"It's about time to get ready to go isn't it?" Tom asked.
"For the last time, I don't want to go. You know I don't know anyone who will be there and I really don't want to spend the whole night trying to talk to people who I don't know. They're your friends, why don't you just go without me?" Julia whined.
Tom sighed and turned to his wife. He said, "Honey, I've told you and told you it's a welcome home party and I want you to meet the gang I grew up with. After all, most of them are still my friends and we will be socializing with them from now on. Now please just change and let's go. After all, you met and socialized with hundreds of people you didn't know when you were running your business. What's the difference now? I know you can do it. I sure went to a lot of functions with you where I knew no one or very few of the people. Now come on."
"Oh, all right but you owe me big time buster."
Tom was excited about the party they were going to that evening. It was going to be his first big get together with his old friends and acquaintances since he and Julia had sold their businesses and moved back home to Missouri. He had sold a large computer servicing company in LA and his wife had sold her large catering business. They made millions between the two sales and decided to move back to the Midwest where they had grown up. He was more interested in the move than she had been-perhaps because she had grown up several hours away from where they were planning to settle now. They had enough investments to never have to work again and planned to travel extensively. The children were both in college and there was nothing to hold them back now. All they had to do was find a home to purchase, move in and start traveling. Tom's dreams had come true.
Tom had been in the local coffee shop for his morning coffee about a week after they had returned home when he met one of his best friends from high school. When Jerry found out Tom and Julia had moved back to town and were looking for a home he became excited. "Oh, man. With you back in town the whole graduating class will live within driving distance. We can get together and golf, fish and party like we used to cant we? Damn, I've gotta tell the guys. Why haven't you called us yet?" They talked a little more then exchanged numbers. Two days later Jerry called inviting them to the welcome home party they had been discussing.
When Julia came down stairs Tom stood and stared. Her beauty always excited him and tonight was no exception. She was in the proverbial little red dress and she was so beautiful it took his breath away. He moved to her and gave her a gentle kiss then he led her down the hallway and out the door to their car. His parents didn't even come out of the den when they left. They continued watching one of their favorite reality shows on TV.
The party was in full swing when they arrived-fashionably late of course. Julia made it a point to never arrive at a party until at least thirty minutes after it had started. That little quirk always annoyed Tom but he had learned to put up with it. She needed to make her grand entrance and this evening was no exception. She lit up like a Christmas tree when they entered the front room of Jerry's home and people began to notice them. The conversational noise reduced by several decibels as they entered. Everyone in the room stopped and watched as Jerry greeted them and turned to face the room.
Jerry stood beside Tom and Julia and shouted, "OK everyone, the guests of honor are finally here. I know most of you know ole Tom here since we went to school with him. Of course since he married after he left town probably not many of you know this beautiful lady with him. This is Julia, Tom's wife of 23 years. They met in Columbia at Mizzou and he decided he would rather marry her than a hometown girl. Now, let's party and renew old acquaintances and everyone meet and get to know Julia."
Jerry lowered his voice and said, "Come on guys, the bar and snacks are out on the patio." He led the two through the house and onto the patio where he got them their requested drinks. Tom and Julia roamed through the crowd visiting. Finally Julia decided to find the bathroom and left Tom. He was standing beside the bar when he heard shouting and looked up. Perhaps his best friend in high school and college was waving at him as he rushed toward where Tom stood.
When Stan walked up to Tom he had a huge smile on his face. After a hand shake and quick man hug they stood back and began catching up on their lives. Stan was standing looking toward the house as he talked animatedly to Tom. All at once his face went white and he said, "Shit, what's she doing here?"
Tom looked where he was staring and saw Julia talking with two other women. One was Jerry's wife Darlene and he didn't know the other one so he asked, "Who's that? What's the problem Stan?"
"Crap, I used to party with that skank out in LA whenever the company had management meetings. Jesus, I wonder who in the hell brought her all the way out here and what the deal is. Shit, if Janice or some of the other wives ever find out about her..."
