The Sixth Man – Episode 24

“The Talk”

Drake rested his hand on Charles’ shoulder. “Dad, there is something strange about this whole thing. Trust me, Dad, keep this to yourself. If Mom or Missy know what I‘ve told you a slip of the tongue from them could be problems. Let‘s keep this between me and you for now.”

In the last few months I’ve been Steve Joseph, Charles Arnold, and now Wilson Gentry,” Charles said. “I don’t understand the reason for the secrecy, but I’m going to trust your instincts. I’m a stranger here, this is your territory.”

If Ted Abernathy knows this do others?” Drake said. “And I’m not so sure he informed missing persons as he claimed. He‘s managed and handled this whole thing.”

I met a lady on the plane from Indianapolis to Atlanta,” Charles said. “She’s an agent for the FBI here I Atlanta. Her name is Wanda Kotterman. Maybe she could help. I give her a call.”

Wouldn’t that be risky?” Drake said.

I have her card,” Charles said. “I told her why I was going to Atlanta, she knows about the amnesia. She was very kind to me, a real nice person. I think she can be trusted.”

Drake rubbed his chin. “Let’s meet up with her; you and me. But she must not know about it. Don’t trust anyone especially when you don’t know anyone. We will find out where she likes to eat or shop and casually meet her. I don’t want us to be someplace where we can be bugged, nor give her time to wear a wire or have other agents in place.”

I’ll trust you on this,” Charles said. “But, why the clandestine approach, I’m not a criminal or wanted. Was I under suspicion for something?”

No, but let’s play this cautious for now. There are things that don’t seem right and I can’t explain, because I’m not sure. In the mean time none of this leaves the room,” Drake said. “Not even to Mom or Missy. I have a friend who will do some work for me on the sly. He can find out about your agent friend and we’ll take it from there. It may take him a week, but this may help us to know what’s going on.”

Charles handed the card to Drake. Gayle and Missy returned to the room with coffee and pie.

What have you two been talking about?” Gayle said smiling.

I was just trying telling Dad about one of the times up at the lake,” Drake said.

It looks awful private,” Gayle smiled.

Well it was,” Charles said. “He was telling me about the time I was awkwardly explaining what it meant to be a man, you know ‘the talk.’”

I thought that talk was in his bedroom after you caught him peeking in Melinda Caruthers basement window when she was changing into he bathing suit.”

That was our little secret,” Drake said. “He told you he gave me ‘the talk’ then.”

I guess I waited for a time when the pressure was off,” Charles added.

Are you sure you ever had ‘the talk’ with him?” Gayle chided.

Sure I did,” Charles said.

Mom got a medical dictionary when she talked with me,” Missy said. “What did dad bring, Playboy?”

I drew pictures,” Charles said.

Drake looked directly in Charles’ eyes and said astonished, “Yes, Dad, you did. You remembered that.”

Charles smiled. “This is a good start.”

And they all had coffee and pie.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 23

A New Name

The summer before I went to college Dad and I went on a fishing trip,” Drake said. “We talked man to man. I asked you what it was like when you graduated from high school. You looked up at the stars and said. ’”I don’t remember.’” And you quickly started talking about something else.”

What are you trying to say?” Missy said.

Yes,” Gayle said. “What do you mean.”

Charles was stoic.

Dad,” Drake said, “you know what I mean, don’t you?”

I think so,” Charles said.

What?” Gayle said.

Yes,” Missy said. “What?”

You tell them,” Charles said.

You are not Charles Arnold,” Drake said. “You are somebody else.”

It that possible?” Gayle said to Charles.

It’s possible,” Missy said.

How long have you known?” Drake said to Charles.

Two days ago a name popped in my head,” Charles said. “Just a name, but I knew it was my name. I can’t explain it. This is what I’ve been afraid of; the past and truth will be too hard to bear.”

What name popped into your mind?” Drake said.

Wilson Gentry,” Charles said. “It was very strange. I sat down to write a letter to an older lady I worked for in Indianapolis. She paid my way to Atlanta. I just wanted to tell her where I was and I was safe. I signed the letter Wilson Gentry. It was a natural as blinking.”

Other than the letter can you think of anything that triggered you to sign that name?” Missy said.

No,” Charles said.

Mom,” Drake said. “Have you ever come across the name before?”

No, never,” Gayle said.

