Story, Romance, Humor (H/M)
Approximately 8,000 words; 22 pages (8 ½” x 11”)
Northern Smokey Mountains
One thing you can say about the Smokies in the fall is they are
"Mac, I think we have arrived in Mayberry."
"Ok city boy, don't make fun of small towns, I lived in one for awhile.
They can be very charming."
"Well, I hope it’s true what they say: that everyone knows everyone
else's business, and we can find that Marine. How can a Marine that is
nominated for a Medal of Honor just disappear?"
"He didn't know he was up for the honor. He served his four years and
received his honorable discharge and went home."
"But his forwarding address is 'Route 3', were in the hell is that? From
the looks of things it could be the end of a dirt trail."
"What are you worrying about? Remember you have a Marine with you."
"Oh yea, I forgot I brought Danielle Boone USMC or better yet, Gomer
Pyle's sister to track down this guy."
"Funny, there's the county court house. Perhaps we can check with the
Chancery Clerk's office for a better address. Then we can find the
sheriff's office for further directions."
The three-story red brick building was the tallest in the small town.
The courtyard had a large statue honoring confederate and federal
soldiers from the civil war. Locating the county clerk's office was
easy. Reba Smithfield introduced herself as the chancery clerk of
"Jacob McCoy, you mean Bubba McCoy. What kind of trouble did he get
into?" she looks over her reading glasses propped on her nose.
I smile "Sergeant McCoy has been selected to receive a medal for
"The only outstanding thing that sorry bunch of McCoys ever did was to
make moonshine," she replied sarcastically.
"Can you give us directions to his home?" Mac interrupted with a smile.
"Yep, Route 3," Reba replied.
"Where in the hel...ah...county would we find Route 3?" my shoulders
drop, and I rub my eyes.
This is becoming a long day.
"Do I look like the postman?" she looks at me with disdain.
Mac jumps in "We'll just check with the sheriff, thank you so much for
The sheriff's office has a sign on the door, 'Gone, be back when I get
back'. "Now that is informative," I roll my eyes towards Mac who is
finding the 'wild goose hunt' for Sergeant Jacob McCoy AKA Bubba to be
amusing. "I guess Andy and Barney are out rounding up moonshiners."
"Harm, you're tired, and I'm hungry. Let's find a place to stay and have
"I asked about hotels when we stopped for gas earlier. The Sleepy Hollow
Motel and Cafe is it. Like I said we are in Mayberry."
The Sleep Hollow Motel consists of about 10 units with each door painted
a different color and a swimming pool that was converted to a large gold
fish pond. The cafe connects to the office. It seems to be the center
for social gatherings of Smithfield. The proprietors are Daniel and
Millie Tubbs. Millie was of course a Smithfield. She also serves as cook
at the cafe. Mac learned all of this as we checked in from a very chatty
receptionist named Betty.
"Ya'll aren't from around here." Betty smacks through her gum. I am
amazed at her uncanny observation skills considering Mac and I are in
uniform, and there is not a military base anywhere near here. "Are you
two engaged or married or something?"
Mac suppresses laughter, while I just look at her in disbelief. She is
probably the town gossip and reporter.
"We want two separate rooms" I respond slowly without cracking a smile.
She smiles sweetly at Mac and hands us the keys. "My Aunt Millie serves
a really mean supper at the cafe. Her fried chicken will make you just
die and go to heaven."
Is everyone related in this town? Everyone's a Smithfield. I wonder if
they all dislike the McCoys. This situation sounds strangely familiar.
Later that evening
Sleepy Hollow Cafe
We had checked into our rooms and agreed to meet up in 45 minutes in
front of the cafe for dinner. I must admit I felt better after a long
hot shower, but my calls to the Admiral and Renee quickly dampened my
mood. Neither could believe that we were having this much trouble
locating the missing Marine.
Mac and I stroll into the busy cafe and find a booth. "You don't look
like you are in any better mood," Mac chastises.
"The Admiral wasn't exactly thrilled when I told him it would probably
take a few more days to finish this up. And Renee." I stop and just
shake my head.
"I know Mic wasn't a happy camper either."
A tall thin waitress approaches our table with two large glasses of ice
water. She maintains a steady rhythm of smacking her gum and blowing
bubbles. There must be a bubble gum factory somewhere close by. Her name
badge is pinned over a folded lacy handkerchief and reads Lou Ann. She
pulls a pencil from out of the top of her teased red hair, takes a pad
out of her apron pocket and smiles waiting for us to order.
