A Silver Tongue

Spring, 2003

In all likelihood, this was the final straw. Deniet had flown to Toronto, spent 4 days there (one day longer than necessary or planned for), and returned to Seattle without briefing anyone from the accounts team; all without ever once meeting with the client. Jordan Deniet’s tenure at Lewis & Sedgwick had been a precarious one that his colleagues could never wrap their heads around.

In drunken moments, Jordan even confessed to some of his coworkers that he got the job in part by lying about his education. “I’ve never even set foot on the OSU campus!” then he busted out laughing. This latest scoffing of company policy was the crown jewel of his myriad transgressions, however: a huge client completely blown off and ignored.

Jordan strode into his superior’s office to discuss this latest brazen act of disregard without the slightest display of nerves.

“How is Toronto in the spring, Deniet? I’ve never had the opportunity to see it.” Hollins sarcastically inquired.

“Oh, just fine. Beautiful city. Charmingly international.” Jordan replied without skipping a beat.

“Yeah, I’m sure you had a great time. Lewis & Sedgwick footing the bill and all. I trust you stayed entertained, well-fed…drunk.”

“You know it Mr. Hollins.” Jordan said with a smirk, his right leg propped up on his left knee, fingers interlaced over his waist.

Hollins laughed and continued, “Deniet, I’m not going to ask you why you didn’t meet with Nathaniel, I don’t care. You’re gone and that’s a foregone conclusion. And I’m happy. Your book here at Lewis & Sedgwick is closed so there is, thank Christ, no need to try and figure out why you ignored a client with a 2.4 million dollar contract on his hands. Now that I can talk to you like the normal piece of shit that you are, I am curious, not as your former boss. I don’t know, think of me as someone you would talk to casually at a bar. What did you do in Toronto while you were supposed to be working? What could you have possibly been doing besides getting drunk on the company dollar?”

Jordan answered very dryly, “Toronto is a very nice city. I walked around a lot. In fact I was walking to Nathaniel’s hotel when I got sidetracked by a promising canal tour. After that, I just never bothered following up with him. Oh, and on Sunday the Sonics were scheduled to play the Raptors, so I stayed an extra day for that in case you were wondering.”

“I wasn’t.” Hollins replied. “You can leave now.”

As Deniet stood up to exit Hollins’ office, the phone rang. “There is a good chance that’s Mr. Lewis,” he said with his back turned as he left the office.

 

Fall, 2005

“I slept with another woman. In Toronto.” Jordan spoke these words to his wife’s back while she was busying herself in the kitchen. The statement was completely unprovoked. They hadn’t even been having a conversation. He simply stood up from his desk in the study, walked into the kitchen, and made his confession.

Mya heard the words, perked her head up, and stared forward while trying to process them. They didn’t seem to make sense in the order he had said them in. She turned around to see her husband standing in the doorway of the kitchen. He was looking directly into her eyes. Her husband of 8 years liked to joke but she could always tell when he was saying something in jest. When he was serious, he had a straight as an arrow gaze and an insensate expression on his face. This was the look he wore this moment. She could tell he wasn’t joking but she asked anyway, “You’re being serious?”

“Yes,” while he nodded his head shallowly.

“You slept with a woman in Toronto…that was at least 2 years ago and you’re telling me now?” She was still clinging to an iota of disbelief.

Jordan nodded his head silently this time. One of the only times his wife had ever seen him at a loss for words.

“Why are you telling me this now?” Mya asked.

“I don’t know. The guilt is getting to me I think.” he answered.

Mya remembered the work trip on which her loving husband’s infidelity supposedly occurred. Mainly because one or two weeks after he returned from it, he was promoted to head of accounts.

That night, Jordan slept on the couch while his wife lay in bed trying to figure out what all of this meant to her. She could barely believe it was true. He had acted perfectly normal for two years and showed no sign of dissatisfaction prior to the trip. No changes and certainly no inkling of an extra-marital affair. Her thoughts kept her from sleep. The fact that he was able to play it so cool for so long scared her. She didn’t know what to make of this news but the more she thought about it, the angrier she became.

All she knew is that she would make him leave; stay somewhere else first thing in the morning for as long as it took for her to decide what to do. While she lay awake in bed, Jordan crept into the room. She allowed him to sit on the bed and they talked for almost an hour.

