Category Archives: novel

The Sixth Man – Episode 75

th5136X0YRWhy Billy Forgets

The next morning Billy woke and showered. It was near nine when he checked out of the motel and had breakfast at a restaurant a mile away. He got back in the car and phoned Burton.

Hello,” Burton said.

Wilson or Billy,” Billy said.

Burton chuckled, “Funny.”

Did you find the information?”

Yes,” Burton said. “It’s merely an address on a piece of paper with the name Lydia Smith. Does that name ring a bell?”

Not right now,” Billy said. “So what’s the address.”

Do you have a pen and paper to jot it down?”

Yes,” Billy said. “Go ahead.”

2021 W. 52nd Street, Los Angles,” Burton said. “Do you have it?”

Yeah,” Billy said finishing the note. “Thanks.”

Good luck, Wilson,” Burton said. “If I can help…”

You’ve done much already,” Billy said. “If the Army had their way I’d probably just be getting out of jail.”

That’s if you were lucky,” Burton said. “They wanted to execute you. Every war has to have examples to keep everyone in line.”

On that happy note…” Billy said.

Goodbye,” Burton said.

Goodbye, Burton,” Billy said.


Billy had little idea what he might find on West 52nd Street, a house, a bar, or vacant lot; he simply had no clue. He tried to conjure some sort of memory, there was nothing, but some memories appeared like snapshots of a stranger’s family tossed on a table in front of him and someone standing back to wait for a reaction or comment.

His mental snapshots were from the time he was in the Army and until the present. He could not remember how he got from Atlanta to Des Moines. He didn’t remember working at Tirerama or cleaning at the bar the first time. That was still a mystery and a little concern.

Billy began to assess all his feeling he had during the times he could recall and came to grips with a realization that he always knew there was a gap in his life. As Charles he always knew there was nothing he could remember from suddenly being among strangers in Fargo and just moving forward and pretending to be someone.

He drifted for a couple of months until he came to Atlanta and found success. With the success came emotional security, but something happened. Billy could not remember what it was, but he knew it had to be life altering.

He sensed a pattern when tragedy strikes, he protects himself by forgetting.

It’s time to stop running,” Billy said. “I must face whatever it is I’m afraid of. I’ve made it this far. What ever I’m afraid to remember it hasn’t killed me.”

The mile markers on the highway slowly passed by. “I’d like to have a memory for each marker,” Billy mused.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 64

th3F5UBG7ZA Step Closer To Burton Parnell

Two days later by mid morning he was in Missoula.

Wilson located the school of law and waited until Burton Parnell’s class let out. After the students filed out of the classroom Wilson stepped inside.

“Excuse me,” Wilson said to a man behind a desk. “You look too young for Burton Parnell. I was hoping to talk to him.”

“I’m his associate professor, Harrison Ballard,” he said. “Is there something I can help you with?”

“I must speak to Burton Parnell personally,” Wilson said. “I’m an old client and he may be able to help me with a new problem.”

“Burton won’t be back until next Monday,” Harrison said. “He called in,” Harrison chuckled. “He said he wanted to get some things done before the cold weather set in. He lives about 40 miles from here back some dirt road.”

“It’s important I talk to him,” Wilson said. “Do you have a number that I can reach him?”

Harrison jotted a phone number on a scrap piece of paper and handed it to Wilson.

“Thanks,” Wilson said and turned for the door.

As he reached for the door knob Harrison said, “Which client were you?”

“Wilson Gentry,” Wilson said.

“Ahhh,” Harrison said. “Gentry, that’s been some time ago. Burton will be glad to see you.”

Wilson stepped toward Harrison. “You are familiar with my case?”

“Yes,” Harrison said. “We review it from time to time. It’s used as a teaching aid for law students.”

“What crime was I accused of?” Wilson. “I sort of know that, but what was my defense?”

“You don’t know?” Harrison said.

“That’s why I want to see Burton Parnell,” Wilson said. “I don’t remember who I am. I only have my name. I was hoping he could help me.”

“Burton’s the best lawyer I know,” Harrison said. “He a decent and compassionate man. If he can help you, he will.”

“What did I do and by defense?” Wilson said.

“It’s best you discuss that with Burton,” Harrison said.

