Another Year Older
It was now January 13, 2002, and Logan was in a panic. No mortal man on this earth would dare forget about his wife’s birthday, not even once.
Of course, Logan had spent the last few days in Hawaii “lying low” as he called it. The reason he was doing that was because of Osama bin Laden (the terror mastermind behind the failed 9/11 attacks) had called for his head as well as the heads of Dicky and Andrea because they stopped the attacks and exposed his evil deeds to the world. (Plus, there was the matter about Logan’s videos denouncing the Harry Potter books, which in part led to the first Harry Potter movie flopping in theaters.)
Logan was sitting in his room at his family’s manor when he received an email: “Logan, where are you? You said you’d be home soon!”
“Oh crap! I have to get home to her right now or else!” Logan cried out as he packed his bags.
“What’s going on here?” said Dicky. He and Andrea were still lying in the bed recovering from the unexpected makeover surgery, courtesy of Logan’s mother.
“I have to go,” said Logan. “Deirdre is expecting me.”
“And do you have to?” said Dicky.
“You know how Deeds is; she’ll never let anything go,” said Logan.
“Well, she married a Trichenberg,” said Dicky.
“And you know how we are,” said Andrea. “We never forgive or forgive a slight, nor do we forget who had the slight against us.”
“But still, this is Deirdre we’re talking about here,” said Logan. “She’s not going to forgive me if I don’t show up for her birthday. You know that.”
“But we can’t travel or go anywhere for a week,” said Andrea. “Your mom wants us to settle.”
“But she meant you guys,” said Logan. “I have to get home NOW!”
“Why didn’t you say so?” Dicky cried out. “You never had the surgery, so why should you stay?”
Logan took the hint and brought a ticket back to Pasadena. If he was going to make it back home in time for his wife’s birthday, he would have to go now while he still had a chance.
During the flight back to Pasadena, Logan had time to think about his unconventional marriage to Deirdre Langston. They met while Logan was still Hollywood’s premiere party boy and Deirdre was 12 years old. While driving around the neighborhood one night, Logan and his friends had noticed Deirdre walking around in just a t-shirt and bare feet. They had no idea that Deirdre had been kidnapped by her cousin Sterling McGravin, yet they rescued her. To complete the rescue, Logan quickly agreed to marry Deirdre and keep her away from anyone who might see her and force her to go back to her cruel cousin.
At first, Leilar and Eleani were not pleased to learn about Logan’s sudden marriage. Both of them believed that Deirdre was too young to marry, and they firmly insisted she be returned to her father, Elias Langston. But after Deirdre appealed to them, begging them to let her stay (and even using their young daughter Emily as example of a potential kidnapping victim), Leilar and Eleani were forced to comply.
Of course, this meant the reputation of the Dara family continued to take a nosedive, since Leilar’s own unpopular marriage to Eleani Pekelo in 1973 nearly ruined the relationship between him and his father, Winston. (And don’t get me started on Winston’s family drama!)
To make this long story short, Logan and Deirdre had two children named Homer and Treasure. They settled down in Pasadena, where Deirdre received a huge amount of notoriety playing the character Bonnie McArthur on the hit TV show “The Teen Rebels”. (She used the stage name Emma Hall.) She also did some other TV shows and movies, mainly shows shown to a limited amount of viewers. Logan made sure that Deirdre’s movies were not only popular with the 18-49 crowd, but her movies also featured Andrea Marshall (then an aspiring actress who (despite winning an Oscar for her role in the movie Briarwood Resort at aged 13 years) was denied a role in various Hollywood movies due to her having Down syndrome). Deirdre also secured her educational future by attending Angelwood High School and graduating from there in 2001.
She and Logan also collaborated on a number of other movies and TV shows, such as “Adventures in Eswoth”, “The Legend of the Wizard”, “Girls With Wings”, “Souls of Mythology”, and “Phantom Adventure”. (The fact that they were kicked out of the production of “The Spirit Keeper” still hurt; they filmed the Christian-themed movie “Owls of Fantasia” in retaliation.) But the biggest part of their marriage didn’t stem from the moviemaking; in fact, they had to deal with Leilar’s upsetting family legacy (mainly, his half-brother, Sylvester Banner, which no one in Hoku Kawena’s family liked).