"What's her name Stan and how do you know it's the woman you know from LA? I seem to recognize her but I don't know from where. That's my wife there with them. You need to meet Julia anyway why don't I have her come over and meet you then we can see if she can tell us about her. Or maybe Jerry's wife knows her."
"NO! Don't draw her attention. We'll mosey over there as soon as that Black headed skank moves on. Surely Darlene or Beverly can tell us the skinny. Christ could that skank fuck. She ran the catering company we used and she and her girls would entertain the men after the meal for a little-oh, hell, a lot extra. Crystal there charged $2500 a night or $500 a pop. She was worth every penny of it and more. Even at those prices she always turned men away. She would never hurry a John but limited herself to five separate men, any combination. She wouldn't stay much past 9:30 because she said she had to get back to her husband. Christ, sometimes she would let us make her airtight and could wear out five or six of us by herself. I don't know what she made for catering but just the entertainment fees probably made her rich."
Tom felt his eyes get big and his stomach lurched when Stan began talking about his times in LA. He looked at Stan in shock and said, "What? Uh, are you sure? I mean..."
Stan looked at Tom then said, "Hey ole buddy. What's the problem? You don't look too good all at once?"
Tom looked at Stan and grabbed his arm. He pulled him over to two unoccupied chairs and collapsed into one. He felt like he was panting, he was having trouble seeing. Finally he licked his lips and said, "Stan are you talking about the woman in the red dress?"
Stan stood a moment longer then sat beside Tom as he said, "Hell yes, who else could I be talking about? Hell, we know all the other women that were standing there. Most of them have never been out of the state for more than a short vacation with their husbands. Why, do you know her too?"
Tom licked his lips once more then said, "Stan, are you positive about what you just said? Do you have any proof?"
"Well, yeah, shit I fucked her three or four times a year for over ten years. I guess I know her. When Margie divorced me they had PI surveillance from California in part of the evidence. I'm pretty sure Crystal was one of the women they have in the report but I'm not sure now it's been so long. As for proof, hell, do you think I'm crazy? Shit, I'm a married man. Do you think I'd have anything like that lying around? What's the big deal anyway?"
"Crap," said Tom. "Stan that woman is my wife Julia. She owned and operated Crystal's Catering for over 15 years. She just sold it when we decided to retire and move back home. I almost had to divorce her to get her to quit. I just ... I just can't believe ... But you know, she would never, but never let me see her or make love to her the nights she catered a big do. She always said she was just so exhausted ... FUCK!"
Stan was looking at his friend in shock as he saw him wilt before his eyes. Finally he said, "Damn Man. I'm sorry. I just didn't know and..."
The two friends sat in silence watching Julia as she moved from group to group working the crowd. Tom noticed she seemed to pay a lot more attention to the men than to the women and after what Stan had told him he began to worry and think. Damn, what should he do? If he confronted Julia she would get angry and he would be in a world of hurt but if she had been a whore ... SHIT, SHIT, SHIT. What should, what could he do?
Stan sat with Tom and stared off into the distance for a while. Finally he said, "Hey Tom. You know I might be able to help you after all. A couple of the big wigs from the LA office always had camera's and video equipment at the meetings. Let me do some checking around and see what I can come up with. Hell, if they had some pictures I might get them to send me some of them. Hell, I can even tell them I think Crystal is back here and I want to see the pictures to see if it is her before I meet with her. I can tell them if it is her I want to use her to cater our meetings here from now on. Would that be OK with you?"
Tom just looked at Stan and nodded his head 'yes'.
Needless to say the rest of the evening was a total bust for Tom. Finally it got late enough he felt they could go home without raising too many questions and he rounded up Julia. When she saw him she asked, "Tom, what's the matter? Don't you feel well? You look like hell."
Tom replied, "No Julie I have felt worse and worse as the evening went on. I just want to get home and get to bed."
Over the next several days it was all Tom could do to be civil to Julie. He knew he had to try and act naturally but it was so hard. Doubt and fear were eating at his guts until he had trouble keeping food down. He was angry with Julia several times and blew innocent statements from her and his parents out of proportion. He would make angry comments then he had to apologize.
