For A Friend

Author's Note: This is intended to be an origin story for "Winnisimmet Tales" but evolved into a stand-alone story in its own rite. The names of characters and locations are the same but it's different enough from the regular stories to be its own story. You don't have to have read any of the previous Winnisimmet Tales to read and appreciate the story.

This story was made possible with the help of Josette Du Pres, Ib12us, Nuuan, Sammi, Portia Bennett, Erin G, and Dawnfyre. All of you helped out in multiple ways with personal stories and recollections and pointing me in the right direction for background research. Thank You.

John Finn and his two elder sisters, Leslie Sylvester and Karen Smith, stood over an old, weathered grave marked only with a number in Forest Hills Cemetery in Roslindale, Massachusetts. They were alongside their mournful aunt Victoria and her husband Jorge Castillo. The five made the trip every year on a specific day, as a last request to Brent Finn, John, Leslie, and Karen's father and Victoria's brother-in-law. He never asked for anything from his three good children but knowing that he was dying Brent gave them the order to visit this grave every year and ensure that its occupant remained unmolested.

The five continued the tradition even after Brent's wife Catherine passed on, knowing that she would be disappointed and upset had they stopped. Each time they visited Victoria shed tears, telling the long deceased occupant that she would not be forgotten and one day justice would be served. This year John revealed to he occupant “after decades you will finally be avenged and justice will be done.”

Out of the corner of their eyes they saw two figures approach. Louis Reagan and Walter Gorman knelt down, kissed their hand, then tapped the ground in sad affection for the occupant. The duo in unison stated “justice will be done, may you finally be at ease.”

The group slowly walked away from the grave, tears down Louis' and Walter's faces as they led the solemn procession away from the graves and back to their cars. Walter spoke for Louis, explaining “this day has been 42 years in the making. You know about Brent, Louis, and I being lifelong friends, well today is the day that cemented it. It all started 50 years ago...”

*Pawtucket, RI 50 years before*

John Bryan Green left home for the last time. He sported two black eyes, a broken nose, and a swollen jaw but he had his dignity intact. His father wanted him to be a man and marry the girl next door but he had other plans. He was a girl at heart and would not marry someone just to make him a grandfather and continue to run the family business.

John stopped in the Bonanza bus station in downtown Providence, bought a ticket, and headed straight for Boston. He stopped in the station's bathroom and walked out of the station a new person, permanently adopting his long-hidden persona of Leslie Brown, female.

It took Leslie weeks to find a proper home. During this time she was doing small jobs at temp agencies for pennies on the dollar and getting by on canned foods. Her handy P-38 can opener, a gift from her father, was a godsend to her as she used the little device in self defense to keep people away from her.

She lived in an abandoned school building that was warm in the winter and cool in the summer thanks to the heat of a small fire in one of the old boilers. There was water to drink and bath with but eventually she needed to find her own place.

When the temp agency she was at went under she lost her job and had to take up “the game” as it was called. She hated being a prostitute but it paid decently and she could finally afford a home of her own in a rundown tenement in the adjacent South End as well as pay a doctor so she could start hormones to become feminized.

Her psychiatrist saw her as a pet project and used her f feminizing regime as the basis for a paper, caring more about her reactions and changes than her actual mental health. About half of the time she faked the answers so he would get the appointment over with, letting him think she was really healing him but instead just going along with what he wanted her for.

She tried to get hormones or breast implants but she lacked the funds to pay for them. She was forced to settle as a girl with falsies and a big secret in her pants. That was normally good enough but often it resulted in her getting knocked around by her “john” when he discovered her “secret.”

She had frequent run-ins with Boston cops as they patrolled her working area- the aptly named “Combat Zone.” The place reeked of urine, feces, had rats running around, hadn't seen a power washer in decades, and was dark even on the brightest days. But it was where she could work openly, the only place that would have her.

She was arrested several times by cops when she didn't have the money to pay them off. Even with a doctor's note stating that she was a woman with male anatomy the cops sought her out to make an example of her. She was never charged, only scared and swearing to pay them next time.

Thankfully they knew not to push her as she could blow their whole racket. She paid them whenever she had some money but it didn't stop them from using her for their own kicks once or twice a month. She let them do what they wanted, the fight wasn't worth it. The infamous Charles Street Jail was no place for a girl like her nd Deer Island House of Correction was hell on earth

Leslie longed for a day when she would be free from that hellhole off Washington Street. She longed for a loving family. She longed for people who understood her as more than a hooker with “something extra.”

*Winnisimmet, Massachusetts 3 years later*

Brent Finn, Louis Reagan, and Walter Gorman had grown up together. They had been by one another's sides since they could walk. All three were average students and came from poor backgrounds but were good workers and loved one another as brothers.

But their problem was they lacked skills needed to find jobs in the region. Lacking the ability to go to college they opted for time in the military to take advantage of the GI Bill to pay part of the expenses. All three enlisted in the Untied States Army and were shipped down to Fort Dix, New Jersey within weeks of graduating high school. They were blessed physically and able to breeze through basic training and advanced training.

They hit the jackpot in getting posted, they were assigned to a transportation company out of Fort Devens so they were close to home. With weekend passes they were able to get to Boston and Winnisimmet with just a train ticket and bus fare.

For the three bachelors it was a match made in heaven, but it was also making others jealous. There were few locals on base, most were from the Midwest and west coast. They weren't happy that the trio could essentially see their family anytime they wanted, especially for just a couple of dollars in train fare.

The trio worked hard and kept to themselves. They never made waves and after a year they had each earned a promotion to private first class with their sergeant gunning to make one of them a corporal in short time. The trio didn't care, they were there to work, save money, and get a chance at a better life for themselves once they left the military.

Louis had plans on becoming a teacher. Walter liked to travel and hoped to become a train engineer. Brent though had a keen mind and the others tried to encourage him to become a lawyer. Those plans didn't survive their time in the Army but it was better than having no aspirations at all.

The more time the group spent together the more rumors started that they were more than friends. The fact that they were always together gave the wrong impression. Louis suffered from the usual racism related to being black during that era especially from the southern hicks but Walter and Brent were seen as white trash themselves. None of the three gave a damn, they had no plans to stay in the military and they knew that giving the complainers any sort of response would just play into their hands.

After a long, hard week fixing trucks in the motor pool the trio headed out for a weekend off base in their hometown. They weren't alone, other members of their platoon were going with them but heading to different places. Seeing them all together it was decided that the trio should go with the others so they'd enjoy the city with their brethren.

The trio was reluctant but peer pressure won out. The group decided nearly unanimously to go to the “Combat Zone” for a night of drinking and “fun”. The ones who decided against it were Walter, Brent, and Louis. They tried to tell them it was a bad idea and to just go to another place for drinks.

Like any person of their age born and raise in and around Boston they knew the reputation of the place and tried to dissuade them, insisting on better pickings elsewhere. The Combat Zone was Boston's Red Light District but instead of a haven for adult entertainment as was envisioned and reported about by outsiders it turned into a drug, alcohol, and prostitution ridden eyesore with rampant crime and police that turned a blind eye or took you in for any crime imaginable until you paid them right price. Any kid growing up in the Boston area in the early 60s, 70s and 80s knew to stay clear of that place unless you were looking for trouble.

