"Good morning Chicago. The time now is 6:30 AM and it's going to be a cool and blustery day. The high today will be in the low to mid forties and it'll be partly cloudy with a chance of late afternoon showers. Winds will be ........"
Gary Hobson rolled over in bed and slapped the alarm clock with his hand.
"Alright already," Gary yelled from his bed, "Keep your damn fur on, I'll be right there!"
He walked over to open his door as he had done every morning for the last five years, to get tomorrow's paper and let the cat in.
"Just for once," Gary asked, while rubbing his eyes, "Can't you let me sleep in?"
"Meow." The cat quickly ran inside towards the kitchen.
"No, I suppose not." he grumbled and bent down to pick up The Paper.
Marissa Clark entered the front door of McGinty's and made her way to the office, carefully tapping her white cane against the front bar. The bar stools were still stacked on top of it and she assumed Gary had not come down from his loft yet.
She was surprised to find the office door open and even more surprised to find Gary sitting at the desk, in a very angry mood.
"I don't get it!" Gary shouted at Marissa, "Why does it keep getting tougher and tougher to do this damn paper?"
She was stunned as Gary usually wouldn't yell at her about The Paper and this frightened her.
"I have to be all over this city today! No sooner than I make one save, I've got to go to another and then another! All damn day and night, with each story just giving me enough time to get to the next! I wish I could just quit doing this damn paper!"
Marissa realized this was not the right time to ask Gary about hiring a bar manager. The bar had been without one since Erica Paget left to go back to her parents' home in Galena. She knew that she could keep running McGinty's herself for a little while longer, but it was starting to take its toll on her as Gary was never around much anymore to help out.
"Ask The Paper to send you some help." Marissa replied calmly in an effort to help her best friend and business partner.
"Yeah, right. I gotta go. I called Denise and she's gonna come in early to help you set up, 'bye!"
Gary stormed out, slamming the front door as he left.
Marissa had known The Paper to upset Gary before, but lately, it had become quite a strain on him and the stress was really beginning to show. She had thought about calling Chuck Fishman to come back to Chicago to help Gary out, but knew that Chuck had his own life in Los Angeles and quickly dismissed the idea.
After Gary left the bar, the cat crawled onto Marissa's lap and purred softly.
"Please send Gary some help," Marissa whispered softly into the cat’s ear, "And while you're at it, could you maybe send us a bar manager, too?"
It was a cold spring day in South Philadelphia as Mark Perini walked to his job as manager of Angelino's Cafe, a small cheese steak joint on a not-so-great side of South Philly. Mark, in his late thirties, did not have what anyone would consider a great or successful life. He lived by himself in a one room flat off Broad Street. His only friends were Mr. Angelino, the owner of the cafe that Mark worked at, and Lisa Merinelli, a deaf waitress who had a big crush on him. Mark hated his job, hated cheese steaks and was looking for an excuse to leave. He had been looking for an excuse to leave for almost all eleven years that he had worked there and knew today would finally be the day. Over the past two weeks, Mark had been having a strange recurring dream that made no sense to him. The dream always started in an unnamed large city with a beautiful skyline and would end with an older man who kept repeating, "Live your life!" over and over again. The man in the dream looked somewhat familiar to him, but he couldn't remember from where. Mark wondered about the beautiful skyline in his dream too, 'Does a city like that even exist?' he thought. These questions and the dream itself, kept him from getting a good night's sleep.
"Yo, Mark, how ya doin'?" asked Mr. Angelino as Mark walked in the door.
"Mornin', Mr. Angelino." Mark yawned. It was evident that he was very tired from lack of sleep.
"Yo, Mark, have ya been sleepin' ok? ’Cuz if ya don't mind me sayin' this, ya look like hell or at least like Camden."
"Nah," he wearily replied, "I've been havin' a little trouble sleepin' for a couple of weeks and don't know why."
"Hey...take some time off, a couple of days or so, me and Lisa can get by without ya."
"Actually, Mr. Angelino, I need to talk to you about something important."
"Yo! What's so damned important to keep ya from takin' some time off?"
"I think it's finally time for me to get outta here for good, I just need a change in my life," Mark turned serious, "I might even leave Philadelphia."
