It Hits the Fan
Lovely was in no mood to do anything in the morning. She was right about that picture being in the news. Jason called room service and had them bring breakfast. In spite of her fears, Lovely couldn't help but turn on the television and watch for the latest on the case of her sister's discovery in the hands of a rich man in Manhattan.
Almost as soon as the news came on, Lovely saw a familiar face with a microphone struck in front of her and called Jason out from the bathroom with shaving cream still on his face. "JJ! JJ! Look! It's that woman! That woman where we went to the party!" She turned up the sound on the remote as they both listened.
The reporter was interviewing Rosalynn Fontaine outside their building and she was explaining…
"My husband and I have been in business with Mr. Hadley for many years. We always considered him a friend… Well, a friend in business… He never really was a very likable fellow. We were so happy to see that he had a girlfriend. We had no idea that it was as terrible as everyone is saying… that he bought her! Terrible! That's despicable. My husband has been talking to the FBI and as soon as they get her testimony and she's clear from any possible harm, we have decided to hire her and give her schooling of her choice, as well as sponsor her for citizenship, if that is possible. It's the least that we can do for that poor darling." With that, Mrs. Fontaine waived off further inquiries and was ushered by her chauffeur into a waiting limousine.
Lovely was relieved. "Thank God for that woman. I wouldn't have expected it. I guess there are some good people in this world after all. I feel much better now. I think I'm ready to go to Tony's graduation."
Jason didn't tell how relieved he was. He also didn't tell how worried he was that that picture plastered all over the media could cause he and Lovely harm because of the resemblance. He was also worried about Hope's safety, even if she was able to escape FBI protective custody and be able to stay with the Fontaines. He knew how far-reaching Iggy Sanchez's organization was and that he would do anything to stop his operations from being investigated. It was probably best, if they could, to get back to the island as soon as possible and chill out until the whole publicity fervor cooled down.
By 10 am, they were at the auditorium and being seated near the front as the graduation ceremonies got underway. After the undergraduates were given their degrees, the master's degree students were given their degrees, and the doctoral students were given their degrees, the last to receive his degree was Tony Sanchez, by the president of George Mason University. After the presentation of the degree, Tony was introduced as the finest example of graduates, having risen from the immigrant fields of California, to become an entrepreneur and business owner, author of his own best-selling autobiography, and potential candidate for the Senate. It was Antonio Sanchez's time to shine. The program was running overly long, but no one was eager to go to lunch until they heard what he had to say.
After thanking everyone in attendance for the fine introduction and a willingness to listen to him, Tony began his well polished speech:
"I am humbly before you a man who is so grateful for the educational opportunity that this country affords. An orphan, my prospects would have been very limited had I not been able to go to a very fine public grade school provided specifically for migrant workers' children. In that grade school I studied hard--hard as though my life depended upon it. Just so that I could be able to write and speak like I am speaking now to anyone in this auditorium, this university, and this great country, the United States of America! (Cheers from the audience)
"Only in America, can a young boy and his brother (Tony pointed to Marco sitting next to Jason in the front row of the auditorium) start a business that can grow from earning pennies a day to a major farming operation making millions that I have turned over to my adopted family. It is fitting that I pursue a political career without any conflict of interest as so many others in political life have, so shamefully, done before. (More cheers)
"But, I saw more than just entrepreneurship and growing healthy food for the nation. I felt that I had a need to serve… To serve my country as a soldier in the armed services… (More cheers) I took on the toughest duty… I volunteered… I fought for this country in a foreign land like so many others before me, and I honor them greatly for what they did to give me the opportunity to fight for the greatest armed forces in the world! (More cheers).
"But that was not enough, if I am to serve my country well, I must be educated well like our founding fathers. Fortunately, one of the greatest private universities in the world, Stanford University, took a veteran in and gave him an opportunity to learn with the best teachers there are. Learning lessons not only on how to live, but how to succeed! (More cheers)
"But my desire for learning was not over. I needed to know how to become a citizen of the world and serve my country in a way that only the best prepared can. My journey here at George Mason has been a discovery in the intricacies of foreign relations. I'm so glad that by today's ceremony, I have made it this far. Before me lies a life of public service to this great country of ours. I hope that all of you will support me in my announcement that I will be running for the Senate from the great state of Virginia in the United States of America!" (More cheering, ending with a standing ovation)
Tony raised his arms and lowered his head. The audience continued standing and clapping for some time until the campus chaplain stood up, hushed the crowd and gave the benediction. It was a triumphant ending for the graduation ceremony. One that the university had not seen in some time. News reporters were seen running from the room to make their reports and blogs about the announcement of Tony's campaign.
