A Time To Grieve
(A missing scene from the movie, Simon & Simon In Trouble Again)
The first thing Rick Simon was really aware of was the noxious smell of burning chemicals. Of oil, and gas, and several kinds of cleaning solvents, and paint, and God only knew what else.
Rick came out of his dazed state of shock when he felt his brother's hand squeeze his shoulder.
"Rick," A.J. urged. "Rick, come on. We've got to get away from here. We can't stay here and breathe these fumes. Come on."
Rick looked up from his crouched position on the dock. A.J.'s face was blurred by the tears that filled the older man's eyes.
"Mom. . ." was all the distraught Rick was able to mutter before turning to look at the burning wreckage of the Precious Cargo once more.
A.J. grasped his sibling underneath the armpits, unconsciously taking on the role of older brother for the moment.
"Come on, Rick," the blond man urged again in-between coughs. He lifted his brother to a standing position as fire and police sirens wailed in the background. "Come on. We need to move away from here."
A.J. solicitously guided his brother up the pier. Right before they stepped on solid ground Rick pulled away from A.J. He straightened to his full height, turned and met his brother's eyes.
"A.J...I'm sorry. I--"
shook his head. "Don't say
it. It wasn't your fault."
"But I'm the one who brought Mom here. I'm the one who was paid to skipper the Precious Cargo--"
A.J. wouldn't allow his brother to blame himself. Nor would A.J. blame him. They were going to have a tough enough time dealing with the death of their mother as it was. With this untimely and violent passing of the warmest and most gracious human being A.J. had ever known. A woman who, just by her mere existence, defined the best of the word mother on a daily basis. Now Rick and A.J. had to be there for each other. They'd have to help one another through this devastating crisis. To do less would dishonor Cecilia Simon's memory.
A.J. interrupted Rick's litany of guilt. "None of this is your fault, Rick. None of it."
Before Rick could finish his sentence the Simon brothers were pulled aside by two police detectives. They were led over to an unmarked car and asked to get in the back seat. They sat watching what was left of the Precious Cargo explode, and burn, and smolder while A.J. answered the men's questions.
The detectives exchanged glances when A.J. stated quietly at the end of their conversation, "We believe our mother was being held captive on that boat. We filed a missing persons report to that effect two days ago."
"We'll look into it," one of the men promised sympathetically. "Our people will be searching for the...remains of anyone who might have been on the yacht at the time of the explosion. Depending on what they find we may need your mother's dental and medical records in order to make a positive identification."
A.J. looked over at Rick. The older Simon was staring out the window as if trying in vain to remove himself from the conversation that was going on within the car. He hadn't spoken a word throughout the entire interrogation.
A.J. focused his attention back on the detectives.
"I'll take care of getting her records here as soon as possible."
"We'd like you to follow us down to the station," the detective in charge requested. "We have a few more questions we need to ask you." The man paused and looked at the pale silent Rick. He was fearful the older Simon brother was going into shock. "And I don't think this is the place to continue our conversation. That is if you feel up to driving. Otherwise we can take the two of you and bring you back--"
"No," A.J. shook his head. "I can drive my brother and myself."
A.J. started to climb out of the car. He stopped his motion when he took note that Rick made no move to follow suit. He reached across the seat and lightly touched his brother's arm.
Seconds ticked by before Rick finally turned to look at his brother. For the first time in his life A.J. saw Rick Simon's eyes devoid of any emotion. The familiar sparkle of mischief that was ever-present was gone. To be replaced by nothing but listless, dull, washed-out blue.
"Rick, come on," A.J. stated softly. "We're going now."
Rick turned to look out the window once more. "I can't leave Mom, A.J."
A.J. squeezed the arm underneath his hand and swallowed back the lump that made it almost impossible to speak. In a deep husky voice thick with unshed tears he promised, "We'll come back. But the police need to talk to us down at the station for a little while. Come on. I'm going to drive us there."
A long moment passed before Rick finally gave a small nod of his head. He opened the car door and slowly climbed out. A.J. soon joined him. Rick wouldn't allow his brother to touch him again as they made the solemn journey to the Camaro.
S&S S&S S&S S&S S&S
The Simon brothers spent another four hours in the police station. In part to answer the remainder of the questions asked of them, and in part to simply wait to hear as to whether or not a body had been recovered from the wreckage. A.J. was praying for all he was worth that by some miracle of God their mother would indeed be found safe elsewhere in Seattle. He couldn't imagine life without her and had already caught himself thinking on more than one occasion, I can't wait to call Mom and tell her about the latest mess Rick has gotten himself into. Not only did he manage to get himself conned into skippering a stolen yacht, but now it's been blown up as well.