Their platoon sergeant tried to get the others to listen to them but it fell on deaf ears. The others were looking for cheap hookers and peep shows, that was the only place in Boston to check them out. The trio again tried to bow out but it was pointless, their fellow soldiers wouldn't let them out of their agreement and they would have endured constant rumors and innuendos about their lives if they left.

The night went fast as the group downed beer after beer. Brent was elected to be the “sober” one and was forced to only have one beer per hour so they'd get back to North Station to get their train to the base quickly. Louis and Walter tried to take their drinks slow but the soldiers kept at them to keep drinking and eventually were just as smashed as they were.

Trouble came soon as the men sought female companionship. They came across a few prostitutes on LaGrange Street who were more than willing to have a “good time” with the soldiers. The group paid them for their time and expected a show but instead were taken to a nearby hotel for some “quality time” with the ladies.

Brent noticed right away that there was something off about the ladies. He noticed small hints about their bodies that showed that they weren't entirely female, in fact they were men in dresses and makeup. Brent tried to tell his platoonmates that they won't like their surprise but they ignored him. Louis and Walter did, and went with Brent outside to wait for the inevitable yelling and fight that would happen shortly.

The prostitute that Brent was supposed to go with stayed with him outside. She was ashamed of her colleagues taking advantage of the others and knew that they were going to extort them, hoping that they would give in quickly rather than calling in their pimp. She hated doing that to people but it was the only way she could get by when things looked like they would turn against her.

Brent sympathized with her. She was beautiful but there were still some masculine traits that showed. She tried to hide them as best she could but she couldn't really hide them all.

The young lady was eager to get out of there, telling them “if we go they won't force you to pay up.” Brent agreed with Walter and Louis reluctantly following, feeling the effects of alcohol in their system. The two were barely around the corner when their colleagues came rushing out, cursing each other over getting them “freaks and fags” and blaming Brent, Louis, and Walter for it.

The four walked along and sat in a nearby cafeteria so Louis and Walter could sober up. The woman formally introduced herself as Leslie Brown, but her real name was John Green. Brent introduced himself and his two soused friends and admitted “we are only here because our platoonmates wanted to get us out on the town, we were supposed to be with our families right now.”

Brent asked if she changed her name on purpose, getting a solemn “I had no choice. My parents tossed me out when I turned 18 because they couldn't stand their son not being man enough to get a good job and find a woman. I couldn't do it, I am not a man and I never will be.”

Brent felt bad for her. He asked about her friends and got a solemn “I don't have any. It's every person for themselves out here. The closest friend I have is my psychiatrist and even then he keeps at a distance and only helps me because he is required to. He sees me as a test subject and has threatened to lock me up in an asylum if I didn't do as he ordered.”

Brent was not used to people being mistreated like Leslie was. He asked about her life getting a quiet “it's a job that I wish I didn't have to do but it is the only way to survive out here. There are guys who get their rocks off over having sex with a girl like me but most just get scared off and pay me not to speak of them again.”

After two hours of talking with the manager happily letting them sit to sober up Louis and Walter were reasonably able to walk without falling down or vomiting on the sidewalk. Leslie walked with them to North Station, telling them that it was too early for her to call it a night or she'd offer them a place to sleep it off. Brent told her “we owe you something for the time but was told “it's alright, you paid for a decent meal and gave me some quality time. It's worth the loss of johns. Besides, you colleagues paid for my services already.”

The station was packed but their platoonmates found them easily. There was nothing to be said as the group was humiliated. The group looked at Walter and Louis and tried to understand how they were sobering up but they were still tipsy.

When the sergeant finally spoke Brent shook his head and told them “I tried to tell you not to go there. You didn't listen. We grew up here, we know all about The Combat Zone. Next time listen to the locals before you get yourselves killed.”

The next morning Brent, Walter, and Louis were the only ones up and about for reveille. There were some effects of the alcohol but they were easily ignored. Walter had to explain the to lieutenant what happened only to get a nod and “they learned their lesson. Next time they lose a stripe.”

The lieutenant sent the trio off for the day while he dealt with the platoon. Those who weren't with them didn't ask what happened, only telling them “the legend holds true.” Louis countered with “the only legend is the place that it replaced. It ain't Scollay Square and never will be. Those guys wanted Scollay Square, they got a back alley.

Brent led the trio out to the train station and passed by the awakening soldiers. They were about to say something but the lieutenant made an entrance and made the group aware that the trio were the ones actually from Boston and knew exactly what would happen if they didn't listen to them. He then had them go on a 10 mile march with full packs followed by punitive physical fitness. The trio were excused, told to enjoy their day in the city with their families.

Brent and the others were met by few other soldiers, from the way they carried themselves and look around at the others awaiting the train all of them were clearly special forces but none of who would acknowledge it. The trio were asked why they were going out of town without their platoon and gave a quick “they didn't listen to us when we said not to go to the Combat Zone and not to pick up some ladies. They didn't like what they found in their pants.”

The group just shook their heads while trying to stifle laughs. The special forces guys were quick to add “it pays to pay attention to the locals” which Brent had to laugh at. The special forces guys knew trio weren't combat guys like they were, but they knew one of the unwritten rules that all should know.

The train ride took an hour but the group got to talking and they found a lot in common. The unofficial leader introduced himself as Sean Beretta from Watts Canyon, California. The others said they were from New York and Florida so they had a lot of the country covered with their travels.

Sean was interested in their story. He felt pity for Leslie, as did the other two. Sean added “I know exactly how she feels, my bloody family is worthless and I'll be damned if I ever head back there. I am just sorry that I had to leave my sister Celia behind.”

Louis and Walter were intrigued by the travels with Walter getting schooled on some of exotic places. He liked Europe the best, saying “one day I'd like to live there.” Sean countered with “best avoid the United Kingdom, it's a nice place to visit but you wouldn't want to live there if you want exotic and different. It'd be no different than living here, what's the fun in that?”

The trio walked across the bridge to Charlestown and caught a bus to Winnisimmet, not noticing that just behind them was Sean Beretta and his buddies. Sean had to grin ans the trio had shared a train with him dozens of times and never noticed him or the others before. He knew where they were going and what they were going to do there but didn't let on.

The trio finally realized they were followed but before they could ask Sean grinned and told them “you three never look around while you are on the train or bus, we've been on the same bus and train too many times to count.” With a laugh Louis told him “we just fix trucks, you guys are the ones who keep eyes on people.”

Once they reached their stop the trio got out and headed for their family homes. Walter visited his girlfriend Lillian and her family, enduring the usual “when are you getting married and giving us grandchildren” talk. Louis' parents moved as did most of his family but his cousin Joshua stayed behind so Louis looked after him whenever possible. Joshua normally hosted the trio for the day and would try to set them up with friends' sisters but only Louis ever took him up on the offer.

