Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dishonour, Chapter 9

Loryanne opened one eye. Her bed seemed far too comfortable to crawl out of this morning. As her second eye opened, she stared at the ceiling fan humming softly as whisps of cool morning air drifted down and over her. It had been a short and dreamless night. She was always happy when she didn’t dream. There hadn’t been good dreams ever since “that” night. Haunted by visions of violence and personal violations and all the pain and anger that embellished her demonic dreams, they rose like a towering wall of tortured souls screaming for salvation. It always ended the same; with her feet stuck to the ground, unable to reach out and push back the wall that closed in and smothered her muffled cries, till she woke up shaking uncontrollably.

Loryanne swung her feet out from below the duvet and sat up abruptly. No, she would not think such thoughts just now. She raised her hands above her head and yawned and stretched. Plodding her way to the bathroom, she stopped to look out the front windows at a new day dawning. The sun was strong and hot, and promised to bring a beautiful late summers day to all. Reaching the bathroom, she pulled the string at the waist of her mens’ pyjama bottoms. They fell down around her ankles and she plopped her self down on the seat.

Sitting there, her thoughts returned to last nights meeting with Phillip and the look on his face as she explained the events of her past. Well, she thought, I guess that’s one man that won’t be calling me up for a date! She started to giggle at her silly thoughts as she reached out to an empty roll of toilette paper. Damn! She reached inside the shower and turned on water till steam started to rise and fog the large mirror over the bathroom vanity. As smells of soaps and shampoos filled the bathroom, Loryanne’s mind was whirring; planning her timetable for all she had to get done today. After a stop at the office to pick up some files for an upcoming case, she had a doctors appointment to keep. She always hated her appointments with Dr. Katz, but he was the best Internal Medicine doctor there was to be found, and he had worked miracles for her after her rape.

After that, it was lunch with her brother Sam. Sam was younger than Loryanne by 2 years and she adored him. He was smart and handsome, with a good education and with an amazing array of loyal friends who were always trying to set him up with the “perfect” girl. After high school, he went on to study Police Sciences and was accepted at the Police Academy. Upon graduation, he accepted the job as a Field Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. His career was rock solid and his supervisors showered praise on the young Agent. The only thing that really bothered Loryanne was the annoying pet names that he gave everyone. In her case, it was LA. He always said that Loryanne was too long to say, and so even as a child, he would call her LA. Her constant admonishing and berating him; insisting that LA was in fact Los Angeles would not daunt him. He would only smile at her and say “ ya, well, whatever”. He was hopeless.

Loryanne climbed out of the shower and wrapped herself in a fluffy white bath towel. Wiping her hand across the steam covered mirror, she looked deep into her face and let one finger trace down the ugly scar. Why had God been so cruel? She had worked hard in school and had achieved success at a young age. She was surrounded by friends who loved her and encouraged her when she had proclaimed that she wanted to donate six months after graduation to working for Houses For Habitat. Her suitors were plentiful and she looked forward to finding the right man and raising a family. She sang in the church choir and always gleefully volunteered to help out at the Bazaars. But all that changed in the wink of an eye.

She dropped the towel to the floor and gazed at her nakedness. Who would have her now? She would never be a mother, a lover, a wife. She braced her hands on the vanity, lowered her head, and wept, almost whimpering like scared child. No arms would ever hold her in a loving embrace and kiss away the pain and tears. These cold silent walls would be her only reprieve from a cruel world. And so, Loryanne Banks was alone.

She raised her head in defiance and stared at the mirror; a flash of anger in her dark eyes. Loryanne took a deep breath, pulled the towel back around her naked body and strode out of the bathroom. A new day was here, and she was determined to make it the best day ever; a day with room for no remorse and silly self pity. No, she was stronger than that. Much stronger! Wasn’t she?

Looking for just the right thing to wear, Loryanne kept seeing Phillips startled face in her mind. Somehow, she just could not shake it. It was quite silly really; he hated her, and she him! And still, pangs of guilt at her brutal barrage on him last night haunted her. As she pulled out the gray pinstriped business suit, she held it up high to admire it and said out loud, “ I’m sure that Phillip would love me in this!” Lowering the suit, she let out an audible gasp, “ Phillip? I meant Sam! “

She flopped down on the bed and sighed as she watched the ceiling fan slowing turning in circles.

“ I don’t know what I mean anymore.”

