Wallace waited for the Chang siblings to leave before he made his move. In fact, he waited until the sun went down before making his move. And he didn’t just sit around and wait. He was making some preparations while killing time. It wasn’t work-related either. It seemed like the more he prepared, the more things were coming back to him. At least the skills he never could have acquired with his current life. By the time it was completely dark, he was standing in front of Yvonne’s house. When he was absolutely sure no one was watching or paying attention, he took out his kit. Under ten seconds, he was in. He locked the door behind him before scorching the place. It was like he was operating on some underlying mechanism. He wasn’t sure of what to look for either, he only knew to keep searching. He lingered longer in her room. She had some photo album stashed in one of her drawers. He took his chances and leafed through it cautiously, not wanting to miss anything.

“How could it be?” He mumbled out loud upon seeing a certain set.

It was the one Wallace was wearing his wedding tux. The one from seven years ago. Yvonne was wearing a light yellow dress. Almost all of the pictures they took together had him with his arms around her shoulders–or a closer embrace. No pictures of Tammy. Comparing to that one wedding picture of him and Tammy, the ones he took with Yvonne seemed to show more happiness. How could it be? Was he right in his assumption after all? They were cheating on Tammy way before he lost his memory? That was why Tammy had let go of him after he lost his memory?

“No,” He gritted his teeth, not wanting to believe it.

Wanting to disprove his paranoia, he took one of the pictures out and flipped it over, checking the date. The exact same date as the other one on his and Tammy’s photo–April 24th, 2003, except in Yvonne’s handwriting this time. So was that day the wedding date or the photoshoot day?

Wallace didn’t have time to ponder. He heard some sounds in the distance around then. He risked an empty spot of the album and pocketed the picture. He just had to. Snapping the album shut, he replaced it. It didn’t matter anymore. Yvonne already knew it was him. So one missing photo wasn’t going to kill anyone. In fact, he might as well step outside and confront her. But he was wrong. When he stepped outside, all he could see was a suspicious silhouette trying to search for something.

“Who are you?” Wallace demanded, knowing too well it wasn’t Yvonne.

The other person didn’t respond but just attempted to run. Wallace blocked the other person’s path but the other person tossed out something, forcing Wallace to dodge. That left the opening for the opposing party to escape. Though all wasn’t lost. Wallace knew the other person had picked the lock just like he did. He did a quick inspection of the apartment before leaving. After locking his car, he messaged Yvonne, telling her there was an intruder. Even if that would mean exposing himself as well, he didn’t care. She was after all his friend–if at all, so he needed to warn her.

*****

“You were cheating on Tammy?” Nic repeated his question for the third time.

“Maybe,” Wallace answered, pondering why in the world did he bring it up in the first place.

“You snuck into Yvonne’s apartment?” Angela took over the interrogation. “You knew how to pick locks?”

Wallace shrugged. “It just came back.”

“That means you were a burglar before you lost your memory?” Nic jumped in, moving the subject way ahead of proofs–and whatnot.

It was four days later since they talked about the whole situation at all. Though Wallace still saw them every day, he avoided the subject on purpose, claiming he wanted to sort things out on his own first. Yet it was too creepy to just sit around alone and make assumptions. At least it felt that way after the initial shock worn off.

“How should I know?” Wallace fended off Nic’s wild theory. At least that was one of them. “Look, I don’t know who that creep is, but he cost me some time. I was going to look into her laptop next. It could contain more information. But…”

Angela was staring Wallace down again. Like she just met him.

“What?” Wallace rattled out, feeling nervous about her stare, which was strange because that feeling was foreign to him–whether current or past life.

“We really have to talk to Yvonne sooner,” Angela said, her tone dead serious. She looked quite worried. In fact, she never turned off her worried look since they all realized what kind of strange past Wallace might have.

“Did you ask your mom yet?” Nic asked, looking toward Wallace.

Wallace shook his head. “Not yet. I want to wait for Yvonne.”

“You called her since…” Angela paused, trying to look for the right word.

Wallace shook his head again. “No, I just messaged her to warn her about that intruder.”

“You’re one of the intruders too, you know,” Nic helpfully reminded him again.

