There I was driving my Uncle Joe's new motor home on Interstate 90 in Montana. Now Montana is beautiful country, it rightly earned the name "Big Sky Country" because of the scenic views. Well that's what I read anyway. However, I was crossing the state in February and the weather was shit!
I had been driving in a snow storm for the last four hours and there weren't any signs of it letting up in the near future. I was down to about 30-35 MPH and visibility was so poor, I was lucky to see the point where the headlights faded out in front of me.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention it was night too.
The vehicle weighed about 63,000 pounds, but from the way it was handling, I thought it was a Mini Cooper instead of a Newell Luxury Motor coach. Was I stupid for driving under these conditions? Yes I was. But I was looking for someplace big enough to park this monster and avoid getting plowed in by the snowplows.
It was close to 2:00 am and I hadn't seen any other traffic or parking spots. I was getting sleepy and I knew if I didn't find a spot soon, I'd probably fall asleep at the wheel and crash. Then I saw the lights.
Sam Walton, I love you. There was a Wal-Mart sign ahead.
As I slowly drove forward, I realized the store was closed. The only light on was the sign. I slowly pulled into the parking lot and parked in a fairly clear area, kept that way by the strong wind. I wanted to be in a spot where I wouldn't get buried in deep snow. There was another car in the lot near where I picked. But besides that car I was alone in a sea of swirling white.
After I got the vehicle parked, I started the process of setting it up for an overnight stay. My first chore was to flip the switch to set the custom hydraulic jacks to level and stabilize the coach. These were a boon to "camping". They leveled the interior and took out all the sway from walking around.
The next item on the list was starting the auxiliary generator. There was no point running the main diesel engine and wasting a bunch of fuel when all I needed was electricity and heat. Hey, diesel fuel was almost $4.00 a gallon and besides the big engine vibrated the entire coach. The auxiliary generator was quiet and small.
It took me about 10 minutes to set up for the night. About the time I finished, my stomach reminded me that I hadn't eaten since lunch, about 14 hours ago. I started heating up some canned chicken noodle soup and made a grilled cheese sandwich. I knew that would tide me over until I woke up many hours later. By that time I hoped the storm would be over and I could find a diner.
While I was waiting for my supper to cook, I tried the GPS again, still "No Signal". Then I got stupid and turned on the satellite TV, "No Signal." Oh yeah, heavy cloud cover was blocking the signals. Oh well, I put a music CD in the consol. And slowly ate my dinner.
My dinner was interrupted by the door bell on the coach. "Who the hell could that be?" I thought as I turned on the outside camera. I was shocked by what I saw. A small child all bundled up and covered with snow. "What was he doing out in this weather at this time of night?" wandered through my brain.
I rushed to the door and opened it. He was starting to fall down as I opened the door so I grabbed him in my arms. He was blue from the cold. I carried him into the bedroom and started stripping the cold and frozen outer clothes off his stiff body. My bed had an electric blanked on it. I turned the control to high and covered the child with the blanket.
It seemed like hours but was only about 10 minutes when the color started returning to his face and arms. He opened his eyes and squeaked, "Mom?"
"No, my name is Gene" I replied.
"No" he said, "Help Mom."
I must have looked confused because he said, "In car."
Then I remember the parked car when I pulled in. It was nearby in the snow. I put on my heavy coat and boots and opened the door. "Damn it was cold out here," I thought. I trudged into the darkness and swirling snow toward where I remembered seeing the car. I kept looking back over my shoulder to keep my bearings by watching the marker lights on the coach.
On one of those look backs, I walked into the side of the car. It was so covered with the swirling snow that I had completely missed seeing it. It was just plain dumb luck that I found the car.
I pulled open the passenger door. It took me a couple of tries as it was partially buried in the snow and I needed to keep clearing a path for it to swing open.
Inside I saw her. She had pulled all the clothing out of a suitcase on the back seat and made a nest on the front seat for herself and her child. I could see where she had kept the child wrapped up and covered with her body.
