By Niger Preece
Based on "Thunderbirds" created by Gerry Anderson
(c) Carlton International Media Ltd 2001.No copyright infringement is intended.
The tiny Methodist church was packed to capacity. They had even had to borrow some chairs from the schoolroom next door, so full the place was. It was as though the whole town had turned out to witness the baptism of the second child of these two people. Two people known through the local community. The couple stood before the font at the front of the church. The man, tall, dark haired, and looking very smart in his air force dress uniform. The woman, slight in build, with short dark hair, slightly arched eyebrows, arching over deep blue eyes that gazed down lovingly to the small sleeping human being in her arms that was her two month old son.
For once she felt a little out of place, normally she would be watching proceedings from the small seat in front of the organ. As church organist, she had observed many a baptism, and played many a baptismal hymn for all the proud parents. Now it was her turn, for the second time. Just three years after the first.
The minister, Rev Brown, called the congregation to stand.
They duly did.
He began, "Members of the body of Christ are you ready to receive this child".
"We are", they replied.
"Will the parents of this child please present him for baptism".
The couple stepped forward and the young lady placed the tiny infant in the arms of the minister.
He asked, "Name this child".
The man answered in a deep and clear voice, "Virgil Ivan".
The minister, supporting the baby with his right arm placed his left hand in the font, drew out a small amount of water, and drew with it a cross on the child's forehead. The little one didn't utter a sound, "Virgil Ivan Tracy, I baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In baptism we welcome this child into Christ's flock, and we pray that the Lord will help him and guide him in all that he chooses to do, through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen".
Rev Brown turned to face the parents, "I'm sure Jeff and Lucille won't mind me taking a walk down the aisle and showing off little Virgil to the folks now", he said, loud enough for the whole church to hear.
"Of course not", Jeff replied, and looked down at his other son who had been a bundle of excitement all morning.
Jeff asked, "Scott, would you like to walk with the minister?".
"Yessir", came the enthusiastic reply, and the minister and the three year old lad by his side did a brief tour of the congregation. Every now and then they would stop to allow some of the folks to stand up and take a closer look. Scott, on more than one occasion during this walk would point up to the baby and with a huge smile on his face would say out loud, "that's my little brother, and I'm going to take very special care of him".
His mother, looking on from the font, wiped away a small tear, and looked at her husband, "I think these two are going to be really close Jeff. Isn't it beautiful to watch".
"I think you're right honey. Although I have a feeling they are going to be like chalk and cheese in some way. Remember Scott? He cried his eyes out when he was baptised, yet we've not heard a peep out of Virgil all day", he smiled, and kissed his wife.
"I wonder if he'll be musical", Lucille asked, "goodness knows I spent many an hour sat in front of the piano at home and the organ here while I was pregnant with him. I still don't regret going back on the concert circuit after having Scott, and staying on the tour for the first three months of this second pregnancy, something I chose not to do when I was expecting Scott"
Jeff couldn't help but smile at that last sentence, "Well it was certainly a first, a well known concert pianist announces to the packed audience in, of all places, the Royal Albert Hall in her native London, that she is pregnant with her second child, and offers a secret wish that this one takes after her and becomes a successful pianist".
Lucille laughed, "Well it got the biggest applause of the night, and I was playing Mahler after all".
By now the minister had made it back to the font and very carefully handed the infant over to his mother. As he did so he took one last look at the tiny face and uttered something that Jeff would remember the rest of his life.
"Don't he look like his mother".
Scott was a light sleeper; it would always be a least one in the morning before slumber overcame him. Tonight was no exception. He looked across at his wife next to him. She was sound asleep, and looked so beautiful Scott thought.
The clock beyond her sleeping face said one-fourteen, and for once Scott felt he needed a little sedation; otherwise he would be any old how in the morning and in no fit state to fly up to the space station for Alan and John's monthly switcheroo.
He slid from under the covers and wrapped his thirteen stone frame in his dressing gown. He heard Candy rustle the blankets as she turned over, but no sound passed her lips. "Good" he thought, "I'll be spared her usual lecture on alcohol reliance", he said to himself.
