Another thing Jack had discovered about himself was that he liked private rooms with separate bathrooms in quiet motels. He felt himself relax for the first time since he’d woken up when that door was closed behind him, locked tightly.
The motel was quiet, he’d give it that. It was on the road outside of Boston on some rural route that didn’t see much action outside of the fall months when tourists got excited about changing leaves – of all things. He was making his way to where he needed to be, figuring that no one was going to bother chasing after him at this point. He’d been out of the hospital for three days and already he was starting to figure out that people didn’t really care about anything but their own little worlds. He’d managed to get himself a bit more cash along the way, and it was going to have to last him, seeing as how he wasn’t all that proud of the fact that he’d lowered himself to pick pocketing. He’s snuck into the coat room of a fancy uptown club and taken what he could get, figuring it was both safer and easier than stealing from people on the street. The people who could afford the place he’d snuck into, well, they wouldn’t miss the few thousand dollars that he’d managed to poach between them. And really, if they were dumb enough to leave money in their coats, they needed to learn a lesson about humanity and he was just human enough to teach it to them. Maybe if he turned out to be some dot com millionaire, he’d pay them all back with interest. Maybe. He had the feeling he was more of a yappy genius than a preppy rich guy, but who knew what he’d learn about himself tomorrow. In the mean time, he’d consider it all a means to an end. He wasn’t sure what the end would turn out to be, but he did know that there was an end to all of this. There was a bottom to this hole and he was going to find it or die trying, even if it meant falling down the hole and breaking his neck. After all, he had no want to start a new life if the old one was out there somewhere.
Sitting on the bed in his motel room, Jack counted out what was left of his cash, slowly and meticulously making sure that he separated each bill as he laid it out on the floral comforter. He had a mental tally going, but it was good to double check in case something came up. Of course, his last resort credit cards were still safely in his wallet, but they were just that – the last resort. He was much more comfortable playing in cash than he was in anything else, and it seemed like he and the motel manager had been on the same page there. The man had barely given him the time of day once he had his name and his money in hand. Of course, he’d given the guy Dr. Jones’ name, just because he wanted to nail the doctor for anything he could. That’d teach Mr. Rogers to take away his pudding privileges. As for the wad of twenties, well, it made that lie even easier, seeing as how he didn’t have any plastic in Jones’ name. There was no trail with it. The bills weren’t sequentially marked and there were no recently publicised bank robberies, so he was pretty sure that the bills were clean. Not for the first time, Jack wondered over the connections that his brain seemed to make. He was a genius, a criminal, or both. Or he could just be someone who was very bored all the time and came up with this shit for kicks and giggles. Honestly, who thought that way? He had to fit into one of the above.
Sighing a bit, he stacked the bills neatly, tamping them into a straight pile so that he could add them back to his wallet. It was a cool two thousand, six hundred and twenty dollars. Mentally he did the math – if he kept living this way, he’d be out of money in a month. Motels weren’t cheap, and neither was eating out every night. He doubted it would take him that long to get to Ballston Lake, and if he kept moving he would probably be fine. It would only run out if he idled for too long. So far he’d been in the same motel for two nights and his skin was starting to itch. It wasn’t a physical itch, seeing as how the maid did change the towels and the sheets every morning and they actually smelled clean. No, he was sure it had more to do with the alarm bells in the back of his head screaming that he’d been idle too long. He’d barely even managed to sleep the night before because of it, and now that he was just hanging out in the room instead of moving, he couldn’t seem to sit still for more than a few minutes at a time. It was irritating. He was sure no one was after him, he really had no time line to get to New York, and he was positive that if he were a wanted man, someone would have put him in cuffs at the hospital.
So that left one more question for the pile – what was making him so upset about all this?
