Chapter Five


"Ok, Brian, I want you to just relax a bit more," said Dr. Lightner. "I know that you're excited, but we have to talk about this."

Excited wasn't the right word about what I was feeling. This was my second appointment with Dr. Lightner, and he'd agreed to attempt to hypnotize me. He explained to me that some people are very susceptible to hypnosis while others are completely impervious. He asked me to consider the possibility that I was among the latter group of people. I knew that he was just trying to prepare me in case we failed. Dr. Carlo had tried to prepare me for failure as well. I appreciated that they were both worried, but I didn't think that I was in danger of being crushed by failure. I was used to amnesia.

However, it turned out that I wasn't among the group of people that were impervious to hypnosis. I wasn't a member of the group that was highly susceptible, either. I fell somewhere in the middle. Dr. Lightner had tried three times to get me to relax enough for him to begin before he was finally successful. I don't remember what was said while I was under hypnosis, but when he brought me back to waking consciousness I remembered a lot of things. My memory hadn't returned completely, but it had returned enough to tell me that Brady was right. I really was a student at the University of Chicago. I could remember attending classes there. I remembered my dorm room and my roommate. Tucker Davis had been my roommate. I could see his face in my mind now. It wasn't that much different than Ian or Brady's.

"I remember," I said softly, looking down at my folded hands. It was so hard not to get excited, but at the same time I was blown away by it all.

"Brian, I need you to tell me exactly what you remember now," he said.

"I remember the university," I replied. "I remember classes and people. My roommate in the dorm was Tucker Davis. I can see his face in my mind, and I remember conversations we had. He was from Michigan, and he had family in Chicago."

"That's basically what you said under hypnosis," he admitted. "Do you remember anything more?"

I thought for a moment, but the memories weren't there. They weren't just gone like before, though. Now it was as if they were there but just out of reach. It was as if I only needed one single reminder to bring them all close enough to grasp. I was excited about remembering school and Tucker, and I was eager to try and remind myself of things. I needed to get to the university.

"No, I don't," I said finally. "But I feel like I could remember more."

He wrote a few things in his notes before he said anything else, and I noticed that it was almost time for our two hour session to end. I wondered if there was anything short of getting to Chicago that I could do to remind myself of the past. Maybe if I talked to Brady again I would remember more of our conversation. There had to be something I could do, something that I could find to remind myself enough to get my memory to come back.

"Well I would like to see you again in a week, but my schedule is really tight," he said, flipping through his appointment book. "It looks like it will have to be after Christmas, Brian. I'm sorry about that. I know you're eager to get to work on your memory."

I hadn't thought about more hypnosis as a way to jog my memory. I had been too wrapped up in what I already remembered. Having to wait until after Christmas to see Dr. Lightner again wasn't going to be easy, but there wasn't anything I could do about it. Christmas break would begin the following day, and it only lasted three weeks. It wasn't as if I had to wait a year. Twenty minutes later I was standing just inside the main doors of the clinic with a new appointment slip in my hand, waiting for Ms. Bennet to collect me again. When she did collect me, I didn't discuss the appointment with her any further than to tell her it had gone well. My trust for her had dwindled more and more until finally I just decided that she was a minor annoyance that I had to endure until I remembered everything.

I was back at Rhaven just in time to head to my last class of the day, and Ian was waiting for me in the seat beside my own. He asked questions, but I told him we'd have to talk about it later. It was all I could think about though as I listened to the lecture and worked on the assignment until the class ended. I wanted so badly to go to the university and look around. I knew that if I could just get there, I'd remember more.

Then it dawned on me that my inner voice had been silent throughout all of this. Could my memory flashes have shocked him into silence? I was also surprised to find that I didn't miss talking to him anymore. I was getting closer to remembering my past, and conversations about what was going on in the present just didn't seem all that important anymore. I chuckled out loud, causing Ian to look at me strange for a second, when I thought about how sane losing that inner voice made me feel.

