Darien Teasdale had been called to the job site by his project foreman for a serious problem over substandard concrete the foreman refused to accept. It'd taken Darien the best part of the morning to sort out the problem with the sub contractor.
He was considered an extremely nice guy by all of his friends, sub contractors, and employees. He bent over backwards to be nice and not have confrontations. If he didn't things might get very ugly.
He'd been a killer in Iraq and Afghanistan for the military as a black ops agent. When some foreign official or military officer needed to be taken out, Darien's unit always handled the mission. He had personally killed over a dozen men and women in the two and half years he'd been in the theaters of operation.
He had killed when ordered with no questions asked. He'd become a cold, calculating killing machine.
After he left active duty, he'd spent three years of intense therapy with the military psychiatrists attempting to deal with what he'd become. He'd finally managed to bury the past and look to the future. Deep pain and intense anger remained for what the military had turned him into, but he managed to control it with the mental tools his doctors had provided him.
Now, he tried to bury all of that and just be a nice guy that everyone liked. His wife, Sally, had come into his life after his return to the world of sane and he had never told her about his darkest past. He didn't wish to even think about it much less discuss it with any one. Not even his Sally.
He was now driving to his suburban Tampa office. It was the dead of summer and the air temperature and humidity were both hovering at ninety plus. His truck's air conditioner was running full out staying ahead of the lousy outside air.
His truck was pretty old and banged up. The air conditioner was on its last legs and groaned with weird noises as it worked to maintain the interior air at an acceptable level. The exterior of the truck was two tone in color, black and rust with the rust slowly taking the predominate role.
He dialed the volume up on his radio to catch the last part of one of his favorite Beatles' songs over the air conditioner's noises.
He's a real Nowhere Man,
Sitting in his Nowhere Land,
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody.
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody.
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody.
He hummed along with the song as it ran into the next verse. He had to hum since he couldn't carry a tune in bucket.
He had just crossed Dale Mabry Highway at Linebaugh Avenue when he noticed his wife's car turn into the Carrollwood Shopping Center. It was an easy car to know, a Hummer H2 in canary yellow. There was not another like it in the entire state of Florida.
He checked his watch and saw it was near lunch time, He thought he would pull in and surprise her and ask her to go to lunch with him. They'd not done anything impromptu like this in a long time. He smiled and whipped his truck into the parking lot.
He had to park several rows away from his wife's H2. By the time he found a spot and parked, she was already inside the mall.
He hurried after her. She would be easy to spot. Sally was a slim, trim thirty-something creature of beauty. She had long blonde hair with sky blue eyes and long sexy legs.
She would spend most of her days at various club meetings or political events, and then spend the late afternoon and evening with Kristen and Darien. Once Kristen had been born, it had been their joint decision that Sally would be a stay at home mom. And it had been their fervent wishes to present her with a brother or sister.
He took his sunglasses off as he entered the mall and let his eyes adjust for a second. He began scanning for her. He walked slowly looking right to left at the various shops. He was passing the Ruby Tuesday restaurant when he saw her. She had just sat a table with her back to him. On the other side of the table was a man. A man Darien didn't recognize. She leaned over and apparently kissed him on his lips. Darien could only see her lean and her body language said she had kissed him.
Darien was stunned. Who the hell was this guy and what the hell is doing with my wife?
He couldn't bring himself to enter the restaurant and confront them. He'd become so passive and so non-confrontational, he just backed away from the window he was looking through.
He almost ran for the exit and his truck. He slid in the cab and turned on the air to cool the stifling heat. He sat there for what seemed an eternity wondering what to do.
I've got to find out what's going on. Is Sally cheating on me? With that man? Who is he? These and other thoughts swirled around in his mind.
He'd sat there brooding for so long a time that he was still there when Sally came out with her left arm entwined with the man's right. He saw her turn to the man, smile and say something to which he nodded his head. She reached up putting both arms around his neck and apparently hugging him very hard.
They broke their embrace and he saw the man say something else to her that she nodded yes to and then waving to each other they headed for their vehicles.
He shook with rage. His life as killer was slowly boiling to the surface. He had no definitive proof of any infidelity, but he would get some evidence. And then, who knew? Maybe he'd use those military skills he'd buried for all of this time.
He went to his office and grabbed the yellow pages phone book. He let his finger trail down the page of ads for a private investigator. He never selected the first or last in a yellow pages category because he knew as a business man that those people named their companies simply to be first or last in the book. Lazy people would usually grab the first or last with no other thought.
Darien actually read the ads to find the right one. He finally found one that popped out at him. It read:
Kurt Coughlin Investigations
Domestic Surveillance Civil/Criminal Investigations
Former Army Intelligence Officer using Military Approved Techniques
Darien picked up the phone and within two hours was seated across from said Kurt Coughlin, former Colonel Coughlin of the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command.
"What can I do for you Mr. Teasdale?" Coughlin asked.
"I ... I think my wife Sally might be cheating on me." Darien stammered in reply. He went ahead to explain what he had seen hours earlier.
Coughlin asked how long they had been married. Darien told him.
Coughlin nodded and said, "You know Mr. Teasdale, this sort of thing is not unusual. After people are married about the amount of time you two have been, one or the other of the spouses gets an itch. They go off and scratch it for a few months and then it's over and done. This could be what's happening in your case."
Darien shook his head violently, "No! I've never thought of cheating on her. If she is, that's it! Somebody will pay!"
Coughlin was taken back by his client's response. It boarded on threatening. He'd have to look into this man's background and see if he was capable of violence.
Coughlin cleared his throat and said, "Oh yes, well, shall we say one thousand dollars for a retainer? I'll want to install audio and video recorders at your home and in her car. You'll need to give me five minutes access with her cell phone so I can download all call or text message data made the last few weeks. Do you have a picture of her I can have? I should have information one way or the other for you within two weeks."
Darien silently reached in his wallet and extracted a small picture of Sally he always carried with him. He handed it to Coughlin and then pulled out his checkbook and said, "Sure, that's fine. Two weeks? Do you know two weeks from tomorrow is my birthday? I guess you'll give me a present that I'll remember forever -- one way or the other."
That night he sat quietly as Sally prepared the evening meal and talked about minor stuff. She'd taken their six year-old daughter, Kristen, to the after school ballet class and described her antics at the class laughing as she did so.
Darien asked, "Did you do anything else today?"
Sally stopped and kind of looked at him with a slight display of concern, "No nothing, why do you ask?"
Darien's heart broke. She'd just told him a flat out and out lie. She was covering up her lunch date with the man Darien had seen.
Darien said in a flat vice, "No reason, just curious."
They ate dinner in almost silence. If Sally or Kristen asked him something, he replied. But he volunteered nothing to the conversations. After they ate Sally suggested he take Kristen to the family room and let her watch her favorite cartoon show they TIVO'ed each day for her.
Darien sat and a thin smile played on his face as he watched his little girl laugh at the mischief being done by the cartoon characters. He loved his little girl and if Sally was cheating on him, he would figure some way to end up with custody of Kristen.
Sally came in after cleaning up the kitchen and told Kirsten it was time for bed. Kristen came over to Darien and hugged him and kissed his cheek, "Goodnight Daddy."
"Goodnight baby. I love you." Darien whispered in a low voice that only Kristen could hear.
About forty-five minute later Sally returned to the family room. She'd bathed Kirsten, read her some of her favorite story book and tucked her in.
She sat down next to Darien and snuggled up to his side. "Honey, what's wrong, you're so quiet tonight."
.... There is more of this story ...