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Authors: Tracy L Carbone

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BOOK: Hope House
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Once the words were out, he snapped his mouth shut and stared at her.

Marry me,
she screamed inside her head.
Does he know I have dreamt of this proposal each night, that it is the hope that keeps me going?

He finally spoke again.  “I’m a coward, Martine. Afraid of what Mick will do to us if we leave, afraid of what will happen if we stay. You should go while you can, before it’s too late.”

His eyes were so sad. For him to admit his fear was courageous, she thought. Not easy for a man to do.

“I will take my chances and stay with you. In your heart you want to marry me and that is enough.” She smiled and kissed his cheek, wanting more, but knowing that was not allowed. No sex for the girls of Maison D’Espoir.

“Do you understand what I said?
Eske ou konprann
?” he asked.


Oui
. I understand. I love you, Doctor Tad. If this is our life, so be it.”

She turned and walked out and her heart pounded like it would break from her chest. She had never said that to anyone before. The words were magic. Saying them made her feel free.

As she walked down the bright yellow hallway in her leather sandals, she heard Dr. Tad call to her. “I love you too, Martine. Thank you. Thank you for staying.”

 

3.

Office of Kurt Malone, Miami, late morning

 

Kurt hung up the phone with Carla aka Amanda Reilly. She was safe and sound in her new life. Everyone thought Carla
Whoever
was dead, which must have been devastating for her family, but it was the only way she could hide from her attacker. Kurt hoped she would embrace the new identity he had given her but that was unlikely. She had a lot of spunk and he knew she would never fully leave her past where it belonged. She had a hell of a lot more courage than he did, which in her situation could get her killed.

Kurt, on the other hand, had no problem jumping out of his old identity and into the new one and never looking back.
Okay, sometimes I have to look back
, he reprimanded himself. He now typed, “Timothy Perconi Capitol” into Google. 11,124 matches. He looked at his log book. Yes, the same as last week. He added “Puglisi” to the search logic. Nothing. Still no connection between the senator’s death and the Puglisi family. He tried his one last routine search. “Perconi, Capitol, Assassination.”

One new hit
from last time. Probably nothing, but he had to check.

He clicked the link. It was a personal blog on a conspiracy theory website by someone calling himself
Findthetruth101.
A photo of an aged hippie making a peace sign rested above the blog.
Good. Just some kook. But worth reading
. The entry had been posted a week ago.

 

It was ten years ago this week that Timothy Perconi, posing as a local pizza deliveryman, waltzed into Senator Ryan Peterson’s office at the Capitol Building and shot him in the head, killing him instantly. The Capitol Building is heavily guarded and cameras abound, but Mr. Perconi was able to walk in the front door, down the corridors, and directly into Peterson’s personal office to pull the trigger. After the fatal shot was fired, Perconi ambled right out the door of the office, past the guards and tour groups. This deliveryman was still in the building when an aide discovered the Senator had been shot. Cameras show him emerging from the elevator banks and calmly walking out the front doors while everyone else was in a panic.  It was a sad day for all, but this article is not a memoriam. It is an inquiry.

Whatever happened to Timothy Perconi? How did he manage to get into and out of the Capitol so easily? Video cameras captured his image, but no one has ever seen him again. Was it an inside job, a mystery no one will ever solve, akin to the JFK’s conspiracy?

On this tenth anniversary, what I want to know is what happened to Timothy Perconi? Find him, and you’ll find the answers.

 

Kurt’s stomach clenched and his heart raced.
Shit. Who the hell is this clown?
Kurt wasted a few minutes trying to ascertain the poster’s real identity but the blogger had covered his tracks well. All the paths led to other fictional screen names.

Tim Perconi, Kurt Malone, whatever the hell he called himself these days had been set up, but he had a snowball’s chance in hell of proving that. Whether ten years ago or today, no one would ever believe the truth. No one but those who’d done this to him.

Damn straight it was an inside job, one plotted long before Perconi got involved.

He was still running but felt secure in this identity. Yeah, maybe Kurt was a coward, but he was alive. He’d love to drop a dime and tell someone what really happened that day, but that would be signing his own death warrant.

 

4.

Law Office of Alierdi, Moss, and Carpenter, Miami, late afternoon

 

Tommy Carpenter’s hands shook as he dialed Mick’s number. Gloria had called Tommy earlier in the day and insisted Alison Gander was their daughter. “She looked just like me goddamn it!” Gloria had said. Tommy had tried his best to deny the possibility. It couldn’t be. But Gloria had scanned and sent Alison’s photo to him. When he opened the email attachment, he almost shit his pants. He’d known Gloria his entire life and Alison looked just like Gloria had as a child.

One thing Tommy had to admit in private moments was that he had
, over the years, begun to believe his own lies. Easier that way. Something he had never admitted to Gloria was the ugly little fact that he had bartered their child away. That he never had seen the body of Gloria’s fetus. And he had so often told Gloria, in a sincere effort to quell her pain, a fine little story of how beautifully the hospital had handled the fetus, wrapping the body in cloth with such great respect and care. 

What if?

It
remained a crazy, impossible notion, because the dates between the miscarriage and this Alison person’s birthday were months off.

Still, what if?

He looked at the picture of his family on his desk and tried to convince himself that they were all that mattered now. But that little girl in the picture on his computer monitor had Gloria’s nose, bone structure, dimples, and
his
eyes. Yes, Alison’s eyes called out most strongly to him.

