Harold turned and let his legs hang over the rock. Bill thought his eyes looked sadder and small wrinkles traced across his forehead.
Harold answered, “If I’m honest, it felt good when I killed him. John Richmond had destroyed my parents, their business and attempted to kill anyone who was still around. All my hurt and anger were directed at him in my rage. The power of going berserk, controlling it, focusing it, that was a rush, like a drug.
“Afterwards, all the guilt and regret of my actions overwhelmed me. I realized I had taken a life. Even in self-defense, I felt like a murderer because of the joy I took in my actions.”
Bill walked up closer to Harold, “That’s what I’m feeling.”
Harold asked, “Are you having nightmares?”
“I mean, Joshua told me they are memories of our sessions together. I’ve seen Lori in some.”
Harold asked, “Any demons or the people you killed.”
“Oh, nothing like that.”
Harold let out a sigh, “You’re lucky. I was haunted for months. Darla, Garcia, and Joshua finally helped me understand that God had given me this gift. Without my ability, they might all be dead by now.
“Joshua explained the momentary joy of my actions was focused on protecting others, not harming them.”
Bill crossed his arms, “So, you think our ability to tear people apart is a gift from God?”
Harold shrugged, “That’s above my paygrade.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Harold answered, “It means I’m not God. I didn’t make me. I just have to learn to live with who I am and try to be the best person I can possibly be. That whole Christian thing I grew up with; the grace of Jesus. Either forgiveness is real, or it’s not. If it’s real, God is molding me into the person I was created to be. If it’s not, then maybe John Richmond and his pleasure island were standing on was right.”
Bill asked, “This belonged to John?”
“So, you think God gave you this island for killing John?”
Harold stared intently at Bill for several seconds and then answered. “You really are cynical.”
“I think I have a right to be.”
Harold answered, “Maybe. To answer your question, the CIA gave me this island. It’s a long story. I’m not fond of it, and if I can offload it someday, I will. I take it you don’t believe in God.”
Bill walked to the water’s edge, “I used to believe. I don’t know anymore. What kind of God takes away the only family an orphan finally has?”
Bill turned and looked at Harold, who was slipping off the rock. He walked over and put his arm around Bill’s shoulder.
Harold answered, “I don’t know. I can tell you that Bible you used to read is full of people who experienced massive loss. Later God brought them into something better to accomplish his purpose. It’s funny; we always sat in church and sang hymns about these stories or talked about these people in Sunday School.
“Everyone seems to forget that these people had no idea what was going on at the time. Jonah inside the fish, I’m sure he thought he was dead. David having Saul throws spears at him during fits of rage. Elijah on the run from Jezebel. Job losing his family and everything he ever owned. We know the end of the stories, but they didn’t.”
The two began to walk back towards the trail.
Bill finally asked, “So, you’re saying I should have faith?”
Harold answered, “Yes.”
Bill mumbled, “Easier said than done.”
He slipped his shoulder from Harold’s embrace, and the two quietly walked back to the main house. Darla was sitting in the living room with a cocktail. The wall had been shut, and the room felt cooler and dryer.
Harold said, “I found him just where we thought.”
Darla pointed at the empty loveseat. “Please, sit down and visit with us for a few minutes.”
Bill sat down, and Darla picked up two drinks like her own.
Bill put up his hand, “Thank you, I’m not in the mood.”
Darla smiled and put the drink in front of him. She handed Harold the other one.
She turned back to Bill and said, “Please, this will help you sleep better tonight. You’ve had a very hectic day. Besides, I made them myself. You wouldn’t want to insult me in my own home, would you?”
Bill reached for his glass, “Well when you put it that way, I can’t insult my newly found brother’s wife. What sort of drink is it?”
Darla answered, “It’s a mojito.”
Bill smiled and gave her a nod. The rum drink’s cool mint flavor refreshed his pallet, and Bill drank half the glass before putting it down. He sat back on the sofa and put his arm up on the back. Harold sat in the corner with a permanent smile partially exposed under his red beard.
Bill pointed to Harold’s face, “How long do you plan on keeping that thing?”
Darla interjected, “Thank you. He won’t listen to me. I want to see my husband’s face, but he says he won’t shave until we catch Chuck and we can get out of here.”
Harold answered them both, “It’s like a vow.”
Bill said, “It sounds more like an excuse.”
He began to laugh at his own joke, sat up, doubled over, and continued laughing. His head felt light, and the room started to swim. He stopped laughing and tried to focus.
Bill said, “Excuse me, this drink is hitting me harder than I thought. I think I better go to my bungalow.”
Darla leaned forward, “Please, don’t try. You may fall down before you get there.”
