The Sixth Man – Episode 101

Without Passion

I know,” Charles said.

You know what,” Abernathy said.

Yes,” Gayle said, “What on earth or you talking about.”

I remember,” Charles said. “I remember it all.”

Are you okay?” Abernathy said. “You are looking a little pale.”

My coloring is fine,” Charles said, “it’s the lighting. It can even effect your aim.”

Gayle breathed deep as if she had difficulty, her eyes widened.

Yep,” Charles said, “I remember that clearly.”

Ted, ole pal,” Charles said. “Do tell me how stupid I was. I mean having an affair for several years with Gayle right under my nose.”

Do you realize all you could do was sell cars?” Abernathy said. “If it wasn’t for me you would have folded years ago. I saw to it you were able to buy those other dealerships. You were inept.”

How do you explain that I found all the money?” Charles said. “My only ineptness was trusting my wife and friend.”

Your dealerships were running off a three to four percent profit,” Abernathy said. “I was keeping them going.”

And the drugs?” Charles said.

Under your nose,” Abernathy said. “It was fluke you found out.”

How long have you been doing that to me, Ted?” Charles said. “Tell me how stupid I am.”

Nine years,” Abernathy said.

That’s impressive,” Ted said.

How many of your people did you slip in to work for me that really worked for you?” Charles said.

Remember when I suggested a leasing business?” Abernathy said.

Yeah,” Charles said.

Everyone of those guys,” Abernathy said.

Besides making love to my wife under my nose,” Charles said. “What is her part in this?”

Gayle moved close to Abernathy.

We’ve known each other since high school,” Gayle said. “We broke up and both of us married the wrong person.”

How did your wife die?” Charles said.

Abernathy feigned to appear glum. “Skiing accident; she was familiar with the slopes. What she thought was a slope was a cliff. Perfect form.”

I keep the books,” Gayle said proudly.

Abernathy reached inside the side pocket of his suit jacket. He pulled out a .45 automatic.

Did you think for a moment you were going to confront us and walk out of here with the whole story?” Abernathy said.

Abernathy pointed the pistol and moved towards Charles.

You’re on camera and being taped,” Charles said.

The gun clicked. Abernathy’s face flashed surprise.

Drake knows the combination to your safe,” Charles said. “As a percussion he slipped into your office when you were dining with a client. He replaced all the bullets with duds.”

Drake doesn’t know the combination,” Abernathy said.

It’s your secretary’s measurements,” Charles said. “He’s a dog, Gayle. Don’t go on skiing trips with him.“

Abernathy and Gayle exuded confidence.

You can’t prove anything without implicating yourself,” Abernathy said. “Everything is made to look like you’re involved.”

I’m glad you said that,” Charles said. “You just got me off the hook.”

How?” Abernathy said.

Nothing has computed with you,” Charles said. “The planted duds and I told you this was all on being taped.”

Where?” Abernathy smirked.

I don’t know,” Charles said, “All I know is that they were planted when I took Gayle out to lunch.

A door off the barroom opened. It was Paul and four other plain clothed agents..

Everything’s on tape,” Paul said as the agents rushed to handcuff Abernathy and Gayle. They were given their rights and escorted towards the steps.

Gayle,” Charles said as he placed one foot on the step. She stopped and turned. “If you’d told me over lunch I had my plane waiting for you.”

Where to,” Gayle said.

A special place,” Charles said. “And one more thing, why?”

My first love was full of passion,” Gayle said. “I loved you, but not like my first love.”

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The Sixth Man – Episode 100

th1CYY3ZCAThree Scotches

Charles called Gayle and they made arrangements for lunch. He picked her up at the front door of their home. They ate lunch at a small diner and drove toward the house. During lunch Charles told Gayle the gist of the his trip, but few details. He talked about it as if it were more of a road trip.

Charles,” Gayle said. “You seem strange. I’m sorry that your venture had not produced better results. This Wilson Gentry stuff seemed far-fetched. To me you will always be Charles Petersen.”

Actually, Gayle,” Charles said, “I found out a great deal. You see, Wilson Gentry was a name I used.”

What!” Gayle said. “I thought you said. He never existed.”

In a way he didn’t,” Charles said, “but it was a name I used.”

