TV Crawlspace TV Crawlspace

Holiday Visitors Pt.2

February 24, 2012 by Ted Crawford

OK, this is going to be a really long post, but the story about what happened to me last Christmas is just too weird not to finish.

Back in December, I started to wonder if my previous post had put the jinx on things with my new sometimes-girlfriend Sierra. It was almost Christmas and I hadn't heard from her in a couple of weeks. After leaving her several voicemail messages, she finally called me and said she would come over on Christmas Eve. I was looking forward to that night, and hoped for a little cuddle time, but she failed to materialize or even call, and I was left to drink my eggnog alone and stare at the lights on my little Christmas tree.

A few days after that disappointment, she finally called and apologized for the no-show. Sierra said she found out at the last minute that she had to go to Pittsburgh to visit some relatives with her sister. She was going to call me the day before Christmas and fill me in on the situation, but the battery in her cell phone went dead. She lost track of time, and after that was too embarrassed to call because she thought I would be upset.

It's true that I was pretty sore with her up until that belated call, but man-oh-man did she make up for it on New Year's Eve. We hit just about every bar in Louisville that night, said hello to some friends -- mostly hers -- and what came after that is kind of a blur, except that there was lots of drunken dancing and sloppy kisses around midnight.

We've had a couple of dates since then, but it appears that Sierra has gone back into hiding just in time for Valentine's Day. I'm still not sure what the status of our relationship is, or even where she lives, for that matter.

Anyway, for the reasons I just outlined, it was not such a great Christmas here in the crawlspace, and Santa Claus might have found my body lying cold and still on the floor that night if it hadn't been for a weird distraction that made me forget about my girlfriend situation for a while.

It was around 10:00 p.m. when it started to sink in that Sierra wasn't going show up. I was alone in the house for the evening; mom had gone to visit her parents in Chicago, and wasn't due back until the following afternoon. So, I turned on the TV and watched the middle of It's a Wonderful Life for what was probably the tenth time, and drifted off to sleep on the couch.

Around midnight I was woken up by a series of loud bumps from upstairs. I turned off the TV and sat listening for a minute. There was another short burst of footsteps, followed by silence. Somebody, or something, was up there. It was possible that Mom had returned early from her trip, but just to be on the safe side I grabbed my canister of pepper spray and went to investigate.

I snuck quietly up the basement stairs and opened the door, half expecting to see jolly old St. Nick with his bag of toys. The lights in the dining room and kitchen were all still turned off. I called out, "Mom?" but got no reply. Then I walked into the living room, and saw a man crouching behind Mom's Christmas tree. His sweaty, grimacing face was illuminated by the colorful lights.

Before I could react, he leapt forward like a wild man, knocking down the tree and then tripping over it. He came crashing down on the floor, and growled with inhuman rage as he wrestled around with the fallen tree. Finally, he stopped struggling and got up off the floor. It was Jack Bauer.

"What the hell are you doing here?!" I demanded to know.

"I should ask you the same thing, Crawlspace! Although it doesn't really surprise me to find you cavorting in the home of a known terrorist!"

"Known terrorist? This is my mother's house, and you're trespassing! I should call the police!"

He grinned psychotically. "Go ahead. You think they can stop me? I'm Jack freakin' Bauer!"

"Yeah, yeah, I know. Your hands are registered weapons and all that stuff. We'll see how dangerous you are with a face full of pepper spray."

Jack eyed my can of spray with a look of apprehension. His tone became more conciliatory.

"Look, I know you're still ticked off because I roughed you up a little at our interview a couple of years ago, and I don't blame you for that. I was pretty drunk, and I got carried away."

"Yeah, the waterboarding was a little over the top. So, you're back for more? You thought you would drop by and ruin my Christmas again?"

"Nah, I'm not after you this time. You're small potatoes compared to this Mary Crawford character. Uh... did you just say she's your mother?"

"Yes, I did, and there's no way she's a terrorist. She's a well respected person in this community and she's lived in this house for 20 years. She despises all forms of crime and terror, and she's even a member of the local Neighborhood Watch group. And look at this..."

I directed Jack's attention to Mom's extensive crime-drama DVD collection which filled up about half of a wall-sized bookcase. He gazed with interest at the various seasons of Law and Order, CSI, Bones, NCIS, NYPD Blue, and about a dozen other shows. He pulled out the first season of 24 and held it reverently in his hands for a minute.

"You know, I see what you mean about your mother. She seems like a very smart, responsible lady. I guess it's possible that I've obtained faulty information."

