Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Even though it means the year is nearly over, Halloween is perhaps my favorite holiday. And so - to share with you all the joy of Old Hallows Day - I've posted a couple of video links below that fit the season.


Most everyone who knows me knows that I favor hard rock and metal music, but the truth is that I also have a secret soft spot for that catchy stuff that immortalized the 70s. And so, without further ado, I shall wish you a Happy Halloween via Michael Jackson and Helloween:






Sunday, October 23, 2011

Little Deuce Remembering

Something - I don't have any idea what - sparked a memory this morning.


Me. A kid. Sitting in my dad's green Jeep. Us undoubtedly headed for the mountains, with the Beach Boys playing in the background. My dad trying to hide how much he liked the song, and me pretending not to notice, but being secretly shocked to see it.


I miss you today, Dad.





Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How to request NCIS cast autographs

Dying for an autographed photo of your favorite NCIS cast member, or want your most-favorite actor to sign that one photo that makes your heart go pitter-patter?

You can do either: send your photo for an autograph, or request an autographed photo from the actor.

Here's how to do it:

Send a large -- 9 x 11 inches -- self-addressed, stamped envelope (upon which you've slapped enough U.S. postage to get the photo back to you wherever you are)
* to:


Cast member's name
(and not their characters name!)
NCIS
26030 Avenue Hall
Box 4
Valencia, CA 91355



People have said:
Mark's takes from 5-9 weeks. You do not have to send a photo. You will receive back one authentically signed by him (and not stamp-signed). Ask nicely for a reply and you may get one.
David McCallum takes from 5-12 weeks for a reply. You do not have to send a photo. You will receive one authentically signed by him. Ask nicely for a reply.


Some people say it takes months for any reply, so try to be patient.


*Note that some sources say to just send a request letter and include an address label inside it. You can do that, too, but if you do, it seems far less likely to me that you'll get a fast response, and maybe you'll get no response at all. Imagine how much postage each requires, and how many requests they must receive. So -- be thoughtful - and be rewarded.


Sources: see this, this, and this.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

NCIS Fanfic - The Final, Complete Version

All right. Here's the scoop. Instead of posting the final 5,000 words of The Perfect Crime here, I uploaded the story to scribd. It's still free, still rated G, and a lot easier to read, too.


Feel free to leave comments here if you have any. 



Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Perfect Crime: An NCIS FanFic Episode: Part II

Below lies the next 2100 or so words of my short, NCIS fanfic story, The Perfect Crime. Come back this weekend for the final chapter.



The Perfect Crime, Part II

For some reason Tony couldn’t get a decent cell signal in his Newport News hotel room, so he’d gone to the 7-11 for a soda, and called Ziva when he saw he got four bars. He was certainly above gossip, but the team would never forgive him for not keeping them up on what was going on. Just the facts.

“I purchased her book,” Ziva announced instead of saying “hello.” “And I have nearly finished reading it. I stayed up all last night.”

“Ziva, Gibbs told you to . . .” 



“Do you know that it’s all in there, Tony? The ex-lover, the pretend electrocution . . .” 

Something hot shot down his spine. “She wrote about electrocution? And a cover up?” 


“If you would stop interrupting me I would tell you! Yes, Tony, she did. It’s all in here.” 


Her last four words sounded tinny. “Am I on speaker?” 


“Hi, Tony!” That was Abby. “Yes. You’re on speaker now. Captain Haas had drugs in his system, by the way, including a slow-acting but very painful poison. Where’s Gibbs? I need to tell him.” 


“At the hotel, I assume, where I am headed back to. I don’t get a signal there, and so you need to call the landli. . .” 


“As I was saying . . .” Ziva sounded annoyed. More than normal. “It is all in here. A woman returns to the city where she grew up. She pretends it is because she wants to finally come home, but it is so that she can kill her ex-lover. A Navy officer, Tony. She electrocutes him in a bathtub to cover up that she drugged and tortured him. Do I need to remind you the book is called The Perfect Crime?” 


Tony’s mouth had gone dry. “Why? Why did she kill him?” 


