Columbus, OH http://www.gender.org/cc Vol. 11, No. 2 - February 1999

Current Officers

President - Stephanie

Vice President - Carey

Treasurer - Dianna

Secretary - Jannie

Newsletter Editor - Kelly & Jannie

Meeting Coordinator - Latoya

Screening Officer - Dea

The Crystal Chronicle is the official newsletter of the Crystal Club. The Chronicle is published and mailed a week prior to the regularly scheduled meeting.

Complementary copies of the Chronicle may be obtained by contacting a club officer or any club member.

News items for the Chronicle should be mailed to Kelly Davidson before the end of each month. Her E-mail address is:

HZ150@cleveland.freenet.edu.

Please specify in the subject field that this is an article for the newsletter.

News items for the Chronicle should be mailed to Kelly Davidson before the end of each month.. Her E-mail address is:

HZ150@cleveland.freenet.edu.

Please specify in the subject field that this is an article for the newsletter.

Logos from the Past

By Kelly Davidson

This logo first came out on the October 1996 newsletter and was created by Sarah, our previous newsletter editor. Jannie and I continued to use the logo up until the August 1998 newsletter. Thanks Sarah for setting it up for us.

From the President

LOOKING BACK TO SEE THE FUTURE

With elections coming up this month for the club I've taken some time lately to reflect upon this last year and what has happened to the Crystal Club.

Through the efforts and talent of you, the members, I have seen tremendous growth and a cohesiveness of which we all should be proud. I know I said that I would not run for president this year mainly due to the fact that my new life has just begun and there are many other involvements both personal and social that will be taking up much of my time. I have also realized that you are my friends and I have enjoyed this last year immensely. So as I look back

I see the future. I see the club continue to grow, to form connections to others with the same interests and I see you making this club better that ever. Yes, I will run again for president this year but I also heartily encourage you to take an active role in the continued development of your club. Tell us what you want to see and don't be afraid to share something that has happened in your life that may be of benefit to others. Kelly and Jannie have done a wonderful job with the newsletter and would love to print your story or personal quote. See you on the 27th.

One of my personal quotes. "Take time to smell the flowers but never hug a cactus."

Stephanie

Secretary's Report

For the January meeting, we had 22 members in attendance: Stephanie, Dianne, Jannie, Rikki, Holly, Dawn, Jill, Ann & Renee, Trisha, Diana, Julie Ann & Cheri, Adrianne, Judy, Erica and several newcomers, Kristen, Nichole, Vicki, Jennifer, Jamie and Jessica.

During the meeting, we discussed the officers for the coming year. Stephanie mentioned that she wanted to step down as President, but after some encouragement, she agreed to run for another year. Due to lack of time, Dea will need to be replaced as screening officer. Trisha and Judy agreed to share the responsibility, with Trisha handling phone calls, and Judy handling e-mail messages. Additionally, Trisha offered to help with the newsletter if the needed.

The anniversary party was mentioned again, to take place on the April 24th meeting. Finally, Stephanie reiterated that this was "your club." If you want to see something happen, please tell an officer, and we'll try our best to accommodate!

From the Editor

By Kelly Davidson

This is going to be a rather short note as Iíve been pretty busy this month working. My co-worker has been off sick and I been having to do the work of three people. This has made for some very long days.

Because of this I wasnít able to write another "Looking back with Kelly Davidson" article. Hopefully I will be back on track for the March Newsletter.

What I want to do right now is talk about the Crystal Club anniversary party this April. We are asking your help in contacting any past member from the club and invite them back to this meeting. I wonít go into all the details but this will be a good time. I think back at how the club has evolved since the first year and realize how far we have come.

So get your best dress ready, your hair in order and contact any past member you know and drag them to this party. Lets make meeting something to remember.

Equality Begins at Home

By Mary Ann Horton

For the first time in history, Ohio's GLBT community (including us!) will come together at the statewide level this March! We are part of a statewide event called Equality Begins at Home. Similar events will be going on in all 50 states at the same time. We're part of history!

Mark your calendars for Sunday, March 21. We'll have a huge gathering of people on the statehouse lawn. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered people, allies, media, all united for the cause of GLBT rights. The rally will start around 1 PM.