I was about to pronounce her dead when I saw a faint pulse in her throat. I carefully picked her up and started back to the coach. I had to get her warmed up. I carried her back to the bedroom and put her down next to her child.
The kid was awake and crying for his mother.
I pulled the frozen outer clothing off the mother. The mother was not dressed for the cold. When I removed her coat she only had a nightgown on. It was a long cotton one, but there was nothing under it but mom. I started rubbing her appendages. The child watched me and was soon helping.
I picked mom up and carried her into the bathroom. I started the shower and walked into it clothes and all with her in my arms. The water was not that warm. I remembered reading somewhere that a hypothermia victim should be returned to normal temperatures slowly.
While she was warming, I was slowly freezing my butt off in the lukewarm water.
I noticed the child standing outside the shower watching his mother and I in the shower. "I'm trying to warm her up," I explained. He looked at me and started to sniffle. My guess was that he was 5 or 6 years old.
"What's your name?" I asked him. "Tessa" was the answer I received. "Oops," I thought, "A gender mix-up on my part."
"Hi Tessa. I'm Gene. Remember?"
She nodded her little head. "My mommy going to be OK?"
I really didn't know, but I lied and said "yes."
The water was starting to get even colder so I shut it off. Between Tessa and I we managed to get her mother dried off and into one of my long flannel shirts. There wasn't much I could do to maintain Mom's modesty, but I tried for Tessa's sake. After I got mom tucked between the blankets, Tessa joined her.
I watched as Tessa hugged her mom and tried to go to sleep. The light in my head finally went on. I asked, "Tessa, are you hungry?"
The little head nodded yes.
I micro waved some of my soup for her and brought it to her. I swear the bowl was empty before I could get back to the kitchen area. I returned to the bedroom with a Reese's Peanut butter Cup I had purchased for a snack as I drove.
I made a friend for life with that little gift.
I whipped up some instant hot chocolate and returned to my two charges in the bedroom. Tessa accepted her drink and I started the questioning. After all my questioning, I learned: 1) Mom's name was Mom.
2) They lived in a house.
3) She had a Daddy, but he died.
4) Mommy had a boyfriend, but he wasn't nice.
I decided I wasn't very good at questioning small children.
By now it was almost 5:00 am and we were both falling asleep. I tucked her in next to her mother who was looking a lot healthier and breathing well. I kissed Tessa on the forehead and wished her a good night. At Tessa's insistence, I did the same for Mom.
I slept on the couch until I woke up around noon. The first thing I saw was Tessa's smiling face staring down into mine. "Mommy! Gene's awake" came out of that small body at a truck driver's volume.
"Good morning Tessa. Mom's awake?" I asked. I got the nod again.
"Well let's go see what she wants for breakfast."
Before I could get both feet on the floor, I heard that same little voice yelling at the same loud volume, "Mommy, Gene want to know what we want for breakfast."
A very groggy and confused voice answered, "Gene Who?"
"Gene D'Amico," I answered. "May I come in?"
"I'm not decent," was the answer I received.
"I know. I'm the one responsible for making you that way," was my answer.
"Oh! I guess then you can come in. You must have seen it all anyway."
I got her a pair of my sweats, "They will be too big but they are warm," I said as I handed them over.
I took the breakfast order. Tessa wanted an Egg McMuffin and French fries. But she settled for the French toast and milk that I made for all of us.
We introduced ourselves over breakfast.
Tessa's mom was named Sharon, and she was running away from an abusive boy friend in Chicago. The boy friend wanted to share her charms with his drinking buddies. The men were drunk and she was able to feed them drinks until they passed out.
Sharon then grabbed Tessa, cleaned out all the men's wallets and just started driving west until the two were stopped by the snow storm.
Sharon had only the nightgown and a coat. The only clothes she packed were for Tessa.
By afternoon Wal-Mart had opened for business and the three of us went clothes shopping. They got the new clothes and I got the bill. But I was actually spending Uncle Joe's money and he wouldn't mind.