“Thanks, Old Nic,” Wallace said–with sarcasm included.

“I rather you snap at me than that quiet, creepy exterior since that day,” Nic confessed.

Wallace wrinkled his brows in confusion. “What?”

“You’ve been acting strange since you found out about the photo of you and Tammy, you know. I mean stranger than strange. Like stranger than what we’ve seen since we know you.”

“Hey, Nic!” A girl’s voice called out around then.

They all turned to see Amber walking toward them. Yes, they were at the usual hiding place after work.

“Hey,” Nic returned the greeting–and added a sweet smile.

Wallace had caught that. It was too obvious not to.

“You two dating?” Wallace got straight to the point when Amber was already out of view.

Nic looked down at the food in front of him–as if the answer was there.

“Come on, man,” Wallace urged, punching Nic on the shoulder.

Nic looked up then but turned to his sister first.

“Hey, strange timing but I won’t object to you finally dating,” Angela said with a supportive smile.

“Congrats,” Wallace said, punching Nic on the shoulder again. “Our Old Nic is finally moving on.”

“It’s just starting,” Nic explained. “I mean, we’re just getting to know each other and it’s nothing serious yet.”

Wallace had on his teasing smile, an expression they all had been missing since last week. “Doesn’t it always start there?”

Nic nodded at last.

“You okay though?” Angela asked, looking at Wallace.

Wallace’s smile faded. “I know I still have to figure it out, but it doesn’t mean everyone has to stop living because of my problem.”

Angela’s smile finally made its appearance. “I’m glad.”

Somehow, they ended up toasting for Nic’s new start.

*****

Yvonne finally returned after another week passed by for them. Wallace received a message from her as the working hours ended. Good timing indeed since it would drive him insane if she had messaged him sooner and prevented him from focusing on work. There were already too many distractions as it were these past days. He didn’t need it piling up even more. Was that Yvonne’s purpose in the first place? She’d known exactly when to contact him so he wouldn’t be put in a difficult situation. Yet he shrugged it all off.

“I’m going to Yvonne’s house later,” Wallace said as he snapped his phone shut.

“Sneaking around again?” Nic asked, his attention away from his clean up task.

Wallace shook his head. “She’s back.”

“She wanted to talk to you?”

Wallace shook his head again. “I’m going to surprise her.”

“Want us to come along?”

Another shake of the head from Wallace, which was already a record–compared to his typical loudmouth attitude. “No, I’ll be fine. I think I need to get things straight once and for all.”

Nic’s cell phone beeped then. He retrieved it and checked his message before turning to Wallace again.

“Angela?” Wallace asked.

It was Nic’s turn to shake his head. “It’s Amber.” He licked his lips once. “Actually, we were supposed to go see a movie but now…”

“Come on, man,” Wallace said, his amused smile on. “When have you become so concerned for me? I’ll be fine. It’s not like she’s going to be prepared with a group of gangs to take me down because of this secret, whatever it is.”

For once, Nic didn’t snap at Wallace’s words. He still looked worried. He couldn’t explain it. Yet perhaps it was a sense of friendship after all these years working with Wallace?

“You know if a girl waits for too long, she’s going to go find some other guy,” Wallace joked, his teasing smile still intact. “She seems like a cute girl. Don’t let her go or you’ll be living alone for the rest of your life the rate you’re moving.”

Nic attempted to smile. “I guess I’ll be going then. You’re going to lock up?”

Wallace nodded. “Sure, Old Nic. Get out of here.”

Wallace made sure to lock every single door before he called it a day. Though he was anxious to go find Yvonne and demand that much-needed explanation, but it wasn’t like he would be careless about security measures around their workplace.

*****

Nic got caught up in traffic and had to call Amber to tell her that he was going to be late. She understood and told him to take his time, even telling him to be careful. He felt reassured and focused on his driving after getting off the phone. He called Wallace back several minutes later and asked about his progress. Yet Wallace was also stuck in traffic. It seemed like they were heading the same way.