We will have Action tables or sections where Rally participants can register to vote, obtain information on how to contact their state reps and senators, sign postcards to their senators and reps regarding a topic agreed on by the EBaH committee (e.g., nondiscrimination or hate crimes), register for lobby training in their home or a neighboring city and obtain talking points for discussing issues with state reps and senators.

The rally will definitely unite us behind a common purpose and energize us, but without turning all this positive energy into action, we'll have achieved nothing. We hope that everyone there will make gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender equal rights their own personal mission and will advocate for our entire community whenever and wherever possible.

However, right after the rally, we'll be signing up people to join us two days later (Tuesday, March 23) to lobby Senators and Representatives at the Statehouse, and that is how we hope to have the greatest impact on the legal system. There'll be bills we want -- and need -- to get passed, and our knocking on office doors is the only way we can make it happen. It's the only way we'll ever have any rights in this state.

We're still struggling to obtain the rights that were promised us over 222 years ago by our founding fathers -- the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness -- rights that are due us for no other reason than that we are human beings.

We want the right to live our lives free from harassment, attack, and undue interference from the government.

We want the right to be served in all the same restaurants as straight people.

We want the right to use all public accommodations.

We want the right to live where we wish.

We want the right to compete for jobs on the basis of our merit and to be treated fairly in the workplace.

We want for the brutal crimes committed against us because of who we are to be prosecuted not only as crimes against the individuals, but crimes of hatred and intimidation -- of terrorism -- against an entire people.

We want nothing more than reasonable safety from personal attack, freedom to live our lives the way we must, and the opportunity to share in the American Dream... or in Thomas Jefferson's words, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Don't you need experience to lobby? Not at all! Most lobby day participants have never lobbied before. We'll train you beforehand, and we'll give you speaking points and material to use. If you're an overly nervous sort, you can even tag along with someone else and just observe.

Something that many of us don't realize is that our elected officials are there to represent us. It's their job to listen to our concerns, and they'd far rather chat with a constituent than meet with a slick, professional lobbyist.

Do you have to come out of the closet? No, you don't even have to be LGBT to advocate. You can make a huge difference by just being an ally in the name of human rights. Parents, friends, clergy, and children can be wonderful advocates too.

If you're closeted, you can still participate. Just pretend you're a straight ally.

One of the reasons for EBaH is to give the concept of equality more visibility across the state.

There are a lot of people in Ohio who think there are no gays in their county! (Show EBaH logo on camera.) We hope to make the EBaH logo very visible in Columbus and across the state. We will use the logo to show that we are united in this effort across the state.

We need to educate people that there are plenty of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people everywhere, including their home towns. Even in Cincinnati! We are a large part of the community, and we deserve the same rights and the same respect as everybody else.

We want people to be aware of EBaH. We're going to have buttons about Equality Begins at Home. We're going to have T shirts. Wouldn't it be great to have bumper stickers on 10% of the cars in the state, so when you're stuck in rush hour traffic, you see an Equality Begins at Home bumper sticker on the car in front of you?

One of the reasons for EBaH is to give the concept of equality more visibility across the state.

There are a lot of people in Ohio who think there are no gays in their county! (Show EBaH logo on camera.) We hope to make the EBaH logo very visible in Columbus and across the state. We will use the logo to show that we are united in this effort across the state.

We need to educate people that there are plenty of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people

everywhere, including their home towns. Even in Cincinnati! We are a large part of the community, and we deserve the same rights and the same respect as everybody else.

We are looking for corporate sponsors and other sponsors. Please contact us for more visibility for your organization in sponsoring this key human rights event. We would also welcome individual contributions.

One of the most exciting parts of the event will be the raffle. We plan to be raffling off an incredible, weeklong stay in a fabulous city somewhere in the United States. You can buy raffle tickets at the rally, and at many community groups around the state.

Equality. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people should have the same rights as straight people.

Awareness. Help make people realize there are LGBT people right there in their own community!

Education. You can blow away those awful stereotypes about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people by educating people. You can make a difference! Come to the Rally on the 21st!

Educate your state senators and representatives on the Lobby Days!

