In a world of unrest, a cause for celebration is marred by tragedy and violence, with the Tracys caught smack in the middle.  

This story was written in response to the Tracy Island Writers Forum 2005 Picture Challenge.

There was no way. No sir, never, and he would tell you so himself. If you ever caught Scott Tracy setting foot in a disco again, it would be over his dead body. That's just the way it was. Especially after that last time...oh, well, no point going into all that. Suffice it to say, it hadn't been one of his most shining moments.

How then was it on this night, he found himself shouting over the relentless, pulsating beat of a DJs latest and not so greatest selection? Shouting...he was shouting for that brother of his. You know, the youngest one, the one that insisted that just because Tin Tin had completed her tenth mission as a member of International Rescue, it was time to take her to the mainland to celebrate. That kid. He would find any excuse to get away from Base for a night. Thank God that's all it usually was, a night, since all of the Tracys' private aircraft, as well as the ones they used on rescues, could easily make the trip in about the same time it took to order a pizza the old fashioned way.

Mmmmm, pizza. Scott's mouth watered at the prospect, but a snack would have to wait for now. It might have been Tin Tin's night to shine, but the eldest Tracy son's dislike of all things mirror-balled had led him to leave the nightclubbing to the youngsters and arrange to meet his father elsewhere, at a quaint old pub, which curiously enough was situated just down the street from the dance club. Jeff had been on the way back from his corporation's New York offices and thought it might be nice to meet up with them all and help celebrate Tin Tin's milestone. A quick glance at his chronometer told him that the designated hour was fast approaching. If he could just slip out unnoticed...

"Scott! Hey Scott, where're you going?"

Shit. "Uh, gotta go, Sparky. I promised Dad I'd meet him at Schlotskie's down the street in about 15 minutes."

It used to annoy Alan to no end whenever his big brother referred to him with that rather dubious nickname. He'd gotten enough ribbing from Gordon already, not to mention thorough chewing outs from his father regarding his tendency to engage in campus experiments that resulted in the blowing up of nearby objects that were normally not combustible. Over the years though, it had grown on him and he now regarded it as a somewhat convoluted expression of Scott's affection.

"Do you really have to leave now, Scott?" Tin Tin chimed in. Kevorkian and the Euthan-Atheists are due on stage any minute now. You'll miss them and this is their only performance on the continent."

"The Euthan...what? Aw, that's a shame. Well, you two be sure to give me the blow by blow on their performance. Dad's waiting for me. We'll see you two tomorrow for brunch."

As he made his way down the block to the structure resembling a rustic old cottage, his mood was tense. The scenery around him was becoming surreal and seemed to pop out into view around him. It was as if he had donned a pair of those old 3-D glasses that they used to give out at the cinema before a movie. His senses seemed heightened, on full alert, although he couldn't figure out exactly why. This was supposed to be an enjoyable evening off for him, a respite from the usual high adrenaline roller coaster ride he had become accustomed to while out on duty. He found himself taking in everything, down to the last detail; the grating sound a piece of cardboard made as it skidded along down the street, powered only by the wafting summer breeze, the rustling of trees in the nearby park. He began thinking of his family back on the island and wondering if Virgil would have been busting his chops right now for not taking this opportunity to relax. He wouldn't have minded though if his oldest brother and best friend were there to harass him. Somehow, everything always seemed more enjoyable when he had Virgil there to share it with.

His thoughts were interrupted and his nose nearly broken when he was almost whacked in the face with the etched glass of the pub's front door. Whoever was behind it was in a hell of a hurry, and Scott was so busy employing his fighter-pilot reflexes to avoid the hinged missile as it swung open that he never saw the culprit's face, let alone had time to reprimand him for his carelessness.

He took one look at the blur of a figure hurrying down the street and shook his head. It was curious, he thought, that the man was wearing a quilted jacket even though the city was in the middle of a heat wave. But, as he wasn't one to dwell on such things, he shrugged it off and continued inside. There, sitting at a table in the far corner, was the patriarch of his family. They greeted each other with a handshake as was the Tracy way, but Jeff's eyes were warm and welcoming.

"Sit down, son. What's your pleasure? They have some really good aged single malts in the back that Sean over there at the bar would be willing to blow the dust off for us."

"That sounds great, Dad. How was New York?"

"Oh, you know, the usual. I was glad to have an excuse to get out of there. You know how it is...I can only take so much of having to make small talk with that bunch of insufferable stuffed shirts."

