By Dennis C. Callin

And by Anna-Karin Larsson Uhlèn

Fanfiction: Beauty and the Beast (Paramount 1987)


Disclaimer: The following story is for entertainment purposes only, and not intended to infringe on the copyrights connected with the television program series Beauty and the Beast. The story is fictional, and not intended to portray any person, living or dead, any place, or technically, any event as true. My thanks go to Paramount Studios and CBS for airing B&B for three seasons, and providing a beautiful story based on the fairy tale brought into modern times.

Chapter Three


An Offering of Peace…


Urban legend tells of a city beneath all the concrete, asphalt and steel of Manhattan, where people live as well, if not better, than the ones who live aboveground. The closest the denizens of the city came to this fabled world was when they rode the subways or worked on the utilities that the city relied upon. “Below” did exist, and its people were real – real enough to be able to blend in when required. Aided by friends called “Helpers,” the world beneath Manhattan’s streets and buildings thrived.


No one in the city Above knew about all the forgotten tunnels, chambers or pipes under their feet. The many blueprints that had these places outlined and marked had long disappeared or were buried in archives. And yet, the people Below knew more about the old and even ancient New York than the archeologists. The more people who came Below for one reason or another, the greater was the need for explorers among them to map the underworld. Mouse, the resident inventor, had outfitted a chamber for mapping, and he became the unofficial cartographer. However, it did not take too long before the tables and walls became a rat’s nest of different maps. And yet, if anyone needed a location, Mouse knew where the map that had the information was in all the stacks … and piles … maybe somewhere in the room …


Well … most of the time … if one had the patience while watching chaos in motion …


Upon his death, Father’s room was left empty for almost a year. Vincent could not bear to enter the room – even if he required something he knew was in there. Finally, after being cajoled by several members of Below as well as Catherine, he entered the room, lovingly dusted the shelves of books and bric-a-brac, and reluctantly claimed the room for his own. Once he had crossed the threshold, he realized that the easiest way to remember Father was to work with all the items that had been constantly around him. The old-fashioned cursive handwriting in the margins of books, on leaves of paper, in manuscripts, and even scraps of loose notes spoke of the man who had been the leader of Below. Vincent could almost hear Father speaking to him through these constant reminders.


This morning, Vincent was writing in his journal – a duty he found comforting as a meditation mantra. Mary entered the room carrying a tray that contained a covered dish, a juice glass, a coffee carafe and two mugs, a ceramic creamer, a pewter sugar bowl, and even a bud vase with a yellow rose. None of the pieces matched or even remotely appeared to be coordinated, but each piece was a priceless antique that had never been thrown away or sold at an estate sale. Vincent smiled and laid the fountain pen he had been using down on the blotter. He moved to the table and sat down in a heavy oak chair.


“You did not need to do this,” he said, his voice a soft but gravelly whisper.


“Nonsense,” Mary replied. “I had to do this with Father, and you are no different.”


Taking off the cover, Mary revealed a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, biscuits and a dollop of orange marmalade. She smiled as Vincent’s nostrils sniffed the air. “If you are wondering, our guest should be with you shortly. She did not wish to disturb you.”


Vincent tilted his head, a gesture that Mary knew was puzzlement. “What is the time Above?” he asked.


Mary nodded. Here in the tunnels, only certain areas were open to the sky or had skylight conditions. As a result, most of the denizens of Below had to have clocks constantly around them to govern their circadian rhythm. Vincent, however, rarely heeded the clocks. Instead, he trusted his senses that told him when the sun rose and set, as well as when the moon was in the sky. Thus, the inquiry coming from Vincent was slightly a surprise.


“Seven o’clock and it’s raining.”


He took a deep breath through his mouth and nodded. Air constantly circulated throughout the tunnel system, and Vincent could tell the weather and approximate time just by the scents carried on that breeze. What troubled him somewhat was that he had slept past his usual time. The air was cool and damp, and filled with the smell of grass and trees. In the rain, the stench of exhaust did not pollute the fresh scent.


“Thus, the reason for the coffee,” Mary remarked as she poured a steaming hot stream of deep brown liquid into the mug. “I thought you might like something a bit stimulating. Other than Catherine, that is …”


His lips slowly curved upward. “Is she with Jacob?”


“For the moment.”


“How is our guest?”


Mary poured a mug for herself and generously added sugar and cream to it. “Adjusting. Really, Vincent, you know how daunting being Below is to first-comers.”


“After you have told me something,” he said as he doctored his own cup.


“I would rather you hear what that is from Leona.”




When she awoke in her room, Leona knew instantly that she was not in her apartment. A large beeswax candle flickered on a stand near the bed, and it was the only light. Looking around her, she noticed that there were no windows – just a door. The walls were painted off-white and the ceiling was a bright white – both intended to give the impression of space.


“Hello?” she called out.


“It’s all right,” a voice called from the opposite corner. “You’re safe.”