A Note from Meral Crane

Dear Crystal Club Friends:

At the Crystal Club's Christmas Party in December, I was asked by your editor Kelly as well as by Mary Ann to consider writing a regular column for the newsletter and am hereby launching what might end up being a regular feature. I am reminded that until now I have not had the opportunity to thank you all formally for inviting me as a guest to both your Halloween and Christmas events, and although I did convey my appreciation to your president, Stephanie, written acknowledgment to the club as a whole is long overdue. It was a pleasure to join in your festivities on both occasions. I love dancing and enjoyed the opportunity to move both times. All present, including the several spouses in attendance, seemed to be having a good time. How wonderful that the Crystal Club is able to provide such a safe and friendly atmosphere for members of the transgender community!

I was particularly happy to see couples who were able to join in the functions together, and since I was asked to write this column to share some professional perspectives on various topics, I thought I would take this opportunity to air some thoughts on empathy building. Since I do not know personally most of the couples in attendance, my thoughts are necessarily in the nature of general observations.

One of the best strategies for achieving happy and harmonious relationships is for couples to try to imagine what it is to be in his or her partner's shoes. By that I mean that each partner should make an effort to understand empathetically the other's feelings and work accordingly to modify his or her own behavior and responses to meet the other half way. When this is applied to crossdressing individuals in relationships, it means that the crossdresser should be sensitive to the fact that although the partner may be willing to accept one's need and desire to crossdress, it does not necessarily follow that the partner is ready right away to face all aspects of that circumstance.

In most, although not necessarily all cases, the partner's feelings and levels of acceptance tend, at least at first, to be full of contradictions and ambivalence. While your partner may at one point have expressed an acceptance of your crosdressing, she may act withdrawn while or after she has been with you crossdressed. Having empathy for one's partner's state of mind would include the realization that she may be scared of the unknown, that she probably fears one thing may lead to another and it may all get out of hand, that she is frightened of the possibility of losing you, and is ashamed about what this might mean about her (i.e., What is wrong with me that I fell in love with this sort of person?).

The fact that most of the partner's fears may be irrational does not make the feelings any less important or real for the person who feels them. In fact, there is a rule in relationship therapy which I often find myself reminding couples of, namely that "feelings are facts for the person who feels them." We really cannot argue with feelings. We can only help friends and lovers dissipate the intensity of the feelings when we listen, hear, understand and allow them to be where they are.

Love and cherish the partner in spite of his or her insecurities and, perhaps, lack of courage. With extra patience and by pacing yourself you could make it possible for your partner to catch up with your awareness of many years. At the same time, by sometimes being private and by protecting your partner from some aspects of your special need, you will in time help her to be more accepting and less fearful of the unknown.

On the other hand, it is equally important for the spouse or significant other of a crossdresser to have empathy for the crossdressing partner. It is essential to realize that crossdressing and a femme identity are only one more aspect of this wonderfully complex person you are in love with. It is very important to respect the seriousness of your partner's need to express this side of himself. You have an opportunity to cherish the honor of being trusted with very private and sensitive information about your partner. It is vital for a continued loving relationship that your partner not feel rejected, disrespected, judged or ridiculed.

Using what you may be told in confidence to undermine your partner is a betrayal which very negatively affects the intimacy of the relationship.

Certainly, it is an uninvited dilemma for everyone concerned. If we were to look into the matter from a scientific perspective, we would discover that the need is imprinted in the brain of the crossdressing person.

I feel strongly that information helps everyone put crossdressing in its proper context. Sharing with other spouses of crossdressers, asking questions of your spouse with the aim of better understanding, and reading in the many sources on the subject which are available today are the least you owe yourself and your partner. Today, when couples may choose among many models of sharing, it is indeed sad when some end up throwing away an otherwise very special relationship. May you and your partner experience renewed capacity to empathize even more fully in the New Year ahead!

Meral Crane, M.A., L.P.C.C.

Clinical Director of the Gender Dysphoria Program of Central Ohio Certified Sex Therapist, Gender Specialist, Family Therapist

Editors notes: I was very surprise to see this article from Meral. I hope it is just the start of many more to come. Kelly

Pink List addition

by Mary Ann

Do you all remember Jennifer Goble, the hairstylist who came to the Crystal Club last year with Ken Goodnight?

I was sitting in McDonalds last week, having breakfast en femme and enjoying every minute of it (before my appointment to have my artificial nails put on) and Jennifer came up and said hello! (It's a small world!)