Abby answered him. “She was a spy, Tony. For some Middle East terrorist group. And he had top security clearance, and ties in the Middle East, just like Captain Haas. She, the woman in the book, tried to recruit her ex-lover to her cell, but when he said ‘no,’ she and some ‘friends’ tortured him for what secrets he had and then killed him.” 


“And Tony,” Ziva added, not gently, “she got away with it by seducing the investigator assigned to her case.” 


Tony snapped closed his phone. “It can’t be that obvious. Can she?”





The knock seemed more strident this time, and it interrupted Al Martino’s “True Love” right at the part she liked best. What were the odds of that? The one song she’d been waiting all afternoon to hear, too. With a harrumph, and not bothering to turn off, or even down, the music, Brooklyn stood from her computer chair and strode in bare feet across the close-cut oatmeal carpet to the front door.

She flung it open to find Gibbs. Just Gibbs. In jeans, this time, below his jacket and pressed shirt. But that wanting she’d thought she’d glimpsed last time they’d met was now buried underneath something grimmer.

“Come in,” she invited, because she knew he’d ask anyway, and she didn’t want the formality her hesitation would invite to steal what little attraction remained between them.

When he was seated, and she’d brought more coffee, she again dropped into the plush mocha chair pushed perpendicular to the couch and stared into his handsome face.

“Why didn’t you tell me about your book,” Gibbs intoned after his first sip of coal black, undoctored Sumatra. He was angry, very angry; she could see it. Was it at her?

Brooklyn’s gaze dropped to her hands, but she forced it back up. “For all the reasons you imagine, Agent Gibbs. An electrocution is quite a coincidence, don’t you think?” Tears threatened, and she looked down again to get hold of raging emotions. “I prayed it was just Elias’ way of being ironic,” she told the floor, “or that maybe he just . . . didn’t know.”

Gibb’s voice seemed even harsher. “And did you know, Ms. Hill, that he didn’t die in the bathtub at all, but that, like in your book, he had been tortured and murdered before his final date with your tub?”

Her ears roared, and Brooklyn found herself standing, and then stumbling. Hard hands caught her before she fell, Gibbs’ hands, and she stared up into his face and tried to catch her breath.

“Elias was . . . he was tortured? Oh, my God. Oh my God.”

The look in Gibbs’ eyes was hard, and she didn’t know what it meant. Tears welled, and fell, and shame and anger turned her face down. She wanted to flee, go to her room, her bed, think this through - was it real? – was someone deliberately trying to . . . and she tried to pull free, but Gibbs’ hands held her there.

“Let me go,” she told him in a voice far flatter than she would have imagined she was capable.

“Look at me, Brooklyn,” Gibbs countered, and without thinking, she looked up. “Are you trying to seduce me?”

Shock. That’s what the electricity wiggling inside her belly must be. All of this was just too much, and now, now he thought . . . “Seduce you?” She couldn’t stop the laugh that bubbled up, spilled from her lips and mixed with Al Martino’s oddly discordant “Spanish Eyes” as it wafted through the room. The CD player was still on repeat. “I wouldn’t know how to start seducing you, Agent Gibbs! I’ve never seduced anyone in my entire life!”

Without warning, Gibbs released her, and she stumbled back. “And what do you do when you travel to Egypt, Ms. Hill? Or is that just a coincidence, too?”

What was he talking about? She ran a hand through her hair and had to concentrate to keep it from stopping to cover her mouth. And that made her mad. “Egypt? I’ve never been east of Bucharest or south of Athens, Agent Gibbs.” She shook her head. “I have never been to Egypt.”

He held her eyes for a moment, then turned and picked up one of the purple coasters. “And where did you get this, Ms. Hill? It looks a lot like the crafts street vendors in Egypt make, and you can’t buy anything like these here. Or are you going to tell me that Captain Haas sent these to you?”

Egypt? No, he was completely . . . “No, Agent Gibbs. Those came from Mexico, not Egypt, and not from Elias. My sister, Savannah, gave me those, and some other trinkets, last week when she returned from an extended Mexican vacation.”

“Show me.”





“Agent McGee.”

“Savannah is her sister’s name. Find her, McGee. Ms. Hill says her sister just returned from Mexico a week ago bearing what looks remarkably like homegrown Egyptian treasures. Ask her.”