A woman nursing a baby stood and approached the bed. Leona breathed easier. “Miss Chandler, I .…”


“It’s Catherine,” she replied gently, “and it’s all right. Below takes a bit getting used to unless you’re claustrophobic. Mary laid out some comfortable clothes for you that will keep you warm down here. Your clothes are in this wardrobe, if you prefer.”


“Your Mary seems to anticipate many things,” Leona said with a smile.


“Some people have the knack,” Catherine said, returning the smile. “I called one of our Helpers, and he said your mother is fine and safe. Believe me, she now has our protection twenty-four/seven. But I do want to do some checking. May I have the address of the uncle you sent Evina to?”


“May I ask why?” Leona said suspiciously.


“I want to find out if your pursuers are still out there,” Catherine replied carefully. “If they knew that your brother was in Greenwich Village, then they might still be searching for you. I want to help make certain that you are safe, and to do that, I have to look around. The ‘uncle’ can tell me if anyone has been investigating him, or had him under surveillance.”


Leona sighed, and then nodded. “He lives on West 11th Street between West 4th Street and Bleeker in one of the older brownstones, and his name is Herman Drummer.”


“An assumed name, I take it?”


“Of course. Right after he arrived, he took that name because it was rather common.”


“This uncle, how is he related?”


“He is my brother-in-law.”


Catherine nodded. “Which would make him Evina’s uncle. When did he arrive?”


“He left France in 1938 before the war started,” Leona said softly. “He told us that we should also leave, but my husband would not hear of it. Like many, he was foolish enough to think that France could stand up to a German invasion.”


“And so you were there when the …?”


“No. The call went out in March 1940 that the invasion was imminent, so we began seeking help to escape from France then. By January of 1941, we managed to find a ship to London. From there, we were taken to Southampton and then by liner to New York. When we arrived, I managed to let Herman know that we had made it out safely, and that we were going to a community where the ethnic climate was favorable.”


Catherine placed Jacob on the bed and began helping Leona into a thicker blouse and long skirt. Like many denizens of Below, Leona also wore thermal underwear to ward off the near-fifty-degree temperatures.


“You said that Evina married,” Catherine asked carefully. “What is her husband’s name and where does he live?”


“Fredrik Pasternack, and he lives in the same apartment building. We don’t speak very much anymore because he remarried.”


When Leona did not further elaborate, Catherine could tell there was something unspoken here. For the moment, she dropped the subject. “Well, maybe later. Mary should have breakfast ready for us, so why don’t we join them.”


Lovingly picking up Jacob, Catherine took the lead toward Vincent’s ‘office.’ Behind her, Catherine could feel the silent presence of her new ‘Grandmother.’ The disapproval had its own story, and that would wait for now.




 Vincent’s head canted to his right as Catherine came to him and placed Jacob in his arms. Her expression hinted that she had been thwarted by something, and the brooding silence of the woman behind her seemed to be connected. He made a mental note to ask about this later, and then turned his attention to his son.


Although the thick swaddling blanket hid most of the infant, Vincent could see Jacob’s face and one chubby arm. Here he held what he could only call a miracle. When Catherine revealed her pregnancy, he did not believe he could conceive a child – that his body was so different as to make conception virtually impossible. But now, especially after hearing the fantastic story provided by Janosch, he realized that some of his anatomy/physiology worked the same as any human being.


“Vincent,” Catherine whispered low. “I love you.”


That declaration caused his head to cant the other way. “And I love you. Here in my arms, I hold its proof.”


A warm smile of a mother and a lover crossed her face as they found each other’s eyes, and then they looked down at their son.


All of this was not missed by their guest or Mary. Naturally, Mary knew why Catherine and Vincent doted over that tiny fragment of creation. Being the nurse and midwife Below, Mary had seen her share of miracles every time a woman birthed a child and never ceased to marvel at the entire process. Conception united two cells and created life by merging into one. From that fertilized embryo, the cells multiplied and turned into features of what would be a human being. And when the pregnancy showed, the mother’s body would hint at the changes taking place inside her womb. The gravidity of her abdomen would demonstrate how much the mother sacrificed to keep her baby safe, warm and fed. And then, somehow, that baby would seek the outer world, and bewail the loss of such an intimate place. Yes, Mary knew all of this and treasured each one that made the transition from that tiny union to an infant child.


For Leona, the sight was different. Her children had made that important journey and she would always remember the joy she experienced after the pain of birthing them. However, she also remembered the second pain that came when she lost her daughter. To see these two lovers enjoying the wonder of their child was almost more than she could take.


“That child is your great-grandson, Leona,” Mary suddenly said. “Do not forget that he represents your daughter in his soul.”


Leona nodded sadly. “I cannot help it. My Ivona will never know him or know the wonder of being a grandmother.”


“What of the father?”


“He doesn’t care.”


“Nonsense! A child is the union of his or her parents, and the father …”


“Has never attempted to even visit her grave,” Leona finished bitterly.


“Perhaps it is too painful.”


