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- Spencer "accidentally" revealed to Elly that her study-abroad application had never been submitted. She then overheard an upset Travis admitting that he had thrown the application in the trash instead of mailing it. 
- Devastated, Elly decided to stay with her biological mother, Danielle, instead of in the dorms for a while. 
- Diane quit her job at the bookstore, but not before forcing Keith to pay her off to keep quiet about whatever illegal activity he is running through the place. Later, she made a comment to Jimmy about how there might be more than he realizes going on in his own store. 

Cassie's Coffee House

“Of course she doesn’t want to think he would do that to her, but that’s Samantha for you,” Diane Bishop says. “Always wants to believe the best about everybody.”
Across the small table, Sarah Fisher lets out a sigh. “I’ve barely met Spencer, but nothing I’ve seen or heard makes it sound out of the realm of possibility that he’d use her just to screw with Travis.”
“And if anyone should be able to tell, it’s you and me. Don’t bullshit a bullshitter, right?” Diane takes a sip of her latte and grimaces. “If this is skim, I’m a Kardashian. Hang on.”
Diane practically flies from their table to the counter, where she informs the barista of the error. Sarah gazes around the shop, which is quiet now that the morning rush is over. Some pop-rock song from last decade by a band she can’t name plays over the sound system, and a promising hint of spring sunshine seeps through the windows up front.
She is lifting her own drink when the vibrating of a phone on the table commands her attention. She marvels at how, within a few short years, her reactions to cues from technology have become so second-nature, just like hard-wired reflexes from centuries ago.
It takes her a moment to realize that the phone is not hers--which is in her purse--but Diane’s. Nevertheless, in the split-second in which she glances at it, she sees the name on the screen: Jimmy Trask.

Sarah looks up right as Diane returns to the table.

“It would probably be easier if I just made the damn thing myself,” she mutters as she takes her seat.
Sarah can’t help but laugh at how quickly her friend can go from zero to sixty. She watches as Diane notices the name on her phone and attempts to conceal what Sarah can tell is an alarmed reaction.
“Have you talked to Tim about Spencer?” Sarah asks.

“Not yet.” Diane picks up the phone and reads the message; she almost manages to maintain a casual expression as she does so. Then she hurriedly taps out a response.

  Diane Bishop

She sets the phone back on the table. “What I want to do is find the little shit and wring his neck myself.”
“Yeah, maybe not the best first move.”
“Someone’s gotta teach him a lesson, and look, you know I love Tim, but he’s not always--” Diane’s statement is cut short by the vibrating of her phone again. She picks it up, reads the new text, and dashes off one of her own.
“He’s not always what?” Sarah asks.
Diane shakes her head, trying to refocus. “He’s not going to put that kid in his place the way I would.”
Another text message arrives. Diane snatches up the phone, reads it, and responds within the space of about twelve seconds.
“Everything okay?” Sarah asks.
Diane stares at the phone. “I think I need to run, actually. Sorry.” She is already out of her chair and slinging her purse over her shoulder.
“What about your latte?”
“You can grab it and keep it for yourself.”
“Are you sure everything’s okay?” Sarah asks, half-rising from her own chair.
“I’ll give you a call later,” Diane says before blowing out of the coffee house. Sarah watches her go, wondering what could be so urgent and why Diane is still associating with Jimmy and his buddy Keith in the first place. 

Travis Fisher parks his Honda Civic behind his aunt's car and hurries to the front door. After Samantha relayed the news to him this morning, he spent about an hour debating whether or not he should come here--but once he made up his mind, he hasn't wanted to waste another second.

His impatient finger rings the doorbell twice in rapid succession. He hears the rumbling of children's footsteps inside and then sees his young cousin peering through the side window.

"Travis!" Christian shouts as he opens the door. "What are you doing here?"

"Hey, buddy," Travis says, already scanning the house behind the younger boy. "Is Elly here?"

"Hi, Travis," Danielle Taylor says as she comes up behind Christian.

"Wanna play Mario Kart with us?" Christian asks.