Well I guess it's time I told you a little about my history. Uncle Joe was really my Great Uncle. He was my mother's uncle. He and his wife Antoinette took me into their home when my mother and father were killed. I was only 10 at the time and didn't understand that cars just didn't blow themselves up.
Uncle Joe was a crime boss and my father was one of his underbosses. The bombing was a message for my Uncle. My Uncle didn't like the message and took the war to the other side. When the smoke cleared, my Uncle ended up the boss of bosses. The other side was history.
I grew up in his household just outside N.Y. City. He and my Aunt were a very loving couple. I was taught the "families" way to do things and that the "family" always came first. When I was 16 my uncle sent me to work part time in a Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant he somehow managed to own. Food service was soon to become my first love. It kept me off the streets and out of the kind of trouble that teenager boys usually find themselves in.
People that worked for my uncle could eat in the restaurant for free. A few I recognized from home, but most of them were men I only recognized by their hard looks and dead eyes. I was never introduced to them, but they all knew my name. A few of the older ones said that they knew my father, usually followed by, "He was a Good Man."
One day one of the really hard ones said, "Don't worry about revenging your mom and dad. We did that for you already. They all sleep with the fish now." I wanted to hug him, but I was covered in flour from making the pizzas and he was wearing a black shark skin suit. Somehow I figured that he would not like white hand prints on his suit.
"Thank you for your kindness," was all I could say, but he understood. These guys always talked in riddles, but they knew exactly what was wanted or needed.
When I graduated from high school, my uncle gave me the pizzeria and restaurant to run as a present. I jumped into making it the best in the area. The pizza rolled out the front door from about 11:00 AM until 1:00 AM. The ovens never stopped.
The seating area was small but we served real homemade Italian food. There was always a waiting line for a table most afternoons and evenings. My uncle liked the increase in business. One Sunday while I was sitting in his study, I said "I could do even better if the place just was bigger so I could seat more customers."
Three weeks later I was invited to attend a Police Benefit Association banquet. While I was eating and drinking with all the police big shots, the building my restaurant and a couple of other stores were in burnt to the ground. No one was injured, but the building was a complete loss.
Six months later we were holding our Grand Opening in our brand new and three times larger restaurant/pizzeria.
We had a small bistro style seating area, a large dining area and a party room for weddings and such. By the time two months had elapsed, we were back to being completely full six days a week. We were closed on Sundays or it would have been packed all seven days.
The hard guys liked the dining room. They could hold small meetings there while eating a fancy meal. We even had a small dance band on Friday and Saturday nights. The hard guys brought their wives or girl friends to either show them off or shut them up. I made sure that none of Uncle Joe's guys ever got bills.
The bistro was the favorite of the local police. It was small and cozy. They were allowed to move the tables around as needed to accommodate the size of their parties. They got billed for their meals, but the amount was about half of what it should be. If they were in uniform and working, they didn't get a bill at all.
I don't know if it was the hard guys in back or the uniformed police in the front, but we were never robbed, the patrons were never bothered outside, and there was no graffiti or vandalism to the building or parked cars in the area.
I was happy and care free, then I met Sheila. I didn't know it then but I was destined to be her husband.
While the mother and daughter examined their Wal-Mart loot, I got on my cell phone to Uncle Joe. I wanted to explain about Tessa and Sharon and the bills that were coming as well as ask a favor.
After I got done talking Uncle Joe remarked, "I have friends in Chicago. I'll have someone look up the boyfriend." I felt a cold chill run down my spine, I knew exactly what my Uncle meant by "looking up".
The weather had finally cleared. The girls went to their car to repack their lone suitcase and brought it over to the coach. I had invited them to accompany me to the West Coast and they had accepted.
Sharon's car actually belonged to her boy friend. It was a ten year old Honda and way over the hill. It took me a couple of phone calls before a junk yard agreed to take the car for parts.
Sharon's boy friend would never find his car again.
