More villain with amnesia story, to alleviate the death threats from readers. ❤
Thanks, guys. I’m actually getting a lot done. 😄
Soooo last time we saw our Wolfgang Dankworth, he had a meeting with his apparent former benefactor in which he programmed a bomb for some further revenge purpose.
It’s kind of long. But everyone loves that, so I’ve stopped worrying. 😛
Will he succeed in thwarting his own plans? *insert all other desperate questions from last time*
Let’s find out.
Catch up here (cuz I mean, lots of stuff happened. I’m not summing everything up for you and it’s more fun to go back and read it yourself):
And part 14, everyone!
An apology and a phone call
I never thought that sitting in the car with a bag over my head would be the preferable activity. But after that mask and utterly unnerving meeting . . . I welcomed the scratchy feeling over my face. I’d even bargained to leave it on so I could keep my hands free.
My hands were both stuck deep in the pockets of my leather jacket, where they still shivered like scared little puppies. In case there was any doubt in my mind that my nerves were totally shot at this point.
One of my fingers poked through the bullet hole in my pocket and I wiggled it around outside the leather. I wondered if it looked like some sort of dirty worm, sticking out like that.
I was pathetic at trying to distract myself.
The road bumped along underneath us and I shifted in my seat, pulling one of my legs up. It was a bit more comfortable. I closed my eyes and leaned back against the seat. But my mind seemed to still be busy digesting all the new information.
Every time I started to drift off, another horrible implication of what I was doing would come to mind and send a burst of ice water down my spine. Another person that could die. Another opinion that would be formed of me. Another piece of my humanity down the toilet. No rest for the wicked, I guess.
I think I drifted off somewhere along the line, because the after what seemed like only half an hour or so, the car was pulling to a stop and I was slumped against the window.
I groaned and fumbled the bag off of my head. My eyes didn’t want to open, but I rubbed at them and blinked hard a couple of times until they agreed. Outside the window and across the parking lot was a run down old grocery store. A black pickup and a cherry red hot rod were parked near the front.
No place like home.
The driver raised his eyebrows at me in the rearview mirror. “You getting out or what?”
I popped my door open and stepped out. The car drove off so fast I wondered if the guy had even bothered to put it in park when he stopped.
I was getting a little tired of being tossed around like a hot potato. I sighed and straightened my jacket, then went limping across the parking lot to the den.
The door was propped open with a crate full of wrenches and wires and a heavenly smell drifted out. Hunger stabbing my stomach, I walked inside the familiar, warm partial darkness. Guitar music played over the PA system and obscured the noises of talking coming from the back of the store.
I followed the aisle that Cardboard had taken me down before, briefly wondering if she was doing okay after her kidnapping. The talking got a bit clearer and I was able to make out a few comments about cars.
Stepping around the corner, I saw the gang lined up at the barstools by the kitchen counter. Bad News was at the stove with an apron on, flipping grilled cheese sandwiches.
So that’s what that smell was. I ran a hand over my hair, hoping to make it a bit more presentable after being in a bag so long, and walked a bit closer to the counter.
Bad News looked up at the soft noise of my shoes on the concrete and waved. “Hey. You hungry?”
The rest of the gang turned their heads to look at me. Liza saluted, Chris touched the brim of his hat, Cardboard waved and Roy turned back to his sandwich a bit quicker than seemed natural.
I waved back a little. “Yeah, starving.” My stomach growled, accentuating my point.
“Well, grab a plate.” News scooped a sandwich up off the griddle.
I grabbed a paper plate off the stack and accepted the somewhat charred sandwich. “Thanks.” I sat down in between Liza and Chris and started eating. Cardboard tossed a pickle onto my plate and made me jump.
They all seemed remarkably unsurprised at my return. I was clearly the only one somewhat concerned with my wellbeing.
I swallowed my bite of sandwich and peered over at Cardboard, “Hey, are you doing okay after all that excitement the other night?”
