Melodies of a Tattered Shadow

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Chapter17 PAUL ANDREWS THE DEAD BOY

Waking up alone in an unfamiliar place, a young girl of twelve felt disoriented. She does not remember how she got there. She looked around searching, and in one sweeping glance of the room, she spotted her red book amid the countless pictures of a boy on the bedside table. She started sniffing. For some reason, the room reeked of pharmaceutical materials as in a hospital. She walks past a mirror, and stood in shock as she saw her reflection. She was wearing the boy’s clothes. She could not help but break down in tears. Looking again at the boy’s photograph, she picked up a scissor among the medical supplies, and aimed it at herself close to her neck. Irate, she struggled to untangle her unkempt curly blonde hair. She pulled it forcefully with one hand, exposing her neck. Tears trickled down her cheeks, from both her eyes.

She stares back at her reflection in the mirror and avoided looking at her small red book, resting quietly on a desk. She cried again, this time more painfully. She could not breathe. She looked in the mirror with deep hatred, and then the scissor… she moved it closer and closer and closer to her neck. There was a gentle but sharp nudge that dinted the skin under her chin... then she paused... and burst into woeful sobs. And finally, the scissors, cut through… this time deeply, and with a pang of pain in her heart she could not comprehend. Her eyes set open wide… couldn’t believe at what she just did, her hand froze, holding in her left hand a horde of shredded golden hair.

Like an angel who just plucked out a tainted feather from her wings. She paused, and then quickly continued to shear her golden curly hair, and threw each every throng out angrily on the floor, as if knowing like an angel’s wing, that it was cursed in doomed on earthly grounds. Her hair seemed to possess some affliction that should be driven away. She attacked it incessantly, till it was short like the boy’s haircut. She then looked at herself in the mirror, without wings, an angel no more, short haired and full of smudges from tears on her face. She compared again herself from the picture of the boy, wiped the tears off her face, and finally dropped the scissors, got hold of The Cather in the Rye, her red book, and seats again in the corner of the bed.

Litters of golden curly hair spread on the floor, when a couple finally entered the bedroom, as the child sits quietly on the bed, holding the book defiantly, staring at their son’s picture frame. The lady immediately felt pity, and instantly embraced the child and cried. The child didn’t put-off the lady from embraced, instead embraced her back like a child would do, to her own mother. Within the week the couples along with the child hastily, but silently move-out from the place, and leaved Asheville, North Carolina for the neighboring State of Tennessee.

*****

Several years had passed, twenty years to be exact, a man entered a dingy, smoky joint in China Town; it’s his first time in the place. He regularly played poker at the close-by neighborhood gambling joints, but his new found regular sustenance for gambling money had pushed him to upscale his frolics, betting for big money. The room houses several identical tables, all seated with people who didn’t have a care for in the world apart from the cards in front of them, for them this is the world, nothing more important than the thrill and suspense in every flip of a card. The room’s odor was indistinguishable and strong; with the smell of cigarette smoke, sweat and liquor competing with each other. The Chinese crimson and golden dragon tassels trimmings of the ceiling, although beautiful were obscured by patches of oily nicotine after burn. Even with the presence of numerous sticks of burning incense on the altar of a Chinese deity, still the smell was foul for the non-gambling addict, but for them this was part of the experience. The burning incense somehow added more to the ambiance of the place, its smoke blended with the cigarette smoke, but its odor was dwarfed by the combination of sweat, cigarette smoke and rancid liquor spill.

Each table was lit by a lamp hanging from the ceiling giving focus only on the top table and the moving fast cards. Numerous Asian waitresses in Chinese red dress serve table to table unnoticeable to the players. It was noisy, and it seemed that several conversations were being delivered at the same time. Remarks like, ’call, check, fold and even All in’ were the only word that could be discerned from the noises. The players seemed to know each other, you would sense the bonding between them, as if more than between siblings, but their bond has been just attachment or accessory to the over-all life they’d chosen, it was a necessary evil for them, to fully appreciate the turn and twist of each card. Each of their facial gestures was deliberately fraud to manipulate their peers. It was surprising that although wealth and livelihood was regularly lost in these tables, but still no animosity developed among players, for them it was beating the cards and being in the game, more than beating a particular adversary. From a perspective of the non-gambling addict, this was a no win situation. Even the winners would readily go back to the table only to lose again. But still they wanted to be in the game that they’ll even sell their souls just to be with that table of a card game.

The man was now seated, he had won several hands and amazingly had quite a number of chips, but the deal at hand had him sweating in excitement, he had never seen a pot this size. His eyes reddened from smoke, but not weary, it’s as if he was under a spell, he could already saw him winning the biggest pot in the table for that evening. His chips at hands were more than $10,000.00 worth. He’s been winning a hand for several rounds, he felt like his never going to lose that night, just like what he felt in the other nights, the way every gambler feels. He looked into his card, a pair of jacks of the club and heart, compared to a flop of cards on top of the table, it had a single Jack of diamond, a pair of Twos of club and spade, a single Queen of club and a single seven of heart, he had a Jack full combination, I have this… he said to himself, and declared with confidence, “All in…” and pushed all his chips besides the pot. The guy beside him looked at him, and looked into his card, he had a King of diamond and a seven of spades, a single high card, but a pair, and he could sense that the guy on his left was too far excited, he just said in frustration, “fold.”

