All Is Not As It Seems – Chapter One

The yacht with no name had been driven into the protected waters surrounding the Phantom King’s private island.  With the swiftness of a cast of Peregrine Falcons, the yacht was surrounded by an army of men known as members of the “family.”

Armed with AK-47s, they boarded and searched the yacht.  They found what they thought was the lifeless body of Adeline, until they heard her moan.  Quickly radioing base, they followed instructions to tow the yacht to shore.

Only a select few of the family’s members actually had direct contact with the Phantom King.  Even fewer knew his real name.  There was a rumor that the King had once shot a member in the face for calling him by his first name without permission.  His body was then cut into pieces and fed to the pack of guard dogs who freely roamed the estate.

The family had several Lieutenants with definitive pecking orders.  It was the lower echelon who attended to small details like controlling the situation when a visitor, whether accidentally or on purpose, happened to invade the privacy of the Phantom King’s domain.  Purposeful visitors had never lived to tell the tale, or so legend had it.

The Phantom King’s domain was entirely self-sufficient.  An actual “hospital” wing had been established and doctors and nurses were on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  Being given handsome salaries bought their expertise, their silence, and their loyalty,  They wanted for nothing.  Attorneys’ had elaborate accommodations not far from the main house and they too, were paid handsomely for limiting their practices to one client.

Two days after the yacht with no name was towed to the island and carefully disassembled, there was a happening.

In a brightly lit room, the curtains  softly billowed by a gentle breeze.  The smell of honeysuckle wafted through the air and the sound of birds singing lent an almost fairy-tale ambiance to the room.  Adeline was aware of someone standing over her asking “can you hear me?”

Her head was throbbing and her eyes could barely focus but she managed to nod.

“You can call me Dr. Burt,” he said.  “How do we feel?”  Adeline said “I don’t know how you feel but my head hurts.”

Dr. Burt chuckled and said “yes.  What else?”  Adeline looked around the room and said “I don’t know.  I mean, I don’t recognize this place.  Am I in a hospital?”

“Of sorts,” said Dr. Burt.  “Can you tell me your name?”

“Of course,” she said.

Dr. Burt looked at her and said “well?”

“Well what?” she asked.

Dr. Burt said, “you were going to tell me your name.”

“It’s…it’s.  Dammit.  I know it.  I just can’t seem to remember it right now.”

“Okay,” he said.  “We’ll give you a little while.  You just rest.”

As he turned to leave the room, Adeline said “where am I?”

Dr. Burt said “as I said.  You’re in a hospital of sorts.”

Adeline was clearly starting to get agitated.  “What kind of hospital?  A mental hospital?  A psychiatric hospital?  Am I the only patient?  Am I a prisoner?  How did I get here?  Who put me here?”

Dr. Burt tried to calm her down and said “nobody put you here, my dear and you’re not a prisoner.  You’ve had a shock.  We’ll talk more tomorrow,” and motioned for the nurse to give her a sedative.

When he stepped out of the room, he gave his report to Roy, who was assigned to guard the room.  “Tell the King that she has no memory of what happened.  She doesn’t know who she is or where she is and she has no idea how she got here.  It might take a while, but I’ll find out what’s going on.”

 

To be continued___________

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lovely Ladies of Lochineau – Part Two

“Who are they?” I asked, still searching the distance for even the slightest afterglow of those ethereal figures of beauty.

Old man Brooks said “we calls them ‘the lovely ladies of Lochineau’.”

“Not everybody sees them and those who does, sees them but once.”  Old man Brooks sighed and looked down as he said “I seen ’em, I reckon, might near a year ago.”  I could tell there was more to that statement than he was letting on but I didn’t ask.

“But…I saw them today,” I said.

“Yep,” and that’s the only time you’ll be a seein’ ’em.”  Old man Brooks turned and said “you know, you’re a might young to have already seen ’em.”

I asked him what he meant and he interrupted me by once again reminding me that the horses needed to be shod.  I was trying not to be impertinent when I asked him about the urgency to shod horses when there seemed to be so few and none of them ever left the sleepy little town.

