Happy ending to the weekly story, yaaaay ❤
In this final installment of the apologies story, we jump all the way to the end. To the last person Wolfgang must apologize to.
And of course, his self-confidence is just soaring at this point.
And last on the list is the man who he fought right before the beginning of his book. -gasp-
For new peeps, this is a spinoff story from Blank Mastermind, my villain-with-amnesia story. And the ex-criminal mastermind, Wolfgang Dankworth, is apologizing to all the families of the people he killed.
The first one went well.
The second one, not so much.
Let’s see how it ends out. -swooshes away-
#7: Jonathan Friday
It took the better part of the month, tracking all the families down while still keeping my job. There were four others, spread out all over the state, that I tracked down with News’s and Liza’s help and went to apologize to. To ask for forgiveness.
All of them were quite blatant in their statements of still hating me. One was sure I was joking. Another went so far as to call the police.
As morally uplifting as meeting with Mr. Wade had been, it only got worse from that point. Any shred of self-esteem I might have had left was totally gone.
I only briefly stopped by the Fernsbys on the weekend. I hung out at the Lucky Scoop. I dropped by the Den to help Liza out for a bit. I didn’t tell anyone but News what I was doing during all that, but I just needed a little bit to remind myself that there were a few people who thought I was worth more than a shriveled-up worm.
This was the first time I’d really seen up close all the misery and hurt I’d caused.
I was a wreck. I wanted to just curl up in a hole and die.
I had the names of the people I’d killed now. I had faces to put to their families.
Mark Hansen. Thomas Wade. Brady Lexton. Julie Leeward. Adam Jenkins. Shawn Schafer.
I remembered all the moments I’d killed each of them. Their names only made the guilt worse. Labeling all of the gaping holes inside me.
Despite how much it was tearing me up, I continued on my quest. I deserved every bit of guilt I was getting. These people deserved apologies, and it was my . . . well, to borrow an oft-used term from Dallas . . . it was my duty.
I had to be a man and apologize. I had to do my best to make things right. God knew I was taking it as far as I could. He could take care of the rest if He ever happened to glance my way again.
I just had one left to go.
And quite possibly the hardest.
Apologizing for the death of Jonathan Friday. The man who’d died in our fight backstage the opera. The man who gave me amnesia. The man I didn’t even remember meeting, much less murdering in cold blood.
He’d been an isolated SPI agent from Oklahoma. He didn’t have parents that were still around. He didn’t have kids.
No, he’d just been the one providing for his single-mom sister and her two kids.
Sweet balm for my conscience.
This was going to be fun.
I left a day before I told News I was going to. It felt wrong to have him tagging along as my supposed crutch. There were some things I had to face alone. And some things I had to listen to classical music beforehand to calm myself down for. Sorry, but Schoolhouse Rock didn’t give the same effect.
It was an over fourteen-hour drive from my current location to the microscopic town on the Oklahoma panhandle: A charming place with a dozen residents and the name of “Slapout”.
That omen didn’t bode well for my being received as a welcome guest.
I left at five in the morning, taking the small information folder News had put together about the Fridays, and leaving a small note to say where I’d gone.
It was a long day in the car.
I stopped a couple of times at gas stations along the way. Got some cheap coffee and slouched in the back of my car while I studied the information about Agent Friday’s death.
He’d been pretty beaten up.
Well. Obviously. I mean . . . I killed him.
But, like, closed-coffin funeral to provide a bit more respect for the guests was sort of bad. He’d had multiple gunshot wounds, a cut on his arm and an awful amount of bruises on his face, without going into any gruesome medical details.
I studied all the pictures. Scrutinizing the face and trying to pull up some recollection of seeing him. Something that would give me a better basis for an apology. But the blank spot in my mind stubbornly refused to give up anything.
So, there I was.
The sun setting over the open, brown expanse of Oklahoma as I drove up to a sideways sign welcoming me to Slapout.
I let out my breath slowly and rubbed my hands on the steering wheel as I consulted the GPS again. Just two minutes to the house I was looking for.
Kelly Friday was her name. A daughter and a son. Little mobile phone with a red roof.
Hi, I killed your brother. Can I come in?
I pulled to a stop at the last turn and closed my eyes, biting my tongue.
I’d just . . . park my Mustang here, thanks.
Backing up, I turned the wheel and got myself off onto the shoulder of the narrow road, slamming the car into park. I just sat in my seat for another few seconds before I popped the door open and stepped out into the dry, warm air that remained from the hot day.
I straightened my jacket collar as a gust of wind rolled in off the plains, making the lone tree overhead creak loudly. Ignoring the pit in my stomach, I shoved my hands in my pockets and turned the corner to walk the rest of the way.