"Go? Leave Philly? Ya crazy or somethin'? What about Lisa? The kid's crazy for ya. If ya go, ya'll break her heart and I don't need no deaf, brokenhearted waitress moping 'round this place."
"Lisa will get by." Mark lied, knowing in his heart that she would be devastated.
"Where ya gonna go?" snorted Angelino, still not believing what he had heard.
"I don't know, maybe...I guess, well...I'm not sure..."
At that moment, Lisa brought over a magazine that a customer had left at one of the tables and it caught his eye. The skyline, that beautiful skyline from his dream was on the cover. The city was Chicago.
"CHICAGO!" he suddenly shouted, not even knowing why.
"Chi-town, huh? Well good luck to ya and call me when ya get back here. I give ya 'bout a week. You're the best damn manager I ever had and ya always got's a job at my place. Give Lisa a kiss goodbye and tell her you'll be back."
Mark kissed a crying Lisa goodbye and looked around the cafe. He knew he wouldn't be back.
Marissa was exhausted. Over the past two weeks, Gary had hardly been around the bar at all. She realized that he had to do what The Paper needed, but couldn't understand why it wouldn't give him a break once in a while. He needed it. She needed it. She had been working sixteen hour days and had not taken a day off in over a month. She never complained, of course, since half of the bar was hers, but ever since she had broke up with Emmet Brown two months ago, all she really needed was a little time to herself. Lately, things seemed to be getting worse. Her guide dog, Riley, had become very sick and had to be retired. The exact same thing had happened to Spike two years earlier and it was far too emotionally trying for her to get used to another guide dog again. Marissa knew somehow she would get by, but for her not to have a guide dog would be like missing a limb for anyone else.
"Are you alright, Ms. Clark?" inquired Denise Wilcox, the wait staff supervisor, "You look beat."
"Denise.....I-I was just lost in thought." Marissa was tired from another long day at the bar.
"I wish Mr. Hobson spent a little more time here so you could take a day off once in a while."
"So do I, Denise," replied Marissa, shaking her head slowly, "So do I."
The plane from Philadelphia landed at Midway Airport 3:30 that Friday afternoon. Mark left the terminal and, after finding a phone book, looked at the hotel listings. He saw one that caught his eye: 'Inexpensive rates-The Loop's only residential hotel-The Blackstone'. Mark made the decision to go there and boarded the 'El'. After arriving at The Blackstone and checking in, he decided on getting some sleep right away as the trip from Philadelphia had taken a lot out of him. Tomorrow was Saturday and Mark knew he could sleep late, and for that matter, he could sleep late every day since he didn't have a job.
Gary stumbled into McGinty's at about 10:30 Friday night. The Paper had him running all over Chicago again. He was tired, his body ached all over and just wanted a beer. Gary knew he had to talk to Marissa, after all, she had been holding down the bar by herself for so long that he was almost too embarrassed to say anything. He knew that the bar needed a manager, but he also wanted to know what had happened to Riley and why she broke up with Emmet. He downed his beer and slowly crawled up the stairs to his loft. Gary wanted to change his clothes before talking to Marissa, just so he could feel a bit more comfortable. He sat on his bed, fell backwards and began drifting off to sleep.
The taxi brought Marissa to her apartment on Chestnut Street at 2:00 AM. The driver overcharged her by seven dollars, but as exhausted as she was, she didn't bother to put up a fight. All she wanted was to crawl into bed and get her three hours of sleep before having do it all over again on Saturday. Marissa decided on walking to McGinty's in the morning because she was upset and angry at being overcharged by sleazy cab drivers who took advantage of her being blind, and besides, she thought, the walk might do her good.
Mark began to dream again, only this time the dream was different. It began with a gold-orange tabby cat. The cat meowed and a newspaper, The Chicago Sun-Times, appeared on top of what looked like a bar. The cat meowed again and a breeze blew open the first couple of pages of what appeared to be a Sunday paper. The cat meowed once more and he could see a headline. 'BLIND PEDESTRIAN STRUCK BY RUNAWAY TRUCK, Freak Six AM Accident at Illinois & State Kills Woman'. He read the story, 'Saturday morning, a car carrier traveling west on Illinois Street hit a bump and jarred loose an improperly fastened pick-up truck. The pick-up quickly gained speed and struck a blind woman crossing the street on her way to work. The victim was killed instantly. An eyewitness stated she may not have heard the truck approaching as it was free rolling. The victim, whose name has not yet been released pending notification of kin, was an African-American woman around thirty years old.'