Old man Brooks pointed and said “nobody takes their horses out yonder.  There’s a steep drop-off.”  When I asked why they didn’t put a fence up, I didn’t understand his answer at first.

“They was too late,” he said.

“Too late for what?” I asked.  I was totally confused.  Old man Brooks had a way of confusing me.  He was a kind old soul but could be a bit harsh when it came to making me “toe the line” and “shoe the horses.”

After several minutes, old man Brooks shook his head and repeated “you’re a might young to have already seen ’em.”

I said “you mean the ladies?  That’s the second time you’ve said that.  What does that mean?”

Old man Brooks looked at me and said “sit down son.  I’m going to tell you a story.”

“What about the horses?” I asked.

“The horses can wait,” he said.

This town is known for the “Legend of the Lovely Ladies of Lochineau.”

“What you saw was three ladies dressed in white, riding in a white gilded carriage pulled by three white stallions, right?” he asked.

“Yes!” I said.  Before I drifted off into another dream world when I would be in that carriage with them, I asked “who are they?”  Old man Brooks said “they were three sisters who were on their way to their wedding day.  They were to marry three brothers and they were almost like royalty to the town.”

“Were?” I asked.

Old man Brooks said “yep.  Were.  Somewhere along the way, their horses must have been spooked by somethin’ and they ran over the side of the cliff…the cliff that the town never bothered to put a fence around.”

“They have been seeking their revenge on the townsfolk they blame for their deaths for the last hundred or so years.  Their intention is to kill the town the way they believe the town killed them.

Every year on the day of the accident, they come riding through town.  They always stop for a few seconds and glance toward somebody.  That person is the only person who can see them and whoever that person is, always dies within a year.  The legend is that not until every single person in the town is gone, will they stop riding through and taking souls.”

“So you see, my young friend.  My time is here and your time is near.”

 

Loppu.

 

 

 

The Lovely Ladies Of Lochineau – Part One

I remember the first time I saw those visions of indescribable loveliness.  It was just after dusk and the soft glow of the streetlights illuminated their gilded carriage being pulled by three solid white stallions.  They were surrounded by an air of mysteriousness that was almost palpable and it was my pleasure to see them up close but for a brief moment.

Their dresses, made of flowing white gauze covered with lace, concealed forbidden places that mere mortal man could only dream about visiting.  Handkerchiefs were tucked into cleavages that glistened with the sweet perfumed perspiration of those Southern ladies.  Their large, feather plumed hats adorned faces that could possibly make a man sell his soul to the devil for just one kiss.

When these three women glanced my way, I felt as though my heart would stop in mid-beat and I gasped for air.  Had my heart stopped beating, I would have died a happy man having witnessed such an elegant, alluring sight.

One of the two in the back of the carriage had long, loosely flowing flaxen hair that danced as the seat swayed from side to side.  The other had an unfettered braid of golden hair that fell gently over her shoulder, tied with a large white ribbon.  The one sitting across from the others had sunflower colored, waist-length curls that looked like the gentle ripples of a slow-moving stream with an attitude.

“Who were these visions of loveliness?” I thought.  “Who were these aloof, beguiling, scrumptious, voluptuous, audacious, bodacious, dazzling, perplexing ladies who held my gaze until they were completely out of sight?”

The brief fantasy world that had temporarily enraptured me was abruptly halted by the gruff voice of old man Brooks.  “Stop staring off into space and get back to work!” he commanded.  “We got to get them horses shod.”

Still in somewhat of a daze, I remember thinking that I wish one or all of their horses would suddenly need to be shod.

Again, old man Brooks’ voice rang in my ears.  “What’s got into you boy?” he asked.  “You look like you just seen a ghost.”

I pointed to the street but couldn’t get the words out.

I looked at him with my best apologetic face and said “sorry, sir.”

Old man Brooks paused in mid-step, turned, scratched his head and said “ah.  You seen them ladies, din’t you?”

 

To be Continued_________________

 

 

 

The Art Of Revenge – Chapter Seven

As Foy and Nedward tried to get things organized, the question was “how do we get our hands on a yacht that doesn’t have an HIN?”

