The Sixth Man – Episode 19

interior-01[1]A Guest Only

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

thJGYRZV8GGayle

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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The Sixth Man – Episode 17

 thN3JSGSI2A Rainy-Day Cab Ride

There were times during the cab ride to his home he pondered the idea of just telling the driver to pull over and let him out. But it was raining.

There was the drive on the freeway. Everything form the cab looked the same. He read exit ramps, billboards, business names hoping for a clue or some small spark that might ignite a firestorm of memories; something that might make him whole again, something that he could anchor his soul to.

There was a turn onto a boulevard lined with businesses. He thought that he may have patronized one of them. He wondered if he walked into one someone might say, “Hey, Chuck, where the heck have you been. We haven’t seen you in awhile.” Suddenly he would instantly gain his memory. “Hey, Pete, I had to take care of some pressing problems and when I was in town I didn’t have time to come around, but now that’s over with I’m here to stay.”

I’m here to stay,” echoed in his head. “I’m not sure that will be so,” he thought. “I may come into a hostile situation. Maybe my wife has moved on and another man has moved in. Really couldn’t blame her. For all she knows I may be dead. Is this the best way to come back? What other way is there?”

Maybe I ran off with my secretary or a neighbor’s wife,” he thought. “What ever she dishes out I’m going to have to take. For all she knows I must have hated her or my life; so much that I left without telling her. It’s the ultimate betrayal.”

There were a couple more turns and the homes became larger and the grounds more specious. “I must be some rich guy,” he thought. “I wonder how rich I am. I hope I don’t owe anybody. Maybe that’s why I left, I owed the wrong people.”

What if my wife no longer lives there,” he thought. “What if the private detective Mrs. Bradford hired didn’t bother to check that out.”

It was a good neighborhood; Large brick homes with circular driveways; new money not old money like Mrs. Bradford’s home and neighborhood. And there it was, a majestic home tucked away in a cul de sac just a little better than the rest.

Is this the place,” the cab driver said.

Yes,” Charles said.

Do you want me to wait,” the cab driver said.

No,” Charles said and handed the driver two twenties.

Charles got out of the cab with his bag in hand and walked on the porch. He slowly brought his index finger to the doorbell. He hesitated and walked to the edge of the porch and was about to walk down the steps and into the rain. He drew a deep breath, turned around, and approached the door again. This time his finger struck quickly. It was a soft chime, unusual. It had a sensation of familiarity. It relaxed him, but it lasted no longer than the footsteps he heard approaching the door and the sight of the doorknob turning. He wanted to run.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 16

th[6]Meeting Wanda

Charles relaxed in his seat as the plane’s wheels lifted off the runway. In moments they were at cruising attitude and he briefly mused how only a few months ago he was sitting next to an Amish kid needing deodorant on an uncomfortable bus ride.

This time a middle aged attractive woman sat next to him; long brown hair and enough perfume to let you know she was wearing it. She was obsessed with moving her hair from her face. She constantly cocked her head in such a way it fell over her face and than she would either use he head or flick her head to make her hair fall away. After that she glanced at Charles each time as if to see if he observed her.

After drinks were served she said, “In case you are wondering, I am Danielle Collette.”

Charles smiled and looked out the window.

She cleared her throat and leaned close. “You must not watch much TV. I’m the ‘other woman’ in New York DA.”

I don’t watch TV,” Charles said.

I was in the movie Measured Response,” Danielle said.

Let me guess,” Charles said. “You were the “other woman.’”

You saw it!” Danielle said.

No,” Charles said. “But your range as an actress seems limited.”

Stewardess,” Danielle called and motioned with hand to come. The stewardess arrived. “This man is pestering me can you have him moved.”

Charles started to stand.

To the contrary,” a plump woman in the seat across the aisle said. “She has done everything to make advances at the gentleman and he has merely rejected her ego-driven desire for attention.”

The stewardess’s eyes danced back and forth between the three. “Ma’am we have a seat in the back perhaps you will feel more comfortable there.”

I’m Danielle Collette,” she said. “You can’t treat me that way.”

The plump lady said, “I’m Wanda Kotterman. I’m an FBI agent and this woman is a hair flick from being cuffed.”

Danielle quickly moved to the other seat.

Charles held his hand across the aisle. “Charles Arnold, thanks.”

Wanda shook his hand. “I know, my husband and I bought a car from your dealership a couple of years ago.”

Was it a good car and did we treat you right?” Charles said.

Good service and we still own the car,” Wanda said.

That’s good to hear,” Charles said. “I suppose if the car was a lemon and you got bad service I’d be wearing the cuffs now.”

