8.3: Part One
It is 1984. I am ten seconds from success
when you destroy my life, a scruffy-looking guy in a junkyard
who turned out to be so much more.
It is 1992. I would know your face a hundred years from
now. I have not forgotten. And now I have found you.
easy now...” MacGyver helped Sam carefully out of
the cab and unloaded the bags while Sam stood, looking
around at the neighborhood.
Sam turned as
his father came up behind him, smiling at him and shaking
his head. “I guess I’d forgotten what it’s
amused. They’d spent a few weeks here before going
on their road trip, waiting for his broken arm to heal
enough to ride. Sam, citizen of the world and used to
viewing all new places and people as potentially hostile,
had been a bit taken aback by MacGyver’s neighborhood
and the people in it.
Sam scan the street, the brightly painted houses, the
tie-dyed curtains in Kelly’s windows, Mel’s
ancient car with its faded bumper stickers and Mama Lorraine’s
multicolored washing flapping on a line in the sun. He
smelled incense wafting on the breeze and saw Sam shake
his head again as he struggled to find words. “You
get used to it, son!”
like the sixties never left!” Sam turned and followed
his father into the apartment.
* * * *
By the evening,
Mel had noticed they were back, told everyone and arranged
a ‘welcome home’ party. Sam and MacGyver were
just settling down to Chinese takeaway and a hockey game
on the TV when the door burst open and Mama Lorraine swept
in with a big smile and an even bigger pie.
Half the neighborhood
piled in behind her, with Mel grinning like an overage
sprite at MacGyver’s expression from the safety
of the doorway. MacGyver hugged everyone, gravely shook
hands with Mel’s four year old nephew and pushed
through the crush to clap Mel on the back, telling him
how good it was to be home.
Kelly made a
beeline for Sam, sitting far too close and fussing over
him until he managed to escape into the kitchen. He filled
a glass with ice water and took it outside to the relative
quiet of the front step. Sitting down awkwardly, he sighed
and took a long sip.
as Sam jumped violently, grabbed at his sore shoulder
I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you like
that.” A figure emerged from the shadows and picked
up the fallen glass, handing it back to Sam. Sam pushed
back his hair and looked up.
no problem, I guess.” He brushed at the wet on his
t-shirt briefly and then gave up. “Are you a friend
of my Dad’s? I saw you earlier inside but I don’t
think we’ve met.”
James.” The man hesitated until Sam gestured for
him to sit down. “I haven’t lived here very
He moved up, letting the middle-aged man sit down next
to him on the step. “Dad and I just got back –
we had some catching up to do and we’ve been away
for a few months.”
sharply at Sam before returning his gaze to the street.
must have been some trip. How did you...?”
shot. It’s a really long story.” Sam got to
his feet, not wanting to explain all over again. “I’m
going inside to get another drink. You want anything?”
James drew his
knees up and locked his hands around them, staring away
down the street.
you.” He looked back at Sam and smiled. “I’ll
come inside in a while – the crowd’s a bit
much for me.”
what you mean!” Sam watched him watching the street
for a moment longer, then shrugged and headed inside.
* * * *
Late that evening,
after the guests had gone and long after their hockey
game had finished, Sam and MacGyver sat on the couch,
surveying the post-party wreckage.
this kind of thing happen often?” Sam put his feet
up on the coffee table and leaned back, closing his eyes.
MacGyver scrubbed his hands over his face and through
his hair, wondering if he should go for a haircut before
starting back at Phoenix. “If it isn’t someone’s
birthday, it’s the anniversary of something else.
Count on one neighborhood party a month, minimum. Like
I said, you get...”
to it, yeah.” Sam took a swallow from his glass
and then frowned at it. “I went out front a while
ago, and met this guy. I think he knew you, but he seemed,
I dunno. Odd.”
Really pale? Haircut like Jay Leno?” MacGyver nodded.
He really didn’t want a haircut. Maybe he had an
elastic band or something lying around to tie it back
for work. “He’s Mel’s latest project.
He’s a hard luck case from back East, come to make
a new start and he doesn’t really know anyone yet.
Mel’s kind of taken him under his wing seeing as
how he’s renting just across the street. I only
met him tonight though. Odd how?”
I guess. Kind of shy. He seemed interested that you’re
my Dad. I guess he does look a bit like Jay Leno!”
Sam yawned. “I gotta get some sleep, Dad. See you
in the morning.” Sam rose and picked his way through
the party debris, leaving MacGyver alone on the couch.
son.” MacGyver put ‘The Magnificent Seven’
into the video, turned the sound down low and pulled his
feet up. Why would Mel’s new tenant think he knew
him? MacGyver couldn’t even remember the guy’s
name. John? Jack? Something... The room was warm, the
couch comfortable and soon MacGyver drifted off to sleep.
* * *
I see you. I know you but you do not know me. Did
you ruin so many lives that the ruination of mine is not
memorable to you? You will remember. You will know me.
I swear it.
