Thanks to the knee doctor for editing assistance.
I really hated the gatherings at the county club every few weeks. It seems like they had a million excuses to justify some sort of frivolous party so that a bunch of rich people could get together and take ego trips. My wife, Sandra, loved to go and seemed to look forward to them. Unfortunately, the last year or so she started drinking too much and sometimes ended up embarrassing herself or me. Sandra and I had been married for twenty-four years. We had three children: all in college. I met my wife when I was getting my MBA and we seemed to hit it off from the start. Things started cooling down between us about ten years ago, and I assumed it was natural. I would have appreciated a little more affection and a little more sex, but hated to push it. I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that the rest of my life would be less than romantic.
I had a good job and made good money, in fact it was great. Putting three kids through college took a big chunk out of the budget and savings, but we were still well off. Of course, Sandra didn't have to work and didn't want to. Her time was spent doing community work and social activities. My income was necessary to support that. She still looked good for her age. I think a lot of that was a result of many trips to the spa and beauty salon.
I was sort of average; a little bulge around the middle and a little gray on the temples. I dressed well because of my job and my wife's love of shopping. I was good at my job but not really happy. I was ready to try something new, something that I would enjoy, and not have to worry about how much it paid. I also wanted to move somewhere else. The house was way too large for the two of us and I hated the cost and time involved in keeping it up. My wife would not even consider discussing such ridiculous ideas. She wanted her big house, county club, and wealthy friends.
At one such gathering, I wandered around the club joining in little conversations here and there about stupid things. The night was getting old and I was nursing my last drink for an hour or so. Sandra, on the other hand, was just getting up to steam. It appeared that she had been drinking a little more than usual and it was showing. Eight or ten of the local dowagers were sitting together having a cat chat as I walked up. The conversation seemed to be about sex. That was my signal to turn the other way. As I turned to exit the room, I heard my wife in a louder than normal voice,
"Hell, if it wasn't for Todd Mitchell, I would never have had any good sex in my lifetime."
The group grew suddenly quiet. Some of the ladies had noticed me standing close by. As if clued by the lack of laughter, Sandra turned and saw me. The excess alcohol was definitely having an effect on her judgment.
"Robert, I didn't know you were standing there. You were not supposed to hear that darling. I'm sorry, my bad." She followed that up with a few drunken giggles, like a little girl.
The ladies sitting in the immediate area did not know how to react. A few of them walked away quietly and the rest just sat without talking. Sandra was looking at me with a silly smirk on her face like she just did something mischievous.
I placed my glass on a nearby table, and slowly left the room and the club. I didn't go home. I went to the airport and thirty minutes later was on a commuter flight to Reno. I liked Reno far better than Las Vegas.
My relationship with Sandra now became a lot clearer. I was able to understand things that had eluded me before. A weekend in Reno would help clarify a few more things. I turned my cell phone off.
I had no trouble getting a room at one of the casinos. I opened an account for twenty thousand dollars and the comp room quickly followed. Interesting thing about the casino accounts: since they are not banks, they are not under federal regulations, and no reports are required to the government. If you win big bucks on a slot or at Keno it must be reported, but anything you deposit in your account is not traceable. I was not really interested in gambling of any type, but I did like their banking set up. By the time I woke up it was noon on Saturday.
I was analyzing my situation over a burger and fries. I liked Reno. The climate was comfortable because of the high altitude. I had to take a walk down by the Truckee to pay my respects to all the broken marriages. I wasn't planning on a Reno divorce, but I might like to add my ring to the riverbed at a later date. Going back to the hotel/casino, I passed a realtor's office with lots of pictures in the front display window. All of a sudden, a condo in Reno started to make sense. After an hour in the office and two hours driving around, I found a small, furnished unit that I really liked. The trouble was, I couldn't buy it while I was married. Luckily, I was able to swing a discrete, lease-to-buy agreement with a big deposit. The big deposit was my idea and the seller loved it.
