The Sixth Man – Episode 81

thCQ3HVREUMeeting Marcel Simon

A little more than a quarter mile past the intersection stood a mobile home park. Billly turned in and stopped at a mobile home with the number 3 plastered on the front. Beside the mobile home an old lady in a flowered housecoat sat in a lawn chair scowling at Billy as he approached.

Are you Mrs. Smith,” Billy said.

She stared at him without a reply.

He handed her the strawberries. She did not reach for them, glared suspiciously from the strawberries to Billy.

I heard you like strawberries,” Billy said.

Who told you that?” she scowled.

Your son, Billy,” Billy said.

I don’t have a son named Billy,” she said.

What about Wilson Gentry?” Billy said.

Are you him?” she said

Yes,” Billy said.

Good,” she said. “I was afraid you was the police.”

Can I sit the strawberries on the steps,” Billy said, “and may I sit down?”

Whatever pleases you,” she said.

Billy sat the strawberries on the weatherworn wooden deck and sat on the steps.

What is it you want?” she said.

I want to know what happened,” Billy said. “What happened back in Los Angles? Well that‘s not quite right. I want to know about me. For the last few months I‘ve been crisscrossing the country looking for who I am. I don‘t know. I thought if anyone could help me it would be you.”

You mean you don’t know what happened in Los Angeles?” she said.

No,” Billy said.

How did you find me?” she said.

A lady named Ruth who lived across the street from us,” Billy said. “She and her husband have kept tabs on you all these years.”

Did you tell them anything,” she said.

How could I?” Billy said. “I know nothing.”

Good boy, Billy,” she said, “I could always depend on you to keep secrets.”

What happened in Los Angeles?” Billy said.

If you don’t know I ain’t tellin’ ya,” she said.

Than tell me about you,” Billy said, “I want to know about you and who you are.”

I’m a lady of the evening in my evening years,” she said, “how’s that?”

Billy forced a sympathetic smile. “Life must have been tough for us.”

Do you have any idea who I was?” she said. “I was on my way to the top, Marcel Simon. I was in some movies. They said I had it, but the roles didn’t come. They said I had to wait my turn.”

What movies were you in?” Billy said.

Low budget stuff,” she said.

I’d like to know so I could watch them,” Billy said.

What kind of world do you live in?” she said.

I don’t understand,” Billy said.

You really don’t know do you?” she said.

You could fill me in,” Billy said.

We left LA in a hurry,” she said. “A terrible accident happened. My husband was messing around with that two bit 14 year old hussy across the street. They were in the garage, that’s where he took her and there was a gasoline explosion. They were burned alive; pervert man and slutty girl.”

We took off for Sacramento,” she said. “You couldn’t get it out of your head. I told you just to wipe it from your mind, over and over again. It’s mind over reality. You can wish away reality.”

Billy looked of in the distance. He wondered if she had conditioned him to overcome the pain of reality with simply putting it out of his mind.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 80

th[10]Strawberries

I wonder what she is like,” Billy said to himself. “Do we resemble one another. I wonder if she has photos. Will she share some childhood memories. I want to have a mother and father so bad. That is what I’ve missed in my life. You have to know you come from somewhere and someone. Is it too much to ask where and who?”

Ruth seemed to hate her. I hope she is a good woman and that circumstances led her to desperation. I will be understanding. She raised me the best she probably could.”

Billy filled his heart with expectation of good and the vision of an old lady longing to see her long last son. He smiled. “I’m finally coming home.”

That is what this is all about,” Billy said. “Finding out who I am, finding my home, finding myself. Few have that quest. I’m fortunate, because now I can appreciate how important it is.”

In Bishop, California he stopped at a diner. He sat at the counter.

You sure look happy today,” a middle aged waitress said.

Yep,” Billy said. “I think this is going to be a good day.”

Well, what can we getcha,” she said.

