It was just an ordinary day in Toonerville when I got the phone call.
As was all too common I was catching up on my paperwork at the shop. I run a Mr. Fixit kind of business, and have done all right by myself if I do say so myself. When I left High School I had dreams of being a big corporate bigwig, started accounting courses at the local University. Doing all right there, too.
What got me going on "You Broke It, Let Andy Fix it" was a need for ready cash. Hey, I was young and thought I was in love. But Karen, the girl I was in love with, turned out to be high maintenance.
You know what I mean. Karen wanted to be dined and not at Arby's or McDonald's. Even back then a good dinner for two at a class place set me back at least $50. And that didn't count parking, not at the best restaurant in town, either. Everything she wanted to do cost bucks, more than a poor college boy could afford.
By chance a friend of my mothers, Mable Twinning, needed some simple electrical stuff done, so I did it. She was impressed and asked if she could tell her girl friends about me. Mable was 63 years old, widowed and active at the Senior Center in town among other places. Somewhere around like the third call I got asking for help from women Mable told about me I decided I could help the ladies, but would have to charge. I gave them a pretty reasonable rate, never gouged them, and did a good job.
It didn't take long until I was making pretty good money just myself and word of mouth. That summer that's all I did, no "summer" job. At the end of the summer I had banked $5700! And I was backlogged on simple repairs. I had broken up with Karen by that time and was kind of down. So I took Fall Quarter off at the University. Spent my time fixing things for little old ladies instead.
After expenses I banked $7200 that quarter. That was really good money in those days. On top of that I found Marcia, the woman who really was the love of my life. So I made my part time job a full time small business. I've never looked back since. Now I ran a shop with ten trucks and repairmen. I did most of the dispatching now, after all those years in business I seldom went out myself.
And that's where the phone call came in. It was Lucy Berenski. She had been expecting George, one of my best repairmen, to arrive to fix her dishwasher by 2:30 that afternoon. He didn't show up until after 5:00 and the garden club had already started showing up for the meeting at her place. She was ticked off pretty good.
I checked George's schedule. He had a full afternoon of calls on his calendar. I called a couple of the earlier stops and discovered he must have taken a really long lunch break. I had set him up with a 12:30 appointment which he deigned to get to sometime after 3:30. George made all his calls and seemed to have done good work in a remarkably short time, but I'd had two more calls by the time I unraveled his schedule. All of them were upset because George had been late and screwed something up they had planned doing after he fixed something. In particular he had screwed up the schedule of members of The Garden Club who were all particularly good clients of mine.
I began checking his log for the week and discovered George had taken a late lunch yesterday afternoon also. In three cases he even called and rescheduled the appointment himself. That was a no no, but forgivable. He made the repairs on what I considered after hours time. Looking over his logs this seemed to be the only week he had done this. As I was closing his log I happened to riff through the earlier weeks. I discovered he had done the same thing last month. That week last month he had cut himself a block of time out of the middle of his day, just like today.
Two things jumped into my mind. The first was wondering what he was doing when he was expected to be on company business. The second was, "How stupid was this man? Didn't he know the logs were checked randomly?"
Anyway, this got my whiskers twitching. What was going on here? On the surface it didn't seem like much. On the other hand one of the things I had been giving for years was a promise that we could and would keep a scheduled appointment. This allowed customers to plan their lives around the repair instead of having to set a whole afternoon, or even a whole day aside to be there when my man showed.
I was already planning to ask him what was up when he got in tomorrow when he showed up. Then I looked outside and it was really nice out. It just seemed like a good time to get things straightened up. And I could make an early day of it myself while enjoying the sunshine. So I asked Glenda, my Girl Friday, to handle the phone and went out to see what was going on.
I caught up with George on his fourth call. It was only 10:00 and he hadn't been scheduled for this call until 11:30. Something weird was going on, so I parked down the street and watched. I was driving my own car, not one of the company trucks so it was unlikely he would notice me. I mean, no problem with him making his calls at times other than those I scheduled as long as he didn't upset customers, but he didn't seem to have been clearing it with them. And then I had that promise I'd made my customers.
George finished his call and was driving down the street by 10:20. He was seriously ahead of schedule and things were looking weirder all the time. I fell in a couple blocks behind and followed.
We were in a quiet residential neighborhood so I couldn't get close, but it was easy following with no traffic on the street. And I had his schedule too. It was even easier for me, my house was only a few blocks to the South. It got easier, George turned South on Madison, which is the street I live on.
Then he parked in my driveway.
It stopped me for a moment until I realized he had no idea this was my home.
That was a story in itself. When our son Larry was born he was a sickly youngster. Until then Marcia had been helping in the office. For a while she hadn't left home to do the office work. The office had been in one corner of the living room.
I'd hired a couple guys to help and was running three trucks. That's when I hired Glenda's predecessor and rented office space with a garage attached. The business was still there. I owned it now and had cut back to ten trucks last year. That was a manageable number.
This is a long way to get around to explaining why no one knew where I lived. Along with that, most had never met Marcia, either.
Larry grew up, got lots loving care and exercise, and sloughed off the early health problems. Marcia stayed home, hadn't even been to one of our office Christmas parties in years. The one she threw for our friends and neighbors was twice as big and took all her time.
And Larry went away to college on a baseball scholarship!
Marcia and I never moved from that first home. We'd fixed it up a bit, but it had three comfortable bedrooms and sat on a large lot. It was home and as much as we needed.
The upshot of all this was still the same? George didn't know where I lived and had never been introduced to my wife.
Didn't matter if he knew who lived here, Gorgeous George had just parked in my driveway and my stomach was almost ready to turn itself inside out. What was the jerk doing at my place? That's his nickname at the shop, Gorgeous George. He's 6 foot 1 inches tall, a lean, mean son of a bitch with long, long blonde hair. He weighs maybe 210 pounds. He'd been in a few fights so his profile wasn't all that neat, but the women seemed to think it gave him a sexy dangerous look. They were right on the dangerous part. It was about then I realized lover boy hadn't been bragging this week about his newest conquest.
Every week the SOB made a point of bragging about his latest squeeze. None of them seemed to last more than a week or two. What had always upset me was the number of married ladies he seduced.
He was a womanizer of the worst sort, preferring older married women, he was 31 years old and liked his women to be late 30's to well preserved early 50's. Marcia was more than well preserved at 47. She was a knock out. I loved her dearly.
I stopped up the street and watched him get out of his truck and ring my doorbell. In a moment the door opened and he strutted in. I didn't see who let him in but at that hour my wife would be the only one home unless some of her friends had come by for a coffee klatch.
For a few minutes I just sat and thought. After ten minutes slipped away I drove up to the house and parked in the driveway alongside the company truck George was driving. Getting out I checked inside the truck and saw George had lived up to his bad habits. The truck door was unlocked and the keys were still in the ignition.
Being the company owner I had my own set of keys so I left his in the ignition. I did lock all the doors to the truck, along with those of my sedan. Leaving both vehicles in the driveway I paced to the front door. I found my front door was locked as it was supposed to be.
The damned sexual predator wasn't supposed to be in my house. Except for that everything was as it should be. I had a key to my own front door of course, so I let myself in.
By this time I was seriously pissed. In the entry hall I pulled Larry's little league bat out of the closet. I'd often wondered why I hadn't taken the time to put it someplace out of the way. Now I knew.
.... There is more of this story ...