Duncan: Out Of Exile
Copyright © 2020-2021 Juju. All Rights Reserved.
Special Thank-You to Julian’s Editor and Grandfather for making it possible for us to post these final chapters.
I really didn’t feel terribly Christmassy even though I went through the motions; I shopped, I helped with the tree and Christmas cookies, but it was all too soon. But I didn’t want to ruin everyone else’s good time so I tried to be cheerful.
Mom saw through it and we talked a lot about past holidays and what the New Year would bring.
The day after New Year’s, a huge semi appeared with all the stuff from our house in Utah. Behind the semi was a rollback with Mom’s Tundra. We guided the semi through the big gate and had it park in front of an empty shed the size of a four car garage. As Dad had told me, there was no furniture like sofas, beds or armchairs. The book cases and other stuff survived but anything stuffed was destroyed, looking for something that wasn’t there. It bothered me a bit that they had been through every bit of paper in the house, including my journals. All my private thoughts and anatomy experiments were recorded in those books. All the clothes we donated except a couple of favorite things I had that once belonged to my father. I asked Cheryl what I should do with Mom’s jewelry. It was a bit confusing having Mom advising me about what to do with Mom’s stuff.
“Moira only had three pieces of jewelry that meant anything to her that I know of; her wedding rings and a pendant that your father gave her when they were dating. If any of it means something to you, then you should keep it. The rest we can have valued and sold if you want. Or we could donate it to a charity shop. I think we should get it valued first so you know what works best for you.”
“Well it’s not like I need more money, but if a charity could get some money for it… I guess I’ll decide after I go through all of it. I still haven’t found Dad’s or Grampa’s watch yet.”
“We still have a ton of boxes to go through, Duncan and it will take more than one weekend. I’ll get some help to come in and separate the documents out of the pile. Then Ken can decide if he wants to send a body out to go through them or we ship them to him,” Mom decided.
I found a crate behind some of the cardboard wardrobe boxes and when I opened it, I got the answer to a question I had asked Dad earlier.
The crate contained all our rifles, shotguns and pistols. Mom and I were avid shooters although we never hunted. There was a range close to our house and we spent many hours there shooting paper targets or skeet.
I checked each shotgun and rifle carefully, opening the action and verifying each was unloaded. The people who had taken them took good care of them. They were all well-oiled and there was a moisture absorbent block in the crate. I guess they destroyed the safe they had been in and the cost of replacement was with the check they sent for all the furniture. All the pistols and revolvers were in individual fleece lined leather cases. Each was checked and I made sure they were unloaded, too. Later we put them all in the gun safe in the house. A large plastic box about the size of two milk jugs was heavy as hell and had seals and a label that read, “Safe Contents”.
We had to get a pair of side cutters to cut the seals but the mystery of the watches and a few other heirlooms I didn’t know about was solved.
In the plastic box there were several ten oz. bars of gold, gold and silver coins from all over the world and several from antiquity. They were all in individual plastic boxes.
We found Dad’s watch which was an heirloom given by a German general to Dad’s grandfather at the close of WWII. It was a Patek Phillipe Calatrava with one large dial and two smaller dials. Mom had told me the story behind the watch; my great-grandfather had cornered several wounded starving Wermacht troops trying to stay ahead of the Russians. He escorted them to a stone barn that was warmer than the lean-to they were hiding in. Then he arranged for food and medics to be brought in. He posted guards to keep vengeful civilians from exacting revenge.
The most beautiful piece was a seventeenth century repeating pocket watch with a gold and dark blue crosshatch pattern of cloisonne inside the cover. All the surfaces were engraved and the works were engine turned. I won’t be parting with that one. It took more than a few weekends, but eventually we sorted through everything and sent the great bulk of it to various charities.
Mom’s old jewelry was actually worth quite a bit more than we expected, so I chose to donate it and the inventory and value sheet to a shop run to support homeless kids.