The man felt relieved that the guy next to him folded, he puffed a smoke and looked into the lady opposite him. The lady was stunning; if you saw her in the day of light, you could even consider her Looks, as someone you could marry. But there, her beauty means little, the guys didn’t deny their desire for such a lady in that gambling room, but for them cleavage and pouty lips were secondary compared to the thrill of winning a pot or even just a turn of a card. The lady smiled at him with sensual meaning, crossing her fingertips slowly to the necklace on her neck, to the top of her bosoms. He responded with a smile of desire, and looked into her cleavage. He knew that the lady was playing him, so, he tagged along, exchanging fake sexy stares, but still their hearts were in the card not on carnal desire. It’s amazing that they could do this dance, faking desires, just to win a pot, it’s fascinating, since normal people will try their might, just to be with someone they desire.

But to these people, everything was subservient compared with the flip of a card. She looked into her card again, and she had a good hand, but she knew that her cards were not unbeatable, she knew a combination of four of the Two’s cards she loses. She stared back at him, wetting her lips with the tip of her tongue and winked, sending signs that maybe they could share a time after this. He smiled and nodded back, knowing purely well that it was just a dance. No matter what, people like them sleeps with one another, it’s all part of the game, but it’s not their ultimate conquest, some of them just copulate only to relive some of their stress from the game, but afterwards as if nothing happened, because for them it’s the Card Game. The lady genuinely wanted to sleep with the guy opposite her; or with any other guy for that matter, she had been losing several days, and she needs some release, she said to herself, win or lose… fuck it… I need to get fucked after this.

She still contemplated and repeated the process of sizing up the adversary, while tempting him sexually. The guy on the opposite side responded accordingly with sexual interest in his eyes, but deep inside he was already getting impatient by the lady’s attempt. He was already excited about the pot not from the alluring beauty and sexiness of his peers. The lady felt that the guy definitely had a good card in his hand, but so was she, she looked into her chips, and knew that she had around $15,000.00, a small amount from her, since she loses more than triple that amount on a regular basis. She was a daughter of a rich businessman, but her parents were numb with her vices, apart from this and her regular use of cocaine. With one last looked into her card and in the eye of guy opposite her she declares, “Call”, and wickedly smiled at him.

The man was surprised, she expected the lady to fold since he could sense that the reason for flirting, was to get back at least some, once she loses. But incredibly surprising, he gets even more excited, instead of feeling anxious due to the threat of losing. He fell into his confidence, falling for the sexual innuendos of the lady, but still he’s confident his winning this. The next guy unceremoniously just said, “Fold”.

It’s his for the taking, the dealer motioned for him to show his cards, and he excitedly laid… a pair of Jacks, making it a complete pull Jack with a pair of Twos for a kicker, and then he promptly smiled at the lady. The two men besides him grimaced in envy.

The lady smiles back at the guy with meaning; she laid ironically a pair of Queens of heart and diamonds, and whisper to herself smiling wickedly, amateur…

He could not believe it… from feeling like winning it all, he loses it all, but surprisingly instead of backing away because he lost everything, he seemed to get even more eager to play, sensing that he could win it all back. The lady smiled at him, signaling to come with her upstairs, for she wanted some relief. Winning had made her drained unexpectedly. But the man saw nothing but the cards in the table; he was already standing, but couldn’t seem to get away from the table. The lady’s gesture was oblivious to him, although he looked into her, eye to eye. All he wanted was to be seated at the table, but he had no choice he losses all his chips. The lady didn’t fret for losing his attention; she just grabbed the arm of the other loosing guy on the table, and hauled him upstairs. All she needs is some tension relief, she didn’t care who it was, and same with the guy with him, but at least a little perked of sleeping with a stunning lady never hurts.

With heavy feet, the man slowly walked away from the table, while an unassuming Asian man wearing a typical black Chinese clothes approached him, “Hey… you seem to have a lucky streak… it has been just a slip… you’ll win it back… this is your night,” in a Chinese accent.

“Yeah, I think too…” the man answered sadly.

Leering, “So what’s holding you up? … Why leave the table?” the Asian man asked.

“I’m done for the night… I’m already under.”

“It’s a pity… you seem to have it… with a little more you could have hit it big.” the Asian man responded

“Yeah, I know, I can feel it… but I guess I just have to go back, my wallets drained.”

“Why go back if this is your night? … Maybe I could help you my friend.” the Asian man said with a wicked smile.

“Help me? You don’t even know me.”

“Don’t worry, I always help guys like you… I’m a friend and a businessman, if you know what I mean. I’m Mr. Chan by the way,” the Asian man introduces himself confidently.

Looking confused and bewildered, he faltered, “I’m Karl… Karl Penn,” but he already sensed some danger.

“That’s good, now we’re no longer strangers, we’re now real friends. As two friends I will help you, only for an interest of twenty percent if you pay-up the same night, but a hundred percent if it goes over the week and twenty percent per week will be added on.” Mr. Chan explained hastily.

Karl instead of getting weary of the loan shark gets excited. He never even bother to understand what Mr. Chan had said about the interest, his eyes and focus had been always on the ball, so to speak, since he could not wait to get back at the table, he just readily said, “It’s a call, my friend.”