It was about twenty minutes later that Nic finally escaped from the traffic. He sped up a little and tried to make up for the extra time. But when he remembered Amber’s warning for him to be careful, he slowed down again. It was a nice feeling to have someone worried for him again. Though it was a standard response from one human to another–if that situation was to present itself with someone else, he hadn’t felt important for a long time now. It was just different with Angela because she was his sister and it was an unsaid thing that they would take care of one another all these years since little.

Nic quickly did a mental shrug and focused on driving the rest of the way to Amber’s house, not wanting to think about the past anymore.

When Nic arrived at Amber’s place, he realized it had a country feel to it. A house surrounded by various sorts of plants. It was hard to believe she could afford the place because of how fancy it was. It wasn’t like he wanted to stomp on her capabilities, but her current income at the newspaper place was not enough. He soon forced himself to shrug that off also, knowing he just met her recently and wouldn’t want to let some silly assumption distract him from getting to know more about her. Yet his smile turned off upon seeing a certain silhouette leaving Amber’s place. That person was leaving from the backside. Because of the house’s layout, he was able to see through the whole property without needing to actually enter the place. That person was leaving through the backdoor past the patio. Seeing that Amber finally emerged to exchange some more words with the other person, Nic dodged slightly to one side, using one of the larger poles by the fence as his hiding spot. After the two were done with the conversation and the other person finally left, Nic reached for the rope that was tied to a bell and pulled on it. He knew he didn’t want to appear too suspicious if Amber were to catch him. It was better to announce his arrival at this moment. Even if he still had some unanswered questions in his mind.

“Hey,” Amber greeted him as she came to the gate and opened it for him.

“Hey,” Nic returned, sending her a casual smile. He licked his lips, pondering if he should ask. Yet he cleared his throat once, wanting to summon some courage from within. Or at least he knew he was treading on this road for a friend. It might be worth it after all. “Hey, I just saw you talking to someone back there when I was about to ring the bell, who was that?” He scratched his head and let his eyes linger a bit, trying to act nervous. “Sorry. I know I shouldn’t meddle into your business, so forget it.”

Amber still maintained her smile as she gestured for him to enter. “It was just some stranger who got lost and I had to point out the direction for her.” Amber closed the gate again as Nic entered and guided him toward the front door. “You know how tricky it is to find this place.”

Nic nodded, understanding. “And traffic coming this way at this time.”

Amber nodded also, still acting casual. “Definitely.”

They entered the living room at that time and Nic realized the door the stranger just stepped out of was linked to the living room. It was just the house was designed differently so he was confused that it might have been the kitchen’s door or some part of the back of the house. He did a routine scan around the room–as he usually would when entering an unfamiliar house.

“It took a while with finding a map and showing the other person the right directions so I didn’t have time to get ready yet,” Amber said. “How about I get you something to drink and I’ll go get ready?”

Nic nodded automatically, not really paying attention. Amber noticed his sudden strange behavior but didn’t ask. She went to the kitchen to get him a glass of water before heading toward her room to get ready.

As for Nic, he was still numbed about the newly learned information. He fumbled with his cell phone and was about to hit in Wallace’s speed dial number but stopped himself. He pondered if Wallace had managed to escape from the traffic already. From his estimation, Wallace probably had because he had a longer way to go than Wallace–according to where Yvonne’s house was comparing to Amber’s. However, he still didn’t press Wallace’s number. It was like he was still trying to piece some information together. Wallace’s mind was already in a jumble lately. He didn’t want to add on until he was sure the newly learned information had a connection–and not just some sheer coincidence after all.

*****

Wallace was amazed that he made it out of the traffic without losing it altogether. The wait at Yvonne’s house was another matter. He ended up pacing. Then took a glance around the neighborhood real quick before using his own key to enter. The key was from the replacement that the locksmith gave him when the man had changed the locks for him. Yes, he had taken it into his hands to change the locks for Yvonne the day after the break in to ensure her safety. The second key, he’d hidden at her usual hiding place for her. She would know to look when she couldn’t get in with the old key.

After he was in, he made himself comfortable in the living room. He’d made sure he locked the door again so he wouldn’t appear too suspicious. And he opted for lights on. He knew Yvonne would eventually figure out that he was already in. It was hard not to spot his car when it was like right in front of her property.

