Fight or FlightbyPTBzzzz©
You will find that I use Lewis and Mark in this story for the name of the same person. This person has memory failure after a short series of traumatic events. He does not know his real name and asks to be called Mark.
When the narrator refers to him, he is Lewis. When addressed by the new people in his life he is Mark
Toward the end I indicate where the story stops being narrated and becomes first person. Obviously a person with no memory has a difficult time telling a story well.
It is nice to think you would be able to function in a certain manner when confronted with an event you find to be traumatic. In reality, you may respond in a completely different way than you want to/might have imagined you would. Nobody really knows their capability to be able to control fight or flight.
This is why the military, doctors, police and so forth train all the time...so that flight is removed as an option.
Life was good for Lewis; he was married 4 months ago to a woman he truly adored. They had dated for two and a half years before taking the plunge.
There were no relatives to attend the wedding. Both sets of parents were gone; he had no siblings or any other relatives to his knowledge. She had one sister, who was in the service and on deployment. They invited as many friends as they could. About a dozen showed at the party to help celebrate.
He worked as a clerk at one of the largest insurance companies in the area; just a few more courses and he could take the test to become an agent. After that he would be in the big time.
Marie was a surgical nurse at the hospital. She was well on her way to becoming a physician's assistant; she had to finish one more semester before her tests.
Lewis usually got home a little before she did, so he would start dinner as he studied. It was usually something simple; pop a tray into the oven or warm a large can of whatever.
Three nights a week she was off to school soon after eating; two off those nights he went to his classes. The other night he spent working on his dream car; a 1957 Chevy. He had restored Josephine from the ground up. He chose that name because it seemed to suit the car; and he knew no one by that name. He hoped to have her ready to drive in time for Marie's graduation in about a month, it would be close.
The weekends were theirs to do as they pleased, usually not getting out of bed until the late morning or early afternoon. This was their time; time for loving, time to make up for all the demands of the week. They were always exhausted by the time they did get up.
It was a Tuesday, one of the days they did not need to go to school. As he pulled into the driveway he hardly noticed the car parked in front of the house; the neighbor kids always had visitors who parked all up and down the street. He dropped his cases on the table in the hall and went upstairs to change. Halfway up the stairs he almost heard a little squeak. His mind immediately brought up a picture of his wife as they made love. He smiled as the thought crossed his mind.
At the top off the steps he noticed the guest room door slightly ajar; it was usually closed. Not really thinking about it, he reached to pull it closed when his life as he knew it came to an abrupt end.
Eighteen hours later he stopped to use the facilities at the rest stop. He had no idea where he was; he didn't care either.
As he pulled into a parking space, the scene he saw as he closed that door returned. It had haunted him off and on, mostly on, since he left the house. His Marie was lying on her back with a huge black man between her legs, he was pumping away faster than he ever thought possible. His Marie, the one who gave him her virginity only four months before, was pumping right back with equal abandon. She was making the same small sounds she made for him. Now it appeared as if she was going to have to be someone else's Marie
His only thought was to leave; he could not live with a woman who would do this.
He picked up a piece of mail and quickly wrote on the back: "If this is what you want you can have him. I won't have a cheating wife. You pay for the divorce."
He threw his ring on it and left it on the hall table on top of his bags. He was out the door and on the way down the road soon after.
He had stopped three, or was it four, times for gas; each time grabbing a couple of cokes and something light to eat. Most of it was on the seat beside him still. His bladder was overfull.
After thinking about the problem for a while he decided that he needed to go back and confront Marie, he was not the type to run from a problem. Besides, he had worked too hard to get to this point his life to throw it all away. He called work and told the recorder he had to take time off for a family problem; he would be back on Monday.
It was between dawn and sunrise when he finally managed to pry himself out of the car, as he stood up the first punch hit him and knocked him out. Two men threw him onto the hood of the car and continued to beat him, without mercy, as he lay there. He was lucky he did not feel the rest of the beating. The men drove off in his car with all the contents of his pockets. They found it to be funny that he wet himself then proceeded to soil his shorts soon after.
One of them commented on how "...they really beat the shit out of him." He was still on the hood as they drove off; to their continued amusement he slowly rolled off the hood of the car as they backed out. He bounced off the curb and lay still. As they left the rest area they rudely toasted him with cokes he had purchased before.
Ten minutes later a trooper pulled into the parking lot to investigate the report of some disreputable looking characters at that location. He found nothing to be concerned about until he returned to his car and saw a badly beaten man fifteen feet beyond where he parked. Had he been at any other angle he might have missed the feet that showed under the trash can.
Lewis died two times on the way to the hospital. He was revived both times. He was near death again as they wheeled him in.
But, Lewis was a fighter, he survived. After ten days in an induced coma they began to bring him out. He was asked many questions; the blank looks he gave in return were not a good sign. He almost whispered "Cheating bitch." and soon screamed "NO!" really loud, and he moaned something about the love of his life being over. Everything else was incoherent moaning and sobbing.