At that moment a loud meow pierced the air and woke Mark up. Taking the time to wipe the sleep out of his eyes, he glanced over at the alarm clock on the nightstand. 5:30...5:30 in the morning...5:30 Saturday morning. He remembered the dream completely and knew for some unexplainable reason that he had to be at that intersection before 6:00 AM. Dressing quickly, he ran out of The Blackstone to catch the El and make his way to the corner of Illinois and State, still wondering what reason was making him go, and more importantly, why.
At 5:30 Saturday morning, Marissa left her apartment on Chestnut Street for the eleven block walk to McGinty's. Normally, it would take her about forty-five minutes, maybe an hour if she took her time. It was a slightly cool, but pleasant day and she was in a good mood for a walk. Today, Marissa planned on discussing the bar manager question with Gary and hoped he wouldn't avoid it this time. She had wanted to make Denise Wilcox the manager, but Denise planned on moving out of the area in a few months and told her that it wouldn't be fair to accept it on a temporary basis. Marissa hoped Gary would understand their need to find a manager and why they had to find that manager quickly.
As Marissa approached Illinois Street while walking down State, she marveled at how quiet downtown Chicago could be on an early Saturday morning. She was pleased the city had installed the new beeping crossing signs at most downtown intersections since this made it much easier for her to cross the street safely. Marissa could hear a large tractor trailer crossing State Street on Illinois while waiting for the light to change. <beep...beep...beep> It was now time for Marissa to cross Illinois Street.
5:55 AM. After looking at his watch, Mark knew he had just five minutes to get to the intersection. 'What if it was only a dream?' kept crossing his mind as he hurried. He saw the intersection and a blind woman with her cane patiently waiting to cross the street. He saw a car carrier cross State Street. As it continued west on Illinois, it suddenly hit a bump in the road, jarring loose a red pick-up truck. The truck broke free and headed straight towards the blind woman, only she couldn't hear it approaching since it wasn't making any noise while quickly free rolling in her direction. His only course of action was to run and try to tackle the blind woman out of the way. In just a matter of seconds, he did what he needed to do, twisting his body so he would be the one hitting the pavement first and also to shield her from any hard contact with the street. In the confusion, she let go of her cane and the truck crushed it after it just barely missed the both of them. The truck finally hit a lamppost, knocking it over and coming to a stop as a mess of broken metal and twisted parts.
"W...wha...what happened? Wh...where am ...I?" asked Marissa in a daze.
"It's over now, miss, let me help you up." Mark calmly said as he put his arm around her waist, gradually pulling her to her feet.
"What's over? What happened?" Marissa was still stunned.
"A truck broke free of it's carrier and almost hit you."
"My cane, where's my cane?" She suddenly realized it was missing.
"I'm afraid the truck crushed it."
At that moment, a look of sheer terror crossed Marissa's face.
"Oh, God, oh no, no...no..." Marissa began to panic, "Please, I'm blind and lost without it. I-I need it to walk to where I.....what am I going to do?"
"Calm down, miss, where are you going? I'll help get you there. Please don't get upset. I'll get you where you're going, okay? Don't worry." Mark had seen people panic before, but not quite like this. He knew he had to help her in any possible way he could.
"McGinty's Bar, 228 West Illinois Street, I'm going to McGinty's...I have a spare cane there....Do you mind taking me there? Please, I-I really need your help!" pleaded Marissa, something she was neither used to doing nor comfortable with.
"That's only a few blocks away, isn't it? Sure, I'll walk you there, just let me know when you feel like you're ready to go." Mark wanted her to relax, catch her breath and calm down.
"I...I'm ready to go now, if you don't mind" she answered, her voice still quivering.
"If you're sure you want to," said Mark, trying to calm her, "I don't mind waiting for the police with you."
"No...I'd like to leave now," she answered, "Please, I'd just feel much better away from here."