Roy shifted in his seat.
Cardboard grinned at me, nodded and took another bite of her pickle.
I nodded back and took another bite of my sandwich. The last bite, apparently. That went down fast. Bad News slid another one onto my plate.
“So,” Chris’s gravelly voice broke the silence. “Heard you were the ransom or something the other night?”
Yeah, totally boring. Happens every week. I pushed my sandwich to the other side of my plate with the pickle. “Yep.”
“So was my notebook.” Liza sounded a lot more peeved about that than she did about me. At least now I knew where I’d seen that writing before. What did Mansley want with Liza’s notebook? Did she have some studies on bombs in there he needed? That was probably it.
At the thought of that bomb, my stomach turned sour. I closed my eyes and swallowed back the bile that rose in my throat.
“So was that something to do with the monthly conference things or what?” Bad News’s questioning baritone made my eyes pop back open.
I opened and closed my mouth a few times and rubbed at the back of my neck, “Um . . . yeah. I was a little late for the boss’s taste.” Now I was really starting to sound gangster. But “boss” was the only word that came to mind, since I’d been ordered to keep any name-specifics secret.
“The mysterious ‘project’ progressing at all?” Chris took a swig out of the mug sitting in front of him and then turned to look at me.
I nodded, “Oh, definitely. Almost ready to go. We’re just . . . waiting on a date.”
“That’ll be nice,” Liza commented, “We’ll finally get a hint about what our big move is going to be.” Her mouth turned downwards in a sideways slant. “Hopefully more successful than that last one. That was awful.” She twirled a strand of turquoise hair around one finger, “I’m really sorry about that one, Wolfy. I know how much you’d been waiting for that one to work.
I poked at my sandwich. It didn’t look appetizing anymore. How could I eat with an impending mass homicide hanging over me? I put my head in my hands and tried to will away the oncoming headache.
“I’m making coffee if you want some,” Bad News offered.
I blew out my breath and shook my head, “No . . . I think I’m just going to try and get some sleep. I’ve heard it’s a decent caffeine substitute.” I slid off my stool and walked towards the rooms in the back.
The talking among the gang got whispery and questioning as soon as my back was turned. I jammed my hands in my pockets and sped my pace.
I kicked the door to my room the rest of the way open, then swung it shut behind me a bit harder than necessary.
Yellow light from the window leaked into the room, backlighting various shadows of junk. One of the shadows moved and made a little squawking noise. I was too worn out to even be surprised.
“Hey, Lucius.” I flopped down onto my bed with a thud and stared at the ceiling. Blood pounded in my temples. Guilt churned my stomach. Man, my life sucked.
There was a fluttering noise and a bird face blocked my wonderful view of the ceiling. Lucius tipped his head and walked up my chest a little, his talons poking into my skin.
I waved a hand at him. “Shoo.” He flapped back to his perch.
I closed my eyes. Images of explosions seemed imprinted on the backs of my eyelids. I opened them again.
How could I undo this one? There wouldn’t be any discreet wire-pulling this time. This was the big one. Quite possibly my previous life goal.
The past me was a serious jerk.
Could I like accidentally jam a knife in the controls or something at the last minute? Maybe it had a wire or something that could . . . no . . . this bomb wasn’t going down that easy.
Get through all those security measures I’d just put in place and disable everything? No hiding the amnesia through that one. Exactly how long could I hide this?
How long would I need to? Would my memories actually stay away forever?
I sat up and groaned, rubbing my hands over my face. The headache was in full swing now. Who needed a giant bomb? They could just use my head right about now.
I stood from the mattress, still holding my head, and kicked at the dresser nearby. It let out a bit of the pressure and felt good. I kicked it again, harder. My toe smashed on the corner and I hopped and swore. Lucius squawked at me.
I sat back down on the bed and it bounced a bit. It was so soft.
If only I could just get to sleep . . .