“That pain is what needs to be endured, my dear. I can only imagine what happened, but I have suffered through it. One night, I even believed I dreamt what happened that night – that night that stole my Ivona away from me.”


“Is this what you did not tell me, Mary?” Vincent said as he sat in his chair with Jacob in his lap. Catherine stood next to him and placed her hand on his shoulder.


Mary shook her head. “No, but I thought something like it was just under the surface.”


“Leona?” Catherine said, drawing the older woman to a chair at the table. “Tell us the dream. Sometimes doing something of this nature helps ease that pain.”


“You ask much,” Leona answered tersely.


“Only what you can tell us.”


The two women contested each other silently for several seconds before Leona nodded. “Maybe you’re right. I know that Ivona did birth her child and that our family continues. Maybe her soul can rest now that I know more of the truth.”


Looking down at her hands that were now folded in her lap, Leona nodded again as if to console herself, and then steeled her will to relate what had been kept locked up inside her. “I can picture her waiting for Fredrik to come and pick her up – to take her away from what was closing in on her. All she had was a note that Herman and Fredrik had sent her. I never found it, but I can only imagine it said to flee from her house immediately and meet them at a corner downtown. I know she must have called for a taxi and that it eventually showed at her door. The driver took her bag and put it in the trunk and then got back in. Then Ivona told him where she needed to go. She must have stroked her stomach, for it was an affectation of hers. Her pregnancy was very ponderous, and I can see why now.”


Leona looked up to briefly gaze at Vincent. His size had been the cause of the distended gravidity, and Ivona could not have gone by subway. “I saw her sitting in the back of the taxi worrying about the urgent need to leave her house and all her belongings. I can only wonder what she was thinking when that other driver rammed into the taxi. The force of the crash must have caused her water to break and induced labor. In my dream, she struggled out of the wreck and staggered down the road toward St. Vincent’s Hospital, and …. Oh, my ….”


The sudden exclamation concerned Mary. “What is it?”


“I just remembered. The report said there was a woman, and that she was seen helping her. The intern who was in the emergency ward reported seeing someone with a woman, but he didn’t have time to go out to see if they needed help. Later, he happened to notice that the woman was still there. My God!”


“Anna,” Vincent said in a voice just above a whisper. “She was near the hospital.”


Catherine mirrored his tone of voice. “Then she must have taken you from Ivona and brought you to Father. Ivona must have been near death and asked Anna to save you.”


“At the cost of my daughter’s life,” Leona groaned.


“It could not have been helped,” Vincent said as softly as his voice could manage. “Ask yourself this. If faced with saving yourself or your child, who would you choose? A mother would sacrifice herself for her child when there was no other choice.”


“I never realized I was blocking out that detail,” Leona said quietly.


“Perhaps you were still shocked about Ivona.” Mary said. “People tend to do that during their grieving period, and losing a close relationship such as your daughter tends to center on the loved one rather than the circumstances of their death.”


“Why couldn’t she get someone from the hospital to help?”


Mary, Catherine and Vincent exchanged glances. That particular “why” was never completely discovered because John Pater, her own husband, killed Anna before she could tell anyone the story.


“Maybe she couldn’t,” Mary offered, and then began to leave the room. “I need to bring our breakfast in before it gets cold.”


“None for me, Mary,” Catherine said as she looked for a scarf. “I have to get to Columbus Circle to catch the Number 1 train to Greenwich Village. Vincent? We need to talk when I get back.”


“Of course,” he nodded, as he allowed her to pick up Jacob and place him in the bassinet next to the desk. Almost any place that Vincent worked had a cradle or crib for Jacob. “You be careful Above, Beloved.”


“Aren’t I always?” Catherine replied with a hint of impishness.


As she left, Vincent stared after her even after she had disappeared around a corner. Perhaps he remembered all the times that Catherine had run into trouble – no matter how careful she was.




Despite the almost flippant attitude when she left, Catherine knew better than to let her guard down whenever she walked the streets or rode the subway trains or rode the buses of New York. Too much had happened to her over the past four years for her to act as though danger had forgotten her. Too many times, and at risk to his life and safety, Vincent had come to her rescue when her investigations proved too close to someone willing to kill or harm anyone in their way. She still wore a scar tucked under the tresses that covered her jaw on the left side of her face from just such an encounter. True, she had taken self-defense courses that made her tougher to take down. That, and her rich-girl look, gave her the edge when faced with the unthinkable, but there were times when her scrappiness just was not enough.


Once more, she looked at the address and found the number on the basement entry. In this particular brownstone, Evina’s uncle had the bottom two floors, and Evina’s ex-husband had the upper three. Stepping down to the landing, Catherine rang the bell.

A portly man in his seventies opened the door and stared myopically at her from behind thick horn-rim glasses. His voice, when he spoke, wheezed slightly, and gave him a whisper-quality that was not too unpleasant to hear.




“I am looking for Herman Drummer,” she replied and gave him a warm smile. A business card was in her hand seconds later. “I’m Catherine Chandler ….”