Also, Logan had to help Deirdre deal with finding her father, who she had not seen since her kidnapping in 1995. She had almost given up that search when at the last minute, Leilar informed her that Elias Langston was living next-door to retired baseball player Franklin Potts in the city of Palm Springs, California. That occurred when Logan and Deirdre were promoting their newest movie, “Frostfall”. (How that family reunion happened is a different story for a different time.)
But now was Deirdre’s 19th birthday, and Logan made sure to pick up her birthday present. After all, no man would dare ignore his wife on her birthday.
“I don’t understand for the life of me what’s going on here,” Karema Smittand said as she and Deirdre were standing at the patio that led to the backyard. (In another version of this story, Deirdre meets Derrick Virgil and Karema Smittand when Derrick gets sick and is forced to go to the hospital. They are known as the Moviewatching Trio (a trio of moviewatchers that bash Disney-made movies) and they discover that Deirdre and Derrick are cousins.)
“I’ve noticed,” Deirdre said as she watched their children playing. The party was a small affair, with only family and friends invited. (Deirdre was not about to become a Hollywood party girl and throw lavish parties. Logan was still paying for that image, the image of the party boy that he had when he and Deirdre first met.) “And I’ve also noticed that whenever they mentioned me, they don’t forget to mention Sterling as well. Have you ever met him?”
“No, thankfully,” said Karema. “But I have had my dealings with the Erickson family, and not all of those dealings are good. Like my father-in-law, Phillip? He left his wife when she busted him for being part of that gang that killed that one famous actor. And you’re not going to believe the story that’s being spread about my mother-in-law...”
“Hold that thought,” Deirdre said as Derrick approached her. Derrick was Deirdre’s cousin, as their parents (Derrick’s mother Miriam and Deirdre’s father Elias) were brother and sister. Derrick said to them, “The press is here; apparently, the FBI caught your cousin. He was found hiding outside of Fort MacPherson in San Manuel, California when they caught him.”
“Oh, thank God,” said Deirdre.
“And to make things worse, they’re spreading rumors about us, as if we were his prisoners,” said Derrick, “Well, I tell you something, I haven’t met the guy before, so I can’t tell you what he’s like.”
“Oh, but I can,” said Deirdre. “What can I say about Sterling that the tabloids won’t exploit? Well, he sort of reached inside and stole everything that meant something to me. My cousins Suellen, Fraunces, and Nadine were kidnapped along with me, but they distracted him so I could escape from him. The rest of the story is written in the tabloids.”
“I see,” said Karema. “And here come the tabloid reporters right now.”
At once, the trio turned around and watched as several cameramen and journalists descended on the compound. Guests were being rudely shoved aside as cameras were set up. Several news reporters stood in front of the house with reports that Sterling (who kidnapped Deirdre and the three other young girls) had been arrested for kidnapping 12-year-old Kimberly Jacobs. The girl in question was rescued and returned to her family while the man in question was taken to jail.
“Well, don’t that beat all,” Derrick said as the news continued. “I knew it would only be a matter of time before they found out who you were.”
“I’ve noticed,” said Deirdre. “Even though I used the name Emily Hilliard for several years, they still managed to find me. How did *THAT* happen?”
“Who knows?” said Karema.
“I mean, in another time and place, the news of Sterling being arrested would have been the best birthday gift ever, but for some odd reason, it’s not,” said Deirdre, “I know that my other cousins are still out there, and who knows what they went through during the six years that I’ve been living here. Has this world gone mad?”
“Who knows?” said Karema. “The world has indeed taken a nosedive since 9/11.”
“But if those planes HAD hit the Twin Towers, things could have been a lot worse,” Derrick said as the girls stared at him in shock. “Think about it for a second: if the 9/11 attacks had happened as planned, Logan, Dicky, and Andrea would have died. Scores of innocent people who rode in those planes would have been killed in the attacks. And I’m not going to get started on the whole Harry Potter debacle.”