"Do you have a menu?" I ask probably a little impatiently. She points to
a large chalkboard behind the counter. It lists:
Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy or
Fried Liver with onions smothered in gravy with potatoes
Choice of two vegetables Cornbread
"Do you have anything that isn't fried or smothered in gravy" I inquire
trying not to sound sarcastic.
Lou Ann stares at me with her eyes slightly slanted, "Miss Millie's
fried chicken is the best; you'll just die and go to heaven once you've
tried it" she smiles trying to convince me.
"I have a lot of unfinished business to complete before I go to heaven,
so how about just bringing me a vegetable plate, no gravy, no pie, ice
Mac shakes her head as Lou Ann repeats my order with disdain. "And what
for you ma'am," she smiles.
"Oh, I'll certainly try the chicken with mashed potatoes, and you can
bring me his piece of pie," Mac orders with enthusiasm. Lou Ann beams.
"Now that girl's got an appetite I can appreciate," a middle aged man in
a sheriff's uniform and a belly that suggests he eats all his meals at
this cafe walks up to our table. "Sheriff Winston Smithfield," he
reaches out to shake our hands. "I understand you were looking for me
earlier." Yep, news does travel quickly in a small town.
"Commander Harmon Rabb, Lt. Colonel Sarah McKenzie. We're here from the
Judge Advocate General's office looking for a Jacob McCoy." I notice
everyone in the cafe is looking our way listening intently to our
"What kinda trouble is he in?"
"None, he's been nominated for the Medal of Honor, and we need to talk
with him." Mac explains.
"We need directions to his house."
The sheriff takes a deep breath and frowns in concentration. "That McCoy
bunch is rough. I don't know if you should be messing around with them."
"Sir, we have our orders."
"Tomorrow I have to drive over to Centerville and will pass right by the
road you turn off. You can follow me. Once you turn off, the road is
more or less dirt and goes for miles up in the hills."
We finish our meal and agree to meet the sheriff around 1100.
0800 the next day
Sleepy Hollow Motel
<Bang, Bang, Bang>
"Ok, Ok I'm coming," sleepily I answer the door. "Mac we could actually
sleep late today."
"I thought you might like to take a run. It rained last night and is
nice and cool. I brought you some coffee and toast."
"Thanks for the room service. So you had breakfast this morning after
the meal you ate last night?"
"Yep, and don't ask what I had."
"I'm sure it was fried with some sort of gravy," I chuckle.
"Actually, they had fried smoked ham with biscuits and red-eye gravy."
I groan, "You're going to look like the sheriff before we leave here."
She picks up one of my pillows and throws it at me.
"Lou Ann asked about you," Mac smiles and chuckles, "’Where's that picky
eater fella you're with. Betty says he's your fiancé?’"
I roll my eyes at her; "I don't think the people in this town like me,
but they love you."
"Well you know the saying 'When in Rome..."
"Eat the fried chicken."
Somewhere east of town
"The Sheriff was almost right. The road is dirt, mostly mud."
"I hope we don't get stuck...."
"Great, just great."
We get out to determine the damage and realize we are not going anywhere
soon. I try my cell phone, but can't pick up a signal. Either we are out
of tower range or can't get a signal through these hills.
"The McCoy's place is supposed to be a few miles up this road. Let's
just hike it up there."
"Sounds like a plan."
After hiking through the woods for a little over an hour, we come upon a
cabin. This must be the place, but it looks deserted. "The sheriff said
they were into moonshine making. They must have gotten spooked and
cleared out," Mac observed.
"Another false lead... It looks like its going to rain again. We'd
better head for the car." I feel frustrated as I hear thunder in the
Rain pours down as we run down through the woods towards where the car
"There's a cabin over there. Let's stop and take cover before we drown,"
I yell at Mac.
The cabin is empty except for a few old quilts and some firewood. "Must
be a hunting cabin, I don't think whoever will mind if we borrow it for
"I'll start a fire. You're drenched. Why don't you take off those wet
clothes and wrap up in one of those quilts while I go outside and get
Mac shivers and sneezes "OK."
I find an axe and chop several arm loads of wood. Puddles of water run
from my clothes as I enter the cabin, and find Mac wrapped in a quilt
huddled close to the fire.
"Harm, you must be freezing. Strip down and wrap up. That's an order...
I promise not to peak," her concern is followed with a smile.
Our clothes are spread so that they will dry, and we sit wrapped in
quilts before the orange blaze that warms the room. "I guess we'll have
to stay here tonight. That storm doesn't seem to be letting up. And with
the car stuck and no phone..."