Drake cleared his throat. Everyone looked at him. “I think this is enough for now. Perhaps some coffee would be good.”

Gayle and Missy stood.

We’ll make some coffee,” Gayle said, “and, Missy could you serve up some peach pie.”

I think that would be good,” Drake said.

Gayle and Missy exited the room for the kitchen.

Drake moved closer to Charles and spoke just beyond a whisper. “I’ve seen the name before. It was by accident I’m sure. It’s been three years ago, but I was in Ted Abernathy’s office and I saw a file with “Wilson Gentry” on it. As soon as I saw it Ted tried to nonchalantly pick it up. The wall safe behind his desk was open. I assumed that was were it came from. I became curious and searched our data base for that name. There was none. All client’s names are on a data base. To withhold a name is a violation of the firms procedures. Information is not shared, but anyone we deal with even if it’s a pizza delivery guy is in a data base. And here we have a file of Wilson Gentry.”

What do you think that all means?” Charles said.

Before Drake could speak Charles said, “It means my name is Wilson Gentry.”

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The Sixth Man – Episode 22

Family Meeting

Drake and Missy hugged Charles. What was amazing to everyone was that Charles needed and enjoyed the hugs more than anyone. They sat at the table and Charles related events from the morning he woke up on a park bench in Des Moines, Iowa.

If I’m tracking this right,” Drake said, “after you left here three years ago and you have no memory of that. From our standpoint there is about two and a half years we don’t know where you were.”

That’s your recollection of events,” Charles said. He turned to Missy, “You’re the med student what do you make of it.”

I’m going to set bones and replace joints,” Missy said. “I’m no better qualified than anyone else at this table. That’s why I think it is prudent to seek the help of someone who has the expertise. Everything I’ve been taught is that mistakes happen when the wrong people are involve.”

I don’t know why I feel this way,” Charles said. “But I really don’t feel safe with anyone else. I have no problem talking to people about my condition, but I’m afraid to see a professional.”

Maybe,” Gayle said and paused, “Maybe it is because you don’t really want to know.”

That’s what I’m afraid of,” Charles said. “What ever it is, it is something that Charles could not deal with.”

There was a long pause. Every one was trying to come up with a an insightful word. There was nothing, only blank minds and pensive looks.

I guess we are at an impasse,” Charles said. “I keep thinking that some small thing unrelated to anything will trigger something; the first domino to start events in motion. I look at things, objects, I hold them and study them looking for or trying to feel a connection. Gayle and I have poured through photos and videos and I see me, but I’m with strangers. It’s like somebody projected my image into everything. I thought about going down the dealership and looking around and trying to remember things that way. I thought about having Gayle invite old friends for an evening. I think that would be a disaster. In fact, if I should remember everything right now this instant I still don’t get my life back. Things will never be the same.”

Gayle reached over and patted Charles’ hand. “We can survive. Just having you back we can endure anything.”

I just don’t know what you are all putting yourself in for,” Charles said.

Daddy,” Missy said. “You put up with my teenage years, you all did; this family can stand anything that comes its way.”

There was some laughter and Gayle and Missy began relating some old family stories. Charles enjoyed them.

Drake was quiet and forced a smile and interest.

Charles looked at Drake. “What’s wrong.”

I have something on my mind that may confound everything. It‘s disturbing to me,” Drake said. “But I know no other way to approach it other than head on.”

What is it?” Gayle said.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 21

Be Patient

Gayle arrived at the door just as Drake and Missy walked in.

Drake, a younger version of Charles and Missy, a younger version of Gayle.

They greeted each other and embraced.

How’s dad?” Drake said.

He’s terribly afraid that this will not go well,” Gayle said.

Still no memory?” Missy said.

Nothing,” Gayle said. “It’s important he’s relaxed. Don’t try to make him remember. That’s what will push his memory further away.”

I’ve talked to one of my professors,” Missy said. “He should see someone as soon as possible.”

I’ve talked to Curt Blankenship,” Gayle said. “He’s a good friend of your Dad’s. He said to do things his way unless it causes harm.”

Blankenship knows?” Drake said.

Yes,” Gayle said. “I talked to him and Ted. Ted has talked with the missing person’s detective assigned to you father’s case and they agreed to keep it under wraps. Curt said he can line up one of the best psychiatrists in the business whenever he’s needed.”

