Leonard Meltsner Saga
The Leonard Meltsner Saga is a storyline that spans fifteen episodes from Album #45: Lost and Found to Album #49: The Sky’s the Limit, with one precursor episode in Album #10. The series was written entirely by Marshal Younger and Nathan Hoobler (with the exception of #157: “Last in a Long Line”, written by Phil Lollar). The saga encompasses the story behind Leonard Meltsner, the long-lost father of Eugene Meltsner.
Eugene and Bernard Walton are both doing freelance work for the local Presbyterian church, Bernard on their windows and Eugene on their computer. They walk home together. Much against Bernard’s wishes, they take a shortcut through the cemetery next to the church. Eugene chides Bernard for feeling spooked, until he sees a tombstone with “Meltsner” carved on it! When Eugene investigates further, he discovers that the full name on the stone reads “Leonard Meltsner,” Eugene’s father!
Eugene is stunned. He has always believed that his father and mother died on an anthropological expedition in the rain forests of Zaire. Eugene tells Whit about the grave, and they decide to find out the truth. The city records reveal nothing, so they go back to the cemetery to see if the church has any records. That’s when Eugene notices that the grave has been manicured! Its grass has been trimmed, and fresh flowers have been planted.
Just then, the church secretary walks up to them. She reports that the church’s records don’t reveal much information. But files do show that its upkeep is paid for each month by “The GHM Fund, Connellsville Bank.” Eugene surmises that "GHM" stands for “Garvey Hiram Meltsner,” his grandfather. Eugene is ecstatic at the thought that his grandfather may still be alive! Eugene had always assumed that he was the last living Meltsner.
Whit reminds Eugene that the check came from a trust fund, his grandfather might not be alive. Whit pulls a few strings and learns where G. Hiram lives. But when Whit and Eugene go there, they learn that Eugene’s grandfather passed away just a few days earlier. Eugene is heartbroken.
G. Hiram did leave his grandson a piggy bank filled with silver dollars, though. Hiram originally gave it to Eugene for Christmas when he was two years old. Because Eugene liked it so much, Hiram promised to put a silver dollar in it every year for Eugene. But Eugene’s father and grandfather had a fight, and Eugene never saw Hiram again. Hiram still put coins in the piggy bank every year, hoping that Eugene would visit. Eugene is touched. For the first time in his life, he understands the true meaning of family. Then, he realizes that Bernard is his cousin!
Before Eugene Meltsner and Katrina Meltsner returned to Odyssey, they traveled around the world on various mission trips. Eugene writes in his journal about one special trip to Africa that changed his life forever.
Eugene and Katrina worked with the mission board to be placed somewhere that would use their strengths. They were asked to take some communication equipment to the Ashanti village in Africa because they had little connection with the outside world. They go to a small airport to meet their connecting flight. They tell the pilot that they want to go to the Ashanti region. He explains that the Ashantis are cursed. He says anyone that goes into the village never comes out.
While on the plane, the pilot decides that the best way to get their equipment close enough to the village is to parachute in. They land in an open area. A child named Kwame greets Eugene and Katrina when they land and he brings the other villagers. The villagers believe that Eugene is someone called "Morati" and that he has returned to save them from their curse. They explain that they are here to build something that will allow them to communicate with the outside world.
Eugene finishes the transmitter and pushes the start button, but it doesn't work. He rewires it and tries again, but nothing. Eugene continues to work on it late into the night. Katrina tries to comfort Eugene, reminding him that there was no way that he could have lived up to their expectations. They decide that maybe God sent them here to do more than set up the transmitter. They decide to try to preach to them that they shouldn't put their trust in some God that put a curse on them.
A fire breaks out in the village from a storm. Eugene and Katrina try to help any way that they can. They get the fire out, but Gobir takes this as a sign that the Gods are angry with the visitors.
Eugene is determined that the transmitter being completed is the best way to show the Ashantis that there curses are foolish. However, Eugene fails in his attempts to build a radio transmitter. While working on it, he builds a paper airplane for Kwame from his instruction manual. Kwame runs of to show his friends. Later,Aman tells Eugene that he reminds her of "Morati," and she takes Eugene to Morati's hut. Eugene picks up Morati's journal which looks oddly familiar. Then she tells Eugene that Morati’s real name was "Leonard." Eugene is surprised, he puts the pieces together and realizes that Morati is his own father...