Mark led her by the arm as they walked along Illinois Street. He looked over at her and for the first time since he had saved her life, realized how beautiful this African-American woman really was. She was one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen in his life. And she was blind! How cruel could God or nature be to pull such a horrible trick on someone so pretty? It upset him to think that her eyes may never have seen anything at all.
"I've been blind since I was three years old," she said, while continuing to hold his arm as they walked, "I started losing my vision at age sixteen months.....meningitis."
"Huh?" Mark was surprised to hear her mention this.
"I could tell that you were curious about my being blind. It's alright to ask, you know, I don't mind." She smiled.
"I didn't want to pry." He was glad to see her smile. She didn't seem to be bitter about her blindness and this impressed him considerably.
"Really, it's fine, I'm used to talking about it." She felt unusually drawn towards the stranger who may’ve saved her life.
"Uh....okay." Mark was now completely enchanted by her and was at a loss for words.
"I guess I should thank you for saving my life. I was quite lucky that you happened to be there." She calmly told him.
"I...I guess so." Mark was dumbfounded because his dream came true.
Marissa could sense that he was somewhat uncomfortable with the fact he had just saved her life or maybe there was something more to it than that. Regardless of whatever it was, she thought she had better change the subject.
"What's your name?" she politely asked.
"Mark Perini. And yours?"
"Marissa Clark. Nice to meet you."
"Uh...yeah...you, too." Mark wondered if he should tell her about his dream.
"Is something wrong, Mr. Perini?" Marissa could feel that something was bothering him.
"Uh...well...it's just...I moved here yesterday from Philadelphia."
"It's a good thing for me you did! It's a miracle you were at that intersection this morning. Why were you there? Can you tell me?" Marissa really wanted to know since it seemed very odd for someone from out of town to be around at that time of the morning.
"Yeah...but if I tell you why I was at that corner...at that time, I don't know, you'll think...what I mean is...you might just think I'm crazy, really crazy."
"Please....could you tell me?" she asked, still determined to find out why he had been there.
"First," Mark replied nervously, "Do you believe in dreams that can tell the future?"
Gary climbed down the stairs to McGinty’s office, sat down and hung his head in his hands. The Paper had given him a most difficult decision, the choice of who would live or die. He read that at twelve-thirty that afternoon, a bus on the South side would accidentally run over two children, killing one instantly and severely injuring the other. In another story taking place at the same time, an out of town woman TV newscaster, in Chicago for a convention, would travel down the wrong alley and be murdered. The children would be fairly easy to save since he knew most of the information about them and had even seen their pictures in The Paper. The woman newscaster would be much more difficult, since all he had to go on was her name and age, there being no other information in the story, not even a photo. What could he do? He had to make a choice. "Why?" Gary yelled at the cat, "WHY? WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT?"
The cat ran out of the office and hid in the bar.
"Dreams that tell the future?" Marissa was puzzled, "I'm not quite sure I know what you're talking about, Mr. Perini."
"Please....call me Mark. I'm not sure if I know what I'm saying either, but I'll try to explain."
"Please do," she answered, "Because I'm very confused."
"Yesterday, after I flew in, I checked into The Blackstone Hotel...."
Marissa interrupted, "The Blackstone?" She thought of when Gary lived there and got The Paper for the first year or so, "I know someone who lived there four years ago."
"Really, hmm...well, anyway, after I got my room, I was so tired from the trip, that I fell straight asleep. I then started dreaming about a cat, a newspaper and a bar." He paused for a moment and was surprised by the stunned expression on Marissa's face.
Marissa suddenly stopped walking and couldn't believe what she'd heard, "Please, tell me more!" She was now very intrigued. Could it be....The Paper?
"Well, there's not much else to say, except, believe it or not...in my dream, I read about your accident in tomorrow's paper! I just had to be there to stop you from being hurt. I know it sounds crazy, but please believe me, I really did dream it."
"I-I believe you." Gary couldn't have saved her, Marissa suddenly realized, since the accident happened at about 6:00 in the morning and he gets The Paper at 6:30.
"Sure you do." Mark said in a mocking tone.
"No, Mark, I really do. I have my reasons, but I do believe you."
Mark could tell by the sincerity in her voice that she was telling the truth.
Marissa thought that it would be a good idea to change the subject as they started walking again, "So, Mark, what do you do for a living?" she asked.