“Wait my friend… as a friend in order to protect our relationship I have to know that you can pay for whatever you’re going to get. Please show me an I.D.,” Mr. Chan asked.

Karl hurriedly pulled an I.D. in his wallet, and the picture of her seventeen year old daughter slipped out and fell on the floor. Mr. Chan picked it up, looked into it, and commented wickedly, while handing it back to him, “you have a lovely daughter.”

Karl sensed some malice on Mr. Chan’s comment, but he just ignored it and hand his I.D.’s to Mr. Chan, who wrote his home and office address, including his phone numbers.

Mr. Chan followed, “Is your house yours’?”

“I’m just renting… but don’t worry I can pay,” Karl sensing that Mr. Chan might not lend him, “I have a car.” he added quickly.

“My friend your car is not worth anything… I already know it, we have to have something valuable than that,” Mr. Chan said.

Already his hands quivered to get a hold of a card, “Mr. Chan please… I can pay you. I have someone who will pay-up just in case.”

“That’s not good enough my friend.” Mr. Chan sneered.

Sounding desperate, “Mr. Chan, I promise you I can pay you, I’m a man of honor.”

Mr. Chan laughed and said, “Okay, if you’re a man of honor, would you swear it in the life of your daughter?”

Karl readily answered, “Over the life of my daughter, I swear, I’ll pay you Mr. Chan.”

That night $10,000.00 had been lent to Karl Penn, from which the result was expected. He loses all the money, and then he owed Mr. Chan $12,000.00 the same night, by the end of the week it will be $24,000.00.

*****

The following day, the couple from the cemetery from twenty years ago was contemplating on what to do with the latest threatening message they received. The child grew up with them had become famous. But along with the child’s success and resurgence, they were threatened regularly that the truth about the child and them would be revealed if they didn’t give a big of a sum of money. Fifty thousand dollars that time had been asked in exchange for the secret. It had been like that for several occasions since the day that D’ Kickers had been popular again. The first time they’ve received such a message coincide with the release of D’ Kicker’s comeback album, Obsession Relive. The Andrews had already been anticipating this to happen since the incident in Asheville, when someone recognized Mrs. Andrews with Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews in the procession leading to Mr. Joseph Brown’s burial, but it was in the heyday of D’ Kickers in the early eighties. Ironically, D’ Kid’s scandal and failure or destitution backed then had saved them from that, but quickly, at the time of their child’s career resurgence the threat comes forward.

From then on, almost every month they received threats that their secrets would be revealed if they didn’t pay up. It started with a thousand dollars and increased dramatically. The couple weight in on what to do; the amount now was incredibly out of their reach, and they contended that the only way they could have that money was to tell their child about the blackmail. But out of their love for their child they didn’t mention it, they wouldn’t want their child to be burden of it, and right then they still hold to that decision. It would have been sensible to already reveal her true identity, but they see that their child had been relishing her anonymity, knowing purely well that D’ Kid’s popularity had given her some difficulties, and being with her true family now, she wouldn’t want to drag her sister to the pain of being famous, the scrutiny of the public was far too unfair for D’ Kid.

The couple weights again, with what to do with the continuous blackmail and the threat of their secret being revealed. They maintained that they were willing to pay for any consequence, for being with the child was more than enough of a blessing. But they knew they could not risk the truth if it meant their child being hurt. They felt hopeless, since they knew the answer was only to pay for the secrets. But when would it end? It had to end sometime, and frankly they could not afford the $50,000.00 that was being asked of them; the regular $1,000.00 a month and its subsequent increased was painful enough. Their child had been very generous to them, giving them a suburban house and other material things, but they themselves refused to be given money or any luxurious things, for they were one of the few who was not attracted to the shine and the trapping of wealth, they enjoyed a simpler life and they tried hard to remain that way.

The couple remembered what lead them to the wonderful child. Their son was a frequent visitor of hospitals. They cherished him well. He was a poster boy of happiness and a delight to his parents before their repeated visits to hospitals. No one expected, that such a healthy, athletic boy would be cursed with horrible blood disease. Before the child’s birth, they had prayed for several years to be blessed with a child. When the child finally arrived, they were delighted, because it was what they prayed for, a beautiful baby boy. Unfortunately, their happiness was cut short when the kid reached eight, it showed evidence of a disease that they had no control of; their son was suffering from leukemia. They had limited resources, and the life of their child was passing through their hands, they could not do anything about it, even the bone marrow transfusion from Mr. Andrews was not enough to arrest their problem; within three years of sickness, the boy pass on. But instead of getting mad at God, for the cruel joke they’ve gone through, they willingly accepted the passing of their child, and hope that they would be with him in time. They reckoned that the great gift had been revealed to them, and they look forward to be with him in the next phase of life. And then, the beautiful lovely girl arrived in their lives; they contended that God must have really loved and trusted them, because a beautiful angel had been trusted for them to nurse and cared for, they see this as both God’s task and atonement for getting their son sooner. They said grace and were thankful and promised that they would love her even more, for she was a gift from heaven.

*****

Los Angeles, unknown to the Andrews, the fake engagement between Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews and Nicole Summers were in full swing. The Andrews didn’t much have confidence in the media, so they shunned all news related to their child. That’s why they didn’t even know about the scheduled, arranged marriage, a fake marriage announcement to arrest the problem of gay rumors.