“Will do, boss.”





There was no harm in doing what he asked, and she wanted him to see that she had nothing to hide, so she’d gone room to room and gathered the half-dozen things Savannah had brought. He snapped his phone shut as she turned the corner to the dining room – asking someone to check her story, no doubt – but she ignored that and dumped the collection on the oaken table. A cylindrical pottery something sporting a crescent moon and stars punched out. A dark brown wool blanket. Three beaded necklaces. The four purple coasters, made from some straw-like material, though they were probably not designed to be coasters.

With slow hands, Gibbs picked up each piece and examined it. Brooklyn watched him and wondered what he was thinking. His face was so hard to read, especially when he was looking someplace else.

And anyway, wondering was insanity. Yes, he was handsome, and probably a really good man, and no, he wasn’t an ex, but Rule Two was “Think it through first,” and it didn’t even take that much thinking to figure out what a bad idea it would be to get involved with an investigator who seemed to consider her a suspect in her ex-boyfriend’s murder.

Her breath caught again.

Murder. Elias had been murdered.

And then Gibbs looked up. Something had changed in his eyes, but she just didn’t know him well enough to know what it meant.

“These are all from Egypt, Ms. Hill,” he said, and his voice sounded milder than it probably should, since he was practically accusing her of lying.

Brooklyn shook her head. “No, Agent Gibbs. You’re wrong. Savannah practically lives in Mexico. I am sure she would know the difference between local crafts and things imported from Egypt, unless you think . . .” She stopped because she was rambling, and because she had no proof to show him of anything she had claimed. And speculation was worse than useless. He already had a call in. Let his investigator buddies do their job.

Two fingers trembled. Brooklyn licked her lips as she looked into Gibbs’ face, and tried to keep her hands at her sides. For a moment, she wondered if he had this effect on everyone, this ability to unsettle all your thoughts, then let go of the wondering because she knew he did.

For a handful of seconds, he held her eyes, then turned and walked to the door.

As his hand touched the knob, “Red Roses for a Blue Lady” whispered from the speaker closest to Brooklyn’s desk.

“Ask me to stay,” Gibbs said without turning.

What? What did he mean? “I . . . I don’t understand. I . . .”

He turned then, a slight smile transforming his face, and softening his words. “If you’re going to seduce me, Brooklyn, you don’t let me walk out the door.”

For maybe the first time in her whole life, she felt her eyes open wide. “I’m not . . . I mean . . .”

The smile grew as Gibbs walked across the carpet. He took one hand and led her away from the space behind the table that hid her. As she watched his face, he slid his free hand into the small of her back. “You waltz?”

“No, actually. I just like the music.” Gibbs led her into a simple dance, one she had seen but didn’t know the name of. “You don’t, uh, seem like the waltzing type.”

His breath warmed her cheek before he he pressed it to his. “I’ll teach you.” After a moment, he added,  quietly, “Rule Five: Never waste good.”





Beep. Gibbs voicem flat from being recorded. “Leave a message.”

Ziva’s voice. “Uh, Gibbs, Savannah White, the sister, says they had a falling out and she has not spoken to Ms. Hill in years. She said that it is Ms. Hill who travels, not her. That Ms. Hill just returned from Mexico seven days ago. She apparently drives down from Texas, then flies to other countries from there, maybe to avoid detection.” A pause. “Maybe she wants to be caught, Gibbs. Call me.”





Gibbs spoke nary a word on the drive back to D.C. Well, except when he ordered his coffee at that drive through. As they drove, Tony kept hearing something, and after the second hour he realized it was Gibbs, and not the car making that sound. A whistle, just under his breath.

He was happy, Tony guessed, though he couldn’t be sure. Had he ever seen Gibbs happy?

It had been 3 a.m. when Gibbs had come back in. Not that he’d been spying, but Ziva had called to check every hour, and not that he, he of all people, begrudged Gibbs the time or the, uh, attention, but what about Gibbs’ Rule Number Ten, “never get involved in a case”?

For the third hour, Tony debated asking him. But not seriously.





Tim lifted his head. Was that a whistle?

The sound just preceded Gibbs as he rounded the corner to the workspace. The question died on his lips as his eyes met Gibbs’ and saw the anger flare.