Finally, the Friday after the party Stan called. "Hey Tom. Why don't you come out to the country club tomorrow and play a round of golf. A bunch of us usually get together Saturday mornings and we would like to have you become one of the regulars. I have some things I need to talk to you about and I have some of those old pictures we discussed at the party."
Tom felt his stomach lurch once again but knew he had to know for sure. "OK buddy. Is 930 OK?"
Julia came into the room as he was verifying the time and asked, "Is 930 OK for what honey?"
Tom looked up at her and said, "Stan and some of the guys want me to come out to the club in the morning and play a round or two of golf. I told him I would. That's OK isn't it?"
Julia smiled and said, "Of course honey. You used to play all the time. I know how you must miss it. I'll be fine here with your mother."
When Tom arrived at the club he found Stan in the lounge waiting for him. After the pleasantries were out of the way he handed Tom a large UPS shipping box. "I'm sorry Tom but ... Well, I looked at these pictures when I received them Friday and it's Julie. I have thirty or forty prints and there is three DVD's. Those guys made movies of several of the parties and watched them. Hell, some of them are almost professional quality. I got horny ... OH, Shit. I'm sorry..."
Tom raised his hand and made a throw away gesture then shook his head. He clenched his teeth then said, "Hell, not your fault I married a whore. I just can't believe she managed to work like that and I didn't know. Hell, I know I traveled a lot and she worked a lot of nights but damn. I thought our sex life was great. She almost never turned me down except for the nights she came home so late and ... Crap. SHIT. I don't suppose you know a good divorce lawyer do you? I don't care if she has quit now I can't live with what she's done if that was really her..."
"Yeah Tom, I know a good one. In fact, she is a member of the club and she is damn good. She was Margie's attorney when she divorced me seven years ago and ... Hey, I wonder if she still has any pictures of Julie or the old PI reports in her files? Let's go see if she's playing today or if she is here. Maybe she can help you out. I don't know though. She and I have history and I'm not one of her favorite persons."
The two men walked through the clubhouse toward the waiting area for the first tee. Stan smiled and said, "You're in luck Tommie old boy. There she is. Come on."
Stan led Tom up to a very well dressed, beautiful woman that appeared to be in her mid 50's. She looked up at him and frowned. Stan said, "Sally, this is Tom Jennings. He's an old friend of mine and I told him you were the meanest shark swimming in this ocean. We ... Well, he thinks he might need your services and I told him if he could get you in his corner half the battle would be over..."
Sally stood and looked at Tom for a moment then turned to Stan. "Knowing you as I do I'm not sure I want to represent any of your friends. What did he do-get caught cheating on his wife like you did?"
Stan raised his hands chest high, palm out and said, "Hey Sally. I got caught and you and Margie raped me. I know I fucked up but, well, I guess I feel like I owe Tom and you one. He was, hell he is one of my best friends and ... Well, would you please at least just talk to him before you refuse to help him. I'm not sure but if you still have some of the pictures you and Margie used ... well, you might be able to use them and some of the PI reports to help Tom. I think, no I'm sure one of the women I got caught with was his wife."
As Stan talked Sally looked more and more angry. She started to say something and Stan broke in once more. "NO, Sally. I had no idea it was Tom's wife when I was screwing around. I first met her officially at a party Friday night. She and Tom sold their businesses and moved back here from LA. She ran the catering company we used for our meetings out there and, well she and most of her girls catered to ALL of our needs at the meetings if you get what I mean. Tom didn't know anything about it until I opened my big mouth. I got some DVD's and pictures sent to me from the guys out in LA and gave them to Tom this morning. I know you don't think much of me but if you could help Tom..."
Sally looked at Tom a moment. Both men could almost see the gears turning in her head as she considered the conversation. Finally she looked at Tom and said, "Come with me. Let's find somewhere quiet to visit for a moment."
