“William, William, can you hear me, Mr. Clarkson?”
Sean could hear the doctor just fine, but he wanted to stay in his semi-conscious state for a while longer, trying to sort out the mess he was in. Sean remembered coming to in the ambulance just as it was driving into the hospital complex. Everything was blurry. As he was wheeled into the emergency room, he had passed out again, whether it was from the loss of blood or from a sedative, he didn’t know. Someone at the Senator’s reception must have had a strong reason to kill Billy. It may have been the woman who he had been talking to, or it may have been one of the other women who Billy had used and then discarded. Or it may have been someone else, someone with political motivations who wanted to send a ‘message’ to the Senator. Sean could even see how someone was trying to kill him—not Billy, ending this ‘split-identity’ intrigue for good. Whatever the case, Sean knew that he had to get a message to Mrs. Robinson and Molly telling them he was still alive. Sean wondered if Mrs. R had received the greeting card with the SD card which he had mailed in Iceland.
These lines of thought dissolved when the doctor lifted Sean’s right eyelid and shone a light into his pupil. He let out an involuntary groan.
“Good, good, you’re coming around, William. I’m Doctor Keller, can you speak?”
“Yes, yes, I need some water,” An attendant squirted a small amount of water into Sean’s mouth.
“You certainly do need water! You must have been quite dehydrated before the incident with the knife. This IV will have you back to normal in no time. Tell me, when is the last time you ate a meal? Your intestines were empty, lucky in a way, it made putting you back together much easier. You were also lucky in that the knife went in cleanly, with almost no tearing of the abdominal wall. It could have been much, much worse.”
“Mr. Lucky, I guess, that would be me. I haven’t eaten much in a couple of days. I find it hard to eat when I’m traveling,” Sean said with a wan smile, “Where am I?”
“You’re in a secure recovery room in the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center. It’s a precaution that was taken because the investigation of the incident is still ongoing. If you’re up to it, the FBI would like to come in and ask you a few questions.”
“OK, I think I can handle it.”
Judging by his gray hair, the agent must have been one of the FBI's most senior investigators. He showed Sean his ID then sat on a stool next to the bed. This was going to be a big deal.
“Are you feeling up to this, Mr. Clarkson? If you feel you can’t continue please let me know. Any information you can give us will help in the investigation. Time is of the essence."
“I understand. Go ahead.”
“I am going to ask this to make sure we cover all bases. Did you stab yourself?”
“Is there anyone who was there who you think would have reason to injure you?”
“No… I don’t know.”
“You had been seen talking to a woman before you went to the bathroom. Did you know her?”
“She said we had been lovers. I told her that I didn’t remember her. She got upset.”
“I see. You’ve had many lovers? Others who were at the reception?”
“There may have been. I had many women when I was younger.”
“Are there any other person or groups of people who would want to do you harm?”
“None that I am aware of.”
“What do you think happened?”
“I don’t what to think anymore. All I know is that I don’t want to be involved with any part of this.”
“You don’t have a choice. I’ll start again, did you stab yourself?”
“I see what you’re trying to do. I’m not going to play the chump. This interview is over.”
“Who is William Clarkson, Junior? Senator Clarkson’s only child from his first marriage, Billy Clarkson, as he is known to friends, had been previously notable for his absence in his father’s presidential campaign. No longer. At a private reception last night for the Senator in suburban Richmond Virginia, Billy Clarkson was found unconscious on the floor of a bathroom with a knife in his abdomen. No suspects have been named. A spokesman for the FBI termed the investigation as ‘ongoing.’ William was a 2006 graduate of Carnegie Mellon university, majoring in computer science. The young Clarkson was described by former classmates as ‘brilliant but erratic’ and also as a ‘ladies man.’ Since his graduation he has stayed out of the public eye: he was a minor player in a Silicon Valley start-up, he dabbled in commodity futures, and had been involved in the creation of an on-line role-playing game. We’ve learned that he had returned to the United States just the day before the incident, entering the country with a replacement passport. It is not known at this time where he had been living in recent months, but his return flight was via Icelandair.”Molly and Mrs. R had gone into a ‘media bar’ near Seattle's Pioneer Square, a place where one could be bombarded by three news channels while simultaneously getting hammered. The clientele consisted mostly of intense men—news junkies who couldn’t be out of the cycle even while relaxing. The CNN news anchor was talking about Billy’s stabbing. Molly looked at Billy’s picture in the image that was next to the news anchor. His resemblance to Sean was remarkable. She had wondered why Sean would never talk about his college days, even when pressed on the issue. This might explain it. She turned away from the news coverage and looked at Mary Robinson who evidently knew a lot more than she was telling about the connections between the two men.
“Have you figured it out yet, Molly?” said Mary, who was texting while she spoke, “The stiff in the morgue is Billy, and Sean is evidently in the hospital in Virginia. What I can’t figure out is why the switch. There must have been a compelling reason for him to go underground. Let’s compare timelines. When did you last have contact with him?”
“It was the 4th, in the morning.”
“That was when I got the last email from him as well. Sean was to meet Billy later that day. Billy was killed just after midnight, on the 5th. That would have been 5 p.m. here, still the 4th."
“And I was picked up by the FBI around 8 p.m. for questioning.”
“Two a.m. in Iceland. Tell me, Molly, do you remember a camera, or a mirror in the interrogation room?”
“Yes, there was a large mirror, I remember looking at myself when I was crying.”
“And they were threatening you with arrest and prison?”
“If the Embassy had already gotten to Sean and made him watch your interrogation, he may have gone along with their plan. I don’t know exactly what the plan was, or what was behind it, but I now know that Billy had been involved in some heavy stuff.”
“And I’m involved.”
“Sorry, Molly. Sorry that this thing happened to you and sorry the way it has spiraled out of control. We’ll keep you covered. I’ve already messaged the coroner to get the dental records of Billy and Sean from their old university. If we’re right in assuming that Sean and Billy have swapped identities, when the press gets a hold of it the story will explode. That should enable us to get Sean back.”
Molly’s phone began to buzz. She looked at the screen and frowned.
“I don’t recognize the number. Should I pick up?” said Molly.
“If it’s anyone you don’t know, just tell them they have a wrong number.”
“Hello?” Molly listened for a few seconds then began to shake.
“It’s Sean,” said Molly, “He’s alive!”