"I'm currently unemployed. I'd been managing a small restaurant in Philadelphia for the past eleven years, but I quit my job Thursday and for some reason I can't explain, moved here yesterday."
"Restaurant manager? Really....? Do you think you could manage a bar?" There was excitement in the way she asked.
"I don't see why not," Mark answered, "The businesses are almost identical."
"I co-own a bar and need a manager. You need a job. Hmm, it sounds like a good match to me. I'd like you to meet my business partner. His name is Gary Hobson. The bar we own is called McGinty's. We're on our way there now, so what can it hurt to talk to him?" she asked, smiling broadly as they continued to walk on. She was now quite certain all of this wasn't just a coincidence.
"Uh...okay, sure, why not? I'll talk to him." said Mark as they arrived at what had been a firehouse a long time ago. He saw the sign that said McGinty's, "We've arrived at your bar, Ms. Clark."
"Thank you for getting me here, Mark. Are you ready to meet Gary?" She asked while feeling the door for the keyhole.
"Ready as I'll ever be." The way the day had been going, Mark didn't know what to expect next.
"Good, let's go in" said Marissa as she unlocked the front door.
After the two of them entered the bar, Mark led Marissa towards the office to get her spare cane and to meet Gary.
Marissa laughed and said, "You'd make a great guide dog, Mark."
"Thanks....I think, Ms. Clark." chuckled Mark.
"Gary?" asked Marissa loudly, "Gary...are you here?"
"In the office!" Gary answered, "Is somebody with you?"
"Yes!" answered Marissa, "Someone I think you should meet after I talk to you in private." She turned towards Mark and politely told him, "Excuse me for a moment, Mark, but I need to speak to him alone. I hope you don't mind. Go ahead and pour yourself a cup of coffee, I can smell that's it's ready. I'll be back out here before you know it."
Mark smiled, "I understand, Ms. Clark."
She stopped before entering the office, "By the way, call me Marissa, okay?"
Mark nodded his head in agreement, but quickly stopped after remembering she was blind and couldn't see him, "Okay, Marissa."
In the office, Marissa sensed that Gary was extremely upset. She wondered what had happened with The Paper this time. She also wondered if she should tell him about Mark and his dream or that she wanted to hire him as bar manager. In her heart, Marissa felt that maybe, just maybe, The Paper had brought Mark to help them both.
"Gary...do you want to tell me about it?" Marissa asked softly.
"Marissa, I have to play God today," Gary answered, "I've got to choose who will live or die. I have to make the choice."
"What? What do you mean, you have to play God and make the choice?"
Gary explained about the two children and the woman newscaster. "I can't be at both places at once. I feel helpless."
At that moment, the two heard a scream of surprise coming from the bar. They left the office quickly, with Marissa grasping Gary's arm and shouting, "Mark, what's wrong ?"
"The...that...ca...ca...cat!! It's the same one from my dream!" Mark had a look of disbelief.
Gary was puzzled. "Howzat? What dream?"
"Gary, I haven't told you about Mark yet." Marissa quickly answered. Then, turning towards Mark’s direction, said, "Mark, will you please give me a moment alone to speak to Gary."
Marissa explained to Gary about Mark's dream and how he had saved her life that morning. She went on to explain about him having been a restaurant manager and how she thought he could manage the bar. She also told him about Mark just moving from Philadelphia the day before.
"Philadelphia?" Gary questioned, "Are you sure about that?"
"Yes, Gary," Marissa asked, "I'm sure. Why?"
"The TV newscaster is from Philadelphia!" Gary quickly replied.
Marissa gasped, "Oh, my God!"
Marissa realized at that very moment why Mark had moved to Chicago. She had asked the cat for help, for Gary and for McGinty's, and the help had arrived in the form of this stranger from Philadelphia. The Paper wasn't going to let she and Gary go it alone anymore.
Gary, too, had realized why Mark had come to them after Marissa explained about her asking the cat for help. He decided to tell Mark everything. After explaining about getting tomorrow's paper, Gary showed it to him and Mark, instead of thinking it was some type of joke, somehow understood and was eager to help in any possible way he could. The newswoman's name was Laura McCall and Mark knew exactly what she looked like. She had sat next to him on the flight from Philadelphia. Gary asked if he would like to help him prevent her murder. Mark agreed and Gary told him what to do.
