Oubliette: “Temporary”

Note: This is part of an experimental creative writing exercise. If you want to read more or start from beginning. You go to the Oubliette page. Please note the earlier stories are crude. 🙂

Owen woke to the banging of a garbage truck in front of the building. He could tell by the lighting it was late morning. He continued to lie in his bed, staring at the ceiling. He realized that it was unusually quiet in the building. It was not totally quiet; he could hear someone vacuuming next door. There was what might have been the faint aroma of bacon which caused his stomach to churn. It finally dawned on him, it was Tuesday and the rest of the world was at work or school.

He sat up on the side of the bed and suddenly he was hit with what felt like a ton of bricks crashing down on his head. As he held his head between his hands, he tried to think back on the events of the night before. How much did he drink last night? What did he say to Agent Jones? More importantly, how did he get home?

He knew that he had way too much to drink. He had not had that much to drink since his days at the Academy. After a few embarrassing events, he had decided to stop overindulging. When he had the opportunity to go out with his men, they would joke about him being a light weight. Thankfully, hangovers were a temporary inconvenience that were easily fixed with a bottle of water and aspirin.

As for Agent Jones, he remembered having a long conversation with her. What they talked about he was not able to recall. He had a moment of dread that when his thoughts turn to wondering if he told her his boring stories from Iraq, especially the one that was “not safe for work.” With some labored concentration, he finally remembered that she walked with him back to his apartment.

Owen stood up and clumsily made his way into the bathroom. He grabbed the sides of the white porcelain sink. He stood there looking at himself in the mirror. He questioned the Universe as to why things have to change and why was everything so temporary.

He barely recognized the person staring back at him. He remembered seeing a man who was young, ambitious, hard-working, and principled (not to mention he had a great head of hair).  This person in the looking-glass was someone who he did not care to know. This new guy kept his hair shaved and was now in mid-thirties. He knew he was still ambitious and hard-working but the years have dulled their importance.

As hard as he tried, his questions about his principles remained. He cursed at his amnesia because it kept him from the truth. He resented that he had to rely on the word of others to tell him what happened on that night. His instincts told him that something was not right. As hard as it was to believe, he wondered if there could have been a cover up. The question still lingered, what if they were right?

Owen opened the medicine cabinet and pulled some pills out of a white bottle and walked into the living room. He looked at a messy stack of papers that he collected over the last year stacked on a cheap folding table and chairs. Other than the television sitting in the pass through to the kitchen, these were the only furnishings in the room. He saw living in an apartment as a temporary arrangement and it did not make sense to fill it with possessions that he would just have to move again.

The stacks just stood there as Owen reached for the television’s remote. With the push of a button, it came to life. There was a woman interviewing someone in a talk show format. He thought the man looked familiar and recognized the man as Stephan Rotatiga, the chief strategist of President-elect. He decided that this program would be good as any as all he wanted was some background noise.

“Mr. Rotatiga, how does the president-elect plan to build all of these sequestration sites throughout the country? The polls have shown scant support and several members of his party have said on record that they oppose it.”

Owen sat down and admired the small towers of papers. He thought how all of these receipts, time and expense reports told the story of where he had been in the months leading up to the incident. What they did not tell him was what or why. Whatever it was, he did not file any formal reports with his superiors in the Bureau.

“Ms. Miller, the president-elect has full confidence that he will get his sites built. As we found out, the polls are not always right and we believe that the naysayers in Congress will come around.”

He learned of the missing files when he asked for a copy of the files that were on his laptop. The Bureau informed him that the drive had crashed and they were not able to recover any files. The fact that the files were not in document management was even more troubling.

“How can he justify sequestering all of those advanced humans? Most of them are harmless and their abilities are no more than cute parlor tricks.”

He knew if he did not put them in document management, it was intentional which brought him back to the question of why did he violate policy. He thought about how he always prided himself on following procedure and protocol. He considered the possibility that he might have been investigating internal corruption but that answer felt too convenient.

“Harmless, Ms. Miller? Are you forgetting about Zachary Grey? How many people did he kill again? The truth is that these unhumans are a threat to national security and are a menace to society. In all due respect, if the media would bother reporting crimes perpetrated by unhumans, you would understand.”

As he found dead-end after dead-end, his hopes of filling this hole in his head had been long shattered. While he knew that giving up would have been easy, something had been urging him to continue. He needed something to do during his recovery and solving this mystery was a natural option.

“What about the Constitution? There is no evidence that it would even be legal”

He felt these questions continuing to taunt him. A part of him wanted to believe that there were no files and there was no illicit investigation. His personal investigation had uncovered some meetings that he had with an unknown person. He realized that there had to be some truth to the allegations.

