"Well Mr. Callaghan, I'll take a look at your resume, but I can't promise you anything. I don't think that I can afford to take on another employee at the moment."
Jack nodded, "I understand. The economy is bad all over these days."
Bill Jakes, owner of Jakes' Hardware smiled at Jack, "I can tell you that Patrick Mooney down at the pub has been looking to take on someone to help out the kitchen, if you're interested in doing that sort of thing."
Jack couldn't see himself working in a pub but he thanked for Bill for passing along that information. Bill smiled at Jack again and offered his hand. Jack took it and shook it. "Good luck with finding a job." Bill said, "And remember, if you ever need any nails, screws, paint, whatever, I'm your man."
Jack thanked Bill again and left the hardware store. He went over to his car, which he noticed was taking up two parking spaces. The hardware store had been the last place that Jack had visited. He had taken to heart Sam's comment that she never seen him as a hardware type guy.
Jack briefly considered visiting this Patrick Mooney down at the pub, but then thought better of it and decided to go back home to Sam. Back home to Sam. Jack liked the sound of that, it had been years since he'd had someone to come home to.
As Jack turned the ignition, his cell phone rang, startling him. Jack dug it out of his pocket, "Sam?" he said, sincerely hoping that Stan hadn't paid her an unwelcomed visit.
"Yeah it's me."
"You alright? Is Stan there?"
"No, I haven't seen him all day. I was actually calling to see if you could stop and pick up some bread. I can't believe that we forgot to buy that yesterday."
"Yeah sure, no problem."
"So, did you have any luck?"
Jack sighed, "No, would you believe that no one is hiring in this town?"
Sam sounded like she had the TV on in the background, either that or she had half the neighbourhood visiting, "Did the cable guys come today?" Jack asked, fervently hoping that they had. He was going into hockey withdrawal.
"Yep, they came around ten, we're all hooked up now."
"That's good. Anyway, I'd better go now. I'll stop at the market and get some bread. Was there anything else that we needed?"
"Uh," Sam said over the laugh track in the background, "If there's anything else that grabs you."
Jack had visions of bags of chips and pepperoni dancing in his head, "Okay, will do. I'll see you later."
"Later." The phone clicked and the line went dead. Jack stuffed his phone back in his pocket and put the car into drive. As he was leaving the lot, a black BMW sedan drove in and parked in the space that Jack had recently vacated.
"Did you see Bonnie again today?" Jack asked as he stood in the kitchen and watched Sam cut up celery sticks.
"Yep, she dropped by just after the cable guys left."
"Was she as nervous as she was yesterday?"
Sam shook her head and grabbed another stalk of celery, "No, but I didn't ask her any questions relating to the neighbourhood. That seemed to be what got her going yesterday."
"This whole town is whacko if you ask me."
Sam turned around and looked at Jack with an amused expression on her face, "Whacko? Is that the technical term for it?"
"It's the best term that I can think of. Do you want me to do anything?"
Sam closed her eyes for a moment and thought, "You can set the table if you want. I think we'll eat inside tonight, it looks like rain out there."
Jack looked out the kitchen window and saw dark clouds looming overhead, "Looks like we might be in for a storm. Think we'd better batten down the hatches?"
"If you mean close the windows, yes probably, unless we want our carpets cleaned."
Jack opened the cupboard door just above his head and took our two plates. He looked at the yellow flower pattern with disdain. "Why do all plates seem to have flowers on them?"
"I guess that's the most popular design. What do you want on plates? Hockey players? Machine guns?"
Jack dug forks and knives out of the cutlery drawer. "Hockey players would be nice."
The table in the dining room was made of a dark wood, with a single leg supporting it. Jack had found out the hard way that if you leaned on the table too hard, it would fall over. He very carefully moved the floral centrepiece and set down the plates on the two placemats. Jack didn't care what side the fork was to be on and what side the knife was supposed to be on, so he randomly set them down.
"Do you think that we should invite Bonnie over for dinner one night?" Sam asked from the kitchen. "She lives alone and besides, it would be a good way to try and get more information out of her."
