In a profound way, our lives will be better.
We are already well on our way.
A result of our actions?
But our dear mother waits on us herself.
It is never too late to give up our prejudices.
He is one of the greatest men in our country, was the answer.
You all have been so nice to us, and we've enjoyed our stay.
Our friends had a good start and were able to maintain it, for with their eight wings they could go just as fast as could the Gargoyles.
Even our Saviour preached liberty and equality.
It'll cover our tracks.
"Our sovereign the Emperor will be here in a moment," said Rostopchin.
They used to hang in long festoons from our porch, filling the whole air with their fragrance, untainted by any earthy smell; and in the early morning, washed in the dew, they felt so soft, so pure, I could not help wondering if they did not resemble the asphodels of God's garden.
So where does that leave us in our quest to end disease?
Nature is as well adapted to our weakness as to our strength.
Millions will pour forth from there"--he pointed to the merchants' hall--"but our business is to supply men and not spare ourselves...
We must cease raving if we are sons of our Fatherland!
Our Emperor joined the army to encourage it to defend every inch of Russian soil and not to retreat.
A stable vaccine was developed, our understanding of the disease expanded, and technology moved forward.
The goal of our offered summer sojourn was described as a seasonal cabin on a small lake in near Wolfboro, New Hampshire.
It only wuined our farming!
But come, children, let us have our supper.
"Is she like our mother?" asked Chariot.
So thoroughly and sincerely are we compelled to live, reverencing our life, and denying the possibility of change.
Why, our mothers used to be married at twelve or thirteen.
He sends soldiers among us to take away our liberty.
All our cuddling was done outside those doors.
And as we have seen, understanding how we are made is certainly a huge advantage in our battle with disease.
We are Russians and will not grudge our blood in defense of our faith, the throne, and the Fatherland!
Our lives and property--take them, Your Majesty!
If the noble awistocwacy of the pwovince of Moscow thinks fit, it can show its loyalty to our sov'weign the Empewah in other ways.
"I think that before discussing these questions," Pierre continued, "we should ask the Emperor--most respectfully ask His Majesty--to let us know the number of our troops and the position in which our army and our forces now are, and then..."
The enemy is advancing to destroy Russia, to desecrate the tombs of our fathers, to carry off our wives and children.
"We will all arise, every one of us will go, for our father the Tsar!" he shouted, rolling his bloodshot eyes.
But I remember that our great poet once said:
As the Princess held the white piglet in her arms and stroked its soft hair she said: Let Eureka out of the cage, for she is no longer a prisoner, but our good friend.
He was a great thinker and a great doer, and with Washington he helped to make our country free.
And when more and more people have their medical history tracked over time, we will learn even more about how our bodies get sick and how they heal.
The power of the Internet and associated technologies we have so far described, combined with our new understanding of the genome, dooms disease to eventual extinction.
Most cases aren't like our jelly bean example where each person had the items the other person wanted.
It is disgraceful, a stain on our army, and as for him, he ought, it seems to me, not to live.
But our neighbor, Johnson, is sending the nag to Exeter for the use of a lady who is to ride back with me.
The princesses Aline and Sophie sit whole days with me, and we, unhappy widows of live men, make beautiful conversations over our 'charpie', only you, my friend, are missing... and so on.
He grew up to become a famous man and one of our greatest orators.
"He shall be our little brother," said Blondel; and both the boys clapped their hands very softly.
A disease-free future for everyone is within our grasp.
So thought the Emperor, and the Russian commanders and people were still more provoked at the thought that our forces were retreating into the depths of the country.
If you and I both had our DNA sequenced and compared the output, the information would be virtually identical.
It was necessary to fight an unexpected battle at Smolensk to save our lines of communication.
He became famous as one of the bravest and best of the generals who fought to make our country free.
And yet, our lives are nothing like that.
We are creating at a rate exponentially more than our most recent ancestors.
It's our home and you're more than a sitter or maid to all of us.
At the very beginning of the war our armies were divided, and our sole aim was to unite them, though uniting the armies was no advantage if we meant to retire and lure the enemy into the depths of the country.
The amount of data stored is so vast that even if we put a number on it, it would be beyond our comprehension.
I have faith only in God and the lofty destiny of our adored monarch.
Hearing these words our friends turned in the direction of the sound, and the Wizard held his lanterns so that their light would flood one of the little pockets in the rock.
But in a world where great wisdom is available to everyone, the end of ignorance will be within our grasp.
OK, if we both pay our way - and this isn't real a date.
No, it wasn't our food they were after - it was mischief.
His name is remembered in our country as that of a brave and noble man.