"Better you than me, Dad. Those guys are sharks -- they'd stab you in the back any day of the week if they could get away with it. I don't know how you do it."

"Well, someday, all of it will be yours, and you're going to have to learn how to at least pretend to be tolerant of those people, son...if you want the benefit of their cooperation."

"Well, by that time," Scott leaned forward in his seat, "and I know it won't be anytime soon, let's hope a miracle happens and when I have to take over the reins, I won't have to deal with people like that any more."

"I hope you're right, son. Sometimes it just makes me ill to have grin and bear it."

"Well, try and forget about all that, Father. Tonight we relax and catch our breaths and tomorrow morning we'll be meeting Alan and Tin Tin for a celebration champagne brunch."

"Tomorrow? What's wrong with celebrating tonight?"

Scott gave his father a meaningful look. Jeff caught it and cleared his throat, nodding. "Ah, yes. Quite. I hope they're being careful."


"Like I said, son, quite." Jeff caught the bartender's eye and waved him over to their table. "What do you say we get us some dinner, I'm starved."

A huge grin spread over the eldest Tracy son's face. "Now that sounds like a plan."

After the concert, Alan and Tin Tin decided to call it a night, at least a far as clubbing was concerned. As they made their way to the exit, Alan suddenly became aware that something wasn't quite right. A quick glance up toward the rafters of the building revealed the silhouette of a man shimmying down a rope over by where the emergency exit and the restrooms were located. Tin Tin followed his line of sight and saw the man too. He was wearing a bulky jacket that was zipped all the way up to his neck. Unusual attire for a dance club to say the least.

"What do you suppose that's all about?"

"I don't know, Tin Tin, but I don't think it's part of the show."

Tin Tin's intuition was on full alert. "This is a bit strange, Alan. Let's find the manager and ask him about it. You can never be too careful."

Between them, she and Alan had witnessed enough rescues that could have been prevented to know that last statement was a motto to be lived by. It was then she noticed that Alan's face had gone completely pale. "Alan, what is it?"

The man on the rope had hit the ground running, but not towards an exit. Instead, he was headed for what was currently the most densely populated area of the club, the dance floor. His back was to them, but Alan saw him rip his shirt off, revealing a harness that covered his torso and was laden with what looked like plastic explosives, something he never would have gotten past security had he entered the building in the traditional manner. Tin Tin and Alan took one look at each other before each shouting a single command...


They bolted for an emergency exit but were too late. Just as they arrived and got the door opened, the man detonated the device. All hell broke loose as the force of the explosion sent shockwaves throughout the entire structure, literally disintegrating whatever was closest to the center of the blast. The last thing Alan remembered was losing his grip on Tin Tin's hand as he was being blown out the door.

Enough food to feed a small army had just arrived at Jeff and Scott's table when the entire pub was rocked by tremors from an outside source. Several windows were shattered and the two men instinctively "hit the deck" by diving under their table. Chunks of ceiling material rained down in front of them, knocking Sean the bartender cold.

"What in God's name...?"

Jeff reached out a hand to grab his shirt collar to try and drag the man to safety. Scott helped and together they managed to get him under the table and out of harm's way. As soon as the shuddering subsided and the dust began to clear, Scott got on his cell phone and tried the emergency number. As he'd half expected, the airwaves were already jammed.

After giving up on the call, Scott checked Sean's vital signs and blotted blood from a scalp wound with Jeff's handkerchief. All around them, frightened people were screaming and calling out to loved ones. The scene was one of utter chaos.

Sean's condition didn't seem to be life threatening so after getting one of the cocktail waitresses to keep an eye on him, Scott and Jeff got up to leave. They were halfway to the door when they noticed an elderly woman lying on the floor. She had become injured after a lighting fixture had fallen on her. A cursory examination showed that she had a broken collarbone but the real danger was that she was beginning to go into shock. Jeff quickly elevated her legs while Scott looked for something to cover her up with that would retain her body heat. The only thing available to him was a tablecloth but it would have to suffice. They made the woman as comfortable as possible and, after a time, she began to show signs of improvement. Since there was nothing more they could do for her at the moment, they decided to leave her in capable hands and make a hasty exit. The two Tracy men literally bolted out the door and onto the street. As they looked to their right, Scott gasped and squeezed his father's arm.