Mac and I look at each other in surprise. The phone is working!
Mac answers her phone. "Mic."
"Hello darling, I was just missing you and thought I would call. How was
your day in the woods with Rabb?"
I see her roll her eyes, "We still haven't found our Marine."
"I was hoping you'd be home tomorrow. I've been missing you." His voice
becomes soft and sultry. "What are you doing?"
"Well, I'm sitting before a cozy warm fire with a blanket wrapped around
me," Mac says softly. I try to act distracted to give her privacy. Mic
is such a bozo.
"What do you have on underneath that blanket?" he whispers.
"Mic, I'm really tired tonight, can we put this on hold?" Mac seems
nervous. I wonder what Mic said.
"All right, if I were a jealous man I would think you were sitting next
to Rabb wrapped up in a blanket with nothing on underneath," he laughs.
"Goodnight, I love you."
"Me too, I'll meet you for lunch day after tomorrow. You can pick me
up," Mac responds nervously and hangs up.
"One down, one to go," I laugh.
"Harm, I thought about how pretty it must be this time of the year in
the mountains. How about I drive over and join you tomorrow night? I can
just imagine a mountain cabin with a fireplace and extra large whirlpool
"I don't think you will find a cabin here...with a whirlpool bath that
is, besides I don't think you would like the room service." I look over
towards Mac, speak softly, and laugh nervously.
"It’s ok for Mac though?"
"Renee, I'll be back day after tomorrow. We can meet for lunch," I feel
"Ok, pick you up at the office. Bye"
The rain continues to pour. The warmth of the fire lulls us to sleep.
"Good night, Flyboy"
"Good night, Marine"
We turn our backs towards each other and fall asleep.
In a cabin somewhere in the mountains
I'm cold except for one side of my body that feels warm. I notice my arm
on that side is asleep as I roll towards the warmth. Mac is sleeping
soundly with her head resting on my arm. The next thing I feel is an
annoying poking sensation on my back. I roll towards the sensation and
open my eyes only to gaze directly into the frowning face of Sheriff
Winston Smithfield and his deputy.
"Been squirrel hunting, son?"
I look around regaining my bearings and realize how this must look. I am
curled up against Mac with our clothes spread all around us. Mac is
peacefully sleeping. "Ah...this isn't what you think." As I reach around
to grab my clothes that have dried during the night, I nudge Mac
"Wake up, Mac,"
She only murmurs "Not now, I still sleepy."
"Mac, wake..up..now!" I repeat louder this time.
She rolls over and rubs her eyes, looks around and smiles nervously "Oh,
The Sheriff only raises an eyebrow while his deputy's mouth is drooped
open catching flies.
I wrap the quilt tighter around my waist and start putting on my shirt.
I walk towards the door so I can finish dressing outside. The sheriff
and deputy follow. The sheriff suddenly reminds me of my junior high
principal the day I was caught trying to skip school with several
"I can explain, our car got stuck in the mud, so we decided to hike up
to the McCoy's...but they weren't there...it started to rain..really
hard...so we found this cabin..we were soaked...Mac gets sick easily
when she gets cold..nothing happened...did I tell you our phones didn't
work?" I am fumbling with my clothes as I finish dressing. About that
time my cell phone rings.
His eyebrow goes up again; he reminds me of a pit bull dog. I answer the
phone and quickly tell the person on the other end I will call them
back. "Wrong number." I chuckle nervously.
"Son, do I look like I was born yesterday. You can't tell me you were up
here all night with that beautiful woman and nothing happened. My
grandmother would have taken a switch to me, and I wouldn't have been
able to sit for a week for telling a fib like that," he replies
He goes on "Betty from the motel called me this morning to let me know
you two didn't come back to the motel last night. She was worried. I
thought maybe you had a run in with some of those McCoys...I guess
that's not the kinda trouble you ran into... Burt and I found your car
and called a tow truck."
"We only discovered the phones were working late last night. It was too
dark to expect someone to come after us, and we were perfectly safe." I
begin to feel more confident. I have faced terrorists, the Admiral and
"I'm not so sure that pretty little gal in there was so safe," he
Mac joins us outside the cabin. She looks at me then the sheriff and
smiles nervously. We hike silently to the Sheriff's four wheel drive SUV
and drive back to town. I'm an adult. I am an officer in the U.S. Navy
for goodness sake. Why do I feel like a teenager who got caught parking?
