The arrival of his former commanding officer, Colonel Arnold Shay, hasn’t made Frank very happy. He’s particularly annoyed when Shay brings in two younger men who are obviously much more than they appear. Marka sees far more than Shay and his officers are happy about.
“Wasn’t a guess. It’s the only thing that makes sense. I think there’s a traitor in your ranks. And you think Frank knows who it is.”
“Frank does know,” Phil said.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Do you think for a second that I’d have let this drop if I knew who killed Clay and the others?”
“Do you think it’s any accident that a specialist in memory disorders, who worked with the military and has clearance only slightly lower than God, came to work here?” Clark asked nastily.
Frank’s dark eyes bored into Marka’s. “What’s he talking about?”
“Figure it out, Frank. Put the pieces together. You think this is a coincidence?” Clark continued.
“Colonel, he doesn’t know that he doesn’t remember,” Marka said to Shay.
“His mother told me tonight. . . .”
“Wait! You knew about me? All along?” Frank fought the urge to run.
Marka wouldn’t meet his accusing glare.
“This—all this—was for them? Him?” He pointed to Shay. “So, you didn’t just pull his name out of thin air?”
“I didn’t know Colonel Shay by name. I was asked to evaluate you, yes. But the job I’m doing here is real. That’s what I applied for and came for, Frank. You have to believe me.”
“Oh, because you’ve been so open and honest with me.”
Marka bit the inside of her cheek. Forcing back tears, she swallowed. “I haven’t lied to you.”
“Was going to bed with me part of the job description? Your evaluative process? Or is that just gravy? Do you do that with all your clients?”
Marka burst into tears and ran out of the room. She slammed the bathroom door. They could hear her weeping.
“She’s never met me, Frank,” Colonel Shay told him. “When we found out she was coming here, we asked her to. . . .”
“What? Get to know me? See if I’m stable?”
“No,” Clark said. “We asked her to see if she could find out what really happened that day. Don’t you remember anything? You were suspicious. Once you recovered. . . .”
“Recovered? I wasn’t injured.”
“Frank, you damn near died,” Shay said. “You left the hospital and went AWOL for three days. We found you wandering around in your hospital pajamas and you could barely remember your own name. It took weeks before you could remember the incident at all. When you did, it was totally different from the official version.”
“Maybe the official version was wrong.”
“Film crew documented it. We know what went down. It wasn’t your fault,” Phil said gently. “Before you disappeared, you told Colonel Shay you knew who did it. You wanted to find proof before you made an accusation. Then you went missing. When you came back, nothing.”
“We think you were drugged, brainwashed,” Shay said. “We asked Dr. Ventimiglia to evaluate you as a favor. She wasn’t on some sneaky, secret mission. Based on what I’ve seen, her interest in you is genuine. If you haven’t completely screwed it up, that is.”
Frank closed his eyes. Taking a deep breath, he pressed down the air with both hands. “I’m confused. What’s going on? What’s Marka’s part in this?”
“She was hired here to do just what she says, to work with Alzheimer’s patients. We sent her a letter and asked her to give us an assessment, to find out what she could, and help you remember. Whatever happened is buried deeply, Frank. We thought the lady could shake it loose.”
“Why is this so important?”
“We suspect that whoever had a part in this is going to move against you,” Clark replied. “From the looks of things, he’s already tried.”
“The red flag thing.”
“Exactly. He worked with whoever did this.”
“Whose name you don’t know.”
“Who wants me dead?”
“He wants to make sure his secret is safe.”
“So, what’s he looking for?” Frank demanded.
“Evidence. Do you remember or not? Did you leave yourself any clues?”
“Great. So, he searches my office and house, trashes my car. . . .”
“The car wasn’t part of it,” Phil interjected.
“You think my uncle did that?”
“Uncle? What are you talking about?” Shay asked.
“Ralph Penwarren. You think that he trashed my car?”
“No. Wait, he’s your uncle?” Phil was confused.
“Great-uncle. My dad is his step-mom’s grandson.”
“This has nothing to do with them. And he didn’t do your car,” Clark replied.
“It was some chick. Kinda hot. Tall, blonde. . . .”
© Dellani Oakes