Later I discovered there was a shooting club at school, so now my target rifle is stored there. It’s a Walther UIT-Spezial. Mom ordered a replacement barrel from Walther and a local gunsmith installed it. It allows me to hold a high score for iron sights in the shooting club.
Two weekends after school started again, Noel stayed over with us. I liked him right off. He and Trev got a bit carried away the second night and did something they hadn’t planned on.
They’re exclusive now, Trev doesn’t fool around with us anymore and I was thinking very hard about joining the club with Lyka. He gets me so hot that I almost did what Noel did. But Lyka wanted to do it right, in private and very carefully and romantic.
When the spring break rolled around we went to Moro bay to spread Mom’s ashes. We discussed it over New Year’s and we all decided to make the trip together. We flew to San Francisco and then rented a big Yukon.
We chartered a boat and did a little secular ceremony with a Buddhist monk. We put her ashes in a wooden bowl and set them loose in calm seas. The calm waters were a blessing because Cheryl doesn’t tolerate boats that well.
After that, we went down and saw San Simeon castle and a little town called Cambria. We rented three cabins and Lyka and I became exclusive that night.
We made it all the way to Anaheim and went to the Disney parks and stayed at the California Hotel. That was nice, but maybe I’m too old for Disneyland or my mind wasn’t there. We flew back to Reno and home.
I think we all had a great time. And I have a great life.
After we got back, I had to go back to Utah to testify. After hearing my testimony and not having any luck with the cross examination and then Kelly’s testimony, the guy that was trying to buy me decided to take a deal. He gets to serve four hundred and ninety-five years. He only has to serve a quarter of it to apply for parole. Ha! And that was only one trial.
Agent Manning told us some interesting stuff. The guy that sold Kelly into slavery was attacked in jail and nearly killed. He presumed it was to shut him up so he also cut a deal to testify and name names. In exchange, he got to serve his time in a Federal prison and for a non-sex related charge. He still got thirty years; he’ll be eighty-five if and when he’s released.
A couple of the suspects committed suicide and a couple more died from heart attacks. Many of those guys won’t live to see trial. Most are being held without bail; they have sketchy health and will probably die before they go to trial.
The FBI and the various prosecutors agreed that they would insist that everyone convicted would do some time, even if they just took a bribe to look the other way for five minutes.
I was frustrated that they wouldn’t let me communicate with Kelly but I understood why. They couldn’t take the chance that some defense attorney might accuse us of colluding and giving false testimony.
Agent Manning allowed me to talk to Kelly, but I couldn’t mention the trials.
I asked him how he was feeling and how he was doing with Dr. Chandler. He told me she was everything I said and she had helped him be at peace.
When we were done, Kelly and I hugged and Agent Manning led me back to Dad. Kelly was still living at the hospital.
Terry also lives in a hospital; but he has severe brain damage.
A few days after we got back, I got a call from Ken Bayard telling me that the trucking company that owned the truck had offered a sizeable settlement to avoid going to court with a losing case. There was a security camera that showed the truck running a red light. The truck driver had died and I felt sorry for his family if he had one. I told Ken to take the settlement so we could put the whole thing behind us.
I came home from school one Friday afternoon and there were a couple of guys in a black Chevy Tahoe in the driveway. A man emerged from the rear passenger seat and identified himself as John Worrell. Mom invited him in and told him that Dan was on a case in Idaho.
Mr. Worrell faced me and said, “Duncan, I want to thank you personally for your help in completing your mother’s assignment. She would be proud of all you did to help us dismantle the espionage ring that she had identified. You are welcome to come visit Langley someday so you can see the star your mother earned. Our agency doesn’t give medals but we do recognize our agents and their efforts to protect our country. Your mother was a fine woman and a great agent.”
Mr. Worrell shook my hand and Cheryl’s and excused himself. A few moments later, they were pulling away towards town.