And like our example with energy, technology and human innovation could make other things that are now scarce—or that we think of now as scarce—not so at all.
We were busy cutting out paper dolls; but we soon wearied of this amusement, and after cutting up our shoestrings and clipping all the leaves off the honeysuckle that were within reach, I turned my attention to Martha's corkscrews.
Ah we to take Smolensk as our patte'n?
We love our parents, siblings and friends.
I take my responsibility to you and our children seriously.
It was the joyous weekend my future wife and I made public our marriage plans, with no one listening.
It is a secret the bears do not know, and we people of Voe usually walk upon the water when we travel, and so escape our enemies.
"It seems we were mistaken," declared a third, looking at the kitten timorously, "no one with such murderous desires should belong to our party, I'm sure."
"It was in our country that the first men and women lived," they said.
"I think I will give them to our friends," said Cyrus.
This goal is within our grasp—and with the vaccine presently priced at about thirty cents a child, shame on us for not ending polio once and for all.
Our brains weren't designed for that, which is completely fine—that's why we build computers.
We cannot only see our enemy but have deconstructed it to its very core.
I am fond of you, especially as you are the one live man among our whole set.
You couldn't find any eggs for our breakfast?
He was the best loved of all our poets.
I let our stupid house rules stand between us for a long time, but I was the one who finally broke them.
The next chapter will explore how far this can go, how many of our daily tasks machines could assume.
We are about to enter a world where robots do more and more of our work for us.
Now, let me pose a different question: In the vastly-more-prosperous future, what will "working hard for our money" even mean?
We were sadly in the way, but that did not interfere with our pleasure in the least.
We all pull our own weight around here.
We were directed by a friendly voice on our GPS, a previously unused present from my retired parents.
When the next company of Gargoyles advanced, our adventurers began yelling as if they had gone mad.
"Young dragons, of course; but we are not allowed to call ourselves real dragons until we get our full growth," was the reply.
She has gone up to the top of the earth to hunt for our dinner.
He was our most famous president.
But, as I came to your palace this morning, I kept saying to myself, 'When our lord Al Mansour learns just how it was that I borrowed the gold, I have no doubt that in his kindness of heart he will forgive me the debt.'
And in our Internet Renaissance, aren't we seeing an explosion of these same things at a spectacularly more massive scale?
We have a natural desire to make beautiful things and a bone-deep need to understand the world we live in and our place in it.
We are most horrified by that which strikes closest to us and reminds us of our own mortality.
Our battles with diseases go as far back into history as we can see.
Had they had the technology of our day, I wonder what they could have accomplished.
I think it is likely that the answers to almost all our medical problems could be found in the data we may already be collecting.
We also can't hammer nails with our hands, so we invented hammers.
It is not to our discredit that machines can perform calculations so wondrously fast; rather it is to our credit that we conceived of and built such machines.
We will know how to live our lives to best maximize any and all factors.
Our challenge is to learn how to choose the plowshares, not to abandon metallurgy.
After all, we both have ten fingers, two lungs, and a tongue located in our mouth.
However, I fully expect we will learn things about the opposite—what we may do, thanks to our genes.
The Keller homestead, where the family lived, was a few steps from our little rose-bower.
The finest qualities of our nature, like the bloom on fruits, can be preserved only by the most delicate handling.
She wanted to find, and still seeks, some secret motive in our actions.
Napoleon having cut our armies apart advanced far into the country and missed several chances of forcing an engagement.
"A little," Carmen responded, "but I suppose that's natural, given our relationship.
You've seen our house.
Let's give the mules a rest while I look over our back trail.
We're close enough, and our camp sight will give us a little protection from the coming storm.
But what we do with our time after work is strictly between the two of us.
Coincidently, the starting date of our involvement is etched in my memory for an entirely different reason.
Each of us maintains our own apartment, but when Betsy is in town, we spend most nights together.
While my relationship with Martha LeBlanc, nee Rossi, dated back to our play pen years and kindergarten days, lately we've hiked different paths, reducing our contact to Christmas cards and once a month phone calls.
In our modern age, people disagree not just in terms of values they apply to knowledge, but they disagree on actual pieces of knowledge.
Is it possible to replace all our organs with freshly grown new ones created from our own cells?
Understanding the recipes that make our pathogenic enemies is a huge advantage.
I suppose I do enjoy the work, and I try to act respectful to all our customers.
Cindy, our baby wouldn't be a burden to me even if my financial status was shaky - and it isn't.
She will have the baby for us because I have no womb, but it is our baby.
Only he, unknown to any of us, was as yet absent from our lives.
He was attentive as Betsy and I explained our wedding plans and his hosts talked about Martha's pregnancy.
