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Friday, June 8, 2018

Memories Unlocked # 37

Chapter 37

O’Brien looked up as his second lieutenant walked into his office. “Tell me we’ve got that broad under control.”

“Sorry Boss, she’s digging in and doesn’t believe we’ll hurt her.  Do you want me to take a couple of the fellas and show her we mean business.”

“No Damn it!  That the last thing we need to do.  Thanks to her articles, the police in this town are starting to turn their eyes toward us and are beginning to believe her accusations.  They’ve stepped up their presence here in Angel Square. Right now, she doesn’t have any proof to back up her articles. If we strike at her, it will prove her articles are true.  No, we have to think of another way to get her to back off. Get me more detailed information about her family and colleagues. Maybe we can use them to put the scare into her.”

“Gotcha.  The leader of that street gang wants a meeting.  Says he wants to meet you in particular. I told him that was a no, but he’s putting up a stink.”

“I see, who’s his second in command?”

“Some punk named Antonio Vargas.  He seems to know his place. I’ve watched him back up his leader, and he’s good at keeping the gang under control.”

“Take out the leader, then we’ll negotiate with this Vargas guy.  Make sure he understands you are his connection. There will be no meetings with me.  If he wavers, take him out too. That will put a scare in the gang and they’ll do whatever we tell them.  Don’t forget I want information on that publisher broad. She’ll drop the articles or else.”

****

Vargas stood talking to a group of men lounging around on several stoops in the Angel Square Area of Llanview.  They were keeping a loose watch out for cops as several of the men tagged an alley with their colors. Vargas spotted some beat cops headed their way and whistled alerting the men to cease what they were doing.  As the cops approached them, Vargas watched as several men started to deride them.

“Lookie lookie, it’s some of the big bad Commissioner’s boys sent to protect us citizens.”

One of the men dropped to his knees and pleaded. “Mr. Policeman, I need your help.  That bad old store owner has said he’ll harm me if I make a move to enter his store again.” The men laughed as the officer looked angrily at the man on his knees.  

“Get up, Rodrigues.  I should take you in because you trashed his store last week but Mr. Santos is afraid to press charges.”  he turned to another man sitting on the top step of the stoop. “Bernardo, break up this little gathering. The Commissioner has promised the people some protection.  You won’t be able to intimidate them much longer. We cleared Angel Square of your type before and we can do it again.”

The laughter stopped as Bernardo stood up and made his way down the stairs.  At first glance, he looked pretty mild-mannered, like he didn’t quite fit into a gang, but then you met his eyes and they were cold and pierced right through you.  You realized you were watching a predator, like a poisonous snake you gave a wide berth too. Bernardo ruled with an iron fist and his men followed because he even intimidated them.  He sneered as he stepped right into the officer’s space, making the man take a step back.

“I don’t like threats, Officer.  This is our neighborhood and if you know what’s best, you’ll tell the Commissioner that we aren’t going anywhere.  I think you need to show some respect. What do you say, fellas? Let’s teach them how to show respect.”

Carlotta Vega had been watching the officers and when she saw the gang leader stand up, she quickly called the police.   “Yes, I’m calling from Angel Square,. Send help, your men are in danger….Yes, it’s going down just across the street from my cafe. Please hurry.”  She watched helplessly as Bernardo’s men surrounded the officers.

Vargas moved quickly, behind one of the officers, and forced him to his knees, while several others took down the second patrolman. Vargas saw the second officer attempt to fight and with his hands tied up holding the first officer and keeping him on his knees, he was unable to stop the glancing blow the second officer received knocking him out. “Enough,” he commanded. The men stopped from hurting the officer any more and Vargas met the angry eyes of Bernardo.  “Don’t be a fool, you made your point. If they kill him we all go to jail. Look around, we’re attracting attention.”

Bernardo frowned,  He looked at the officer still on his knees. “You’re lucky my man spoke up.  From now on I only want to hear ‘Yes Sir’ when you see me.” Just then sirens and cars came around the corner. In the distraction, the officer Vargas was holding onto slipped his hold and began fighting with Vargas.  Bernardo and his men scattered, leaving Vargas still wrestling with the officer as help arrived.

Carlotta watched as they took Vargas into custody and an ambulance was sent for the downed officer.  She said a prayer the officer wasn’t badly hurt, but her eyes followed Vargas as he was put into the policemen’s car and taken away.

O’Brien’s man watched the whole thing play out.  It was clear to him that Vargas was the man they wanted.  He had taken command of the situation and had stopped his own leader effectively before real trouble had happened.  Although arrested, he hadn’t really hurt anyone and it would be easy for O’Brien's lawyer to get him out of jail. Vargas would owe O’Brien.  He smiled and pulled his phone to make a call.

****

Blair was putting the finishing touches on the headline.and was just getting ready to send off to the printer when Sam Rappaport entered. “Where have you been?  Starr told me Matthew was spending his time with Nora and Troy for the last couple of weeks. You just disappeared. I know you were upset about my decision to stay with Todd but going off to sulk doesn’t become you, Sam.”

Sam frowned and ran a hand through his gray hair.  Blair wasn’t far off. He had left in a huff. Although he had seen the proof in Todd’s records, he still hadn’t been able to shake the feeling that Todd was playing everyone again.  ”I had to go out of the country. I ran into Tea and she told me about the island and Todd’s time there.”

“Let me guess, she told you that Todd offered to marry her again if she would help him get the children.”

Sam was shocked. “That’s exactly what she told me.”

“I’m sure she also regaled about the fact that she and Todd had sex, right?”