Standing up, Jack stretched, hoping that if he moved his
muscles, they’d settle down. He drew his left arm across his chest, mindful of
the right where the skin was still healing. They’d removed the black stitches
at the hospital, re-doing the botched job, and then an elderly nurse at a drop
in clinic had removed them for him before he left Boston. It wasn’t in danger
of splitting open or getting infected, but it still felt tight and new. It
would definitely leave a scar. Isaac assured him that ‘chicks dig scars’. It
was another one for the collection. Whoever he’d been, he was either accident
prone or he had one heck of a dangerous job. He had scars all over his body.
Some of them the physical therapist had been able to wager a guess at as he’d
helped Jack get his land legs back. Most of them were injuries that had been
stitched and healed, but there were a few that had clearly gone through
surgery. He’d asked at the time if there was any way to track the surgeries,
but his luck meant that was impossible. One was definitely to have his
gallbladder removed for whatever reason, and then another had clearly been to
patch up an entry wound of some kind – the therapist hadn’t been more specific,
seeing as how the surgery had covered up the wound pattern, but he did suggest
that Jack may have seen action in a war zone. Jack didn’t think that he was an
ex-soldier, seeing as how he was purely self-absorbed, but he found that as the
days passed, he learned more and more about himself, so anything was possible. It
would explain why he was so beat up. It seemed like there wasn’t a single part
of him that wasn’t marked in some way. On his own, Jack had even found a scar on the
bottom of his left foot that looked like he’d stepped on a nail at some point
in his life. Well, if he had, at least his tetanus shots were up to date. Lord
knows what he could have caught in that bathtub otherwise. The motel room
they’d found him in hadn’t been nearly as well cared for as the one that he was
currently pacing across, after all. Where this one made him feel secure, the
other one would probably be the backsplash for all the nightmares he’d have for
the rest of his life.
Frustrated, Jack stopped, gripping the hair on the back of his head. It was getting longer, he’d noticed. It had probably grown less than half an inch since the ice, but when you paid enough attention to every detail of yourself, you noticed even that much. If he had time for luxuries, he’d go get it cut, but it would have to do for a while. He knew tugging on it wouldn’t make it longer, but Jack forced himself to stop. He wasn’t doing anything but making himself more aggravated. Deciding he needed a distraction, Jack shoved the money back in his wallet, and then shoved it into the pocket of his borrowed coat. He shrugged into the leather and made his way to the motel room door. Already he could feel himself relaxing as he closed up the room behind him and walked out into the fresh air. There was a park not far from the motel. He figured he’d go take a walk around the pond and then when he was good and settled, he’d get some take out, settle in for the night, and take off the next morning for the next leg of his trip.
The thought didn’t ease his mind at all. In fact, that space in the back of his skull was itching again, insisting that he go now, not tomorrow. It was ridiculous, but it was the only thing he could think about. He’d watched a documentary in the loony bin about animal instincts and that was the only thing he could compare all his urges and wariness to. Basically, he preferred it when he followed is gut instead of his head. At least one of them still had a memory. His stomach liked pretty much everything that wasn’t canned veggies or citrus. He craved grease and bread, things that he gorged on when he had the chance. Clearly, between his head and his stomach, he was going to trust his stomach.
So when his gut clenched and the hair raise on the back of his neck, he knew to pay attention to it, even if his head was busy trying to tell him he was just a paranoid idiot. He didn’t know what exactly had triggered it, but he walked along slowly, paying more attention to his surroundings than he would have otherwise. It was a nice day, getting to be about mid afternoon. People were either at work or they were going to pick their kids up from school and didn’t have a care in the world. Jack only saw one person ahead of him – a teenager who was rocking along to his headphones. The kid wasn’t a threat, so whatever was getting to him had to be coming from somewhere else. Jack manoeuvred over to where there was a water fountain up ahead. He made it look like he was re-tying his shoe, carefully scanning the area, especially the path behind him.