"What was so funny in there?" he asked as we walked back to the dorm after class.

"Just something I was thinking about," I replied. "I'm in a good mood today."

"I can see that," he said. "So what happened with the shrink?"

"He hypnotized me today," I replied as we reached the dorm. "I remember a little about the university."

"So you remember being there?" he asked excitedly, stopping and putting his hand on my arm. "That's great, Brian. Now you know for sure that you really were at the university."

"I believed I was there before this," I sighed as we started to walk again. "I just need to get to Chicago somehow. If I could just go to the university and see it in reality, it might just jog my memory."

We were quiet the rest of the way to the dorm, and all I could think about was getting to Chicago. I was ready to just hop on a bus without telling anyone. Classes were over for the winter break, so it wasn't like I would ditching school. My only problem was money. I had no money for a bus ticket. I didn't even know how to go about getting money. Being a ward of social services wasn't very lucrative.

"My brother is driving me back to Chicago in the morning, Brian," he said once we were inside our room with the door shut. "I know you probably can't get permission to go, but he could probably take you up and bring you back on Sunday."

"I don't have to meet with Ms. Bennet or either of the doctors tomorrow," I said, thinking about how I could get away with it. "I'd just need someone to cover for me here for the day."

"No one checks on us at night, so you'd just need someone to say that you went somewhere for the day," he said. "Then they'd have to say that you went somewhere Sunday morning until you get back."

"This could work?" I asked, hoping that he'd say it could. I really believed that if I could just get to Chicago and see the university I would remember more. I wasn't getting my hopes up that I'd remember everything, but I was sure that I'd remember something. There had to be something that I could remember that would prove that I was really a college student.


*   *   *


"So let me get this straight," said Tristin. "You want me to lie and say that you're out to the mall or something when you're really in Chicago with Ian?"

We were sitting in the cafeteria, talking quietly about the plan that Ian and I had come up with in our room to get me to Chicago. Ian had called Brady, and he was all for driving me back on Sunday morning. All we needed was for someone to cover for me in the dorm. Tristin seemed the logical choice. I just hoped he'd go along with it. I really wanted to go.

"Only if anyone asks where he went," said Ian. "I'm thinking that only Hamilton will actually ask."

"Ask what?" said Hamilton, startling us as he sat down on the other side of the table with his tray.

"Where I'm going," I said quickly. "I'm going to see someone tomorrow, Ham. I don't want anyone to know about it, though."

"Ok, so why would I ask where you were if you just told me that you're going to see someone?" he asked, looking at us with a confused look on his face.

"Well it's a secret," said Ian. "He doesn't want your social worker to know."

"She's gone for the weekend," he replied. "I heard her talking to Mr. Colson this morning. She told him that if there were any problems to call the hotline."

"You hear that?" Ian asked, turning to me. "You're home free. This will work."

"Then I guess I'm in," said Tristin with a sigh. "You better not get me into trouble, Brian."

"You won't get into trouble," insisted Ian. "He'll be back in plenty of time. No one will ask questions, and this is the only way for him to do this."

We talked more about it throughout dinner, but we had to be careful to keep the real truth from Hamilton. It wasn't that I thought he would tell. I just thought he would probably want to go with me, and I couldn't have that. I had no idea what I was going to remember, and explaining any of it to Ian would be bad enough.

After dinner, Ian and I talked more about what would happen once we got to Chicago. In Chicago, Ian had a car of his own. He wasn't allowed to drive it to school, but he said he could drive it anywhere once we got there. It was decided that he would drive me to the university. We'd have a look around, and then I should remember something. I couldn't wait to get there, so sleeping was almost out of the question that night. All I could think about was that my memory was closer than ever to coming back to me.

I must have fallen asleep some time, because the next thing I knew Ian was shaking me and telling me to wake up. I yawned and stretched as I looked at him. He was still in his boxers, and I had to make myself stop looking. I got a good enough look, though. That was the problem.