He apologized for breaking in, and for knocking over the tree. We got the tree set back up with all the lights and ornaments in place, and I invited him down to the basement for some eggnog. We went downstairs and Bauer started to explain how he had obtained my mother's name in relation to an international terror plot.

He revealed that he had recently started a private defense organization called World Alliance of Heroes (WAH) along with an old friend named Mickey Stern, who was a former Air Force pilot. They obtained funding from several wealthy donors who were concerned about global security and were familiar with Bauer's get-it-done reputation as a covert operation specialist.

In addition to Mickey, Jack also recruited Antoine Le Sueur, a martial arts expert with a fondness for spandex tights, which he wanted to be the official WAH uniform, but was vetoed by Jack and Mickey.

"So who's your tech person?" I asked. "Is Chloe O'Brian part of the team?"

"No, I couldn't get in touch with her," Jack replied. "The last I heard, she left CTU for a job as programming consultant for a company called Zynga. Takes home several million a year. She doesn't even return my calls anymore."

"I know how that is," I interjected. "So what did you do?"

"We got the next best thing: Chloe Sullivan, long time friend of Clark Kent."

"Wow! How'd you pull that off?"

"We contacted her because we wanted to use Superman's old headquarters, known as The Watchtower. She rented it to us at a rate that's less outrageous than you would think. The place is decked out in state-of-the-art computer technology, which only Sullivan knows how to operate. She was nostalgic for her days of working with superheroes, so she signed on as our computer expert."

Jack paused and said, "I've got something out in the car that might improve this eggnog a little bit." He went out through the basement door and returned a couple of minutes later with a fifth of Canadian Mist. He continued his story as he topped off his eggnog glass with whiskey and then did the same to mine.

After receiving a request from his WAH patrons to gather intelligence in the South American region, Bauer parachuted into the Amazon jungle with his trusty HK416 assault rifle and a backpack full of survival gear. He spent a couple of weeks there, getting information from the natives and honing his survival skills.

He hitched a ride to Rio de Janeiro in the back of a banana truck after getting a tip about a crime operation there, and started working undercover at a casino. One night at the roulette table, he met a beautiful Russian double agent who called herself Tasha Babinski. During their brief romantic entanglement, she told him about an international terrorist plot against the United States which involved the governments of Russia, Iran, Finland, Luxembourg, Mozambique, Tajikistan, and swaths of Micronesia, along with several Mexican drug cartels and a couple of radical professors at Berkeley.

Tasha then helped him to stow away on a Russian submarine which was setting out on a trans-Atlantic ocean voyage to the Middle East. He got onboard and hid in the supply closet for a couple of weeks, occasionally kicking butt whenever a crew member discovered him there. Bauer snuck into the captain's quarters one day and found a suspicious database of names on his laptop computer, which Jack copied to a thumb drive.

That database, he explained, contained my mother's name, which caught his attention because he had already heard her name mentioned by a couple of other underground sources.

Bauer was eventually discovered and subdued by several crew members, after which they brought the submarine to the surface and threw Jack overboard. He swam for a distant coastline for a couple of hours, and was near exhaustion when he was rescued by some very casually-dressed men in a fishing boat who turned out to be Somali pirates.

Upon learning their identity, Jack feared that he would spend the rest of his life in a Mogadishu prison, but the Somalis recognized him from his TV show and agreed to let him go if he posed with them for some photographs.

Then Mickey picked him up in his plane, and they flew back home to the US, where Jack did a little research to find the whereabouts of Mary Crawford, which finally led him to my mother's house.

He reiterated that he thought my mother was either the wrong Mary Crawford, or somebody involved with the terrorist plot was using her name.

"So," I said, "here you are working on Christmas Eve, huh?

"Yeah, or I was, but now I guess it's back to the old drawing board."

The conversation came to a lull, so I asked if he was up for a little Super Nintendo, and then put in the Mario Kart cartridge at his request. It was apparently his favorite game, and he beat me in every match except one.

Around the time I started sipping my fifth specially-mixed eggnog, I could feel myself sinking back on the couch and into unconsciousness. Bauer didn't even seem to notice that I had dropped my controller. He was still laughing maniacally, thoroughly engrossed in the game.

When I awoke it was Christmas morning, and Bauer was gone. He had left one of his WAH business cards on the coffee table. On the back he had scribbled the words, "Thanks for the hospitality. I'll keep you posted on any new developments."

"Won't you tell me where my country lies?" said the unifaun to his true love's eyes...