Brent usually declined, he only had eyes for Catherine Williams and would wait for her to get away from her family so they could spend the day alone. Joshua normally tried to dissuade Brent but he was smitten and Catherine felt the same. The problem was that Brent was being eyed by Victoria Williams, Catherine's cousin and someone who always got what she wanted ensured that whomever denied her paid a heavy price.

Catherine was waiting for Brent at their usual meeting location, city hall. She asked what happened to them the day before, getting a solemn “pressured into visiting the Combat Zone.” Catherine nodded, knowing that it probably meant he was there by force and not choice.

Brent explained what happened and had to hold back his anger at it all. Catherine had to stifle a laugh but gave in and sweetly told him “you guys knew what would happen and they chose to ignore you. It serves them right! Now tell me about this intriguing young lady.”

Brent confessed to spending a couple of hours with Leslie. Catherine wasn't upset, in fact she actually enjoyed hearing about her. Brent described her and the look on Catherine's face showed that she was pleased with Brent, to which she told him “I'd love to meet her.”

The two got comfortable and walked around Winnisimmet, with Brent finally taking her to her home and being told to come inside. Brent expected the worst but Catherine's parents were pleased to know that he was trying to better himself and learning a useful career and had plans for after he got out. When they asked his intentions Brent was honest, saying “I'd love to one day marry your daughter.”

Catherine's sister Vicky cheered. The teenager kept trying to ask them questions but was rebuffed by Marcus Williams, her father. Hannah Williams, her mother, tried to suppress a smile but stoically told Brent “do what you need to do. We will keep her cousins from interfering. Lord knows, my niece can't take no for an answer. Her parents spoiled her rotten to the core.”

Over on the far side of Winnisimmet Sean and his pals were meeting in Sean's girlfriend Danielle's home. Her apartment was small but comforting and she enjoyed having the guys over to keep her company. Sean loved her but he also knew that his job was dangerous so he had to keep some distance from Danielle if only for her own good.

Danielle listened as they regaled her with tales of the past week. She stopped them several times as they discussed Brent, Walter, and Louis. She pointedly told them “keep an eye on them. Catherine is a good friend and I know she is in love with Brent, he and the other two will get crap flung at them over befriending this lady and if it comes to it- step in.”

Sean saw the seriousness in her voice. She confessed to them “I worked with them as a nurse and see the results of their pain and suffering. She needs a friend, those three are friends. But being friends with someone seen as homosexual will be seen as them also being that way. No solider in his right mind would dare cross you three, but that doesn't mean they won't catch hell. Try to stand up for them and let it known that they don't deserve the crap they will receive.”

The trio loudly agreed, with Sean adding “we will make sure they get out of any charges and whatever trouble they encounter is beyond or control. Even then, there will be hell to pay afterward for the people who do it.”

Brent was just about to leave the Williams home when Victoria Williams stormed in. Marcus told her bluntly “just what do we owe the pleasure of your royal highness barging into our home?” Victoria scowled at Marcus then turned to Brent and issued an ultimatum “dump this tramp and get with a real lady or you will regret it.”

Brent turned to her and harshly announced “you are no lady. A real lady doesn't break into someone's home uninvited or insult their relatives. I'll tell you once and only once: back off. I don't want you and I'll never get with you. I love Catherine and have sworn myself to her. You are a cold, heartless beast who doesn't deserve the time of day let alone my affections.”

Victoria was about to say something when Vicky got up and told her “Aunt Kathleen and Uncle Reginald are not going to be happy with your behavior. Are they aware of what you really do when you leave the house? I'm sure that mom and dad will have some words with them over this. Enjoy your freedom because I doubt you will be allowed out unless you want to find your own apartment.”

Victoria glared at Vicky who just glared back, daring her to do something. Vicky was 10 years younger than Victoria but had 20 pounds and six inches of height on her. Brent wisely let the Williams family handle this, he made his exit out the back and quietly walked around the house avoiding being seen by Victoria or her entourage waiting outside. Victoria left in a huff and was muttering threats to Vicky that only led to her entourage to tell her to back off the threats or she'd wind up in bigger trouble.

Brent walked over to Joshua's apartment and told them what happened. Joshua pointed out “you pissed off the self-appointed queen of the city. She will be back for revenge. Best to watch your back or she will make your life a living hell.”

Catherine quickly phoned Danielle to tell her the news. Danielle swore into the phone getting raised eyebrows from Sean. She calmly explained “it's worse than I thought, their friendship with this woman is about to cause them trouble from another angle. Watch out for people following Brent, Catherine's cousin is after Brent for marriage and this Leslie woman could be used against him.”

Sean and the other two agreed with her. They started walking towards the bus stop and caught sight of the trio waiting as well. They also spotted two tough guys eyeing them, particularly Brent.

Sean got up behind the men and casually told them “if you even think of trying anything against him your body will never be found.” The duo turned around and saw the trio clenching fists and cracking their knuckles. They tied to say something but Sean added “tell her they have friends in high and low places, try anything and she learns what it feels like to have your fingernails ripped out with pliers and salt rubbed into the festering wounds. We aren't joking, she isn't immune to us.”

They crossed the street just in time to get the bus to Charlestown and walk with the other group back to North Station. They were met with grins from other soldiers who thought they had come from the Combat Zone. Brent explained “sorry to burst your bubble but any local in 100 miles knows to stay away from there, we were actually visiting family.” That disappointed the soldiers but the trio didn't care.

Back at the company barracks the trio were confronted by the platoon. Brent expected them to do their worst but the sergeant just told the trio “do anything fun?” Brent boldly told them “all but proposed to my girlfriend, got her parents to sign off on it when I get discharged, and had to run off when her jealous cousin tried to bully her away from me so she could have me for herself. Just a typical day in Winnisimmet.”

The platoon cracked up laughing as the sergeant tried to determine if he was lying or if he was telling the truth. Brent wisely told him “I'm not joking, her cousin is a big bitch who won't take no for an answer and who brought her brothers to strong arm her. It didn't work.”

Leslie had to put up with similar questioning about what happened to her while the other prostitutes were with the soldiers. She didn't bother to lie, telling them pointedly “they didn't want to be there and didn't want any action. Their buddies paid up so it was no big deal. It was actually good to enjoy someone treating me like a person and not a piece of meat.”

Her pimp tried to demand money but she pointed out that she didn't owe him a penny. The other girls started to clamor over his seeking money and caused him to try to slap them. That only resulted in him getting tossed out of the building through a window, landing hard on his back on top of a car and getting forced into early retirement from “the game” as the girls called it.

Leslie had unknowingly sparked a small revolution among the girls. They wanted to get out already but the guy refused to let them. Without his forcing them to work constantly for a large chunk of their earnings Leslie and the girls were able to work less and afford to save up to get out of the area and find a respectable job.

Leslie kept busy during the week by taking in as many clients as she could but she was careful to vet them as much as possible before bedding them. The money was good but it was clear that she was going to struggle later on when the allure of being her own boss wore off. The other girls were feeling the same realization and some even rationalized that the pimp was important even if he made most of the money in their arrangement.

