Laying there in bed, Kate couldn’t wait any longer. She had to tell Eric about the day’s weird events.
“Eric, I need to ask you something.”
Kate rolled over so she could see his face. “I had a visitor today at the shelter.”
“He was looking for a family that he thought may have come through town.”
Eric looked at her and wondered where she was going with this. “Alright, so did you tell him anything?”
“No. Not really. Our rules don’t allow us to give out names. However, this Sargent was really insistent. Bent Suzanne’s nose out of shape and so he came into see me.”
At the mention of the word ‘Sargent’, Eric stiffened a bit. He looked at Kate and waited for her to speak.
“This Sargent, Sargent O’Hare, big sorta G.I.Joe type guy in an Army uniform pushed his way past Suzanne before she could finish introducing him. Then he kept asking questions that I couldn’t answer. Or, should I say wouldn’t answer.”
“Oh. What was he asking?”
“He wanted to know if a family by the name of Olman had been through. Oh, Nicholas Olman. Curly brown haired, dark eyes, mid-thirties, wife and two kids. I said that honestly, I didn’t remember any one by that name or description passing through.”
Eric had gone very still. “What was your impression of him Kate?”
“He smelled bad. Acrid. Like he was lying about something. I didn’t trust him.”
“Yes,” Kate hesitated. “He gave both Suzanne and I a bad feeling. So, she shredded a bunch of files and literally flushed the bits down the drain. Also, when I went to pick up my handbag, I saw that the picture of you and the kids with me at the park had been face down. Knocked over by my bag. So, I went to pick it up, and when I looked at it…”
“You saw something,” he said quietly.
“Yes. Eric, I saw that the photo matched who he might be looking for, and worried. I brought the picture home Eric…” she stopped, not wanting to ask what was on her mind.
“Kate, did he say why he was looking for this Olman?”
“Sorta. Said that he dealt with special operations people and that they kept track of them. And the impression I got is that this Olman was someone they wanted to find.”
Eric just nodded. “Kate, what are you really thinking?”
Kate looked at him, and found that her voice was all choked up. “I… umm… I want to ask you what your name is. What it really is, and I’m afraid of what you might tell me,” she said softly.
Eric moved towards Kate and took her face in his hands. Trying to sound calm, he spoke. “Kate, my name is Eric Lawrence Cole. However, I was born in Montana forty-two years ago, as Nicholas Evans Olman.”
“You… you are the man he was looking for,” she said almost stammering, and moving back out of his hands.
“Yes and no. I was the man he was looking for. I haven’t been that man for nearly 13 years.” He was still speaking softly.
“But….. but why? Why didn’t you tell me any of this before?” There was a hurt tone in her voice.
“Kate, you didn’t need to know, because as far as the rest of the world knew, Nick Olman was dead.” Eric raised himself up on one elbow.
“Dead? Ummm.. unless I’m missing the obvious, you are very much alive.” She sat up. “I don’t understand.”
“Kate, remember when I said I use to be in the military and that I did things I wasn’t very proud of?”
“Well, they were the types of things that you can’t talk about. Things you can’t even tell Congress about sometimes, because they didn’t happen.”
“Didn’t happen? Like in some sort of covert ‘we-weren’t-here’ type of way?”
“Yes. I belonged to a special ops division that doesn’t exist any more. One of those that got sort of ousted a president or so back. One that sound more like a spy novel now than reality. We were disbanded and most of us were given new identities. That’s when Nick died and Eric was born.”
Kate just looked at Eric. “So, why would this man be looking for you now?”
“I honestly don’t know. It could be anything really. I worked in electronics, computers and such, or it could be because of my combat record.”
“But why now? Wouldn’t the government know where you were?”
“No. I made sure I disappeared. I didn’t want to be found ever again. I certainly don’t want to go back into the military. At least not for their ideals.”
“Oh? Do I even want to know what you did?”
“Kate, I did what I needed to for my country. I didn’t always like it or understand where it fit in the greater good, but, I was a good soldier. I did things that I know were not nice. Rabbits are a lot safer than some of the people I ran into,” he said softly.