Wanda smiled broadly.

I don’t have any cuffs on me,” Wanda said. “But I am curious about something; when did you come back?”

Charles smiled. “Actually, I’m not back yet.”

Are you okay?” Wanda ask. “There was a rumor you were kidnapped, but then it was reported you just walked away.”

I really don’t know,” Charles said. “It’s complicated; other than my name I have no idea who I am.”

You got to be kidding me,” Wanda said moving across the aisle and sitting next to Charles. “What is it, amnesia or something.”

I haven’t seen a professional,” Charles said. “I worked for a lady in Indianapolis and she hired a private detective to find out who I am and that’s why I’m heading to Atlanta.”

Does anyone know you’re coming home?” Wanda said.

No,” Charles said. “I don’t want this getting out. Frankly, I was a little afraid of authorities being involved. And I thought if my wife and I had some sort of break-up we could meet and settle things without publicity, lawyers, or drama. I don’t know whether I left under amicable or hostile circumstances.”

If it means anything to you,” Wanda said. “Your business had a good reputation and you were known as an honest businessman.”

That’s good to hear,” Charles said. “By the way, what do you do for the FBI?”

I’m a field agent,” Wanda said. “I help investigate and look for bad people. If I can ever help you here‘s my card.” She dug a card from her purse and handed it to Charles.

Thanks,” Charles said and tucked it in his shirt pocket. “I have you ever dealt with anybody who had amnesia.”

I’ve dealt with people who said they had amnesia and those who wished they had it, but never anyone who really had it,” Wanda said seriously.

How can you tell?” Charles said. “Do you think I’m faking it?”

They say there is a look and I think you have that look,” Wanda said.

What look is that?” Charles said.

Like you’re lost,” Wanda said. “All the fakers I worked with were engaged so to speak, aware. You, on the other hand, look at people almost as you should know them, but afraid you can’t remember them. Like a person with Alzheimer’s. My father had it, so I’m an expert.”

A light conversation continued until the plane landed and they parted.

Good luck, Mr. Arnold,” Wanda said.

And you too, Mrs. Kotterman,” Charles smiled broadly. “And if you ever want to trade that old car of yours in…”

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The Sixth Man – Episode 15

th12M9DBLNAn Envelope

A month passed. The property at the lake cleared and cleaned and the boat nearly restored.

It was near noon when Charles walked from his quarters to the main house. Mrs. Bradford invited him into the den.

Have a seat, Charles,” Mrs. Bradford gestured to a leather chair and she sat behind a desk.

I’m being fired,” Charles said after sitting.

Let’s call it a leave of absence,” Mrs. Bradford said.

Permanent,” Charles said.

No, Charles,” Mrs. Bradford said. “You will always have a place here.”

I appreciate that, Mrs. Bradford,” Steve said.

The envelope on the edge of the desk is yours,” Mrs. Bradford said, “open it.”

Charles reached forward, grabbed the envelope, and opened it.

A plane ticket to Atlanta,” Mrs. Bradford said, “and the address of your home.”

I can’t just show up on the doorstep,” Charles said.

On the back of the address is a phone number,” Mrs. Bradford said. “It is your home phone.”

312 9782,” Charles said without looking. “I remember it.”

Mrs. Bradford smiled. “It’s coming to you, Charles. Now you must go to it. I have taken the liberty of calling a cab. It’ll be here in an hour. Can you be ready?”

If you mean can I be packed, yes,” Charles said. “But I can’t say that I’m ready.”

Mrs. Bradford stood and extended her hand. Charles gently shook it.

Have a safe trip Mr. Arnold,” Mrs. Bradford said, “and keep in touch; don’t become a stranger.”

In an hour Charles was in the cab as it drove away from the Bradford Mansion. Mrs. Bradford waved from the front porch. Charles waved through the back window.

It’s tough leaving your mom isn’t it?” the cab driver said.

It sure is,” Charles said.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 14

thAB5JVP51A New Name

Charles Peterson Arnold,” Mrs. Bradford said. “CPA. You owned a Chrysler dealerships in Columbus, Ohio, Louisville, Kentucky, and Atlanta, Georgia. We‘ll call you Charles from now on.”

I know cars,” Charles said. “What else do you know?”

You have a wife, son, and daughter.” Mrs. Bradford said.

That registers nothing with me,” Charles said. “Are you sure?”

Look in the picnic basket, Mr. Joseph,” Mrs. Bradford said. “There is a brochure published by your dealerships. On the next to the last page is your picture.”

Charles removed the glossy brochure from the basket and thumbed to the back. He stared at the picture. He studied it. “I look slick,” he said. “That’s me, but it really isn’t. I’m not that person.”

