My apologies to those of you who have been following this story. I had hoped to get it out sooner but I am presently undergoing radiation therapy for cancer and as a result my energy and concentration levels have not been up to par. If all goes well Part Six should be up by the end of the weekend. Thank you for your understanding and support.
Now, I introduce for your reading enjoyment When Yesterday Becomes Tomorrow: Chapter Five by me, B. B. Wright.
Louise nibbled on a small piece of garlic bread as she watched Ethan clear the table and load the dishwasher. A pleasant enough dinner, she thought, but… uneventful…Definitely not what I expected. Putting down her garlic bread, she picked up her half filled wine glass and, sitting back in her chair, she folded her arms across her chest. “Ethan?”
“Uh-Huh.” Placing the last dish into the dishwasher, he picked up his wine glass from the counter in front of him and turned to face her. “I hope you’ve enjoyed it so far?”
“I have! Very much! But…Ethan…I think you’re here for more than just feeding me a great meal and talking over old times. Huh? What’s the real reason for your visit?”
Ethan bit on his lower lip and looked at her long and hard before finishing the wine in his glass. “I kind’a hoped we’d get through dessert before…we discussed that.”
Taking a sip from her glass, she smiled and, raising her eyebrows, replied: “Then, maybe we should have started with dessert.”
He breathed deeply and let it out slowly. “Maybe… we should have.”
Placing his empty wine glass on the table, he disappeared into the living room and returned a few seconds later with a large brown envelope tucked under his arm. Sitting in the chair opposite her, he placed the envelope beside him and offered to refresh her drink from the partially finished wine bottle in front of him.
She waved off the refill and, with haunting undertones, asked: “Is it that bad that I need a drink?”
He poured an ample portion of wine into his glass and slid the envelope toward her and began massaging his chin as he watched her reaction. “In a word…yes, I think it is. I’m sorry, Louise, for what’s about to happen.”
“What’s ‘about to happen’? What is this?” Her eyes narrowed as she scrutinized his face looking for an easy answer. Seeing none, she abruptly sat back in her chair as if the envelope was a viper about to strike.
“It’s an autopsy report. To be more precise, it’s Tom’s autopsy report.”
Bug eyed, she retorted: “Tom’s? Why? How? There was no autopsy report. I would have known. He…died from complications due to his prostate cancer. No! Whatever you’re about to show must be a lie.” Tears swelled up in her eyes as she stood up and walked into the kitchen for a tissue. “Why are you doing this to me, Ethan? Maybe you should go. NOW!”
He wanted to comfort her but at that moment he knew it was best to keep his distance. Too many unpleasant questions had to be asked and if he hoped to crack open his investigation some of them had to be asked tonight.
“Louise…please…Come back. After you’ve read it, you’ll understand why I can’t just pick up and leave.”
Several moments passed in silence before Louise returned to the dining room with a box of tissues and sat down. Dabbing her eyes with a balled up tissue, she eyed the envelope that lay a short distance from her. Her hand crept across the table and her fingers touched its edge tentatively.
“Ethan, how did I not know there was an autopsy report?”
“It was arranged through CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) working with the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police).”
“What was Tom working on?”
“He had been working on some highly classified stuff before his death. I know that doesn’t answer your question but in time you’ll learn.”
“You’re one sonofabitch, Ethan. You know that, don’t you? Once I’ve read it, I want you out of here. DO YOU HEAR ME? OUT OF HERE!” She pulled the envelope toward her and spilled its contents onto the table. Picking up the report, she had barely started to read it through her teary eyes when she looked up at Ethan quizzically. “What’s lethal polonium-210-induced acute radiation syndrome?”
“It means that Tom was murdered,” he replied, dolefully.
“Murdered?” Slack-jawed, her mind agonized over what she had just heard and the questions she knew she had to ask; her eyes feverishly skirted the room looking for readymade answers only Ethan could supply. “Are you telling me he didn’t have cancer?”
“No…Louise, he had cancer. I’m telling you that…someone wanted him dead before he had a chance to talk to me. And, whether you know it or not, you may have the clue to who did it.”
“What twigged us into the possibility that Tom was murdered was the Alexander Litvinenko case a few years back. I don’t know if you remember it because it got scant coverage on our news.” She shook her head in the negative. “Well, he escaped persecution in Russia by obtaining asylum in the U.K. It turned out he had been working for British Intelligence, namely for both MI5 and MI6. Litvinenko wrote two highly controversial books accusing the Russian secret service of staging Russian apartment bombings and other terrorism acts in order to set the stage for Vladimir Putin regaining power.
We were aware that Tom had prostate cancer, Louise, but we were also aware that it was not life threatening. Two weeks before he suddenly got sick, he alerted us that he had come across some highly sensitive material. Based on the symptoms exhibited in your doctor’s report and comparing it to Litvinenko’s death, the clandestine autopsy was ordered.” Feeling the tension gathering in his neck and shoulders, he stood up and stretched.
“Did you ever find out what the sensitive material was that Tom had discovered?”
“We went to his usual drop-off location with the hope of finding it there but came up empty. So, either someone else got to it or else Tom hid the information in a different location.”
“But Ethan, how would I have the clue to who killed Tom? Or to anything else? How?” Standing up, she began to pace back and forth. “I don’t understand. How could I possibly know such a thing?” She stopped and glared at him.
“Louise, no matter how I looked at it, unraveling this puzzle always came back to you.”
“Ethan, what are you saying?” She rounded the table and headed toward him.
A bullet shattered the ceiling fan light in the living room on its way to its mark and within seconds the frame splintered at the bolt of the outside door to the kitchen sending the door smashing against the wall.