Where’s he at?” Drake said.

He’s in the sunroom,” Gayle said. “I don’t think we should keep him waiting.”

Gayle took a step and turned around to Drake and Missy. “I never thought to ask, are you two ready for this?”

Drake and Missy looked at each other.

It is something I never considered,” Drake said.

Me neither,” Missy said.

He won’t know you,” Gayle said, “and every part of you will be screaming out to hold him and love him and it won’t do any good. You will have no control. He will look at you as if he laid eyes on you for the first time. It will be painful for him.”

I know dad,” Drake said. “It will be more painful for him, even though he doesn’t know why. He’s always felt others’ pain.”

 

Gayle walked into the sunroom with Drake and Missy behind her.

Charles stood. He smiled politely. “Which one of you is Drake?” Charles chuckled.

Gayle, Drake, and Missy looked at each other and began laughing.

That’s you, Dad,” Missy said. “A sense of humor when things are worst.”

I’m sorry,” Charles said, “but if we are too uptight…”

You don’t know us do you, Dad?” Drake said.

No,” Charles said, “but I can see the similarity. I know you’re my son.”

What can we do for you?’ Missy said.

Be patient with me,” Charles said.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 20

Children Not Known

For two weeks Charles and Gayle lived in the house together, but separate bedrooms. They agreed to have his presence kept secret. When anyone came by Wilson quickly hid and they were careful to make sure there was no trace of him being there. Both agreed that he did not need the pressure of others to remember.

It was mid morning and they were having coffee together in a sunroom. They looked out over a pleasant rolling countryside scattered with pine woods and small meadows.

I have something to tell you that I’m not sure how you will accept,” Gayle said.

Do you want me to move out,” Charles said. “I understand. This must be such a strain on you.”

No,” Gayle said and breathed deep. “I invited our children to come over.”

What do they know?” Charles said.

I told them you’ve been here for a couple of weeks and your condition,” Gayle said. “They want to see you very badly.”

But I won’t be their father,” Charles said.

Not in your mind,” Gayle said. “But in theirs and it may help you.”

Or ..” Charles said.

Or what?” Gayle said.

Or drive me further away,” Charles said.

How?” Gayle.

Maybe what I’m hiding was something terrible done to them,” Charles said. “Something that not even they know about. What if I’m pushed to a point of no return.”

Wasn’t that on your mind before you came here?” Gayle said.

I explored the possibility,” Charles said.

But it was worth the risk?” Gayle said. “They’ll be here in a half hour.”

Where do I start?” Charles said.

What did you do when I opened the door two weeks ago?” Gayle.

They’re my flesh,” Charles said. “Children look up to fathers. Looking into their eyes and not having a clue who they are might destroy them.”

They are mature young adults,” Gayle said. “The are incredibly empathetic. That’s one thing you passed on to them. You always gave them a sense of compassion for others. It is one of the ways that defines who they are.”

Charles folded his hands and held them to his mouth and looked down at the table. He thought deeply and closed his eyes hoping for a vision of his children to come into his head; a vision other than the photo albums he had been looking through for the past two weeks. “I looked in photo albums everyday,” Charles said. “I listened to you tell the stories surrounding each picture and there’s nothing. It’s like hearing it for the first time. It’s like hearing it from a stranger, you quickly forget what the picture was about. I just have no interest.”

You are fighting it,” Gayle said. “Something doesn’t want you to remember. Did you ever think it might be physical, like a tumor or you may have been struck on the head. It may have come from an old injury.”

I feel fine physically,” Charles said. “No headaches, blurred vision, or dizzy spells; nothing that would point to something physical.”

Maybe we can have that checked out?” Gayle said.

Yes,” Charles said, “perhaps in time.”

Keep in mind,” Gayle said. “Your children want to see you more than anything in the world. They have had to live with the thought you may have died.”

Not to be negative,” Charles said, “but they may have to live knowing that to me they may have never existed.”

Charles and Gayle talked for a while longer. There eyes widened as they heard two car doors shut. Gayle reached across the table and held Charles’ hand. His mouth became dry and his heart pounded in his chest the same way it did when he stood waiting at the door two weeks earlier.

I hope this doesn’t all blow up in our face,” Charles said.

I’ll meet them at the door,” Gayle said. “You sit and I’ll bring them in to the sunroom.”