The third day he was awake the doctor asked what he wished to be called. "I feel like I am known as Mark" he replied. The doctors pushed gently for a last name, but he said nothing else. So he became Mark, which in truth was his middle name.
The damage to his body was healing but his face was malformed, surgery made him look normal again.
Soon it became apparent that he was going to continue as he was for the duration. When the hospital could do no more for him he was sent to a psychiatric rehab hospital. A nurse named Nancy was able to befriend him and get responses to some questions, but he could not remember anything about his life before the beating. He still had the same terrible dreams; just a large black man rapidly pumping into a willing redhead. There were never any faces and many times the bodies were barely in focus. Much of the information revealed was recorded from mumblings as he slept. It was just not enough.
The day his room's air conditioner stopped working he revealed another clue. James Jones, the residential engineer, was a smallish black man. When James entered the room to make the repair, Lewis tried to climb out of his chair. The entire time he was screaming "You can't have my wife you son of a bitch. Get out of here and leave us alone!"
James made a hasty retreat from the room.
The staff had to sedate Lewis to calm him down. Over the next couple of days his nurse, Nancy, listened to the story about his dreams and managed to eventually convince him that it was not James who was in his dreams. The description of the man Lewis told her about, with his wife, was just too different to be James.
The next week Lewis asked if he could speak to James. "I 'm sorry for the way I treated you the other day. I realize I was wrong about who you were and what I said."
"It's OK" was the only response.
The two men sat for over an hour and talked about a lot of things. James had to go home to care for his child, so his wife could go to work. They parted as friends.
On the way out of the building James stopped to report that everything was now good between them. As a last remark, one he almost didn't make, he reported that Lewis seemed to watch one redheaded nurse every time she passed by his room. The staff kept a close eye on him and saw it too.
They asked her to walk into his room and see how he reacted.
Nancy was there with him as she entered the room Lewis sat up straight and looked very angry. The redhead moved closer to him a little at a time, until he suddenly spoke. "How dare you come into my room after what I saw you doing with that man? GET OUT and leave me alone. I never want to see you again!"
The nurse turned and left as quickly as she could.
The entire episode was recorded by the closed circuit camera in the corner of the room.
He sat in his chair and wept great big, sobbing tears of pain.
Nancy soon asked "Mark, who was that woman?"
He simply responded "That was Mary, the slut." He almost got the name correct.
"Are you sure about that? She looks like a nurse who works here named Lucy to me."
"No, I'm not really sure; in my dreams she had hair like that. Her hair was longer though. I can't seem to remember her face at all."
The sobbing resumed.
Detective Paul Shields, had been working on the case since Lewis was brought into the hospital almost dead. He hoped that the new particles of information would give some insight into who this man was. After running all available missing persons reports, there were over five hundred with the name Mary making the report. When he added any known spelling variables too, there were over twenty five hundred cases to work through, if that was even her name. With a loss of memory like this he might not even be close to her name. The only real clue was a tiny tattoo inside his hair line, It was a small heart that red "MP/ 4 ever" In real life her name, before marriage, was Marie Peterson.
Somehow she was on the short list of persons who were sent copies of the tattoo. She had never seen it; her name moved lower on the lists when she did not recognize it.
Mark started to follow James around the facility some days. He always asked questions about what James was doing. Soon he was diagnosing problems and suggesting solutions as fast as James was able to. Many times James used Mark's idea instead of what he might have tried first; Marks's ideas were usually the best and fastest cure.
Since he was making so much progress on that front the facility fought to keep him there as long as they could. At least he might be able to find a job later. When Medicare, and the other sources, would not cover the cost any more they had to let him leave.
Nancy took him home with her; they trusted each other and were good friends by that time. She had three weeks of vacation saved up and used every bit of it to get him settled. To occupy his time he began to do little repairs for her; things she could not do, that were in need of doing since her husband died years before. Soon he was being asked to help her friends and neighbors too. He made some spending cash; most of which he never spent except to buy materials for his jobs. He was making a good name for himself in the neighborhood.
Before you think that Lewis and Nancy became lovers; that never was an option. The relationship was closer to mother and son. She was considerably older and he knew somehow that he was still married. He held his marital promises as a sacred bond to be treasured. In his mind it didn't matter if she was true to him or not. A promise was a promise. "If a man can't keep his word he is useless" he once said
Two years had gone by and Marie was getting nowhere with her search. The police had relegated the case to the cold case files, only to be visited when a John Doe turned up dead somewhere.
She decided to hire a private detective with her own meager funds; some of her friends helped too. The detective thought it was a good, cost effective move to soak the media and police hotlines with his picture and information. They would sit back and wait for a month or so to see if anything popped up.
Meanwhile he also followed up on the remains the stolen car. It was found burned in Miami, Florida a little bit more than a month after Lewis was left for dead. There were charge card purchases too. Mostly they were for food and gas. He noticed a pattern when pins were placed on a map. There was a week long period when all the purchases were in a small town about five hundred miles from Miami. The trail began shortly after the assault and ran directly to that town. Slowly the purchases stopped as the cards were beginning to be declined for various reasons. The few after the town headed toward Miami.