Mac is not helping matters. She occasionally begins to nervously giggle,
until I give her a look that could kill.
Our car is parked in front of the motel, and the sheriff lets us out. "I
have some information on Bubba McCoy. You two better clean up, and I'll
meet you in the cafe in an hour." He peals out. Images of him calling my
mother to tell on me float across my mind.
An hour later I meet Mac outside our rooms to walk to the cafe.
"Harm, lighten up. Nothing happened," she observes my dark mood.
"Mac, I can just hear this guy calling the Admiral about our
"You're just embarrassed that we were caught."
I open the door to the cafe and respond, "Yes I am!"
"You're embarrassed that you were caught with me." Mac says rather
loudly. The cafe crowd suddenly becomes quiet and all eyes are on me.
"That's not what I meant, and you know it!" I whisper curtly.
She marches towards a booth and sits down avoiding making eye contact
with me. She is really ticked off. Where did this come from?
The sheriff strolls over towards our table and looks us up and down. "I
found out that Jacob Bubba McCoy decided to reenlist in the Marines. I
understand he left two days ago to go to Virginia."
"I guess that finishes up our business here." I am still distracted by
Mac's anger. I start to get up.
He places his hand on my shoulder and pushes me back into my seat, "One
more thing, around here when you take advantage of a lady like
that...you make things right, if you know what I mean." The sheriff is
looking at me straight in the eye. His voice is dead serious.
I can't believe this. "Make things right? What are you talking about?
Nothing happened." I start to stand again. This time his deputy directs
his shotgun at me.
"I don't think the sheriff's through talking with you mister," he drawls
and readjusts the chewing tobacco in his mouth.
I slide down into the booth and look at Mac who has her eyes covered
with her hand and is trembling with quiet laughter. I know she must feel
the look I am giving her.
"Mac would you PLEASE explain what didn't happen last night." I say each
word carefully with much restraint.
She finally regains her composure as she wipes away tears of laughter
from her eyes, "Really sheriff, what Harm said is exactly what
Lou Ann and the rest of the customers in the cafe were in total awe of
the drama that was unwinding before them. Seeing the tears, Lou Ann
decides to intervene, "Awe Honey, don't let him bully you that way. The
sheriff's just trying to help. You never know what you'll be faced with
in nine months," she places a consoling arm around Mac and looks at me
like I just insulted Miss Millie's fried chicken.
Mac tries to suppress her laughter sounding more like she is
hysterically sobbing than laughing. Deputy Burt pushes the point of his
shotgun deeper into my ribs. I am definitely dying here.
Sheriff Smithfield then places a document on the table in front of me. I
look at it, and my mouth drops open. It's a marriage license!
Sleepy Hollow Cafe
A marriage license!
"Wa Wait a minute! You you can't do this. This is against the Navy's
regs," I stutter. My communication skills are shot to hell.
"Son, just sign the paper. You'll thank me later," he says almost
benevolently. He sweeps his arms around the room, "Besides, we have a
whole room full of witnesses that will swear it was your idea." The
shotgun poking in my ribs reminds me of my choices. I look at Mac in a
Suddenly she begins to think this is not so funny, "Ah, sheriff could I
talk to Harm in private?"
He nods and maintains an eye on me as we step just out of earshot.
"Harm, this can't be legal. There is a three day waiting period between
applying for a marriage license and the actual ceremony. Besides you
have to have a birth certificate. Maybe we should just sign the license
and leave town. We can clear up the discrepancy when we get back home.
Let's just go along with this and get out of here," she sounds logical,
but a little voice in my head is screaming 'sucker!'
"Ok, I just want to get Deputy Barney over here to keep his gun away
from my ribs," I agree somewhat hesitantly.
Mac smiles at the sheriff, and we walk over to the table. Mac takes the
pen and signs her name and hands the pen to me. I can't seem to make my
hand work, but I am immediately assisted by Deputy Barney and his trusty
I take a deep breath thinking now we get out of here.
"Harm, you don't mind if I call you Harm?" Like I've got a choice. "By
the way, I wish you wouldn't refer to this pretty little gal as Mac. She
has a beautiful name, Sarah. My wife's third cousin's name is Sarah."
I just nod.
"Speaking of cousins, this is my cousin Brother Billy Burnett. He's the
pastor of the First Baptist Church here in Smithfield. He's agreed to
perform the ceremony. Normally he counsels the couple before he marries
them. But I explained the situation, and he agrees this is, shall we
say, an exception," The sheriff has his thumbs in his pockets and is
presiding over this circus just like a ringmaster.
