Copyright (c) 2017 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.
“Mistakes once made … have the capacity to spread like fire in a high wind.”
By R. Peterson
The woman who couldn’t remember who she was knew something was wrong as the long black limousine carried her through the streets of Manhattan. The name “Johnny” awakened in her a memory of pain and regret but she knew it wasn’t because she thought her infant son had perished in a swimming pool. The name was connected to the memory of the man throwing clam shells on the beach, and somehow she knew that, as surely as she knew that “Jane” wasn’t her real name. She glanced over at the well-dressed man sitting in the backseat with her and knew deep down he was not her husband. Why was he lying to her and why had he shown her photographs that obviously had to be fake? The name he had mentioned had caused her to rush blindly into something without really looking. What have I done? The mistakes I’ve made seem to be spreading like wildfire.
“I want to go back to the bakery,” she told him.
“What! After searching for you for a full week and finally finding you? No way I’m letting you go. Don’t you want to see your son … Johnny?”
“I have no son named Johnny,” J.J. told him. “A woman would remember if she had a son … and you’re not my husband. I would remember something like that too.”
Edward Coffee (Fast Eddie Black) started to pull out the photos he kept in his wallet J.J. told him to put them away. “Stop the car and let me out,” she demanded.
“You’re not yourself … you don’t know what you’re doing!”
“You’re right on both counts … but I’m not going anywhere with you!” J.J. opened the door on her side and Eddie grabbed her just before she flung herself out. The long black limo careened sideways and came to a stop alongside a taxi on Park Avenue. “What the hell are you looking at?” Eddie yelled at the bearded driver who was staring at him from beneath a large green Sikh turban.
“Help me!” J.J. screamed. The man turned away, shaking his head. Infidel women in America have no respect or obedience to their men.
“You need to put her out,” Eddie told the limousine’s driver and moments later she leaned over the front seat with a hypodermic needle in her hand. Her left arm was in a cast obviously it had been broken.
“I should never have gotten mixed up with you,” Benji told Eddie as he held a screaming J.J. down and Benji reluctantly prepared to give her an injection. “You have over a hundred beautiful girls working for you that are forced to do anything you ask … and you’re never satisfied.”
“Make sure you give her enough to knock her out but I want her alert when I return from business downtown.”
J.J.’s head swam as the drug began to take effect. Minutes later the limo came to a stop in front of a fifty-story apartment building with iron railed balconies on each level. “We’re not going up there are we?” J.J. pleaded. She was dizzy and felt drunk as she craned her neck to look upward. “I have acrophobia!”
“Nonsense,” Eddie told her as he and Benji dragged her past the doorman, who discreetly looked away, and to the elevators. “What’s to fear? You’re home now, Baby!”
She woke up in a round Abdolhay Parnia bed covered in black chinchilla. It was night and only city-light came in from the floor to ceiling windows. Thank God she was alone and still dressed! A large framed photograph on a Chateau Beauvais bedroom chest showed her and Edward on what looked like the deck of a very expensive yacht. A close-up inspection of her face looked vaguely familiar, but she still didn’t recognize the black man with his arm measuring her waist … who claimed to be her husband.
Obviously this apartment occupied an entire floor of the building. J.J. waded through white shag carpet that tickled her ankles as she wandered through a dozen rooms looking for the front door. It was locked from the outside and beating her fists and yelling did no good. After crying for what seemed like hours she decided to explore the apartment. Paintings by Andrew Dasburg and Arthur Dove covered the walls and they didn’t look like reproductions. Bright colors surrounded by soft tones. More photos this time her Edward and baby Johnny in what looked like a church! An eighty-six inch flat-screen TV with a dozen surround sound speakers covered almost an entire wall but J.J. couldn’t get any response from the remote controls. Wedding pictures? She didn’t recognize any of her attendants. If Edward were really her husband why did he have to keep her prisoner? Their baby was cute …but she didn’t recognize him … what kind of mother was she?
She felt like she was suffocating, luckily the access to the balcony was unlocked. J.J. almost fainted when she walked to the edge of the iron railing. It was forty-seven floors to the street below and the heavy night-traffic looked like specks of glitter floating both directions in a dark rain gutter. She took a deep breath, stepped back quickly and closed both glass doors. Her legs were shaking.
J.J. was sitting on the bed with her head in both hands when she heard the front door unlock. How could she have been so stupid? The girl driver of the limo came in with a bundle wrapped in her arms. “Johnny fell asleep waiting for you,” Benji said. “I thought you would like to see your son!”
“He’s cute but he’s not mine,” J.J. told her. “I don’t know what’s going on here but I’m leaving!”
“I can’t let you do that,” Benji said as she placed the sleeping toddler on the bed. A gun was suddenly in her hand. “Eddie will kill me if I mess this up!”
“What’s with you people?” J.J. screamed. “If I’d ever been married and had a child that I would remember!”
“You still don’t know do you?” Benji said still pointing the gun. “Of course! Those Italian immigrants who found you don’t believe in radio or television! You haven’t seen the news have you?”
J.J. shook her head.