After a few days, one evening while the Andrews were in their home doing their usual activity. James reading a World War II book he borrowed from a co-worker and Jackie was in the kitchen attending to the dishes; suddenly, sirens were heard. Both parents were surprised, if it’s their old neighborhood police sirens was a usual background of their daily life, but then they were in a suburbs of Nashville, police sirens could only be heard in TV sets of families in their affluent neighborhood, watching police stories. But now to their surprise it was in their front yard. A police mobile and several gentlemen in black suits alighted from two black cars were headed to their doorstep, and knocks.

Mr. Andrews opened the door; one of the gentlemen asked politely, “Is this the residence of Mr. James and Jackie Andrews?”

“Yes… we are James and Jackie Andrews.” James replied, while he looked overpass into the chaos outside his front yard. It’s no longer just officers of the law that was outside their front yard, but loads of media people.

“I am Special Agent Brennan Booth of FBI, you are under arrest for Force Abduction and Kidnapping,” the FBI agent stated while they handcuffed both of them, and read their rights as being an accused felon, while a search warrant also was furnished to the couple for their premises. Both of them were carried out in a police car, while a frenzy of media people was taking snapshots of the couple from their door, up to the time where they were led inside a police car.

*****

Following morning, both broadsheets and tabloids shared the same headline saying, Paul Andrews was Dead, with sub-headline saying both parents, James and Jackie Andrews arrested. Inset, a big picture of both parents in handcuffs being dragged to a police car, in their arrest earlier in their residence in Nashville, Tennessee. Triggering a cascade of sales of newspapers, that was all orchestrated by Wolf Entertainment News Media. But reading through the articles, people got to understand that the Andrews, stand accused of kidnapping, since their true son died due to leukemia for almost two decades ago, and the one who was assuming his identity was allegedly a Kidnapped victim. The FBI alleged, that the man who is living now as Paul Andrews, could be one of the missing children in North Carolina in the early seventies, and that the couples fit the profile of cases called, raise by a stranger. The sources from FBI explained, that some cases of kidnapping were due to the death of their own child; that in turn resorts into kidnapping, to nurture as their own, in exchanged for their loss child.

The Andrews incapability to raise the demanded amount on to the latest blackmail threat, led them to be arrested. The man behind it was Karl Penn, the gambling addict who was a neighbor of the Andrews in North Carolina. The Andrews deposited $2,000.00 only to the account designated by Karl, and hoping that the blackmailer could understand that they couldn’t raise the amount that was asked of them. Not getting the whole amount he demanded from his threat to the Andrews, and feeling desperate, he offered the information to Wolf Entertainment News Network, asking for $50,000.00 but was turned down, but counter-offered for a sum of $20,000.00, which he gladly took. The network then forwarded the information to the FBI, for more-sensationalized devastating news for Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews.

As for Karl Penn, upon receiving the $20,000.00 payment from Wolf Entertainment News Network, he promptly went back to the gambling den in China Town. But instead of paying the money he owed, he only paid-up part of the interest of $2,000.00 and the remaining $18,000.00 he gambled again, not just the money but his daughter’s life. Expectedly, he loses again and could never pay up the money he owed from the loan shark. The following week, his daughter was missing. He already knew where his daughter was, but what he didn’t know was that the loan shark was part of a human trafficking syndicate that was connected to prostitution slavery.

He went back to the dingy Chinese gambling den. As usual, it was packed with gamblers, he was momentarily distracted by the players on the table and was envious and all his senses wish that he was also seated in one of the tables. But when he saw Mr. Chan from one of the corner, right away he howled, “Mr. Chan, where is my daughter? Give me back my daughter.”

The gambling den turned quiet, everybody looked towards him, absent-mindedly; they didn’t even understand what the man had shouted about or plainly just really didn’t care. But as soon as they heard him, the gambling noise started again, everyone was focused on their cards, there could have been some killings besides them, but all you could get from them was a glimpse of little look and they’ll go back to their cards. Mr. Chan just smile and winked at the two big Asian men standing behind Karl. The two men grabbed him by the shoulder and hauled him. He tried to resist and tried to plead with the people in the den, but unfortunately no one even bothered to look at what was happening to him, they were too immersed with their business to be bothered by a man being dragged back. He was brought to a small room, a sort of an office since there was an office table and chairs. The room was full of boxes of liquors and all sorts of things for drinking and gambling. It was dark and smoky, like the gambling room; and there was a little light in the office table. He was forced to sit down, and fronting him, was Mr. Chan seated smiling.

“My friend Karl, what’s your problem?”

“Bring me back my daughter Mr. Chan… or else?” Karl said angrily.

“My friend… I don’t know where your daughter is. It must have been Karma, you owe me and you swear to your daughter’s life that you’re going to pay, you said, ’I’m a man of honor’, but you didn’t pay-up, it must be Buddha’s action.” Mr. Chan teased.

“I swear Mr. Chan, if you do not bring back my daughter… I’ll tell the authorities.” Karl angrily responded.

Mr. Chan smiled wickedly and said, “My friend, I don’t know what you’re talking about, but if your daughter is missing now, who knows what will happen to her and… to you, if you made the wrong move. Buddha would not take it kindly, you know he is strong and connected, you might not end up just missing… have you heard of people being found in the dumpsite?”