You know that?” Gayle said.

I think it’s time we call Abernathy and have him meet us at the house,” Charles said.

Why?” Gayle said.

I can answer some questions for him,” Charles said.

Charles dialed Abernathy’s number at a stop light. The light turned and he drove on.

Hello, Ted Abernathy.”

Ted, this is Charles. I’m back in town. I want you to meet Gayle and I at our house. In thirty minutes.”

I don’t know if I can break away,” Abernathy said.

I really think you should,” Charles said. “I got a lot of information concerning Wilson Gentry.”

Who?” Abernathy said.

You heard me,” Charles said. “You got 30 minutes.”

Charles hung up.

What’s this all about?” Gayle said. “You’re acting awful strange.”

It will all be cleared up when we all face each other and talk this over,” Charles said.

What is there to talk over?” Gayle said.

They continued to drive toward their home without a word.

Charles pulled into the drive and parked near the front door.

I wish you’d tell me what this is all about,” Gayle said.

If I’d tell you now I’d spoil the surprise,” Charles said.

Charles check his watch. “Ted ought to be her in a minute or two. He’s always punctual.”

Why look there,” Charles said lifting his head. “That’s Ted now. He looks anxious.”

Abernathy parked behind Charles’ car and got out.

What’s this all about, Charles,” Abernathy said walking toward Charles.

Let’s step inside,” Charles said, “down to the bar. Perhaps we can have a drink together and talk over some old times.”

Are you well?” Abernathy said. “Gayle, is Charles okay?”

Let’s just go inside,” Charles said.

Charles held the door. Abernathy and Gayle cautiously stepped inside and down the steps just inside the foyer to the basement.

Gayle,” Charles said. “Can you fix us all a Scotch.”

Gayle quickly poured three glasses of Scotch.

Now,” Abernathy said, “Why am I here?”

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The Sixth – Man Episode 99

Bad Wife, Bad Mom thBSWZGGG4

At 8:00 AM Charles sat at a table in a conference room at the FBI’s Atlanta field office.

Drake was there, Wanda Kotterman, Paul Burke, and two other men who were introduced as Paul’s supervisor and a federal prosecutor.

Your roll will be simple,” Paul said. “Get Gayle out of the house for two hours. When you leave, call Drake, and he will call us. We will send a team in and quickly install sound and video. On your return have Gayle call Abernathy. Say that you want to talk to them privately.”

So what do I talk to them about?” Charles said.

Pour your heart out,” Paul said. “Tell them you know and get them to admit to as many things as possible.”

What in particular?” Charles said.

Attempted murder and using your dealership to traffic drugs,” Paul said. “Mention Frankie Gomez. Tell them you suspected him. Knowing Abernathy he will be all to happy to supply other names to show how incomplete and bumbling you are.”

What about Gayle, Drake’s mother?” Charles said.

She’s the woman who wanted to kill you,” Paul said.

Drake,” Charles said, “how are you feeling about all this?”

Dad,” Drake said, “if trying to shoot you was a momentary lapse, that’s one thing, but she continued the affair with Abernathy from day one.”

What about Missy?” Charles said. “She and Mom have argued since you’ve been gone. Missy doesn’t know about the attempt on your life or the trafficking, but she knows about Abernathy and knows it has been going on before your disappearance.”

You never talked this over with her?” Charles said.

No,” Drake said.

That’s not what a brother would do,” Charles said, “but it’s what and FBI agent would do. How long have you worked for them?”

There were some uncomfortable glances.

Wanda,” Charles said, “what are the chances of an FBI agent being on the plane with me?”

When someone started looking for you in Atlanta we were notified,” Wanda said. “We contacted Mrs. Bradford. She was very concerned for your safety and was willing to assist. We could not dump this on you all at once. You had to come around in you own time and own way.”

Six years ago the six months I thought you were in Europe you were actually being trained by the FBI?” Charles said.

Yeah,” Drake said.

How long have you known I wasn’t Charles Abbot?” Paul said to Drake.

This was all news to us,” Drake said.

Your son objected to us wanting to intervene when you started your quest across the country,” the supervisor said. “He threatened to quit. He said he was not going to leave you worse than what you were when this started. He risked prosecution himself.”

