Sixth Man – Episode 48

th4L21HHRJThe Ledger 

He sat back at the table and took a bite of the meal. “You’re right, it’s just right.”

“I don’t get many visitors anymore,” Candice said, “not in years.”

“I can see why,” Wilson said. “There’s not much traffic on this highway.”

“Why did you drive this way?” Candice said.

“I looked on the map and this seemed like the shortest distance to where I wanted to go,” Wilson said.

“I can tell you something for a certainty,” Candice said, “this highway is not the shortest distance to anywhere. You are here for a reason.”

“I’m going some place for a reason,” Wilson said, “but the reason I’m here is that I’m tired.”

“Have you ever been this way before, Wilson?” Candice said.

“Not that I recall,” Wilson said.

“Are you sure?” Candice said.

“Well I really can’t be certain,” Wilson said. “My memory has been a little fuzzy lately.”

“Would you mind reaching over to your right,” Candice said. “There is a ledger on the buffet; grab it, please.”

Wilson leaned over and secured the ledger. It was old, hardback, and cloth bound.

“On the side is the year,” Candice said. “What year is it?”

“1972,” Wilson said.

“I have a page marked,” Candice said. “Open to that page and read the name of second entry.

“Wilson Gentry,” Wilson said astonished. “I was here in 1972.”

“Yes,” Candice said. “But examine the ledger closer; what do you see before your name?”

“W-i-l-l and it looks like I stated to write something else, but ran a line through it.” Wilson said. “I started to write Will.” Wilson stared at his plate.

“There’s only one reason a person comes this way,” Candice said, “it’s because they are lost.”

Wilson looked up with sorrowful eyes. “Yes.”

“How can I help?” Candice said.

“You must remember something about my first time here,” Wilson said. “You remembered my name and where to find it.”

Candice smiled softly.

“Please don’t tell me we had an affair,” Wilson said.

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Sixth Man – Episode 47

th8PCIZ2FOCandice

He chose death rather than pain,’ Wilson thought. ‘He controlled his destiny.’

Wilson filled his tank with gas at the next town. He drove endlessly on lonely seldom traveled highways north towards Hecla. He passed through towns beyond sleepy, more like in a coma. The only signs of commerce were soft drink machines and newspaper racks.

These town don’t even have a motel,” Wilson said. “I suppose they expect no one to stay. I can see why.”

Wilson finally saw a lonely motel, only eight rooms. “Vacancy” the sign read. He pulled into a stone parking lot. He steeped from the car and knocked on the office door.

An older lady came to the door and opened it. She was small a trim and wore mand jeans and a denim work shirt. “You need a room?”

Yes, ma’am,” Wilson said.

Step over to the counter and we’ll set you up,” she said. She stepped behind the small counter and pulled a registration book from beneath. “Just stayin’ on night,” she said.

Yeah,” Wilson said.

Wilson finished the registration and paid in cash.

She handed him a key. “801,” she said.

Thanks,” Wilson said and took the key.

That was a joke,” she said.

Huh,” Wilson said.

801,” she said. “We only have one floor.”

Wilson smiled. “I’m sorry, ma’am. I’ve had a rough day.”

I got some supper on the table and I could use the conversation,” she said.

I’ll take you up on that,” Wilson said. “Do you mind if I shower first?”

By all means,” she said.

Wilson grabbed a bag from the trunk and unlocked the door to the room. It was dated. “I be bet this room hasn’t changed in 30 years,” Wilson smiled.

It was clean and smelled fresh not at all what one might expect. He undressed and got into the shower. As he lathered and looked at the shower curtain he thought, “What if she is the older sister of Norman Bates?” He chuckled and finished the shower.

There was an arched doorway behind the counter of the motel’s office that led to a private residence. Just the other side of the doorway stood a small table tastefully set for a meal.

Thanks for the invitation,” Wilson said as he entered the dinning room. “You have my name, but I don’t have yours.”

Candice.”

I’ve always liked that name,” Wilson said and thought to himself, “Why would I say that? I don’t know anyone named Candice.”

Have a seat, Mr. Gentry,” Candice said.

Still confused Wilson sat down.

Help yourself,” Candice said. “It’s nothing fancy; pot roast, potatoes, carrots, and such. Watch how much you eat, I have dessert.”

Wilson filled his plate.

They’re looking for you, ya know,” Candice said.

Wilson looked at her puzzled.

Questioning,” Candice said, “but you don’t want to be questioned. And, by the way, the food ‘s not poisoned.”

How do you know?” Wilson said.