Senator Alex McCulloch was a handsome man. His hair was cropped short, slightly greying at the temples and pulled forward in a rough finger comb. Having spent countless days in shopping mall parking lots and college campus lectures where he extolled the need for America to return to the values that made this nation great, his skin was tanned and firm from the hot Maryland sun. Although 43 years old, he looked more like a young Hollywood star.

His beliefs were strong and his bank account was short. And America loved him! His office was more like a shrine to past sports heroes and memorabilia than it was a Senators office. Dressed casually in navy blue slacks and buttoned down white shirt; less the tie; McCulloch was the epitome of laid back. His brilliance was unquestionable and his Presidential platform flawless. With impeccable credentials and an unblemished past, Alexander McCulloch was poised to usher in a new era for American history.

Unfortunately, the major industrialists were squeamish about taking on Senator Davis Flatt and his Texas cohorts. Lobbyists were hard on the trail declaring that support for McCulloch would be viewed by the future administration as in fact being an attack on the platform of the future President of the United States. That, of course, being Davis Flatt. And while never being stated, the insinuations of sanctions and withdrawal of financial support for those industries that transgressed would be serious considerations.

The American people loved McCulloch, but the American people did not award loans and bailouts. This was at best a crap shoot. The industrialists had the future of their empires to consider, and their shareholders were pushing relentlessly to get into bed with McCulloch. The unions were wavering on their support, and a large number of contract negotiations were upcoming. Time was running out, and they would have to declare their support soon. The McCulloch camp was well aware of Flatt’s influence and money. But they were also banking on the fact that industry would have to declare an allegiance quickly; bringing with it greatly needed funds.

Alex looked out his window and watched as a pigeon alighted on his window sill.

“ Oh to be as free as a bird with nary a thought to bother. You are luckier than me dear friend. A few grains of seed and a warm sill on which to perch are all that you need.”

Alex turned and stared hard at the phone.

“ Call Stan, for Christs sake, call!”

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Dishonour, Chapter 8

“ I’m Melinda’s brother. My friends call me Dan.”

As Phillip grasped the young mans outstretched hand, he noticed the family resemblance. The same soft brown eyes and dark hair. A friendly, open smile.

“ Regardless of Loryanne’s remarks Mr. Preston, the people here tonight are all victims; in much the same way you were a victim. I would like you to regard our little gathering here as a support group for victims.”

Phillip realized the irony in Dan’s remark and suppressed the urge to smile at the idea of a support group for felons.

“ I really don’t want to hear any more horror stories of who did what to whom Dan. That was not my reason for coming here tonight.”

A look of perplexity clouded Dan’s features.

“ May I ask Mr. Preston, exactly what were your reasons for accepting my sisters’ invitation to join us tonight?”

Phillip looked out around the room to the others, oblivious to the conversation going on between the two men. They milled about, sipping their wine, and partaking in lively party chat, only Loryanne looked on; a bemused smirk on her face. Phillip felt an icy chill run up his spine.

“ Mr. Preston?”

Phillip turned to the young man.

“ Ok, before we continue Dan, please stop calling me Mr. Preston. Call me Phillip. As for the reason I accepted your sisters invitation, well, I didn’t see that I really had any choice! I’m sure Melinda has all the best intentions. She seems a very nice woman. But quite frankly Dan, I was convinced that by this time I would have been arrested and charged. Make no mistake, I enjoy my freedom as much as the next guy but I was perfectly willing to accept the consequences of my actions; and still am. I make no excuses, and ask for no special consideration. I would be a liar to say that I have no regrets. But I am more than willing to live with those regrets. Unlike that Loryanne woman in there!”

Dan grabbed Phillips shoulder and looked deep into his eyes.

“ I understand perfectly Phillip, and, it’s alright. I’ll also make sure that you don’t hear anymore horror stories tonight. But please, just meet the people here. I’m sure you will see that they are all perfectly normal people who have felt the very same things you are feeling right now. Draw on their experience and resolve. You deserve a normal life Phillip; in spite of all the terrible stuff that has happened. Try to remember that. And try to also remember that we are all here to make that happen. Here, no one will judge you. We have no secrets. This is simply a circle of friends. Someone you can call at 2 in the morning when remorse sets in. Someone who will listen, and know. And, it will happen Phillip. Trust me; trust us all. We understand.”

