Archive | April 2014

Bad Fall – Part 53

Bad Fall

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.”

“Right.”

“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

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Bad Fall – Part 52

Bad FallFrank and Marka almost make it. They’re SO CLOSE! Until there’s a knock at the door and his former commanding officer, Colonel Shay, appears accompanied by two junior officers. Their presences isn’t at all welcome, which Frank makes readily apparent.

“We talked about this extensively, Arnold. I’m not coming back.”

“Not even if your country needs you?” Lieutenant-Colonel Anonymous said.

“Sir, my country needs all the help it can get, but I gave already. Got the scars to prove it. Now, what’s so goddamn important you scope me out in the middle of the night and interrupt my private time with my lady?”

Shay stood, offering Marka his chair. She smiled, but stood near Frank, taking his arm. The Colonel sat once more, frowning slightly.

“You’ve become of interest. . . .”

“To whom?” Frank demanded. “And why am I just finding this out?”

“We’ve had you under surveillance. . . .” The Major interjected. Shay shot him a look and he clammed up.

“And you didn’t think it was important to tell me this, Arnold? Thanks. I love being unwitting bait.”

“That’s an ugly accusation,” Shay replied, sipping his coffee.

“But an accurate one. Who’s interested in me and why?”

“I really can’t tell you that. . . .”

“Look,” Frank said, stepping forward aggressively. “My life’s in shambles at the moment. My office, my car and my home have been violated. Someone died. . . .”

“Who was that, by the way?” Marka asked.

The three officers gave her a gimlet eye expecting her to be quiet. She didn’t let it stop her. “Frank has a right to know who’s coming after him. He has a right to know why someone broke into his house. And don’t you think it matters to someone—other than us, how that a man died?”

“Miss Ventimiglia,” Lieutenant-Colonel began.

“Doctor,” she interrupted. “I worked hard for my title, just as you worked hard for yours. I expect to be treated with respect and addressed appropriately.”

“I think we got off on the wrong foot,” Colonel Shay said calmly.

“Do you think so?” Frank said with a grin. “And here I thought we were all getting along so well. Enough with the cloak and dagger shit, Arnold! Just tell me plain.”

“With all due respect,” the Major began. “We don’t know the lady’s clearance.”

The Lieutenant-Colonel flashed him a look that could have meant anything. Marka interpreted it as saying that he did know and the other guy needed to shut up.

“He knows,” she nodded at the Lieutenant-Colonel. “You know I’ve worked with the State Department and Veteran’s Administration. Part of my research for my doctorate pertained to memory loss in soldiers who’d experienced physical or emotional trauma. In fact, it’s possible that my clearance exceeds yours,” she said pointedly to the Major.

The Lieutenant-Colonel smiled. “Good guess. It doesn’t exceed mine.”

“I wouldn’t expect it to since I’m guessing that the uniform and the rank are bogus. I think you outrank everyone in this room—or, if you don’t outrank Shay, you’re in a line of work where you know about all there is to know.”

He shifted uncomfortably under her scrutiny.

Marka continued. “You don’t like me. You think I’m dangerous and I hit way to close to the truth. Did you think because I’m a girl I wasn’t smart enough to suss you out?” She rolled her eyes. “Would you guys get a new shtick, please? This one’s old and says very little about the progressive attitude of the modern Army.”

She took her coffee cup to the kitchen and put it in the sink. The men stared at one another. Frank was less shocked than the others, but not much.

Marka continued to surprise him. That she’d caught the Lieutenant-Colonel and Shay by surprise as well, pleased him.

“Well?” Shay addressed the Lieutenant-Colonel. “Clark, this is crazy. We’re dancing in circles. Be straight with them.”

The Lieutenant-Colonel reddened. Lips pursed, he stood abruptly. “Fine. You’re wrong, Doctor, I don’t outrank Colonel Shay.”

“But you do out-spook him,” Marka said with a decisive nod. “Thought so.”

“Out-spook?” The Major was still trying to catch up.

“Get on board, would you, Phil? Jesus, it’s like talking to a stump,” Clark snapped.

“No need to be insulting,” Phil rejoined. “Just tell them, already. This is ridiculous. We’ve been here ten minutes and all we’ve succeeded in doing is piss each other off.” He stood, advancing with his hand extended to Marka. “Doctor Ventimiglia, I’m Major Phillip. Lieutenant-Colonel Clark and I work with Colonel Shay. Frank was part of our team, though we never met directly.”

“Who mined the road?” Marka asked, taking the Major’s hand.

“Excuse me?”

“Don’t be coy. You know exactly what I’m talking about. Does all this have anything to do with the death of Frank’s brother-in-law?”

Phil blinked at her, wide eyed.

“Can we start over?” Frank said. “Like at the beginning without the hedging?”

