I HAVE AN ETERNITY AHEAD OF ME

(Intermittent Waves Recorded From The Transformed Heart Of A Woman)

EPISODE 38

AUNTIE YONNY: THINGS HAVE CHANGED, Part 2

 

 

 

Zenobia ran out of the back door and kept running without considering where she was going. She just wanted to get away from what she had heard and hopefully away from its reality. Not wanting Hal to find her, she went into the enclosed gazebo in the garden and curled up in a chair. She held back her tears and just stared out into nowhere particularly, with a hardened face, wondering why she had allowed this to happen to her. She couldn't help thinking to herself...

 

"Was I so desperate for love and affection after Mrs. Yanovich died? Was it that I needed someone to need me? -Someone to help and to pour out my affection upon? I knew he was in love with someone else. Why did I think that I could make him forget about her so quickly? Why did I stray so far from God?" The questions kept flowing and Zenobia absorbed all of the guilt, shame, and pain that they brought.

 

After looking all over the mansion and questioning all the employees working that day, Hal called security and asked if they saw Zenobia leave the premises. Thanks to the outside cameras, one of the security guards saw her entering the gazebo. Hal hurried downstairs and ran outside. He opened the gazebo door and found Zenobia just staring rigidly, with her eyes affixed to a leaf that had been blown inside, lying on the floor, on the other side of the gazebo. There was a glassy look in her eyes that almost looked frightening. Hal approached her carefully and knelt down in front of her. She didn't acknowledge his presence and barely batted an eye.

 

He tried to hold her hand and she snatched it away, tucking it under her arm. She still refused to look at him. He sat down on the floor, close to her and began to stare at the leaf that seemed to keep her mesmerized, locked in a spell. After, staring at it for a minute, he closed and rubbed his eyes, lowering his head, shaking it back and forth. He also was tormented with guilt, shame, and pain, as he blamed himself for ruining Zenobia and Rachel's life and possibly the lives of his children. Inside of his mind, he began to ask questions and just like in his other moments of desperation, he decided to talk, not to God, but, at God.

 

"Oh, God! Forgive me! What have I done? I never meant to hurt Zenobia. She doesn't deserve this. Help her, God! Please, help her! I'm so sorry. I didn't want things to happen like this. Please, tell me what to do. How can I fix this? How can I help Zenobia and Rachel?"

 

The silence in the gazebo was broken by birds chirping in a nearby tree. Zenobia snapped out of  her trance for a brief moment, then, looking at Hal, tears slowly began to roll down her cheeks. As she batted her long lashes, somehow, a teardrop fell upon Hal's neck paralyzing him momentarily. The sudden shock of the moisture pierced his heart and guilt took hold of him, shackling him to her pain, the pain he had inflicted upon this beautiful woman who only wanted to love him from her beautiful heart. Hal knew that she had given up everything to be with him and bear his child. Unable to bear her tears, he spoke through the pain that pierced his heart.

 

"I love you, Zenobia. I'm not going to leave you. I'm sorry for everything that's happened, but, I can't make it go away."

 

For some reason, Zenobia burst into laughter amidst her tears. The thought of Hal making everything go away seemed funny to her. Hal was perplexed at her reaction. He hadn't meant it to be funny at all and could see no reason why she did.

 

Zenobia was so conflicted she didn't know what she was feeling. -Anger? -Jealousy? At first, when she overheard Hal and his father secretly planning to rescue Rachel, she felt hurt that Hal had betrayed her trust and love for him. Then, hearing that she presented a problem for them because of her being there, she was shocked and appalled. She hadn't intended to ease drop upon their conversation, but, she was stunned by what she had heard, and for a while, unable to move or speak.

 

With the baby on the way and marriage plans, this was supposed to be a special time for her and Hal. Now, she shared their moment of intimacy, expectancy, and future joy, with another woman. She wanted to be the one to bring happiness to Hal and be the mother of his children. That hope had been robbed from her.

 

But, then, Hal was a Graves and she knew too well the burden of sorrow and guilt that name carried. Caring for Tanya Yanovich, she had watched part of the Graves Saga play out before her eyes. She had tried to steer Tanya away from all of the chaos and evil and bring her closer to God, but, now, it seemed that they had succeeded in tearing her away from God. At that moment, she felt an insurmountable barrier between her and her Heavenly Father. Even more, she felt that the distance between her and God was compounded by her inability to find the strength and will to seek him. Her heart was broken and her body was weakened by the anger that had taken hold of it. Out of frustration, her anger grew, knowing that she had dived into a pool that was already teeming with pariah who sucked the life out of everyone they came into contact with.