“She didn’t do it, McGee. I suggest that you find out who did!”






Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Perfect Crime: An NCIS FanFic Episode: Part I

Below lies the first 2300 or so words of my short, NCIS fanfic story, The Perfect Crime. As of tonight, I have 4710 words written, and I expect another couple thousand before the week is out and the story wraps up. Come back in a couple days for the second part, and the final part should be up by next weekend.





The Perfect Crime

An NCIS FanFic Epsiode

Part I








A spear of sunlight tangled in the space between the desktop and the monitor, and Ziva leaned away. It was either that or fish her sunglasses out of her bag.

Fish. She liked that term.

“Read anything good lately?”

Lips pressed tight, Ziva lifted her gaze from the book and flashed a glare at Tony. So what if she was reading beneath her desk? It wasn’t like she needed to be doing something else, and besides, each book helped her learn just that much more English, and that helped her do a better job.

“Pack it up, Ziva, McGee,” Gibbs barked as he came around the corner, coffee in hand, and she nearly lost her place. “We’ve got a body in Newport News.”




“He’s my ex-boyfriend, yes, Agent Gibbs, but I haven’t seen him in at least five years,” the woman intoned from the hallway. Some tremulous something in her voice drew Tim’s view back to the man’s body crammed into the tub in front of him. Elias Haas. A Navy officer, apparently. The poor guy. So far, it looked like he’d just had enough, had it with life, and let himself in here, quite a nice little house, actually, while the house owner was out, then electrocuted himself in the tub using the blow dryer. Not a very dignified way to go, but a lot less messy than a gun. He apparently knew her, the houseowner, and probably didn’t want her to see him like that. And have to clean it up.

Sometimes an NCIS officer found himself thankful for the small things.

Gibbs said something, but Tim couldn’t quite make it out. A question, certainly. “I . . . I wouldn’t have,” the woman answered. “It’s, uh, well, don’t laugh, but it’s against my own personal set of rules. Brooklyn’s Rule Number Seven: ‘Hands and thoughts off the exes.’ Once they’re gone, let them go, and don’t take them back.”

Of its own accord, Tim’s hand stilled on the brush he’d been using to collect detritus from the floor tile. He stood up, then inched closer to the bathroom door, and prayed his soles kept each slinking step silent. He hadn’t gotten a very good look at her when he came in. Forties, he remembered. Sort of auburnish hair, long, but nothing else about her had seemed noteworthy. Did she just say she has a code of rules?

A redhead with a Gibbs’ code?

He peeked out, but couldn’t see anything but Gibbs’ back. Oh, and there was Ziva, leaning into the hallway from the other side of Gibbs and what he thought he remembered as the kitchen. Mossad she might be, and a trained killer, but her eyes were as round and black as the planet mercury.

In fact, Ziva looked a little too shocked, but the thought slid away as Gibbs’ head turned, and the sallow hall light caught the gleam of Gibbs’ teeth as he ducked his head to write something on the pad he held.

Gibbs was smiling. At a crime scene. At the redheaded woman with the Code.

“And does it work?” That was Gibbs. Gibbs asking a banal question. And then he shifted his weight from one leg to the other, moved just enough, and Tim saw her face.

Pretty. She was pretty. Longish hair, like he remembered, and a little browner than red. More on the voluptuous side. Confident, but vulnerable. Sad, shocked, but unafraid.

She was smiling, too, just a small smile, a smile you might expect from someone who’d just had a dead man found in her bathroom, but that wasn’t it. Something was there, something else, filling the space between her and Gibbs.

“It works when you follow the rules,” she answered softly. The look she raised with her eyes wasn’t the one that meant you wish you had followed your own advice; it was the one that said you wish everyone else would.

And then Jimmy Palmer pushed a gurney into the hall and broke the spell.




“What do you mean, ‘he smiled at her’?” came Tony’s harsh whisper.

Abby watched Ziva glance guiltily at the closed door behind her and pretend she hadn’t heard Tony, whom she’d apparently deigned unworthy of a firsthand accounting of the scoop. That reminded her. Something smelled odd in here, which wasn’t odd in itself. Not in her lab. But the smell itself was odd. Not something she’d smelled before.