(Continued in #575: “Prisoners of Fear, Part 2”)
Eugene Meltsner finds out that his father had worked at the Ashanti village. He knew that his father was lost on an archaeological expedition when he was seven. Aman tells him that his parents had been in the village, but they left 21 years and six months ago. She tells him that the curse started when the village made Morati go. She explains that an American from the U.S. came and inspired greed within the village. The American started the Wolof tribe. Aman explains that it was when the Ashantis traded the Meltsners to the Wolof tribe to save themselves from warfare, that the curse appeared. They threw their leader, Yosef, into the river for trading innocent lives instead of fighting for their village. Eugene decides that his parents could still be alive.
Eugene tells his wife, Katrina and Eugene is determined to search for his parents. They get Aman's help with supplies, but she is convinced that their lives will end at the river.
As they try to cross the river on the rope bridge, the river swells and Eugene is nearly carried away. Taking a leap of faith, Eugene and Katrina hike upriver and discover a dam, a strangely modern piece of architecture for such a remote village. After crossing the river over the dam, Yosef appears!
He forces Eugene and Katrina to the Wolof camp, intending to exchange Eugene for Leonard Meltsner. The Wolof camp is empty, but Katrina finds Thelma Meltsner’s grave. Eugene gathers the strength to press on and find his father anyway. A Wolof man appears as Yosef shows Eugene the archaeological dig in which Leonard worked. The Wolof man puts the Meltsners and Yosef into a holding cell until the tribe returns. The Wolof man explains that Leonard Meltsner died three months earlier in a cave-in. Eugene is devastated.
(Continued in #576: “Prisoners of Fear, Part 3”)
Eugene Meltsner, Katrina Meltsner, and Yosef sit imprisoned in a cave. Katrina feels a breeze in the windowless cavern and together they find a tunnel. It appears that Leonard Meltsner tunneled his way out of prison and staged a cave-in, giving him time to escape into the jungle!
The trio use the tunnel to escape the cave. Eugene wants to continue his search for his father, but instead they head back to the village of the Ashantis. As they approach the dam, Gobir appears threatening them with a gun and refuses to let them cross. He confesses that he invented the curse to keep his village safe from the outside world. He installed motion sensors downriver that triggered the dam to break, sending massive waves towards anyone trying to cross. By letting Eugene and Katrina cross back to the village, everyone would discover his lie.
As Gobir is about to harm them, Yosef jumps out and tackles him. Eugene and Katrina run towards the village. Kwame sees Eugene, Katrina, and Gobir standing on the other side of the river and he wants to cross. To save his son, Gobir finally admits his lie. He later tells all of the villagers at Aman's insistence. Eugene and Katrina explain to Gobir that he should trust God with the protection of his village instead of trying to do it himself.
Eugene prepares to leave the village to search for his father. He doesn't find anything except for one clue. The person who sent the fax requesting someone to come to the Ashanti village was L.M. His father never forgot the Ashantis and they never forgot him.
Eugene Meltsner, hesitant to involve anyone else in his emotional roller coaster, continues his search for his father by following time consuming and ineffective leads - including calling every Meltsner he can find a phone number for. Katrina convinces him to let Whit help him bear some of the burden of his search. She suggests that Whit might be able to provide leads more helpful than those Eugene has attempted to procure.
Whit, appropriately shocked, promises to help Eugene track down Leonard. The only evidence Eugene has so far is a fax from Around the World Missions specifically asking for Eugene to go to the Ashanti tribe in Africa. It is signed with the initials L. M. and is written in what appears to be Leonard's handwriting, so Eugene believes that his father wanted him to be there.
As Eugene attempts to distract himself from the search for Leonard he reminisces about a science experiment he did when he was six that destroyed their bathtub and frustrated his father. As he and Katrina discuss this, Katrina mentions that it would be far easier for Leonard to find Eugene than for Eugene to find Leonard. She makes an offhanded comment that Leonard will be able to find Eugene whenever he wants, which causes Eugene no small amount of distress as he worries that his father doesn't want to see him after all!