A big thick juicy hamburger, lettuce, tomato, onion, and mustard and a strawberry milkshake,” Billy said.

Sounds like a celebration,” she said.

Yep,” Billy said. “I’m going to see my mom. I haven’t seen her in nearly 35 years.”

She jotted the order on her pad and passed it through a window to the kitchen. “There’s a gift shop a couple of doors down, you might want to pick something out for her.”

Yeah,” Billy said. “Never thought of that. What would you get?”

Something she might like,” she said. “What do you remember that she liked?”

Billy’s glee turned somber. “Men, I remember a lot of men around. You know, sometimes a couple a day. I suppose more. I didn’t stick around when it started.”

The waitress stood not knowing what to do.

Can you just make it to go,” Billy said. “I’m sure hungry, but I’m not sure I can keep it down.”

The waitress poked her head into the kitchen window, “Make that last burger to go.”

Billy laid a twenty dollar bill on the counter. “Keep the change. I’m stepping outside. If you don’t mind just let me know when it’s ready.”

I’ll bring it to you ,” she said.

Thanks,” Billy said.

He leaned against his car staring at his reflection in the diner’s window. He wondered if it was really him he gazed at or someone else. It was difficult to connect the image with his own awareness.

Soon the order came. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to eat at a booth?”

I’m sure,” Billy said.

Be careful,” the waitress said.

Thanks,” Billy said.

Moments later he was on the road again. The burger was good and the strawberry shake even better. “Strawberry shakes,” Billy smiled, “Mom and I picked fresh strawberries and made shakes. I‘ll find her fresh strawberries.”

As Billy drove he struggled with a thousand thoughts, none stayed long enough for him to contemplate and understand completely. “It will all slow down someday. Then I can pick it all apart.”

Mom was a whore,” Billy whispered. “I may have had several possibilities as far as a father is concerned. Not good, not good.”

It was in a small town named Sierraville that Billy spotted as store that displayed fresh fruits. He stopped and purchased two small baskets and drove on.

There was nothing familiar about the surroundings. It was beautiful country. Mountains gently protruded in the distant landscape. Soft clouds hung overhead. Plains dotted with cattle and green meadows carpeted the expanse between the mountains. The road became flat and straight. It came to a dead end. To the right lay Vinton.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 79

thMXGQA6XIRoadside Chat

Billy found a motel room for the night and early the next morning drove north to Vinton. At times he experienced frustration; something in his subconscious was only allowing bits and pieces trickle into the conscious. There were huge gaps. It was like driving in the fog and coming across a clear spot and than back into the fog for miles before another clear spot appeared. There was no connection, thread, or logical sequence. “It is not logical,” Billy murmured. “You grow up with parents and family. You move and stay connected to something. My life has been interrupted from the start. It‘s like I have not baseline or point of reference.”

He dialed Drake.

Hello, Dad,” Drake answered.

How’s things going?” Billy said.

Yesterday I got a real grilling from Abernathy,” Drake said. “He demanded I tell him where you are. I told him I had no idea. I told him the last time we talked you were strange and was going on some sort of quest to purge your soul.”

That was good,” Billy chuckled.

It’s fun playing with him,” Drake said. “He fancies himself the master of shrewdness. He’s on the other end of it and doesn’t take it so well.”

What about your Mom?” Billy said.

She’s been asking too, but a little more tender.” Drake said. “I give her the same story.”

Dad, could you pull over to the side of the road for a moment,” Drake said. “There is something I want to talk about and it’s serious.”

Sure,” Billy said. “I’m in the middle of nowhere. I had no idea California has so much nothing to it.”

Billy turned into a dirt lane and stopped.

Okay,” Billy said. “I’m off the road.”

A couple of days ago I met with a lawyer from another firm,” Drake said. “We were trying to negotiate a settlement for our clients. It really got heated between us. All the sudden he gets personal, very unprofessional. He said Abernathy and my mother had been having an affair.”

