FREE FALL

 

 

Author nickname: Ukeleleboy

Beta reader nickname: Analorien

 

Warning: It’s rated adults category, especially because of the main subject but there

aren’t explicit scenes, it’s not necessary for the story.

 

Summary

Confront and solve the problems. Then, forget them. What happens when you forget just

because you can’t confront or solve them and years later someone brings everything up?

A fic centred on Danny Taylor but everybody has their moment here... the motorbike as well.

 

Disclaimer

None of main characters from WaT are mine, but I especially love in this story the characters

created by me, Paul Caster and Olivia Wilson. Mine are also Walter Grassmann, Clifford Hewings,

Joey Kelby and other sporadic characters in this fic. Set after 5x16 ‘Without you’, this story is actually

based in an article about sexual abuses during childhood and its consequences, I felt especially moved.

This story starts in February and finishes several months later with some cases around Danny’s private

story. I’ve tried to be respectful with such a delicate subject.

 

 

 

Chapter 1

February 3rd.

 

“Is she dead then?” – she said with tears in her eyes.

Special Agent Jack Malone would never get used to this. He’d been with the Missing

Persons Unit in the FBI for a long time, and before that he’d been with other units,

but always as an FBI agent. He soon learnt he moment when you have to tell to a

relative that they won’t find their loved one is the hardest part of the job.

It was a cold February night in New York. Catherine Chester’s body was found in

the open area where her boyfriend had left it, after beating her to death.

She was only 19 years old and had a life to live.

Special agent Vivian Johnson, put her hand on Catherine’s mother’s, trying, if it was

possible, to give her some support.

“I’m sorry Mrs. Chester” – Jack said vehemently.

Vivian stood up and went out with Mrs. Chester.

Jack remained in his office. This case had been complicated but thankfully they had

still been able to solve it at the end of the day. He lifted his head to see two

policemen escorting the handcuffed boyfriend towards the elevator.

Outside his office, the rest of his team: Elena Delgado, Martin Fitzgerald and

Samantha Spade gathered deep in conversation, while Danny Taylor stayed alone

at his desk. A serious expression was written over the agent’s features as he typed

away at what Jack assumed was his report. A few minutes later, Vivian joins them

and Jack leaves his office after turning off the light.

“Well guys, I’m going home” – he announced in a tired tone.

“Jack, wait a minute” – Elena called.

“What’s going on?” – he asked.

“Eh, well, I know today has been a bad day, but tomorrow morning I’ll be starting

at my new job and I’d like to share a drink with you all” – Elena replies.

“Oh, gosh, I’m sorry, it slipped my mind”- Jack answers. “Well, that’s true, it hasn’t

been a good day so maybe we should go and relax for a while”.

“Ok, come on”- Sam said, picking up her jacket. Elena, Viv and Martin do the same,

but Danny doesn’t move from his seat.

“Don’t you want to go with us?” – Martin asked him, as the others were leaving the

office.

“No”- Danny sharply replies.

“Come on, Danny, it’s her last day. Forget the arguments for a while, tomorrow she

won’t even be here and...”

“Exactly, she won’t be here. It’s clear I’ve been stupid”

“Listen, it’s normal that she wants to get away after what happened with her ex. All

these issues have been very uncomfortable for her”.

“Well, she’s in her right, but don’t ask me to celebrate it” – Danny retorts, clearly

upset by the insistence.

His co-workers voice quietens- “Danny, please, you were dating just a few months

ago, this is...”

“Martin, leave me alone, ok?” – Danny cuts him off.

“Right” – Martin said, giving in to his stubbornness. Officially, nobody knew that

Danny and Elena had been dating for the last few months, but Martin had caught

something between them and after a while of pestering, he finally got Danny to

confirm it. Martin was happy for him; in spite of the fact the relationship had

started from an argument with Elena’s ex, who’d protested the custody of their

daughter, Sofie. Carlos Aguilar had been one of Danny’s best friends for a long time

but things between them had turned complicated. Those problems had caused

Elena to make the decision to go to another office, leaving New York.

Ten minutes later, Danny left the office. Tightening his coat, he walked around

aimlessly for a couple of hours, until he finally felt tired enough to hopefully sleep

through the night without any difficulties. It wasn’t Elena that was upsetting him,

Catherine Chester’s case had brought forward memories of an old classmate from

Law School and he felt especially affected, but he hadn’t said anything.

 

Flashback

13 years ago, at the entrance of Law School. New York.

“Hey, wait a moment, I’ll help you with your books”- Danny offers, coming down the

stairs of the entrance.

Lucy, one of his classmates in Constitutional Law, was trying to balance her books

while searching for the subway-card in her bag.

“Oh, thanks”- she said with a smile.

Almost every day they went the same way back home. Both took the same subway but

while she left after three stops, Danny got off at the fifth stop.

They said their goodbyes, like every day, after a pleasant chat. When Danny left the

subway, he went directly to his favourite place- a bar where he usually spent hours

watching the TV and drinking. The drinks were one or two in the best case, or more

than that if he thought the night would be complicated, which was more often than

he wished.

Danny didn’t know that that afternoon would be the last time he ever saw Lucy. The

next day the newspapers displayed her photo. Lucy had been missing and by the time

she was found, it was too late.

End of flashback

 

Lucy was found days later, hidden underneath the leaves in a local park. All that

had been determined was that someone had approached her during the short

distance that separated her from home. In which time she had been raped and

beaten to death.

Danny walked to the place where he had last seen Lucy. He tightened his coat again

and pushed his hands in the pockets, saying a little plead for her... and Catherine

Chester.

He entered the subway and took the line to go home to his tiny apartment in

Queens. ‘Life is a shit’, it was his last thought when three hours later, he closed his

tired eyes.

 

February 17th.

Sam and Danny were checking Lisa Robson’s room, a 17-year-old girl, who had left

home the night before and never come back. Her mother, noticing her absence the

next morning, called the police.

Sam was reading her journal while Danny checked her email. She seemed very

interested in that journal and Danny noticed it.

“Something interesting?” – he asked.

“I’m reading this... listen, this girl trusted completely in someone called Ted. Who’s

Ted?”- Sam questioned.

Danny rose an eyebrow and returned his gaze to the computer. “There’re some

messages from someone called Tmason38. It doesn’t seem very private, let me see,

exchanging classes notes, choosing a movie to see at the cinema... I don’t know,

maybe he knows something”.

....................................................

“Do you know someone called Ted, Mrs. Robson? – Jack asked Lisa’s mother.

“Yes I know him, Ted Mason, he’s a classmate of Lisa’s, why do you need to know?”

“According to her journal, it seems that your daughter trusts him a lot”

“Lisa and Ted meet met they were little kids, he lives two blocks from here and

they go to the school together every day. They’re good friends”. – She said a bit

surprised. “Do you think that he could be involved in my daughter’s

disappearance?”

“I think that maybe he could tell us something about her location, Mrs. Robson”.

“We.... we had an argument before she left. I had promised her I would let go to

summer camp, when classes are finished. The inscription finished yesterday, but

after I talked to other parents about this kind of camp... I don’t know, I wasn’t sure

and I didn’t sign the authorization. She got furious and left home, as I told you. But,

I don’t know, it’s not her character to leave like this, in spite of our argument” –

Mrs. Robson explained, as the tears rolled down her cheeks.

“Where’s your husband?”- Jack asked.

“Peter died two years ago. Lisa was really affected; it was a cruel and fast illness.

We had a lot of trouble accepting his death, but we’ve been very close ever since”.

“I see. Well, Mrs. Robson, thank you for the information. If you don’t mind, one or

our agents will drive you to our offices”.

Jack left Mrs. Robson with other agent and walked over to where Sam and Danny

were waiting for him outside the house.

“I’m on my way to the office, look for this guy, Ted, and interview him” – he

instructed.

Sam and Danny headed for the Institute to talk to Ted Mason. Danny was driving

carefully through New York’s streets, focusing on the road. Sam glanced him and

couldn’t help but ask.

“How are you doing?”

“What?” – he asked.

“Elena. She left two weeks ago and...”

“How are you doing, Sam?” – Danny cut her off.

“Come on Danny, I have eyes on my face. Don’t you want to talk about it?” – she

said smiling.

“There’s nothing to talk about, she left and we have a job to do, right?”- Danny

answered, making it clear he wasn’t going to tell her anything.

“Well, right, let’s see what Ted Mason has to say about Lisa”.

“Lisa is missing?” – Ted Mason stared in surprise at Sam, after she told him the

news.

“When was the last time you talked to her, Ted?” – Danny asked directly.

“Ah, well... I don’t know” – the boy was confused.

“Come on, Ted” – Danny was impatient – “We haven’t got all day”.

Sam glanced at her co-worker, why he was being so unpleasant? Is it because he

doesn’t see how uncomfortable the boy is?

“Yesterday, in Math’s class, I think. We went to the cafeteria together and then, in

the afternoon... I don’t know, I went to play basketball and she went back home, I

suppose”.

“So you saw her last at the cafeteria, around...”

“Twelve thirty”- he said.

“How was she, sad, worried, did she tell you anything?” – Sam asked.

“No, she was happy. That morning we got the results from the first semester and

she was really happy because her mum had promised her that if she got good

results she’ll let her to go to summer camp”- Ted replied.

“Do you know if Lisa is dating anyone?”- Danny enquired.

“No, I don’t think so, but I think there is a guy she likes, Tom Patrick”- he said.

“And, where we can find Tom Patrick?” – Danny asked again.

“ He’s probably training, he plays in the football team, he’s the captain”. Ted

explains.

“Well, thank you Ted. That’s all for now”- Sam said with a smile.

Danny was walking through the sport place, when Sam reached him.

“What’s wrong with you, Danny? Are you stressed or what?”- She asked.

“What’s going on with you Sam? There is a 17-year-old girl missing and we haven’t

got time to have a chat with anybody. We get the information and leave, okay?” –

Danny faced her.

“It’s not necessary for you yell at me, Danny. I can see that you are in a bad mood

today”- she informed him in an upset tone.

No, he wasn’t in a good mood this morning. The truth was that for the last two

weeks, he’d barely gotten any sleep and it wasn’t because of Elena leaving. But

Catherine Chester’s case still crashed in his mind, mixed with Lucy Nelson waving

goodbye in the subway. He didn’t want to add Lisa Robson to his list as well.

His bad mood was still evident when two hours later he flung a scared Tom Patrick

against the interview room’s wall in the FBI office. He’d been constantly digressing

about his replies and Danny finally lost his temper. By this time he was pretty sure

that this guy knew something about Lisa, but he didn’t want to tell them. But as he

flung the boy against the wall, two firm hands lay on his shoulders and pulled him

abruptly out the door.

Jack got him out of the room, the anger evident on his face. Danny’s heart was

racing and his rage still alive when Jack confronted him.

“What the hell are you doing, Danny? You aren’t going to get anything from him

acting like that except a harassment charge. Do me a favour and calm down if you

want to keep working on this!” – Jack yelled at him.

“We’re wasting time, Jack. That stupid guy knows exactly what’s happened! He’s

playing tricks on us, while that girl is probably in danger and we don’t know what

her condition is! We have to make him to tell us!” – Danny yelled too.

Some agents close by glanced at them as they walked past, and others made

comments in low tones.

Jack looked at him for a second. “Get out of here, Danny” – he ordered with a calm

but firm voice. Not waiting for a reply, Jack re-entered the interview room.

“Okay, Mr. Patrick”- Jack said staring at the young man. “My co-worker is a bit

impatient, but you’ll see, right now here we are, you and me. I have to confess that

my patience is getting exhausted, and you know what? My co-worker is your best

friend in comparison to me when my patience is over. So, please, do you want to

tell me what you know?”

Tom Patrick froze. He didn’t know what scared the more, the furious look or the

calm and threatening tone that the man used to talk.

“Well, I... I’ll tell what happened. We were outside the toilets, one of the guys had

brought in a substance we’re not allowed, it was good for us, it isn’t a illegal drug

but the trainer doesn’t let us use it. Lisa saw us and threatened to tell the trainer.

We couldn’t let her to do that so we waited for her at the end of class time. We only

wanted to scare her, tell her about what could happen to her if she told, but we

didn’t want to hurt her. Then she ran away. It was the last time I saw her. She was

okay when we left her”.

“What time was it?”

“Around six.”

Jack left a sheet of paper and a pen. “Write the names of the friends with you”.

Tom wrote three names and handed the sheet back to Jack.

“Good”- Jack said, and left the interview room. Danny stood up outside listening to

the conversation.

“Are you calmer?”- Jack asked coldly.

Danny didn’t reply.

“I want you to go back and interview Ted Mason, again. Go with Viv. He could know

where the girl is hidden. She’s probably just scared”.

“Don’t you think they have done something to her?” – Danny asked, with a worried

tone that surprised Jack.

“No, they only wanted to scare her, they’re not stupid enough to hurt her. They

knew she got scared and wouldn’t say anything to the trainer” – Jack explained

frowning.

“Fine” – Danny said. He headed for Viv’s desk, who picked up her coat and left the

office with her co-worker.

 

That night.

Martin was finishing the report from case, when he saw his co-worker coming into

the office. It was late, the others had already left, but Martin wanted to finish the

report. In any case, he would have to wait because he wanted to go a NA meeting

before going back home. He usually went to one of these meetings, Danny was the

only one who knew, and he thought Sam might suspect.

“What are you doing here?”- Danny questioned seriously.

‘Oh’, Martin thought, who’d barely seen him during the day, ‘the bad mood they

were talking about is still on him’. “I want to finish this report before I go out, you?”

“I couldn’t find my car keys, I guess I left here”- Danny replied, searching around

his desk.

“How are you doing with Elena?” – Martin asked.

“Fine and if all of you stop asking, I’ll be better” – Danny grumbled. “Oh, they were

here”- he said picking up the keys from the ground.

“It isn’t the first time there’s been a woman in my life, Martin” – Danny continued

noticing Martin looking at him. “She hasn’t broken my heart...”

“Usually, you’re the one who drops them...” – Martin said

“Really? I hadn’t noticed” – Danny grimaced. “Okay, it’s... I’m fine, Martin. The fact

she left helps a lot, you should know it”, he said quietly when he realized that

maybe he was being a bit unfair.

“Fine, good for you” – Martin said.

Danny picked up his bag to leave, but his eyes met the TV. On the screen, someone

strangely familiar to him, was talking to the presenter of a program. He frowned,

thinking about the person.

“Have you seen that show before?” – Martin asked. “It’s good, informative subjects

with scientific interest”.

“Uhm, I didn’t know you like those programs” – Danny muttered still looking at the

TV.

“Well, you know, you come back home tired, drop on the couch and switch on the

TV as if you have an automatic pilot. But I’ve seen a couple of episodes and it’s

really interesting” – Martin commented.

“I see” – Danny almost whispered, not shifting his eyes from the screen.

When Martin finished his report, they left the building. Danny said goodbye to

Martin and headed for his car. He leaned against it and closed his eyes. His body

trembled and he felt sick, but he tried to relax. Once he got himself under control,

he got into his car and started it. Still a bit thoughtless, he drove for a while

through New York’s streets until he stopped in front of a bar. He stayed there for a

few minutes resting his head on the wheel closing his eyes, trying to resist the

temptation to enter the bar. He could start the car and go back home, he could go

to a meeting, he could call his sponsor, but what he had seen on that TV program

had destroyed the last piece of good sense he had. He got out of the car and walked

with insecure steps to the bar, knowing that what he was going to do was the

worst option he could have chosen. Sitting down in the bar, Danny listened to some

people talking about the program that had brought him to this place. He ordered a

whiskey and had a quick one, then he ordered another one. Not even thinking

about it, he drank it down in one gulp.

“Hey, bad day?”- The waiter asked, noticing the way Danny emptied the glass.

Danny didn’t even bother to reply. He just needed to delete those images from his

head, he had to delete them, it was his absolute priority.

“Hey guy”- the waiter said again, after he had ordered his fifth drink. “It would be

better if you stop, maybe what you need is female company, don’t you think?”- He

said with a smirk. He lifted his head and called a to woman sitting down at the back

of the bar. She approached Danny and sat down beside him.

“What’s wrong, has your girlfriend dumped you?”

“Something like that” – Danny replied.

“Don’t worry, if you’re looking for a bit of solace, I can give you what you want” –

she said, in a clearly flirting tone. With the movement of her hand, she brushed a

strand of her dyed hair off her face and started to rub his arm, very softly at first.

She put her arms around his neck and advanced, her mouth moving to his. Danny,

self numbed because the whiskey, let her do what she wanted.

“Let’s get out of here” – she whispered in his ear, as she slipped her hand down

Danny’s waist, making him jump.

Five minutes later, she was driving Danny’s car to a place nearby. They left the car

and walked to what Danny thought would be her apartment. He had drunk so

much, no, he had just drunk. After nine years sober, he had committed the worst,

stupid act in his whole life and now he was with this unknown woman dipping in a

strange pleasurable feeling. Maybe this experience could help him, he thought,

maybe this was the solution, he told himself in a desperate attempt to justify the

facts, as he was getting carried away by the woman.

 

February 18th. 0630 h.

The sound of his cell woke him from a deep sleep. It was 0630 in the morning.

Danny got up in a start and immediately he felt the room spinning around him,

queasiness quickly overcomes him and with that the strong smell of the alcohol. He

didn’t know where he was; he saw his clothes lying on the floor, some stains of

lipstick on his shirt. Everything was so familiar to him; he had lived this situation

before, a long time ago. He tried to calm down realizing what he’d done. He

couldn’t believe it. How could he have been so stupid? Suddenly remembering the

reason of why he was there, all the pain came flooding back into his mind. He

dropped on the bed as a world of images of a life he thought he had forgotten,

invaded his senses, like everything had happened only seconds before. With his

head against the pillow he tried desperately to find a point of balance. A point to

hold on to, to regain control of his life, to take back the Danny Taylor that today,

was going to be late for work. But unfortunately he didn’t find it.

His cell started to ring again, but Danny didn’t reply. Only one hour later, he got up

and picked up his clothes. Clearing the house, he knew he was alone, so he entered

in the bathroom to have a shower, trying to clear himself. He didn’t have enough

time to go home if he wanted to arrive at work not too late, but his aspect was

terrible. He remembered that he kept a cleanliness kit in the office; he would have

a shave there and clean himself up. He had a clean shirt in his car, so he quickly

dressed and left the building he didn’t even remember. Once on the street, he

immediately spotted his car parked in front of the building. Danny managed to

locate the keys in his jacket pocket along his wallet, which seemed to be missing a

few notes. A vague memory of the blonde woman he had spent the night with

coming to mind.

Before he left the elevator at the FBI’s office, he took a deep breath trying to

control his nerves.

Sam, Vivian and Martin were around the conference table checking some

documents. When they saw him, they lifted their heads and looked at him in

surprise.

“What happened?” – Vivian asked worried.

“Nothing, it’s... I fell asleep, that’s all” – Danny muttered, taking the clean kit out of

the drawer in his desk. “Excuse me” – he said and left the office.

“What the hell...?” – Sam started.

“Eh, look at this” – Vivian said. The three focused on the case once again and soon

forgot about their co-workers abrupt entry.

Fortunately for him, when Danny came back after the shaving and cleaning, there

wasn’t any trace of what he was before. He spent time on it but also on making

mental notes about where he was and preparing himself for a new day at work as if

nothing had happened. Jack didn’t realize his delay, lately Jack didn’t realize

anything, he thought smirking. But while passing his boss’s office, Jack called him

over.

“Danny, where’ve you been? It’s almost 10, there’s a case. I’ve been calling you but

you didn’t reply”.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I fell asleep, I’m sorry. I don’t have an excuse, Jack. I haven’t been

sleeping well for a couple of nights and I was exhausted. I’m sorry”.

“Listen, if you’re tired, you can ask for a couple of days off, but we have work to do

and you have to be a hundred per cent fit, right? Lately, you seem a bit absentminded...”

– Jack said.

“Yes, eh...” – For a moment Danny didn’t know what to say. “I’m sorry about what

happened yesterday in the interview room, if that is what you’re talking about. I... I

was really worried about that girl and that idiot didn’t want to tell us... I’m sorry, I

know it isn’t the right behaviour”.

“I know Danny. But we see that kind of situation every day; you can’t attack a

witness because you’re in a hurry. I can understand when you’re a rookie, but

you’ve been working here for years, you can’t allow the cases to affect you so

much, do you understand?”

“Yes, it’s... well, some events have joined and... but it won’t happen again. I

promise.” – Danny muttered, trying to ignore his pounding head.

“I know myself, that this kind of work can affect our private lives and sometimes

we don’t realize that asking for help’s ok” – Jack explained.

“Are you telling me that I should go and see Dr. Harris?”- Danny asked.

“If you continue like this, I’ll be forced to make an appointment for you. You’re a

member of a team I’m responsible for and I don’t like that kind of behaviour. I’d

rather you tell me that it was nerves of the moment but seeing that the cases are

affecting you… it’s not good Danny. We are human and we can get angry, but as I

told you before, you can’t get too involved in this work, you can’t have any sort of

relationship with the people we are trying to find, with their families or their

personal stories”- Jack told him.

“I... I’ve told you I’m sorry and it won’t happen again, Jack”.

“Fine, I hope so. Well, Maria Martinez, 28, she works in a 24 hours shop. Her

husband reported her disappearance when she didn’t come home after her shift

and didn’t reply to his calls. We’ve found two little packs of drugs hidden behind a

drawer in the kitchen at their house. The husband said he has no idea how they got

there. I want you to go with Martin to the shop and talk to her co-workers and

boss. Maybe they can tell you something about her behaviour. Sam is checking her

credit card movements and Viv is investigating the husband. He seems like a right

and honestly worried man, but...” – Jack explained as Danny listened intently to the

information on the case so far.

“Right” – Danny said standing up. He left the office and he went to meet Martin.

Both left the office to go to Maria Martinez’s work, in Brooklyn.

On the way, Martin told him what they had found about the missing person, but at

this time of the day, it wasn’t still enough.

“What happened to you this morning? Is true that you fell asleep?” – Martin asked.

Danny smirked and then smiled. Martin caught on to the gesture. “Gosh, here is a

lucky man”- he said.

Danny didn’t want to clarify anything, it wasn’t a lie either. But at this time of the

day he was extremely aware of the stupid decision he had made. He knew he

couldn’t drink even a sip of alcohol. It had been a long time ago when his body had

reached that point where you become a sick person, an alcoholic and that’s your

condition for the rest of your life. He knew that but he’d ignored it, just trying

desperately to erase those images from his head. But had it worked? He had ended

up in the apartment of a woman he only remembered because of her dyed hair, he

had been late to work, he had lied to his co-workers and boss, and most

importantly he hadn’t felt any remorse in doing it, and now, he was laughing...

What the hell he was laughing about?

“Yes, it was fine”- he listened to himself replying, feeling unreal. Those images had

taken positions in his mind again and the smile disappeared from his face.

Martin continued speaking about silly things as they drive to their destination.

Danny heard the words but the sound came into his ears like sharps pain adding to

his permanent headache.

“Danny! Danny!”- Martin almost yelled.

“What’s up?” – Danny replied startled.

“You’ve got a call, you’re cell.... where you are, man?” – Martin urged him, taking a

look away from the road for a second.

“Taylor”- Danny replied opening the cell.

“Danny? Where the hell you were? I’ve been trying to reach you”- a female voice at

the end of the line caused other sharp pain in his head.

“Eh... hello. My cell was off, I’m sorry. What happen?” – Danny inquired, recognizing

the voice. It was Sylvia Marquez, his brother’s fiancée.

“Something terrible has happened Danny. I’m... I’m at New York‘s Hospital... with

Rafie” – she said.

 

 

 

Chapter 2

“What happened?” – Danny asked on full alert mode.

“It seems... they think Rafie has tried to kill himself. He’s... he’s in very bad

condition, Danny, he’s in a coma. The doctors told me he spent too much time

without oxygen to his brain, they don’t have much hope, they think Rafie won’t be

the same person again, probably he won’t get better, maybe he will have some

permanent consequences” – Sylvia explained.

“Oh” – Danny was a bit confused. “Eh, listen I’m... I’m working, I don’t know if I’ll be

able to go...”

“Danny, he’s your brother!”- she exclaimed.

“Yes, I know, I’ll go later, right now I’m working, I have to do something now. But,

I’ll go later, when I finish this, right?”- Danny said.

There was silence at the other side of the line. It wasn’t that Danny didn’t love his

brother; right now, he just didn’t have enough strength to see him, suddenly, things

were so complicated for him and if he saw Rafie.... shit!, he was in a coma, he had to

go to visit him, Rafie was the only family he had. For a second, a flash, an image of

his brother long time ago came to his mind, joined by other painful pictures. The

hand that held the cell started to tremble and the tears reached his eyes. Danny

tried desperately to move those images out of his head but he couldn’t, he couldn’t

take control of them. Suddenly, he felt a hand on his shoulder and a voice.

“Danny, are you okay, what’s wrong?”- Martin looked at him with worry.

That little distraction was like a hot button and Danny managed to take control of

himself in a second. “It’s nothing, I’m fine”- he said grimacing.

“Hello, are you there?”- he asked, calling Sylvia’s attention.

“I’m here, Danny, are you coming here or what?”- Sylvia asked. Her voice sounded

tired and quiet.

“I’ll go when I can, I promise, okay?”- Danny said trying to sound convincing.

“Fine, don’t wait too long she replied.

Danny cut the call. He didn’t say anything Martin about that conversation and they

spent the rest of the way talking about the case.

Since that moment, Martin took charge of the interviews. The boss or Maria’s coworkers

could not tell them anything interesting but another co-worker didn’t

come to work and they didn’t know where he was. Maybe they have another

missing person or maybe a suspect. They got his information and Danny called Jack

to send someone to look for him.

They were coming back to the car when Danny spoke. “Hey, Martin, do you mind

going back on your own? There’s something I have to do...” – he said.

“Is it something about the call you received before?”- Martin asked.

“Yes, it’s... it’s personal. I don’t think I’ll be too long” – Danny replied.

“Danny, is everything going okay? You’re a bit absent-minded today” – Martin

pressed him, worried.

Danny shrugged shoulders, he wasn’t the type to tell about his private life, much

less about his family, but it was Martin. They had shared a lot of experiences, it

wasn’t fair, but the only safe thought in this moment for Danny was work, if he

thought about anything else, he always finished up the same way; like the night

before he had begun to take the wrong way, and now that way firmly placed, ready

and waiting for him to take the next step.

“It’s my brother, he’s in the hospital. I don’t know what happened, his fiancée

called to tell me”- he muttered avoiding Martin’s’ eyes.

“Well Danny, it’s not a problem. Come on, get into the car. It’s on our way to the

office. I’ll leave you there, right?” – Martin said, not understanding why his friend

was so confused. He thought the time was long past for secrets between them.

Danny got into the car. “I’m sorry I wasn’t more alert before. I was thinking about

other things” – he said.

“Sure. Why didn’t you tell me before?”- Martin couldn’t help but ask.

“I don’t know” – Danny said.- “It’s the usual thing, I suppose”.

Martin smiled.

“I hope to find that woman soon” – Danny said, changing the subject.

“Yes, maybe Jack and Sam can get something out of that guy. I guess it’s not a

coincidence the fact that he hasn’t come to work. Either he’s involved and went

away or he’s in the same situation as Maria” – Martin said.

A short time later they arrived at the hospital. Danny got out of the car and walked

to the hall as Martin drove away to the office. In his way, the cell started to ring.

“Fitzgerald” – he replied.

“Martin, it’s Viv, we’ve found that her credit card has been used an hour ago in a

groceries shop at the down Bronx. Jack and Sam are searching Maria’s co-worker.

I’ll join you at this address” – she said.

Martin took note and turned the car. When he arrived, Vivian was already talking

to the shop assistant.

“Yes, she came in an hour ago more or less. She brought some groceries and

camping utensils. She got my attention because she wore a peaked cap and

sunglasses. I don’t think it’s necessary with those dark clouds. I would say she was

hiding from something” – he said pointing to the security camera.

“Did you see if she got into a car?” – Vivian asked.

“Yes, she got into a van, like that one, but it was black”

“Did you see if there was anybody else in the car or she was driving?” – Martin

asked, joining the conversation.

“She got into in the car on the right side, I suppose it means something. Ah, wait a

moment, maybe the security camera got something”- he said, heading to the back

of the shop.

Vivian and Martin exchanged a meaningful look. The man came back with a ladder

and went up to take the videotape.

In his tiny office, the man put the videotape and rewound it until the time Maria

came in the shop.

“We got it!”- Martin said, when he saw the van, the woman and most important, the

plate number.

“Well, thanks for helping us Mr. Lester. If you don’t mind we’ll take this videotape”

– Vivian said.

“Take what you need, agent. I hope you find her soon” – he said.

Vivian and Martin left the shop. Martin called Jack and told him what they had got.

Jack and Sam had returned to the office with no information. Everything pointed to

Maria’s co-worker as the driver of the van. They entered the vehicle’s plate in the

database to try to find it.

“Where’s Danny?”- Vivian asked, as the headed for their cars.

“His brother is in the hospital. His fiancée called Danny when we were driving to

Maria’s work. I left him there”.

“What happened?”- Vivian asked worried.

“He didn’t know but.... Viv, don’t you notice Danny a bit absent-minded lately?” – he

asked.

“Why he was late at work? Forget it!, it will be good for him. After what happened

with Elena, he needs to have some fun”. – she said.

“You knew too?” – Martin asked.

“Of course, all of us knew it” – she replied with a smile. “Danny is very private but

Elena used him as her lapdog and he didn’t turn up his nose at her. Didn’t you

notice that?”

“Yes, maybe”- he admitted. “But he seemed to be happy”

“Yes, he was”- she said.

Both looked each other for a moment. They knew what they were talking about.

They knew Danny pretty well to know the meaning of that for him.

“I hope he isn’t very upset” – Martin said, remembering their little conversation the

day of the goodbye.

“Well, it wouldn’t have to upset him more than anybody else, they weren’t dating

for a long time but everything depends of what he expected of her, I think”- Vivian

said. “Age is important, I suppose that in life there comes a time where you want to

form your own family”.

“Yes” – Martin said thoughtfully, remembering his own relationship with Sam.

“Well, let’s go to the office?”

“Yes, sure, let’s go”- she said, opening the car door.

Danny stopped at the entrance of the Hospital to call Sylvia.

“It’s Danny, I’m at the hospital” – he said.

“Okay, you have to go to trauma section, fourth floor. The room is number 4665” –

she directed him.

Danny hated hospitals, he had spent a lot of time in them where he was a child and

some times later, during his youth getting a nice scar in the stomach. The typical

smell brought to his memory those old times and right now, it was the last thing he

wanted. But there he was, in an elevator going up slowly in a kind of agony until his

final destination. No, he wasn’t ready to face his brother, not in a normal situation,

much less in a hospital. When he got out of the elevator he had to lean against the

wall to catch his breath. He looked down the corridor and could see the figure of

Sylvia talking to a man. Outside a room, a prison’s agent, was seated with a bored

expression. Danny took a deep breath to control his nerves, and walked to them.

“Hey” – he said.

“Hello Danny, he’s Dr. Mathews, who is looking after Rafie. Dr. Mathews, he’s

Danny Taylor, Rafie’s brother” – Sylvia introduced them.

The doctor held out his hand to Danny and he shook his. “I was explaining to Ms.

Márquez that right now, Rafael’s condition is stable, but his situation is serious. We

have to wait for 24 hours more to know how is going his prognosis but, sadly, after

the several tests we did to him, we don’t have much hope”.

“What... What happened to him?” – Danny managed to ask.

“Well, the information I got from the paramedics is that he was found unconscious

in his cell with a sheet around his neck. Fortunately, your brother didn’t break his

neck”- the doctor started to explain to Danny.

Sylvia, who had heard it before, nervously bit her nails, trying to keep calm. Danny

looked at the doctor and then Sylvia, running his hand over his face. He pictured

Rafie in that cell, during all the night thinking about what he was going to do, the

desperation, the desperation of someone who gives everything up for lost. He

hadn’t gone to visit him for a long time since he was in prison again, a couple of

times at first, but then, they became distant, again. Being together, brought bad

memories to both brothers. Rafie felt like a ruined man beside Danny and never

had asked him for help. For Danny, the only link with his brother was a past he

wanted to forget at all costs.

“However” – the doctor continued – “the lack of oxygen to his brain, has caused his

current state. Your brother is in a coma and like I told you before, the next 24

hours are important to know the direction of his prognosis. It’s still too early to

know, he’s monitored to keep his vitals and only his own reply will tell us the

medication he will need”

“What can happen to him?” – Danny asked again.

“Well, we have three options here. I’m not lying to you, none of them is good. Rafael

won’t be like he was before. First, we have a 60 per cent of a multiorganic failure

what will be his demise. The remaining 40 per cent is shared with a progressive

damage of his organism or a partial recovery. We can’t talk about what will happen

or what a partial recovery could mean, but we aren’t optimistic. I’m sorry.”- doctor

said.

 

 

Sylvia and Danny exchanged a look. Neither of them had ever thought about being

in this situation. Well, nobody thinks about it but sometimes... sometimes it

happens, and it was happening. Sylvia had a very complicated life, with Rafie in

prison and two little children to give a good education in life, with a bad economic

situation... how she would look after Rafie if he survived? ‘Why doesn’t he die?’ -

she thought as the cruelty of her own thought filled her eyes with tears. Danny

approached and embraced her. He wouldn’t be able to look after Rafie either, he

couldn’t before either but right now it was impossible.

“Can... can I see him?” – he asked, plucking up courage.

“Yes, sure, you can go in for a moment” – the doctor said.

Danny went into the room and approached a chair beside his brother’s bed. He was

unconscious and monitored, like the doctor told him, waiting for what Danny

thought it would be a miracle.

Danny remained there for a while, looking at him, looking the scars the prison had

left on his brother, the tattoos, his pale face, his arms marked by the needles, living

a hell that Danny was starting to live... again. He took Rafie’s hand in his, in a

gesture that he felt was unreal and whispered to him – “I know you tried, Rafie, I

know you tried to help me. It wasn’t your fault what happened, it isn’t your fault

what is happening”.

Danny felt confused, for the time he was in that room, and he knew that it would be

like that, it seemed the years hadn’t passed. In a start all his senses, all what he was

living, all his social setting was deeply connected to his true roots, his true future.

In that room, Danny Taylor was left in second place and Danny Alvarez, the little

boy of Alvarez’s family had revived from the deepest part of his soul. “Rafie” – he

said whispering, as the tears rolled down his cheeks – “Rafie, don’t die, I need you. I

need your help, I need you be there, please, don’t die”.

When Danny left the room, he leant for a moment on the wall with his eyes closed.

He couldn’t cope with it, he couldn’t go on with his life. There was a moment, he

didn’t know exactly if it was the night before, or right now, when everything had

changed. Now, he understood those words Sylvia told him the first time they met,

‘you haven’t faced what you are’. All those years playing at being Danny Taylor,

giving up the alcohol, becoming a person with a reasonable life and leaving a dark

past, full of shadows, ups and downs, fights, yells, beatings, alcohol and drugs

around him and in himself, the lack of protection and kindness, the lack of a family,

a place to call home, always fighting to run away from that life, were, actually, a big

lie. Everything was there and nothing had changed.

“Danny”- Sylvia touched his arm softly calling his attention. He looked at her

without seeing her, really, still lost in his thoughts.

“Danny, it’s hard, I know. But we’ll deal with it, okay?”- she said. “Don’t think about

anything, it’ll be what it has to be, right?”

He nodded, not able to say a word.

“The director of the prison told me that he wanted to talk to you” – Sylvia said.

“To me? About what?” – Danny asked.

“I don’t know, he didn’t want to tell me. He just told me that when I see you, tell

that you go to talk to him” – Sylvia said.

“Okay, I don’t know what he wants from me. I suppose that... I don’t know, Sylvia.

Have they given you his personal effects, or something?” – Danny asked.

“No. I suppose when the Hospital sends the report to the prison, they will tell me

something” – she replied.

“Well”- Danny said. “I... I’ll go to talk to the Director, the sooner we solve this, the

better”.

“Sure, I’ll be here for a while and then I’ll come back home. I have to talk to Nicky” –

she said with a broken voice. “I don’t know what I’m going to tell him. He... he’s

very close to his father, Danny, in spite of the fact that he barely knows him and

however... oh my god, he’s only a kid... how will this affect him?”

“I don’t know, Sylvia, I don’t know” – he said.

“What it’s clear is this girl is hiding something. If she doesn’t, she wouldn’t avoid

the security camera” – Sam said.

Sam and Jack were beside the tech as he introduced the plate of the van that Martin

had just told them by phone.

“Yes, if she is with that guy, with the record the man has got, it’s sure she’s in some

dirty business. What it’s strange is the husband hasn’t noticed anything”- Jack

commented.

“The husband spends a couple of days a week out of the city. Maybe those days she

works in her other activity” – Vivian said, coming in. She handed Jack the tape they

had got in the shop.

At that moment, Martin called Jack. “Jack, excuse me, could I talk to you for a

second?”- he asked at the same time he greeted Sam.

Jack frowned and left the room moved by Martin worried expression. “What’s

happening?”- he asked once they were out of the office.

“It’s Danny, well not exactly. When we went to Maria’s work, his brother’s fiancée

called him. Rafie is in New York Hospital, I don’t know what happened to him but I

left Danny there. I wanted you to know.”- Martin told him.

“Well, eh... I’ll call him later if he doesn’t call me”- Jack said. He didn’t like the news.

Danny was so nervous lately and Jack was very well aware of how the relationship

between the brothers affected his agent.

“Jack, he won’t call you. You know Danny, I almost had to pull out of him what was

happening. He wanted to go to the hospital by on his own, I had to insist he tell me

what was happening and that I’d drive him to the hospital” – Martin said.

“Well, I’ll call him, later” – Jack said.

Both came back to the room where Maria and probably her co-worker’s van had

just been found.

Once they called the police, they went to the site where, with a bit of luck, they

would find the young woman. On their way there Jack, who was beside Vivian,

called Danny.

Danny left the hospital and got into the first cab he found thinking about nothing.

The cab drove to the ferry that would leave him near Rikers. During the trip

Danny was thinking about the consequences of Rafie’s current state and he

wondered why Rafie had tried to commit suicide. It was true that Rafie had ups

and downs and the drugs had undermined his health. In fact he had tried to

commit suicide before but now... in spite of being in prison Rafie was in a stable

situation and he was looking forward to join his family again and start a new life.

The sound of his cell stopped his thoughts. “Hello?” – he said.

“Danny, it’s Jack”

Danny took a second to react. ‘Jack... who’s Jack?’ Suddenly, everything came back

to reality.

“Oh, Jack, I’m sorry, I was a bit distracted”.

“I see, listen, Martin told me about your brother. I’m sorry, how is he?”, Jack asked.

“Not very well, he’s in a coma. The doctors don’t know what will happen to him but

the prognosis isn’t good. They told us we have to wait until tomorrow and we’ll

see”- Danny explained him, not wanting to tell him anything else.

“Well, listen, take today off and if you need it, don’t come to work tomorrow either,

right?” – Jack said.

“Okay, thanks”- Danny replied.

“Oh, and keep in touch, please”

“Sure”

When he arrived at the entrance of prison, Danny headed to the officer at the door.

“Morning, my name’s Danny Taylor, the Director is waiting for me” – he said,

flashing his ID.

The officer checked the list he had in his hands. “Ah, yes, you’re coming about

Rafael Alvarez, right?”

Danny nodded.

The officer took his talkie and called to other agent that went with Danny to

Director’s office.

“Mr. Taylor” – he said holding his hand to Danny. “This is special agent Travis, from

judicial police”

Danny shook their hands nervously. “My brother’s fiancée has told me that you

wanted to talk to me” – he said.

“Yes, eh, sit down, please. Look, what has happened to your brother has been a

surprise for us. I mean, usually we have special attention on those prisoners with

depressive behaviours or suicidal tendencies. There is a psychiatric Department

working with those prisoners. Rafael Alvarez is what we call an institutionalized

prisoner, I mean, he has spent so long time in prison that he’s completely adapted

to the system, do you understand?” – the Director explained.

“Until now, you haven’t tell me anything new, Mr...” – Danny said.

“Murphy”

“Murphy”- Danny repeated. “What is exactly what you want from me?”

“I want to explain you what has happened...” – The director started a bit nervous.

“And look for an excuse because a prisoner of this place had the instruments to

commit suicide” – Danny said in a sarcastic tone.

Agent Travis smiled before Danny’s comment.

“Not exactly. Look Mr. Taylor, we’re trying to find out why your brother wanted to

talk to you last night”.

“What?” – Danny asked confused.

Agent Travis interrupted, tired of the Director not saying what they wanted to say.

“We think that you could know the reason that caused your brother’s reaction. Las

night, Rafael Alvarez, was carried to his cell under arrest, after he set upon another

prisoner as they watched the TV. During all the way, he was constantly asking for

you”.

Danny raised an eyebrow, in surprise.

“He wasn’t allowed to do it because he was arrested. The other prisoners say that

he didn’t let them sleep because he spent the night yelling your name, first with

rage, then as he sobbed. Finally, in a soft whisper”- Travis explained appearing to

enjoy the details.

Danny felt a lump in his throat realizing what had happened. However, he couldn’t

say a word.

“Fortunately, if we can call it like that, his... suicide attempt happened at the hour

the officer in charge makes his rounds. He found your brother, he opened the cell

and freed the sheet clumsily tied around his neck”- he continued.

Danny closed his eyes.

“We aren’t clear that your brother was trying to commit suicide, but he was

looking for an excuse to escape. It’s a pity that the officer got nervous and he spent

more time than usual to press the button to open the cells”- Travis said.

“My brother is in a coma and there is a good chance he will die or stay in that state

for the rest of his life”- Danny muttered with contained rage. “I doubt that he

risked his life like that for a couple of hours out of here”.

“Do you know why he wanted to talk to you?”- the Director asked.

“No, I haven’t talk to him for a long time, you’ll know that checking the visit list. I

haven’t any idea”. – Danny said.

“Well, in that case, for the moment I don’t have anything else to say, Mr. Taylor. If

you get some information to help us to clarify what has happened, I would be glad

if you share it with us”- Travis said.

Sure, I’ll do that”- Danny said standing up.

This time, Danny didn’t shake hands to the both men in front of him and left the

room without another word.

Once he was out of the prison, he headed to the ferry that took him back to the city.

During the trip he was imagining his brother yelling his name all night, like Travis

had told him. ‘Oh, my god’ – he thought – ‘he was trying to protect me’

He arrived exhausted at home after taking a cab and firmly gave the driver his

home address. He needed a drink urgently, but he had broken the rules once

yesterday, and he didn’t want to do it again. No way he would let what was

happening ruin his life.

However, at home he felt caged. Not knowing what to do, thinking about his

brother, about what he had done the night before, about all what was happening

since he had seen those images on the TV, the same images Rafie, surely, had seen,

Danny ended again on the street. He needed to feel free, let everything behind. He

got up his motorbike, he used to drive on the road during the weekends or days off,

and drove to one of the highways of New York. The soft purr of the motorbike was

calming him down, the fresh air against his body was very welcome and little by

little he got carried away, he arched his body against the motorbike and went

faster and faster.

 

Chapter 3

 

February, 18th. 2200 h.

“Danny Taylor! What are you doing here?”

Danny grimaced seeing an old friend approaching to him, Charles Gordon. He gave

an effusive pat on the back and sat down beside Danny.

Since a half hour before, Danny waited sat down in a police station, as an agent

made a report and told him officially what was the charge against him... like he

didn’t know it. He had infringed the traffic rules, exceeding the maximum allowed

speed too far that what he had wanted. The worst wasn’t that, and only him know

it, the worst was that he had lost completely the sense of what he was doing. The

speed, the feeling of risk, the fact to be at the edge and play like that with the death,

had brought a strange feeling of pleasure, he couldn’t get free from.

The sirens from the patrol car, the alcoholemy control, the explanations he was

told didn’t even bothered him. The fact of being handcuffed and drove to the police

station either. That was the most he was worried about.

He was trying to take the control, being clear that for the first... maybe, second time

in a short space of time, his decisions and actions were very far from his current

behaviour. He tried to think about how this behaviour could affect his work, about

to face his coworkers after this, he tried to get nervous but he didn’t care. It was

that what it was scaring him. He was trapped and he knew it. How could get out of

that situation? He didn’t knew. Maybe he was in a vulnerable situation, maybe

Elena going away, Catherine Chester case... Jack was right and he didn’t want to

admit it, lately he was feeling more affected by the cases they worked.

He was aware of all the silly things he was doing lately, the rude attitude with his

coworkers, the confussion of the last days, but what had happened in the last 24

hours had sent him to a confuse world. He had drunk again, he had driven his

motorbike in a way he could have to kill himself easily and however, he felt

powerful close to that kind of experiences, like someone had press a button making

him to come back to the old times, when things were usually like that and he

remained trying not to be engulfed by that chaos. Just that right now, he wanted, he

needed to be engulfed in that old times, he needed that what had happened a long

time ago, become in just an anecdote. It was the only way to free away of that,

intensifying his pain, intensifying the experience.

Now he was sitting with Charles Gordon, an old friend, actually a neighbourg for

some years and he didn’t know what to say.

“Have you come with some prisoner of the FBI?” – Charles asked.

“No, I haven’t” – Danny replied tiredness. “I’m the one being arrested”

“You? What has happened?” – he asked.

“I don’t know, I got excited and lost the sense of speed”- Danny said crossing his

arms. “At least, it happened nothing”.

“You had a bad day at work, hadn’t you?” – Charles said. “I understand you,

absolutely. I used to do something like that, I focus on a battle in the bowling alley

with the guys or spend until midnight playing basket with my son, Brian. It’s

exhausted but good for get free tension”.

“I see” – Danny didn’t feel like speaking much, but he smiled. It was pleasant to feel

that someone try to understand you, but it wasn’t what was happened to him.

“Wait a moment, I’ll go to see what’s happening with that report, maybe I can help

you” – his friend told him, seeing Danny so depressed.

“No, don’t worry”- Danny protested. He didn’t want Charles came to him defence.

He was plenty conscious about what he had done. He knew the reason to be in that

police station.

“Eh, come on, it’s nothing, I don’t think your boss gets happy knowing this”-

Charles said and left the room not waiting for Danny reply.

There was another guy sat down behind Danny that used this moment to lean

forward to whisper on Danny’s ear. “I guess you’re a man of strong emotions.

Maybe I can help you”.

Danny felt the breath on his neck and turned in surprise. The man in his forties

looked at him with a smirk. At first moment, Danny didn’t take the hint, but when

he saw his face, understood what that man was trying to say. He smiled and in the

same low tone, he whispered back “I’m sorry, but maybe you’re wrong.

I’m.not.gay”.

The man laughed. “I haven’t said you are. In a moment I’ll leave this place, after the

policeman throw the book at my friend. I’ll drive you a place I know and I can

assure you won’t regret”.

“We’ll see”- Danny said, not knowing why he had said that. Then he saw Charles

Gordon waving a paper to him and a happy face.

“Done. The charges were dropped” – he said.

“What? How you did it?” – Danny asked in surprise.

“Oh, come on Danny, they had to pay me a favour, a little bit of acting... you know

how it works this” – Charles said smiling.

Danny smiled back. “Well, thanks, I didn’t think you’d get it” – Danny said not

knowing so well what to say, as shook his hand.