Whit contacts a man named Martin at Around the World Missions who is able to provide more information about the request for Eugene to go to Africa. Martin tells Eugene that Leonard didn't write the request for Eugene on the fax after all - Martin wrote it himself and requested Eugene personally because he felt that Eugene's expertise suited the mission. Eugene is discouraged by this information and tells Whit of his fear that Leonard has no interest in finding him since he has apparently made no effort to find Eugene. "Why hasn't he come for me?" a devastated Eugene asks Whit. He worries that he has somehow done something that would cause his father to not want to contact him.
Upset, Eugene decides to go visit his foster parents, Maddie and Frank Burnette to see if they have any answers. The Burnettes are very excited to see him and relay multiple stories about Eugene's childhood and his antics. Maddie has set the thermostat to his old favorite temperature, cooked his childhood favorite meal, and convinced Frank to park the car down the street to avoid offending Eugene (who, as a child, disapproved of cars because of the exhaust fumes). Frank asks Eugene to fix his DVD player, to Maddie's chagrin. Frank jokes that it's the least Eugene could do after all he put them through when he lived with them.
Unfortunately, the Burnettes know nothing about Eugene's father but suggest going through the paperwork they received when Eugene first came to live with them. As they dig through the attic, discussing the past, Eugene finds, in with his old academic trophies, a piece of the broken soap dish from the bathtub he destroyed. He muses that his father must have considered his failed experiments a valuable learning experience and is comforted by this knowledge. No longer afraid that his father hates him, he and the Burnettes share affectionate goodbyes.
Back at Whit's End, Whit tells Eugene that he will be glad to help him in whatever way he can to help look for Leonard. As they work on an invention, Eugene tells Whit that he has learned a valuable lesson about God's providence and how He gives us exactly what we need when we need it.
An excited Eugene interrupts Whit and Grady at Whit's End discussing a new charitable project that feeds the homeless and provides items to families in need. He tells Whit that, while looking through some boxes for items to donate to the adopt-a-family program he and Grady were discussing, he stumbled across a beginner's guide to Zaire in his parents' effects. He concluded that his parents would not have needed such a simplistic handbook and, upon opening the book, discovered a train ticket to a city in Zaire mere miles from the Ashanti village where Leonard Meltsner was last seen. In addition, the book contained a map with the location of his parents' captivity circled. Eugene concludes that whoever bought the ticket in the book traveled to Africa in an attempt to rescue his parents!
This new discovery leads Eugene to more questions than answers: who traveled to Africa? How did the train ticket get into the book, and the book into the box in Eugene's office? Since the box was given to him by his foster parents, he resolves to call them to find out where the book came from. Before he can leave, Eugene shares his hope that the map was created by his father - smuggled to someone "on the outside" to help him escape. If this is true, it's possible that Leonard contacted the person he sent the map to after escaping from Africa the previous year.
Meanwhile, Grady, riding in the car with his mother, sees a homeless man in the park. He asks his mother if they can adopt the man as part of the adopt-a-family program he and Mr. Whittaker had discussed. Kristi agrees to put together some items to donate to the program. Grady over-enthusiastically gathers things to give away, including his mother's kitchen appliances, his sister's stuffed animals, and his own bed.
Eugene's foster parents have no idea where the box came from, but Whit has another lead: a friend of his may be able to produce a passenger list for the train trip mentioned on the ticket! He and Whit travel to Chicago to go through archives relating to the train. While there, Eugene confesses that while he has been praying continually about his father, he is excited to have a lead that allows him to take physical action towards finding Leonard. Whit cautions Eugene that, if Leonard wants to remain hidden, their search could prove dangerous. On the passenger list for the train that Eugene finally unearths, he recognizes the name Michael Mushnik - his mother's uncle! Whit finds a newspaper article about the train. It crashed in Zaire, killing all of the passengers.
On the way back to Odyssey, Eugene and Whit stop at his foster parents to see if they know anything about his uncle. Mrs. Burnette doesn't remember much about Michael, though she does recall that the Zaire book was in his effects. She then reveals that Michael had come by their house before he left for Zaire asking to take seven-year-old Eugene with him. The Burnetts' refusal to allow him to take Eugene along saved Eugene's life.
