Perfect Strangers #6: “…Dying to Remember” — Chapter 17

Published December 24, 2015 by oddpastychick

Yes, it’s been forever since I posted last, but I am trying to be good and finish this before the new year. Call it a pre-new year resolution.

Chapter Seventeen

Balki had just entered Greg’s house looking for Larry when he saw Serge, Bianca and Larry sprint downstairs. “Cousin? I thought I might find you here–”

Larry quickly grabbed Balki’s arm and pulled him toward Bianca’s time machine. “Can’t talk now. We’re going to find out who Bryan is working for!”

Balki allowed himself to be jerked into Bianca’s machine and licked his lips nervously. “Shouldn’t we ask to be invited first?”

“No. This way we have the element of surprise. They have no idea we’re coming,” Serge replied.

“Oh, okay,” Balki nodded as he watched Bianca shakily type in the location into the machine.

“How do you know where he is?” Larry asked.

Serge looked at Bianca sheepishly. “I sort of had Miss Bianca’s robot friend help me find a listening device and GPS tracker, then placed it into that sleazeball Bryan’s bag. I told you he was slime from the swamp, Miss Bianca. I could feel it in my bones.”

“I’m both too terrified and numb to be angry with you right now, Serge,” Bianca replied, grabbing Larry’s hand and squeezing it on instinct as the machine took off.

Seconds later, when the machine appeared, Balki bit his lip, terrified of what they might see–or who they might see–when they went inside.

“Does this place look familiar to you, B?” Larry asked as they looked up at the quaint one-story brick home. It surely didn’t look as if a killer would reside or hold his meetings inside.

Bianca shook her head. “I’ve never seen it before in my life. Let’s go; I’m ready to look into the eyes of the SOB who murdered Greg and my grandfather.”

“I hope they are in a good mood,” Balki gulped before Serge walked up to the door and flung it open dramatically.

“Caught you red-handed!” Serge cried out.

Sure enough, Bryan stood facing them, eyes wide and mouth open. “What the–?”

Balki blinked before another familiar person came into view. “Napoleon?” he gasped.

“I always knew that kid was a traitor!” Larry scowled.

Bianca audibly gasped, herself. “How could you–both of you–betray me like this? I-I trusted you!”

“Look; I can explain…” Napoleon began, his voice trailing off as heard footsteps and the sound of a gun being cocked.

“Looking for me?” a voice said and Bianca clutched onto Serge’s arm as they stared at the same hooded figure that was chasing them in the woods. “Guess you finally caught me. Or perhaps it’s just the other way around.”

“W-who are you? D-don’t you know it’s not nice to play with guns?” Balki stammered.

“Who said I was playing, Balki?” the mystery man asked, his tone low and threatening.

“How do you k-know my name?”

“I know all of your names. In fact, I know far more than any of you could fathom.”

“No. It couldn’t be. I recognize your voice, but you–you–”

Suddenly, the mystery man pulled back his hood and took off the baseball cap he was also wearing to shield his face.

“Oh my Lord!” Larry cried out.  “Max!”

“Liki!” Balki cried out in unison.

———————————————–

“Huh?” Bianca asked, confused.

Bryan looked back at Bianca with the same look of confusion. He wasn’t sure who Max was, but he couldn’t believe the guy known as Balki guessed correctly.

“Congratulations, Balki,” Liki sneered. “You won the grand prize. Funny how you remembered me from how you saw me last.”

“Who is Max?” Bryan finally asked.

“M-Max was him…o-only he-he was in a d-dream. His hair was a different c-color,” Larry stammered.

Bianca gasped. “Larry! Grandfather knew! He caused you to dream about Max as a warning. He knew Liki was planning something!”

Liki laughed. “Oh, that Henry. He really was a genius ahead of his time. We could have been great pals together. He and I worked together long before thst sorry sad sack Greg or even Bryan here. I would have done anything for him. But he said I took things too far; how do you like that? No points for complete loyalty. I kept his secrets; told him I would do whatever needed to be done to protect him and keep them buried. Then that meddling Jacob had to get in the way and find out the truth. So I continued my loyalty whether Henry wanted it or not. It’s a shame people had to die, but what’s done is done. I was just doing my part. And then Henry decided he wanted to be noble and do the right thing. And I spent too much time doing what needed to be done to let him do that.”

“So it was about the DVD!” Serge proclaimed. “I knew it!”

“Yes. And my sorry excuse for an assistant Bryan botched your assassination.”

Serge blinked a few times, processing what had just been said. “I’m sorry. Did you say my ‘assassination’?”

“Liki! You, Bryan and Napoleon should be ashamed of yourselves!” Balki scolded.

“Hey; I always warned Henry that he should never mess with the fabric of time. Same with you, Bianca. I mean, look at all the trouble you caused with your little machine. Guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” Liki tsked.

Bianca gasped. “How dare you? And you wanna know something? You went through all this trouble over what was on that DVD, killing anyone who knew about it, but I watched it, too! I know all about it!”

Bryan’s head snapped in her direction. “How did you–?”

“When I had the DVD–before it was stolen from my laptop–I saved a digital copy of it to my laptop. I watched it after everyone was at Greg’s had departed. So does that mean I have to be killed now, too?”

Larry stood in front of her. “Are you asking to get shot?”

Liki slammed his hand down on the table beside him. “I was trying to do whatever I had to in order to keep you from seeing it! That’s what Henry was afraid of!” He turned to Bryan and Napoleon, glaring at them. “It’s your fault! I gave you specific instructions and you couldn’t even carry them out. You were supposed to kill Serge, Bryan!”

Bryan looked at him, palms outward. “I tried but he made Serge drop his drink!” he pointed to Larry.

“I never did thank you,” Serge whispered to Larry.

Liki glowered. “No excuse.”

Bryan watched as if in slow motion as Liki lowered the gun at him and pulled the trigger. He heard Bianca and Serge scream as he fell to the floor, shot in the chest. “Bianca….run…” were the last words his brain could send to his vocal cords before the world went black.

Perfect Strangers #6: …Dying to Remember-Chapter 16

Published March 28, 2015 by oddpastychick

Chapter 16

“Ow! You’re hurting me!” Napoleon cried out before Larry unhanded him. 

“Good! Now would you like to tell us just how long you have known about Bianca and all of this?” Larry seethed, flailing his arms wildly before crossing them over his chest. 

“I’m Greg’s nephew. He’s filled me in on everything up until he was murdered. Apparently, before he died, he asked Serge to involve me since I knew more. So I have been trying to help Bianca–not hurt her–help her!”