"Dad! Oh, God..."

"What is it, Scott?"

"Alan...Alan and Tin Tin...I left them at that nightclub no more than forty five minutes ago."

"Where's the nightclub, son?"


Jeff's eyes followed to where Scott was pointing. Down at the end of the next block he could see the remnants of a building, now half demolished.

The eyes of a frantic brother met those of an anxious father and together they ran toward the ruined building, both praying that they wouldn't find what they so desperately feared.

Back in "Paradise," word of the catastrophe had filtered down through the satellite and into the lounge of Tracy Villa where Gordon stood before a live vidscreen, riveted in place. The ancient names of three well-known religious figures came to mind, not that Gordon was a religious man.

"Jesus, Mary and Joseph! John! Virgil! Get your asses in here, now!"

The pair had been raiding the kitchen, as they often did whenever there was a lull in the action. John had taken up Virgil's favorite pastime ever since Jeff had decided to try out the automation program in Thunderbird Five and bring him back to Terra Firma for an extended period. He figured it couldn't hurt since everyone kept telling him he needed to put some meat on his bones anyway. The food up in the orbiting satellite was not exactly what came to mind when you were craving a particular snack. It was nutritious and filled you up but did nothing to excite your palette.

The two brothers ran toward the lounge upon hearing Gordon's cry, bumping into each other and nearly spilling the contents of storage containers and bowls on their way out. Once within earshot of the news broadcast they froze in their tracks, the doughnut held firmly between Virgil's lips falling to the ground as the full realization of what he was hearing and seeing struck him. They all knew that district full of clubs, restaurants and pubs and had all frequented it at one time or another. It was a favorite destination of the family, which is why it had been chosen as the place to celebrate Tin Tin's achievement.

When the broadcast finally ended, a deathlike silence descended over the room for a few seconds as the three brothers processed what they had just seen. Without a word and without waiting for the call, they ran for both the slide and the passenger lift that would take them to Thunderbird Two.

As Jeff and Scott approached the scene, a horrible sight greeted them. People that had been standing just a few feet from the building waiting to get in were now almost unrecognizable as human beings. The two had been around this kind of situation before, and both of them knew that for many of the victims, the only means of identification short of a DNA sample would be articles of clothing, women's handbags, and other similar personal effects. Scott closed his eyes, feeling the bile rising in his throat. Having been in the nightclub just a little while before, he knew that most of the victims were barely more than children. Jeff placed a slightly shaky hand on his arm and tried to be optimistic.

"Maybe your brother and Tin Tin left before this happened."

"No, Dad. I don't think so, as much as I'd like to believe it."

"What makes you say that, Scott? How do you know?"

"Have either of them tried to contact us to tell us they're all right? They'd know what we'd be thinking at this point."

Jeff raised his wrist to his lips in the hopes of locating his youngest son. "Alan, this is your father. Please respond and let us know that you're okay."

There was only an eerie silence that continued. Scott didn't dare look at Jeff for fear that his rather shaky fašade would slip and reveal the overwhelming fear in his heart for the safety of Tin-Tin and his youngest brother. Knowing what his eldest son was thinking, Jeff tried to detach himself from the situation and get his thoughts moving in a less gruesome direction.

"Well, from the look of it, the blast happened inside the building, with the full force of it being released towards this side of the structure."

Scott did not respond but began moving towards the area where he thought the local authorities would be gathering. Jeff stuck to his side figuring the best thing to do in a situation like this was to remain proactive. To let your mind wander was the quickest way to drive yourself mad with worry.

They recognized the Incident Command Post and went directly to the dispatcher, in this case the head of the local disaster response team.

Scott had to keep himself from grabbing the man and demanding to look under the sheets covering the triaged victims lying over to the side that had been classified as deceased. He knew the drill and he was not going to interfere with this man's job. He just wanted to be able to search for the missing members of his family. He stealthily approached the area and checked for any recognizable physical characteristics while Jeff kept the dispatcher busy with questions about survivors. After he had confirmed that his little brother and Tin Tin were not included in the group of recovered bodies, and knowing that he and his father would never be granted access using their layman's identities, he made an almost imperceptible gesture in Jeff's direction indicating that they could sneak by the barricade and find a way into the building.