He smiled as we bowed our heads.
"This is the situation," our hostess stated.
After shaking the dice again, for turns in the single bathroom, we climbed the stairs to our rooms.
After all, it was the night of our official engagement.
We started our lovemaking slowly, allowing the others in nearby bedrooms time to fall asleep.
Several minutes stretched into ten or more with neither of us closing our eyes.
Our search didn't take long.
Howie can have our bed.
What do you think about our little experiment?
"Drop dead; prick your finger, cross your heart," he added as we smiled our agreement.
Quinn reacted as we'd grown to expect but Howie's visions became our afternoon project.
He showed his disdain for our childishness.
Martha rolled her eyes, beginning to share her husband's opinion of our little trial.
You should let him take a decent nap in our room and drop this silly business.
All our relatives were city dwellers.
Martha, a come-lately convert to our experiment, offered to fix Howie a hot chocolate in hopes it would induce a snooze.
Howie kept us in suspense until we assumed our seats around the table.
We shook our head in awe.
Wireless Internet was not available at the cabin and our computer had no means for a telephone hook-up.
He reiterated his concern about anyone outside our group learning of what we were doing.
Martha finally brought to daylight what was on all our minds.
We plodded our way through dinner but the disappointment of the bad news phone call weighted on everyone's mind.
Howie was quiet for several minutes as we finished our chores.
We updated him on our experiment but his mind was elsewhere.
We briefly discussed tomorrow's half-day activities now that the weather had improved but our collective hearts weren't in it.
Quinn, surprised we were still clinging to our project, slumped down in an easy chair, journals in hand.
We assumed our now familiar positions with Howie changed into pajamas and robe.
Explanation of our lack of success was unnecessary and we all retired for the night.
We spent our remaining time in New Hampshire with no mention of his visions.
Howie made a special note of thanking everyone for going along with his dream obsession, apologizing for hogging our time.
We were an hour into our drive south before I broached the subject, asking her about the tete-a-tete.
The conversation slipped back to our New York life with our sojourn in New Hampshire relegated to a fun, if bizarre weekend with friends.
The exchange was a stark testimony to the incongruities of man versus woman, and the pending adjustments of our marriage, looming ahead.
Between times we made plans for a trip to Iowa where I'd meet my in-laws for the first time and we'd firm up plans for our October wedding, to be held on Betsy's home turf.
Life was moving along rapidly with our singlehood sliding toward the finish line.
I telephoned Martha LeBlanc with the intent of a quick thank-you for our prior weekend visit but she was in a mood to chat.
I assumed she meant a wedding dress or something connected to our pending wedding until she continued.
Once on our stools and served, I asked him his plans if he did in fact recognize the town of his dream.
Howie paid for our meal.
I found his lodging, returned to our room and caught up with Betsy as I was opening the door.
No words were exchanged until much later, after our naked and robust greeting.
Our route scooted between Pennsylvania and Virginia for three hours until we crossed into West Virginia and traded a major highway for winding secondary roads.
Our GPS guided us up and down and around and around for the next hour and a half.
She was eager to answer our questions and invited us into the building.
We took seats on an old leather sofa and side chair while our hostess sat behind the desk that dominated the room.
It was always hanging on our wall.
Our trip was definitely a success.
I can only describe the mood of our return trip as pensive.
Little conversation took place as each of us kept our thoughts to ourselves.
We all had for too much on our minds.
Over pie and coffee that followed a meat loaf dinner, Betsy asked the question on all our minds.
We took full advantage of our opportunity.
Our work concerns electrostatic forces; force fields that surround us everywhere.
How does this relate to how our brains work?
Our internal electrical system works by using cells that have built up electrical gradient or energy that can be given off to other cells by direct transfer.
Schedules were exchanged until a free weekend opened up, after our obligatory trip to Iowa and Betsy's parents.
We'd drive Peabody, Massachusetts, two weeks before our wedding.
We gave only limited thought to the upcoming session as our pre wedding trip and plans took precedence in our hectic schedule.
Peabody was two hundred and thirty miles and we arrived at our destination a little after eleven on Friday night, after nearly six hours of steady traffic.
Everyone was tired so after perfunctory greetings over a single glass of wine for those of us drinking, we retreated to our sleeping quarters.
It seemed to me we were all on edge, especially Howie who, aside from a smile and a few words, stayed out of our limited conversations.
What's different about our test?
Howie remained silent during verbal our exchange, looking form one of us to the other, content to let us orchestrate the production.
When I rose and asked if we were ready to begin another session, he was eager to join us on our trek to the basement.