“Good idea,” Shay said. “He’s Phil, he’s Clark. Now that we all know who we are, let’s talk about this. Marka, good guess. This does have to do with that incident.”

© Dellani Oakes

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Bad Fall – Part 51

Bad FallMany apologies, my friends. I’ve been so busy editing my third sci-fi novel, I didn’t realize this had run out! Without further delay, here is part 51 of Bad Fall.

Frank and Marka have just gotten home from visiting his parents. It was a fun visit, but Marka’s mother calls, creating a bit of a stir. Her premonition prompted Marka to tell Frank to call someone named Shay. It’s not a very welcome announcement. Colonel Arnold Shay was Frank’s commanding officer.

Tired of being cramped on the couch, Frank carried her to the bedroom. He set her down, removing her shoes. His hands caressed her feet and ankles, moving up under the leg of her pants. He set the shoes reverently on the table near the bed.

Marka giggled at that. “Do you always set a woman’s shoes on the table when you make love?”

“Only the really sexy ones. . . . . shoes that is.”

“My shoes turn you on?”

He glanced at them, shrugging. “Not really. But I find your breasts intoxicating.” To emphasize that, he kissed both of them—repeatedly. “And this, magic. . . .” His hand slid between her legs.

Marka was hot and wet. He could feel it through her clothing. Enough playing around, he wanted her too much. He finished undressing her and himself in record time.

“Condom?” She asked as he finished.

“Um. . . .” He had to think about that one. This wasn’t his bedroom at home, which was well stocked. Did he have any? “Yes!”

He unzipped his shaving kit. He remembered having packed a few in there when they went by his place—just in case—to be prepared. He was just about to rip it open with his teeth when someone knocked on the door.

“God dammit!” Frank yelled. “Can’t you leave me alone for five fucking minutes?”

“I dunno, kid. Haven’t tried. Put your pants back on and open up before I open it for you.”

“Colonel Shay?” He headed to the door.

“Frank!” Marka tossed him his jeans.

He shut the bedroom door behind him rather more loudly than he should have. “Coming!” Well, I would’ve been in about an hour. . . .

Frank opened the door to find his former commanding officer in the hallway with two other officers.

“I wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow,” Frank said ungraciously.

Shay pushed passed him. “Tell your lady friend to join us.”

“What makes you think I’ve got a lady here?”

“Cause nothing puts that tone in a man’s voice except coitus interruptus.”

The other men laughed. Frank blushed slightly.

“I’ll see if she’s dressed.”

“Put your nickers on, son. That denim’ll rub ’em raw—state they’re in.”

“Be out in a few,” Frank said. “You can fix coffee.” He pointed to the kitchen, nodding at the lowest ranking officer, who happened to be a Major.

The other man smirked, moving toward the kitchen. He banged a few cupboards and clattered about for several minutes as Frank tapped on the bedroom door.

Marka was dressed and putting on her shoes when Frank walked in. He dropped his pants and put on his boxers. Marka watched him dress with longing. She tried to speak, but his naked body was very distracting.

“Come meet the guys,” Frank said, holding out his hand.

Marka ran fingers through her tousled hair. Frank kissed her one last time.
“I’m so sorry.”

“Me too.”

They walked to the living room hand in hand. The coffee finished brewing. Marka found cups as the men stared at one another. Frank leaned against the console TV arms and ankles crossed.

“We’d be more comfortable in the sitting room,” he said.

“I hardly think we want to do that,” Shay said, frowning slightly. “Why aren’t you home?”

Frank told him the one minute version of the last few days. Shay nodded, accepting a cup of coffee from Marka with a distracted smile.

“This must be Dr. Ventimiglia.”

“And you know about me—why?”

“Frank mentioned you in passing,” Shay said evasively.

“Right. I suppose you know all about me now. My research and education?

My proclivity for red and my cup size?”

Shay chuckled while the other men looked uncomfortable.

“Thirty-eight C,” she told the Lieutenant-Colonel as she handed him his coffee.

“Dossier said it was thirty-eight and a half,” the Lieutenant-Colonel replied.

Marka flashed him a curious look. He was right, dammit. Smart ass. “You did look me up! You bastard!” She threw a napkin at him.

“Doing my job, Doctor. Nothing more.”

“Where’s Liz? You and she are usually joined at the hip,” Frank asked Shay about his assistant.

“She’s on vacation. She had some personal business to take care of in Florida,” Shay replied.

“Pity. She can always be counted on the jazz things up. Are you going to introduce us, Colonel?” Frank asked.

“My companions would prefer to remain anonymous,” Shay replied.

Frank eyed him critically, arms still crossed defensively, eyes wary. “Not sure I feel like chatting with Major and Lieutenant-Colonel Anonymous. I’m not in the game anymore.”

“I can activate you anytime I want, Francis. You’ve got some skills I badly need.”

© Dellani Oakes

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