Wallace drove out of town to meet Rick two weeks after his return. Yes, they had all returned to town. They had all returned to work, except for Wallace and Nic–who had to start at ground zero. Wallace was staying at his mansion, not Tammy’s place. Though they were a pair of husband and wife, after all, they had separated for too long hence Tammy wanting to start things over slowly. Wallace wanted to respect her decision. The other reason why he had agreed to her decision was because he needed time alone to drive Yvonne out of his mind once and for all. Yvonne hadn’t returned. It was like how Rick had predicted, Yvonne had kept her words with staying invisible for the time being. Or perhaps, forever. Rick had promised to meet up with Wallace after retrieving some evidence to back up his words from the park that one afternoon. Upon leaving for the meeting, Wallace had to lie again to get the others off his back. Rick told Wallace it was essential. Wallace knew it was his only chance to uncover his still forgotten past so he had agreed to lie one last time.
“Are the local team really gone?” Wallace asked when he entered the apartment Rick had told him as their meeting place.
It was too risky at some hotel. And the reason why Wallace was asking Rick that question was because he’d no longer see his so-called ‘families’ residing at the mansion.
“What do you think?” Rick asked back instead of answering the question as he shut the door.
“Before we start with your story, I want to ask you something,” Wallace continued in a calm voice, not wanting to blow it by getting mad at Rick when he was just minutes toward the truth–or so Rick had claimed.
“What?” Rick asked, sitting down at a chair and was grabbing some folders nearby.
“If those people aren’t really my family, then why are they always meddling into my matters? I meant like how that woman who was posing as my mom kept protecting that Sylvie and driving my mind crazy. And then there’s the whole objecting me and Angela.”
“They were supposed to pose as your family, of course, they have to be good and convincing. Besides, don’t have to worry about Sylvie anymore, she’s like behind bars already.”
“What? I just thought she only had to pay some fines or something.”
Rick shook his head. “She was a heavy gambler and wanted to latch onto Lex for financial security. Not only that, but she also tried to sell some of your stuff, remember? She was becoming too unstable so Yvonne had to go after her, as part of a side mission.”
Wallace finally understood the other reason why Yvonne seemed to know Sylvie that one time. It wasn’t just part of the ‘pretending to get closer’ to Sylvie to expose her and help him. But it was because of their link to the agency. “Then why did she become one of your agents in the first place? I meant don’t you guys filter people like that out?”
Rick nodded. “But we don’t filter casual contacts as much. And that was the biggest mistake ever so after that Sylvie incident, they were more careful.” Rick had gotten up again after retrieving the folders and had been hooking up something to the TV. He was done now and had grabbed the remote control. “Okay, let’s get started.”
Wallace sat down at the other end of the sofa that Rick had just settled down on. “What are we looking at?”
“This is the surveillance tape the day you were hypnotized,” Rick answered. “Well, more like a copy because I don’t want to send around signals by getting that out of their vault.”
Wallace gasped. “What will they do to you?”
“I’m a hacker like you, remember? They’re not going to know. There was no alarm back then. It’s too late for one now. I had to retrieve a copy off their database. I knew that was the best decision I’d ever made after the incident. I even made a copy onto this tape, just to be safe.”
“Come on now. You’re not the only legendary agent they still have behind closed doors, okay? I wasn’t that bad.”
“Hey, I’m just worried.”
“Worry for yourself, because after this is out, I can’t guarantee that you don’t have a great urge to kill yourself.”
Wallace had no idea what Rick was nabbing at again, but Rick had pushed the play button so Wallace was forced to pay attention.
The image on the screen was like what Wallace had seen in his memory of the day. A dark room with some people surrounding the area. A doctor was nearby in a typical lab coat. Then there was Tammy standing behind him. He was sitting in a chair. He seemed fuzzy, like he wasn’t conscious. Or was he still recovering so he didn’t look as active? There was a door to the right corner of the screen. If it was based on where the past him was sitting, the door was to the far left. There were also some steps leading up to the door, separating the area altogether. Some guards were standing by the door–if the circle of guards around them wasn’t enough already.
