The Sixth Man – Episode 85

Snapshot

Ruth disappeared inside the house.

So tell me about yourself, Billy,” Willard said.

Well,” Billy said. “Some of the stuff is all new to me in a way. I don’t know how to explain it, but my life has been all about forgetting where I came from and taking on a new life. Shortly after leaving here decades ago Marcel gave me the name Wilson Gentry and about 7 years later I took on the name Charles Abbot. That’s the name I lived with for over 37 years. For a brief period I was Steve Joseph. Before I was Joseph I was just a guy living on a park bench.”

You need a scorecard,” Willard said. “That’s five.”

What’s wrong, Billy,” Willard said. “You look so gloomy all the sudden.”

There’s one more,” Billy said. “Apparently someone who sold me to Marcel got me someplace. I was probably born to an unwed mother and passed around until I found my way to Marcel.”

How old were you when Marcel got you?” Willard said.

I’m not sure,” Billy said, “but I’m thinking before the age of five. I just have no memory of anything before Marcel.”

Did you ever think that you may have a memory, but repressed that also?” Willard said.

It’s crossed my mind.” Billy said.

They talked for awhile about what each remembered about Alicia.

Ruth came out on the porch. “The table’s set, but I have something for you.” She handed Billy a color snapshot.

Billy looked at it. “It’s me and Alicia sitting on the bumper of your brand new Ford.”

That was taken the day before her death,” Willard said.

We looked happy,” Billy said.

You should be,” Ruth said. “There is nothing to compare to the love of two fourteen year olds; first real love, it‘s a love that lasts forever.”

Billy relaxed. He shoulders slumped. It was like the end of a journey. He seemed content.

It is yours,” Ruth said, “take it with you.”

I can’t…” Billy said and changed his mine, “yes, I can. I really want it.” He smiled and gently placed it in the inside lapel pocket of his jacket.

Let’s have a bite to eat,” Ruth said holding the door open.

We can talk some more over a meal,” Willard said. “What are we having, dear?”

Vegetable soup and toasted cheese,” Ruth said.

My favorite,” Billy said. “Alicia made it for me one day.”

Well,” Ruth said, “I had to help. She was not the best cook, but she was making improvement.”

A flower that never quite bloomed,” Willard said.

They sat at the table and Willard offered a prayer. “Lord, thank you for the meal and bringing Billy back our way. Keep him safe and may he find what he looks for. Amen.”

It’s homemade soup,” Ruth said. “The vegetables are out of my garden.”

And the meat is the neighbor’s dog,” Willard smiled.

Willard!” Ruth chided. “That might make Billy sick.”

I’m okay,” Billy said. “I know he’s kidding.”

About what?” Willard said.

Willard,” Ruth said.

They had a pleasant meal with good conversation.

While Ruth collected to dinnerware Willard said, “So what’s next for you.”

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The Sixth Man – Episode 84

The Fire

th4KK9MKOQBilly saw from a distance the smog hung over Los Angeles like the gloom of the aftermath of a city under attack. Soon he was a part of it. He found Colden Avenue and drove to Willard’s and Ruth’s home.

They sat on the porch enjoying a golden California sunset.

Billy turned into their drive. As he walked near the porch they both started to stand. “Please stay seated,” he said.

Pull up a chair for yourself, Mr. Smith,” Willard said.

Thank you,” Billy said and lifted a chair and sat it in front of them. He shook their hands and sat.

Did you have a chance to visit with your mother?” Ruth said.

Yes,” Billy said, “but I found some important information; first, she is not my mother and second, I am now able to recall vividly events that will be of importance to you.”

Is it about Alicia?” Willard said.

Yes,” Billy said.

Let me state that the woman in Vinton is bitter and vile,” Billy said.

We always assumed that,” Willard said.

And along with that she is a liar,” Billy said.

That only makes sense,” Ruth said.

