Toronto. Thursday, April 18.
As was her usual early morning custom, Kerri reached for her Blackberry and checked her calls and emails. Still in her pink nightgown and sitting on the edge of the queen-sized bed in the guest bedroom of her father’s home, she scanned the hundreds of calls she had received and not returned. Most were from representatives of the media, hoping to talk to her, desperate for an exclusive interview. One of the calls was from Andrea Dennis, attempting to explain why she had prematurely disclosed her secret, and pleading for her forgiveness. Two additional calls managed to catch her attention. The first was from Marsha Cooper, advising her that Sydney Mortimer, lawyer for the Iacardi Shareholders, had called to advise her that he had no intention of dropping the case against her. He said, “as a result of your delays and refusal to sign the Enerco offer, his clients had experienced pain and suffering and substantially increased costs,” she said, then added, “A little bit of good news however. You’ll be happy to know that I just deposited a hundred million in your Rainy Day account. I was impressed that Enerco could stroke a check for that much money. As per your instructions, I’ve paid the I.R.S. and deducted my fees from the balance. You still have a little more than bus fare home in the bank. Anyway, cheer up. I know you’re unemployed and lonely, but you’ve still got your self respect and my eternal admiration. You asked me to go to war with you, and still I intend to do that. Have a great day and call me when you get a chance.”
The second call to attract her attention was from Sandra Schafer. “Miss King, my name is Sandra Schafer. I’m an accountant with Enerco in Houston. You don’t know me, but I think you should. I’ve been following your story in the newspapers and on television, and I want you to know that I think you are an amazing person. I can only imagine the courage it took to do what you have done. I also think the people who removed you as president of Iacardi must be crazy. I’m aware that you have been offered a job with Enerco, and I don’t know what your plans are in that connection. Regardless of whether you accept the offer or not, I would very much like to talk to you as soon as possible. I have managed to compile irrefutable evidence that Enerco is breaking the law in a number of ways. I dearly want to take my information to the appropriate authorities and blow the whistle, but I’m afraid that by so doing, I’ll lose my job. The regime here is very strict. We can’t even criticize management without being punished in some way. Last week I approached my boss with my information and asked him to help me. Unfortunately, he’s also afraid of losing his job, so he refused to help me. He did, however, suggest that you might be interested. He thought you might see it as opportunity to give Ken Layton, Jeffrey Wheeler, and Andrew Speers what they deserve. Both my boss and I think all three should be put in jail for what they’re doing. I’m sure that if you take the time to look at the evidence I have, you’ll agree. I would be grateful if you would be kind enough to return my call. In case you would prefer to communicate by email, I’ve already sent you my address.”
Kerri turned off her Blackberry and exhaled. She placed it on her night table, then lowered her head to the nearest pillow and began to ponder the implications of Schafer’s call, and the implications of getting involved. She would be confronting dangerous people. Jeffrey Wheeler was the only one of the three Enerco executives mentioned by Schafer whom she had met, but her memory of the meeting was still clear in her mind. He had blatantly attempted to blackmail her, and it was obvious that he enjoyed doing so. He had told her that if she refused to sign the Enerco Offer to Purchase Iacardi & Sons, he planned to reveal the details of her Swiss bank account to the I.R.S. She was absolutely certain that he had, with someone’s assistance, tapped her business telephone and murdered Wilhelm Lentz to obtain the information he needed: the exact amount of her secret Swiss bank account and the name of the bank holding it. She was still plagued by the frustration of having no way of proving it. The arrogance of his approach still infuriated her.
Her deliberations continued. She thought of Peter Tavaris, the man who so ruthlessly orchestrated her removal from the presidency of Iacardi, the man who had nothing but contempt for her, the man who had relentlessly pursued her job, never once giving a sliver of consideration for the Iacardi employees who lost their lives in the Terrorist attacks of September, 2001, or for her efforts to rebuild the nearly decimated company.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a gentle knock on her door. She glanced upward to see the door open about a foot and her father peering through the opening. “Good morning,” he said with a loving smile. “Can we talk?”
“Sure. Come on in.”