“Let’s begin,” The doctor in the lab coat said.
Wallace witnessed himself being hypnotized and being fed some information about his new life, some of the things he was able to explain now. Of his strange habits or if it didn’t seem to fit at times. The hypnosis had overridden all reasoning.
“Don’t blink,” Rick said–next to Wallace. “The following scene is an important piece of the puzzle.
Rick had paused the video on purpose and looked at Wallace. Wallace nodded, not minding that Rick had sounded a tad smart-aleck. Rick unfroze the screen as they focused on it again. Then Wallace was able to see some commotions from the door area. It was Yvonne rushing in, slamming the door. The guards were yelling and pushing Yvonne away, telling her to not make any rash moves. Her persistence had gotten her past them and into the circle of guards. They had been observing the hypnosis but now they were forced to deal with Yvonne. Some of them had managed to restrain her.
Seeing Yvonne’s devastated state and her cries of his name tugged at Wallace’s heart more than ever. He suddenly wanted to beat himself up even more for having lashed out at her all these times. He didn’t realize he had been tightening his fist until Rick told him to calm down.
“You haven’t seen it all,” Rick said.
Wallace tried to stay calm but it was hard. Seeing a tearful Yvonne being restrained by all those guards made him wanted to rip them apart. Yet the only thing stopping him from doing just that was the past.
“Here’s some volume.”
Rick wasn’t just giving Wallace some volume by turning it louder but he also rewinded the clip a bit starting with Yvonne entering the place.
“Wallace!” Yvonne called out from the screen.
“You can’t come in!” The guards yelled out.
Wallace didn’t need that loud of a volume to know Yvonne was suffering. Or was Rick torturing him on purpose and calling it payback because of how much he’d been yelling at Yvonne lately? But Wallace was wrong. They were finally up to the part where Yvonne got restrained by the second round of guards.
“Keep her there, we’re almost done,” Tammy spoke up then.
Wallace was more than shocked upon hearing that. He wasn’t paying attention to Tammy since he was looking at a struggling Yvonne the whole time. But the louder volume had let him hear Tammy’s voice without needing to look at her. And when he finally realized what was going on, he tried to pay attention to all parts of the screen at the same time, especially Tammy. That wasn’t so hard to do anymore since Tammy had walked closer to where Yvonne was standing being held back by the guards.
“Tammy, I beg you,” Yvonne wailed, her state almost hysterical.
“It’s for the best,” Tammy replied, her tone passive. “You wouldn’t want to see him all locked up, would you?”
“He would want to make the decision himself,” Yvonne said between sniffles.
Tammy didn’t respond but just smiled a passive smile. Wallace could see the white lab coat doctor was walking toward Tammy then. He whispered something into Tammy’s ear and then they were walking back toward where Wallace was sitting.
“What would you want the code word to be?” The doctor asked.
“Elixir,” Tammy responded. “But don’t make it so that he remembers. Make it so that he could only remember to trust me. We can’t have him roaming around until we’re sure he won’t blab out all the information.”
The doctor nodded.
“Why didn’t I even make a move?” Wallace asked, frustrated at the scene on screen. “Why am I just sitting there blankly like a puppet?”
“Hello, you were injured and still haven’t recovered,” Rick provided the answer mockingly. “And you were drugged. I was sure of it. She gave you something to drink. I snooped around afterward to get some answers and that was all I could find.”
“Then what I remembered?”
“Didn’t you hear her? In cases where you accidentally remember stuff, it would be in her favor.”
“Is that why you can’t tell me? That my own wife had betrayed me?”
“I can’t tell you that day at the hotel was because she was right there, I was mad, not suicidal. And your wife didn’t betray you.”
Wallace was even more confused. “What? But Tammy…”
Rick had paused the screen since Wallace had started asking questions again. He let it play like before, making sure the volume was still high enough. The volume was actually quite high because Rick had to turn it louder than normal volume to be able to hear the background volume. That meant Tammy and the doctor were actually talking in lower voices during the real-time. Rick didn’t want it to look like he had done something to the actual video or manipulated it in his favor if he were to use a clearer and stable version of the video clip.