He saw the sincerity and compassion in the young mans eyes and words. Looking past Dan, he saw Melinda. Her face showing an air of apprehension on what would follow and he suddenly felt sorry for her. The realization of all that she had done to make him welcome. Her tremendous efforts in making this a very special evening. A sudden wave of guilt washed over him as his thoughts of a plan to kill Melinda and her son came to the forefront of his mind. And he thought of Rose and Carly. He suddenly felt more ashamed than he had ever felt in his life, and his cheeks went crimson at the disgust that welled up inside him. Had he been just a tad weaker, he would have broken down in great heaving sobs. But Loryanne was watching; that demonic smirk fixed on her face; the evil scar enhancing her sinister regard. And so, he agreed to stay.

And no one was happier at his acceptance to stay than Brad Stryker. He wheeled Phillip about the room like a long lost brother; introducing him to all those present. Melinda smiled and brought out fresh pastries and she gleefully poured exotic wines of the world. Dan was chatting with a pretty young woman who was showing far more interest in his conversation then a young woman should. The talk was light and lovely and the guests were engaging, IF, you avoided Loryanne! And Phillip did.

Loryanne stood off in a corner, drinking her wine and eating with wild abandon; not really paying much attention to any conversation that might come her way. She was cold and inconsiderate and the conversation seemed to move away from her. And, she seemed to delight in that. Aloof and uncaring, she remained stoic right up until she announced her thanks for the food and wine, but she must be gone.

Upon reaching the front door, she pulled hard on the handle and turning, gave one last smile to Phillip.

“ Welcome to our little country club Phillip!”

And with that, Loryanne Banks was gone. The room seemed lighter without her presence. As the wine flowed, the conversation became more relaxed and Brad and Phillip agreed that Loryanne was a total bitch! They laughed their way through the evening as the guests babbled on to Phillip and greeted him warmly.

Brad’s cell phone rang.

“ Excuse me old buddy, but I really have to take this.”

Brad excused himself as he made his way out the back door. Flipping the cell open, he recognized the number.

“ Hello?”

“ Hello Brad, Bill Jacobs here. How’s our new guy doing?”

Brad looked into the trees and watched a squirrel run across the telephone line.

“ I think we can use him Bill.”

“ I’ll need more assurance than that Brad. My people are anxious to get this plan of ours underway. We need someone who is strong and willing to follow orders!”

Brad let the words sink in. Follow orders?

“ Bill, I understand you’re anxious. But let’s not forget; this is his first time meeting the group. He is still very angry and mistrustful. And besides, his meeting with Loryanne didn’t appear to be all that helpful.”

Bill Jacobs swallowed hard at the mention of Loryanne.

“ Are you telling me that you let that bitch talk to him? Why didn’t you stop her? I knew it was a mistake bringing her into this group! She is nothing but a loose cannon! It might just be time for her to quietly disappear from the group.”

Brad had no liking for the way this conversation was going.

“ Bill, I don’t know what you’re inferring, but I don’t want any part of it! That wasn’t our deal!”

Bill leaned slowly back in his chair.

“ Deal? You want out of our deal Brad? It would be a shame to have your lovely wife and kids visit you in a penitentiary on weekends for the next twenty fives years; wouldn’t it Brad? How long do you think she would wait for you? And all those lovely victims in the precious group, how many do you think would survive a life sentence? Do you want to be the one that sends them all away for life Brad? Don’t you dare talk to me about deals! It’s because of me and all my connections that you still have a home to go home to. Now this can go either one of two ways. You can shut the hell up and listen, and do as I say; or you can walk away from my deal. In which case, well, we have been through that! You better tell me right goddamned now Brad; what will it be?”

Brad’s mind was reeling with the vicious words and possible scenario that Bill Jacobs had just put forth. His mind raced to find a response; any response that would ease Bill Jacobs rage.

“ No Bill, I’m not looking to get out of my deal with you or anyone! It’s just, well, I would prefer not to be involved with anything that would upset the group and ruin your chances of finding the perfect candidate for whatever the job you have in mind. The sudden disappearance of Loryanne would invite too many unanswered questions. I don’t want to jeopardize the trust I have built up within the group. That’s all! And as I said, Phillip simply isn’t ready yet. Just give me some time. Please?”

Bill Jacobs slowly closed the file laid out before him.

“ Very well Brad. I will do nothing for now. I am a patient man, and I will be patient a while longer. But know this; my patience has its limits. If my time runs out, then so does yours and all the rest in the group! Remember that! Get back to me as soon as you can!”

The line went dead. Brad slowly closed the cell phone and took a deep breath of damp evening air. He had to compose himself before returning to the party; returning to Phillip; returning to the deal.