Billy stared down the long span of highway that led north.

Are you alright, Dad?” Drake said.

Is Abernathy married?” Billy asked.

Divorced five years ago,” Drake said.

Well,” Billy said. “I’ve been gone for three years. Your Mom might have assumed I was dead and wanted to get on with her life.”

But didn’t she tell you?” Drake said. “That seems like something she might discuss.”

Maybe she was concerned about my reaction and how it might hinder my recovery,” Billy said.

Dad,” Drake said. “The guy said it had been going on for several years.”

Drake,” Billy said. “I know how this must hurt you, but I still don’t remember anything about being married or loving my wife. It’s strange, but I feel no hurt, deceit, or jealousy.”

I guess this does have a silver lining,” Drake said.

How long have you known or at least been suspicious, Drake?” Billy said.

What makes you ask that?” Drake said.

I can tell you’re a good lawyer,” Billy said, “but you’re an even better son. I know you’ve been balancing the two. You are protecting a client and father.”

Not really, Dad,” Drake said. “When you left we weren’t on good terms. I told you I never wanted see you again.”

We often say things in the heat of the moment and things we don’t mean,” Billy said.

No, Dad,” Drake said, “I meant it and I thought that’s why you disappeared.” Drake began to sob.

When this is all over, son, remind me to hug you and never let go,” Billy said. “I’m certain what you said had nothing with my leaving or my amnesia.”

Billy listened to Drake blow his nose and clear his throat.

What was our disagreement about?” Billy said.

You know,” Drake said. “Something that starts from nothing and builds. Something very unprofessional,” Drake chuckled. “You would not share anything from your past. It was important to me. I thought you were being smug and secretive and not trusting me and it went on from there. Now I know you had nothing to report.”

Someday,” Billy said. “We’ll both know the whole story and maybe at the same time. Until then let me tell you what I learned in LA and why I’m going to Vinton.”

They talked for a half hour and Billy drove north again toward Vinton.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 78

Billy Was A Strange Boy

The lady invited Billy to sit on a plastic covered couch. She sat in a clothe recliner. It was a neatly arranged home with many old mementos and family pictures.

What did you say your name was?” She said.

Billy Smith,” Billy said. “and yours.”

Ruth,” she said. “My husband’s name is Cy. He’s resting right now.”

Is your husband well?” Billy said.

No,” Ruth said. “It was nice of you to ask.” She forced a smile. “But that’s not why you’re here.”

No, Ruth,” Billy said. “I’m only here for what I stated.”

There was a murder here,” Ruth said. “At least that’s what I call it and so did everybody else, but there was no proof of a murder.”

Did it involve someone named Smith?” Billy asked.

Yes,” Ruth said.

What happened?” Billy said.

You are the young man that lived there aren’t you?” Ruth said.

I suppose I am,” Billy said.

And you don’t remember?” Ruth said.

No,” Billy said. “It seems I have blocked several tragedies from my mind. This happens to be one of them. I know that something terrible must have happened over there. If I know what happened it may help me find out who I really am.”

You were a quiet young man,” Ruth said. “You mowed lawns and had a paper route. You were strange. I hope that doesn’t offend you.”

No, ma’am,” Billy said, “at least I was something, even if strange.”

Who were my parents?” Billy said.

Their names were Howard and Marcel Smith,” Ruth said.

Did you know them well?” Billy said.

We socialized with them,” Ruth said.

So they were friends?” Billy said.

Yes,” Ruth said.

Close friends?” Billy said.

Sort of off and on,” Ruth said. “They were strange.”

How do you mean that?” Billy said.

Just as we were getting close they would suddenly pull away,” Ruth said.

Why do you think that was?” Billy said.

We had a girl your age,” Ruth smiled. “She was pretty and we always talked about how wonderful it would be if you two married when you grew up. It was all in fun, nothing serious. So I would tell things about…”

Alicia,” Billy interrupted.