Brother Billy steps up and shakes our hands and wipes his sweaty face
with a handkerchief. "I would take this over to the church, but today
the ladies are having a bazaar. The sheriff assured me that you would
agree that the cafe would be alright." The ladies could sell tickets to
this ceremony and make enough money to rebuild the church.
"Why not? The cafe is just perfect, just perfect," I say with clinched
teeth. Mac looks at me and mouths 'suck it up'.
Brother Billy reaches into a pocket and pulls out a small book, adjusts
his glasses and begins the ceremony. "If you two will stand next to each
other. The purpose of marriage is to join together.." he pauses and
laughs nervously "I guess that part's already been done." I cut Mac, I
mean Sarah, a look, and she suppresses another smile.
"This man and this woman in holy matrimony. Harm would you repeat after
me, I Harmon Rabb take Sarah McKenzie to be my lawfully wedded wife, to
have and to hold from this day forward in sickness and in health, for
richer, for poorer till death do us part." He looks up at me
My mouth goes dry, and I feel myself freeze. I hear the sheriff clear
his throat and notice Lou Ann dabbing at tears on her face. Finally I
clear my throat, "I Harmon Rabb Jr. take Sarah McKenzie to be my
lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, in
sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer till death do us part." I
said this without taking a breath.
"Sarah, repeat after me, I Sarah McKenzie take Harmon Rabb Jr. to be my
lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward in
sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer till death do us part."
There is a pause and I hear her take a deep breath.
"I Sarah take Harmon Rabb Jr. to be my lawfully wedded husband, to have
and to hold from this day forward, in sickness and in health, for
richer, for poorer till death do us part," she says very slowly.
"Harm, you may place the ring on her finger and repeat after me."
Lou Ann interrupts "Why they don't have rings. You can't get married
without rings." I start to agree when she pulls a plain golden wedding
band off her skinny finger and hands it to me, "My Harold's been dead
and cold in the ground for over 15 years, come to think of it he wasn't
that warm when he was alive. I don't need it anymore." She sighs and
smiles. Then she looks over to an unkempt man sitting at the cafe
counter, "Wilroy give me your wedding band."
He looks astonished "But I'm still married!"
Lou Ann frowns and shakes her head, "You know good and well, your wife
is fixing to kick your sorry butt out of the house. Just hand it over."
Wilroy pulls the ring off and reluctantly hands it over to Lou Ann.
Lou Ann proudly hands Mac the ring. Brother Billy clears his throat,
"Harm place the ring on Sarah's left ring finger and repeat after me,
"With this ring I thee wed, it will be a symbol of my love."
I start to place the ring on Mac's finger; it is too small and will not
slide on. I push and push, but it won't budge. Deputy Barney nudges me
again with his shotgun, and I force the ring on her finger "Oww!"
"Sarah place the ring on Harm's left ring finger and repeat after me,
"With this ring I thee wed, it will be a symbol of my love."
"With this ring I thee wed, it will be a symbol of my love." She
attempts to slide the ring on my finger only to find that it is also too
small. She looks in my eyes and give me a 'Semper Fi' look and forces it
on. I restrain from expressing the pain it created.
Brother Billy looks around the room "Is there anyone who feels this
couple should not be married. If so, they should speak now or forever
hold their piece."
I start to open my mouth when the sheriff grunts and gives the rest of
the room a threatening glare.
"Harm, do you promise to love and cherish Sarah all the days of your
life, say I do"
I realize that no one is going to save us, and I am not dreaming, "I
"Sarah, do you promise to love and obey Harm all the days of your life,
say I do."
I see a fire in her eyes as she hears the words obey, she opens her
mouth to object when I give her a pleading look that says, 'Let's just
get this over with'. "I do."
"With the power vested in me I pronounce you husband and wife. You may
kiss your bride," Brother Billy grins seeming quite pleased with
I look over at Mac, and she somewhat reluctantly leans towards me. I
place my hands on her arms and give her a quick kiss on the lips.
"You can do better than that," the sheriff chides.
I pull her closer and give her a 'no holding back' kiss that surprises
both of us. Our wedding party seems quite pleased and applauds. Sarah is
speechless as I push her towards the door.
I hear Lou Ann as we head for the motel; "Don't you want some of Miss
Millie's 'Better than Sex' cake? It can be your wedding cake."
We head for our rooms in haste to gather our belongings and check out.