Jason and Lovely were invited by Marco to join Tony, the university president and much of the administration for lunch in the private faculty room at the student center. While Tony was trying to have lunch, members of the university faculty and staff continued to come up to him, congratulate him and generally wish him well in his campaign. The room was abuzz with discussion and high with anticipation. George Mason had produced candidates before, but nothing like this.
Before the lunch was over, Tony was asked to speak again, and he once again thanked everyone for making his announcement possible. When the luncheon ended, Marco told Jason and Lovely that they were invited to Tony's graduation and campaign kickoff party at the Chantilly Golf Club that evening where about 200 of Tony's "closest collaborators" would be gathering. Starting his campaign off in a low-key manner, Marco told them to dress casually for the informal affair. Fortunately for the couple, there was no discussion about the news out of Manhattan around the table.
With the afternoon off, Jason rented a car and took Lovely for a drive. He just told her that he was, "Tired of hotel living and thought that a drive would be a way to ease both their minds over what had been going on." He didn't tell her that he was in familiar territory. For all that Lovely knew, he was from Minnesota. He appeared to be driving aimlessly through the hills of many fine homes and businesses, much better looking than he remembered from years earlier, with all the spring flowers in bloom. Their drive eventually took them up past Jason's old high school that looked very much the same as it had when Jason went there. Only the landscaping was much better and the blown out windows had been replaced with tinted ones. And then, a few minutes later, he drove by the old homestead that was now painted a different color, but was much better taken care of. So unlike the way he had seen the whole neighborhood after the blast when so many houses were neglected and rapidly deteriorating. He could only surmise that the house had been sold and someone else was now living in it. Jason dared not even think of going up and ringing the doorbell to see who lived there now… Perhaps, after his service. He sighed at the thought, but with the radio on to light music, Lovely didn't hear him.
After driving past a few more of his high school remembrances, Jason returned the rental car to the hotel and they ordered room service for dinner. Once again, the evening news was full of reports about the evil enslavement of the young woman from Panama by the very rich, James (Jimmy) Hadley. The interview with Rosalynn Fontaine was repeated again from its initial broadcast in the morning. Jason was uneasy about going to the party, but he didn't want to upset Lovely with talk of it, since she had enjoyed the afternoon drive and the beauty of the Reston area in springtime. At this stage, he couldn't disappoint Tony or Marco, either.
It felt good to be dressed casually for a change. Jason wore a pair of black pants and shoes with a blue silk shirt that he had picked up in Paris. Lovely, who always looked stunning in almost anything, wore a little black dress from Chanel that didn't look designer. She topped it with a blue silk scarf that matched Tony's shirt perfectly, and black high heels that she could still dance in. Lovely was ready to get out on the dance floor and shake off some of the tension she had felt since discovering her sister. They took a cab and arrived at the golf club at 9:20 pm. When they entered the party room, the liquor was flowing, the music was playing, and the party was well underway.
It wasn't long before Jason and Lovely were out on the dance floor and gaining attention. At one point, Tony stepped up to the microphone after the band had played a set and announced to everyone there that the two dancers were his friends and associates for the campaign. It was publicity they didn't need, but Jason smiled and waved to the admiring onlookers all around the dance floor. Before long, several young men came up and asked Lovely to dance. Jason kept an eye on her but didn't mind, because he really couldn't keep on dancing all night like she could. After a couple of drinks, he needed to take a leak. Lovely was on the dance floor, so he didn't have a chance to tell her where he was going, but figured that he'd be back by the time she was through with that dance anyway.
Standing in front of the urinal, Jason shook the last drop of pee off and was about to tuck everything away when he sensed someone very close to him, although he didn't hear anyone enter the otherwise empty restroom. Before he could act, he felt someone grab both of his arms from behind and turn him violently around with his zipper down. Two ugly, strong tattooed guys had him by the upper arms and he was face-to-face with Carlos.
Before Jason could say anything, Carlos sneered, "So you think you could put one over on Iggy! Well, you're not that smart. I have a little something for you so that you will remember never to do anything like that again." Pulling out a large, very sharp knife, Carlos grabbed Jason's penis, pulled it out, and cut it off cleanly with one swipe, declaring, "See what the ladies think of you now!"