Wallace could see that Rick finally made it into the room. He managed to get past the guards and even came to Yvonne’s rescue.
“What’s going on here?” Rick on the screen asked.
“Rick, you have to do something,” Yvonne begged, gesturing fiercely at Wallace sitting at the other corner, still being manipulated by the doctor.
As Rick made a move, the other guards standing at the other side of the room also rushed forward to stop him. Yvonne was already a lost cause. She got restrained again as she tried to fight with whatever that was left of her strength. By then, Rick was also restrained by the newly arrived guards. Tammy walked over to them again.
“You’re too late,” Tammy said, looking at Rick. “The procedure’s over.”
“Is this why I wasn’t informed about Wallace being back already?” Rick demanded, his expression beyond angry.
Yvonne turned toward Rick then. “Is that why you haven’t returned since the past week?”
“You two should be glad he could relocate now,” Tammy said, her demeanor still calm.
“It’s your chance to have him all to yourself, right?” Rick bellowed at Tammy.
Tammy wasn’t mad at Rick’s accusation. “Think whatever you want. I only wanted him free and safe.”
Yvonne seemed to be calm by now. Or had tried to regain herself. “If he’s being relocated, I want to go with him.”
Tammy smiled and turned to Yvonne. “It’s not up to you to say.”
“I promise I won’t make any rash moves,” Yvonne bargained. “I only want to stay with him. Just like the old times.”
“I will allow it,” A voice from somewhere said.
They all turned to the door to see a suited man walking in.
“But Patrick…” Tammy protested. “The boss said…”
Patrick–the newly arrived man–turned to Tammy with a disapproving look. “Who told you to start without me?”
“But the boss…”
“Don’t use the boss card on me.” He turned to the guards holding Yvonne and Rick captive. “Let them go.”
“But sir…” One of the guards said.
“Let them go,” Patrick repeated, his voice becoming even sterner.
The guards had no choice but to free Yvonne and Rick.
“Patrick, please,” Yvonne begged, walking toward the man.
Patrick nodded. “You can go with him. But remember the deal.”
The screen turned off then. Wallace turned to look at the Rick next to him then.
“The next part is all about yelling at Tammy and then how he couldn’t believe Tammy was able to con the doctor into doing the hypnosis before he was able to see you first,” Rick explained. “Kind of repetitive. But if it wasn’t for Patrick, Yvonne and I wouldn’t be able to go free that day. You know how it is when we interfere with agency commands.”
Wallace had on a confused expression again. “Who is he?”
“But I thought Tammy said…”
Rick shook his head. “Not the higher, upper management boss. Our immediate boss. He didn’t want to see you hypnotized or locked up. He talked to me and Yvonne before and planned to use the hypnosis session as a scam. He was ready to get creative with it and somehow direct you out of the cells and lead you somewhere, letting you go. But in the end, it happened anyway. I just returned that day because I couldn’t just leave my post at the current mission but that had become an advantage for Tammy. Yvonne was at the headquarters but got sent somewhere else that day so she got detained and found out about the procedure already taking place just minutes before I made it back. With the damage already done, Patrick had no choice but to allow Yvonne to follow you. I had to stay behind to help him. I know he couldn’t lose both of us under his wing, so…”
“If it was Tammy’s fault what happened to me, why did Yvonne act all friendly toward her all these times?”
Rick let out a sigh. “Do you really have to ask? For your safety.” Rick tossed the remote back onto the table then. He reached for the folders he had fetched earlier. “There’s more, here. And yeah, I had to make new copies because I don’t want to look suspicious by going back to my house and hunt for the photo albums. It’s a backup copy I printed from my memory stick.”
“What…” Wallace asked as he opened the folder yet had to stop short, no longer needing the ‘is it’ part to be answered.
It was wedding pictures from seven years ago. But the bride wasn’t Tammy. It was Yvonne. At least it looked that way from the attires wore. He turned to look at Rick, waiting for Rick to say something.
“Don’t stop, go on,” Rick urged.