Jeff started to shoot a look of disapproval at his son for the suggestion, then paused, mentally conceding that they had to do something. Along with his son, there may be others who had gotten trapped under the mountain of debris. Normally, he would have stayed out of such matters until those in charge of the situation requested International Rescue's help. In these cases, you didn't want to become part of the problem and if the local authorities believed they could handle it themselves, who was he to argue. But this was different. Two of the people most precious to him in the world might be lying somewhere injured and unable to call out for help. If the unthinkable were to happen, he would also rather be aware of that situation instead of having to stand by and wonder.

Scott had grabbed each of them a hardhat and as they tried to make their way around to the side of the building where there was less debris blocking the way, they passed a few of the rescue workers who were coming out. A couple of them were carrying a stretcher with a victim on it. At a glance, they could see that it was neither Tin Tin nor Alan. They would have been relieved had all of the victims been recovered at that point. Since this was not the case, they continued on to where the frame of a doorway still stood but the outward force of the blast had turned the opening itself into a huge hole in the wall.

Just as Scott started to step through it, a beam fell from above, nearly landing on top of him. For the second time that day, his lightning reflexes saved him. He jumped out of the way, nearly knocking over his father behind him.

"Ow! Sorry, Dad."

Jeff tried to hide the fact that he'd just had the wind knocked out of him. "Don't worry...about it. I'm just glad...that thing missed you."

"Yeah, I guess today's my lucky day."

"Well, let's hope it was Alan's as well."

"Amen to that. Father, when I was in the club earlier, I noticed it had a glass roof so people could see the stars."

"What are you getting at, Scott?"

"Well, if I can get up there on top of it, maybe I can peer down and get a better idea of the situation inside."

"How do you know it's stable enough? The whole thing could come down, taking you with it."

"I know but what choice have we got? I can't do anything for Alan and Tin Tin until I know the conditions inside the building and by the time the locals are able to find them..."

"Well, I don't like it. We haven't even been able to determine their location. But right now, I haven't got a better idea. Be careful."

"I will, sir."

Scott was about halfway up the ladder that ran along the outside of the building up to the roof when his wrist com beeped. His reflex was to become irritated given his location, but then he realized that it might be Alan.

"Scott here. Alan, is that you?"

"Scott, thank God!"

He blinked in surprise as he recognized the voice. "Virgil?"

"Yeah, we're about 20 minutes from your location. We heard what happened on the news. Is everyone all right?"

"Dad and I are but Alan and Tin Tin are missing and we haven't been able to track their comm. signals. They were at the nightclub where the bomb went off."

Virgil's image on the tiny display screen showed a face that was stoic but his eyes spoke volumes and Scott's heart nearly broke at the sight.

His voice became little more than a whisper. "I know, Virg. I know."

"They'll be okay, Scott. They have to be."

His older brother bowed his head, trying to keep his emotions in check.

"God, I hope so."

Scott pushed his feelings away and tried to get back to the task at hand.

"I'm going to get up on the transparent roof so I can see down inside there and find out the extent of the damage. All the other entrances are blocked."

"You're what? What if the damn thing collapses while you're up there?"

"Oh, not you too. I've already gotten this lecture from Dad. Look, if you have any better ideas, I'm open to suggestions."

The brief silence that followed confirmed that Virgil had none. "Okay, but be careful."

"Always, Virg, always. I'll talk to you again when you arrive. Dad can suggest a good spot for you to land. Scott out." And with that, he continued his ascent.

Once on top of the structure, he was relieved to find that the integrity of the sky light hadn't been compromised. He couldn't really tell about the rest of the roof yet as there wasn't much light except for that thrown by the half moon hovering above. As he was trying to inspect it, a voice from behind him nearly made him jump.

"How's it looking, son?"

"Dad, what the...what are you doing up here?"

"Well, I've decided to share the risk. I wouldn't order any of the men in my unit to do a job I wouldn't do myself."

"But, Dad, you didn't order..."

"I know I didn't, Scott, but I figured you might need this."

Jeff handed him a high-powered torchlight, which he had "borrowed" from the emergency supply bin at the staging area. Scott accepted it with a grateful smile and proceeded to inspect the roofing. Jeff checked the area opposite from where his eldest was kneeling.

Satisfied, the young field commander stood up and started suggesting to his father what their next move should be. He was halfway through his sentence when the elder Tracy heard a faint cracking sound. It didn't seem to be coming from anywhere specific. Instead, it seemed to be all around them. Scott heard it too and he froze in his tracks, not daring to take a breath. For a moment, their eyes locked. Father and son held each other's gaze...right up until the moment the roof collapsed and they fell together, forty feet straight down.