“You owe me one favor, Taylor” – the other said patting his back.

Danny saw his friend leaving the room and turned to pick up his jacket. It was sure

he owed his friend one favor. Then he met the eyes of that guy. Damn it, he had a

painful headache and the only thing he wished it was to leave that place.

“Hey!”- the man called him when Danny was leaving the room.

Danny stopped and turned. “Listen, I think I was clear before, I’m not interested” –

he said.

“No, no, okay. Take my card”- the man told him handed his card.

Danny took the card and read it ‘Clifford Hewings, stockbroker’. “Well Clifford, the

true is that I’m not interested in Stock Exchange”- he started.

“I noticed it, I have a good intuition to attract clients. But... here you have my

private phone, you know, strong emotions. I can drive you to a place you’ll like... I

have good intuition for that, too”.

“Okay”- Danny said, keeping the card in his pocket. “We’ll see” It was the same he

had said before. What was he thinking about?. “Bye, I... I gotta go”.

“Bye, FBI”- the man said with a smirk.

Danny startled being professionally identified but then, he remembered that

Charles Gordon had said something about that before. Probably that man was

listening them.

Danny left the police station and his motorbike that Charles promised to send back

the next morning and took a cab to come back home.

 

 

March, 11th. 08.00

Jack was in his office, checking the profile he had on his desk for the last time. He

hoped to be right with the choice, it wasn’t easy to add a new member to an

already closed team. The new agent joining the team had a certain experience in

missing persons, having worked for four years in San Francisco, at the missing

persons unit of the FBI in that city. He had contacted with his supervisor in San

Francisco and he told about the agent like a very qualified person. They worked

using different methods but Jack thought the new agent would take the way they

worked in New York easily. Why had she asked for a transfer to New York?

Olivia Wilson had just enter in the FBI’s park lot in New York. She parked in a free

spot and cut the engine off. Her breath was racing, she only hope to be doing the

right thing, she always had wanted to come back New York, the city where she was

born. She always kept good memories of a city that gave her a lot of things during

the time she lived there, until her parents decided to finish their constant fights

and she left New York to live in San Francisco with her mother. San Francisco was

a magic city, very different to New York, more european with a very particular

style. She liked it, but she missed the very high buildings and the frantic rythm of

New York.

 

She didn’t have any reference about the people who would be her coworkers. She

knew that she was taking the place of an agent that had applied for a transfer in

other city, she didn’t know her reasons and that fact made her to get nervous, she

hoped it wasn’t because the relations between them. In San Francisco they were

very closed and she used to trusting them. She decided it wasn’t the moment to

start to doubt about her decision and, a bit calmer she picked up her bag to get out

of the car.

At that moment, a motorbike got into the park lot calling her attention. She

followed with her sight until it was stopped a short space in front of her. A young

and tall man got off the motorbike, took the helmet off leaving it held on the

handelbars. He opened the glove compartment and took out a little bottle of water

and what it seemed an bundle with capsules, he took his gloves off and dropped in

the glove compartment, broke the bundle and ate a couple of those capsules with a

half of the water bottle. The rest of the water was split on his head and shook it

leaving his hair in a very curious way. He took into the glove compartment the

bundle and dropped the water in a near dustbin.

The motorbike was nice and it seemed to be new. The driver was attractive but

something in his behaviour made Olivia frown. She had seen to make that

movement with the water before and she was almost sure about its meaning. The

untrust attitude of the young man looking around as he was afraid that someone

watch what he was doing, brought to her mind a word: ‘hangover’.

She left the young man enter in the building and then she got out of her car.

Walking to the building, she stopped for a moment beside the motorbike where

she could confirm that it was new, not only because its impeccable aspect but the

number plate and the recent model.

She stepped in the building and headed for the elevator, where she pressed the 12

floor’s button. That was the place where she was going to work and where right

now she had an interview with a man called Jack Malone, her new boss.

Martin and Vivian were in the break room drinking coffee, when Danny arrived.

Like he used to do lately, frowned as he headed for the coffee machine and made a

rich cup of coffee.

“How’s your brother?”- Vivian asked him.

“Same as usual”- Danny said, in a moody tone. It was the usual question. Almost

every day, one of them ask him for his brother. And every day, they got the same reply.

Vivian was getting worried, she saw Danny arriving at work everyday more tired,

some days more than others, some days with deep dark circles under his sad eyes,

some days better but always with a sad expression. Still he did his work like usual,

even though Jack had relieved him of work.

“What the doctors say?” – Martin asked.

“They had done more tests, his condition is the same. The good news is that there

isn’t damage in his organism, so there is a little hope to get the conscius back”-

Danny explained them.

“Well, that’s a good news” – Martin said.

Danny shrugged his shoulders.

“By the way” – Vivian said, changing the subject – “Today the rocky starts”

“Oh, yes” – Martin said. “What was her name... Wilson?”

“Yes, Olivia Wilson” – Viv replied.

“Well, let’s wait Jack tell her the rules” – Martin said.

“Yep” – Viv said. “Let’s go to work a little bit, it seems that it’s going to be a quiet

day, I’ll take out the old documents to check them”.

“Yes, let’s go. Are you coming with us, Danny?”- Martin asked. Danny was

completely lost in his own thoughts with the cup in his hand.

“Sure” – he said, after a second.

“Is everything okay?” – Martin asked worried.

“All the good it can be, Martin” – Danny replied curtly.

Lately, that was his coworker’s behaviour. For the last weeks, Danny had kept

away from them. He didn’t talk to anybody except for work and he was always in

bad mood. That fact joined his physical aspect, was worrying them, but they finally

thought it would be because of his brother’s problem.

Martin thought that maybe joining a new agent could help to soft things, but his

hopes vanished when Jack introduced her.

Around five minutes later, Jack got out his office with young Wilson, and walked to

his team.

“Guys, she’s Olivia Wilson. She will be your coworker since now, treats her like she

deserves” – he said with a smirk.

It was the typical introduce. Sam approached her. “Don’t take any notice of him, we

aren’t so bad. I’m Samantha Spade” – she said shaking hands with a smile. Sam

introduce the rest of the team. “She’s Vivian Johnson, he’s Martin Fitzgerald and

he’s Dan...”

“Are you the guy of the mineral water?” – Olivia exclaimed, more than asked,

innocently.

“Eh... excuse me, what did you say?” – Danny asked confused.

“Yes, weren’t you the one who was spilling the water on your head in the park lot?”

– she asked.

All the sights closed in Danny, who was a bit pale than before.

She understood his silent as a nod and continued. “You have a nice motorbike, it’s

new, isn’t it? Look” – she explained noticing the surprise in all of them – “I like

motorbikes, I like to driving them. My father had a Harley and he drove with me

when I was only 13. It was incredible. Some day I’ll buy one for me. But yours is

beautiful”.

“You haven’t tell us that you had bought a motorbike”- Sam said having fun to see

him so ashamed. She liked Olivia.

“Had I to tell?” – it was the rude and cold reply Danny said.

“Uhm, well”- Jack said cuting the conversation – “I would like to go on with this

chat but we have work to do. We have been called from Arizona’s office, they’re

looking for a person related to someone that went missing in New York, five years

ago”. He left the file on the desk and picked up a photo that he put on the white

board. “It’s an old case, with the difficulties that an old case carries with it, but they

have sent the leads they’ve got about the person they are looking for, and maybe

we get some help to find one or other”.

“Patricia Owen”- Martin said taking a paper. “I remember that case, was it that girl

who went missing the day of the Graduation Ball?”

“Exactly”- Jack said – “I want you to distribute the documents we got then and start

to check the files we’ve been sent from Arizona. Forget the leads we had got then,

start from the beginning and try to rebuild the case”

“It won’t be easy, after so long time”- Vivian said.

“No, it isn’t, but if we can help to find that girl from Arizona, our efforts won’t in

vain”.

“What’s the link?”- Olivia asked.

“They are sisters” – Jack replied.

“But...”- Vivian started reading a paper and frowning. “This girl from Arizona is

missing for three weeks!”

“Here it said that she was seen for the last time at some friends home, as they were

preparing the exams of the semester. They were in a break, having some food and

watching the TV” – Martin said, reading the statement that one of the friends had

done – “This guy says that suddenly, she told them she felt bad and came back

home. She picked up her books and left the house quickly”.

“Her parents reported her missing next morning”- Sam completed the information.

“Lately, seing the TV is getting dangerous”- it was the odd comment Danny said.

“Why are you saying that?” – Jack asked.

“I... I don’t know, I’m sorry, it’s a stupid thing. I’m sorry” – Danny said.

‘Oh, my god’ – Olivia thought – ‘he’s the black sheep of the team’.

However, Jack retained that words. He knew Danny didn’t say stupid comments.

He was very intelligent and a lot of times his intuition got the definitive lead to find

someone. He retained the date of the disappearance and the time the guys were

looking the TV, in Susan Owen’s case, the girl from Arizona, to check the TV

schedule from that day.

They spent most time of the morning checking the documents and exchanging

theories. Olivia took care to not interfere with Danny Taylor but, not knowing how,

they always finish having an argument about something and he cut the discussion

with a sarcastic and rude comment. What she had done to him? If she had praised

his motorbike... well.

“Maybe” – Danny said – “the girls have met again”.

“Do you think Susan can know Patricia’s whereabouts?” – Sam asked.

“Let’s see the call records to Owen’s house in Arizona during the last months.

Maybe they have been in contact before” – Vivian said, typing on the computer.

“Let’s see”- she said, as Sam joined to check the calls.

“There are... there are around 12 calls from a New York number... from Mercy

Hospital, to Owen’s house.” – Vivian said finally.

“Have they mentioned any sibling staying there?” – Olivia asked.

“No, but it will be easy to know it” – Vivian said picking up the phone.

“Mercy Hospital”- a voice said at the other side of the line.

“It’s special agent Johnson, from FBI, we’re looking for someone in that hospital

with the surname Owen, for... wait a moment, please” – Vivian paused to look for

the time frame when the calls were done. ‘Gosh’ she thought frowning. “Well,

actually, I’m looking for a day... february, 18th.”

Vivian waited patiently, when Olivia had an idea. “Let’s see, maybe if your theory is

true and the calls are done by Patricia, maybe she isn’t a patient, maybe she works

on Mercy Hospital”.

“No?”- Vivian asked for silence with her finger. “Could you tell me if someone with

that surname works in the hospital?”

“Okay, thanks” – Vivian said, and hung up the phone.

“Well, there aren’t patients or workers named Owen” –she said.

“Maybe she changed her name” – Danny said.

“We would know that” – Martin objected.

“Not necessarily, maybe the change wasn’t legal. I know people that falsify

documents and give you a new identity if you pay enough money. New name, new

social security number... and everything avoiding the legal way”- Danny said.

“Maybe Patricia Owen was running away from someone or something and changed

her identity”.

“Why was she going to do that and now contact with her family?”- Olivia asked.

“Why not? Maybe she had been hidden for all this time, she didn’t want to be

found, she changed her identity and looked for a work... Something had to happen

that february 18th, every calls were done that day”- Sam said thoughtful.

“It was the next morning to Susan’s disappearance” – Martin said.

“How long time are the calls, Viv?” – Sam asked.

“Let me see... the most long is barely five seconds! It’s strange”- she said.

“She wanted to talk to her sister”- Danny said- “She wanted to warn her about

something”-

Danny turned to the desk and started to check again the documents. “Did we

investigate the parents when we’re looking for Patricia Owen?” – he asked.

“What are you thinking about, Danny?”- Martin asked, noticing his coworker was

looking for a specific note.

“Do you remember, some weeks ago, when I came back looking for the keys of my

car?”- Danny asked. He was surprise it had passed three weeks.

“Yes, I remember it”- Martin said, not knowing what his coworker was trying to

say.

“Do you remember the program on the TV? It was late, probably the same hour

Susan and her friends were watching the TV” – Danny said.

“You said it was a stupid comment” – Olivia observed.

Danny smiled, as Jack approached them with a couple of sheets in hands. “This is

the TV’s schedule in Arizona, the night Susan Owen was missing”- he said.

Olivia looked at him in surprise. ‘Gosh, so the boss takes into consideration stupids

comments, in spite of all’.

“For the next weeks” – Martin explained – “that specific program was very

commented. I watch it some times, it has interesting subjects”.

“Interesting” – Danny said. “I would name them other thing, but well, if you think

that it’s interesting... maybe you have a partial sight of the matter”.

“Come on, Danny. It’s true, they explain how people reacts to a very concrete

situations using a way very...” – Martin said.

“Graphic” – Danny finished.

“Yes, well, that video was exceptional and it was the reason they are still talking

about it after some weeks. Maybe they were wrong when they put that images, it

was unpleasant but some people started to call the program and the next days, it

was very curious the different point of view, what people thought about it...

interesting, I would say” – Martin said again.

“What that calls were about?” – Jack asked, thinking about something.

“Well, the subject of the program was sexual abuses in childhood, in the family and

other close circle and how people reacted to that situation, the victim, the family if

they know it and so on. They put a video, as an example, it was a real case. During

the next days, people called asking why the authorities didn’t stop the abuses in

that particular case. Walter Grassmann is the expert that usually takes part in the

program, I think he worked in social service, right now he’s retired. Well, he said

that the videos were done a long time ago and law was different then. Social

services selected a sort of families to make a field study. He said that several times

the children were sent to group homes and social worker tried to convince the

family to report the abuses. In the case of the video the father’s abuses on his son

were denied by a scared mother and the boys, they had two sons also denied the

facts, the older wanted to do it but his mother ordered to keep silence. The

youngest was just scared and hurt. With a situation like that they always came

back home, until one of them, the mother or one of the boys had to go to the

hospital and social services had to take control again of the boys. Fortunately, the

law has changed and now the doctors can report the abuses even the victim deny

it” – Martin said.

“Another people wanted to know how those videos were found

and if its airing was legal. Grassmann said that he knew those studies and looking

for documents to ilustrate the program he found them in a abandoned place in the

office where he had worked. All the documents about a case is destroyed after 10

or 15 years, and he didn’t understand why they forgot those videos. In fact, when

he took them, he didn’t know what it was. He got a big surprise”.

“What happened to the family on this video?”- Olivia asked, the fear in her face.

“All of them are dead. Grassmann wouldn’t have aired that video in case of

someone was alive, of course. Some people, young people called during the next

days greeting that program because they had understood and remembered what

had happened to them with some sibling, teacher... and they had asked for help to

the organization that were named in the program”. Martin said. “Like I told you,

that subject was object of comments during the next programs”.

“It’s possible that Patricia Owen ran away from home five years ago because her

father’s abuse” – Sam started, talking more for herself than for the rest of the team.

“It’s possible that Susan Owen suffered abuse and watching the program she

remembered it and has ran away, too”. – Olivia continued.

“Surely, Patricia watched the program and she was trying to call Susan because she

knew that her sister could have done something wrong” – Danny finished. It was

very easy for him, it was exactly what had happen to him. This case was helping

him, the chance of talk in name of other person about his own experience, more or

less helped him, but it wasn’t enough, like he could see that night.

“Maybe Patricia or Susan are in that call records” – Vivian said.

“Yes, let’s go to the 6 Channel Offices, we need those calls. Olivia come with me” –

Jack said.

Olivia left the office with Jack while the others made a break pause. “Well”- Danny

said streching his arms out. “do you fancy to eat something?. I’m starving”.

“What do you feel your first day at work with us?”- Jack asked Olivia.

“Fine, but I’m a bit surprised”- Olivia confessed.

“Why?”

“It’s... I don’t know, I’ve got surprise by Danny Taylor’s method. I think he found

the right lead with any reason to do it” – she said.

“Sometimes it happens, it’s just a little good luck. But we don’t know if that’s the

correct lead yet” – Jack said.

“Is he always so rude?” – Olivia didn’t help but ask.

“No, you’ll know him, he’s just working you, he likes to let you know what his place

is here” – Jack said. After a short time, he added. “Anyway, he’s living a bad

moment because a personal situation, you’re not knowing the best of him”.

“I see” – Olivia remembered the mineral water that morning. Maybe, she had

judged him in wrong way.

 

 

Chapter 4

 

No, she hadn’t judged him the wrong way. She had got it just right. That new

motorbike, the mineral water, the capsules he had eaten, combined with his

distrusting attitude, now had an explanation. Danny had been able to keep his

double life until now. What had started as an absurd game, had become in a short

time work, a very lucrative work that, at the same time, helped him to get what he

wanted, more pain, more torture to erase the pain that plagued his dreams every

night.

 

Flashback

Three weeks ago

Danny left the office and walked to the subway. During his way home, a group of

students got his attention. They were arguing about something and had raised their

voices.

“I say that it’s illegal, it doesn’t matter if they are dead or alive” – one of them was

saying.

“No, listen Bob, it isn’t about that, you can’t put that kind of images on TV. We know

that it happens, yes, you can tell if you want, but putting real images on TV...”

“It was late”

“It don’t care if it was late, you never know who is watching TV. You’ve seen the

people’s reaction calling the program. Now that guy is giving the explanations for

that”.

“Well, apart from that, what had got my attention the most it was the carelessness of

those boys, especially of the little boy. He was no more than nine years old. How can

they say that it was a study and that family was hopeless? I don’t think a boy that age

is condemned to be a delinquent, a criminal or mentally unbalanced. If they had

helped him...”

“He’s dead. All of them, remember. Two years after that and it was over”.

“It’s the same. They didn’t know that boy was to die when they recorded those videos,

they could have helped them”.

“Yes, they could have helped them, but if the mother didn’t report the abuses and the

boys denied the facts, they couldn’t do anything”

“How’s that? Where is the government protection?”

“I don’t know, maybe things were different then”

The conversation continued like that, but Danny couldn’t continue his way. The next

stop, he left the subway and got out to the surface. He needed to breathe. He leaned

on the wall and breathed deeply, but it wasn’t enough. Just ahead was a bar. No, he

couldn’t enter there, he couldn’t do it again. No, he wouldn’t be so weak. He started to

walk without any direction. It was cold and he put his hands in his jacket pockets. His

fingers found something, a little card, that card the guy from the police station had

given to him the night before.

No, he wouldn’t do it... he wouldn’t do it. But he did. He got into the next bar he found

and drank two whiskeys before calling that number.

Thirty minutes later, Clifford Hewings picked him up at the entrance of the bar and

drove to a place in Queens he had heard of sometimes. The Rex Club.

“A gentlemen’s club”- his host explained to Danny. “You can come here with a friend,

or ask for the services of someone working here. No names, it’s completely

anonymous and voluntary. You won’t do anything you don’t want to do, nobody will

do anything you don’t want them to do to you. It works like that. You’ll like it”.

Danny felt a lump in his throat. He didn’t know what he was doing in that place. He

needed more than two whiskeys, but he couldn’t go away now. That guy was regular

of that place, everybody seemed to know him. Joey, it was the name of the young man

at the entrance, looked at Danny and whispered something to Clifford. Then he gave

him a key and a little kit. Danny guessed what was in the kit, but he didn’t want to

think about it. The other man grabbed his arm firmly and he, not knowing why, felt

attracted by the situation. It was a similar situation, maybe... maybe the same

experience with any strange person he didn’t care about... maybe this would help him

to forget, he thought trying desperately to find a reason for his confusion.

“Aren’t there drinks here?”- he asked when he got into the room with Clifford.

Clifford Hewings smiled and opened a minibar. It was varied enough. Danny took out

a couple of minibottles and opened them. He drank one of them in one gulp, which

left him without breath.

Clifford laughed. “What happened, boy? This is what you wanted, isn’t it? I know that

you aren’t gay, you already told me yesterday, but you like strong emotions, right?

Okay boy, I haven’t come here to see how you get drunk, is it clear enough for you?”-

the tone of his voice had become as cold as ice.

Danny was sat down on the foot of the bed, still with the bottle in his hand. Clifford

took it carefully and left it on a table. Then, he put his hand under Danny’s chin and

raised his face reaching his lips. Danny closed his eyes, as a tear rolled down his

cheek. He tried desperately picturing that blonde woman he had spent with the night

the last time, but he couldn’t be so imaginative. However, he felt removed to a long

time ago, to Miami, at home, clearly watching the situation there, and he was unable

to react like the adult he was now. When Clifford started to unbutton his shirt, Danny

started to tremble. However he didn’t move or say anything. Clifford Hewings took off

all his clothes slowly and carefully at the same time observing and caressing his body,

stopping completely fascinated at the scar Danny had on his stomach. When he had

taken off his shirt, he pulled Danny onto the bed. Clifford took off his pants and shorts.

Danny closed his eyes as his body trembled like a leaf. When he was completely

naked, Clifford lay beside him, drawing little circles on his chest, as Danny trembled

and sobbed softly. “Take it easy, calm down, boy” – Clifford whispered. “Relax, I’m not

going to cause more pain that you want”. Danny didn’t even look at him, he felt sick,

the whiskey was numbing his senses and everything was spinning around him. Past

and present became confused in his mind and locked his movements. Hewings

undressed in a moment and opened the kit, taking out a comdom and a tube of lube.

Not failing to caress Danny, he pressed him to change his position lying on his side. “It

will be better like this, to start. Is it the first time?”- he asked softly. “No”- Danny said

with a broken voice. “I thought so” – the other replied.

When Danny left the club, it was seven in the morning. He had spent all the night

there. Clifford Hewings had left around eleven thirty that evening.

 

 

“I would like to stay but my wife is waiting for me. She thinks I’m working late, but it’s

too late”- he told Danny. “Next time you should come dressed in jeans. I have a certain

trust with Thomas Peterson, I’ll talk to him, maybe he can give you a room here to

work, it’s an extra income that’s far from shabby”

Danny was exhausted, his body hurt him and he needed to drink urgently. He reached

his hand to the minibar, to take the other bottle.

“Be careful with that, boy. Peterson doesn’t like drunks in his place. One thing is a bit

of fun but other very different is getting the decorations dirty, if you know what I

mean”- Clifford Hewings said.

That was his first day. Since that moment, every day, Danny had his own room, his kit

and his clients. Until three in the morning, just what he wanted. Danny hated that

place but, in his confusion, he was sure that it was the best way to make his pain was

over, and step by step he was getting it. The clear image of his father, the situation he

had lived through during his childhood, it was every night less clear, mixing with all

those similar feelings he punished his body with, every night. He didn’t get any

pleasure of it nor did he pretend to. He learned soon that there were people doing

other things there and, like Clifford Hewings had told him, you did just what you

wanted. After a week, he moved a good part of his clothes to that room, so he could

go to the office every morning without stopping by home. He used to get dressed in a

certain style for his clients, it was true that the jeans resulted in a certain fascination

for his clients, but he didn’t know why exactly.

Peterson was glad to have Danny, he got clients to his place and he decided to give

him a gift. He paid him a good salary and he had seen Danny with his old motorbike

and decided to buy a new one.

 

End of flashback.

 

The day Olivia saw him getting into the parking lot at the FBI building was the day

Danny used for the first time the gift Peterson had given him. It had been three

weeks since Clifford Hewings had driven Danny to the Rex Club. Until now, things

were going well, the work wasn’t a problem, if he got late some day or the night

had been especially hurtful, he told them about a bad night with Rafie, like his

usual headache. Peterson had given him those capsules to help him with the

hangover. He controlled the drinking, he was able to drink enough whiskey to

overcome every night and go to work every day as nothing had happened. But he

knew very well that he was lying to himself, it was conscious he was falling into

oblivion, a dark hole he had been in before, but he thought that he was getting

over that pain his father had inflicted on him him so long ago.

Jack got a copy of several programs where the calls had been aired from the TV

station, and a complete record of the telephone lines they used too because a lot of

calls weren’t aired.

Once they got that information, the team sat down at the conference table collating

the origins of the calls and which of them could have been done by Susan or

Patricia Owen. At first, they tried to identify the voice with the ages of the women,

because it was probable they hadn’t used their true names. The got to remove most

of the calls and got a list of around 10 calls that they were going to check now.

Vivian, Sam and Olivia would be the agents doing that calls. Jack thought that it

would be better to hear a woman than a man. Martin started to pick up the

documents on the desk as Jack headed for his office to call his coworker from

Arizona and inform him.

Danny wasn’t in the office. When he saw what Jack wanted to do with those calls,

he knew that he couldn’t deal with it, so he left the office excusing himself to go

visit his brother. Jack was a bit surprised about Danny’s behaviour but it was

logical. Danny didn’t look too healthy, it would be good for him to rest a bit, and

they could do the work easily.

It was only six in the evening when Danny left the office. He didn’t know what to do

and taking his motorbike, drove through the New York streets. It was some days

ago since he had visited his brother but he kept contact with Sylvia and her

brother, Nelson. Sylvia understood his absence, she knew what the Prison’s

Director had told Danny and she knew Danny felt guilty about it. However, when

today ended, Danny was sitting in the same chair at Rafie’s bedside and his brother

remained in the same position as when Danny had last seen him. It was hopeless.

Nicky wasn’t dealing well with the situation and he barely stayed home, Sylvia was

worried about him even her sister in law helped her with the kid when Sylvia was

working or with Rafie. But the little kid felt confused because of what was

happening and he missed his mum. Danny couldn’t do anything else, he was having

a bad time too, he had failed the call his brother had tried to make to him, the same

call Patricia Owen had made to her sister Susan. He was quite sure it was like that.

And he had failed.

An hour later, Jack called him to confirm that his suspicions were right. They had

found the call of a girl named Alice and she was Susan. She had used her cell to call

the program the same night it was aired, when she left her friend’s house

completely confused. Then, she was so scared that she didn’t know where to go

and she remembered an old log cabin where she used to hide with her sister

Patricia, a long time ago. The best part was that, when the FBI agents went to the

parent’s home and talked to the mother, she finally recognized the abuses and she

remembered the log cabin. When the agents went to the log cabin, they found

Susan and Patricia together. They had been hidden for the three weeks, and only

Patricia left the place to buy something to eat. They had solved the two cases.

Danny left the hospital around eleven. He had a heavy headache and the only thing

he wanted was a drink. However, he thought he had to make an effort, he owed it

to his brother, at least, to try. He took out his cell and dialled Joey, at the Club.

“Rex” – he replied.

“Hi Joey, it’s Daniel. Eh, listen, I have a problem at work and I won’t be able to go

tonight” – Danny said.

“Damn it!... right, Daniel, I’ve got a couple of regular clients, but I’ll see what I can

do. Are you sure you can’t come... even if it’s later?”

“No, I’m sorry Joey and thanks for taking my shift”- Danny said.

“Don’t care, see you tomorrow” – Joey said a bit upset and hung up.

Danny went straight home. It was a long time since he had spent the night at home,

he had moved most of his clothes to the club and usually he stayed there until next

morning. But today, he wanted to try it. He had a shower and put the pizza he had

bought on his way, in the microwave. Then he sat down on his couch with his pizza

and the remote control, looking for a decent channel to see until he found a... Mets

game! was he was so disconnected from the world? It should be a repeat. He didn’t

remember Vivian telling him anything, they used to have teasing moments about

baseball, since she was a Yankee fan and he of the Mets. Well, it would okay. He

took a piece of pizza and relaxed to watch the game.

 

Thirty minutes later, he heard the sound of the intercom. Danny glanced at his

watch. It was 11.45, it was late, who was ringing at this time? He went to the

intercom intrigued and picked it up.

“Hello?” – he asked almost convinced it was a mistake.

“Danny, it’s Martin. Eh... I’m sorry, I wonder if I could stay there if... if you aren’t

busy, of course”

“I’m watching a Mets game, if you like. I also have pizza, if you didn’t have dinner” –

Danny said and pressed the button to open the door.

A moment later, Danny opened the door to a pale and exhausted coworker.

“What... what happened?”- he asked in surprise. His coworker looked terrible.

“I’m sorry Danny. I didn’t know where to go, I wanted to talk to my sponsor but

he’s out of the city and the place I use to go was closed... I’m sorry, I didn’t want to

bother you but you’re the only one I can talk to”- Martin said. He felt a bit ashamed

and he knew his coworker wasn’t having a good time, but he wasn’t able to resist

the temptation and take a painkiller being alone.

“I see. Well, don’t worry, actually, I’m glad for some company”- Danny said smiling.

“You left the office soon, today”- Martin said.

“Yes, eh, I wanted to go to the hospital. The doctors made new tests on Rafie and I

wanted to talk to them. I’ve got back a few minutes ago”- Danny said.

“Oh well, and what did they tell you?” – Martin asked, picking up a piece of pizza.

“The same as always, everything is the same and we have to wait...” – Danny

explained. “But, tell me, why did you come here?”

“I don’t know, I guess I was tired. It still hurts... it’s because the weather, you know?

Sometimes it happens and at that moment I need the painkillers. However, until

now I’ve been lucky, my sponsor is good...”

“I told you that” – Danny commmented, remembering the conversation between

them at the office when Martin told him.

“Yes, but he wasn’t in the city and I didn’t dare to stay at home alone. I don’t think

I’m ready to it.” – Martin said.

“Yes, well, it’s normal, Martin. Don’t worry about it. I’m glad you came here, I was

bored and sleep doesn’t come easily to me. It was coincidence I found this game”-

Danny said.

Martin left Danny’s home an hour and a half later, much calmed down and went

home. He dropped on the bed and fell asleep in seconds.

Danny wished the same thing would happen to him. He also went to bed when

Martin left but, in spite of the tiredness, he was unable to sleep. He started to think

about what Martin had told him that was so familiar to him, then his brother Rafie

brought him other memories, other experiences, his call... step by step he came

back to the beginning, to that February, 18th that signalled a time before and after

in his life and had come back to an experience he had ignored for a long time. It

was 2:15 when he glanced at his watch. No, it was too late to go to the club, his shift

finished at three in the morning, he didn’t have anything to do there. At this hour

he wouldn’t find a bar open nearby, either. In resignation he got up and sat down

on the couch again, where he spent the rest of the night trying to focus in some

stupid night program.

 

March, 18th. 18.00 h.

 

Danny had stayed all day in Mrs. Andrews’s home, waiting for a hopeful call to get a

lead to find her son, Michael, 5 years old. His mum had left him in his bed the night

before but when she went to awaken him the boy wasn’t in the room. The

investigation of parent’s actitivies, coworkers and other siblings didn’t get any

significant lead, but right now, Jack and Vivian were in the interrogation room at

the FBI offices with Mr. Andrews, so they had found some important information

for the case.

“Mr. Andrews” – Jack said – “I’ve got a report where it said that you worked as gym

teacher in Wisconsin, during 1995, is it right?”

“Yes, it’s .... it’s true. What has this to do with...?” – Andrews started to ask,

confused.

“It said too that you were fired after a report of sexual advances on a student” –

Jack continued.

“Yes, but they never proved it. Those charges were completely unfounded”- he

said.

“We have talked to the student’s parents and the School’s Principal, Mr. Andrews”-

Vivian said. “It doesn’t seem those charges were so unfounded”.

“Eh... Should I... Are you accusing me of something?” – he asked.

“Mr. Andrews” – Vivian stared at him. “Have you abused your son?”

“What!, no way!. But, listen... my son is missing. He is... he’s my life, how dare you

say I’ve abused him?”

“Because, sadly, it happens that certain behaviours are repeated... sexual abuse is

one of them”.

“I haven’t abused my son and I didn’t abuse that kid”.

“How did you get that wound on your hand, Mr. Andrews?” – Jack asked, changing

the subject.

Andrews looked at his hand but he didn’t say anything. Jack continued. “We’ve

found some blood in your son’s room. We’ve seen the results. The blood is yours”.

Andrews looked at him perplexed. Finally, he pronounced those words that quite

often lead to a confession. “I want a lawyer”.

An hour later, Andrews confessed he entered his son’s room that night. He had

been drinking and he lost control. He never had touched him but that day, that first

day, was fatal. Numbed by the alcohol’s effects, he didn’t notice he was suffocating

the boy. When he realized it, he picked up the body and hid it in a small place in his

own garden. He thought to move it and hide it in another place but with the police

around since that morning he hadn’t got the chance to do it.

Vivian left the interview room. When something like this happens, when someone

they were looking for was found dead, when that someone was a little boy, when

that boy had been misltreated and killed by his own father, like this case, nothing,

not the years of experience, the daily cases, the experience’s years, the daily cases,

not even the unsolved cases still waiting for a lead, were able to ease the sadness,

the consternation of any agent.

Jack left the interview room and took out his cell. They had to find the body... they

had to talk to the mother.

“Danny, is Mrs. Andrews with you?”- he asked.

“Yes” – Danny said, standing up the couch and leaving to a more discrete place.

“What happened?”

“Andrews has told us.... eh... you have to look for a shed in the garden. There is a

little door on the ground. You’ll find the body of the boy in there”.

Danny closed his eyes for a moment. He wasn’t ready for that. Lately, he wasn’t

ready for anything, much less looking for the body of a five year old boy.

Jack noticed Danny didn’t reply. “Danny, are you there?”.

“Yes, yes... eh, I’m sorry... it’s.. Martin and Sam have just arrived. I’ll tell them and

will start the search”. Danny said, feeling relief to see his co-workers.

“Well, right, call me” – Jack said.

Danny told Martin what Jack had told him, and joined two policemen to look for

the door in the garden, while Sam remained with the mother. It wasn’t difficult to

find the door. It wasn’t hidden and it was easily seen that it had been opened

recently. Between them, Martin and Danny opened it and focused the lights down.

Danny went down the stairs, as Martin stayed on top focusing light on the place.

When Danny reached the floor he found a tiny room, cold and dark. He shined the

light around. The walls were cover by shelving and old clothes covering some

things. He didn’t see the boy around. With trembling hands he went removing the

clothes until...

“Martin, I’ve found him”- he called.

Danny approached the boy. He didn’t need to check his pulse. It was clear he was

dead. In a corner of the room, naked and leaning against an old music player and

covered by that cloth, little Michael lay lifeless. Danny stared at him, unable to do

nothing. The angst and pain he carried on him especially for the last month, was

multiplied a thousandfold seeing that little defenceless body. He put an old blanket

around the body and took the boy, clutching him tightly in his arms as tears of rage

and helplessness rolled down his face. “I’m sorry... I’m so sorry” – he muttered with

a broken voice, as he hugged the body.

Martin came down the stairs, after he had called Jack to tell they had found the boy.

“Danny”- he said firmly. Martin was looking at his co-worker’s back, but he didn’t

need to see anything else, to notice that Danny was very affected by this. Danny

always suffered more than anybody else when there were children involved. He

shouldn’t have let him come down. Now he had to make him react.

“Danny”, he repeated putting a hand on his shoulder. “Come on, let’s get out of

here”.

Danny didn’t say a word but he headed to the stairs, and holding Michael’s body,

got out to the surface. Martin got out behind him and looked at Danny carefully

laying the body on the ground wrapped up with the blanket. Then he moved away

toward the garden. Martin saw him throwing up and he stayed there for a while.

Martin went into the house. Sam was talking to the kid’s mum, preparing her for

something you never prepared for. Both came back to the office, the same as

Danny, who, after staying in the house for most of day, had to write one of the most

difficult reports of the last weeks. It had been a long time since they had such a sad

and difficult case. The silence in the office was a clear indication of how they were

affected by this one. Jack still in his office, read some papers, Vivian was typing

something, Olivia was keeping all the papers, the documents in a box as Sam and

Martin finished their own reports, when Danny switched off his computer and

picked up his bag.

“Well, I... I’m going” – he said.

“Are you okay?” – Martin asked.

Danny shrugged his shoulders grimacing. “See you tomorrow”- he said.

“See you” – Vivian and Sam told him.

Danny left the office under the worried expression of Martin. Vivian noticed it and

she wanted to calm her coworker. “It has been a complicated day, Martin, he’ll be

fine. All of us will be”.

“I don’t know, Viv... he was holding that boy in his arms... I... I think I’d never seen

him so affected... it was too much for him”.

“Martin, it was a hard case and you know how Danny is when there are children

involved”.

“I know, I know,... maybe it’s because lately he has been a bit absent minded, a bit

disconnected from us, don’t you think?”

“Martin, I think he is having a hard time with his brother and he has to deal with

his brother’s fiancée and his nephew and niece. Danny doesn’t tell us anything but

you see his face every day, and it’s clear he is having a very bad time, even though

he doesn’t tell us”. – Vivian said.

“It could be, Vivian, but for the last weeks he has been distracted, he’s been late a

lot of time, I’ve seen him in the bathroom shaving... I was kidding about who had

spent the night with him and he almost took it like an insult... I don’t know...his

behaviour is.... is strange”. He said.

“And that motorbike he bought, I’m sure he spent a lot of money in it. I’m still

waiting for a ride”- Olivia said.

“Yes, Danny likes motorbikes, but he never used it to come to work”- Sam said.

“Well guys”- Vivian said, thinking about she had happened just a couple of days

before – “maybe his behaviour has a logical explanation”.

 

Flashback

 

They had met at the end of the day in the bar they used to go. This time, Jack had left

them, but Olivia joined them. The waiter gave them what they used to drink and

Olivia asked for a beer. Returning to the table she was surprised to see Danny with a

bottle of mineral water. She remembered the first day at work, when she had seen

him spilling the water on his head and she was going to make a joke about it, but

stopped in time.

They stayed for a while animatedly talking, when Danny left them to go to the toilet.

By instinct when he reached the back of the bar, asked for a quick drink, a whiskey or

something and got into the toilet. He looked at the time, it was 11:15, fifteen minutes

later he had to enter at Rex Club. He wasn’t ready for it. He got out of there, took the

drink he had asked for and drank it quickly. The waiter didn’t say anything but he

was surprised. Danny Taylor didn’t drink alcohol. However, it wasn’t any of his

business.

But there was another person that saw him. Vivian was speechless. She wasn’t sure

about what she had seen, but she could almost swear Danny had drunk a whiskey or

something similar with no problem.

When he reached the table where they were, he excused himself, telling them he had

to go early next morning to the hospital before going to work and left the place.

Vivian went out behind him. Danny didn’t see or hear her when he left the bar and

answered his insistently ringing cell phone.

“Tell me”- he said.

“........”

“What? Now way, guy, I can’t make another shift, not tonight”.

“........”

“I told you I can’t, it’s impossible, I have to work early, I can’t make double shift”.

“......”

“Damn it, guy. Look for some other guy, I can’t do it... Yes, I’ll be on time”.

Danny closed the cell without a goodbye. He had stopped walking and he was about

to continue his way when he heard a voice that made him stop with a start.

“Danny” – Vivian called him. Her voice wasn’t pleasant.

Danny turned to her. “What’s going on, Viv?”

“What are you doing?” – she asked, evidently angry.

“Have I missed something?”- he asked, trying to stay calm.

“I saw you in the bar, I couldn’t believe it, but I saw you drinking a whiskey in one

gulp like it were the most normal thing. What the hell are you doing?”

“I haven’t had a drink...”

“Don’t lie to me, Danny. Don’t do it, not to me. If you are in trouble, take care of it, but

not like this or I won’t be able to trust you anymore” – she said.

Those words touched Danny painfully. She was Vivian, the woman he admired. She

was right but Danny was forced to lie”.

“I haven’t had a drink, Viv.” – repeated.

“Yes, when you left the toilet there was a glass of alcohol on the bar and you drank

it”- she said.

“Oh, no Viv”- he said- “I asked for water to dissolve some capsules to ease my

headache” – Danny took out one of the capsules Peterson had given to him. “This is

what I was taking. They have a very bad taste so you have to swallow quickly. Do you

recognize them?”.

Vivian got confused not knowing what to say. Danny didn’t even feel offended, what

had caused her to mistrust him but, on the other hand... no, Danny wouldn’t have

done that, the most logical explanation was in front of her eyes. However, she

couldn’t help but ask.

“Who wereyou talking to?”- she asked.

“Viv, what is this? What’s wrong with you?. I was talking to Nelson, Sylvia’s brother,

he wants me to stay more time in the hospital with Rafie and I was telling him I can’t

do it, I have to rest.”

“How’s that?” – Vivian asked.

“Well, we make shifts in the hospital, to stay with Rafie the most possible time. He’s

still in coma but he could wake up at any moment and we want to stay there, at least,

one of us, someone he can recognize”

“Oh, Danny, I’m sorry... I’m so sorry. I... it’s clear I made a mistake. I don’t know what

to say”. – Vivian said sincerely.

“Don’t worry, I know that lately I’m not the best coworker you can have, maybe it’s

my fault” – Danny said.

 

End of flashback.

 

“Yes, maybe” – Martin said, not quite convinced. “Well, I’m leaving”

“Me too”- Olivia said.

“Yes, I’ll try to get some sleep” – Sam said.

“It’s late. Tomorrow’s another day”.

Some minutes later, the bullpen was empty. Jack still was in his office. He had

stayed with Mr. Andrews until he got the confirmation of finding his son’s body

and then he had left. Now, after he had written the report, he remained for a while

in the office, looking at his daughters photos. It was too late to phone them but,...

god! How much he missed their voices. If Hannah could understand, if she could

forgive him if he wasn’t the father she wanted.

It was 11:40 when Jack stood up, picked up his jacket and switched off the light.

Except for some computers always runing, he left the dark and lonely office.

‘Tomorrow’s another day’, he thought.

 

Chapter 5

It was Thursday night when Danny left the office after he finished his report. It was

a month ago, since that first time with Clifford Hewings, that every night he came

back at Queens, not at home, but Rex Club. As he drove he had just a thought about

what he was going to obtain from that... to forget... Today he was going to need it

more than ever because a two reasons, the every day living and the second, the

image of that little boy killed by his father. He knew he was going to need

something hard... all of that was becoming a strong need starting to affect his

current life. He used to be a strong man, this weakness wasn’t his usual behaviour

but nothing was his usual behaviour lately. He knew that sooner or later, his work

would be affected by this, but he couldn’t stop it. If some day he couldn’t go

because the work or something, that night turned into terrible nightmares plagued

by images of his childhood, his father’s abuses, yelling, Rafie’s terrified face, Rafie

under the drugs’ effects, his mum’s screams, his pain... everything spinning around

his head, causing an unbearable pain, a pain that he could stop only with more

pain... at least it was what he was trying to do in his almost constant confussion.

He left his motorbike in the parking lot and went into the club. He took a deep

breath, immersing in the ambience of the club and taking control of his nerves. The

place had two doors at the entrance, one for the clients with access to a spacious

place with music and bar and another entrance for the boys working in with access

to the private rooms. It was this one Danny used.

“Hey, how are you doing, Daniel?” – one of the guys greeted him.

“Fine, eh... look Joey, tonight... tonight send me something really hard, okay?” –

Danny asked him.

“What? What happened? Isn’t it enough what I send to you every night?. Be careful,

Daniel, you’re becoming famous with certain clients. It isn’t good to wear you out,

you know Peterson doesn’t like it”.

“Peterson can get lost. I’m fine, okay. Give me a couple of bottles”- Danny said.

Joey handed him a couple of whiskey minibottles to supply the minibar, besides his

usual kit and the keys of the room.

“See you tomorrow night”- Danny said.

“Have fun. See you tomorrow, I’ll try to send you something harder” – Joey said

with a smirk.

Danny walked to his room, opened and closed behind him. That place was where

he spent the nights in a desperate search of solace. He sat down on the bed, it was

early, the first client would arrive an hour later. The wait was the worst for him. It

signaled the limit from Danny Taylor, the professional FBI agent and Daniel the

weak young man that spent the nights making the fantasies of those who entered

his room become reality. Danny wasn’t gay but his first sexual experiences were

undefinied. He had experimented with men and women during his youth but he

started to choose women when he reached an adult age and at University. He was

always very promiscuous but he never wanted a solid relationship with anybody.

He thought it was because of the absence of a loving family. He never felt loved and

he didn’t know how to transmit a feeling he didn’t know. There was an invisible

wall that stopped him, that protected him from the others and the others from him,

from the neglect and death, the one thing he received from his loved ones. But he

wasn’t sure about anything of this, it was just a feeling he couldn’t define.

However, right now he was sure about what he was doing, the only thing that for a

couple of hours got to make him to forget the pain, the images. He opened the first

minibottle of whiskey and drank a sip. No, he wasn’t brave enough to do this cold.

He checked to make sure he had everything in order and clean clothes in the

wardrobe in case he had to get out directly to work. It happened before and he had

been late a couple of times. He tried not to drink so much or just enough to be okay

in the morning, at least he controlled that, but sometimes the clients left him

exhausted and lately he received at least three clients, sometimes four.

When that night, after the first client, the next one knocked on the door, he found

three perfect gentlemen dressed in expensive suits. Danny identified them

immediately, Wall Street.

“Joey told us you want something hard” – one of them told him.

Danny smirked. He was lying on the bed, just dressed in those jeans his clients

loved. Beside him, on the table, a couple of whiskey’s minibottles were empty. His

vision was a little blurry but he expected to be in control the situation... at least it

was what he thought. But when he saw how one of them took out an elastic band

and a syringe he knew the worst was going to start and he wasn’t wrong.

Danny left the club with serious difficulties. He went to the parking lot, leaning his

battered body against the wall. His vision was blurry mixed with the situation he

had experienced beside the alcohol he had drunk before. He only wanted to escape,

this wasn’t making sense anymore. Those guys around him, the drug he was

injected with, the drug they were snorting had opened his eyes. What was he

doing? He was only ruining himself, he wasn’t stopping the pain, the memories

remained there, he couldn’t stop them, not like that, but it was difficult to stop it,

he was used to having those experiences day after day and it was something vital

for him... but it was a crazy thing. Sex, alcohol and now, drugs. For the first time in a

long time, the memory of his brother came into his mind. If at least he was there...

he would understand him, he knew this was going to happen. He couldn’t drive his

motorbike so he took a cab and gave the driver an address, Rafie’s home. When the

cab let him there, he got out and walked clumsily towards the building. He stopped

and leant against the wall to take a breath. The pain was unbearable but he

deserved it, he had asked for it, he had allowed them to do that to him, he had lost

that last piece of dignity. But it didn’t work out. He knew that he needed help but

his situation was miserable. He had just ended with everthing. Dirty, confused

because of the alcohol and drugs effects and sore because the effort his body has

been overcome, he walked until the entrance. Everything was spinning around him

and he felt so sick that finally threw up. The pathway to Sylvia’s home through the

dark and narrow corridor seemed not to have an end, but finally he found the door.

He rang with an only one thought in his head, that Sylvia be home and that Nicky

wouldn’t open the door. He heared the steps reaching the door and he couldn’t

resist anymore. As Sylvia opened the door, Danny collapsed on the floor.

He was lucky.

“Danny!” – Sylvia exclaimed when she saw him. She squatted down beside him and

gave him a gentle tap on his face to make him react. She helped him to stand up

and get into the house, where he fell on the couch.

Sylvia picked up the phone and called 911. Then, she sat down beside him and

stared at him. He was so pale, his reddened eyes, the smell of alcohol with a

mixture of cigarettes and something sickly sweet, joined his dirty clothes and

current state, worried and confused her.

“Where have you been? Have you been drinking?” – she asked with a confused

expression.

Danny simply nodded, resting his battered body on the couch and closing his eyes.

 

‘No questions, please, I just want to sleep, I just want to be safe’, he thought as a

tear rolled down his face.

Sylvia carefully took off his jacket, his already loose tie and undid the shirt. She

didn’t understand what had happened to Danny and why he had came to her

house. She hadn’t seen him for two weeks and before that, he hadn’t come to her

house frequently, nor had he visited Rafie at the hospital.