 

In order to deal with her pain and pride, Zenobia hardened herself even more. She knew that she hadn't looked before she leapt. She believed Hal would be different, having not been raised as a Graves. Overwhelmed with resentment and anger, she looked down at Hal sitting on the floor next to her. Feeling the baby move inside of her, she tensed up, dug her nails into the palm of her hands and bit down hard upon her lip. She knew that she was feeling false labor pains. It was still too early, but, perhaps her running and exerting pressure on the baby had caused the pains.

 

Life with Hal Siegfried was not what she had expected. Right now, she wasn't even sure that she was in love with him. What did it matter? She thought. She didn't want to face reality, but, she knew that she would never be the only woman in Hal's life. The pains became more intense as did her loathing having Hal so close beside her then. In her heart, she knew that it wasn't godly thinking, but, placing some of the blame elsewhere, made her own pain more bearable.

 

They sat in the gazebo for what seemed like hours, until Zenobia had drifted off to sleep and Hal's phone rang. Answering it as quickly as he could, he whispered to Jake that he would come in the house in a moment with Zenobia, then, hung up. Carefully, trying not to wake Zenobia, he picked her up and carried her into the house all the way to their bedroom and placed her gently upon the bed. Zenobia felt herself being lifted and carried away, but, she was too tired, mentally and physically to resist. Covering her with a blanket, Hal kissed her stomach and her forehead. All the while, torturing himself with the question,"What have I done?"

 

Jake was standing outside of the study, looking very anxious. Hal took him inside and told him to have a seat.

 

"What is it Jake?"

 

"There's been a rash of break-ins at the offices. At first, we didn't think much of it, but, now we see there is a pattern..."

 

"-A pattern?  What are they stealing or looking for? Corporate secrets?"

 

"That's what we thought, and...and maybe that we have corporate spies working inside...."

 

"Spies? We have corporate spies? Have we halted hiring new people?"

 

"Uh...temporarily...but, that doesn't work. There's always somebody not satisfied with their job, in need of money, or, who has a grudge against somebody, usually, people who are long time employees or who have been employed for a while. It doesn't take much to recruit somebody filled with hatred or greed and turn them into a corporate spy. Then, you have your professionals who know how to dig in and wait for their chance to steal something of value.

 

Good new is, no equipment has come up damaged or missing, and there hasn't been any vandalism. But, then, there's the bad news, which I've already told you. There is no doubting that they are after information. We've upped security in the Information Technology Department and limited security clearance for classified information. We're placing our best guy over securing all interoffice networks, reigning in internet cloud access, and rerouting transmissions to pass through monitoring stations. IT assures me that we have state-of-the-art equipment and software, but, I don't trust it. If we're in a cyber war, then, I think we need just as many people trained in hacking software and tracing hackers as there are people trained to write programs and maintain the software and equipment. What do you think boss?"

 

Hal stood up and looked out of the window, hearing Tanya Yanovich's frail voice echoing throughout his mind, saying, "They're coming for you, Hal! They're coming for you! Be ready!" Tanya had warned him about corporate spies and hacking. "They usually end in one way, Hal, complete take-overs, or, so much damage that they put you out of business. Either way, you're the loser. You've got to strike back and counterattack as quickly as possible and strike back hard!" When Hal heard those words, he could only think of how much Tanya sounded like her father, President Willard Graves. It had struck a sour note with him. He didn't want to become like Willard Graves, but, now, he saw that he must fight back to protect his family.

 

Reaching into his desk drawer and taking out a key that opened a cabinet behind him, which housed a small safe, he couldn't believe what he was about to do. After keying in the code to the safe, he pulled out his old notebook, which held Tanya's contacts. He leafed through the notebook until he found the pages for Wall Street contacts, corporate spies, and hacker contacts. The last page contained information about the box, which Hal hoped he would never have to use. Closing the door to the study, he took a seat next to Jake and began to devise a plan to catch a thief and counterattack those behind the office break-ins.

 

 

*******************************************************

 

 

In the wee hours of the morning, Hal left the study with Jake and Steve. Steve had joined them later that night. They checked with the night guards, said goodnight, and made their way to bed. Too tired to shower, Hal removed his clothes and slid into bed next to Zenobia. Sensing his presence, she turned her back on him. Feeling the rejection, Hal's heart ached, but, surprisingly, sleep came easy to him that night.