Jack grabbed a couple of wine glasses from the china cabinet and set them down beside the plates. "Our first dinner guest. Sounds good to me. You like red wine, right honeybunch?"
Sam's head appeared from around the corner, "Honeybunch?"
"Just playing the part, snookums."
Sam tossed a pot holder at Jack. "Yes, I like red wine. Did you pick some up while you were out?"
"Yep, I've got it right here." Jack picked up a brown paper bag and pulled out a bottle. "Cabernet Sauvignon."
Sam came out into the dining room and set a bowl of steaming rice down on the pot holder. Jack poured the wine into the glasses and sat down to wait while Sam brought out the main course.
"Was that General Hammond on the phone?" Sam asked after Jack had hung up the phone.
"Yes, he apologized for interrupting our dinner."
"What did he have to say about Stan?"
"Apparently the government knows nothing about the visitors he had last night. They could have just been some buddies from work for all we know. He also said that he's going to be sending Daniel and Janet down for a visit."
Sam smiled, "At least we'll have some normal people to talk to."
"The government is inventing identities for them. They'll probably be related to us somehow, though I don't think that Janet would pass as your sister."
Sam opened her mouth to make a comment on Janet's height, or rather lack thereof, but was stopped by a rapping on the door. Jack glanced over at the clock on the stereo. "You expecting anyone?" he asked Sam. Sam shook her head.
If Jack had been truly paranoid, he would have grabbed his gun before answering the door, but as it was, he felt that his hand to hand combat training was enough and opened the door. Stan stood there, displaying his teeth.
"Howdy Charles!" he said, still smiling.
Jack hoped that his smile didn't look too much like a snarl and greeted Stan. "What brings you over this evening Stan?"
"Well, I was just getting ready to head over to my baseball game tonight and thought that I'd drop by and see if you were interested in coming along. You play baseball Charles?"
Jack hesitated, "Oh well, not since college. You know, the knees aren't quite what they used to be."
"Oh come on, you don't have to do a lot of running. You look like you've got a good arm on ya."
Jack looked at his arms and could have sworn he heard Sam snickering in the living room, "I haven't played in years. Hockey is more of my game."
Stan nodded, "Not a whole lotta ice around here for that. Come on Charles, just give it a go. I can introduce you to the rest of the guys. If your little lady doesn't mind, we like to go for a beer down at Mooney's afterwards."
Jack felt his 'little lady' rest her hand on his shoulder, "You go ahead dear," she said, "I've got plenty of stuff that I can do here."
Jack looked outside, desperate for any excuse. He noticed the clouds again. "Looks like rain tonight." he said, gazing pointedly at Stan.
Stan nodded, "A little rain ain't never hurt nobody. Besides, it makes sliding into home all the more fun!"
Jack sighed and reached for his jacket. "I guess I'll come along, but I don't have a glove."
Stan smiled, his white teeth gleaming. "No problem. I've got an extra one."
Sam wished Jack a fond farewell and then watched as he followed Stan to his car.
Jack stood in center field cursing his luck. His jacket was dripping and water was running down from his hair and into his eyes. Apparently when it rained here, it really rained. Stan and buddies didn't even seem to notice the downpour and continued with their game. Jack watched as Stan threw the ball and one the guys, his name might have been Ray, took a swing.
Overhead a flash of lightning temporarily illuminated the dark sky. Jack idly wondered if holding a metal bat was such a good idea in this type of weather. Thunder soon followed, a deep rumbling that seemed to come all around. The rain intensified, making it difficult to see more than six feet.
"Hey guys!" someone shouted, "I think we should call it a night. This storm could be bad!"
"We still gonna head over to Mooney's?" someone asked.
"'Course we are! It wouldn't be baseball night without a trip to Mooney's!" another voice said. Jack recognized it as Stan. "Charles, you gonna come with us?"