“Danny, what happened to you? Are you in trouble?”- she asked noticing the

bruises on his skin, around the wrist, stomach and chest.

“It’s nothing” – he muttered with his eyes closed. “I’ll be fine tomorrow, I just want

to rest”.

Sylvia saw the bruises gotten by the elastic band and the needle in his arm, she

didn’t believe it.

“What is this mess, Danny? Why are you here?” – she asked, alarmed.

He tried to stand up but the whole room spun and he was close to vomiting. He fell

on the couch again.

“I’m not telling you to leave Danny. I only want to know” – she said, as putting a

blanket over him.

Sylvia looked at the time. It was 05.30. She expected the ambulance to arrive soon.

She was worried and she didn’t want to Nicky got up and find this scene. She

picked up Danny’s jacket and took out his wallet. Sylvia opened it and found a card

that called her attention. It was a little card of a night club from Queens, ‘Rex Club’.

She also found other card, Jack Malone’s card and two words written on it,

‘emergency contact’. This is an emergency, she thought, and dialled the number

immediately.

“Hello?” – she heard a sleepy voice at the end of the line.

“Are you Jack Malone?” – Sylvia asked unsure.

“Yes, I am”

“It’s Sylvia Marquez, I don’t know if you know who I am... Rafael Alvarez’s fiancée,

Danny’s brother”.

Jack, completely awake, got up and looked at the time. “What happened?”

“I’m not sure... Danny is in my house, he isn’t in very good condition. I’ve called 911

and I was checking his wallet I’ve found that you are his ‘emergency contact’... I...I

didn’t know anybody else to call”.

“I’ll go right now. Tell me your address” – Jack said.

Jack dressed quickly and headed for Sylvia Marquez’s house. On his way, he was

thinking about the last case. Martin had told him that Danny was very affected by

it, but all of them were like that. It had been a hard and sad case. His agent’s

behaviour had changed for the last weeks, lately he was late coming to work, some

days without a shave and looking tired. His coworkers had thought it was because

of Rafie. He was thinking about it as he drove through New York’s streets from

Tribeca to Bronx, where Sylvia lived.

Lately he had been distracted, his relationship with Anne Cassidy had distanced

him from his team, he hadn’t paid attention to them for a while and now she wasn’t

there... some things were surprising him, things that he would have noticed before.

He wondered if Danny would have missed his help, he knew that usually he was a

support for him, but he had been so far from them.

Sylvia Marquez didn’t tell him what happened, but she had phoned 911 and that

worried him.

When he arrived at the building, he saw the ambulance at the entrance. He left the

car and tried to calm down. His heart was racing as he headed for the door quickly,

not knowing what he would find. A thousand images crossed his mind before

reaching Sylvia’s door. It was opened and two paramedics were carrying a

stretcher. With his heart in a knot he entered the small living room. Sylvia

remained stood up with her arms crossed, as a paramedic was taking care of

Danny.

Jack approached and sat down beside him. He stared at Danny not believing what

he was seeing. The young agent seemed to come back from the Hell. He saw the

dirty clothes, the bruises in his skin where the paramedics were working, the

smell... “Danny, what happened to you?” – he asked gently.

Danny glanced at him but looked away quickly, deeply ashamed. He had failed, he

had failed them. He wasn’t able to explain his current situation, the worried and

surprised expression on his boss hurt him. He knew that things wouldn’t be the

same anymore and he couldn’t handle it. Jack continued talking to him, he could

hear his voice, but he was unable to understand the words, he didn’t want... he

couldn’t deal with it. He felt tired and completely lost. He just wanted to forget, but

he couldn’t, it was impossible, there was no way to forget the pain, the images from

his childhood mixed with the last case, the boy’s father, the boy alone and

neglected in that dark, cold and small shed, the pain his father inflicted to him, the

condescending attitude of his mother, of social services, nobody had helped him,

nobody had wanted to help him except Rafie... but he wasn’t there. The tears

started to roll down as vaguely was aware of the paramedics, Jack, Sylvia, all of

them taking care of him. “Rafie” – he muttered as sobbed... “Rafie...”

Jack noticed his anguish and felt a lump in his throat. He held his hand trying to

calm down him. “Come on, Danny, calm down. Everything is going to be okay, you’ll

get over this, relax”.

“We’ll go to the hospital”- one of the paramedics said – “We have to do a complete

check and some tests, and he should be under observation for at least two or three

hours, until his demeanour returns to normal”.

“I’ll go with you”- Jack said, standing up.

“Agent Malone”- Sylvia said- “I don’t know if this is important or not, but I found

this card in his wallet”.

Jack took the little card from Rex Club that had caught Sylvia’s attention. “It’s a

place for...” – Jack started with a strange expression.

Both exchanged a worried look. One of the paramedics interrumpted them. “Are

you coming with us, sir?”

“I’ll go in my car, thanks” – Jack said.

 

 

He said goodbye to Sylvia and drove to the hospital, behind the ambulance. It was

already 07.00. In an hour he would have to arrive at the office, but he had to find

out what had happened to Danny. The card Sylvia left intrigued him. Rex Club was

a well known place where sex, alcohol and drugs were used with complete

impunity. Some important people from Wall Street, some politicians and other

people frequented that place where nobody was sure about what happened inside,

but everybody guessed. Why had Danny got that card? Why was Danny in his

brother’s house in that condition? A new surprise was waiting for him at the

hospital.

After a desperate hour, finally, a doctor approached to him.

“Agent Malone”

“Yes, it’s me. How’s agent Taylor?” – Jack asked quickly.

“Well, he’s fine now, considering the high level of alcohol and residual effects of the

drugs in his system. The contusions and cuts don’t worry me and he will get better

soon. He doesn’t seem to take drugs usually but, judging from the bruises and

cuts... we’ve given him some sedatives and I did some more tests. I’ve seen that

kind of bruising other times and I wanted to be sure” – the doctor stopped. He

wasn’t sure if he should continue talking or not, agent Malone wasn’t a direct

sibling, but he was the emergency contact of his patient.

“Please, doctor, tell me what’s happening” –Jack said. The fact Danny had drank

was a surprise, the fact they had found drugs it was the last thing he would have

predicted. He knew how responsible was Danny with those kinds of things, but...

What else was the doctor trying to find?

“Look... there is evidence of sexual assault during the last hours”.

Jack looked at him not wanting to understand what he had just heard. The card

Sylvia had found started to make its meaning clear. What had his agent been

doing? Would it be some investigation he hadn’t been informed of?

“I’ve asked for the assistance of the psychology department in the hospital to try to

find out what has happened to your agent. We haven’t had any word from him. I

know.... I know it’s hard to listen but I can tell you that the injuries will heal

quickly, but I can’t say the same about his psychological state”.

Jack rubbed a hand over his face. This was completely new to him. “Can I talk to

him?”

“Yes, but I would like to wait until one of the psychologists talks to him. It will be

just a moment”. – the doctor said.

Paul Caster had received the call in his cell and went to the emergency room. He

saw Dr. Coldberg and approached to him.

“Dr. Coldberg” – he called.

“Hi Paul, I have a patient I want you to talk to. Look, the situation is...” – Dr.

Coldberg explained Danny’s condition and the medical notes that Caster examined

carefully.

“Okay, I’ll talk to him” – he said.

 

Paul separated the curtain and entered where Danny was lying down. He was pale

and had dark circles under his eyes telling that he hadn’t slept during the last

hours. Paul Caster approached a chair and sat down beside him, looked at the

bruises on his wrists, the usual when you have been handcuffed. By the report the

doctor had showed him, he had some cuts on the chest and back he couldn’t see at

this moment. Probably, his patient was under the sedatives effects. Sadly, it was

something he was well trained to see, usually with women and he knew the guilt

and shame those people felt, thinking they deserved what had happened.

“Hello”- Paul said. “my name’s Paul Caster, I work in the psychology department at

the hospital. “What’s your name?”

“Daniel” – Danny replied.

“How do you feel, Daniel?” – he asked.

“What do you think?” – Danny replied upset.

Paul smiled. He might be hurt but the young man had his spirit. Well, the reply had

been appropiate.

“I want you to tell me”- Paul said. “I can’t know what you feel just seeing you, my

estimation wouldn’t be exact”.

“Fine” – Danny said and looked away.

“Okay, I’ll tell you what I think. It seems the ambulance took you out of a rubbish

heap. It was my first impression. So, I guess you mustn’t feel fine” – Paul said.

“Touché, doctor”- Danny replied. “It’s just the place where I came from, exactly, and

no, I don’t feel fine”

“What were you doing in a rubbish heap?” – Paul asked.

Danny didn’t reply.

“Daniel?” – Paul insisted.

“I live there” – Danny replied avoiding his eyes.

“And how long have you been living there?”

“Eh... listen... I don’t like this game, alright? I... got this by myself, nothing happened

that I didn’t want to happen, okay? I... I’m not traumatized. I’m just a bit messed up

and tired. That’s all”.

“Well, then, why did you ask for help?”

“I didn’t ask for help. It was Sylvia, I just...” – Danny didn’t remember right now

why he had ended up at Rafie’s home.

“You just... what, Daniel?” – Paul asked.

“I just...” – Danny was nervous. He was so confused about that matter but he

understood some things. “I think... I think I wanted to be with my brother... yes, I

think so”

“You told me that it hasn’t happened anything you didn’t want to happen

... why did you want to end up like this?”

“I didn’t want to end up like this, no, this wasn’t what I wanted, I just wanted

something... special”.

“What happened to want something special, Daniel?”

“I... I don’t know, it’s my job. When.... when you find the little lifeless body of a five

years old boy in a shed, after spending all day looking for him it’s … it’s frustrating

and causes a lot of distress. I suppose I was trying to relieve it”

“With sex?”

Danny shrugged.

“Is there anything else you are trying to relieve?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about”- Danny frowned.

Paul noticed how Danny tensed.

“Well, don’t mind. Listen, Daniel. Probably, within the next hour you will be

discharged, but I would like to go on talking about this. There is a place in the

hospital where we help people who have experienced a traumatic situation, we

help them to face it and react in a correct way without causing damage to

themselves, as has happened to you. I think... no, I’m sure that if you come with us,

we’ll help you to take control and things like this won’t happen again”.

“It won’t happen again and I’ve told you that I haven’t any trauma”- Danny said. He

was completely sure about it, he wouldn’t ever go to that club, he had learnt hard

by experience. What’s more, it hadn’t worked, just to lose his job, lie to his

coworkers and friends, lie to Vivian and lose her trust and respect. Nothing else.

“Don’t be so sure, Daniel. It happened and it can happen again and not always will

you come to the hospital like you did. Sometimes, you don’t even come here, do

you understand?”

“Well, what do you want me to do?” – Danny didn’t want to argue with this man.

“It’s an intensive treatment, 10 days completely isolated from the outside, headed

by my team. I’ll help you to understand what is happening to you and how to deal

with it”.

“It sounds good” – Danny grimaced.

“No, it doesn’t sound good, I know that Daniel, but my experience tells me that

nobody has regretted accepting this” – Paul said.

“Okay, I’ll think about it, but I haven’t anything to understand, I know what has

happened and I can solve it, but if it makes you happy... “ – Danny said.

“Well, think about it, I’ll come back in a while. You should rest” – he said and left

the place.

Danny stayed alone in the bed, thoughtful. He didn’t need that kind of help but, on

the other hand, he wasn’t sure about it. He wasn’t sure about anything. It was

strange, when Paul Caster had asked for his name, he had said Daniel. It was... it

was like he was trying to keep his personality as Danny Taylor, as that little safe

place he had built one day, but actually, he was Daniel... Daniel Alvarez and that

was his current situation. It was again that thinking he was an FBI agent, thinking

about his coworkers, about Jack, Martin, Vivian, Sam, was surreal and scared him.

He wouldn’t be able to face them now that they knew what he had been doing, he

couldn’t face their anger, the dissaproving looks, the distrust, the emptiness. His

pounding head told him to stop thinking. He closed his eyes and tried to let the

sedatives do their work.

Paul Caster was explaining to Jack and Dr. Coldberg his idea about to keep Danny

under his control for a specific treatment.

“Is it because of his addiction to alcohol, isn’t it?” – Jack asked.

“What? No, we didn’t talk about it. He explained to me that there was a difficult

case and it was what caused all of this. He... he needs to understand what has

happened, I’m not sure he understands it and, of course, he needs help to make

sure this doesn’t happen again. But we didn’t talk about alcohol. If he’s alcoholic in

recovering process, that’s another matter to deal with, of course”.

“He is” – Jack said. “He spent around 8 or 9 years sober, and he was very aware of

the problem. This has been a surprise for me. In any case, if he agrees to the

treatment you propose, I’ll be glad to support him in whatever it was.”

“Well, I need to fill out some forms and have him sign them” – Paul Caster said. “He

said that he’ll think about it, I think he’s an intelligent person and he knows the

danger he has run...”

“I can’t believe he has done this voluntarily”- Jack interrupted him, talking to

himself, but aloud.

Paul Caster smiled back understanding Jack’s desperation. “That’s exactly what I

want to find out, Mr. Malone. Look, I’m not absolutely sure about that story of a

difficult case, I think there is something else and it’s where we have to work”.

“Well” – Jack said. “Can I see him now?” – he asked.

“Yes, but just a moment, he needs to rest” – Dr. Coldberg told him.

Jack didn’t know if he should get angry with Danny or not. Actually, he should

come down on him like a ton of bricks for having done this.... voluntarily. He

couldn’t believe it as he looked at the card Sylvia had left him. Just ‘that’. Well, he

didn’t want to be rude to him but Danny needed to realize that his situation wasn’t

easy for them and he wouldn’t let what had happened go by with a simple ‘I was

affected by the case’ excuse because all of them had been affected, because he was

an FBI agent, because he had to learn, he had to learn to control his feelings and

distance himself from the cases, he had just reminded him of that. And the most

important, Jack didn’t know if Danny’s behaviour during the last weeks was

because of Rafie. What if Danny was drinking? What if Danny was lying? He

couldn’t accept that. He decided that the best way to start again was to make

Danny accept that treatment, it was the only way to give him a second chance, but

he still didn’t know what to say to his coworkers.

He opened the curtain and entered Danny’s room, lying on the bed with his eyes

closed, apparently asleep.

“Hey” – Jack called to get his attention as he approached a chair beside him.

 

 

Danny opened his eyes and looked at Jack. “Jack, I.... I’m sorry, I’m really sorry

about this mess. I don’t know..” – he started to talk evidently nervous.

“Stop it, Danny, I don’t want you to give me any explanations. Listen, right now

you’re a big question mark, I can’t do anything with you. I’ve been thinking and the

only way I see is that you can’t go on with us. I don’t know why you have done this

and I don’t care. We talked recently about the cases and how they were affecting

you, I suggested you talk to Dr. Harris, but you... what can I think about you, now?

When your brother’s fiancée called me, when I saw you, I didn’t know what had

happened to you. Now you say it’s because of Andrew’s case and everything has

done voluntarily, nobody has assaulted you. No, I can’t understand it, Danny, I can’t

understand why you’ve done this to yourself”. – Jack said.

Danny couldn’t look at him. He felt the hurt he caused his boss and it wasn’t

anything compared to what his behaviour would cause his coworkers when they

found out about it. He knew he couldn’t deal with it. “I’ve told you that I’m sorry,

Jack... you don’t understand it” – he muttered.

“Right, I don’t understand. It’s because of that and because I’ve been talking to Mr.

Caster that I want, I would like, and I’m being sincere with you, to give you a

second chance. I want you to accept thetreatment he has offered to you, Danny. I

want you to control what’s happening. It’s the only way to come back with us, do

you understand?”- Jack said.

“Aren’t you going to fire me?” –Danny asked in surprise.

“Don’t think it’s so easy, Danny. I want you to think seriously about this. It isn’t just

because of what has happened, you have missed the fact you are an alcoholic and

drank alcohol, and I’m not going to talk about the drugs”.

“I don’t use drugs” – Danny muttered.

“There were drugs in your blood, Danny” – Jack said.

“That wasn’t supposed to happen, they... they drugged me, I couldn’t do anything to

stop it” - Danny said in a trembling tone.

“Who are they? Who did this to you?” Jack asked.

“I... I can’t tell you”

“Come on, Danny, do you know who they are?” – Jack asked again.

“No... don’t make me talk about it, Jack, don’t” – Danny replied almost begging.

It was the second time during the same day, Jack saw the anguish in Danny’s face.

Maybe he shouldn’t insist, surely Danny wasn’t ready to talk about it and he didn’t

know the reason for this situation. Well, at least he had that card from Rex Club. He

was sure that everything was linked to that place.

“Well, don’t worry, but I want you to accept that treatment. Mr. Caster says that

you ‘ll do fine and I think so too. It will be a rest for you, you need it, right?”- Jack

said trying to comfort him. Maybe he had been too rude before.

“Yes, I’ll do it”- Danny muttered as he closed his eyes.

“Fine” – Jack pressed gently his shoulder and left the place.

It was near 10 in the morning when Jack left the hospital. At the entrance, he called

to the office.

“Johnson”- Viv replied.

“Vivian, it’s Jack”.

“Jack! I was calling you. What happened? Where are you?”

“I’m fine, Viv. Have we got a new case?”- He asked.

“No...” - she started.

“Well, I have to take care of some matters and I don’t know how much time I need.

Is Martin there?” – he asked.

“Yes, what’s going on, Jack?” she asked worried about the urgent tone of his voice.

“I’ll tell you later, but don’t worry. Let me talk to Martin, please” – Jack said.

“Sure” – she said still worried.

Jack told Martin to take the copy of Danny’s apartment keys and meet near Rex

Club. Jack didn’t know how he could keep this matter away his boss because he

knew Danny would be fired if Olczyk knew about what had happened. He didn’t

want to tell his coworkers anything, not knowing exactly what had happened.

Martin arrived 10 minutes later and approached Jack waiting in his car.

“What have we got, Jack?”- he asked, thinking about a new case.

“We have to go to this place and ask some questions”- Jack said in a worried tone.

Martin took the card Jack was handing him, and looked confused.

“It’s a gay club”- he said coldly.

 

Chapter 6

As they were driving to their destination, Jack told Martin what had happened that

morning, since he was called by Sylvia Marquez at 06.30. Martin looked at him with

a sceptical expression, not understanding the connection between what Jack was

telling him and the card he had in his hands.

“I don’t want to say a word about this, Martin. Nobody has to know anything. Until

we find out exactly what happened, Danny got 10 days off to stay with his family,

right?”

Martin nodded.

When they reached the Rex Club, Jack drove the car to a nearby parking place,

where he parked.

“Look” – Martin pointed. “It’s Danny’s motorbike”.

“Yes” – Jack said with a sigh. It was obvious that everything had to do with that

place.

They got out of the car and headed for the entrance. Jack pushed the bell insistently

and they had to wait a couple of minutes before someone opened the door.

“It’s closed, what do you want?” – a sleepy man told them.

Jack showed his ID. “We’re from FBI and have some questions for you”.

“Oh, well, listen, this is a legal place, we have all the necessary licenses and…”

“Do you know this man?” – Jack interrupted, putting a Danny’s picture before his

eyes.

“Eh,… no, I’m sorry” – the man said, stepping back surprised by Jack’s gesture.

“What do you do here?” – Martin asked.

“I work here, I welcome the clients and make the assignments” – the man said

quietly.

“And your name is…”

“Joey”

“Well, Joey, look at this picture carefully” – Jack pressured him.

“Okay, I know him” – Joey said.

“Do you know who was with him last night?”

“Listen, this is a private club, I haven’t the authorization to name names. People

coming here are free to do what they want under the club’s rules. Why are you

interested in this man?” – Joey asked.

“He’s missing”- Martin said, not even thinking about it. “We think he was seen here

last and the last person to see him is our first suspect. Are you the last person to

see him, Joey?”

“No, no… eh, look,… eh, okay” – Joey replied nervously – “he’s Daniel, he works

here. I see him when he arrives, about 23.30, I send him the clients but I leave

before the shift is over, when the entrance is closed, at 02.30. I don’t see him

leaving the club but I guess he stays here some days… until the morning”.

“What… What does he do here?” – Martin asked almost gasping for air.

Joey looked at him smirking. “I’ve told you”.

“Why do you know he stays here at the end of the shift?” – Jack asked, trying to

keep his professionality intact.

“I’ve seen him carrying in some clothes and he told me it was easier to go to work

from here”.

“Where does he keep his personal effects?”

“At his place” – Joey said, and took a key.

 

 

He headed through a small corridor with several doors at each side. Martin felt a

knot in his stomach; he was still assimilating was Jack had told him before, but now

he was unable to picture his coworker in a brothel like this. It wasn’t possible, it

was crazy, surely he was dreaming and it was a nightmare he would wake from

with the sound of his alarm-clock.

“It’s here” – it was his alarm-clock. Joey opened the door and they entered.

“Thanks, I’ll call you when we finish here” – Jack said coldly and closed the door

leaving Joey out.

Jack and Martin exchange a worried look but they didn’t say anything. Martin

headed to the toilet and he checked it finding the typical cleaning products.

In the room, Jack opened a small closet where he found several suits, shoes and

other clothes Danny used to wear at work, and other casual clothes, jeans, t-shirts

and a leather jacket.

His head was pounding and he didn’t know if it was because of the rage or the

tiredness, he couldn’t understand what was happening. Jack sat down on the bed,

beside the night table and opened the cabinet, finding a minibar full of minibottles

of alcohol.

He remained lost in his own thoughts, it couldn’t be. He remembered Danny, that

morning and looked around. How was it possible he was working in a place like

that, what the hell Danny was doing there?

At that moment, Joey opened the door and stared at them. “Eh, sorry… I have the

record of clients from last night. I don’t think their names help but they paid with a

credit card”.

“Their names…” – Jack repeated. “How many people?”

“Last night, four people and three of them came in together. Actually he has three

or four clients every night. Daniel is good”.

“How long has he worked here?”- Martin asked not wanting to hear the man’s

answer.

“Uhm... it was last month, more or less. I can tell you the day he came here for the

first time” – Joey said, looking for his schedule. “Yeah, he’s here. It was on February

19th.

Jack realized he couldn’t do anything with those men if they were the ones

assaulting Danny. If Danny worked there and they were clients they didn’t have

anything. If what happened to Danny happened here, there had to be evidence in

that room but they never would get a search warrant.

“Who cleans the room?” – he asked.

“Me and a couple of guys” – Joey said.

“Who did this one?”

“I did, this morning”

“Was everything like usual?”

 

“Yes, there wasn’t anything strange, why? Do you think Daniel was a victim of

something here?” – Joey asked. He was getting worried, he liked Daniel.

“Probably those men you mentioned are connected with it, yes”.

“Listen, Daniel was a bit pissed last night, he asked for something harder...” – Joey

started.

“Where do you keep the drugs?” – Martin suddenly asked.

“There aren’t drugs in this place, sir. Mr. Peterson doesn’t even allow the people

gets drunk too much. There is a limit for everything. It’s the only way to keep this

place quiet, you understand me”

“Could those men bring drugs in with them?”

“Well, I didn’t search them if that is what you’re asking me, but they seemed to be

from Wall Street and you know what they say about it” – Joey said grimacing.

‘No, on top of everything else we have to think this is a monastery’ – Jack thought.

“Well, we don’t have anything else to do here. Well, yes” – he stopped a moment

and opened the closet. “We’ll take away all of this. I don’t think Daniel is coming

back here anymore”.

“Mr. Peterson will not be happy. Me either, I liked him” – Joey said. “I hope you find

him”.

Jack looked at him not understanding but then he remembered what Martin had

said before. “Yes, that’s our job”.

 

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

“What we’re going to do, Jack?” – Martin asked once they left the club.

“We can’t do anything against those guys, Martin. I wonder what Danny was trying

to do with this”.

“I don’t know, Jack, he has been here for a month, I don’t understand it, Jack. Maybe

what happened to his brother has affected him, it was more or less a month ago,

but... it’s nonsense.”

“What happened to his brother?” – Jack asked.

“I don’t know” – Martin replied.

“When Sylvia Marquez called me, Danny was in her home and he asked for his

brother, maybe.... maybe there is a connection” – Jack said, as looked for Sylvia’s

number.

“Hello”

“Ms. Marquez, it’s Jack Malone”.

“Agent Malone, how’s Danny?” – she asked. She didn’t know anything since Danny

was driven to the hospital.

“He’s fine physically but he’ll stay under psychological attention for 10 days. Ms.

Marquez, I’m sorry if I ask you this but, could you explain me what happened to

Rafie, please?”

Sylvia told him what the doctors had said and what Danny had told her when he

visited the Director of the prison. “Danny was very affected by that, agent Malone.

Do you think that what has happened to him is because of Rafie?”.

“I don’t know, we’re investigating, thanks for talking to me”

Jack hung up and turned to Martin. “Well, Rafie was arrested after a fight with

other prisoner. He wanted to contact his brother all night, but he was arrested and

he couldn’t. They say he was yelling Danny’s name all night. Finally during the

rounds in the morning, he was found with a sheet tied on his neck. Fortunately, the

quick movement of the guards stopped the suicide”.

“Oh my god” – Martin muttered. Danny had to be shattered. They never knew what

had happened. The only information Danny told them it was that Rafie was in a

coma and there wasn’t hope for him, but they didn’t know what had happened.

Knowing Danny, he could understand the relapse in drink but... why that work in

the club?

At the hospital, once Danny was discharged from Emergency, Paul Caster went

with him to the place where he and his team usually worked. On their way, he

explained what they were going to do during those days, trying to keep Danny

relaxed and not feeling pressured. Paul knew how difficult it was to enter that

area and the refusal his patients felt at the beginning. So he tried with his

explanations and general behaviour to reinforce the decision they had taken.

“Linda, he’s Danny Taylor, he begins program B today”- he told his secretary at the

entrance of that area.

“Good morning, Mr. Taylor” –she said with a smile and put on the desk some forms.

“You have to read them and sign them. In any case, you already must know what

it’s written, it’s just what Mr. Caster has told you”.

Danny read it quickly and signed it. He was nervous, he wasn’t sure what he was

going to do but it was the only chance he had. Paul smiled. “Calm down, Danny,

everything is going to be okay”.

“Sure” – he whispered.

“Come with me” – Paul said. Both crossed the door that separated the place where

Linda was from where Danny was going to live during the next ten days. They

walked through a wide corridor with several doors at its left meeting a few people

talking who greeted Paul.

“Okay”- Paul said finally stopping in front of a door. “This one will be your room for

the next days. The first 24 hours, like I explained you, the only person you’ll

contact is me. You can call me when you need to, don’t worry about the time,

right?”.

Danny hesitated. “Can’t I leave this room?” – he asked.

No, for these 24 hours, then you’ll go to the common area, but this one will be your

room all the time. I know it’s difficult now, but trust me, it will get better” – Paul

said.

“Why?”- Danny asked. “I don’t think I’m going to suffer withdrawal symptoms or

something like that”.

“No, it’s the usual, Danny. This program works like that. Everybody spends 24

hours like this” – Paul explained him. “I told you before, do you remember?”

“Yeah, but this is so...” – Danny looked around a little bit scared.

Paul knew it was like that so he opened the door and both entered in the room.

Danny felt better once he saw the room. It was a tiny apartment, a kind of hotel

room. “You can see the rooms are more comfortable. You’ll be fine, Danny”.

“What about my effects, my clothes...?”

“You have all you need in this closet, comfortable clothes, blanket and the usual for

cleaning in the bathroom”- Paul said.

“Great, what about the meal?” – Danny asked, smiling for the first time on the

morning.

“We’re in a hospital” – Paul said raising an eyebrow.

“Okay. What can I do?”

“Now, do what you want, but I suggest you rest a bit. I don’t guess you rested very

much last night and it will be good for you to be very awake tomorrow morning,

when we’ll start to work, right? Ah, by the way, you have some books, in case you

want to read something. They are in the closet”.

“Inoffensive, I guess”

“Informative, better”

“All right” – Danny sighed. “I’m afraid ten days in will be like ten years out”.

“Well, I have to leave. Take your time, right?”

“Sure”

Paul held his hand out to Danny and he shook it hesitantly.

He wasn’t alone. Paul’s coworkers took shifts to take care all the patients during

their first 24 hours. Sooner or later it was like a mask cracking and showing all the

hidden feelings and the true reason that explained some behaviour. The psychologist got a

lot of information in a short time and he could start to work on it with better results. It didn’t

work 100 per cent but Paul was getting good results.

Danny sat down on the bed. That was similar to the club, but at the same time, it

was different. He knew how he had ended up there and what he had done. He felt

relieved and stupid, he had to ask for help before. It would be more intelligent but

he wanted to play with the edge of the knife. But it was working, at least he didn’t

feel the images with such intensity and he didn’t feel the pain just because every

day the pain was harder. He couldn’t believe he was thinking positively about that

option, he couldn’t take control over his life and right now he had to confront it. He

knew it would be difficult to get over Danny Taylor. Right now he was so far from

the person he wanted to be and he knew he had hurt the people he loved the most.

If he left that place in 10 days and came back to work, as Jack had told him, he

didn’t know how to face that situation.

He stood up and started to investigate the place would be his home for 10 days.

The clothes, white t-shirt and sport pants. ‘So typical’ he thought. He glanced at the

books, a couple of them were about nature and the other one about cities from the

United States. ‘This could be interesting’. There wasn’t any window and he couldn’t

hear anything. “I’m getting crazy here. I’ll end up talking to the walls” – he said.

He was nervous. His heart was racing but Danny tried to stay calm. He knew he

was doing the right thing but he was sure he was going to confront things he never

wanted to remember.

He took a deep breath and lay on the bed, closed his eyes trying to sleep and not

think.

When Paul left Danny, he called one of his coworkers, Matt, who was going to make

the first shift. Then it would Margot and finally, Andy. They were the people to

register Danny’s behaviour in that room during the first 24 hours, a room which

hid a glass, so they could see and hear what was happening. Of course, Paul

supervised the work and he was called in case of need. His experience told him that

usually it was a break down, a point where he could start to work. It would be a

long day. He knew Danny would explode but he wasn’t sure if it would be because

of the alcohol, sex or something else.

Danny lay on the bed and looked around. He didn’t find anything familiar to him, the

silence and darkness were completely unusual. He closed his eyes and tried to sleep.

At least he had ‘Panther’ with him. It had been a gift from his mum some months ago,

when he turned five. He tightly embraced the felt and got immersed in a dream with

plenty of lights and shadows. The same nightmare from the other nights came into

his mind, the noise of plates smashing against the floor, the glasses as well, his mum’s

screams, his father yelling, his brother trying to hold onto him. Danny saw the door of

the house and the legs of the older people moving. He found enough space to get out

of there and started to run. He was running but his legs moved like in slow motion,

but he was running away from the yells, the pain, the house... he didn’t see the stone

and fell down. When he recognized his surroundings it was his father in front of him,

but he wasn’t on the street, he was at home, again, beside the window of the kitchen

with a broken glass... no, it wasn’t broken. His father was beside him with the rest of a

bottle of beer. Danny didn’t know why his father threw it on him and suddenly he

vanished. Danny put his hand across the window and cut his flesh with the broken

glass of the window. The pain on his wrist and the blood around it was what he

remembered, the broken glass, the bottle, his father, his mum taking care and telling

him it wasn’t his fault, that she had had to fix the window before, his father yelling

and throwing things on him again. It was confused. The felt fell down to the floor and

Danny held his wrist because of the pain he felt, as he screamed for his brother. The

lights turned on and he met the other five children he shared the room with, looking

at him with scared expressions, as a woman gently put him back to bed, giving

‘Panther’ back to him. She caressed his face the same way his mum did. ‘where’s

mummy?’ he asked. ‘You’ll see her tomorrow’, she said. But Danny wasn’t sure about

it, she had left in that car with lights at the top, like the one he was driven to the

hospital in . His wrist hurt, it was still bandaged and doctors had given him some

stitches. It had happened a week ago. That night was the fifth time in this month he

ended up in a place like this. But this time, Rafie wasn’t there, Rafie had escaped. He

could hear his mum’s sobs and see her anxioux face wanting to hide from those

curious and questioning brown eyes, as the police took him from his home. From the

car of the man from social services, he saw his mum being carried in an ambulance

that left the place quickly.

Next morning he spent the day waiting in the Social Services Offices with other

children. Every time someone appeared at the door he wondered if this time that

person would go to pick up him. But it didn’t happen. Finally, one of the social

workers told him he would go back home.

‘Fine, he would come back with mum’. He spent the afternoon laying on his mum’s

lap, as she caressed his hair and forehead and sang soft songs her mum had taught

her in Cuba, where she was born.

They had dinner soon, he and his mum. He didn’t dare to ask about Rafie. “Why did

papi cut my wrist with the bottle, mummy?”- he asked.

“What are you saying little boy? You’re very imaginative, I’m not going to let you see

those comics your brother gives you. You cut your wrist with the window, do you

remember? It was broken and you put your hand across the glass. Look” – she

pointed the window – “I’ve fixed it. You won’t get cut anymore”.

After dinner his mum carried him to the bed and tucked him in. She kissed him on his

forehead and half closed the door. Danny looked the at Rafie’s empty bed. Then he

fell asleep..

Some time later, he heard a noise in the room. “Rafie?” – he called.

“Shut up” – he said. “Don’t make noise and sleep”

“Where did you go?”

“Somewhere” – Rafie said getting into the bed. He too a little tube from his pocket

and opened it. He held it glose to his nose for a while and then he let it fall to the side.

“Rafie, why does it smell like glue?” – Danny asked.

“Shut up” – his brother muttered.

Matt Cranford sat down at his desk, before the glass where he observed his

supervisor’s patient. He put on the headphones, distractedly opened a drink and

the file he had on the desk: Danny Taylor was his name. He had arrived that

morning in the emergency room in a confused state, with cuts, bruises and

evidence of sexual assault. Doctors found drug and alcohol residue in his blood.

Matt raised an eyebrow and looked at his patient. He started to work with Paul

Caster five months ago when he finished his studies in psychology, and he always

got the first shift. He was grateful to work with him and admired his boss for the

way he attended the patients. He felt moved by how quietly they entered the

program, he would be very nervous knowing he was going to be watched for 24

hours. But they didn’t know it and Paul was an excellent psychologist. He never

saw anybody feeling forced to accept the situation. He watched as his patient

checked the room and toilet and finally, lying on the bed, he closed his eyes.

‘Fine’ – Matt said opening a magazine. If Danny Taylor made any movement, he

would hear. The sound system was highly sensitive and you could hear even the

change in breathing. He knew nothing would happen until Margot’s shift. It was the

usual routine. Things turned interesting at the end of second shift and for sure

during the third one. It was Andy who finally called Paul with some problem.

It wasn’t 30 minutes later, when he heard movement in the room. He saw Danny’s

nervous movement on the bed and how his breathing was increased. Matt picked

up the cell and called Paul Caster.

Paul left his office and approached quickly where Matt was taking notes. He looked

at the notes and Danny, who still seemed very uncomfortable.

“It seems like a nightmare, how long has he been like this?”

“Since I called you” – Matt said.

“Have you heard something? I mean has he said something?”

“He’s muttered but I don’t understand, I think he isn’t speaking English”.

“Give me the headphones”

Matt handed him the headphones and Paul listened for a moment.

“He’s speaking Spanish” – he told Matt handing back the headphones.

Paul softly knocked on the door and went in quietly. Danny didn’t hear him and

continued speaking unintelligible words and moving nervously. Paul sat down

beside him and held his hand. Then he spoke softly trying to calm down.

“Hey Danny, calm down, it’s over, it’s just a nightmare, it isn’t real”- he said.

Danny heard the voice and awoke with a start. He sat up with his heart racing and

looked at Paul Caster like he had just remembered something.

“He was Walter Grassmann!” – he exclaimed not realizing that it was actually Paul

who had sat down beside him.

“Who is Walter Grassmann, Danny?” – Paul asked gently.

“He’s… he’s the social worker took me back home!” – Danny said, as if Paul knew

what he was talking about.

“Danny, relax. You had a nightmare, that’s all. Do you remember where you are?” –

Paul said.

Danny stared at him, letting his breathing return to normal. “Eh… I’m… I’m sorry,

what are you doing here?” – he asked a bit confused.

“I’ve come to see how you were doing and I found you a bit nervous. Do you want

to tell me what has happened?”

“It’s… it’s just a nightmare, you told me that” – Danny replied.

“Do you want to tell me what you remember? You told me about a social worker,

Walter Grassmann, what he was doing in your dream?” – Paul asked.

“He took me back home”- Danny said.

“Were you lost?”

“No, they took me away from home and they took me back. My mum was in the

ambulance and there was nobody at home”. – Danny said.

“That was the nightmare”

“It wasn’t”

“What happened to your mum?”

“I don’t know, I only remember she was yelling because they took me away from

home. Nothing else.”

 

“Well, then the nightmare was about a social worker taking you away from home

because something was happening to your mum and she was yelling as they took

you away. And then, that Walter Grassman took you back home” – Paul said.

“Yes” – Danny said looking away.

“Are you sure?. Danny” – Paul gently grabbed his arm looking in his eyes. But

Danny pulled away.

“I’m sure” – he said not looking at him.

Paul realized there wasn’t anymore to do at this moment. Matt had taken notes

about this conversation and Danny’s reactions before the questions.

“Well, I’m going out. Remember, if you need something, just call me” – he said

pointing the bell. “Right?”

“Right” – Danny muttered.

“Try to rest, okay?”

Danny nodded as watched Paul leaving the room. Still the dream was present in his

mind. It wasn’t new, it was one of his usual dreams for a long time, one of the

reasons he had started to drink since he was an adolescent. But he was really

perplexed about the way he had identified Walter Grassmann. That man on the TV,

so familiar to him, was one of the social workers of the centre where he had been

sent so frequently.

Not wanting to sleep again, Danny took one of the books out the closet. He put it on

the table and sat down, opening it. “Culture and traditions in New Orleans” – he

read aloud, and continued reading as if his survival depended on those words.

Matt looked at him and smiled. He wouldn’t sleep either. He handed Paul the notes

and continued his work.

 

Chapter 7

 

Jack and Martin left Rex Club with Danny’s personal effects. Martin got into his car,

once Jack drove him where they had met that morning. Both went their own way

with the promise to not tell anything to their coworkers until they found out what

Danny was doing in that Club.

Martin headed for Danny’s apartment, and opened the door with the keys he had

taken out the office. He left the clothes on Danny’s bed and kept his I.D. and the gun

that he found in the glove compartment of the motorbike to give Jack later.

Martin didn’t know what he felt for Danny. Right now he felt cheated, he had lost

faith in Danny. He remembered some days ago, he had gone to Danny’s home

because he didn’t feel strong enough to resist the temptation of taking the

painkillers had becoming him into an adict and they shared a baseball game. Then,

Danny had listened to him patiently, Martin told him all about his weakness and

his problems and Danny had helped him with his company. Why didn’t trust Danny

him? If he had problems, if he had drunk again and he couldn’t talk to his sponsor

about whatever it was, he could have talked to him. They were close friends and

the trust was absolute, at least that was what he thought. What that guy from the

Club, Joey, had told them and the evidence they had found in that gay club, as Jack

had told him, was something inexplicable to him. At least Joey had repeated over

and over that Danny wasn’t gay, as if it were a comfort.

He left a note on the clothes and went back to the office. He couldn’t say anything,

Jack had been clear. To the rest of the world, Danny had asked for some days off to

stay with his family and rest.

“Where did you go?” – Sam asked.

“I was with Jack”- Martin said.

“With Jack... doing... what?” – she insisted. “Viv says that Jack called asking for you

and he sounded strange”.

“It’s nothing, he just wanted to go with me to interview a guy” – Martin said.

“Have we got a new case?” – Vivian asked approaching them.

“No, it was nothing, Viv” – Martin said. ‘Shit, he didn’t know to lie’

Vivian looked at him with a grimace. “Something’s happened to Danny, isn’t it? –

she asked slowly.

“No”- Martin lied looking around. “Jack wanted to interview a guy, I don’t know

why, maybe an old case” – he replied. “I don’t know anything about Danny, except

what Jack told me”.

“What did he tell you?” – Sam asked. “Has something happened to his brother?”

“I don’t know, Danny asked for some days off to rest and stay with his family. Jack

agreed, you know how Danny is doing lately”.

“Yes, well, I’m going to work” – Viv said upset. She didn’t believe Martin, she was

sure Danny had been drinking that day in the café. And Jack and Martin were

acting strange, maybe they were accomplices in something. Maybe Jack had had an

argument with Danny and he had given him a second chance; for some reason he

didn’t want the rest to know about it. The fact that Danny wasn’t there this

morning couldn’t be a coincidence.

As Martin headed for Danny’s apartment, Jack drove to Rikers. Sylvia Márquez

had told him something, he had remembered a Danny’s comment at work and he

wanted to find out about that lead... well, actually it was more like a hunch.

The Director of the prison explained to Jack the same thing Sylvia had told him

before. But Jack had a question for the Director.

“What time was it when Rafael Alvarez confronted the other prisoner?” – he asked.

“Uhm... about 10, 10.15 more or less. At eleven we have lights out and the

prisoners are sent to their cells, it was near that time”.

“Can you tell what they were watching on the TV?”

“I can’t, they have control of it.” – The Director replied.

“Okay, thanks” – Jack said.

He left knowing his hunch could be right. He wanted to find out what Rafie was

watching, because he remembered that comment Danny had said ‘Lately seing the

TV is getting dangerous’ or something like that. Danny didn’t talk nonsense where

work was concerned. Rafie’s behaviour, insistently calling for his brother intrigued

him as much as Danny going to his house early that morning. The expression of his

eyes when he called Rafie, hadn’t left his mind.

He got into the car and was driving back to the FBI building, when his cell started

to ring.

“Malone”

“Jack, it’s Viv. We have a case”

“Okay, I’m on my way, what happened?” – Jack asked.

Vivian explained the case and finally, instead go on to the FBI, Jack met Viv in the

victim’s house. The police were checking the place and searching fingerprints, as

Vivian talked to missing person’s mother.

Jack got into the house and looked at the debris strewn around. The woman was

telling Vivian what had happened.

“... and when I came back with the groceries, Ben wasn’t in his room. I called him

several times to help me with the bags; when he didn’t reply, I went to his room. As

I told you, he wasn’t there, but I found this note on his bed and the living room like

this”.

“Mrs. Bradley, can you tell me what your son was wearing?”

“He was dressed in pajamas when I left. He was cold and he didn’t go to school. Oh

my God, maybe someone got into the house to steal and finding my son they

kidnapped him. Maybe... maybe they put a gun on him and he had to write the

note”- the woman was very nervous.

“We don’t know what has happened, Mrs. Bradley. Could you check his clothes and

tell us if you miss something?. It could help us to know what he wore when he left

the house”.

“Sure, excuse me a moment” – Mrs. Bradley said, standing up. She headed for his

son’s room and started to check the closet.

“Jack” – Viv greeted.

“Hey Viv, what we’ve got?”

Viv handed the guy’s note. Jack read it and frowned. “Could it be a teenager

running away?” he asked looking around. “Maybe he simulated a theft... where’s

the girlfriend?”

“No girlfriend. Sam and Olivia have gone to the school to interview Ben’s

classmates. Martin is talking to the neighbours”

“Good” – Jack said frowning.

“Jack” – Vivian got his attention.

“What?”

“We have to talk... about Danny” – she said.

“What about Danny? He had asked for some days off, he’s very tired with this issue

about his brother and it seems his nephew isn’t dealing well with the situation”-

Jack said in a convincing tone, that, however, made Vivian more suspicious. She

hadn’t asked for such a detailed explanation.

“Is it true?”- Vivian asked.

“Why not?”

“I don’t know, Martin seemed to be hiding something and you explained something

I didn’t ask. You both are behaving strangely and Danny isn’t at work today...”

Jack looked at her. ‘Damn it, Vivian’. Jack remembered once long time ago when

Danny had trusted her. But if he told her... Sam would be the only one to not know.

He had to talk to them.

“Not now, Vivian. When this case is closed, I’ll explain what happened in the office.

But” – he saw his worried expression –“ Danny is fine, okay?”

“Okay” – Vivian said.

“Agent Johnson” – Mrs. Bradley called. “I guess I can tell you what my son wore.

Look, he likes a sweatshirt his father gave him, it’s red with white and black letters

on the back... I don’t remember the words.. and a picture in blue and white on the

front. I suppose he wore his jeans, he always dresses in jeans”.

Vivian took notes quickly. “Well, Mrs. Bradley, thanks for the information. Eh.. Jack,

do you want me to stay here or you?”

“Stay, please, I’ll go back to the office”- Jack said.

Danny remained for a while reading those stories about the States of his country.

Once he finished the one about New Orleans, he started another chapter about

Mississippi and the place where Blues had been born. He took a quick glance at the

rest of the book looking for the place where he had been born, Florida. He was

bored, a bit tired, and starved. What time could be it? He didn’t have any frame of

reference in that place but he hadn’t had dinner and the breakfast had been a kind

of serum doctors had injected into him. He wasn’t in a hotel reading a book, he was

waiting for someone or something. He was there because he had hit rock bottom

and he still had to give thanks because it could have been worse.

He left the book and hid his face in his hands. Who was he lying to? He was an

alcoholic, right now he just wanted a drink, one more drink, or two. He had ruined

his life, he had failed his brother and coworkers, his friends, his true family. He

cursed the day he met Clifford Hewings and drove him to that club, he cursed the

day he saw Walter Grassmann’s stupid face on TV. But he couldn’t justify what he

had done making other people responsible, he had been him the one who decided

to drink again, the one who decided to stay in that club. No, he couldn’t pretend to

be there like he was pacefully in a hotel room. He was alone, more than ever,

absolutely alone. He softly started to sob and felt relieved doing it. He let himself be

overcome by the exhaustion, the sadness, the fear and the frustration, it became a

cry with no end. After a while, he thought it had been hours, he lifted his head and

looked at the call button, Paul Caster had told him to use if he needed something.

That possibility calmed him down but he didn’t want to use it.

Matt was excited, it was the first time it happened something during his shift. He

was looking at Danny when Paul Caster approached to him. “How is he doing?”

“He was fine, reading a book. But 15 minutes ago he left the book and started to

sob, until now”

“Has he said anything?”

“Nope”

“Has he done something, any reaction?”

“Nothing. Well, he had glanced at the button, but that’s all”.

“Good, it’s working”

“Is it?”

“He’s getting the idea this isn’t a game. He’s becoming aware of his situation. That’s

good, it’s good to start to express outwardly, it’s good to start working with him

during his recovering process. I guess he’s a lucky man, I think he got to his limit in

a short time. So he controlled pretty well what happened to him and that will help

me a lot to reach the true reason for his behaviour”.

“I guessed it was an alcoholism case”

“Don’t believe all what you read, Matt. Look carefully, it’s the best way to learn. By

the way, what time is it?”

“Three”

“Okay, I’m going to bring over something to eat and I’ll talk to him”. Paul said.

Ten minutes later, Paul came back with a tray and knocked on the door, not

waiting for a reply to open it. Danny was still at the table but he wasn’t crying

anymore.

“Are you hungry? I’m bringing up a special menu for you” – Paul said with a smile,

as he left the tray on the table.

Danny glanced at the meal and grimaced. It was only the hunger he felt that would

make him eat that.

“Thanks” – he said trying to sound kind.