The week drew along slowly for Brent, Louis, and Walter as they received cold shoulders from their platoonmates who had received extra duty for complaining about the trio being allowed off base while they were restricted. The lieutenant had some words with them and those who were the most vocal received additional days of KP duty in the mess hall. The trio ignored it all, knowing that whatever they did would just provoke others to go after them.

The lieutenant was surprised at the lack of response. Walter assured him “it's either put up with their crap or miss out on our loved ones and family. We are used to getting crap from people for being from Winnisimmet, it's nothing new. Besides, they didn't listen to us and brought the punishment on themselves.”

By Thursday things had come to a head as Walter was cornered and nearly beaten by one of the disgruntled corporals. Brent stepped in and belted him as he raised a wrench to whack Walter in the leg causing the corporal to trip and whack himself in the shoulder breaking his collar bone. He cried bloody murder and claimed that Brent attacked him but thankfully the lieutenant was close by and saw the whole thing. He laughed it off, telling him sharply “he assaulted you? You assaulted yourself tripping over your own two feet.”

The lieutenant had medics take him to the base hospital to get him looked after then told him “given that you are an NCO you should be setting a better example for your fellow soldiers. But that'll be rectified by a nice reduction in rank to private first class and confinement to base for 30 days.” He swore at Brent, telling him that he'd get him but the medics jabbed him with a painkiller and told him “you are already in deep shit, keep yapping and he might push for assault charges or worse against you for what you tried to do in the first place.”

Brent expected the worst but was told “I have to discipline you for what you did. You get extra KP duty for a week and a cancellation of your pass for the weekend.” Brent understood, telling the other two to go see Catherine and give her his regards.

When the former corporal was on his way back after getting his collar bone set he was roughly directed to a grove of trees out of sight of the road. He was scared to death as he saw three soldiers in full camouflage glaring at him and explaining to him in harsh words “fuck with Finn, Reagan, or Gorman again and you will be stripped and strapped to the front a train heading for Maine. They are off-limits to you from now on, do you understand?”

The corporal wisely agreed and pleaded with them to leave him alone. Sean grinned and let him run off scared. The trio heard the laughter of their teammates who took great pleasure in turning a training exercise in concealment and abduction into one of non-traditional discipline for bad seeds.

Walter and Louis took the early train and met Leslie at North Station. She looked for Brent but was told angrily “he lost his pass for this weekend saving Walter from an idiot.” Leslie felt bad but Walter assured her “the guy who he hit ended up hurting himself badly so it wasn't so bad overall. The jerk ended up seeing some friends of ours who assured us that he won't dare look at us wrongly let alone try anything again.”

Walter invited her to go to Winnisimmet with them. Sean joined them on the bus with Leslie enjoying the bantering show that Walter and Sean were putting on for her. Sean invited her to hang around with his girlfriend Danielle and her friend Catherine to which she happily agreed to.

Sean regaled them with the whole kidnapping and scaring of the former corporal and added a happy “he wet his pants when he saw the three of us.” Louis added “when he got back to the barracks he had to sneak in and shower before anyone noticed it.” That sent the group into a heavy laugh while Leslie tried hard to hide her smile.

Leslie was asked to join them on a walk around Winnisimmet. She was concerned, knowing that it was a tough city and the cops were on the take but she went anyway. Sean assured her that they'd protect her, insisting that it was worth going along with them.

The group were met by Danielle and Catherine with Leslie being questioned by the ladies immediately. Sean assured her that it was alright and she had nothing to worry about. Louis and Walter bowed out, giving Catherine and Danielle hugs as they went off to visit their own loved ones.

Catherine and Danielle led her to Catherine's home and gave her a little makeover. Once done they took her to a small shop a half mile away where the owners wanted to speak with Leslie. When she came out she was shocked and asked them bluntly “did you know what they would do?”

Catherine grinned, telling her “of course, they are my parents. They are sincere, they want to help you out. My parents love helping people and you are in need of it. You are a friend of Brent's and if he is friends with you then you are friends with our family.”

Leslie was in tears and agreed to take the job offer. She was given a room in the Williams home but would not need to pay rent so long as she worked for the family in their store. Danielle added that she would help her with her wardrobe, since much of her clothing was out of date and ill-fitting. She even gave her tips on how to make your body look more feminine including making “falsies” so she had decent looking cleavage.

As the ladies left with Leslie Sean wisely kept his distance walking a hundred feet behind them. He noticed that they were being followed by a couple of soldiers. You couldn't tell by their clothing but their haircuts and demeanor was easy to spot that they were still soldiers. Sean suspected trouble and kept close, waiting for them to do something.

He doubled back and popped up behind them, listening to them and learning that they were following Leslie and plotting something involving the trio. Sean wrote down as much as he heard and made note to get his crew to get in contact with their MP buddies to get what is really going on with them. Something stunk and someone had a bug up their butt about Leslie.

At Danielle's apartment Leslie tried on several outfits and showed the ladies a few tricks she learned about makeup. They were having a great time while Sean kept vigil nearby, keeping an eye on the soldiers. When Leslie finally left Sean escorted her back to the bus stop with Louis and Walter meeting him.

As expected the soldiers were right behind them. Leslie was unaware but Walter noticed Sean's eyes darting between Leslie and the two men sitting several seats behind her. Walter nudged Louis who in turn also saw them eyeing Leslie.

When they got off the bus and walked the guys tried to follow but by quick thinking instead of getting on the train to North Station they went to Thompson Square and doubled back. Leslie caught the drift and followed behind with the soldiers trying to follow but missing the train. They walked her across the Prison Point Bridge and grabbed a train out of Lechmere, first ensuring that Leslie got out OK then doubled back towards North Station.

At North Station Sean had a few words with the soldiers, telling them “don't worry, we ensured that the person you were following got home safely.” The duo tried to say something but Sean countered with “save it, I know how to sneak up on morons and I'll tell you this once: follower that person again and I'll have your badges ripped away and ensure that you are guarding latrines in Fort Wainrwight. I hear Fairbanks is real nice in the middle of January.”

The duo tried to intimidate him but Sean grinned and pointed to his buddies standing behind them, cracking their knuckles and wisely explaining “not smart. Now we have to have a word with you about threatening our sergeant.” Sean grinned as the two tried to get away only to knock themselves into the back of a large man who proceeded to punch both in the face giving them black eyes and swearing at them.

The train ride was quiet as the two military police officers were kept close to Sean and his friends. At the station in Ayer the two were given over to other members of Sean's team and escorted away to “have a word” with Sean. After an hour of interrogation Sean came out with a grin and telling his lieutenant what exactly is going on the two walked over to the MP's commander and had the two put up on charges for accepting bribes and quietly transferred to Alaska where there just happened to bet two openings for MPs.

