Special Forces Father - By Mallory Kane
Travis Delancey knew exactly what Wild Will Hancock was thinking as he eyed Travis’s trembling hands. Drugs.
That wasn’t Travis’s problem, but he didn’t bother explaining. He just shifted in the creaky wooden chair in the double-wide that served as Wild Will’s office and extracted the credit card from the side pocket of his military issue duffel bag. He held it up.
The shiny platinum of the card reflected in Wild Will’s pupils.
“Did I mention I’m in a hurry?” Travis asked evenly.
“Yes, sir, you did,” Wild Will said, his eyes still glued to the card. “Now, as far as the amount of the down payment—?”
“All of it,” Travis broke in.
“All of it.” Wild Will’s prominent Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed. “Well then, if you’ll just swipe your card right there—” he nodded toward the credit card machine “—I’ll get you on your way.”
Travis swiped and Wild Will typed. After a torturously slow two minutes of hunting and pecking, the man finally paused, his index fingers poised over the keyboard. “Your current address?”
Travis started to give him his parents’ address, then changed his mind. He gave him Kate’s address instead. That’s where he was headed, and he didn’t want anyone calling his parents until he was ready to talk to them himself.
“And driver’s license?”
Just as Travis opened his mouth to recite his Louisiana driver’s license number, somebody banged loudly on the trailer’s metal door. Travis jumped. He instantly recovered and smiled sheepishly, but Wild Will’s attention was on the door. “Come in,” Will yelled.
The door creaked open to reveal a pudgy man in a T-shirt and jeans.
“Yeah,” he said. “I want to drive that Camaro.”
Will nodded. “Gimme a minute.”
The pudgy guy nodded back. “No prob,” he said. He went outside and closed the door.
Will turned back to Travis. “Now, where were we?”
“Driver’s license number,” Travis answered. He rattled off his and a random future expiration date. His license had actually expired two years before. Army Special Forces officers didn’t need civilian driver’s licenses, especially while on supersecret missions to unnamed countries overseas.
To his relief, the gaunt man who looked more like an undertaker than a used-car dealer didn’t ask to see the license. He merely gestured toward the credit card machine.
Travis scribbled his signature on the screen. His writing was worse than usual because of his trembling hand, but it satisfied Wild Will. It took a few more minutes to finish the paperwork and transfer the title.
“Congratulations. I know you’ll enjoy driving this little beauty,” Will said.
“Thanks,” Travis answered, irony tingeing his voice. The little beauty was a ten-year-old domestic hatchback. The tires were relatively new but there was a definite smear of oily smoke on the tailpipe. Still, with any luck, a couple quarts of oil would get him to New Orleans, Louisiana.
After tossing his duffel bag into the back of the car, he jumped in and drove off the lot and onto the interstate. It was over a thousand miles from Bethesda, Maryland, to New Orleans. Travis squeezed the steering wheel with both hands, then let go with his right hand and inspected it. Still shaking.
Not surprising. He hadn’t had any exercise or decent food for five months, unless he counted the protein shakes and flavored gelatin he’d been receiving at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for the past two weeks. Walking up and down the halls of the psych unit hardly qualified as exercise.
Dr. Gingosian wouldn’t be happy that he’d left against medical advice, but Travis wasn’t interested in spending even one more day listening to the doctor drone on about post-traumatic stress disorder and other understandable emotional effects of captivity.
He knew what was wrong with him and it wasn’t PTSD. He’d kept himself sane for five months in the windowless, unheated room where he’d been held by doing three things. Cultivating his hatred of his captors, playing videos of his most treasured memories inside his head and exercising—until lack of nutrition and loss of weight had made him too weak to stand.
He’d learned a lot about himself during that awful time as he had ignored external discomforts and nurtured his memories. When he was brought to Walter Reed, he’d gratefully accepted medical treatment, but he’d quickly figured out that his emotional problems wouldn’t be cured by medication or group therapy.
He knew what he needed. He needed the people he loved. His brothers and sister. His mom. Even his dad. At some point, in that dark stinking room where his only means of escape was inside his head,