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Father and Son
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      Page Nineteen

Roy regarded Chet with a calm encouraging grin.
"He's right Chet. Just think how happy Chester will
be when he can play with all the school kids
everyday when they come to visit Mr. Fajou
and the Bentleys to get their gingerbread cookies."

His grin fell away when Chet's paper didn't stop
separating Kelly from the rest of those around the
kitchen table.

Gage loudly coughed, getting everyone's attention.
He wore a very serious face as he said.
"I still think you made a horrible mistake Cap. I
really think that you must've .." and his face lit up
with laughter."...given away the wrong Chester B,
You should've given them Kelly here and saved
us a whole lotta future grief." Johnny joked.

"Very funny Gage." Chet said, finally taking some
bait. "I'll remember that the next time you
get lost and your buns are roasting in a
hot fire and I'm the one sent to look for ya."

The gang chuckled, thinking they were finally
lifting away the dark cloud hanging over Kelly's

Even Cap finally got up out of his chair and
strode over to Henry's old dog house and he
patted its newly restored paint job. "Listen
gang...uh, despite what I've decided here,
it doesn't mean we can't keep our eye out,
you know, from looking for the next stray
to come along. Am I right?
Heck. We see tons of em every fire. "

Gage was still frowning because it had finally sunk
in that his attempt at humor had actually failed to
get Chet out of his pity pit. "Yeah, Cap.
That's... that's a really good idea. We'll uh, just,
we'll just go about our business and wait for
another dog or something to come to us."

"Exactly Gage.. " Cap agreed. "My guess is the
next dog to land at Station 51 will do it OUT of
a baby basket and without any mysterious note
attached around his neck."

"Here. here." Johnny piped up in a toast, raising
his mug of coffee. "To Chester Bartholomew.
Once a puppy lost, now a pup found, and living
it up in the coolest house a dog could ever wish for,
the Morrow Drive Movie Mansion."

The gang all joined in the toast whole
heartedly, hooting a few whistles and cheers
until Chet finally raised his mug, too.

Everyone pretended not to see the water
glistening in Chet Kelly's eyes as he looked for
the millionth time at a photo of Chester
Bartholomew that he had carried in his uniform
pocket ever since the first day the tiny beagle pup
had arrived on the kitchen doorstep, as they drank
in the little dog's honor.

As if by magic, a box of tissue suddenly
appeared out of nowhere, shoving
underneath the funnies Chet was only
pretending to read.


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Dixie McCall watched the three well dressed
diners surrounding her at a Manny's Fine Dining
white topped table, and smiled.

Her wildest long time wish, had finally
come true at last.

Kel Brackett sat with his mother and his father,
all together, at one table.

Dixie grinned even bigger.
::It's been three hours. And the sparks still
aren't flying. You know, sometimes
I amaze even myself. Maybe I should
study to become a doctor AND a psychologist,
just to make it official someday:: she considered.

Dixie sipped her Amaretto sour and studied her
friends' faces as they shared their life
stories of the past ten years with each other, in
full, heartfelt, gritty detail. But Dixie felt she
didn't even need to listen. It was enough just
to be there.
::Nah..:: she thought about her future
career plans once more.  ::Why should I even bother?
I get to enjoy the rewards of doing that kind of work
right now. No muss, fuss. And what I'm witnessing
right now is a fine, fine example of the power
of human reconciliation at its very best.::

Dixie was absolutely sure that Joe Early
next to her was revelling too, in the fact
that not once through the entire nine
course dinner, had Kel Brackett's anxiety tied
face twitch, revealed itself.

::Yeah. Somedays I really love my job.:: Dixie
mused once again. :: I couldn't be any happier,
I think ever, ...than I am.....right

Wordlessly, she clinked her drink with Joe's as
they both continued to be inadvertantly
ignored by their close companions.

Pleased as punch, Dixie McCall and Joe Early
both tuned back into the animated dinner
conversation going on around them and
nurse and doctor both, privately went on celebrating
and watching with both eyes as
the old Brackett family circle remade
itself into something .... finally and truly,

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                             FIN       :)

Season One, Episode Two- FATHER AND SON

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Father and Son
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