Mac calls the Marine base in Virginia to confirm that Sergeant McCoy is
now currently a Marine stationed at that facility. We will be able to
meet with him first thing in the morning and can head back to JAG
headquarters in time for lunch.
I meet Mac in the motel office only to find Betty the receptionist
chattering away. She goes on and on about romance and marriage, ours in
particular. Unable to listen anymore as my patience was totally
depleted, "I have a suggestion, why don't you offer a wedding special.
Weddings, whether you want one or not, comes with room and an
artery-clogging, gravy smothered, fried chicken dinner. Mrs. Rabb, are
you coming?" I slap the room key on the desk and storm out.
Betty's eyes fly open and her mouth finally closes in shock.
Mac smiles sweetly "Don't mind him, he's just upset that we can't spend
our honeymoon here, coming darling."
Upon exiting the motel office, I run directly into my favorite sheriff.
He still has that same self-righteous grin on his face and holds up a
large envelope. "I don't want you leaving town without this."
He drops the envelope into my hands "You and the missus have a safe
trip, and ya'll come back now, ya heah."
I can't get into the car quickly enough, and as soon as Mac closes her
door I peel out.
We drive in silence for several hours. I finally feel the tension begin
to leave as we cross the state line. "Mac, what's in the envelope?"
She opens it, pulls out a document, and studies it intently.
"Harm...its our marriage certificate. And it looks...legal" she almost
whispers and avoids making eye contact as I almost lose control of the
"Mac, you said there is no way this could be legal."
"Remember the county clerk we met the first day we arrived. Her name is
Reba Smithfield. She is the sheriff's sister, I think. She signed and
dated it, and it has an official seal."
"We were set up."
We remain speechless for another hour.
"Harm, we could get it annulled." Mac breaks the silence.
"What is the Admiral going to say," I reply softly. Images of the
admiral race through my mind.
"No one has to know. We'll just file for the annulment secretly," she
says a little too matter of factly.
"Harm," she sounds a distressed. I look towards her. She is tugging at
the ring, I had placed on her finger just hours ago. "It won't come off,
This is just getting better and better. I prop my knee against the
steering wheel to guide the car while I pull at the ring on my finger.
This can't be happening. My fingers were swollen from chopping wood the
night at the cabin, and the ring is not moving.
Mac sees me copying her, attempting to remove the ring that remains in
place with a vengeance.
Suddenly, she begins to giggle. The giggle turns into out right
laughter. Her laughter becomes contagious as I begin to see how
unbelievable this whole situation has become. I start to laugh until
tears begin to run down my face. I pull over afraid of losing control
over the car, and we sit and laugh together until we are exhausted.
The rest of the evening driving to the Marine base was spent recalling
the night at the cabin. I pulled over again in spasms of laughter as Mac
shared her conversation on the phone with Mic, and I the one with Renee.
My side was hurting talking about our wedding ceremony, especially the
As we pull into town near the base, I say "Since this is our honeymoon,
why don't we eat somewhere really special."
Mac pipes in, "Yea, burgers or pizza."
"Pizza.. and after that, we'll ask for the honeymoon suite at the BOQ on
"You are so romantic," she smirks.
"I aim to please," I toss back.
The best way to describe our entrance into the JAG bullpen would be
somewhere between the last scene in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"
and Custer's last stand. Our plan was to quietly walk into HQ without
anyone noticing the tell-tale evidence on our hands.
But it's amazing how destiny just takes over.
As Mac and I enter the bullpen area, a very pregnant Harriet carrying
too many files runs right into Mac. Files flew everywhere, and Harriet's
gasp of frustration could be heard throughout the room.
Quickly Mac and I attempt to help Harriet gather the files before more
attention could be directed towards us. Mistake....Harriet's sonar
vision immediately picks up on the matching golden bands that hold fast
to our left ring fingers.
"Oh, Oh, I can't believe this." Her face lights up like a Christmas
tree. Everything went into slow motion. Needless to say, Harriet was not
whispering when she announced her discovery, and everyone who had been
in an office immediately came into the bullpen to investigate the
commotion. Bud and the Admiral just knew Harriet had gone into labor.
I look towards my office as a place to take cover when I see Renee
accompanied by Mic walking towards Mac and I with big smiles plastered
across their faces.
"The Commander and the Colonel are married," Harriet practically
Out of the corner of my eye, I watch Renee's and Mic's faces change from
smiling to shock to anger within seconds. I look to Mac for support, and
she is just as shell-shocked as I. I hear the Admiral's voice bellow
across the room "Rabb, McKenzie in my office nooow!"