I lay back down and closed my eyes. More explosions and replays of the baseball stadium smoke burst. I swore under my breath again.
Hey, at least my conscience was in full working order. Now if I could just find a way to shut it up for a few minutes . . .
I lay there, fighting with myself and trying to get to sleep. I don’t know how long I did that, but it was getting really old.
Then a rhythmic tapping sounded at the door. I opened one eye.
“Come in,” I grunted, sitting up slowly. Still not slowly enough to keep my head from pounding more.
The door creaked open and a blond, spiky-haired head poked in. Roy slipped through the opening and clicked the latch shut behind him. He scuffed the tips of his red shoes on the carpet as he walked over to me.
I watched him. He watched his feet.
“Come to finish your clock-cleaning job?” I asked.
Roy winced. “About that . . .” he sighed and looked up at me, “I just wanted to say sorry about that, dude. I mean . . .” he shifted his gaze up to the ceiling and ran his hand over his hair.
“It was just . . . ow.” He reached his other hand up and untangled the buckle of his paracord bracelet from where it had caught in his hair. After he’d successfully freed his wrist, he stuck his hands in his pockets and looked back down at his shoes.
“I wanted to say I didn’t mean to rough you up like that. It was just with Cardboard and everything . . . I’d always sorta . . . looked out for her, y’know?” Roy met my eyes for the first time since he’d come in the room. “I was supposed to keep her safe. I just . . . let it slip for a bit and when she didn’t come back . . .” he bit his lip and looked over to the window.
“Just made me really wanna have at the guy who took her. Make him regret it and never do it again, y’know?” He looked back at me. “It got outta hand. I should’ve watched myself better than that. Watched her better than that. And I’m sorry.”
Well, what do you know? A spark of morality and good had surfaced in this scumpond of criminal life. I blinked at Roy, unsure what to say. It wasn’t the most eloquent of speeches, to be sure, but he’d apologized for something I didn’t expect him to. Something I honestly wouldn’t have.
A toothpick chewing hotshot making me question my deeper morals. Wow, didn’t see that one on the schedule for today,
Roy was still watching me, waiting for some sort of response.
I swallowed and nodded, “Yeah, it’s fine, bud. You’re good.”
He let out his breath, nodded and let his usual, cocky smile back onto his face. High on my good graces, he plopped himself down on the bed next to me. Pain knifed through my scull at the sudden movement and I sucked in my breath through gritted teeth.
“I knew you’d understand,” Roy sounded relieved.
I was unsure if that was specifically because of my life experience or just because I was a generally understanding guy. I didn’t ask.
Roy leaned back and crossed his legs. “Y’know,” he flashed me a grin, “when all the chips are down . . . all said and done . . . you’re a pretty good guy, Wolf.”
The nicest thing I could remember anyone saying to me. I didn’t quite believe it, but a smile still pulled at my mouth. “Thanks.”
We both stared at the wall for a bit. Lucius flapped over and sat on my shoulder.
Roy tapped his toes together and pursed his lips. “I mean, not good like what most people would define that way. Just that you know what’s what. You stand up for stuff and watch out for your folks . . . having in right in here.” He thumped a fist on his heart and nodded.
Gotta get through all the qualifiers first, but yeah. Still the only compliment I can remember. Except maybe Dallas’s “I trust you.”
How was Dallas anyway? Did Leif make it back okay?
Because I needed more bunny trails to follow in my mind . . .
Roy sat there for another few seconds, then punched my shoulder. “Good talk. I’m glad I came by. Now you get that nap, bro.” He stood up and stretched out a bit before heading to the door. Just as he reached for the doorknob, he stopped and snapped his fingers.
“Oh, I almost forgot. News found this, finally.” He pulled what looked like an old flip phone out of his pocket. Frowning, he turned it over in his palm once, “Said it was behind the freezer or something. Liza charged it this morning. Gotta be more careful with your phone, man.”
