and was rather shocked to see his boss and the head of the whole agency staring at him. Anita quickly put on her robe. Peter got out of bed and put on his clothes, trying to ignore the three other men in the room who were rolling on the floor in laughter at the sight of his Mickey Mouse boxer shorts.
Peter was embarrassed. "I'm so embarrassed," he said. "You should have given me a little more warning."
The men left the room for a private meeting. Anita took a shower and put on fresh clothing. She couldn't bear to be trapped in her room any longer so she went to the kitchen to cook herself a decent breakfast. This was impossible due to the fact that the only food in the house was canned, but Anita ate ravenously, nonetheless. Her coffee tasted better than usual, too. Maybe it was better when the grounds weren't re-used. She didn't have much time to consider the coffee because Peter and his associates were soon in her midst once again.
As the men joined her, their voices changed from somber to artificially ecstatic. They began discussing the recurrent use of aqua in the March issue of Menswear Monthly. Anita realized that something serious was happening or they wouldn't be shielding her from the truth. She maintained her smile, but secretly her heart sank. In the deepest caverns of her mind, the fear beast was biting harder. She began to tremble uncontrollably, and for fear of making her feel alienated, the men began to tremble with her. The room began to shake. Then Anita got a grip on herself and when she let go, she had stopped trembling.
"What's happening, gentlemen?" Anita asked.
They all fumbled for words and finally Peter was able to take the ball and run with it. "The house is surrounded by men with harmonicas," he said. "They say if we don't turn you over to them, they'll play."
"Oh, my," Anita said. "I didn't realize the situation had gotten that far out of control. What do you intend to do?"
The men had no immediate answer. In a moment of desperation, Anita pulled a large box of drinking straws from a cabinet. Then she produced some dried peas. Without any words being exchanged, the men understood. They knew what they had to do.
"We know what we have to do," Peter assured her. "Gentlemen, to the roof!"
Peter escorted Anita to the wine cellar where she would be safe. Then, he went to the roof and, with his band of men and their well-aimed pea shooters, they were able to disarm the angry mob. Peter returned to Anita and began sampling the wines with her. It was not long before both were feeling better.
"I wonder when they'll be back." Peter thought aloud. "I wonder what weapons they'll use. I was in combat once and the enemy brought accordions. I thought we'd perish."
"How did you survive?" Anita asked, amazed at the gruesomeness of an accordion attack.
"Rotten tomatoes. We were in a used vegetable warehouse and one of the guys threw a tomato--just a natural reflex, I guess. It got all in the accordion and it didn't work any more. So we all threw tomatoes and eventually were victorious."
"Oh, such a brave warrior! Such battle tales I've never heard the likes of."
They sat together on an old log and Peter impressed Anita with more battle tales and when he was out of battle tales, he told her about fishing. Anita was understandably overwhelmed. The moment was beautiful, but they knew that, like all good things, it would end. All too soon, Mitchell was telling them of the latest threat.
"Sir, they are threatening to catapult Limburger cheese onto the grounds." There was obvious panic in his voice.
"Have they no mercy?" Anita asked as she threw her arms around Peter and began to sob uncontrollably.
Peter pushed Anita to the side gently and sat in silence for a long time trying to think of what to do. Never had he faced such a threat. As he grew more irritated by the incessant squeaking of the rats in the neighboring dungeon, the idea came to him.
"We must capture all the rats and release them into the crowd. They will eat the cheese before it is lobbed at us!" Peter declared.
"Oh Peter!" Anita squealed as she threw her arms around him. "You are brilliant!"
The rats had been gathered and released into the mob of angry men before any of them know what was happening. The cheese was gone in less than three minutes. The enemy had again been defeated. Everyone knew, however, that their next attempt would be the most horrid yet. How would they survive? Would our hero be decapitated? Stay tuned for the answers to these and other equally relevant questions in the next exciting episode.
At midnight, the word came to the troops. The grounds were surrounded by angry men carrying puppies. Panic and unrest were rampant within the walls. Tears were running down the faces of men who had never cried before. They all knew what the puppies meant. Fleas. They would never be able to go home again.
Peter, his boss, and the head of the agency were dumbfounded. They had no idea what they could do. Anita looked in each man's face, searching for an answer, but none came. She paced through the kitchen for almost a whole minute before an answer came to her. The men weren't the only heroes in the building, she realized.
"Sticks," she said.
"Yes," replied Peter's boss, looking sideways at Peter before looking at Anita. "How did you know my nickname."
"That's your nickname?" Peter asked.
The head of the agency began to laugh.
"I wasn't calling you. I was telling you the answer to our dilemma," she said.
"This is why we don't have any women working for us," Sticks said, shaking his head in dismay.
"Let her speak," said the head of the agency. "It should provide us with a good laugh."
"We throw sticks," Anita said. "The dogs chase the sticks and when the townsfolk try to take them away, they get the fleas. They won't be able to fight when they have fleas."
"Brilliant!" said the head of the agency.
"Brilliant!" said Sticks.
Peter smiled and took Anita by the hand and led her into the yard. "Brilliant," he said, kissing her quickly. "Let's get some sticks."
Anita knew there were hundreds of sticks stored under the slide from her old swingset. Her parents used to use them to play fetch. That was where the idea came from, but Peter didn't need to know any more of their odd habits. She feared he would fear the habits were congenital.
"Anita," Peter said, taking her hand. "In case we don't win this battle, I want you to know I love you. If I don't make it, I want you to know I gave my life up willingly for you."
"I'm coming with you, Peter," Anita said. "It's my home and I'm going to defend it."
"But what if something happens to you? What if I'm decapitated? I wouldn't want you to see that."
"I want to be with you, Peter."
"But women aren't allowed!" Peter yelled after her as he chased her up the stairs.
"They are now!" She rab to the rooftop with her load of sticks. "All right, men, start throwing!"
Peter was amazed as he watched Anita take charge of the troops. He was amazed at the accuracy of her throws. How could he know she had mastered the skill by throwing sticks to her parents? Within moments, one could hear the happy yelping of puppies and the agonizing screams of men who were infested with fleas. Their dastardly plan had failed. Anita knew they would not be back. She turned to face Peter. Tears were streaming down both of their faces.
"About that room I wanted to rent," he began. "I don't know if my boss will let me stay with you."
"I'll let him stay here," Sticks said, shaking Anita's hand. "Only if you'll work for us. We've lifted our ban on women. With your two minds working together, the agency will never be the same again."
Anita threw her arms around Peter's neck and kissed him. What threats of unjust treatment of American citizens would they unearth? What threats to their personal safety would they incur? Only time would tell, but for this moment, all they knew was the joy of victory and the joy of love. Kind of makes you sick, doesn't it?
Copyright 2000 Lisa Christine Svenson