“So, you’re saying it was a good thing that Sean stopped the attacks when he did?” said Deirdre.
“Of course,” said Karema. “Because the alternative is a nightmare that we don’t want to think about.”
“Indeed,” Deirdre said as she watched the guests rush into the house, all of them upset that the party was ruined by the news. “Can’t they do this without interrupting her life?” said a guest.
“Deirdre doesn’t have time for this,” said another guest.
“Why can’t the tabloids just let her live her life?” said a third guest.
“Don’t worry,” Deirdre said to the guests. “I have a secret weapon up my sleeve...”
And while the chaos was happening, Logan pulled up in the driveway. He took a look around and saw that the world had descended upon his compound. Deirdre was nowhere to be found, and the kids were hiding in Leilar’s bedroom.
Upon seeing Logan, Leilar stepped out of the kitchen and said, “Logan, you better do something quick! Those newshounds are going to destroy everything!”
“Don’t worry, dad, I got this,” said Logan. He then went into the front yard, where most of the action was taking place. Deirdre noticed him and said, “They want me to say a few words regarding the kidnapping and rescue of a little girl. What do I do?”
“You say nothing,” said Logan. “It’s your birthday, and instead of a nice day on the beach, you’re in a stupid press conference. They need to come back when it’s not your birthday.”
“I know my relatives aren’t going to like that,” said Deirdre. “And some of them came here all the way from Missouri.”
“Then they’re not going to love what your cousin did to that child,” said Logan. “But enough of that. They’re not going to turn you into a media circus, not on my watch!”
“But we can’t deny them a show, right?” said Deirdre. “After all, it’s my birthday, so, there’s no reason why I can’t enjoy my birthday.”
“I see,” said Logan. He then rushed out the door and approached the reporters, yelling, “WHAT IN THE BLOODY YOU-KNOW-WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING??? WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU ARE??? LAS VEGAS? ATLANTIC CITY?? THIS IS MY HOUSE, WHERE I’M ABOUT TO HAVE A VERY IMPORTANT MEETING WITH CLAIRVOYANT FILMS IN LESS THAN AN HOUR!! NOW, YOU HAVE FIFTEEN SECONDS TO GET EVERY BLOODY PIECE OF FURNITURE BACK WHERE IT BELONGS AND I WANT ALL THE CAMERAS, PENS, AND PADS IN THE TRASHCAN, AND I WANT YOU ALL OUTTA HERE BEFORE MY WIFE CALLS THE POLICE!!”
With that, the place immediately cleared out. The reporters gathered everything they had and left the house, leaving the guests behind. When everyone was gone, Logan said, “I suggest we call it a day; there’s no need to continue the party if stuff like this happens.”
The groans of the guests signaled nothing but disappointment as the party was canceled and everyone was forced to go home.
“Talk about a birthday! I barely get home and there’s talk about someone in her family who got busted for kidnapping her as a kid,” Logan complained as he spoke to Dicky and Andrea on the phone. He had barely gotten through the door of his house where instead of a birthday party, there was a press conference being held in his front yard. And the news topic was about Deirdre’s kidnapper being caught in a town not too far from Victorville, California. “How did this happen?”
“I don’t know,” said Dicky. “All I know is that Deirdre is safe and the villain who snatched her is behind bars.”
“And I’m not getting started on the fact that I had something to do with it,” said Logan.
“But think about it,” said Andrea. “The reporters are now calling you a hero. The guy who saved Deirdre Langston from a terrible kidnapper. You should be so proud.”
“Come on you two, get real,” said Logan. “I did nothing of the sort.”
“Yes you did,” said Dicky. “After all, you did save her from her cousin after she ran away from her kidnapper. You kept her safe. You had us keep her safe as well. He didn’t know where she was until now, when he was arrested for stealing that other girl.”
“I know,” said Logan. “Plus, it’s too bad that that poor little girl had a disability. Now she’s damaged for life due to the kidnapping, that poor thing. I hope that sick monster gets what he deserves.”
“I hesitate to think about what’s going to happen when Gretchen grows up and she catches his attention,” said Dicky. “People like Sterling McGravin need to be put away for good.”