Looks like you’re probably better off than me,” Mrs. Bradford said.

I still haven’t a clue,” Charles said and joked, “but for some strange reason I think I can give you top dollar on your old used car as a trade-in on one of mine.”

I think you should take some time before you jump back into the auto business,” Mrs. Bradford chuckled. “Stay with me a little longer, but you should definitely go visit your family. I cant‘ find anyone else who will work as cheap as you.”

How long have I been gone from them?” Charles said.

Three years,” Mrs. Bradford said.

Three years,” Charles said. “I don’t remember a thing. Sometimes I think I remember something. It’s like when you expect company and hear car doors and no one is there.”

Let’s gather things and head back home,” Mrs. Bradford said.

On the walk back to the car Charles said, “Mrs. Bradford, give me a budget to work with and I’ll arrange to have this place fixed up and the boat restored. I think the idea ought to settle in on me for a while before I barge in on them.”

What ever it takes, Mr. Arnold,” Mrs. Bradford said.

I’ll stay until the task is complete,” he said. “I sort of like the name Charles Paterson Arnold, but I’m confused; what does this all have to do with Indianapolis?”

Perhaps you live here at one time,” Mrs. Bradford said.

Perhaps,” Charles said.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 13

111023MM-PHOTO-5-2-Edit-L[1]Bradford Lake

Over the next month Steve had a driver’s license and was driving a Bentley for Mrs. Bradford.

The morning was cool. It was early fall. The leaves had begun to change and there was a liveliness to the morning. The glow of the sun off the leaves gave the appearance of warm embers on a crisp night.

After Mrs. Bradford’s morning coffee she prepared a meal in the kitchen. It was a picnic lunch; fried chicken, potato salad, corn on the cob, and an apple pie. Near noon she brewed a pot of coffee and emptied it into a thermos. She packed everything needed for a picnic in a basket and summoned Steve who was ironing freshly laundered curtains.

Could you put that aside for the time being and drive me out to the country for awhile,” Mrs. Bradford said.

Steve pulled the plug on the iron. “I’ll get the car and pull it around, Mrs. Bradford.”

I have a picnic basket on the kitchen table,” Mrs. Bradford said. “Take that with you and place it in the back seat.”

Where will we be going?” Steve said.

To a small pond purchased some years ago,” Mrs. Bradford said. “It will take us a good thirty minutes to get there.”

Steve drove with Mrs. Bradford in the back seat giving directions. At last they pulled into a lane paved with black top. Weeds had forced their way through it in some places and overgrown on the side of it.

Steve stopped the car near an old boathouse near a small lake.

Bradford Lake,” Mrs. Bradford said. “It is so beautiful our here. My mother and father used to come out here and motor on the lake.”

Is this my next project?” Steve said.

No, but I’m going to restore this place,” Mrs. Bradford said. “I want you to take charge of it for me. Hire people to do it. “There’s an old boat in the boathouse. It’s quite handsome. I suspect it needs to be restored. It’s been too many years to recount.”

Steve got out of the car and opened the door for Mrs. Bradford.

Grab the basket,” Mrs. Bradford said. She pointed toward the boathouse. “On the other side of the boathouse is a fireplace. Start a fire and we’ll heat the corn that’s wrapped in foil. There is a blanket in the trunk. You will find a sandy beach on the lake, spread out the blanket and we’ll have a picnic together. Would you like that, Mr. Joseph?”

Yes, I would,” Steve said.

They sat and ate slowly with interludes between bites talking about the warm sun, the mild breeze, the vibrant colors, and shimmering water. Mrs. Bradford spoke of old times long forgotten and only recalled because of the mood and pleasantness of the day. She seemed to drift to a gentle time of love, nostalgia, and romanticism.

Have you ever been in love, Mr. Joseph?” Mrs. Bradford said.

I don’t know,” Steve said. “At my present state I’m not sure of what it is.”

It is stronger than death, Mr. Joseph,” Mrs. Bradford said. “Even my husbands philandering nor death has ever diminished my love for him. Have you ever seen a pathetic sad looking dog. It needs somebody to care for him. That was my husband. Like a dog,” she smiled brightly, “he always knew who fed him and where home was.”

I think I know what you mean,” Steve said.

Not really, Mr. Joseph,” Mrs. Bradford said.

I don’t think you brought me out here to talk about love,” Steve said.

I hired a private detective to find our who you are,” Mrs. Bradford said.

Do you know?” Steve said.

Yes,” Mrs. Bradford said looking out over the shimmering lake.

Please tell me,” Steve said looking at her as if begging.

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