“But when Cousin Larry gave you his mind’s image of Bianca and you drew her, you say you did not recognize her! You lied to Cousin Larry and Balki!” Balki pointed out disapprovingly. 

“I know and I’m sorry, but I knew what Bianca did and I wanted you guys to stay out of trouble. I swear, I just want all of this to be over. How did you find her, anyway?” Napoleon rattled, rubbing his now bruised arm. 

“Humph. Like I would tell you!” Larry scoffed. 

“Guys, I understand that you are upset. But we are in this together. Now do you want to keep Bianca safe or not?”

“Well of course we do; don’t be ridiculous!” Balki replied before turning to Larry. “Cousin, Napoleon is right. Serge called him because Greg trusted him. If Greg trusts him, then so does Balki!”

“Well, if you really want to help us, you’ll keep an eye on that Bryan jerk. I don’t trust him and I am afraid he poisoned Serge’s drink as well as Balki’s–Balki!” Larry suddenly jerked his head to Balki, remembering why they were trying to leave. 

“Cousin, I feel fine! Why would Bryan want to poison Serge or Balki anyhow? He wants to help Bianca, too.”

Larry looked him from head to toe. “Are you sure? You don’t feel light-headed or nauseated or weak? You don’t look pale and your eyes don’t look dilated…”

“Cousin, don’t have a nervous breakdance. Balki is as goody-goody as a gumdrop. Napoleon, Cousin and I still don’t like that you lied, but we feel better knowing you are looking after Bianca.”

“Did Serge drink the p…I mean, the drink?” Napoleon asked, trying to hide his guilt by association. 

“No. I managed to knock the cup out of his hand before he took a sip. But you need to get in there before he tries again or does something worse,” Larry replied. 

Napoleon nodded. “I will call you if I find out anything, okay?”

“You’d better!” Larry shot back before he and Balki got in the car and drove off. 

As soon as they left, Napoleon felt faint. He managed to get out of that mess, but how much longer could he be on both sides before it all blew up in his face?

—————————————————————

Bryan was still inwardly fuming as Napoleon walked inside. “Napoleon!” he hissed from the kitchen. 

Napoleon entered slowly. “Where are Bianca and Serge?”

“Bianca is upstairs taking a nap. Serge should have been poisoned by now, but that short jerk that was here earlier bumped into him, making him spill the drink! The boss is not going to be happy that I failed yet again! You’re the golden child; you poison him!”

“I have enough on my plate, thank you kindly,” Napoleon responded icily. 

“Well, whomever the clumsy oaf was, he now knows about the DVD! Serge told him all about it. Do you know who he was? It certainly looked like he knew you!”

“Yeah, barely. He’s an old friend of Greg’s. The foreign guy, too. I wouldn’t worry too much. I know for a fact they haven’t seen the DVD and they won’t tell anyone,” Napoleon replied with a casual wave of his hand. 

“Not even Bianca? The boss cannot have Bianca ever knowing the truth. That’s the whole point of all this. Kill whomever may try to tell or show her.”

“Quit worrying so much, okay? I will keep my eye on them if you will just calm down,” Napoleon said before looking around. “Now, where is Serge?”

“He said something about going upstairs to work on his website,” Bryan muttered. “Curse that balding freak for screwing up my perfectly executed plan. He had the cup to his lips I don’t know how many times. Do you think he somehow knew?”

Napoleon rolled his eyes. “No, I don’t think he knew! I highly doubt he would have played dumb about it, anyway. Knowing him, he would have just thrown the drink in your face. Now, I am going upstairs and talk to him, but you need to seriously calm down.”

Bryan nodded. “The boss wants to see me in a little bit. I just don’t know how I am going to tell him that poisoning Serge was an epic fail.”

“Well, I will go with you, so just wait,” Napoleon told him before heading upstairs. 

————————————————————-

Serge wasn’t at all sure what he was looking for, but he hoped he would know it if he saw it. He also hoped that by telling Bryan he was upstairs working on his site, that would buy him enough time to snoop around Greg’s room. Greg never ceased to amaze him with all of his high-tech gadgets he had with him. Some were his and some belonged to Bianca or Henry. Too bad he couldn’t ask Bianca to help him look. Sadly, he knew she would never help him in his quest. 

Suddenly, an idea popped into his mind. Bianca had a robot! Ever since this nightmare had begun, she had shut him down, but if Serge could reboot him, perhaps he would help Serge track down what he needed. Tiptoeing to Bianca’s room and thanking the heavens she was sound asleep, he opened the closet door and found her robot in the back corner, on his charging station, collecting dust. “Please don’t make too much noise if I find your power switch,” he whispered, looking the robot over and wiping off the dust bunnies. 

Finally, he found the bot’s on and off switch and quickly flipped it. As soon as he did, the robot’s eyes and mouth lit up and his arms moved slightly. 

“Shhh,” Serge put his finger to his lips. “Remember me? Remember Serge, your favorite art dealer? Come…come with me. Quietly.”

Thankfully, the robot only nodded and rolled out of the room behind Serge. 

“Okay,” Serge said quietly as they entered Greg’s room. “I need your help. Do you know of a device that Miss Bianca or Greg has that would give them the location of a specific person as well as perhaps record what is said?”

“A listening/GPS device is what you are seeking?” the robot asked in its tinny voice. 

“Yes! Oh, you are smarter than the average robot!” Serge exclaimed. “Do you know where one is?”

“Yes,” the robot replied, rolling over to Greg’s closet door and opening it. A minute later, he came out with something that looked like a quarter-sized purple and clear marble with a computer chip inside. “I believe this is what you are searching for.”

“Oh, perfect! Now how does it work? Could you allow it to sync to my smartphone?”

“Do you have your smartphone with you? I can Bluetooth it. Then you just place it wherever you wish and it will pick up the coordinates as well as record what is going on. It will immediately send it to your phone, alerting you.”

Serge handed the robot his phone, still amazed at this computer with a face and its abilities. He knew Bianca was incredibly smart, but at this moment, he was jealous of both her and her manmade friend. 

“There,” the robot said after a minute. “It is Bluetoothed to your phone. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“Can you return quietly to your home inside Miss Bianca’s closet and turn yourself off?”

The bot nodded and rolled away, leaving Serge with his phone and the Marble of Wonder. 

“Now I just have to drop this inside Bryan’s bag and viola! I can keep an eye on that little cretin like a Bengal tiger watches a hawk,” Serge said aloud, satisfied with himself. 

————————————————————

An hour later after had left, Bianca was still sleeping soundly until she heard a tapping at her door. “Huh?” She jolted upright, fighting the urge to scream. 

“Bianca, it’s me. Are you awake?” a familiar voice asked softly on the other side. 