This will be difficult for me to talk about,” Billy said. “It laid dormant in my mind for years. It was held secret in some respects for my own protection and also by the urging of who I believed to be my mother. If you want me to make statements to the police I will be more than willing.”

It’s been too long ago.” Willard said. “We don’t want our remaining days to be centered around a trial. We want peace and want the truth, that – we can live with.”

Alicia was the sweetest girl I have ever known,” Billy said. “She was kind, gentle, and understanding. She befriended me because that was who she was. I loved her as much as a fourteen year old boy could and she told me she loved me.”

Her nature and natural beauty did not escape the man who I thought was my father. He became attracted to her in a perverse way. She told me he made advances toward her. I talked to him privately. He said he was only having fun and teasing, but you don‘t do that. I caught him leering at her and one night trying to watch her undress. It was all very sadistic and sickening.”

He could not help but talk about her all the time. He bought little gifts and trinkets for her. Marcel became jealous. It was the source of many heated arguments.”

I asked Alicia to stay away and she did. I came over to your house or we met at school or the pizza place a couple of blocks away.”

Pete’s,” Ruth said.

Yes,” Billy said. “That was it.”

One Saturday,” Billy continued. “I thought Dad had to go to work. I thought Mom drove him to work. I mowed the lawn and Alicia came across the street when I finished. I wheeled the lawnmower inside the garage and she came in with me. We talked and laughed for a while. She smiled at me and I kissed her and she kissed me back. We kissed a couple more times and just suddenly stopped. All of the sudden I thought of flowers. I told Alicia to wait right there in the garage; I had a gift I wanted to give her. I ran out of the garage to the other side of the house. There were flowerers there. I picked some and came back to the garage.”

I just wanted to see her alone standing in the garage. I wanted to see if she was smiling about the kiss. I looked through the window. My dad was trying to force himself on her. She struggled. I ran for your house. I heard this whoosh. I turned around and flames came from the window. I ran to the door. Alicia was on the floor consumed by fire. Dad was trying to make it to the front of the garage. Nothing could be done for either. Mom stood behind me. She blocked my way to the phone. Eventually I got around her and called the fire department.”

She tossed five gallons of gas on them and struck a match,” Billy said.

Willard and Ruth held each other and sobbed. Billy hung his head and burst into tears.

Mom grabbed me and told me if I didn’t forget what I saw it would drive me crazy and I’d someday kill myself over it,” Billy said. “She told me to give it time and you will not have to live with it. Just give it time. She was right. Suddenly it was gone. I forgot it.”

I’m sorry you have to remember,” Willard said.

I’m glad I could bring you something that will bring you peace,” Billy said. “She was a good girl.”

We knew that,” Ruth said. “And we knew you were a good boy too.”

It is strange,” Billy said, “it is as if it all happened yesterday. It’s not a distant memory.”

It isn’t for us either,” Willard said. “We always thought the memory would fade until it seemed like their might be some doubt that it happened.”

Ruth reached over and rested her hand on Billy’s knee. “Have you had supper?”

Billy grinned. “Haven’t had a bite all day.”

Have supper with us, Billy,” Ruth said.

It will be a pleasure,” Billy said.

You and Willard sit out her and talk for awhile and I’ll fix us something,” Ruth said.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 83

thZI64K9NFA Piece

The further he drove the clearer his memory of events. One by one in a very natural and peaceful way they returned.

That necklace is telling me something,” Billy said to himself. “It has been with me all along, telling me who I am.”

He gave thought to who he believed at one time was his mother. “There was never a moment of tenderness from her only solitude. I think she wanted to love and waited to love, but she got tired of waiting. She fed and clothed me.”

Billy found a motel not far from Vinton. It was a night of staring at the ceiling and tracing his life from Los Angles to the Army.

The next day after breakfast and three hours on the road heading back to Los Angles Billy’s phone rang.

Hello,” Billy said.

Hi, Dad,” Drake said. “Where are you now?”