My shoes hit the loose pieces of gravel on the old, chip-seal road. The sky was still mostly light with pink and purple, but I could see the glow from the windows up ahead in the dusky light.
It felt like my feet were weighted down as I kept walking. I ran a hand over my hair and took another deep breath. No use even trying to keep my hands from shaking. I just had to focus on not hyperventilating. Or throwing up afterwards like I had with the last one.
A single mom and her little kids . . .
Just go in. Apologize. Get out. It was all I could do.
I could . . . go back home and get drunk or whatever afterwards.
I stepped up onto the grungy stoop porch under the green and white awning. A few quiet noises filtered out from inside. It sounded like dishes clanking.
I rubbed my hands together, taking a few more forcedly even breaths before raising a hand and rapping my knuckles against the door. Three hollow taps.
The dish clunking stopped and a faucet stopped whooshing out water.
Bare footsteps slapped gently towards the door, there was the click of a lock, and the door swung open. Backlit and standing there was a woman in jeans and a t-shirt, probably in her late twenties, with dusty blonde hair pulled back into a braid.
Kelly Friday scanned me up and down with her tired, grey eyes and her mouth pulled at a sideways angle as she talked. She fiddled with the dishtowel in her hands.
“Don’t get a lot of visitors out here,” she remarked.
I worked my jaw a little. “I . . . uh . . . I know.”
Her brows furrowed slightly. “And you . . .” she trailed off, realization smoothing the tiny crease on her forehead. “Oh, you’re that Wolf guy.”
“Y-yeah, I . . . the one that killed your brother.” The words were spinning through my head so much they just ended up blurting out of my mouth. I mentally kicked myself, wincing.
I clamped my jaw together, biting my tongue.
Kelly raised an eyebrow slightly and watched me. “Yeah, I know.”
Silence, except for the buzz of bugs outside.
She finally looked over her shoulder back into the house. “Well, you’re up in Utah, if I remember right. And that’s a good stretch away. Wanna come in?” Tipping her head, she stepped back through the door and pushed it open further.
I just stood there for a second, then bobbed my head in a nod. I rubbed my hands on my jeans and stuck them in my pockets as I stepped in after her.
Kelly walked further in, going off to put her dishtowel back in the small kitchenette around the corner.
The little mobile home smelled like crayons and faintly of greasy fair food. Blocks and toy cars spread over the tan carpet, shadows cast long by the floor lamp nearby.
I didn’t mean to snoop more than necessary in a house I was probably barely welcome in at all, but I couldn’t help craning my neck and looking around a bit. Where were the kids? I twisted my sneaker toe back and forth on the carpet, over at the closed door to the left.
As if on cue, it started to creak open. A little girl’s face poked out, hair the same color as her mother’s. She sucked on her thumb as she stared at me for a second, then scampered out towards the kitchen as Kelly came back out.
“Ma! Who’s the guy?” she lisped in a stage whisper, tugging on the hem of her mom’s shirt as she took her thumb out of her mouth.
“Don’t worry about it.” Kelly bent down. “Go back to bed, pumpkin. Did you need something?”
The little girl gave me one more look, then nodded. “Water.”
Kelly reached over to the small table nearby and pulled a water bottle off, handing it to her daughter. “There you go. Now, back to bed.”
The girl tucked the bottle under arm and ran back to her room, yanking the door shut behind her. I heard her hushed voice exchanging a few excited words with the her brother.
I could guess it probably wasn’t anything important, but the more worn-down my nerves got, the more my imagination grew.
The guy who killed our uncle is out there! Can you believe he’d have the nerve to show up after . . .
I tore my gaze away from the closed door, swallowing.
Kelly was just sitting down on the worn old couch against one side of the room. She tipped her head at me. “You gonna sit down?”
“I . . . uh . . . sure.” The couch was really the only seating thing in the area and I already felt like enough of an intruder, so I just sat down on the carpet, finding a spot among the toys.
Kelly raised an eyebrow slightly at my choice, but didn’t remark on it. She pulled a leg up onto the couch, tucking it underneath her.
Okay, the moment of truth. Actually spitting out my apology.
I ran a hand through my hair and rubbed at my neck, hauling my gaze up to meet hers.
But she spoke first.
“So what happened?” she asked, her voice low.
I stopped and blinked. “What?”
“What happened? How did he die? Why are you here?” Kelly swung her braid over her shoulder and leaned back on the couch. Her tone wasn’t accusing. “The SPI wouldn’t give me anything other than a letter that said Jonny ‘died in action after a fight with the Wolf’.” She made air-quotes around her last words, then dropped her hands into her lap and watched me expectantly.
