Ian Rafferty had no clue how long he had been wandering around downtown. He knew he had abandoned the ruined suit two days ago, opting for jeans and a tee-shirt from the local Salvation Army. He had generated massive stares. The patrons of the Army saw a tall man with long hair, an unkempt beard, dressed in a ruined silk suit pretending to be someone in need. No one knew him here and that was a good thing. For now, he was also no longer part of his old world either. He was completely unaware that his face had been splashed all over the evening news. He probably wouldn't have cared if he had known. Without a home, television, cell phone, or expensive wrist watch, he had no clue what time it was or what day it was. He certainly didn't have access to a television. Although a virtual babe in the woods, so to speak, he was far from naïve. He knew the police, his father, and friends were looking for him, wondering where he had run to.
After finding clothing, Ian began to search for cocaine. No luck. It was hard for him to admit it to himself, but he could no longer deny the truth. He was going into withdrawal. With that came a lack of caring about anything else other than finding a fix. It didn't dawn on him that his running away was indicative of guilt. He didn't care about that either. He didn't care about anything that didn't have to do with cocaine. He was obsessed. His obsession wasn't paying off, because he could do nothing about it. He had nothing with which to buy any coke, even if it was no more than a few inches out of his grasp. Some time last night, he had been robbed. He had fallen into a fitful sleep, disturbed by dreams he could not remember, and was awakened by two street thugs literally pouncing on top of him. Ian was a rich boy, privilege had been a way of life for him, but he was also a fighter. He sprang up, kicking and punching blindly. They didn't let up, and eventually, they overpowered him. A few days without food or water…without cocaine…weakened a man. Despite the fancy kick boxing lessons he had taken for the better part of three years, there was little else he could do outside allowing them to take what they wanted. Otherwise, they would have continued fighting him until he died. They would have definitely gotten everything anyway. Luckily, he had escaped serious injury. One of the punks managed to blacken his eye. Right now, it was swollen, painful to the touch, and light simply sent him into unimaginable spirals of agony. Yet, he didn't care about that either.
Ian Rafferty knew little about the real world. His mother died in childbirth, so his father had sheltered and cared for him most of his life. If his father wasn't there, a governess was. He had never worried about money, a place to live, or food to eat. Or cocaine to snort. It was always there. If it wasn't, a phone call could be made and supplies were readily replenished. The same could be said about cocaine. His father frowned on it, but he never issued any ultimatums. It was a dirty little secret. It was the one bad habit Clinton afforded Ian.
Ian had Shortie's pager number on speed dial. He would find Ian wherever he was, even on vacation. He had screwed up when he crushed his cell phone. He had destroyed his link to the outside world. Again, perhaps it wasn't such a bad choice. After all, he didn't dare contact Shortie or his father. If he did, everyone would know where he was. Would that be a bad thing? It would. It so would. He understood he was participating in risky behavior with his cocaine, he knew he would eventually get caught. The thought of going to jail didn't bother him as much as it should. Still, going to prison for a crime he didn't commit was something he feared more than anything else in the world.
He couldn't deny it any longer. He was in trouble. He was in big trouble. He had nowhere to turn. Worse still, he had no coke and no way to get it. He wanted to continue to believe he wasn't in the midst of withdrawal. He was. He was and there was nothing he could do about it. He had never hated or wanted one thing so desperately in his life. It was over. It was all over. The party had ended. It had finally come to an earth shattering halt. He had spent one full day denying it, convinced it was a bad trip from a tainted Plug. That would have been too easy. That was nothing but a sour fantasy. Realism had come crashing down on his head. His life would never be the same again.
Five or ten minutes ago…which felt like an eternity to Ian…muscle cramps had seized his legs. Up until then, he had been pacing restlessly, desperately trying to wind down. He also wanted to avoid the hustlers and whores. He had no desire to pay or be bought for sex. He wasn't that desperate…yet. The cramps made it impossible to walk far. He had to keep moving. It wasn't wise to collapse in an alley during daylight hours. Downtown police officers were more apt to arrest vagrants found skulking about behind legitimate businesses. Since he had been accused of a crime, he didn't need to be found hiding in an alley. But then, he didn't exactly look like his normal self, did he? If he had had access to a mirror, he would have seen a stranger.
