The Sixth Man – Episode 108

Manfred's-BurinHway-850[1]The Road To Burin

The plane started it’s approach and Charles felt an excitement in his chest, but his eyes were heavy. He had experienced this many times before; working hard and late on a project for his business, being driven by adrenalin and the desire to succeed. This was a situation he could not force or maneuver. It was beyond his control. He would find a hotel, rest, and rent a car. Tomorrow he would be in Burin.

Charles was up with the sun and on the road. He drove while sipping a Tim Horton’s coffee and pulling on a bagel.

Newfoundland was rugged and green. Small sloughs sprinkled the landscape along the Trans Canada Highway. Only a half hour from the airport Charles felt he was in complete wilderness. No homes were visible from the highway. The only life was on the highway.

Charles put his life on hold. He had no thoughts of the future. He did not think about the business, investments, or any sort of plans. First he must put Burin behind him whether there was something there or not.

His mind wondered. ‘If the medallion is a coordinate that leads me to Burin, how did this all come about? Are there people there who gave me away? Was I an illegitimate child, an inconvenience and given away? Am I a secret lovechild? Or perhaps this is all nothing.’

He speculated on each question and realized that sometime, most of the time, things are seldom driven by reason and the plausible. It is often the thing not thought and unexplored. Nothing in his life to this point had followed a straight line of reason. His life was made up of a strange sort of unexplained and unforeseen episodes. ‘Lives have beginnings, middles, and ends; my life has been a series of middles. It has been as if I was cast for a play that had already started and asked to create a role from nothing.’

And I haven’t done so bad,” Charles smiled.

Before turning southwest on to Highway 210 and he stopped for another coffee. Not knowing where the next gas station might be he filled the tank. He was soon on the Burin Peninsula called by locals “the boot.”

There was a serene and unaffected majesty to the land. It was a land that was in the way of getting to the continent and merely passed over or sailed around. Charles thought of it as a land settled by people who did not have the energy or adventure to go further. It was a land without passion.

It was just past 11:00 AM when Charles pulled into a gas station to use the restroom. Again he filled the tank. He was in Marystown, less than 20 miles from Burin.

Before pulling onto the highway he checked his map more closely. The exact point of the coordinates on the medallion was just off shore a hundred yards or so. That is what baffled him; why were the coordinates just off shore? That was his argument that it may not be a coordinate; why would some one give a coordinate just off shore?

The coordinates were in a small cove named Back Cove.

In Marystown Charles crossed a bridge, his final leg on his journey. On the other side of the bridge a sign directed up straight ahead to Burin. Just seeing Burin on a road sign created an anxious fear within him. His stomach churned as if taking a plunge on a rollercoaster.

The road hugged a river-like body of water to his left. It was dotted with small well-kept houses. Suddenly the road turned from southwest to directly south. Again he found himself a rural setting with small pines on both sides and where houses were sparse. Clusters of homes and businesses suddenly appeared as if to let you know the land was not forgotten by time and progress.

To his left huge hills folded into the water to his right. He was getting close. The excitement was intoxicating.

He came to a raise in the road.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 107

th3HVGAUTSThe Newfoundland Book 

There was nearly a three hour layover in Toronto. Charles relaxed in his seat in the terminal and checked his itinerary. He would not arrive in St. Johns until after midnight. He purchased a book about Newfoundland at a bookstore. He sat in a restaurant and ordered a sandwich and beer and started to read the book.

A waiter in his mid twenties brought the sandwich and beer. “Your first trip to Newfoundland?”

Charles smiled politely. “Yeah, you ever been there?”

I’m from St. Johns,” the waiter said. “The book you have there is far more exciting than Newfoundland itself. If you like cold damp weather it‘s the place to be.”

What about fog?” Charles said.

Fog is the weather,” the waiter said, “at least in St Johns and the east coast.”

Have you ever been to Burin?” Charles said.

Heard of it, but can’t say that I’ve been there,” the waiter said. “It’s just one of those little fishing villages that no one ever goes to. Is that where you are going?”

Yes,” Charles said.

You have family there?” the waiter said.

Perhaps,” Charles said.

Oh, I see,” the waiter said, “searching your roots.”

I guess you could say that,” Charles said.