“Are you my little girl, the little baby I sold so I could get all this?” he whispered. Tears welled up in his eyes.


This is Mick Puglisi.”

Tommy jumped back when he heard the voice. He hadn’t realized he had hit send.

“Hey Mick. It’s Tommy. Tommy Carpenter.”


Can it wait Tommy? I’m in Haiti and this call is going to cost a fortune.”

“I guess so. It’s just, well, Gloria’s been asking some questions.”


I didn’t think you still talked to her
.” Mick was in the middle of nowhere with some high tech satellite phone, but the quality left a lot to be desired.

“I don’t, but she called out of the blue about a month ago thinking she had found our daughter. Sounds crazy I know, but—”


Fucking stupid is what it is. You know she’s nuts.”

“I know, I know. Last month I was pretty hard on her, reminded her about her breakdown, and that was the end of it. It turned out though, there’s a little girl about the same age as ours would’
ve been, and it seems this kid, um named Alison, needed a bone marrow transplant. Gloria was on a donor list from a few years ago and got a call because she matched. She donated the marrow, and God knows why, but the parents invited her to see the kid.”


So, that’s a good thing, right?”

“Yeah, I mean no ‘cause the kid looks exactly like . . . well, just like Gloria I might add, and
she knows the girl was adopted see, so— ” 


Jesus fucking Christ,”
Mick yelled.

Tommy cringed and felt his heart sink. Was Mick admitting something?
Was
Alison theirs? Panicked thoughts of losing his new family filled him, not to mention the conflict Gloria and Alison would go through. Surely there would be legal ramifications. Criminal charges of some sort. He leaned back in his chair to staunch a wave of nausea.

“Mick.” He heard his voice shake and hated that he sounded like a coward but couldn’t help it. “Mick?
Is
this little girl
ours
?”


No. No, you fucking moron. Your baby is dead. Got it? You sold us your fetus for a medical experiment; and believe me she was dead before Tad took her out of your wife in pieces.

The image was too much, and Tommy vomited into his trashcan. Still, he reasoned, he had never seen that so-called fetus.


You all right?”
Mick asked. Like he cared.

“Yeah. I’m all right,” Tommy said after a moment. “So Gloria is just grasping at straws?”


Yes. This kid doesn’t belong to your wife. I’m sorry Gloria went through what she did but it happened and it’s over.”

“But the DNA matched. The little girl’s DNA—”


It matched as her mother?”
A rhetorical question.

“No, but a relative.”


So why the fuck are you calling me in Haiti and costing me a mint in cell phones minutes to complain about your ex-wife’s delusions?”

“I just, I—”


I hate to push my weight around, Tommy but I gave you everything you have and I can take it away just as quick. You’re not going to bother me about this again are you?”

“No, sir. Course not.”


Listen, why don’t you find some incompetent PI, some new guy who doesn’t know his ass from his elbow? Someone who’s not associated with the firm. Hire him and tell him your ex-wife is a fruitcake and you need her off this trail before she ruins your career. Tell him she had a miscarriage, did time in a nut house and now is causing trouble. Pay him well to mollycoddle her. There’s nothing to find out anyway but that doesn’t mean she won’t be a royal pain in the ass. The PI will make some money and she’ll be satisfied and drop it. You’re going to make sure she drops it, right?

“Sure.” He’d already sold his soul and his infant to the devil, but the child was, after all, just a pile of medical waste—or so Mick had always insis
ted. What was one more black mark on his conscience now? “I know just the guy. He hasn’t been in business long. Some blue-collar schmuck who used to be a house painter or something. Someone around the office used him to hide some money in Belize. Not a lot of scruples.”


Good. So this is the last I’ll hear of this?”

“Yeah. Sorry I bothered you.”

Tommy waited for a response but instead got a dial tone. He put his head in his hands and sighed. It was easier to just believe what Mick told him. Gloria and Tommy’s fetus,
fetus
not baby, was taken for an experiment. Never a full term baby—and a stillborn at that. Never a little girl.

He looked up at his new
family’s portrait. For their sake, he had to convince Gloria there was no truth to her theory. For their sake, he had to believe it too. Honesty and integrity were luxuries he couldn’t afford.
No going back, Tommy.

He picked up the phone to call Jim
, the coworker who used that PI, Kurt Malone. He’d get Malone’s number and then set him up with Gloria. He’d have to wait until she called back, make it seem like it was her idea to hire him. Gloria was tenacious. Just a matter of time before she dug deeper; and Tommy and Kurt Malone would be right there waiting.

 

5.

Gloria’s home, Bradfield, MA, afternoon

 


New Age Adoption Agency,”
a woman said around what seemed a wad of gum. “
Can I help you?”

“My name is Gloria Hanes and I have a question about one of the children you adopted out.”


Are you the adoptive parent?”
the gum-chewer asked.

“No.”


Did you give up your child?”

“No, I just want some information on one of the children you placed.”


I’m sorry, but we can’t give out any information—and certainly not over the phone! Are you from the press?”

“Can I speak to your manager?” Gloria found that request always worked.


Sorry, he’s out of the country right now.”

Almost always worked. “When will he be back?”


Tomorrow.”

“Are there any other managers?”


No, just him. Is there anything else I can help you with?”
So cheery.

“Apart from answering my questions?”

BOOK: Hope House
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