"Go back and play with your brother," Danielle tells the boy. "I need to talk with your cousin for a second."

Her tone makes Travis's stomach turn over on itself. He nervously keeps his gaze on Christian as he runs back to the family room.

"Is Elly here?" he repeats, feeling uncomfortable with the stern gaze Danielle is leveling upon him.

"She's upstairs. I don't think she wants to see you, though."

"I just need a minute to explain--"

"Travis. She's very upset. Very upset. She wants some space right now."

  Travis Fisher

"I never meant for it to get so out-of-hand," he says. "It was right after I found out about Spencer, and I just--I made a really bad choice--"

"Yes, you did." Danielle's mouth remains in a tight, unforgiving line. 

"This is all because of Spencer. He wanted to fu--mess with us. He, like, gets off on it. If I can just talk to her--"

"Travis," comes another voice from the staircase. He watches as his Aunt Molly descends the stairs and joins them at the front door.

"Hey," he says, relieved to see an ally. "I just need to see Elly for a minute, so we can talk. You believe me about Spencer, don't you?"

"Of course I do." But then she pauses in what he can only interpret as an ominous way. "But you also violated Elly's trust in a pretty major way."

"I know. I'm an idiot. I want to tell her how sorry I am."

"She's made it pretty clear that she doesn't want to see you now," Molly says. "I'm sorry, Travis. You know I'm on your side, but I have to be fair to Elly, too."

"You've got some way of showing it," he says, and when neither woman so much as flinches, he turns his back on them and rushes back to the car. 


The CLOSED sign hangs in the window when Diane arrives at the bookstore, but when she tries the door, it opens right up. She finds Jimmy Trask behind the counter, a ledger open in front of him.

"Okay. What's the damn emergency?" Diane asks as she approaches. 

Jimmy closes the book. "I wanna know what's going on."

She can see him posturing--the activity with the ledger, trying to look busy and exasperated--and it irritates her to no end. "You're gonna have to be a little more specific than that."

"That comment you made a while back," he says. "About Keith, what, running a scam on me? I've been through the books, and I think you're right."

"No shit, I'm right. But I don't know anything, Jimmy."

"Are you sure?" He steps out from behind the counter. "You sounded awfully certain that day."

"It doesn't take a genius to see that something weird is going on here. That's why I wanted out, remember?"

He nods and seems to be studying the floor. 

"I'd also like to remind you that it is officially no longer my job to have any idea what's going on with your books and your money and whatever else," she says. "So if this is the emergency you were talking about--"

"That's the thing. I think you do have an idea."

Before Diane can respond, she hears the door open behind her. They both look at Keith Huff, who freezes in his tracks.

"What's she doing here?" Keith asks Jimmy.

"'Cuz I need to talk to both of you. I wanna know what's going on in my store."

"Our store," Keith says.

"If it's our store, then I have a right to know. What the hell have you two been hiding from me?"

Diane takes a step back as Keith closes in on Jimmy. 

"Nothing to hide, bro," Keith says. "You know what we're doing."

Jimmy doesn't back away. "Do I?"


Diane can see a lot being said in their staredown, even without words. Jimmy is challenging Keith to say it aloud. She realizes what is going on a split-second before Keith reaches out and yanks on Jimmy's shirt, tearing out two buttons and exposing his chest--

--and the wire taped to it. 

"That's bullshit, man," Keith says. He turns to Diane. "You were in on this, too?"

"No. I don't have a clue what's going on." For once, she is relieved to be able to say that.

Unfortunately, Keith doesn't seem to believe her--because the next thing she knows, he has pulled out a pistol and turned it on her and Jimmy.


"So he got exactly what he wanted, and I got screwed," Travis says. "It sucks."

His mother sits on an oversized ottoman across from him, her elbows on her knees. "I'm so sorry, Travis."

"Thanks. I just…" His eyes go up to the ceiling and fly to the corners of the room, as if attempting to capture something that is moving too quickly to grab. "I don't even know why he cares."

Claire considers her next words very carefully. The television drones in the background with the noise of a morning show that has gone on for hours too long, its overly peppy hosts desperate to keep things moving. 