Jack decided that seeing as he'd come in the same car as Stan that he didn't have much choice in the matter, "Yeah, I'll come, but I can't stay too late. Lisa gets nervous around thunderstorms." Of course that wasn't true, as Sam relished a good storm, but it sounded like an appropriate excuse.
The man who might be named Ray laughed, "I hear ya buddy. My wife, Jeanine, she's terrified of storms. Hides under the covers every time one of 'em starts brewing. Takes the dog with her!"
The other guys laughed as they gathered up the equipment and headed towards the parking lot. The baseball diamond, the only one in town, was located at the elementary school. The school itself looked normal enough for a small town school. There was some dilapidated playing equipment in the field and the windows of the classrooms were decorated with paintings and drawings.
Jack followed Stan back to his small red car, tossing his wet jacket and glove into the back seat. "You smoke Charles?" Stan asked as he got into the driver's seat.
Jack shook his head, "Nope. I used to, but I quit a couple of years ago."
Stan grinned, "A man after my own heart. I used to smoke like a chimney. Got tired of feeling sluggish all the time, so I finally decided it was time to quit. Damn hardest thing that I've ever done in my life. A lot of the other guys, they smoke. I've been tryin' to get them to quit, but they say it's their only vice."
"You lived here long Stan?"
Stan nodded, "Been here for ten years now. I can't ever imagine leaving. The Mooney I make is good, the people are friendly. I got no reason for leaving. Where did you leave before movin' here?"
Jack coughed. "Washington."
Jack nodded, "Just outside of Seattle."
"If you don't mind me asking," Stan said slowly, "How did you and Lisa meet? I like to know these things seeing as I'm not married myself. I have to live vicariously through others."
"We met through a mutual friend," Jack said, using the story that he had been given. "One of the women I worked with happened to have this single friend and she thought that we'd be a good match. She introduced us, we had dinner and the rest, as they say, is history."
"That's a nice way to meet someone." Stan commented. "One of the guys, Ron, he was the one with the red hair, he met his wife when he ran her over with his truck. He felt real bad about it, so he went to see her in the hospital nearly everyday. Brought her flowers too. Well here we are, Mooney's pub. You been here yet?"
Jack shook his head, "No, Lisa and I have only had the chance to visit the China Kitchen."
"Great food there. Did you try their sweet and sour cat?"
Jack's eyebrows nearly hit the roof of the car, "Pardon? Their cat?"
Stan laughed, turning off the engine. "It's not really cat, but that's what they like to call it. You should try it someday. It's real good."
"I'll do that, thanks." Jack opened the door and ran across the parking lot to the shelter of the overhang. The rain had created large puddles in the lot. Rainbow coloured oil slicks created a film across most of them. Jack wondered if everyone in town had vehicles that leaked, maybe Stan wasn't getting as much business as he should be.
When Stan and Jack entered the pub they found everyone waiting for them inside. The place was dimly lit, with the distinct odour of cigarette smoke hanging in the air. On one wall a fire burned brightly, Jack suspected that it was one of those natural gas fireplaces rather than wood burning. Stan took the liberty of ordering a pint of ale for both of them and then they took a seat.
Jack awoke the next morning with a pounding headache. Sam, who was industriously vacuuming the couch around him wasn't helping matters any.
"Maaarg." Jack said as he sat up. Sam flicked the vacuum off and looked at him, a smirk playing across her face.
"Late night?" she asked, waving the vacuum’s wand around.
"You have no idea." Jack said, as he buried his head in his hands.
"Find out anything interesting about Stan?" she asked. "Or were you too busy with other endeavours."
"We played baseball, but then the lightning started, so we left and headed over to Mooney's pub. Great beer there. Good potato skins too."
"How many pints did you have?"
"Not many. I can't believe that I'm hung over. That must be some wicked strong beer they have there."
"Stan dropped you off just after one last night. He looked fine as he walked you to the door."
Jack rubbed his temples in an effort to stop the pain, "You don't think..."
"Think what?" Sam asked, as she moved a pile of flattened boxes out of the way.
"Think that they put something in my drink." Jack finished.