Wallace had no choice but to flip several more pages. Then he recognized more photos that he’d seen in Yvonne’s photo album. Then came the ones with Rick and Tammy. He was more than confused as to why there were different sets of him and Rick with both girls. Yet he was the only one taking wedding pictures with both girls.
“That year,” Rick spoke up again. “I didn’t even know Tammy like you yet. So it was a big joke really. All in the fun, you know? You and Yvonne were finally going forward with your wedding plans because Patrick gave you some vacation time. So Tammy and I came along. We took pictures and the girls were so crazy, wanting to try out different dresses. Yvonne even lent you to Tammy for the fake wedding pictures while they were at the shop trying out the dresses. The girls went further with the whole ring thing.” Rick stopped to let out a laugh. It wasn’t an amused one, more like a bitter one. “How should I know it was going to cause some big confusion later? And perhaps that was one of the images that Tammy told the doctor to etch into your mind.”
Wallace was only half listening to what Rick was saying at this point. Yet things were finally clicking into places for him. It made a lot more sense. But he was still overwhelmed by all of it. All the memories–whether new or old–poured itself one after another into his mind. Voices layered one another.
“Why are you acting all nice now? I mean are you really my wife?”
“Amber…we don’t have time for this.”
“Why can’t you tell them everything? I know it’s between you and him, but you can’t take the blame in silence like that.”
“What are you still hiding from me?”
“Nothing, let’s get going.”
“If she doesn’t want to tell you, then I will.”
“I’ve never seen anyone so irresponsible and heartless like you…”
“Tell me what?”
“Nothing. Let’s get going.”
“It’s about you and Yvonne.”
“Wallace, yours and Yvonne’s room is next door.”
“Come on now, he doesn’t remember, but we remember, okay? Wallace and Yvonne belong together in our book, okay?”
“They grew up together and almost got married if it wasn’t for the agency’s recruitment. After that? Things happened. But we’re back on track now. It will be a matter of time before he remembers her.”
“It doesn’t make a difference to you that Yvonne’s going to separate Wallace and Tammy?”
“What? You got it backward, girl. Tammy was the one who got in between Wallace and Yvonne. But she could never replace the spot in Wallace’s heart if she tries.”
“It looks like you’re back. But what’s even better, Mr. and Mrs. Huo are back together.”
“You two are as funny as always. You know how I found out you’re the Huos? Thanks to…”
“You two are a match all right.”
“You know what I love the most about you Huos? It’s that you two are still together. This will make the upcoming game even more interesting.”
“But then I shouldn’t be too surprise that you always have it with the ladies. Especially right in front of your wife.”
“I should’ve off your wife when I had the chance!”
“You dare to touch her, I’ll kill you.”
“Touching, isn’t it?”
“I’m actually quite happy for the reunion this time with you Huos.”
“Mr. and Mrs. Huo will have a room to themselves. You gotta love me for that arrangement, right?”
“You gotta love that guy.”
“I’m going to check into another room.”
“What? Are you crazy?”
“Come on, we’re too crowded. And I’m going to share it with Amber.”
“You heard Roy. He especially set it up that way.”
“He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
“I want to harm you? Did you think I have control over what happened in the past more than you? Even your wife didn’t have control over what happened, how could I? I wasn’t even notified when they found you that time and when I rushed into the room, the damage was done! What was I supposed to do?”
“He thought she…”
“That’s beyond bizarre!”
“Yvonne, you have to tell him.”
“If you won’t, I will.”
“Rick, you can’t tell him!”
“Can’t tell me what?”
“Can’t tell you that we used to…I meant…we…as in…”
“If you’re talking about me cheating on my wife with her, I already remember that part. In fact, I ended up cheating on her again after I lost my memory, nice?”
“What he wants to tell you is he and I are together now!”
“You’re together now? Then why don’t you want him to tell me?”
“You have your problems to take care of. We can’t just spring this on you now.”