“Do I go
with the tie? Maybe I shouldn’t bother.” MacGyver
frowned at his reflection. He combed his hair back, tied
it into a ponytail and then shook it out again. “I
look like Dexter...”
at him around a mouthful of cereal. He shook his head
“Don’t sweat it, Dad. It’s not like
Pete’s going to mind. Who’s Dexter, anyway?”
across at Sam and smiled.
is... Never mind. I just feel like I should make a good
impression on my first day back.” He sat down to
lace his shoes. “I did kind of leave Pete in the
lurch when we took off like that, even if he did encourage
us to go.”
his father into the garage, watched him shrug into his
jacket and check over the bike. It seemed so empty without
his own bike or his Dad’s Jeep. Raising the door
revealed James putting out his rubbish bins across the
street. He straightened up, waved and came over.
James stood at the edge of the pavement, hands in his
pockets and looking awkward.
at him as he strapped on his helmet and walked the bike
to the front of the garage.
We kinda got introduced at the party, didn’t we?
I didn’t get your name though...?” He held
out his hand for James to shake. James hesitated, staring
hard at MacGyver before abruptly stepping forward and
taking his hand.
You’re MacGyver. And you’re Sam. That’s
a nice bike.” He stared intently at them both, his
gaze straying back to MacGyver again. The silence stretched,
and MacGyver glanced at his watch.
go. Sam, let me know how you get on at the hospital, okay?
James, nice to meet you again.” MacGyver nodded
at them both, revved up the bike and turned out along
until the bike was out of sight and then turned back to
Sam. “I could take you to the hospital if you want.
Mel said I can borrow his car until I get one of my own.
I’d really like to help.” He looked hopefully
can get a bus, I don’t want to trouble you...”
Sam colored up, hating to be dependent on someone else.
his head faintly, once again looking up the road after
the bike. “No trouble.”
* * * *
Mel backed away
from his car, lifted a boot and kicked the car hard just
below the door handle. The old car rocked on its springs
and the door lock popped up. Mel opened the door and grinned
meaning to get that fixed. Doors all jam up regularly
but you just have to show them who’s boss. Trick
is to hit it right below the mechanism.” He brushed
a crisp packet and some unidentifiable bits and pieces
off the seat into the footwell and waited while Sam got
in. He tossed the keys across to James and squinted against
the sun. “Don’t run any red lights, okay?”
He waved as James put the car in gear and drove away,
pleased to see that James seemed to have finally made
* * * *
Sam lifted his
foot and tried to work out what he’d stepped on.
Something shiny winked up at him out of the assorted rubbish.
Why would Mel have barbeque tongs in his car?
He toed the tongs to one side and set his foot down on
a pencil, which broke. He sighed.
car is a tip. Not that I’m complaining, you understand,
it beats getting lost on a bus.” He glanced across
at James, hunched over the steering wheel. “This
is really kind of you, thanks.”
without taking his eyes off the road. “No trouble.
Have you and your Dad lived here long?”
Sam shook his
head, popping the cassette from the player. “Dad’s
been here for a while, but I’m only staying until
I get a place of my own sorted out.” He looked down
at the tape. Jefferson Airplane. Why am I
not surprised... He cranked the window handle to
let in some cool air but it spun uselessly and the window
stayed closed. “The neighborhood’s growing
on me though; I might stay round here too.”
licking his lips. “What do you both do?”
a stringer, a photo-journalist. I’m kind of between
jobs at the moment though, just until my shoulder heals.
Dad works for the Phoenix Foundation, they do research
and environmental stuff.”
again, concentrating on nursing the spluttering car through
the morning traffic.
does he do, at the Phoenix Foundation?”
across at James, something about his tone making Sam wary.
“He’s kind of a troubleshooter; he does a
lot of different things. How about you, James? Tell me
a little closer over the steering wheel and thought a
long time before replying.
from Nowheresville, West Virginia, I had some bad luck
and I’m making a fresh start out here. I’m
going to make sure everything’s right this time.”
James’s hands clenched and Sam, watching his knuckles
whiten, wondered if he should have taken the bus after
James’s voice sounded far away. “What kind
of trouble does he shoot at?”
in his seat “It’s not like that. He’s
really good at thinking on his feet, so he gets called
in to sort out projects that have gone wrong and deal
with situations that have got difficult. No shooting.”
he always done that?”
Now Sam was getting annoyed. “He used to work for
the government. Look, this is our turn. Here.” He
pointed and James obediently steered the car to the curb.
wait for you in the car.” James placed a hand carefully
on Sam’s arm. Sam shook him off, got out and slammed
get a cab, James. Thanks for the lift but I can find my
own way back.”
James continued to stare at him.
no trouble.” James watched Sam walk up the steps
into the hospital and settled back in his seat to wait.
His gaze strayed across the street to a low-loader carrying
fork-lift trucks. He watched it turn towards the docks
and his hands clenched in his lap. “Troubleshooter...”