The three of us spent one more night in the parking lot. We moved the motor home to a new location so the snow plow guy could finish around where we were parked. We restocked the food supply with things a six year old would like, and found a site to dump the "holding" tank, as well as refill the fresh water supply tank.
The worst was topping off the diesel fuel tanks.
The top off took 175 gallons, which isn't as bad as a fill up. The whole fuel load was 250 gallons when empty. So you can understand why I said 175 gallons wasn't bad. But shit it was still almost $4.00 a gallon so nearly $700.00 went for the diesel fuel.
That night I fired up the satellite TV and we watched kid stuff until you know who fell asleep. While I was carrying her back to bed, somehow a "chick flick" was on the set when I got back into the living room.
Actually it wasn't that bad a flick as far as chick flicks go. I especially liked the part when Sharon snuggled up and put her head on my shoulder.
Sharon wanted to start a fight when I offered her and Tessa the bedroom. The fight would probably still be going on if I hadn't demonstrated the hidden drop down bed in the living room where I planned to sleep.
I was up at first light and on the road. My two sleepy heads showed up front around 9:00 or almost 300 miles further down the road. It was nice to have company while I drove, especially when one of them was six years old and never shut up. It felt as if I had suddenly acquired a family.
We stopped at the first truck stop we came to. There were three empty stomachs that needed filling. Nothing was more filling than greasy truck stop food.
Tessa was impressed when we parked in the part of the lot reserved for big trucks. Her little eyes got bigger and bigger as we pulled into a spot between two tandems. She was glued to my side as we walked by one of them. I could hear Sharon softly chuckle about my new appendage. Hey, to a six year old these are very big trucks and really scary.
Suddenly the driver's door opened on one of the cabs opened and a female driver climbed out. I swear it was the first time in two days Tessa was quiet. Her little mouth hung open and her eyes were saucer wide.
Later Sharon claimed that Tessa was too busy trying to climb up me for protection to talk.
The female driver, who appeared to be in her 40's, smiled at us and said, "Hi little girl. What's your name?"
Tessa buried her face in my shoulder and whispered, "Tessa."
"Well I think Tessa is a very nice name. I have a son about your age at home. His name is Adam," was the lady driver's reply. I looked at her with a little greater understanding. A mother who was on the road for 4 or 5 days a week and still raising a family got my admiration. She was a hard worker.
Well that was all it took to get Terra started talking again. She talked all the way across the parking lot and into the restaurant. She invited the lady trucker to join us for breakfast. Soon we were a four some in one of the booths. Tessa found out that the trucker's CB handle was 'Crazy Lady' and wouldn't let it go. She wanted to introduce her new friend to all the other truckers having breakfast.
But Sharon put a stop to that by saying, "Tessa! Shut up and eat." Mother's always know exactly how to control their children.
I guess enough of the other drivers eating heard Tessa's mouth that they would stop on their way by our table and introduce themselves to her. She met Widow Maker, Gas Man, Mr. Bell, Brandy's Kid, Grandpa Jack, and many more. But the highlight of her morning was when a great big state trooper stopped at our table and introduced himself as "Big Bear."
Tessa's chatting with her new found friends put us about an hour behind the schedule I had in my mind for the day. But it was worth it. As we were pulling out, "Crazy Lady" caught my eye and waved the microphone from her CB radio at me. I nodded "yes". I reached down and turned my CB on and adjusted the volume.
As soon as it quieted down on the channel, the call went out, "How about ya, Little Tessa. Crazy Lady askin."
I wish I had had a camera so I could have captured the expression on Tessa's face when she heard her name come over the air. Sharon grabbed the mike and held it up for Tessa to speak. And speak she did. There is not a shy bone in that little girl's body.
As Crazy Lady's signal started to fade I realized we were headed in opposite directions. Sharon quickly explained to Tessa that she needed to say goodbye before the signal was gone.
Tessa said, "Goodbye Crazy Lady, You're my best friend next to Mommy and Gene." Damn that kid knows how to climb into your heart.