Virgil touched down in the park just around the block, almost exactly on the spot where his father had instructed him to land. As the three brothers exited their aircraft, they were overwhelmed by the scene that surrounded them. People were running everywhere. Some were screaming and crying. Some had radios and were issuing orders. Others just wandered aimlessly, appearing to be in shock.

Gordon did a double take and gasped aloud as he noticed a young woman ambling towards them. She didn't seem too steady on her feet and her face and blouse were covered with blood. Gordon's hands went out just in time to catch her as she collapsed in his arms.

"Tin Tin!" he exclaimed. The second time sounded more like a prayer. "Tin Tin, thank God."

Jeff wasn't sure if he was conscious or not. He couldn't see, couldn't feel, but then he realized that he could hear because he could tell that there was still a small amount of debris raining down from the roof...the roof! He tried to shake himself back to awareness, knowing he'd been successful when a sharp stab of pain shot up his spine, making him grit his teeth and the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. He decided that next time he wanted to wake himself up, he'd pinch himself instead. The pain did make him sure of one fact. He was alive, at least for now. How, he didn't know. It occurred to him that he was lying on top of something. It was warm, but not too soft. His hand trailed down and felt someone lying beneath him. He groped around desperately in the dark, hoping. Damn, where is it? It's here, I know it is. Still nothing, and then...Yes! Jeff hugged the torchlight to his body, delighted to have found it still intact. He shined the bright beam on the still figure below him and his heart sank. "Oh, Scott."

This was one of the few times that the Tracy men could remember when International Rescue's arrival went virtually unheralded. Everyone was so caught up in the chaos and confusion of the moment that they barely noticed the great green bird that had landed in the middle of their city or the three men in blue that had come walking out of her.

The Tracys, on the other hand, could not remember having felt more helpless. As they tended to Tin Tin's injuries in Thunderbird Two's infirmary, they became assured that she would recover with no lasting physical affects, but what of Alan, and what of the hundreds of others that were still missing?

When she had regained consciousness, Tin Tin had told Gordon, John and Virgil that she had survived by leaping into a stairwell near the exit and that she had tried to pull Alan in with her, only to have him ripped from her grasp. They made a promise to her and to each other that they would find their brother. She insisted that she would be fine alone and that all three of them should help with the search for victims.

Reluctantly, they left her and went back outside to assess the situation and decide what type of equipment they would need. They came prepared for almost anything they might encounter and Pod Three was loaded to full capacity. John remarked that Scott would've been proud of them for having been so prepared. It was then that Virgil realized he hadn't spoken to his big brother since they had found their "little sister."

He raised his wrist comm. and spoke into it. "Thunderbird Two to Scott. Come in, Scott."

When that didn't prompt a response, he tried again. "Scott, this is Virgil, we've found Tin Tin, do you read me?"

When he still didn't receive an answer, he knew something had to be wrong. He was just about to ask John to try calling on his device when a voice that was somehow familiar, somehow not, transmitted a barely audible signal.

"This is Jeff Tracy. Thunderbird Two, do you read?"

Three voices responded in unison. "Dad!"

Jeff went on, not wanting to field any questions. "Listen, Scott and I are inside the destroyed nightclub. We were on the rooftop and it collapsed under us. I can't really give you an exact location but you can trace my signal. Scott is hurt pretty badly. He broke my fall on the way down. You've got to get him out of here."

Virgil swallowed hard before responding. "What about you, Father?"

"I'll be fine, just a couple of cracked ribs."

Jeff glanced down at Scott's motionless form, a hint of urgency creeping into his voice. "You've got to hurry!"

They didn't like Jeff's tone and the Tracy sons knew that the situation must be desperate. They responded back with a chorus of Yes, Fathers! and promptly cut the link. John then re-established a link between Thunderbird Five's main tracking systems and his communicator in order to try to locate his father and brother inside the ruined structure.

He hadn't told his father yet but the reason they had not been able to locate Alan and Tin Tin with it was because there was still a bug or two in the automation system. He would have to get with Brains on that as soon as they returned to the island and he could only hope it would work now, for Jeff and Scott.