“You should have seen him, Abby,” Ziva went on, as excited as Abby had ever seen her. “All teeth.” Ziva demonstrated an awkward smile. “Like he liked her. And he hardly said a word!” Ziva shook her head and stared her amazement at some spot over Abby’s right shoulder. “Her name is Brooklyn Hill.”

“Wait, wait,” Abby interrupted, and waved her hands in the air to still Ziva’s torrent. “Brooklyn Hill? The Brooklyn Hill?” Excitement rose in a silky wave, or strummed like the note of a steel guitar string. “The bestselling author of The Perfect Crime?” She was single, Abby was certain. And smart. And pretty.

Ziva’s attention snapped back, as intense as a searchlight. “She wrote a book about committing perfect crimes? How to avoid being caught?”

“No, no.” It was Tony’s turn to interrupt. “It’s fiction, Ziva, like the book in your top left drawer, though Brooklyn’s book is a murder-mystery, and therefore slightly less riveting than your pleasantly amusing tome since it isn’t about falling in love with your cousin’s landlord during a last minute trip to the coast of Maine . . .”

“Shut up, Tony!” chorused Abby and Ziva, then turned to each other and smiled.

“Have you read it? The Perfect Crime?” McGee asked the room –Tony? Abby? – as he slid through the door and pushed it closed it behind him. “You need to open this door, Abby. I’ve never seen it closed before. If you don’t, you’re going to have Gibbs asking . . .”

A hand slid through the small space between jam and door edge. “Yes, Abby. Why is the door shut?”

Gibbs.

The door slid open. If swallows really made noise outside your throat, the room was a cacophony. Well, except that it was silent.

“Abby!”

Her breath caught. “Gibbs! Well, we were, uh, just talking about, um, Brooklyn’s book, and, uh . . .”

He didn’t wait for the lie, but the tone of his voice said it was because his patience had almost dried, and not because he’d scoured up a sliver of sympathy for her – their – unease. “What have you got about the dead officer?”

“Well,” McGee broke in, and spoke quickly to try and hem the awkwardness. “Captain Haas had a reason to kill himself. He was just back from a Middle East deployment. When he got back here, Command awarded him top secret clearance and told him he was shipping back out to Iraq to work as an undercover operative. Drugs. To catch smugglers, I mean. That’s . . .”

“Not a good reason to kill himself, probie,” Tony interrupted. “I am sure that Captain Haas . . .”

Annoyance pinched McGee’s face. “I didn’t say it was a good reason, Tony. I just said he had a reason . . .”

“And?” Gibbs’ attention shifted to Abby.

Abby smiled. “The room was clean, Gibbs.” That would certainly make him happy. That Brooklyn hadn’t seen it. That she’d told the truth. “No evidence anyone was around when he took that last bath. But Ducky has something. He asked me to tell you to come down.”

With a nod, he turned and walked out. “Library hour is over. Get back to work!”




“Ah, Jethro.” As the door shut, Dr. Mallard lifted from a crouch near the wall and used a hand to straighten his back.

Brows up, Gibbs sipped his coffee. “What you got, Duck?”

Dr. Mallard flashed a smile, then leaned over the cold silver table, and the dead officer atop it. “Just testing a theory.” He stared down into the officer’s face. “You weren’t all what they said, hmm, were you?”

Before Gibbs could ask again, Ducky turned to Gibbs. “The poor boy. Just back from Egypt and now about to head back out into the desert. Undercover again. For years to come. Again. A poor fate for any man, most certainly.”

Gibbs bit. “But . . . ?”

“Ah, Jethro, you always know when I am about to reveal that something else lies at the heart of the problem. Persepacity is a quality largely lacking in today’s youth . . .”

“Ducky.”

“Take a look at this, Jethro.” With a finger, Dr. Mallard pointed to a small, square mark nearly hidden beneath the cadaver’s upper arm.

“He was in the bathtub, Duck. Electrocuted. He probably thrashed around when the current hit the water.”

