It was near sundown when Charles pulled into a strip mall parking lot just a few miles north of Atlanta. Drake sat in his car waiting. Charles parked next to him and Drake got into Charles’ car.
“It’s been a long trip,” Charles said.
“You look good,” Drake said.
“You too,” Charles said. “So what’s next?”
“I think we should talk to Kotterman, the FBI gal,” Drake said. “This time on the record.”
“What do we tell her?” Charles said.
“Before we go to her we got to have something that gets her attention,” Drake said.
“Like what,” Charles said. “It sounds like you have been holding out on me.”
“I think you resume your identity and wear a wire all the time,” Drake said.
“This sounds serious,” Charles said. “What do you think it is?”
“I don’t want to say at this point,” Drake said.
“How can I cooperate and be a part of this?” Charles said. “Something you might tell me I may be able to give an explanation to. That is unless you think I may be complicit in something illegal.”
“The possibility has crossed my mind,” Drake said, “but the more I know you the more I think that is unlikely. However, you may have been duped or maneuvered into something and the lawyer in me wants to protect you and at the same time I don’t want to hear something from your own lips that could be incriminating.”
“It sounds like I need a lawyer,” Charles said, “do you have one in mind?”
“Yeah,” Drake said. “It’s a very good one.”
“I don’t care who he is,” Charles said, “I only want you.”
“That’s a dangerous move,” Drake said.
“I’m in dangerous waters…” Charles paused.
“What?” Drake said.
“Water,” Charles said. “Dangerous waters; I just had a vision of being alone in the water. It set chills in me.”
“Something from your past?” Drake said squinting to understand.
“I don’t know,” Charles said. He went on to relate about what was told to him by Emerson back in Los Angeles and what he envisioned.
“Is that why you are afraid of water?” Drake said.
“Apparently,” Charles said.
“I’m sort of uncomfortable about asking you this, Dad,” Drake said, “but it’s what I would ask if you were my client.”
“I paid for your degree,” Charles said. “I wanted to get more out of if than contractual advice and jargon.”
Drake breathed deeply. “Was there passion in your love life?”
“If I say no, will you then assume I looked elsewhere for passion?” Charles said.
“You’ve already answered that question,” Drake said.
“Yes, I have,” Charles said. “So the answer is no. There was no passion. It was all mechanical, like duty. Almost like clock work to get it out of the way.”
“By you or Mom,” Drake said.
“I suppose we grew into it,” Charles said.
“Did you talk about it?” Drake said.
“Yes,” Charles said, “but your mom said that is what she was most comfortable with.”
“And that was okay with you?” Drake said.
“I had no frame of reference,” Charles said. “I had no memory of loving parents. I never had a man to man talk with a father. I depended on your mother to guide me through that sort of thing. I trusted her. I accepted it as normal.” Charles looked out the window. “There was a time, a very strange time. Five or six years ago or maybe ten, she said I had her permission to stray. She smiled so tenderly when she said it. She said that was her gift to me.”
“What did you think?” Drake said.
“I asked her if she was straying?” Charles said. “She said it was the furthest thing from her mind. Which you lawyers would interpret as being in her mind, not an outright rejection.”
“Lawyers are wrong, a lot,” Drake said.
“Ted Abernathy, right?” Charles said.
Drake stared stoic straight ahead.
“What is the proof?” Charles said.