One of the best decisions I made, early in my marriage, was to manage and control the family finances myself. Sandra did not have a knack for figures or banking. She was more than happy to let me pay the bills as long as she could spend the money. I treated myself to a beautiful sushi supper that evening. Before going to bed, I deposited another ten thousand dollars, from my Visa card, into the casino fund. I hated paying the cash advance fee, but figured in this case, it was worth it.
I was up bright and early the next morning and was able to catch breakfast in the casino restaurant. Eggs, bacon, hash browns, and toast hit the spot. I was trying to kill time with my second cup of coffee when I noticed my waitress had a big shiner. She was trying to hide it by combing her hair forward but it wasn't working. She was a nice looking girl in her mid-forties. I watched her flit from table to table, doing her best to keep everyone happy. I got the feeling that this was something new to her, because she was trying too hard. An experienced waitress would have been a little smoother and more confident. She seemed determined to do a good job and I admired that.
"Your name tag says Donna. Is that your real name?"
"No. My name is Dora, but Donna was the closest tag they had."
"Well Dora, I will have one more cup of coffee and I promise to leave a big tip if you tell me about the black eye."
"Why don't I pour you a refill and you can leave a smaller tip and I'll ignore your question?"
"Fair enough. It was rude of me to pry."
I already had the key to the condo, so I decided to get a few things to set up housekeeping. First stop was down the street at the Silver Spur used car lot. I grabbed a Focus sedan with more miles on it than I care to mention. It wouldn't be too good for a long trip, but OK to run around in. I guess I could have rented, but I was planning on coming back on a regular basis for a while. For a couple hundred dollars, I was able to get all I needed to live comfortably, including a few changes of clothes. The rest of the day, I spent opening accounts at several casinos. I wrote checks made out to the place I was at. The money went into my account and disappeared. No audit trail. By the end of the day I had deposited sixty thousand dollars at four different casinos. I got a small spiral notebook I could carry in my pocket and entered the amounts, date, and casino name. This was a chronological record of the money I lost gambling over the weekend. Of course I hadn't bet a dime, but who was going to challenge me. Everyone knew I was a lousy Poker player, so any losses I had at roulette, craps, or blackjack would be believable. I had six months to come up with the down payment for the condo. That should be no problem.
I totally forgot about lunch, so by the time supper rolled around, I was starved. The easiest place to go was where I had breakfast. As luck would have it, Dora was my waitress.
"Why are you still here? Looks like a long day."
"I have to work double shifts to get by. I didn't think rent would be so high here. What would you like to drink?"
It was better not to be too nosey. I ordered my meal and tried to be a good boy for the rest of the time. When I finished, she brought my check and stopped for a moment. "I'm sorry for being so short with you this morning. I am having a hard time getting used to being here, and I am a little self conscious about the eye. It was a parting present from my husband, when I told him I was coming here to get a divorce. It's not the first one, but I hope it will be the last. Thanks for the nice tip at breakfast, by the way. It helps."
She smiled as she walked away, but it was a sad smile. I thought about her the rest of the night. That night, I concluded that there was not much more I could do right way. I had to get home to take care of a few things before I could set up anything else here. I had no trouble getting a flight lined up for the return trip, but was unsure what I was going to do when I got there.
Dora was working the next morning and I was able to get one of her tables. I stopped her when she dropped off the check, after the meal.
"I have a small problem and I was wondering if you could help me out? I have to leave today, and won't be back for a week or so. I need someone to house sit for me. It's a two-bedroom condo, so you wouldn't have to worry about any living conflicts. Could you possible help me out? It will be for at least a couple months."
"Are you serious? No strings attached?"
"I hate to leave the place alone. Ninety percent of the time it will be just you, and when I am here, I will stay out of your way. Promise."
I really didn't care if somebody broke in and cleaned the place out. There wasn't that much to lose. I couldn't let Dora know that.
"Ok. Is it within walking distance of the diner?"