Sean turned around and told his lieutenant “the civilians aren't going to do anything but we have a duty to protect our fellow soldiers. They did nothing wrong but one jealous woman is going to make their lives hell- all because she can't take no for an answer! I swear if she wasn't so well connected I'd take her out to the middle of Maine in a sinking boat with concrete galoshes.”

The lieutenant shook his head, adding “sometimes I hate it but we can't do much else. If it goes over company level then I'll show the evidence we have but I doubt it will stop them from being run out of the Army. A shame, the three are fine soldiers and were only doing their duty to protect someone in need. Their careers may well be toast but thankfully they will get out with their VA benefits intact.”

Walter and Louis made it back to their barracks without any excitement. Brent was there mopping the floors and putting up with some stooges dropping garbage on the floor just to make him work again. Louis cleared his throat and watched as the two buck privates ran off with their tails between their legs while the duo told them loudly “you will pay for that soon.”

Louis filled them in on the details of the day and were relieved that Brent hadn't gotten into any trouble. Brent assured them that the idiots were all out and only just now started causing trouble. Walter just nodded but sensed that Brent was getting angrier as time went on.

The week went by slowly and the harassment of Brent continued. He wisely kept his mouth shut and once Friday came he was released from his punishment. As expected they were targeted for harassment by the former corporal and stooges but this time they were ready and when the group struck Louis and Walter got out of the way causing the group to fall into one another causing chaos in the motor pool and getting laughs from the others in the platoon.

Walter and Louis walked away while the sergeant took the men aside and revoked their passes while the captain fined them for their inappropriate behavior. On the train to Boston their platoon kept clear of the trio and without their antagonists the platoon saw them for what they were, just normal guys going to see their family. They also noticed that there were some folks paying attention to them but it didn't raise any alarm bells with the trio.

Walter kept silent about the prying eyes but at North Station they knew they were being followed. Brent took a quick diversion to Bowdoin station and got Walter and Louis to follow, realizing that they were going towards Kensington Beach. Their tails split up with half following them and the other half following their normal route.

On the train towards Wonderland they spotted their pursuers. They quickly hopped off and got on a train towards Government Center then grabbed a trolley west, hopping off at Arlington Street then doubled back causing the tail to get lost in the crowd at Government Center. They didn't try to follow, they knew there would be only one place for them to go.

The trio though got off at Boylston and walked over to Leslie's apartment and were in fact going to help her move into the Williams home. Catherine and Vicky were already there sorting through Leslie's clothes with Marcus and Hannah helping to box everything. Danielle was lending a hand as Sean had training up in Vermont or so he said but may have gone elsewhere.

The drive was slow but hilarious as Vicky and enjoyed making Walter and Louis cringe with her constant questions. Leslie kept silent but Brent assured her that she was accepted and that she was going to be alright. Leslie though shot back “It's only a matter of time before someone does something to get me fired and kicked out. It always happens.”

When they arrived at the Williams home Joshua and Lillian were there and provided a hearty meal for the group that was bought at a local Latin American restuarant. Vicky dug right getting laughs as she tried to dish out the meals to everyone while keeping the good food for herself. She grinned and told them “I can't help it, I love the rice and pigeon peas! It's just so good!”

The meal was spoiled by three Winnisimmet police officers demanding to speak with Leslie, claiming that she was wanted for a crime. Marcus grinned and asked them exactly what she was wanted for. His boldness caught the cops off guard but didn't stop them from trying to pressure them into letting them take Leslie.

They wouldn't respond to him so Marcus started telling them loudly “then she isn't actually wanted. In fact I doubt there is any actual crime that was committed except by you three. Whatever my niece paid you is wasted, you have no jurisdiction here and you will have to explain to my neighbor why Winnisimmet cops are trying to arrest someone in Kensington without their knowledge. In case you didn't notice, the city line is two houses down and you are on the wrong side of it.”

A large, burly man in a white uniform with captain's bars walked over and demanded to know what was going on. Marcus explained what was going on and what was suspected and got a wide grin. The man asked to use Marcus' phone and within two minutes told the trio “since you are going to interrogate this person I believe we will do it in my station. You will also have to explain why you never called us to tell us you were in our city trying to speak with one of the residents. If any of the claims against you are true we will be taking a close look at any relationships we have with your department with the state police.”

The trio ran off, telling Marcus “we will get you for this.” The captain shouted back “no you won't. In fact I'll have your badges in an hour.” He went home and after an hour of putting boxes away Leslie was called over and had to explain the situation to the detectives who in turn gave her a hard interview but saw that she was innocent and had committed no actual crimes. The three Winnisimmet officers though were placed under arrest for accepting bribes and immediately fired by the aging police chief.

Brent, Louis, and Walter left and were confronted at the bus stop by their would-be pursuers. The trio didn't say a word, just letting them try to do something. At North Station the pursuers tried to assault the trio but were stopped by several members of the crowd who tossed them out of the station and made them miss the train back to Fort Devens.

Things were rough during the week again as the usual jokers were up to their normal tricks. Their antics wore thin on the other members of the platoon and soon they were angering the sergeant and lieutenant. Brent was the one who got all of the blame but the sergeant pointed out that he wasn't even there and that they had done it themselves. Brent was actually working on the other side of the fort with half of the platoon working on some of the large trucks assigned to one of the fort's ordnance companies.

The captain finally had enough and transferred the jokers out of the company, with the lieutenant being forced to crack down on discipline. Louis, Brent, and Walter were the ones who were singled out but they took their punishments without a word and after three days were relieved of punishment duties while the other parties were left to work for the full two weeks.

Trouble brewed though as pictures appeared in the captain's mail. The note claimed that Brent was having an affair with Leslie and that she wasn't really a woman but a man in drag. The captain received a phone call from the battalion's commanding officer about the same parcel, with the major insisting that Brent be dealt with before something happened to him. He gave him vague threats against Brent but the captain countered with Brent's record and those of the supposed witnesses to Brent's transgressions were never actually there and the only actual witnesses all supported claims that the person was nothing but a friend to Brent.

The timing was key. Sean's unit was sent away on another training mission, this time for a month. Walter had some contacts in battalion headquarters and was alerted to Brent being targeted. Walter had to cancel all plans with Lillian while he got his contacts to get as much information as possible so he could mount a valid defense of Brent.

Walter's contacts got the investigation halted until a key witness returned. The captain wasn't happy but Walter told him bluntly “you can screw him over but you don't want to be the one to explain to the witnesses why a friend of theirs was railroaded by a bitch who can't take no for an answer. And don't even give me any of that crap about him being homosexual, it's bullshit. This is all about getting his kicked out of the Army so some dumb broad can have her man, a man who hates her and has already pledged his heart to the woman's cousin.”

Sadly Brent was confined to base until the investigation concluded. Walter and Louis kept in contact with Lillian and Catherine and managed to keep things away from Leslie but it didn't take long for Leslie to figure out what was happening. She was distraught and it took all of their influence to keep her calm and avoid running off back to Boston or somewhere worse.

Marcus had to endure constant harassment from Victoria's thugs. His neighbors rallied around Leslie despite her being actually male and after the third attempt and broken jaws Victoria herself had to make an appearance and openly threaten Leslie.