Roy tossed it to me, scaring Lucius off my shoulder. I fumbled around a bit before getting a grip on it. Roy gave me one final salute before swinging out the door.
I flipped open the phone and squinted at the opening screen. A picture of a mountain glowed back at me, along with black numbers showing the time.
I hit the little menu button and clicked around. Recent calls. Settings. Extras. Contacts. I clicked on contacts.
“Allister, Liza” was right at the top. Huh. I didn’t know her last name before. I clicked down more through a few names and businesses that didn’t look interesting.
“Fernsby, Charles (Amazing Man)”. What do you know? I had my worst enemy’s cell phone number.
Dallas trusted me. Dallas was actually supposed to be good guy. Dallas could tell Amazing Man about my evil scheme.
I didn’t have to stop my plan. I could just secretly help Dallas stop it.
I clicked on his name and it slid to his contact page. A serious looking, tiny picture of Dallas that looked like it was from a newspaper was up in the corner. I scrolled down through the other information and got to the phone number.
Going outside would probably be a good idea. Wouldn’t want the gang catching me in my betrayal of . . . myself.
I stood and went to the door, sticking the phone in my pocket. The doorknob slipped under my hand as I opened the door. I looked around. No one in sight. An exit was to my right and just down the hall.
My footsteps sounded deafening to me, but the quiet talking noises from the bakery continued. I slipped out the door and took in a breath as a cold wind blew through the opening. The sun was shining orange and pink on the clouds over the mountain and all the shadows were long.
I looked at my own shadow and chuckled a little. I was as tall as News.
Shielding my eyes from the sun, I pulled my phone out of my pocket and punched in Dallas’s phone number.
Let’s hope he still trusts me. Also let’s hope he doesn’t screen his calls through Amazing Man.
It rang a couple of times and I bit my lip, trying to plan what I was going to say. Would I really just tell him everything over the phone? What if one of our phones was bugged or something?
There was a click and a familiar, even-toned voice answered.
“Dallas Knight speaking. How may I help you?”
I just about laughed, “Do you even have caller ID?”
A sharp intake of breath sounded on the other end. “Wolf . . .? I . . . hold on a moment, please.”
The sounds got muffled for a bit and I heard him saying for someone to hold on a second. Footsteps, then the sound of a door opening and closing.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
I couldn’t quite distinguish the tone, though I hoped it wasn’t annoyed.
“I . . .” I cleared my throat, “Well, I’m back at the den right now. Bad News found my phone so that’s good.”
“Okay,” Dallas sounded a bit confused.
I closed my eyes for a second. Get to the point, knucklehead.
“So I actually . . . the whole ransom thing was a bit more than it seemed. There’s this project and a meeting I was supposed to go to. That ski-mask dude was just supposed to deliver me there. I found out some stuff while I was there and . . .” I let out a long breath, “Yeah, it’s pretty big.”
“Alright, so . . .” Dallas didn’t sound sure of what to say, “is there . . . I mean, what is it?”
I squinted over at the sun as it settled behind the mountains and licked my lips. “I’d feel better telling you in person, if that’s alright. Think we could maybe . . . meet for lunch or something tomorrow?”
Dallas was quiet for a few seconds. “Okay. Um . . . there’s a place in Millcreek. Kind of near the zoo . . . think that would work?”
“Sounds good. I can find it. What time do you think you could get there?”
“Around . . . I can make it one-thirty or so?”
“Great. I’ll be there.” A weight lifted off my shoulders and I took a deep breath.
“See you then.”
A click and the line went dead.
I flipped the phone shut and stuck it back in my pocket. My fingers brushed on the piece of paper that was still in there.
I wondered what past-me would think of this meeting and smiled.
In your face, Wolfgang Dankworth.
Will he succeed in betraying himself? How will his lunch with Dallas go?
Let me tell you.
We’ll find out next week.
Don’t worry. I have some fun stuff planned for in between. 😛
As always, love to hear what you thought!
’till next time,