"It is pretty close, but I am leaving you my car also. Make sure it always has gas for when I come back. I will call you ahead of time. There is a machine on the phone."
Dora just stood and looked at me. I think she was afraid that it was a set-up. I didn't have time to convince her otherwise.
"Here is the condo key and the car key. The car is parked at the condo. It is a dark blue, Ford Focus. Here is the address for the condo. If you don't feel comfortable about it, don't go. I will pick up the keys when I come back next Friday." I wrote the address on a napkin and handed it to her.
She took the napkin and keys and just looked at me." Dora, don't worry about it. If you do, it's fine. If you decide not to, it's still fine."
An hour later, I was on my flight home. I would have rather stayed in Reno. After picking up my car at the long-term lot, I drove by the house. Sandra's car was gone, so I decided to get a few things for the rest of the week. I loaded the car with underwear, clothes, shoes and my laptop. It took less than ten minutes. I also got my passport and birth certificate. The company had several kitchenette type units on consignment. My position authorized me to use one of them as I saw fit. I reserved it for the next two weeks. I put the laptop battery on the charger, and then called my eldest son, Jason. I told him that his mother and I were having some domestic problems and I would be tied up for a while. I ask him to explain it to his sisters, and tell them not to worry. All three of them were at Auburn. I got a group discount, but still had to pay out-of-state tuition. At least I could afford it. I hung up, put the cell phone on a charger, and hit the shower. The only thing I got to eat on the plane was a bag of peanuts. I was looking forward to a nice supper.
Monday was a busy day. Before doing anything else I went to the bank and got a second mortgage on the house: a big one. I now owed more on the house than it was worth. By the end of this month, that would change. I contacted Auburn, directly from the bank, and we reached an agreement on prepaid tuition for the kids. The bank wired two hundred and forty thousand dollars directly to the school. That left me with a cashier's check for just over two hundred thousand, to take to Reno. I cashed in two CD's, and paid the penalty, and closed out the Money Market Account. I decided to leave the credit cards alone until the end of the month. By that time I was late for work.
My faithful secretary was waiting with black coffee and a silly grin.
"Good morning Mister Terrell. Are you going to tell me about what happened at the county club Friday, or am I going to have to believe all the rumors?"
"Emily, the rumors are all true. Anything else you need to know?"
Without blinking an eye, she responded, "What do you want me to do, to help?"
"Get me everything you can on Todd Mitchell. I think he used to work here, but I am not sure. Arrange to have all my scheduled work done by some of the staff and don't give them a reason why. Any appointments or meetings I have set up should be shifted also. Any questions so far?"
I got a big smile and a thumbs-up from Emily as she left the office.
I had originally figured it would take me several weeks to arrange my affairs, but now I see that it could all be done in a week. I called my lawyer and arranged an immediate appointment. On the way out, I informed Emily that I was not taking or responding to any phone calls from my wife. Security was not to allow her in the building.
Jerry Proctor was a friend of mine from college. We liked each other, but Jerry never did like Sandra. I figured he would be the perfect guy to handle my divorce.
"I was at the country club Friday, Robert, so I think I know why you are here."
"You are right."
"I am not being a smart ass, Bob, but it is about time."
"You are right again. I figured as long as I wasn't being publicly humiliated, I could stand it. That ended Friday."
"I need access to all of your accounts, and a couple of powers of attorney. I'll have my girl prepare everything, and then give you a call. Anything special I should be aware of?"
"Well, Jerry, I am afraid the trauma of what happened Friday triggered something in me. I find that I have become addicted to gambling. I spent the weekend in Reno, and lost thousands and thousands of dollars. I am going back next weekend and I am afraid it will be worse."
"Gee, good buddy. That is terrible. I assume you are keeping some kind of record or documentation of all of these loses." Jerry had a big smile on his face.
"I have and I will. I guess it would be a good idea if I send you copies of everything."
"Most definitely. You know Bob I don't think we should talk about this any more. Do you?"