Sam sighed, "All we know is that Stan is a Goa'uld. That doesn't mean that the whole town is against us. Besides, they all think that we're just a newly wed couple. They have no reason to try and harm you or me. Maybe you can't hold your liquor as well as you used to."
"If you say so, but I'm telling you, something funny is going on here."
Sam put her hands on her hips. "Why don't you go take a shower. I'm sure you'll feel better after that."
Jack pushed himself off the couch and went down the hall towards the bathroom. Sam turned the vacuum back on again and continued with her cleaning. Jack gazed down at the tub and noticed the jacuzzi jets. If they actually worked, that would just the thing he needed.
Taking off his clothes, Jack ran water into the tub. He felt a bit foolish looking through the cabinet for some bubble bath, but didn't find any. Just plain water would have to do. After the tub had been filled almost to the brim, Jack opened the medicine cabinet and located the Advil that Sam had bought the other day. He took three of them, even though the package said to take only two.
Jack regarded the tub for a moment, trying to find the switch to turn on the jets. He pulled at a knob, but it didn't seem to do anything. "Sam?" Jack called, hoping to be heard over the vacuum. He got no response.
After putting a towel around his waist, Jack wandered back down to the hall to the living room. Sam was bent over, sticking the wand into the space between the wall and the entertainment center. "Sam!" Jack said loudly.
Sam whirled around, wand in hand. Jack watched as the wand moved closer and closer to his towel. Sam, who was too busy not noticing that Jack had no shirt on, wasn't watching where she was pointing the vacuum. The vacuum, for its part, didn't seem to care what it sucked up and grabbed ahold of the bottom of Jack's towel.
Jack felt a cool breeze on his backside and looked at the vacuum wand, trying its hardest to fully engulf his towel. The motor began making a high pitched squeal as it started to overheat. Sam turned her gaze downwards and felt a blush creep over her cheeks.
"Dammit Sam, turn off the vacuum!" Jack yelled, placing his hands strategically in front of him.
Sam snapped out of the daze she was in and flicked the switch. Jack yanked the towel out of the wand and wrapped it around himself again.
"Uh.." Sam said, her face still bright red, "Sorry about that, sir."
Jack rubbed at his temples again, "No problem. I'm just going to go back to the bathroom now and pretend that Bonnie isn't standing in our front lawn looking in through the window."
Sam's eyes widened and she started to laugh. "What did you come out here for?" she asked, after her laughter had subsided.
"I wanted to ask you if you knew how to use the jets in the tubs. I think that Bonnie's going to be ringing the doorbell soon."
Sam shook her head, "I was trying to figure them out last night, but with no luck. I'll take a closer look at them one day."
The doorbell rang and Jack hurried back to the bathroom. Sam went over to the door and let Bonnie in.
"Hey Lisa. I hope I'm not interrupting anything?"
Sam felt her cheeks still burning, "No, I was just doing some vacuuming."
Bonnie nodded, "I just wanted to see if you were interested in coming over for some coffee? I mean, I've imposed upon you twice now, I just thought that if you wanted to, you could come over and see my place."
Sam looked at Bonnie's eager face, she obviously wanted some company. "Yeah sure, that sounds great. Just let me go tell Charles where I'm going, and then I'll be right back!"
Sam walked down the hall and knocked on the bathroom door, "Uh honey." she said, knowing that Bonnie could most likely hear her, "I'm going to Bonnie's for coffee, okay?"
A bit of splashing was heard from in the bathroom followed by Jack's voice. "Uh huh. I think I'm just going to stay here and relax."
"You do that, I'll see you later." Sam went back down the hall and found Bonnie waiting for her.
"I'm so glad that you're coming over Lisa." Bonnie said enthusiastically. "I hardly ever have company. I want to show you some of my paintings."
"I dabble a bit with watercolours."
"That's wonderful. I'm afraid I'm not much of an artist myself. I'm very good at drawing stick people though!"
Bonnie laughed as Sam stepped out the door and into the bright sunshine.