Nedward said “I’m not sure we can but do you remember that one we confiscated that had just been built?  The one in the corner of the hangar? It might not have the HIN yet.  If it does, we can always make it disappear, right?”

Foy said he didn’t remember.  Nedward said “you don’t remember?  It didn’t have a name.  It’s bad luck for a boat not to have a name and we laughed about it being true since the owner was never going to set sail.”

Foy started laughing and said “oh yeah, I remember now.  Wasn’t that the one we were going to sneak out of the warehouse and take for a spin?”

“That would be the one,” Nedward said with a sigh.  “And as I recall, we were a few sheets to the wind.  Probably a good thing we didn’t try.”  Foy laughed and said “probably.  Okay, let’s go check it out.”

When they got to the hangar where all the private planes, cars, boats and yachts were stored until the eventual auction, there sat the “no named” yacht.  “Let’s get her,” Foy said.

Armed with all the necessary, albeit faked paperwork, Nedward and Foy had the yacht loaded onto a trailer and hauled away.

After a thorough examination, it was determined that the yacht, as they hoped, didn’t have an HIL.  Nedward asked about a name or rather, the lack of one.  “Won’t that be bad luck…again, like for Adeline?”

Foy looked at him and said “who?”  Nedward smiled and nodded.  Adeline didn’t exist.

They had collected cash, jewelry and clothing, just as Adeline had requested.  When they were readying the yacht, Adeline suggested there be some men’s toiletries and clothing aboard in lieu of cash, designer clothing and jewelry.

When questioned, she said “when I’m found, alone with amnesia, who knows what might have happened?  I may have discovered that I had a cheating husband or boyfriend, which resulted in a scuffle.  He may have, in a fit of anger for having been found out, thrown my purse, jewelry and clothes overboard.

Since he won’t be there, it can only be assumed that the poor thing, in his aforementioned fit of anger, must have fallen overboard as well and was torn apart by some blood-thirsty, flesh-ripping, man-eating fish, lurking beneath the cold, dark water.”

Although a bit dark and twisty, Adeline was showing a sense of humor for the first time since she had “awakened.”

It was decided that she would embark on her journey the upcoming Saturday.  The Phantom King’s private island was only a few hours away and she would be well within daylight when she arrived.

Nedward and Foy watched as her long, now blonde hair seemed to take flight when a slight breeze danced softly by.  There were no goodbyes. There were no hugs.  There were no “good luck” wishes.  There was no backward glance as she boarded the yacht.

She had promised to call one time before she tossed the burner phone into the ocean.  Nedward and Foy knew that would be the last time they heard from her until she had tasted her revenge.

Nedward looked at Foy as she steered the yacht away from the private slip that was made available from yet another of Foy’s contacts.  “She’s ready for her close-up,” he said.

Two hours later, Nedward received what he knew was going to be a bittersweet call but something wasn’t right.  He could barely hear her as she talked.  Finally, he got a signal and all he heard was “I’m in the middle of a freak storm that has turned pretty ferocious and…..”

That was the end of the call.  Nedward called Foy, not really in a panic but Foy could tell he was concerned.  Foy said “she’s tough.  She can handle whatever is thrown at her.”

As Adeline tried to maintain control of the yacht, she was violently tossed around the deck.  She fought to not only keep control of the yacht, but also keep upright, holding on with every ounce of strength she had.  Her efforts were in vain as a huge wave slammed into her, causing her to strike her head on the huge metal prop.

As quickly as it formed, the powerfully destructive storm cowardly disintegrated into nothing more than a summer squall…but not before leaving its mark.

Adeline lay in a pool of pink water, colored by the blood pouring from the deep gash in her head.

 

Qhov Kawg.

 

The Art Of Revenge – Chapter Six

Adeline’s plan was nothing short of brilliant.  It didn’t require any undercover skills.  It only required her to be a master of amnesia.

She had let her hair grow and bleached it blonde.  No one would ever recognize her, especially after the extensive plastic surgery.  Nedward often wondered if any of the “old” Holly was there.  She had still never mentioned anything about her past.

For months, she practiced ignoring her name when being called.  When involved in casual conversations, which would normally make a person unconsciously disclose information, she was adept at almost indetectable deflection.