Ian didn't care. He found another alley, this one located behind a busy dry cleaner. The owner had chased him away from the front of the building just this morning. He collapsed against the harsh brick of the structure. The surface raked long scratches along his back, but he hardly felt it. He couldn't feel the blood seeping out of his wounds. The pain in his muscles was too great. It grew worse by the minute, as did the sweating, nausea, and blinding headache. He would have given his entire trust fund for a friendly face. Easy tears came to his eyes. Why had the world suddenly turned against him?
Through the pain, through the growing withdrawal symptoms, he scoured his brain for any errant memories. The last thing he could clearly remember was standing in the men's room at the Baker Club snorting cocaine. After that, his mind was blank. He had known Ruth Carmichael since he was a boy. Their families had gathered many times for different events. When Ruth's husband died, she set her cap for his father. Clearly, Clinton wasn't interested. He told Ruth many times. Ian wasn't interested, either, for that matter. She had flirted with him before. Yet, he knew she wanted his father. It was common knowledge in their circle. Ruth was attractive and well put together; Ian had never been moved by her. As much as his father, he could smell a gold digger when he saw one. Ruth Carmichael fit the mold perfectly. Everyone knew that. He hadn't touched her. He could not remember that, but he knew he wouldn't touch her by force. It was smug of him to think it, but he didn't need to force anyone to do anything. If the women he slept with weren't interested in his money, they were usually interested in his cocaine. All of his bed partners had been willing. None had ever resisted for a moment. Even at his most cocaine clotted, he had never wanted to force a woman to have sex. He had only been in love perhaps once or twice in his life, he slept around a lot, but he respected women. He always had. It didn't make sense. None of it did.
Another cramp seized him. He curled his body into a tight ball, reminiscent of the fetal position. It made the pain worse. He just didn't know what else to do. He was close…very close…to seeking out a pay phone, calling his father, and giving up. He would admit to killing Kennedy if it meant the pain would stop.
Clinton Rafferty sat behind his desk with his face in his hands. A nasty female detective had just left his office. She had been one haughty bitch. She didn't believe him when he told her he had no clue as to where Ian was. She accused him of lying to protect his son. Of course he would protect Ian, but he wouldn't lie for him. Despite what anyone thought, he wouldn't do anything extraordinary to get Ian's ass out of the fire. He never had. This was different. He knew of Ian's cocaine use, but he had never been arrested for it. If he had, he would have been on his own. Ian wouldn't be this time. He didn't know if Ian had bedded Ruth. What he did know was that he had serious doubts his son raped her. It wasn't in his nature, even when he was half lit. Ian had his fair share of lovers through the years. He was prone to digging up every piece of information he could find about a woman to impress her. Despite all that, Ian wasn't a rapist.
He had tried to tell the hungry detective this, but she wasn't interested. She wanted to arrest Ian, to make an example of him. Not long ago, a man from a wealthy family had beaten a drug conviction. Since that happened, the authorities had a bad attitude about the rich and their misdeeds. Whatever the case, he only wished he knew where his son was. Clinton had to admit it didn't look good for Ian to be on the run. It made him look damned guilty. If Ian hadn't raped Ruth Carmichael, why didn't he come home? Actually, Clinton couldn't blame him. After all, hadn't his first words to his son been an accusation? An affirmation of his alleged crime? He hadn't offered any comfort to Ian. He had given Ian exactly what the police had given him. He longed to take it back. He had gone so far as to contact Shortie Starks. However, Clinton was met with nothing more than a voice mail response. Why would he assume Shortie would speak to him? It was idiocy on his part. He had gone to Brooks, Poynor, and Petty to secure an attorney, but he was turned away. BPP was already representing Ruth. They would not speak to him. What options did he have now? The only other good firm in town was Maxwell, Lloyd, and Jennings. He was certain he would be turned away there as well. They were serious competitors of BPP. They were loyal to their own. The Raffertys didn't fit that mold. Goddamn it, Ian. Why won't you call home? He didn't know if his son was alive or dead. If alive, he would find an attorney. He would get him the best help money could buy, even if it meant selecting someone from a lesser known firm. He would ensure that Ian never touched another gram of cocaine as long as he lived. He would do what he should have done years ago. He would intervene; force Ian into rehab if he had to. This would not happen to a Rafferty again. Pick up the phone, Ian. Do the right thing and pick up the phone.