We gave him our assurances we'd not violate his trust though I thought Betsy's suggestion was reasonable.
The strain of our activities was wearing on everyone, especially Howie.
I assumed we'd discuss our latest findings but Howie, ever hyper in the secrecy department, disallowed any mention our activities in public.
We agreed the tests were finished for the day but mellowed by wine; we spent two more evening hours summarizing our findings.
Howie continued to look to us for direction while remaining adamant we exclude so much as mention of what we were doing to anyone outside our group.
As eager as Betsy and I were to pursue our testing, we were out to the picture for several weeks.
Our wedding definitely took priority.
We mutually agreed the subject of our tests was verboten until we were able to get together again in three weeks hence.
Howie, ever hyper about the security of our endeavors, forbid our even discussing any interim results by phone, thereby leaving us in the dark.
My only hint occurred during a dance with Martha at our wedding reception.
Betsy located the families Howie saw in our last session.
True to our verbal blackout, nothing specific was said but the tone of her conversation hinted at sensational news.
Maybe now that our newlyweds are in town he'll be more reasonable.
We nodded our approval and awaited more revelations.
Our inquiries are directed toward the accuracy of what you're seeing; did those scenes actually occur in the past.
Tell me you won't spy on our past!
Our visions continued to keep us awake long into the night.
At Martha's suggestion over coffee the next morning we decided on the public library in nearby Lynn as our destination.
We were quieter than usual as we drove to our destination.
We all agreed but I silently wondered what our collective reaction would be if the opposite occurred!
Howie continued to tell all of us exactly what we did, relating our deeds and writings with absolute perfection.
We remained spellbound, not even bothering to check our notes as his accuracy became apparent.
What we need is a plan but let's give it until tomorrow to clear our minds.
We forbade ourselves to even discuss our impetuous actions for fear of disturbing Howie so all we could do is cross our fingers and pray.
It's a wonder we didn't raise our arms in surrender.
She increased our supply by five dollars' worth, just in case.
At the time, we felt so infallible in our rightness we grabbed the proverbial bull by the horns exposing ourselves to a wealth of trouble.
Our little group anguished over our decision once we were back together, alternating between chastising and applauding what we'd done.
Even Quinn seemed to have forgotten his desire to go public in the tension of our impromptu to act.
Meanwhile, we locked on the television, all evening, awaiting the results of our actions.
Howie was bewildered, leaving everything in our hands.
Once my telephone ordeal was over, everything was out of our hands.
All our earlier actions were a series of what ifs.
Now we knew we possessed an incredible tool at our fingertips.
He found a bottle of scotch and insisted we toast our success.
"We could call on our way back home, half way to New York," she answered.
We would, as Betsy suggested, telephone the tip on our way back to New York.
Martha prepared grilled cheese sandwiches for our lunch.
It took three tries before we were satisfied our information was in believing hands.
By the time we reached our apartment, both of us were exhausted wrecks.
Betsy spent hours on the computer, searching for results from our second tip but nothing was reported.
Our need for secrecy, all five of us, extended far beyond personal culpability.
He believes he's hurting our marriage, threatened to move back to California and tank the whole business.
Perhaps a female voice would offer less chance of a connection to our other calls.
Our spectacular triumph was the return of an infant from a small Texas hospital.
It was difficult returning to our mundane life after our weekend high.
There were too many lengthy phone calls to Massachusetts and minimal attention to our other life.
A blowing snow storm delayed our flight north.
We haven't stopped and truly planned our activities.
We agreed on our mutual commitment.
As long as Quinn could place Howie in the past, we'd do everything in our power to support the effort.
While our employment hampered our work with Howie, we all recognized our need to continue our day to day lives.
We would restrict our altruistic activity to weekends and possibly an evening or two a week by phone, if it worked.
Here we were, caught up in the euphoria of our accomplishments, like a group of dissimilar workers sharing a winning power ball ticket, and thinking that success made us friends for ever.
Holdings hands like an old world family; we were committing our lives together like marriage vows.
"How much money do you have, Howie?" asked Martha, the most outspoken of our group.
Quinn handles the power and Howie is our focus.
However, my wife was far and away the most intelligent of the five of us and understood our success depended on strong leadership.
The tip we offered must be the end of our involvement.
It was heart wrenching when sometimes our tip failed to bring about justice.
We researched tip lines in an effort to spread around our contacts.
We trudged through the next few weeks marginally well though the schedule was exhausting to all and, in spite of our efforts, our other lives were suffering.
While we refrained from tracking our results, when we learned through public media of a success, we celebrated.
Obtaining accurate and timely information continued to be our Achilles heel.