Grady and his mother find a box return home to find a box with items from adopt-a-family from Odyssey Community Church.
Eugene goes through the box of his parents' things again. He finds nothing new, but shows Whit a picture of his parents with another well-known archaeologist: Dalton Kearn. While Eugene has been digging through the box, Whit has contacted another friend in the Congo who sent him some more information about the train. The fax number on the paperwork gives Whit a hunch.
Whit and Eugene look again at the fax sent to the missions board that began Eugene's adventure in #574: “Prisoners of Fear, Part 1”. They discover that the number on the original fax to the Missions Board - the one from Leonard - was a Connellsville number. Eugene calls the fax number and reaches Pete's Gas and Chow. When PJ Manning, the Gas and Chow employee, proves less than helpful on the phone, Whit and Eugene decide to travel to Connelsville to talk to him in person.
Grady, still frustrated frustrated that they are the recipients of help when he had wanted to help others, convinces his mother to let him give some of the items in the box they were given to the homeless man they saw in the park.
PJ, remarkably, remembers a man sending the fax. He refers to the man as Joel - a big man in his fifties with dreadlocks. He tells Eugene that he remembers Joel because he thought it was so unusual that a homeless man would send a fax to Cairo. Eugene and Whit decide to concentrate their efforts on finding the man known as Joel and drive to Solid Ground - a nearby homeless shelter run by Don Winters, another friend of Whit's. His friend tells Whit how much the residents at the shelter are looking forward to the dinner at Whit's End that night. Eugene tells the director who he is looking for and Don remembers him - Joel is an off-and-on resident of the shelter. In fact, Joel is at the shelter right then! But as soon as Whit tells Joel they want to speak to him about Leonard Meltsner Joel runs away. Eugene and Whit are unable to catch him. They stop the chase in the cemetery, near Eugene's grandfather's grave. Right beside it they discover three other graves: one for Eugene's mother, one for Eugene himself, and one with the unknown name Everett Meltsner.
Upon further inspection, Eugene realizes that the date on "his" tombstone is the date the train Michael was on crashed. Whoever set up the gravestone believed Eugene died on the train! Eugene concludes that it must be his father! Believing Eugene to be dead Leonard made no effort to contact him. Eugene and Whit return to the shelter to try to find Joel. He is still gone, but Whit and Eugene look at his bunk and find a blanket with the name "Grady McKay" stitched onto it.
When Whit and Eugene visit Grady to ask about the blanket, Grady tells them that he had given the blanket, along with the other items, to the homeless man in the park. Grady tells them that he invited Joel to the dinner that night at Whit's End. While there's no guarantee that Joel will come, Eugene cannot help but hope.
Conflicted about his next step, Eugene worries that his actions have inadvertently hindered his progress finding his father. He and Whit discuss the providence of God. Whit tells Eugene that it is impossible for him to ruin God's plans and assures him that everything will work out.
At the dinner, Grady is the first to see Joel. He offers to introduce him to Eugene. Joel remarks that Eugene looks like Leonard. Eugene reveals that he is Leonard's son and asks Joel to help him find Leonard. Joel, flabbergasted, tells Eugene that he is the elusive Leonard.
After what seemed like endless searching, Eugene has finally found his father! Leonard is shocked that Eugene is alive, having been told by Gobir that he died in a train crash when he was seven. Eugene begins trying to introduce Leonard to everyone at Whit's End and spooks his father, who runs away.
Eugene contacts Gobir, who tells Eugene that Dalton Kearn, an archaeologist friend of Eugene's parents, tasked him with retrieving Eugene from the train station. Dalton had sent for Eugene in hopes that threatening Leonard with Eugene's safety would force him to help Dalton with a dig site. When he reached the train station, Gobir was told that the train crashed with no survivors. He told Leonard and Thelma, but they were immediately kidnapped by Dalton and forced to work on his new dig. Eugene concludes that his father is in disguise to hide from Dalton - that he is still on the run.