If the situation wasn't what it was, A.J. would find the whole thing hilarious...and so would his mother.
At sometime during their four hour vigil Downtown Brown joined the brothers. He couldn't do much more than offer his silent support and strength, but that was enough. Years of friendship existed between the three men making words unnecessary. Town wouldn't have known what to say anyway. "I'm sorry," just didn't seem like enough in a situation such as this.
And then Janet arrived. Janet Fowler Simon. A.J.'s wife. A.J.'s soon to be ex-wife. There were tears in her eyes when she entered the room for the mother-in-law she deeply loved and whose friendship she had always treasured.
"What happened?" She asked of A.J. in a breathless rush. "I was in court and someone told me there'd been a terrible accident involving your mother."
Janet glanced from her husband to the stone-faced Rick. He hadn't even looked up at her as she'd entered the room. It was as if he wasn't even aware she was present. She turned back to the blond. "A.J., what happened?"
A.J. stood and ushered Janet over to a far corner of the room. Quietly he explained all he knew while Town remained seated at Rick's side.
A.J. finished with, "We're waiting to hear as to whether or not they find a...body amongst the wreckage."
Janet could read her husband's thoughts just by looking at the devastated expression on his face. "And you think they will, don't you?"
A.J. swallowed hard. "I pray not...but yes, I'm afraid they probably will."
Tears ran down Janet's cheeks. She turned and stared hard at Rick.
"How come every time he shows up there's trouble? I knew the minute he arrived no good would come
of this. I don't understand why--"
A.J. reached out and roughly grasped Janet by the upper arms. He spun her around and in a strangled whisper ordered, "Be quiet! Don't say anything else. None of us needs it right now."
Janet jerked herself from her husband's hold.
“Don't make excuses for him this time, A.J." Janet’s voice grew louder with each sentence. "This time it's not some stupid little incident you can laugh off. This time he managed to get your mother killed for God's sake! When are you going to open your eyes and see your brother for what he really--"
Rick rose so swiftly his chair flew out from behind him and landed with a clatter on the floor. Before Town or A.J. could stop him he was gone. A.J. ran to the doorway.
"Rick! Rick!" A.J. yelled to his brother's retreating back. "Rick!" A.J. was halfway down the hall in pursuit when a detective hailed him from behind.
A.J. stopped long enough to turn around. "Yes?"
A.J. knew it wasn't good news when the detective was joined by Town on one side, and Janet on the other. Just looking at the faces of his old friend and his wife told A.J. all he needed to know.
"Mr. Simon," the detective said solicitously as he approached. "We found a body...a woman's body, amongst the wreckage. And some things...personal things, a wedding ring, and a bracelet, that may have been your mother's. According to your statement she would have been wearing those two items?"
A.J. closed his eyes to keep his tears at bay and nodded. Of course she would have been wearing those two items. She hadn't removed the wedding band in fifty years. Just three days earlier would have been Jack and Cecilia Simon's Golden wedding anniversary. Even though her husband had been dead for thirty-five of those fifty years, the ring that symbolized their union had never once left her finger.
And the bracelet. Rick and A.J. had given it to her years earlier. Back when they'd been in business together running Simon and Simon Investigations. It had been 1984. Their first good year. The first year they'd made a respectable profit. They hadn't spared any expense when they'd bought their mother that bracelet for Christmas. Inscribed on the inside was the simple message, We Love You, Mom. That was more than enough to convey to Cecilia Simon a wealth of words left unspoken. She'd cried when she'd read it. The bracelet had been worn everyday of her life since that time.
The detective turned and headed down the hallway. "If you'll follow me, Mr. Simon, I need to have you look at what we retrieved."
A.J. allowed Town to lay a gentle hand on his back and guide him toward the man's office. Nor did he pull away when Janet linked her arm through his. They led him to a chair across from the detective's desk, and helped him sit down as if he was a ninety-year-old arthritic.
In mere seconds A.J. was able to positively identify the ring and bracelet recovered from the accident scene. Later he would recall nodding with understanding when the detective told him he was unable to return those items to A.J. at this time. He nodded again when the man reminded him that they would have to make a positive identification of the body once the medical and dental records arrived. So of course there was always hope the woman found wasn't Cecilia Simon, but naturally the odds weren't good.