Yes!” Ruth said. “You remember her.”

The name popped into my thoughts,” Billy said. “That’s it. Do you have a photo of her at let’s say 14?”

There was no 14 for Alicia,” Ruth said.

What happened? Billy said

I will not tell you,” Ruth said.

Did I have anything to do with it,” Billy said fearfully.

No, Billy,” Ruth said. “I will tell you this, you and your mother departed without a trace.”

Do you know where my mother is?” Billy said. “Is she alive.”

California is a big state, Billy,“ Ruth said. “People can get lost. There’s a Mobil home park in Vinton, lot 3.”

How do you know where she lives?” Billy said. “My husband was an insurance investigator. He is very resourceful. A week before you and your mother disappeared she had a car accident. She was supposed to receive a settlement. She originally moved to Auburn, Sacramento, Yuba City and finally Vinton. After she reached Auburn she contacted the insurance company to have the check sent to her. She‘s been easy to follow from there.”

I’m sorry for your loss of Alicia,” Billy said.

Thank you, Billy,” Ruth said. “I’m so glad to see you. I often wondered about you.”

Thank you, Ma’am,” Billy said.

You best go now,” Ruth said. “She is in bad health, cigarettes. And by the way, her name is now, Liz Gentry.”

Billy smiled and stood. “Thank you, ma’am.” He slowly walked toward the door. He pondered and turned to Ruth. “How did Alicia die?”

That’s for another time,” Ruth said. “Not right now.”

Billy smiled. Ruth held the door. Billy patted her hand that rested on the door knob. “How was I strange.”

You had a secret,” Ruth said. “People who hold secrets are holding a heavy load. You always acted like you were holding something too heavy to carry, but too afraid to share.”

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The Sixth Man – Episode 77

thIWW9A3M2Murder Twice

It was at the beginning of rush hour by the time Billy exited Route 110 and proceeded east until he found the address on Colden Ave. It was a yellow stucco duplex.

Billy rang the doorbell. A woman in her mid twenties holding and infant came to the door.

Good afternoon, Ma’am,” Billy said. “I used to live here many years ago. Can you point out the homes on this block of folks who have lived here the longest?”

She looked at him suspiciously. “You’ll have to do that on your own. I’ve lived here for only a month.”

Girl of boy?” Billy said.

Boy,” she said.

In the basement you will find in the rafters a toy airplane,” Billy said. “I can’t remember exactly where it’s at, but I left it there. It’s the kind made of light wood. All it needs is a rubber band. It will make a fun toy for your son when he gets old enough.”

She smiled. “My husband found it.”

Well be careful,” Billy said. “Don’t let him chase it into the street.”

She nodded toward a house across the street. “There’s an old couple in that grey house. They act like they own the block. I bet they’ve been here about as long as anybody.”

Thanks, Ma’am,” Billy said.

Good luck,” she said.

What do you mean by that?” Billy said.

I don’t know,” she said. “you just look like you could catch a break.”

Thanks,” Billy said he took two steps from the porch and turned around. “Remember watch the streets.”

She smiled and waved.

Billy crossed the street and rang the door bell of the house she pointed out. An older lady came to the door. Likely in her late 70s or early 80s.

Can I help you?” she said.

I hope so,” Billy said. “Have you lived her for over 40 years?”

Who wants to know?” she said as if annoyed.

Of course,” Billy said. “I’m sorry. My name is Billy Smith. This may all sound strange to you, but I lived on this street around 45 years ago. In fact I lived in that house.” Billy nodded to the house he had come from.

Am I supposed to remember you?” she said.

No,” Billy said, “but I was hoping you might. If that’s the case do you know the names of the people who lived there.”

It seems like you should know,” she said

It seems that way,” Billy said, “but something has happened to my memory and I’m just trying to find out who my mother and father were or whoever raised me.”