“I’m not interested in what you’re selling, missy,” he said and started to close the door in her face.


“I’m here because of your sister-in-law,” she put in quickly, and that stopped him.


Looking quickly and carefully around the street and sidewalks, he motioned her to enter and opened the door long enough to let her inside. When he closed the door, she noticed two deadbolt locks as well as the heavy door. Three clicks that followed the closing of the door indicated that he threw all three locks.


“You can never be too careful,” he said, coughing slightly. “Are you a cop?”


“No, I work for the District Attorney’s Office,” she said, following the old man into a back kitchen.


“You’re a lawyer?” he asked as he filled a teakettle from the sink and then placed it on a gas stove.


“More of a public servant, but yes, I am.”


“I can have instant coffee in a couple of minutes,” he said as he opened a cabinet and removed a pair of coffee mugs. After he set the mugs down, he looked up and was about to reach for a cup when Catherine stopped him.


“A mug is fine,” she said. “In fact, it’s great for warming your hands.”


Herman nodded as he closed the cabinet. “What trouble has Leona gotten herself into now, Miss Chandler?”


“This time?”


“Did she hire you to look into the matter of her daughter and her lost grandchild?” he asked sourly. “She must’ve hired dozens of private detectives over the past thirty or so years after NYPD told her to give up. I imagine you’ve heard the term ‘cold case’? Well, this one was practically frozen at the time.”


He reached up into another cabinet and brought down a jar of coffee crystals and then began to move slowly about the kitchen. “We heard all about the crash that killed a taxi driver and the one who ran the light. According to the cops, Evina was in the taxi, but survived it. Her water broke, but she never made it to the hospital up on West Eleventh.” He paused as he poured cream into a yellow creamer, and then went to rescue the teakettle, which was whistling for attention. “Um, St. Vincent’s. Evina was practically at the emergency room doors when she died. According to the interns and nurses there, she had the baby sometime before, but no one could find it. The young doctor said he thought he saw someone outside, but they were long gone before the police came.”


As he poured steaming water into the mugs, Catherine thought about what Leona had said about her dream. So far, the dream matched what Herman was saying. She ladled three teaspoons of instant coffee into her mug and a healthy dollop of cream to season it.


“Now, knowing Leona, her kid wouldn’t have tossed the baby in a dumpster or just let it lie there on the sidewalk or anything like that,” Herman continued as he put his own coffee mug in order. “No, Evina birthed her kid and was trying to get it to the hospital before dying practically on the steps. The police think whoever was with Evina took the kid. After that, who knows where that woman took the baby?”


“Why is that, Mister Drummer?”


“It rained that night. Whatever clues the cops would’ve found were washed away. They left the case active as a missing person’s report for a month, but there were absolutely no leads. Leona had me down at the station for weeks, but no one ever reported a new baby, or a mother with a new baby.”


After sipping at his mug he added a sugar cube from the bowl and shook his head. “Even in New York, people notice these things. A woman who wasn’t pregnant showing up suddenly with a baby would’ve gotten calls all over town.”


Catherine nodded solemnly. Because Vincent had been taken Below almost at the start, he literally vanished from the world Above. Try as they might, NYPD could scour the city, the State of New York, the nation of the United States, and the world, and not find one shred of evidence that would point to where he was. Only a select few knew about the specifics of Vincent’s sudden appearance among the children of Father’s keeping.


“Leona told us all about that night. Evina was to come to you and her husband ….”


Nodding, Herman took another sip of his hot coffee. “We should’ve gone to her.”


“How could you have known that she would have been in an accident?”


“That wasn’t an accident,” he said flatly.




“Leona didn’t tell you? About the guy who was stalking her and Evina?”


“She mentioned some suspicious phone calls.”


Herman grunted. “I’m sure that this man, this beast, was trailing her and saw his chance. He didn’t count on the agility of a New York taxi driver, and so he didn’t get the passenger side of the car like he wanted to.”


“Beast?” Catherine repeated, a chill racing down her back.


“The man stalking my sister-in-law and niece was an animal, Miss Chandler. He killed more people and terrorized more innocent lives than any gangster who ever lived in Manhattan. Evina was only one of them.”


“I noticed you triple-lock your doors,” Catherine said with some relief. The term “beast” was meant as a description and not as an identity. “Are you still in danger from this man?”


“I don’t know.” Herman shrugged. “I haven’t seen him for months.”


“Seen him?” Another shock went down Catherine’s spine.


“Shortly after Evina’s death, this man knocked on my door late at night and asked about Leona. Not by name, mind you, but he asked if Ivona had any relatives. I told him that she did, but I lied when I told him that they had died in France and here in America. I told him that Evina was the last.”


“Did that satisfy him?”


“I don’t think so. I always got the sense that someone was watching my house and where I went. Because of that, Leona and I used the post office to send messages. We never used addresses or saw each other in public. Fredrik, Evina’s husband, moved into the upstairs apartment soon after her death, and then remarried. That did not go over well with Leona.”