Paul stayed there as Danny was eating, taking a look at the book Danny has been

reading before.

“Anything interesting?” – he asked.

“Yes, for a while” – Danny replied.

Danny finished with the meal and pushed the tray aside on the table. He remained

silent thoughfully and then he asked. “Why am I here?”

“Sometimes we need to be alone to understand what is happening to us, take a

breath to stop and think about it” – Paul said. “That’s why you’re here, basically”.

“I know what I’ve done, I was aware of what I was doing” – Danny said.

“What did you do?”

Danny stared at him. He didn’t want to have this conversation. However, he

guessed it was the way to get over that crap.

Danny thought, looking for the exact moment things had turned wrong, the

moment he had drunk again, why did he do that?

“I think... I think it was the whole string of different events. I was tired, I wasn’t

attentive to the signals, I had worked a case that finished bad, the woman I was

dating went away and I had lost a bit of my control” – Danny said, remembering

the conversation he had had with Jack.

“Then, your girlfriend drops you, you have a bad case and get in trouble...” – Paul

said, focusing the explanation.

“No... it wasn’t like that, it wasn’t that easy” – Danny said.

“No, it isn’t, of course, Danny. You are giving excuses, excuses to justify what you’ve

done, but things don’t work like that. You know that you have to make your own

decisions and take control over your life and not let external influences

overshadow your own autonomy. But I’m not asking you why you did, I’m asking

you what you did, what you did consciously and ended up with you in a hospital

this morning” – Paul said.

“Right” – Danny muttered. It was very difficult to admit it aloud, tell someone at

this moment, someone like Paul Caster who was asking him directly. He took a

deep breath and closed his eyes trying to calm down. “I’m an alcoholic. For nine

years, three months and twenty two days I got sober. A month ago I drank again

and I’m not able to leave it” – he said. The words came out of his mouth easily but

he knew it wasn’t what he had to explain. However, an invisible wall stopped him

from saying anything else. He wasn’t ready to share that experience.

“So, that was the beginning, a drink a month ago” – Paul said.

“Do you like to make summaries?” – Danny asked.

“I’m just doing my own work line” – Paul replied. “I know it seems simple, but tell

me, was it the beginning of what you did later?”

“I think so”

“And, what did you do then?” – Paul asked.

“Then it was Rafie” – Danny said.

“Rafie... he’s your brother, isn’t he?” – Paul asked.

“Yes, he’s in the hospital, in a coma” – Danny said.

“I’m sorry” – Paul said. “But, what did you do?” – he insisted on asking.

“I’m not... I didn’t want to drink again, so I took my motorbike for a ride. I exceeded

the speed limit and I ended up at the police station”.

“Oh”

“Yeah, well, I got lucky. A guy I know works there and helped me to avoid the

situation but...” – Danny stopped.

“But?” – Paul asked.

“I’m tired” – Danny said. “Can we stop now? I would like to get some sleep”.

“Right, of course” – Paul said standing up and taking the tray. “I’ll take this out”

Paul left the room. One thing he had understood very clearly, his patient’s situation

didn’t have anything to do with alcoholism. It had been too easy to talk about it.

Well, it was the first day, they will have time to talk about other things, he felt

optimistic. He picked up the notes Matt had written during the conversation and

left to visit other patients.

When he was in charge of a patient during 24 hours like this, Paul didn’t leave the

hospital; it was a hard day but the results he got deserved the sacrifice, that

actually took 3 or 4 days a month, and sometimes not even that. The project he had

started two years ago was working and he had written several articles about the

experience.

Danny lay on the bed and closed his eyes. He hadn’t slept well before and he was

really tired. Maybe this time he would be lucky and get some sleep. He was calmer

in spite of the conversation he had had. He didn’t know why that Paul Caster got to

him to calm down so easily. He decided not to think if he wanted to sleep.

Matt realized, some minutes later, his demanding work had finished. Danny Taylor

was deeply asleep.

Jack drove back to the office thinking about how he was going to explain to his

coworkers Danny’s condition. Martin knew the problem and Vivian suspected

something. It wasn’t fair to keep Sam in the dark. Then, there was Olivia; even

though she was a rookie, she was a member of his team. He felt sorry she wouldn’t

know Danny they loved.

He wanted to find out about the idea in his mind and it was one of the reasons he

had told Vivian to came back to the office. When he entered in the office, for the

first time this day and saw Danny’s empty desk, his name beside some miniatures

of motorbikes he loved so much, he felt a knot in his stomach. How should he feel?

Paul Caster had explained what the treatment was about and Jack trusted that

Danny would come through it. He knew Danny felt guilty about what had

happened and he had easily agreed to the treatment, that showed a good attitude.

But, why Danny had acted like that?

The first thing he did when he had a free moment was take back the files about

Owen’s case, because it was when working that case that Danny had said

something that, listening to Sylvia later, Jack had remembered. He had written the

date and time Rafael had had the fight in prison. He hadn’t brought back the videos

of the TV program they used to find Susan Owen’s call. Jack could confirm it was

the same day, which wasn’t a surprise. At least that was already done, he had

looked for the schedule for that day. Beside that, he was pretty sure it was the

same program. He closed his eyes, realizing that probably, his intuition was right

and if it was like that, Danny’s behaviour would have an explanation. Jack didn’t

want to justify it, Danny could have chosen other ways to fix the problem but he

understood it. He picked up the videotapes to see them as soon as possible.

He had thought about what he was going to tell the team. He didn’t want to

mention the club or his suspects, it seemed much too personal. The matter of the

drinking would be enough.

It was nine at night, when they found Ben Bradley. A truck driver had picked him

up as he was hitch-hiking, he had been identified by the description he had heard

on the radio and called the police.

Now the case was finished, Jack had called his team in his office. He had an upset

headache and actually, he didn’t know how to start the conversation. Vivian helped

him to start.

“Jack, you told me this morning you would explain to us what is happening to

Danny. It’s the reason we are here, isn’t it?” – she said.

“Eh... yes, you’re right” – Jack said, glanced at Martin. “Uhm, well this early morning

I received a call from Sylvia Marquez, his brother’s fiancée...”

“Has his brother came out of the coma?” – Sam asked.

“No, no, it’s not about his brother. Let me explain to you. She called me because

Danny was in her house. He was in very bad shape and she didn’t know what to

say, so she called 911 and me. When I arrived the paramedics were working on

him and then they took Danny to hospital, he wasn’t aware of his sorroundings and

he had several contusions and cuts” – Jack explained.

“Oh my god, but... is he okay?” – Vivian asked. “You told me he was fine, Jack”.

“Yes, he’s fine, well, given the circumstances, Vivian. Look, the medical report says

Danny had a high level of alcohol in blood. It was evident he was drunk and he got

in trouble... a fight or something” – Jack said, staring at Martin, who didn’t say a

word. He had realized Jack wouldn’t say anything about the club. It wasn’t

necessary; he just had to see the worried expressions of his coworkers.

“I knew it!” – Vivian exclaimed in an angry tone. “Damn it! I saw him drinking and I

asked him, directly, but he lied to me”.

“When?” – Sam asked in surprise.

“We were in the café, you weren’t there, Jack. Danny stood up and went to the

toilet. When he got out I saw him drinking something quickly and then he told us

he had to leave. I left behind him. I asked him and told me about some bad tasting

capsules for his headache. I didn’t want to tell you, I wasn’t sure. I can’t believe it, I

can’t believe he lied to me”.

“And, since when has he been drinking?”- Sam asked- “Because his behaviour

during the last weeks has been very strange, I thought it was because of his

brother... for Christ’s sake! I’m so stupid, getting worried and asking him every day

how was his brother doing!” – Sam felt deceived.

Martin didn’t want to say anything but he felt something similar. He remembered

his recent visit to Danny’s apartment and he felt like an idiot.

“Well, I... I don’t want to add fuel to the fire” – Olivia started – “but I remember my

first day when I saw him in the parking lot. Well, actually it was the motorbike that

I noticed, it was wonderful, but then I saw him taking out that capsules with that

mineral water bottle that he poured over his head. It’s... it’s very typical when

you’ve got a hangover. I didn’t know it was him and his untrusting behaviour

surprised me, looking around as if someone would see him. When I saw him here it

was a surprise”

“Yes, I remember” – Martin said.

“What are you going to do, Jack?” – Vivian asked.

“Well, I’ve been talking to him and well, he’s remourseful and ashamed. He has

agreed to stay in the hospital in a special program for ten days to get better. After

that, and by keeping some special conditions I have to study, I’ll let him come

back”.

“It will be difficult to trust him again” – Vivian said.

“I know Vivian, but I would like you all to give him a chance”

“Jack, have you thought about how dangerous his condition is in a complicated

situation?. We have to trust him, I had to trust him when he was my back up and

now you’re telling me that maybe I wasn’t as safe as I thought. Danny didn’t have a

couple of drinks, Jack, Danny is alcoholic, and only one drink can ruin everything”-

Sam said.

“Yes, it’s true, Sam. But nothing happened and as I told you the decision is my

responsibility. I’ve been with Danny and I’ve talked to him and the doctors. I think

this the right decision and I want to ask you for respect. I’m not asking you for

anything else, I’m not asking you to forgive him, I’m not asking you to tell him how

you feel, I’m not asking you to not want to punch him, because I was very angry

with him. I can’t ask you for that, but I can ask you to respect my decision. Any way,

it’s pretty obvious that when he comes back he’ll stay in the office for a long time.

I’m not going to give him back his gun and put him in the field too quickly, don’t

worry about that” – Jack said.

“Well, I won’t promise anything. Right now, I’m very disappointed, Jack” – Vivian

said. “I’m going home, I’m tired and I don’t want to think about this, now”.

Viv opened the door and went out with Olivia.

“All right, Jack, but you understand it’s something difficult to assimilate” – Sam

said.

Jack nodded, watching her leave. It was only Jack and Martin in the office.

“You’ve done well telling them that, Jack. You’ve done well not telling them about

the club”- Martin said.

“Yes, I think so” – Jack muttered in tired tone.

 

Chapter 8

 

Matt had finished his shift a couple of hours ago. Margot had met him about 18.45.

She looked at the glass and saw their patient deeply asleep. The usual.

“Hey Matt, are you bored?” – she asked.

“Matt looked at her with a smile. “Nope, it has been demanding for a while”

“Really? Let me see the file” – she said.

Matt handed the file and the notes he had been writing during his shift and Paul

had given back once he photocopied them.

“Uhm, gosh” – she said reading the notes. She read carefully the file and the notes,

putting herself into the situation to get ready for the next eight hours. “It’s.. it’s a

good reply” – she muttered as she read.

“Yes, it’s what Paul says” – Matt said standing up. “Well, I’m going to jogging and

grab something for dinner. I’m hungry. Do you want me to bring some of the

cooking delights of this hospital or you grabbed something yet?”

“No, I was waiting for you to offer, thanks” – she said smiling – “Oh, please, bring

me a thermo with coffee, as well. I’ve spent all day studying and now I have to stay

awake. Paul is pressing me for those statistics. We have to present next Thursday

and we’re still starting with it”.

“Okay, well, I’ll come back in a minute” – Matt said.

Margot sat down and continued reading the file. The two first hours of her shift

were very quiet. Her patient, Daniel Taylor was peacefully asleep. She observed

him carefully, not noticing anything special in him. He had a nice aspect, he was

pretty attractive and he didn’t seem to match with what the files said about him.

Reading the notes, she noted something and underlined it to tell Paul later.

She saw Paul walking towards her about 21.30. “Anything new?” – he asked,

observing Danny.

“Nothing, he’s sleeping like an angel. But I guess it wasn’t like that before” – she

said.

“No, I’ve had a couple of conversations with him. I think he’ll tell me something else

with help”- Paul said.

“Okay, listen, there is something that got my attention. I’ve read in Matt’s notes

about a social worker called Walter Grassmann. You know who he is, don’t you?” –

Margot said.

“Uhm, no. The truth is that name doesn’t tell my anything” – Paul said.

“How long since you watched the TV?” –Margot asked him smiling. “Walter

Grassmann is now a media stars thanks to a Channel 8’s show, called “Life’s

stories”. Even though they talk about several stories and problems of people in

general, lately they have done several programs about the same subject, a subject

very controversial the first time they aired. It’s the reason I’ve remembered him”

“Oh, really? – Paul said. “What about that subject?”

“It was about sexual abuses in childhood. They talked about the consequences for

the victim, they talked about the siblings’ behaviour, there was people calling

during several programs, some of them thanking them because they had helped to

contact with some organizations, other critizicing the images illustrating the

program, or the measures social services had taken or not... well, it caused a little

discusion that has made moderately famous the program and this man”.

“Interesting”- Paul said thoughtfully, taking the files about his patient and

rereading some things.

Then, he looked at the time. “Margot, I have got to finish some things, but then I’ll

be here with you. Keep an eye on him, please”

“I’m not going anywhere” – she said, taking one of the sandwichs and biting it

aggressively.

It was so hot. It was a night during the summer and you can hear the sounds of

crickets and the fan humming. It wasn’t working well and every time the humming

fan completed a round made an uncomfortable ‘tic’, but they were used to it. Rafie

played with a paper and looked at the TV, as Danny, self asleep on the couch waiting,

bored, for dinner.

 

“Take this, don’t be bored, kid” – his brother told him, handing him a paper plane he

had just done.

Danny took the paper in his hands and threw it a couple of times. It didn’t fly so well

and fell down soon. He picked up and played with it between his fingers.

“Maybe, I’ll paint it” – he said.

“Okay” – Rafie said. He looked around finding his mum in the kitchen preparing the

dinner. “Listen, Danny. Tonight I’m going to have fun with friends. We’re going to

drive Rob’s new car. If papi doesn’t come back when I have gone, go to the bed and

don’t move from there, right?”

Danny looked at him and grimaced. “Okay”- Rafie was his older brother, he was 17

and he would leave home soon. Almost every day he went out with friends and came

back late, but Danny didn’t say a word. Sometimes he called him but Rafie had came

back stinking of marijuana and left him alone. But he liked when Rafie was at home

because then he didn’t fear so much his father.

Lately his father was becoming more violent. He had lost his last job and they didn’t

have enough to live on. His mum had started to work cleaning houses during the

hours the kids were at school and came back home really tired, to go on working.

Danny tried to not cause her too many problems but it was difficult, above all his

father told him he did everything wrong. He didn’t fear spending some nights in a

group home, he knew the next morning he would go to the center and his mum would

pick up him there or some social worker drove him back at home. Rafie wasn’t there

anymore, he just disappeared. The only thing that Danny got scared of was not

getting to see his mum again, the posibility of some unknown person picking him up

from the center to live with him. He loved his mum and if he were older he was willing

to face his father, like Rafie had done.

Danny played with the plane in his fingers, when the door was opened. A beam of

bright light enveloped the whole room, as a big and dark figure was outlined at the

door. Then, it was a confusion of fast images, upset noises, yelling, plates flying

shattering against walls and floor, Rafie yelling. A hand grabbed his arm and pulled

him into a room. Danny closed his eyes tightly and he couldn’t open them. It’s a

dream, it’s a dream, he tried to convince himself. He felt the breath on his neck, the

smell of alcohol and his father’s rude fingers finding the zipper of his pants. Suddenly,

he could turn around and confront him. His father asked him ‘is it the first time?’ as

the echo of the sentence roared in the room, just that once it was his father asking

him, another time it was another man, and then again his father in a quick flash of

images. Danny looked at him not understanding as his father turned him against the

table. Then he took off his pants. Danny started to tremble, tried to get free of his

father’s arms holding him tightly but he couldn’t. His father was hurting him.

Suddenly, everything changed, Danny didn’t felt his father’s arms and turned around

but he wasn’t at home, he was on a bed. Handcuffed to the bedhead, he hadn’t any

possibility to defend himself, he didn’t understand what was happening, he was too

drunk, a guy approached him with a syringe. He closed his eyes, it was his father

again pressing him against the table, he couldn’t escape, the pain was unbearable, he

thought he was breaking inside.

Suddenly his father freed him and opened the door of the room. Again the light

enveloped everything. He saw Rafie looking at him with a scared expression in his

eyes as, screaming, his mum and another man walked towards him. He was on that

bed, again, handcuffed to the bedhead and he couldn’t move away. Everything was

spinning around him, he had still the elastic band on his arm. Danny remembered, the

guys had drugged him. He felt the guys having fun with him, one of them took out a

knife and cut his body, causing him to react with a little spasm that made them

laugh. ‘Is it the first time?’ one of them asked him. He guessed his name was Clifford

but he wasn’t sure. Or Clifford was before? He was confused.The pain was unbearable

and it seemed endless, everything went on spinning around and he was sure the drug

multiplied the pain he felt. It was what he wanted, he had asked for it, he wanted to

forget.

When,finally, his father move away from him, he found an escape between the legs of

all those people. He didn’t even think about taking his pants. He identified his brother

Rafie and looked to him for safety. Rafie continued yelling at his father and mum but

knowing he couldn’t do anything else, grabbed Danny and dragged him out of the

house. They walked until reaching Ramón’s house, Rafie’s best friend, who lived a

couple of blocks away. He lived alone with his mum and sometimes had helped them.

Ramón’s mum stared at them terrified, as she looked at little Danny in that condition.

Quickly she took out of the closet some clothes for Danny and helped him to get

dressed.

“I’m going to talk to the doctor” – she told Rafie.

“No”- he said – “if the police know about this, this time he’ll kill her”

“Rafie, we can’t let your father continue doing this to all of you”

“No, they always make us come back home. He always comes back home. This time,

he’ll kill her, I’m sure”.

Danny lay on the couch and felt how Ramón’s mum held his hand in a comforting

grip. Yes, that helped but he felt the pain his father had caused him, he couldn’t forget

it ever. This time had been the worst. He was scared about Rafie’s words, he didn’t

want his mum to die because of him. His father would be furious because they had

escaped and left his mum alone at home. Danny started to sob as Ramón’s mum

started to caress him and talk to him softly. “Come on, boy, calm down, calm down,

nothing will happen”. Danny opened his eyes and looked terrified as, finally they had

called the doctor. Danny sat down and curled up on the couch in a protective way,

hiding his head in his knees. ‘I don’t want him to kill her, I don’t want him to kill her’,

he screamed over and over.

But the doctor put his arm around his shoulders and embraced him tightly.

“Nobody is going to kill anybody, Danny. It’s a dream, I’m Paul. You’re safe, come

on, wake up”.

Danny opened his eyes again and lifted his head. He took some seconds to realize

where he was. It was Paul Caster the doctor embracing him, he wasn’t at Ramón’s

mother’s house and nothing was happening. It was a dream, a very real dream.

“Do you want to tell me what happened?” – Paul asked.

Danny shook his head as he tried to calm down.

Paul didn’t ask anything else, he wouldn’t ask him anything now, just if Danny

wanted to tell something, he would be there to hear him. He stayed there almost an

hour without saying a word. Danny remained in the same protective position Paul

had found him, he didn’t hide his head and didn’t cry, just stayed quiet with a

thoughful expression.

Paul had hoped that once he had calmed down and understood what had

happened, Danny would say something. He wasn’t wrong. Curiously, Danny

continued his story at the point he left the last time they had talked, as if it had

happened barely some seconds ago.

“When I was in that police station, a guy handed me his card, he told me to call him

if I liked strong emotions. I... I guessed his intentions and explained to him that I

wasn’t interested, but...” Danny started.

Paul moved away from Danny to give him his own space so he could talk without

feeling any pressure.

“Next day, I called him. He took me to a club, Rex club, a ‘gentleman’s club’, he told

me. I knew what it meant and, even though I didn’t want to stay there, at the same

time, I wanted to. He... He went with me to a room as a companion. When he left

the place, he had talk to the owner, he knew I couldn’t say no. It was too evident

what I wanted. I... I’m not gay and I didn’t like what I was doing, I drank enough to

not care about anything and to go on working next morning as usual. I got used to

it. It worked, I knew I was wrong, I knew it wasn’t a solution and ended with losing

my health, my work...everything. But at that moment I didn’t care” – Danny

explained. He remained quiet and frowned.

“What was working, Danny?” – Paul asked.

“I got ... I think I had to make the pain so part of my daily life, that it wasn’t

important... I couln’t erase the images but I could forget the pain”.

Paul asked the next question, taking some risk, taking for granted something

Danny didn’t tell him. “Why now?”

“I watched it on TV” – Danny said.

Jack waited as his coworkers left the office. Then, he picked up the video tape of

the first program and inserted it in the videoplayer.

“Well, I have to warn you that the images you’re going to watch can hurt the

sensibility of viewer. We guess that at this time in the night, there aren’t kids

watching this show and in any case, we ask you to prevent them from seeing it.

Well, Mr. Grassmann, to ilustrate the matter of today’s program, as expert in the

subject, has brought a video he’ll use to explain differents point of view about the

matter”

“I have to clarify that, even though the images you are going to see are painful,

we’ve done a deep study and none of the people related to it, are alive. In any case,

we’ve hidden their names. This video is one of a collection of ten, about a study

over 12 families, done for three months in 1982, that I found to ilustrate the

program. I’m not going to air the whole video, just what we need”- Grassmann

explained.

“How was that study done?” – The moderator asked.

“Some cameras were hidden in the houses. Beside the daily work of social services

and families reactions out of house, at the same time we found out their behaviour

when nobody was at home, to make a complete study of every member’s

behaviour and learn to understand the problems better and look for more effective

ways to solve them. Then I went to visit two or three families. It was a good

project, we obtained interesting and important conclusions that helped to improve

the assistance we could give to families with similar characteristics” – Grassmann

said.

The little camera gave a general view of the small living room. Using the wideangle-

lens you could see from the entrance, a most of living room and other room

on its right. A woman was preparing the table for dinner, as her two sons, about 9

and 16 or 17 watched the TV. The little boy, had in his hands a paper’s plane.

Suddenly, the door of the entrance was opened and a man entered the house.

The face of the boys and the woman tensed at moment. The man was clearly drunk

and headed to his wife yelling, “Where’s dinner?” he asked.

“The soup is still heating” – she replied nervously.

“Soup? Soup again?” – he protested.

“Honey, I didn’t... I didn’t get money to buy anything this morning and we haven’t

anything else at home...”

“You’re a useless, damn slut!. I got money this morning for you to go at the

supermarket. Have you seen the kids? Look. (.....) is starved!”

“No, you didn’t get any money (......)”

But he didn’t seem to hear her. Then he faced the older of his sons. “You, what are

you looking at, take your things up. And you, little brat, come here” – he said

grabbing his younger son. By the way he held him, the bruises would be very

visible next morning. His wife looked down as if she wasn’t watching what was

happening, as the older son clenched his fists with rage. He turned to his father, but

the pleading look of his mum, stopped him.

His father grabbed the younger and entered in the other room, closing the door

behind him. Some moment later, the screaming of the boy began to be heard, as his

father yelled at him to shut up.

The older son, headed to the door.

“Honey, please let him be. You know what he’ll do if you interrupt him” – his mum

said as the tears rolled down her cheeks.

“He’s drunk mum, he’s a damn drunk and he’s hurting (......). You know what he’s

doing to him, don’t you?”

At that moment, the door was opened and the little kid, still with his pants down,

slipped away and hid behind his brother.

“What the fuck are you looking at?”- the father yelled to his older son.

“You’re a bastard and a coward. You come back drunk and the best you do is to use

my brother to satisfy your vices and I’m not going to allow you anymore!” – the guy

yelled raising his fist against his father.

“(......), let your father be. Let him be, please, he hasn’t hurt the boy much, isn’t that

true, honey?” - the mother said clearly scared and approaching the little kid, still

hung on tightly his brother’s pants.

His father, hit the older son hard on his face, who grabbed his little brother and got

quickly out of the house leaving his mum crying and terrified.

The man pulled the tablecloth and all the plates and glasses scattered on the floor.

Then the image on the screen stopped.

The moderator stayed quiet not knowing what to say. It was difficult to accept

those images, in spite of the fact that she had seen them before. They spent the rest

of the program analizing behaviours, especially the mother’s attitude, who, in spite

of loving her kids was so terrified of her husband that she was unable to hinder

him. They didn’t predict anything good to the kids, probably immersed in drugs or

alcohol with a complicated sexual life and a general behaviour Walter Grassmann

described as chameleon-like, where drugs, sex and alcohol would have a constant

appearance in their lives, beside depressions and certain tendency to commit

suicide.

“Why chameleon-like?” – the moderator asked.

“Probably, he could be a person like you or me, I mean, aparently normal, pleasant,

good worker... in the surface. Don’t dig too deep because you’ll find a world

completely different”.

“I understand. What happened to that family?. At first, you told us they were dead”.

“Well, the reports say the parents died in a car accident. The police report said one

of the kids was in the car and they got surprised by his cold attitude, in spite of

being only 11. The lead is lost some years later, we don’t know what happened to

him but his files said he’s dead... a file plenty of assaults, robbery, alcoholism,

expulsions from group homes...”

“What about the other brother, the older?”

“He was arrested with drugs and he has spent his life getting in and out of prison”

“Didn’t he die?” – the moderator asked visibly worried.

“No, he’s still in prison” – Grassmann frowned.

“Why didn’t social services do anything?” – the moderator asked.

“We needed a report, but there wasn’t any, the only thing we could do was to take

the kids to a group home for one or two days. Then they came back home”.

Grassmann explained – “Look what we’ve said about the mother’s attitude, she was

so scared that she prefered to ignore what happened to her son before confronting

her husband. It’s a normal behaviour, sadly”.

Jack stopped the video. During the time he was watching it he had thought Danny

identified with the situation of that family but, it was something familiar. Now,

when Grassman said that the other brother was in prison, his parents had died in a

car accident... he looked in the video until he found the image of the parents on

screen and paused. He had seen those faces before. He rose and getting out his

office, headed to Danny’s desk. There, on his little board it was a picture of Danny

with his parents. Jack picked it up and came back to his office. He couldn’t believe

it, Danny didn’t have to identify with anything, it was his family. Simply, they were

the family and Danny was the little kid his father was... Jack stopped hard that

thought and closed his eyes.

Danny had seen that program with Martin, that night, he had told it during the

Owen case, the same program Owen’s sister watched, the same program Rafie

watched. He had to talk to Paul Caster.

When Jack talked next morning to Paul Caster, he took the videotape but, however,

it wasn’t new what Jack told him. That night, Danny had broken the wall that

stopped his feelings and had got to talk about what had happened with that

program and other things about his family.

March, 29th 12.15 pm.

 

“Well Danny, I hope you’ve understood what I’ve explained to you. We’ve made

progress for these 10 days, but now we are starting a new phase. We’ve talked

about the risks and those things you have to confront, your relationship with your

coworkers, the work, your family...”

“I know, but I don’t have a very clear idea how to talk to my coworkers, I don’t

know what to tell them, I don’t know what I’m going to find...”

“Don’t think about it, as you’ve said, you don’t know what you’re going to find. You

just go, and you’ll know what to say then, but I suggest you be the most sincere

you can, what it doesn’t mean is that you have to tell any details, when I talk about

sincerity I mean what you feel now, not what you did but how you feel and what

you want to tell them”- Paul smiled watching Danny’s worried expression. “It will

be easier than you think, you’ll see”.

Paul stood up and Danny as well. He was dressed in the same clothes he wore

when he arrived that morning, ten days ago, to the hospital, cleaned and ironed.

Paul went with him to the entrance where he had to sign some documents. Linda

smiled and told good luck.

Danny walked silently until the entrance of the hospital. Once there he shook

Paul’s hand and thanked him.

“We’ll see each other next week”- Paul said. “Remember, you have my cell if you

need something, whatever it is”.

“Okay” – Danny said.

Paul came back to the hospital and Danny stayed there. He wasn’t sure about what

to do next and, even though he knew what he had to do and what probably would

come now, he was scared. For 10 days, he had let his nightmares and demons of his

whole life emerge to the surface. He had talked about almost everything with Paul,

every day, sometimes in the middle of the night. Danny wondered if Paul lived

there, he was always there to support him, to comfort him. During the day it had

been more or less easy, a couple of hours of conversation, some books to read,

some music to hear, some eventual friends to talk about any thing, play cards and

criticize hospital’s food. Nights were different, it was when Danny fell down in old

dark memories, in recent experiences, in a dark and hostile world he was unable to

escape from. Three times Paul Caster was called in the middle of the night, so now

that everything was on the surface, the nights became in a dark and complete

confusion where all the images of his childhood, his drunk father beating his mum,

or Rafie or himself, the expressions on their faces when they were killed in that

terrible accident Danny came out of without a scratch, the issues with his brother,

the drugs, the revenge of the ones his brother worked for, the day he was stabbed

and Danny thought he was going to die, Rex club and the face of each and every

man who had entered in that room he knew so well, the smell of whiskey, the

confusion and the pain, the image of the body of the boy in the shed, Vivian’s

expression questioning him, Rafie’s yelling in prison, the cases he had worked and

ended with just a body, his classmate, Lucy, waving goodbyes in the subway. It was

a confused and fast mixture of images getting him to such a complex state of

anguish that Paul barely got to calm him down without sedatives. They spent the

rest of the night talking about that subjects, talking about them as they had

happened in that moment.

The demons had been hidden too much time. Danny had built a wall around them,

probably to protect himself from the hostile world he had lived in, at first, but then,

when he changed his identity and life, to forget it, completely. But it wasn’t the

way, sooner or later his past would knock on the door and that happened when

Walter Grassmann aired that video, those images of his own family, his own

childhood, his own torture.

They hadn’t talked about Walter Grassmann, but Danny had his face clear in his

mind. He didn’t say anything but that guy would have to pay because of what he

had done to Rafie and himself, it was clear for him. He didn’t know how he would

do it but, apart from what Paul could tell him or advise him in those weekly

conversations, Danny was pretty conscious that he had to confront that man and

tell him what he had done to his family.

‘Well’ – Danny said to himself, as he took a deep breath. Instinctively, he put his

hand into his pocket looking for the keys of his car, but he found his house keys. He

got out his wallet to check if he had money to take a cab. The card of Rex Club

wasn’t there, someone had removed it, maybe Paul Caster, maybe Jack... God, Jack,

what would he know? What would his coworkers know about what had happened?

When he arrived at home and opened the door he felt strange, it had been a long

time since he had been home, not only those ten days but the two weeks ago where

he had been from work at FBI to work at the Club and he barely had stopped by

home. He went to his bedroom and found his clothes on the bed. Someone had

gone to the Club and picked them up. Joey couldn’t have done it because he didn’t

know where he lived, surely it had been Jack. If he had gone to the Club, he would

know everything. Fine. ‘Okay Paul, I’ll be calm and I’ll be sincere. But this will be

anything but easy’. – he thought.

A sheet beside his clothes got his attention. He picked up and read it. “I’ve brought

your clothes and personal effects. I guess I didn’t forget anything. Please, don’t call

me. Martin”.

Danny read a couple of times the note, and once more the last part ‘Please, don´t

call me. Martin’. That sentence hurt, a lot. But he didn’t expect anything else of

them, he had hurt them before.

Danny looked at the time. It was 14.30. He couldn’t stay at home, he had to do

something. He picked up the keys and got out, heading to the garage where he kept

his car. Then, he drove to the hospital, where Rafie, probably, was still admitted. He

didn’t know anything about his condition, but he did know he wasn’t dead, Paul

would have told him, for sure.

So, he entered in the hospital and headed for reception to ask for his brother.

“Mr. Alvarez is in trauma, third floor, room 512” – he was told.

“Why is he in other room? – Danny asked.

“I don’t know, sir, you have to ask to Dr.... Collins”.

“Okay, thanks” – Danny said.

It wasn’t difficult to find the room. Outside beside the door, a guard reminded him

that Rafie was still in prison.

When Danny walked towards him, the guard stood up and asked him for an ID.

Danny showed his driver license and the man wrote his name in a form.

Then, Danny opened the door carefully. What he saw it was a surprised. His

brother Rafie was on the bed, watching the TV.

“Hey... you’re... you’re awake!” – he exclaimed.

“Well, you’ve come here, finally!” – Rafie said as greeting.

Danny didn’t believe what he was seeing, he approached his brother and shook the

hand he handed. Then he took a chair and sat down next to him.

“This is.... this is a surprise. The doctors didn’t think you were to get better” – he

said.

“You see, I’m stronger than they think” – Rafie said smiling – “Where have you

been?”

“I’ve been busy with some issues, but I’ve come as soon as I could” – Danny said.

“Good... listen Danny, I wanted... I want to tell you some things” – Rafie said

seriously.

“I know, the director of the prison told me you wanted to talk to me the day... well,

the day...” – Danny didn’t know how to continue.

“Yes, that day. Danny, something happened, you aren’t going to believe me but....

Oh thank God you’re alright...” – Rafie said, looking his brother up and down. His

eyes were bright with the tears he couldn’t hold in.

“Of course, I’m fine, Rafie. Listen, I... know what it happened, why you did what you

did. It was because that TV program, wasn’t it? You watched it as well”.

“Yes, I couldn’t... I couldn’t believe what I was watching Danny and... I thought

about you, I thought that if you watched it... Oh, Danny, life is good for you, things

are going well for you and I didn’t want you to commit any silly thing.... I wanted to

talk to you, I wanted to tell you... that you have to forget it...”

“I know Rafie, don’t worry, happened nothing, okay. It’s true I didn’t cope too well

with it for a while but it’s over. You haven’t anything to be worried about, but you...

you almost broke my heart, brother”.

“I’m... I’m sorry, Danny, I’m so sorry. I was... desperate. I didn’t want to do it,

actually, but in that cell, in that prison, in that darkness, nobody understood what

had happened and I... I felt so miserable, I couldn’t believe you hurt yourself,

Danny, I couldn’t believe I couldn’t help you, again”.

“Don’t say that, Rafie. You and me know that’s not true. You helped me a lot of

times, we couldn’t fight against him everytime, you know that”.

“Yes, you’re right”.

Both brothers remained silent for a moment. Then, Danny changed the subject of

the conversation.

“What the doctors have told you?”

“They are surprised, it seems there aren’t consequences. They feared my brain

didn’t work well but everything is okay so, I hope to let the hospital soon and come

back Rikers” – Rafie said.

“Fine, I suppose that’s great”- Danny said.

“Yes, on one hand, during these days I’ve seen Nicky. Sylvia came with him after

school. It has been a good experience to see him, see them so frequently and not in

prison because it helps me to try to do things right. I want to get out of prison and

come back home and work. I know Nelson will help me, he told me. They are

wonderful people, even though I don’t deserve their kindness, you know?”

Danny smiled but he said nothing.

“I suppose he does it because of Nicky and the baby. I haven’t met the girl, my

daughter, I’ve seen her in pictures” – Rafie continued.

At that moment the door was opened and Sylvia Marquez got into the room.

“Danny!, what an amazing surprise!” – she said with a smile.

She went towards him and kissed him and then Rafie. “Well Danny, you look fine,

I’m happy to see you again!”

Hey, what is this about?” – Rafie asked.

“It’s nothing Rafie, Sylvia has grumbled me because I haven’t come to see you and

now she is having fun with me, right?” – Danny said trying to explain to his

brother’s fiancée that he didn’t tell Rafie.

“Of course, but well, it was Rafie on the bed with his eyes closed muttering silly

things... so I can understand you didn’t come to see that”. – she said catching the

warning.

“No, eh listen, I’m going out, okay? I have to do some things... I leave you both to

enjoy some time alone” – Danny said.

“Good brother, come to visit me soon, before they fire me, it’s more pleasant than

through the bars” – Rafie said.

Danny grimaced. “Of course, I’ll come back as soon as I can. I promise”.

Danny left the room and Sylvia went behind him. “How are you, Danny?”

“Fine, I’m fine. I’ve been discharged this morning and I wanted to come to see

Rafie. How... when did he awake?”

“Four days ago, it was incredible, like he had been sleeping pacefully, he didn’t

even know where he was. But he asked for you, it was the first thing he asked”

“Oh, I didn’t know anything. I couldn’t come before...”

“Your boss told me you were in a special program...”

“Yes, well, it had been 10 days a bit hard, but I think everything is going to be okay,

I’m dealing with it, of course, it’s not so easy”- Danny explained.

“But, what happened to you?” – she asked.

Danny looked at her for a moment. He wasn’t able to tell her anything. He

remembered Paul’s words, sincerity. “Sylvia, I can’t... I can’t tell you what

happened, it’s... it’s difficult for me. But I don’t want you to be worried, I’m better,

right? And please, don’t tell Rafie”.

“Sure, don’t worry, I’m glad you feel better, Danny. You look fine” – she said with a

sincere smile. “I’m leaving you, I’m going to see Rafie, okay?”

“Okay, I’m leaving too, I’ll come another day” – Danny said.

 

Chapter 9

March, 30th. FBI Offices. New York. 09.30 h.

 

Danny stopped at the entrance of the FBI building trying to calm his nerves. The

note Martin had left, the certainty they had been to Rex club and surely known

about what he was doing there didn’t help to him. Beside that, he had to come back

to daily life and, even though he felt pretty safe, he had to be careful. He got into

the elevator and pressed the button of 12th floor, leaning against the wall and

closing his eyes as he took a deep breath. ‘Don’t think about anything, you’ll know

what to say’ he said himself, as he headed for his destination. It wasn’t early,

actually he didn’t have to work, just talk to Jack. He hoped his boss remembered

what he had told him ten days ago at the hospital, for a start.

When the door was opened, he hesitated before leaving the elevator, but he took

courage and soon he was in that corridor, plenty of activity. Through the windows

he could see his coworkers focused in the search of someone. A picture on the

whiteboard, Vivian and Sam looking at the timeline and checking something and

Olivia looking for something being helped by Martin. He remained looking at them

and for a moment he felt absolutely excluded from that team. The headache joined

his nervousness and then, the need to run away quickly. No, he couldn’t confront

them, he would leave. They were better without him. He hadn’t had anything to do

there, he would look for a work in another place, maybe he could start to study the

bar exam again, but he couldn’t work there.

He turned and started to walk towards the elevator, but someone had seen him.

“Hey Danny, where are you going?”

Danny stopped. He wanted to turn back but he was frozen. He couldn’t do it, he

couldn’t. He looked in front of him, he was barely some steps from the elevator.

“Danny?”

This time, the voice sounded closer, a curious question, maybe, someone expecting

a reply from him. He closed his eyes, his mouth was dry and his breathing

laboured. He pictured himself turning to look at his speaker, facing him. He

pictured himself walking towards the elevator and pressed the call button not

looking around. His heart started to race but he couldn’t move any muscle. This

wasn’t what was supposed to happen. Obviously, there was something wrong

because he wasn’t ready to stay there, again.

“Danny”

This time, the words came with a hand on his shoulder.

After a brief time, Danny finally reacted and turned to find a worried Jack in front

of him.

“Where were you going?” – Jack asked.

Danny didn’t know what to say. “I... eh...” he stammered looking through the glass

to his coworkers and then Jack. ‘Damn it! Why was he so nervous?’

“Come with me” – Jack said. “We have to talk”

“Eh... yes, I think so”- Danny managed to say, finally.

To his surprise, Jack headed for the elevator. When, seconds later the door opened,

he said - “Let’s go, I don’t want to talk about this in my office”.

Danny got into the elevator feeling not only nervous but intrigued. They didn’t say

a word until leaving the elevator. “Do you want a coffee?” – Jack asked when they

left.

Danny shrugged his shoulders. “Okay”.

They headed for a coffee machine and Jack got two and handed one to Danny.

Then, they headed for one of the rooms where the agents usually received their

siblings or friends if they didn’t want to go to the office.

“What are we doing here?” – Danny asked sitting down, not sure about what was

happening.

“I told you we have to talk and I don’t want to do it in my office. How do you feel?”

“Fine”

Jack didn’t remember to see Danny like that during all the years they worked

together. He was tense and he never smiled. To make Danny to understand he

could rely on him it wouldn’t be easy and to explain how the situation with his

coworkers was, either.

“The last time we talked each other, I told you that if you wanted a second chance

you had to accept Mr. Caster’s treatment. How did it work?” – Jack asked.

“Have you talked to him?” – Danny asked.

“No, I haven’t, I’m asking you, Danny”- Jack said.

“Well, I don’t know what to say. I guess it’s working, I have appointments once a

week” – Danny replied quickly. Then, he paused, he was very nervous and things

weren’t happening like he wanted. “Jack, I...” – he started, but he had to stop. His

head was pounding him, he closed his eyes and pressed his forehead with a hand.

Jack waited in silence. He knew it wouldn’t be easy for Danny to come back, even

more than he had expected. For a moment, he hesitated about the decision he had

made, but he appreciated Danny and knew the work would be the best he could do,

he couldn’t let him alone. However, he had to tell Danny the seriousness of the

situation and keep strong. The ‘hey, relax, everything is okay, we’ll help you’ didn’t

work here, it was clear something had happened and his coworkers weren’t willing

to help. He was, but it was because, first, he was the responsible of the team, and

second, he knew the whole story. If he had been in Danny’s situation, had reacted

as Danny, or worse, as Rafie, but he had to keep strong. So he waited for Danny to

say what he had to say.

Danny remained for a moment trying to calm down. He couldn’t let Jack doubt him.

He decided to end his problem and try to let the others forget this unpleasant

episode, but he had to be sincere. He had a long and complicated way ahead and he

wasn’t sure about hot to get on with it.

“Jack, I’m... I’m not sure about this. When I left home this morning to talk to you, I

knew that things wouldn’t be so easy. When I got out of the elevator and saw them

working, I realized how far I am from here and maybe I don’t even deserve it. I’m

very aware the damage I caused to the team, breaking the trust between us. I

know, because I saw it, the anguish I caused Martin, he... he left a note for me at

home that...” Danny had to stopped.

“Of course, your coworkers are really upset with you, Danny. But I wouldn’t worry

about that, I think that time will put things in place and if you work well, and I’m

sure you will, they will trust you the same as before”- Jack said.

“I don’t know, I’ve done things that.... things I don’t understand well, Jack. Paul

explained to me, I don’t... I’m not trying to justify, especially the drink issue. There...

there I could make other choices but I didn’t. It was a mistake, I was aware of it and

I couldn’t stop. I... I lied to Viv and I think I know why Martin is so upset, I

understand they don’t want to have anything to do with me. I don’t think I can

come back, Jack” – Danny trailed off.

“You can, Danny. We’ll do it step by step, but you can do it and I think that it’s the

best thing you can do”- Jack said, trying to encourage him. It was clear Danny was

so regretful and ashamed and Jack trusted in Paul Caster to help him to get over his

problems.

“And you, why are you trusting me?” – Danny asked.

Jack looked at him and smiled. He didn’t know how to explain Danny what he

knew, but he believed his agent had right to know what they know. “Look, when

you were at hospital, the doctor talked to me. He was the one calling Paul Caster

and explained your physical state. Sylvia gave me a card she found in your wallet

and I supposed that what had happened to you had to do with that card. So I called

Martin and we went to that club. We found out there what you had been doing

during the last weeks, I’m not going to lie to you, at that moment I was very

disappointed with you, I couldn’t believe it, but we went in your room, we saw

your clothes... well, it was evident”.

Danny was listening to him, his arms crossed and thoughtful and serious

expression, never looking at him directly but listening. Jack didn’t ask for anything

else, he knew it was painful for him and he tried to explain the situation so that

Danny could understand it well.

Danny understood completely, but he didn’t understand Jack’s attitude towards

him.

“At first, when the guy we were talking to, told us when you had started to go

there, I thought it was because what happened to your brother, but it didn’t make

any sense. I wondered why you had gone to his house and why you asked for him,

do you remember?”

Danny nooded but he didn’t say a word.

“I have good memory for dates and we had been working recently Owen’s case. I

remembered that case and what you said about the TV program that gave us the

lead. I remembered the subject of that program and your comments and I decided

to follow that hunch. I talked to the Rycker’s director, I talked to Sylvia and

checked the videotapes. I saw the program, I knew you had seen it because you

told Martin”- Jack stopped to see how Danny closed his eyes and rubbed a hand

over his face, shaking his head.

“I know that everthing started that day and I know you ended at that hospital after

Andrew’s case, right? You were.... you were trying to erase those images, weren’t

you?”

Danny remained silent, but he seemed a bit calmer. “Paul told me it was something

like a fire”- he explained. “I... I had a flame to put out but I hadn’t enough water to

do it, so I decided to make a lot of flames, a big fire to hide the flame I wanted to

put out. If I didn’t see it, maybe I could forget it. It’s something like that”.

“How did you think to go to that Club?” – Jack asked. “No, it isn’t a reproach, it’s just

that I would like to know how you ended up like I found you”.

“It was the end result of some things, someone gave me his card, it’s... it’s a stupid

and crazy thing, I know I wouldn’t have done it if it hadn’t been one coincidence of

events one after other. I started drinking the day I saw the program, the next

morning Rafie... I didn’t want to drink, but I didn’t know where to go, I took my

motorbike... I lost track of what I was doing and I ended up in a police station that

night. A policeman, friend of mine, got the report dropped, but there was that guy,

he handed me his card and next day, I called him. He drove me to the Rex and he

got a contract for me. I don’t... I don’t know what I was thinking about, I think I was

drunk, I didn’t want to stay there, Jack, I didn’t want to, I don’t do those things, but

there was something... and I couldn’t escape it”.

“What happened the day you went to Sylvia’s home, Danny?” – Jack asked slowly,

in the same tone Danny had spoken.

“It was the day of Andrews’ case. Look, at the club there are something like levels. I

was in the lowest level, I didn’t want anything else, it was enough for me, at other

levels they did other things. But that night I needed more than the usual so I asked

Joey to send me something stronger. I needed to stop the pain that boy caused me,

I couldn’t handle it, I was getting crazy, Jack. Those guys did to me just what they

do when go to the club. When... when they handcuffed me and I saw the syringe

and the drug... it was... it was at that moment when I reacted to it. Then I knew I

needed help and I only could imagine Rafie in that dark cell yelling for me. He knew

it was going to happen, I’m sure he wanted to protect me, warn me... it’s the same

thing that Patricia Owen tried with her sister, do you remember? It’s the same. So,

when they finished with me, I left the club, took one of the usual cabs that stop by

there to pick up Rex’s clients, and went to Sylvia’s home. The rest you know”.

“Well, I suppose you’ve talked to your psichologist about all of this, haven’t you?”

“Yes, well, the truth is that during these ten days we’ve talked about a lot of things,

things I barely remembered. It hasn’t been good for me because I spent long time

trying to forget, to erase my memories, but it’s clear I couldn’t. Still the nights are

hard, when all the memories come back and when I’m scared the most. When I was

at hospital it was different, I couldn’t leave that place, so the risk of doing anything

wrong wasn’t there. Now,... now it’s different, but I’m willing to try it, especially

because I think I owe it to you because you gave me this chance and because I

guess you didn’t tell your boss. I don’t think they would be so understanding” –

Danny slightly smiled.

“No, I didn’t tell them anything. In fact, your coworkers don’t know the whole

situation, either. Martin knows about the club because he went with me. I didn’t

want to tell them anything, except you had got some days off to stay with your

brother, but Vivian guessed it was something else and finally I had to tell them

about the drink issue. Well, she suspected, Olivia had seen you and... well, it was

enough for them”.

“I’ve hurt them, I’ve hurt you all. I still remember the day Vivian saw me drinking

and I had to lie to her, it was one of the worst moments I spent during this time. I

don’t expect she’ll ever forgive me”.