Karl’s back hair rose up; it sends chills in his bones. Just recently he heard such news of a dead man being found in a dumpsite. He looked at the two big men standing at the door, smiling at him, and in frustration he just bowed his head down.

Mr. Chan sensing the resignation on the part of Karl, just said, “Don’t worry about your daughter, she must have just run away with a boyfriend. I’m sure she’ll be fine, what you need is some diversion, this might be your lucky day, here…” and, handed him $500.00 worth of gambling chips and added, “it’s on me this time… since you’re a friend.”

Karl’s spirits quickly lights up, he hastily proceeded in one of the poker tables, completely oblivious of what or where his daughter’s where about. What’s important for him was to be in one of the poker tables.

*****

The FBI office in North Carolina, the media and people were hoarded at the scene; apart from the numerous parents of a missing child in North Carolina that was there giving ire looked at the Andrews. Chaos was a shorthand description of the site. The office was jam packed: there are people who were nosy and for unknown reason wanted to be part of the chaos, media people waiting for the latest scoop and as said parents of missing children. Some of them genuinely hoped that the Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews that was famous, was their missing son. But many, was already seeing GREEN for having a famous son. Each one of these parents queued to show their cases to the parade of FBI agents sitting in several desks typing, trying to convince them that the famous Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews was their missing son. But the FBI could not conclude or disproved any of it; apart from this, the Andrews had turned quiet and didn’t divulge any information. They had made it in their heart that they would continue to protect Sarah. They cherished their adopted child, including her true identity till the end, willing to pay the penalty whatever the law would provide. The Andrews contended in themselves that it was Sarah’s decision whenever she chooses to disclose her true identity.

The FBI assumed the case would be swift, since the so called victim was famous; and would be easy to track down or to invite. But to the surprised of everybody, the famous Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews were nowhere to be found. Mr. Fisher in his L.A. The Triumph headquarters office was frantic to get hold of Sarah also, the publicist was already there to combat the public relations disaster, along with a battery of lawyers in aid of Sarah. But unfortunately, Mr. Fisher was in a dilemma he didn’t know if he’s going to send the lawyers in aid of the Andrews or to further indict them for the crime. Since he didn’t know if Sarah was really a victim of kidnapping and add to the confusion the FBI and missing child’s parents were looking for a male kidnapped victim, and Sarah definitely did not fit their profile. All the information to which Mr. Fisher was privy, he could not divulge yet to both the lawyers and the publicist, not until the time he talks to Sarah herself. Surprisingly, Mr. Fisher no longer just looked at it from a business point of view, but to protect Sarah’s interest too. He knew that Wolf Entertainment News Network was behind all of this, and it angered him.

The Federal Court of North Carolina, the initial arraignment for James and Jackie Andrews was scheduled to commence prior to the mandated 48 hours from the day of the arrest. The hallway of the place had been just like the office of the FBI, it was chaos. Hordes of people were there and many of these as expected were the parents of missing children, who wanted to pour out their anger and frustration to the Andrews, symbolically each of their own child abductor. One of these parents was Karl Penn, who was expectedly capitalizing the Andrews situation and his daughter’s abduction, to further grease out some money from any media that’s willing to buy and listen to his story, of course to sustain his gambling addiction. When the Andrews finally arrived, the throngs promptly pushed towards the two alleged kidnappers. Fortunately the police had already anticipated this and there were cordons of police to distance the accused from the threat of mobbing crowd. But some were still able to reach one of the two.

One pulled Jackie Andrews by the hair, sending her head back, the other quickly joined in pulling her by her orange detainee’s jump suit, and some hastily even threw punches. By the time the police had Jackie Andrews pulled out of the crowd, she was bruised in her arms and neck, lips cut, and her right eye blackened. Jackie didn’t react at all, she understands as a mother, losing a child was unbearable, she could have been one of these people if it had happened to her, but before Jackie could finally enter the court room someone hurled an egg on her face, and angrily shouted.

“Bring me back my daughter… bring me back my daughter,” the man had taken the attention of the media, his ploy was successful, some of them instantly followed him with questions. But he remained quiet, waiting for media people to offer some money for a story, to which like a hungry wolf other media willingly do so. They gave the money to tell his side of his story of his daughter’s abduction. Karl Penn admitted; that the Andrews had been just a symbol of demon abductors to where his frustration of losing a daughter could be bent out.

In James Andrews’ case, he was hurriedly pulled inside the courtroom ahead of his wife, when the commotion happened. James tears quickly trickle as he saw his wife, he clenched his fist, he couldn’t bear that his wife was harmed.

Jackie kissed him by his cheek and whisper, “I’m alright… this is for our daughter and losing a child is unbearable, we understand that, we can take more of this… for her.”

Upon hearing about their daughter, James felt light and kissed his wife back, to which the crowd reacted angrily.

They all shouted, “Kidnappers will go to hell.”

“You’ll rot in jail for these.”

All kinds of cusses and profanities were thrown at the Andrews. For them these couples were defiant to the last moment; and somehow aggravating their feelings. The kissed they thought was to taunt them and further thought that the two were truly devious and callous criminals. The couple instead just sat down quietly, they didn’t want to aggravate the way the grieving parents felt.

The chaos of shouting and verbal abused momentarily stopped, when the court’s clerk announced the entry of the Federal Judge. But upon judge’s settling on his bench, the crowd went back to their wild tirades.

