Nic and Angela had side errands to take care of. It was essential because they needed to verify some matters before actually confronting Yvonne. If it would come to that. They divided the tasks among themselves so they did not look too suspicious. Nic had to go and retrieve Tammy’s records while Angela had to go to the hospital to investigate.

Nic’s side was easier for him yet it was tricky. He had abandoned his principle altogether and went hacking into the system to search for the records because he had a feeling no one would tell him if Tammy was really dead or not. Leave it up to Wallace to toss him into the flames.

Angela’s trip to the hospital began with a little harmless yearly checkup. It made sense because she always cared about her health–and had been in a delay of an appointment due to a project deadline she had to meet. Now she was free to do whatever. She had pondered into Internal Care and then down toward the room Tammy once stayed at after her checkup. It had seemed casual enough. She already had a story in mind if she was stopped by a staff member–or whoever else.

*****

Wallace got delayed. Not because he could not outwit Yvonne. Not totally. He was actually caught up with other projects that he had to postpone both his spying plans and searching plans. It took until Wednesday before he could clear up his schedule to stalk Yvonne. And it wasn’t until practically the end of the week that he finally got a chance to truly search his house.

The first place to hit? The hallway. As clichés as it was, he did not want to miss a single spot. The hall was long enough to contain some sort of secret compartments. He spent an hour searching–just to be sure. Couldn’t be too careful. He was impatient inside and it was the more reason to be careful during the searching process.

The living room took another hour or so. But he was sure he was meticulous enough. He took a break when he was lingering in the kitchen. He’d somehow searched the kitchen this morning on his way out since he was preparing breakfast anyway. He only had to think if he’d missed anything. Feeling like no stones were left untouched, he made his way down the hall to Tammy’s room. It had become his room. Of course, he had taken the time to search the hallway as well. No signs still. It was getting fruitless. The bedroom was the last straw. He had a feeling she wouldn’t hide anything in the bathroom. It was worth a try but not likely.

Another hour of searching and he ended up lying on his back in bed with his hands cushioned under his head. He was trying hard to remember if Yvonne had gotten a chance to clear out the possessions before he could take a look. He had a feeling she did because she wouldn’t leave any trails behind for him to find. But it was still worth a try. He also remembered she had the key yet he had made sure it was no longer a problem since he had replaced the lock after finding out she was hiding information from him. Like she couldn’t pick the lock and find her way in but he would’ve noticed. Sighing out, he got up again and attacked the nightstand next to the bed. That turned out unfruitful as well. He moved away from the door and tried the dresser next. Removing the drawers from its frame, he wanted to pull the dresser so that he could have access to the wall. That was when a piece of white paper fell out of place when he removed the third drawer down from the right. Tossing that drawer aside, he hurried to grab the paper. Though knowing it was not going anywhere, but he was at his last threads. Holding onto the paper, he realized it was not really a paper. The glossy feel told him it had to be a picture. Excited for a new lead, he flipped the photo. That was when he stopped dead–only a gasp escaped his mouth–and the room was returned to its silent state once more.

A few minutes later, he finally recovered. Not completely recover, but he knew something was definitely up and he was on the right track after all. At least where suspicions were concerned. Yet he could not explain the picture because he did not know it existed. At least not the way it was shot at that time–whichever time that was.

“No,” He whispered, shaking his head at the same time. “Impossible.”

As if he had believed that saying those words out loud would make the picture disappear altogether and restore the world he lived in with all the things still making sense.

*****

Nic and Angela arrived as soon as they could. Wallace looked devastated when they finally located him in the far back corner of the diner. They knew he loved to hide. Yet it was getting even stranger than ever. He at least had allowed for Nic to pick someplace in the middle of the restaurant–and not some discreet place in the way back. The location was bordering on creepy–if they didn’t know better. The table was full of food, but it was left untouched. It was like it was only an excuse to order so the waiter wouldn’t come their way anytime soon. Or perhaps Wallace had specifically told them not to come since their services were very good around here.

“What happened?” Angela asked, her voice low on purpose. Her face reflected the worrisome in her voice.

“You tried to confront Yvonne again?” Nic asked, sitting down at the spot next to Wallace.

“Ge!” Angela shouted, giving her brother a sharp glare. She was giving him the look that said he was inconsiderate.

And Nic soon realized his error. The day when Wallace didn’t react with some equally smart snipe, there was definitely something wrong. He turned to his sister then, wondering where to begin. Angela had settled down at the spot across the table from Wallace then. She reached across the table, attempting to comfort him. But Wallace withdrew his hand from within reach before she could touch it. It was Angela’s turn to look at her brother.

“You’re making us worry,” Nic stated, wanting to approach the matter head-on.

Wallace finally reacted, pulling out an item from his pocket. He had imagined slamming it on the table dramatically when the other two arrived yet he could not find the strength to anymore. All he managed to achieve was placing it casually on the table–with only some traces of lifelessness. It was a picture. The picture. The same one that Wallace had found earlier. Nic and Angela exchanged a glance between themselves before looking down at the item. Angela gasped upon the realization. And Nic grabbed a hold of the picture, bringing it closer to his face, wanting to make sure it was not his eyes deceiving him.

“It’s true,” Wallace muttered, having read what was going through the siblings’ minds.

“How could you be so sure it’s not photoshopped?” Nic asked, looking at Wallace. “You did something like that several years ago, remember?”