After Crazy Lady said goodbye, the next 30 miles were filled with truckers saying "Goodbye" to Tessa also. She answered everyone back with a great big smile on her face and in her voice. Sharon just beamed at her daughter. She was the typical proud Mom.
I was also very proud of her until it hit me that this was not my little girl and never would be as long as I was still married to that bitch Sheila.
I guess I'd better take some time and explain about Sheila.
It was shortly after I reopened my restaurant when on one weekday night Sheila and a couple of her girl friends stopped in to pick up a pizza. They said that they had heard about the place and wanted to check us out. It was slow, so I entertained them with all sorts of pizza stories while theirs cooked. They turned out to be a fun bunch, so I invited them back on a night the band was playing.
The next Saturday night I spotted them on the dance floor. They appeared to be having fun. Saturdays are very busy for us so I didn't have the time to visit with them. I did get a smile and a wave from them that night. So being the nice guy that I m, I sent over a round of drinks for the girls.
I got busy and didn't notice them again. When I finally got a free minute, I looked for them. But Shelia and her friends were nowhere in the building. Their waitress told me that they left about 11:00. I thought that 11:00 was early to call it quits on a Saturday night, but I soon forgot about the whole thing because it got busy again.
It was a couple of weeks before Shelia came into the bistro for lunch with her girlfriends. The girlfriends came to the counter and ordered lunch for all of four of them. Shelia stayed at the table. I smiled at her and waved. It was the usual gesture I gave to all my repeat customers.
I got a dirty look in return.
I assumed she was either having a bad day or it was a case of PMS. "So what's up with sour puss? She having a bad day?" I commented to one of her friends.
"You should know. You spoiled our whole evening in YOUR club on that Saturday night we stopped," was the answer I got back.
Before I could reply another customer interrupted us with their demands. By the time I back the counter the girls had returned to their table. Now I was pissed. I walked out of the bistro with the liquor license in hand and headed to my office and the copier.
I returned about 5 minutes later with a copy of the state liquor and food licenses plus my driver's license. I headed directly to their table then dropped both state license copies on their table while showing my driving license. "Do you see my name on the state documents? I'm just the manager! So that's that" which was all I said while turning on my heel and stomping away.
I stormed back to the counter and started working on reducing the customer back up.
The next time it slowed down enough, I looked at the girl's table. There were different people sitting there. One of the waitresses noticed where I was looking, "They left shortly after your temper tantrum," she commented.
I guess I must have addressed them a little louder than necessary. They left without eating but did pay the check and tip the waitress. I figured that if they returned, I'd refund their meal costs and so I informed the wait staff.
It was a Friday night and I was outside grabbing a well deserved break. It was still early evening and I had another 4-5 hours yet to go before I could call it a night. I was sitting on a decorative bench near the entrance to the dining room, just enjoying the fresh air. On Friday and Saturday nights I had to employ a doorman because of the crowds wanting to hear and dance to the band.
There were more people trying to get in than my little club could accommodate. It was a classic case of one person out before another person could enter. You would be surprised at the tricks some people tried to pull to get in the club. But my door man was a retired football line backer. At 6'5" and 300 lbs, nobody got past him unless he wanted them too.
There was a long line tonight. Most of the folks in line would not gain entrance tonight. I listened to my doorman gently handle the wanna-be attendees. He was polite, but firm, passing out coupons for free nibbles in the bistro good for a week. The people receiving the free-bees left with good feelings about the club, next time resolving to arrive earlier.
For the folks who decided to wait in line and hope for possible admission, I had one of the waitresses walking up and down the line with snacks. It kept the people happy and added to a party atmosphere. It was because of these little kindnesses, my crowds kept coming back and spending their money.
My break over I stood to return inside when I noticed Shelia and her three friends join the end of the line. I knew that they stood no chance of making it inside that night; the line was just too long. I stuck my head in the rear kitchen door and asked to have a table for four set up at the edge of the dance floor.
I went back outside and pointed the girls out to one of the bouncers, asking him to escort them to the table via the kitchen door. I also instructed him that the girl's were not to receive a bill for the evening.