The judge strongly hammered his gavel several times in anger, shouting, “Order! Order!” until the gavel broke into pieces, the crowd silenced, both shocked and stunned. He declares, “Order! I will not tolerate this in my court!”

“For you who could not control yourselves, get out of my court. You are not in a ball game, you are in a court of justice for God sake… everyone who defies this will either be thrown out of the court or worse, I’ll send you to jail,” the judge howled and the crowd musses, and he barked lastly, “don’t ever tempt me…”

The arraignment of the Andrews’ commenced, they were informed of their legal charges of kidnapping, which was, “knowing and willfully” abducting a, “person for ransom and reward and otherwise.” At the said hearing, Attorney Denny Shore from the Office of the Federal Public Defender represented the Andrews. Although, the Andrews turned quiet and would not divulge any information to their lawyer, the public defendant lawyer fought for them even at the initial hearing.

On the subject of bail, the Federal prosecutor quickly said, “Your Honor, the case was about kidnapping and they had eluded the law before when they brought a child out of North Carolina to Tennessee, it will be realistic to assume that they would do the same if they were sent out of detention, and frankly speaking the absence of the victim might suggest that he might be coerced into hiding, or worse his life might be in danger.”

“Objection! Your Honor, the prosecution had already alluded that my clients were already guilty of kidnapping. We don’t even know who the child is, for all we know he could be a relative or an illegal immigrant.” the appointed counsel stated backed. To these, roaring flashes of camera bulbs ensued, taking snapshots at the defendant, their lawyer and even the judge.

“Overruled… what the… is this? This is not Hollywood, don’t take pictures as if this is the Oscars… we are hearing cases here, this is serious business… I’ll warn you again, one photo shot and I’ll send you to jail for contempt.”

“As for you Mr. Shore, Overruled. It’s true as you say that we don’t know the alleged victim, but it is also a fact that we don’t know if he’s in danger, you have to speak to your clients about the child’s identity, that way we have grounds to believe that they will not flee upon bail.” the Judge replied.

The crowd murmured in approval, to the dismay of the judge, for which he reacted looking at the crowd with disdained and warned. Everybody fell flat silent.

“Your honor… the defense move that we have a close hearing… to avoid the circus that was happening now, and to avoid a trial by publicity for my clients.” the defendant’s counsel motioned.

“Your honor, this is a matter for the public, the public had the right to know. This is not a matter of national security, this is a public case.” the prosecution rebutted and a single flash struck at the court room, the camera focus on the prosecution bench.

“What the…? Guard, seize that photographer! Put him in jail for contempt and not until he surrender all photographs pertaining to this court and this case, that he’ll be allowed to go out of jail. And to you Mr. Shore, your motioned is denied, this is a matter for the public, and frankly speaking, I’m offended at the suggestion that I cannot control my own court.” the judge declared.

The defense counsel instantly answered, “Your honor, I don’t mean,” but was quickly interrupted.

“I know counsel, but your motion is still denied.” the judge declared with finality.

*****

The FBI crammed to find the real identity of their alleged victim. They vigorously looked into all the male missing child cases in North Carolina in the seventies. But back then Sarah, along with Chelsea after their meeting with Mr. Fisher of Triumph records and the photo shoot for the faked engagement, right away resumed their vacation along with Miss Dianne Summers. Intentionally not informing anyone of their where about to enjoy privately. They didn’t know that the Andrews had been arrested for kidnapping by the FBI, since they were out of the country. Although it was big news in the States; in Tuscany, Italy, where they are at that moment, it was not even part of the news. Apart from it, Sarah is being herself, so no media were haunting them and without Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews, Nicole Summers didn’t get much attention too. They were just two ordinary sisters, that were having their bonding time, oblivious of the world, paying for lost time without each other.

Even more unknown to the three ladies, numerous speculations already had been brewing up because of Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews’ absence. Tabloids had maliciously speculated and fabricated that the now famous Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews was buried somewhere in Tennessee, killed by the Andrews to cover up their crime, some even speculated with prodding from Wolf Entertainment News Network that he was in hiding, since he was part of an elaborate conspiracy of the crimes of the Andrews. Numerous sightings and reports of hidden grave diggings were reported to the FBI office but none of them were credible, this just added up to the confusion that the FBI was handling. The silence of the Andrews about the true identity of the famous Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews didn’t help either. Despite the overwhelming circumstantial evidence against the Andrews, the FBI was pressed to identify the existing Paul Andrews since without a credible identification; they know that the defense would simply make it a case of impersonation of the dead, or at worse personal identification theft, killing their kidnapping case as a whole. They have to find out concrete evidence, that the existing Paul Andrews was one of the missing children in the seventies, to pin down kidnapping to the Andrews.

The FBI started to question and invited his friends. One by one, starting with the members of the popular D’ Kickers band. This in turn added even more to the chaos in the FBI North Carolina office. Numerous fans camps near the area of the FBI office, knowing that, the D’ Kicker’s members were invited for questioning. But none of them reveal anything, they surmised that only D’ Kid herself could tell her whole story, since in reality, they didn’t even know the reason why D’ Kid end up with the Andrews. Among friends, only Eliz knew about the whole story of D’ Kid, and just like the others Eliz didn’t tell anything to the FBI not even her being female, same with her friends. With this, the FBI was infuriated. So they tried another tactic. They instead employ harassment, particularly to Eliz, the so called former prostitute girlfriend of Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews. Even Captain John Rivers activities, including his criminal activities, then were being closely watched, to pressure Eliz, from divulging anything she knows about Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews.