Normally we don’t allow agents to go undercover or otherwise become involved in something the family is involved,” Paul said, “but this seemed to fall in place.”

Wanda,” Charles said, “did you really buy a car from me?”

Yeah,” Wanda said.

Bring it in to get it serviced,” Charles said.

Wanda smiled. “I’ll call for an appointment.”

Charles stood and forced a smile. “I’ll call Gayle in a few minutes. I’ll tell her I’m at the edge of town and want to take her out for lunch. Can you do things then?”

The supervisor stood and reached across the table and shook Charles’ hand. “We’ll be in and out in no time. Just remember to give Drake a call and if you should happen to suddenly come back before the two hours are up, call Drake again; you know make something up.”

Charles reached for the doorknob.

Dad,” Drake said, “Are you alright with this?”

Sure,” Charles said, “It’s hard to explain, son, there’s just nothing there. I feel nothing for your mother.”

What about you?” Charles said.

That’s not my mother,” Drake said. “I don’t know what happened to her.”

Do you know when it happened?” Charles said.

Yeah, Dad,” Drake said. “I was 10 Missy was five she tried to drawn her in the pool. She said if I told she would say we were lying and kill us later. We said nothing and soon we did what you did – forgot. She hung on to you, Dad, because…”

I was a meal ticket,” Charles said.

I suppose,” Drake said.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 98


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.”

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The Sixth Man – Episode 97


Wanda and Paul looked at one another anxiously and neither know who was supposed to speak first.

Paul is the head of an operation,” Wanda said.

An operation,” Charles said, “sounds serious.”

We think it is,” Paul said.

What’s going on?” Charles said.

Dad,” Drake said, “the FBI has been investigating you for about five years.”

What for?” Paul said. “I’ve never been audited. I don’t even have a traffic violation. I’ve never been interviewed.”

We’ve looked long and hard at you,” Paul said. “At first we thought you were too clean and come to find out you really are.”

So, how does a squeaky clean guy come under suspicion and an investigation?” Charles said.

Do you recall starting a corporation called UniVenture Inc?” Paul said

That sounds vaguely familiar,” Charles said. “Bear in mind, because I’ve recovered my memory not everything comes back to me in a flash.”

It was started by you and Ted Abernathy,” Paul said. “From that about another dozen corporations were hatched.”

This is already sounding not good,” Charles said and added sarcastically. “Are you going to get a Dr. Haverston from Houston to testify that amnesia is fantasy and fakery to escape responsibility and prosecution. It‘s a long story.”

I saw a Dr. Haverston in your file,” Wanda said. “He wasn’t exactly sympathetic to you.”

I made a visit to his office a few weeks ago,” Charles said, “nothing’s changed. So what have we got going on here that you need a guy with half a memory to help you with?”

I mentioned UniVenture,” Paul said. “Tell me what you remember about it?”

Charles lowered his head and rested it in the palm of his hand. “It seems to me I wanted to take profits and move it into another corporation to invest apart from my dealerships. Abernathy indicated it would be a good strategy. That way the dealerships are protected. I wasn’t real keen on the investment aspect, but I wanted to have something in place to add to our dealerships’ retirement fund. Through UniVenture I wanted to increase everyone’s retirement by 20%.”

Where did the money get invested?” Paul said.

Charles lifted his head. “That’s where Abernathy and I had some sharp differences.”

How so?” Paul said.

Foreign investments,” Charles said. “I admit I’m not savvy in that way. I told him that exchange rates would complicate things and regulations of other countries might be far different from ours. We could miss something and end up losing all our investments.”

Did he ever mention anything about gaming or casinos?” Paul asked.

Oh, yeah,” Charles chuckled. “Abernathy was a big gambler, loved Vegas. I hated golfing with him; everything was a bet.”

Have you ever heard of The Delta Derringer?” Paul said.

A type of gun?” Charles said.

Paul smiled. “How about Monty’s Casino?

No,” Charles said. “Where is Monty’s?”

Louisiana,” Paul said.

What do these have to do with me?” Charles said

Well,” Paul pressed his lips and leaned forward to get closer to Charles. “UniVenture owns them.”

I thought we owned a leasing company and some warehouses,” Paul said.