He slid open the door and walked down the corridor into the lounge, made a b-line for the drinks cabinet behind the piano, and had the shock of his life as he saw a familiar figure at the keyboard.
"Virg", his brother barely batted an eyelid. Typical, he thought.
"What's it to be, red, white, cherry, or that awful stuff that rain soaked Rabbi gave you after that synagogue job in Baden-Baden", Virgil deadpanned.
"Haw-haw", Scott retorted, "You forgot your apron and your wine list. Just pass the brandy, a little swig ought to do it."
"Candy not heard you then", Virgil asked, passing the brandy, knowing his brother only too well. His brother nodded and then tossed back a small measure before passing the bottle back to his pianist sibling for him to place back on the tray.
Scott looked down at the manuscript on the piano, "Still fiddling with this piece then", he asked.
"Yep, promised Dad when he was alive that I'd finish this tune of moms, and you know, I even promised him I would not change the name of the piece that mom gave it. It's actually done, just a little fine tuning here and there. Funny, you know I watched her writing this in the chalet in Scotland. All those years ago, in that room at the back, you remember, the one with the view of Ben Nevis". He gazed out of the balcony on to the moonlit calm of the southern pacific.
"I can see her now, plain as punch", he thought out loud.
"I remember that too", Scott replied, "But what was the title of the piece. I know it was something to do with the weather in winter".
Before Virgil had chance to draw breath to answer, a scream pierced the midnight quiet. A scream so loud, that would have been heard over on Mateo Island. Barely had the sound of it died away than Virgil was tearing down the corridor in a flash to his room. He shoved the door aside and saw his wife clutching her ballooned and very pregnant stomach. Her eyes wide with fear, and shock.
"I thinks it's started Virgil", she said, in a calm that belied the look on her face.
He turned to face his brother now standing in the doorway, "Get Candy, and Tin Tin", he ordered.
The men folk had nothing to do.
The exchange in space on five was handled by Gordon; Scott decided to stay with his brother. The two had been through it all together. They had saved each others skin on more than one occasion. It would mean a great deal to Virgil if the first face he saw once it was all over was that of his elder brother. If ever two siblings cared about each other it was these two. The last thing Scott said to his brother before he closed the door after Tin-Tin and Candy had brought the things they needed was as much an order as the one his brother has barked at him moments earlier, "I don't want to see you again until you are a father. If we get a call, John, Gordon and I will take care of it. Right now your place is by your wife", and the tears began to well in Scott’s eyes, "Good luck pal", he grabbed the pianist by the ears and planted a huge kiss on his forehead, before turning abruptly and making for the lounge. Not giving his brother even a chance to have the last word.
The errand in space took less than thirty minutes, Gordon returned with John, and both their faces dropped when Scott relayed the news that there was still no change.
The the sound of a door sliding open came from the corridor.
Scott raced down and saw his brother in the doorway, he motioned Scott to the bed, where an exhausted, but very happy Jean, flanked by Tin-Tin and Candy, sat with a baby in her arms.
Scott leaned over and saw the tiny face wrapped in a pure white blanket. Virgil, his voice quaking spoke to his brother.
"Scott, may I present to you Elizabeth Lucille Tracy".
"Congratulations kiddo", Scott Said.
The men hugged, and sobbed uncontrollably.
That night, Scott and Virgil were both seated in the hammock next to the pool. It was a warm and clear night, and both were looking up at the mass of stars that looked down on them.
There was contentment in the air.
"Look, that’s him, right on time", said Virgil pointing up at the small white dot moving across the night sky, "There's Alan. Now, like I said, make a wish, and raise your glass".
The two men sat silent, and raised their glasses, "This stuff that rabbi gave us isn't that bad after all Scott", Virgil said, looking into the dark brown substance in his glass. "Oh, I just thought, the title of the piece of Mom's I finished".
"I'm amazed you can remember talking about that, I'd forgotten about it", Scott uttered, "That said, what was it called?".
"White as Snow", Virgil replied.
"Ahh, I knew it was something to do with the weather, and the landscape she saw. That sort of thing always inspired her." Scott looked down at his glass, "You know Virgil, something I've got to tell you".
"What”, Virgil asked.
"My lovely new niece", he said, "Don't she look like her dad".