Call Me Billy
Wilson drove long enough to get away from the Chicago traffic before calling Drake. He left a message, “Drake, call me as soon as you can.”
An hour passed and Drake returned the call.
“Dad, how are you doing?”
“Are you ready for this?”
“My name is not Wilson Gentry.”
There was silence.
“Are you there?”
“Yes. What is it?”
“It is Billy Smith, thus I assume William Smith.”
“How do you know?”
The day’s events were related to Drake.
“Dad, please do not tell anybody about this.”
“Why, because they will think I’m really off my rocker?”
“No,” Drake said. “Have you used your credit card.”
“Don’t,” Drake said. “How is your cash holding out?”
“I’m okay. What’s going on?”
“There was some whispers around the office that Abernathy was trying to track somebody’s credit card expenses.”
“How can he do that without my permission?”
“He is your attorney,” Drake said. “You two had no secrets.”
“Wait a minute, Drake. Never mind.”
What, Dad?” Drake said.
“Where are you now and where are you heading?” Drake asked.
“I’m a couple of hours west of Chicago heading for Los Angles.”
“Why Los Angles?” Drake said.
“That’s where I have always told my family I was from. Gentry Wilson was probably a name pulled from a hat. I have to find Billy Smith.”
“Be careful, Dad,” Drake said.
“You must tell me about your suspicions of Abernathy. I’m starting to remember things. What you tell me may be helpful.”
“Okay, Dad,” Drake said. “This may be hard to take.”
“It can’t be worse than what I’ve already gone through.”
“Were you and Abernathy involved in any sort of criminal activities?” Drake said.
“Dear god, it is what I’ve feared; I’m a criminal. They‘ll say I pulled this when I was in the Army and I‘m pulling it again.”
“Let me rephrase that,” Drake said. “Did you become aware of criminal activity. And I think that is the case. If otherwise your FBI agent friend would have had you picked up long before now.”
“I hope that is the case.”
They talked for another fifteen minutes and later Billy found a motel near midnight just west of Joplin, Missouri. It was from there he called Burton Parnell and told him what Dung had revealed.
“It all makes sense,” Burton said. “Now sleep well tonight.
“I can’t Burton,” Billy said. “Do you remember telling me you could not find any existence of Wilson Gentry before age 14.”
“Yes,” Burton said, “but that hardly means anything. We didn’t do a thorough background like the FBI might do. We only had so many records to look at.”
“The reason why is that I believe my name was Billy Smith,” Billy said.
“How do you figure that?” Burton said.
“Just before I ran from the hut in Vietnam, I yelled at Dung and said, ’Billy Smith lives,’” Billy said.
“You should get some help,” Burton said.
“What,” Billy said, “I’ve gone that route before.”
“That was a paid Army doctor,” Burton said.
“I’m not taking chances with psychologists again,” Billy said.
“How are you doing with your memory?” Burton said.
“The events that surround Vietnam are clear,” Billy said. “I’m remembering little things here and there, but haven’t been able to connect them to anything.”
“Give me an example,” Burton said.
“While driving tonight I had a clear memory of a fishing trip my son and I took,” Billy said. “We had discussed it earlier when I was with my family in Atlanta. My son was fourteen.”
“The age that Wilson Gentry came into existence,” Burton said.
Billy paused. “That’s interesting. Where did you trace me to?”
“Give me a call tomorrow morning and I’ll have that information available to you,” Burton said.
They said goodbye and Billy rested in bed with a dim light from outside illuminating the room. “I know it’s all there,” he mumbled to himself. “I just don’t know how to get it out. Before today I felt there was nothing, but fear and wrong locked away inside of me, but I know there is truth and freedom. I have been locked up a long time.”