She told me that she's now in a different hair salon, and she would love for folks from the Crystal Club to come in to get their hair or wigs done. She offers the same understanding, expert hair care she did with Ken. Give her a call at 262-4868 and visit her at 2927 N High St. It's really nice to have someone ask to be added to the Pink List, and with her great service, I'm delighted to oblige!

Two RI youths to face charges in Nov. attack

from ITA-Chat

By Peter Cassels,

Bay Windows correspondent

PROVIDENCE Ė Two Rhode Island youths will go to trial Feb. 10 for allegedly assaulting a Providence man who says he is a transvestite on Thanksgiving Day. They are the first to be charged under the state's new, tougher hate-crimes law enacted last year.

David E. Sheldon, 19, of East Providence, and Taylor Grenier, 18, of Warren, R.I., were arrested Dec. 17 and charged with one count of simple assault, a misdemeanor, for allegedly beating Diana Obidowski, 44, of Providence, on Nov. 26. They were arraigned Dec. 18 in Rhode Island District Court, entered a not guilty plea and were released under $250 cash bond.

Even though simple assault is a misdemeanor, the state's Hate Crimes Sentencing Act requires that convicted defendants serve a mandatory minimum of 30 days and up to a year in prison. The statute does not allow judges to suspend the sentence or place defendants on probation. It is the toughest in the nation, according to Sen. Rhoda Perry-Providence/Pawtucket, its sponsor.

Following a pre-trial hearing Jan.20, Vincent Oddo and William Burke, attorneys for Sheldon and Grenier respectively, told Bay Windows they have no plans for negotiating a plea bargain "at this time."

The attack occurred as Obidowski was leaving Wheels, a gay bar on Washington Street, in the city's downtown area. Three men in a passing car are alleged to have yelled derogatory comments and threats directed at Obidowski, whom they assumed to be gay. In a TV interview, Obidowski, who has legally changed his first name, said he is a transvestite, but not gay. At the time of the attack, he was not wearing women's clothing.

Two of the men left the car, ran up behind the victim and knocked him to the ground, then assaulted him. Obidowski managed to get back on his feet, and fled. The suspects are alleged to have chased and caught him, then assaulted him further, kicking and punching him in the face.

Obidowski suffered a cut above an eye that needed 10 stitches, another on the back of his head, requiring several more stitches, and other injuries.

Providence police officers who responded arrested the three occupants of the car. The victim was beaten so severely, however, that he was too traumatized and could not see clearly enough to identify the two suspects who assaulted him. Further investigation by officers assigned to the downtown area led to the arrests.

At a news conference the day of the suspects' arraignment, Mayor Vincent Cianci called the assault on Obidowski "vicious and ugly. I've seen the photos of the victim and they are absolutely horrible."

Sheldon, Grenier and their companion, who has not been charged, were attending a party the night of the incident, "were bored, and decided to come to our downtown," Cianci explained. "After we get through with them, they'll wish they never came to Providence."

Asked by Bay Windows whether the incident is related to other gay bashings that have occurred downtown and had similar "MO's," Capt. John Ryan,

police spokesperson, said there was no reason to connect it with the others. "By the degree of injuries, it's one of the worst assaults we've seen," Ryan said.

"This administration will not tolerate hate crimes of any kind," Cianci emphasized. "Those who think they can participate in gay bashing, or any type of crime motivated by ignorance, hatred, bias, in our city have it all wrong."

TRANS-MURDER IN AUSTIN

from GenderPAC

Austin, TX: 14 Jan 99] THE BODY OF DONALD FULLER, 18, also known as Lauryn Paige, was found murdered last Friday in a wooded area of southeast Austin. Two men in a white van were seen earlier that morning near the spot where the victim's body was found. A description of the two men led to composite sketches that were shown on television.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that one of those men, Frank Santos, called police when he w his picture. He told them he had last seen his brother-in-law, Gamaliel Mireles Coria, and Fuller drive off together Friday morning. Coria's girlfriend  subsequently told police that he had confessed the  murder to her. Coria, 28, was arrested Wednesday and  remains in jail under $1,000,000 bail. The victim was dressed as a woman. Said his  father of Donald's cross-dressing, "He's been that way  all his life. We always knew he was a little different,  and we pretty much accepted it, but we didn't allow it  around the house. We just knew he wasn't happy unless he dressed up." As Lauryn, the victim had often been seen  walking along South Congress Avenue, an area where  police regularly conduct prostitution raids. Before  Coria's arrest, Police Commander Gary Olfers had said, "We are dealing with sadistic killers. There was more than one [stab] wound, and they were brutal in the application of those wounds." The autopsy revealed a cut across Lauryn's throat 9 inches long and 3 inches wide.