Our self-imposed prohibition against pursuing our tips once given limited our learning which sources produced the best results.
"I may have violated our secrecy code," I told her as I slipped into bed.
It was only a matter of time before someone began to connect our tips.
If we can show them it's in their best interests to work with us and let us keep our privacy we're far better off.
If he can get us better and timelier information and direct us to the best place to call in our tips, we're miles ahead.
Just make sure our asses are protected.
You've got our vote.
Our major success was our first kidnapping for ransom.
Our last session on the day ended on a sad note that was very distressing to Howie.
My mind remained locked on our weekend activities, labeling all other daily happenings insignificant.
One of our agents in the Midwest says his grandson was found after a weird tip.
Our first and foremost priority is recovering abducted children, as soon as possible.
Our second choice is fingering the abductor.
I'm sure our people have that stuff.
Directing our tips was not an easy chore either.
A snow storm cancelled our return flight Sunday.
We're not being fair to our employers.
A full week passed before we had our answer.
Our nailing Otto Rudman on your tip impressed the hell out of him.
He agreed to keep our conversation limited to the two of us and is willing to listen to you.
We agreed to limit our test to one phone call.
Howie would first go back to earlier in the day and document precise activities of the director; we hoped they'd be sufficient for him to believe our abilities.
We'd decided a transcription of our conversation might sometime prove valuable.
Sworn assurances you or your people will not pursue our identity in any way and you'll do all in your power to protect our anonymity.
We're trying to come to grips with our day to day problems like the rest of the masses.
We played back our conversation with crossed fingers and not a small dose of nervousness.
Few cases met fell within our criteria.
We shared our sadness at the waste of two barely emerging lives with the remainder of the celebratory bourbon.
We had tacit official sanction, on our terms.
Quinn, who was our resident computer and electronic guru, was given information about protecting our security.
While these assets upgraded our efficiency, the LeBlanc house continued to be inadequate.
While we reveled in our triumphs, we knew in our hearts we couldn't maintain our present pace.
"If you remember Eric Campbell, call me," Brennan posted on our secure web site.
While Betsy loved her position, she was far more enchanted with our success and would adopt it as a full time venture in a minute.
He, of our group, was the most difficult to read.
While she truly loved nursing, she too reveled in our accomplishments, second only to her unborn child.
Our independence is nonnegotiable.
We never-the-less decided to postpone discussion until the following day when, as Martha said, we had a night of rumination and our wits about us.
Martha and Quinn were readying for our restaurant dinner in their room and Betsy was upstairs usurping the single bathroom.
We chose a seafood establishment where we knew a back booth would provide the privacy we needed for our important postponed conversation.
Our nervous quintet settled in, ordered wine for the drinkers and waited for one of us to start the conversation.
The world's our atlas if we have the guts to flip a coin and take a chance.
I'd say it's time to speak our minds.
"I want a home of our own too," Betsy said, "and a car that isn't a rental.
What we're doing together blows my imagination so I'll devote as much time and energy as I can possible muster to optimizing our results.
We haven't discussed giving it up; only taking a short leave to have our baby.
It was Betsy who summed up our collective thoughts.
We stumbled into an incredible gift that was bestowed on Howie and we couldn't live with ourselves or look at one another if we didn't embrace everything in our power to maximize its benefits.
I'm not sure anyone else in our group was in shape to drive home after our champagne celebration of the scary new life each of us agreed to embrace.
Our group conducted only three cases as we now called them and none were noteworthy.
We spent the balance of our time formulating what I should say to Merrill Cooms and pouring over Internet maps.
Our chore held the aura of planning a vacation, not making a life changing decision.
Our location should be within a couple of hours at the most from a city; not in the country, per se, perhaps a small town.
Only Betsy was raised outside of New England and she easily bowed to our collective desires to remain within its six state bounds.
Our small city should have a college and hospital.
It meets our criteria.
It met all our criteria; a stable employment, reasonably priced homes, a state college and a regional hospital.
The next step was informing Mr. Cooms of our willingness to proceed with his offer.
We'd then cross our fingers and see what particulars would follow.
True to his word, when informed of our decision, he immediately put the gears in motion.
According to Mr. Cooms everything was accomplished through third parties without him ever knowing our names.
Each of us nervously cut ties with our past by giving notice, making moving plans and advising our few friends and relatives.
We took the car on vacation and our two families had a great time.
In three days we all fulfilled our dreams.
It was a short distance from Surry Mountain Lake and park, and about seven mile from our recently established office in town.
Quinn took charge of our working accommodations.
Our company name was modestly displayed by the front door for all to see.