"You are right. Do you need anything else?"
"I'm good Bob. Get the hell out of here and take care of business. Take this financial worksheet with you. Fill it out and bring it back when you come in to sign those forms tomorrow. I got your back buddy."
It was about that time, I realized I missed lunch.
Emily had a nice little sheet waiting for me with information about Todd Mitchell. She recommended I speak to Wilma Grimm in the personnel department before doing anything else.
Wilma had been with the company forever. She ran a tight ship and did a good job. She always wore a business suit and always had her hair in a tight bun. Her confidence made her a little intimidating to anyone who met her. If Emily wanted me to see her, it must be important.
"Good afternoon Mister Terrell. Have a seat." She was trying to put me at ease, but it wasn't working. It was like being in a room with a nun teacher. I was a grown man, in an important position, and I was in awe of this woman. She shut her office door.
"Emily gave me a run down of what is going on. I don't contribute to office gossip but I do deal in facts. Todd Mitchell came to me in confidence three years ago. I swore I would not tell anyone what was discussed at that time, but it appears I cannot keep that promise. If at any time you are offended by something I say, please get up and leave and our discussion will be ended. If you don't like what you hear, do not get mad at me. I am just giving you the facts. Do you understand Mister Terrell?"
"Yes, I understand. I think I am mature enough to accept whatever you tell me without throwing a temper tantrum."
She gave a slight frown at my pathetic attempt to be humorous.
"About three and a half years ago your wife, Sandra, approached Todd Mitchell at a company function. Drinking was heavy that night, and before the evening was over Todd and Sandra were having sex in one of the private offices. Todd was going to get married the next month. Sandra threatened to tell his fiancé unless he continued to meet her for sex. He was hoping that after he got married, she would leave him alone, but she didn't. She was forcing him to have sex with her for several months, under the threat of exposure. In desperation, he came to me for help. Of course he had to tell me the whole story. Naturally, I could not in good conscience, tell you, or anyone else. The best solution I had was to transfer Todd to another office. After his relocation to Dallas, Sandra left him alone. Todd never told his wife about the problem. Any questions?"
"It looks like Mister Mitchell was as big a victim in this fiasco as I was. I was contemplating some type of retribution, but that seems a little foolish now. Any recommendations Miss Grimm?"
"Now that you know, you have the power. I think you should just let it die. Todd Mitchell is a good employee and an asset to the company. Don't screw him up over something your wife did."
"Thanks for your time. I think you are right. Being forced to have sex with my wife is punishment enough."
As we got up, Wilma smiled. "By the way it is not Miss, I have been married for 32 years."
It was hard to imagine Wilma Grimm naked, in bed with a man. However, maybe, when she lets her hair down, she turns into some kind of sex goddess. All of a sudden, I found myself thinking of a dominatrix, and decided to mentally change the subject. I had more important things to worry about than Wilma's love life.
Emily had rescheduled all my work, and I had a clean slate. My wife called three times, and refused to believe I was in Baltimore, as Emily said. Emily set up an appointment for me with the company president the next day and one with the legal department for that afternoon. I asked Emily to have supper with me. She laughed and said her husband would disapprove. She suggested I ask Wilma and laughed again.
It took longer in the legal department than I had anticipated and I ended up keeping a few of the people overtime. I apologized, but they all seemed to understand. It turned out to be more complicated than I thought it would be. Redeeming my retirement plan for a cash settlement was difficult. Closing out the 401K and shared saving account went smoothly but took time. Cashing in my sick time, vacation time, and company insurance was easier than most of the things. By then, it was pretty apparent that I was leaving the company. I was hoping that it wouldn't leak back to my wife, before I was done.
I ended up eating supper alone. For some odd reason I thought about Dora during the meal. I wondered if she moved into the condo. Was she still working a double shift? Although I hardly knew her, I was anxious to get back to Reno and see her. It seemed a little juvenile, and I tried to put it out of my mind. It was foolish to waste time thinking about fantasies that would never be.