Jordan talked in the same tone he used with Mya almost a decade ago when he convinced her that having children, at any point in their relationship was a mistake. He emphasized the word mistake. Mya knew the tone well as she played that conversation over and over again in her mind over the next 8 years. In that conversation 8 year ago he pointed out eloquently and in great detail all that would–he assured her that this was a certainty–go wrong if they had kids. And she was convinced.

He spent the rest of the night by her side, holding her. The next morning, he was still in the house. And the morning after that, and the morning after that. She hadn’t even made him pack his bags.

 

Summer, 1981

When Jordan came to he was being pushed from behind across a driveway into a connecting garage. A pair of large, rough hands held both his arms behind his back. The hands twisted his arm up toward his shoulder blade whenever he resisted. He became conscious into a thick brain haze. He must have been drugged with something because there was an acrid, chemical smell, totally unnatural, lingering in his nostrils. He looked up and saw the moon low in the sky. There were heavy footsteps behind him. Jordan shook his head trying to dispel the fog in his mind. He craned his neck over his shoulder to see who it was that was pushing him but a sharp, hard twist of his arm by the man corralling him put a stop to all that.

The man–the fog slowly burning off from consciousness…wait, 2 sets of footfalls–the two men prodded him into the fluorescent lit garage and forced him to sit in a chair in the center of it–all the while being careful to stay behind him. They obviously didn’t want their faces to be seen. Jordan was forcefully sat and his wrists were bound by–Jordan counted–4 zip ties behind his back.

“You’ve already made a mistake.” Jordan stated before the men could leave the garage. “You can’t be professionals, if there even is such a thing. It’s only been a few hours so we can’t be far from Seattle.” Jordan scrambled to recall his last memory. He quickly remembered walking home from school with his 6th grade classmate, a struggle, then nothing until regaining consciousness on the cold driveway. “My friend, the one I was walking with, say you, at least him, who knows how many others. I know I’m not far from home.”

Somehow, Jordan Deniet was able to grasp what was happening to him very quickly and when he did, an erstwhile dormant instinct rose to the proscenium of his mind: talk or die. Just keep talking. “Your hands are rough and this is a house a few hours away.” ‘Don’t say “maybe,” don’t be passive, state facts, make statements even if they aren’t completely true!’ The thoughts flashed across Jordan’s mind like neon marquee lighting displaying a play title and actors’ names. “A house a few hours outside of Seattle. Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, Colombia City, or Georgetown maybe.”

The men stood silent, hearing the words coming from this boy. “It’s cold, this garage is like all the other garages I’ve seen. Seattle! You’re from here, see!? A Seattle license plate!”

The men traced the line of sight of the boy’s head from behind. “God fucking…!” One of them exclaimed, seeing an old, loose license plate sticking out of some shelving.

“It ends in 6-4!” Jordan proclaimed. One of the men quickly yanked the plate form the shelf and then turned off the garage light.

“Shut up kid” one of the men said with an upwards inflection–a warning tone that implied that more words would result in physical assault.

“You are, you are from here, I can tell by your voice. This garage can fit 2 cars.” ‘More facts’ the thoughts flashed in Jordan’s mind. “I’m still alive. You guys aren’t killers. You’ve taken me for something that you need me alive for or else I would be dead already.”

“Don’t be so fucking sure!” One of them exclaimed. Then Jordan heard one of the men leave the garage.

“You’ve already made mistakes. This is probably the first time you’ve done this. I hear about kidnappers being caught on the news all the time. It’s common and they always get sent to prison for life or executed. You’ve already made mistakes and your bound to make more.” Jordan continued. He heard the other man return and frantically continued his rant. “The air is very cold and my parents already know I’m gone. You’ll make more mist-” He felt a rag shoved into his face from behind. The smell, the acrid chemical smell, this time 100 times stronger. He struggled under the large hand. Jordan felt a primal, screeching fear for a second and then nothingness.

When Jordan woke up, he was being shook to life by an old haggard-looking woman. He was lying, unharmed, on the bench of a bus stop. He shook his head wearily, barely hearing, and even less, comprehending the words of the old woman, who was obviously gravely concerned to see a young boy sleeping on a bus stop bench alone at the crack of dawn.

Jordan continued to ignore the words of the bewildered woman and looked up at the awning of the bus stop. It read “Powell & Hearth.” Jordan knew the streets. He was only a few miles from his home.

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