Suspicions and Secrets
Kelly looked at the detective with a puzzled look, “He was in my car and we were run off the road by his truck? That doesn’t make sense. How do they know that?”
“Kyle’s truck was discovered behind a bar yesterday morning. The bar was a few miles from where you ran off the road. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Purple Onion.”
“Yea, it’s a gay bar West of town on the highway.”
“It’s more than a gay bar. College kids hang out there and hustle older johns to pick up some extra cash. You’re a college guy, you know what it’s like trying to party on the pittance your parents give you as an allowance. Do you go there often?” Conner asked with a smirk.
“I’ve never been there.” Kelly responded with a hint of anger. “I know money’s tight for some of the kids but I work for mine. I’ve worked at the Springfield Home Depot since I was old enough to get a work permit.”
“If you can’t remember, then how do you know you’ve never been there?”
“I’ve only lost memory of the last six months. I know I was never there before then and I can’t think of any reason I would’ve been there in the last six months.”
“That’s enough detective!” Dr. Roberts interrupted the increasingly heated exchange, “I agreed that you could see Kelly to let him know what you’d learned so far, not for you to upset him again with your attitude. If you can’t conduct this interview in a calmer and more professional manner, then you’ll have to leave.”
“OK, OK Doc, I’m just trying to do my job.”
“If doing your job includes upsetting my patient again, the interview is over!”
Blake looked at the detective and asked, “Why did it take so long to find this other guys truck if it was involved?”
“We didn’t know there was another vehicle involved, at first, so we weren’t looking for it. I received an anonymous call yesterday telling me where the truck could be found and who it belonged to. I went out there and found the truck and it had considerable damage to the front end but looked as if it was still drivable. I noticed blue paint on the truck and called the accident reconstruction team.”
“Another officer and I searched the truck while waiting for the reconstruction team and found a couple interesting things. There were three baggies of, what looks like marijuana, stuffed in the springs under the front seat as well as a .380 Beretta in a clip holster under the seat within easy reach of the driver. The gun was registered to Kyle Usher. I’m sure a clean cut young man, like yourself, would know nothing about drugs or guns though, would you?”
This brought a glare from Dr. Roberts and the detective quickly held up both hands in mock surrender.
Conner continued, “After the reconstruction officers arrived, they found pieces of tail light lens on the gravel guard and evidence of three separate impacts. They went out to the accident site and about a quarter mile from where you left the road, they found blue paint and yellow paint on the guard rail. This indicates that both your car and the truck struck the guardrail. A few hundred feet later there was another spot on the guard rail where your car hit the rail and bounced off. There was yellow paint from the truck here too but it went several hundred feet indicating it stayed against the guardrail for a longer distance. It stopped about fifty feet from the point you left the road and where Usher was ejected from your car.”
“It’s been a little over three weeks now so there was very little we could learn from anything else at the scene.”
Blake spoke up again, “Did you say Usher was ejected from Kelly’s car?”
“Did the seat belt break?”
“He wasn’t wearing one.”
“You’re slipping, Slacker.” Blake said, turning to Kelly, “That’s the first time I know of where you let someone in your car without fastening the seatbelt.”
Kelly only nodded to his friend. He had been transfixed by the description of the accident that killed a man and very nearly killed him. He tried pulling up memories of what the detective had told them but they just weren’t there. He wondered if they ever would be.
Todd was also affected by the telling. He was trying hard to maintain his composure but the thought of what Kelly had gone through, and was still going through, made it hard to hold back tears. The struggle was evident on his face but went unnoticed by the others.
“We’ve learned quite a bit about Usher and are learning more everyday.” Conner went on, “He was a small time hood, always on the fringes but never one of the major players. He dabbled in drugs, as user and dealer, and also in prostitution, as hustler and pimping for others. He has a record of minor drug offenses but nothing serious enough to draw time for. He’s suspected of pilfering from job sites where he worked as a casual laborer for different companies. All in all not the type guy you’d want as a boyfriend.”
Todd stood up and told Kelly he was thirsty and going to the cafeteria to get a coke and asked if he wanted him to bring him one when he came back. “Sure Toad, sounds good.”
He couldn’t help but notice the stricken look on Todd’s face as he left and put it down to Todd’s first encounter with death and the seriousness of the accident that had, nearly, cost him his only brother.
As Todd reached the elevator, the door opened and Jeremy stepped out. Seeing his best friend, Jeremy said, “Hello again stranger. We’ve seen more of each other in the last few weeks than in the last four or five months. I hope it doesn’t take our friends being in the hospital for us to stay in touch.” he said only half in jest.
“Yea.” Todd answered, with a weak smile. “I was just on my way to get something to drink, want to come along?”
“Sounds like a plan, let me say hi to Kel and I’ll be set to go.”