"We have time for a shower," he said. "Brady said we'd get breakfast on the road."

I got out of bed and followed him down the hall to the bathroom. The image of his body battled in my head with nervous excitement about the trip and what it could reveal to me. I knew that some time I would really have to decide what to do with the way I felt about Ian, but there were more important things to do that morning.

It had been decided that I would leave the grounds before Ian and Brady left. I was to walk down the street and wait around the corner for Brady to pull up. On weekends we were pretty much free to wander around the city as long as we didn't get into trouble, so leaving was no problem. After Brady arrived and the three of us went over what I was supposed to do and say to anyone who asked me where I was going, I left the dorm and headed off the grounds. I was surprised that I didn't encounter anyone along the way. Everyone was moving around, but no one paid any special attention to me. I made it down the street and around the corner without incident. My knees were shaking, but that was the only thing I had to deal with so far.

Brady pulled up a bit later, and I hopped in the back seat of his car. My stomach was doing flip-flops as we drove away from Rhaven, but I knew that this was what I had to do. I was going to find out about myself, and that was all there was to it. I was breaking the rules in a very bad way, but I convinced myself that it was necessary.

"Don't worry so much, Brian," said Brady from behind the wheel. "We used to sneak off from Rhaven all the time. You'll be all right."

"Yeah," I said, trying to smile.

"So what's the game plan, guys?" he asked. "We can't take him to the house, because Mom will flip out. You know how she gets about us bringing home unexpected guests."

"I thought we'd just go to the gas station," said Ian. "I can walk to the house and get my car without disturbing the rents. I'll come back and get Brian, and you can go on home. I know they'll scream at me when I get there for not coming in first, but I can take it."

"Well then it's a plan," said Brady. "We'll be in Chicago in three hours."

For three hours we talked about anything and everything other than what I was going to Chicago for. Brady told me funny stories about Ian growing up, and Ian retaliated with funny stories about when Brady was younger. I had no stories from the past to tell them about, but they understood that and tried to make sure there were no awkward moments.

We stopped in a town I can't remember for drive-through breakfast which we ate in the car. Shortly after that stop it was time for a restroom break in another town I can't remember. It was during that stop that Brady announced that we were nearly there, and I grew even more nervous. Back in the car, Ian did everything he could to keep my mind off of what was about to happen. I had to admit to myself that he'd become an awesome friend over the time I'd known him.

When we pulled into the city, I thought my heart would burst out of my chest. I sat and silently watched the industrial buildings pass us by as we drove down the busy street. Brady turned off the busy street and drove almost out of the city again before turning into what looked like part of Storyville. There were houses everywhere, and then we came to a gas station where he pulled in and parked the car.

"All right, Ian," he said, turning off the engine. "Hurry, and don't let Mom or Dad see you."

"They won't see me," he said, getting out of the car. "I'll be back soon."

I was a nervous wreck once he started walking down the street. Brady talked to me, and that helped, but I was really very close to at least seeing the university. I had no idea what I wanted to do once we got there. Planning wasn't my strong point at that time. All I'd thought about was actually getting to Chicago. Now that I'd done that I had no idea what to do next.

"I really hope you get your memory back, Brian," Brady said. "Do you really think that going to the university will do it for you?"

"I don't know what will happen once I get there," I admitted. "But if I can find proof that I am a student at the university, then maybe I can get Ms. Bennet off my back."

"Ms. Bennet?" he asked, cocking his head.

"My social worker," I replied. "She isn't the nicest person in the world, and I'm tired of being treated like a case."

"Didn't you tell her that I remembered you from the university?" he asked.

"I told her, but she said it was highly unlikely," I replied. "She said she'd check into it, but I doubt she bothered."

"Well that really sucks," he said, surprising me by the force of his words. "Social workers are supposed to be caring, aren't they? I mean why get into a job where you'll have to be in charge of the welfare of children if you're going to be cold all the time?"