“They love you, Danny, but it’s true you won’t receive an enthusiastic welcome. I’ve

tried to soften things but they have the right to feel bad and surely they will make

you notice. Getting back their trust depends on you and time. So, to start, not only

will you stay in the office for a while, I’m not going to give you a gun either, by the

way” – Jack took the ID out his jacket and handed it Danny – “here’s your ID..., but

you’re going to do a different work than they. We’ll do step by step, right?”

“Sure, it’s fair, it’s good for me, Jack. Whatever you ask me I will be fine with it, the

only fact to stay here is...” – Danny trailed off.

“You belong to my team, Danny, you belong to this building as much as me. You’ve

done good things here, I’m not going to let you get away so easily” – Jack told him

standing up. “Well, let’s go back? If I’m late, I’m going to find my photo on the

whiteboard with a case number”.

“Sure, we’ll have to go back” – Danny said grimacing.

“Relax, you’ll see everything is going well” – Jack said.

“Of course, thanks Jack”

“You’re welcome. By the way, how is your brother doing?”

“Fine, I went to visit him and I got a surprise. He got over the coma and it seems he

hasn’t any repeats” – Danny said.

“He’s lucky. Have you talked about what happened?” – Jack asked.

“Yes, well, a bit, I didn’t want to tell what had happened to me, I don’t think it’s

necessary. If I tell him, he’ll feel worse and now that he’s going to go back to

prison... it hasn’t any meaning if I tell him, now. I warned Sylvia too.” – Danny said.

“Okay. Let’s go to my office and I’ll give you the files I want you to work”- Jack said,

getting out the elevator, again on 12th floor.

They were again on the corridor and Danny got nervous again, but much less than

before. Talking to Jack and clarifying his situation had helped him. Now he knew it

wouldn’t be easy, he knew what they knew. He took a deep breath and headed for

his desk with the files Jack gave him.

When he left the files on his desk and looked around, his coworkers didn’t even

look back at him. Not knowing what to say, he sat down and picked up the file on

the top of the pile.

Jack observed the situation from his office’s door. That morning he had got up

early and the first he thought it was Danny. Today was the day, the ten days he had

asked to stay at hospital had finished and he had promised him a second chance.

However, during this time he had tried to calm the situation in the office, he didn’t

get any result. Martin was really hurt and he couldn’t understand the club

business. Vivian felt deceived and she wasn’t able to give him a second chance,

Sam... Jack thought Sam guessed it was something more, she knew Jack pretty well,

and she knew that probably he hadn’t give a second chance if everything was

because he had drunk and fight with someone. Olivia didn’t count, she always

knew him like that and they had confrontations from the beginning.

Jack was worried about the stability of the group, it had been his obsession, he

wanted a team where trust and completely understanding were essential in

dangerous situations, and it was really important as they had proven a lot of times.

Now he was worried about Danny, actually, he didn’t expect the cold no-welcome

from his coworkers and he didn’t know how long Danny would hold on.

But they were working a case and they had to work. He walked towards

conference table and Vivian got his attention.

“Jack, look at this. We’ve checked Angela Neville’s statement and there is

something strange with the frame time. Watching the security cameras, Marcia left

the bank at 18.30 and she wasn’t seen anymore. But Angela Neville told us it was

20.30, later, when she saw her leaving Director’s office”- she explained.

“What if she didn’t leave?” – Sam said. “I mean, we saw her leaving the bank at

18.30 but maybe she came back using a door without security cameras...”

“Why?” – Olivia asked, standing up and joined them in front the whiteboard.

“Maybe she had an affair with the boss and they didn’t want the rest to know it...” –

Martin started.

“It’s a bank”- Jack pointed- “There can’t be any entrance without vigilance. Have we

got all the security records?”

“Yes”- Vivian replied, checking what she had on her desk. “There are three ways to

gain access to the bank and we have the videotapes of them, the main entrance,

employee’s entrance and cleaning service’s entrance beside the rubbish skip”.

“What about the money?”

They five turned to Danny, who had been listening to the conversation and couldn’t

help but ask. He didn’t even realize he had opened his mouth. If he had been aware

of it, obviously would have remained silent.

“What money?” – Jack asked.

“I mean, the remittance of money the security firms use to give to the branch

offices in the early mornings... what door do they use? I don’t think they use the

main entrance or cleaning service’s entrance. Employee’s entrance doesn’t look

probable, is there any other door?” – he explained.

Martin picked up the phone to call the bank, they needed those security cameras.

“Sam, Olivia, go to talk to the Director. Maybe he knows something else he hasn’t

told us”- Jack said. He paused and then continued. “I would like to.... I would like

you all know that Danny has joined us today and I would like to welcome him like

he deserves”.

“Sure! How are you, Danny? Did you feel good with your holidays?” – Olivia

exclaimed. “You’ll have had time to enjoy that good-looking motorbike you have. I

would like you to let me ride it, okay?”

“Ah, by the way”- Martin said before Danny could say anything. “Your key”. Martin

threw it to his coworker.

“It will be good to have someone taking the calls as we’re out” – Vivian said forcing

a smile.

Danny thought that if he was engulfed by the earth at that moment, it wouldn’t be a

catastrophe.

“Listen, I’m glad you’ve come back, but we have a work to do”- Sam said smiling

softly. “Olivia, let’s go?”

“Sure”- she replied, and they both left the bullpen before Danny said a word.

“Thanks” – he said Martin picking up the motorbike’s keys.

Jack looked at them for a moment and went back to his office. Time, they needed

time.

Danny saw Vivian with some papers leaving to the break room and took a cup to

prepare a drink. He couldn’t leave things like that, he had to talk to them. He knew

it had been his fault, he had hurt them and he understood their reaction but he

couldn’t see Vivian like that. So he rose and walked towards the break room.

Martin saw him standing up and noticed what Danny was going to do. He grimaced,

he didn’t want to be so cold with him, probably none of them. They were glad he

was okay and there, and it was good the chance Jack had given him, but it was

difficult to think about what he had done, how he had lied to them, how he had

hidden the situation during so long a time. And the question remained firmly in his

mind. “Why?”

Sam left the office with Olivia. She asked just leaving the building. “What do you

think about Danny?”

Sam didn’t reply, she was in a bad mood because the situation and she thought

Olivia was out of place. Well, all of them were, it hadn’t been a warm welcome, they

had consciously ignored him and had made him feel bad, it was obvious, even

though Danny put a poker face. ‘All of us make mistakes’, she thought. She met

Danny long time ago and he never had drunk again. He had been very strict with

that matter and unbending with the people using the drinking to justify their

actions, she had seen his rage against them. But she thought about Martin when he

became dependent on narcotics and how hard it was for him to ask for help. Then

she made him to realize the problem and Danny was helping too. But then, nobody

knew about that adiction and Martin had the usual support of his coworkers. But

Danny had only Jack’s support and Sam thought it was unfair. However, she had

done the same as her coworkers and she wasn’t okay with the situation.

“I don’t know what you mean” – Sam replied finally.

“I don’t know, the fact he came back like that. In San Francisco probably he would

have been fired”.

“He didn’t come back so easily, Olivia, starting by he isn’t going to work with us...”

“He did though”

“It’s different, it was just a comment... listen... I’m not going to argue about this with

you, alright? We have a job to do”. Sam concluded the conversation starting the car.

Viv had missed him. A day didn’t go by that she didn’t think about him. Seing his

empty desk day after day and not hearing those comments from him usually

putting the investigation in the right perspective, it was strange. She couldn’t

believe he had lied to her yet. Danny, the one who went to her home to avoid

drinking and had told her about his problems and how once he had lied to them,

had done it again. She pictured over and over the image of him in that bar, drinking

that drink as he had been doing it for years; probably, it wasn’t the first one, at

least for the last weeks, and Danny had been bad lately. What had happened to his

brother had mislead them and Danny made use of it but, wouldn’t it be linked to

both events? When she saw him with Jack in his office, her heart almost stopped.

Her first instinct was to run towards him and welcome him, but she was unable to

do it, she couldn’t forgive him so easily. It was that way when, as he sat down at his

desk, it wasn’t difficult to join her coworkers’ attitude and don’t say anything.

However, now... it would be better if she drank something. With the papers in her

hands, she left the bullpen after Sam and Olivia and headed for the break room.

“Hey” – he said.

“Hi”

“Eh, listen, may we talk for a moment?”

“We’re talking. What do you want?” – Viv said, putting the tea bag in the cup.

“I want” – Danny cleared his throat- “I want to apologize for what I did”

“Fine, your apology is welcome” – she said.

“Viv, I wanted to tell you that, that day at the bar it was true what you saw. I lied to

you then and I’ll regret that the rest of my life, but you can’t imag...”

“Wait a moment, stop there. Danny, once you went to my house to talk to me and

then I think I helped you, in spite of in that moment I was going through a very

delicate personal issue. But the other day, I gave you the opportunity to talk to me

and you lied. You assured me, and it wasn’t just one time, you hadn’t drunk, you

told me a stupid story about a pill and I wanted to believe you, because I loved you

and I guessed I could trust you. But no, it was a lie, you lied to me, lied to all of us

and you could put us at risk if we got into a dangerous situation”.

“I’m sorry Viv...”

“Do you know what? I like this work, I love to help people, Danny. But when I

arrive home I have a wonderful husband and child waiting for me. That’s the truly

important thing for me and you, with your behaviour, has put that at risk. It’s

difficult for me, Danny, to forgive you because of what you’ve done, but the most

difficult is to forgive your lies and the way you did. I accept your apology, I know

you’re going to tell me that you’ll never do it again, you feel a mess, and so on. It’s

okay but don’t ask me for a warm welcome, don’t ask me to trust you, not now.

Maybe later, you’ll get me trust you again but for the moment, you shouldn’t insist

on it”.

“Viv, please...”

“No, don’t tell me it was because of your brother, because I know how your

relationship is”.

“Okay, right. I... well, I’m sorry Viv, I’m really sorry about all of this. I don’t know

what more I can say apart from apologizing and tell you that I haven’t stopped

thinking that I lied to you that night, but I was in trouble and I didn’t want to hurt

you. It’s true, Viv. I’m not proud of what I did and I’m trying to fix it. It’s the only

thing I can do now”.

“That’s good, Danny. To recognize the mistakes and take the right steps to fix them

is good and I hope you get it. But give me time, right?” – Vivian said in a softer tone

than before.

“Okay” – he said. Danny left the room not knowing what else to say, leaving Viv

with her drink.

Viv had been hard, she just told him what she felt at that moment. She wanted, she

had to make him to know the pain he had caused her, she had to make him

responsible for what had happened and the consequences of his coworkers. What

did he expect? But she loved him, she appreciated him and she knew that he would

react to this. She wondered what kind of trouble he had been in that lying was such

a good excuse for. The fact he had drunk again, it wasn’t enough reason for all of

this. She came back to her desk thinking about it.

Danny came back his desk with resignation. He tried it, he couldn’t do anything

else. “Martin”- he said.

“Don’t try it” – he said.

“I... know, I read your note. But.. I can explain to you, I would like....”

“No, you read the note, I don’t want to talk about it, Danny. Please, don’t do it. I’m

glad Jack let you come back, had given back your wonderful work and so on, you’re

lucky. But now, I don’t want to understand it, I don’t even want to think about it,

right? So, we’re coworkers and we must have a correct and professional relation, I

can’t go against the fact you’re my coworker but don’t try anything else”.

“Martin, please...”

“Are you deaf, Danny? I’ve told you I don’t want to know it, it was enough that

stupid me went to your home, trusting you, telling you my problems and watching

a stupid baseball game...”

“We ate pizza” – Danny said, trying to get away the tension, but he didn’t got.

“Yes, besides sharing your dinner. What, was it your day off? Didn’t you go to that

club to fuck I don’t know how many gays?”

“Martin, I’m not...”

“No, don’t explain to me, I don’t want to know, Danny, I don’t want to know a damn

thing, right?. Forget me!”

Danny stared at him for a moment. Martin had gone back to his papers. “Right” – he

muttered.

He spent the rest of the day trying to focus on his work but he barely did anything.

The atmosphere was tense, more when he saw Martin and Vivian leaving the office

with Jack for the bank, where Marcia Philips had stayed all the time. It was his first

day and it had been bad, sad and hard, but, a least, he was glad to clarify things

with Jack.

He picked up his jacket and bag and left the office to go home. Now, it was time to

try to sleep. ‘Let’s see who is visiting us tonight’, he thought.

 

Chapter 10

 

April, 3rd.

The cell started to ring. “Taylor” – he replied with his usual professional tone.

“Taylor?... Daniel... Taylor?” – a male voice said, hesitating, at the other end of the

line.

“Yes... Joey?” – Danny said, recognizing the voice.

“Well, yes, it’s Joey. Where are you? I have a list of clients asking for you every day

and Peterson is hopping mad!”

“Ah, I know, well, it’s because I had a problem and...”

“Oh, yes, a problem called FBI, right? A couple of guys came here asking me if I

knew you, if I had seen you here. They took out all your personal effects. They told

me you were missing, where were you? Did you ruin the business of some

investments manager?”

“What? No, why are you saying that?”

“You’re a stockbroker, aren’t you? It was what Cliffie told us...”

“Cliffie... I understand, no, I’m not a stockbroker”- Danny said.

Martin was listening the conversation and frowned. He had heard ‘Joey’ and he

knew what Danny was talking to.

“Well, nobody tells the truth here. Okay, eh, listen I’m calling you because your

motorbike is pushing up the daisies, man”- Joey said.

“Oh, well, I had forgotten it. Listen, the truth is I don’t need it, but maybe you’re

interested in it. I haven’t registered it with my name so if you like you only have to

come here and I’ll give you the keys” – Danny said. It was true, he didn’t want to go

to the club and that motorbike was beautiful but only brought him bad memories,

so getting ride of the motorbike was easy, plus it had been a gift and Joey would be

happy.

“Are you kidding, man? Aren’t you going to come here anymore?” – Joey said, not

believing him.

“No, and no, I’m not kidding, take note of the address. I’ll tell the security to let you

come up” – Danny said.

Joey wrote the address on a paper and stared it. He frowned. “Eh, listen Daniel,

isn’t it the address of FBI building?”

Danny laughed openly, maybe for the first time since he came back at work. “Yes,

when you arrive, ask for special agent Danny Taylor, tell them your name and they

will tell you the way to the office.”

“I’m allergic to the police, you should know that” – Joey grumbled.

“You weren’t allergic to me, if I remember well” – Danny said.

“Okay, okay I’ll be there in an hour”- Joey said.

Danny closed the cell phone and turned to his papers. From the corner of his eye

he saw Martin staring at him. “What’s going on?” – he confronted him. At this stage,

he had got over the nerves and he was getting tired about his coworkers’

behaviour.

“You shouldn’t bring those people here” – Martin said.

“What... what people?” – Danny asked upset.

“That guy, Joey... the guy from the Club”

“Were you listening?”

“No, but I work beside you and, unless I cover my ears I can’t help but hear certain

things”

“At least I can talk to him not feeling a knife in my back, have a drink and a pleasant

conversation” – Danny reproached him.

“Whatever, but I think Jack won’t like to see that guy here”

“I’m just going to give him something, Martin. I can’t leave the office and he can

come”

“Well, give him that thing when you leave the office”.

Danny looked at him. Was Martin sure what he was talking about? If Danny was

sure about something it was what he would do after work. Home, directly, or AA

meeting if it was Tuesday or Thursday.

“No, I’m not going to take that risk. You should know it, Martin”

“So you’re a sex addict” – Martin said coldly.

“Listen, what happened with you, Martin? I’m doing my best to make things work,

right? I made a mistake once, but I’ve changed. Why do you insist on your attitude

towards me? I’m not a sex addict, I’m an alcoholic”

“Then, what were you doing in that Club, Danny!” – Martin whispered holding back

his rage.

“It isn’t easy to explain, especially if you don’t want to understand it and well, I

don’t want to explain to you, okay?” – Danny said angrily.

He turned to his papers and continued his work reading those files Jack had given

him some days ago.

Things weren’t going well, but he was in trouble with Martin, the most. The rest,

basically, just talked about work and being that he wasn’t working the same case

with them, they barely had a conversation. Just Sam seemed to be opened to talk...

 

Flashback

 

That morning

It was eight in the morning when Danny came in the office. He dropped his jacket on

the chair and headed to the break room to get a coffee. He found Sam already

preparing her coffee as she glanced at some papers thoughtfully.

“Morning” – he said.

“Hi, do you want a coffee?” – Sam asked smiling.

Danny looked around a bit surprised and, noticing he was the only one there, smiled

back. “Sure, thanks”.

“How are you doing with duty desk?” she asked.

“Well, it’s a little bit boring. I’m trying to look for new leads but... we’re too good

doing our work, we don’t let anything by without questioning. Unfortunately, on the

other hand. I would like to find something to open a new lead of investigation and

solve a case but I’ve checked about 16 files and I’ve found nothing”.

“It sounds boring, yes”.

“And you? I’ve seen Jack is pairing you with Olivia” – Danny said.

“Yes”- she sighed – “She’s good, she works well, in San Francisco they work differently

but she got our method quickly. What I don’t understand is the fixation on your new

motorbike”.

“Oh, really?” – Danny remembered his motorbike parked at the club. He had the keys,

Martin had given back him, but he hadn’t had the heart to stop by the club.

“Yes, I don’t think the admiration was on you” – Sam said.

Danny grimaced and she caught the gesture.

“Eh, no...I didn’t say that because of what happened, it’s that you both are fighting

since the first day... it’s because of that”

“I know, I understand, Sam”.

“Eh,.... listen Danny, I... I wanted to apologize about things here. I... I don’t feel good

with this situation, do you know? We have worked together for years and we have

been there for each other in difficult moments. I know you’re trying and I think you’re

doing well, at least, I hope so. It’s just that... it was a shock, knowing suddenly about

what you were doing and we didn’t know anything...”

“You don’t have to apologize, Sam, I understand. Surely I would have acted the same,

remember Martin, I felt really bad when he didn’t realize what he was doing to

himself, what he could do to us, putting in danger our life and other innocent people...

it’s what I did. But thanks for trying to trust me, it’s something I really appreciate and

it helps me”.

“Will you tell me what happened?”

“I don’t know, maybe, but I don’t feel like talking about it. I’m getting help with this

issue, I’m not alone and what I’m doing is painful, so I prefer to get distracted with

other things. Work is good for me, the atmosphere isn’t helping but I trust things will

get better in the future”.

“Sure, any time now they’ll be tired of being angry with you and not talking. I am

already”.- She said smiling.

“I see... thanks Sam” – he said.

“You’re welcome. Well, I’m leaving, I have to start working”.

End of flashback

 

It was near 12:00 when Danny saw Joey Kelby in the corridor. He stood up and left

the bullpen.

“Hey, you don’t look very affected by the allergies” – Danny joked.

“What’s going on, man? Damn it, I don’t picture you working here. What? Were you

working on an undercover mission or something?” – Joey asked a bit unsure by the

place he was.

“Something like that, yes” – Danny said. He was glad to see Joey, he was a good guy,

but now it was a strange familiarity.

“Daniel, that guy there looking me with an angry expression... he was the one who

looked for you at the club” – Joey said pointing Martin, that stared at him not

caring they noticed it.

“Yes... he’s my coworker” – Danny said.

“Listen Daniel, what happened to you? You... you asked me to send you something

like that... I.... I just did what you asked me”.

“I know, nothing happened”

“Nothing?” – Joey said surprised. He put his arm over Danny’s shoulders and put

his head close to him and whispered. “Hey, those coworkers of yours, that one and

the other that seemed like the boss, went through your room, they checked

everything and took out all your clothes. They asked me a lot of questions and

asked me who was in your room the night before, too. I had to tell them the credit

card numbers because of the names, you know what happens with them”.

Martin observed them since the bullpen. Vivian looked at her coworker and lifted

the head to see Danny whispering something to that guy. Martin was blank and she

wondered what she was missing, Danny with a friend or well known. Martin just

turned his eyes to look for Jack in his office, not unnoticing what was happening.

With his fists tightly closed, he remained there not saying anything, he couldn’t say

anything, only Jack and he knew who that guy was.

“Joey, nothing happened. But it’s over, okay? Forget it. By the way” – Danny fished

in his pocked and took out the keys. “Here take them, the motorbike is yours. You

know I haven’t registered it so you can make the forms as if it were yours, okay?”

“Sure, I don’t believe it, are you sure? It’s a fantastic motorbike”.

“I know, don’t make me regret doing this, get out of here, I have work to do”

“Right, will you come to the club some day?” – Joey asked.

“No Joey, I don’t think so”

“Well, Peterson won’t be happy but maybe I got your place” – Joey smirked.

“Yes, of course, I don’t know what to tell you. Good luck”.

A hug as a goodbye almost made Martin throw up, who remained frozen staring at

them. However, when Danny came back to the bullpen with a smile on his face,

Martin wasn’t able to say anything.

Danny felt happy, he had talked to Joey, he had given him the motorbike and he

had broke that wall feeling so sure he never would come back to that club. He

would like to feel the same about the drink, but that was another matter, too many

years fighting against it.

It wasn’t a bad day, after all.

 

April, 10th.

 

Some days later, after one of his usual conversations with Paul Caster, at the end of

the day, Danny tried something.

“Anybody want to go get a drink?” – he asked.

“I can’t, I have to get back home soon” – Vivian replied.

“Me neither”- Martin had picked up his bag and jacket. “Sam, are you coming with

me?”

“Yes. See you tomorrow” – she said with a smile.

Danny saw them leaving the office and saying goodbye to Jack, who also left the

office. Then, he turned to Olivia. She shrugged.

“I’m sorry, Danny, I have to meet someone but remember you owe me a ride on

your motorbike”- she said, trying to soften the situation.

“I’m sorry too, but I’m afraid it won’t be possible”- he said.

She looked at him with a questioning expression.

“I’ve sold it” – he said.

“Well, you could have told me. I could have bought it”.

“I didn’t want to see the motorbike anymore” – Danny said with a grimace.

“I see, I understand”

“Really?” – he asked sarcastically.

She looked at him and frowned. Fantastic. Olivia had tried to stay away from her

coworkers’ attitude, because, actually, she barely knew any of them and she had

the feeling that her words were misunderstood, like now.

“Listen, do you want to tell me what I’ve done to deserve your attitude towards

me? Since I started to work here, you always act defensive with me, you always

have an unpleasant word and question my work constantly”- she almost yelled. “I

don’t know what’s your problem with me but, do you know what? I couldn’t care

less about you”

Said. She picked up her bag and left the office not waiting for a reply, something

she didn’t expect.

Danny didn’t expect any other reaction, he had been unpleasant, but he was tired.

Maybe Sam was right and they would get tired too. At least, with her things seemed

to be more normal.

Sam had left the office with Martin, taking his offer. As they walked to the entrance,

she was thinking about this situation and it was like she already lived it, the same

people in a different situation.

“Martin, can we get a drink?” – she asked.

“Well, I was going home and... well, sure, let’s go” – he said, noticing the expression

on his coworker.

The entered a café and asked for a couple of beers. Then sitting down in a table,

Martin noticed Sam looking nervously trhough the window without saying a word.

“Are we waiting for someone?” – he asked.

“What?” – she almost exclaimed. “No, no, it’s that...”

“You’re nervous. This isn’t.... this isn’t a date, is it? I think that between you and

me...”

“No, it isn’t a date, Martin. It isn’t about that”- Sam drank a sip of beer, trying to

find the correct words to start that conversation. “Look Martin, I’ve been thinking

about this and... well, do you remember when I went to your home and you

recognized the damage you were doing yourself with the painkillers?”

“Yes” – he sighed – “it’s impossible to forget”.

“Then, you asked for help, but how long were you with the painkillers? It was a

long time ago. Then, I didn’t know how to help you, I didn’t know what I had to do

and I talked to Danny. He... he was angry, he didn’t want to help you, I don’t know

why, but I think he was scared to lose your friendship. I don’t know what happened

between you two, but I think he helped you to take the right steps. I don’t think it

was because of what I told you” – Sam started.

“No, actually, Danny was angry with me because he had confronted me some days

ago and I lied to him. After that... after that, things changed and.... yes, he was a

great support... he has been a support until little time ago”. – Martin said realizing

what Sam was trying to do.

“Martin, Danny is dealing with his problems alone, now. He has a problem with the

alcohol and we can’t abandon him like that. Have you ever thought about what you

would have done if we had stopped talking to you?” – Sam asked.

“Listen, Sam, I know what you’re trying to do, I’ve seen you talking to Danny, but

there are things you don’t know and I don’t .... I can’t.”

“Sure, well, Danny couldn’t either but, however, he helped you”.

“It’s different”

“Yes, it’s different, it’s worse. All of us know what happened. In your case, only

Danny and me know what happened to you and none of us told anybody else. Now,

all of us know and only Jack has given him a second chance. We have behaved like

pigs”

“Really? What would have happened if someone pointed at you with a gun and

Danny is your backup, Sam? What condition was he in? How long was he acting like

that? Drinking and barely sleeping, and we thinking that oh, poor Danny, what has

happened to his brother has affected him so much! His brother, he barely talks to!.

Come on, Sam!” – Martin was angry. “If even Vivian saw him and asked directly and

he had the brazenness to lie to her”

“You lied to us, as well, Martin, and stole too. You stole those painkillers I found in

your home. And, however, we shut up and helped you. Why can’t you do it now?

Come on, you’re his best friend!”

“That’s not true, he doesn’t trust me, he didn’t trust me. He was in trouble and I

went to his house like an idiot because my body was hurting and I needed a

painkiller, and he received me with a pizza and a baseball game as if he was a very

happy man. He could have taken that opportunity to tell me but he didn’t!”

“Martin” – Sam said lowing her voice. Both had got upset – “If you come home with

a problem like that and I had dropped my boyfriend five seconds ago, be sure that

at that moment my problem is going away so I can listen to you. Don’t you realize

that?”

“Sam... Danny... Danny did other things apart from drinking, okay?”

“What?, What things?”

“I can’t tell you, I promised I wouldn’t tell. It’s something he will tell you some day.

I haven’t any right to tell. Sam, I understand what you say, I... I don’t feel good with

this matter, but Danny doesn’t help so much either. Do you know what? Some days

ago, he brought that guy to the office. You had to see them laughing and hugging

themselves effusively... I got sick”.

“What? A friend from the bar?”

“Something like that”

“Well, maybe it’s the only person he can talk to, he can’t talk to us, we don’t let him,

we don’t forgive him, Martin. How do you want him to talk to us, if we haven’t

accepted his invitation before? We ran away from the office with thousands of

excuses that surely don’t exist. What do you think Danny will think if he leaves the

office and sees us here, Martin?”

“What do you want me to do, Sam?” – Martin understood clearly the situation, it

was just difficult for him, but maybe she was right. The image of Danny with that

Joey in the office pounded his mind, maybe if he supported him, if Danny found

support with them, he would leave that world definitely. Wasn’t that what they

wanted?

“Talk to him, give him a chance to tell you something. I’ve done it and he didn’t tell

me anything, but I know he felt relieved to talk to me as usual, it’s only a question

of time, Martin. You... you know that”.- Sam said, knowing she was wining the fight.

“Well, right. I’ll try it, Sam. I don’t promise anything but I’ll try”

“Okay. Well, are you going home?” – she asked.

“I have to stop by other place, first” – Martin said. “Then, I’ll see, maybe I’ll stop by

Danny’s home later, or maybe tomorrow”.

“Sure, let’s go?”

“Let’s go”.

Both left the bar, Sam took a cab back home, as Martin walked for a while, thinking

about that conversation and trying to clear his mind. He finished taking a cab and

went to a NA meeting. He had to think about what to tell Danny, how to start that

conversation, trying to erase the image of Danny in that Club and trying to

understand it. It was the most difficult.

When he left the meeting it was 22.30. It was late, but he could pass by Danny’s

home. He spent for a while waiting but nobody answered his call. He phoned him

but nobody was at home. Martin felt a knot in his stomach. Well, maybe he was in

AA meeting and he still hadn’t back. With a strange feeling that something was

wrong, he went back home.

Danny remained alone at the office, not wanting to leave. He needed a drink, he

wanted a drink. Well, he could call Ray, his sponsor, but he hadn’t seen him for a

long time, Ray didn’t know he had drunk again and Danny knew he had to tell him

that his particular counting had been back to zero, 23 days ago. He wasn’t ready for

another refusal. Paul had told him he could call when he needed but they had been

talking a couple of days ago and he didn’t want to bother him because of a setback.

Actually what he needed was company, so he decided to stay in the office. He

stood up and headed for the break room coming back with a coffee. The news on

TV were talking about the case they had been working and then the sports news

started. There wasn’t anybody there so Danny took the precautions to switch off

the TV, he knew what program started after the news. Walter Grassmann was the

reason he couldn’t get sleep lately. He was always present in his nightmares and it

was the worst he was doing, the most dangerous. He saw him, when he was a child

in the Center, when he was picked up from home or back to it, on the TV,

commenting on something. It was becoming his obsession. It was something he

couldn’t stop and the intensity of the beginning of this story was returning. If at

least, he felt comfortable at work, he thought, putting some files on his desk. It was

about not thinking about it, but when he thought about the club it felt strange. It

was so unreal, Paul Caster tried with his usual two-lines summaries to help him

focus the matter and go on but Danny didn’t felt sure about it. He couldn’t stop

thinking about drink and the idea to go back to the club returned here and there,

even though it was a crazy idea, dangerous and without any result. He couldn’t fall

again and all his frustration was focused on that man, Walter Grassmann.

He didn’t notice how long he spent in the office, when finally he got to focus on one

of those old files. He started to read the information, like it was the first time he

did, it was the best way to find new leads and took some notes.

He was drawing on his notebook, when his father stared at him. “What are you

doing?”

Danny looked at him. “Nothing, I’m just waiting”

“Keep still, you’re getting me nervous” – he said.

Danny stood up to go to the couch, but his father stopped him. “I didn’t tell you to

stand up!”

He sat down inmediately and tried to not move. He glanced at the clock on the wall, it

was late. He knew something was going to happen because his father was oddly

relaxed. They were alone at home, his father had told him his mum had left and

nobody knew about Rafie for the last two days. Since Rafie turned 18 he barely

stopped by home and Danny missed him. Two days ago it had been his birthday, he

was 10 years and he felt almost an adult. Rafie had passed by home and took him for

a ride in a car he had never seen before and spent the day with some friends. They

had been driving fast and being chased by the police, even though Danny knew it was

wrong, but Rafie always got a laugh of him, he felt good and forgot his father for a

while.

Finally, they heard the knock on the door. When his father opened the door, Danny

didn’t move away the kitchen. He heard him arguing as he closed his eyes and leant

his head on the table covering his ears with his hands. He was tired of that, it was

always the same. He continued hearing the yelling when he felt a hand on his

shoulder and someone taking a chair beside him.

“Hi, you must be Danny, right?” – a woman said.

Danny opened his eyes and met a woman he never had seen before looking at him

with compassionate eyes and a smile. It was enough for him to start to tremble. She

went on looking at him. “Don’t be scared, Danny. I’m not going to hurt you. I’m going

to take you with your mum, okay?”

“Where is she?” – he managed to ask.

“She’s in the hospital, she’s fine. The doctors are taking care of her very well and she

wants to see you. She can’t come here, so we are going to take you there, is that okay,

Danny?”

“Why is my father arguing?”

“Don’t worry about that. Come on, come with me” – she said, grabbing his arm firmly.

Thirty minutes later they were at hospital but Danny wasn’t sure about seeing his

mum. The social worker arguing with his father that he already had met before, had

been talking on their way about things he didn’t understand well, but the words

‘judge’, ‘custody’ and ‘group home’ didn’t sound good. Now, he was in a hospital room,

someone had told him to take off his clothes, put on a kind of blanket and wait. He

was thinking about leaving away when the door was opened and a unknown man

entered, he looked to be a doctor.

“When will I see my mum?” – Danny asked.

“Soon boy, but I have to check you before”- the doctor said with a smile.

Danny started to get nervous. He had been at hospitals several times and he didn’t

like what the doctors did to him. They always smiled but they always hurt him.

“Drink this, it’s good, it tastes like orange juice” – the doctor said, handed him a glass.

Danny drank it. Whatever it was if he wanted to see his mum. It tasted good like an

orange juice like the doctor had told him. Almost immediately he started to relax and

he let the doctor do his work easily.

“Well, good boy”- he said, when he finished. But Danny barely heard him. As the

minutes ran he felt the effects of the drink and finally fell asleep.

When he woke up, he was already dressed and the doctor had left. It was only a nurse

smiling him and told him to stand up. Finally, he was going to see his mum.

When they were outside the room, he could hear an argument in. His mum was

talking to someone. ‘No, it isn’t true’. ‘I’m not going to do it’. ‘If I do, he’ll kill me’. It

was phrases he had heard before. What had he done wrong this time?

When the man left the room and met his eyes, he could see his expression. He was

frustrated, angry. He was the man arguing with his father at home, the man that

sometimes took him to the Center, the man that back him at home, the smiling man

explaining to the world what had happened, theorizing about his future, telling the

world what he thought about his mum, his father... the same man on the TV every two

nights, the same man everybody talked about because the comments he did and had

made him so popular: Walter Grassmann.

Danny froze and stared at him like was hypnotized. The image of that man was

confused. He saw him but the scene changed quickly and suddenly he felt the

powerful need to change his smiling expresion and make him to see what he was

doing to his mum, to his family, to him. ‘Why he had abandoned them? Why he talked

about them like that? Why, simply, he had looked at them, picked him up from home

and then took him back home again? Why did he do that?’

 

Danny turned back when he felt a hand on his shoulder. The firm hand of the nurse

brought him back to reality, a reality that suddenly got so confused.

“Danny, Danny!”

 

Chapter 11

 

“Danny, wake up!”

It was 07.00 in the morning on April, 11th. Jack had left home early and after

getting hold of a newspaper he headed for Manhattan, where his office was. He

didn’t expect to see too many people there, much less Danny, completely asleep

with his head on the conference table, covered by papers.

He approached him with a smirk but noticing his angsty expression, the smile

vanished. He knew exactly what had happened, he had seen the videotapes and, in

one way or another, he had tried to help him. Danny was doing well, he had

focused on his work and he looked okay. It wasn’t only that, he had had the chance

to talk to him and he had seen the determination of his young agent. In mind he

had the idea to give him his gun back and let him to go to the field in a couple of

days. But if Danny had spent the night there, like it seemed, without any good

reason for it, it was because something was wrong.

Danny opened slowly his eyes and looked at him with a confused expression. He

took some seconds more to realize where he was. Still the image of Walter

Grassmann was clear in his mind, pictured in its two versions, the young

Grassmann from the Social Service, the old smiling Grassmann, star of the media.

“Danny, are you okay?”- Jack, insisted noticing Danny slightly confused.

“Jack... eh, what?” – Danny blurred.

“Danny, it’s 7 in the morning. You were asleep. Have you come early or didn’t you

leave the office last night?”- Jack said, trying to help him to clarify his mind.

Then Danny remembered. Probably he didn’t notice the time and somehow he fell

asleep. “I think I fell asleep”

“Don’t think so, you were deeply asleep” – Jack said smiling.- “Do you want a

coffee?”

“Yes, sure” – Danny stood up and both left the bullpen.

“You should go back home and rest for a while. Have you spent the night here?” –

Jack asked.

“Yes, I wanted to finish one of the files and I think I fell asleep”- Danny lied. He

didn’t want to tell Jack he had stayed deliberately. “I’m tired, I’ll go home and at

least I’ll take a shower. Then I’ll come back”.

“No, no, stay at home. You should rest”.

“I’m not that tired, Jack”.

“Well, go to walk, to run. I don’t want to see you again today”

“Why not?” – Danny grumbled.

“’Cause I’m looking you and you look a mess. You can’t work like that. And, please,

don’t argue, it’s an order”.

“Okay, I’m not arguing, but I’m fine”

“Good. Fantastic. How are you doing?” – Jack asked.

“Fine”

“I’ve seen you talking to Sam. What about the others?” – Jack knew how the

situation was but he wanted to know how Danny was handling it. He had seen him

talking to Sam, but he had seen him arguing with Martin and barely talking to

Vivian. The situation with Olivia didn’t go well but it was the same as the first day.

Danny shrugged his shoulders. “I think they would be better without me”.

“Give them time”

“I’m tired, Jack... a lot. I don’t know what to do, I’ve talked to them, I’ve tried it, I

apologised, I’ve done what I could to come back to normal but Martin hates me,

Vivian doesn’t talk to me and I have too many problems to solve to add them to my

list”- Danny said.

“Yes, I know. How are you doing with Mr. Caster?”

“Well, I guess we’re doing well”

“Have you told him how things are going here?”

“Yes, something, but it isn’t the main conversation. There are... there are other

things more important than that”.

Jack remembered a part of that program who set off the current situation.

‘chameleon-like’ Grassmann had said. ‘Apparently they were people absolutely

normal but if you prod a little deep you’ll find a completely different world’. Did he

know his agent well? Was he taking a risk doing what he was doing? Jack started to

hesitate about his intention for the next days. Maybe he should talk to Paul Caster,

but he doubted Caster would tell him anything. But, what else thing he could do? It

had been his decision to keep the situation away from his boss and he couldn’t let

it escape.

Talking to Paul Caster was the first thing he would do when he came back to his

office. With that idea on his mind, he changed the conversation.

“How’s your brother?”

“Well, he was discharged. Sylvia called me yesterday, she visited him in prison and

he was okay. He has a new hearing in five or six months. What happened to him

could help get out of prison. It would be great, I think he is a better person now, I

think he’ll get it” – Danny said.

“Good, I’m glad for him”- Jack said. “Sylvia seems a strong woman and his kids

deserves to keep their father with them”

“Yes, sure”- Danny said. “Listen, I’m going at home to change these clothes and take

a shower. Then, I’ll come back”.

“Whatever you want, but you know you don’t have to do it”

Both left the break room, Danny picked up his jacket and left the office, as Jack

headed for his office. He looked at Danny getting into the elevator and picked up

the phone.

“Mr. Caster is on travel. He’ll come back in two weeks” it was the information Jack

got when he wanted to contact him. A couple of weeks was too much time, he

thought Danny visited him once a week. Well, he would postpone his decision for

some days.

The phone started to ring. “Malone... yes.. well, who?, Neil Brady... uhm, okay, send

me them by fax, please”.

Jack hung up. They had got a new case. He stood up and left the office towards the

bullpen to pick up the fax, the beginning of their next search.

“Jack, have you seen Danny?”- Martin asked when he met him.

“Yes”- Jack replied not understanding.

“Last night, I went to his apartment and he wasn’t there. It was late and I don’t see

him here. When did you see him?” – he asked.

Jack noticed the beligerant attitude and he didn’t like it. His coworkers waited for

an answer and at that moment Jack put himself in Danny’s shoes. No, it had to be

very difficult for him.

“I saw him some time ago, we drank a coffee together, Martin”- he said slowly,

stared at him. “Well, we have a case” – he continued in an authoritarian tone

picking up the fax.

“Neil Brady!” – Olivia exclaimed, reading the name of the missing person. “I know

him, he’s the drummer of ‘Keep Alive!’ What is he doing in New York?”

“The group has a concert tonight, but he is missing. His room was a mess, cd’s,

posters, and clothes on the floor. It’s the reason they called us, it doesn’t look he

left for a walk” – Jack said. “Olivia, it looks as though you’ll like this, so talk to the

other members of the group. Martin, go with her. Sam, Viv, come with me to the

hotel, we have to check the room and talk to the employees”.

Jack turned on his shoes and headed for the exit. “I think you made him get angry”

– Sam whispered Martin. “Have you forgotten our conversation last night?”

“No, I’m not, it was the reason I went to his apartment, but he wasn’t there. I think

it isn’t so strange to think he can be in another place, can’t he?” - Martin replied in

the same tone.

“Forget it” – she said, getting out with Vivian.

“Let’s go?” – Olivia said with a smile.

“Sure, let’s go”- Martin said, still in a bad mood.

..............

During his way to the hotel, Vivian couldn’t stop thinking about Danny. She was

surprised since she didn’t see him at the office and Martin’s comment got her

attention as Jack’s reply did. The situation was getting complicated and she knew

she had to talk to him, she had the feeling Jack was hiding some things and was

protecting him but, why?

Danny left the office and went back home. After a shower and change his clothes he

felt better but he didn’t to put Grassmann from his mind. Coming back to work

should be great, but right now, after staying there all night, he didn’t want to. It

was 09.30 in the morning and he had all day for himself. He sat down at the

kitchen with paper and pen and, distractely, started to write a list with all the

matters he had been talking to Paul. It was incredible how in a short time, Paul had

got from Danny so much information because Danny didn’t want to tell, he didn’t

want to remember. However, that information was very useful for Paul because he

knew Danny’s behaviour, his way of thinking and acting was deeply linked with his

past. Knowing that, he could know him the best and help him to carry his feelings a

right way. The nightmares were the worst. Relieving all those memories brought

him some old story during the night. Danny wasn’t sure it was good, but well, they

were still in him, maybe they were unsolved issues and he had to solve them

definitely. It was the reason for those conversations with Paul. But Danny didn’t

talk to him about Walter Grassmann, he didn’t really know why. He believed he

had to look for revenge, erase his stupid smile, make him realize the pain he had

caused to Rafie and himself, and surely Paul wouldn’t understand it. His obsession

with Walter Grassmann had reached such a point that all his dreams had to do with

that man, always present in his mind. He was thinking about him as he softly hit

the back of the pen against his chin.

He couldn’t stay at home not doing anything. He decided to go out, maybe jogging,

as Jack had told him, would be great. He dressed in sport clothes and left home. The

air was soft, the spring background called out for a walk. Two hours later,

completely exhausted, he entered a café and sat down. A bottle of water and a

coffee would be good. On TV the news were talking about the disappearance of a

music band’s member that morning. Danny focused his attention on it and he could

see Jack and Sam talking to some people at the hotel where the singer stayed. He

missed working with them, those files he had to check every day were boring. As

the others were working some case, he had to stay in the office, Jack hadn’t brought

his gun back and he didn’t seem to be willing enough to let him to work with his

coworkers. Of course, things weren’t good, it was just Sam the one talking to him

and restarting their old friendship. But Martin and Viv... Martin was his best friend

and Viv... he coudn’t fail her, not her. When he left the Café, he headed, not knowing

too why, for the place where they used to practise shooting. He needed to release

adrenalin and it was clear the two hours he spent running wasn’t enough.

As he didn’t have his own gun, he asked for one similar to his. With the gun firmly

pointing at the target, he closed his eyes and templed his nerves. It was a long time

since he had used it. He emptied the magazine and saw his shots. He put in another

magazine and pointed the target again, closed his eyes and took a deep breath. The

image of Walter Grassmann pictured clearly in front of him, as it it were a dream

and he opened his eyes with a start. His hand was trembling, as at the back, the

silent figure waited patiently. He took another deep breath trying to erase that

image and focus on what he was doing. He pointed his gun and emptied the

magazine again on his target. The image of Walter Grassmann never left his mind.

He got a perfect shot.

When he left the place, completely confused, he had three things in mind, going

back to the office, talking to Paul or drinking a whiskey. The last one was rejected

at first with a grimace. He picked up his cell and dialled Paul’s number. But Paul

wasn’t there, he had left for a Congress and he would be back in two weeks. He

looked the note where he had wrote his next appointment, he didn’t notice they

had their next talk on April, 20th. It was too long. Danny came back home quickly,

changed clothes and took his car. An hour and a half later he was on his desk

checking one of those boring files.

Brady’s case was red-hot and Jack was upset because of the pressure of the media

and the conjectures they suggested. Most of things they were saying were lies and

didn’t help to find the musician. Danny tried focus on his work not taking care

about the movement around him. Suddenly, he found something in the file he was

checking. He typed some numbers on the computer and waited.

Vivian had come back from the Hotel with Jack and Sam about 30 minutes ago and

they were studying the information they got. They had checked the room and

interviewed all the Hotel’s employees. Sam was now checking the security

cameras. Nobody had heard or seen anything, not a discussion, not noises or

yelling. The room was a mess like a crazy fan had entered in and ruined everything.

But it was just that, the rest was in order except they hadn’t any clue about Neil

Brady’s whereabouts.

She headed for the desk to check something and saw Danny focused on those files

Jack had made him to check and she thought about the conversation between Jack

and Martin that morning. She left her work and aproached him.

“Hi, what are you doing?” –she asked as normal.

Danny jumped. He didn’t think anyone was going to talk to him, at least not Viv.

“Eh, I have an idea and I’m looking for something”- Danny said, unsure about what

kind of conversation Vivian wanted.

“I didn’t see you this morning”- she said.

“No, eh... actually, I stayed working late last night and I fell asleep here. Jack sent

me back home” – he said.

“I see how you follow his orders” – she said with a smile.

Danny stared at her not knowing what to think. Was Vivian trying some kind of

approach?. It wasn’t that he wasn’t glad but he didn’t know what to say.

She noticed his unsure look. “You’re doing well, you know?” – she said “I’m sorry

about what I told you the other day, I was really angry and I didn’t want you to

think anything else. You told me you were sorry and I, actually, didn’t accept your

apology. I hope things are working well and even though I know I haven’t helped

you too much, I would like you to ask me for help, if you need”.

“Sure, Viv. I always keep you in mind, you found me in a bad situation and I didn’t

want to hurt you. I’m sorry for lying to you, you know it’s the last thing I would

have wished”.

“I know, but if you would have told me the truth, I would have had the chance to

help you and may be you wouldn’t have had to fight against the temptation to

drink”- Vivian said.

Danny looked at her confused, but then he remembered what Jack had told them.

Another lie. At that moment, he could have told Viv what was happening in his

mind, tell her how it had been everything but he couldn’t.

“You’re right, as usual, I take the wrong way” – he grimaced.

“Not always, not always” – she said. “By the way, I haven’t asked you, how’s your

brother?”

“Well, he left the hospital and returned to prison. But he’s fine”

“Have you seen him?”

“I haven’t, since he left the hospital. It’s more difficult now, but maybe I’ll go some

day”.

“Okay, I’m glad for him. Look, your search on the computer is ready. What are you

looking for?” –Vivian got interested.

“Three months before her disappearance, Catherine Alden got a new social

security number. I’ve entered the dates on the computer to get her old number. I

don’t know why she changed it, maybe a legal change, maybe something normal.

The truth is that we didn’t investigate it, it isn’t in the file. Look!” – Danny looked

exultantly at Viv, who raised an eyebrow in surprise.

“Gosh” – she said – “So Catherine Alden was Catherine Moses, from Illinois and not

from New Jersey. What information we got about Catherine Moses?”

Danny typed some words, but on his computer appeared a note in read. ‘Denied

access’.

“Denied access?”- both read at the same time.

“This sounds like witness protection” – Danny said. “I’ll talk to Jack”. He stood up

with the paper he had printed and the documents about Alden, now Moses, case

and headed for Jack’s office.

Vivian turned to her work about Brady’s case. She had broken the tension and it

had been good. The relief she felt was great, and she felt happy. Why didn’t she try

before? It was Danny, for God sake.

Jack looked at the documents Danny handed him and listened to his explanation,

before picking up the phone.

“Who are you calling?” – Danny asked nervously.

“I’m calling witness protection. I don’t want to piss them off. Maybe we’ll close this

case with that date”.

“Why didn’t we do it then?”

