“What was it like for you, Val?”
“I went numb for a while,” she said. “Then I got mad. I told the Army that I wanted Mike’s body. I insisted, in fact. I hired lawyers, talked to Senators and banged on any door I could bang on. When we just got bullshit back, we started to look for Mike.”
“My brother and I,” Valerie said. “We hired ex-military or ex-CIA guys to search for him. We compiled stacks of paper, spent… lots of money, but never found Mike. We were able to convince the Army there was a possibility Mike was alive.”
“So Val’s looking for Mike. And Mike you’re waiting for the head guy to determine your fate?”
“Yeah. We were there about six months before that guy showed up. And wanted information. They… I don’t remember most of it. Then they found the photos. Pornography. Evil. I fought for them, which made things worse for me. They pinned me down and cut my face.” Mike pointed to a scar on his jaw. “I thought they were going to cut my face off. I wouldn’t give up the photos. So they… Anyway, I lost the photos.”
The room was silent. Every face held round, shocked eyes. Even the interviewer was at a loss for words. The cameraman wiped a renegade tear. When Alex cleared her throat, the interviewer startled then came back to herself.
“What was that like?” the interviewer asked.
“I lost my mind. Days passed. One guy tried to kill himself.”
“He said you kept him from bleeding to death,” the interviewer said.
“Yeah, I guess I did. I wanted to kill myself but…”
He looked at Valerie then stroked her face with his hand. She smiled.
“In my insanity, I would draw Val’s picture in the dirt. I wasn’t an artist or a painter or anything. I thought I’d go to medical school when I got out.”
“What happened to the photos?”
“I thought they destroyed the photos. Pornography, you know,” Mike said. “But they needed money. Bad. They put the photos up for sale. Val’s Dad found them in like two hours and paid a lot of money for them.”
“Do you know how much?” the interviewer asked.
“Two or three million I think,” Mike said. “He won’t say.”
“My Dad and I weren’t in contact then,” Valerie said. “I didn’t know he bought the photos. He took the photos and my brother’s file on Mike to our Colorado Senator, Patrick Hargreaves. The Senator took the photos and file from my Dad and said he’d take care of it.”
“Did you know that?” the interviewer asked.
“No,” Valerie said. “I was already an actress. I had put this shell around me… so I couldn’t get hurt, I guess. By then, I wasn’t speaking to my brother or my father.”
Mike pulled her closer to him then kissed her head.
“Those photos? That’s how they found me,” Mike said. “Senator Hargreaves sent them through the channels and the Fey team was notified within forty-eight hours. They were in the air within a week.”
“The Fey team?” the interviewer asked.
The retelling of Celia’s Puppies, Denver Cereal Volume 2, continues tomorrow…
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