Mike, still in his pajamas, his hair uncombed, entered and sat on the edge of her bed. “How was yesterday?” he asked.
Kerri displayed an instant smile. “Fantastic.”
“Wow. That good?”
“Even better. Steve’s going to make it, dad. He’s going to make it all the way back. I was confident when he came out of his coma, but now I’m sure of it.”
“You care to tell me why you’re so sure, or am I prying?”
“You’re not prying...Yesterday was very special. Steve proved to me that his memory is completely functional. All he needed was the right stimulation.”
“That’s great news, but maybe you can be a little more specific. Come on, you can tell your dad.”
“I spoke to his therapist the day before the trip. I told her where we were going and asked her about exposing Steve to certain places. I tried the best I could to give her the history of Steve’s connection to each place. The first was the cottage he was building on Lake Joseph, until his marriage to Christine got in the way. She agreed, so I took him there first. It didn’t take long for him to show me that it was a bad idea. It was obvious that he associated the place with an unpleasant experience. I could see that he was struggling to process the details. Everything he looked at caused him pain. It was palpable. I could see it in his eyes. He didn’t have to say a thing.”
“Did he say anything?”
“Only that he wanted to leave. So we did. The next place on my list was The Health Club. Unfortunately, we passed his accident scene on the way. I could have taken a different route, but I wanted to see if he remembered it. He reacted as soon as he saw it. His expression, his eyes, his hand movements, all of them proved to me that he remembered it. I just don’t know how well... I felt so sorry for him, and I felt like a shit for taking him there. Neither of us said anything after we passed it, so I just kept driving until we got to The Health Club. We walked down to the dock and spent a few minutes taking in the view... He was different there. He seemed serene, almost content. I waited a little longer, then I asked him if that place was familiar to him.” Kerri paused and smiled. “That was a defining moment. He smiled his perfect smile and told me it was the place where he met the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.”
“Don’t stop there. What happened next?” Mike prodded.
Kerri’s expression transformed into a full blush. “We kissed... No. We really kissed. He showed me he remembered how to do that.”
“That’s wonderful,” Mike said, delighted to see happiness in his daughter’s expression for the first time since September of the previous year. “Was the kiss a knee-jerk reaction, or something more?”
“Definitely more. I wasn’t sure what it was until...” Again she paused, struggling to decide how to explain the next series of events to her father.
“I decided to take him to his house in Port Carling, but before we got there, he saw the post office. You know where it is, just before McMullen Drive. He asked me to stop so he could pick up his mail. I was amazed. He knew which key to use and exactly where his box was. The size of the stack he carried out of there made it obvious that it had accumulated since before his accident. When we got out of the car in front of his house he pulled a letter out of his stack and handed it to me. It blew me away. It was addressed to me in New York and written by him, the day of his accident. It was returned to him because I deliberately didn’t leave a forwarding address when I left New York...He wanted me to read it to him.” Kerri beamed, displaying the expression of a child on Christmas morning. “Dad, until that moment, I thought our kiss on The Health Club dock was the defining moment of the day, but it was nowhere close. Reading that letter to him was like opening a dam. I’ll tell you why in a minute, but first let me read it to you.” She lifted the letter from the surface of her night table and read it to her father.
“Wow!” Mike said, impressed by the text. “That was well written. Obviously he cared a lot for you. How did he respond?”
“I’ll probably never know exactly how my reading that letter affected him, but it was like a light switch had suddenly been turned on. The transformation was incredible. He remembered everything about that day in his life, in specific detail.” She smiled and blushed again. “I could tell you a lot more about his response, but it’s X-rated.”
“I’ll assume Steve remembered how to do that, too.” He wrapped his arms around his daughter and hugged her. “I’m so happy for both of you. It’s been too long since either of you have had any good news.”
“I’m in love with him, dad.”
Mike chuckled. “You didn’t have to tell me. I could see it in your eyes,” he said, then stood. “Karen and I are going to the Pickle Barrel for breakfast in an hour. We would be honored if the Iacardi Santa Claus chose to join us?”
She laughed and nodded.