Yeah,” Paul said. “UniVenture does own some.”

So this is a little deeper than owning casinos and gambling boats, right? Charles said.

Yeah,” Paul said.

I’m a fool, ain’t I?” Charles said.

No,” Drake said. “There’s nothing wrong with trusting your best friend and w…”

Wife?” Charles said.

Drake placed his hand on Charles shoulder. “It appears that way, Dad.”

So what’s going on?” Charles said.

We became suspicious of Abernathy years ago,” Paul said. “Criminal defense lawyers referred their clients to Abernathy. Abernathy would set up corporations to hide and launder drug profits. It looks like a few years ago he saw the potential for more money. He decided to get into trafficking himself. Having a squeaky clean friend with an impeccable reputation in the auto business is a good cover for moving drugs to other cities.”

I’m always trading cars with other dealerships,” Charles said.

Cars would come to your dealership from Miami,” Paul said. “Drugs would be packed into a car that will be driven to another city and your dealership in Atlanta was perfect. Abernathy used it as a hub for his distribution.”

Charles abruptly turned to Drake. “The bullet! The bullet, you found in the wall. That was meant for me. That’s when it all happened.”

What?” Drake said. “I used an old friend.”

What do you mean?” Drake said.

Forgetting, was my old friend,” Charles said. “I was always taught to forget painful things; to erase them. Marcel worked on me for weeks to teach me how to forget. She always said a healthy brain blocks out pain. Pain and bitter memories slow you down. Actors perform through pain. They become characters without pain.”

Charles smiled and stared ahead. “I feel so good. I could gamble and win. Tell me what’ you want.”

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The Sixth Man – Episode 96


thJS3IVVQPTwo weeks ago Kotterman called me and wanted to know your whereabouts,” Drake said. “I told her I didn’t know. She said I’d better find out real quick. I didn’t tell her anything about where you were. I asked for details for her concern. All she said was that you were a part of an investigation.”

That is never good,” Charles said.

Unless you have information that might move the investigation further,” Drake said.

But I don’t know anything,” Charles said.

You may know something,” Drake said, “just a piece to a puzzle.”

It sounds to me as if you trust Kotterman,” Charles said.

Yes,” Drake said. “I do. If you were the focus of the investigation they would have had you by now. They would have monitored my calls and found where you were calling from.”

So we should talk with her?” Charles said.

Yeah,” Drake said.

When?” Charles said.

She’s parked next to us,” Drake said.

Charles turned and looked through the window. In the car next to him was Kotterman and a man in his thirties with black wavy hair and a square jaw. Charles motioned with his head to join them in his car. They got in the back seat.

Hello, Wanda,” Charles said.

Charles,” Wanda said. “It’s good to see you. This is agent Burk, Paul Burk.

Paul reached over the seat and shook Charles’ hand. “I’ve heard a lot about you, Mr. Abbot.”

I take it you met my son already,” Charles said.

We met yesterday,” Drake said.

It sounds like there’s a lot more to this than what I’m aware,” Charles said.

If we knew a lot we wouldn’t need your help,” Paul said.

You are aware I’ve had issues with memory loss,” Charles said. “Has Drake brought you up to date?”

I think we have a fairly accurate picture of you,” Paul said. “It must be agonizing for you.”

It’s getting better,” Charles said. “Are you aware of my military record?”

Wanda cleared her throat. “Actually, Charles, after I directed you to Ft. Harrison I did a bit more digging on your case. Your name was cleared over twenty years. The Army tied to contact you, but Wilson Gentry seemed to disappear. The whole file laid dormant until I started snooping around.”

I just couldn’t get you out of my mind. I knew there was something more to you than a guy alleged to kill a fellow soldier. I filed a more complete requisition and found out some interesting things about you, but none as interesting as what your son has told me.”

Well,” Charles breathed a heavy sigh and melted into his seat said, “what are we doing together here and now? Wait give me a minute. I have a lifetime of guilt to shed.”

He rubbed his face and Drake clasp Charles arm. “You’re innocent.”

But I had the guilt stashed somewhere in me,” Charles said, “gnawing like undiagnosed cancer.”

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The Sixth Man – Episode 95


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.

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