Benji reached behind the giant TV screen where a power-strip had been unplugged. Moments later she was scanning through channels until she found a news station. The volume was up very high. She didn’t try to adjust it. “I’m sorry,” she yelled. “I was supposed to make sure you couldn’t watch any of this but I just can’t leave you here with no memories. Do me a favor, if Eddie returns … tell him you found the power cord and plugged it in yourself.”
J.J. heard the front door close and lock and Benji was gone with the toddler. A commercial for 2018 Dodge trucks was just finishing and the nightly news came on.
Authorities in New York City are now in the second week of the investigation into the mysterious disappearance of Academy Award winning actress Robyn Janette. A police spokesman earlier confirmed that Warner Brothers action star Brent Andrews had been taken into custody as a person of interest in connection with her disappearance. A film clip showed the doorman being interviewed in front of J.J.’s apartment building. “Miss Janette ran out of the building upset and crying,” he said. “A few minutes later Brent Andrews came out of the building with blood on his face and ran in the same direction. I should have never let that bastard into the apartment but he had a recording of him and her making a date. He said it was going to be a surprise. J.J. if you’re still alive … I am so sorry!”
J.J. was so shocked she almost fell to the floor. The memories came back to her in a rush … who she was … a superstar … and everything about her glistening career … and also what she had done. “Johnny! I’m so sorry,” she whispered as she walked across the room. “I live on a high hill and once you start a stupid mistake rolling down it just keeps picking up more and more stupid like a growing snowball and there doesn’t seem to be any way to stop it.”
She was deathly calm as she opened the doors and stepped outside. “I now know who I am … and why I didn’t want to live … not without real love.” She tried to laugh but knew it would take hours of rehearsing. “I would have been better off not knowing. Johnny, my dear Johnny! I only hope I didn’t hurt you.”
A strong breeze was blowing on the balcony and J.J. felt like she might be swept over the edge. She didn’t care. She could still hear the audio from the TV blaring inside, this time it was Brent Andrews giving an interview as he came outside the police building with his lawyers. She turned to look and found that she couldn’t hate him … not like she hated herself.
“… suspect Andrews was reportedly released today on one million dollars bond …”
“Sure I had sex with her,” Andrews blurted to over sixty-million viewers. J.J. cried real tears as she climbed onto the railing. “But it was consensual. After all, I’m on the cover of Time Magazine as the world’s sexiest man. I mean what actress wouldn’t jump at the chance to say they slept with me?”
“Did you kill her?”
“Of course not!”
“Then why was there blood on your face?”
Andrew’s lawyers cut the reporters off with a NO COMMENT as they whisked their client into a waiting limo.
J.J. tried to stand upright on the railing but her fingers were frozen tight and she couldn’t let go. It was consensual sex … almost. It was her fault. She was a stupid bitch. Nausea swept over her like a first time drunk. Suicide is never as easy as it looks in the movies. If I just drop over the edge my falling weight will pull my hands loose. I had everything. All my princess stories that I dreamed about as a young girl growing up in Cloverdale came true … and then I burned the damn fairy tale book and danced on the ashes. I didn’t want to remember who I was and what I’d done. I still don’t. How could any person be that stupid?
She remembered the look in Johnny’s eyes just before he turned and walked out of her bedroom almost ten days before and the pain in her heart came back … Astonishment? Sadness? Betrayal? The sound of the keys as he dropped them on the table. She really had hurt him … even more than herself!
There was a banging sound on the front door and Zanobi Esposito’s voice yelling about the bastard Edward Coffee and how his Mafioso friends had beat the street thug into talking. They had found her and were only waiting for someone to unlock the door.
J.J. released her fingers and stood up. It was easier this time. She felt like she was on the deck of a sailing boat during rough seas at night … looking for her home lights in the dark. The busy street almost five-hundred feet down seemed to tilt from side to side. There were police lights far below flashing in front of the building.
A voice like a warm blanket on a freezing cold night suddenly came from the television. An international reporter was interviewing Johnny Lang from a movie location in Spain. J.J. felt her heart flutter the way it had whenever he walked into a room. There was no other man in the world like him. She turned slowly toward his voice hoping to catch a glimpse of his dreamy image one last time. As always, the sight of him took her breath away. She stretched her arms to keep her balance.
“Bad times are a part of life and Robyn Janette is a light that will burn forever,” Johnny said softly. “Whatever happens to her she has the guts, ability and determination to soar high above it.”
J.J. suddenly felt like a young girl with hope and dreams aplenty on the long road before her. Johnny Lang was the only man in the world who could ever make her feel this way. She had to do right by him. He has to know that you will love him forever … even more than life itself.
“There have been reports that you and her have broken up. Superstar Brent Andrews has admitted sleeping with her. If she is found alive … is there any chance that you two will get back together?”
A sudden gust of wind prevented J.J. from hearing Johnny’s last words clearly. More banging on the door. What did he say? Why did that damn reporter have to ask him that? It was so close! Did I hear him right … does it really matter?
The rushing air sounded like the audience applauding at her first High School performance … as Jean Janette Robinson slowly turned, closed her eyes and stepped off the railing.