The next morning I cashed in two Whole Life insurance policies, and cancelled two term policies. I was amazed at the cash value the Whole Life policies had grown to. I could pick up the checks the next morning. My car was covered by the company insurance, but I cancelled the insurance on Sandra's Lexus. The lease was in her name, but the insurance was in mine. Before going into work, I swung by Jerry's office, dropped off the financial form, and signed a bunch of papers his secretary had ready. Emily had coffee ready when I got back to the office.
"It is not my intention to rub salt into your wounds boss, but you need to talk to Calvin Bostic, down in settlements before you see Richard." Richard Ryder was the president of the company. I felt pretty sure that he already knew what I wanted to see him about. The settlements division was really down in the basement, to be exact. I don't know why everyone else got windows and sunlight and they got the dungeon.
"Calvin, Emily said you wanted to talk to me."
Calvin Bostic was a quiet guy who always got his work done. He was a no-nonsense type of guy: dull but efficient. He steered me over to a private corner.
"I heard that things were coming to a head in your office. I am not into gossip or rumors, but I felt you needed to know something. About six years ago we had a guy here in our office named Raymond Upright. He was an OK guy, married with two kids. He got hooked up with your wife after an office party. She kept calling him, at home, and here in the office. He knew he made a mistake, and wanted to end it, but she wouldn't let him. She threatened to tell his wife, if he tried to dump her. The dumb shit called her bluff. Two days later, Ray's wife kicked him out. He started drinking and ended up losing his job. I don't know where he is now. Anyhow, Ray's wife threatened to tell you, about your wife's affair. As I understand it, your wife gave her ten grand to shut up. I have no proof about that last part."
"Thanks Cal. I wonder if anybody else has some good news for me?"
"I wasn't trying to get you upset Mister Terrell, but Emily said I should tell you."
"You did the right thing. I appreciate it."
I took the elevator straight up to the ninth floor. I was a little early for my appointment with Mister Ryder, but he took me right in. It was short and it was precise. The legal department, personnel department, and payroll, would take care of everything for me. When the smoke settled, I was to call him personally, from wherever I was. He gave me a card with his private cell number on the back. There were no promises, no regrets, and no bullshit. Although things were wrapped up on one hand, they were kept open on the other. I gave him a simple nod and left. I hadn't spoken a word.
Emily was all smiles when I got back to the office. She handed me the usual cup of coffee. I smiled back and said. "Get me a flight to Reno for Thursday morning, with a two hour layover in Dallas."
She made a motion with her head for me to look out the window. Sandra was down in the parking lot arguing with a security guard.
"She's been down there over twenty minutes. They won't let her in and she won't leave. What do you want to do boss?"
"Looks like the guards have everything under control. The only problem I have, is finding somebody to have supper with. I hate to eat alone."
I called Jerry to see how things were going. He said he couldn't do anything until I straightened out the financial mess. I had to show him that I had no money. Right now, I was loaded. Between the checks I had, those that were coming, and the cash in the bank, I was a wealthy man. I promised I would go to Reno early, and not come back until I was flat broke. Every once in a while, somebody would stick their head in the door, and tell me that my wife wanted me to call her. She was having all her girl friends call their husbands at work to find me.
I hung around the office for a few more hours cleaning things up, so that it would be easier for my replacement. Sandra was sitting on the hood of my car, waiting for me to come out. Emily smiled and handed me the keys to her Honda Civic. She said it was a good excuse to get her hubby to pick her up, and take her out for dinner.
"By the way, you are not going to do anything stupid in Dallas, Are you?"
"No, just tying up some loose ends. No vengeance, I promise."
I drove to Allentown and had my supper at the Outback. I was back in my apartment before midnight.
The next morning went fast. I signed more papers for Jerry, closed all the bank accounts, and cancelled all the credit cards. I even arranged to have all the utilities turned off at the house the next week. I picked up checks at the bank, insurance company, and at work. I had no idea I was worth so much money. I got a new cell phone and cancelled the ones that Sandra and I presently had. I sold my county club membership to an old friend, for twenty three thousand dollars.