Wallace finally understood why everyone was in on the secret with him and Yvonne’s relationship. It was because he and Yvonne were the ones who actually belonged together. It was why even Samson knew. And that also meant he was the biggest jerk in this world, kept pushing Yvonne aside just because of that stupid hypnotized babbling that was telling him to think of Tammy only. His heart was right after all.
“The only reason why I’m even helping you today is because despite all the hurtful words you said to Yvonne, you ran after her,” Rick explained. “You actually showed up at the park.”
Though Rick sounded like he was proud of Wallace for following his hunch, Wallace wasn’t the least bit happy about it. He knew he goofed up big time. The memories were still zooming in his mind. It made sense why Yvonne was crying all those times nights ago. And so hard too. She wasn’t disappointed that he didn’t trust her. It was because she thought he’d remembered her and their past family life together. It was why she dared to exude her gentle side. Yet he had accused her of being a third party–and aided his infidelity even more. All these years she’d waited for him but was only met with fierce words and cold stares. It was more than heartbreaking.
“You okay, man?” Rick asked, his tone edging toward concern at this point.
It was also then that Wallace realized the most important thing. It was the thing he should’ve done after learning the truth version. He got up then. And it was like Rick knew because he had blocked Wallace’s path.
“You can’t go after Yvonne now,” Rick said, his tone passive now.
It puzzled Wallace that Rick was the most anxious about the whole truth version. Now he seemed unfazed?
“Take care of Tammy first.”
Wallace recovered then. “Oh right, I have to divorce Tammy first.”
Rick had on the stunned look. It was like he thought he just heard the dumbest thing ever. “I don’t know how you could be any dumber than this!” Rick threw up his hands then. “You’re technically still married to Yvonne so that stupid marriage to Tammy in the hospital is fake no matter how you look at it. I’m talking about confronting her. Only you could do it and not the rest of us because she doesn’t care what the rest of us say, as long as you still believe her, she won’t go away.”
Wallace indeed felt very stupid. But all he was thinking right now was to run after Yvonne.
“It’s all I could help you with now. Better be careful.”
Wallace saw that Rick was no longer blocking him but was packing up. He had moved to the TV and was in the process of unplugging some equipment.
“What will happen to Yvonne? I meant the agency…”
“She’s free to go, that’s why she’s gone already. Hello, you told them to leave your wife alone. Only you didn’t know it at that time who your wife is. The rest of us knew. And don’t worry about it, Patrick made sure they couldn’t get to her. But she hadn’t contacted me so I can’t help you there.” Rick was done packing his equipment and was gathering the photos now. “I’m taking it with me, okay? Yvonne has her own set. I don’t want to attract more attention if anyone found you with it.”
Wallace nodded, understanding. And the fact that he trusted Rick’s words was because he’d seen the set with his own eyes. It was just that he refused to believe. He bet there were some more pictures there, especially the wedding pictures of them that he hadn’t seen yet. That stupid intruder had caused him to abandon the search that night. If he’d known, he wouldn’t make so many mistakes.
“Hey, I’m going to go first, okay?” Rick said from somewhere.
Wallace nodded absentmindedly again.
“Don’t leave until later because I don’t want some people to see. Call me paranoid, but I don’t want to be caught.”
It was then that Wallace pulled himself out of the trance. He turned to Rick. “Thanks, Rick. Be careful out there.”
“Yeah, you too. You better find Yvonne.”
Wallace nodded. He knew he would keep that promise. Then Rick was gone.
As Wallace waited for some more time to pass, he took out his wallet and retrieved the happy photo of him and Yvonne to put it out front and center–where it deserved to be. It was a pocket-sized version to the one he found at the apartment. For some unknown reason, he’d made a copy of it sometime back while still waiting for Yvonne to come back from that time after the intruder incident and had hidden it at a spot inside his wallet. He had felt guilty for even doing that at the time, especially how he’d been still trying to figure out of Tammy’s whereabouts. Yet it just felt right despite all the reasoning his mind had given him. Now, it was clear that all his feelings were right. He no longer had to feel guilty.
He finally smiled when he had succeeded in adjusting their happy picture perfectly into the spot.
© Monday, September 24th, 2012
Posted: Monday, July 15th, 2013