When Eugene closes Whit's End that evening, Leonard is waiting outside for him. Leonard tells Eugene that he originally came to Odyssey to visit Hiram Meltsner, who had unfortunately passed away before Leonard's arrival. Leonard also tells Eugene that, while in Africa, he and Thelma had another son named Everett, who also died in Africa. Eugene attempts to connect with his father but Leonard is too afraid for them to spend much time together in the open. He fears for his and Eugene's safety since Dalton is still out there somewhere, posing a threat to them both.
Whit's research reveals that Dalton left Africa a month ago and that no one knows where he is. He could be anywhere - even Odyssey.
The next time Eugene sees Leonard (at a gas station) he reveals this information to Leonard. They have a short conversation in which Eugene shares his conversion to Christianity with his unimpressed father. They discuss Eugene's work with Hand Up; Leonard tells his son that he has visited the website and Eugene encourages his father to look at the Gallery page to see pictures of Eugene's work. Their conversation is cut short when Leonard decides it's too dangerous for them to spend more time together. Eugene expresses his frustration with the "brief snippets" of time they are able to spend together but his father is unmoved.
Late that night Katrina finds Eugene typing up a list of things to discuss the next time he sees his father. He and Katrina decide that family is always worth any risk. The next day Eugene asks Whit if he believes that Whit's resources can keep Leonard safe. Whit confirms that he believes that, with prayer, they can keep Leonard out of harm's way. Eugene posts a message on the gallery page of his website. He visits the library to see if Leonard is using the computers there to access the Internet. Leonard is there, chiding Eugene for taking the risk of trying to contact him on his website. He encourages Eugene to take down his website completely, citing the known risk from Dalton. Refusing to live his life in fear, Eugene tries to convince Leonard to come stay with himself and Katrina, using Whit's ample resources and connections to help ensure their safety. Longing for a relationship with his father, Eugene begs Leonard to take the risk to be with him. Leonard refuses to see Eugene suffer the way he was forced to watch Thelma suffer in Africa. He says he will not allow Dalton to imprison him again. Eugene retorts that Leonard is still in prison and hands him some items from Eugene's life - award ribbons, pictures, report cards - trying to connect with him - and tells his father that he will be ready for a relationship when Leonard is.
After looking through Eugene's things, Leonard returns to Whit's End. He teasingly chides Eugene for a "tardy" mark on one of his school reports and asks if he can meet Katrina. Struggling, he tells Eugene that he trusts him. Eugene assures his father that he will, with the help of God, keep them safe.
Meanwhile, Dalton Kearn, on the phone with a henchman, says that he has no leads as to Leonard's whereabouts, but that he intends to find him.
Leonard Meltsner is suffocating in Eugene and Katrina's home. Though Eugene tries to encourage his father to leave the house occasionally, Leonard is too afraid of Dalton Kearn to face the outside. Bored, Leonard asks for something to do. Eugene suggests that he assist Hand Up in their philanthropic efforts. He tells Leonard about their recent project to send Christmas presents to the Ashanti village with a program called Christmas For the Children. Leonard agrees to help Eugene fill out paperwork for the project, though he doesn't see as much value in the endeavors as Eugene does.
At Whit's End, Mayor Margaret Faye stops by to see Eugene. She confronts him with an article in the Odyssey Tattler which quotes a local garbage man who found boxes intended for Christmas for the Children in the trash. Eugene explains that they did discard some unused boxes and offers to put Margaret in contact with the people at the Christmas for the Children organization. Satisfied, Margaret thanks him for his cooperation.
Meanwhile, Leonard has found Eugene a job at Campbell College. Eugene tells his father that he's not interested and that he is much too busy with Hand Up. A disappointed Leonard throws a fit - claiming that Eugene's pursuits should be a hobby rather than a profession.
Margaret again confronts Eugene with the news that his contacts at Christmas for the Children have no record of his involvement with the project at all. When Eugene investigates, he discovers that Leonard signed the paperwork with an alibi rather than Eugene's name. Leonard rationalizes that Dalton Kearn could find Eugene if his name were attached to anything having to do with the Ashantis. Eugene has no way to explain the situation to reporters, since he cannot involve his father without putting him in danger, and struggles with a solution. Though Margaret believes Eugene, she needs proof to show reporters. Whit offers to use the Edu-Link, set up at the Ashanti village, to show the denizens of Odyssey that their packages were truly sent to the Ashantis. Margaret organizes a press conference to occur at the lighting of the Christmas tree ceremony at City Hall.