Adeline’s rule was to always wait five seconds before pleading ignorance when answering a personal question, or giving her perspective or opinion on a certain subject.  She practiced often with Nedward and was honing her skills to perfection.

Having been kept away from the general public as well as other officers in the force for over a year she was, for all intents and purposes, Holly had indeed died and Adeline had emerged.

All records of her as Holly had been wiped clean.  Foy had an insider at AFIS who destroyed the fingerprints on file when she was an officer.  They had covered all bases.  Holly simply did not exist and Adeline only existed to Nedward and Foy.

Before Adeline told Foy what she needed, she paused and surprised both Foy and Nedward when she suddenly said “what happened to my house?” Nedward looked down and said “it was sold for back taxes.”

Adeline seemed unaffected but asked if he knew who bought it.  He looked at her and said “I did.”  Adeline didn’t show the slightest reaction when she said “oh.”

As if she had already forgotten what she had just asked, she continued telling Foy what she was going to need.  He sat motionless and expressionless as he listed to her.

“I need a small yacht.  I need jewelry that would make Nefertiti jealous and I need a wardrobe that looks like it came from Rodeo Drive in Hollywood.  I need cash and I mean a large amount of cash and I need a malfunctioning compass installed on the yacht.  I need a throw-away phone for a few hours and after we lose contact, I need for you to more or less play the waiting game.

She smiled and said “it’s time for the kill,” she said.

Foy hadn’t moved a muscle in his body or his face.  Finally, he said “okay.  It will take me a me a few days but I’ve got you covered.  Now you have to tell me your plan.”

Adeline got up and walked over to the window.  Looking out into the world she hadn’t seen in more than a year, she said “you see.  I will have been the recipient of a large inheritance.  I foolishly bought a yacht that I had no idea how to maneuver and somehow I ended up going the wrong way.”

“I am going to float right into the waters surrounding the island of the Phantom King.  My thoughts are that when he sees me through his binoculars, he will be either intrigued or paranoid, especially when he sees no one on board.”

“He won’t see anyone on board, because I will have taken a fall and hit my head, thus causing total amnesia.”

“My yacht will be escorted to the island.  Once there, I will be a helpless amnesiac, desperately trying to discover my identity.  I’ll be the fragile damsel in distress.  Understand?”

Foy knew not to question her again about her certainty of actually pulling it off.  She had blood in her eyes and he knew that nothing short of being killed herself would stop her from killing the Phantom King.

Nedward looked at Foy and said “the cash and jewelry won’t be a problem. We’ll just get it from the vault.  Do you have any wardrobe connections?” Foy said “quite a few.  They’re fake but they’re believable fakes.  You know that guy we’re always busting down on Thirty-Eight Street?”

Nedward said “the one who sells everything from “genuine” HERMÈS bags for $1,000.00 to Jimmy Choo shoes for a few hundred?”

Foy looked at him and said “yeah, that’s the one.  He’s really good.  He’s managed to fool even the most discerning eye.  If I make a deal with him and tell him that we’ll leave him alone for a while, he’ll pretty much give us anything we need.”

“And are you going to keep your word?” asked Nedward.

Foy laughed and said “nah.  He’s breaking the law, man.”  Nedward smiled and shook his head.  He wasn’t sure if Foy was being serious or just jerking his chain.

Foy looked at Nedward and said “Hey…how do you know about that stuff anyway?”  Nedward said “I pay attention.”

Foy laughed, stood up, clapped his hands and said “okay.  Let’s do this.”

He looked at Adeline and said “hang tight, kid.  Just a few more days.”

Adeline gave him a Mona Lisa smile, then turned and walked away.

 

To be continued_________________

 

The Art Of Revenge – Chapter Five

Nedward looked at Holly and said “we gave you a temporary name.  We weren’t sure…”  Holly interrupted him and said “you weren’t sure I was going to make it?”  Nedward nodded his head yes.

“Okay,” Holly said.  “What is my name?”

Nedward said “Adeline.  Adeline Forrest.”  Holly repeated it.  “Adeline Forrest.  That’s a good name.  I like it.  I’m going to have to remember it and then I’m going to have to forget it.”  Nedward was confused by her response but didn’t question her about it.