My final instruction was to assure that the girls had a good time.
I went back to work running the place. It was almost 1:30 before I was able to take a well deserved break. I was sitting on the bench shooting the bull with the doorman when I felt a presence behind me.
I looked and found Shelia and her friends waiting to be acknowledged. I smiled.
"We'd like to thank you for everything tonight," Shelia started. "I guess I miss-judged you before."
"The last time we were here on that Saturday, you bought us a round of drinks and then all the guys stopped asking us to dance and stuff," she continued. "Why did you put the word out on us?"
"I didn't do anything!" I protested. "There must have been a misunderstanding."
"I'll bet someone misunderstood our relationship," I continued.
I walked the girls back inside through the kitchen door. I whipped up a breakfast fit for a king for them. It was a little after 4:00 AM when they finally said goodnight. And I guess I'll admit I was more than just a little interested in Shelia. She was cute. She was about 5' 4" and a dark haired Italian beauty with the bluest eyes I had ever seen. She had body that wouldn't quit. She just radiated sex appeal. I'm a guy and I notice those kinds of things.
The next night was Saturday and the girls were standing in line when I arrived at 8:00 PM. I glanced at the doorman and all he said was, "Boss they got here about 7:00. I put them on the list for a special table."
I waved at the girls and walked around to the bistro door. I walked straight thru the bistro, the kitchen, and into the club where the staff was setting up for the night's crowd. I spotted the bouncer I had escort the girls in last night, all I said was, "Same girls as last night are in line. Same deal for them. Please make sure they have a good time."
"Uh Boss, some of the guys are a little concerned that you might get pissed at them if they asked the girls to dance. The boys respect you because of your Uncle," he commented.
"I sort of like the little dark haired one, but if she's a slut, I want to know now. Not months later," was my answer. As I walked away, I realized I had just declared open season on her to all the Romeos out there. Well hell, if she was easy, I'd just need to remember to wear protection, the good type.
"A guy still has to get laid once in a while," I thought.
It turned out that she wasn't easy. Too be exact, she was unused, a virgin I later found out when we became exclusive. No, I didn't change her status from being one, but I found out about her virgin status when I tried to "take it to a new level" and she shot me down.
"I want to stay pure for my husband. I want to honestly wear white when I walk down the aisle," was all she said. It took another six months, but I finally claimed her virginity, of course it was on our honeymoon.
The next four years were heaven. I was still putting in long hours at the restaurant. Shelia was staying at home the entire time trying to be a housewife. I knew she was bored so I suggested that we start a family for two reasons. The first being that I loved kids and the second being that I felt motherhood would better occupy Shelia's time.
She was a little reluctant at first but after about a month, we had a "throw the pills away" party. Five months later she still wasn't pregnant, so I visited my doctor for a checkup. I explained why.
After the physical check up part, he handed me a small plastic cup and motioned at the restroom. "Just bring me in a sample."
That day in their bathroom, I did something I haven't done since I was a teenager. Well not very often. The doctor got his "sample". For some reason, I didn't mention anything about the check up to Shelia. I guess I was just too embarrassed about the masturbation part.
Sheila and her three girl friends still managed to get together for a night out once or twice a month on a Friday or a Saturday night. Those were the two nights I was just too busy to accompany them. Two of the girl friends had gotten married and I always wondered how their husbands justified these nights out.
One lunch hour one of the husbands and a few of his co-workers stopped in the bistro for lunch. Not that we were exactly close friends but we had met at a few back yard picnics at someone's home. I stopped at their table to welcome him and be polite, plus I got to signal the waitress, "No Check."
I was making small talk when the husband dropped the bomb, "We need to get together soon, my wife has been complaining that she hasn't seen Shelia in months."
I remembered that Shelia commented, just the other day, that they had been together last weekend. I wished the guys goodbye claiming piles of paper work to complete before the dinner crowd. I just made it to the Men's Room before I lost my lunch. Shelia was lying to me.