My replacement was in place when I stopped in at work for the last time. He seemed like a nice fellow. He got there from Boston with a twenty-four hour notice. He knew it was a good move for him. Emily knew more about running the office than I did, so it was not necessary for me to train him. There were some things at the house I wish I had, but they were not important enough for me to go back for. Emily told me to keep her car and she would have her hubby pick it up at the airport. I had to get a couple of cheap suitcases to put my stuff in at the apartment. Anything I forgot, I could buy in Reno. All of a sudden, I realized that I had done everything I could do. All my assets were now in cash. There were no stocks, no accounts, and nothing else of value, except the house, which I was giving to my wife.
Air Blue was very accommodating. They had some seats available and were more than willing to move my flight up. I called Jerry at home.
"Hey, buddy. Just wanted to let you know I am cutting out tonight. I assume you have everything you need."
"I'm good, Bob. I can actually serve the papers tomorrow, but I still need that financial information as soon as possible."
"You might as well go ahead and give them to her. I will start sending you some proof of financial irresponsibility, as soon as I can."
"Be careful, Bob. I don't want to see either one of us get into trouble. I am sure Sandra will get a big shot to help her, probably from Philly. Of course he will be on contingency and could bail on her, as soon as things start to look bad."
"It's all up to you Jerry. Do the best you can for me. Just don't pad the bill too much. I am going to be a very poor man soon. Don't forget that. One more thing: see if you can locate a guy named Raymond Upright. There is a good chance he could use a little help. Depending on the circumstances, I might be the one to do that."
"Got it, Bobby. Have a good flight and keep in touch."
I called the condo and left a message on the machine that I would be arriving later that night. I told her I would call, and I didn't want her to be alarmed, when she heard somebody at the door. At this point I didn't know if she would be there or not. I could hope. It was odd that, I didn't even know this lady, and yet I was hoping to have a relationship, of some sort with her. At this point, just having her as a friend would be fine. Her situation made her vulnerable, and I didn't want to seem like I was taking advantage of it.
I arrived at Dallas early enough to have a comfortable breakfast. I was waiting in Todd Mitchell's office when he came in. I could tell he wasn't happy to see me.
"Mister Terrell. I would like to say it is nice to see you, but I would not be telling the truth. I think we both know that."
"Relax Todd. I hope you don't mind my being a little familiar. I am not here to bust your chops. I just wanted to let you know that I understand the situation you were in a while back, and that there are no hard feelings."
"You could have done that on the phone."
"I know, but it was on my way and I felt it was worth my time to clear the air."
"I don't understand. Why would you want to do this? I am the one that screwed up. I should be apologizing to you for what happened. You didn't do a damn thing wrong. I was young and foolish and made a terrible mistake. To this day, I am too ashamed to even tell my wife."
"You were partially to blame for what happened Todd, but I feel that most of the problem was caused by my wife. What she did, created problems for you, and now for me. I am not saying that you were completely innocent, but it was not entirely your fault. I don't want you to carry around any more guilt than you have to, because my loving wife was a slut."
"That very generous of you to say that. I don't know what to say or what to do in return."
I reached over and handed him one of Jerry's cards. "Later today, give my lawyer a call. There is a possibility that he might ask you to do something for me. It will be very discreet. He might say that he needs nothing at this time. At the most, I expect he will ask for a notarized statement confirming the affair. I promise that it will not get back to your wife."
I got up and we shook hands. It felt odd, since this was one of the men who cuckolded me, but I thought it was appropriate. Todd Mitchell was a fine man and didn't deserve to have his life compromised for one indiscretion, even though it had happened several times.