Sam couldn’t meet Blair’s eyes.  Tea had done just as Blair said. He had been overjoyed thinking he could tell Blair and she would toss Todd aside after she heard that, but from Blair’s tone she had already forgiven Todd his indiscretion.  He cleared his throat. “Blair, if you know he was unfaithful to you, how can you stand there and tell me you’re going to stay with him?”

“Sam, I wasn’t so faithful myself.  You know I tried to seduce Troy and besides, what you’re not remembering is Todd got on that raft and was determined to get home to me and the children.  That in itself, tells me Tea meant nothing to him.” Blair finished stacking her papers on her desk and looked over at Sam. :”I’m surprised you didn’t ask me how I knew about Tea?”


           “Well, I’m asking now.  How did you find out about Tea and Todd?”  Sam folded his arms across his chest. He was pretty sure of the answer.

“Todd told me”

Sam smiled. “Aha, I told you he was lying about his amnesia.  Okay, I admit he was injured but now you tell me he told you about the island.  How do you know he isn’t lying about his walking too? Maybe he’s just pretending his disability to get your sympathy.”

“Sam stop.  I know you talked to Larry and I’ve had talks with both Larry and Troy.  Both Todd’s amnesia and paralysis were real. But Todd’s getting better, his memories are coming back to him now and he told me about the island because he didn’t want me to find out from Tea. herself.  I believe him. Am I happy he had a fling with Tea? Of course not, but I cling to the belief that Tea told Sam Vance the truth when she was rescued. Tea told her that nothing and no one could talk Todd out of getting on that raft to come home to me.  I believe that, I see his love in his eyes when I look at him every day. He wants me, Sam, not Tea or anyone else.  As far as the paralysis goes, Todd’s getting feeling now in both legs and I know he’ll be back on his feet soon.
He’s not trying to play on my sympathy.  Todd’s frustrated by how slow his recovery is going.
He really hates being incapacitated.”

Blair walked over to Sam and laid a hand on his arm.  “Sam, what happened between you and Todd? You were disappointed in him and shocked by what he did with Jack but if anyone understands Todd’s motives for doing things I thought you did.  Why are you still trying to find fault with him?”

Sam couldn’t stop himself, he took Blair’s hand in his. “Blair, he’s not good for you.  He’ll hurt you again and I just don’t want that to happen. We were getting closer and I felt…”

Blair pulled her hand free. “Don’t Sam. We had something a long time ago, and I know you were hoping to rekindle that but it’s not going to happen.  You’re my friend and I’ll always be grateful you were here when everything happened with Jack but my feelings for Todd never changed. I love him, Sam.  I don’t think I ever stopped loving him.”

“Hey Blair, you’re holding up the paper.  They need your final draft on that headline.”  Todd rolled to a stop when he saw Sam standing next to Blair.”Oh, … umm, Sam, I haven’t seen you in awhile. Are you keeping busy these days?” Todd saw the glance between Blair and Sam.  “Oh, I get it, you’re still trying to convince Blair I’m faking everything. You used to be on my side,”

Sam faced Todd, “Yes, well that was before you pulled all your stunts and hurt so many people.  I just can’t trust you anymore, Todd. You were wondering where I’ve been, You might be surprised to know I just got back from seeing Tea.”

“Tea;, huh, I know she, and that Ross character, were rescued by Sam Vance.  I’m glad they got off that island. Is she doing okay?”

Sam was disappointed, he had hoped to shake up Todd.  “She’s fine. she told me about your stay on the island.”

“Yes well, I  still can only remember bits and pieces of my stay. You heard my memories are coming back right? I remember Ross was a regular boy scout.  If he hadn’t been there we probably would have starved. Yep, he and Tea got along great. They must have felt like Adam, and Eve once they were alone on that island without me being the third wheel.”  Todd looked at Blair,”Um Blair, they’re still waiting in printing.”

Blair looked from Todd to Sam and picked up her final draft. You could cut the tension between Todd and Sam with a knife.  She walked over and gave Todd a quick kiss.“I’ll be right back. Behave,” she whispered into Todd’s ear as she left.

Todd stared quietly at Sam.  “You brought up Tea on purpose, didn’t you?  You found out she and I slept together one night on the island.  You just had to come and bring Blair that news. Did you get the response from Blair you were expecting because I’m guessing not?  I might not have all my memories back yet and some of them still come at me in nightmares but I remember that night on the island. Yes, Tea and I had sex, but that’s all it was.  I woke up dreaming of Blair. Sam, do you understand? Tea doesn’t do it for me? She never did. That’s why our whole relationship was so toxic. Don’t get me wrong, I cared about Tea and I still do, but I never loved her.  She knew that. She‘s the one who gave me my picture of Blair and the kids to carry home with me when I set off on that raft. That picture was the only thing I had when I woke up in Guam and even though I didn’t know who they were I couldn’t throw that picture away.  That’s how important Blair and the children are to me. Damn it, Sam. You know I love Blair. Stop trying to come between us!”

Sam was all prepared to pounce on Todd for his acting so nonchalantly about the island and Tea and had been taken aback by Todd’s righteous anger and accusation. It hit him right between the eyes. Sam abruptly sat down on the couch. Todd was right, ever since he heard that Blair found Todd he had done everything in his power to stop Blair taking Todd back.   It wasn’t his right to do that. No matter what he felt for Blair. She didn’t feel it for him. She cared for Todd and he had known that for a long time. He met Todd’s eyes. “You’re right. I have been trying to get in between you two.  Blair’s a good woman and you’ve hurt her so many times, Todd. She deserves better.”

“She does.  But we love each other.  All I can do is try and do better for her. You know me Sam, but so does she and she’s willing to try again.  I can’t promise I won’t hurt her again, but I prayed to God when I was on that raft that if he got me home to her I would make every effort to change into the man she needs.  All I’m asking you to do is give us a chance.”