When I got in my office, I called my Uncle and explained my fears.
All my Uncle Joe said was, "I'll look into it."
It was almost a month when I got the dreaded phone call. "We need to talk without Shelia," my Uncle said.
His limo showed up at the rear door the next day. We met over a light lunch in the private dining room.
"Gene, there's no easy was to say this so I'm just going to start. Shelia is screwing different men every time she is supposed to be out with the girls. She and her single girl friend are the star attractions at various gangbangs. The gangbangs are set up by a black pimp they know. The pimp finds the customers and collects the monies. The girls get none of the fees, they only get the enjoyment. The customers are mostly minorities."
He stopped for a breath and to allow me a chance to absorb the information. When he felt I was ready, he continued, "She has also been lying to you about wanting to start a family also. She is still on the pill."
"I guess I need a lawyer," was all I could muster.
"No!" he said. "There will be no divorces in my family. It just isn't done. You will not be shamed by your wife. I will not let her shame my family. I'll take care of her."
It took a month, before I found myself behind the steering wheel of the motor coach. I was told that I needed an alibi for the next month or two. On a Friday, instead of going to the bistro, I was driven to the motor home by one of the hard men and pointed west. They handed me some credit cards and some cash. I was told to "drive."
It took two days but suddenly my cell phone started ringing off the hook. I looked at the number on the display. I didn't recognize it. I let the call go to voice mail. There were probably 10 calls before I got the tone that indicated I had voice mail.
I suspected the caller was Shelia, my wife.
I pulled the motor home into a McDonalds, got a snack and coffee. Here I was in a $700,000 motor coach eating at McDonalds. Boy did I get a few funny looks.
Yeah, I was killing time. I didn't really want to listen to the message. But I manned up and dialed the voice mail number.
"Gene, where the hell are you? The house caught fire Friday night and I have no place to live. My credit cards don't work; the bank tells me that there is no money in our accounts. I have twenty dollars in my purse. Please call me."
I erased the message and pulled back out on the road. My Uncle had struck. Shelia was in for a rough time.
About two hours later, my cell started ringing again. This time I recognized the number it was the bistro phone in my office.
"Hi boss, you left a real shit storm here. Your wife was here demanding money. We had to call your Uncle for instructions. He told us to throw her ass out. So we did, physically. Your Uncle told me to tell you to keep all the receipts from your trip."
"Oh yeah one more thing. Use the company credit card. Your personal ones don't work anymore," he said.
I thanked him for the information then continued on to discuss restaurant business for almost 30 minutes. Food service had been my life for many years and I really didn't have anything to occupy my mind without it.
My GPS told me I was still in Ohio when I decided to call it quits for another day. I found a big Wal-Mart parking lot and parked in the rear for the night. Wal-Mart allows motor homes and campers to overnight in their parking lots. I took advantage of their largesse. I fixed myself something to eat and opened my laptop to read my email.
There were about twenty emails from Shelia. At first the tone of the messages was pleading but as the messages increased the soft, pleading tone turned shrill, and I realized what a demanding bitch Sheila was. She blamed me for all her problems.
There was one final email from a blank address. All it contained was a file attachment. When I open the attachment, I found a copy of a newspaper article about a woman who was gang raped by some nasty individuals. After they had sex with her, they beat her with a baseball bat. She was not expected to live.
The woman was Shelia's gang bang buddy.
I went to bed early that night, bushed from all the driving I had done over the last two days. I think I slept about 14 hours before my bladder woke me. I cleaned up, dressed, and walked into the store. They had a small snack bar so I ate and then replenished my supplies in the coach.
It was getting colder and my satellite radio indicated there was a storm headed my way. Well actually the storm and I were on a collision course. It was headed my way and I was driving straight into it. So I bought a bunch of winter gear, just in case I broke down or something.