Really, he expected to see nothing, but the man in the green windbreaker jogging towards him was certainly out of place. The way he had his hat pulled low over his face just made Jack that much more suspicious of him. The jogger was trying too hard to look like he fit in. He was moving at an easy gate, but he was making a point of looking at the path in front of him. Jack kept eyes on the jogger until the man looked up at him. A causal look, but he’d shivered when he’d seen the man’s eyes. Yeah, that was the look of a hunter. Time to go.
Straightening up, Jack turned sharply on his heel to move in the opposite direction, only to be stopped by another man he hadn’t even noticed. He’d been so focused on the man who was following him that new guy had just snuck up on him. He suspected for a moment that he was about to be robbed, but the guy was in a very professional looking suit and if TV had taught him anything over the last few weeks, it was that men in suits didn’t rob people face to face. The man in the suit was black, probably in his fifties if the grey hair was anything to go by. He wasn’t looking at Jack unkindly, but Jack knew better than to just rule the guy out as a potential threat because he wasn’t glaring daggers at him. If it were so easy to spot the bad people in life, he suspected that there would be far fewer episodes of Judge Judy.
“Excuse me,” he said, moving to walk around the man. Only, the guy moved with him, keeping him from going anywhere. It irritated him and he gave the man a sharp look. “You got a problem, Pal?”
“I guess the reports were true then. You don’t recognise me, do you, Quinn?” the man in the suit asked, making eye contact as he spoke.
Jack’s head tilted ever so slightly. He’d been called John Gibson and Jack so far. Quinn was new. He’d give the guy props for originality.
“Sorry, Pal. No idea what you’re talking about. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got somewhere to be,” Jack tried again, hoping the guy would just give it up already. He took a side step and started moving, hoping to ditch the guy.
“No, I’ve got the right man. Your name is Quinn Dawson,” the man insisted, walking along beside him now. “You’re thirty-eight years old and you work for me.”
“And just who are you?” Jack asked, figuring this ought to be good.
“My name is George Rand.”
That wasn’t ringing any bells, either. If this guy really was his boss, he wasn’t all that memorable.
“Don’t work for you, buddy,” Jack offered, giving the guy an even look. “Now, I have to get going. Have a nice life.”
The black man stopped moving, but Jack didn’t. He was quickly trying to figure out what the best escape was here. He noticed the guy who’d been following him was hanging back, looking to Rand or whoever the hell he was for direction. There was another guy sitting on the park bench who looked very interested in the group, as well. That was two spotted, both in the best exit routes. Well, it looked like he was well and properly cornered. Apparently Rand was somebody’s boss. Two somebody’s with interchangeable personalities, he’d warrant.
“Aren’t you the least bit curious as to how you woke up in that bathtub, Quinn?”
That...drew him up short. The guy knew about the bath tub?
Jack stopped and glanced over his shoulder at the man, waiting. He was giving him the time of day and that was it. His senses were still on high alert and the faster they got through this, the better. It was all he could do to keep his fingers from twitching to get rid of some of the nervous energy that was surging through him.
“Oh, I know all about that, Quinn. I know about everything, including your amnesia.”
“So? I’m willing to bet my story’s made the rounds in the local precincts,” Jack replied, thinking that was probably how the man knew about the bath tub and the amnesia. The made up name was just to throw him off balance.
“Sure, but if that were how I was getting my information, how would I have known to look for you here?” Rand tossed back, gesturing at the park as a whole. “You’ve been off the grid since you broke yourself out of the hospital, and yet, here we are.”
Damn. He really had no way to answer that. He’d thought that he’d picked the place by chance, but if Rand found him after three days...there could be a small chance that the guy knew more than he was letting on.
“If you want answers, I suggest you come with me. It’s not safe to stand out here talking in the open like this.”
Jack had to agree with him on that one. He didn’t like sitting in the open either, but he didn’t want to follow Rand back to what could be certain death. He wasn’t so sure that he couldn’t expect a bullet hole in the back of his head once he was out of sight. Still, there was a flare of hope in him that he might finally get the answers he was hoping for. All he had to do was follow this man.
He just hoped this wasn’t the last decision he ever made.