Victoria didn't hold back but she stupidly showed that she was conspiring against Brent. She gloated about getting Brent tossed from the Army in front of two investigators from the Judge Advocate General Corp and assured that Brent would get off. Catherine instinctively called Lillian and got her to get word to Walter so he knew about the investigation and who to talk with.

The JAG people continued their investigation and had to tell Leslie that when it was over she was going to have to either move out or Brent would have to break up with Catherine. She took the news hard but knew it was inevitable. Marcus tried to counter that they couldn't do that but the investigators ignored him, saying “we can do anything we want to him. He shouldn't be around that thing in the first place.”

Catherine viciously told them “you made a big mistake, you gave up that this was all a fishing expedition and you don't give a damn about the truth. Well it'll bite you on the ass, you are messing with people who won't be intimidated and who can beat you and make you look worse for the wear without getting a mark on themselves.” They scoff at her but she just grinned and told them “just watch.”

The month took its toll on Brent and he found his only solace at the bottom of a bottle. His drinking steadily increased to the point that he was drunk on the job several times. Walter was able to cover for him but it was getting harder and harder to do. By the end of the month he was barely able to function and it took a broken elbow caused due to a fall outside the barracks to get him sobered up.

After a week of forced sobriety Brent had his hearing and Walter went at the evidence with a vengeance. Louis did his best to counter any claims against them as being involved as well, telling them harshly “if that were true then why is there no evidence against us and no charges forthcoming? Your evidence is directly targeted at Brent Finn and nobody else. For someone with legal minds you sure as hell can't see that the evidence doesn't fit the facts.”

Sean and his buddies showed their evidence, gathered clandestinely over the month. Walter had to laugh as they used their supposed training to catch Victoria in the act of paying off the MPs to investigate Brent. Further they showed that several photos were doctored and that the originals hid key facts like Lillian, Catherine, Marcus, and Hannah being close by and what was supposed to be Leslie's bedroom was in fact the living room.

Sean grinned and told them “your own investigators heard Victoria Williams threatening Leslie Brown and admitting to setting up this investigation.” Walter added “as this is on record you must now either refute the evidence of knowing this was all a sham or concur that this is all a miscarriage of justice. You have given Brent enough grounds to appeal and overturn any conviction as well as get yourselves sent away for lying under oath.”

The JAG investigators were forced to admit that they knew it was all a falsehood right from the start and that Leslie had never slept with Brent nor any member of the Army. She did admit to being a prostitute but had since gotten new employment with the Williams family. The judge in the hearing was forced to toss out all charges and asked that the MPs who brought the charges be charged with accepting bribes and criminal conspiracy.

The MPs ran off in disgrace rather than be subjected to arrest. They were heading for Canada but didn't make it out of the state be fore a state trooper pulled them over and shot them. The man wasn't a real trooper, and once word got back to the fort the reality of just how serious the situation was set in. Sean and his group were blamed but were cleared as they never left the fort and were actually in the mes hall when it all happened. All eyes turned to Victoria but with no direct connection to her there was no further investigation.

Brent's life became harder as word leaked about the dropped charges. His platoon saw their opening and got revenge the only way they could- a blanket party. Brent had socks stuffing in his mouth while two soldiers held his blanket tight and four beat him with socks containing soap and various metal bits and pieces.

Brent didn't say a word and got out of bed batted, bruised, and bloody but still able to walk. He got dressed the next morning and went to PT and worked out through the pain. His platoon received their own punishments in the form of shaved heads and Ben-Gay in their socks and underwear along with warnings in their pockets to not mess with Finn again. Walter and Louis were out on duty helping to fix some trucks in the motor pool and were the only two the next morning not suffering problems.

Brent went to the base hospital and received stitches for the cuts as well as some pain relievers and sent back to work. Brent refused to take the painkillers, insisting that he didn't need them. The platoon was ridiculed for their look and their constant wincing and by the time Brent got back they were angrier than they had been even after the screw-up on LaGrange Street.

A week later the worst complainers got their revenge. Three got into fights with Brent all week and by that Friday they had a knock-down, drag-out fight in front of the barracks. All were disciplined but Brent was singled out for the worst punishment.

The captain was itching to get rid of Brent. The lieutenant tried to intervene but was told to back off. The company's first sergeant told the captain harshly “if you single him out and try anything your ass can kiss promotion goodbye. Gorman won't let this go and Reagan has made some powerful allies in high places. I am talking about DC level power brought down on you for screwing Finn over.”

The captain weighed his options and decided that as Brent had less than a year left and was not actually at fault in any of the issues that for the good of the company he would be given a general discharge. After talking with the JAG officers it was decided to just give him an honorable discharge as anything less than that would cause a stir that they didn't want and would harm their own investigations especially after they were forced to answer tough questions about why he received anything less than an honorable discharge for his work record.

Brent was called in before the major and informed of their decision. He had no choice but to accept the discharge as it would mean trouble for Walter and Louis down the line. Brent accepted it on the spot, but told them bluntly “treat them well or you will regret it. That isn't a threat or a warning, it's a promise. Those two are bound for greatness, and they have long memories. Our special forces friends don't have to do a thing to help them, they can hurt you entirely on their own.”

It took three days to get the paperwork approved by those above. Brent was free to leave and was on the first train of the day from Ayer to Boston. Immediately he made his way towards Winnisimmet with Catherine meeting him at the bus stop with open arms.

Leslie was at home and looked terrible. Catherine informed him that she had been constantly harassed and threatened by Victoria and her goons. Leslie tried to play it off as being nothing but Brent told her harshly “it is something and I won't let her get away with it.”

Victoria visited the next day to “check up on” Brent. He ignored her, working with Leslie to restock the shelves and clean the floor. Catherine told Victoria to leave and if she came back she'd ensure she'd leave in a wheelchair. Victoria tried to threaten her but Vicky tapped on her shoulder with a bat and asked her to repeat her last sentence causing Victoria to flee in fear.

Victoria's parents paid Marcus a visit and tried to get him to force Brent to leave Catherine for their daughter. Marcus laughed in their faces, telling them harshly “why would I break my daughter's heart just to make your brat happy? I told you before that he doesn't want Victoria and she needs to move on. Grow a spine and tell your daughter no before she disgraces the Williams family name!”

Mr. and Mrs. Williams tried to object but Marcus laid down the law as the eldest member of the family “either you tell her to stop or I am invoking grandmother's will and forcing you to stop her. Make up your mind- your brat or your family. You claim this is her right as the eldest child, well as the head of the family I am invoking my right to overrule you. Have her back off or you lose out. He has a right to choose who he wants to fall in love with and marry, not you.”

Catherine and Leslie listened from the stairs. Once Victoria's parents left Marcus called up to them saying “they won't do a thing. I'm contacting the family lawyer and invoking the rights. They will be cut off for good. I hate to do it but I have to. I think it's time to just split the fortune evenly and be done with it so this crap doesn't keep happening.”