Taking the fast way back to LA,” Billy said. “I’m south of Sacramento.”

Did you meet your mother?” Drake said.

Turns out she’s not my mother,” Billy said.

Who is she?” Drake said.

She raised me and I always thought she was my mother,” Billy said, “but after meeting her I’m glad she’s not.”

Who is your mother and father,” Drake said. “Did you find that out?”

It turns out that I was purchased by some rich woman. She lost interest quickly in being a parent and she gave a couple thousand to the woman I met yesterday.”

Are you okay?” Drake said.

Sure,” Billy said. “I’m better off now than I was a month ago.”

Why are you heading back towards Los Angeles?” Drake said.

I’m going to tell the folks who lived across the street from me when I was a kid that their daughter was murdered by the woman I met yesterday,” Billy said. “I’m also going to tell them they had a wonderful daughter.”

What happened?” Drake said.

And Billy explained the conversation he had with Marcel Simon and what he now remembered. It was good and cathartic for him to relate it.

How are things in Atlanta?” Billy said.

Dad,” Drake said. “Do you ever recall having a weapon?”

Let me think,” Billy said, “No… Wait, I had a 9 millimeter. Kept it for personal protection. It was always in the night stand on my side of the bed. Why do you ask?”

Do you ever recall it being fired in the home?” Drake said.

The only time I fired it was out to the range once a year,” Billy said. “I‘m not sure why you‘re asking.”

Behind the bar in the basement there is picture,” Drake said. “It’s out of place. Yesterday Mom had me over for supper. I was in the basement mixing a drink. I looked behind the picture. There was a nine millimeter bullet buried in a wall stud.”

Better than my head,” Billy said.

Why do you say that?” Drake said.

I don’t know,” Billy said, “just thought it was funny.” Billy paused.

What’s wrong, Dad?” Drake said.

Nothing,” Billy said. “I suppose there’s nothing funny about it.”

You remember something don’t you,” Drake said.

Yeah,” Billy said, “but I’m not sure what.”

Maybe I should just let you go,” Drake said.

Yeah,” Billy said. “I have some thinking to do.”

Bye, Dad,” Drake said, “be careful.”

Thanks, son,” Billy said.. “Ill keep my eyes on the road.”

The road was long with scenery not seen. Thoughts and remembrances moved with methodic precision as if orchestrated. Peace came over him. He breathed the air of a free man. His lungs filled with hope, calm, and contentment. Yes, there was that nagging unknown as to who he really was, but now a dark and mysterious string of years was now available for examination and context to other parts of his life. For the first time he felt that the pieces were now at hand to begin to define who he was.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 82

Throw-Away

Why look so glum,” she said, “you were too weak to live with it. I did you a favor. I left you at a children’s home for awhile,” she said. “but I took you back. That should count for something.”

Why?” Billy said.

Never mind that,” she said. “You enlisted in the Army as soon as you got out of high school and that was the last I saw of you.”

Why did you change my name to Wilson Gentry?” Billy said.

To keep the police off our trails,” she said.

Why?” Billy said.

I was afraid of being a suspect,” she said. “The busybodies across the street didn’t believe their daughter was the slut she was.”

She wasn’t a slut,” Billy said defiantly. “She was a kind and gentle girl.”

A slut,” she said, “no better than me.”

What happened?” Billy said.

A scowl rested across her face. “My husband was infatuated with her, a little girl, he was over 20 years her age. He gave her gifts and wrote love poems about her. I caught them together in the garage. I kicked over a five gallon can of gasoline and tossed a match to it, slammed the garage door, and let it explode inside.”

Billy’s head dropped and he grasp his face with his hands.

That’s what happens to sluts and perverts,” she said.

I remember,” Billy said painfully. “It wasn’t that way. I remember. I remember.”

You don’t remember anything,” she said bitterly.