Using his thumb, Dr. Mallard inched the body’s elbow away from his body. “And look at this lividity. Here. Inside his elbow.” Heaving a sigh, Dr. Mallard stood and turned to face Gibbs. “It doesn’t match the levity on his back, and legs.” Dr. Mallard paused. “No, Jethro. This boy’s mark, and the one on his opposite arm, are not from thrashing in the bathtub.” Dr. Mallard paused. “I believe these bruises were received several hours pre-mortem, and I am certain he received them while being restrained. I’ve found what might be clamp-marks on the, uh, more sensitive areas of his anatomy, and I’ve sent his blood to Abby to check for toxins.”

Dr. Mallard put a hand on Gibbs’ arm. “Jethro, this man was tortured, and then murdered hours before he ever made it to the bathtub. I don’t think whoever did this thought anyone would look beneath the surface, but the electrocution was just the means they used to cover it up.”




The door creaked when Brooklyn opened it, and before she could catch it, a smile escaped when she saw Gibbs standing outside. What was it about this guy, anyway? He was cute, sure, but there was something else. Something good, something light, but she knew it was buried miles beneath a mountain of dark. And there was a lot of dark in him. But even so, she was sure he was a good man, an honorable man. One who followed a code of his own. That was something very big. Something that righted a lot of wrongs in a person.

“Ms. Hill. May I come in?”

Brooklyn pulled open the door the rest of the way and motioned for Gibbs to come in.

Oh. Gibbs and some other agent, a man, who followed him inside. So this was business.

But Gibbs’ gaze stayed locked on hers, and a ruddy interest bobbed behind his eyes, a wanting, even though he was trying damned hard to keep it buried. Her face warmed, and she raised her hand to her cover her mouth, and old nervous habit that rose like Lazarus every single time she found herself attracted to a man, and it took some effort to push it back down to her side.

“Ms. Hill, this is Agent DiNozzo. I have some additional questions for you, if you don’t mind.”

“I don’t,” Brooklyn told him, and she knew he knew she meant it. “Can I get you two some coffee? A pot of Sumatra just finished.” She smiled at the startle Gibbs stifled. Did he like Sumatra, too? “I drink coffee while I write,” she explained, then motioned for them to sit on the couch while she went to pour them each a cup.

“Captain Haas was murdered,” Gibbs told her when she sat the two cups on her purple, festive coasters pocking the smooth lines of the chestnut coffeetable. Savannah, her sister, had given them to her last time she’d been by. A week ago? Coasters and some other odds and kitsch she’d picked up during her latest trek to Mexico. She met his eyes, then dropped into the chair she’d pulled up to the far end of the coffeetable. Her breath had caught, and she had to force it back out.

“Someone forced him into the bathtub?” she made herself ask.

“They did,” Gibbs confirmed, though she could tell that he was holding something back. “Did Captain Haas have any enemies? Know anyone who might have a reason to want him dead?”

The paneled walls in this living room seemed too dark. From the pictures, she’d thought she’d like them, and she had at first. But pictures can’t convey the feel of a room, and this one was too dark. Like Gibbs, the whole house hid its secrets.

Brooklyn shook her head. “I just don’t know, Agent Gibbs. Like I told you, I hadn’t seen Elias in five years. I got the occasional birthday card, and every year he shipped me a Christmas present, but that’s it. We hadn’t talked since, well, since I told him to pack his things. It was just two weeks ago I moved back to Newport News from Dallas, and I don’t even know how Elias knew where I lived.” A thought rose, but she pushed it aside. “The truth is that he’s never been the kind of guy to make enemies, and I don’t know if he’s made any since we split up. I’m sorry.”

“If he didn’t have any enemies, what did he do to make you kick him out?”

A simple question. Had she imagined that he might have more than one reason for asking?

Even so, she couldn’t tell him. Not all of it. “We’re . . . we were not compatible. He, uh, lives by a different set of rules than I do. It wasn’t a screaming match, Agent Gibbs. We just decided like rational adults that it would be better if we parted.”

A nod was her answer. With it, she knew that Gibbs knew she was holding back. Like he had. Still, she hoped he didn’t think . . .

“We’re staying in town,” he told her as he rose. “For a few days.” He handed her a business card. “Call me if you think of anything you think I should know.”

She opened her mouth, but the weight of Agent DiNozzo’s stare kept her voice inside her throat.