The state highway patrol was in here an hour ago,” Candice said. “While your food cools move your car into the garage behind.”

Wilson looked at her curiously. “I suppose if you wanted to, you could have called the law by now and if I get in my car and leave who knows. Ma’am, I did nothing wrong. I just want to get on my way.”

I know,” Candice said and flung her hand. “You better move your car.”

Wilson drove the car into the garage and shut the garage door.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 46

m24-52c[1]The Legend

Wilson looked into the creek bed.

The man smiled. “Pretty gruesome, wouldn’t you say?”

Wilson looked away, flashes of blood and sounds of thunder echoed in his brain. There were other objects in the flashes, but the blood was all the he could identify.

“Back to the barn,” Wilson said.

“You realize that what you did today will be nothing compared to what I did?” the man said. “They’ll remember Jason Zachary, but they won’t even know who caught him.”

“If it means anything to you, Jason,” Wilson said. “I don’t even know.”

“Like, what do you mean?” Jason said.

“It will be one of life’s little mysteries among many you will never know,” Wilson said.

Jason hobbled back to the front of the barn followed by Wilson holding the rifle on him.

“Get on your knees with you hands behind you head,” Wilson commanded.

Jason grimaced as he assumed the position.

“I’m going to save everyone a lot of time and money,” Wilson said as he held the rifle inches from Jason’s head.

“Oh god!” Jason cried out. “Please don’t kill me! Please, please, please don‘t kill me. God help, please help.”

Wilson stood back. Something passed through is brain as sure as the bullet that was about to pass through Jason’s. A terrible sound echoed. Wilson’s eyes darted back and forth. He backed away further and vomited.

“You can’t take it, can you, man,” Jason said gleefully. “Not everybody’s made for what I do.”

“Don’t fool yourself, Jason,” Wilson said. “I can do it. I just had a bad burrito a couple of hours ago and all this excitement has given me a little upset stomach.”

Wilson grabbed some bailing twine from inside the barn. He pushed Jason face down to the ground and bound his feet. He went to the gas tank and found an unlocked padlock. He unloosened a chain from a gate and walked back to Jason.

“Now squirm over to the pole next to the barn door,” Wilson said motioning with the rifle. “And sit against it.”

Once Jason sat against the pole Wilson strung the chain around his neck and the pole and locked it with the padlock.

“What are you going to do with me?” Jason said.

Wilson tied Jason’s hands in front of him with baling twine. He pumped a five gallon can full of gasoline and hoisted it into the bed of the pickup truck.

Wilson looked inside the cab of the truck and turned to Jason. “Farmers, trusting folks, the keys are in the ignition.”

Wilson walked to where Jason was bound. He emptied the rifle of the ammunition. He placed one round back into the rifle.
Wilson stooped and got close to Jason. “Now listen, Jason, you are the one who controls your destiny. If they take you to trial they’ll say all kinds of things about you and you will hear them all. They will say you aren’t smart, easily led, and insane, but you and I know that’s not true. From here on out the media and law enforcement will portray you as a looser. You’ll be in prison the rest of your life with losers. You will become one of many. You will no longer have control.”

Wilson placed one shell back in the chamber of the rifle and placed the rifle at Jason’s feet. He stood. “You know what to do, boy. Be a legend.”

Wilson drove away and just as he reached the main road a single gunshot echoed over the bucolic landscape. He breathed deep and drove the truck back to his car and emptied the five gallons of gas into his car.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 45

thYKI9B30HThe Hay Hook

Wilson dashed behind a combine and ran to the other side of the barn. He heard the door open and the man enter. The lights came on and birds swooped and flew for the openings in the barn.

Wilson heard the man climb the ladder to the haymow. From there all the exits were in sight. Wilson hid behind a tractor’s large back tire.

It seemed as though they were at an impasse. The man waiting for Wilson to make a dash for an exit or divulge his location. Wilson’s only advantage was that the man didn’t know where he was, but Wilson knew where the man was. The man was younger and had a rifle.

‘I bet he at least knows his name,’ Wilson thought.

Wilson slowly sat on the floor leaning against the tractor tire. His heart pounded. ‘This would be a perfect ending for Abernathy,’ he thought. ‘His hand would not be in it at all. It’s like a gift from heaven to him.’

Wilson peeked around the tire at the man in the loft. The man’s attention was fixed on the small door they came through and the large door for the farm equipment. Wilson slowly crawled from behind the tire, underneath the tractor, and to the other tire. He waited. He was now only a couple of body lengths from being directly under the loft.