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The Sixth Man – Episode 19

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It was silent for fifteen minutes. Gayle listened to only Charles’ breathing and his heart beat. She felt only his chest raise and his heat pound.

I thought I would never hear your heart beat again,” Gayle said.

Did we part in anger?” Charles said.

No,” Gayle said. “You said you had to drive down to the dealership one night, you got in the car, drove away, and that was the last I saw of you till now.”

Was there stress or a business problem?” Charles asked.

No,” Gayle said. “The businesses ran themselves. You had good people running everything. You always said you could run your business from an island in the South Pacific with nothing more than a note in a bottle.”

I have children,” Charles said. “Are they well.”

Missy is in med school,” and “Drake finished his law degree, and is a junior partner with Ted Abernathy’s firm.”

Whose Abernathy?” Charles said. “He’s a friend of the family. You two were inseparable. You went of fishing tips and hiking; all sorts of things. You gave his son a job and he hired our son.”

How did we meet?” Charles asked.

You took over a dealership that nobody wanted,” Gayle said as she sat up. “You had ten cars on the lot, one mechanic, one salesman (you), and you needed somebody to do the paper work. I came in looking for a used car and you offered me job. Two years later you had 200 cars on the lot, 47 employees, and a child on the way.”

We were married?” Charles said.

Yes,” Gayle said, “and we lived in a one bedroom apartment two blocks from the dealership. Chrysler dealerships were in trouble all over the country and you were rewarded two other dealerships.”

Where was I born?” Charles said. “Where did I come from? Do I have brothers, sisters, are my parents living?”

You come from Los Angeles,” Gayle said. “You said your parents died when you were in the Army and you were an only child.”

There seems to be not much of me,” Charles said.

Have you sought help from a professional?” Gayle said.

No,” Charles said. “I’ve lived with some fear of knowing who I really am. I thought maybe that might be worse than not knowing, but when I knew I had a family and the private detective came up with nothing bad or criminal in my life I decided to at least confront my wife.”

I think we should get you some help,” Gayle said.

Can we do things my way for at least a while?” Charles said.

It would not be good to force you to do something you are not willing to do,” Gayle said.

Perhaps we could spend some time together and just talk to me about our life together,” Charles said. “I can get a room some place.”

You are my husband,” Gayle said. “You will stay here.”

But I don’t feel like your husband,” Charles said.

Gayle clasp his hand between hers. “Remember the feel of my hands.”

Yes,” Charles smiled.

We have a enough room,” Gayle said. “If it makes you comfortable I’ll prepare one of our guest rooms.”

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The Sixth Man – Episode 18

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A blond woman, early 50s, attractive, dressed in black slacks and a red sweater opened the door. She was looking down as if she didn’t want to make eye contact. I’m very busy…” Their eyes met. “Charles,” she said and heaved a deep breath.

Her instincts were to embrace him which she started to do, but stopped when Charles stood motionless.

I don’t know who I am,” Charles said. “It is only by luck I’ve found my way to your door.”

What do you mean,” she said.

I really don’t know who I am and where I’ve been,” Charles said. “Until about four months ago I have no memory of anything. All I know is what an old lady back in Indianapolis told me. She hired a private detective to find out who I was. She showed me a picture of myself, gave me an address, and bought me an airplane ticket. I‘m sorry I didn‘t know any other way to do this. If I knew something about you I‘d would have tried something that would not have made this painful for you.”

She breathed heavy and tears began to pool and trickle down her cheek.

I don’t even know your name,” Charles said. “I assume you’re my wife.”

Come in from the damp cold,” she said.

Charles stepped in. He moved cautiously as if in unfamiliar surroundings.

Please get your bag,” she said.

Charles reached outside and for a moment contemplated leaving.

Maybe I should go,” he said. “I think I’m bringing nothing but pain. Maybe we could get a mediator or something. Do you have a friend that might come over to support you?”

She grabbed his bag and sat it on a chair in the foyer. She gently grabbed his hand to lead him to the living room.

Charles burst into tears and began to sob. “Your hand, I recognize its feel. I know I’ve held that hand before, but that’s all.”

She sat him on a coach and rested her head in his chest. “May name is Gayle and I just want you to relax.”

Charles sat emotionless as if watching the wind blow. No emotional responses, no memories, no love. “I’m empty,” he said.

You have come to the right place,” Gayle said.

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