Chapter 10. After The Rescue
After talking with the President of Ocean Bay University and the police, giving her statement, Tom walked with Kaylee down the open air hall of the college.
“How did you know where to find me?” Kaylee asked Tom after a long silence while they walked down the stairs of the college and towards her car. “There are more than ten art classrooms there.”
“We tried three rooms with Dr. Manga’s pass key before we found you. I was getting worried that you were in deep trouble, and you were.”
Kaylee wept and leaned against him as they stood by her car.
“I’m sorry. I…” She sobbed against his chest. “Sorry.”
“He was up there blaming you for entrapping him.” Tom frowned, free hand clenched into a fist. “I talked with Professor Manga while you talked with the police, and he has offered to test you on your finals if you would take them with a summer class next month. It will be in a group.”
“Oh wow.” Kaylee wiped her eyes on his chest and laughed tearfully. Wiping the wet spot on his shirt. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay. That’s what I’m here for. I’m your personal snot-rag.” He said softly.
She laughed, his support made the pain of the situation so much less. Tom could be funny in the most quirky way.
“There he goes.” Tom nodded towards the two police cruisers pulled away with now ex-Professor in the back seat.
President Manga walked towards them from the steps of the University.
“AH! Good, you have not yet left. Kaylee , in light of the events today and review of your record, I’m passing you on your final exam with a one hundred percent. Further, you will not need to deal with that cretin directly. You might be called upon as a witness, but you are not the one filing a complaint. That would be my office and my signature. Tom is a witness to his criminal misconduct as are you. He attempted to entrap you in his little game.” A volcanic anger seemed to radiate from his eyes. ”It seems that there is more to this as well. He had video cameras in there from several angles. A search of his office showed a number of computer memory sticks with other women he had done this to.”
“I’m not the only one?” Kaylee asked, the thought of being in a personal library of porn took her by surprise.
“There could be hundreds. He was here for years, a tenured professor. The police will be investigating, and Tom,“ President Manga looked away from Kaylee . “I hope this does not affect our business together.”
“Of course not, my friend.” Tom said as they shook hands. “In fact, you are the hero of the hour. If we had not stopped our meeting to check on this, who knows what might have happened to her. But she is safe now.”
“Most excellent, I will leave you then and you can take her home.” Turning to Kaylee he spoke softly with his basso-profundo voice. “Missus Harte, you have an honorable husband and a good man here. Congratulations on the marriage.”
“Thank you Professor.” She said softly, her tension slowly leaving her. Still traumatized, she hung on to Tom.
“Let’s head home.” Tom said.
Riding in the car, Tom pushed a Bluetooth device in his ear and told the phone to call the local car rental, spoke with the person on the other end and made arrangements to pick the rental car up and then broke the connection.
Instead of driving to the harbor, Tom drove towards the airport.
They turned on a road and a guard let them through the gate to a private parking area of the airport. Tom pulled up to the yellow zone and turned off the car.
“Why did you move it?”
“More than a few days in the water, marine life begins to grow on the hull. So I need to bring it out and have the hull cleaned, I’ve seen that before on some float planes that have sat too long in the ocean. It makes the engines work harder to get us airborne and fuel consumption goes up. Besides, speaking of fuel, we need to fuel and reload with water. We have been using the fresh water like crazy, when I went to take a shower this morning and… nothing. We were empty of fresh water.”
“Wow. I didn’t think of that.”
“Neither did I. It’s a lifestyle. It is something that takes some getting to used to.” He said smiling as he got out of the car.
She was quiet for a few minutes while they embraced against her car, thoughts rolling around in her head, when she remembered one important issue.
“Tom. Have you gotten the papers?”
“Annulment papers. We are having fun and all, but I have a life back home and a boyfriend that I’m quite sure he would not understand this.”
Tom gave a nod with a sigh.
“Yes. You said thirty days.”
“I know, but you followed me to the college. I can handle myself, there is no need for a stalking hero.”
“So it seems.” Tom said flatly, no longer smiling. “You were wearing nothing but a towel, he was standing naked on the stage and you were about to climb on a bed with video camera’s all around.”
Tom looked directly at her as they sat at the stoplight. “He was going to extort you into sex. You are tough, probably the toughest woman I know, you can break a man’s arm, give him knowledge bumps on his melon, but you could not fight that.” Tom frowned. “He had you over a barrel and, if you were alone, he would force you to comply. But you were never alone. Not after I made the promise.”