While the questioning of Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews’ whereabouts and history was going on, the FBI continued to find options to search for the latter. The highly publicized engagement had prompted the FBI to visit the mansion of Miss Summer. Hoping to get information from either Nicole Summers or Miss Dianne Summers, but unfortunately the only information they gathered from the Summers’ Hispanic staffs, was that the two were on a European tour accompanied by another lady named Sarah, and clearly stated that Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews was not with them and that they didn’t even know who Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews was. They added that they didn’t know where in Europe in particular, since they hadn’t communicated since they left. The FBI agents searched the tour agencies in Charlotte, North Carolina for possible details on a touring schedule of the Andrews, but unfortunately they didn’t booked with any agency for a package tour, the FBI agents were only able to get their flight departure schedule to Paris, France other than that, nothing else. And Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews was booked on a different flight originating from LAX.

At Post Initial Arraignment, same chaos was seen but by then more police guards were assigned to protect the defendants from the crowd, they were haste in court with no trouble apart from the heckling and raining of profanity and cusses at the accused. Although that time the court still was jam packed, the people were silent because they already know that the Judge really meant business. When the Judge asked for the plea of the Andrews, the accused didn’t respond and chose to be quiet; the judge in turn puts in a Not Guilty Plea for them, for Kidnapping and forceful abduction of an unknown child.

“Your honor, the defense request bail for the defendant is reiterated.” the counsel motioned.

To which the prosecution panel instantly responded, “Your honor, the prosecution reiterated its objection.”

“Mr. Shore, I ask you for the information on the defendant’s alleged victim of kidnapping,” the judge asked. To which the defense counsel remained mum, he was not able to get any information from the couple.

This irritates the judge and declared, “Counsels to my chamber.”

At the office of Judge Vivien Blalock, he hastily belts out his frustration, “Who is the victim? Where is the victim?”

The two counsels remained mum, the two knew, both of their cases would be jeopardized or enhanced on the identity of the alleged victim. Neither one would want to conceal his identity, but unfortunately both of them weren’t able to get any information at that moment.

“Mr. Shore, you know I will not just hand out to you, your motion. Where is the alleged victim?” the judge asked the defense counsel.

“I apologize, your honor. The Andrews had not given me any information on the alleged victim, and as you know judge, I cannot force them, they have their rights to be silent.” Mr. Shore answered.

“Counsel you’re insulting me, again, of course I know.” the judge answered.

“Judge, I don’t mean...” but was readily interrupted.

“Of course you don’t mean to. Anyway, Mr. Crane this holds more importance to you. I warned you, all your case was based on circumstantial evidence, without the identity of the victim, how can you prove kidnapping with the jury?”

“Judge, we intend to name the victim and will do so in the next hearing.” the prosecutor answered.

“So be it… and if not, I’m afraid…” the judge paused.

“Will move for the dismissal of the case…” the defense counsel quickly stated, to which the judge replied with silence, and just looked onto the prosecution counsel.

“Okay… as it is, your request for bail is still denied, pending identity of the alleged victim, the prosecution as we know, have to name their victim next hearing.” Judge Blalock declared and they went back to the court to formalize the denial for bail for the defendant.

*****

After several weeks in his frustration and worry about his business, and surprisingly, his affinity for D’ Kid, Mr. Fisher vigorously searched for Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews. Knowing that she was with the Summers, he asked his people to search for them. Fortunately around that time the staff of Miss Summers had already received a postcard from them from Tuscany, Italy. And Mr. Fisher’s people were informed of the postcards. Mr. Fisher immediately called his music record partners in Italy to search for the Summers in Tuscany. In a few days, Mr. Fisher had gotten hold already of the villa the Summers’ were staying in, and left a message for the Summers so that they should call him upon their return to the villa for an emergency message.

Miss Summers received the message from the villa connoisseur, knowing that the message was for D’ Kid, she quickly handed it over at once to Sarah.

It ends up on the floor, Sarah just threw it away and said, “I’m sure of Mr. Fisher; he’s just about the sales of the album and wanted another publicity gimmick to increase his sales.”

The following morning Miss Summers, Chelsea and Sarah were already at the port of the villa, already excited to explore again the beauty of Tuscany. The sun shines bright in yellow, touching warmly of the skin in pleasure, the plants and flower from inside and outside the villa glimmers, it’s as if you’re in the footstep of heavenly glory, the villa staff and even the guest were courteously smiling at one another, a perfect day to wake up to. Pleasant people in a magical place, you could help but have sympathy for people who lose their heart in love at the sight, with the background scenery love was so easy to blossom, your heart would be helpless once it sipped the wine spirit of the area, and its temptation was irresistible. And just like all the people in that wonderful place, the three were dreamy, Chelsea had sunflower in her white hat, while Miss Summers had a corsage and Sarah apart from the a stem in her right hand, another stem were on her lips and was softly bit, flirtatiously. She enjoyed being a woman at that moment, and a simple motion of femininity was a delight to her, concealing her habitual roughness.