Wallace fell asleep. He didn’t know how he’d done it but it happened. When he woke up and was rubbing his eyes–like he usually would after a deep slumber, he realized someone had draped a light blanket over him. As he focused on getting his alertness back, he could hear tapping sounds. It was from a keyboard. Someone was typing. He checked the source of light in the room to realize it had been dimmed. For some reason, he wasn’t scared, like he’d encountered this moment numerous times already in the past. He slowly peeled the cover off himself and got up, walking toward a corner of the room where Yvonne was sitting and typing on her laptop.

“Hey, you’re up,” Yvonne said–with her back still to him.

Wallace felt strange that she’d knew without him speaking up. Okay, his footsteps might have given it away, but he didn’t have elephant feet, so how did she know when this was carpet?

Yvonne didn’t allow him time to mull that over. She got up from her spot and turned around to face him with a smile. “I have to type a bit more then I’m done. But we need to get out of here after this. I have a little more time but don’t want to risk it.”

Wallace wrinkled his face in confusion. Last time he checked, they were mad at each other. Okay, more like he was mad at her for withholding information. How did it become like they had already called a truce? She was overly friendly with him too. Okay, another mistake. Not overly friendly, but bordering on caring with traces of gentleness. A gentleness he’d never seen before. Not from this current life.

“You’re probably hungry, right?” Yvonne continued as Wallace was still trying to figure out what was going on. “I already prepared something for you. I think we have time to eat before we go.”

“What’s going on here?” Wallace finally said, not being able to take it anymore.

Yvonne still had on that sweet, caring smile. “What?”

“Why are you acting all nice now? I mean are you really my wife?”

Yvonne smiled, looking somewhat shy. “Of course.”

And that was when Wallace realized what he’d just said. “I mean what have you done with my wife? Yvonne, it’s no time for jokes. And did you think you got me under some trance again so it’s safe to play some games now?”

Yvonne had already entered the kitchen and had turned on the light. She was in the process of preparing food for him. Or more like them since she just took out a second bowl from the dishes rack. He had to follow her to investigate further but he didn’t know why he was feeling so strange at the moment. Was he going crazy?

“What are you talking about?” Yvonne finally asked as she placed a bowl of soup on the table. Her back was still to him. “I thought you said you remembered. Okay, you didn’t say it, but from what you said last time we talked, it was like you remembered.”

“I do remember,” Wallace confirmed her suspicion. And he was so bluffing because he could only remember about a fraction of things–with fragments of strange images here and there. But it wasn’t like he was about to admit that to Yvonne. “The more you should start explaining what happened to my wife.”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Yvonne returned, her voice containing some traces of humor. She finally turned toward him and placed the second bowl of soup on the table. “I’ll fill in the blanks for you later. Come on, eat.”

After saying that, she shooed him into a chair and placed a spoon into the soup bowl already set out for him. She retrieved another spoon from the dishes rack before joining him at the table, sitting next to him.

“You know you could only stall for so long, right?” Wallace reminded her, still eyeing her suspiciously. Though he must admit he was indeed hungry and knew she wasn’t going to poison him. He still didn’t know how he knew, he just knew.

“Okay, okay,” Yvonne said after another spoonful of soup. “I’ll tell you in a bit about Tammy.”

“Thank you,” Wallace said and resumed eating as well.

“But we have to get out here and go somewhere safe before I could tell you.”

Wallace stopped eating and stared at Yvonne again. “What do you mean? Where are we going?”

“You said there was an intruder before, right? I think they found out my place and won’t hesitate to come again now that they know I’m back. We need to get out of here. We’ll be out of town by tomorrow.”

Wallace was stirring his soup–though it wasn’t as hot anymore. But when he heard Yvonne said something about ‘out of town’, he stopped. “What? What in the world are you talking about? We can’t just leave. I don’t know who that crazy lunatic is, but we’re not going just like that. What about the others? What about Nic? What about Angela? And my family.”

It was then that Yvonne stopped eating and looked at Wallace. Her expression was the same wrinkled, confused expression he’d displayed minutes before. “What?”

Wallace scoffed. “I thought you’re not going to play dumb anymore. Come on, you know what I’m talking about.”

“I thought you said you remembered.”