Jason looked down and saw blood gushing from his cut off penis. While Jason had never reacted to the sight of blood before, he passed out.
Jason felt warm and confined by bed sheets. He struggled with them and opened his eyes to an immaculate hospital room. He reached down and felt that his penis had been bandaged and there was a plastic tube running from it. He also had an IV in his arm to a bag above, dripping, what he thought was saline solution. He saw a button pinned next to his head and pushed it. A red light appeared on the wall indicating that he had called a nurse.
A beautiful young Asian nurse stepped into the room and said, "Mr. Olson, it's good to see that you're awake. I will give Dr. Hamilton a call and he will be here soon to explain everything to you. Is there anything you need? Water?"
Jason's throat was a little dry, so he said, "Yes, I would like some water if you don't mind. How long before I'll be able to see the doctor?"
With Emily Xiao stitched on her uniform, the young nurse poured some water in a glass, cranked the bed up so that Jason was partially elevated, and gave him the glass to drink. "It shouldn't be long, he's on the floor with another patient right now, but is eager to come and see how you are. You've been asleep for some time."
"Oh, since you came out of surgery last night. You missed breakfast, but they'll be bringing lunch for you soon. And there's been a young lady to see you. She asked me to have you give her a call in her hotel room when you woke up. Do you want me to dial the number?"
"Go ahead, right now I don't remember what our hotel number is."
Emily dialed the number and handed the phone to Jason. And then, she politely left the room. The phone rang and rang but no one answered. Jason noted that the phone had a redial feature and figured that he would call again in a few minutes. After what happened to him, and he was beginning to get his memory back together, he wasn't sure what had happened to Lovely. If she'd been in to see him, it was a good sign that she wasn't hurt like him. He put the phone down and waited.
An aide came in with his lunch and put it down, asking if he needed any help with it. Jason told the man, "No," but didn't take the cover off of anything on the tray because he wasn't hungry. He was eager to find out what was going on though. Fortunately, Jason didn't have to wait long, because before he could redial, the door opened and a very cheerful Dr. Jack Hamilton cruised into the room.
"John Jacob Olson. How are you feeling? You sure had a trauma last night, but you were very lucky. Very, very lucky."
Jason was annoyed at the doctor's good humor. "I'm feeling okay except for this tube that is attached to me. What's going on? Why am I here?"
"Well, we got an emergency call from the police last night after a 911 call was placed with no one talking on the other end. The paramedics found you on a restroom floor in the Chantilly Golf Club. Fortunately for you, whoever did it put the cut off end of your penis in a sterile plastic baggie and left it on the floor next to you. They also applied a rubber tourniquet on your penis to stop the bleeding. You started to come to in the ambulance on the way here, but the paramedics thought it best to sedate you so that you wouldn't experience further trauma.
"Luckily, I happened to be on duty when you came in, and we rushed you into surgery. With a sterile and clean cut, I was able to, in about three hours of microsurgery, reattach all the blood vessels, nerves and the entire end of your penis that was delivered within the magic hour, so I expect there'll be no tissue damage and healing should take place within a few weeks and you'll be back to normal." Dr. Hamilton beamed at his expected success in the matter.
"But what about the tube?" In spite of what the good surgeon had told him, Jason grew more anxious now that he began to realize what had happened.
"Oh, that's an indwelling catheter. It's connected to a bag that you can tie to your lower leg and empty easily in a toilet. You can pull it out after about four or five days if the swelling has gone down and you feel like urinating with pain. There will be some pain when you first start urinating because of the injury and the nerves trying to regrow. But you should get full nerve function back within five or six weeks. Believe me, without that catheter, you would need a very strong sedative to take a leak right now." He laughed.
Jason felt much better.
The door opened again, and Lovely came into the room. The look on her face told Jason everything. She looked horrified and exhausted from worry. He had to cheer her up.
"Hi, Lovely!" Jason called out. "Dr. Hamilton has been explaining to me what happened. I feel very good except for a little tightness down there where the bandages are. Are you okay? When I woke up a little while ago, I really was worried after what happened to me. Got even more worried when I called the hotel room and you didn't answer."
Hamilton interrupted. "Excuse me. Here's my card, Mr. Olson. If everything goes well, I'll check you out tomorrow morning. If the swelling doesn't go down or you see any signs of infection or anything else that isn't quite right, please give me a call. I left you with a prescription for antibiotics that you will need to take for 10 days to ward off any infection. Sorry for the interruption, Miss, but I have to continue on my rounds… Many other patients." He left the room.