An hour later, I was back on my flight to Reno. I was trying to figure out what I did wrong. I worked hard to provide my wife and children with everything they could want or need. I think I did a pretty good job. It seems that while I was making sure everyone was being taken care of, I was neglecting my wife. When faced with problems like this we all try and determine why it happened. In my case, I usually figure out that I was somehow to blame. I can accept that, but as the circle comes round, I am forced to confront Sandra's attempts to make a cuckold out of me. That cannot be accepted or condoned. If she had been discreet, I probably would have let it all slide and forever blame myself. She wasn't discreet and I will not blame myself.
The evening ended on a high note. When I landed at Reno/Tahoe International I was pleasantly surprised to see Dora waiting at the baggage pick-up. She had on jeans and a light blue Oxford shirt. It was the first time I saw her in anything other than a uniform. It was not my intent to have her pick me up when I called. I simply wanted her to know I was arriving.
"Good evening, Dora. I wasn't expecting you."
"I figured since I had your car, it was the least I could do."
"Your not working?"
"No, I was able to cut back, because of your generous offer."
"Oh, I wasn't being generous. I was just trying to figure out a way that I could be alone with you."
"And just what are you going to do to me when you get me alone?"
"I don't know yet. I haven't planned that far ahead. Any suggestions?"
As I pulled my bags off the turntable, I noticed Dora blush a little. I figured it was time to back off, before I scared her away. I felt that she was baiting me a little when she asked the question and that was a good sign.
Thirty minutes later we were back at a newly decorated apartment. It was just little touches, that didn't cost much but made a difference in the ambience of the whole place. To thank her for fixing up the apartment and picking me up at the airport, I sprung for two prime rib dinners. I think Dora enjoyed the wine more than the beef.
"How is the divorce coming?"
"Not worth a shit. I still have three weeks to go before I can apply. You need six weeks to establish residency. From what everybody said, I thought this was going to be a piece of cake. I think I would have been better off doing this from home."
"Why didn't you?"
Dora sat for a while. She played with her food a little and then looked up. "Getting away from Tony was more important than getting the divorce. The divorce is just a piece of paper. That won't protect me from any more beatings. I think I used the divorce idea, just to justify coming out here. It didn't matter where I went. The important thing was that I went at all."
What Dora said made sense to me. I guess getting divorced from Sandra seemed important at first, but now I wasn't sure. All I really wanted to do was keep her from profiting from the marriage. Unless I was planning on getting married again, it didn't matter. I had no inclinations that way. The rest of the evening was spent chatting about more mundane things like hobbies, movies, and books. Dora didn't have any children. I didn't ask why. We slept in our separate bedrooms that night.
Dora had left for work before I even got up. There was fresh coffee and that was all I needed. I was still full from last night's feast. After a quick shower, I got down to business.
"Jerry. How is my favorite lawyer?" There was a sigh on the other end of the phone.
"Not worth a shit Robert. I got bad news for you. Promise you won't shoot the messenger?"
"Oh crap. I have only been gone one day. What the hell happened?"
"Sandra has stirred up the pot. She found out about the bank accounts and other stuff. After calling the police, she got a restraining order against everything in the world. All of your accounts are frozen, even thought they are empty. You can't come near her or the house. You cannot take anything from the house. You cannot contact your children, even though they are legally adults. Most of the stuff is crap, but it will take a ton of time and money if you want to straighten it all out. She contacted the Security and Exchange Commission about your 401k and retirement accounts. Somehow or other, she has the IRS looking into things. Jerry, I don't know how to tell you this, but I don't want any part of any of it. I am out. Do you understand?"
I was a bit overwhelmed. "I guess you mean you won't be handling the divorce for me?"
"You got it buddy. For your information, she also hired a private detective to track you down."
"I wonder how she is going to pay for all of this?"
"Don't know and I don't care. Remember, if the cops or Feds ask me where you are, I will have to tell them. I am not going to risk my career for you, even though we are friends."
"I understand, Jerry. Cover your ass. I am going to make some adjustments at my end. I won't call you again for awhile."