Cynn Lenderman was frustrated. She knew Clinton Rafferty was protecting his son. The son of a bitch refused to budge. She had leaned on Shortie Starks as well. Another no budge. The only information she had was the account numbers of every credit card Ian possessed. They had all the bastards flagged. Still nothing. She had begun to wonder if Ian might have skipped the country. The Raffertys were German and Scottish. Maybe they had family overseas. Maybe she should make contact with Interpol. Cynn was as persistent as she was haughty. She didn't like it when she couldn't find her man. It had almost been a week now without any clues or information outside Ruth Carmichael's harassing phone calls.
Cynn looked up, annoyed, as she laid eyes on Rena. "What now? You know I'm busy," she barked.
"Oh golly, Cynn. I hate to bug you, but the owners at Terra Bay just called," Rena said, flustered.
Terra Bay was a grimy convenience store downtown. They sold more booze than food. "Well," she snapped impatiently. "What did they want?"
"A credit card was used this morning," Rena said, dying for approval. "It belonged to Ian Rafferty."
A light bulb went off in Cynn's head. She smiled an evil smile. They would find Ian downtown. She was sure of it. "Thank you, Rena."
Two teenaged runaways stood at the mouth of what they thought was a deserted alley. When they moved further down it, they saw a man's body. They first thought the dude was dead, but when they drew closer, he moaned aloud. It was obvious that the guy had puked all over himself more than once. The male member of the dynamic duo knew a coke meltdown when he saw one. The female stood by fascinated. She had seen a dead guy breathe. It was kinda gross, but also kinda cool.
Cassie DeMontea and Donnie Mochriel weren't the sharpest knives in the drawer, but they knew this dude was hurting. With Cassie standing back out of the way, Donnie kneeled down close to the guy. If he thought he had anything, Donnie wasn't above kicking a guy while he was down for money or drugs. It was clear to him that he had nothing of value. Donnie extended his hand and poked the dude on the arm. He sat up as if shocked, a long rope of drool hanging from his mouth. The guy seemed ready for a fight. "Ew, gross," he heard Cassie gasp. It didn't gross out Donnie, but he did back away a few inches. There was no way he wanted to mess up his clothes or get spit all over him.
Absently, Ian wiped his mouth and fixed a harsh glare on the kids. "Who are you? What do you want?" He had nothing for them to steal. However, he was ready to defend himself if necessary.
Donnie winced at the sharp odor of puke on the guy. His left eye was swollen shut. Blood and vomit stained his tee-shirt. Someone had stolen his shoes. "Look, dude," Donnie said. "I ain't gonna roll ya or nuthin. You kinda look gross, man. I know where you can get a shower and some clean clothes. Dude. No offense. You really reek."
Ian brushed his words aside. He agreed with the kid wholeheartedly. He did, indeed, reek. Nothing sounded better than a shower. "What day is it?"
Donnie looked at him as if he had lost his mind. "It's Friday."
Ian was tempted to grab the kid by his collar, but he hesitated. Friday. Friday? A week had passed? He had no idea or clue that so much time had escaped him. Another thought entered his mind. How close were the police to finding him? Capwell's Cove wasn't a large community. There weren't that many places to search, even outside the protected suburban area. Downtown wasn't enormous by Los Angeles standards either.
Easing up to his feet slowly, Ian nodded absently. "Okay. Show me the way. Your kindness will not be forgotten."
Donnie said nothing, but he was a bit flummoxed. His kindness wouldn't be forgotten? The dude was deluded. He had nothing Donnie wanted, and if he thought he'd let the guy fuck his girl, he was screwed in the head.