Marcus made the call. The Williams family had several million dollars squirreled away with Marcus as the trustee. He normally gave the proceeds from interest on the the money to the family but he also had the right to refuse to give money to any member of the family who is out of favor or of ill repute, which Victoria now was. The lawyer agreed with him and cut her branch of the family, essentially making Victoria's parents have to fend for themselves.

Victoria seemingly backed off once word got around the family that her branch was cut off. None of them wanted to have anything to do with her and once she was without the family fortune she was powerless to do anything to them for not supporting her. Victoria though had other ideas, she just had to bide her time before she struck.

Leslie and Catherine grew closer as the weeks passed by. Vicky enjoyed talking with Leslie and used her as a surrogate big sister to talk with her about things that she was either unable to or afraid to talk to Catherine about. The two would talk for hours on end about anything and everything with Catherine realizing that Vicky was taking Leslie under her wing and showing her that she really cared.

One of the things that Vicky talked with Leslie about was the man who kept asking her out but she was too afraid to say yes to. Jorge Castillo was a smooth talking Puerto Rican who loved to joke with Vicky and whose family had taken Vicky as one of their own. Leslie listened to her talk about Jorge and grinned at her, boldly telling her “you are in love with Jorge. Don't deny it, you love him. Go for him, he is interested and the two of you are going to be together forever.”

Vicky started to spend less and less time with Leslie and Catherine after that and eventually agreed to marry Jorge. Leslie was at the wedding as a bridesmaid, with Catherine and Vicky insisting that she be there no matter what. Jorge's family was alright with her being in the ceremony, with Jorge introducing his gay brother to Leslie as a way of showing that she was accepted despite not being “a real girl”. Jorge swore that so long as Leslie was part of the family then she was his sister and he would protect her as one.

Leslie and Catherine were now fixtures in the store. Nobody questioned their running the store and anyone who knew Leslie's secret knew not to make a fuss or Jorge's family would make their lives miserable. Jorge steadily grew in popularity and influence in the neighborhood and whenever Victoria tried to exert any kind of influence over them especially over his connection to Leslie his people would fight back and win, making the thugs run off scared while the cops turned a blind eye and refused to accept Victoria's bribes to go after Jorge.

There were times when the two were hassled by cops. Winnisimmet PD kept trying to get at Leslie but Lillian and her friends in legal aid kept them mired in legal threats that they had to concoct lies and threats that didn't hold up under scrutiny. Eventually the DA told them to knock off the harassment before they pissed off the wrong person and the department got a review by the state ensuring that there was a house cleaning.

The problems only seemed to intensify though as the police chief died in office and was replaced by one who was eager to help Victoria, sensing that the woman was going to be more powerful than any gangster in Boston. She was actually working with some of them but they knew not to get too involved in the small city and let her run it how she saw fit. The police were at her mercy and despite the warnings from the DA they continued their attack on Leslie.

Leslie was warned off one last time but the officers involved were dumb enough to do the beating at the Williams home in Kensington where they were treated just as any other criminal. Leslie's status as a “man in a dress” plagued the case and the major charges were dismissed but the officers were forced out of the Winnisimmet PD and had to take jobs with nearby college police departments. The chief had to admonish the officers but everyone in the city knew it was just hot air and he was heard to exclaim “they should have killed the sissy fag.”

The quiet time for Victoria didn't last. One day Marcus was beaten on his way to the bank. Nothing was stolen but he found a note that stated “payback is coming.” He knew it was Victoria manipulating people into doing her dirty work, but there was little he could do except continue on and hope that Brent and Leslie were on guard.

Hannah fared better. Her attacker tried to get her while she was on the street walking to the store. As the two men swung at her they found themselves with their arms yanked behind their backs and their knees kicked out. Sean and his buddies grinned and told the men “if she tries this again, we are coming for her. That's twice she has crossed us, if she does it again we will not rest until her fat ass is swinging from the Mystic River Bridge!”

Sean's threat though was to fall on deaf ears as Victoria's third strike was already underway at that very moment. Brent was knocked unconscious as he took out the garbage out back of the store. Inside the store Leslie was knocked down and had her legs broken followed by repeated blows to her head. She didn't survive the first blow, it was directly to her temple and caused her head to violently hit the floor causing her skull to fracture.

The bat was left on the floor and the killers left multiple footprints and fingerprints all over the bat. They tried to burn the store but the Molotov cocktail failed to ignite on impact and fizzled out. Brent recovered and called for an ambulance and the police but it was too late to save Leslie.

The arriving Winnisimmet PD took one look and walked away. Brent heard them saying “she didn't waste her time.” The cops realized that Brent was conscious and that they were heard and tried to threaten Brent but Sean and his buddies arrived and had them removed while the State Police troopers and detectives took over control of the scene. The officers tried to contaminate the scene but the troopers physically flung the officers outside and were about to cuff them when they wee told to back off before a full scale riot broke out between police agencies.

Leslie was hurriedly buried in an unmarked grave in Boston. Brent and Catherine were not told what was going on nor was Marcus able to take over any of the arrangements. Victoria had gotten her hands on an official in the medical examiner's office and gotten them kept away on purpose so they wouldn't intervene but she couldn't entirely hide Leslie from all public records. She did make it too difficult to get the proper records and paid someone to mix up the records to the point that it was futile to search.

Even without Leslie the family held a memorial service. Louis, Walter, Lillian, Danielle, Joshua, Jorge, Jorge's family, Sean, Sean's buddies, and surprisingly Brent, Louis, and Walter's sergeant and lieutenant all attended the service. There was little said, just lots of tears as they held vigil in her honor.

Brent was a wreck and Walter and Louis suspected that he was diving into a bottle again. Catherine was no better as she started to do the same. If it hadn't been for Vicky and Jorge the two would have gone off the deep end completely and taken their own lives as their grief overtook their every waking moment.

The investigation into Leslie's murder stalled and finally went cold. Evidence was there but the witnesses all clammed up as soon as the detectives came around. Eventually the death of a transgender person was ignored and abandoned in favor of cases that could be solved.

Victoria openly gloated about her taking down Brent Finn and his family and told the Williams family that her branch didn't need the family fortune. At Marcus' command the family fortune was distributed to the family members with each receiving a small sum of several thousand dollars. Victoria spread rumors and lies about Brent's own fortune which saw resentment and anger towards Marcus. That grew until finally the family outright blamed him for squandering the fortune. The facts didn't matter, their greed did.

Victoria was growing richer by the day as she found new ways of compensating for the lack of money from the family fortune. Where she got it didn't matter, the fact that she had money did. She found herself growing more powerful in the family until she took over. Marcus was ousted as was Catherine, Vicky, and Hannah. None of that mattered to them but it was a message to the family to stay away from them.

Brent's drinking eventually reached a peak as he was nearly arrested for getting into a fight in a bar. Walter and Louis staged an intervention but it took a talk with Catherine to change his tune. Catherine gave him the sad news “I can't drink with you anymore- I'm pregnant. You are going to be a daddy. We have to change our lives or our child will suffer.”