Janet laid a hand on A.J.'s shoulder as tears ran unheeded down her cheeks once more. Town swallowed hard and saved his own tears for the woman who was like a second mother to him for a later time when he was alone in his hotel room.
A.J. stood on shaky legs. "Thank you, Lieutenant," he said to the Seattle detective. "Please let me know what the final report from the coroner says as soon as possible."
The man nodded. "I will, Mr. Simon."
The blond turned to his old friend. "Thanks for being here, Town. I appreciate it."
Town ignored the hand A.J. offered him to instead pull the blond man into a firm hug. A.J. had to bite his lower lip to keep from breaking down in the arms of the only other man in his life besides Rick he'd ever looked upon as a brother.
When Town finally released him A.J. stated to no one in particular, "I have to go find Rick."
Janet reached out and lightly touched his arm.
"A.J., please...come back to the house with me. I don't think you should be driving right now, and I don't think you should be alone. I'll make us something to eat. We can talk if you want to. Or you can lie down and try to get some sleep."
It was the first time since he'd moved out of their home in January that she'd invited him to come back. Given a different set of circumstances A.J. might have taken her up on her offer. He might have even considered giving their marriage one more try. But any tries he had left inside him had withered and died when she'd defiled Rick just twenty minutes earlier. None of them had needed her opinions. Certainly not A.J., and especially not Rick. He would never forgive her for hurting Rick like that. Rick was hurting enough as it was. He didn't need his sister-in-law driving the stake any farther into his heart.
A.J. pulled away from Janet's warm hand. "No," he shook his head. "I have to find Rick. He needs me right now."
Janet almost opened her mouth to say, "Of course Rick needs you. Rick always needs you. His needs have always come way ahead of mine on your priority list."
But Janet was smart enough to know that now was not the time to bring up the old argument that had caused a good portion of their marital troubles in the first place. And if she was really honest with herself, Janet would acknowledge those words weren't true anyway. They'd simply always been handy for the sake of a good fight.
Without another word to his wife A.J. left the room. He didn't know where to look for his brother but he'd start by the water. Jack and Cecilia Simon had always loved the ocean and the entertainment it could provide. They'd instilled that love in both their sons. In good times and bad Rick and A.J. often found comfort on the water's edge. A.J. was counting on finding Rick somewhere on Seattle's vast miles of shoreline. And if he didn't find his brother there...well he'd just keep looking until he did find Rick. Even if it meant throwing some clothes in the back of the Camaro and taking off for who knows where. A.J. might have been out of the detective business for a few years now, but he still knew without a doubt no one could find someone with the skill that he could...nor as quickly as he could. There was no place on this earth his brother could hide from him. No place he'd allow his brother to hide from him.
We need each other now, Rick, more than we ever have, the blond thought as he climbed in the Camaro. I'll find you and I'll help you in any way I can. Just like I know you'll help me. We'll mourn, and we'll grieve, and we'll probably wonder how we'll ever live through this, but we will. Because it's what Mom would have expected of us. And neither one of us is stupid enough...or brave enough to go against Mom's wishes.
A.J. pulled out onto the street and headed toward the water. He knew of a little park...a nice quiet place on Puget Sound that he and Janet had taken Rick and Cecilia to on a picnic a few years back. Maybe, just maybe Rick would be there.
Fifteen minutes later A.J. stepped out of the Camaro, pocketed his car keys, and scanned the park's well-trimmed landscape. Within seconds he spotted his brother standing in front of a bench on the water's edge. A solitary figure grieving silently and alone for the mother he loved so dearly.
A.J. shoved his hands deep in the pockets of his tan trousers as he studied his brother from a distance. He thought for a long moment of what he was going to say to Rick, but soon discovered he had no magic words with which to make this situation any less painful for either one of them. But maybe right now they didn't need words. Maybe right now they simply needed each other.
And indeed, that proved to be enough. A.J. sat down on the park bench in front of Rick, listening with both amusement and sorrow as the older man recounted a story about their mother from their childhood. When his story was finished, Rick bent and laid his head atop his brother's so they could grieve together as they looked out over the calm clear water.
The brothers left the park a half hour later. They went to the home A.J. was renting on the waterfront where they managed to eat a few bites of dinner and get a couple of hours of troubled sleep.
The two men were up and gone before the sun rose the next morning. They combed the streets of Seattle in pursuit of clues that would lead them to their mother's killers.
Just like Cecilia Simon would have wanted them to be.