“I don’t need a hero, Tom.” He irritated her by thinking she needed some omnipresent protector. “I want to go home alone, you drive back to your plane. There’s a lot on my mind right now.”
“Why are you mad at me? I helped you, if the Professor and I did not arrive when we did, you’d have your legs wrapped around that… That… Monster because he would destroy your life if you didn’t.” Tom clenched his fists hard enough to her back that his knuckles cracked.
“Desperate people can do desperate deeds, and you had no wiggle room.” Tom tried to help with his words, but failing. “If you walked out, he could have denied everything and charged that you failed your test and were now retaliating. He would have wiped out your scholastic career. You might as well have quit your studies totally and applied at the local bar and serve whiskey and wine to horny students for the rest of your life.”
“So you are saying I would have prostituted myself for a grade?”
Tom gaped and went slack-jawed. Without intending, that was what he had said.
And it was the truth. Without a rescue, a helping hand, someone to blow a whistle, Professor Billings was going to extort her into sex. Then with the video camera’s around, the Professor would have had even more leverage on her.
*It could have gone on for months, maybe even years,* Her heart fell, Tom was right. *Using the pornographic home movies of me banging him to keep me quiet or worse.*
“I’m saying he was blackmailing you. The police already know of dozens of other women from the quick scan of the memory sticks that Dr. Manga and I found and gave to the police. The detectives took another hundred or more, it was a trunk load of full evidence bags from his office — All memory sticks. I have no idea what is on those.”
She finally asked the question that was burning in her mind when she slipped out of his arms and walked around the car to get in the driver’s seat.
“Do you think there are other videos of girls on them?”
“Yes, the few we saw were dozens of thumbnails of women having sex with him. Some files were time-stamped a decade ago.”
“Tell you what, “ Tom sighed. “Let’s not fight, instead let’s go north to some wine country. Let’s do some wine tasting in the north state. We’ll there in an hour, I’ll even give you a low pass over the vineyards and then spend the next few days there. It’ll be fun.”
“Tom. You can’t just smooth over this.” She thought a moment and relented. It was a romantic and exciting idea. “But okay, it sounds wonderful. But you are still in trouble for ignoring me when I said I’d go alone.”
“You went alone. I just had a meeting with someone from the school.”
“You mister Harte,” She raised her voice in mock irritation and put her finger on his chest, just over his heart. “Called him because you were jealous!”
“These meetings have gone on for two months. It is not my first time to break bread with Doctor Manga. You know that he is leaving as the Headmaster of the school next year. His contract runs out at the end of August and he has accepted a position at Cambridge University. I’m invited to speak at his installation.”
“Then you had no choice to mention I was there?”
“I just asked when all classes ended.”
“I’m not sure about that.” She eyed him suspiciously. “I’m still mad at you. Go home. I’ll come by later.”
“Call me before you do. I have some services to schedule. The Wizard is out of water and low on fuel, and I’ll hire a company to clean and repaint the hull. We will be taking the Fleeting Fantasy. She is the first one I bought when the first four books sold.”
“Where are you going to pay for, you said service and this…” Kaylee paused as Tom’s words sank in. “Wait… a second airplane?”
“Here at the airport. You will be able to come here if you like. I’ll leave word with the guard, your car will need a sticker. This is also where I rent my cars. Way easier than having the company pick me, or us, up at the dock.”
“Okay. When do we leave?”
“Well, it’s almost noon now. They’ll be done servicing it all by the time you’re back. So anytime you arrive, we can leave. Bring some comfortable shoes and clothing to wear at the wine tasting. You’ll be standing a lot.”
“Where are we going, precisely?”
“You’ll see.” Tom laughed softly.
Trying to kiss her, Kaylee turned her face.
“I’m still mad at you. I don’t know why, but I am.” She looked at Tom with tears in her eyes. “Your timing was perfect today. But I’m still mad at you.”
He watched her car disappear around the guard shack into the lunch hour traffic, he felt a familiar pain.
Tom gave a heavy sigh then turned and made his way towards the Pacific Wizard, walking across the tarmac he wished it would rain.
Walking in the rain, no one can tell when you cry.