Mark was then hired as the bar manager and also became Gary's occasional help with The Paper.
Over the next few weeks, things had gotten back to normal. Gary was more relaxed than he had been in years. Marissa took some time off and came back refreshed and very happy. Mark adjusted to his new surroundings and found that he could make a difference. He enjoyed helping Gary with The Paper and running the bar for Marissa. Mark also began having romantic feelings towards her.
Mark began escorting Marissa home every evening. This was something that they both enjoyed and looked forward to. One night while walking her home, Mark asked her out on a date and she said yes. The two of them were soon dating on a regular basis. Gary thought they made a nice couple. He was glad to see his best friend enjoy her life again. Marissa had fallen in love with Mark and he had fallen in love with her. For the first time in a long while, Mark's life was good. One thing still bothered him however, why did The Paper choose him?
Gary, Marissa and Mark were in the loft one Sunday to discuss the history of The Paper. Gary explained to Mark about Lucius Snow and how Snow had picked him to carry on The Paper after he was dead and gone.
"He saved my life when I was eleven years old," Gary told him, "That's when Snow decided I would be his successor."
Gary explained to Mark how The Paper started coming to him after moving into The Blackstone Hotel when his ex-wife, Marcia, had kicked him out on their wedding anniversary and how he quit his job as a stockbroker.
"Marissa has been with me since day one of The Paper," Gary continued, "I don't think I would've been able to do it without her."
"I'm not sure if that is true," Marissa replied, smiling, "You've done pretty well on your own." She went on, "Lucius Snow saved my life when I was twelve. We didn't know about that until Gary was given the photocopies from Morris at the Sun-Times archives. That's how Gary found out Snow saved his life."
"Photocopies?" questioned Mark.
"Yeah, photocopies." said Gary, "Snow used to photocopy the front page of The Paper before he'd make a save and change the story, although I'm not sure why he did it."
"It seems to me that you two were touched by The Paper in the past and that's why you're with it now," Mark said, "But I never met this *Lucius Snow* or even had been to Chicago before I moved here. I just wonder...what's my connection to The Paper?"
"I'm not sure," said Gary, "But feel free to look through the photocopies if you want to. Oh, by the way, this is a picture of Snow doing his job as a typesetter. The cat's in the picture, too."
Gary handed Mark a book entitled 'Lost Chicago'.
"Oh, my God!" exclaimed Mark, "That's the old man from my first dream, the one who kept saying *Live your life* over and over!"
Marissa put her hand in Mark's and said to him, "I think you'd better take a look at those copies."
Gary brought out the box with the photocopies for Mark to take a look at.
"Here they are, Mark, good luck and I hope you find what your looking for," said Gary, "I have a house fire to stop, so I'll see you two later."
"Okay and thanks, Gary!" said Mark as Gary left the loft.
"I don't know where you should start looking first," Marissa told Mark, "I'm sure there are a quite a few copies in that box. Damn! I just wish I could help you." She was obviously frustrated at not being able to help him search through the hundreds of copies.
"Just your being here with me is help enough," he replied calmly, "Besides, I don't even have a clue as to what I'm looking for."
"Mark, why didn't you mention about your first dream to me?" she asked, "I thought we were close enough to talk about anything, after all, we've been close enough to...do...ehem...you know...other stuff." She had a big grin on her face.
"I really didn't think the dream mattered too much since I had it when I was in Philadelphia," said Mark, "But I do love to do the, ehem, 'other stuff', as you call it." He began laughing, as there were just a few things she was uncomfortable mentioning to him, the words 'make love' being one of them.
Marissa stuck out her tongue and made a nasty looking face in his direction.
A few minutes went by before she said, "Live your life is what Snow told Gary in a message he left for him in an old suitcase. Gary found the message after he had been getting The Paper for about two months. He was still living at The Blackstone Hotel...I also forgot to mention that Snow used to live at the Blackstone, too."
"Really?" Mark replied, "Maybe, since I live there now, that's the connection we're looking for."
"No," said Marissa, "I don't think so. Just keep looking through the copies."