“Yeah, and that too,” said Logan. “I’ll see you all next week.”
Within a few minutes, Logan had gathered the children and hopped into the car. Deirdre and Leilar joined them and they sped away from the house with the paparazzi (who took pictures of Logan chasing away the media) chasing after them.
“I think we lost them,” said Logan.
“Good,” said Deirdre. “Can you believe those guys? Most of them work for some of the sleaziest tabloids in the world, tabloids that aren’t fit to line the bottom of a cat’s litter box. They’re trying to exploit my story for cash.”
“Screw the tabloids and screw your cousin,” said Logan. “He’s a disgrace to your family. When he kidnapped you and your cousins, nobody batted an eyelash, nor did they show any concern about your safety. But when you finally escaped and discovered that the cousin who ruined your life had kidnapped an innocent little girl, that’s when things got really bad.”
“If they want information about that kidnapping, they should talk to the family of that kidnapped girl,” said Deirdre, “which is a bad thing because someone will start talking about me and how I managed to escape from Sterling and kept myself hidden from him for the last seven years.”
“And how are your friends holding up?” said Logan. “They and that guy’s sister?”
“They’re doing fine, if the tabloids would get off their backs,” said Deirdre. “Karema wants to find her father’s family and take care of her babies. Derrick needs to get help for Connie so she doesn’t end up like my cousin Darella, who was abused and murdered half the people in the family for not helping her when she needed help.”
“And this was supposed to be your birthday, too,” said Logan. “Too bad no one cared about that; they only cared about your kidnapping.”
“Maybe the best thing to do in this situation is to slip away now while no one knows where we are,” said Deirdre. “Your mother has yet to see Homer and Treasure and I’m sure that I myself could use a vacation.”
“We should get your friends and fly back to Hawaii,” said Logan. “Give the press a bit of a scare when they realize that you’re not around to give out a speech regarding your cousin.”
“If they want my opinion about Sterling, they should check my LiveJournal,” said Deirdre. “I’ve already said what needed to be said about that subject; I won’t be bothered with it a second longer.”
“And neither will I,” said Leilar. “Not unless you go on TV and explain everything. And even then, will they believe you?”
“They will, if Father Diego forces them to,” said Logan.
Within a few hours, the Dara family (plus Derrick, Connie, Karema and Karema’s son Sydney and daughters Lucy and Riley) was at Doheny Beach. No one saw them coming, as Deirdre had everyone disguise themselves as tourists and slipped through the radar.
Of course, the tabloids went into a huge frenzy when it was discovered that the Dara family wasn’t speaking out about the arrest of Sterling McGravin. Plus, the Langston family refused to even say a word to the reporters, which made things significantly worse.
“Now, this is what I wanted for my birthday,” said Deirdre. They were sitting on the beach, watching as the kids and Connie played in the sands. “No tabloids, no paparazzi, and no publicity. Just my family.”
“You said it,” said Karema. “Somehow, I’m beginning to wonder if I should go back to Independence. Maybe not for myself, but I need to have some form of closure.”
“I’m not sure about that,” said Logan. “You must have been through some serious pain while you still lived there with your mother. Do you really want to subject yourself to all of that pain again?”
“Maybe you shouldn’t go back to Missouri,” said Derrick. “I know that yopu’ve been in California, and you’re staying there for a reason.
“Well, I guess going back is worth a try,” said Karema.
“We don’t have any choices right now,” said Logan. “It’s not fair that Deirdre gets to celebrate another birthday while someone is out there trying to stop me from living to see another year. I guess what Dicky, Andrea, and I did threw them off.”
“I hope you’re enjoying this nice weather, because next month, we’ll be freezing our butts off in Salt Lake City,” said Deirdre.
“Right,” said Logan. “We need to come up with a game plan. No one from the East Coast is going to give us the one-up, if that can be helped.”
“They’re going to regret the day they organized that match,” Deirdre snarled. “No one messes with us and lives!”
“And I hope to teach Mr. bin Laden that lesson soon,” said Logan.