"Hi, Autumn, this is Mike."
"Oh, of course! I should have asked. And to think they gave me a degree . . . anyway, I'd like to speak to Peter."
"Sure, hold on for a minute." Mike set the phone down on the table. "Peter, telephone."
"Wow, Mike!" Micky exclaimed. "That's great! Maybe tomorrow, you can find the television!" Mike, Davy and Peter stared blankly at Micky. "What?"
"Nothing," Mike said, shaking his head. "Phone, Peter," he repeated.
"Oh, right." Peter got up and answered the phone. "Hello?"
"Hi, Peter, I'm in Chicago."
"You're in Chicago?"
"Why? You're not there with that convention, are you?"
"Of course not! I'm not stupid."
"Then why are you there?"
"Well . . . you might find out later."
"You aren't going to tell me?"
"I can't, hon. I'm sorry."
"It's okay. When will you be back?"
"Before the month is over. I just called to let you know that I'm away."
"Okay. See you soon."
"I love you."
Autumn paused. "Love you, too. Bye."
"So," said Micky, as soon as Peter hung up, "Autumn's in Chicago."
"Yeah," Peter said.
"I think the Democratic National Convention is beginning there soon," said Mike.
"Wonder if that has anything to do with it," Davy mused.
"She said it didn't," Peter replied.
The other three Monkees exchanged glances and shrugged in unison.
"And in later news, riots have broken out in Chicago in conjunction with the Democratic National Convention. Utilizing force and violence, police have the riots under control. We have no word on any injuries inflicted upon or by the police, and have very little to go on but reports from our network and the following clips." The clips were shocking.
Mike was watching the evening news. Peter walked by and glanced at the television just as a picture of a young woman chanting, or leading a chant, flashed across the screen. The clips was the last of the segment.
"Hey!" Peter exclaimed, as the next story began. "That was Autumn!"
"It was?" Mike asked.
"It had to be."
"She's in a lot of trouble."
"What do you mean?"
"They're rioting out there in Chicago. The police are kinda bashing the rioters around to get 'em to stop."
Peter's eyes widened. "We've got to get up there."
"Are you crazy? How do you think we'd do that?"
"Autumn has a private jet, I'm sure her pilot would take us if he's not out in Chicago."
"Do what you want, Peter. We don't have a gig lined up or anything, but get back soon."
"Thanks, Mike." Peter rushed away to pack.
"For what?" Mike muttered under his breath, but he knew very well for what.
Peter was lucky. Autumn didn't have anywhere to keep her plane in Chicago, so she sent her pilot and plane home. It did, however, take them two days to arrange the flight. Once he was in Chicago, Peter didn't know where to start.
He was wandering down Main Street, looking perfectly lost. He stood stock still, in the middle of the sidewalk, staring up at the formidable buildings that surrounded him. Someone who wasn't looking where they were going slammed right into Peter.
"Oh, I'm sorry!" she whispered demurely. "I guess I wasn't looking where I was—Peter! What are you doing here?"
"Autumn!" He gaped openly, just barely having recovered from the shock of just running into her.
"Hey, Sunflower, Rain, just go on without me," Autumn said to the people who'd been walking with her. "I've got to talk to him."
"Okay," said Rain. "But who is he?"
"This is my fiance, Peter."
"Oh, right!" exclaimed Sunflower. "We've heard all about you! Well, have fun," she giggled. Sunflower and Rain walked on.
"Autumn, is something wrong?"
Autumn smiled, but it didn't reach her eyes. "No, nothing at all. Come with me, we'd better discuss this at my hotel."
"What happened?" Peter asked.
"Wait until we're somewhere private." Autumn led him through the city, into a hotel, up two flights of stairs, down the hall, and finally into her room.
"Okay," she said. "You were saying?"
Having a discussion with someone who doesn't want to talk is difficult. It's even more difficult when they would do anything to avoid the topic of discussion. But you knew that already. "With the police?"