Obeying the order, mostly because it was the only hideout available, we
walk directly to the office passing a mixture of facial expressions from
sheer delight to confusion to the death wish glares of Renee and Mic. As
we reach Tiner's desk, he is holding a phone up to me "Commander, your
mother is on the line." I can hear the crying and a voice repeating "I'm
"Take a message and tell her I call back tonight." I can't believe this.
We stand stiffly at attention in the Admiral's office waiting for the
firing squad to finish us off. The Admiral remains uncomfortably silent
for several minutes or hours, as time loses all meaning. In a low very
controlled voice he begins, "Would someone please explain how I could
send two officers on a simple investigation, and they return MARRIED?"
I swallow hard, hoping Mac would take the lead, but she did what any
defendant would do in this situation and pled the fifth. The Admiral
walks up to me and stares in expectation.
I swallow again, "Sir, I don't think you would believe me..."
"Well, Sir, we were having difficulty locating Sergeant McCoy. He lives
out of this town made up mostly of Smithfields. The Smithfields don't
like the McCoys. The sheriff is a Smithfield, and the county clerk is a
Smithfield, and everyone else is related to the Smithfields except the
McCoys. The sheriff agreed to show us the general direction where McCoy
lived. Our car became stuck in the mud on the road to the house, so the
Colonel and I walked to the house. But they run a moonshine business,
and thought we were after them so they disappeared. It started raining,
really hard. We took refuge in a cabin. Our phones didn't work. We found
some blankets to wrap up in until our clothes dried and spent the night
in the cabin. But on my word of honor nothing happened." I know I must
sound like I have been on drugs.
"Commander, this is the most asinine excuse I have ever heard. And what
does all this have to do with the marriage?"
"I’m getting to that Sir. The sheriff thought we ran into trouble with
the McCoys and decided to look for us. He kind of found us... Our
clothes were drying on the floor, and it looked...but nothing happened,
Sir. The sheriff is a little old fashioned and decided that we should be
married because of the appearance of everything."
"Commander, you and the Colonel are known for being strong willed and
stubborn. I find this hard to believe that you would get married at the
suggestion of a sheriff unless you planned to do so. You both know that
this goes against Navy regs."
"Well, Sir, there was this shotgun…"
His face suddenly changed to a strange shade of red. He coughed and
turned away and stood silently trembling.
Without turning around, he said with difficulty, "Dismissed." As we
retreated from the office he added, "File the report and you are
dismissed for the rest of the day until I decide what to do."
Later that evening
Knock, knock, knock.
"Oh Mic," I figured after our lunch date fiasco he would be on the first
flight back to Australia.
He invites himself in and looks at me with pleading eyes, "Sarah, I had
to hear it from you." He waits....
"Mic, it’s not what everyone thinks..." I begin only to be captured in a
hug that crushes me to his chest.
"Oh Sarah, I knew it wasn't true. You and Rabb didn't get married."
"Well, Mic yes...no...yes we did," I squeak.
He pushes me back, and that same look of disbelief I'd seen earlier
I nervously begin playing with THE ring on my left finger until I notice
him wincing. "Sarah, I could never get you to put my engagement ring on
that finger, but Rabb managed to put a wedding ring on it," he responds
"Mic, the wedding wasn't our idea."
He frowns in confusion.
"The Smithfield sheriff thought it was a good idea." Boy, did that sound
Mic draws up and steps into his prosecutor mode. "And just what made
this sheriff think this was a good idea?"
I feel the heat creeping up my neck..my mouth feels dry as the words
will not come.
"Answer me honestly Sarah...The night I called and asked you what you
were doing...you said you were wrapped up in a quilt in front of a cozy
fire." He pauses, but his eyes refuse to break their hold on mine.
"Were you with him?"
Hesitantly I respond, "Yea." I know I am going to be convicted with no
chance for appeal. I hold my breath before the next question seals my
"What were you wearing under that quilt?" His arms folded tightly across
I smile sheepishly, "Nothing.... but."
He turns and storms towards the door.
"We had two quilts." I finish, and the door slams.
"I guess this means you want your engagement ring back." I say softly to
About the same time
Knock, knock, knock.
She pushes past me and stands near the sofa, arms crossed.
"I need an explanation."
"Renee, you're going to find this hard to believe."
"Actually, I don't"
"You don't?" This confuses me.
She rolls her eyes and sits stiffly on my sofa. Eyebrows raised waiting
for my response.