Bianca quickly got up and glanced in the mirror to run her fingers through her hair. “I’m coming,” she replied a few seconds before opening the door. As soon as she saw her guest, a smile tugged at her lips and her cheeks turned crimson. “Larry, what are you doing back here so soon?”

Larry rushed in. “I’m sorry. I know I should have called first, but I needed to speak to you and you alone. It’s extremely important.”

Bianca pulled out her desk chair for him to sit in as she sat back down on the bed. “What is it, Larry? Do you know who murdered Greg and my grandfather?”

“No. But I think Bryan knows.”

Bianca sighed. “You have been drinking the bathwater or listening to Serge, haven’t you? Bryan got knocked out by this crazy loon! He is as clueless as we are!”

Larry shook his head as if to clear his mind. “That’s actually not what I wanted to talk to you about. It’s about this,” he said, pulling out a DVD from his over-sized jacket pocket. “Serge and I believe that this is the reason people are dying. No one here knows that Balki and I have seen it. Balki said that before you zapped our memories, a mysterious package came in the mail. How it time-traveled back to nineteen eighty-seven, I will never know, but in it was a VHS tape. Balki watched it before you did what you did and he learned what was on it. After Balki remembered you, he kept nagging me about finding this VHS tape. I thought it was a ludacris Hallmark movie but Balki had a co-worker convert it to DVD. He wanted me to watch it in hopes I would remember. It’s the same DVD that Greg watched before he was murdered and apparently the same one your grandfather tried to hide from you. Perhaps he had a change of heart and that’s why he was poisoned. Serge has also watched it and I fear Bryan attempted to poison him earlier tonight–“

Bianca opened her mouth to interrupt him, but Larry held up his hand to silence her. 

“That’s not the point. The point is that everyone who knows what is on it is dead. Serge could be next, as well and Balki and myself. But I am willing to risk it because I feel that you need to see what is on this DVD, too! It is very important as to who you are and may help you figure out who is killing everyone.”

“But, Larry, I–“

Suddenly, Serge came bursting through the door, panting. “You two…now…special car…have to hurry…worse than I thought….Bryan….talking to murderer…”

Bianca and Larry both shot up as if they had been caught by their parents doing something wrong. “What?” they asked in unison. 

“GET IN THE SPECIAL CAR NOW! I KNOW WHERE THE MURDERER IS!” Serge screamed before grabbing both of them and pulling them out of the room.  

Perfect Strangers #6: …Dying to Remember–Chapter 15

Published March 8, 2015 by oddpastychick

Chapter Fifteen

Bianca sat down on the sofa, sobbing quietly, when she felt a strong arm around her shoulders. “Oh, Bianca. Again, I am so sorry for Grandfather Henry’s passing. Come here.”

Bianca allowed Balki to pull her into his arms as she cried into his shoulder. As terrible as her world had become, having Balki comfort her seemed so…well, comforting. “How could someone do that to him?” she asked through her tears. “He never hurt anyone. Someone is trying to harm everyone that I love and so far, they have been successful. I’m terrified they may come after you or Larry next. Especially now since you are back and…you remember.”

“Oh, po po. Don’t you worry about myself and Cousin Larry. You just let us take care of you. After all, that’s been a long time coming.”

Bianca pulled away and wiped her face. “I don’t think Cousin Larry is too thrilled about taking care of me anymore. In fact, I’m pretty sure he hates me for what I’ve done.”

“Get out of the city! Cousin Larry hate you? No way, Rosè! He’s upset because you made us forget you all those years, but I saw the way he looked at you when he remembered. Cousin Larry still loves you as much as he did all those years ago. Although, I admit, if the two of you became a couple, Cousin would be accused of robbing the dreidel. You haven’t aged a bit, but Cousin and I are much older than before. Now we have grey hairs, but don’t tell Cousin. He don’t like that at all.”

“My lips are sealed,” she stifled a giggle. “He still looks great. You both do. But right now, I just want to find out who is responsible for murdering and poisoning the people I care about. When I was at Bryan’s house, Serge and I were running from some guy wearing a hooded sweatshirt. We barely managed to make it to my machine in time before he and his axe got to us.”

Balki gasped. “He had an axe? Oh, Bianca; you, Bryan and Serge must have been so scared!”

“Serge and I were. The stranger with the axe knocked Bryan out. I thought for sure he had been killed along with…along with Greg,” she recalled, her eyes filling up again with tears. 

“Well, Cousin Larry is talking to Serge and Bryan now. And together, we are going to figure this out to make sure this terrible person never hurts you or anyone again. It’s time we cut through the babasticki and send this guy and his axe away for good!”

Bianca looked toward the kitchen and saw that, indeed, Larry, Bryan and Serge were sitting at the table. For a second, Larry looked up at her and met her gaze, causing her to look away sheepishly. He might not hate her for what she did, but how would Larry react when he found out that she and Bryan were getting closer? As much as she still loved Larry, Balki was right. Because of their age difference now, it would be silly to even think she and Larry could pick up where they left off. Her past and her heart might have been with Larry, but presently, the two of them could never be anything more than friends. And sadly, Bianca only had herself to blame for that. 

———————————————

Larry took the espresso from Serge and smiled thinly. “Thanks. So does anyone have a clue who the perp could be?”

Bryan shook his head as they sat down at the dining room table. “No. Not a clue. But Bianca isn’t safe with that lunatic out there. He killed Greg, knocked me out, poisoned Henry and tried to attack Bianca.”

“And me, too. Don’t forget that,” Serge interjected, putting the cup almost to his lips before setting it down. “He chased us through the woods with an axe, of all things. It was like being in a horror movie.”

Larry’s eyes grew wide as saucers. “He chased you and B with an axe? Oh my Lord!”

Bryan cleared his throat. “Um, did you just call Bianca ‘B’? No one has called her that since she was a teenager!”

“Oh. Yeah, I know. Of course I know that. She told me and sometimes I call her that, too,” Larry replied hurriedly, hoping Bryan wouldn’t be too suspicious. The truth was that Larry had a bad feeling about Bryan from the moment he met him in the doorway. He seemed much to intense and shifty for his liking. Not to mention disgustingly suave and cocky. From the look on Serge’s face when Bryan walked in, he shared Larry’s opinion. “So no one has made any threats against Greg or Henry or even Bianca?”

