A Merry Little Christmas – 193

Written by: Stephen Zito; Watch Now: – Sorry, not available on Amazon

[Again, so many fragments it’s difficult to summarize, and all of them a bunch of “soapbox” rather than action; however, an interesting JAG episode, none-the-less, as long as it doesn’t become their regular method. Harm and Mac, Turner and his dad, Harriet and Bud, Harm and Mattie, Chegwidden and Meredith, Coates and… well everyone. It is their Christmas show, after all.]

Harm (H) and Mattie (Mt) were rebuilding a carburetor at Grace Aviation, and discussing what she needed to do at their upcoming custody hearing, when Harry Clark burst in the door and became abusive to Mattie. Harm bristled and grabbed him, only to be told that he now owned the hanger and she had better be out in two days. Mattie had a birthday without telling H, and was now 15, and said she “did things my way.” She had applied for extension on her bank loan but they refused when they found out that she was running the business, then they had sold it at auction. The house is still hers, with a bank note. The guardian ad litem, Donna LeMoyne, came on as a shrew and caught H without a lot of specifics to his plans. She said he’d better be ready by the home inspection and needed someone to vouch for his suitability as a parent.

Harm asked M to vouch for him. She reminded him of their 5-year deal; but, when she found out about Mattie, she bristled about him not telling her. He said he didn’t think she was interested and she told him “that’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever told me.” He said he didn’t want to argue “about us” and she shot back “there is no us!” He said “you made sure of that,” and she: “you didn’t fight me on it… I’m tired of you cutting me out of your life until you need something.” He just got up and walked out saying “forget it. This is too important for you to screw up.”

Morgan Wattley, the home visit, found only beer and tofu in the fridge, no separate bedroom and alcohol bottles. Harm admitted he had firearms in the house (but locked up), was an F14 pilot (and intended to keep flying), had crashed (4 times), and was reading books about adolescent pathology (preparing for the worst to avoid surprises). Wattley called him “refreshingly candid.” Mattie drove herself to Hs apartment saying that her dad, Tom Johnson, had showed up at the house and said he would fight H in court. Johnson told a sob story, he had left Mattie with relatives, and got weepy in court but didn’t convince the judge. Mattie got angry and said her name was “grace not Johnson like him.” She said he was a drunk, had killed her mother and she would never live with him. Harm said that he had given his word to Mattie “that she would never be alone in this world again.”

Mac made a surprise visit to the court to testify and elucidated that H had previously: risked his life to protect the son of a fellow aviator (Josh Pendry and Kim Douglas), taken personal interest in child cases, taken a child witness into his home (Josh Pendry), and pulled strings to get medical attention for a traumatized girl (Dar-Lin Lewis) while he found her sisters killer. He is “the kind of man I’d want to be the father of my children, and without reservation he is up to the job.” The judge didn’t think either of them were the answer so ordered Mattie put in a foster home for 6 months while she made up her mind.

Harriett (Ht), still producing the Christmas USO show in Baghdad, had Varese Chestnut, a blues singer, snowbound in Reno and not able to get out. She told Bud that “next to raising the kids, this is the most important thing that I’ve ever done and I want your support.” Mac suggested marine “extraction” from a nearby base. Verese made it out by snow-cat and bumped into Sturgis Turner (T) coming out of the elevator. Turner knew of her (very well) and told her of his favorite songs. She seemed interested in T as well and said she’d leave his name at the door of where she was performing the next night. He asked if is dad could come. Chaplain Matthew Turner, had been asked by the JAG, Chegwidden (C), to perform the Christmas Eve service. Chegwidden also asked him to officiate at his upcoming wedding, May 14th in the Annapolis chapel.

The chaplain asked about his son, Sturgis, and C told him that “he needs to stop expecting perfection” and the old Zito saying: “demand perfection of yourself and be dissatisfied, of others and always disappointed.” His dad took a cab home, his idea, so T could talk with Verese about both being raised by preachers and needing to be perfect. She said that her dad had waited for the right time then told her of the times he had “fallen from grace.” She told him that he should ask his father the same thing and he shot back: “he never did” and quoted ‘Soldier, scholar, horseman, he and all he did done perfectly as though he had but that one trait alone.” “Yates,” he said, “was thinking about my dad when he wrote that.” She quoted Bessie Smith’s song about all men eventually becoming like “an old worn out ford,” and said “no man is perfect.” She likes jazz because “it starts out with set notes then goes wherever you want, always different, never perfect or meant to be and always in the process of becoming.” He said he had been looking for someone like her for a long time.

Coates informed C of a parcel service accident in Italy which burned Meredith’s present to a crisp. It was a personalized PDA, which Co said wasn’t very personal and offered to help. She bought a Hermes scarf, channel #5, Portolano gloves, and a louis Vitton wallet (things she had stolen in her youth). He told her to take them back and get another PDA on his credit card. When she did, and he looked at the PDA he told her to “go to plan C… and let me know the results.” She told him how grateful she was to be at JAG and he said “you’ve got to quit being so damn grateful all the time… it gets rather tiresome. You’re earning your keep, that’s what matters. Stop thanking everyone.” She gave him what she had come up with for a present: a poem about his various presents, their problems and how much he missed her. She had arranged for a member of the cast of Romeo and Juliet in Bolognia, where Meredith would be attending that night, to read it to her personally after the show. Stunned, all C could say was “damn.” She asked if he was happy and he replied “for the first time in years.”

All were in the chaplains church service, even Co who had said she wasn’t going to come. He advised that “there are many reasons to turn to God” (and the camera showed close-up’s of the various people he was referring to as he said them). “Consolation, healing the brokenhearted, deliverance, liberating the bruised (showing Co, H & M) and guidance (showing T, and Mattie who took H’s hand).” “God has answers,” he said, “if we are willing to listen; but often are lacking the ability to hear what he’s saying… too busy in our lives, lost in our own misery, deaf to the sweet music there is. He gives us forgiveness for ourselves and others (showing T, H & M again).” After the service they all talked on the steps. Mattie asked H, “you won’t forget me?” Harm said “are you kidding?” She went toward her dad in the truck who was going to take her to her foster home. Mac followed her to the truck and asked to speak to Johnson “one alcoholic to another.” When Mikey wondered how the USO show was going, Co said “let’s go find out.”

All in Cs office, watching a live feed of the show, Ht said that it was the nicest present she’d ever gotten. They watched Verese sing her song and T watched lovingly. The chaplain said “don’t miss your chance” and T replied “I don’t intend to.” Coates told C that she had requested a live feed from the armed forces television and she was “afraid she used your name. And may have committed you to a few things, among them a Saturday morning call in show,” then stepped back a few paces from him. Harm was at the Vietnam Wall later looking at his dad’s name and Mattie appeared. Mac had brought her, after convincing Johnson to step aside. She said he had agreed to a full course of treatment and if he pulls it together, and if Mattie wants, they would see. “Until then I’m yours,” Mattie said, then added, “you can hug me you know.” Harm asked M to come with them but M said she had a date with Webb.

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