Wallace was still confused about what that had to do with answering his current question. Yet he didn’t want to be exposed that he really didn’t remember. Not completely. He tried to keep his composure intact. “Of course, I already told you several times.”

Yvonne was not convinced this time around. “If you remember, then why are you doubting me?”

Wallace abandoned his soup bowl completely now and got up from his place. He made his way out to the living room again. Yvonne followed him, her expression had gone back to its serious state. Before Wallace could open the door to exit the place, Yvonne dashed forward to stop him, blocking his path.

“You can’t leave now,” Yvonne said.

Wallace wasn’t threatened by her composure–or unbelievably fast speed. “If you’re not going to help me, then I’m leaving. I’m going to have to do it the hard way by digging on my own with some private investigators.”

Yvonne had on the hurt expression then. In fact, it looked like she was disappointed. In him? Or the situation? He didn’t want to cave in. After all, he had every right to not trust her. Because she kept stalling and stalling, not wanting to give him the real answers. What was that with trying to lure him out of town? But before he could speak up to confront her any further, she had covered her face and stepped away from the door. He could hear sniffling as she went back to the living room. And he was free to go yet he didn’t want to. Not when Yvonne was crying like that.

He returned to the living room and found her sitting on the sofa. He settled down next to her, wrapping his hands around her, trying to calm her down. He didn’t know why. He just had to. She resisted his grip at first but soon relaxed and leaned back into him.

“I’m sorry, okay?” Wallace said, his voice soft now, not fierce and harsh like before. “I…I just wanted to find out what’s going on. You would understand how frustrating it would be if people kept hiding important stuff from you.” He paused, patting her shoulder some more–if only she would stop crying already. Though he knew his words hurt, it was like she refused to let him off so easily by crying even harder. “Right now, I just want to find out what happened to my wife.”

That was what got Yvonne. She suddenly restored to her strong self and brushed his arms aside, getting up from her spot. She also brushed all her tears aside and tried to stop herself from crying any further.

“Yvonne…” Wallace attempted again, getting up also.

But before he could say anything else to make her feel better–and finally help him, her cell phone’s ringtone came on. She used the sleeve of her sweater to wipe the rest of her tears off before retrieving her cell phone from the coffee table. He didn’t realize she was actually wearing casual house clothes until now. It was so unlike her. It gave her this gentle image he’d never seen before.

“Hey, Rick,” Yvonne said into the phone.

Wallace didn’t want to listen in, but he couldn’t help it. New boyfriend? Yet it couldn’t be. She had claimed to be heading for some hiding-place, how could she have time to start a new relationship? But Wallace scolded himself since he only learned about the running away part now. So it could be that she still didn’t have time to break it to her boyfriend yet.

“No, I’m not crying,” Yvonne said several seconds later. “Look, I have something else to tell you.”

Another pause and Wallace was going crazy. Yet he tried to be patient.

“No, he doesn’t remember,” Yvonne continued. “We’re on our own.”

That was when Wallace figured that Yvonne was talking about him. He knew he had to interfere. “What are you talking about?”

Yvonne turned to give him a look before taking several steps away from him, trying to continue her phone conversation with Rick–whoever he was.

“Yvonne, come on,” Wallace urged, running out of patience again. “I know you’re talking about me. What’s going on?”

“You know what, meet me at that place tomorrow morning and I’ll tell you the rest, okay?” Yvonne said into the phone again. “I will have to sort out some things first.”

“Yvonne…” Wallace nagged again, not caring if he was being a pest at the moment. That was the least of his concerns.

“Rick, I know you’re worried but don’t come. I can handle it.”

After that, Yvonne hung up and looked at Wallace again. “You want the whole story, I’m going to tell you. But not here. I have to pack and we’re going to take your car.”

She didn’t wait for Wallace to agree or disagree. She just headed for what could be the bedroom area. And he was left in the living room pondering about matters, his head still spinning like insane with questions. Soon though, he was broken from the trance. It wasn’t because of Yvonne coming back and urging him to go. But it was because he heard the overly loud water running. He headed in the direction that Yvonne had disappeared a while back to check on her. Only two rooms were flooded with light, one being her bedroom. He headed for the other, knowing it was probably the bathroom and she’d left the water running without realizing it. She was probably packing in her room so he thought he turned that off for her. Even if she claimed she was going to run, it didn’t mean flooding the place was a good idea. Or was she that crazy?