My father dragged her into the garage,” Billy said. “I watched through the window. I ran across the street to get her dad. That’s when I heard the explosion. I ran back and opened the door. I remember. You were standing in the back door of our house smiling. I ran inside and called the fire department.”

All the sudden you remember,” she said suspiciously.

What part am I missing?” Billy said.

It was a crime of passion,” she said. “You can’t convict a woman on something like that.”

Alicia confided in you, Mom,” Billy said. “She told you that Dad was making her feel uncomfortable and that he had asked her to run off with him. She was reaching out to you for help and you killed her along with Dad because of his obsession over her. She had nothing to do with it. It‘s coming back to me now. You manipulated me.”

It was for your own good,” she said.

Billy stood and walked toward the car.

Are you going to report this to the police in LA?” she said.

I’ll tell her parents,” Billy said, “but as for me, I’m going to let her rest.”

They’ll turn me in, you know.” she said.

That’s something you can lay awake at night wondering, wondering if the next knock on the door, the next slam of a car door, or next car you hear pull in the park is the police,” Billy said. He opened the car door. “You made me forget once before. I was very young. It was before I started to school. I was crying and you told me to forget. What were you telling me to forget?”

She snarled. “You weren’t mine or your Dad’s. You was a throw-away – garbage.”

How did you get me?” Billy said.

Before we moved into our last house in LA we lived in a better neighborhood, because I was an up-and-comer. There was this little rich bitch that lived next to us. She bought you and decided she didn’t want you. She didn’t know what to do so she paid us $2,000 to take you. After a while we didn’t know what to do with you. You had no personality so we couldn’t get you in the movies. Butch kind of got attached to you so I let him keep you that way I didn’t have to give him a child.”

You don’t know where I came from,” Billy said.

Not a clue,” she said.

Hope you enjoy the strawberries,” Billy said.

The chain,” she said, “around your neck.”

Billy grabbed it.

It came with you,” she said.

Thanks,” Billy said. He opened the car door and slid in. He gave her a quick glance hoping for some sign of affection. He drove away empty.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 81

thCQ3HVREUMeeting Marcel Simon

A little more than a quarter mile past the intersection stood a mobile home park. Billly turned in and stopped at a mobile home with the number 3 plastered on the front. Beside the mobile home an old lady in a flowered housecoat sat in a lawn chair scowling at Billy as he approached.

Are you Mrs. Smith,” Billy said.

She stared at him without a reply.

He handed her the strawberries. She did not reach for them, glared suspiciously from the strawberries to Billy.

I heard you like strawberries,” Billy said.

Who told you that?” she scowled.

Your son, Billy,” Billy said.

I don’t have a son named Billy,” she said.

What about Wilson Gentry?” Billy said.

Are you him?” she said

Yes,” Billy said.

Good,” she said. “I was afraid you was the police.”

Can I sit the strawberries on the steps,” Billy said, “and may I sit down?”

Whatever pleases you,” she said.

Billy sat the strawberries on the weatherworn wooden deck and sat on the steps.

What is it you want?” she said.

I want to know what happened,” Billy said. “What happened back in Los Angles? Well that‘s not quite right. I want to know about me. For the last few months I‘ve been crisscrossing the country looking for who I am. I don‘t know. I thought if anyone could help me it would be you.”

You mean you don’t know what happened in Los Angeles?” she said.

No,” Billy said.

How did you find me?” she said.

A lady named Ruth who lived across the street from us,” Billy said. “She and her husband have kept tabs on you all these years.”

Did you tell them anything,” she said.

How could I?” Billy said. “I know nothing.”

Good boy, Billy,” she said, “I could always depend on you to keep secrets.”

What happened in Los Angeles?” Billy said.

If you don’t know I ain’t tellin’ ya,” she said.

Than tell me about you,” Billy said, “I want to know about you and who you are.”

I’m a lady of the evening in my evening years,” she said, “how’s that?”

Billy forced a sympathetic smile. “Life must have been tough for us.”