“She did mention that,” Catherine nodded. “I wonder ….”


Herman waited, sipping at his coffee and glancing at the front door every time a car went by. Finally, he shifted in his chair. “What, Miss Chandler?”


“Have you noticed anyone in particular watching you or your apartment?”


“No, but you cannot be too careful. The Nazis were very good at what they did.”


“When was the last time you noticed someone watching you or Fredrik?”


There was a knock at the door – a very particular knock that was not even in cadence. After the fourth tap, Herman nodded.


“That’s Fredrik,” Herman said, getting up and going to the door. Opening it quickly, he ushered in a middle-aged man with a beard and shoulder-length dark hair well streaked with gray. He waited at the door until Herman engaged all three locks, and then quietly declined a cup of coffee. Then he regarded Catherine very carefully.


“This is Miss Catherine Chandler,” he told the man. “Leona has her trying to find out about her daughter, and she just came here today. Miss Chandler? This is Fredrik Pasternack.”


“I hope you have better sources than we did,” Fredrik said guardedly. “Evina has been dead for over thirty years now.”


Catherine extended her hand, but was only slightly surprised when he refused to take it. “I’m just starting on the case, and I was hoping you could shed some light on the night Evina died and the baby disappeared.”


Shaking his head, Fredrik held out his hands in helplessness. “Other than what you have already read or been told by Leona or Herman, I can’t help you.”


“I’ll ask you the same thing nevertheless. Have you noticed anyone watching you or this apartment?”


He ran his fingers through his beard and then held his chin in thought for a few seconds. “Shortly after Evina died, a car parked on the other side of the street at night and stayed there. A couple times I tried to challenge them, but they always drove off before I could get a good look at them. I know that action was stupid, but constantly being hounded by someone gets to you after a while.”




“The watchers would change from day to day. I think there were at least four – three men and one woman.”


“What about the license plates?”


“Same thing. They never used the same car twice in a row.” He shook his head again. “During the day, I think someone watched from a second-story window. I caught sight of a curtain floating shut too many times to count.”


“Are they still watching you?”


Fredrik and Herman exchanged glances before Fredrik answered. “They stopped watching me ever since I remarried and our first child was born.”


“First child?” Catherine felt a check mark go off in her mind.


“First of three actually,” Fredrik said calmly. “A boy.”


“Any girls?”


“The second one,” Fredrik said, his brow creasing with puzzlement.


“Hair color?”


“I beg you pardon?”


“What color is your children’s hair?” Catherine insisted.


“Dark brown or black. Why?”


Catherine took a large swallow of her coffee, and sighed. “You are no longer in danger, Mister Pasternack. Whoever was after the family must have realized that Evina was the last of her family, and they no longer needed to watch you.”


“You don’t mind if I stay skeptical, do you, Miss Chandler?” Herman remarked.


“As you have said, Mister Drummer, it never hurts to be too careful.” She looked at her watch. “I need to get back. First, I want to thank you for your cooperation. I can tell Leona that we know all we can know.”


“What about Evina’s child?” Fredrik asked hesitantly.


Catherine paused and took another calming swallow of coffee. Although the instant coffee was bitter, the cream mellowed it enough to stomach easily.


“As you said, Mister Pasternack, we may never know. I have notices out and they are to forward any leads to the police or to the District Attorney’s Office. But after thirty years, there isn’t much hope.” She stopped and put the coffee mug down on the table. “If you don’t mind me asking, why is Leona angry at you?”


Fredrik shook his head. “I’m not entirely sure, but my guess is that I remarried instead of staying with being a widower. When you’re in your late twenties, there’s still a lot of life left if you are getting the Lord’s threescore and ten. I found Jessie, and she made up for the hole in my heart. Leona took exception to that and expected me to give up the rest of my life to find a child who is most likely dead.”


The news of his death has been highly exaggerated, Catherine thought, but she knew that these two men did not need to know about Vincent – at least not now. In the brief time that she had, Catherine debated about telling Fredrik that he was Vincent’s father. On one hand, Fredrik deserved to know that Evina birthed the baby, and that he survived to become Vincent, and furthermore, that he sired Jacob. On the other hand, why expose Below as well as Vincent’s and Jacob’s existence? The more people who knew the truth about Vincent and Below, the greater the chance of putting everyone, including Fredrik, in danger.


“There’s always a possibility, no matter how slim the chances are,” she said instead.


“Do you expect Leona will keep trying to find him or her?”


“To be truthful?” Catherine shrugged. “I think she is always in hope that the baby was saved somehow and that someone raised it to be an adult.”


Fredrik nodded and then he sighed. “I just wish we could’ve helped Evina somehow. The fact that the police never found the baby makes me wonder if I have another child out there…”


Catherine felt that comment sting. Maybe after I talk with Vincent about this…


“I’m sorry we couldn’t be of any further help,” Herman said quietly as he walked her to the door. “I pray that Leona can find some peace in all this.”


