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.