When he finally entered the bathroom, he realized how wrong he was. Yvonne wasn’t in her room like he thought. She was standing by the sink, crying away again. What was with her and crying? And he didn’t care if she was only half-dressed either. Well, she was still in decent clothes and her blouse was on and all. She just hadn’t buttoned up her blouse yet. It wasn’t like he was going to stare like an idiot at her exposure. He walked over to her and grabbed a hold of her shoulders, trying to turn her to him.

“What’s going on?” Wallace asked. “I thought you said we were in a hurry.”

Yvonne shrugged his hands off then, turning away from him again. She buttoned up her blouse in lightning speed and snatched some tissues on her way out of the bathroom, leaving him stunned once again. He had no choice but to shut off the water and exit. He finally understood why the water was running. She was trying to block out her crying. Yet he just had to go investigate regarding the water running.

Wallace returned to the living room alone, not wanting to bother Yvonne while she was packing–for real this time. He suddenly wasn’t feeling confused anymore. No, it was more like the confusion had subsided to make way for something else. He was feeling devastated, not because of his situation either. But more like he was affected by Yvonne’s mood. Why was she behaving in that way? It was like she couldn’t get over some disappointment. Was what he said that strong? She should know it was so hard to trust her at this stage, especially when she had a hand in Tammy’s staged death.

Wallace’s cell phone ringtone came on to stop him temporarily from pondering about Yvonne’s strange behavior. He reached into his pocket to find it still there. He didn’t know why he would worry. Or did he think Yvonne would confiscate it when he was still out cold earlier?

“Hello,” Wallace answered, his mind still thinking of Yvonne’s strange behavior.

“It’s Nic,” Nic said on the other side. “Okay, I know you would say you know it’s me. But I have to tell you something really, really strange.”

“What?”

“I saw Yvonne at Amber’s place earlier.”

Wallace wrinkled his face in confusion. “What? When?”

“When I came to pick Amber up for the movie date. I meant to tell you, but then I didn’t want to get all paranoid. Amber lied about knowing Yvonne. Okay, okay, she didn’t really lie. But she assumed I just arrived and didn’t see Yvonne coming out from her living room so she just said it was some lost stranger asking for directions.”

Wallace finally put two and two together. So Yvonne went to Amber’s place earlier and wasn’t home when he first came. Yet he didn’t have time to ask Nic any questions. Yvonne finally came back. But like he was scared of Yvonne.

“You were at Amber’s house earlier?” Wallace confronted Yvonne upon seeing her walking out of the hallway and hauling a suitcase.

Yvonne wrinkled her face in confusion. “What?”

“Don’t lie,” Wallace returned, unfazed by her tactic. His sympathy for her a minute ago had vanished. “Nic saw you.”

“You want to kill me?” Nic protested on the other side. “No wait, I have to go, Amber’s coming out from the restroom. I’m going to take her home and then call you back later. Maybe we should meet at my place.”

“Wait,” Wallace said, not caring if Nic was in a hurry. “Don’t hang up.”

“But…”

Wallace ignored Nic’s plead and stared Yvonne down. “Come on, you want to continue lying?”

Yvonne looked away from him briefly before turning to him again. “Fine, if you already know, we’re going to go to Amber’s anyway. Tell Nic don’t leave, we’re coming.”

Wallace still didn’t say anything into the phone–though Nic might have heard her already. “What are you trying to pull now?”

“Are you going to stand here and ask questions or get out of here while we still can?”

Wallace didn’t have a choice but to rattle off some temporary goodbyes to Nic and followed Yvonne out the door. He had to unlock the trunk and load Yvonne’s luggage in for her. By the time he was done, she was already settled in the passenger seat. He had no choice but to get in and follow the directions she gave to him.

And he wasn’t caving into her demands just because she was back to her strong self, wearing more ‘all business’ attires than her tamed outfit from before. He wanted to wait and make sure Nic was safe first before doing anything else.

© Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Posted: Monday, July 1st, 2013

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