“Thank you,” Catherine said calmly, even though her heart was racing. “Here’s my card if you ever hear of anything.”


The man looked sadly at the card and nodded. Flipping open the three locks, he let her slip outside. Standing under a small overhang, Catherine pulled the hood in place. Glancing about the street, her eyes also regarded any parked car suspiciously. Because of that training, she noticed a light blue Ford Taurus about fifty feet down the street. The thing that made it stand out was the condensation on the windshield. In rainy weather, a person sitting in the car gave off warmth – enough to slightly fog the windshield. Because the car was near Bleecker Street, she quickly went down to West 4th Street and turned right. Running as fast as she could, but slightly hampered by the rain, she hoped she could make the Christopher Street station before the man driving the Ford could catch up to her.


Concentrating on making it down the steps of the subway, she caught the Number 1 train just before it pulled out – unfortunately going south. However, this change of direction could work in her favor by NOT going in the direction those following her would believe she would go. The Number 1 train would take her to Chambers Street, and it was a short two blocks to the station for the A train going north. Sitting back in her seat, Catherine let out a breath she did not realize she had taken and held. Thinking now, she replayed what she had learned and debated on the significance of the surveillance and the tail.


Someone was still watching Herman Drummer and Fredrik Pasternack.


Her problem was now was which one was being watched, and why.




By the time Catherine got off the A train at Columbus Circle, she was beginning to understand the quandary she had uncovered. The rain had let up for a change, and Catherine slowed down enough to blend into the number of pedestrians that always seemed to gather here in the southwest corner of Central Park. Something or someone always seemed to attract the attention of passersby and today was no exception. On the high concrete prow of the stylized bow of the ship, just in front of the figure of a boy, a silver tabby cat surveyed the crowd from his lofty perch. She smiled up at the cat as she passed by the USS Maine monument and eased into the natural realm of Central Park.


Crossing the Park was a matter of staying on the pathways, but the part that always required care was when one neared the drainage tunnel that led to a vital entry to Below. Looking carefully around, Catherine made sure that no one was watching. Quickly, she ducked inside and went up to the gate that led to her second home. She smiled as a familiar silhouette waited for her behind the rusty steel bars.


“I trust that your quest was successful?” Vincent asked quietly.


“Let’s just say that I thought it had flopped when I left, and now think I have a solution,” she replied as he reached up and touched the release switch.


As soon as the gate swung out of the way, the two lovers stepped together and embraced tightly before carefully kissing. Their love affirmed once more, Catherine practically burrowed into the layers of clothing that covered his chest.


“What did you learn?” he asked in a near whisper.


“The uncle and the husband of Evina are no longer in danger,” she replied. “Fredrik’s remarriage and their children proved that he was not from your line. Evina would have been the last had you died that night.”


“No longer in danger,” Vincent repeated, drawing her back far enough to look into her eyes. “There are still those looking for me or those like me?”


“Yes, I believe so. Leona is still at risk, though, even though I doubt she could produce a sibling for you.”


“Revenge for thwarting them,” he nodded. “She needs to stay here. Catherine, I will get the Helpers and Mouse to bring what they can from her home. You tell Mary and Pascal to find Leona a place where she will be comfortable.”


“I will. Vincent? Make sure you get family pictures,” Catherine said. “I’ll handle getting Leona’s mother Below as well. If Leona is in danger, then Missus Ashland is as well.”


A touch of hands was all that was needed as they parted.


The rest of the gesture’s intent would come later…




 In the world Above, rain washed across the city like a curtain. Gutters directed the runoff into the storm drains and sent most of the spillage into the rivers that surrounded Manhattan and made it into an island. As the rainwater sought avenues of least resistance, some of the torrent poured into chambers Below as waterfalls and rushing rapids. A part of the waters found cisterns at the first levels of habitation, and the rest dove down into lakes far beneath the surface.


While the denizens Above slept, a small army of people appeared practically out of nowhere and congregated around a modest brownstone in the Bronx. The rain masked the footsteps of the Helpers as they entered the home. In the midst of the dozen or so movers, Vincent directed the orchestra of Helpers. Mouse maneuvered throughout the three stories that belonged to Leona Ashland, and he made certain that anything electronic was safely disconnected and stowed in carry-bags. Carpenters disassembled furniture and items that could not bear the handling. Everything in the brownstone apartment was assessed and assigned to a mover. Within two hours, the interior was vacant and everything was racing to points around Central Park where Below had large enough entry portals.


Ariel Ashland had protested at first, but Mary finally persuaded her to come with her. Then, along with Vincent, they left the brownstone and briefly withstood the cold rain. Vincent placed a “For Sale or Rent” sign in the second floor window that had a Helper’s phone number as the seller. Then the three of them started for the subway station that would take them to safety.


“What about the neighbors?” the elder Ashland asked. “I’m sure our nosy Mister Copeland will ask.”


Vincent glanced at Mary, who nodded. “Since Leona isn’t here, we can say you decided to move unexpectedly to the Village so she could make up with her son-in-law.”