Whit visits Leonard and they discuss their beginnings in archaeology. Leonard tells Whit that when he was a boy he had wanted to be a cook before his father advised him to do something more important with his life. Leonard tells Whit how unenthusiastic he is about Eugene's work with Hand-Up, believing that Eugene is wasting his talents cleaning parks when he could be curing cancer. He expresses frustration that Eugene is devoting his life to spreading the gospel around Odyssey instead of doing things Leonard feels are more valuable. Leonard bitterly tells Whit that he feels Whit has turned Eugene into a robot and warns Whit that he will protect Eugene - even from Whit.
Though Eugene encourages his father to come to City Hall to watch the Ashantis opening their presents, but Leonard remains to afraid of Dalton. Eugene gives his father the second Edu-Link unit to watch and goes to City Hall for the ceremony. Unfortunately, the unit Eugene took to City Hall is not functional! Katrina hurries back home to get the other Edu-Link unit from Leonard. The unit at the house is working perfectly and Leonard is enjoying watching his friends open their presents. He admits that he has never seen them so happy. Katrina tells Leonard about the difficulties they are experiencing with the Edu-Link and leaves for City Hall with Leonard's unit. After she describes the distortion, Leonard turns on the TV to see the setup at City Hall. He calls Eugene to try to tell him what's wrong, but Eugene doesn't answer.
When Katrina arrives with the Edu-Link, just in time for the press conference, Eugene sets it up only to encounter the same distortion as before. Panicking, Eugene tries to solve the difficulties. His father runs up and convinces Eugene to move, suggesting that the statue they are set up near is made of a natural magnet that is causing the interference. Sure enough, when they move away the feed begins to broadcast, showing the Ashantis with the gifts the people of Odyssey sent. Leonard disappears and Eugene finds him back at his house. Eugene apologizes that his father had to leave the house and Leonard replies that it was an emergency. When pressed, he admits that seeing the kids on the video helped him realize how beneficial the work Eugene is doing truly is, and that Eugene has found his calling. He then tells Eugene something he's never heard from his father: that he is proud of him.
Eugene Meltsner and John Whittaker (Whit) are working on the Edu-Link in Whit's workshop. Whit receives a call from Martin from Around the World Missions. Martin tells them that someone called asking for Eugene's contact information. Eugene says that it's OK for him to give it out, but Whit decides to press the matter. Whit asks who asked for Eugene's information. Martin replies: Dalton Kearn.
Eugene and Whit tell Leonard Meltsner about the phone call and Leonard is very upset. He's concerned that Dalton has figured out the connection between Leonard and Eugene and might be able to locate Leonard now. Whit tries to calm him down by saying that he called someone to help them. At first, Leonard is still edgy and not keen on trusting new people, but Whit says "That's why I called someone I knew I could trust, my son." Jason Whittaker enters the room and introduces himself to Leonard. Jason explains that he's well connected with the NSA and goes on to say that he's done some checking and there are files on Dalton. The problem is Dalton knows the system too well, and so far there hasn't been enough information to convict him for anything. Jason and Whit conclude that the best way to bring Dalton down is to find some tangible evidence to be used in court. Jason then reveals that he has rejoined the NSA for temporary purposes, gaining a new badge and everything. Jason and Whit encourage Leonard to think of anything that could possibly be used against Dalton. Leonard admits he had recorded several moments during their captivity. Leonard has no clue what happened to the video, admitting that it could be destroyed by now. The group concludes that if there's any evidence at all, the best place to look would be in Africa where Leonard was held. Whit agrees to stay in Odyssey to protect Katrina Meltsner and to do more research.