“I don’t know. You see, finally you got a result of your work. Wait...”

Danny sat down and waited for Jack to finish calling. He saw him reading

something as underlined some words. When he hung up, Jack explained to Danny

what had happened with the woman.

“Catherine Moses was a witness of a crime in 2001. She was the only witness and

she got protection. When the trial was over, she was scared of revenge, so they

decided on a legal change of identity and she came to live to New York. When she

disappeared, she had received a threating note and witness protection decided to

made her disappear for a while. She left New York for Texas and there, she got

married. She isn’t Catherine Alden anymore, either. Case closed”.

“Well” – Danny could just say that, it wasn’t he was glad for the woman but he

expected to have something else to do.

“Why have you come back?”- Jack asked.

“I was bored, I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t want to think...”

“Are you in trouble?” – Jack frowned.

“Not if I’m busy. When will you give my gun back?”- Danny asked.

“When your reply is ‘no’” – Jack said. “Don’t want to go fast, Danny, we’re going

fine, right? You’ve done good work with this, go on like that. Maybe you’ll find

another case to close not so quickly”.

“Okay”- Danny said not very convinced. “How’s Brady’s case going?”

“I don’t know, there some things I don’t understand here very well”.

“Maybe he just ran away”

“Why? They have a concert tonight”

“I don’t know, something of that kind of things gets publicity, you know the band is

all day on the media, if anybody didn’t know them, now it’s different. Later, Brady

will make his stellar introduction and they’ll air a cd inspired in the day Brady was

thinking about the blue sky and the Earth going round the Sun”. Danny said,

smiling at his own idea.

“Are you telling me I’m wasting my time and they are laughing at my work?”

“No, I haven’t said that, it’s just a possibility. Maybe... Maybe he’s in trouble”-

Danny said. “Well, in any case, I don’t have the information so... I better go back to

my work”.

“Sure, but I’ll think about this”- Jack said. “I’ll talk to his agent, to see his reaction”.

“Good” – Danny muttered.

“Are you okay, Danny?”

“Yes, I’m fine Jack. I have work to do”.

Danny left the office. No, he wasn’t fine, he was fed up. He needed his work, those

files didn’t help him and he couldn’t forget Walter Grassmann or what had

happened that morning in the shooting gallery. Not thinking about it, he called the

Hospital.

“Wait a moment, please. I’ll contact with his secretary”- he was said.

Danny waited until he heard Linda Farrell’s voice. “Mr. Caster’s Department”.

“Hi.. eh...” – Danny stopped. He remembered he had called that morning and Paul

wasn’t there. “Well, eh I’m sorry, I forgot Paul isn’t here”.

“Who’s calling?”

“I’m Danny Taylor, I called this morning, I’m sorry, I forgot it”

“Ah, yes. Paul left to a Congress in Washington, but if you want you can talk to

Margot Riley. Maybe you know her...”

 

3“No, I don’t know she is and I’d prefer to talk to him. It’s not important, I just

forgot what you told me this morning. I’m sorry”.

“That’s alright, I’ll leave him a note, alright?”

“Well, thanks”.

Danny hung up the phone. He felt exhausted and things weren’t going well. Maybe

it was the tiredness. He wanted to finish with that now, the tension with his

coworkers, the image of Grassmann pounding his head, the conversations with

Paul, Jack’s questions, his doubts, Rafie, his father, the club, the drink... it was

everything in his mind as a whole of things without being solved... Grassmann. He

always finished at the same point.

“Hey, excellent publicity the media is doing for that guy” – Olivia said looking at the

TV. Now everybody knows who they are, you’ll see the ratings of their next album”.

“Do you think it’s publicity, as well?” – Jack asked.

“Sure, I think so, at least the leads are reaching that point. I’d stop wasting my

time... but, well, I could be wrong, too”. She said with a grimace. “Who is the one

thinking like this?”

Olivia saw the smirk on Jack’s face and she knew immediately who it was. She

looked at his coworker focused on his papers. “Oh, special agent Danny Taylor, I

see we think the same.... finally”.

“Don’t be so happy”- he grumbled.

“Sincerely, I hope to be wrong, I don’t like people wasting my time” –she said.

“Well Olivia, I’ve called the band’s agent, we’re going to talk to him. Do you want

come with me?”

“Sure, I want to get home soon. Look, he’s there again. Please, I can’t believe I liked

them” – Olivia said.

Channel 8 was ending their headlines just at that moment. Jack, Olivia and Danny

heard what the singer and leader of the group was saying. The next cut wasn’t so

good...

“And tonight at ‘Life Stories’ we’ll talk about the identical twins. Is it sure they

connect telepathically? What about the feelings of one of them being felt by the

other?. What happen if two twins are grew up in different places? Is their

physiognomy different? Will be one of them bald and the other not?. We’ll bring up

the case of the twin sisters adopted by different couples from different States and

how they met years later thanks to the net. We’ll have with us our usual

contributors Jim Roberts, Walter Grassmann and Paula McKinley telling us

surprising stories. If you want to tell us something call to the phone on the

screen...”

Jack looked worriedly at Danny who stared at the TV, as someone waiting for

something. He was slightly pale and his hands were shaking. Olivia noticed it too

and her usual smile disappeared from her face. She realized for the first time it was

a serious problem and probably Jack was very aware of it because of the way he

was looking at his agent. She remembered Jack’s words, when they had talked

about Danny’s methods, ‘he’s having a bad moment because of a personal situation,

you’re not seeing the best of him’. Jack was taking care of him, not only him but all

of them. Olivia had noticed by the way Jack assigned the work and how he had

joined Danny again to the team. She had seen him trying to smooth things over

with his coworkers.... even with her. Suddenly, her perception of things was

different and she smiled with that new feeling. Things were clearer now and she

knew better how to act.

“Isn’t there another channel to watch here?” – she asked softly.

“It’s a news channel, it’s useful for us”- Jack said. “It isn’t because of the

entertainment”.

“I see, listen, I think Brady’s agent is waiting for us” – Olivia said in the same tone

she used before.

“Yes, let’s go” – he said.

Both of them left the bullpen towards the interrogation room where the always

nervous agent waited.

“Danny, you’re making me nervous, please go away. It’s 22.30”

It was Martin talking. He had come back some minutes ago, after they found Neil

Brady hidden in a closet, in an apartment at the Bronx. They got the location after

some strange images were shown by internet with a woman. They got the woman

and she finally said she had spent the night with the musician after drugging him. It

was a plan to obtain money. They simulated a theft in the hotel and kidnnaped him.

When they knew the FBI was searching for him, one of them didn’t want to go on

and the decided to post the videoclip and left, leaving Brady at the apartment.

Martin knew Danny had been looking for those files, it was late and he looked

tired, but he went on there. Martin knew why he was doing it, he had done it

sometimes, using the work like a distraction but it was too much. Well, they had a

conversation pending.

“Leave me alone, I want to finish this” – Danny replied sharply.

“What do you want to finish? Tomorrow you’ll have those damn files on your desk,

Danny. What happened to you?”- Martin asked impatiently.

“Is this one of our usual discussions?”- Danny asked.

“No, I’m just saying it’s late and you should go home. Rest is good, clarify the mind

and stop the temptations, you know what I mean”

Danny smirked. “The temptations, Martin, are under control”

“Well, then, what are you doing here?”

“I told you, I want to finish this” – Danny replied sharply. Martin had let him know

he didn’t want to know anything about him and Danny wasn’t willing to tell him

now.

“Listen, I’m... I’m trying to talk to you, okay?” – Martin said.

“Oh really? And do I have to feel pleasant because of it?” – Danny was tired, it

hadn’t been a good day. Martin had been too rude with him lately and he didn’t

want to help him now because his coworker felt guilty. Things with Vivian had

been different, Vivian was different.

“Okay, as you want”- Martin said. He gathered his things and stood up to leave.

Danny turned to his papers and didn’t even look at him. Martin shook his head in

disgust and headed for the door.

Danny saw him walking towards the door. Damn it, it wasn’t a good day, he needed

a drink, he needed to talk to someone. Martin knew about the club and... damn it,

Martin was his friend. He decided to forget that note on his bed and Martin’s

behaviour during this time, he decided to keep his pride and try to find a way.

 

Chapter 12

“Martin” – he whispered. But his coworker didn’t hear him.

“Martin, wait!”- this time he was lucky. Martin stopped just opening the glass door.

His heart was racing. The tone his coworker had used to call him made him freeze.

He knew that tone so well. Something was really wrong.

He left the door and turned back. Danny was gathering the files quickly, picked up

his jacket and bag and both left the bullpen. None of them said a word until they

were out of the building.

Martin wasn’t sure what Danny was going to tell, if he was going to tell him

something and he wasn’t sure about wanting to listen to him if he was. It was still

complicated for him picturing Danny in that club and he didn’t know if his reaction

would be right if there was an explanation. But Danny was his friend and had

helped him, in fact, he had saved his life twice, helping him with his addiction to

painkillers and before trying to keep him alive as they waiting the ambulance

during that ambush where his own descent in the world of addiction started. So he

was willing to listen to whatever it was if he could help Danny get through the

situation.

“I want to finish with everything”- Danny said, suddenly, in a low tone, as he was

afraid of his own words.

They were in a near café where Martin ordered pizza and a couple of drinks.

“What do you mean, Danny?”

“I’m fed up, I’m tired, so tired. I had something Martin, but now... now I don’t know

and I can’t.... can’t go on, do you understand me?”

“Danny, don’t give up, you’re doing really well, you know by experience it isn’t

easy, you have to fight every day. Are you going to AA?”

“Yes, twice a week Martin, but drinking isn’t my problem, I haven’t had a problem

with that any different than I had before. Would I like to drink a whiskey right

now? Probably, but I’m here with a damn bottle of water and I don’t care”.

“Then, what happened?”

“It’s” – Danny closed his eyes. How could he explain Martin what he felt if he

couldn’t even put his own feelings in order at least, to tell.

Martin noticed the angst in his coworker. “Eh, Danny, you don’t have to tell

anything if you don’t want to. We are here because you wanted, if you want, we

can spend the time talking about anything else. You don’t have to tell me anything

if you don’t want to or can’t. I just want you to be okay, to feel safe and if by being

here you are, it’s fine with me. We don’t have to talk”.

There was a din around them, a group of excited people with raised voices were

watching a basket game that was near to the end. The final minutes were always

the most intense.

“I called my psychologist this morning, he’s traveling. He had told me I could call

him if I needed it. In spite of what his secretary told me, I called him later again.

Martin, I was... I was so desperate that I forgot he wasn’t here, do you understand?”

Martin nodded. Around them, the yelling and claps announced the victory of local

team.

“Change the channel, Bob! Let’s see that Grassmann, what things he has to say

tonight!” – someone yelled.

“Bah!” – other exclaimed – “That guy is just an oportunist looking for quick money

and fame, arguing about any old matter!”

Martin was waiting for Danny going on talking but he had turned around and was

captivated by those words and the TV. When the barman changed the channel

Danny paled, watching the smiling face of the moderator talking to Walter

Grassmann.

Martin was surprised by his coworker’s reaction and suddenly he remembered the

discussion they had about that program working a case... Owen’s case. Martin

remembered how Danny had been so critical with the program about it, and how it

seemed a stupid idea, finally was the main lead to find both sisters. What had he

said?

“Danny... Danny” – Martin tried to get his attention, but Danny seemed to have

forgotten about him.

Finally Danny turned to him. “Danny, what happened to you with that program?

Does it have something to do with Owen’s case? Does it have something to do with

what you want to tell me about?”

“It’s... it’s that guy... he makes me sick”- Danny muttered.

“Why? He’s just an old boring man with devotion to fame and probably money. He

doesn’t hurt anybody”.

“Do you remember Susan and Patricia Owen yet?”

“Danny, what has that to do with you?”

“Do you know what was Rafie watching the day he tried to commit suicide?” –

Danny asked. “He was watching that program. Do you know what he did during the

whole night? Yelling my name, Martin. During all the night he was yelling my name

because they didn’t allow him to call me. He watched that program and he tried to

warn me, to help me, he tried to stop what I did later”.

Martin made an effort to understand, but he didn’t understand most of what Danny

had told him. He had the information about Rafie but he didn’t see the link with

that program.

“We watched a part of that program together. Fortunately, I didn’t see anything

else, but I heard some comments during the next few days. Do you remember? I

came back to the office to pick up my car keys and we saw that part”.

Martin nodded. He remembered because they had discussed it during Owen’s case.

“Do you remember the video?” – Danny asked.

“Yes, I remember, it was unpleasant...”

“Do you remember what they said about that people, the mother, the kids? Do you

remember the man’s face abusing his family?” – Danny asked.

“Yes, I remember well”- Martin sighed.

“Well, it was long time ago, wasn’t it?. It was exactly on February, 17th. That night...

that night I drank about five or six whiskeys and I ended up in the apartment of

someone I only remember from her dyed hair”.

“Okay, you’re telling me that images affected you, like your brother because you

remembered things from your childhood. Is that what you’re trying to tell me?”

“That ... that family, Martin, that family... was us. It was my mum, my brother Rafie

and my drunk father coming home and me running away between his legs and

looking for help in Rafie”- Danny said in a whispered as his voice broke just trying

to tell.

Martin looked at him terrified, not knowing what to say. It was the last thing he

had thought. Suddenly, everything had a meaning. Now he understood why Jack

protected him all this time. He knew it, sure, and he had to be quiet because it was

too hard, too private. He put his hands on his face muttering “Oh, my god”. It was

the only thing he could say. For a moment, Martin thought about his own family. He

had felt abandoned for a long time, his parents were always too busy with

meetings and charity parties, their travels and fun to know their own son and give

him the kindness and attention he deserved. In his loneliness and

uncomprehension, Martin found, however, the support and kindness of Aunt

Bonnie who he loved as if she were his mother, he received a good education and

he never suffered the kind of abuses he had seen on the TV. His father’s plans for

him were so far away from Martin’s desires and his decisions weren’t always right

for them and usually ignored or underrated, which fortunately didn’t affect him too

much but he always missed having a better family. Right now, seeing Danny in

front of him, his coworker and friend, it was a miracle. The fact that the boy he had

seen on the TV had become what Danny was now, was impossible. He

remembered Grassmann’s comments about his future, he remembered the

delinquent record during his youth and how he was given up for dead. He hadn’t

died, he had changed his name to start a new life. The impact of watching himself,

years later, in a TV program, in sight of everybody, being analized by everybody

and driving him the way they did, had to send him through hell, and his brother

Rafie, as well.

“I think... I think Danny you’re a person with a lot of worth. Getting what you’ve got

without help and, I guess, with short resources, deserves my admiration and

respect. I think I understand what you were trying to do drinking and also in that

club, now I understand and... I understand why you couldn’t tell us, as well, but

likewise, we would have helped you. I’m glad you finally told me because now...

now I can understand and I can tell you that you can rely on me... always”.

Danny didn’t say anything for a while. During a long time both remained seated

down at that table, at that bar, in silent, not looking any particular place, every one

lost in their thoughts. Martin thinking about what had just been made known to

him, Danny thinking about the idea that plagued his mind, the obsessive image of

Walter Grassmann.

“Walter Grassmann worked in social services in Miami. He picked me up from

home several times and left me in group homes to stay the night, or he drove me to

a hospital if I was hurt, or to the Centre like that one we went some months ago

working. At the Centre you never know where you’ll sleep that night, you just

waited and looked with fear at any person entering wondering if he or she would

be the person picking you up. He... Grassmann, or someone working with him, put

the hidden videocameras at home and they treated us as we were an experiment,

an investigatory subject. He said they couldn’t do anything then, the laws were

different, but I... I think he could do a lot of things, and of course, he could have

verified the information about my family before putting those images on TV... even

though we could have been dead. It isn’t fair, and it’s a lack of respect towards

those people, in this case, towards my mum because she can’t defend herself”.

“Is it true what Grassmann said... that your parents died in a car accident and your

brother Rafie was indiferent to the situation?”

“It wasn’t my brother Rafie who was in that car... it was me. I distracted my father

driving because he was yelling at my mum and I wanted him to stop. I.. didn’t feel

anything for him, if I’m sincere, but I’ve lived with the feeling I killed my mum for a

long time. All these years I’ve wondered why I didn’t remain silent as always, why I

had to yell at him... it’s a stupid thing, probably if my father hadn’t been drinking,

he would have reacted better and we wouldn’t have had that accident...”

“And if he hadn’t yelled at your mum, you wouldn’t have had to stop him. Danny,

you were a kid”.

“I know Martin, I know... but sometimes... I miss her, you know?, I miss her... and

it’s sad to think about how different lives would have been if she had survived, for

herself, for Rafie and for me” – Danny wiped a couple of tears that had escaped

from his eyes. “I think... I think I’ve never had been so sincere with anybody about

this, not even with Paul Caster, who is the one responsible for making all this crap

come to the surface. It’s a crazy thing, Martin, it’s extremely painful to bring up the

memories I’ve tried to forget for a long time. I can’t sleep, the nights are terrible,

plagued with memories and nightmares as I was living it right now. I’m

remembering things I haven’t remembered for a long time. And... and Walter

Grassmann is always the end of it”.

“What do you mean?”

“Last night I stayed at the office, working. I didn’t want to come back home, I just

wanted to be with someone and you all left the office, so I stayed checking those

files and fell asleep. Jack found me this morning and sent me back home, but I

couldn’t stay at home so I left for a run, I finished almost two hours later with

Grassmann always on my mind. I went to the shooting gallery and emptied two

magazines before a target where the image of Grassmann was so clear, as I tried to

focus on what was there. But I couldn’t. I’m scared that something is happening to

me, to make me do some crazy thing, there are thousand things crossing my mind

and I don’t know what to do to stop them”.

“Have you talked about this with your psychologist?”

“No, I couldn’t, I told you he is out”

“When will he come back, when is your next appointment?”

“April, 20th, why?”

“I have an idea. During work, there isn’t problem, you are in the office or with some

of us when Jack lets you go out to the field. When we leave you’ll come with me at

home so you’ll never be alone” – The idea had came suddenly to his mind, but it

sounded really good.

Danny smirked. “And, what will they think when they see us leaving and coming

together every day?”

Martin laughed. “I don’t mind taking the risk if I’m helping a good friend”.

“Sure” – Danny said. “Well, I’ll think about it”

“Don’t think, do it, it’s a good idea. Let’s go to your house and take some clothes to

my place. Tonight the bed is yours, tomorrow, the couch, right?”

“Well, right” – Danny said. “Thanks”

It was three in the night when Martin awoke. He was close to falling on the floor, he

didn’t remember he was sleeping on the couch. Still sleepy, he tried to pay

attention to what had made him wake up, but he didn’t hear anything. He got up

and went to the kitchen, switched on the light and rubbed his eyes as opened the

frigde to drink some water. He looked at the time, 03:30. He came back to the

couch thinking about the next three hours to sleep when he listened to a noise

from the bedroom. He approached to the closed door to hear an unintelligible

whispering. He carefully opened the door only a crack, as the sound reached him

clearly, but he didn’t understand the words. He focused his sight on the light on in

the bedroom, from the kitchen light still on.

Danny felt on his face the light of the room and turned to the wall with a grumbled in

protest.

“Hey Danny, are you awake?”

Danny turned and with sleepy eyes looked at his brother taking off his clothes. “What

happened Rafie? What... what time is it?”

“Don’t matter what time it is. Listen, tomorrow, when you leave the school we’ll get a

ride. Do you remember last week, when we were in Roberto’s garage?” – Rafie said.

“Yes, Was that guy modifying his car?”

“Yes, right, well he has another one. He asked me to drive to a place. I want you to

come with me, we’ll have fun, you want to?”

“I have to study, Rafie. You know what happens if I don’t get good grades” – Danny

said, turning to the wall again.

“Oh, come on, nothing will happen to you, just having fun with your brother”

“Well...okay” – he replied. Danny wanted to sleep, not start an argument.

Next day, when Danny left the school, Rafie leant on a 78’ Chevy Corvette, he couldn’t

believe what he was seeing. It wasn’t that he liked the car, but it was fast and

promised a good run.

“Where are we going?” – he asked, jumping into the car.

“Do you like it?” – Rafie asked.

“Won’t we get the attention of… someone?” –his brother asked with fear.

Rafie laughed. “That’s the funniest part, bro!”

He started the car and pressed the accelerator. The car slipped softly on the road

leaving the school zone towards the highway.

“Where are we going, Rafie? I have to study”

“Do you have an appointment with the social worker, today?”

“No, not today, but I have to study, I told you yesterday”

“Good, don’t worry, it won’t take too much time, I only have to take the car to a place”

– Rafie said.

He drove for a while through the highway towards the north. Rafie played music and

Danny opened the window and closed his eyes feeling the breeze on his face. It was

hot, summer was arriving and he was preparing his last exams for this year.

“Shit!” – Rafie exclaimed, stepping on the gas.

Danny sighed, he knew that tone. It was always the same. He looked back to see a

police car approaching them. Rafie stepped hard on the gas, trying to make some

distance but he couldn’t.

“Come on, come on” – Rafie yelled.

Danny grasped the seat as the Rafie drove faster and faster. He started to feel sick...

When was he going to learn!.

The escape finished five minutes later in a crossroad when another police car stopped

their way.

Stolen car and drugs hidden in the wheel. Great. Danny remained leaning against the

police car as he saw his brother being handcuffed and put into the car. Rafie turned

his head to see him and Danny shook his head.

“What’s your name, kid?”- a policeman asked him.

“Danny”- he replied.

“What are you doing with him? Isn’t he a little old for you?” – he asked.

“He’s my brother”

“I see. Where are your parents?”

“I haven’t -”

The agent turned to his coworker and whispered him something. Danny already

knew what would happen next.

An hour later he was sat down in his social worker’s office, Alice Miller, as she read

the report the police had given her. Since a year and a half before, Rafael Alvarez had

lost the custody of his younger brother and he lived in group home, the social

services tried to direct Danny’s life, but he made things difficult. He was 14 years old

and despite the fact that she thought he had real possibilities, he always ruined them.

Well, she was only 10 months working with him.

“You won’t see your brother again” – she said vehemently.

“What?” – Danny yelled.

“You heard me. Danny, listen, I know you’re going to tell me he’s the only family you

have, but it isn’t true. Well, yes he’s your only family but he’s hurting you and

stopping your progress. I think you’re aware of this”.

“Rafie no... he protects me, he always protects me, he never would hurt me”.

“Rafie doesn’t want to hurt you, Danny, but his attitude is stopping your progress.

Danny, you... you’re a good student, you have a great opportunity but you have to

take it. You think we are punishing you but actually what we are doing is helping you

to progress, to get on with it. Why don’t you understand that?”

“I understand, Ms. Miller, but you’re the one who doesn’t understand. I can’t leave

Rafie”.

Alice Miller had entered in the Social Services three years before and when she was in

charge of Daniel Alvarez, other social workers had told her he was a lost cause. She

checked his file and she saw that before his parents died social services had acted a

lot of times and he had spent short time in group homes.

“Danny, your brother is 22 years and he’s going to prison for a long time”

“Because he stole a car?”

“Because he stole a car, because he escaped from the police, because there was a child

with him and because he carried drugs in the car... and it isn’t the first time. Listen,

I’m sorry to tell you like this but it’s necessary that you understand the real

situation”.

“Is... is the child me?”

“Danny, it isn’t your fault” – she said surprised before the boy’s reaction. “Listen,...I’ve

done an activities program for you, right? The school is close to ending and this

summer I want to start to work with some things we’ll practise next course”.

“Oh, I see, you’re leaving” – he said slowly.

“What?”

“You’re leaving, you’re tired and you’re going to quit”

“Why do you say that?”

“Last year the social worker in charge of me, told me about the activities program for

the summer... like you. Then, he quit. He left and he didn’t even say goodbye. He told

me the same things you’re telling me, I guess it’s what you have to say, but actually,

it’s just a job, it isn’t true, you don’t care about me, do you?”

Alice felt out of place with the maturity of the boy staring at her with a defiant look.

She was going to tell him that he was wrong when after some knocks on the door, this

one was opened.

“Sorry, Alice, you should come, just a moment. Hi Daniel. What are you doing?!”

Danny stared at that man he knew since he was a little child, the man responsible for

him for a while, taking him to the group home, to the Center, at home, the man

always arguing with his parents... Walter Grassmann.

“Walter no... right now, I can’t go” – Alice said with an upset look.

“I see, well, you’ll see later. Bye Daniel” – Grassman replied.

Alice waited for him to close the door and then she focused on Danny.

“I’m sorry, Danny” – she said. – “Danny, are you listening to me?”

He stared at the door, as he didn’t understand.

“Danny? Danny...”- Alice grabbed softly his arm to get his attention.

“Danny” – Martin whispered, aproaching the bed. He tripped and nearly fell. He

noticed that there was nothing on the bed, except his coworker moving, visibly

agitated.

Martin picked up a blanked and put over his coworker, as he called him, but Danny

didn’t awake. He sat down on the bed and softly grabbed his arm. “Danny, wake

up” – he said.

Danny opened his eyes with a start, and he met the worried expression of Martin.

For a moment he felt confused, but then he remembered where he was.

“Are you okay?” – Martin asked.

“Eh... yes... yes, I’m fine, I’m sorry. Have you woken up because of me?” – Danny

said with a sleepy voice.

“No, I was awake and I heard you” – Martin said. “You were in a middle of a fight”

Danny grimaced. “I’m sorry”.

“Don’t worry. Do you want to tell me?” – Martin asked.

“No, it’s ... it’s just I remembered something..., but, let it go. You should go to sleep”

“Are you sure?” – Martin asked worried.

“Sure, Martin. Come on, go away!” – Danny smiled.

“Okay”

At seven in the morning, Martin left home to go to work leaving a note for Danny.

Fortunately, after that conversation Danny hadn’t had another nightmare, or

Martin hadn’t noticed.

Danny let Martin go back to the couch and stayed on his back, well awake. The idea

that Walter Grassmann was always there had made him wide awake completely.

He tried to remember if he was there when he decided to change his name and

leave Miami. If he was right, Grassmann knew he wasn’t dead. An old opportunist

looking for fame and fast money. Things were changing quickly for Danny, it wasn’t

the desire to forget those images, forget the childhood that Paul Caster wanted him

to remember. No, it was the desire for revenge and justice that moved him right

now and his objective had a name: Walter Grassmann.

Somehow he fell asleep because he awoke when the apartment’s door was closed.

 

Chapter 13

 

April, 14th.

 

It was 10.30 when Jack entered the office. That morning had started early with a

new case on his desk, they didn’t have a break this time. He saw Danny talking

animatedly by phone and he felt amazed, it had been a long time ago since he had

seemed so well. Maybe it was time for him to join the team. He got his attention

with a hand to come to his office, while he walked there himself. He had been at

first light at the missing person’s wife house that became case NY-7 564235, Oliver

Elliott.

Danny was talking to Sylvia Marquez, she had called some minutes ago. She had

gone to Rikers to visit Rafie, who had left the medical zone, where he had stayed

since he left the hospital. He looked at Jack as he called him. He knew they had a

new case and nobody else was in the office. He hoped Jack would let him work

with them, he was bored with the old files and he felt better.

Mornings for Danny were always like that, everything seemed to be better, but as

the hours passed and the night was coming things turned around. Staying at

Martin’s apartment was good, they never talked about that particular subject and

Danny was glad Martin didn’t insist on it. Martin knew him well enough not to ask,

he knew Danny would talk when he wanted and his mere company was enough.

Danny said goodbye to Sylvia and went quickly towards Jack’s office, waving at

Vivian who was getting into the bullpen.

“Come in and sit down, Danny” – Jack said.

“What happened?” – Danny asked.

“Uhm... well, I think lately things are going better here... with your coworkers, I

mean” – Jack said.

“Yes, I think so too” – Danny agreed.

“How do you feel?”

Danny thought the answer through carefully, he knew it was important for getting

what he wanted.

“Pretty good, the nights are still a little problem. But, well, Martin is helping me

with it...”

“Martin?” – Jack raised an eyebrow.

“Yes, eh... well, he... we were talking and I told him about the TV program and well,

the nightmares and so on and as I can’t talk to Paul since he’s at a Congress for a

couple of weeks, Martin offered his apartment to me... so I’m not alone during the

nights and... well, I think it’s working out pretty well”.

“Well, I’m glad to hear it. It’s good that you told him, Danny. It says a lot about how

you’re dealing with this. It’s a good decision. What about the work... the files?”

“There are still about 12 to check, but I don’t think I’ll find out anything new. We

work too well, Jack”.

“Yes, it’s true”- Jack said opened a drawer. “Well, Danny. The files are over now,

take your gun. To start I want you to go with Vivian to interview Oliver Elliot’s

associates. Elliot is 42, married and the father of two little children. He has a real

estate business and a scared wife wondering why her husband didn’t come back

home last night. Sam is checking his accounts, Martin and Olivia are interviewing

his clients and Vivian and you will go to talk to his associates”.

Jack stood up and opened the door. “Viv”- he called. He explained the situation and

she and Danny left the building to the place Oliver Elliot worked.

“Well, I see Jack gave you his approval. Congratulations” – Vivian said.

“Yes, thanks. I was getting bored checking old cases” – Danny said. “But I’d have

liked to find something”

“Well, you found that woman, Catherine...”

“Alden, then Moses and later she got married and now lives in Texas?” – Danny

said. “Yes, I found her in some way”.

“It has to be complicated” – Vivian said.

“What?”

“Getting used to a different name. Was it difficult for you?”

“Uhm... well.. I repeated it during a whole day to make it mine. Then, it was easy. I

suppose I wanted to do it”.

“Was then when you stopped drinking?”

“No, it was before that, when I turned 18 and left Miami. I wanted to forget

everything, I left the city and changed my name. A total fresh start” – Danny said. It

was comfortable to talk to Viv now.

“And, did it work?”

“Well, it seemed to work at first but it wasn’t the way I needed it. I went on

drinking for a while until I decided to stop, after I missed the BAR exam”.

“Why did you drink again?”

“Something happened and I made the wrong decision. You have to keep your

strengh up to avoid the temptation and it’s a daily fight, Viv, even though you

remain sober for years. I’m not going to justify it, I won’t fall into that trap, but

there were too many coincidences and... it happened”.

“I know. Well, it’s here” – she said, turned off the car. “Let’s go to find out Oliver

Elliot’s associates have to tell us”

Viv and Danny entered the offices where they found four people at their desks as

working on their papers or talking to clients. The walls were decorated with

different pictures of plans and constructions. Viv and Danny headed for one of

them showing their ID.

“Agents Johnson and Taylor, we want to see Mr. Rutenberg and Mr. Stout”

“I’ll call them” – the young man they had talked to said. “Eh, by the way, Mr.

Rutenberg isn’t here”

“Don’t mind. We’ll talk to Mr. Stout” – Vivian said with a smile.

The young man headed for the back of the office and knocked on a door. Then he

opened. Danny and Vivian waited observing the office, it was spacious, shining and

new.

“Have you moved here recently?” – Danny asked to the employee when he came

back.

“Last month, we suffered a fire and the investigation and professional training take

its time. We can’t stop so we moved here”

“A fire? What happened?” – Danny got interested.

“They said we left a heater on. It could be” – he shrugged

“You should have lost documents, files...”

“Some things, but fortunately we have the computers, we could bring back almost

everything except the last promotion”.

“Agents Johnson and Taylor?” – they heard at their back.

Danny and Viv turned round. “I’m Clifford Stout, how can I help you?” – he said

holding out his hand.

Danny froze when he saw him. However, he tried to act as he never had seen him

before.

“I suppose you know about the disappearance of your associate, Mr. Elliot” – Vivian

started.

“Yes, his wife called me this morning. I don’t know what to tell you” – he said with a

worried expression.

“To start, when was the last time you saw him?” – Viv asked with a smile.

“Eh, well... yesterday, we left the office about 22.00. We went to have a drink in

front of here” – Stout said pointing a place in the other side of the street.

“And what did you do then?” – Vivian asked again.

“Why are you asking me that? Am I a suspect of something? Because Oliver and I

have been friends for a long time, I’d never hurt him” – Stout said frowning.

“Well, then you won’t have any problem answering my question”- Vivian insisted.

“I was... I was with some friends” – he said finally, smirking and looking at Danny,

who paled slightly.

Vivian noticed the situation, noting the silence of her coworker. ‘What’s happening

here?’ she thought.

“Their names, please” – Vivian said.

“Eh...I can’t... I can’t tell you” – he said.

“Listen, Mr. Stout”- Vivian said – “your associat didn’t come back home last night

and probably you are the last person that saw him. If you haven’t a good alibi, you

should know that you are the prime suspect...”

“Eh, come on, please, look, I’m married, if my wife knows about this...”

“We aren’t interested in your life Mr. Stout and we won’t say anything to your wife,

we only want to find Mr. Elliott and we want to know what you did last night to

reject you as a suspect, just that.”

“I was with some friends, as I told you...”

“Where?”

“In Rex Club”

Danny closed his eyes. This couldn’t be happening.

“With?” – Vivian asked.

“With Thomas Peterson, the owner of the club. But, please, don’t tell my wife. She...

she wouldn’t understand”.

“I can imagine. We’ll check it. If your alibi is good, we aren’t interested in you, Mr.

Stout. What you do with your private life isn’t any of our business, we only want to

find your associate”.

“Okay, I hope you’ll find him”- he said.

“Do you know if Elliott has financial problems, some risky investment...?” Vivian

asked.

“Well, he was going to take charge on a new promotion on Tribeca. Pete wasn’t

sure about it and I already have three others so I couldn’t”

“Pete is your other associate” – Vivian said.

“Yes, he’s in LA, a family matter”.

“Which is what?”

“Eh, his sister died some days ago. You can check it, if you want, I’ll give you his

phone number” – Stout said.

“Yes, we’ll take the documents about that promotion Elliott was going to work in”-

Vivian said.

“Of course, but I hope you won’t keep them for a long time”

“That depends on the investigation, Mr. Stout”

“I see. Well, I’ll go pick them up. Wait a moment, please”

Clifford Stout went back to his office as Viv and Danny waited patiently.

“Is everything okay, Danny?” – Vivian asked.

“Yes” – he replied.

“You didn’t say anything. Do you know that guy?”

“No” – Danny replied.

Vivian wasn’t convinced. Something was wrong but she couldn’t guess what.

However, she couldn’t ask him again, because Clifford Stout approched them with

the documents they had asked for.

“Well, this is all what I found. I hope it is useful”- he said.

“Thank you, Mr. Stout”- Vivian said.

“You’re welcome. By the way Daniel, have you thought about investing in real

estate business? I assure you it’s very lucrative”

Vivian looked in surprise at her coworker, who was pale like a sheet. ‘Then, he

does know him’

“I thought you were a stock broker” – Danny said sharply. Immediately he realized

his mistake but it was late.

“Well, you know in that place nobody is what they say. By the way, it’s been a long

time since I’ve seen you there. Do you know that Joey took your place?” – Clifford

Stout said.

Danny didn’t reply. He was frozen. Vivian looked at him not understanding.

“He isn’t as good as you. I noticed that you gave him your motorbike, he has your

room as well, but it isn’t the same as you, Daniel. You were special, I knew when I

saw you in that police station... the same eyes, the same look... you were that boy

from Grassmann’ program, weren’t you?” – Clifford said smirking.

Danny clenched his fists in rage.

“Yes, yes... boys like you are usually great. But you left the place running away like

a scared girl at the first inconvenience... What happened? Did you get scared?”-

Clifford was laughing.

The smile froze half a second later when he found himself against the wall. With a

hand, Danny had held him by his collar and pulled him against the wall. The other

hand held his gun barely two inches from Stout’s head. The rage Stout saw in that

young man’s eyes, scared him so much. He knew that Daniel wouldn’t hesitate to

press the trigger.

Almost at the same time Danny reacted like that, Vivian pulled out her gun yelling

“Danny, drop the gun! Let Stout go! Let him go!”

As she pointed at Danny, Vivian thought that Danny had to react or he was in

serious trouble. No, he was in trouble right now, harassing a witness like that. She

blamed Jack, he was wrong giving him his gun, rejoining him the team. She didn’t

have any idea what Stout was talking about, but some strange thoughts were

coming to her mind.

“Listen guy”- Stout muttered – “It was just a joke, okay. I didn’t want to say that, I

know it went too far...”

Danny put down the safety catch of his gun and Clifford was dumbstruck.

“Danny please, drop the gun” – Vivian said approaching him a little more.

Danny didn’t look away from Clifford, he wasn’t aware of his surroundings only of

Clifford Hewings, no, Clifford Stout, the man who took him to Rex Club. But then he

heard Vivian’s voice.

“Danny, please, give me your gun” – Vivian said, beside him, putting her hand on

his. But Danny couldn’t drop his gun. “Danny, give me your gun” – she repeated in a

soft but firm tone. He relaxed the grip and Vivian took it. Finally, he let Stout go and

left the place quickly.

“Look for a good woman, Danny, that’s what you need!” – Stout yelled at him, once

he felt safe.

“Shut up!” – Vivian said.

“What?” – Stout exclaimed. “Your coworker is in serious trouble when I report this,

agent... Johnson”

Vivian left the place leaving Stout still talking. At least, they had got some

information, but she was going to talk to her coworker right now. She looked

around not seeing him but then she looked at the place where they left the car and

saw him, leant against it with his arms crossed, looking at her. Vivian shook her head

and crossed the street.

“I’m sorry, Viv”- it was the first she heard from him.

But she was too much angry, she had too many questions in her head for a ‘I’m

sorry’.

“What the hell were you thinking about, Danny?” – she yelled.

“I don’t... I don’t know... I...” – he started.

“Don’t you know? Oh yes, Danny you know pretty well. I asked you if you knew him

and you told me noooooo. I asked you if you were okay and you told me yeeees.

But something was wrong and you knew him. I don’t know what happened

between you both but you’ve just pointed a gun on an innocent man giving us

information about a case and now we are in trouble. What do you want me to tell

Jack, Danny? Damn it, he trusted you, he gave your gun back and your work and the

first thing you do is use it against a witness!”

“Viv...”

“No, Danny, I told you before and I tell you now. If you aren’t ready for this, it

would be better to quit, I don’t like you playing with the life of others and much

less mine. I appreciate you and I want things to go well, but me and my family are

my priority”.

“I understand” – he said. He couldn’t do anything else, it was clear he had messed

everything up, but he couldn’t keep his nerves before Hewing’s, not Stout’s words.

It had been easy, so easy, to lose control. It was sure that if Clifford reported him,

his work as an FBI agent had ended and what Jack had did because of him fell

down. He had told him he wouldn’t come back and it was true, he didn’t come back

to the club and he didn’t drink anymore, he worked hard with Paul Caster, went to

AA meetings and now he was receiving Martin’s help, too. But, even he didn’t

expect a reaction like that, he didn’t expect to meet Clifford Hewings and he had

provoke him. If he hadn’t opened his stupid mouth, but he had to open it and

Danny couldn’t help but react like that. From the beginning Clifford knew who

Danny was and he played just the play Clifford wanted never noticing it.

“Stay here. I’m going to check Stout’s alibi in the bar”.

After a moment, Vivian came back and got into the car. Before she started the car,

she made a call.

“Jack, it’s Vivian. We’ve interviewed one of Elliott’s associated, Stout. The other one

is in LA, his sister died some days ago. I have the documents of a promotion Elliott

was working about. Stout told us his associat didn’t want to accept it because it

was a bit risky, maybe he’s in trouble with those people”

“Well, what about Stout?”

“He said he was with Elliot in a bar in front of his place, which I’ve checked and it’s

true. Then they separated, apparently Elliott came back home and Stout went to a

club he used to go to”.

“Have you checked that alibi?”

“No, I was going to do it now, but... eh, could you send Sam or Martin there?”

“Why?”- Jack asked in surprised.

“No, eh... I have to come back to the office. We have to talk” – Vivian said, looking at

Danny still out of the car, in the same position she had found him.

“Okay, give me the address and I’ll send... Olivia. Martin and Sam are with other

things”.

“It’s Rex Club, in Queens”

Jack stop writing and he couldn’t help but ask. “Is Danny there?”

“Yes, what’s up, Jack?”

“Nothing, it’s nothing, come back here. I’ll go to that Club. Check the construction

company of that promotion”.

“Okay” – Vivian said.

Viv cut off the call. That Club had to do something with Danny and Jack knew it. She

didn’t know what to think, better, she decided stop thinking. It would be the best.

“Danny!” – she called – “Are you going to stay there all day or are you going to get

into the car?”

Danny got into the car without a word. He remained silent for a long time. His head

was pounding, he couldn’t stop thinking about what had happened for the last

weeks, everything because of a stupid TV program he had the bad luck to watch.

All his life has become a mess because of that Grassmann, and nothing made sense

for him.

After a while, the tension in the car was unbereable and Danny decided to talk.

“Have you talked to Jack?” – he asked.

“Yes, I’ve talked to him”- Vivian said, in a surprisingly calm tone. “He wants us to

come back to the office and check the construction company”

“Are you going to tell him what happened?”

“Clifford Stout told me he was going to report it, so, I think it will be better if Jack

knows by us before Olczyk calls him, don’t you think so?”

“I don’t think Hew.. Stout report it.”

“Do you know him so well?”

“Enough”

“Does it have something to do with that club?”

“Viv, no... don’t ask me that now, please”- Danny said in a tone of contained rage,

Vivian felt it instantly. She decided not to talk, by now.

“Okay, I won’t ask you, but I’ll tell Jack”

“Okay, it’s fair”

“Right”

After that conversation they didn’t talk about that, actually, they didn’t talk about

anything else until they were in the office working.

“It seems Oliver Elliott got 150,000 dollars out of his account, yesterday morning”

– Sam said, joining her coworkers. “I’ve been checking his records and during the

last six weeks he had been getting 25,000 dollars in his account every week”.

“Where is the money coming from?” – vivian asked.

“I don’t know, he did the deposit, in cash. Maybe the construction company was

blackmailing him”- Sam said.

“Yes, Stout said his other associate didn’t like that promotion” – Vivian said.

“He could have gotten the money out and run away. But where?” – Sam asked.

“Are you sure the wife doesn’t know anything? Maybe she’s protecting him...”

“Danny, she reported his disappearance”- Vivian said.

“I know, but maybe she’s protecting herself too. If that construction company

thinks she doesn’t know anything, they won’t try to hurt her” – he explained.

“What it means is that she won’t give us enough information” – Sam said frowning.

“Or the information she gave us is false” – Danny said.

“But, it’s possible he had been caought before to run away. He could be in trouble,

took the money out to run away but the others guessed his movements and he’s

been taken somewhere” – Vivian said.

“They will try to recuperate their investment... maybe... maybe putting pressure on

the associate?” – Sam said. “I’ll look for information about that company... Is there

some concrete person related to Elliott?”-

“Yes, Phil Stanton” – Danny said.

“Well” – Sam typed the name on the computer. “Oh surprise, surprise, he got a

record for blackmailing in 1996. He got out of prison four years ago”.

“We’ll have to visit that guy” – Vivian said.

Martin and Olivia came into the bullpen, they hadn’t got too much information and

they hoped their coworkers had found something. Both were amazed seing Danny

working the case.

“Have you got anything?” – Olivia asked.

“It seems Elliot was being blackmailed by a guy called Phil Stanton, his contact wih

the construction company of a promotion he was working. His associates didn’t

take that promotion, one of them because he didn’t trust them.” – Sam informed

them.

“Where’s Jack?” – Martin asked.

“He left to confirm Elliott’s associate’s alibi, Clifford Stout. He’s the last one to see

Elliott, they had a drink last night and then he left for a Club in Queens, Rex Club,

with some friends”.

Martin glanced at Danny. “Do you think Stout is connected with Elliott’s

disappearance?”

“I don’t think so”- Vivian said. “They were friends for a long time. Stout was

worried about his coworker and he gave us the information without any...

problem” – Vivian finished remembering the situation.

At that moment, Jack arrived and joined them. “Well Stout’s alibi is good. What

happened to Elliott happened after they left that bar. What do you have about the

construction company?”

“The construction company asked for a promotion to Elliott. His associates didn’t

want to take it because Stout had other projects and Rutenberg didn’t like those

people” – Vivian started.

“Elliot got 150,000 dollars out of his account the day of his disappearance”- Sam

explained- “during the last 6 weeks he got 25,000 dollars deposited in that account,

every week, in cash, just the money he got out last night. Surely it’s from that

company”.

“Well, he was being blackmailed. Why?”

“We’ve found out his contact, a guy called Phil Stanton, has a record for blackmail

from 1996. He got out of prison four years ago”.

“Well, let’s go talk to him” – Jack said. “Martin, come with me”.

“Jack, I want to talk to you for a moment in your office” – Vivian cut him, walking

towards Jack’s office.

“Yes, eh... Mart...” – Jack started.

“Now, Jack, it will be only one moment” – she said.

“Okay, right” – he said and walked behind her.

Danny looked at Vivian shaking his head. Martin approached him. “What

happened?”

“Jack is going to kill me” – Danny muttered.

“What are you saying? Why? Come on, this is just a coincidence...”

Sam and Olivia had left to the break room.

“What do people do in that club Stout doesn’t want to tell his wife?” – Olivia asked.

“Rex Club is a men’s club”- Sam explained – “It’s a place frequented by certain kind

of men, you know, politicians, Wall Street workers. It’s discrete, nobody asks and of

course, they use false names”.

“A bachelors club?” – Olivia asked.

“Just for men” – Sam pointed out.

“Oh, I understand. There are a lot of those in San Francisco”- Olivia said. “Most

people think it’s just for gays but it’s not like that. Many men want to do things

their wives aren’t willing to do and they go to those places. The curious thing is

that the wives know about it but don’t care. They don’t care because they are all

men, if the sexual contact was with a woman, things would be different, it would

be infidelity”

“Really?” – Sam asked in surprised.

“Yes, we have some cases connected to that world. I couldn’t believe it. But one of

the women talked to me and I tried to understand the situation. At first, they felt

humiliated when their husband demanded a specific thing they didn’t want to do.

Then when they left home to go to those clubs, they felt worse, surely someone

asked for divorce at that moment, but other women, like the case I worked, looked

at the other hand. They had a good economic position, wonderful houses, the kids

studying in good schools... and their husbands didn’t ask them to do anything else

anymore. And, like I told you, being with other men, they didn’t consider it

competition, it was like an... extra” – Olivia explained.

“It makes a certain sense” – Sam said not very convinced.

“This is very curious too, lots of people who work in those clubs turn out to be

men, young people with problems of sex addiction, or guys whose fathers abused

on them during their childhood” – Olivia said.

“I see you dug deep in the matter” – Sam said.

“Yes, well I know about it. The problem is that some of the clients are potential

pedophiles, but instead of letting off steam, if you want to call it that, with their

own siblings or kidnapping kids from the parks, they visit those clubs. So the

paradox is that those who were sexually abused during their childhood are helping

other kids to not suffer the same. But they don’t know that. They are there, usually,

for one reason, to forget, or simply because they suffer a sexual disorder. Yes, I’ve

read about the subject” – Olivia said, thoughful, thinking suddenly that, maybe she

had talked too much.

“Jack studied psychology”- Sam commented Olivia. “Have you studied something

like that?”

“No, actually I haven’t. I always knew clearly what I wanted to do”

“And how is it that you know so much about that subject?”

“It’s .... it’s personal”- Olivia said.

