“It took Mom about three weeks to begin to worry; after all Dad had been known to disappear for long periods of time before and it didn’t alarm her. But when she couldn’t get a hold of him before the birth she knew something had happened.” Monica said, tears welling up in her eyes. “I had never seen her so despondent before and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I had just moved back into town after getting my degree. I had gone to school in Florida and really hadn’t been around for a while.”
Bruce asked, “So this was the summer of 1992?”
“Uh-huh,” Monica nodded.
“Okay,” Bruce continued, “What happened when he didn’t show up for your mom at the hospital?”
“She sort of freaked out. First she was forty four years old and there were complications during the pregnancy and with the birth itself. She ended up going in to labor while the baby was in a breach position and had to have a Caesarean section to deliver. Due to her age, she ended up in the hospital for a full week. Every day she sank deeper and deeper into a depression as dad never called or showed up.”
“This is really strange,” Bruce interrupted. “We were on a year long voyage. He had to know that your mom was pregnant. He had to know he was going to miss that birth, unless, “Bruce stopped mid-sentence.”
“Unless what?” Monica queried.
“Unless he had no intention of missing the birth at all.”
“Think about it this way Monica. Here is a man that has been living a lie for what? Most of his life? For all we know there are other Patterson families out there. If he could pull off two what is to say that he couldn’t pull off three or four?”
“Bruce, you don’t really believe that do you?”
“Honestly, I have no idea what to believe anymore. I thought he was the greatest guy in the world, but now I don’t even know if I even knew who he was. How am I supposed to know if that ‘twenty-fifth anniversary excursion’ was nothing more than a way to dispose of one family?”
“You can’t be serious,” Monica said.
“Why not? How many boats run into trouble within the first year of an expedition and also lose all radio connectivity? What if he planned it from the beginning? He sabotaged the boat. He disabled the radio. Problem was he hadn’t planned for the storm.”
Monica shook her head in disbelief, “I cannot believe that of the man I knew.”
“Yeah, but did you really know him at all?” Bruce asked, “Was he there for you whenever you needed him? Was he always bringing home presents after a long trip? Did you ever see where he worked? All of those questions are now the only thing I think about. But I still want to know how your mom figured it out.”
Monica’s green eyes glared at Bruce. “You sound just like him!”
“Is that a good thing of a bad thing?”
“I really don’t know anymore.” She answered as tears slid down her cheeks. “How do I justify that I had a father that I loved and adored and now I find out he wasn’t who I thought he was.”
“I don’t think justification is required. WE didn’t do anything wrong. He did. Now I just want to find out as much as I can. Is it possible to go talk with your mom?”
“I don’t know,” Monica replied.
“Is it possible to go search for mine?” Bruce asked.
Monica’s head jerked up. “Do you think she knew?”
Bruce shrugged his shoulders and replied, “I think she had her suspicions.”
“Come on,” she said to Bruce, “We’re going to the map room.”
Monica and Bruce entered the room and startled both Stuart and Lyle who had been combing over a particular map. “What can we do for you?” Lyle asked.
Monica said, “I want to pull out a blank chart of a course from Texas to Bermuda, add in storm activity in August of 1992 and try to retrace the course of the lost ship.”
Stuart responded, “We have done that several times.”
“I’m aware of that, but we never had a participant in the activities join in charting.” Looking towards Bruce she added, “Bruce we really need you to try and remember all the details from seven years ago. Nothing small should be left out.”
The four of them sat around a very large table and started to work.