“Oh. You… shifted? For the military?”
“No, not for the military. However, in certain situations, I did shift to save lives.”
“Ok. It’s just that I suddenly feel like I don’t know you. I…” she said uneasily.
“Kate, I’m Eric. However, it doesn’t matter what my name is. I am still the same wolf you knew yesterday and this morning. You just know a bit more about my past. A past I had hoped to leave behind.
“Yes, I’m just a bit rattled. I didn’t like the smell of that man. He made me anxious. He made me worry about you and the kids.”
“It will be okay. Do you want to be held?”
Kate looked at him. “Oh yes. Please hold me close. I was afraid I was going to loose you and I didn’t know what to think.”
“I love you Kate.”
“I love you Eric,” she said and buried her nose in his chest.
Kate got to work the next morning to see police, lots of yellow tape and Suzanne pacing back and forth like a wet hen. “Suzanne, what on earth is going on?”
“We were vandalized. The whole place is topsy-turvy. I don’t think that there is a drawer in the place that hasn’t been turned out. Furniture slashed and beds flipped. You name it, it’s dumped. I am so pissed.”
“Who? When? What happened to the two guys upstairs that were here?”
“They were out at the movies and when they came back, they were the ones who discovered it.”
“Damn. Do you think it was our mysterious visitor from yesterday?”
“I don’t know. However, I’m so glad we got rid of those files. Who knows what that idiot was really looking for.”
“I agree. Are we going to be able to work at all today?” Kate watched the police mill about.
“No. just go home and enjoy your day off. I’ve got to stay around to give an idea of damage or loss, but don’t worry about work. I’ll call you when we can get back in.”
“Ok. Call me if I can help out,” Kate said as she walked off.
“I will!” Suzanne called after her.
Kate waited nervously for Eric to get home that night. She fed the kids early and stuck them in bed so that they might have more time alone.
Eric paled when she told him about the break-in. “I am so glad that you brought that photo home yesterday.”
“Oh! I hadn’t even thought about it. Oh…” She thought of the implications. “How much do you resemble Nick?… know what I mean?”
“Yes. Let’s see… I’ve got a bit of a beer belly now and my hair is longer and grayer. Not as muscular. But, that’s about it.”
“Beer belly? No, rabbit belly,” she said with a smile, trying to lighten the mood.
Eric smiled. “I probably have changed just enough that he could walk by me on the street and not see Nick. However, I’ll be extra careful for a bit. Oh, and do me a favor.”
“You said he smelled bad?”
“Yeah. Like really stale sweat.”
“See if you smell him in the office when you go back in.”
“Oh… okay, but I didn’t want to go back without you with me. Can you come with me on Friday? It is the first day we will be allowed back in.”
“Yeah, I think I can take part of the morning off.”
“Thank you Eric.” She hugged him.
That night, Eric went hunting. However, it wasn’t for rabbits. He went downtown to the shelter and did his own investigation. The back door hadn’t been repaired, so he was able to sneak in under all the yellow crime scene tape. He headed for Kate’s office and found that most of the stuff had been righted. Piles of papers were on the floor. Eric headed for the chair opposite the desk and took a deep whiff. An acrid scent filled his nose. He shook his head and sneezed. Then he went around the room. Yes, the dear Sargent had paid special attention to this room. His scent was all over in places it shouldn’t have been if he’d just sat in the chair. It was very heavy around the computer.
Eric checked the hall and shifted back. He logged into the computer and pulled up the records he knew that Kate kept. He had helped her build the data base. What he couldn’t remember was if she used names or just numbers. Numbers. A sigh of relief played across his lips. No names, just dates and numbers. Eric was relieved. He turned off the computer, shifted and left the building the way he’d come in.
Eric went hunting to release some of the tension he felt building up. He was worried that this Sargent O’Hare might be more of a problem than he had lead Kate to believe. He didn’t find many rabbits this time, but caught a rattler. He knew better than to bring it home to Kate. He’d done so not too long ago, and the screams still echoed in his memory. How was he to know she was afraid of snakes?