A couple of months after that, Dad picked us up from school and took us straight to the ranch. Usually there were errands or a stop for fries and a shake, but Dad said they needed to get home. Trev and I worried that something had gone wrong with Mom and the baby. Dad told us that we had visitors. When we arrived there was a thin blonde boy standing on the porch, I couldn’t believe it! I threw open the door before Dan had even stopped and ran to the porch. Kelly stood there smiling broadly; I couldn’t hug him enough to express how happy I was to see him.
While that was happening, I didn’t notice the front door opening as a man and woman stepped out.
“Hey Duncan, how are you doing? I see you’ve met our son. Come over here and meet Kelly’s mom.”
“Elly honey, this is Duncan. The boy who made it possible for us to have Kelly in our lives,” Max Peele explained.
“Max!” I yelped and lunged at him. I hugged as hard as I could manage and stood back.
“This is my wife Elly, she’s heard a lot about you but I don’t think she took me seriously at first,” Max laughed.
“Nice to meet you Elly,” I said politely.
“What, no hug for me?” she asked. That was all I needed and I hugged her, too.
We all went inside and I got to hear the story of how Kelly became the son of Max and Elly Peele. Once all the principals had been convicted, negotiated deals or died waiting for trial, there wasn’t much for Kelly to testify about. During the trials he did testify in, the defendants usually pleaded out. The worst for him was the state trial of the man who sold him to the ring. The guy was despicable to begin with but he hadn’t stopped at selling Kelly. He had Kelly’s dog euthanized, and sold the house and contents, funneling the money into his own accounts.
Kelly spent the night with us in the aerie and he and I talked for hours, about stuff we didn’t want to say with agents listening in. He told me how much Doc Chandler had helped him. He even had a girlfriend now and felt pretty good about life. He thanked me again for getting him put into her care.
Now that he was free and clear I told him most of what happened to my mom and me and about finding the stuff she was collecting for the feds. I couldn’t tell him about the CIA or the tiny computer.
He told me how great it was to have people who loved him again. He said it turned out that the man he thought was his dad wasn’t even related to him. His safe deposit box was seized by the state and all the contents were forwarded to Kelly via Ken and the FBI. There was a letter from his dad explaining that his mother had married him knowing she was carrying another man’s child. His dad wanted more kids but it didn’t happen. He found out he’d been sterile since his teens when he had some disease. The wife ran away and left them both when he told her what he’d discovered and never surfaced again. She had dropped Kelly at school, returned home and packed her bags and left the car at the airport. All they could find on the public DNA services were a few distant cousins that knew nothing about his mother. But Kelly’s dad had loved him and treated him like a son until the day he died.
We talked so long that Trev, Noel and Lyka went to bed and we eventually passed out on the sofa. Lyka put a blanket over us when he got up to pee.
The rest of the long weekend was devoted to fun. It was spring and the horses were happy to be out and about. We played in the creek, rafted on the Walker River and road dirt bikes on BLM land. It was a glorious time but it was over too soon. Monday afternoon they all loaded into Max’s truck and headed back to Utah.
I discovered at that point that I wasn’t sad, I knew I’d see Kelly again. Either we’d go there or he’d come here. Ultimately we did both.
School was done in June, and by then Mom was nearly seven months along. It was hot and she was miserable; we did everything we could for her. She was forbidden to do laundry or dishes and we did most of the cooking while she supervised. In late July, Dad took parental leave from the service, leaving Lonnie in charge of the other deputies. My brother Durham was born September fifteenth and life hasn’t been the same since. He’s healthy and happy most of the time. Mom loves having a baby to spoil again. He looks just like the pictures of Trev when he was a baby, maybe cuter.
Lyka and I continue to love and support each other and Gabe has appointed herself Chief Auntie in charge.
There’s really not much more to say. We all have some stuff to carry with us but we’re doing okay.
Big thanks to Comicality, Truesfandom and The Story Lover for hosting this story. And more thanks to my editor for making this readable.