A PI he knew was contacted to check out the purchases around town. One man remembered when a former local boy was in town about the same time frame as the purchases; one day two of the cards he used were declined at the same time. The boy pulled out a small wad of cash and paid for their food. "Damn if he could remember that boy's name. OH, wait, Barbie Jo Watson had been hanging with him one evening."
Her daddy wouldn't talk to the detective until he said he was investigating a possible crime. Then he couldn't talk fast enough before he forgot the entire story. The man kept calling for weeks after with more details.
Daddy knew the boy's name and that of his parents. He knew that the parents moved to Florida in shame over the actions of their boy. Another neighbor had their address, just outside Miami. You might think Daddy had a grudge working there?
The best clues were on the cell phone bill. The guys had called their friends; most of them would not talk or denied any knowledge of the calls. Those calls were all placed along the same general route as the charge card purchases. The very best clue was the call Lewis placed to his company. It pinpointed the location to a particular small area that included the rest area, right at the beginning of the trail the boys made. They knew he was alive and in good health at that time.
All calls after that were from various places along the road to Miami, to people the assailants knew.
With this information he called the local barracks of the state police. The trooper who found Lewis had transferred to the other side of the state. Detective Paul Shields just happened to hear a conversation about how to contact the trooper when facts were repeated that sounded like his John Doe case. He asked if it was about the John Doe a few years back. After speaking with the PI he is certain of who he has been investigating.
The two suspects had been released from the county jail the morning before. They had been serving ninety days for vagrancy, shoplifting and petty theft, etc. The prison took them to the county line and put them out with instructions to never return.
The phone lines were busy for the next few days with information sharing between the various parties.
Paul stopped to meet Nancy and show her the picture. The man was quite handsome; he did not look a lot like her friend Mark. She decided it was worth looking into since the changes could have been due to the attack and subsequent surgeries to make his face look normal. Without a photo to match maybe they just took a good guess.
Paul pulled the fingerprints they had in the file to compare to the ones from back east. They looked like a match to him. He sent them to the main print lab at the state police headquarters. Despite damage from some cuts and abrasions they concluded that they were from the same person.
Marie was asked to come in for a progress report Saturday morning, the last three weeks she had only called on Friday evening to be told they were still working on it. When she called on Friday this week the PI asked if she had time to stop in this morning. Thinking he wanted more information she reluctantly agreed. Her life was too busy with little time to waste on trivial things. He insisted that his man was to pick her up and bring her in to the office. She tried to protest. He explained that "...it would be better this way."
After sitting she was handed a sheet of paper. After turning it over her heart skipped a beat. On the page were two sets of fingerprints; one was labeled Insurance Agent Application, the other was labeled John Doe number 362. Stamped across the top of the page was the official stamp of her state police. She saw big letters close to the size of Chicago, she read the words "IDENTICAL MATCH".
She looked up to see the smile on his face as it slowly disappeared.
"Is he dead she suddenly blurted out? She stopped breathing for only a second before he responded "No".
Why the bad look then? She started to cry, not sure why at the time.
"I'll tell you the basics as we know them now, details may change with time." he stated. "Please understand as I give you the details that he is alive and doing well, he was taken in to live with a friend. She is aware of the developments. He, however, is not.
She? He is living with a woman? Her heart sank.
The night he disappeared he drove overnight to get to a small town that I will tell you about at later date. He stopped at a rest area where he was beaten and robbed. Using the statements from his credit cards and cell phone the assailants were tracked to another town and ultimately to Miami, Florida. We know who they are and are trying to find them as we speak. I can't tell you any more on that subject until they have been arrested."
The state police found him shortly later. He died twice on the way to the hospital. Each time he was revived. The hospital placed him in a coma to allow his body to heal without his pain causing problems. After ten days he was allowed to wake. He had, and still has, little memory of his past life before the assault. Over time he has regained what he thinks are some memories, unfortunately they are some very bad ones."
He paused to allow Marie to absorb the information.
She spoke up and asked, "What does he believe he remembers?"
"Remember he was badly beaten before he was found....He believes he walked in to find you having sex with a large black man."
"We expected that was what he meant in the note he left, he must have seen my sister and her husband in the guest room. They told me the door moved while they were in there. When I got home he had left his ring and the note on the envelope you have in your files."
Her mind drifted back as she explained what she knew and saw.
"I was a little later than I wanted to be due to an accident on the road out of town. I wanted to be there when he walked in the door. I wanted to introduce Lewis to my little sister and her husband, she and I look quite similar until you get to know us. She has a slight gap between her two upper teeth and my ears are slightly smaller. I also wanted to tell him we were pregnant.
As I drove up our street he was flying out of our drive like he was being chased by the devil. He took the turn at the street on two tires, almost hitting my car. Before I was able to turn he was out of sight, I tried to phone him...he never answered.
I left message after message all evening and throughout the night begging him to return. I explained it was not me he saw. If he got even one message I have no idea."