“The detective is in there with him now. I’m bringing him back a coke so you can see him when we come back up.”
“Ok, dude, let’s go. It’s been a while since we’ve talked so this will give us a chance to catch back up too.”
In the hallway outside Kelly’s room, Detective Conner and Dr. Roberts were talking. “How long will this amnesia, you say he has, last?”
“I say he has because he does. This is a fairly common after effect of head injury. The time it will take, for him to recover his lost memories, is hard to determine. Each case is different and some never recover them. I suspect, however, that Kelly’s memory loss isn’t permanent and he will make a full memory recovery. You have to realize, though, that his memory won’t just suddenly come back. The normal process is that it will return in unconnected and unrelated chunks. There will be no particular order that it is restored, and it will be as confusing to him as not remembering is frustrating now. His brain will be trying to make sense of the chunks and it is extremely important that those around him not, unintentionally, plant false memories.”
“Yes. As his brain tries connecting and making sense of the memory he recovers, it can pick up on signals from others that it can use to logically connect those memories.”
“So he would believe something that hadn’t happened had happened?”
“Yes, the brain is logic based and it tries to put things in a logical order. If a part of a memory hasn’t returned yet and he picks up a signal that something else happened that makes sense to his brain, it will use that sequence to connect the memories that have returned and the planted memory will be as real to him as the real memory. Since everything is in a logical order now, the brain may even stop trying to recover the true memory.”
“So even if his memory returns, we won’t be able to trust it?”
“No, I’m sorry if I gave that impression. As long as there’s no outside interference, his memory will return at it’s own pace and will be perfectly reliable. Or at least as reliable as anyone else’s memory.”
Detective Conner had a thoughtful look on his face as he turned to leave. “Thanks Doc.” he said over his shoulder as he walked off down the corridor.
“I don’t like that guy.” Blake said after the doctor and Detective Conner left Kelly’s room.
“Join the crowd.” Kelly responded, “I don’t think many people do.”
“Well, just the same, I think you need to talk to your dad.”
“About what? I don’t remember a thing from the last six months. I want to know what happened in those months and the night of the accident just as much as Conner does.”
“Yea, but I don’t trust him. I think the asshole is trying to nail you for something. You need to talk to your dad about a lawyer to protect yourself. I think you should refuse to talk to him again until your memory is back.”
“Look Slacker, your dad’s in the insurance business. Your car was probably insured through him. Doesn’t it make sense for him to have an insurance investigator look things over? Let him see if he agrees with the police version of how the accident happened?”
Kelly thought about what his friend was saying and had to admit he made a lot of sense. Until his memory came back, he had no way of knowing what he might have done. He couldn’t think of any circumstance where he would have done anything grossly illegal but who knows what he might have stumbled into or took part in unknowingly?
“Yea, that makes sense Blake. I’ll talk to dad this afternoon when he and mom come up to see me.
“There’s one other thing that bothers me an awful lot, Slacker.”
“I don’t want to scare you but think about what he thinks happened. If he’s right and someone deliberately ran you off the road, someone was trying to kill one of you. You didn’t die though so there’s a live witness to what happened. Someone has killed once so why wouldn’t they try to get rid of the witness too? That asshole’s so sure you’re guilty of something, he’s doing nothing to protect you and your life could be in danger. I don’t think you should be left alone until all this is figured out and I’m sure your parents will agree with me.”
Kelly was more than startled by what Blake had said. The thought, that he might be in danger, had never entered his mind and was entirely plausible if what the detective had said was true. “Do you really think I’m in danger?”
“I don’t know for sure but you could very well be.”
“Maybe this is something that I shouldn’t wait on. Do you think I should call dad and let him know what we think right now?”
“Yea, I think that’s a good idea.”
Kelly used the bedside phone to call his dad and relayed what they’d been told by Conner and then told him what he and Blake had come up with. After a few ’yea’s’ and ’OK’s’, he said, “OK dad, we’ll see you in a little while.”
“Well? What did he say?”
“He’s going to call Jeremy’s dad and see what he thinks and then come up to talk to us.”
“Jeremy’s dad is your family lawyer?”
“I don’t think we have a family lawyer but he’s dads lawyer for business deals.”
Kelly looked at his best friend and decided to tell him about the dream he’d had just before his confrontation with the detective that had led to his seizure.
“It was just a dream, Slacker, it doesn’t mean anything.”
“But I remember someone bumping us and he said I was calling ‘Kyle, Kyle’, just before I woke up.”
“You didn’t remember anything Slacker, your dream was a reaction to some shocking news you’d been told. Maybe the part about being rear ended was a memory coming back but it was just a dream. Like a nightmare from watching scary movies. You do remember those don’t you?” Blake said with an evil grin.