It was quiet. There was an occasional flutter and chirp of a bird returning to the barn and the sound of an empty wind that passed through the cracks in the barn and jostled the door.

‘Even if this was reduced to a fair fight he’s younger and a psychopath, I wouldn’t stand much of a chance,’ Wilson thought. ‘If I get out of the barn, then what? He’ll know I left and he’ll be able to run me down.’

Wilson reached in his pocket. He found a quarter. He looked for a place to toss it so the man could be distracted for a moment. Wilson could get under the loft and closer to the door. He flung it underneath the loft on the other side of the barn.

He looked up at the man. As the man drew the rifle to his shoulder Wilson quietly stepped beneath the loft the man was perched.

Wilson heard the man stir. He saw one shoe placed on the rung. The man was starting to descend the ladder. There was a hey hook hanging on a rung. Wilson grabbed it. He held it tightly. A memory flashed in his mind; a boy held tightly on to a hook and thrusting it into a bale of a hay. The vision was gone and Wilson found himself thrusting the hey hook into the man’s calf as he descended the ladder.

The man cried out and fell backwards. His head hit the tractor tire and the rifle fell right in front of Wilson’s feet. He picked up the rifle and held it on the man. The man grimaced in agony from the blow to his head and the gaping wound in his calf.

“Standup,” Wilson said.

“I can’t!” the man cried out.

“Try,” Wilson said.

The man stood, but could not put much weight on his injured leg.

“Out the door,” Wilson said.

When outside Wilson said, “Where are they?”

“Creek bed behind the barn,” the man said.

Wilson motioned with his rifle, “Let’s go.”

“There dead, man,” the man said. “Trust me.”

“I don’t trust you,” Wilson said. “Now go.”

The man hobbled with the hook implanted in his calf as he led the way to the creek bed.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 44

th9UX4XNG1Shovels and Guns

After a night’s rest in a motel Wilson began a long drive on a two lane highway through never-ending flat farm country. He passed through small towns with hardly a breath of life remaining in them.

It was peaceful and bucolic. There were times has body and mind slumped into a tranquil state as if this is where he could find rest and solace. Thoughts wandered and escaped into the open blue skies above, some being captured by clouds, and perhaps in time as the rain descends those thoughts may come back to him someday and they will nurture old thoughts from the soil of despair.

The car lost power and coasted to a stop. Wilson looked at the gas gage. “Empty,” he said. “That’s what the little red light was trying to tell me.”

He got out, slung on his coat, and started to walk. He looked into the western sky. “Winter is coming,” he thought. “It’s not cold enough to snow. A cold rain is worse than a snow.”

He scanned the four horizons. No houses or structures of any sort were in sight. ‘Someone will come along soon,’ he thought, ‘I hope.’

He walked for an hour without a car driving by. He came upon a mailbox next to a dirt lane that led to the east. It was straight and lined with barbed wire and stick fence posts. It rose over a hump in the landscape and disappeared on the other side.

Wilson turned down the lane hoping he would find a farm house beyond the rise. ‘They’re farmers,’ he thought. ‘They’ll have gas. I’ll barrow a can or maybe they can give me a lift to the next town.’

He stood on the raise and followed the lane with his eyes. A half mile away rested a two-story white farm house, a barn, an equipment shed, and silo. As he got closer he saw a large red gas tank. “I’m in luck, now all I have to do is get the tank and my car together.”

Wilson walked to the back door of the house and knocked several times. He called out and no one answered. He walked to the barn and opened the door and looked inside. “Hello, hello, anybody here!” He heard only chirps and flutters of birds.

Wilson backed away from the door and turned around. He jolted. Ten paces away stood a man in his mid twenties holding a rifle on him. He was dressed in black. His hair was died black. He had black lipstick and eyeliner.

“I ran out of gas on the highway,” Wilson said calmly. “I just need to call someone or I can buy a can of gas from you.”

“I’m gonna kill ya, man,” he said. “Grab the shovel inside the door.”

“What am I going to do,” Wilson said, “Dig my own grave?”

“Yours and the grave of the other two,” he said.

“You killed two other people?” Wilson said.

He smiled. “I kind of hacked them up a little,” he said. “I’m a little tired from that so I’ll just give you a bullet to the head. So get the shovel and we’ll walk down to the creek bed.”

