XIX. Still September
The next few minutes passed as a blur for Cooper. Al called for assistance to help with Ant. A bomb squad was dispatched to the hotel room to inspect the bomb. Another team arrived to apprehend the suspect. Through it all, Cooper stayed with Ant. He even insisted on riding in the ambulance with him. The connection he felt with the man couldn’t be explained and it even surprised him. All he knew is Ant had to be okay. He just had to be.
And so, when he overheard a couple of agents talking about how the suspect had gotten away and was no where to be found, he didn’t register his disappointment in losing the opportunity to look for the notebook. For the first time since he knew its name, the Samson Pill was far from his thoughts.
A big, surly medic refused to let Cooper ride in the ambulance but Al intervened with a cooler head and was able to persuade the medic to let Cooper get in. Of course, she had to tell a little lie that the two were related but Cooper didn’t care.
The doors closed and Cooper looked down at Ant. For the first time since he met him, the man looked feeble and weak. He did not look like the Ant Cooper knew.
“We have a male, approximately mid-fifties, with a gun shot wound to the stomach,” a medic sitting in the front said over the radio.
“What’s your relation to him?” the big medic taking care of Ant asked Cooper.
“Uh,” Cooper said not comprehending the question. “I’m his…”
“He’s going to need blood,” another medic cut in. Her hands were working fast to adjust a needle. “Do you know if you are a match?”
“What’s his name?” the big medic asked.
Finally, a question Cooper knew the answer to. “Ant Luck.”
“Huh, okay,” the medic replied. “Ant, as if in Anthony, Luck,” he repeated. “Hey Ant,” he said calmly. “I have an uncle named Anthony. He goes by Tony. I should suggest he go by Ant. Sounds cooler.”
Tony? Cooper thought. All at once, the missing piece fell into place and Cooper finally could see the whole picture. Or, at least, what he thought was the whole picture. The one person who could verify it though was not currently at maximum coherency.
“I am his nephew,” Cooper said quietly.
“What?” the medic next to him asked.
“I am his nephew. But I don’t know his blood type. If we are a match, I will donate mine though.” For the rest of the ride, Cooper sat quietly as he reviewed all the information he had gathered the last few months. By the time they arrived at the hospital he only had one question left. Was he right?
It took a week before he could finally ask Ant about his theory.
Team Coop or Ant (depending who you asked) were all in Ant’s hospital room. He had pulled through and was finally up to receiving more than one visitor at a time. Malone sat in a chair, Al stood by his bed, and Cooper hung back by the window.
“You gave us quite a scare,” Al said. “Glad you’re okay, partner.”
“Yeah, this man,” Malone said, “this man is too tough to die. Death probably took one look at him and backed off.”
Ant gave a weak laugh. “I think I might have used up all nine lives on this one.”
“You might say,” Cooper chimed in, “you are one lucky man. Hey, maybe that should be your name. Oh, wait, it already is.”
Ant nodded. “True.”
Nope, he was not going to let Cooper in even now.
The four continued with pleasantries for another five minutes.
“You look awful,” Al said with her usual bluntness. “We better let you get some rest.”
Malone stood up. “I think you’re looking pretty good for a man shot in the stomach.”
“C’mon,” Al narrowed her eyes.
“I’ll catch up with you later,” Cooper said.
“He needs his rest,” Al said protectively.
“It’s okay,” Ant said. “The kid can stay. I need to thank him properly for saving my life, after all.”
“Yeah,” Cooper said. “Imagine the luck of having the same blood type.”
Al nodded and her and Malone walked out of the room.
“So, I guess you know,” Ant said quietly.
“What’s that? That you’re my uncle, my mom’s brother?” Cooper didn’t move from his spot by the window. “That you were probably responsible for me getting my hands on the pill? That you were there when my mom died? That you let my mom believe her brother was dead? That you never reached out to dad or me – your family – all those years? That you didn’t think it was important to introduce yourself with even a ‘hi Coop, by the way I’m your uncle?”
Cooper thought about it. “One more. You know all about the Samson Pill and yet you don’t share anything about it with me. It is your fault I came into contact with it. You should be willing to help me navigate through all this. Instead, everything I know about it has come from me reading files I had to steal, uh, borrow. Why are you not willing to disclose what you know with me?”
Ant paused. “Done?”
Cooper nodded. “For now.”
“Listen here,” his voice was weak but stern. “Your mother, my sister, was the most important person in my life. She was the only family I had left. Don’t think for a moment that I didn’t love her or that she was more important to you than me. I loved her and I miss her every day of my life.”
Cooper’s posture relaxed a little.
“I had just completed a special assignment to retrieve the pill when your mom called. She insisted I come over to meet my new nephew. Your mom,” he smiled, “was very persuasive. I couldn’t tell her no. At the time, I didn’t know what I had in my possession. I only knew people were getting killed for it. So, I hid the pill in your house. I had a meeting later that night with someone who was interested in it. My intent was to retrieve it the next day. But the next day didn’t happen for me.”
“Mom told me you were shot during an undercover drug sting. Your body fell into the river and was never recovered,” Cooper scrunched his nose. “Obviously.”
“Most of that is true. Except the drug sting was all about one drug, the Samson Pill. Until I figured out what it was and why it was in high demand I wanted to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. That’s why I hid it. I do wish I had hid it better, if that helps.”
Cooper nodded. “Maybe a little.”
“I was shot and fell into the river, that much is true. But I woke up on the bank downstream. A couple of homeless guys found me and somehow got me to the hospital. All that is a pretty big blank for me actually. I just know that I woke up in a government hospital a few months later. My superiors had already declared my death and given me a new name. Tony Layton died in the river but Ant Luck was born in the river that day. Luck because they called it pure luck that I was still alive.” He snorted. “My mission was to take down the man that had shot me. He is a powerful old man that has used his riches to get whatever he wants. The one thing that eluded him though was the Samson Pill. At first, he wanted it for his grandson but he outlived his grandson and original motive. After his grandson died he still wanted it.”
“Who knows? Just to get more rich I guess. Or maybe to prove a point.”
“You had nine years to retrieve the pill, why didn’t you come for it?”
“Honestly, I thought it was long gone. I figured your dad would have finished the closet and it would have been tossed if it was found. I thought it was best Ant Luck stay away from Tony Layton’s life. That way, how would anyone trace Ant Luck back to Tony Layton? There shouldn’t have been a connection,” his eyes looked to a faraway place. “That was the whole point. There shouldn’t have been any connection.”
Only the beeping of the hospital equipment could be heard.
“But this man is rich and powerful. He had connections on the inside that betrayed me. Once he found out about my sister, he left no stone unturned. By the time I discovered his lead he was a step ahead of me.”
“That’s why you were there that night,” Cooper said slowly.
“That’s why I was there that night,” he quickly blinked back tears and regained his composure. “I blame myself for that night.”
Another moment of silence. before Cooper spoke, “I blame that old man. He was the one who did this. All of this,” he swept his hand in front of him and then pointed to himself. “So now, we are going to use it all to our advantage and bring him down.”
He sat next to Ant. “Who is this man?”
“His name is Jacob Peterson and he was at the hotel. He is the one who shot me.”