“Oh, well, I’m sorry I didn’t want..” – Sam started.

“Don’t mind, actually it isn’t my problem. It affected my family, my parents, but...

it’s over”.

“Why did you leave San Francisco?”

“I was born in New York, but my parents divorced, my mum got my custody and

we left for San Francisco. Years later my father got married again and he had a new

family. My mum was depressed so I thought it would be better if I stayed with her.

Last year, she died and after some months, I thought seriously about coming back

here and meeting that other family I have, so, I asked for a transfer and I’m here”.

“Oh, I’m sorry about your mum”

“Yes, well, she .... actually was never happy. She suffered abuse when she was at

school, it was a teacher and I think she was affected by it all her life or, at least,

most part of it, but she tried to overcome it. She told me some things, enough to

understand, but it was only five years ago. She never told nobody, not even dad. I

think their marriage was affected by it... it affected everything. Then I started to get

interested in the sexual abuses during childhood, its consequences on the family

setting, the child’s emotional development... some of them become pedophiles, or

visit clubs like Rex as clients or workers... it’s... a complicated world”.

“A couple of months ago, there was a TV program about that, do you remember?

We used it to find two sisters. One of them was missing for five years”- Sam said.

 

Chapter 14

 

“I did a stupid thing” – Danny whispered.

“What’s that?” – Martin asked, once the woman left the bullpen.

“We went to talk to that Stout. Do you remember the guy who took me to the Rex?

It was him, I didn’t know, I wouldn’t have gone if I had known” – Danny said

nervously.

“What did you do?” – Martin asked expecting for the worst. He couldn’t believe

what he was listening to.

“He started it.”

“What? Great, Danny, he was a witness, Vivian was there and you weren’t able to

control your nerves. What did you do?”

“I... I pressured him a little... okay, okay, let me explain,” – Danny said watching

Martin’s expression – “I put him against the wall and pointed my gun to his face... I

only wanted to scare him, he had that stupid smile...”

“Well, you made an intelligent decision” – Martin said upset.

“He insulted me” – Danny screamed.

“And what, Danny? Why do you mind what that guy says? Are you going to put

your work at risk because of that guy?”

“I couldn’t stop”

“Good defense” – Martin was really angry at his coworker.

“I’m sorry, it was.. it was bad luck to run into this now, just now”- Danny said.

“Listen, no... it can’t be like this, Danny. You have to talk to Jack”

“Probably he already knows, Vivian told me she would talk to him”- Danny said

looking at Jack’s office, where the discussion didn’t seem friendly, judging by the

body language of both agents.

“Fine”- Martin said, looking at the same direction. “Shit, Danny!”. He shook his head

not knowing if he should be angry with his friend or what.

“Vivian, calm down. Listen, please, don’t tell anybody about this, I’ll talk to him,

right?” – Jack was telling Viv after she tell him about the incident.

“Jack, what are you saying? You are putting your work at risk...”

“It’s Danny, Viv”

“Okay, it’s Danny, but if this happens in a situation where one of our lives is in

danger and something happens because he loses control, what will you do, Jack? Is

Danny more important that any of us, any hostage, any missing person we have to

find?”

Jack remained silent. He knew Vivian was right but he knew why Danny had

reacted like that.

“Well, Viv, I’m the responsible for this. I won’t put anyone’s life at risk, but I ask,

not as boss, but as friend, don’t tell. Some day... Some day you’ll know more than

now about Danny, but I can’t tell you, much less in this moment. I don’t know if this

is enough for you, but it’s the only thing I can offer to you” – Jack said.

“What will happen if Clifford Stout reported what happened, Jack?”

“I don’t think he’ll do it”

“Good, if you say so. We’re wasting time, we have to find Mr. Elliott” – Vivian said in

a bad mood.

She turned back and left the office.

Jack left behind her and headed for the conference table where the rest of the team

were checking the documents of the construction company Oliver Elliott got the

money from.

Olivia and Sam left the break room and headed for their desks.

At that moment they saw Vivian leaving Jack’s office and then Jack walking

towards them. Vivian headed for her desk and sat down putting her hands on her

face. Sam looked at her worriedly and then saw Jack approaching to them. “What

happened?”, Sam asked.

“It’s nothing. Martin, come with me, we’re going to talk to Stanton. I think that guy

has a lot of things to say” – he told Martin.

“Sure” – Martin said picking up his jacket.

“Danny, go home” – Jack said before leaving.

“What?” – he asked in surprise.

“I want you to go home, now”- Jack said looking directly to his eyes.

Danny held Jack’s gaze for a moment and then turned to Vivian, looking at him. He

was out, he was out of the case and probably out of the team. Again.

“Alright” – he muttered. He picked up his jacket and his bag.

“See you tomorrow” – he said quietly.

“See you, Danny” – Sam said.

“Take care” – Olivia said.

“First, think what you are going to do, Danny” – Vivian said from her desk.

Danny looked at her. “I will, Viv, I will” – he said.

“What happened, Viv?” – Sam asked, when Danny, Martin and Jack left the office.

Vivian hesitated to tell them but finally, she thought that maybe they have right to

know what had happened that morning. So she told them about Danny and the

conversation she had with Jack.

“I always thought that what happened to Danny hadn’t anything to do with the

drink” – Sam said – “There is something else and Jack knows, Viv. What I don’t

understand is the reason for remaining silent”.

“He said he can’t, he recognizes there is something else with Danny, but he can’t

tell me and much less now. Those were his words”- Vivian said.

“I hate to tell this” – Olivia said – “You know, I... I am the last one here and maybe,

because of the fact that I don’t know you as well, I see other things, little things that

maybe you didn’t notice”.

“Like the mineral water’s bottle?” – Sam said. “You put your finger on it”.

“Yes, it was a blunder. I shouldn’t have said anything, but I was amazed to see him,

it was a silly thing. Well the truth is that I was thinking about the motorbike, it was

wonderful”.

“He didn’t ride it anymore”

“He told me he sold it because it brought him bad memories, he said. Well, look.

Maybe this is incredible but... could Danny be connected to that club?”

“No way” – Sam said immediately.

“No... I don’t know, Sam” – Viv said thoughful. “Clifford Stout knew him and jugding

by the things he said... I’m afraid it could be possible”. Clifford Stout’s words getting

that strange reaction out of Danny still pounded in her head.

“What did he say?” – Sam asked alarmed.

“It’s possible Jack knew something about it, I don’t know for sure, you can’t trust

those people, but it seemed like Danny had been in that club”.

“Viv, it’s Danny!” – Sam almost yelled.

“Yes, I’ve heard that before, Sam. It’s Danny and it’s the reason I don’t want to

believe it. Do you know what? Now... Now I remember... maybe this has nothing to

do but... oh, my god, it can’t be.... it can’t be...” Vivian said obviously nervious. A

dark presentiment had came to her mind, as she realized something.

“What’s up?”

Vivian lifted her hand asking for silence as her mind worked quickly connecting

facts and dates. She turned to her computer and typed some words. She got the

results of a case from a couple of months and revised some things.

“Olivia, you’ll remember this better than me because I think it was your first case

with us”.

“Owen’s sister case, I remember. Danny said something about the TV, it was a silly

thing but then it was the right lead. I was very impressed”.

“Yes... yes... Danny said some things about that program... he said...” Vivian started

trying to remember.

“Lately it was dangerous to watch the TV. Then, he apologized but Jack went to

check the schedule”. Olivia said. “I remember because I thought Danny talked not

thinking about what he was talking and the fact that Jack took his words as a lead,

in spite of it being a silly thing”.

“He argued about that program with Martin” – Sam said.

“Yes” – Vivian – “Do you remember what program was?”

“I think it’s the one where that man who’s become so famous lately takes part...

Walter... Grassmann, I think” – Olivia said – “By the way, the other day, Danny was

looking at the TV in a strange way as his hand was trembling, and Jack looked at

him worried. I remember I asked if there wasn’t any other channel to select

because I saw Danny very shocked. I think there was a preview of that program...

something about twins, or something.”

“You have a good memory” – Sam said.

“I use to see those things” – Olivia said.

“Clifford Stout told Danny he had recognized him on TV... on Walter Grassmann’s

program”- Vivian said slowly.

“Danny on TV? When?” – Sam asked.

“He said something like ‘you were the kid on Grassmann’s program’. Then Danny

pounced on him”

“That program... that program was about sexual abuse in childhood, there was a

controversial video they were talking about for days, it was cruel and real, it was a

real family which members died except one who was in prison” – Olivia said

slowly.

“Rafie” – Vivian muttered. His name came easily to her but she wasn’t sure why.

“I... I didn’t see that program. When we checked the videos looking for Owen’s

sister, they were the programs after that, weren’t they?” – Sam said.

“Yes, they were talking about that specific program for days” – Olivia said.

“I didn’t see it, either, I don’t watch those programs. Did you see it, Olivia?” – Vivian

asked.

“Yes. I’ve just had to put my things in order in my new apartmente and sat down on

my couch to rest and watch the TV. It was unpleasant and sad, not only the images,

it was what they said about them”.

“It was the same period Danny was so bad because of his brother, do you

remember?” – Sam said.

“Yes, more or less, maybe there was anything else and maybe his brother... but...

what happened to Rafie?”- Vivian asked.

“I don’t know, I only know he was in coma. I think he’s okay now, but they were

pretty worried for a while” – Sam said.

“Do you think Danny is one of the kids of the video?” – Olivia said suddenly with a

broken voice.

“Maybe” – Vivian said. “at least it was what Stout told him. And Rafie could be the

one in prison”.

“No, no. Danny isn’t dead, Grassmann said that all of them were dead”.

“Danny changed his name and left Miami” – Vivian said – “Maybe the files of Social

services reported he died. He just wanted a fresh start, a new life far from there”.

“Oh, my god” – Olivia muttered – “Is that Rafie older or younger than Danny?”

“Older, he is about 8 years older than Danny” – Sam said – “Why?”

“Oh, my god” – Olivia repeated covering her face with her hands as she

remembered those images. “Oh, my god” she said again unable to say anything else.

“Olivia” – Vivian said holding her hand.

Vivian and Sam sat down beside her. They were worried, they hadn’t see the

images but they were picturing the situation.

“It wasn’t just the images, they talked about them.... they were dead, so they talked

freely, analizing the reactions, critizing them, justifying some acts. Grassmann

explained the mother’s reaction of denying the facts in spite of it was her own son

suffering the abuse, but she never testified against her husband because of fear

and... how they allowed that?” – Olivia said, but she couldn’t go on, as the tears

rolled on her checks thinking about her own mother.

Sam and Vivian remained silent not knowing what to say.

“Where’s Danny?” – Olivia suddenly asked.

“Jack sent him at home” – Vivian said.

“No, call him, he has to come back” – Olivia said – “He can’t... he can’t to be alone, it

could be dangerous for him”

“Olivia, you’re scaring me, what do you know?” Sam asked.

“His cell is off” – Vivian said, dialling his home’s number.

“I couldn’t see it because his father had the decency to close the door, but... but we

could hear his screams and when the door was opened, the little boy escape and

hid behind his older brother, his pants still down and his father was doing up his

belt. It was clear what had happened. Both brothers ran away from home. The next

we saw was the father pulling the tablecloth and the plates and glasses shattered

on the floor”.

“Nobody answers at home” – Vivian said.

“Who was the one recording those images?” – Sam asked.

“Social Services, they were doing a study”

“But, didn’t do anything?”

“Yes, yes they did, but if the mother didn’t report the abuse, they couldn’t protect

them”.

“But, the doctors... they would see some kind damage”

“It was a long time ago, Sam. Then law was different, it was what Grassmann

explained. A lot of people called asking for just that, do you remember when we

were checking the calls looking for Susan Owen?”

“Oh my god, if it’s is like that...” – Sam said.

The three of them remained silent not knowing what to do or think about it.

“Jack knows” – Vivian said. “I’m sure he knows and he is protecting him. It

happened something that day he called asking for Martin, when Danny was 10

days in rehab. He told us Danny was drinking again, but it happened because of

something else. Stout said something like he had run away scared of something,

like a scared girl, he said. Probably, it was that day, what the hell was Danny doing

there?”

“Where do you think he could be now?” – Sam asked.

“He isn’t at home and his cell is off. Maybe he went to visit his brother, Rafie?” –

Vivian suggested.

“I’ll called Rikers” – Sam said, looking for the number of the prison.

Olivia went to take a bottle of water. She needed to calm down, all of that had made

her to think about her mum, about what she had suffered.

How long Danny was going to that club? It was the question Vivian had in mind.

She remembered his coworker’s last months, the change of attitude, his constant

bad mood, his tiredness they always connected to his brother’s problem, the lies.

She also remembered how they had ignored him when he came back... it had to be

painful and difficult for him, he couldn’t say anything, so Jack tried to soften the

situation, joining him to the group little by little, waiting for his own behaviour

make things come back to the usual. Jack knew him pretty well, he knew Danny

would react to what had happened to him, and sooner or later, the rest of them

would be back to normal, as it happened. Maybe his torment started that day,

watching that program. If what Olivia had said was right, he had to be broken. She

wanted him to be there to hug him, to put her arms around him and tell him ‘don’t

worry, you’re safe here, with us, nobody else will hurt you, you have to forget

everything... but no. She had confronted him, she had talked to Jack and Jack had

sent him at home... alone. Where was he? What was he doing?

“He didn’t go to Rikers, either” – Sam said.

“We have to find out where he is”. Vivian muttered.

Olivia remained alone at her desk playing distractely with her bottle, her mind in

another place, far from there.

Danny left the office not knowing where to go. He could go home, but he didn’t

want to be alone. He knew he was near to losing his job, near to everything being

known, but Jack still trusted him although he didn’t deserve his trust. He had

messed everything up, what Jack had done for him, what Martin was doing for him.

He couldn’t say it had been the bad luck of seeing Clifford Hew... Stout, he hadn’t

any excuse, if he had taken his nerves under control, none of this would have

happened. But he had been stupid, when Clifford told him he had recognized him

in that damn program... that Grassmann. He would never do it again, never.

When he finally came back to himself, Danny was sitting in a bar, with a glass of

whiskey in his hand. He drank it in a gulp and asked for another one. Then another

one and finally he found the strengh he needed. He hadn’t anything to lose, he had

lost everything, but well, someone was going to pay for it, not only him. The

previous days, he had obtained from the data base some information about Walter

Grassmann, he knew where he lived, where he worked and his routine. He just had

to wait for his opportunity.

When Jack and Martin came back to the office, they entered with Oliver Elliott, still

confused. Stanton had stopped him at the exit of the bar with the intention of

killing him, after Elliott told them he refused to the blackmailing, but he couldn’t do

it. Instead he locked him in some empty apartment the construction company

owned. Maybe he could obtain something from the associates.

“Well” – Martin said, dropping the jacked. “Case closed. Stanton is writing his

confession” – he said to the women. “What... what’s going on? – he asked noticing

their serious and worried faces.

“We’ve found out something” – Sam said slowly.

“And?” – he asked.

“It’s about Danny” – Vivian said.

“What happened with him?” – Martin asked.

“Don’t you know it?” – Sam asked.

“Know what?” – Martin was pretty sure they had found out something about the

club but he didn’t want to tell.

“The club, Danny in that club, Grassmann’s videos” – Sam said.

“Eh... well, I” – he started, not knowing what to say. It was obvious somehow they

knew something. Maybe what Stout said... “Well, I see you’ve done good work” – he

sighed. “Well, I knew the whole story some days ago. Danny... he told me”.

“What Danny was doing in that club? How long was he there?” – Vivian asked.

“Everything started after that program. He... I think he tried to solve his problem

and he couldn’t, I’m not going to tell specifics, Viv, I don’t think it’s necessary, he

didn’t tell me, either, but I know he was working in the club for about a month”.

“Working... so...” Sam started.

Martin nodded. “The night we found Andrew’s boy, Danny had a problem at the

club. Someone drugged him and... well they abused him. Danny realized then he

couldn’t go on like that and went to look for his brother. He arrived at Sylvia’s

home, she called the ambulance and Jack and Jack called me that morning. He had

found a card from Rex club in Danny’s wallet and the doctor had told him

something. Jack thought what happened to Danny had to do with that club so we

went and found out what he was doing. He had his own room with his personal

effects, his clothes. The guy told us he usually spent the night there and left to go at

work in the mornings” – he paused. Nobody said a word. “Then, Jack found out the

rest, he saw the videos and recognized Danny’s parents by that picture on his desk”

– Martin picked up the little picture of Danny and his parents and showed them.

“Yes, they are” – Olivia muttered.

“Danny is getting psychological treatment and he’s doing well, but the nights are...

complicated. Lately he’s living at my apartment, to be with someone else and I can

assure you the nightmares plagues his sleep every night. It’s... it’s terrible, I don’t

know how he can deal with it. He says it’s normal for him, he always had them, but

now is worse because his phsychologist is bringing up all the old memories he

wanted to forget because he says Danny has to confront them to solve his

problems. If he doesn’t, episodes like this can be repeated in any moment” – Martin

explained.

“I think we have a problem” – Sam said – “Jack sent Danny home and we can’t get

ahold of him. When we realized what had happened, we called him, even called to

see if he went Rikers, but his cell is off, nobody answers the phone at home and he

didn’t go to Rikers”.

“Danny likes to walk and he used to go to a specific place when he felt bad.

Probably he switched the cell off to not be disturbed” – Martin said.

“Can you put your fingers on it?” – Olivia asked.

“Actually... actually I can’t. I know it’s what he does when we have a complicated

case, but right now... right now I’m not sure” – he admitted.

 

April, 14th. 19.00 h.

 

Walter Grassmann left his office and headed for the parking lot where his car was.

In his briefcase, he carried the plot of the program, he had been preparing that

afternoon. He liked the work, he collaborated with channel 8 since a friend

working there told him about ‘Life’s stories’. Walter wasn’t a psychologist but he

had worked all his life in social services and he had a lot of experience, a personal

interest in subjects connected to human behaviour, that had helped him at work.

He took this new experience as something to busy his relaxed life, after he retired.

He got also the economic benefits and he was glad to be known on the streets,

always getting good words because of his work, and even though he found people

telling him their problems maybe waiting for him to answer them with words to

help them. He loved helping people, it was what he had done all his life and do it

from a TV program, was great.

Grassmann took out the keys of the car and opened it leaving the briefcase on the

trunk. When he was going to get into the car, he noticed someone at his back and

something metallic against his side. Grassmann froze.

“Get into the car”

“Listen” – He started not turning around. “My wallet is in my jacket, you can take it

but please, don’t .... don’t hurt me”.

Walter remembered it was good to identify with the man, telling him his name,

because it personified the person, helped to the deliquent to see the person as

human and the atack was more difficult, but it didn’t work always. “My name is...”

he started.

But his assailant interrupted him, pressing the gun against his side. “I know your

name, get into the car and don’t do something stupid”.

Walter got into the car and saw his assailant getting into the back, pointing at him

with a gun. He had seen him never before, and the fact he didn’t hide his face

worried him. “Start the engine, we’re going to take a ride” – the man told him.

“Listen, I have to go to the station. They are waiting for me in 30 minutes. If I don’t

go, someone will get very nervous and they will start to look for me...” – Grassmann

said, leaving the garage.

“Don’t worry about that. Come on,... eh, take that way”.

“Where are we going?”

“We’ll go to a quiet place where we can talk”

Walter was driving for about 40 minutes, before the guy ordered to stop in front a

building at Queens.

“Well” – he said, getting out the car. “Get out, we’ll take a walk for a while. Don’t try

anything, I won’t hesitate to pull the trigger”.

Walter left the car with trembling legs. He didn’t see the gun, but surely that guy

hid it under his jacket and pointed it at him. He grabbed his arm and they walked

together as colleagues. Some people recognized him, but Walter couldn’t stop or

say anything. Who was that guy and what did he want? It wasn’t very intelligent, it

was sure that when the program started without him and someone asked for him,

this people had recognized him, would call to say where they saw him and give a

description of that guy.

Martin called Danny over and over. First at his cell, then at his own apartment and

finally at home, but nobody answered the call.

They were sitting down around the conference table. None of them had left the

building since they had been made aware what their coworker could be feeling.

They had called Sylvia, they had checked his email, called the hospital, Jack had

gone to the bar where they used to meet after work some days, but nobody knew

about him.

“Grassmann” – Martin, said suddenly.

“What about him?” – Jack asked.

“Lately, Danny was very obsessed with him. He told me he had to do something...

maybe he has met him to talk to him”. He said.

Jack picked up the phone and called Channel 8.

“They are waiting for him two hours ago but they don’t know anything. They have

called at his office, his home, the cell... nothing” – Jack told his coworkers once he

got the information.

“It’s 22.30” – Martin said glanced at the TV always on. “They are airing

commercials. 15 minutes ago, the program was supposed to start”.

“I can’t... I can’t believe Danny has taken that man” – Sam said.

At that moment Martin’s cell started to ring. He looked at the screen and got pale.

“It’s Danny” – he said before answering.

 

Chapter 15

 

“Danny, where are you?” – he asked.

“Martin?”

“Danny! Where the hell are you?”

“Doesn’t matter” – Danny said in a quiet voice. “I’m... I’m with Walter Grassmann. I

think...” – the conversation was barely understandable.

“What do you think?” – Martin urged. “Danny, what’s happening? What are you

doing? Where are you?”

“It’s all the same, Martin, nothing matters. I’ve tried, Martin, I swear to you, I’ve

tried, but I can’t go on. I’m tired, really tired... this is over, I think I’m going to end

this crap. It’s the only way”.

“Danny!” – Martin yelled. But the cell was definitely off.

Martin looked at his coworkers in desperation as they looked at him with a

worried and questioning expression.

“It was Danny, he’s with Grassmann, he says he’s going to end this crap. I don’t

know what he’s trying to say, but I don’t like this”

“Where was he calling from?” – Jack asked standing up and walking with Martin

towards IS technician’s place.

“I don’t know, he used his cell...I don’t know Jack. I don’t think he’s okay... he

sounded... he sounded lost... I don’t like this” – Martin said.

“Lucy” – Jack talked to the technician. “I need a trace of this number”. Martin

handed Danny’s cell number.

“Well” – she said after typing the number – “there is a call to this office a moment

ago. I’ll try to find out the origin. But it will take several minutes”.

“Okay, but it’s urgent” – Martin urged.

Jack rubbed a hand over his face in desperation. At that moment, Olivia came into

the little office.

“Do we have something?”

“We’re working on it... trying to find the origin of the call” – Martin explained.

Unable to stay there he left the place and went out to the balcony. He needed

breathing space.

Olivia remained with Jack waiting for that address.

Martin remained leaning on the rail, trying to calm down. How could he not

notice? They just couldn’t let him alone after what had happened that morning.

Jack sent him back home and he hadn’t realized. Danny had asked him for help just

because of that and the only he had done was to argue because he had pointed his

gun to Stout’s head. He punched the rail in frustration. He had to find him, he had

to stop Danny from hurting himself like that.

He remained on the balcony thinking about it when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

He turned his head and saw Olivia handing him a coffee.

Martin accepted the coffee and muttered a barely audible “thanks”.

She leant on the rail beside him. “Are you okay?”

“Yes” – Martin replied.

“You should talk to someone”

“I’m fine!” – he repeated, staring into the horizon.

Olivia, surprised by his reaction, turned to leave. Martin looked at her and felt

ashamed. “I’m sorry Olivia, it’s that... I’ve been fighting with this for days, I’m with

Danny every day here and then at home. He’s my best friend and the last thing I did

was argue with him... I don’t know where he is, I know he wants my help, if not, he

never would have called...”

Martin didn’t find the right words and his voice broke.

She pressed gently his arm and Martin looked at her. His eyes were full of tears.

“Listen Martin, I’m new here and I don’t know you all well enough to judge you. I

don’t know Danny well enough to judge him, but I know he is very loved by all of

you... in spite of... in spite of his character”

Martin smiled for the first time. “Do you know what, Olivia? When I came to this

office some years ago, I thought Danny and me would end solving our differences

with our fists. He was terribly combative to me. For him, I was the Deputy

Director’s son, a rich boy getting the job because I was the son of... and I used him

to jumpstart my political career in the FBI... I was coming to threaten his territory. I

suppose it was what he thought. I was wrong about him, too, I thought he was

stupid and arrogant, one of those people the rules don’t exist for, the hard guy with

gun and badge...I don’t know if you understand me. We weren’t friends and to

make things worse, during the first case, I contradicted the alibi he had

investigated in front of his coworkers and Jack. He didn’t talk to me for a while and

spent some more time to let his anger cood down but Jack... Jack gave us a gift.”

“What did he do?”

“He knew Danny, the Danny I didn’t find yet... he sent us to San Diego, to

investigate a case. At first, even though he tried to be pleasant, he was teasing me

all the time. I think Jack had a conversation with him. Later, on the beach, I heard

him talking to a boy, the man who had been like his father was missing... When we

found his car and I saw Danny’s expression and how he quickly hid behind his

sunglasses,... that was the moment I started to know him” – Martin smiled

remembering that day.

Olivia smiled and invited him to continue.

“You had to see him losing his temper with a guy in a interview room. We had an

argument because of that... but the truth... the truth was he had opened that case, a

case nobody would take care, an afroamerican boy missing from his group home.

But Danny’s friend asked him for help and... Danny is like that”.

“Well, so he doesn’t hate me...” – Olivia said.

“No, absolutely not, but you got to know him in a bad moment. It’s difficult for him

connect with the people at first time, never with a child. It’s incredible the way he

connects with them. I found out some things about him, sometimes watching his

reactions, sometimes because he told me after a long time. Danny is a very private

person, he doesn’t trust people but when he does, I swear that you’ll have got a

friend for all your life. He helped me a long time ago and he is there for me,

supporting me to not fall again” – Martin remained silent for a moment – “But now,

he needed me and I... I didn’t see it”.

“That’s not true, Martin, you’ve supported him during these days, you’ve just told

me” – she said.

“I didn’t see it today” – he said – “he pointed his gun at a man and I didn’t realize. I

just got angry with him.”

“We can’t control what happens to the people around us, Martin. If he didn’t want

to share his problems with you, you couldn’t know...”

“No Olivia, he trusts me, I should have known it without him telling me. I know

him well, I had to realize it. He told me who Stout was, he told me what that person

meant for him...”

“Okay, look, you can’t worry about this now, it isn’t too late, you will help him later,

when he is back with us, right?” – she said.

“I don’t know if he’ll be back” – Martin muttered. His eyes were full of tears but he

managed to keep them back. His friend’s words plagued his thoughts, the feeling

Danny could try to kill himself, or Grassmann, or both of them, hidden behind

those words worried him like hell.

Not knowing what more to say to comfort him, Olivia left him alone and went back

to the office.

Some minutes later, Sam came out to the balcony. “Martin, we found it. You won’t

believe it”

“Where is he?”

“He’s at home”.

Danny forced Grassmann to walk a couple of blocks to the building where he lived.

They entered the building and got into the elevator. Danny pressed the button of

the floor where his apartment was.

“What do you want from me?” – Grassmann asked him. He was scared.

“I just want to talk to you” – Danny said quietly.

“We can talk, we’ll talk about what you want. Let’s go to a café, to the TV if you

want. You don’t have to point at me with a gun. We can talk”- Grassmann said.

Danny smiled. “No, we’ll talk here. I want to show you something”

The elevator’s door were opened and Danny pulled Grassmann out. “Come on”

Danny took out his apartment’s keys and opened. Then got into and he pointed the

couch. “Sit down there”. Then he took a chair and sat down in front of him facing at

Grassmann. He had a headache, he had drank whiskey enough to do this but right

now it was only the headache and he wasn’t so sure about what he was doing.

However, he couldn’t stop now. He took a minibottle he had in his jacket and drank

a bit.

“My name is Daniel... Daniel Alvarez” – he said slowly.

Grassmann turned pale because the tone of the voice, but tried to stay calm.

“Well,I’m... I’m...”

“I know who you are. I see you don’t remember me. I’ll show you” – Danny said. He

stood up and approach to a shelving, coming back with a box. He left on the table

and opened it.

“Look, Grassman, I don’t normally do this, I don’t even know why I kept them. I

don’t look at them, just keep them, maybe because I knew I would have the chance

to show to someone like you”.

Danny picked up a picture. “Do you see? It was my graduation day”.

Grassmann looked at the picture and then Danny wondering what this guy wanted

from him.

“This one is at the University with some classmates after Law classes. Look at this

other, it was taken by Sylvia, my brother’s fiancée. That’s his son, Nicky. He’s a

good boy and Sylvia is a strong woman”.

Grassmann tried to focus on the picture but he didn’t know who was that guy or

what he wanted, but he guessed if they kept looking pictures, he was safe and

maybe they could talk about whatever he wanted to talk.

“Oh, this is recently at the office, my coworkers and me with the Christmas Tree”.

Grassmann looked in surprise at the picture identifying some things. “Do you work

with the FBI?”

“Yes, I work in missing persons. It’s a gratifying work when you find people who

need and want to be found but sad and painful when you don’t find them, but you

always do your best for them”. Danny said.

“What do you want from me? What are we doing here?” – Grassmann managed to

ask.

“You know who I am, Grassmann, don’t lie to me”- Danny said.

“No, I haven’t any idea about you, I swear you, I don’t know”

“My name is Daniel Alvarez, my brother’s name is Rafael. Maybe you don’t

remember him but I remember you pretty well, I remember you during my whole

life as Daniel Alvarez. Think about all the times you went to my house, when you

were working in Miami, at Social Services. You argued with my father, with my

mother, you took me a lot of times to group homes and then back home to start the

nightmare, again... do you remember now?”

Grassmann shook his hand. Daniel, Rafael... the boys of that video. No, it was

impossible, Daniel had died, he had checked it.

“Come on, it’s imposible you don’t remember me. You hid video cameras at home

and recorded what happened there. You didn’t do anything to help us, did you?”

“What are you talking about, guy? If you are talking about the video on the TV, you

weren’t on that video, those people died a long time ago” – Grassmann said not

very convinced. What if he had made a mistake?

“No, no, no... Walter, my brother Rafael is in prison, remember? And me, the little

Daniel running through the legs of the older people, a person you talked about

without any future. Why didn’t you do anything?”

“The laws...”

“What laws? You know my mum couldn’t do anything else. She took care of me, like

my brother, doing the best she could do. The law... the law protected that bastard

that was my father. She knew that if she reported him it would be worse, she

would lose her sons and he would kill her. How can you sit down in a comfortable

couch on a TV program, 20 or 22 years later questioning the behaviour of a person

who suffered what she suffered and say that you couldn’t do anything?”

“They are dead”

“What? What if they are dead?. Yes, my mum is dead and my father too. But not my

brother and me and you don’t have the right to talk about what you don’t know.

Why didn’t you do anything?”

“Listen, I... I was only...”

“Don’t tell me that you were just an employee because I don’t believe you. I saw

you thousand times at home, at hospital, at group homes, at the offices of social

services when I was talking to my tutor. You... you were there when I left Miami.

You knew I wasn’t dead, Mr. Grassmann. Why didn’t you help us? Why didn’t you

help my mum? Why did you use my family to get fame? Why, Mr. Grassmann?”

Grassmann looked at him not knowing what to say. That young man wouldn’t

accept any reply and if that guy was the one he said, Grassmann was aware of the

pain he had caused. Grassmann remembered then that Daniel Alvarez had changed

his identity.

“You should be proud of these things you have shown me, Daniel. It proves your

tenacity, your fight and improvement capacity. What I said in that program wasn’t

about you, specifically, even though it’s true I thought you all were dead. When I

read the files about your family, you were dead. I was so amazed when I found

those videos, I investigated the other families too, but yours was the only one

where everybody was dead, it was what the files read, I didn’t remember you and

the fact you changed your identity, I swear to you. I know... I see how painful is for

you, but what was said in that program it wasn’t about you or your family, it was a

generic explanation about what happens most of the time, sadly. I know your mum

loved you and she only wanted to protect you, I saw that in her eyes, she told me,

but she was terribly scared of your father and we couldn’t do anything if she didn’t

report the abuse”

“I can’t believe you remember her eyes” – Danny muttered as took some pictures

out the box. Those ones were older, her smiling mum holding him on the beach and

Rafie beside her. “She could have been happy if you had helped her, if you had

guaranteed her my father would have to stay away if she reported against him” –

he said as a couple of tears rolled down his cheeks. Danny picked up the whiskey

and drank a sip.

“Right, it’s possible, but look, we can’t do anything else, okay? She’s dead, your

father too. Let’s stop this, okay?”

“Yes, they died in front of me, in that car because I tried to do what you didn’t do, I

tried to stop my father and he crashed the car. I felt so relieved when I realized I

would never listen to him yelling anymore, I would never feel his hands on me

again, he wouldn’t hurt me anymore. But I won’t forget the image of my mother in

that car... ever. It’s imposible... She didn’t deserve to end her life like that. But you

thought I was glad. It was what you said! How.... how could you say that? How can

you know what I felt and build a whole theory about them? I don’t remember

anybody asking me about it. No. You decided I was happy with what had happened

and sent me to a group home. End of problem”.

“What can I tell you?” – Grassmann asked. “I think if I tell you I’m sorry and

probably this is a terrible mistake, it won’t be what you want”.

“For weeks.. for weeks, Mr. Grassmann, I’ve been watching you getting followers

thanks to that program, for weeks I’ve been hearing the comments of people

around me, unknown people not knowing what happened but thinking they have

the right to give an opinion about my family, about my mum, about me. You made

me remember things I had tried to forget, not only what you aired on TV. No, you

can’t tell me anything now. It’s late, I just want my two minutes”.

“Right, do you want two minutes on TV? Got it. Do you want a public apology, is it

what you want? Well, I can do it if you want. I...”

“Could you live with the consequences of what you’ve done, Grassmann?”

“What?”

“What was that you said?... oh... yes, you said I was a kind of chameleon, aparently

normal but if you dig deep inside you’ll find a different world. No... it’s not

scientific, do you know? But maybe you were right, maybe it was the reason I kept

on this box and closed it, I changed my name and left away. To start a new life, to

forget... but you came to that stupid program with that video. What are we going to

do now? Right now, you have everything, Grassman. However, I’ve lost everything,

I’ve lost my dignity, my work, my family, my coworkers, I’ve lied the people I love

the most, I drink again, after a long time sober... I haven’t got anything, Grassmann,

and I can’t stop thinking, you have stolen my life and I don’t have anything to lose.

Can you live with it Grassmann? Because I can’t.”

Danny ended the whiskey and wiped the tears. Then, he took out his cell, and made

his call.

“Well”- Jack said. “Martin, come with me. Sam and Viv, as well. Olivia, stay here,

maybe Danny will call here. We’ll try to locate the call if he moves, but I don’t think

that he will”.

Olivia stayed in the office as her coworkers left the office to Danny’s home. Jack had

asked for the help of a SWAT unit. It was the usual stuff in case of hostages, but he

was hoping to solve the conflict by his own. But he didn’t know what Danny’s

condition was, sure not well if he was with Grassmann. Why did he take him

home? Why did he call Martin? “He wants us to go” - he said loudly.

“Yes” – Martin replied, listening him through the micro. “I was thinking that, too.

He’s asking for help Jack, but I don’t know how we are going to help him after what

he has done”.

“We don’t know what’s happening, Martin”.

Short time later, they arrived at the entrance of the building. The SWAT unit was

already there. Jack talked to the head of the unit, explaining him the situation.

“Why are you doing this?”

“I don’t know, I don’t know yet what we are doing here”- Danny replied. He felt

sick, the whiskey was clouding his vision and he couldn’t think clearly. But he

didn’t care. He knew he would never leave that place. He knew he had reached a

point where he couldn’t come back from. He moved his hand to take the gun, as

Grassmann looked at him terrified.

“Hey, guy don’t... don’t do any stupid thing”- he mumbled.

“Why not? Come on Grassmann, you’re the expert... tell me what I’m going to do

now” – Danny said with a disparaging smile. “Are you scared? Let’s wait to see if

someone comes for you... maybe they won’t come. Maybe they stayed outside

looking at the reality show, talking about what will happen... maybe they will air a

special program and you become famous forever... But I haven’t decided if you will

see that program or not”

“Hey, listen, I’ve told you I was only an employee, I didn’t have anything to do with

the decisions the social services made then...” – Grassmann started to say

desperately.

“You were a damn social worker, Grassmann, don’t tell me you didn’t have any

responsibility, you were in charge on my family, you could have done more than

hiding a videocamera”.

“I didn’t know about it, Daniel. I didn’t hide those cameras, I swear to you, I didn’t

know what they were doing. I found those videos years later, I read the reports. It

was only when I was sure none of you were alive, I introduced it like a study...”

“Were you sure?” – Danny said. “Come on, you had to explain in that program

saying my brother was alive. You knew it. He almost died after watching your

damn program in prison. I watched it by myself. How can you tell me you were

sure about nothing? You’re a damn oportunist, nothing else”.

“Okay, it was a mistake, I didn’t intend to hurt anybody. It’s true. Listen, let’s get

out of here, I promise I’ll get the help you need, I’ll help you to get over the pain I

caused you...”

“It’s too late...”

“No, it isn’t... damn it, drop that bottle and listen to me!” – Grassmann almost yelled

in desperation and fear.

But Danny just dropped the bottle to point his gun directly to Grassmann’s head.

His penetrating and cold gaze made Grasmann freeze. “We are going to finish this

crap, here and now” – Danny said putting down the safety catch of his gun.

Grassmann was terrified, he was aware he was going to die. The cold gaze changed

to show Grassmann the sadness, hate and confusion in Danny’s eyes. He had seen

that look before, in those videos, those damn videos.

A noise behind the door, made Danny turn to it, but he didn’t drop the gun and he

didn’t stop pointing at Grassmann. When he turned to Grassmann again, this one

was absolutely terrified, unable to make any movement, unable to speak. He was

going to die, right now. “Well Grassmann, this is the moment. Let’s see what

happens now”

The door was opened, as Danny pointed firmly Grassmann’s head.

“Drop your gun!”- an agent yelled at him, from the door, pointing at him with his

gun.

Then, another familiar and softened voice spoke.

“Danny, please, drop the gun. You don’t have to do this” – Jack said.

“Jack” – Danny hesitated for a moment, but he was firmly pointing Grassmann.

“Come on, Danny. You and me know how this work. I’m not going to lie with false

promises, but if you put down the gun, we’ll finish this matter”.

“No”

“Danny, look at me. Come on, let that bastard go, you’ve made him suffer enough. I

swear to you, he’ll never forget this day, but don’t ruin your life, it’s not worth it” –

Jack told him again.

“I can’t Jack” – muttered Danny as a tear rolled down his cheek. “I can’t. I have to do

it. It’s just two minutes. I only want my two minutes”.

“Danny please, what two minutes are you talking about? Drop that gun, now” – Jack

was nervous, noticing the agent putting his finger on the trigger, ready to shoot. Of

course, he would try not to kill him, but the situation was complicated if they

wanted to save Grassmann.

“Danny, listen to me, you won’t solve your problems killing him. We can talk about

this, we can, you know we are with you and love you, we’ll solve this, but let

Grassmann live knowing what he has done, it’s punishment enough for him. That’s

it, he will remember this day forever. You have done okay, he won’t hurt you or

other people anymore, do you understand? But you have to drop the gun and let

him leave, Danny”.

“No, Jack, I’m really tired, I don’t want to go on with this, I can’t go on” – Danny said

suddenly pulling the trigger.

 

Chapter 16

The sound of the shot thundered in the whole room. Jack ran towards Danny, as

the agents came in quickly and took care of Walter Grassmann, motionless, sitting

down on the couch, looking at Danny, not knowing what had happened.

He had seeing Danny pulling the trigger and he had listened to the shot. He saw

him falling down limply, he saw the other agent approaching him and kneeling

down beside him. He saw the SWAT agents...

“Are you okay? Are you hurt?” – he barely heard.

Grassmann came back to reality just to mumble a reply he didn’t even know if was

right. “I think... I think so”.

Then he heard the answer. “He’s disarmed” – one of the agents said. He had

Danny’s gun in his hand and he had checked the empty magazine, there wasn’t any

bullet on it or in the breech. Danny never wanted to kill Grassmann. He only

wanted to see his terrified face and he only wanted to end his nightmare.

Jack had rushed at Danny, just after the SWAT’s agent shot. “Danny!, Danny!... Oh,

my god, don’t do this to me now... Danny! Come on boy, open your eyes!”. Jack tried

to keep his young agent awake. Sitting down behind him, he gently put his head on

his lap and looked for a pulse. He found it but it was weak. The bullet had entered

in his body and he was bleeding heavily. He took off his jacket and pressed on the

wound hard. “I need a doctor, now!”- he yelled.

“Come on Danny, you can do it, the doctors are here right now, hold on, hold on!” –

he said. Jack looked around. They were at his home, Danny’s home. Around them,

spread out on the table, the pictures Danny had showed Grassmann, remained as a

memory of Danny’s life. Jack looked at the shocked man, completely unaware of his

surroundings.

A strange feeling of frustration came over him as he remembered the last weeks,

the two months Danny had lived through a hell, thanks to the imprudence of that

man. Looking at the pictures, Jack understood what Danny was trying to explain to

that man.

Martin was just behind Jack and entered the room listening to SWAT agent’s

words. ‘He’s disarmed’. He realized then what his coworker had done and his eyes

were full of tears. He had told him before, he knew that it would happen. He took

his hand. “Danny, Danny please, it’s Martin, I’m here with you, please, open your

eyes, please Danny”.

Jack and Martin exchanged a worried look and somehow, a guilty look. Martin

looked around and he could see the desperation around him, the whiskey bottle, all

of those pictures, memories of Danny’s life he had kept in that box he never opened

except to put some more in. The words he had told him days ago ‘I want to finish

with everything’ had its meaning now. ‘I’ve tried, Martin, I swear to you, I’ve tried,

but I can’t go on. I’m tired, really tired... this is over, I think I’m going to end this

crap. It’s the only way’.

“Damn it! Where are those doctors? Why aren’t they here yet?”- Martin said

desperately.

Danny pulled the trigger knowing what would happen next. For him it was the only

way. The nightmares would stop, finally. The anguish would stop, finally and he

could stay with his mum. Finally, he would have his two minutes and would stop

thinking. But before that, he had to show Grassmann what he had done, where his

responsibility was in this, he couldn’t let him say things were so easy like he had

explained them, he couldn’t say the things he said against his family with complete

impunity. He couldn’t leave things like that. He couldn’t let Grassmann hurt anyone

else. For him, the only way was what he was doing.

He felt the bullet taking him, he felt the spinning around, the darkness and fell

down. He didn’t even try to fight against it, finally he was where he wanted to be.

He had reached the end. One second before falling down, he could see the terrified

expression on Grassmann’s face, he had erased his stupid smile and he would

remember this day for the rest of his life. Luckily, he would suffer the same

nightmares that he had lived during his life.

He felt Jack holding him, he felt Martin taking his hand, he listened to their words,

but it was late, it was over. He remained with his eyes closed, he couldn’t and he

didn’t want to open them, he only waited.

Three doctors came into the house, two of them took care of Danny quickly as the

other one took care of Grassmann.

Jack and Martin left as the doctors pressed the wound Danny had in his shoulder

and put an IV on his arm.

One of them looked for a pulse. “The pulse is weak, we’re losing him.”

He left what he was doing and started to work on his chest trying to get a response

from him. Then, he checked his pulse and shook his head. He started to work on

Danny’s chest again trying to make him breath.

Nothing.

Two minutes.

The three of them were sitting down in the corner of the jetty, his feet holding and

looking at their own shadows on the sea. Rafael leant back and closed his eyes. His

friend Tony was throwing little stones to the sea. He looked at the clock, it was 11 in a

hot morning, they were late. They had to meet a couple of guys to buy some grass.

The little boy played with toes, looking at the small circles they drew on the water.

Rafie had taken him with him, as he always did, to take him out of home. Daniel was

only 8 and he had had one of his usual nightmares. Rafie was thinking about giving

him some of that grass, but he wasn’t sure. Maybe his brother was too little.

“Marcos says that if you stay time enough under water, you stop listening even to

your own breath” – Tony said suddenly, staring at the water.

“Don’t say stupid things” – Rafie grumbled.

“Seriously, two minutes and your mind is gone, you quit being a person and get

immersed in the sea” – Tony said.

“That’s because you’re dead, Tony. If you remain two minutes under water you

suffocate” – Rafie said.

“Marcos says his father fishes without oxygen, and he spends about 8 minutes under

the water” – Tony insisted.

“And you stop thinking?” – Danny asked.

“Don’t believe this idiot” – Rafie said.

“He says you don’t think about anything, just what you have around at that moment”

– Tony replied.

“But then, how does his father fish? He has to think to fish, hasn’t he?” – the little boy

asked again.

“I don’t know. Let’s make a bet, we’ll see which of us can stay more time under the

water” – Tony said.

“I wouldn’t mind not thinking for a while” – Danny said thoughtfully, looking at the

water.

“Eh, guys, don’t be idiots” – Rafie said. But his brother had stood up and , took an

impulsive leap into the sea.

“Damn it, Tony” – Rafie said in an angry tone.

“Don’t want to come with us?”- Tony said laughing and throwing to the sea.

Danny and Tony held on to the woods of the jetty.

“Come on Rafie, count the time”- Tony said. “Look boy, count, one, two... three!”

Tony summerged. Danny looked at his brother, who raised his arms. He looked the

time and Danny summerged as well.

Some moments later, Danny showed his head, gasping for breath.. “Hey Rafie, Did I

make it? Two minutes?”

“No, just 15 seconds, Danny” – Rafie said bored.

“Ah, that’s the reason I didn’t stop thinking” – Danny said in frustration.

“Why do you want to stop thinking, Danny? Don’t be an idiot and get out of there” –

Rafie said.

“No, no. I wan’t to do it, I want to stop thinking, come on, just a moment” – his

brother said.

Before Rafie could say anything, Danny took a deep breath and summerged again. At

first his eyes were closed but then he opened them and looked around. He tried to

focus about what it was beside him, but everything was dark. He remembered Tony

and looked for him but he didn’t see him. In the top, the sunbeam entered in the sea

and he could see the surface and the image of the jetty. He closed his eyes again

trying to focus in that sound of the sea, trying to forget... two minutes.

Suddenly, he felt someone pulling him up. He was on the surface now, but he couldn’t

take a breath. He felt himself being pushed in a kind of big bag... a zodiac.

“Eh, boy, are you okay?” an unknown man asked him.

Danny looked at him not understanding, his ears hurt and he felt the taste of blood in

his throat. Then, he looked up, to the jetty, where he saw Rafie talking to other man

‘What had happened?’

“Are you okay?” – he was asked again.

Danny looked at the man again and suddenly he remembered Tony. “Where’s Tony?”

“What were you doing here? Don’t you know the jetty is dangerous?. You can’t swim

here”.

Danny shook his head. He was cold and started to shiver.Someone covered him with a

blanket.

“It’s just two minutes. Tony told me that if you stay two minutes under the water, you

stop thinking”- The little boy explained very convinced.

“Why do you want to stop thinking?” – the other man asked him with a smile.

“To... to forget” – Danny replied as it was the most normal in the world.

He looked up again to see his brother but he wasn’t. “Where’s Rafie?”

“Is he your brother?”

“Yes”

“He called us, we were on the other side of the jetty, he was scared because you didn’t

get out”.

“And Tony?”