“The president-elect has the power to defend this country as he sees necessary. That is in the Constitution. If there is a threat to this country, he is authorized to act. As for any Constitutional challenges, that was settled long ago with the Korematsu case.”

As for this unknown person, Owen thought about how he tried to find him or her. Of the people who remembered him with this person, none of them were not able to give a consistent description. Knowing that this was yet another dead-end, Owen felt frustration at his helplessness.

“The point is Ms. Miller, Ronald Bouffon was elected on a message of protecting this country from harm and he fully intends to keep that promise as you will see starting this Friday.”

With a sudden move, He stood up flipping the table and scattering the papers across the floor. As he stood there with his hands in tight fists looking over the mess that he just created, he took several deep breaths. After a moment, he went back into his bedroom, changed into his running clothes, and stormed out of the apartment.

When he was younger, Owen was on his school’s cross-country team. He was offered a cross-country scholarship but he opted to accept an ROTC commission. Of course, when he was serving in Iraq he got to run a lot; most of the times it was not for enjoyment. When he joined the CIA, it seemed like there was no time to run. It was not until the “incident” was he able to run again regularly after his broken leg healed. He had been running a lot lately. It was the only thing that gave him a reprieve from the disaster that his life had become.

His route took him in front of a catholic church that was next to a large park. He used to attend mass there every week when he moved to DC. For reasons that he could not even explain to himself, he stopped going there and joined a Methodist church. After the incident, he stopped attending that church as well.

Normally, Owen would had just continue running. Today, it was different. He felt like something in him urging him to stop. As he stood there staring at the massive structure, he thought to himself that it had been too long.

He walked into the church and found a place to sit and began to pray. He prayed for guidance and wisdom. He did not ask for answers but for clues leading to the truth. He continued to pray until one of the confessionals became available. He stood up and headed towards them. As he walked, he noticed a priest walking towards him. Owen recognized him as Father Morales.

Father Morales extended his hand towards Owen, “Owen, it is great to see you. It has been a long time.”

“Yes, Father. It has been a very long time. How have things been going with you?”

“I could not be any happier. Do you want to talk? I have some time and I can take your confession in my office if you like.”

Owen thought for a little bit. “Yes, I would like that very much.”

As Owen scanned the hundreds of books lining the walls of Father Morales’ office, he wondered if the answer to his questions could be in them. Father Morales, who was sitting on his heavy dark wooden desk, asked, “So what can I help you with?”

“I am feeling lost. I was almost killed on a case…”

“I think I saw that in the news. They said that an agent was found in a warehouse close to death. They said that he was beaten and left for dead. Was that you?”

“Yes, that was me. The attack left me with partial amnesia. I lost my memories of the months before that. My body has healed but there is a still a hole in my mind.”

“And your faith? I was very surprised when you left the church.”

“I am not so sure about that. It isn’t my faith in God so much but faith in myself. I was going to another church but I even stopped going there after the attack.”

Owen continued. “I don’t blame God for any of this but I can use some help.”

“What do you need?”

“I need to know… what happened on that day… why was I in that warehouse… how did I end up leading those agents and civilians to their death.”

“That is asking a lot Owen. I am sure God will lead you to where you need to be but that will take time. You need to remember that what happens is part of God’s purpose. While you said that you don’t blame God, have you considered that maybe God does not feel you are ready to know all of that yet?”

“I have considered that and that this is all a test. Do you think that it could be one?”

“In the sense that God is watching you working to overcome this trial? Yes. God did not cause this to happen; that was the work of man.”

The priest continued, “You need to have faith; faith in God. By facing this trial, you will find your faith in yourself come back. You will see that these trials will come to an end.”

After his confession, Owen finished his run. When Owen returned to his apartment, he spotted a business card stuck in the door jamb. Owen took it and looked. It was from Agent Jones. On it, she wrote her phone number and “Remember, even a storm will come to an end.” He stood there for a moment trying to remember if he was supposed to call her. He decided to that he should at least let her know that he was okay.

He opened the door and placed the keys on the pass through. He looked at the mess and decided that the call will have to wait. He walked over to the table and sat it upright, knelt, and started organizing and stacking papers. After a few moments, he stopped and reached for a nearby box, and started neatly placing the papers in it.

As he was finishing the cleaning of the room, his cell phone rang. He pulled it out his pocket. “Hello?”

“Agent Holt, Assistant Director Stone has a package for you. Would you be available to pick it up tomorrow morning?”

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