Inside the ruined nightclub, Jeff had moved into a sitting position and was cradling Scott's head in his lap. He was staring into nothing as he stroked his boy's thick, wavy hair, the way he did when he was a small child. He just chatted away about anything and everything, hoping the sound of his voice would have a soothing effect on his gravely injured son. He didn't know if he could hear him or not, but in any case, talking to him couldn't hurt.

At last he heard Scott moan, faintly, and felt his son stir a little. The moaning became louder and Jeff tried to get through to his eldest and bring him back to him.

"Scott. Scott, son, can you hear me? It's all right now. I'm here with you and I'm going to take care of you. Please, wake up."

Scott was becoming slightly agitated, as if he were in the throes of a nightmare. Jeff tried again, his tone firmer now.

"Scott Jefferson Tracy, this is your father speaking. I want you to listen to me, young man. The time has come for you to wake up and I don't want any excuses, do you hear me?"

He wasn't at all surprised to hear a soft "Yes, sir" escape from Scott's lips.

Jeff replied with a stern "Good. Report, soldier. That's an order!"

Miraculously, his first-born's eyelids flickered open but it took him a minute to recognize Jeff. He raised a hand to try and touch his father's face, but didn't have the strength and it fell back down to his side. Jeff grabbed the hand and touched it to his face to let his boy know he was there for him.

Scott smiled slightly. "Dad, what're you doing here?"

"Oh, you know, I had nothing better to do on a Saturday night so I thought I'd crash the party."

Scott started to chuckle but ended up with his body being racked by coughs.

"Easy, son, easy. You know, you really didn't need to catch me. I could have found a good enough place to land all on my own." His smile was warm and affectionate.

When he was able to talk again without coughing, Scott responded with, "Well, you know (more coughing), I am the field commander. Nobody goes it alone on my watch."

His voice was weak, but his smile was dazzling.

"Well, I think this was a bit above and beyond the call of duty if you ask me."

"Hey, somebody's gotta look out for the boss, eh?"

He dissolved into another paroxysm of wheezing and coughing.

"Shhh, don't talk, son. Save your strength."

"Hey." He coughed again. "That'd be a first for me, huh...keeping my mouth shut?" He swallowed hard. "I'm cold, Dad."

This alarmed Jeff but he did his best not to show it. He lay down and cuddled up next to his son, being mindful not to hurt him. He was afraid that Scott might have internal injuries. He just hoped they'd be rescued before...Think positive Jeff, a vital element of survival.

He would lay there for as long as it took, keeping Scott warm and watching over him. Jeff continued to talk to him in a soothing manner, trying to keep him alert. But the effort was draining Scott and it finally proved to be too much. Jeff listened as his breathing slowed and the son he was so very proud of drifted back into unconsciousness for what he hoped would not be the final time. Jeff realized that he too must have drifted off as he was awakened after an unknown passage of time by someone shaking him ever so gently. He looked up into the concerned face of his third son.

"Dad? It's me, John. How do you feel?"

Jeff was so happy to see John that he forgot about his injuries and attempted to quickly roll over. He was instantly reminded.

"Ugh! Ask me again in a month. Boy!" he exclaimed. "Are you three a sight for sore eyes!"

John looked over at Gordon and gave him the See, I told you he was too ornery to die wink.

Jeff watched as his eldest was being strapped to a gurney. "How's Scott?"

This time, it was Virgil putting a comforting hand on his shoulder. "Easy, Dad. He's got internal injuries but I think we got to him in time. You guys actually landed on some insulating material. Otherwise, it would have been much worse.

"Well, thank the powers that be for small miracles. What about Alan and Tin Tin?"

Gordon piped up. "Well, Tin Tin actually found us and Alan was discovered by some emergency workers in a field just a few yards from here. It seems he was blown clear of the rubble. Talk about your dumb luck. If he were a cat, I'd say he was pushing it with the nine lives thing. He's unconscious with a severe concussion, but he should be up and about in a few days. I guess the three of them won't be frequenting discos again anytime soon, which is probably just fine with Scott. Now let's see about getting you out of here, Father."

Small miracles indeed, Jeff thought to himself. Actually, they were rather large ones, ranging in height from 6'0 to 6'2 and he'd been thankful for them every day since the first one was born.

Virgil bent down to help him up onto the second stretcher.

"Here's your ride. Hey, Dad?" Virgil asked. "Whatever happened to not becoming part of the problem?"

Well, actually, maybe thankful wasn't quite the right word.

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