"The woman who raised Spencer," Claire says, "she… raised him to think the worst of people. To have revenge and spite be his first response to anything."

"I didn't do anything to him!"

"I know that. You know that. But for him, it's like his entire life got blown apart--"

"So did mine!"

"And you've made some… reckless decisions because of it, too."

Travis's face hardens, and she fears that she has gone too far. She was surprised when he turned up at her door; it has been months since he came to this apartment, even longer since he attempted to engage with her in any meaningful way. She is terrified of torpedoing that by saying the wrong thing.

At the same time, though, the situation is not as black-and-white as Travis is attempting to make it out to be. Yes, Spencer did something nasty and awful--but so did Travis, a fact he keeps trying to downplay. She doesn't want to play fully into Travis's hand and declare Spencer an irredeemable villain, case closed.

Miraculously, Travis seems to take her point in stride.

"I wish I could've explained it to Elly on my own," he says. "I did something really dumb. I know that. It wasn't his place to make sure she found out."

"I know."

Travis stands, but instead of bolting for the door as Claire fears, he simply walks over to the window. She watches as the sunlight catches him in its languid grasp and, as she so often has in the past, marvels at how that little baby she raised has grown into this adult man. 

"Doesn't it bug you that he's so destructive?" Travis says. "You and Dad--you've tried to be nothing but nice to him. He's getting more family out of this, or he would if he wanted it. Why does he have to mess with me?"

Claire shakes her head. "I don't know. I really don't."

She has thoughts and theories, of course, most of which have to do with Loretta Ragan's influence and with Spencer's sense of displacement and with the seed that was planted long ago that Claire maliciously murdered her--their--father. But there is another possibility, one that she is loathe to acknowledge, though it is difficult to deny as she watches her other son standing here in such pain: that her biological son is simply a terrible person, deep in his core, and she might never be able to reach him.


The downtown streets are thankfully not that busy at this hour, and Sarah congratulates herself on her decision to get her errands done early in the day. She is nearing her bank--and eyeing open parking spots on the street, because the tiny lot is always a disaster--when she sees something else surprising.

She has to double-check the block she is on and knows instantly that something is wrong.

Quickly, she finds an open parking space, hops out of her car, and feeds the meter.


"Whoa, whoa, whoa, man," Jimmy says, his voice trembling as he and Diane stand there with a gun trained on them. 

"A wire? You fucking kidding me?" Keith says. 

Diane snaps her head toward Jimmy. "You lured me here so you could trap me? I don't know anything!"

"Shut up!" Keith yells, adjusting his grip on the gun in a way that makes Diane flinch. 

"Keith, put the gun down," Jimmy says. "We can all talk about this."

"You're wearing a wire! What the hell is there to talk about?" Keith shakes his head, a sneer on his face. "Who's listening in? Cops? Or are you running this yourself?"

  Keith Huff

Diane looks to Jimmy, awaiting some kind of explanation, but he remains tight-lipped.

"You should put the gun away before you make this worse," Jimmy finally says.

Keith's stare flickers, just for an instant, but Diane recognizes it as an opening. She sees a way out of this madness. Her heart continues to thump against the inside of her chest harder than it ever has before, and she finds it difficult to take a full breath.

"Were you working together?" Keith asks. Then he zeroes in on Diane. "Is that what you were up to? Trying to prove that something for your buddy Jimmy?"

"No!" she insists, but all she can see is the way that he's still holding the gun aloft, the barrel pointed right at them. Are there really cops listening in? Where the hell are they?

The next thing Diane knows, Jimmy is charging Keith, and the gun is no longer pointed at her. She scrambles to get behind the counter. And then she hears the jingle of the door opening and another voice:


She recognizes it as Sarah's voice. But just as Diane peers up over the counter, the sounds of the two men scuffling devolve into one single, horrifying sound: the gun being fired.


What will come of the madness at the bookstore?
Will Elly ever forgive Travis?
What should Claire do about Spencer now?
Talk about it all in the Footprints Forum!

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Thursday, May 08, 2014

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