Serge picked his espresso up but quickly set it down again as he leaned over to make sure Bianca and Balki were still in the living room. “No, which makes it very strange. The only connection I can think of is what is on that DVD Bianca has yet to see. You see, Greg and I watched a DVD that her completely twisted and partial family member Jacob Langley had made. In the DVD, it was pertaining to the fact that Bianca’s grandfather had lied and taken someone else’s identity. Jacob said her real name was–abhorrently–Callie Mason and Henry’s real name was Phillip. Henry…er, Phillip, rather, obtained a massive gambling debt and he managed to steal the identities of a missing grandfather and granddaughter by the names of Bianca and Henry Pierson. Not only did he steal their identities, but they lived the lives of the real Pierson family.”

Bryan drank the rest of his espresso. “That’s ludacris. I’ve known B for a long time. Since she was a child and I never knew this.”

“That’s because it happened when she was only a baby,” Serge explained, picking up his mug again. “Greg watched it and he is gone, and Henry tried to hide it from her but perished before he could confess. There must be a connection. Which means since I watched the DVD, perhaps I should fear for my life, too!” he gulped. 

Larry tried not to let his face show that he, too, had seen the VHS tape/DVD conversion. If everyone who watched it or knew of it was in danger, there was no way he was going to put he and Balki on the chopping block, too. “But wasn’t Jacob crazy? I mean, he did have a massive tumor that killed him, right?”

“Yes, but if someone is willing to kill the ones who know or have viewed the DVD, perhaps there is some truth to it, after all,” Serge pointed out, once again putting the mug back down without drinking. Larry stole a glance at Bryan, who kept watching the mug, looking as if he might come unglued.  

Pushing all of his panicked feelings as far down as they would go, Larry cleared his throat and eyed his own mug. “That espresso really hit the spot. Might I ask who made them?”

Serge smiled proudly, puffing out his chest. “I make them myself, but Bryan helped a little.” He then proceeded to take a sip, but Larry purposefully turned in his seat, his elbow hitting Serge’s arm just hard enough to make him drop the mug. 

“Oh! I am so sorry! Clumsy me!” Larry jumped up, as did Serge and Bryan. “Here, let me he grab some napkins to help clean up.”

Serge brushed his navy blue pants, which were partially soaked by the spill. “No, it’s alright. I am just glad the beverage was no longer hot. It only burns a little but it feels like a different kind of burn, which is strange. I am going to run and change pants, but could you ask Balki if he would like for Bryan to make him another ade with a lemon twist?”

Larry’s jaw dropped as soon as the words left his mouth. “Uh, no. Actually, Balki and I should go. We will be back later,” he managed to recover. “Nice meeting you, Bryan!”

“Yeah. You, too,” Bryan mumbled distractedly, looking as white as a sheet. 

“Balki?” Larry rushed over to his cousin and Bianca. “We need to leave. Now.”

“But, Cousin, we–” Balki began, but Larry grabbed his arm, took the almost empty lemonade glass from his hand and set it on the coffee table. 

“Bianca, I’m terribly sorry. We will come back later, alright?” Larry apologized, pulling Balki along. 

“Bye, Bianca,” Balki waved before looking at Larry. “Cousin, why are we leaving in such a hurry?” he whispered. 

“I will tell you in the car on the way to the hospital to get our stomachs pumped,” he replied through the side of his mouth as they got closer to the door. 

Suddenly, the doorbell rang, causing Larry to jump. 

Serge poked his head around the head of the stairs. “Oh, that would most likely be Greg’s nephew. Can you let him in please?”

Larry looked at Balki and opened the door. When they saw the face on the other side, both Larry and Balki gasped. 

“Napoleon! What are you doing here?” Balki exclaimed, hugging him. 

“Napoleon? What in the hell–?” Larry asked, horrified. 

“Uh, hi, guys. Small world, huh?” Napoleon replied meekly, looking as pale as Bryan had. 

Larry thought for a second about being calm and rational. He played calm when Serge suggested the DVDs were the reason people were being murdered. He played calm when his instinct told him Bryan possibly was trying to poison everyone. Ah, screw calm, he thought before he grabbed Napoleon’s arm and briskly jerked him outside. Calm was doing nothing for Larry Appleton. And now, he was going to exchange words with Mr. Napoleon Webber. 

 

Perfect Strangers #6: …Dying To Remember–Chapter 14

Published December 29, 2014 by oddpastychick

Chapter Fourteen

“So, explain this to me one more time, Balki. This DVD or VCR tape that you watched twenty-seven years ago said that Bianca wasn’t Bianca, but some lady named Callie? Does Bianca know this?” Larry asked as they continued to make their way back to Greg’s house via GPS.

“Cousin, I don’t know. I saw Bianca for only a moment with Serge. Before she dry-erased our memories, I was trying to tell her about the tape. I have no idea if she learned the truth or not. All I know is the following: she never forgot us, touching her helps us to remember again and now poor Grandfather Henry is dead,” Balki explained, his voice cracking at the mention of Henry. “As soon as we get back to Greg’s house, we need to talk to him. He can help us figure this out.”

“Balki, I just don’t understand. Why did she want us to forget about her? Did what we shared mean nothing to her? I chose her over my first love, Jennifer Lyons, for Christ sake! Bianca was the only woman I could truly be myself around; the only woman that made me feel like being Larry Appleton was enough.”

Balki sighed and pulled into the driveway of Greg’s house. “Cousin, do you remember those dreams we had? All those dreams in which she caused bad things for us to happen? She thought maybe it was a dimmer vision that she really would be the cause of our pain and we would be better off without her.”

Larry scratched his head. “I think you mean premonition. And my life has been empty without her, even though I didn’t remember. What she did to us was cruel, selfish and hurtful. She let us wander around for twenty-seven damned years not knowing the truth!”

Balki took the keys out of the ignition and sighed again. As much as he hated to admit it, he understood both Larry’s anger and Bianca’s paranoia. But there was no way he could tell Larry he agreed with Bianca in any way without starting a fight. “Cousin, I don’t like that she did what she did, either, but we remember her now. Regardless, she needs our help now more than ever. Someone killed poor Henry in old blood and she could be in danger, too. We have to help her!”

“Well, I am still angry and disappointed, but you’re right. I have to try and put these feelings aside because despite what she did, I still love that woman and as long as my name is Larry Appleton, I will help protect her, no matter what the cost. But I just have one more question.”

“What that, Cousin?” Balki asked as he got out of the car.

“How on Earth did that weirdo from the art gallery get to be so chummy with her?”

Balki grimaced. “I hope he’s not her boyfriend.”

Larry glowered at Balki. “He can’t be her boyfriend! Besides, I am pretty sure he doesn’t swing that way.”

“Cousin, what does his playground equipment technique have to do with him being her boyfriend or not?”

Larry knocked on the door. “Trust me. It has a lot to do with it,” he replied matter-of-factly.