In less than a month in early spring our lives were totally changed and we loved it.
He reiterated he'd made no move to learn of our location or names.
We knew some of our tips never came to fruition simply because authorities lacked the probable cause to arrest the perpetrator.
Few of our cases were cut and dried.
We constantly longed to follow up on our endeavors and make sure what Howie discovered was brought to a positive conclusion.
Betsy and Martha surreptitiously scoured the media for results, in spite of our agreement not to do so.
As our activities grew, the task became more daunting.
Our efforts sometimes produced moral dilemmas.
As each of us spent five full days a week together, we agreed to go our own ways on weekends, establishing an outside life.
Each of us was relieving our daily pressure with other interests.
We shopped for our first car together.
The new canine member of our family was a happy little feller with a fair dose of Cocker Spaniel in his genealogy.
Betsy named him Bumpus after his tendency to crash into immovable objects as he dashed around our house and yard.
Our work schedule encompassed five intense days, Monday through Friday.
When we called in a tip, the recipient of our offering was located in a secure government-run facility in Omaha that promised total anonymity.
Fortunately the day presented little of our precise criteria.
Quinn was in charge of the downstairs room where Howie operated and he set it up flawlessly for our work.
A comfortable bed replaced the cot utilized in Peabody and absolute darkness proved more conducive to sleep than the leaked light that often snuck into our old quarters.
Our new life in Keene produced a comfortable level of contentment we'd never previously experienced.
Not only were we rewarded by the success of Howie's activities but our new personal situations were blissful.
However, none of us uncrossed our fingers.
"Our Boston newspaper friend Ethel Reagan writes she's anxious to talk to the guy," she continued.
Brennan asked when there was a break in our conversation.
The figures ran through our operation like a train past a no-stop station.
In truth, the raw information funneled to us was transmitted as received after passing through our office.
Hundreds of printed reports covered our premises like a winter blizzard making us look as busy as a toy store at Christmas.
Any of our infrequent visitors or friends asking about the operation quickly developed a bleary look when we tried to explain what we did for a living.
Our activities certainly looked demanding and our positions important.
It wasn't our turn to pin the tail on the donkey.
Both felt we should keep our hands off the matter.
We didn't let on to this guy, Jude Bryce, about the tip but he was a close neighbor and the parents suspected he might be involved so he was in our radar.
Luck was on our side.
"Interesting thought," Brennan said when I'd told him our theory.
Now there were two problems, both stuck on hold, and out of our hands.
In fact, he's gone missing, Quinn held a super market tabloid as we shared coffee before starting our day.
While we kidded about selling Howie out for a million buck reward, the increased outside interest in our activities was a serious matter.
However, we knew a careless word overheard could spell our doom.
Howie and Quinn remained the oil and water of our association although there was no mention of Martha's teenage indiscretion that had caused so much early turmoil.
Our success with missing persons continued to grow.
Through Brennan's subtle urging, the authorities, ultimate recipients of our tips, were learning to deny them outright or down playing their importance.
One of us chatted with Merrill Cooms weekly, simply keeping in touch with our benefactor.
This goes beyond a simple patient-doctor relationship but I think our friend needs to pour out everything that's troubling.
Betsy had confessed to Mr. Cooms her frustration over the lack of information regarding the outcome of our tips.
Our goals are to push forward, not pull back.
I realized those receiving our tips lacked a reason to share our absolute confidence.
Our cases were scattered around the country with most jurisdictions receiving our tip for the first time.
Our credibility had to be earned each time and be absolute.
Our credibility is important to us.
Absent Martha's soothing voice, Howie wasn't able to drift off until our third try.
While we presumed Daniel Brennan and Merrill Cooms had gleaned much about our group from our many conversations, we continued to volunteer nothing concrete.
The phone call to Daniel Brennan cranked up our level of anxiety several notches.
Mr. Cooms was apprehensive about what he described as an assault on our safety.
To create a fake identity, one would need at a minimum, our age, physical description and picture.
Up until now, we've managed to maintain our total privacy.
If our privacy was assaulted by some mistake we made, at least we could start over.
Maybe there's some way to have both; retain our privacy and have an escape identity in case the need ever arises.
I collected our cadre at the LeBlanc's house for discussion.
My only directive to our group was a strong suggestion we act unanimously.
He gave us access to a web site on which to submit our information.
Betsy suggested we each assign our new identities without telling each other except our spouses.
We can always tell each other later if it's to our advantage to do so, but we can't just 'forget' once we know it.
We all reluctantly entered our vitals privately, including information on baby Claire.
We received one piece of good news during our blackout period.