Brent was forced to sober up and thanks to some help from Louis Brent was sent to rehab where he dried out. Catherine and Vicky maintained the family store while he was out and upon his return the two married. Leslie Marie Finn was born two months after. Louis and Walter both agreed that naming Brent's first child after the woman who lost her life because of Brent's kind heart was a good tribute.

On what would have been Leslie's 23rd birthday Brent cuddled with Leslie. Thinking he was alone he tearfully told the newborn “you will never get to meet her but the woman you are named after was a lovely woman who just wanted to live her life as she needed to live. I swear that I won't let you or any siblings you have in the future suffer what she endured. I hope you treat people like Leslie well and make their lives better.”

Catherine hugged him tight as he shed tears over the memories. Catherine swore “we will ensure she does that, it's the least we can do for Leslie and her namesake's memory.” Both kissed and cuddled the cooing infant, who hugged her parents tight.

With him being home permanently and sober Brent was given control of the store but Victoria kept intervening. Eventually the store was torched by Victoria's stooges and once the insurance paid out Marcus decided that enough was enough and moved the family to Kensington for good. Brent moved with them and reopened the store with a new base of customers and thanks to Jorge's family spreading word to the Latino community of Kensington they had dozens of happy and loyal customers.

Walter and Louis left the Army after enlistments ended. Both went to law school with Louis going into local politics while Walter got hired onto the staff of a highly popular state senator. Lillian and Walter married while Louis married a young lady who worked for the city clerk inside Winnisimmet City Hall. Walter and Lillian were unable to have children while Louis had a son that he named Charles.

Sean and his buddies were rare visitors after Brent moved to Kensington. Eventually Danielle and Sean broke up so Sean could pursue his medical career and a commission into the Army Medical Corps. He unknowingly ended up leaving Danielle with a little piece of himself. Danielle never told him about his “little piece of himself” and swore that he didn't need her getting in the way of his future.

*back to the present*

Sean Beretta approached the assembled group before they reached the end of the unmarked graves and announced “it's time. Things are ready to get set into motion.” John nodded his head silently as Walter and Louis walked out with Sean. Nothing further was said about what was about to happen, there were no words to describe the impending surprise that several were about to revive.

Lillian Gorman met the group outside the cemetery as Danielle Kelly tried her hardest to fight growing anger. Sean put his arm around her and kissed her cheek, telling her “we will get justice for Leslie. The time has finally come for Victoria Williams to pay.”

The drive back to Winnisimmet was slow and once in the city the group descended on Victoria's temporary home. The state police detective assigned to cold case files had a big grin as he and Willie Pena knocked on the door. Victoria answered and immediately swore at them, telling them loudly “what the hell do you want? You got everything from me already!”

The detective grinned and announced “Victoria Williams you are under arrest for the murder of John Green, AKA Leslie Brown.” Victoria's face turned white as Willie read Victoria her Miranda Rights. She exclaimed “that tranny got what she deserved! She stole my man! I didn't do it, someone else did!”

Neither listened to her rants, just took her away in handcuffs again. Walter and Louis were outside and told her in unison “justice is served.” She turned to see Vicky say the same thing. John finally told her “you fucked up, missy. You really shouldn't have used the same bat that you used to threaten me. Amazing how long DNA lasts when you know where to look for it.”

The next stop was a retirement home along Kensington Beach where the former chief of police of the Winnisimmet Police Department resided. The man's fortune was one of mystery but after a thorough forensic examination the truth came out. He was told why he was being arrested and who he had to thank for giving him up. He in turn admitted that so long as she got sent to prison as well then it didn't matter to him. He was in tears as he was read his Miranda Rights with the state police detective telling him “your assets are being seized as is your pension. An active investigation is underway into your department during the years that you ran it.”

The Kensington police chief took great pride in telling the man that he was under arrest for murder as his fingerprints were all over the bat used to murder Leslie. He immediately blamed a third partner, the one who did the actual fatal blow. John explained to him “he is in custody as we speak.” It was a lie but enough to have him know that he wasn't going to get out of the charges.

The next day down in Georgia Sean was leading the arrest of the third person. He and several MPs were outside an Army officer's residence and waited as the colonel inside came out to speak with them. They showed the arrest warrant that the deputy US Marshals had and within minutes the colonel dragged an elderly man out, roughly handing him over to the marshals, MPs, and Sean.

The man looked up at Sean and immediately went white. Sean grinned and told him “it's been 44 years, it's time to pay for your crimes.” The man turned to his son who turned his back on his father, refusing to help him. His son, the colonel, told him harshly “you are a disgrace to the uniform, dad. Killing someone because some bitch can't take no for an answer? That's just despicable. Don't ever call me again, don't ever write me, just pretend I don't exist because to me you don't exist. The man I knew never existed, he was just a big lie.”

The man was dragged off to the awaiting cruiser as Sean turned and saluted the colonel. The colonel asked how Sean was involved in this, getting a stoic “I knew the woman whom he murdered and am family to her namesakes. He nearly killed two other people from the grief her murder caused, and helped a woman who terrorized a city for decades.”

The colonel shook his head then asked “are you the infamous special forces sergeant that the man formerly known as my father hated?” Sean solemnly told him “I was. I am also the man who ensured that he kept his nose clean but had I known what he did that day I would never have allowed him to live.” The colonel grinned and told him “good. He doesn't deserve to live but he's too damn old for the death penalty. A decade and a half in prison won't be justice for the murder of someone no matter how long ago it was.”

Sean made it back to Winnisimmet later that day and broke down. Danielle hugged him while their son William kept his wife and son away. Sean finally told her “I am sorry for abandoning you. I should had asked you to come with me.” Danielle told him warmly “you gave me the greatest give anyone could give, you gave me a son. It took decades but we are together.”

Sean looked away in shame but Danielle went right for his heart by saying “nobody else knows this but Leslie and I talked about our future, and what would happen between us. She told me that if it came down to it that I should let you go as your heart belonged to the Army and helping others. You were a Green Beret but you were always a kind soul. She would not want you to dwell on what might have been.”

The group assembled two weeks later as Victoria, the chief, and the solider changed their pleas in court to guilty. The judge looked over the facts and rejected their plea deals, giving them 20 years each in prison. Victoria was led away in tears as she pleaded to be given mercy which the judge ignored.

Outside the courthouse Jorge said a prayer for Leslie, hoping that after decades that her spirit would finally be at peace. John headed right for the cemetery and arranged to have her body exhumed and taken to a special plot in the same cemetery that his parents were buried. She was buried next to Brent and Catherine with the whole Finn family showing up to see the woman who inspired the family to be inclusive and accepting of people who wee different. John shed tears as he asked that his parents take care of her now that she is finally among family after all this time. The family all concurred with Jaimie Finn placing a single flower on the casket as it was lowered into the ground.

The End.

If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos!
Click the Thumbs Up! button below to leave the author a kudos:
134 users have voted.

And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks. 
This story is 13061 words long.