—————————————————

“Oh, thank you for coming!” Serge cried as he opened the door. “She is inside. She has been so quiet, but having both of you here will help”

“Actually, we need to talk to Greg,” Larry interjected as they entered. “Perhaps he can shed some light on some of the sketchier details.”

Serge looked down at his shoes sadly. “I am afraid that cannot be possible. Sadly and most tragically, Greg was murdered.”

“Yeah, because you and he thought it would be a good idea to spy on me and instead, realized you two weren’t alone,” a crisp voice added from the doorway.

“Bryan! What are you doing here?” Serge asked distastefully.

Bryan rolled his eyes. “I came to see Bianca. What’s going on?”

Balki walked over and gave Bryan a hug. “Bianca’s grandfather has passed,” he sobbed.

“Uh…oh no,” Bryan replied, surprised by the new guy’s sudden show of affection. “When?”

Serge sighed. “She came to his home and we could see that he was unwell. Knocking on death’s door would be more precise. He was saying things that were not making a bit of sense to Miss Bianca and then,” Serge paused, biting his lip to keep from crying, “he perished in her arms. It was positively tragic.”

“Who are you?” Larry asked Bryan suspiciously, sensing Serge’s tension.

“Name’s Bryan Ogden. I am a close friend of Bianca’s. We’ve known each other for years. Since we were young.”

“Funny. I don’t remember you,” Larry said aloud.

“What?” Serge and Bryan asked in unison.

Larry looked around nervously. “Nothing. Nothing.”

“Do you want something to drink?” Serge turned to Balki and Larry. “Perhaps an espresso with a leh-mon twist? I make it myself.”

Larry smiled thinly. “Uh, sure. I guess so. Balki?”

“Can I just have a glass of lemonade?” Balki asked.

“I don’t know–” Serge began, but Bryan interrupted him.

“I’ll help,” he said.

Serge wrinkled his nose and sighed. “Okay, fine. Come along then.”

“Nice meeting you two,” Bryan nodded before following Serge.

“At least in the kitchen with me, I can keep a close eye on you and keep you the hell away from Miss Bianca,” Serge muttered under his breath.

———————————————

As soon as they got into the kitchen, Bryan began to grab some lemons for the lemonade. “So who are the goofballs?” he asked.

“Oh, those two charming people in there? They were very good friends of Henry, Greg and Miss Bianca,” Serge replied icily. “I asked for their help in finding out who killed Greg and Henry.”

“You must be hard up for help,” Bryan snorted, watching Serge’s every move out of the corner of his eye. He needed Serge to make his espresso and leave long enough for him to mix in the poison.

“Why don’t you make your squeezed fruit drink and not speak to me? You may have poured the acrylic paint over Miss Bianca’s canvas, but you don’t fool me. I never liked you. Not for a minute. That stereotype was proven by the way you spoke to me the last time we met.”

“Yeah, well I don’t care for you, either. You always have to have your big nose in the middle of everything. How soon you forget that the killer knocked me in the head that night. But don’t you have a cheesy art gallery to run?” Bryan snapped back, squeezing the lemons and imagining they were Serge’s face.

“Greg counted on me to help and now that he has sadly departed, I continue to do just that. Both Napoleon and I have Miss Bianca’s best interests at heart. Unlike some people here.”

Bryan spun around to face Serge, his eyes flashing. “Hey! Don’t you dare say I am not looking out for her best interests! I will do whatever I have to do; no ifs ands or buts about it!”

Serge put both his hands up in protest. “Okay, okay. Sorry. Geez!”

“Look,” Bryan spoke again, his voice low. “Can’t we just put aside our petty differences and concentrate on helping Bianca deal with yet another loss?”

“You–you have a point. Miss Bianca needs everyone to surround her with love and protection right now. I may not trust you much, but she does and you have never hurt her from what I have seen.”

Bryan watched Serge’s face as it turned from angry to apologetic. Ha! Got you now, you little flamboyant weasel!

“So we have a deal, yes?” Serge offered, sticking his hand out.

Bryan shook his hand tightly, a tight smile on his face. “Deal. Now where do you guys keep the sugar?”

“Over here in the pantry. Allow me,” Serge offered, going into the closet.

Thank God, Bryan thought as he quickly took a small bag from his pocket containing the poison and poured it into Serge’s mug of espresso. And thank you for having your very own personalized mug that no one else is allowed to use. In less than forty-eight hours, your body will shut down just like ol’ Henry’s. Then I have to find out who those two bozos are out there and see what needs to be done about them.

Perfect Strangers #6: “…Dying to Remember”–Chapter 13

Published December 27, 2014 by oddpastychick

Chapter Thirteen

Every fiber of Larry’s being screamed at him to run, but he was literally frozen in place with both fear and uncertainty. As Bianca’s gaze held his own, he felt that same odd feeling as he did that day at the supermarket. He had to know her, but she looked so unfamiliar. Apparently, Balki knew who she was, for he ran over to her and hugged her tightly, tears streaming down his face as she embraced him back. “W-what happened? Balki, why am I here and who are these people?” He managed to finally ask.

The man kneeling beside Bianca stood up and slowly walked over to him. “I am Serge,” he said in a strange and muddled accent. “That woman over there is Bianca and her dear grandfather Henry has been murdered, presumably by poison.”

“Oh my Lord! I am so sorry! Who would want to poison an old man?” He looked down at Bianca. “No offense.”

Balki helped Bianca to stand. “Cousin, I don’t know but I am glad we are here. There is obviously something rotten in Denver. Bianca and Serge need our help.”

Suddenly, Bianca shrugged away from him. “No! I don’t need or want your help. Now go home; both of you! You promised me you wouldn’t say anything!”

“But Bianca; you are going through something terrible. Don’t you want your friends and Cousin Larry to help you? He deserves to know,” Balki argued, although he looked like he might cry at Bianca’s reaction.

“Look, you’ll have to forgive my cousin. He means well and he obviously knows you, but I don’t know you people at all and I’m sorry we bothered you,” Larry told her sadly. “Come on, Balki.”

Suddenly, Bianca started to walk towards him, shaking from head to toe. “It-it’s okay. I-I–”

“Go on, Miss Bianca,” Serge whispered.

Bianca spun back around, fresh tears spilling down her cheeks. “I can’t! I just can’t! Both of you need to go!”

Larry didn’t know what to do. His heart ached for her loss and for whatever else she had been through. “I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to upset you–” he began, reaching out and touching her arm.

Suddenly, a warm, almost electrical feeling jolted through his body as random images flashed through his mind: her standing over him and Balki with a baseball bat, them dancing onstage, her in a hot black mini-dress, some strange guy with a cat, Larry kissing her in the rain, seeing her as a child, a castle, a man with brown hair calling himself Greg, the older man who was now murdered, seeing two people lying in a pool of blood on the floor, Bianca crying and holding some strange device as he and Balki….

