He rubbed the business card between his fingers as he tried to remember all of the events from the day before. His head was throbbing and his ears were ringing a bit.
Think, Michael. Your memory is sharp, he thought to himself. You are nothing like the old guys in this joint. Think.
He remembered the trip to the mall and the bomb. The memories seemed very hazy, like a distant memory, not something that happened the day before.
“What happened when I came home?” He said aloud, hoping that hearing his voice would jog his memory. A flash back of Tiana came to his mind and something about visitors.
I better call this number before Ice Queen comes back, he thought as he dialed the number on the card.
“This is special agent Foster,” the voice on the other end said. Michael could tell right away this was a rookie, his voice was young and his statement almost sounded like a question.
“Is it?” Michael responded, quick as ever. “You didn’t sound too sure.”
The man cleared his throat. “Sir, how can I help you?” He put some authority into his voice now and it took a lot to make Michael not laugh out loud.
“This is Michael Henry.”
The man on the other end began coughing, as if choking on water and Michael could here rustling of papers.
“Mr. Henry. We weren’t exp-I mean we-we were hoping you would call,” agent Foster stammered.
“Have we met before?” Michael asked.
Agent Foster’s voice was starting to bring back some memories of his visitors the day before. He recalled an older gentleman and a goofball kid-must be him.
“Agent Jefferson and I were in to see you yesterday but you were not interested in what we had to say. You know the drill-we had to help you forget our meet-,” the man began to explain.
“I heard about you. We all have,” he continued. “You are a legend among the new agents. It’s really an honor to be speaking with you. You are the only one who can fight the Memory Eraser. How do you do it?”
Michael sat quiet on the phone. He was annoyed, he didn’t care much for small talk and he hated attention on himself. He just wanted the boy to get to the point already.
After a brief pause agent Foster spoke. “We can’t talk much more on the phone. As you know it’s not safe. Meet me at the bench out front by the river in 20 minutes, “ he said and hung up the phone.
Michael sunk into his chair, rubbing his temples. His headache and the ringing in his ears made sense now. Those bastards tried to erase my memory! Ha! They must have thought with old age it would have an impact on him for once-but his mind was far to sharp for that. Scientists all over the world had tried their models on Michael when he was in the service and he fought them all. They would always ask the same questions…they wanted to know how he fought it.
Michael would smile and shrug every single time and say, “when you cherish each moment in life you tend to cling to each memory tight.”
He knew the truth, however. He had a protection around him so strong in all of his years he served the country. His wife, Meriam’s, prayers. She loved Michael and her daughters fiercely, but she loved the Lord more than anything. When she told you that she was praying for you, she meant it. She would go into her prayer room and be on her knees fighting. It was in her nature to fight, and boy did she fight some heavy things in life. She grew up in an abusive home and joined the army as a nurse as soon as she could get away from her family. Once she was enlisted she was met with unpleasant experiences that she never told a soul on earth to, but her Father in heaven knew everything about her.
Michael often wondered if it was her relationship with Jesus that prevented her from hardening the way many people have who had gone through what she has.
Michael looked at his watch, 10 minutes had already gone by. Time always flew by when he thought of Meriam. He grabbed his cane and headed out the door, stopping to look at his schedule. He shook his head. Another day completely off his routine, he was so irritated. This meeting better be worth it.
The sun hit his face and caused him to squint as he stepped off the front porch of the nursing home and walked towards the empty bench across the street.
He sat on the metal bench, which felt cool despite the heat, and listened to the seagulls overhead. He checked his watch-he’s late.
Punctuality is very important to Michael and to him really nothing else mattered when it came to first impressions.
“Sorry I’m late,” Agent Foster said as he slid into the bench beside Michael. He was even younger than Michael has anticipated.
“Don’t be sorry, be better,” Michael responded, catching agent Foster off guard.
“Michael, your life is in danger. You need to leave Manor Lakes immediately,” agent Foster said. “You have to do it quietly. Start packing, but don’t make it looks like you are packing.”
“I can’t just up and leave!” Michael was furious. “What about my daughters? How can I explain me moving to them?”
“We will handle all the details, Mr. Henry. You know that. They have spies all over this place, it’s now of never. Meet me here tonight at 2000.”
With that he got up and walked away. Michael watched him step into a black suv at the end of the road, the driver nodded at him.
Michael looked out to the river and thought about what Meriam would have said if she was still alive. “Michael, you will be dead before you retire, and even then you will find a way to work!” She always said. He smiled. She was beautiful even when she was mad. Her cheeks would become pink and her lip would curl. He would give anything to see her again, even if it was just to hear her disagree with him.
They didn’t argue much, but when they did it was almost always about his work. Michael took pride in serving his country and the work that he did. He would retire only to joint special task forces when asked. He just couldn’t say no and chance something happening to the country he loves so dearly.
This country is where his parents came from England and on blood sweat and tears built a name for themselves. It was fighting for this country that he met the love of his life. It’s in this country he bought his first home and raised his children. How could he say no when they needed him?
“Well we need you, too.” Meriam would sulk as he walked out the door. “May God protect you today and always,” she said before kissing him.
A group of seagulls fighting over a piece of bread thrown by one of the other residents brought him out of his daydream. Michael made his way back into the building and headed to his room to pack. Just as he was about to walk into his room the Russian nurse approached him.
Nodding towards the schedule that hung she said, “for a man who likes his routine you sure don’t follow your schedule.”
Michael’s heart began to beat a little quicker.
“Want your bath now?” She asked.
“No, I’m ok, thank you. Where is Tiana?”
The woman’s cold features became even more icy-so much so that it gave the old man chills. Her smile was sinister. “She no longer works here.”
Impossible. Tiana was in nursing school and Manor Lakes was paying for her education. She had one more semester left, she would never leave. He felt sick to his stomach but had to play it cool. He could not let her know that he knows who she is.
“Ah yea this place has a bit of a turn around. I don’t know how you broads do it,” he said quickly shutting his bedroom door behind him.
All that sat between him and the femme fatale was a heavy oak door that didn’t even lock. He focused on his breathing in orders to gain his composer. He knew what the game plan was, but that was going out the window immediately.
He needed to find Tiana, but should he let the kid know his plans first? One thing is for certain, he could use a strong drink right about now.