Well, good luck with that,” the waiter said. “I’ll let you enjoy you’re meal. If you need anything else just get my attention.”

The book supplied little information that he was looking for, but it was good as a distraction. After the meal Charles found his gate for departure and continued reading.

There was a page having the map of all North America. Newfoundland seemed near the top of the world, sort shoved in the corner away from the rest of the continent. It was as if it weren’t meant to be, just left over material from the mainland. There was no place else for it so it was scraped together and shoved to the side. That was likely what the waiter thought also.

Charles slumped in his seat and rested the book on his chest. He tried to visualize Burin. He pictured fishing boats anchored near a small village that was alive with happy hearty people doing the work of the sea. He tried to imagine what he might find there. Perhaps nothing, perhaps the numbers on the medallion are meaningless or have a meaning far removed from his plight. For all Charles new he could have been born in a baby factory and the medallion was the only way to keep him separate.

The sun was near its setting and darkness began to slowly creep in from the east. Charles’ flight was called to board. Charles settled into his seat. He sat alone. The flight was only half full at best. The plane climbed to cruising altitude. He turned to the index in the book and found “Burin.” He turned to the page. There was a bright colorful picture of a small village teaming with small fishing boats. He smiled. It’s what he imagined. He drifted off to sleep with the book on his chest and that vision in his dreams.

It was the turbulence that awakened him. He looked out at the infinite dark with lonely specks and cluster of sparkles below.

Refreshment, sir?” the stewardess said.

Ginger ale, please,” Charles said.

She poured a cup and placed it on his tray.

How long to St. Johns?” Charles said.

We should be at the gate in about an hour and fifteen minutes,” she said. “We’re right on schedule.”

Charles smiled. “Thanks.”

But he was unsettled. Every step of his journey to find out who he was only led to other questions and deeper mysteries. He was not sure he could withstand another. Yet if he were to turn around the next morning and head back to Atlanta that would leave him always wondering.

A falling star flashed across the sky. It was almost as if he could discern the particular of burning elements and crackling embers. “What if there is someone there for me, waiting.” He turned on the overhead light and read about the southern coast of Newfoundland. He allowed his finger tips to pass over the photograph of Burin. He was certain he could feel it.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 106

thE71Z4R3BIn A Hurry

Missy pulled from the driveway and drove down the street.

Now can you tell us what this is all about?” Drake said.

The medallion,” Charles said.

The coordinates,” Drake said.

Frank Foster had his boat pulled onto the lot today,” Charles said. “He blasted a fog horn and rang a bell. I immediately had a vision of being in a small boat in the fog. It was a memory, I know it was. I gave the coordinates on the medallion to Frank and he pinpointed it in Burin, Newfoundland and that’s where I’m going.”

Dad,” Missy said. “Isn’t this a little to fast?”

I got to get there,” Charles said. “It’s like a dam about to burst. I got to get there.”

But what if Frank read the coordinates wrong?” Missy said.

There is something there or not,” Charles said. “but I feel a pull like I’ve never felt before. It just won’t let go of me.”

So how the heck do you get from here to Newfoundland?” Drake said. “I called the airlines a few minutes ago; there is a flight from Atlanta to Toronto and from there to St. Johns, Newfoundland.”

So how are you going to get to Burin?” Missy said.

Rent a car, I suppose,” Charles said.

Where will you stay?” Drake said.

I’ll get a hotel,” Charles said. “I’ve slept in foxholes and on park benches, I’m not worried about that. I just want to get there.”

Like it’s not going to go anyplace,” Missy said.

I know that,” Charles said, “but you don’t know what it’s like to be me or should I say me looking for me.”

No we don’t,” Drake said.

Yeah, Dad,” Missy smiled, “just go with it.”

Have you guys been visiting your Mom?” Charles said.

They said yes.

Keep it up, okay,” Charles said.

We will.”

We will.”

Look, you two,” Charles said, “I know this is hard for you guys to take, but in the long term you’ll feel better about it.”

But does she deserve it?” Missy said.

Yes, she does,” Charles said. “She was a really good mother to you. She just went of the rails. Abernathy came back into her life and took her for an emotional ride.”

Does that mean you and Mom will get back together?” Drake said.