Wilson paused. He left the room and went to his car. He punched out the numbers on his cell phone. There was no answer.

Wilson hurried back into the classroom and retrieved an address from Harrison. Harrison provided him with directions.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 62

Danger At Logan

The talk was long and the beer was slow. An hour passed. Wilson nursed a beer also.

So what’s next bro?” Phil said. “We got to do something for you. Sounds like ya got the money for a good shrink, but I don’t think that’s gonna help.”

I’m going to take Mathias back to Hecla and head to Montana,” Wilson said. “That’s where the lawyer lives who defended me.”

I let ya down, bro,” Phil said.

What do you mean?” Wilson said.

When we was in basic you were lost,” Phil said, “didn’t have a friend and wasn’t about to make any. Ya got picked on a bit. I made it a point to get to know you. We became friends.”

Did I ever say anything about my past?” Wilson said.

You were private and so was I,” Phil said. “We talked about now and what we were going to do when we got out. We talked about women, cars, and motorcycles. We talked about going fast; with cars, motorcycles, and women.”

Sounds pretty typical to me,” Wilson said.

Yeah,” Phil said, “nothing out of the ordinary.”

Did I ever say anything out of place?” Wilson said.

No,” Phil said. “You never talked about anything that bothered you or feelings. You had no opinions. It was like you had nothing behind you.”

Tell me something you told me,” Wilson said, “something you shared with me.”

Ya know I saw a lot of things in Nam,” Phil said. “Right after Nam I got an assignment in Ethiopia.”

Ethiopia?” Wilson said.

I had a specialty they needed their,” Phil said. “My grandparents were Egyptian. Strange, huh. We always spoke Arabic around their house.”

I called you three days after I got back to the States,” Phil said. “I remember telling you something, it’s something I never told anyone else.”

Tell me,” Wilson said.

We were getting off a plane at Logan in Boston. There were 17 of us returning from, of all places Ethiopia. For me and some it was our second oversees gig. We actually had sympathetic leanings toward the anti-war movement. When it comes right down to it we’re all anti-war. In Ethiopia when we weren’t listening to Russian, Egyptian, Israeli, and other Arab communications we taught English, did maintenance work at schools, and taught kids basketball and baseball at an Italian ran orphanage. A few attractive Italian teachers and nurses added to our interest also.”

Phil brought a bottle of beer to his lips and sipped slowly. “Back to Boston July 1970, a bunch of students greeted our homecoming. How they heard of our return on that flight I don’t know. We had layovers in Rome and London, someone probably called ahead. They were exercising their rights. That’s where the baby killer tirade came from. The called us baby killers, spit at us, and called us names I’ve never hear of before. We thought they had us mixed up with somebody else. We was in shock. What was strange is that some of our group were never in Nam and to my recollection we never fired a shot in Ethiopia let alone kill babies. I wasn’t even issued a P38 (can opener). They followed us through the airport like peasants with pitchforks and to our bus.
We, 17 soldiers, got on the bus for an hour or so bus ride to Ft. Devans. I remember us all saying they are us, you know the same age, except we weren’t smart enough, didn’t have the money, had less ambition to go on to college, or not a severe enough psychological or physical defect.. One of us removed part of her, you heard that right, her, uniform long enough to “shoot the moon.” We were soldiers; we said nothing, we touched no one, we held our ranks. And except for that one episode held on to our dignity. Any of this sound familiar, like you’ve hear it before?”

No,” Wilson said. “It’s a good story, well kind of; you know what I mean.”

Let me go on,” Phil said. “That night some of us confiscated a ten gallon pot from the mess hall and enough frozen OJ concentrate for about five gallons. We bought about three bottles of Vodka and added it to the OJ, one heap of screwdrivers. We drank from ladles we requisitioned from said mess hall. We got good and hammered. That night we screwed up a couple barracks, wrecked a jeep, and relieved ourselves out the windows. Of course we had to appear before the Major the next day. I have to say he was somewhat amused and a little sympathetic. Boys will be boys – girl too. And for some it had been a year without any revelry. “‘If I could send you to Nam I would,’” the major said.”

Phil sipped again. “‘Just not through Logan, Sir,’ I said.”

That was the worst part of the war,” Phil concluded.

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