“We want you to help us put together an air tight case against Abernathy,” Paul said.
“And if my wife gets in the way, what the hell, right?” Charles said.
“Dad,” Drake said, “This is tough, but think, who tried to kill you?”
Charles became agitated. “I can’t recall how I found out; I’m sure it will come back. I confronted Gayle about the affair with Abernathy and some missing funds that led back to her. It was substantial. As I think about it, it may have been as much as two million. It was money for my employees’ pension.”
“An argument started. I told her that, that… something; I can’t remember, but I was going to turn Abernathy in for something. What was it?” He strained. “I gave her a chance to go, so she wouldn’t be implicated with Abernathy. She said I couldn’t touch them – Abernathy was too smart for me.”
“Slow down a little,” Paul said. “I don’t want you to rush things.”
“That’s it!” Charles said. “One of the mechanics told me; one of my old guys. He told me that he got a car by mistake from the back lot. He began to prep it and found a garbage bag full of money and a paper bag with large zip-lock bags with white powder in them. I didn’t know what to do. I should have reported it, but before I did I started to snoop around. I traced where the car came from, who ordered it, where it was going. It all traced back to a guy Abernathy asked me to hire as a favor. He was a loan officer. He also handled our dealership trades.”
“What is his name?” Paul said.
“Frankie Gomez,” Charles said. “He was highly recommended, so I heard. I didn’t personally hire him.” Charles paused and squinted. “Gayle hired him. She worked in personal for me when I first started and she would come in and run things every now and then.”
“This is tough, Charles and Drake,” Paul said. “But I don’t know how Gayle can be protected. She’s likely taken in by Abernathy. Perhaps a deal can be made for her testimony, but that’s not up to us. The point is that many people’s lives are impacted by the sale of these drugs and some of it is on the hands of Gayle.”
“So where does that leave me?” Charles said.
“I don’t think that’s a hard decision for you,” Paul said.
“What do you mean?” Charles said.
“There is something we have suspected for a long time,” Paul said. “And I think you know what that is.”
“I’m not catching on,” Charles said.
“When you disappeared,” Paul said, “our investigating team was not surprised. We thought it would happen.”
“What are you talking about?” Charles said.
“We figured you would find out somehow, which you did, “ Paul said. “We felt to a reasonable degree that you would not become involved. We thought you would cover it up, turn everyone in, or…,” Paul paused and considered his words, “or be eliminated.”
“I did neither,” Charles said. “I blocked it all out and ended up in Des Moines.”
There was a hush in the car, only the sound of adjusting one’s position on the leather seats.
“She aimed the gun at me,” Charles said fearfully, “she fired and missed. I ran away. I got in my car and that’s when it came; something so powerful. I said I can’t live this and I forgot. I dumped my mind of everything.”
Paul reached forward. “You’ll be okay, Charles, you’ll be okay.”
“What next?” Charles said.
“Stay in a motel tonight and come into the office tomorrow,” Paul said. “We have a plan in place and we would like for you to be a part of it.”