"The police description of this murder is heartbreakingly familiar," said Riki Anne Wilchins,  of GenderPAC. "Sadistic killers, multiple stab wounds, bludgeoned and/or shot repeatedly... it's a familiar litany of brutally violent acts done to gender-different people: Chanelle Pickett, Brandon Teena, Christian Paige, Deborah Forte, Vianna Faye Williams, Jamaica Green, Jessy and Peggy Santiago, Tasha Dunn...and the list goes on."

Editors Notes: While I hate having to print such articles the previous two should be a warning that even though it has never happened to you before, it only has to happen once.

There are a lot of sick and angry people in this world who need to blame someone else for all their problems. If you plan on going out, be aware of them. More important, try not to put yourself in a situation where you are alone. I donít want to have to write something up about one of our members. You are too valuable, not only to us but to others. So please play it safe and be careful out there. Kelly

Book Review

from Mavis

Richard Ekins is Senior lecturer in Social psychology at the University of Coleraine, northern Ireland. I found his 1997 book, MALE FEMALING,  at "An Open Book", 761 N High St, Columbus 43215 $17.95. It is a report of fieldwork in major  British cities between 1979-1985 and follow-up in  1993- 1995. Sometimes he was a casual participant,  and sometimes an overt observer.

The book follows five stages of cross-dressing and sex-changing: Beginning, Fantasying, Doing, Constituting, and Consolidating. The more technical theory chapters are separated from the illustrative material. The 9 page bibliography is very current

I found the variety of persons Rich shares with us a comfort. I looked for examples of my own life journey and found several. Ekins calls his method "grounded theory." Its goal is not selfish subjective-ness, but rather shows respect for "a pattern of be-havior which is relevant and problematic to those involved." He maintains the Trans-Gender Archive at the University of Ulster.

The oppression many male-females feel about themselves can find some glad relief in reading a book like this. The gentle fulfillment of God's final gift of Creation in the Genesis story meets you here. It was the gift of gender. And, like "apples of gold in frames of silver," it is a "word fitly spoken."

(Proverbs 25:11) - Mavis K. Murray

New list for kids of trans people

from Gain

"TSParents." a private email list for transsexuals with children, is proud to announce the formation of "DialUp," a private email list for children with a transsexual parent. Although we welcome the parent to participate in "TSParents," by NO means is it a requirement for the child to be able to sign up for "DialUp." For more information concerning "DialUp" and details on signing up, contact:

Julie Gilkey <julieg@AMNIX.com> List mom

Why Are Gay Men So Hostile Toward Feminine Men?

by Randy Fair

I felt for Alex McClendon, the transgender student forced out of Georgian Country Day School. Even the mainstream media told the story of this adolescent. Apparently, she was widely accepted by her peers and caused no problems at the school; yet still, narrow-minded administrators made her leave.

Surprisingly, even the straight press recognized the bigotry involved in Alex's case. Her classmates recognized the prejudice as well, rallying to Alex's cause by wearing hair bows in solidarity.

This story has done much to expose the outdated ideas of those persons charged with running our schools. Many in the gay community have vilified not only Alex's school, but all schools for their ignorance of this issue. This vilification is certainly justified.

Sadly, there is probably no institution further behind on issues of gender and sexuality than the school system. Rather than carry out their mission to educate, schools around the country try their best to ignore these issues.

But before members of the gay community cast the proverbial stone, we should examine our own actions. I have serious doubts that Alex will be treated any better in the gay community than she was in her high school.

Gay men are often as brutal in their rejection of anything feminine as any straight men. Teased and tormented throughout adolescence for being "pansies" and "sissies," when they reach adulthood, many gay men do everything in their power to erase any hint of femininity.

Of course there's nothing wrong with celebrating masculinity. But sometimes in our efforts to explore the masculine side of ourselves, we become as oppressive as the straight community.