He continued to look at these bits of history that had never happened. He read about disasters that never took place, accidents and murders that Lucius Snow had prevented from ever coming to be. He saw one headline from June, 1979 that made him cringe, 'BLIND TWELVE YEAR OLD GIRL MURDERED, Brutal Rape and Killing Shocks City', he knew it was about Marissa, without even reading the story.
"It didn't happen, Mark." said Marissa softly.
"How did you know what I read?" asked Mark, astonished.
Marissa just smiled sweetly.
He next saw a headline from May, 1976 in which an eleven-year-old Gary was run over by a truck in on State Street in the Loop.
Mark then saw a headline that made him shudder. April 10, 1976, it read: 'Georgia Gov. Carter Shot While Giving Campaign Speech - Democratic Front Runner Killed in Philadelphia'. He read it to Marissa.
"It didn't happen, Mark." said Marissa.
"I know!" answered Mark sharply, "I was there!"
"Bingo!" shouted Marissa, "There's your connection, Mark! Obviously Snow must have saved your life that day, too!"
"No, he didn't, Marissa," Mark said, "The Paper says that Carter was the only one killed that day."
"Did anything else happen to you that day?" Marissa asked, "Anything out of the ordinary?"
"Let me think on that for a moment," he started remembering that day, "I was thirteen at the time, I'd cut school to see Carter's campaign speech. I thought it would be interesting to see a Presidential candidate up close." Mark paused for a moment.
"Go on" said Marissa.
"On my way to Independence Hall...that's where Carter was going to speak...I did something, something special," Mark said, "Only, I can't seem to remember what it was. I think I'll to lie down on the sofa, rest, think and see if maybe that might jog my memory."
Mark went over to the sofa and lay down. Marissa came over, kneeled next to him and started to gently stroke his head.
"Take your time, my love, take your time" she said in a soft hush. Using her fingers for a guide, Marissa then placed a gentle kiss on his lips.
Gary stopped the house fire from happening and came home. It was the only thing The Paper had for him to do that day. As he entered the loft, he saw Marissa and Mark by his sofa.
"Should I leave?" asked Gary, smiling broadly, "If you two need some privacy, I'll....."
"It's not what you think!" shot back Marissa, "Mark's may have found his connection to The Paper and Lucius Snow. He's trying to remember something that might be important."
"Oh." Gary still smiled.
"I-I think I can remember now," said Mark, sitting up, "Back in 1976, the trolleys still ran in Philly. They were very old, from the 1930's and 40's. They creaked, smelled bad and their brakes didn't work too well." He paused.
"Well, go on!" Marissa said impatiently.
"As I went to hear Carter speak, a man had got his foot caught in one of the trolley tracks. A trolley was coming and nobody would help him," he continued, "I ran over and helped him get his foot out at the very last second. He didn't even thank me, he just looked at a newspaper and ran across the street. The only other thing I can remember about him is, that even though he was well dressed, his hands were very dirty, almost as if they were stained."
"Oh, dear Lord!" Marissa gasped, "It was Snow! He was a typesetter! His hands were stained with ink! You saved Lucius Snow's life!"
Gary shook his head, "Howzat? When did this happen?"
"April, 1976." Mark quietly answered.
A stunned silence grabbed at the loft. Minutes seemed like hours.
Marissa broke the silence, "Lucius Snow didn't save your life...you...you saved his," she went on, "And not just his life, but all of the lives Snow would save later on, including Gary's and...mine...and all of the other lives that Gary has saved too." She had a look of stunned disbelief on her face.
Words escaped Mark's thoughts. He didn't know what to say.
"Some revelation." Gary said quietly.
After the shock had finally worn off, the three of them just sat there quietly until Mark stood up and decided to speak. He finally understood why The Paper had chosen him.
"The Paper brought me here for four reasons," Mark said, "First, for Gary, to help him. Second, for McGinty's, to manage it. Third, for Marissa, to love and be loved, and finally, for me, because I needed all of the first three reasons."
Mark turned towards Marissa, "I love you with all my heart."
She smiled, made her way over to him and gave him a kiss, "I love you, too."
The cat jumped into Gary's lap and started purring. "Okay, okay," he said, "I love you, too, you big furball."
The three of them laughed and the cat just purred softly.
THE END (OR THE BEGINNING)
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