“My daughter wouldn’t have anything to do with him,” Ariel snorted. “Why now?”


“Let us just say that you’re no longer safe where you are.”


The elder woman’s eyes widened. “They found us?”


“Yes,” Mary nodded. “Your daughter is safe and we’re going to take you there so you can be with her.”


Ariel stopped and turned to look at the brownstone that had been her home for over thirty years. “We won’t be coming back here … will we?”




Nodding slowly, Ariel regarded Mary, and then Vincent. “You said that you were my grandson?”


“Yes, I am, if our records are now correct.”


“Then what my grandmama told me is true. She said that we had lions in our ancestors, and that they took care of us. And now that I can see that the legends are brought to life, then I have no problem leaving that place. Take me to my new home.”


When she turned away from the old brownstone, Ariel Ashland never looked back again.




“Keep your eyes closed,” Mouse said childishly. “No peeking!”


“Land sakes!” Leona exclaimed as she was led past the dormitories and toward what was jokingly called the “Belowstones.” Because of her age, Vincent was helping Ariel Ashland along, but Leona had Catherine on one side and Mouse on the other. The puckish young man was just as excited as a child having a birthday party as he directed them down the hall to a door in the private residential area.


“Almost there! You’ll like this! Mouse made sure everything was right!”


Despite all she had gone through lately, Leona was enjoying the excitement. When they stopped, she took a deep breath.


“Okay, open your eyes!”


Leona’s eyelids fluttered open and she looked at a door – a plain oak wood door that could be found in all the major hardware stores. A brass doorknob graced the usual place, and there was even a mail slot. A low-level landing light hung over the hallway where she stood.


“Open it!” Mouse gestured impatiently.


Trembling with anticipation, Leona reached for the knob and turned it. A click told her the door was ready, and so she pushed the door open.


“Oh, my God….”


A rug lay on the floor just inside the doorway where there was a short hall with a closet; in it three of the “Below coats” hung. As she stepped in, there was a small sitting room and a living room. Beyond the two entry rooms, she could see a bedroom, a bathroom and a kitchen. But what surprised Leona most was the fact that the rooms were furnished with items from her home in the Bronx. Lamps, rugs, furniture, and the bric-a-brac that one accrues during one’s life all occupied places that were relatively where they had been. Leona wandered about in the “house” that had been seemingly carved out of the dirt and rock, with masonry and plaster filling in the rest. In each room, Mouse explained very quickly how to turn on the lights and the water.


After taking “the tour,” Leona sat down in her favorite stuffed chair and appeared dazed.


“What do you think?” Catherine asked.


“Unbelievable! If it weren’t for the lack of windows, it would be like being home.”


“It is home, Leona,” Vincent said quietly, “or should I call you ‘Grandmama’?”


“I don’t think I’m ready for that,” she replied, looking around the sitting room. “If I can call you Vincent, you can call me Leona. Or maybe even Ileana. You went to a lot of trouble for this, and I thank you. However ... I seem to believe that I’m staying down here ….” Her eyes sought out Catherine. “Am I?”


The smile that Catherine wore on her lips faded. “We don’t recommend you ever leave us, Leona. Look carefully around the room. What don’t you see?”


The woman’s eyes narrowed and she looked around the room. Within seconds, her mouth went stern. “Pictures of Evina. Where are they?”


“We don’t know,” Catherine said carefully. “I wanted to make this place warm and family-oriented, and we couldn’t find anything that had Evina’s picture in it. We even believe that some personal items that were hers are also missing. We’re sorry, Leona.”


Ariel and Leona reached out and held each other’s hands. “It’s all right, dear,” Leona said resolutely. “Now that I know that Evina’s baby did survive and I can be with him, the rest doesn’t matter. My mother and I have enough memories of my daughter. The rest are just things.”


Stroking the rough-sewn coat she wore, Leona turned to the small crowd standing just inside the room. “This is our home now, so I thank you for taking us in and for giving us our family again. We shall find our peace among you.”


“We’ll let you get settled then,” Mary said, gesturing to the small crowd now formed around the doorway. “If you need anything, just let one of us know.”


Vincent, along with Catherine, allowed Leona another hug. “And I am just down this hallway. After the newness has worn off a little, I will take great pleasure in showing you the sights of our world here Below.”


“Will I ever get to go outside again?”


“We shall see.”


“Who do you expect is out there?” Leona asked quietly as people said good-bye.


“We don’t really know,” Vincent answered. “Whoever they are, they were watching you. However, we should have left them behind in the Bronx because of the weather. Here, you are safe. I promise.”


Leona nodded. “If I can’t trust my own grandson, who can I trust?”




As the evening came, so did the rains once more. From the shelter of one of the many such places that Vincent had discovered, Catherine and Vincent huddled together. His customary hooded cloak kept him well insulated from the storm. Nestled against his chest and shoulder, Catherine wore a similar hooded cloak that she had found in a fashion catalog. Each represented a different world in their clothes. Together, they sat back and looked out through the rain and the small waterfall that ran down one side of their sanctuary.