 

It had been a tiring day filled with the unexpected and unforgettable. However, within the sleep that had welcomed him came heaviness, which carried heavy dreams, coming at him hard, wave after wave. Amidst the pounding of corporate espionage, treason and waves of uncertainty washing over his mind, lurked an ambitious and treacherous foe, branching out in all directions weaving a tangled web. As he chased the elusive spider, trying hard not to be the fly caught within its sticky, cleverly woven trap, Hal's heart pounded within his chest; a constant reminder that his life was in jeopardy. Those around him knew that he already knew too much. He had to find the spider before it found him. --But, then, what? Would he have enough information to expose him? The lurid details of cover-up, involving murders upon multiple continents caused him to fight off the effects of these unwanted visualizations, like fighting off the effects of being drugged. He fought to become conscious to no avail.

 

After tossing and turning and thrashing about, a new dream emerged, as if he'd simply turned the page of a spy novel. The Chinese food he had stopped for on the way home, reappeared to him in his dream, placing him in a traditional Chinese restaurant, filled with shady characters.

 

Seated at a side table, near the door, he glanced over the menu which listed various fashion designers and clothing brands, whom amongst them was Tanya Graves. He knew this was odd, but didn't quite know how it fit in with the current situation. He would make a mental note of it for future reference as he always did.

 

He opened a fortune cookie from the bowl in front of him. The fortune read, "You will be smart enough to stay ahead of the game and out-fox the foxes." It was signed, Tanya.

 

Hal dropped the slip of paper and looked around him. He remembered Tanya saying that her father always thought that he was smart enough to out-fox the foxes. Hal knew that Tanya had left this message for him. Was it a warning? Tanya had told him that the mistakes her father had made were due to his arrogant  thinking and believing he was so smart that he could out-smart anyone and everyone.

 

Now, Hal found himself weaving and dodging, trying to stay ahead of those in pursuit. He was tormented even more by the hideous, ghostly image of Tanya Graves that haunted him, eerily appearing in windows and reflections, even more ghastly than she looked upon her deathbed. The apparition angrily screamed at him, from its gaping, drooling mouth, "Expose them! Expose them!"

 

Hal was shaking the images from his mind when, an elderly Chinese woman slowly approached his table, her head slightly tilted to the right. She smiled with several gold teeth gleaming at him. Hairs stood up on Hal's arms as he felt like he was on the menu to be chewed by those golden teeth.  An uneasy feeling came upon him, as if he was being watched from behind the stainless steel kitchen door behind her. He had saved himself more than once by acting on his gut feelings and this didn't feel right. He politely apologized for having to leave and excused himself, as he headed for the door.

 

Not looking back, he began to run. Not knowing if he was being chased, still, he kept running. Several city blocks away, he stopped to catch his breath. Folded over, gripping his ankles, he peered down the street, from in between his legs and saw a car behind him stop and a man stick his head out of the window and point at him.

 

Somehow, he managed to make his shaking and fatigued legs run even faster and almost ran into a fashionable couple dressed for a night out. The man jumped from the curb into an oily, murky puddle, pulling his curvaceous partner close to him.

 

Concerned with their well-being, Hal managed a brief glance back their way, just long enough to see anger upon the man's face and a shocked woman still trying to process what was going on.

 

Filled with remorse, Hal knew that time and circumstances didn't allow for long apologies. He directed a heartfelt, "I'm sorry," their way, then, rapidly assessed his whereabouts and headed into a dark alley to catch his breath.

 

Sweat poured down his face and into his eyes from his drenched eyebrows. His eyes stung from the salty sweat. Pulling out his t-shirt to wipe his face, he squatted to relax the muscles in his legs. They weren't use to all of this exercise and neither was he.

 

The image of the couple reappeared in his mind. As he arose and began walking, sinking deeper into the darkness of the alley, belated feelings of despair and helplessness overwhelmed him, filling his eyes with tears. The expressions on the couple's faces mirrored his own feelings. Panting heavily, he clinched his hands into fists. Yes, he felt angry, shocked and disgusted; angry for allowing himself to be led into a trap and furious at the way people had barged into his life, with no regard for his safety and those closest to him.

 

He followed the alley to the lighted street at the other end. Hearing a car just turning into the alley from behind him, his tired and wobbly legs, instinctively started running, while he still looked behind.

 

A second later, Hal felt that his heart might jump twenty feet, if it hadn't been caged in. A driver was laying their hand on the car horn, as he ran directly toward their moving vehicle. He whipped his head in front of him staring into blinding and flashing bright headlights.