They were meeting Sergeant Foy at one of the safe houses where Adeline would be staying indefinitely.  When they arrived, Foy walked up to her, held out his arms and said “Holly.  It’s good to see you.  You look great.” Holly took a step backward as if to say “no.”  Then she said “please call me Adeline.”

There was no time for niceties or trips down memory lane as she began the conversation, much to the surprise of both Nedward and Foy.  She asked if they had all the necessary paperwork, such as birth certificate, passport, drivers’ license and most importantly…a believable and confirmable past.

Sergeant Foy said “we do.  All we need is your photograph.”  Nedward leaned toward Adeline and said “what have you got in mind?  Being an undercover?”

Adeline said “no.  You are going to teach me to remember my new past and then you are going to teach me how to forget it.”

“So you have a plan?” asked Nedward.  “I do,” said Adeline.

Nedward and Foy listened as Adeline told them about her plan.  She went into great detail and admittedly, Nedward and Foy were simultaneously mesmerized and astounded.  Her plan ended with a phrase that made chills run down their back.

It was at that moment Nedward and Foy realized that Holly had been replaced by Adeline and Adeline had every intention of becoming an unapologetic, cold-blooded killer.

It took a few minutes for Foy to look at her and say “are you sure you can handle it?”  Adeline looked him dead in the eyes and said “don’t ever ask me that again.”

 

To be continued__________

The Art Of Revenge – Chapter Four

The staring man thought he had successfully carried out the execution orders of the Phantom King but he was wrong.  Holly had survived.

Two years later, she had almost completely recovered.  Pure drive and determination had pushed her beyond all expectations.  Her battered body showed only minimal scarring, thanks to the renown plastic surgeon.  He had re-built her face and although she didn’t resemble her former self, he gifted her with beauty.

Defying Dr. Boone’s request, Nedward had remained her stalwart throughout her entire ordeal.  Although they talked, there was never even a moments mention of Bobby, Bobby, Jr. or her unborn child.  She never mentioned her parents.

Nedward often wondered if somehow, mercifully, her brain had erased that part of her life from her memory or maybe it was a defense mechanism. When the body suffers unimaginable injuries, the brain concentrates on those injuries and pain from things such as grief and sadness are subdued.

During those two years of what must have been excruciating pain, Nedward never heard Holly cry out.  He never saw even the briefest hesitation.  He never saw rage.  He never saw defeat…and he never saw her smile.  But he could see that there was something going on behind her hollow, lifeless eyes.  He just didn’t know what it was.

He watched her struggle to walk, first with crutches, then with a walker and finally, holding his arm.  He watched her wrestle with a spoonful of soup, trying to get it into her mouth without spilling it.  He watched her drop a hair brush ten times before she gained a successful grip.

He never offered to feed her or brush her hair and never insulted her by asking if she needed help.  He just watched and ached and hoped.  He took great comfort in being convinced that he was watching a true miracle, as he believed that she had literally come back from the brink of death.

Sometimes he would watch her sitting in front of the mirror, staring as if trying to remember whose reflection she was seeing.  It was as though she had amnesia of self.  She knew who she used to be.  She knew who she supposedly was but she didn’t recognize the face in the mirror.

Nedward had dedicated years of his own life to Holly and had never resented it but it had taken a toll on him.  He was feeling old and exhausted.  Then one day, Holly said “I want you to take me to see Sergeant Foy.”

Nedward cautiously said “okay, kid.  What have you got in mind?”

Holly’s eyes moved slightly down and to the side as she took a deep breath and said “I have unfinished business.”

Unbeknownst to Holly, Sergeant Foy and Nedward had officially “killed” her on that cold January night. They gave her a mock service and her name was added to the list of “fallen eagles.”

That tactic was sometimes used as a protective measure when an undercover officer was exposed or wounded. They would then assume another name and move to another precinct.  In a sense, Holly no longer existed…but it was clear.  She wasn’t going away.

As they drove to the station, Nedward explained the measures they had taken.  Holly sat in silence as she listened.  Then she looked at Nedward and said “what’s my name?”

 

 

To be continued_______________