Do you have any idea who I was?” she said. “I was on my way to the top, Marcel Simon. I was in some movies. They said I had it, but the roles didn’t come. They said I had to wait my turn.”

What movies were you in?” Billy said.

Low budget stuff,” she said.

I’d like to know so I could watch them,” Billy said.

What kind of world do you live in?” she said.

I don’t understand,” Billy said.

You really don’t know do you?” she said.

You could fill me in,” Billy said.

We left LA in a hurry,” she said. “A terrible accident happened. My husband was messing around with that two bit 14 year old hussy across the street. They were in the garage, that’s where he took her and there was a gasoline explosion. They were burned alive; pervert man and slutty girl.”

We took off for Sacramento,” she said. “You couldn’t get it out of your head. I told you just to wipe it from your mind, over and over again. It’s mind over reality. You can wish away reality.”

Billy looked of in the distance. He wondered if she had conditioned him to overcome the pain of reality with simply putting it out of his mind.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 80

th[10]Strawberries

I wonder what she is like,” Billy said to himself. “Do we resemble one another. I wonder if she has photos. Will she share some childhood memories. I want to have a mother and father so bad. That is what I’ve missed in my life. You have to know you come from somewhere and someone. Is it too much to ask where and who?”

Ruth seemed to hate her. I hope she is a good woman and that circumstances led her to desperation. I will be understanding. She raised me the best she probably could.”

Billy filled his heart with expectation of good and the vision of an old lady longing to see her long last son. He smiled. “I’m finally coming home.”

That is what this is all about,” Billy said. “Finding out who I am, finding my home, finding myself. Few have that quest. I’m fortunate, because now I can appreciate how important it is.”

In Bishop, California he stopped at a diner. He sat at the counter.

You sure look happy today,” a middle aged waitress said.

Yep,” Billy said. “I think this is going to be a good day.”

Well, what can we getcha,” she said.

A big thick juicy hamburger, lettuce, tomato, onion, and mustard and a strawberry milkshake,” Billy said.

Sounds like a celebration,” she said.

Yep,” Billy said. “I’m going to see my mom. I haven’t seen her in nearly 35 years.”

She jotted the order on her pad and passed it through a window to the kitchen. “There’s a gift shop a couple of doors down, you might want to pick something out for her.”

Yeah,” Billy said. “Never thought of that. What would you get?”

Something she might like,” she said. “What do you remember that she liked?”

Billy’s glee turned somber. “Men, I remember a lot of men around. You know, sometimes a couple a day. I suppose more. I didn’t stick around when it started.”

The waitress stood not knowing what to do.

Can you just make it to go,” Billy said. “I’m sure hungry, but I’m not sure I can keep it down.”

The waitress poked her head into the kitchen window, “Make that last burger to go.”

Billy laid a twenty dollar bill on the counter. “Keep the change. I’m stepping outside. If you don’t mind just let me know when it’s ready.”

I’ll bring it to you ,” she said.

Thanks,” Billy said.

He leaned against his car staring at his reflection in the diner’s window. He wondered if it was really him he gazed at or someone else. It was difficult to connect the image with his own awareness.

Soon the order came. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to eat at a booth?”

I’m sure,” Billy said.

Be careful,” the waitress said.

Thanks,” Billy said.

Moments later he was on the road again. The burger was good and the strawberry shake even better. “Strawberry shakes,” Billy smiled, “Mom and I picked fresh strawberries and made shakes. I‘ll find her fresh strawberries.”

As Billy drove he struggled with a thousand thoughts, none stayed long enough for him to contemplate and understand completely. “It will all slow down someday. Then I can pick it all apart.”

Mom was a whore,” Billy whispered. “I may have had several possibilities as far as a father is concerned. Not good, not good.”

It was in a small town named Sierraville that Billy spotted as store that displayed fresh fruits. He stopped and purchased two small baskets and drove on.