“Did you slip me mickey?”
Darla answered, “Yes.”
Harold asked, “You drugged my brother’s drink?”
Darla put up her hands, “Please, it isn’t like that. It’s just a little drug to help him relax and remember.”
Bill’s slurred, “Truth serum.”
“Why?” asked Harold.
Darla answered, “We have your brother’s phone records. We know Chuck called him at his condo when he lived in uptown Charlotte. However, your brother doesn’t remember anything about that conversation. According to what I’ve read, Chuck called him multiple times in a span of just a few minutes.
“For months, we’ve thought Chuck was after Garcia. I can’t deny your brother’s observation that Chuck wants you. I want to know why. Chuck may have said something to Bill in that phone call that will help us figure out what he’s really after and why.”
Harold’s voice began to sound distant to Bill, “But this is our house. He’s my brother. We agreed to keep your CIA work and our family separate.”
Darla answered, “My work is our family right now. I’m sorry, dear, but Bill needs to relax and feel comfortable for this drug to work. He’s with the brother who has tracked him for years and loves him more than himself. I love you, so I can’t help but look at Bill as family.”
Bill slurred, “Am I okay?”
Darla’s voice penetrated through his foggy mind. “Yes. The drug only helps you relax. We use this on people who try to hide the truth. I know you want to tell me the truth, but your brain has blocked the memory. We are going to try to help you remember.”
Bill said, “Like Joshua.”
Darla slid forward on the sofa. The sound resounded in Bill’s ears, and he winced.
Darla spoke softly, “Sorry, the sounds will calm down in a few minutes. Can you focus on me?”
Darla continued, “Good. Do you remember your condo at the Vue in uptown Charlotte?”
Bill whispered, “Yes.”
Darla asked, “Can you tell me what it looked like?”
Bill’s lips curved up slightly. “It was beautiful. I could look out at the skyscrapers every morning. The sun would reflect off the glass and steel. At night they glowed from the bankers’ offices working late into the night. The windows would cast an auburn light from the building’s silhouettes.”
Darla interrupted. “Yes, it sounds beautiful. What was it like inside? Could people see inside any of your rooms?”
Darla’s voice sounded normal, and Bill eased back into the loveseat. The sound of sliding fabric no longer echoed in his head. His body felt heavy, relaxed. “My condo had an open floorplan. Depending on what building you were working in, you could see inside it if I left my blinds open.”
Darla asked, “Do you remember a night around eleven pm when you received a phone call?”
Bill’s eyes narrowed and then widened, “Yes.”
Darla leaned in, “Do you remember what you were doing that night?”
Bill nodded. “Lori was with me. We had gone to dinner.”
“Did Lori live with you?”
Bill answered, “Sometimes.”
Darla’s eyes seemed to drill into Bill, and he stared directly back into her eyes. Their dark circles felt warm, inviting. She continued, “What were you doing that night?”
A large smile spread across Bill’s face, “Seducing each other.”
Darla’s stare didn’t waver. “What happened when the phone rang?”
Bill frowned, and his brow furrowed, “Chuck interrupted my evening.”
Darla continued, “What did Chuck ask you?”
Bill answered, “He asked me if I knew Harold. I told him he had the wrong number. He called back, and I told him again. I tossed the phone onto the table, and it hit the floor. He never called back.”
Darla continued, “Focus, did he mention anyone else, or anything else?”
Bill continued looking at Darla. “Oh, he mentioned Joshua. He said maybe Joshua had hidden Harold from me for some reason.” Bill looked over at Harold, “He was right.”
Harold patted Bill’s shoulder, “It’s alright.”
Bill looked back at Darla, and she said, “You’ve done great.”
She finally broke her gaze and then left the room. Bill sat back and focused on keeping his eyes open, but he lost the battle. Darla returned to the room with some orange juice and handed it to Bill.
Darla said, “Drink this. It has some added vitamins. You’ll feel better when you wake up.”
Bill had to use both hands to get the glass to his mouth, and he finished off the orange juice before lowering his glass. He leaned forward to set it on the table, but his body continued its momentum. Harold caught him.
Harold said, “Why don’t you stay in the guest room tonight.”
“Is it close?” mumbled Bill.
Harold stooped and put Bill’s arm over his shoulder. The two clumsily made their way into a part of the house Bill hadn’t seen. Harold turned on the light. A queen-sized bed with a nightstand and chair filled most of the room. Harold leaned Bill against the side of the bed.
He pointed towards a door that was opened to a dark room. “That’s your bathroom. You can shower in there in the morning. We’ll get you some clean clothes.”
Bill nodded once and fell onto the bed. He could feel Harold taking off his shoes, and then the world went black.