It was almost noon before I got underway. With the GPS and my XM radio as my only company. Soon my cell phone started ringing again. I looked at the display and did not recognize the number. Like a good cell phone user, I didn't answer it while driving; instead I pushed the "Off" button. I suspected it was Shelia and I really didn't want to talk to her. She was my Uncle's problem now.
I listened to my XM radio and talked to the voice in my GPS. I know, I'm pathetic, but it kept my mind off the problems I was having at home. I drove until I was starting to fall asleep behind the wheel before pulling off the road into a truck stop. I parked between the big rigs and set up for the night.
I was up early the next morning, not because I wanted to be on the road, but because I forgot to close the curtains and the sun was shining in my face. I drained the snake then started a pot of coffee. I returned to the bathroom to shower and shave.
After dressing, I sat down with my laptop and a cup of coffee. I opened my email program with a little trepidation. I expected another bunch of email from Sheila lambasting me. This time there was only one email from her. It begged me to come home. I deleted it.
I sort of wondered how she was getting access to a PC to send me the email. Our house was destroyed by fire, she was not allowed in the restaurant, she had no money for a PC café and she wasn't bright enough to remember the free ones at the library.
My next email was again from the blank address. It consisted of two attachments. When I opened the first attachment, it was another news paper clipping. It seemed that Shelia's gang bang buddy had died of her injuries. No one was arrested for committing the crime.
The second attachment was another newspaper clipping from this mornings paper. This one described the murder of one Leroy Jones, a known pimp. It appeared he was stabbed in his sleep by one of his girls after beating her up pretty badly. The police found her sleeping in a pool of his blood, high on drugs, next to Leroy in their bed. The clipping went on to say that the prostitute, Mrs. Shelia D'Amico, was being held without bail pending arraignment. She was being kept under a suicide watch because of her mental state.
My wife was really going downhill. I suspected my Uncle Joe was sending a message to his people. He was using Shelia as an example not to play outside one's marriage.
The next couple of days were a blur. I drove continuously stopping only for fuel and a few hours of sleep. It was in Montana that I was forced to stop. The snow storm was so vicious that I just couldn't drive safely any longer.
It was there that I met Sharon and Tessa and my life started to have meaning again.
The weather was clear all the way to the West Coast. The three of us made good time and soon found ourselves in a camping area near Seattle.
Sharon and I described our lives before meeting. I left out what Uncle Joe did for a living but told her everything else. One night after Tessa was settled in bed, I explained that I was on this trip to get my head back on straight after finding out what Shelia was doing behind my back. I described what the detectives had discovered about my loving wife.
That night Sharon held me in her arms on the couch as I cried my soul out. I fell asleep in the comfort of her arms. The next morning I woke up with Sharon sleeping on top of me and a pair of little eyes watching me from across the room.
"Mommy says that a woman can only sleep with a man if they love each other. Do you love my Mom?"
I nodded "I think so".
"Then can I start calling you Daddy?" she asked next.
My eyes filled with tears, as I started to ponder how to explain to a six year old about adoption when I felt my chest getting wetter and wetter. Sharon lifted her head and I noted that her eyes were also filled with tears.
"Well Daddy, what are you going to tell her?"
"Well I guess I'll tell her 'OK' if you agree to marry me," I answered with a smile.
I was attacked by one very happy woman and one very special little girl. I guess I made the right choice.
Our little Hallmark moment was soon interrupted by a little voice notifying us she was hungry and shouldn't Daddy be making his famous French toast? Well Daddy had to stay under the blanket until his morning wood went down. Mommy started breakfast while keeping Tessa occupied so I could get up and into the bedroom and dress.
When I came back into the kitchen I heard Tessa talking to her mother, "But Mom, I still don't understand why Daddy had that big bump in the front of his underwear this morning. It wasn't there other mornings"
I retreated back into the bedroom. Better I let Sharon handle that conversation.
I listened as Sharon deftly switched the conversation over to French toast from erections and then panicked when she sent Tessa to ask me how many pieces of French toast I wanted and if I could leave the bedroom and cook them. I could hear the smile in Sharon's voice as she pointed Tessa at me.