For evidence of this rejection of the feminine, look no further than the classified ads in gay newspapers and magazines, read the profiles in men-for-men chat rooms, or listen to the conversations of gay men in bars.

In the classified ads, gay men used to describe what they were looking for as "straight-acting." Now that this term has been banned by most of the gay media, the new code has become "masculine," and it's often included among the most important criteria in a partner.

Chat room profiles are even harsher in their rejection of femininity. Many of the profiles proudly list the phrase, "No Fems." One profile I read recently contains the statement, "If you open your mouth, and a purse falls out, don't [e-mail] me." Gay men can be even more brutal in the bar setting, when they refuse to even speak to men who approach them if these men exhibit any signs of femininity.

At some point, it might be wise for gay men to ask ourselves, what is wrong with feminine traits? Masculinity can sometimes be more of a curse than a blessing. As strange as it may sound, I have often felt sorry for straight men. Although they are granted great privilege in our society, they can maintain this privilege only by conforming to rigid male roles. They can never feel free to express emotion or show the nurturing side of themselves because to do so would make them appear womanly.

Presumably, one of the "masculine" traits straight men and gays are eager to display is that of strength. Ironically, feminine gay men, transgendered persons, and transsexuals exhibit this "masculine" characteristic much more than any straight men. These people who choose not to conform to rigid gender roles ear the brunt of our society's hatred of difference.

Unable to assimilate, they are the ones who have to put up with verbal and even physical abuse throughout their lives. Given the extremely high rate of suicide among gay and lesbian teens, the fact that these marginalized members of our society make it to adulthood is proof of their incredible strength.

When they make their way into the gay community, they are probably hoping for a more accepting environment. Too often, they find that the gay community is just as hostile-- if not more so-- toward them as the straight community. Even leaders of the gay rights movement (who are supposed to be knowledgeable about human rights) refuse to acknowledge the rights of transgendered and transsexual people.

There is certainly nothing wrong with being masculine and gay, and there is nothing wrong with being attracted to masculine men. But we might want to ask ourselves why we are so vehement in our rejection of anything feminine.

Where did we get the idea that feminine traits are undesirable? If we don't accept nonconformity when it comes to gender, aren't we doing the same thing that straight people do to us?

Randy Fair is a schoolteacher and former president of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network's Atlanta chapter.

I, my sister - Part II. Jenniferís beginnings.

by Kelly Davidson

This story is based on the story called, "I, my sister" and was written by Diana Christy (07/97). This story takes place before Diana's does however, it is recommended that you read her story first to make sense out of this story. Her story can be found on Michelleís Home page at www.dragscape.com.

**************

Chapter 2 Road trip

Al stared at the mountains going pass the boxcar door. There was no better way to travel then by train...in this case a freight train. He was standing inside a yellow boxcar with the name "Railbox" printed on the outside, one of thousands just like it that ran on the railroads. "Next load, any road." was it's slogan. In this case he was the load, the road was Union Pacific and the destination Williams siding, just north Salt Lake City. As luck would have it, the UP main line ran less then a mile from the house he needed to break into.

It was the third day of his trip and Al was dirty, smelly and tired. The last item he could take care of once he got to his room. The other two would have to wait until he got done with the job. Just in case he did get caught breaking into the house, it would appear to the owner and the police that he was a nothing more then a homeless vagrant.

But that wouldn't happen. James Bond never got caught and Al was ten times better then the movie character could ever be. He was the type of person that Hollywood based the character on, at least that was what Al thought of himself. Daring, cunning, able to work himself out of a tight jam. Al had spent most of his time on the train planning how to get in and out in case he ran into any trouble. His disguise was nothing more then a safety net in case all else failed. Al was convinced nothing would go wrong.

He saw the sign with the word "Williams" printed on it located right next to the switch. The train was going much slower now as it strained to climb the steep grade it had just encountered. Al waited until the train slowed down to about 10 miles per hour and jumped off. Then he stood by the track and watched as the rest of the train slowly pasted by. It would be the last train he would see for a while.

The hike to the house was hard but Al didn't mind since he normally ran 5 miles a day and was in excellent shape. Being cooped up in the boxcar without being able to jog had been the hardest part of the trip so far and Al was enjoying every step he took.