No,” Charles said, “and it has a lot to do with what occurred, but she would have to live under suspicion for the rest of her life Even if I could completely forgive her she would always doubt me and mostly herself. We will never be back together, but we will always be there for you; you can trust that.”

They pulled up to the drop-off at the airport. Charles checked his watch. “Two o’clock exactly.”

They said their goodbyes and Charles checked in at the ticket counter. An hour later his flight was climbing out of Atlanta and turned north to Toronto.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 105

thRTO35EHYNew Found Land

That’s Newfoundland,” Charles said.

It’s on the coast,” Frank said. “There’s a town there.”

I can’t read it,” Charles said, “what does it say?”

It’s near a place named Burin, Newfoundland,” Frank said. “In fact it looks to me it’s just off shore. It’s in a bay.”

Charles leaned against the doorway.

What’s wrong?” Frank said.

Can you run things for awhile?” Charles said.

Yeah,” Frank said. “You going someplace?”

Yeah,” Charles said.

Burin, Newfoundland?” Frank said.

Yeah,” Charles said.

When will you be leaving?” Frank said.

As soon as I find out how to get there,” Charles said.

Charles climbed out of the boat and hurried back into the dealership. He ran up the steps to his office.

His secretary smiled, “Some boat Frank has?”

Sure is,” Charles said quickly. “Get me a one way flight to St. Johns, Newfoundland. The earliest flight you can.”

So you want time to pack,” she said.

Charles slowed down as he opened his office door. He took a deep breath. “I should slow down a bit. I can be at the airport in three hours.”

That’s what you call slowing down,” she said.

Cancel all my appointments,” Charles said.

When will you be back?” she said.

Just cancel for the next two weeks to be safe,” Charles said.

Charles went in his office and called Drake and Missy. They agreed to meet him at home and drive him to the airport.

He walked out of the office. The secretary was on the phone. She interrupted the call. “Can you catch a three o’clock flight?”

Charles looked at his watch. “Yeah, I got plenty of time.”

You have to be at the airport by two,” she said.

Like I said, I have at least five minutes to waste,” Charles said. “I’ll be there.”

Charles hurried home and quickly packed couple of bags. By the time he brought the bags downstairs to the foyer Drake and Missy arrived.

They came inside and Charles said to Drake, “Grab a bag and toss it in the trunk. Missy, you drive. Get me to the airport before two.”

Drake and Missy shrugged their shoulders and did what Charles said.

Your car?” Missy said.

Yeah,” Charles said. “Now let’s go. I’ll explain on the way.”

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The Sixth Man – Episode 104

th9T07ZOJAFog Horn

For 3 months Charles worked tirelessly at the dealership. He made a couple of visits to his other dealerships to reestablish his control and leadership. He settled into a routine; in by 6:30 AM and not leaving until after 9:00 PM. Life seemed to take on the rhythm he had grown accustomed to, only with more time at work than before. It had been at least 25 years since the term workaholic could be applied to him. It seemed as if there was nothing else.

He continued going by the name Charles Abbot.

Yet there were times, just fleeting moments he mused finding out more about his life before California; before Billy Smith. Indeed, he knew there was a life before that. His present zest for running the business seemed to intrude on any notions to move forward to find out more about who he was or is.

It was to be a festive day of sorts. Charles’ general manager, Frank Foster, purchased a boat during the winter; a forty foot cabin cruiser. It was used and needed repairs. Frank put a lot of work in it. He was having it hauled to Savannah, but was going to have it brought by the dealership for everyone to see.

Charles sat behind his desk in his office studying inventory reports. The phone rang.

Charles Abbot,”

Hey boss,” (It was Frank.) “If you’re at your desk looking over how well we did last month, stand up and look out your front window.”

Charles stood. A tractor truck was pulling a light blue cabin cruiser tuned onto the lot.

Do you see it?” Frank said.

Yeah,” Charles said, “I see it. She’s a beauty.”

We got to move a lot of inventory and sell a lot of parts and service to pay for this thing,” Frank said.

Well, get her in the water and get back to work,” Charles said.

Ahoy!” Frank said. “Look who’s at the helm.”

Charles leaned forward and saw Frank at the helm waving wildly. Charles saluted him.

Come down and take a look at her,” Frank said.