But all this change abruptly, “Mr. Fisher? Quite a surprise!” Chelsea greeted in disdained.

“Good morning ladies.” Mr. Fisher responded seriously.

“What brings you here?” Instantly, irritated that Mr. Fisher was there in their vacation, with piercing eyes, Sarah angrily asked.

“Haven’t you received my message?” Mr. Fisher responded.

“Yeah, we did… I told you Mr. Fisher, it was my first time with my sister and we wanted time for ourselves. I did what you want us to do; I guess we deserve time for ourselves.” Sarah responded with a hard voice.

“You’re mistaken… this is not about me or the business, this is about you.” Mr. Fisher responded and before he can continue.

“Again, Mr. Fisher nothing is not about your business… it’s all about business, to you.” Sarah responded roughly, and pulled her sister and Miss Summers by their elbows to leave.

Sarah walks out on Mr. Fisher towards the inviting sun, he followed, “it’s about your mom… your dad.”

Sarah paused, and sternly glared back at Mr. Fisher puzzled and still irritated “What about my Mom… my Dad?”

Mr. Fisher handed over two newspapers. The first one with the headline that said ‘Paul Andrews was Dead’ with sub-headline that ‘James and Jackie Andrews arrested’ including photos of the handcuffed couple leading to a mobile car; the second newspaper was about the commotion on the arraignment of the Andrews’ where photos of Jackie Andrews being mugged by a crowd was headlined.

Sarah’s face dropped, she instantly fell down on her knees, let go of the flower in her hands, her eye at once reddened with tears streaming, and uttered silently, “my mom…” looking at Mr. Fisher, not in surprised but utterly devastated and in fear. Chelsea got hold of her sister and seated her in one of the outdoor sofa in the villas foyer.

Mr. Fisher, sadly followed, “We need to talk, my hand is tide and I don’t know the truth.”

“My Mom and Dad did not abduct me, they were the nicest people… they cared for me.” Sarah cried.

“Kid, you were too young to know… you wouldn’t know if they forcefully abduct you.” Mr. Fisher said.

“Mr. Fisher, just like you said, you don’t know the whole story… the Andrews didn’t abduct Sarah.” Miss Summers declared.

“Miss Summers, I hope you understand my interest is to protect Sarah and if the Andrews Kidnapped her… I’ll pull all the best lawyers I can get to persecute them.” Mr. Fisher seriously responded.

“I surely hope that you were there from the beginning, I doubt it… if you will save Sarah back then.” Miss Summers sarcastically answered.

“Mr. Fisher, it’s the truth the Andrews did not kidnap Sarah… they actually saved her.” Chelsea interjected, now joining her sister weeping in frustration.

“You obviously know me as a mean businessman, so let’s do this like a business. You seem to know that my only interest was to protect my interest, so let’s do it. What’s the real story?” Mr. Fisher irritatingly responded, knowing that his kindness was never ever recognized and added, “… so I can protect my business.”

“Mr. Fisher… I was already twelve when my mom and dad took care of me… I run away… so they took me in.” Sarah sadly responded.

Mr. Fisher looked into Sarah’s eyes, and knew that the lady was telling the truth, but still he knew that there was more to that, “Kid… if you were twelve that time… you already have a grasp of the truth… I’m sure you will not tell me everything, because you don’t trust me, but at least have my lawyers’ help your mom and dad, whatever you say to the lawyers were privilege between you and them.”

*****

Before Sarah, Chelsea, Miss Summers and Mr. Fisher arrived back in the States; Mr. Fisher’s lawyers were already converging with their first agenda of trying to secure freedom for the Andrews; the right to post bail, upon Mr. Fisher’s order. His public relation people were already in his office waiting for Mr. Fisher’s arrival, to arrest all the negative perception regarding the scandal, but still they didn’t know how to combat it since they didn’t know the whole story.

Right then at the detention visitor’s cell area, both James and Jackie were in the presence of the appointed federal public defendant counsel, Denny Shore, referring to them some of the witnesses and evidence copies of the prosecution that would be presented in the court. One by one the lawyer asked the couple about the witnesses and evidence. They started with Karl Penn that would testify that Paul Andrew was already dead accompanied by a litany of evidence such as the birth certificate and death certificate of Paul Andrews, the hospital log of Paul Andrews’ confinement due to leukemia up to his eventual death, their photo in the wake of their son’s death with Karl Penn and the photo of his grave at Riverside Cemetery, all suggest to the fact that Paul Andrews was already dead. The couple didn’t react to the lawyer’s presentation. And then they were informed of another witness, who was an immigrant from Jamaica, named Edgar Sapitula; the latter would testify regarding their presence during the time of a child’s disappearance, it stated also that there were photos to attest to it.

The couple reacted in disbelief. They didn’t know the immigrant and frankly speaking, they didn’t know any child disappearance in their presence.

“At first, I was glad that the prosecution wasn’t able to identify the victim. Where were you on May 25, 1970? Guys, you have to help me out here,” the counsel frustratingly asked and stated. But the couple remained silent, and honestly, it was a long time ago, they could not remember where they were at that time.

The defense counsel, although frustrated, followed, “Do you know Bobby Lyeh Henson?”

“Who is Bobby Lyeh Henson?” the couple asked in unison.

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