Fortunately, the boy ran off but the police, who were following Bryce based on our earlier tip, photographed his attempted abduction.
Quinn was the first to vocalize what dominated all our minds like a walk up the gallows steps.
"We've got a problem," he said as we gathered around our conference table, a cold cup of coffee in each of our hands.
"It's not our call," Martha answered, though by her tone, I suspected she understood where I was coming from.
It's all our lives he's putting at risk.
Quinn and Howie retreated downstairs to prepare for our first session of the day, with everyone pretending it was a normal Monday.
Can she describe our chubby friend with the mustache?
He's playing with our heads.
Our... gifted person is really obsessed with this guy.
You brought our man closer to being identified than anyone else so you should kiss off any guilty feelings.
The site is helpful in tracking the status of our tips because they keep asking questions until they get answers.
Our unknown contributions to the web site continued to methodically move forward.
Most of our cases proved to be runaways or missing persons and our limitations due to non-specific known time or age of the event continued to plague us.
Weekends were private time for all of us and we weren't sure if Howie would adopt the usual routine of doing our own thing.
The article was penned by our old Boston nemesis, Ethel Reagan.
The article attempted objectivity, documenting several of the cases on which our tips proved fruitful.
Most cases were earlier tips as lately, the authorities were far more cautious with our information; often even denying a tip was involved when an arrest occurred.
Baby Claire was often in evidence in our work place, sleeping on mother's arm or in her file cabinet remodeled crib, or supping on Martha's breast.
Quinn quipped it would be worth the price of the car if she kept motoring north to Canada and out of our lives.
"It's obvious he's not going to address the issue," Betsy grumbled as we spent our Saturday climbing nearby Mount Monadnock.
"Let's just enjoy the mountain and not think about our problems," she said, stopping to sip from her canteen.
We totally enjoyed our exhilarating trek to the summit.
Betsy exclaimed as we caught our breath, standing atop the highest point for thirty miles around.
In any event, it presents a beautiful view of the town common, our destination.
Our man must have spent some time digging.
I would think if they see the connection they might be leery of taking our calls.
We scrambled our voices and used only secure lines.
Brennan tossed aside our concern, citing the lives we'd saved.
Our guy didn't quit with Brenda Washington.
Betsy was beside herself with frustration when she heard what mayhem our nemesis had wrought.
"Let's take it one at a time," said our benefactor.
What are your thought concerning our love sick member?
It's a relationship threatening to sink our ship.
I remembered a judge had tossed out a search warrant obtained only on the basis of our tip.
I was pleased our conversation at least ended on a positive note.
They are pleased as a kid with a new toy just to get our tips.
She only provides tips and assumes the authorities will use our call to investigate the crime and reach their own conclusions with legally obtained evidence.
I promised to check in from time to time as we finished our conversation.
We had no right to challenge his choices in spite of our lives being tied to his as tightly as a water-logged knot.
By mutual agreement, announced to Howie by our silence, no discussion about Julie took place unless initiated by Howie himself.
Our personal security remains constantly on high alert.
By mutual agreement with both Daniel Brennan and Merrill Cooms, our conversations are reduced to an occasional call, for security sake.
We tackle our work; professionally and without rancor to one another in spite of a pall of indecision that oft times seeps in like a chill from a leaky window frame.
A major success helped raise our spirits.
While Martha and Betsy, buoyed by our recent success, were eager to tackle the case, Quinn, not surprisingly, and yours truly to a lesser extent, were hesitant.
With Betsy's pronouncement, we all reaffirmed our commitment.
Instead of using our usual tip line, we conveyed the information directly to Detroit where the abduction took place.
"I'm pleased to meet you," said Miss Molly as she shook each of our hands in turn.
Howie immediately began asking who needed more wine though our glasses were full.
It's what he told me when we had our walk-talk.
Other than catching sight of Howie, together with Julie and Molly entering church on Sunday morning, we saw nothing more of our associate's Boston visitors.
Much the case with Howie and Julie, I felt the personal lives of our group deserved their own space to address their own problems.
I quickly telephoned our benefactor.
This invader was very cautious and avoided much of our security.
Once there however, Quinn had nailed the time perfectly as Howie saw our target approach the window!
Quinn, who'd been silent during our exchange, spoke up, "Maybe Daniel Brennan can pull in some favors."
Do you remember our early conversations?
I hadn't told him of our miss information ploy to Ethel Reagan.
We'd discussed the possibility of conducting our business at other sites, should the need arise.
Quinn and Martha perpetually had their hands full with their baby and Betsy stayed home, content to have extra time with our expanding garden.
Brennan's admonition that our tip line might be compromised was beyond being simply bothersome.