I’ll be right there,” Charles said.

Charles tossed the reports on his desk. The sound of a fog horn followed by “ding ding – ding ding” of a bell. Charles stood fast. “Fog,” he whispered. “I’m in the water.” He hesitated at a fleeting vision of being alone in a boat on water in the fog. It past as quickly as it came. He tried to recapture the image and feelings, but they were gone and the more he struggled to regain it the further away it seemed.

The fog horn and dings occurred a few more times, but they brought nothing to mind. Charles climbed aboard the boat and Frank proudly showed him all the work he put into it.

Can you read charts and coordinates?” Charles said.

Sure,” Frank said, “I spent four years in the Coast Guard.”

Charles unbuttoned his shirt under his tie. He reached inside his shirt and pulled out the medallion. “I think these are coordinates on a map, can you locate them for me?”

Sure,” Frank said and read the coordinates. “47, 03, dash, 55, 10, 30.” Frank stooped inside the cabin and pulled out a large book. He quickly turned the pages. “I’ll have it here in a second. He stopped at a page. “Repeat it to me again.”

47, 03, dash, 55, 10, 30,” Charles said.

Hmm,” Frank said, “here it is, take a look.”

Charles looked over Frank’s shoulder. It was a map of the eastern Canadian Atlantic.

Is that Labrador?” Charles said.

Yes,” Frank said, “but your coordinates are over here where my finger is.”

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The Sixth Man – Episode 103

thUJJ1GMK0A Good Woman

Drake wrote the address on a slip of paper where Gayle was staying.

Two days later Charles found the house on a quiet street in a middle class tree-lined street pf two story homes.

It was mid morning and Charles parked at the curb. The home was white with pillars holding up a roof over a small porch. It was not the house or neighborhood Gayle had been accustomed, but more than adequate. They were the homes of young executives and professionals. Gayle was used to hobnobbing with the elite of Atlanta.

Charles rang the doorbell.

Gayle answered. She quickly pressed her hand against her chest and took a deep breath. Her eyes widened with astonishment and quickly changed to fear. “Charles, what are you doing here?”

Don’t be frightened,” Charles said. “I only want to talk for a moment.”

To gloat,” Gayle said.

No,” Charles said, “Just a few questions and I’ll be on my way.”

Step in,” Gayle said cautiously.

No,” Charles said noting a reluctance, “It’s best here.”

What do you want ask?” Gayle said.

Did you ever love me,” Charles said.

Gayle appeared irritated at the question.

I want to know, Gayle. I think you owe it to me,” Charles said.

Gayle took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Yes, but not like you love a husband. You were good and kind.”

That’s it,” Charles said.

Yeah,” Gayle said. “I’m sorry.”

Don’t be,” Charles said.

Why do you say that?” Gayle said.

Because I wasn’t all the way there,” Charles said. “There was always something missing. I didn’t know it and neither did you.”

You have to understand something about me,” Gayle said. “I started out as trash and I found my way out through you. Ted Abernathy and I were lovers in school. We were a lot alike. We broke up…well we never really dated, just you know…”

Yeah,” Charles said. “I think I know.”

He was a bad boy and I was a bad girl,” Gayle said, “and when we met up again it was like fireworks. We had to be together and we had to do bad things. Now isn’t that simple.”

No,” Charles said, “it’s not. I don’t know what happened to you, but I refuse to accept you are bad. You are a good person.”

Gayle chuckled. “You keep on believing that.”

I will,” Charles said.

You’re not trying to reconcile and make our marriage work are you?” Gayle said.

No,” Charles said. “Frankly, I want as little as possible to do with you.”

What else do you want to know?” Gayle said.

What are you going to do after prison?” Charles said.

I’ll have a daughter who is a doctor, maybe she can get me a job in the hospital cafeteria,” Gayle said. “Why would you care?”

I think back,” Charles said, “to times, good times, times I never wanted to end. Walking on a beech, sitting in front of a fire, watching a sunset. Those were – well I never felt so loved and in love. I was so content even though there was always the awareness something was missing in my life. I thought it was the past, but I tend to think now it was the present.”

Is that what you came here to tell me?” Gayle said.

No,” Charles said, “it just seemed to slip out. It wasn’t even on my mind until right now.”