There it was. The house was located on a small hill surrounded by a cement wall and to the trained eye, a very elaborate security system.

Anyone climbing over the wall or gate would set it off and alert the people inside that someone was in the compound.

Al climb a tree near the wall to get a better view of the house. It was a beautiful, expensive house with a windowless room added to one side. That was the room he would have to break into. In the driveway was a brand new Mustang which his information said belong to the bodyguard. It was

Friday so most likely he would be going out for the evening. At least Al hope he would be. There was no car in the garage as expected. The lady, Sarah Jensen, was still in Washington and wouldn't be home until late tonight. Perfect. Now all he had to do was wait until it got dark, come back, get the information he needed and collect his $50,000.

Al started jogging down the road toward a motel located about 3 miles away. He was tired after the long trip and was looking forward to a decent 8 hours of sleep in a real bed. He had to be alert tonight if he was going to break the alarm code.

About 45 minute later he arrived at the 3rd class motel called The Sunset Motel. The owner looked much like the place did, old and run down.

Well, beggars can't be choosy.

"I need a room, one that is quiet and away from the traffic."

"I'll give you number 4", the man said. It's clean, quiet and the *shower* works." The owner emphasis the word "shower". Good, at least he smelled the part Al thought to himself.

Once he checked into the room Al unfolded and looked at the map of the house one more time. Al really didn't need to look, he had a photographic memory. Still, his training in the army had taught him to do so. "Piece of cake." Al said to himself as he laid down on the bed. Ten minutes later he was sound asleep.

*********************

Gerald was furious. His car, his brand new Mustang, wouldn't start. "What morons!" he muttered to himself after he hung up the phone. The dealership had promise to pick up the car within the hour and find out what was wrong with it. In the meantime Gerald would be stuck in this house in the middle of no where with no transportation to get anywhere. The dealership was certain they would have his car back to him before the day was over. "They better or there would be hell to pay." he said to himself.

**************************

Tom McClain arrived late to work after being gone for a few days. He wasn't really surprise to see Al not in the office. Both of them worked irregular hours and coming in late was part of the job. He checked the answering machine, nothing from Al.

Damn it! How many times had he told Al to check in and let him know what was going on. Al was good at this type of work but he was also too much of a cowboy. Being a private investigator was dangerous work at times and if anything happen well, Tom needed to know where to start looking.

Oh well, he would talk to Al once he got in. In the meantime he had to fill out a report for a women who had suspected her husband was cheating on her. She was right of course, he was. When would they ever learn?

*******************************

Chapter 3 - Captured

Al awoke just before 6pm to the sound of the radio broadcasting a winter storm warning. It was already getting dark outside and the weather report called for a snow storm sometime after 9pm. "Perfect." Al thought to himself. It would cover his tracks after he left.

He study the maps of the house one more time before taping it to the underside of the drawer. Carefully he slid the drawer back into it's slot and grabbed his equipment. As he stepped outside a blast of cold wind greeted him. Well, he would warm up in a few minutes. Al did some stretching exercises and then started jogging towards the house.

*******************************

"WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN'T FIX IT UNTIL TUESDAY?" Gerald yelled into the phone. "Take the part off one of the other cars on the lot."

Gerald listen to the managers poor excused on why this couldn't be done. He had watched them tow his car away with the assurance it would be fixed today. Now the dealership waited until 5 minutes before they closed to tell Gerald it would be Tuesday before the part would come in.

"What about a RENTAL? WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN YOU DON'T HAVE ANY?

You have an ENTIRE LOT FULL OF CARS I COULD DRIVE FOR A WEEKEND."

The manager on the other end tried to explain to him about their insurance not covering such a situation but Gerald cut him off. "Screw YOUR insurance, I have my own. I WANT A CAR NOW!" Sometimes yelling helped you get what you wanted but not in this case. Gerald slammed the phone down.

"Great, a Friday night and I have no way to get anyplace." he muttered to himself. If only Dr. Jensen hadn't taken her car. Now he would have to spend Friday night at home alone. Gerald didn't realize how wrong he was.

*************

The sky was starting to spit snow when Al arrived at the outside gate. The house still had some lights on but the car parked in the driveway was gone. It was time to get to work.