I sit at the opposite end of the sofa and take a deep breath. Here goes
nothing. I recount the events leading up to the wedding pausing to
evaluate Renee's response. Her expression is unreadable. Then I finish
off with the wedding.
Before I can explain anymore, she snaps, "I may be blonde, but I'm not
stupid! You are right about one thing. I find this hard to believe, in
fact, I find this story so incredible. I plan to personally write,
direct and produce it as a TV MOVIE OF THE WEEK!" she adds as she slams
the door behind her.
That went well...not.
Same night, just later
I stand looking at her door debating whether to knock or not. Just as I
raise my hand she opens the door.
"Mac?! I think we need to talk.... Were you going somewhere?"
"No, Jingo let me know someone was at the door, and I looked through my
peep hole and saw you. Come on in." I'm thankful she is still speaking
She directs me towards the sofa, and we sit facing each other in silence
for a few minutes, while I gather my thoughts.
She started, "I checked with the attorney general's office. The marriage
license is legal. We can apply for an annulment, but it will take at
least six weeks to be processed... I'm sorry I gave you poor legal
advice." She looks away sadly. "I guess you feel betrayed too."
"I don't feel betrayed, Sarah. Why would you say that? We are in this
together." I am confused by her feelings. I hate to see her sad.
"Well, Mic came by earlier. He was really angry when he left. I don't
think he believes what happened. Besides, I got the impression he was
more disappointed that he lost some sort of contest with you."
I laugh weakly. "Renee dropped by also. Let's just say our life story
will be on a TV movie of the week, and it will not be pretty.... Bud
said Mic and Renee were pretty chummy when they left at lunch. Maybe we
can send them on an all expenses paid trip to the Sleepy Hollow Motel
and Cafe," I add sarcastically.
She actually smiles, and I see a glimmer of amusement in her large warm
brown eyes. "I guess we have been through a lot together, this is just
not our usual predicament."
I smile, "We can't even blame Webb for this one."
I reach out and take her hand in mine. "Sarah, I know you always have
dreamed of that someone special proposing, a beautiful wedding like
Harriet's and Bud's and a romantic honeymoon. This was just a circus,
but I don't want you to think..." I gather my courage.
"Think what?" she asks gently.
"Think that I don't care for you. I have something to confess." I look
down at our hands. I then reach and gently tug at the wedding ring on my
finger which I remove rather easily. "It came off this morning when I
got up; the swelling in my fingers was gone."
She looks bewildered. "Harm, you mean you didn't have to walk into JAG
headquarters wearing your wedding band....no one would have suspected
anything." She looks up in realization. I look away waiting for her to
unload all of that jarhead anger at me for messing up her life.
She reaches up and touches my face, and I see tears running down her
cheeks. I feel so badly for hurting her. I look down afraid to see her
eyes, "I'm sorry Sarah, I just wasn't ready to give you up.... I love
Her head nods forward so that her forehead is touching mine. She smiles
and looks rather sheepishly at me, "Harm, I think you need to know
something." She pulls at the wedding band on her left finger and removes
it. "Shampoo, last night. I guess we were thinking the same thoughts."
"No proposal, shotgun wedding, second hand rings, bummer of a honeymoon,
I guess this would make a great story to tell our grandchildren." I say
"Say that again," she has now moved into my arms. "Say the part about
"You like that." My voice is very husky as I move to close the distance
between our lips. The kiss was like a drink of cool water on a hot dry
day. It was the kiss we had been waiting to share for too long.
She pulls back from our kiss and takes my face in her hands, "My dreams
had nothing to do with a wedding, but of a marriage. I always dreamed of
marrying a good man that I love with all my heart and having a life that
we build together."
I gaze in her eyes seeing only truth, "And I have dreamed of spending an
eternity.... with just you." Finally the words that I had held inside
for so many years were said.
The next kiss was full of passion and desire. And our desires became our
needs. I lifted her and took her into the bedroom where we, joined
together in holy matrimony indeed became as one. Our love was sweet and
passionate and when we broke away we held each other into the night.
"You know the honeymoon isn't really over."
"I hope it never is.... You know it amazes me how things work out when
you're not trying."
"One more thing?"
"Can we discuss that obey part of the wedding vows?"
"You're the one who said everything was legal."
Earlier that same evening
"Admiral, a Sheriff Winston Smithfield is on the line."
"Thank you Tiner, I'll take the call in my office."
"Cousin Albert, how did everything work out?"