"I know what you mean," I agreed. "But if I can prove that I'm seventeen years old and a student at the university I may not need to be under her anymore. I might be able to just be an adult."

"Well you're about to find out if you can prove it," he said. "Here comes Ian."

And there he was. He pulled in beside us in a blue Lexus with a huge smile on his face. Brady explained that Ian was proud of his car. At least that made me laugh. I wasn't laughing as I got out of Brady's car and into Ian's, though. I listened as Brady warned Ian not to be gone too long. He said that he'd get the hotel room later that day, but Ian could bring me to the house and just say that I was a friend from Chicago. In a sense that was true, because I had lived in Chicago until the accident that killed my parents.

"Ready?" he asked as I buckled my seatbelt.

"As I'll ever be," I replied.

Brady gave one final warning about not taking too long, and then we were off to the university. Unlike during the trip from Storyville to Chicago, Ian talked of nothing but my memory all the way through the city to the university. I was ready to tell him to shut up about it when we pulled into the parking lot of the main campus. One look at the four story brown brick building, and my head was swimming with memories.

I could remember arriving at the university with my parents. My father helped me lug boxes up to my dorm room. We made trip after trip while my mother put things away in the room. We laughed about the fact that I'd have to reorganize once they left. I remembered the last thing my father said before leaving with my mother. He told me that they were just across the city if I needed them.

I got out of the car and started walking toward the dorms on the left of the main building. I could hear Ian saying my name, but my feet were on auto pilot. I just kept walking. Several people called my name and waived, but thankfully none of them came near enough to talk. I was shocked when I found myself standing in front of the dorm that I remembered carrying boxes to from the car. Ian caught up with me as I stood and looked up at the six story building.

"Didn't you hear me?" he asked as I walked into the dorm and up the stairs to the third floor. He went back to saying my name, but I didn't answer him. My mind flooded with memories of being in the dorm. I remembered the showers and how nervous I was when I had to take my first shower with five other guys in the room. I remembered the little kitchen on the first floor and how nothing you put in the fridge ever stayed put.

"Brian, my God, where have you been?" asked a blond haired girl as she stepped in front of me when I got to the third floor. She flung her arms around me and squeezed me tight. I was shocked when her name popped into my head.

"Hey, Jill," I heard myself say. "I've been away a while, I know. Do you think Chuck is in his room?"

"He should be," she said. "I don't think he's left yet. Are you going to tell me where you've been these last few months? Everyone's been talking about you. First Danny died, then you disappeared. Tucker was crazy for a while, but then he disappeared..."

"Tucker was in an accident," I heard myself say to Jill. "I have to talk to Chuck, Jill. I'll see you later, k?"

I didn't wait for a response. I just walked down the hall to the door that I knew belonged to the RA for the floor. His name was Chuck Peterson, and I almost laughed with joy at remembering it. So many things were coming back to me, but I couldn't process all of it. Luckily when I knocked he answered his door.

"Well I'll be damned," he said with a smile as he looked at me. "What the Hell have you been up to? Did you quit?"

"No, I didn't quit," I said, smiling at him. "But I am locked out of my room. You got a key?"

"Sure, Brian, hang on a sec and let me find it," he said. "You know no one has been in there since you and Tucker left."

"Well that's good," I said as I noticed Ian standing in the hall. "I don't suppose anyone is in the Student Services office?"

"Not today," he laughed. "Saturday, Brian. You'll have to wait for Monday if you want to talk to one of the advisors. Here's your key." He handed me the brass key with another smile. "You're going to have to tell me what you've been doing, man."

"Another time?" I asked, clutching the key in my hand as I spoke.

"Sure, I'm just about to head back to Indy," he said. "Merry Christmas, Brian."

"Same to you, Chuck," I said with a smile as I turned and walked back to my room with Ian behind me.