“There’s a date on the back of the picture. My hand was covering it when I first took a look. But after I saw the date, it all came back to me.”

Nic took Wallace’s advice, flipping the picture over to look at the white background. He placed the picture in his palm–and not the table, not wanting to get dust on the front. There was really a date on the back like Wallace had said. “April 24th, 2003.”

“It’s Tammy’s handwriting.”

“You got married to Tammy seven years ago? How could that be possible?” Nic felt he had put his foot in his mouth again. “I meant you married again?” Then he realized that was even worse. “I just mean…”

Yes, the picture that had shocked them all was Wallace and Tammy’s wedding picture. The difference was they looked younger in the picture. They were 26 to be exact–according to the date. All three parties present knew that it was impossible to be a recent photo because there was no wedding picture the second time around. Tammy was too weak for such a tradition.

“It’s confusing as hell, I know,” Wallace finally spoke up again after what seemed like Nic had already pulled out all of his hair trying to find the right words to say.

“I’m assuming you don’t know about the previous marriage,” Nic said, finally finding his voice. Though that was another dumb thing to say.

Angela still did not say anything. Her mind was zooming away, thinking about the possibilities of it all. What was going on here? Wallace looked clueless and shocked enough. She could not blame him for being deceitful or anything related to the deceptive nature. Yet how could it be? Just when she was still torturing herself with her own wonderment, Wallace spoke up again.

“Of course not,” Wallace said. He could have answered but he had hesitated. “At least not until I saw the picture.”

“The rings in the picture looks the same,” Nic noted, wanting to find something else to do. Though it seemed like he was digging a deeper grave for himself.

Wallace nodded. “That’s because they’re the same. Tammy told me when she was in the hospital that she had some rings at home and it was her parents. But I know now it’s a lie. She didn’t want me to waste money on a new set when she couldn’t convince me not to get married again.” Wallace started laughing then, feeling the irony of the situation.

“You actually lost your memory?” Angela asked, breaking her silence at last. It was a cheap shot yet she did not care to sound that way. She had to know for sure.

Wallace stopped laughing altogether at that time. It was not like he was amused. He was somewhere near hysterical by then. He knew it was hard for them too. Just looking at Angela now, he felt guilt creeping into his mind again. Not knowing how to answer, he began by shaking his head. “I don’t know what it was either. I could only remember the wedding. I can’t remember anything else.”

Nic turned on his suspicion radar. “You’re not putting us on, are you?”

Wallace’s tired state did not prevent him from giving Nic an edgy look. “Do I look like I’m joking?”

“Hey, don’t snap at me. It wasn’t my fault. It’s just that we’re sitting here discussing this at this normal diner but it seems like we’re shooting some mystery thriller drama.”

Wallace ran his fingers through his hair, just wanting to get some of the loose strands out of his way. “I wish it was so too. Because I could tell the scriptwriter to come up with a more original script than memory loss.”

“We definitely have to talk to Yvonne,” Angela jumped in, her voice back to its determined state again. “She has all the keys. At least until we can find Tammy.”

“She’s right,” Nic agreed, gaining somewhat of confidence as well. “We have to make Yvonne tell us everything or you’re going crazy soon assuming things.”

Just then, a series of laughter could be heard from several tables over. Angela took a quick glimpse toward that direction. From the way they dressed, they looked like a group of high school girls enjoying themselves after a long week of classes. She did not want to mind about their matters–as long as Wallace didn’t mind.

“We’re going to ask Yvonne tomorrow, right?” Nic asked, still keeping a cautious eye on Wallace.

Wallace shook his head. “I need to clear my head first.”

“Knowing you, you would only make things worse by analyzing the matter to death and assuming things,” Nic pointed out. “It would be better to just confront Yvonne.”

That was when the crowd of girls got a bit too loud again. Angela wanted to get up and tell the girls to simmer down. Yet Nic stopped her.

“Don’t,” Nic warned, shaking his head at the same time. “We don’t want to draw any more attention than we have to.”

Angela sighed out and sat down at her spot again. She knew that those girls were talking about some movie plot. Possibly a chick flick. Yet did they have to be so loud?

“No,” Another girl contradicted her friend. “They have to be fed some type of elixir before they could be considered cured again.”

And that was when Angela turned in time to see Wallace clutching his head. Nic was grabbing Wallace by the shoulders, trying to shake him out of the trance. It was too late, Wallace was gone to them. He did not faint. He was just taken away from the reality in front of him, consumed in his own world. Images flashed by then–all dark and hazy at the same time, voices were everywhere–all jumbled up, suffocating him. Then just as soon as he was pulled into the trance, he snapped out of it. Straightening up, he pushed Nic’s hands off slightly. Angela had gotten up again and was staring at him. Her pose suggested that she had tried to reach across the table to help her brother.

“Elixir,” Wallace uttered.

“What?” Nic asked, confused.

“They were just discussing some silly movie,” Angela explained, misunderstanding Wallace’s word.

Wallace shook his head. “Elixir was the word Tammy chose to undo the hypnotic cycle.”

Angela gasped. “You were hypnotized?”

Wallace nodded.

Nic and Angela exchanged another look between the two of them. What kind of person was Wallace? And why was it hidden from him? Angela was beginning to agree with Nic regarding the mystery thriller drama thing.

© Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Posted: Saturday, May 12th, 2012

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