I think if Ted Abernathy hadn’t come along it would have been somebody else,” Gayle said. “So don’t put so much effort into over thinking things.”

Charles smiled. It was a smile they often shared. It was a smile that they both knew what the other was thinking. “You are trying to send me away feeling bad about you. I won’t buy it, not for a moment. You know that with a little effort you could have me again…”

Gayle returned the same smile. “I really don’t deserve you. It would be torture to live with you again. It would always be there.”

Yeah,” Charles said. “The best we can do for each other is leave it the way it is.”

Is that it?” Gayle said.

Not quite,” Charles said. “Several years ago I purchased a home in Belize. I wanted to spend our golden years there. It’s yours. There is a bank account with a substantial amount of money in it, it is yours also.” Charles held Gayle’s hand and lifted it to his lips and kissed it.

You’re a good man,” Gayle said.

Charles smiled politely and turned away. As he reached the bottom step her turned back. Gayle was standing at the door pressing the hand that he kissed against her heart. “You’re a good woman.”

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The Sixth Man – Episode 102

thOXPS1YYYRain

Five days passed. Charles sat alone in his house. He spent a few days at the dealership mostly hiring back old employees who Gayle and Abernathy terminated. He didn’t have time to spend with Drake. He spent two evenings with Missy. She had good news; she was accepted as an intern at a local hospital.

Now reality seemed to settle in like the fog into a valley. He was not depressed. He was sullen. Something he had not really felt in years. As he looked back on his life with Gayle she was really the spark to his abundant success. He never wanted anything more than what was needed. He thought a thriving business of empire proportions, a mansion, a plane, yacht, and exotic vacations homes would validate him in Gayle’s eyes.

It was strange when he thought about it, Gayle was masterful in making her wishes seem like his. Indeed his passion was not in the marriage and Charles reasoned that is why it went largely unnoticed by him, for if one were passionate while the other not that would have been obvious.

They talked and smiled. It was more like a friendship. His passion was for his business.

He sat alone in the sunroom on a gloomy rainy morning. Drake rapped with his knuckle on the doorjamb of the sunroom.

Charles was entranced by the small beads of rain that pooled and streamed down like a raging river.

He turned. “Drake, have a seat.”

Drake sat in a white wicker chair next to Charles.

How ya doin’, Dad,” Drake said.

I’m doing good,” Charles said. “I think the dealership will do fine.”

It’s a good place to buy a car,” Drake said.

What brings you this way?” Charles said.

It thought you’d like to know that Abernathy was talking a plea before they booked him,” Drake said. “He rolled on mom in a heart beat and she rolled on him on the second.”

Did they give them a plea?” Charles said.

Abernathy got 10 to 15 and Mom got 3 to 5,” Drake said.

For some reason none of it matters to me one way or another,” Charles said.

I really don’t think you mean that,” Drake said.

Yeah, Son,” Charles said. “Something strange flashed in my mind; just an instant of something. I’m not sure what it was.”

A lot of things have happened to you in the last few months,” Drake said. “I think it would be a good idea that you seek some sort of help.”

What makes you say that?” Charles said.

I lived with you and Mom for 18 years,” Drake said, “and I know you loved Mom and I know that while I was at home she loved you. Dad, you need to deal with it sometime or other and it will be best if you deal with it under the care of a professional.”

Let me handle this in my own way,” Charles said. “I’ve done okay so far.”

If nothing else Missy and I will be here for you,” Drake said.

Where is Gayle staying?” Charles said. “Is she locked up?”

She’s free on her own recognizant,” Drake said.

How does that happen?” Charles said.

She knows the judge,” Drake said. “His wife and Mom did a lot of charity work together.”

How much time do you think she’ll really serve?” Charles said.

Two years,” Drake said.

What then for her?” Charles said.

Do you care?” Drake said.

Yeah,” Charles said, “but not enough to be there for her. That ship has sailed.”

What then?” Drake said.

I don’t know,” Charles said, “but she is your and Missy’s mother; I’ll do something.”

You don’t have to,” Drake said.

Yeah,” Charles said, “I have to.”

Drake gripped Charles shoulder.

Where is she staying?” Charles said.

With a friend,” Drake said.

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