It all sounds very suspicious to me,” she said. “Are you investigating an unsolved murder or something or are you a writer trying to write about and unsolved murder.”

I am who I said I am,” Billy said.

I can’t help you so you’ll have to go,” she said.

Billy smiled. “Thank you ma’am, I’m sorry to trouble you.”

She closed the door only part way and watched Billy walk down the walk toward the street.

Billy turned around. “Ma’am, you mentioned murder twice; was there a murder there?”

She swung the door open. “Come in for a moment.”

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The Sixth Man – Episode 76

thLCW8BRCAA Call To Marti

At mid day something came over Billy. Something unexpected. A feeling, a feeling like an old memory that suddenly surfaced – a pleasant memory. He dialed a number and listened to the ring.

There was an answer. “Hello.”

Marti,” Billy said.

The name is Billy now,” Billy said and went on to explain what happened in Chicago.

I’m struggling with something and you are the only one I can talk to about it,” Billy said.

I’m listening,” Marti said understandingly.

Wilson Gentry and Bill Smith love you,” Billy said, “but Charles Arnold has a wife and two children.”

It’s whoever you are,” Marti said, “and you’ve been Charles Arnold longer than anyone else.”

But Charles no longer exists,” Billy said passionately.

I don’t know what to tell you,” Marti said and paused. “When you are done searching that will be the time to talk.”

Yeah,” Billy said, “I left you once before. I visited a friend right after I got out of the Army. I was coming back and something happened. I just forgot who I was. No, no it’s more complicated than that. I suppose I ran away from who I was and never looked back. It wasn’t intentional. It hand nothing to do with you. What was in my mind was too unbearable.”

I know,” Marti said. “I believe you. I want you well no matter what the outcome. I don’t have to have you in my life. I’ve done okay till now.”

Yeah,” Billy said. “Maybe it’s best I get rid of my feelings.”

That is best,” Marti said. “It’s too late to pick-up now. You will learn to develop feeling for your wife. Charles Arnold is still inside you.”

But, he’s like an actor,” Billy said. “I think all the time I loved Gayle I thought it was you.”

You didn’t know I existed,” Marti said, “and lets leave it at that.”

I’m sorry, Marti,” Billy said, “sometimes things just come over me and I have nowhere to turn.”

Try turning to your wife,” Marti said.

I can’t,” Billy said. “I just can’t and I don’t know why.”

There was silence and Billy finally said goodbye and hung up.

Billy began to sing, “By the time I get to Phoenix…” He stopped and said, “Hell I ain’t even gonna go near Phoenix.”

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I Was Mad Enough To Kill, But My Son Saved The Day

Mad As A Hatter

Tell us about a time when you flew into a rage. What is it that made you so incredibly angry?

When did I last get mad; I mean in a rage?
My sixteen year old daughter brought home an eighteen year old recent release from juvy and told me she’s pregnant and wants to get married.
His hair was dyed raven black and he had tattoos from as far as the eye could see up to his earlobes. Speaking of earlobes they were large enough to carry a widescreen through without stooping.
He had a bone in his nose. I shouldn’t have ask, but I did, “Where did you get the bone?”
He held up his right pinky finger. It was missing. “I needed a bone and there was none so I chopped it off.”
I made a dash for the gun cabinet.
Just then my soon comes home.
“Hey, Dad, I want you to meet my new girl friend. She’s moving in. Her name is Trixie.”
She’s a good ten years older than him. She’s tall, pimp-starved slender, and has a beehive hairdo. She has ruby red lipstick and lips that are as big as inner tubes. She has a tight black leather skirt as wide as some of my ties. She has a twenty stuck in her cleavage. She’s popping her gum and trying to lift her weighted-down eyelids from half staff.
“Where did you meet her and how long have you known each other?” I said.
“Met at the laundry mat and about as long as the spin cycle.”
Now that’s woman. My son saved the day; instead of the gun cabinet I reached for the liquor cabinet.

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