“Your grandmother and her mother will spend the rest of their lives with us,” Catherine said.


“Hopefully, that time will be peaceful,” Vincent agreed. “They deserve it after all that has happened to them.”


Catherine smiled. “You are the one who deserves to be thanked for that. She has her family now. You and Jacob.”


“Do not forget that you are included in that.”


“How can I? Every time I look at our son and hold him, I almost cannot believe that he’s mine – a wonderful gift that you gave me.”


She felt his head press down on the top of hers and his embrace tighten around her. When he spoke, his voice trembled. “I almost….”


“But you didn’t, Vincent.”


“Your love, Catherine. It saved us both.”


“And our love continues to save us,” she said, returning the embrace. “Never forget that.”


The patter of the rain outside made them pause and resettle into a comfortable silence. After a few seconds, Catherine sighed.


“Vincent? I almost told Fredrik he had another son – you. Should I have?”


He looked down at her. “What do you feel is right? He is my father according to all we know of this.”


“Someone is still watching him, and I think it is because of Leona,” she replied. “If I told him you exist and that he even has a grandchild, I would also have to let him know about Below. He has a wife and his own children now. Leona seems to think he has put Evina behind him, and I wonder if she is right about this.”


Vincent nodded somberly. “We still have time on our side, Catherine. We can watch and you can make discrete inquiries concerning my birth father. If we believe he can be trusted in time, then we can bring him to a neutral place where he can at least meet with me. What happens from there? We shall see.”


Once more, they lapsed into silence and listened to the sounds of the storm around them. Catherine was thinking about the dilemma they had just discussed when a chance gust of air blew a spray of water into their shelter. Vincent drew a handkerchief from his cloak and used it to wipe the moisture away. She suddenly smiled.


“ ‘The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach.’ One of these days, I need to figure out how to get you over on Long Island where you can hear the waves crashing on the sand.”


“Knowing you, you will find a way,” Vincent replied gently. “Who wrote the poem?”


“An American writer named Henry Beston,” she said. “I never thought seriously about reading until you pulled me through that horrible ordeal when we first met. Ever since you gave me Great Expectations, I have always found a book to be the easiest of companions when I cannot come to you.”


“Or I to you.”


Catherine chuckled. “But then, we always find a way.”


Again they paused and allowed the rain to fill the silence. With couples, it is often said that when they are close, their heartbeats become as one. Here, safe in Vincent’s strong arms, Catherine felt very much at peace. His body warmth, slightly higher than hers, kept her warm in the cold autumn storm. Her thoughts turned to what they had just talked about, and she remembered the stolen moments they actually went Above and enjoyed the beauty of Central Park. The flowers of spring, the green grass of summer, the falling leaves of autumn, and the starkness of winter were all pleasant memories and she refused to allow anything bad to tarnish them. And then, she remembered …


“What costume should I wear to the Halloween parties this year?” she said suddenly.


Vincent bent his head down and to the side to see her face. “Parties?”


She laughed. “Of course! The office always has a party. And then there are the many private ones that are offered and send out invitations.” Then, she sobered. “You remember how good it felt, don’t you?”


He nodded. “The one night that is filled with masks and costumes. The time that I can actually walk Above and be one of the hundreds and thousands who are similarly masked. We sat overlooking the East River and watched the sun rise and chase the magic away.”


“And we shared it, Vincent. Your grandmother and Mary can surely watch over Jacob for one night.”


“You are serious about this?”


“I am.”


“I … I shall think about it …”


The rain tapered off for a moment, leaving only the dripping sounds of water tattooing the sill of their shelter and the small torrent that fell off to one side. Catherine looked at her watch and groaned.


“I need to get home, Vincent. Six o’clock comes a bit too early for my taste, but I’ve got work to do. You know? We need to thank Janosch for all that work he did for us and for Father.”


“I think the work itself is truly enough for him,” he replied after some thought. “The reward was the discovery of what was once unknown. I only wish that Father had heard what he had found. He always wanted me to know that I had a past. However, I have found that to be loved is the best one can hope for, and I certainly had that.” He stood and helped Catherine to stand as well. “And now I have that all the time.”


“Yes, you do. You will promise me you will think about the Halloween parties?”


His mouth curled at the corners. “I promise.”


“Thank you once more for your love. It gets me through the day … and the night.”


His kiss was carefully applied, but the tenderness was there. “Hurry back.”


“I will.”


With the lovers gone, the rain returned as if to mourn their leaving, but only the wind blowing through the branches of the trees howled its discontent. Perhaps the rain remembered that the lovers had been here before. Silently weeping and allowing its tears to dampen the stone and earth around the lonely shelter, the rain cried, not for the loneliness, but for the hope that the lovers would come again to listen to Nature’s symphony.


“Into each life some rain must fall.”


The Rainy Day by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



~~~~~ Finis ~~~~~