“Aaah!” Larry cried out before pulling away suddenly. It was too much, but at the same time, it was a feeling as if being home for the first time in years. “B-Bianca?”

“Cousin?” Balki gasped. “You remember?”

Instead of a verbal reply, Larry grabbed Bianca in a warm embrace, inhaling her scent and remembering the love he felt for her years ago. “Oh, Bianca; I am so, so sorry about Henry!”

A fresh wave of tears overtook Bianca and she returned the embrace. “Larry, I missed you so much. I’m sorry I ever made you forget me.”

Suddenly, Larry pulled away as that part of his memory came back to him, too. “You made us forget you! But why? Why would you let me–let us–go all these years without remembering you?”

Serge awkwardly cleared his throat. “Um, excuse me; could we go about this long and winding conversation some other time? We forget there is a man with a terrible hooded head who is the cause of all this chaos and murder.”

Balki nodded. “Cousin, I will tell you whatever you want to know in the car, if I can answer it.” He then turned to Bianca. “We are going to go back to the house where you are and there are no ifs ands or cold cuts about. If there is someone hurting people we care about, we are gonna figure this out together. We been through thick skin together and we not going to give up on you now. Understand?”

Bianca nodded. “I just don’t want to see you two hurt or worse. That’s why I did what I did.”

“Well, you let us make that decision. We don’t want to see you hurt, either.”

“Okay,” Bianca nodded again before hugging him. As Bianca tried to hug Larry, however, he pulled away.

“Cousin!” Balki cried.

“No. I’ll help her, but I am truly hurt by what she did. I spent the last twenty-seven years of my life feeling as if a part of my heart and soul were missing. And now that I have it back, I’m not sure it still fits. Let’s go, Balki. I have a lot of questions to ask,” he explained angrily. But as he turned around to go back to the car, he couldn’t stop the tears that flowed from his eyes. The woman he loved was back in his life, but the sting of what she did broke his heart more than anything else he had ever experienced.

————————————————————-

“So, what are you going to do about Serge?” Napoleon asked Bryan on the awkward ride back to his house.

Bryan ran a stop sign and pushed his foot harder on the gas. “What do you think I’m going to do? The boss wants Serge dead, so I’m going to kill him. You got a problem with that?”

Napoleon shook his head. “I wasn’t talking about that; I meant how were you planning on killing him?”

“Oh,” Bryan replied. “Well, the poison worked on the old man hopefully, so why not stick to what works? I always hoped he’d choke on his stupid espresso. Now I can make sure he literally does.”

Napoleon swallowed the lump in his throat and tried to focus on something else terrifying: the speed at which Bryan was driving. “Um, Bryan; you might want to take your foot off the gas. The last thing we need is a policeman on our tail. I just want to go home and forget about this day.”

“Why? You did what the boss wanted. You are the Golden Boy,” Bryan said, slowing his speed, but barely.

“Yeah, I know, but–”

Suddenly, Napoleon’s phone rang and he answered it. “H-hello?”

“Napoleon, it’s Balki. Something has come up and we need you to call the Chronicle and tell them that Cousin Larry and I need to take a short leave of abstinence.”

“Leave of absence, Balki; absence!” Napoleon heard Larry correct angrily.

“Um, yeah; I can do that. I’m on my way home right now, but I can call first thing. Is everything okay?” Napoleon asked slowly.

Balki sighed on the other end. “No, Napoleon; sadly it is not. A dear friend of ours is dealing with a great loss and a lot of questions. Cousin and I have promised to help her.”

“You promised; I didn’t,” Larry retorted.

“Okay. Tell her I am sorry and I’m sure I can work things out at work. Talk to you soon, Balki.”

“Thank you, Napoleon. You are a wonderful friend,” Balki told him before hanging up.

If I am such a wonderful friend, then why do I feel like the biggest heel on the planet? Napoleon thought to himself as he hung up the phone. I took the temp job to keep an eye on you and your cousin as well as working with the very woman you want to remember.

Perfect Strangers #6 …Dying To Remember–Chapter 12

Published October 20, 2014 by oddpastychick

Chapter Twelve

 

 

As soon as Bryan walked into his house, a pair of hands reached up, grabbed him by the front of his collar and pulled him inside. Bryan audibly gasped, fearing for his life.

“How long?” his boss asked slowly, his face shrouded by the oversized hood.

“H-how long for what?” Bryan stammered.

“How long for the poison to work? You stole it from the old man; now how long until it takes full effect?”

“Oh, that,” Bryan nervously chuckled as his boss let him go. “The poison should take total effect in less than forty eight hours. When did you give it to him?”

“Two days ago. But it had better already taken effect or you will pay the price. And why haven’t you given me what I want yet?”

Bryan straightened his shirt and cleared his throat. “I wanted to get the DVD but it’s extremely difficult with Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum hanging around. I saw her earlier but she didn’t have her laptop with her. It was upstairs and so were Serge and Napoleon. All I know is that she hasn’t looked at it yet. She’s had way too much else to deal with.”

“Well, good. She’ll hopefully have even more once her dear old grandfather is dead. But we have another problem on the horizon. Someone else has seen the DVD. Someone you need to eliminate sooner than we thought.”

Bryan looked at him quizzically. “Who’s that?”

“Serge. He watched it before Greg. So now he is another problem we have to eliminate. Are you up for the task?”

Bryan shrugged. “Sure. I told you before, I hate that guy. But what about Napoleon? What do you want me to do about him?”

His boss smiled. “Nothing. He won’t be a problem.”

“How do you know?” Bryan asked.

“Because,” a small voice replied from behind. “I’m the one who told him about Serge watching the DVD.”

Bryan turned around, his eyes wide. “Oh my God. Napoleon. You’re the other informant?”

“Yeah,” Napoleon nodded. “Sadly, I am. But that doesn’t mean I want to work with you, you cold-hearted bastard.”

“Don’t worry, Napoleon,” their boss chuckled. “I won’t make you kill Serge. Bryan will take care of that. All you have to do is play dumb and get that DVD.”

Napoleon stepped forward and reached into his coat pocket. “I managed to get it as soon as she and Serge left for her grandfather’s house.”

“Well done, Napoleon,” their boss said as he took it. “Well done.”

Bryan looked at Napoleon and tried not to laugh. While he may have pleased their boss, Napoleon looked as if he might cry. What a wuss. There would be no doubt that eventually, he would be another victim very soon. And Bryan couldn’t wait to receive all the praise for finally proving to his boss just how loyal and committed he was.