 

With a jerk that left him breathless, Hal brought himself to a full stop in front of the burning tires that screeched and swerved in front of him, which finally stopped and missed his rigid body by less than an inch. Hal's mind finally caught up with reality and realized he'd come within an inch of his life. A dark figure flung open the passenger door and stood holding a gun behind the door.

 

Hal's legs felt weak and he felt himself collapsing in slow motion, but, at that moment, he awoke, sweating and thirsty. He covered his face with his hands, then began gripping and pulling his hair in agony screaming within his mind, "The dreams have returned!" The same dreams over and over again, night after night; the dreams that had stolen his rest and peace of mind, awakening him in fear and terror; and keeping him awake for hour upon hour, had returned.

 

The pillow beneath his head was soaked with sweat, as were the sheets on his side of the bed.  He threw the coverings off of him, exposing Zenobia's back. Instinctively, she drew the quilt up around herself and curled into a ball. For a few minutes, Hal watched Zenobia sleep, then, sat on the edge of the bed thinking about what was ahead for all of them. Be Careful What You Wish For. He remembered seeing the epitaph written upon the marble grave marker that stood atop his grave in his dreams.

 

Feeling haunted and unnerved, he was unable to go back to sleep. He took his nightmarish memories and dreadful visions of the future into the shower with him. He stood beneath the pounding water, losing track of time, hoping to wash away the worries that tormented his heart and tortured his mind.

 

Thoughts of Rachel having a baby inside of her who was a part of him gave him mixed feelings of joy, guilt and regret. What did Rachel look like as an expecting mother? Was the baby a girl or a boy? Was Rachel safe tonight? Was she happy? Then, he thought of Zenobia lying in the next room. Guilt and remorse filled his gut and laid there like a heavy stone. Then, thinking of Derek, Everett, and Conner Graves, his feelings changed and he began to think about revenge and the plan they had devised to stop their treachery. But, the haunting voice of Auntie Tanya came back to remind him, "Never make it personal, Hal. You'll make mistakes." How could it not be personal with Rachel, Zenobia and his children's lives at stake?

 

He knew he risked becoming the evil that he fought against to destroy. He was finding out oh, too well, that having wealth and keeping wealth wasn't easy. As if you were a crab in a barrel full of crabs, there was always somebody trying to crawl over you in the barrel to get to the top.

 

Miriam and Auntie Tanya had said that what he was being asked to do was to defeat evil while keeping a pure heart. He felt more than ever that he wasn't qualified for the job, because, his heart was already too corrupted by evil. Still, he had to try for the sake of those who depended upon him and for those whom he loved, including...Rachel.

 

There wasn't a day that went buy that Hal didn't think about his Grandpa Siegfried in some way. Sometimes, he wondered if it was his way of remembering God, indirectly. He wasn't quite ready for a direct relationship with God. But, thoughts of Grandpa Siegfried always led to God. Now, it seemed that thoughts of Rachel led to Grandpa Siegfried and vice a versa, with them both leading him to God. He felt that he had been a bad influence upon Zenobia, pulling her away from God to have her all to himself. That's what he had tried to do to Rachel, also. Everything had been all about him and he had ruined things for a lot of people.

 

Grandpa Siegfried wasn't a particularly good singer, but he certainly was the loudest when it came to singing one of his favorite songs. He could be heard above everyone else singing, "Only what you do for Christ will last!" There was always a smile spread across his face showing all of the teeth that he still had left and he moved his arms clumsily, in an attempt to direct the choir. He had no shame in his actions for he was acting out his belief. He truly believed that what he did was for Christ and that that was the only way to live. Hal knew that he had been living for himself and that although he wrote about controversial events and dire circumstances, he basically lived for himself.

 

Turning the shower off, Hal stared down at the drain, watching the water as it came from all directions to merge upon one path, flowing to a single destination. Lifting his eyes and breaking the trance, he shook the water from his hair and grabbed a towel to wipe his eyes. Then, as if Grandpa Siegfried stood there singing before him, he was faced with the question as to how he could make his actions and life be for Christ. He couldn't even tell law enforcement about what he and his small army were about to do. How could he make his relationship with Zenobia and Rachel be for Christ? He was lost. He had no idea how anything in his life resembled godliness. Too much had changed within him and around him. Then, it dawned upon him. Like a feather gently settling upon the ground, an idea landed within his mind. Perhaps, it was a divine idea. Perhaps, it was Divine intervention. Nevertheless, it was a spark of light that had helped him to find a way to help Rachel.