Kelly had to laugh at this. When they were a lot younger, Blake had loved scary movies, and the gorier the better. These almost always resulted in Kelly sleeping with his head under the blankets and trying to stay awake because of the nightmares he got from watching them. He’d finally outgrown this reaction but Blake never missed a chance to remind him of his “wimp days” if he was given an opening.
“If I asked you something personal, would you be honest with me?”
“We’ve always been honest with each other, Kel, I’m not about to change that now.”
“Am I gay?”
“Why in the world would you think you’re gay?”
“Well, I was with a gay guy and in the dream he was calling me babe. And I remember what we did when we were younger.”
“Kelly, it was a freakin dream! Get that through your head! It doesn’t mean anything! As for what we did, it was two friends playing with new toys. It was fun just like all the other things we did for fun. What we were doing was a normal activity for a lot of guys and didn’t mean either of us are gay. As we got older, we grew out of that phase and we moved on to the next.”
“No, I don’t think you’re gay. You didn’t wake up one morning in the last few months suddenly gay. Being gay, or even confused, would be something you’d remember from before the accident. I don’t think being gay is something that happens that quickly.”
Kelly thought about this for a while and decided Blake was right. If he were gay, he would have had doubts long before the memory loss and would remember them.
“Besides, Slacker, we have something more important to worry about right now. What are we going to do about the hundred dollars you borrowed from me last month?”
”I borrowed money from you?” Blake was notorious among his friends for borrowing money. He always seemed to have forgotten his wallet or had spent all his allowance. He always paid it back the first chance he got and it had become a running joke among the group of friends.
“Yep…don’t you remember that either?” he asked with mirth clearly showing on his face.
Kelly, realizing Blake was pulling his leg, responded with a laugh, “Even if I did I’d pretend not to!”
As the two old friends talked about unimportant things while waiting for Kelly’s dad, a thought kept gnawing at Kelly. Why the hell wasn’t that guy wearing his seat belt in Kelly’s car?
Jeremy found them an empty table and sat watching his friend waiting in line to get their drinks. The two boys had become, almost, inseparable from their first meeting in first grade and, over the years, their friendship had grown into a comfortable companionship.
Over the years, they had played and fought with each other but the friendship was never threatened. It was too valuable to both of them to let a minor disagreement ruin it.
Things had changed over the last few months and Jeremy was at a loss as to why. Todd had been withdrawing and even though they still talked on the phone, it seemed Todd was always busy and couldn’t just hang out like they used to. He seemed to be sad a lot of the time and, more than once, Jeremy had noticed him looking at him with a confused expression on his face. Above all else, Jeremy wanted things to get back to where they were. He didn’t want their friendship to end and he felt that, if it was going to be saved, he was going to have to, somehow, get Todd to tell him what was going on in his life.
Todd brought their drinks back to the table and sat down with a sigh. “Life is pretty rough these days, huh?” Jeremy asked.
“You don’t know the half of it, Jer.”
Sensing an opening to bring up their failing relationship, Jeremy said, “I would if you told me, Todd.”
“What do you mean?” Todd asked warily.
“I mean we used to share everything. We had no secrets. When we started puberty, you were the first person to know about my hair and I was the first to know when you started growing pubes. You can’t share many things more personal than that. These days we barely talk and haven’t just sat and talked like this for several months.”
“Something’s going on in your life that’s changing you and you’re not letting me in. Has our friendship just gotten old for you and you want to move on? If so, tell me. Don’t leave me hanging and worrying about you.”
Todd looked stricken, “Oh God no, Jer! That’s the last thing I want!”
“That’s the direction we’re heading, Todd. I can’t be your best friend and help you through whatever is going on unless I know what it is. It’s tearing our friendship apart.”
“Maybe not knowing is best for our friendship. Maybe you wouldn’t want to be my friend if you knew.”
“There’s nothing, short of you pushing me away, that would make me not be your friend. The way you’re pushing me away now, makes it seem like you’ve lost your trust in me. Is that it?”
“No way, Jer, I’d trust you with my life.”
“Then let me in. Let me be there for you.”
Todd was thoughtful. He really did trust Jeremy and knew, in his heart, that even if he couldn’t take the truth, he’d keep Todd’s secret. Soon everyone would know anyway and that thought was tearing him apart inside. He did need his friend to lean on and hoped it didn’t drive Jeremy away but he was going to learn it anyway. He decided that now was as good a time as any would ever be to tell Jeremy. It would probably be better for Jeremy to hear it from him instead of from someone else anyway.
“OK,” he said, “but don’t interrupt me until I finish. OK?”
As Todd told his story, Jeremy’s face showed shock and compassion for his friend. This had been the last thing he would have thought and could see why Todd had been withdrawn and secretive.
Editors Note: If you would like to contact the author of this chapter, you may use this email address, CollisionAuthors@Deweywriter.com. Please include the authors name. Thank you.