The man didn’t reply him. “Eh, we’re going to take out of here, okay?”

“Where’s Tony?” – Danny asked again.

At that moment, a diver emerged. “He’s right here, two yards from here, he trapped

his leg with a cable” – he told his coworker. “Get the boy out of here. We can’t do

anything else”.

“Come on boy, do you want me to help you to climb up the rope ladder?” – the man

told Danny.

“And Tony?” – Danny asked again.

“Don’t worry, come on, climb up. Your brother is waiting for you. Come on, climb up”

– the other said.

Danny grabbed the ropes and climb up easily. When he arrived up, his brother Rafie

hugged him tightly. He was terrified. When he noticed Tony didn’t emerge, he had

started to yell and the people from the zodiac had listened to him and went to help.

They approached under the jetty and picked up Danny. But Tony was trapped. He

stayed under the water more than two minutes.

“Two minutes, Rafie, did I get it?” – Danny asked his brother.

“Twenty seconds, Danny, twenty seconds” – Rafie muttered, hugging his little brother.

“Two minutes”- one of the doctors said, as the other tried to revive Danny.

The doctor continued the work. Jack and Martin looked at his unresponsive

coworker. “He doesn’t want to do it” – Martin muttered. “He isn’t going to fight”.

“We’ve got a pulse!”- the doctor said suddenly. “Come on, we have to put in a

breathing tube and take him to the hospital immediately!”

Quickly, the other doctor took the needed instruments. After they got to settle him

down, Danny was lain on a stretcher and they left the place quickly. “Are you

coming with us?”

“I’ll go” – Jack said leaving the place with them. “Martin, we’ll meet at the hospital”.

Jack jumped up into the ambulance that left fast to the hospital. Martin got out of

the building joining Sam and Vivian. Meanwhile, beside another ambulance, Walter

Grassmann was being checked. He was in a shock but he wasn’t hurt.

“We’ll take him to the hospital to be sure he’s okay and give him a sedative” – a

doctor told Vivian.

“Right, thanks for the information” – she said.

Grassmann looked at Martin. “I’m really sorry” – he said – “It’s my fault, I didn’t

want to hurt him, I was sure they...”

“Shut up” – Martin cut him sharply.

“I’m sorry” – he muttered again.

Well, let’s go” – the other doctor told grabbing Grassmann’s arm and helping him

to get into the ambulance.

“I’m so sorry” – the man said again.

The other ambulance left to the hospital as Vivian and Sam joined Martin.

“He’s okay”- Vivian said.

“Yes. Danny... Danny was pointing directly at his head. He couldn’t drop the gun

when Jack asked him to. He couldn’t. When he pulled the trigger, I knew it was

wrong, everything was wrong. Then... his gun was disarmed, it was disarmed,

Vivian, do you realize what it means?”

Vivian gently pressed his arm. “Martin, Danny has lived through hell those months.

He did what he could, he tried to do the right thing, but it wasn’t enough”.

“He wanted to end his pain, but he wanted Grassmann to know it. He was tired,

tired of fighting every day, every night against him. I did know it, Vivian, I knew

about the nightmares because I’ve been with him. I should have stopped him from

leaving alone the office, I didn’t realize, I should have stopped him. He would have

been safe in the office with you. He wouldn’t have done this. His psychologist will

come back tomorrow, he could have talked to him about this and they would have

taken control over it” – Martin sobbed.

“Well, look, we can’t do anything just regretting about what we should have done”

– Vivian said. “Let’s go to the hospital, Jack is there, alone. We should go, we should

be with Danny. It’s... it’s what we have to do now”.

“Yes, you’re right. Let’s go” – Martin said.

Half an hour before, Margot Riley had ended her shift, it was 12 in the night and

she wouldn’t work next day. However she would get up early, leaving for a run,

then a breakfast with her best friend, about 10 when she had a break at work and

could get out. She hadn’t time to clean the house during the week so she took this

day to put things in order and so on, but she didn’t take too much time. She was 42

years old, divorced and had a 23 year old son living in LA so Margot had a tiny

apartment just for her and the most time of the day she was at hospital. When she

was 19 got pregnant with Ian and she thought her life was finished. She got

married with a boyfriend she barely knew for a few months and the next years

were a nightmare for her. But when Ian was 9, Bobby got a transfer to LA. At first

she was going to move too, but when they had everything ready to leave, they both

realized the only thing they had in common was Ian. So they had a friendly divorce,

Ian spent the summers with his father and some holidays. Then Margot studied

psychology. She loved her career, the chance to help people always got her and

that was a great opportunity. When, studying the last year, she met Paul Caster, she

felt immediately caught by his enthusiasm and she asked him to join one of his

projects.

She had been working with Paul Caster for 14 years and she always felt lucky. The

project they were immersed in since two years ago was getting good results. She

liked to see Paul working with his patients, how he gave them that little guide, that

little rope to hold onto tightly to go on in life.

She was tired. Looking at the clock, she switched off the light of the little lamp on

her desk and picked up some files to leave at reception.

“Hi Mike, do you mind handing Dr. Basener those files?” – she asked the

receptionist, handing him the files.

“Sure, are you leaving?” – he asked her.

“Yes, It’s enough for today” – she replied.

“Then, you won’t check Mr. Expert in everything” – Mike whispered grimacing.

“Who?” – Margot stared at Mike for a moment and then she turned back where he

was pointing covertly.

“Walter Grassmann?” – she whispered back – “What is he doing here?”

“The program has been cancelled. It seems someone kidnapped him for some

hours. The man arrived a little lost. On the radio they said the SWAT had taken part

in his rescue” – Mike explained to her.

“Well, sometimes fame isn’t so good. Be careful, you’ll have to call to security,

Channel 8 will be here soon”.

“Sure, by the way, when will Paul come back?”

“Tonight, his plane arrived tonight, about 30 minutes ago. Tomorrow he’ll come

here, sure, and he’ll bring me lots of work and renewed enthusiam. You know what

it means” – she said with a smile.

“I know, yeah, that man doesn’t stop ever. Well, I asked you because registering a

patient in the ER, the computer brought back he is Paul’s patient”.

“Who is he?”

“His name is... wait... Danny Taylor” – Mike looked at the computer. “He’s in surgery

with Dr. Coldberg, he was here some weeks ago. He came with a bullet in his

shoulder”.

“Is it... is it something to do with Grassmann?” – Margot asked. She remembered

Danny Taylor, he had stayed with them and she had been there during some hours

that first day of 24. She remembered the matter about Grassmann. It couldn’t be

coincidence.

“I don’t know, maybe, he was admitted some minutes before Grassmann”

“Fine” – Margot said taking her cell out of the bag and walking to the entrance. She

started to dial a number as she saw the van from Channel 8 arriving.

Jack dropped onto a chair at the waiting room of the ER. The way to the hospital

had been an agony noticing his agent’s condition even worse. Two times they lost

his pulse. He could see the worry on them and how they urged the driver to go

faster. Just as they came into the hospital, Jack recognized Dr. Coldberg quickly

ordering the paramedics carrying Danny to the surgery. It was so quickly he didn’t

realize what was happening. He remained there alone, exhausted, his shirt dirty

with Danny’s blood.

A thousand questions and doubts crossed his mind. With his elbows on his knees

and his head hidden in his hands, Jack wondered what he had done wrong. It was

clear he had risked a lot by his agent, he had thought his poor spattering of

psychology could help, he had acted thinking he was doing the best for him but it

was clear he had failed somewhere. He didn’t even notice when he told Danny to

go home, he didn’t see the anger in his look, he never saw anything, until it was

late. If he hadn’t given back his gun so soon, if he hadn’t let him work in the field so

soon, this wouldn’t had happened. It was difficult, but Danny was regaining the

trust of his coworkers from not telling about what had happened to him, the true

reason for all of that. But it was his responsibility, he had all the information,

maybe he didn’t evaluate the situation right, maybe...

“Jack”

Martin put his hand on Jack’s shoulder, getting his attention. Jack lifted his head to

see a worried and tired expression on Martin’s face.

“Martin” – he whispered – “Martin, this shouldn’t be happening”

“I know Jack, we’ve done what we’ve could” – Martin said, trying to convince

himself. He didn’t understand yet how he didn’t notice he was leaving Danny alone

in very dangerous circumstances. Damn it! Danny had told him, but he was scared

and he had abandoned him at first chance. But seeing Jack so lost, gave him

strength to try to face things and go on.

“I wanted to help him, I thought I was doing well, Martin. It’s clear I haven’t any

idea about this. “What difference is there between that guy and me, Martin? I’m

just like him, playing with people as I knew how to deal with the situation”.

“Jack, you have done all your best to help him, Danny had your support in a

moment when he needed it the most and nobody else trusted him. If you hadn’t

been there for him it would have been worse, Jack. However I... I...”

“You are here for him too, Martin” – Sam said – “Your way, as always, your way,

Martin, you both are always there for each other. Always”.

“He tried to kill himself, Sam” – he said, shaking his head.

“We aren’t sure, Martin. We don’t know what he tried to do. Maybe he couldn’t

drop the gun, he froze. Martin, don’t think about it, it isn’t your fault, it isn’t

anybody’s fault, it just happened, it’s a sad accident, nothing else”- Sam said,

rubbing her hand on his back, trying to give him solace.

“I’ve been told he’s still in surgery” – Vivian said approaching them. “It will take its

time, he lost a large amount of blood and it has been difficult to settle him down.

I’ve called Olivia, she’s on her way”.

“He stopped... he stopped two times during the way...”- Jack muttered – “I don’t

know if he’ll get it... I don’t know if he’ll survive this... I don’t know if he wants to

survive”.

The four sat down in the waiting room, in silence, just waiting. They saw Walter

Grassmann leaving the triage area with a doctor pointing him to a chair. Some

seconds later another person approached him to take him to another place. They

were walking when Walter Grassmann stopped. The doctor tried to make him

continue but Grassmann raised a hand telling him to wait a moment. Then he

turned back and walk towards the entrance.

Margot Riley closed her cell. She couldn’t contact Paul, his cell was still off but she

left a message. She hoped he would listen to it soon. She turned back to go into the

hospital as saw Walter Grassmann leaving towards his coworkers from Channel 8,

one of them, microphone in hands, was telling what had happened to the coworker

of ‘Life’s stories’.

“Mr. Grassmann is right here!” – he said grabbing his arm. “Walter, how are you?”

The doctor who was with Grassmann stayed at the entrance beside Margot, looking

at the scene with a frown.

“Wait... I’m fine. I want... I want to say something, please”

“Sure Walter, tell us about your experience”

“No... I’m not going to tell about any experience. I, well, as I said I’m fine. Nothing

has happened nothing, it has been just a mistake”.

“What did that guy want from you? Is it true he’s an FBI agent?”

“No... eh... he...he just wanted to talk, I’ve known him for years, he didn’t hurt me,

he just wanted to talk, clarify some things, tell me something I didn’t know”.

“But, the police say he was pointing at you with a gun”.

“No, that’s not true, he had a gun, his official gun, he was just showing me, it was

disarmed. This has been a sad mistake”.

“I can’t believe it” – Margot muttered, as she felt the blood boiling in her – “I can’t

believe it” . Not noticing, she had walked some steps and she was beside Walter

Grassmann. She couldn’t help but open her mouth. “Whose fault is, Mr.

Grassmann?”

Margot felt the hard light and the microphone on her. She was scared, but she

couldn’t back down now. She had made a mistake, she shouldn’t say anything, but

she couldn’t help it. She knew Danny Taylor’s file pretty well, she had read it, she

had observed him during his stay at hospital, since those first 24 hours, then at the

common zone with other patients, alone, thinking, noticing his development. She

saw him leaving the hospital and she had silently prayed for him to get the best of

luck. He deserved it.

Walter Grassmann looked at her, wondering where that woman had appeared

from.

“Eh,... the mistake...” – he mumbled – “It has been my fault, absolutely” – he said

shaking his head. “Everything that has happened is my fault. I used information I

had never had permission to take and I’ve caused irreparable pain to a person who

had made a great effort to survive a bad situation and he had gotten over it... a

person that, because of my fault, is right now, fighting for survival”.

Margot smiled. That’s better.

“Are you going to report this event, Walter?”

“No, I think I have to apologize to this person and his family, his brother, his friends

and coworkers, all people who know him and surely have seen him suffering and

break down during this time. I’m... I’m sure it’s happened like that... and there

aren’t enough apologies to compensate for the pain I, only I, have caused. I can’t

report anything, I didn’t give him any other chance to do something different. I

can’t blame him for trying to look for a little peace, for doing something I would

have done, just I would have had my gun armed. He just... I think he just wanted me

to understand what I did, what my responsibility is in this, and... he got it”.

The doctor taking care of him, approached him.

“Come on, Mr. Grassmann. That’s enough. Come with me” – he said putting his arm

around his shoulders as Walter Grassmann started to sob softly.

Margot came back to the building, behind them, frowning and ignoring the

journalists trying to ask her something else. She glanced at Mat Cranford, who

stared at her in surprise. “Paul is going to get angry about this” – he said.

“I couldn’t help but speak, Mat” – she said- “Listen, I’m really tired, I’m going home,

do me a favour, please. I’ve tried to contact Paul but his cell is off, I left a message

but you know how absent-minded is, I think he’s just arriving at home...”

“Don’t worry, I’ll call him” – Mat said – “Go home”.

Jack, Martin, Sam and Viv watched the scene, hearing Grassmann’s words and how

that woman had made him say the truth. Now they didn’t know what to think,

everything was so confused. They had forgot Danny was still in surgery as the

doctors trying to save his life. Would he know what Grassmann had said? In their

thoughts stayed just a word, just a wish: ‘fight’

To fight… something Danny feel so clearly.

The sand was soft and warm. The blue sky and the soft movement of the waves made

this day especially quiet. They were together, their hands interlaced, in silence,

walking on the seashore, in a never ending way. She wanted to talk to him but he

walked ahead firmly.

“No” – she suddenly stopped.

He turned back and looked at her in confusion. Not letting go of her hand, he asked.

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t want you to come with me, not now”

“Why not?”- he asked. He didn’t understand her. He thought she liked to be with him.

“Don’t misunderstand me, honey, I know you want to stay with me and I like it too,

I’ve missed you so much, honey. Being here walking with you, feeling your hand in

mine, seeing your eyes, your smile... it’s wonderful, but...”

“But what? What is wrong now?”

“It’s not your fault, it’s just I love you so much, I want you to be happy, and you have

to find out a lot of things, feel a lot of feelings. No honey, it’s not the moment for us to

meet. You have to live for filling your silence with words, your loneliness with

company, your sadness with happiness, for some day you to take the hand of someone

like I’m doing with you now, do you understand me?”

“I think... I think so, but I don’t know if I deserve all of this you’re telling me, I don’t

know if I’ll get it, I’m tired of looking for...”

“You don’t have to look for it, just be like you are, accept what happened and moved

on. Start again, son, raise your head with pride and... just live”.

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely. Don’t be afraid, you’ll find me here, waiting for you, in this same place.

Don’t be afraid but now go back, enrich your life of experiences you can share with

other people, enjoy what you’ve got, so you’ll tell me later”.

“Well, alright” – he said a bit confused.

“Go away” – she said, kissing his forehead. “Go away, go back”

“Give me 200!” – the doctor ordered.

Doctor, we’ve spent two minutes without a response” – other doctor said.

“Clear!” – the doctor applied the defibrilator on Danny’s chest for the fourth time,

getting the same result... nothing. He waited for a moment, everybody looking at

the monitor and the doctor controlling the pulse.

“I have a pulse” – he said after a while.

“Okay, let’s go on” – the doctor said, glancing at his coworker.

 

Chapter 17

 

It was six in the morning on April, 15th. 56 days, 7 hours and 30 minutes after that

fateful TV program, the surgery’s doors were opened and Dr. Coldberg left that

place after almost six hours trying to save that young man’s life, the young man he

had known some weeks before in better circumstances.

Jack and Martin had remained there all the night, they couldn’t leave the hospital.

Viv had gone back home to sleep. Sam tried to convince Jack and Martin to rest but

they refused the idea of leaving the hospital. Finally, she left the place with Olivia,

who spent a couple of hours with them. They would meet next morning at work...

working to find some missing person because life goes on, thinking about a

coworker’s condition, but, above all, a friend.

“Agent Malone” – Dr. Coldberg said when he approached him. He had to touch his

shoulder to get Jack to wake up.

Jack opened his eyes not knowing where he was, but then he focused on Dr.

Coldberg. He awoke completely and gave Martin, deeply asleep beside him, a

nudge.

Dr. Coldberg took a chair and sat down in front of them. Jack tried to read his

expression but he only saw weariness in him.

“Well, first of all, your agent is out of danger, the surgery has been successful and I

hope a full recovery, even though he should stay here for a while, of course” – Dr.

Coldberg said.

Jack and Martin took a breath in relief. It was the best news.

“Agent Malone, I know we met here some weeks ago. I wanted to tell you I phoned

Paul Caster. Your agent is his patient and he’ll come here in the morning. Right

now, Mr. Taylor is in the ICU, where he’ll stay for 48 hours. We took out the bullet

and there isn’t any vital damage but he lost a large amount of blood and his heart

stopped four times during the surgery, but fortunately he came back. As I told you

before in spite of this, I’m optimistic about his recovery”.

“Well, thanks doctor, it’s the best news you could tell us” – Martin managed to say;

his face had regained a bit of colour.

“When will we be able to see him?”- Jack asked.

“Probably, if everything is okay, we’ll remove the breathing tube and reduce the

sedatives soon. Then maybe you can visit him for a short time”.

“Thanks, you told me Paul Caster will come this morning. I would like to talk to

him, there is something I have to explain to him”. – Jack said.

“Yes, I don’t know exactly when he’ll come, he has just arrived from travelling, he

arrived last night. I suggest you go home and rest. Your coworker will be in good

hands” – Dr. Coldberg told them with a smile.

“Well, thanks so much. Here you have my card with phones, cell, office...” – Jack

started handing him his card.

Dr. Coldberg handed back his card. “Don’t worry Mr. Malone, we have your

number. I’ll tell Paul to call you as soon as possible. Go home and rest.”

“Well, right” – Jack said.

 

Jack and Martin left the waiting room where they spent the night.

“I’m... I’m going home to change clothes and take a shower. We’ll meet at the office”

– Jack said.

“Sure. I’ll do the same” – Martin.

None of them was ready to rest even though they were tired. But they had a bitter

feeling of guilt. They had failed the person who placed his trust in them.

They hadn’t a new case so it was 10 in the morning and they were doing

paperwork and reviewing old files. Vivian took out one of those files – they always

review them in case new evidence gave them a new lead, even though Danny had

checked most of them lately. She looked at her coworkers and then at Danny’s

quietly empty desk. All of them were focused in some work she knew they didn’t

have to do. All of them with the thought in the same place.

The TV was curiously turned off. Viv smiled sadly, it was as if they had noticed

what damage had been done from just the simple promotion of that program, and

the TV had stayed turned off, more than once. She remembered Grassmann’s

words at the entrance of the Hospital and that young woman making him explain

the situation. Who was she? Not knowing why, she looked for the remote to turn

on the TV picking channel 8.

“Equally, Mr. Grassmann has asked formally for the destruction of all those

videotapes he found in the Miami archive, and that we give the maximum respect

regarding the identity of the people in those videos” – a newscaster informed.

Then part of that interview at the entrance of the hospital that they were witness

was aired.

“I’ll do my best to fix the damage I’ve caused. I’ll do my best to this guy to regain

what I stole him, regain his life and his work. I’ve made a very important mistake

and other people have paid for it, and please, I ask that the media leave him in

peace” – Walter Grassmann said.

“At least he recognizes his mistake” – Olivia said with a serious expression.

“Yes, but he needed help” – Sam said. “A woman made him to say the truth, because

he was digressing”

“Maybe he was scared” – Olivia said. “Its not every day someone points a gun at

your head”.

“It didn’t have bullets” – Martin said.

“Yes, but he didn’t know that” – Olivia said. “Eh, no... I’m not excusing him, don’t

misunderstand me, I’m only trying to understand he didn’t know what to say... at

first”.

“Don’t worry Olivia, I understand what you’re saying” – Martin said. “It’s just that...

I don’t know... I think it will be difficult for Danny to come back to what he used to

be”.

“Yes, it will be difficult but he isn’t alone, he has our support, doesn’t he?” – she

said resting a hand on his shoulder. “That’s important, Martin”.

“How is it possible I didn’t notice it?” – he said.

“Hey, Martin, don’t do this to yourself. It’s not like that, right? Things happen, it’s

like... it’s like a sickness, we spend our whole life saying we have to eat better, more

fruits and vegetables as we only eat junk food... especially you”- she smiled – “No,

it’s serious, Martin. Then we get sick and spent the rest of our lives regretting

what we did and didn’t do. What are you doing with it? Nothing” – she said.

“Olivia is right, Martin” – Sam said. “This is the situation. Danny will recover, he

will need our help to come back, sure he’ll come back, he loves this work and after

Walter Grassmann’s statement, I’m sure nothing will happen to him. He’ll get the

help he needs from the doctors and us. Forget the rest of it”.

What if he dies?” – Martin asked suddenly with a broken voice.

“He won’t die, Martin” – Sam pressed gently his arm. “He won’t die, you listened to

what the doctor said, he’ll recover”.

“I think he wanted to die, he told me, he told he had to stop everything, the

nightmares, all of this, he was tired” – he muttered.

“Well, people say things in bad moments, Martin, but you were there to listen and

help, and you did” – Sam said.

“Yes, then I helped him” – Martin said.

He was going to continue speaking but he saw Supervisor Alexander Olczyk, going

into Jack’s office.

“Oh, this is what we need now” – Vivian said with a grimace.

“It’s time for it” – Martin said.

Yes, it was time for it. Jack was tired, he hadn’t slept and he couldn’t think clearly.

He was in the office just waiting for the call from Paul Caster, waiting for news

about Danny, but he knew it was better no news about him. He didn’t know what

was going to happen now, he had done what he could to help him but somehow

things had turned bad.

Now Alexander Olczyk, his supervisor, was sitting down in front of him and he

waited for the explosion with resignation.

“Jack” – Olczyk said, oddly quiet but seriously – “I’m not a man who likes surprises,

much less surprises like this. Last night I was in Washington, in a boardd meeting

about budgets and I came back to the hotel very tired. I fell on the bed and got to

sleep peacefully all night. At 5.30 I got up, took a shower, got dressed and took the

first flight coming back to New York. I love a relaxing flight, I like to read the

newspaper, solve some crosswords... but I met something I didn’t expect. A picture

of Jack Malone jumping in an ambulance, an FBI agent, an agent from your team

pointing with his gun at the head of an innocent man and the SWAT team taking

part to save that man –that isn’t a pleasant breakfast for me, do you understand?”

“I can explain to you” – Jack said staring at him.

“I’m all ears” – Olczyk said.

Jack told him quietly what had happened during the last hours, since they had

received Danny’s call in the office. Olczyk listened patiently, not interrupting him

ever, which made Jack nervous. Jack noticed his attitude was different from other

situations. Usually, Olczyk would call him to his office, completely furious, but it

wasn’t happening now.

“... and we’re waiting for news about his condition” – Jack finished.

“Well, there is a... a man. There was a man in my office an hour ago, more or less.

He wanted to talk to you, to agent Taylor’s boss, but you weren’t here so he was

directed to my office. He told me an amazing story, Jack. I don’t know if you know

that story. That man, Walter Grassmann” – Olczyk stopped for a second noticing

the surprising expression in Jack- “told me what agent Taylor had told him when

he was taken, about what he had been doing since he aired a video on TV. Jack, I

don’t know how you missed that behaviour because if that was true, either your

agent has a lot stamina, or you are losing control of your team”.

“I...” – Jack started. But Olczyk interrupted him.

“Let me finish. This man has asked me, you can’t believe what guilt he felt, he has

asked me to forget this. He said he couldn’t bear agent Taylor losing anything he

had before that, he said it’s his fault and the guy has suffered enough. Do you

believe it?”

“Yes I do” – Jack managed to say.

“You know Jack, you know I can’t do it. Jack, tell me you haven’t been protecting

him”.

“I can’t tell you that” – Jack said – “I’ve done my best to help him to get over what

that man made him to remember. I’m not an idiot, Olzcyk, I kept him out of the

field, out of the team, working unsolved files, I didn’t give back his gun until...”

“Why didn’t you call Dr. Harris, for example?”

“I didn’t want it was known what was happening, actually, nobody knew but me”.

“Did you give his gun knowing how unsteady he was?”

“He wasn’t, at least it was what I thought. He was very well supported by his

coworkers and he did his work as usual. It was ... It was a sad coincidence” – Jack

said, realizing maybe Olczyk didn’t know the event of that morning with Stout.

Olczyk looked at him. “Okay, I want a complete report about this story on my desk.

You have two hours to do it. After that, I’ll make a decision about you. I think my

decision about agent Taylor has been made”.

“Alexander”

“No, I’m not going to hear what you or that man told me. In this work, there’s no

way this kind of behaviour can be forgiven. If Taylor has a problem, he has to fix it,

but he can’t work here, not like that, is it clear?”

“Okay” – Jack said. He was tired and he couldn’t argue about a matter so clear. It

was sure grounds for dismissal and if it nothing else happened it was because

Grassmann didn’t want to report it.

 

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

April, 17th. 17.30 hours.

Paul closed the door carefully. The room was self-darkness but he could see Danny

with his eyes closed laying on the bed. He took a chair and sat down beside him.

When he had listened to Margot’s message and Mat phoned him to tell him what

was going on, he thought, one more time Danny had tried to solve his problems on

his own and one more time he had chosen the wrong way. What had their

conversations helped for? When he knew what had happened, he couldn’t believe

it, he never saw in Danny any intention to do something like that, he barely had

talked about Walter Grassmann.

However, when his boss, agent Malone told him what had happened during those

last days, when his secretary, Linda Farrell, informed him about the two calls the

same day, he understood what Danny wanted. Suicide? It was what Malone said, it

was what TV said... those two minutes. He remembered a conversation about it

during one of their sessions. No, Danny Taylor didn’t want to commit suicide, he

just wanted to stop thinking, he wanted his nightmares stopped for a while, he was

completely exhausted. Paul knew how badly he was dealing with it and the

reaction trusting his friend Martin was new and positive. He was glad about it

when Malone told him. The work they were doing would give a good result, Paul

knew it, but he couldn’t guess the limits of the situation Danny had found himself

in suddenly. Being out of the city, meeting Clifford Hewings or Stout or whatever

he was named, the pressure at work and staying alone had led to a logical

consequence. In that concrete event, Danny had always wanted Grassman to know

what he had done to him and his family. Paul was surprised about Danny feeling

worse because of the things Grassmann had said about his mum and not so bad

about what had happened to him, he needed to explain the reasons she had acted

like that, but on the other hand, feeling defenseless in that situation, where nobody

else but his brother barely supported him, confused him.

Paul rested his hand on Danny’s arm and squeezed it gently. Danny opened his

eyes and took his time to focus on him. Paul smiled.

“Hey, Danny, can’t I let you alone for a minute?” – he said in pleasant tone. “How do

you feel?”

“You tell me, doctor” – Danny muttered.

“Don’t call me doctor, you should know I’m not a doctor, so I can’t tell you much

more than I can read. Let’s see” – Paul took the chart where the nurse noted the

last information – “Pulse 80, blood pressure 120/70... uhm... hey, you’re really

good. If it wasn’t because that bandage, your pale face and the IV in your arm, I

would ask you to go running with me” – he said smiling.

“Sure” – Danny said, in the same tired tone.

“What happened, Danny?” – Paul asked him, a little bit serious.

“I don’t... I don’t know. I think I’ve been stupid. I ruined everything”

“Well, I don’t think you’re stupid but maybe you did a stupid thing. But, maybe

there is an explanation, isn’t there?”

“I couldn’t drop the gun, Paul. I froze, I couldn’t do it”

“You wanted your two minutes”

“I guess”

“Guess?”

“I wanted to stop thinking, you know, the nightmares... the work, the excuses, the

explanations... everything. I screwed it up again, Paul, Jack trusted me, he gave me

back my job and I forgot the rules the first opportunity I had” – Danny said.

“I see, well I heard about it, we’ll have time to talk about it, Danny. We all... we all

make mistakes during our lifes, we do things carried by the circumstances, I’m not

saying you were right doing what you did, surely there were other, better ways,

but it has an explanation”. – Paul said.

“I don’t know what to say”

“Don’t say anything. You just have to recover. We have time”

“I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to tell them. I... I shouldn’t have to be

here” – Danny said. His voice trembled as he tried to hold back the tears in his eyes.

“What are you worried about?”- Paul asked getting round the last part of the

sentence.

“I can’t face Jack... or Martin... none of them, actually”

“Do you want to talk to Jack?”

Danny nodded. “I don’t know what to tell him”.

“Tell him what you want, Danny. I think you have trust enough to tell Jack how you

feel, what happened to you. I think, no, I’m sure he will like to hear from you”

“I don’t know”

“I do and I think you will feel better after talking to him. At least you will have

solved one of your problems from that list you told me, do you remember?”

“If you say so” – Danny said closing his eyes. “I’m tired” – he muttered.

“Well, rest, it will be good for you” – Paul said. “We’ll talk later or maybe tomorrow,

right?”

“Okay”- Danny said. “Thanks for stopping by”

Paul smiled. “You’re welcome, we have to get up to date about some things, the

new Met’s signings, that kind of thing”

Danny smiled but didn’t say anything. Paul squeezed his hand as goodbye and left

the room.

 

Next day, after a short conversation, Paul Caster allowed Jack to visit Danny.

Talking to Dr. Coldberg about Danny’s condition was hopeful but the advice from

Paul Caster to face the situation was a relief. Still he was nervous, he wanted to do

it right.

When he entered Danny’s room, he was asleep. He took certain advantage to calm

down and think about the words he wanted to say. He took a chair and sat down

beside him; he didn’t know what to say, he didn’t know what to ask and he wasn’t

sure if he wanted to hear what his agent had to say, if he said something, but he

was there and he just wanted to make Danny trust him, trust things would come

back like before between them, with his coworkers, trust in getting back his job

and the life he had.

“Jack”

Jack was looking distractedly at the monitor and jumped, hearing Danny’s voice.

“Hey, I’m sorry, I was distracted. How... How do you feel?”

“Fine, I suppose, under the circumstances” – he replied.

“You scared us to hell, Danny” – Jack said. “We thought we lost you and you can’t

imagine how badly we felt because of you”.

“I’m sorry.... I’m sorry for what I did to you. I... I don’t know what I was thinking,

actually. I can’t tell you anything else, just I’m sorry, I’m really sorry. I know you’ve

tried to help me and I couldn’t repay you for it”

“Don’t say that Danny. I made mistakes, I didn’t know how to help you, I thought I

was helping but the truth is that maybe I wasn’t. But listen to me, let’s get over all

those things, right? We can’t change what happened so let’s look ahead and...”

“I have nothing Jack. I didn’t think I would get over this, do you know? I thought... I

thought my life would stop there. I shouldn’t have to be here, talking to you, much

less talking about the future. Now I’ve lost everything”.

“No, no, don’t say that. To start, you got those videotapes destroyed, Grassmann

apologized in a public statement to your family, Rafie and you, he forgave you for

what happened that day and he took the responsibility for it. He also got the

promise to help you to recover your job and your life, the life you had before this

crap started”.

“Easy!” – Danny said.

“No, I know it isn’t, but listen, you have good professionals beside you. You have

us, you know that, all of us”.

Danny remained quiet for a while. “What... What I’m going to do now, Jack?”

“You’ll stay here for a while, Danny. You’ve just been in surgery and you have to

rest and recover, they take good care of you here. Then, we’ll talk about other

things”

“Aren’t you going to tell me about my job?”

It was the question Jack was fearing the most. In spite of Grassmann, in spite of

what he was fighting with Olczyk, he knew it was really difficult.

“I don’t know about your job, Danny. Right now, the chances aren’t good”

“So my job and my life depends on Mr. Walter Grassmann”

“What?”

“I’m sorry, I’m like Paul with his resumes. You said before that Grassman told he

tried to recover my job and my life, so I depend on him”.

“Oh, uhm... well, no exactly, we... your coworkers and I are doing a report - the

most concrete possible about things from the beggining...”

“Well, then I haven’t anything to be worried about. I’m lost” – Danny said with a

grimace.

Jack smiled. “No, it’s true we were very upset with some things but we are your

friends, we understand what has happened, we have tried to think what we would

have done in your shoes”.

“What would you have done?”

“I won’t tell you, but you would surprised. We examined our conscience doing it,

you know? It helped us and it was what we wanted to do. I hope our reports help

you to get back your job because then, I’ll have the team I always wished to have, a

close team, involved in your work and aware of what each member of the team can

do, think or feel. That’s what I want and thanks to what has happened to you, I’m

getting it”.

“It would be good to take part in a team like that” – Danny muttered.

“Yes, but we need you in it” – Jack said.

Danny frowned. “Have you talked to my brother?”

“I’ve talked to Sylvia, I explained to her what happened, I didn’t want her to find

out watching the news. She was going to talk to Rafie, I’m sure” –Jack said.

“I hope she...”

“She’ll tell him you’re fine, Danny. It will be enough for him. Don’t worry, you’ll talk

to him when you leave the hospital, if you want. I think you both should talk about

this”.

“Yes, I suppose so, but right now I’m not sure about what will happen” – Danny

said.

“Why?”

“I don’t know if I will be able to move forward. I want to do it but what if I met

someone from the club? What if other things happen and I do the wrong thing? I

can’t... I can’t lose control like that, Jack”.

“You’ll get it, Danny, have faith on it. Look, you’re a strong person, even you don’t

believe it, you have got things in your life nobody thought you would get and you

did it alone, with only your tenacity, perseverance and hard work. Now you’re

going through a bad patch, but the difference is you have people around who love

you and won’t let you go through this alone. You aren’t alone Danny, now it’s

easier. You’ll get it”.

“Okay, Jack. Probably you’re right. I suppose Sam and Vivian know about this. Oh,

and Olivia”.

“Yes, they found out by themselves, just putting two and two together and they

realized it. You know it’s difficult to keep a secret in the office. They were worried

about you and actually Olivia was the one noticing you never should have left the

office. They called you at home, cell... it was luck you called us, that... that it says a

lot of you, about you didn’t want to do, right?”

Danny sighed. “I suppose so... I think so”

“Your call gave us the exact location. You were at home, a safe place. You knew we

would find you easily, you didn’t want to do anything else but you wanted to do

something. That was the reason your gun was disarmed, to be sure you wouldn’t

do anything wrong with Grassmann, but explain to him, getting him to understand

what he had done to you... so you showed him the pictures, to make him see how

wrong he was... that was what you wanted to do, right?”

“I wanted... I wanted him to know my mum didn’t want to hurt me” – Danny said as

a lone tear rolled down his cheek. “She.. she was a good person, she loved us, she

couldn’t do anything else, we didn’t have anything”

“I know, Danny, I know” – Jack said squeezing his arm gently. “Calm down... don’t

think about it now. I know Walter Grassmann understood very well what you

wanted to explain to him, and I know a lot of people understood when he explained

it during his apology statement on the TV program he was taking part in”.

“My father would have killed her, he would have beaten her and killed her if she

had made a report but.... at the end... at the end... I did it. I killed her, I killed them,

not wanting to, as things always happen to me, not wanting to, it isn’t my fault, it’s

the circumstances... like now, it’s the same, but I am the one doing the wrong

things”.

Jack realized he was touching a dangerous issue and he didn’t want to go on like

that. No way things were like that, but he didn’t know at that moment how to

explain to him. He was sure Danny had talked about it to Paul and if he was talking

about it again there was a reason for it. He couldn’t interfere with that moment. He

didn’t know what to tell him.

“Well Danny, I’m not going to talk about something I, actually, don’t know anything

about, but I don’t want you to think about those things, now. Fortunately, nothing

happened to Grassmann, nothing was going to happen, you knew it, you knew well

what you wanted to do, you needed to do it”.

“I needed to do it then too”

“Danny, the situation is different, right? Then you were only a child, a scared child

trying to protect your mum, what happened then doesn’t have anything to do with

what you were trying to do now” – Jack said, knowing he was talking too much. He

didn’t know the concrete aspects of what had happened with his parents and he

didn’t want to make any mistakes.

Fortunately, Danny seemed to calm down with those words. “I’m tired” – he said.

“It’s normal. I’ll let you sleep, right?” – Jack said.

“I’m sorry” – Danny muttered as he closed his eyes.

“Don’t worry Danny, you don’t have anything to be sorry about, don’t worry” – Jack

said squeezing his arm.

He looked at Danny closing his eyes and remained for a moment looking at him.

Then he rose and left the room.

 

May, 2nd

 

It had been two weeks since that conversation. Danny was better and he would be

discharged soon. He would stay in Sylvia’s home where he would be busy with his

nephew and niece, as he recovered completely.

His coworkers had visited him every day since Jack had talked to him and he was

really glad for it. He had made his special apology to each one, but nobody wanted

to hear it, the only thing they wanted was to see him okay, but he was aware of the

pain he had caused and he wanted to fix it, especially with Martin, in which eyes he

read the word ‘guilty’ the first time he saw him.

 

Flashback

 

“Martin, it’s not your fault” – if was the first thing he did, even before the courtesy

words about his condition.

“How... how do you feel?” – Martin asked in confuse.

“Martin, have you heard what I said? I don’t want you to come here like this, I don’t

want, it’s not your fault. You helped me... you helped me a lot, I was the only one

making mistakes”.

“I should have been more attentive”

“You were Martin, you were there all those nights I spent in your home, you helped

me a lot, even if you don’t think so”.

“But I failed you”

“No, I called you and you came with a regiment, that’s true, but you came to help me.

You didn’t fail, you were where I wanted you to stay”

“Danny, don’t say that, it could be worse”

“No”

“You couldn’t know that”

“I know, okay, you’re right, it could be worse but, you know what? Jack and Paul have

banned me from thinking theories about what could or not happened, so do the same,

Martin. We’re here, talking, quietly. I don’t want you to think this is your fault. You’re

far from this story and only come to help me. No way it’s your fault, Martin, it’s

impossible”.

Martin remained quiet, assimilating his friend’s words and calming down. “Well,

right, how do you feel?”

“Fine, better, better... I have my nightmares and stories but I’m better. The wound

isn’t serious and the complications were because of the large amount of blood I lost

but it’s over, so... I’ll soon leave this fantastic place”.

“What will you do?”

“I’ll go to Sylvia’s home, she has room enough for me, there are the children and I’ll be

fine there. It’s... it’s good, it’s a good option”.

“Yes, it’s good, I would let you stay in my apartment but I’m afraid you would get

bored there. Mrs. Ramsey isn’t talkative enough, just to complain about the dirty

place”.

“I know, and you would sleep on the couch every night which isn’t very comfortable” –

Danny said smiling.

“No, it isn’t” – Martin said. “Well, I’m glad you’re doing better. It will be better, you’ll

see it”.

“Sure, Martin. Before you have forgotten me I’ll be back” – Danny said.

“I hope so. Well, I’m leaving, we have a case, I just stopped by a moment to see you. I’ll

come back when I can, right?”

“Sure. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for what you all did. Jack talked to me

about that report you wrote”.

“Yes, it was... it was a interesting experience and we’ll get it, you’ll have your job

waiting for you when you recover, Danny, it’s the least we could do for you”.

“The least? Martin, I was a lost cause, I will owe all of you the rest of my life, you

know that”.

“Forget it”

“Okay, go away or you’ll get in trouble”

“Yes, I gotta go, see you soon”

 

End of flashback

 

 

It was May, 2nd in the afternoon when Jack got out of the elevator and walked

through the corridor towards his agent’s room when he noticed Danny with

another man he identified as Paul Caster. Both were walking towards him, but so

focused on their conversation they were barely aware of their surroundings. The

body language told Jack that Paul was explaining something to Danny as he

attentively listened to his words. Jack remained quiet looking at his agent, not

wanting to interrupt them. He saw how they stopped and Paul led Danny towards

some chairs. They sat down and he could read Paul’s lips ‘Do you understand me?

Do you understand what I mean?’ Danny looked down and nodded softly. Then

Paul put his arm around his shoulders and Danny leaned on him as Paul rubbed his

back and talked to him softly. Jack couldn’t see him but it was easy to understand

that Danny was crying.

He didn’t dare move. Carefully he left the hospital. Danny could be fine physically,

the doctors had said that in a week he would be completely recover, but

psychologically it was obvious things were different. What if he didn’t want to

come back?

“Jack, don’t say silly things” – Vivian said – “He loves this job. It’s impossible, I was

talking to him yesterday and he was happy to come back. It’s normal this little

break down, it has been a very complicated event opening old painful memories.

He just needs time”.

Vivian has asked noticing his tired and worried expression. “I couldn’t talk to him”

– Jack said.

He had told her what had happened at the hospital and the doubt assaulting him

since then.

“I... I wanted to tell him the things we were doing here, I... wanted to tell him he

could come back when he was ready, but now... now I’m not sure he wants to talk

about it”.

“Jack, you don’t even what they were talking about”

“He was... he was so... I felt him so far from us, Vivian”

“Jack, listen to me, you’ve done your best for him, you’ve made it so he doesn’t lose

his job and his name kept out of this event, which means a lot considering the

circumstances of the case, you protected him and I would say you have put in risk

your own career doing it. Now it’s time for him to make his decisions, you have to

let him, he has the help he needs, he knows what he’ll find here, he knows that all

of us are with him. Let him, and allow yourself to leave a responsibility isn’t yours.

Not now, right?”

Jack remained silent not knowing what to say. The image of Danny leaning on

Paul’s shoulder was difficult to forget and he felt really uncomfortable. He couldn’t

think so selfishly that the uncomfortable feeling was because Danny didn’t open up

to him, as he could fix all his problems. He couldn’t, he knew it. He had made a

connection to Danny a long time ago, because they shared the same feeling of guilt

for the death of their parents, his mother for him, but actually, Danny was totally

different to him, his life was very different to his and he couldn’t use an event to

think he had the solution to his problems.

“All right” – he muttered.

 

Chapter 18

 

May, 28th

“Uncle Danny, there is a man at the door. He wants to talk to you”

Danny was trying to fix Nicky’s bicycle when he came in the room.

“Okay” – Danny replied dropping the monkey wrench.

“Have you fixed it yet?” – the boy asked with a suplicant voice.

Danny smiled and ran a hand over the boy’s dishevelled hair. “I’ve almost finished.

Let me know what that man wants from me and then we’ll try it, okay?”

“Sure” – he said looking at the chain his uncle had been fixing.

Danny headed for the door. A mailman waited patiently with a certified letter.

Danny signed the receipt and frowned reading the sender. It was a letter from the

FBI, Human Resources Department.

With the letter still in hand, he came back to the room where Nicky was trying to

use the bicycle.

“Hey, hey, wait a moment, I have to tighten something else, Nicky” – Danny said. He

left the letter on a table and finished fixing the bicycle.

“Right, get on now” – he said to his nephew leaving the bicycle on the floor.

Nicky got on and started to pedal around the house, dodging furniture and little

Natalie’s toys. “It’s great, it’s great! I’m going to show uncle Nelson”

Nelson Márquez, Sylvia’s brother had a mechanic shop two blocks down. “Be

careful” – Danny said.

“Sure, bye” – Nicky said, leaving the house.

Danny came back to the room and picked up the letter. He sat down on the couch

and read again the address. He knew next day would be his first day back. In fact,

he had thought to leave Sylvia’s home today, go back home where he hadn’t been

since he left the hospital. Sylvia had wanted him to stay there all the time and he

felt good there, but it was time to come back home and restart his life. Physically he

was okay completely and he used to run in the mornings with Nelson, what had

been good not only for his recovery but he had started a good friendship with a

person he barely knew. It was strange and new for him, but he felt he was building

the basis to change some things in his life. At the moment he had twice a week

appointments with Paul Caster and things were starting to work. At least, he

understood what Paul wanted from him. His social life was too - the meetings in AA

other two days. His personal calendar was at zero again, even though he couldn’t

tell Ray, his sponsor, the reason for it. He didn’t know why but his problems with

alcohol weren’t connected with the events he had lived during the last months.

Danny only explained vaguely something about work and holidays as an excuse for

his absence in the AA meetings. Ray didn’t ask but he never believed it. He knew

Danny well enough to know that something had happened but Danny didn’t want

to tell, that matter was only destined for himself and, of course, Paul Caster.

He was alone at home with the letter, he didn’t dare open it. He could call Jack and

ask if he knew about it, it was a good idea but, on the other hand, he felt he had to

do this by himself and he couldn’t break down at the first problem... even if the

problem was losing his job. Well, let’s go, he said encouragingly to himself. He tore

up the envelope and took out the letter, glancing at the words quickly. Then, he

started to read it carefully, after noticing the words ‘reacceptance conditions’. Well,

an administrative sanction, a restriction in work for a month, overcoming

evaluation’s test and a weekly appointment with Dr. Harris for the next three

months, if the final report didn’t suggest anything else. All of this conditioned by

the absence of incidents.

Danny sighed. It wasn’t difficult. He knew he was going to be watched and work

wouldn’t be the same as before but, well, he had kept his job and that fact was

really welcome. He made mental note of his first appointment with Dr. Harris, to

do the evaluation’s test, just the next day at 8 in the morning. He signed the

acceptance of conditions and kept the letter in his bag. He was lucky and he was

willing to take that opportunity.

It was time to go back home, so he opened the case Sylvia had given to him, the

same she used to moved his clothes, and started to keep his clothes and personal

effects in it. He was so focused on it he didn’t hear Sylvia entering the house.

“Hey, what are you doing, Danny?”

“Hey Sylvia, I didn’t hear you” – he said – “I’m getting my things, I’ll come back to

work tomorrow so...”

“You know you don’t have to leave if you don’t want”

“I have to, Sylvia, I have to take control of my life again. I’m fine here, believe me,

it’s just I need my things, my place, my life. And if everything is okay Rafie will

come back home soon” – Danny said.

“It won’t... it won’t be the same” – she said staring at him.

Danny looked at her not understanding. She approached him and caressed his arm.

“These days you have spent here, Danny, these weeks having you with us...

everything is different, you know?. I had the wrong idea about you. I‘ve had the

chance to know you well. You got Nicky feeling better, he was out of control, but

now he’s very focused on school, he’s being a good boy, he laughed after too much

time without a smile on his face... he.... he wants his father but... Rafie isn’t here

ever... you gave kindness and stability...”

“No, sylvia” – Danny interrupted her, shaking his head – “Don’t say that, you don’t

know me, you only know a part of me”

“It’s enough for me”

“It isn’t for me, Sylvia. You have Rafie, he loves you despite things he has done. He’ll

leave prison soon and you’ll see how things are going to go well. This time I trust it

will be like that. You know how sceptical I am for this kind of thing but I’ve talked

to him and I believe this time will be different. No... don’t do this now... not to him...

not with me. If I’ve been here for you when you needed it was because I didn’t have

anything else to do. But now it will be different, I have to go back home I have a lot

of things to resolve, I have to get my job back, my life”.

“But, what has this meant for you?” – she said with tears in her eyes.

Danny didn’t believe what he was seeing and hearing and he felt bad. He didn’t

want to hurt Sylvia but he knew he would do. “Sylvia, Sylvia listen to me, I’m here,

I’m not going to another place, just to my home, but I’ll