Wilson reached inside the door and grabbed. “You’re pretty stupid, slick,” Wilson said. “I have no incentive to do anything but stand here and let you shoot me. Dig yourself you freak.” Wilson tossed the shovel at him and dashed inside the barn.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 43

The Dream

There is a funny thing about paranoia and amnesia,” Wilson said as he flipped through the channels, “you know they are following you, but you don’t know who they are. Not so funny after all.”

Wilson packed his bags and made his way to the car looking suspiciously around. He drove all night and into the daylight the next day. During that time a hundred or so images reeled-off in his head like thumbing pages in a book of pictures; before one was able to be grasp another appeared soon to be replaced by an other and an other and so on and so on. Finally at the end the page was blank.

If only I could get one image to stop,” Wilson thought, “to pause it for a fraction longer. I see something and it’s gone, but I know it’s there. It’s just covered, covered by other events that are covered by other events.”

Medication,” Wilson murmured as telephone poles passed by. “Could that slow it down? Maybe that’s what sped it up to begin with.”

It was past noon somewhere in Nebraska Wilson pulled off the side of the road. He had been rubbing his eyes and drifting from one side of the lane to another. He dropped the seat back and relaxed. Sleep came quickly.

There was a dream. Who knows where dreams come from, but things unrelated to other things show up like unexpected, unwanted, or uninvited guests. They stay for a while and later left to wonder, why did they show up? I haven’t thought about them in years. I hardly knew them.

There was a man in the dream, a young man, short, muscular; a hard working and hardy man.

Do you remember me?” he said.

Yeah,” Wilson said, “it’s been a long time. Aren‘t you Mathias Winthrop?”

That’s me,” he said.

The army, right?” Wilson said.

I think I can help you,” he said.

Didn’t you help me another time?” Wilson said.

Yeah,” he said.

I saw it today in a vision,” Wilson said “It went by so fast I couldn’t make it out.”

You remember it now, don’t you?” he said. “It was jungle training and you got lost. To tell you the truth I was lost too. Between the two of us we really got lost.” He chuckled. “But eventually we found our way and made it through without being captured by the aggressors.”

Yeah,” Wilson said, “I forgot about that.”

You forgot a lot of things,” he said.

Yeah,” Wilson said. “I could sure use some help now.”

That’s why I’m here,” he said.

How can you help?” Wilson said.

Do you remember where I’m from?” he said.

Some place in South Dakota,” Wilson said. “Where?”

I’m not telling you everything,” he said. “I’m going to make you work for it.”

Yeah,” Wilson smiled. “That’s the way you were. You never gave anything to anybody they didn’t work for.”

That’s right, Gentry,” he said. “Think, where am I from?”

Wilson woke. He looked at the clock on the dash. “1, 2, 3, 4,” Wilson said, “12:34, that means something. Hecla, Hecla, South Dakota, that’s where Mathias Winthrop came from.”

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The Sixth Man – Episode 42

Another Piece To The Puzzle

Wilson was laying in his motel room bed watching TV when his phone rang.

Hello,” Wilson said.

Dad, this is Drake,” Drake said. “I found out about Burton Parnell. He teaches trial advocacy at the University of Montana in Missoula. He has a ranch. It looks like about a 45 minute drive from town.”

Well that’s where I’ll be heading,” Wilson said.

Burton Parnell is at the top of the ladder, Dad,” Drake said. “I read where he’s an eccentric old guy, but nothing gets by him. He’s trained some of the country’s best trial lawyers.”

Is he better than Abernathy?” Wilson said.

Dad,” Drake said. “You should know this, Abernathy was one of his students.”

Just when I thought things would get easy,” Wilson said.

I can get access to phone logs,” Drake said. “If a call from this office to Montana comes from this office I’ll let you know.”

I got a question, son,” Wilson said. “Somebody is going through a lot of effort to hide something from me. How much money am I worth?”

Didn’t Mom tell you anything?” Drake said.

We talked about the dealership and the others I owned,” Wilson said, “but we never talked about money. I suspected I did okay, I mean that’s quite a house.”

Dad, you own a couple of building in Atlanta and some warehouses too,” Drake said. “In fact, you own the building Abernathy’s firm is in. He rents from you.”

You still haven’t answered my question,” Drake said. “How much am I worth?”

I’m not sure, Dad,” Drake said. “Millions.”

In other words enough to make a good friend do crazy things if the opportunity presented itself,” Wilson said.

Yeah,” Drake said.

I’m starting in the morning for Missoula,” Wilson said. “Watch your back, son. Trust no one.”

You do the same,” Drake said.

They hung up and Wilson stared at the ceiling. “It’s always nice if you know what the puzzle is supposed to look like.”

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