Jason, Eugene, and Leonard fly to Africa. Upon getting there despite Leonard's hesitance to go back to Africa, he seems to have a take charge attitude. After a couple minutes they hear shouts for help. They run in the direction of the shout and see a man tied to a tree. Eugene recognizes the man as the one who tried to capture him the last time he was here. Leonard recognizes the man as Hazeez. The trio untie Hazeez and he tells them that Kearn's men are destroying the village. The four run to the village to find it empty, and with explosives in place. Eugene begins to try to defuse the explosives, while Jason and Hazeez work on making sure everyone is out of the village. While Eugene is working on the detonator, the bomb explodes. Eugene and Leonard are fine, and they run to find Jason and Hazeez. Both are fine, once they knew everyone was out of the village they took cover and Hazeez went to find the people of the village. Hazeez returns and tells them that everyone is ok. He goes on to say that the villagers were forced out of their homes by Dalton's gunmen. Leonard asks Hazeez why he didn't give the video tape to the authorities. Hazeez explains that the day that Leonard gave him the tape, Dalton showered them with treasures. Hazeez never showed anyone the tape, but instead put it in an ivory Ashanti box. Hazeez goes on to say that Dalton's men, took everything of value out of the village including the box. Jason decides to track Dalton's men alone, while Eugene and Leonard stay to help rebuild the village.
Eugene and Leonard help build temporary shelters. Leonard and Eugene discuss Eugene's belief in God. Leonard makes the comment that he never imagined trying to talk his son out of a belief similar to the Gods that he tried talking the Ashantis out of.
Jason is talking to Whit, and Eugene and Leonard join him. Jason reports that he tracked Dalton's men to the airstrip where they landed, but they were gone before he could search for the box. Jason found out that the plane was headed to New York. Whit says that the place where they're headed is Dalton's home, and Jason concludes that they must go there to get the box. Despite the potential dangers waiting for them, Leonard, Eugene, and Jason agree to go to New York. (Continued in #612: “The Top Floor, Part 2”)
Eugene Meltsner, Leonard Meltsner and Jason Whittaker are on a plane to New York. Eugene leaves a phone message for Katrina stating that they're on their way to New York hoping to retrieve the box. Eugene and Leonard begin discussing Dalton Kearn. Dalton formerly worked with Leonard as archaeologists. Leonard explains some background on what happened between him and Dalton.
Eugene, Leonard, and Jason arrive at the Hotel where Dalton Kearn lives. Jason tells them that they have the hotels whole cooperation. He reports that Dalton only has control over the top floor. Dalton isn't in the building but he has security guards. Jason tells them that there are only group of people that they let into the floor; cleaning people. They agree to go undercover to sneak into the floor and retrieve the box. The trio head to the floor and meet the security guard. Jason and Leonard split up, and Eugene stays with the guard striking up a conversation.
Jason and Leonard continue their search and Leonard finds a door covered with African masks. He tries to get in, but it's locked. Jason plants a phone bug, and then Leonard bumps into Dalton's son named Everett. Everett tells him that the door is voice activated and only Dalton can open it. They say their farewells to the security guard and leave the floor contemplating how to get the door open.
Eugene calls Katrina and Whit at Whit's End to see if they have any thoughts on how to get it open. Soon after, Dalton comes through the door at Whit's End. Whit talks with Dalton, and Dalton asks about Eugene. Whit explains that Eugene isn't around. Katrina comes out and introduces herself to Dalton. She then pulls Whit back into the kitchen. When Dalton said his name, Eugene recorded it.
Dalton is suspicious about Whit's edginess. He decides that he needs to find out more information about Eugene by looking for him in the phone book and visiting his house. They break the window, and climb through. The only thing they find is a note card called "Things to discuss with my father." The last item on the list said Dalton Kearn. Doyle and Kearn decide that Eugene must be related. Dalton proceeds with their search and notices that there's a message on the answering machine. He plays it and hears that Leonard is with Eugene in New York. He concludes that both Meltsners must be looking for him. He and Doyle decide to go back to New York.
As Leonard and Jason head to the elevator to go to their floor, Everett yells to have them hold the elevator. He joins them, and has some conversation with them. He shows them a picture of his mother before she died. Leonard looks at the picture and is surprised by what he sees.