Al moved to one side of the wall with the woods behind him. In this type of weather it would be impossible for anyone to see him from the road.

Next he pulled out the digital security test box from his backpack and hooked the leads up to a computer box controlling this section of the fence. What few people realize when buying a high price security systems was that there was always a back door into them. In a matter of minutes Al figured out the code to turned off this section of the fence. He punched the code into the memory and disconnect everything. In case he did need to make a quick getaway all he would have to do was punch the memory button to disable the sensors.

Al knew better then to try and turn off the alarm right now. If he did, the computer would register that the power had been turned off and report it to the alarm company. However, once inside he could program the computer to not record the next entry when the power was off. Then he would turn off the power, climb over the wall, turn it back on and no one would ever realize he was there. Even if it did register his moment he would be long gone by then and the snow would have covered up any tracks.

Al climb the tree and carefully walked on a branch that crossed over the wall. Once he was on the other side he jumped down to the ground below. Then he made his way to a set of trash cans next to the garage. Carefully he tucked the backpack, with all his equipment, into the can and covered it with other trash. Al wanted to make sure the house was empty before he brought anything in. Just in case he did get caught, he could come back and pick up his equipment after the trash was taken out.

Prying open the garage window was easy, it wasn't even locked. But in the process of climbing in he knocked over a can which made a loud rattling noise as it hit the floor. Al almost jumped out of his skin when he heard it.

Inside Gerald heard it to and laid down the newspaper. He didn't believe things fell for no reasons. Quietly he walked over to the door and put his ear to it. Listening carefully, he was soon rewarded by the sound of footsteps walking across the hard garage floor. Then the handle on the door jiggled.

Al tried the door even though he knew it was most likely locked. Well, not really. It was one of the cheaper door locks on the market. Very typical. Buy a super expensive alarm system for the house but protect it with a $2 door lock. He took out a pick and in less then 30 seconds had it unlocked.

While this was happening Gerald got inside the closet and closed the door until there was just a crack to see out of. Better to find out who and how many he was dealing with before acting. He gripped his gun tightly, it had been a while since he had a reason to use it. What he saw surprised him. In walk a skinny, dirty man wearing shabby clothes. A thief? If so he was going to be in for a rude surprise.

Al looked at the alarm panel on the wall, it was off. Also very typical. In the army you were drilled to turn on the alarm whenever you left a secure area. Yet most civilians only set the alarm when they would be gone for more then a day. Some didn't even set it then.

He stood by the door for a moment and listen. The car outside was gone and the house seem to be quite deserted. Only the living room and hallway light was on. If the bodyguard was here he would have known it by now. Al headed up the steps toward the bedrooms.

A thief. Gerald was sure that was who this person was. He was heading upstairs, not towards the lab. Gerald put his gun away. He wouldn't need it to take care of this job. After about 30 seconds he headed up the stairs too.

Al entered the main bedroom and started going through some drawers packed with expensive lingerie. This doctor sure did have good taste. Underneath a pair of lacy underwear he found some expensive gold rings.

"Jackpot" Al thought to himself. Maybe he wouldn't have to use any of the money Mr. Walker gave him to get back home. His plan had been to return everything before he left so no one would know he was there but the lure of easy cash was too inviting. Now he knew why some criminals continue to rob houses even when they no longer needed the money. It gave them a high.

Looking in another drawer he found $700.00 in cash rolled up in a pair of socks. This was getting better. Other drawers revealed similar items he could sell for lots of money. He stuffed them all into a small bag he had brought along.

"Now for the real prize." Al said to himself. He turned towards the door only to come face to face with the biggest man he had ever seen.

"Hi there." the big man said with a smile. Al felt something hit the side of his face and a moment later realize he was on the floor. As he tried to get up he was rewarded with a blow to his side which left him partially paralyzed. Then came another blow to his back.

Al gasp for air and looked up at the big man standing above him, still with a smile on this face. "I...I" Al gasped. "I made a mistake...the wrong house."

"Yes, you made a big mistake." the man replied back. "And now you're going to pay." Gerald reached down to hit him again.

***********************

It had been a long flight and Sarah was glad to be home. Pulling into driveway she noticed the upstairs light was on in her bedroom. That was odd. Inside she was met by Gerald.

"We have a small problem." he said to her.

To Be Continued......