We could always go back to throw away phones but even those were suspect when our pursuer was a high level government agency.
I prayed our Delabama killer didn't stalk Agnes Delanco before she or her detectives tracked him down, quickly I hoped.
He and I agreed it would operate totally on its own, unaware of our operation.
He's the only one who is a direct threat and that's due to our coming so close to getting him in the past.
It's not like you and I who remember our parents; he literally just met his mother for the first time!
Was this a possible way to salvage our operation that otherwise was doomed to wreckage?
I knew any defense of Julie O'Malley would bring the wrath of heaven down on our bed.
I haven't been this frightened since I was seven years old and got locked in our cellar.
We discussed neither Julie nor Howie over breakfast but Betsy joined me when I left for our office.
If our boy made his getaway at more than five or ten miles an hour, you can bet your ass he was on one of these babies.
Let's go to our house and I'll show you your new bed room.
While I knew we were helpless to do anything positive in Howie's absence, I never-the-less opened the site where Betsy located cases for our attention.
I knew immediately it was our Delabama killer.
It suddenly came to mind I hadn't told them Julie was on her way west and Molly was at our house.
"We should all go out there and either drag his ass back home or do our thing in California," Quinn said as he paced.
I jumped in and explained that Molly was at our house and Julie was on route to the Boston airport.
I hadn't considered that having a house guest would severely limit our chances for candid conversation.
We have our hands full with cases down here.
Molly was seated in our living room, reading a book when I arrived.
"I'm going to show Molly our library this afternoon," my wife said.
Yes, what she did early on was despicable in our minds, but put yourself in her position.
God knows, there are enough threats to our operation's survival without her coming on board.
While she was concerned about the rift in our associates' relationship, she felt Quinn and Howie getting together might produce some positive results, in spite of how acrimonious they might be to each other.
The balance of our afternoon and evening was spent in domestic bliss.
My wife was as thrilled to entertain our guest as Molly was to be there.
I know it won't last forever but as long as we can, we have to do everything in our power to keep it alive.
The LeBlanc house was by far the largest of our group, with four bedrooms, one designed as the nursery.
I don't know where we'll find a place to do our thing; this joint is like a zoo with honking horns and either back-fires or gunshots!
With luck, he'll tell us if it's our man or some local hoods trashing Julie's place.
Our job is to hold this group together, for the children.
After some negotiations Martha was allowed to remain in bed while the rest of us, Claire included drove back to our house.
I was tardy in keeping him informed, especially concerning Julie, now a sort-of member of our group.
Unfortunately I couldn't tell them about the break in at Julie's place without it adversely impacting our anonymity.
We both agreed there were definite similarities to our Delabama killer.
Finding a place to do our song and dance is the problem.
While Martha was on the phone trying to get our air conditioning system checked, I had a few moments alone with my wife.
If we found they were destroyed, it would take a big weight off our minds.
I set about showing Molly some of our Econ Scrutiny simple chores and she was immediately interested.
She told our neighbor Mildred she'd done something she regretted 'cause now she really liked this guy and thought maybe she'd messed things up between them.
If our ship didn't sink, it was certainly leaking like the Titanic.
In spite of our air conditioning, I was perspiring freely when I hung up.
He wore a pulled up hoodie, but he was taller than our guy and Howie thought he was younger.
Bumpus followed, slapping our legs with his tail.
Did I trust this man I'd never met, enough to hand over all our identities?
Molly is fun to be around, chatty and inquisitive and far less reserved than at our first meeting.
Quinn called back just before our bedtime.
It definitely wasn't our Delabama guy?
I'd like to think we were doing something worthwhile instead of wasting our time on pointless errands.
Betsy was busy on her computer when I entered our kitchen the following morning.
We were finding make work at the office increasingly boring but I suspected our absence would produce unwanted curiosity.
But we'd always remained a step away, like Martha once said, to retain our perfect friendship.
I didn't know, but it bothered me immeasurably. qqq I'm sure we all felt we were on some ludicrous death watch with Mrs. Abbott holding our future hostage with her tenuous cling to life.
Do you think he's our guy?
It appeared our Delabama killer had a name.
There goes our chance to play mother.
Bumpus was our savior.
God, how many deaths are our responsibilities?
This aunt I never met... or maybe I did but don't know it... she thinks I'm like practically a priest and she wants me to do all this stuff at the memorial service, for our side of the family!
Our operation is unraveling in front of us.
We delayed a decision until we'd discussed our shutting down with the others.
When Betsy mentioned telling the After people, a thought struck me that the death of Owen Bryce, once known to our friends at After would probably tie me directly to the tipster as well.