Lovely ran over and hugged Jason. And then kissed him over and over like he was going away or something. Her French perfume was overwhelming. Finally, she stopped and answered his question. "Oh, JJ. I was dancing and the music stopped. I left that young man I was dancing with and came back to our table. I waited through the next dance for you and turned down a couple of guys who wanted to dance with me. Finally, there was loud yelling in the hallway and everybody stopped dancing. And then we heard the ambulance siren and it stopped right out front. By that time, everybody was leaving the room and going down the hall where the police kept everybody away from the restroom. I saw you being carried out and called out loudly, but they didn't hear me or pay any attention to me. They put you in the ambulance and drove off. I was hysterical! Finally, Marco came up and grabbed me and told me that he would help me find you. He put me in his car and brought me here to the hospital. I stayed up all night through the surgery and the recovery room until they brought you to this room about 3 am. They told me that you would be sleeping a long time, so Marco took me back to the hotel.
After catching her breath, Lovely continued, "I couldn't sleep for some time and then I passed out until about a half hour ago. Seeing how late it was, I dressed in a hurry and took a cab over here. I'm so sorry."
"So that's why you didn't answer. No need to be sorry, but I would have to admit that I was getting worried."
"Why were you worried, Honey?"
Jason reached for the lobe of his ear. Lovely immediately understood.
The door swung open again and two men entered holding out badges. The tall one spoke. "Sorry to barge in like this, but we have to ask you some questions, Mr. Olson. I'm CSI with the Chantilly Police, Detective James Marshall. This is Lieutenant Paul Pirelli."
Marshall ignored Lovely and got right into his routine. "We understand that you were assaulted last night in the restroom at the Chantilly Golf Club. We checked out the scene and found no evidence of the assault except your blood on the floor. We have the plastic bag that the end of your penis was in and there are no fingerprints or DNA, as far as we can tell right now except those of the EMTs who foolishly handled the bag without any gloves on at one point or another." He looked a little disgusted stating that.
"The phone we found on the floor where you dropped it was also clean of fingerprints, even yours. We may get some DNA, but that will have to wait. I was quite surprised to see that the phone only had the one call to 911 on it. What kind of rich mogul like you has a cell phone and doesn't use it? You're going to have to tell me about that.
Jason looked but saw no ink on his fingers. He knew that they could easily scan his fingers while he was out to get his prints. He answered the detective's question. "My company requires me to carry a cell phone. I hate cell phones because they're always interrupting business. Can't stand them around me. So I don't use the phone, but it's always there in case of an emergency… I guess, like last night."
"But you didn't dial 911. Someone else did. And they left no fingerprints."
"I wouldn't know about that. All I remember is that guys with a lot of tattoos like gang members grabbed me and then one guy just grabbed my penis and cut it off, as if being spiteful. When I saw the blood, I passed out. Didn't wake up until about an hour ago… here."
Detective Marshall got a puzzled look on his face. "The motive wasn't robbery, we checked your billfold and all your credit cards and a great deal of cash was there and intact. Any reason why gang members would want to attack you at a posh country club? It looks like some kind of retaliation. Are you in trouble with some gang? Drugs? We checked, and you were drinking, but there was no sign of any drugs in your blood. What was it that would cause them to come after you out of their territory?
Jason thought for a moment. And then, he had an idea. "Maybe it was a case of mistaken identity. This young lady is Ms. Lovely Harper. She just found out that her sister who was kidnapped in her native Panama, was found enslaved in a Manhattan apartment of a very rich man. They look a lot alike. But it's hard to believe they would think that she was here?" Jason shook his head.
"That guy whose party you are at, Tony Sanchez, he's Mexican, isn't he?"
"He's Hispanic, I believe his family is from El Salvador. But he was born in LA and if you knew his record like I do, he was never involved with any gangs and has always led an outstanding life."
"Those are the guys we've got to watch. Skeletons in the closet, you know. Well, that's all we've got so far. Nothing that we can ask you to press charges for assault for. Stick around. Something may turn up and we may have to talk to you."
"To be truthful, I have to tell you that we will be leaving as soon as I'm able to and return to my home in Costa Rica. I hope that won't affect your investigation."
"It won't. We have your information and will be able to get in touch. Thanks for your cooperation, and thank you, Miss. We’ll be leaving now." Marshall and Pirelli left the room. Jason smiled at Lovely. She managed a smile and then came over and gave him a hug.