"You're remembering," Ian said as they walked down the hall amidst a sea of others who were carrying bags.

"I remember a lot of things," I replied. "I don't have it all, though. I remember Jill and Chuck, and I remember moving into this room." By then we'd come back to stand in front of my dorm room. Only this time I had the key.

"I'm Tucker Davis," said the dark haired boy as he put his box on the bed and turned to shake my hand. "Great to meet you."

"Brian Porter," I replied. "Want some help?"

"My name is Brian Porter," I said out loud, though I'm sure I wasn't talking to Ian directly as we walked into my dorm room. The memory of meeting Tucker for the first time sailed through my head as others crowded behind it.

"You remember your name?" Ian asked as he followed me into the room.

There were pictures on my desk as well as Tucker's, but the one I noticed first was the picture of me and Tucker in front of the dorm. We were making stupid faces, and we each had an arm around each other. I picked up the picture and sat in the chair with a sigh.

"We were close," I said as I looked at the picture. "I remember that he used to call me Brain instead of Brian. He said I reminded him of Brady."

"You're remembering a lot, aren't you?" Ian asked as he walked over to stand behind my chair.

"I think I remember everything," I replied. "I know that Tucker, Danny and I were like thick as thieves around here. I was the computer nut, Tucker knew everything about the law, and Danny knew just about everything involving numbers."

"Do you remember your parents?" he asked.

"Yes," I replied. "My real father died when I was like three years old, but he and my mother were divorced at the time, and she was already remarried to the man I knew as my father. I have a younger brother in the world somewhere, too. His name is Tommy. I think he lives in Florida. I've never met him."

"Do you remember why your parents were running to Storyville?" he asked.

That's when I remembered the spare laptop I kept in the bottom of the closet. I got up from the chair and went straight to the closet, mumbling about the files. I remembered exactly which files, too. There'd been a murder, and Danny and I had found emails about it in some lawyer's computer. I'd hacked into the system by mistake and stumbled upon files that had the name Robert Tate in them.

"We found out who murdered Robert Tate," I said as I pulled the laptop out of the closet and sat it on the desk. "Danny and I found files in a lawyer's computer. It was online, and I hacked into it by mistake. Tucker said he knew who it was, but he told me that finding the information was dangerous."

"Robert Tate?" asked Ian with a gasp. "That's my mother's personal trainer. He was killed last year. They never found the killer."

"Well we did," I replied. "That's why we were running. They knew we'd found this stuff. Tucker was supposed to get the gun..."

I looked at Ian as all of the memories fell into place in my head. Clark Davis. That's who's computer we'd hacked into. Tucker had said he was his uncle, and that he was a dangerous man. It was Ian's father! I couldn't believe it. How could I tell Ian that we were about to help put away his father when someone killed both Danny and Tucker before chasing me and my family into Storyville.

"Wait," he said. "If you know who did it, you've got to tell the police, Brian."

"Ian," I said, thinking my words over carefully. "I have something to show you. You aren't going to like it."

I powered up the laptop and began scrolling through the files. My memory told me that the laptop I carried with me in the stolen car the night of the accident was my home laptop. This was my school machine. The files had been copied from this computer to the one at home before we ran. All of the files were still here.

"This can't be," he said as he looked over my shoulder at the emails from his father to a man named Ned Franklin. "My dad couldn't have killed Robert."

"I'm sorry, Ian," I said. "I didn't remember. I had no idea that it was your father."

"You're wrong, Brian," he said. "My dad didn't do this."

"Ian, he tried to kill me and my family," I said quietly. "He did kill my parents. He's the reason I had amnesia."

"This can't be," he said, but there was a stricken look on his face.

I didn't know what to tell Ian, but I knew that I had to go to the police. I had to tell them about these files. Tucker was supposed to get the gun out of Ian's house. It was supposed to be in the safe in Clark Davis's office. I was about to ruin his life with this, but there was no other way.

A Boy Named Brian