"Thanks for your understanding buddy. I was hoping you would. See yah."
Well that put a crimp in things. The best-laid plans can go to hell in a heartbeat. I had to go to plan B, and I didn't have one. My brilliant idea, to fake losing all my money in the casinos, was shot down. I decided not to call anyone else.
Dora left me the car, which was appreciated. I don't know how she got to work. I was stuck with a small duffle-full of money and checks.
I had to go to six different casinos to cash all my checks, in for chips or credit. I was afraid to go to the banks in case there had been a hold or trace put on anything. The casinos were more than happy to help out. By the end of the morning, I had everything on deposit at several places and a bag full of cash and chips.
After a quick lunch, I started the withdrawals. In two hours, all the chips had been converted to cash and all the cash had been removed from the casino accounts. I now had a big bag of money, and lots of it. So far, there had been no problems and nothing suspicious.
It took me less than an hour to drive to Carson City. I rented a large safety deposit box, at an obscure little bank, and stashed everything, except five thousand dollars, which I kept for walking around money. I felt relieved now that everything was safe. I was looking forward to another long supper with Dora, to celebrate.
I knew something was fishy as soon as I entered the condo. Dora was trying her best to straighten things out that should not have been messed up, in the first place. She looked up and me immediately covered part of her face.
"I'm sorry, Robert. It's my fault. I don't know how he found me, and I didn't know he was following me, until I got into the apartment. I should have been more careful. I am really sorry." I slowly lowered her hand away from her face. Dora had a new shiner and a fat lip to go with it. A large, bluish, bruise covered the right side of her face.
"Was it Tony?"
She nodded her head in the affirmative. "He had his two brothers with him. They are out looking for you now. Tony told me not to leave the condo."
"Where are they looking?"
"I gave them the name of three casinos. The idiots don't even know what you look like. I don't think they are thinking straight."
It was a no-brainer. We couldn't stay and we couldn't call the cops. We left everything, started driving west, and spent the night in a small, off road, motel, in Grass Valley. It only had one bed, but I was a gentleman. I brought some take-out back to the room, and got some make-up for Dora. She tried her best to cover up the bruises, but it still looked like shit. She kept apologizing to me all night. I was relieved when she finally fell asleep.
We drove into Sacramento the next day, and got some clothing and personal items. I had no idea when we would be able to get back to the condo. I had the Grass Valley motel for two more nights.
Dora and I spent the next few days getting to know each other. There was no sex and no innuendos. I felt more comfortable with her after three days than I did with my wife after twenty-four years. When I wasn't talking with Dora, I was worrying about all the other things that were happening. I was afraid to take Dora back to the condo, in case Tony would find her. I was afraid to go back to the condo myself, in case somebody was looking for me, but I carelessly left my laptop, passport and other personal papers there. I had a stupid idea that they were important to me, and I had to get them. Real stupid.
I only knew Dora a few days, but I decided I had to trust her. We were both in the same boat, as far as spouses were concerned.
"Have you ever been to Mexico?"
"No. Are we going to go to Mexico, Robert?"
"I don't know. Look, in case things don't go well, I want you to do something for me. I don't want you to get in trouble and I want to keep you away from Tony."
"Robert, you don't owe me anything. You did more than enough already. I'll be fine."
"Well, I am not sure how things are going to go for me. I have a lot of money stashed away. It's not dirty money, but I am hiding it from my wife. If something happens to me, you will have to retrieve the cash for me."
"Who is after you? You haven't said anything about that. Did you do something illegal?"
"Look, there are several federal agencies looking for me, and a private detective. I am sure the local police will be called in to help if necessary. All I am trying to do is hide some money from my wife. She is trying to make it look like I am doing something illegal."
"What am I supposed to do with this money?"
"I was thinking about that. Go to Guadalajara and wait for me. Use whatever money you need to get by, until I get there."
"How will you find me?"
"Go to the Libertad Market for coffee, every morning. I will find you. It is very large, but I will find you."