Back at the Meltsner house, the police arrive at the scene only to find that the burglers are gone. Whit plays a recording from the mic he placed in the phone. They hear that Dalton knows the connection between Leonard and Eugene and that he knows they're in New York, and that Dalton is headed to New York. They decide to warn the trio in New York.
Eugene hears from Katrina and passes on the news to Jason and Leonard. Leonard seems to be in a shocked state. Leonard tells Eugene that the picture Everett showed him was of Leonard's wife. Leonard then realizes the truth: the boy up there is Everett, Leonard's son. (Continued in #613: “The Top Floor, Part 3”)
Eugene Meltsner is told by Leonard Meltsner that the boy they met upstairs is Leonard's son. Leonard concludes that Dalton believes that Dalton believed that Everett should have been his son, so he kidnapped him and raised him as his son. Jason states that this information can only be used against Dalton if they get the tape. Eugene tells them that John Whittaker is on his way to New York to help in any way he can.
Jason, Leonard, and Eugene listen in as Dalton Kearn reunites with Everett. Everett tells Dalton about his soccer game and the trio is surprised that Dalton is acting like a good father, and Everett really loves him. Whit joins the group, and Jason informs the group that Dalton is moving everything the next day. The group plan to get back on the top floor. Jason knows the code from watching the guard. They conclude that Jason and Whit will go together and use the recording of Dalton's voice to get into the locked room. The group then decides to get some sleep.
Eugene and Whit bump into each other during the night and Eugene begins talking with Whit. They both agree to pray for what they are about to do.
Whit and Jason arrive at the keypad and enter the floor. Eugene and Leonard are watching the the security monitors. Jason and Whit use the recording of Dalton and enter the artifacts room. Eugene sees Everett getting on the elevator, and Leonard makes it so Everett will stop on their floor so they can stall him.
Leonard stops Everett and shows him a picture similar to the one Everett had. The difference between the two pictures is that Leonard is in the one that he shows Everett. He tells Everett that he's Everett's father. Everett gets upset and runs off to the lobby.
Whit and Jason find the box and head toward the elevator. Eugene tells them that Dalton and his the guard are getting in the elevator. Jason and Whit try to use the stairs but it requires a different code. Dalton and the guard are stopped in the elevator, but they try to pry the door open. Jason and Whit use the Edu-Link to transmit the video from the camera to the Edu-Link. Everett sees part of the clip, and is devastated. He tells Jason and Whit that Dalton is on his way.
Dalton gets the elevator opened and heads up the stairs. Whit tells Jason to take Everett and get to safety. Whit plans to distract Dalton. Dalton finds Whit, and Whit gets knocked out by the security guard. Jason directs Everett to go to safety and then Jason gets knocked on the head too.
Dalton and the security guard follow Everett down the stairs. Everett almost makes it the monitor room, but Dalton orders Everett to come to him. Leonard refuses to let Everett go with him. Everett insists that he must go with Dalton. Leonard refuses to let Everett go. The security guard ties up Leonard and Eugene. They take Leonard, and leave Eugene in the monitor room.
Dalton and Everett make their way out of the hotel and Everett has lots of questions. Everett shows that Jason gave Everett a tracking device, and soon they hear sirens. Dalton assures Everett that he never regretted one moment he had with Everett.
Later Eugene, Leonard and Everett wait to hear something about Dalton. Jason and Whit explain that the tape and recordings served as evidence, and they also got Dalton's full confession about everything. Leonard and Whit discuss some of the events of the day. Whit tells him it's just beginning of another adventure for Leonard.
- This plot section is too short and should be expanded. »
- This plot section is too short and should be expanded. »
- This plot section is too short and should be expanded. »
- #54: “Peace on Earth” contains the first reference to Eugene's family.
- #200: “Feud for Thought” tells more about Eugene's grandfather Hiram.
- #589: “The Impossible” introduces the Edu-Link, a device that is later used in #607: “The Undeniable Truth”, #611 – #613: “The Top Floor”, and #619 – #620: “A New Era”. Whit and Eugene were working on it in #584: “Dead Ends”.
- An episode called "End of an Era" was planned to be released instead of "A New Era, Part 3." The episode was going to be a farewell to Eugene Meltsner since actor Will Ryan was unsure if he could continue voicing the character.