There was nothing familiar about the surroundings. It was beautiful country. Mountains gently protruded in the distant landscape. Soft clouds hung overhead. Plains dotted with cattle and green meadows carpeted the expanse between the mountains. The road became flat and straight. It came to a dead end. To the right lay Vinton.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 79

thMXGQA6XIRoadside Chat

Billy found a motel room for the night and early the next morning drove north to Vinton. At times he experienced frustration; something in his subconscious was only allowing bits and pieces trickle into the conscious. There were huge gaps. It was like driving in the fog and coming across a clear spot and than back into the fog for miles before another clear spot appeared. There was no connection, thread, or logical sequence. “It is not logical,” Billy murmured. “You grow up with parents and family. You move and stay connected to something. My life has been interrupted from the start. It‘s like I have not baseline or point of reference.”

He dialed Drake.

Hello, Dad,” Drake answered.

How’s things going?” Billy said.

Yesterday I got a real grilling from Abernathy,” Drake said. “He demanded I tell him where you are. I told him I had no idea. I told him the last time we talked you were strange and was going on some sort of quest to purge your soul.”

That was good,” Billy chuckled.

It’s fun playing with him,” Drake said. “He fancies himself the master of shrewdness. He’s on the other end of it and doesn’t take it so well.”

What about your Mom?” Billy said.

She’s been asking too, but a little more tender.” Drake said. “I give her the same story.”

Dad, could you pull over to the side of the road for a moment,” Drake said. “There is something I want to talk about and it’s serious.”

Sure,” Billy said. “I’m in the middle of nowhere. I had no idea California has so much nothing to it.”

Billy turned into a dirt lane and stopped.

Okay,” Billy said. “I’m off the road.”

A couple of days ago I met with a lawyer from another firm,” Drake said. “We were trying to negotiate a settlement for our clients. It really got heated between us. All the sudden he gets personal, very unprofessional. He said Abernathy and my mother had been having an affair.”

Billy stared down the long span of highway that led north.

Are you alright, Dad?” Drake said.

Is Abernathy married?” Billy asked.

Divorced five years ago,” Drake said.

Well,” Billy said. “I’ve been gone for three years. Your Mom might have assumed I was dead and wanted to get on with her life.”

But didn’t she tell you?” Drake said. “That seems like something she might discuss.”

Maybe she was concerned about my reaction and how it might hinder my recovery,” Billy said.

Dad,” Drake said. “The guy said it had been going on for several years.”

Drake,” Billy said. “I know how this must hurt you, but I still don’t remember anything about being married or loving my wife. It’s strange, but I feel no hurt, deceit, or jealousy.”

I guess this does have a silver lining,” Drake said.

How long have you known or at least been suspicious, Drake?” Billy said.

What makes you ask that?” Drake said.

I can tell you’re a good lawyer,” Billy said, “but you’re an even better son. I know you’ve been balancing the two. You are protecting a client and father.”

Not really, Dad,” Drake said. “When you left we weren’t on good terms. I told you I never wanted see you again.”

We often say things in the heat of the moment and things we don’t mean,” Billy said.

No, Dad,” Drake said, “I meant it and I thought that’s why you disappeared.” Drake began to sob.

When this is all over, son, remind me to hug you and never let go,” Billy said. “I’m certain what you said had nothing with my leaving or my amnesia.”

Billy listened to Drake blow his nose and clear his throat.

What was our disagreement about?” Billy said.

You know,” Drake said. “Something that starts from nothing and builds. Something very unprofessional,” Drake chuckled. “You would not share anything from your past. It was important to me. I thought you were being smug and secretive and not trusting me and it went on from there. Now I know you had nothing to report.”

Someday,” Billy said. “We’ll both know the whole story and maybe at the same time. Until then let me tell you what I learned in LA and why I’m going to Vinton.”

They talked for a half hour and Billy drove north again toward Vinton.

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