___________________________________________

As soon as the time machine appeared in front of Bianca’s grandfather’s house, Serge felt chills go up his spine. Ever since his encounter with Bryan, Serge had felt on edge and tense. But now that they were here, his anxiety level was about to go through the roof. “Miss Bianca, perhaps we should have called first. He could be busy with his work or have a lady friend over for tea and cake.”

Bianca looked at him and smirked. “Serge, I’m his granddaughter. And he does not have a lady friend over for tea and cakes. He prefers coffee and pie. Come on. He will remember you and be so happy that you are still around and well.”

“Okay, if you say so,” Serge sang out as Bianca rang the doorbell and knocked on the door.

“Grandfather? Are you in there?” Bianca called out to no reply.

“Well, I guess he isn’t home. Perhaps another time, then,” Serge quickly said, grabbing her arm.

“Serge,” Bianca laughed. “Quit fooling around. You forget I have broken into his house before.”

Serge gasped. “Well, we certainly shouldn’t be doing that.”

Bianca took what looked to be a knife out of her pocket and started jiggling it in the keyhole of the doorknob. “Serge, what is your deal?”

“My deal is that you seem to have forgotten there is still a killer out there wearing a horrible hooded sweatshirt from the nineties who is out for our blood?”

“Serge, we are perfectly safe here. If there is one person who can defend himself it is my–”

But as Bianca opened the door and saw her grandfather on his knees, gasping for air, Serge knew that the killer was one step ahead of them.

_____________________________________

Bianca quickly ran inside and kneeled by her ailing grandfather’s side. “Oh my–! What happened to you?”

“Sir Henry? Should we call for a medic?” Serge asked, coming closer.

“B,” Henry gasped as he looked at her with bloodshot eyes, his face sunken in and pasty white. “I am…so…sorry…”

Bianca blinked back tears. “Sorry for what? Being sick? Why didn’t you call me? I could have come!”

“This is…all my fault…shouldn’t have…kept….truth from you…”

Bianca looked at Serge, who shrugged in confusion before looking back down at Henry. “The truth about what, Grandfather? Did someone do this to you?”

“I thought…I was…protecting you. I was…only protecting..myself,” he panted before coughing. As he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, Bianca and Serge could clearly see blood.

Bianca began to cry as she could see he was getting weaker and weaker. “Grandfather, you aren’t making sense. What are you talking about? Protecting you and me from what?”

Henry slowly adjusted himself from his knees to practically lying on the floor with his head in her lap. “The…DVD…I lied…Greg knew and…they killed him…poisoned me…you need…your friends back…to protect you. I am sorry…B, but I…love you.”

Bianca began sobbing. “No! Don’t you leave me, Grandfather! I love you, too! Please don’t leave me!”

“Sir Henry, I promise that I will protect her. They will not get away with killing innocent people,” Serge vowed, crying himself.

“Thank…you…find them…goodbye…precious Callie,” he whispered.

“Callie? Who’s Callie, Grandfather? I’m Bianca,” she sobbed, cradling him in her lap.

Henry opened his mouth once more, but this time, only a slight gasp was heard before his eyes rolled back in his head and he took his final breath.

“Grandfather? Grandfather!” Bianca wailed, still cradling him, gently rocking back and forth. She pressed her lips against his cold forehead as Serge silently kneeled beside her, his hand stroking her hair. How could she have lost another person she so dearly loved? How could this killer do this to her? And who was Callie? So many questions, but in that moment, she also vowed to do whatever it took to find out who was murdering the people she loved. That had to come first. Whoever did this would not get away. She needed to avenge both Greg and her grandfather’s untimely deaths. They deserved that much.

_____________________________________

“See that house over here?” Balki pointed to Larry as they turned down a side street in a neighborhood he knew Larry didn’t recognize.

“Of course I see it,” Larry snapped. “Is that where we are going? To see this mystery person who can solve all these riddles?”

Balki fought the urge to roll his eyes. “Yes, Cousin. I like this house. I never been here before, but it looks just like I imagined it.”

Larry gave him an “are you insane” look, but Balki ignored him and pulled into the driveway.

“See, Cousin? The door is already open, just waiting for someone to come. Maybe he is expecting us.”

“Yeah,” Larry continued in a sarcastic tone, “maybe he even made us dinner.”

Balki looked at him as they got out of the car. “You think?” he asked excitedly.

“Balki, he’s probably just hot and opened the door because he lived in a barn at one point.”

“Cousin, I don’t think that’s true, but I’ll ask him later,” Balki said. “Now come on and let’s meet Hen–”

As they walked up to the door, however, Balki had no idea he would see such a tragedy. Sitting on the floor, faces down and sobbing were Bianca and her friend Serge. To make the scene worse, lying on the floor, not moving and looking terrible was Henry Pierson.

“Oh my Lord!” Larry cried out, obviously appalled at the horrific scene.

Serge looked up next and as soon as he saw Balki and Larry, his eyes grew wide. “Oh my God!”

“Oh po po!” Balki said next, his eyes welling up with tears.

Suddenly, Bianca snapped her tear-stained face up at the doorway and a look of shock and horror came over her face.

“Oh my Lord!” came Bianca’s reply, as well as Larry’s again.

“It’s you!” Larry gasped.

“You remember?” Bianca cried.

“Well, no, but–” Larry replied.

“But you will,” Serge interrupted with a smile.

Perfect Strangers #6: …Dying To Remember–Chapter 11

Published October 20, 2014 by oddpastychick

Chapter Eleven

 

 

Balki rubbed his eyes as he got out of bed and opened his bedroom door. He barely slept a wink last night from being so upset that Larry wasn’t able to make the connection and remember Bianca. Right now, all Balki wanted to do was eat his cereal, drink his orange juice and make it through this day.

“Why didn’t you tell me you knew who she was this whole time?” a cold, harsh voice came from the living room, causing him to jump.

“Cousin? Oh, Cousin! You scared Balki! I didn’t see you there,” Balki replied, clutching his chest. “What you doing up?”

“What you doing up?” Larry repeated, turning to look at him from his position on the sofa. “What you doing up? I’ll tell you what I’m doing up! You knew the woman in my sketch all along and you didn’t tell me! If I had known she was an actress this whole time, I wouldn’t have bothered looking so hard! But could you tell me? Nooo, you had to play with me this whole time, dragging the process out by finding a movie she had starred in and trying to get me to watch it. Wouldn’t it have just been easier to say, ‘Cousin Larry, the woman’s name is Bianca and you know her because she’s an actress’?”