I opened my mouth, then closed it again. I didn’t . . . prepare for this sort of thing. Was she expecting some grand tale I was supposed to regale her with on how her brother died?
“I . . . ah . . .” I drummed my fingers on the carpet and bit my tongue. “I don’t how much you heard. Over the news and all. But I kind of . . . got amnesia and all. I don’t remember . . .” I swallowed. “I don’t remember anything from that whole day. I don’t remember even meeting Agent Friday.”
Kelly shifted her position on the couch, her facial expression tightening a little as she moved her gaze away from me. She watched the door of her kids’ room and chewed on her lip.
I ran a hand over my hair, tugging at it a little with my shaking hands.
It was quiet for what felt like an hour. My ears buzzed. I wondered if she’d forgotten I was there.
Then she took in a deep breath and let it out. “When . . .” Kelly’s voice faltered a little, but she kept going. “When Jonny and I were kids, all he ever wanted to do was help people. Make the world a better place. He fought bullies at school. He was a good fighter. He watched out for everyone.”
A ghost of a smile flickered across her mouth and she ducked her head. “He helped me when I got myself in a bad spot. I don’t know what I woulda done without him.”
I flinched, rubbing at my knuckles and biting my lip.
I can’t fix this. I can never fix this.
“See, that’s why he joined up with the SPI. He wanted to fight for something bigger and help more folks. Y’know, make a big difference in the world.” Finally, Kelly looked up, meeting my eyes with her clear grey ones.
I took a breath and cut in before I could lose my nerve or my lunch. “And I-I’m really . . . Miss Friday, I’m very, very sorry about your brother. I never wanted to . . . I mean, if there’s anything I could do to make it right or help or possibly . . .” my voice stalled out at the point it always did: the asking for forgiveness part.
I didn’t deserve it. I barely deserved the privilege to ask for it. That had been proven time and time again.
I dropped my gaze again, rubbing my hands on my jeans.
After a second, Kelly’s quiet voice broke in again. “So Jonathan . . . my brother gave the Wolf amnesia? That’s what started you turning around?”
I’d . . . not really thought of it that way, actually. But saying it like that . . . really, Agent Friday was the man who gave me the most valuable gift I’d ever gotten by conking me on the head like that.
“Yeah, he did,” I fidgeted with my jacket cuffs. “And I’d . . . thank him if I could.” I chanced looking up again.
Kelly tipped her head down at me, but she wasn’t looking at my face. She frowned a little and shifted forward, gesturing. “Can you come over here for a second? I want to see . . .” she motioned to the back of her head.
Not the most common request.
I moved over a little uncomfortably, turning my head so she could see the back. My shaking fingers parted the hair on the back of my head to show the scar more clearly.
There was the soft sound of movement and warm, rough fingertips touched the jagged mark. I flinched. A flicker of memory lit the dark patch in my mind for a second and I had only a snapshot of a face in my mind.
The face I’d seen in the folder on the way here.
It was bruised and pale. Mostly in the dark from the shadows backstage of the opera. But he had a look of hope on his face. Hope that he was doing something right.
The next second, it was gone.
Kelly pulled her fingers back and sat on the carpet next to me, pushing back wisps from her braid. “You killed seven people, didn’t you?”
Oh, squeeze lemon juice on that papercut again.
I nodded, swallowing.
“My brother was the last one.” A pause. “And I wasn’t your first stop, was I?”
I shook my head as I glanced over at her.
Kelly smiled, touching a hand to my arm. “I forgive you.”
She . . . what? My vision blurred a little and I blinked.
“If he caused this? If He made this much difference by his death?” She shook her head a little bit, her smile sad, but still in place. “My brother died a hero, Wolf. That’s all I need to know. Thank you for coming.”
And just like Mrs. Hansen had on the first stop, Kelly slid an arm around me and hugged.
News was asleep on my couch when I came back into my apartment. His long legs dangled over the edge of the couch and his hat covered his face.
I shut the front door behind me and he jolted awake, sitting straight up.
“Wh-what . . . Wolfgang, there you are!” he jumped up. “Why the flip’d you go without me, man? I was worried! After the way the last ones went and all . . . How’d it go?”
I shook my head, putting my hands in my pockets and smiling. One of the only times I genuinely had all month.
“Better than expected.”
Hope you guys enjoyed the story! ❤
What was your favorite part? What other stories do you think I should do?
Thanks for reading, you guys. You’re awesome.
Aaand I’ll see you all next time,