"Oh, then. . . . Yeah, well. . . ."
Autumn shook her head. "Nothing important. We don't need to talk about it. In fact," she said, taking both of his hands and backing him into a wall, "we don't need to talk at all." She kissed him, but it almost wasn't her. Autumn had never, ever, been so forceful, almost violent with him.
Peter was dimly aware of something hitting the wall. He soon realized it was Autumn's hands. Accompanying the thud of her hands on the wall, Autumn changed something else. Something important. Peter couldn't tell just what it was, but it wasn't good.
This is headed in a very wrong direction. A very, very wrong direction, Peter thought. He seized her wrists. The second he touched her wrists, Autumn backed off.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"Please let go," she said, backing away. As she moved, she pulled her arms down between them. Peter held firm.
"Please," she begged. "Please let go."
Peter saw fear rising in her eyes. "Don't you trust me?"
"Trust?" Autumn asked, not believing that he'd actually said the word. "At a time like this, you speak of trust?"
"A time like what?"
"The present, here and now, 1968."
"What's the matter?"
"What's not? Please, let go."
"I won't let go until you tell me what's wrong."
"Nothing's wrong." Autumn suddenly began to cry. "Everything's wrong. Please, just let go."
"Why are you crying?"
She immediately stopped crying. "Why are you talking about trust?"
"Autumn, please. I want to help you."
"Then let go."
"Why can't I help you?"
"Because you still believe in trust."
Peter paused, remembering someone he'd once known. "Innocence is at a premium."—Mr. Zero! "Autumn, did someone hurt you or something?"
"Aside from you, right now?"
Peter quickly released her wrists. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you."
"You weren't—but it got you to let me go, didn't it?"
Peter was amazed—Autumn had just deceived Peter. Now he knew that something wasn't right, as if the earlier conversation hadn't told him. If he had had room, Peter would have begun to back away. Autumn saved him the trouble, backing up three steps before turning and running out of the room.
"What just happened?" Peter asked himself aloud. Before he'd had time to even begin to ponder an answer, Sunflower and Rain burst into the room.
"Oh, hi Peter. We just passed Autumn."
"Yeah, she said she'd meet you downstairs in a minute or two, and she'd talk to you then."
"Good," Peter nodded. He left the room without another word—Sunflower and Rain would not help him think.
After standing in the hall for a minute, Peter headed downstairs. As he neared the ground floor, he could hear, and see, a lot of commotion at the bottom of the stairs. He drew closer, trying to find the source.
Autumn fought her way through the small crowd. "Really, I'm fine. I just tripped. My shoelaces are untied, and I stepped on one at the top of the stairs."
Peter placed a hand on her shoulder. She jumped and turned around. As soon as she realized who he was, Autumn flung herself into his arms. Peter understood immediately. He picked her up and carried her back up to the room.
Sunflower and Rain were mysteriously gone, along with all of their things, which had been carelessly strewn about the room just moments before. Autumn sat on one of the beds, silently staring straight ahead. Night quietly crept over the stillness in the room. Autumn was content to sit in the dark, but Peter switched on the lamp on the nightstand.
Finally, at 10:30, Autumn stood up, picked up a heavy shawl, and walked out to the balcony. She wrapped the shawl around her and leaned over the rail.
Peter followed her, and took a seat on the balcony, watching her.
A stiff wind pulled and teased Autumn's hair.
"I guess that's why they call it the windy city," Peter said. Autumn nodded slightly. "Autumn, you didn't trip on the stairs, did you?"
She looked at him, about the feign surprise, but stopped. She slowly nodded.
"Will you tell me what's wrong?"
"Why not? Do you think that I won't understand?"
"Yes." Peter looked hurt. She would never insult his intelligence, even in jest. "I can't understand it myself, let alone explain it." Autumn glanced at her watch. "Time for bed."
"Separate," Peter said firmly.
"Separately," Autumn softly corrected, nodding. They walked back inside the room.