Donnie, Cassie, and Ian became the dynamic trio as they entered Heffington House. Heffington House was established by a big-hearted do gooder socialite by the name of Bridget Heffington. She was in her late twenties, childless, and wanted something to do with her life and her massive trust fund. She created HH to help the homeless, the unwanted, the unwashed, and the discarded. She gave them clothing, access to bathing facilities, and a place to stay the night. Although it was a good place, a helpful place, Bridget was also a paranoid schizophrenic. Often, she would chase the very people away that she was trying to help if she had skipped her medication or was having a particularly bad day. She was seen as a flake, so hardly anyone took her seriously. Most of the community was afraid of her. Bridget was having a good day when Donnie and Cassie brought in a shaggy, unkempt stranger. She was so proud of them. They were runaways, but the sweetest dears of all. They always managed to find the most desperate in need. She had no clue the pair were robbing her blind. If she did, she likely wouldn't have remembered it anyway.
Bridget directed Donnie where to take the man so he could shower. She summoned Cassie, who wanted to follow the men into the bathroom, to help her find the stranger decent clothing and new shoes. The poor dear was a mess, his bare feet dirty and covered with blisters. It seemed as if he hadn't eaten or slept in days. Loopy as a roller coaster, even Bridget could identify a drug addict when she saw one. Neither she nor Ian would realize for some time that they knew each other.
Ian had never been one to like taking a bath. He was a shower man, had been all his life. He had to admit that the hot water he was soaking in was the closest thing to heaven he had ever experienced in his life. Taking a bath appealed to him now. He would never shortchange another tub. He was blindly grateful to the kids. He would come to regret that thought in the near future.
"Dude," Donnie called from outside the door. "My girl and Bridge found you some clean clothes and stuff. I'll leave them out here. You okay with that, man?"
Ian leaned his head against the back of the tub. He was almost dozing, but he heard every word clearly. "Yes. More than okay with that. Thank you."
Not wanting to leave the bathtub or the comforting warmth of the water, Ian pulled the stopper, listening to the water gurgling down the drain. Just before it all drained away, he struggled to lift his body to a standing position. Weakened now, he hoped he could find something to eat before he left this place. If he didn't, he wouldn't last much longer. For the first time since he left home, he actually wasn't obsessed with finding cocaine.
Bridget looked up as several homeless people entered the House, readying for their afternoon meal. She couldn't cook for the life of her, but she bought pounds and pounds of luncheon meat. She could make a mean sandwich. As she, Cassie, and another girl began slapping together their famous sandwiches, she smiled as she saw Donnie leading the newest unfortunate soul away from the bathing area. Dressed in clean clothing with shoes on his feet, he appeared to be a half decent soul. There was something vaguely familiar about him, though. She couldn't yet put her finger on it.
Ian ran his hands through his hair hoping that he could find something with which to tie it back. He felt eyes on him and he looked up to see a familiar face. When he came in, he was too tired to figure it out. His brain wasn't functioning correctly. Now it was. Slowly, he connected the dots. Heffington House. The Heffington family. He knew them. He knew them well. Ian's father was the Heffington's financial advisor. When Ian was a kid, the two families were next door neighbors. He and Bridget used to play doctor in her tree house. The eyes gazing into his were those belonging to Bridget Heffington. She was labeled by her family as a flake. She wasn't so much of a flake as she was misguided and quite ill. She was a gorgeous redhead with big green eyes. He had taken her to her senior prom in high school. He had been her first lover. They slept together for a year or more until her parents sent her away to 'school.' His father told him that she had been sent to a mental hospital where she stayed for two years. His heart began to pound heavily in his chest. Did she remember him? Did she recognize him? She hadn't seen him in several years.
Bridget turned away from her sandwich making duties, excused herself, and then walked into her tiny office just off to the right of the kitchen. She had a massive desk that took up almost all the space in the room. In one of the drawers, she kept all her mementoes from her life before the mental hospital. She went in behind her desk and forced open the top drawer. Lying on top of a stack of bills, she found her photo album. She opened it to reveal her prom portrait. God had sent her Ian Rafferty.
"Hey, that's the dude outside," Cassie suddenly said.
Oh dear. Cassie was a nosy girl indeed. "Yes. God sent him back to me, Cassie. He did. God sent back Ian Rafferty. He has come back for me."
"Ian Rafferty?" Cassie knew the name. He was the dude wanted by police. Maybe there was a reward. She left quickly to find Donnie.
Ian didn't stay long enough for Bridget to confront him. It was a cowardly move, but if she knew who he was, she might call the police. He couldn't take that chance. Ignoring the inviting sandwiches, he stepped outside to lose himself again.