Balki swallowed hard. So Larry had made the connection, just not the right one. “Um, Cousin? I didn’t tell you Bianca is an actress because she’s not. Bianca’s Truth isn’t just a movie; it’s about the real woman. I wanted you to see it and remember her. I wanted you to say ‘Oh my Lord’ and remember everything you once knew long ago. But sadly, the DVD is broken and you can’t even watch it.”

“Balki, it’s not the DVD that’s broken. Our player just needed a good cleaning. If it’s not too long, I’d like to watch it. If it means that much to you, we’ll sit here and watch whatever it is.”

Balki’s eyes lit up for a second, but they quickly dimmed again when he realized that even though he would be able to see Bianca’s face, he still might not remember her. Unless…

“Cousin! No, we don’t have to watch the movie, because you and I will do something better. I say we blow this point and go see Bianca for yourself. I think I might know where we can find her, or at least find out where she is.”

Larry stood up. “Balki, it’s Monday! We have to go to work. I can’t just go on a wild goose chase searching for a woman on television!”

Balki picked up the phone and dialed. “Oh, po po. We both have sick days that are just waiting for us to spend. Napoleon? Hi, this is Balki. How many sick days do Cousin Larry and I have? Twelve each? Well, Cousin Larry and I are gonna use one. We are on a mission and it cannot wait. Time is of the Herbal Essence. Oh, thank you, Napoleon! Goodbye!”

“You called Napoleon to tell him we are taking a sick day?” Larry asked.

Balki smiled. “Yes. Now come on and get dressed. Today, you are going to see Bianca and everything will become Crystal Light!”

“Balki, I appreciate this, but why can’t you just tell me who Bianca is?”

“Because, Cousin; you just have to be there! Now get a movement on!” Balki replied, practically pushing him into the bedroom. I’m sorry, Bianca, but I cannot keep this from Cousin Larry any longer. He needs you and you need him, too. It’s time you two worked this out.

 ____________________________________________

            Bianca felt at least ten to twenty times better after Bryan left a few hours later. She was also thankful that Serge and Napoleon stayed out of sight, too. She and Bryan might be on the chopping block of some psycho killer, but she wanted Napoleon and Serge to stay far away from danger. And Bryan made her feel safer, not to mention more comfortable. Almost as comfortable as when she was with–

“No. Stop it, Bianca. You’ll drive yourself crazy if you go back there,” she scolded herself as she put on her jacket.

As if on cue, Napoleon and Serge came downstairs.

“Oh, is he gone?” Serge asked innocently, but Bianca rolled her eyes.

“Yes, Serge. I know you saw him leave. But thanks for giving me some time with him. I feel much better now.”

“That’s nice. Where are you going, if you don’t mind me asking?” Napoleon queried.

“I’m going to see my grandfather. I haven’t managed to get in touch with him, but he needs to know about Greg and everything so he can keep an eye out. You guys wanna come?”

Serge smiled. “Sure; I’ll go for a visit. Just let me put on a pair of suitable pants.”

Bianca stifled a giggle as she looked down to see he was wearing Mighty Mouse lounge pants. “Okay. Napoleon, you coming?”

“No, thanks. I have some work to do across town. You guys have fun. Besides, he has no idea who I am.”

Bianca nodded. “Okay. I’m sure he’d love you since you are related to Greg.”

“Okay, I am ready!” Serge called out, practically bouncing downstairs. “Your grandfather was so nice to me when we met in the castle. If I had a grandfather, I’d want him to be like yours. Except more into art and less into…whatever you call the stuff he’s into.”

Bianca giggled aloud. “He’s an inventor, Serge. Like me, you know?”

“Well, what are we waiting for, then? Let’s go see him and check out his nice invention pieces! Bye, Napoleon!”

Bianca waved to Napoleon as they entered her time machine and pressed the information in. For the first time in a long time, she felt excited again. At least she would if her grandfather was even at home.

____________________________________________

As soon as they left, Napoleon swallowed the lump in his throat and dialed his boss on his cell.

“Yeah? What do you have for me?” the low voice answered on the third ring.

“Greg wasn’t the only person who saw the DVD. Serge just told me he watched it first and then showed it to Greg,” Napoleon managed to croak.

“Dammit! I knew I should have killed that flake of an art dealer that night!”

“What night?” Napoleon asked.

“Never mind. You did good by telling me, kid. Where is he now?”

“T-they went–Bianca and Serge, that is–to see her grandfather.”

“What? Ugh! Why didn’t you stop them?” the man demanded angrily.

“I didn’t know I should have!” Napoleon squeaked.

The man sighed. “We’ll just have to hope the old man’s already croaked. Because if he tells her about the DVD and convinces her to watch it, it’ll be on your head.”

Napoleon opened his mouth to reply, but his boss hung up. Oh, God; what have I done? I tried to impress him and now I’ve put myself on the chopping block! And what did he mean by ‘the old man’s already croaked’? Surely he didn’t–

But as Napoleon thought about what his boss had said, he knew exactly what he had meant. Either he or Bryan had done something to Bianca’s grandfather. Something to make sure he wouldn’t find Bianca first. “Oh, Bianca. Your pain just will never stop,” he murmured, almost feeling as if he had been the one to kill her grandfather, himself.

______________________________________________

“Balki, where are we going?” Larry asked for the fifth time since Balki started driving.

“Cousin, keep your shoelaces on! We are going to the one person who can help you remember Bianca. He is a very nice man and I know he will help you once I talk to him. He loves Bianca very much and I am sure he will do whatever he can to help.”

Larry gritted his teeth. “Balki, you’re talking in riddles! I hate riddles! Why can’t you just tell me who Bianca is? Why do we need to have someone else do it?”

Balki put up a finger as a warning to stop asking questions. “Cousin, I can’t say any more, okay? Just trust Balki. We will be there in a few minutes and then everything will make perfect sense.”

Larry crossed his arms over his chest huffily. “Fine! But it had better make perfect sense, because I am getting really impatient.”

“Oh, Cousin, you already were impatient, so you can’t get there.”

“Cute, Balki,” Larry muttered, glaring at him. “Very cute.”

“I thought so,” Balki smiled. “You want to play a road game like “I Spy” or “The Alphabet Game”? I’ll start. I see an apartment complex! Now you start with the letter ‘B’.”

“I don’t want to play The Alphabet Game, Balki!” Larry seethed. “I want to know a name. As in the name of the man we are going to see.”

“Cousin, I can tell you, but it’s not going to make any difference because you don’t remember him. Just like you don’t remember Bianca.”

Larry wanted to scream. He would let Balki win this little round, but as soon as they got to their destination, he was going to get answers; even if he had to drag it out of his cousin piece by piece.

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