They found a secluded arrangement of chairs in the lobby and she sat. Tom sat in a chair beside her. Sally looked at him then said, "Tom my first impulse is to tell you I won't represent you. I have known Stan for years and he has always been a typical sleezeball salesman. I know most of his friends are much like him. Now tell me why you think I should take your case and make me believe you are the injured party here." She glanced at her watch and continued, "I only have about 20 minutes before my tee time so..."
Tom looked at Sally and said, "Well, I guess I am just the quintessential dumb husband. I traveled a lot, started and sold a very successful company. I left my wife alone a lot and she raised two wonderful children for us. When the last one began school she said she was bored and went to work for a catering company-Crystal's Catering. When Crystal wanted to sell, we bought it and Julia began operating it. Within two years revenues and bookings had almost tripled and she began making almost as much as I was. Of course that success came with a price. She worked several seven-day weeks and many late nights. I thought our sex life was suffering because of her and my work. I guess mine may have been but if Stan is right, her sex life sure wasn't suffering."
"Look, I know what kind of guy Stan is but he's always played it straight with me. I'm probably the only one of our class and friends that wouldn't be afraid to leave Stan alone with their wife. I helped get him out of a bad situation at our high school graduation party and from that time to this he has always gone out of his way to do right by me. I..."
Sally's head jerked in shock. She stared at Tom and asked, "Are you the one that helped Stan get his date back from those three boys that had forced her into their car at the after party? I heard they had Stan down and were kicking him while another one held his date down in the back seat?"
Tom smiled and looked out into the distance. He unconsciously began rubbing his left side and felt the small bumps on two of his ribs. He sighed and said, "Yeah, that was me. Even then I knew what kind of guy Stan was but I couldn't let those three kick him when he was down. Besides, I was really afraid of what they would do to that girl. She was so pretty and I could see the one holding her in the back seat was touching her while she cried and tried to get away ... God, I can still hear her begging for help sometimes. I have always been so scared something like that would happen to my daughter and no one would step up and help her..."
Sally smiled and said, "Well Tom I don't care now if you ARE a friend of that turd. I'll take your case and you'll get everything I have for as long as it takes. You see, Tom, that little 17-year-old girl was my youngest sister. I was already away at college when my parents moved here to town so I didn't know anyone. If they ever told me your name I have long forgotten it but we always believed you saved her from rape and maybe more."
Sally looked into Tom's eyes and gave him a little smile then she said, "Now, let me see what Stan gave you this morning and let's see what we need to do to make things right for you. Like Stan said, I may have something in my files that will help you but a lot of it I can't use unless his ex wife gives her permission. I'll have my clerk get to work on that Monday."
Tom and Sally were still talking when they called her for her tee time. She looked up at him and quickly scribbled something on a piece of stationary she had picked up from the front desk. She handed Tom the paper and her pen then said, "Quick Tom, sign this contract hiring me and give me ten dollars for a retainer. You need to go on home or wherever now. I hope I can trust you to stay calm? Call my office Monday afternoon for an appointment and we will fill you in on what we have and what we need to do to make this case work for you. I do have to ask, if your wife really did this are you sure you can't reconcile? You need to think about that before we get too far along in the process."
"Sally there is no way I can keep living with that Skank. Just thinking about what she did to me during our marriage makes me sick. I want her served and the divorce over with as soon as possible."
The rest of the weekend Tom was moody and barely civil to Julia. Even his parents noticed the tension between the two. Finally Sunday night when Julia and Tom were getting into bed she asked, "Tom what's wrong? Are you still upset because I didn't want to go to your friends damn party? You've acted like a bear all weekend and I'm getting tired of it. Your mother asked me at lunch if we were having trouble."
Tom looked at Julia and sighed. She almost recoiled when she saw his clenched jaws. She was starting to say something when he began talking. "Julia I'm not sure if anything is wrong. I heard some things at the party that are really bothering me. Some of the guys there were telling me some of the most unbelievable things about someone I've known for years. If they are true I don't ever want to have anything to do with them and I just don't know what to say or do."
"Well honey why don't you talk to them and find out what is really going on? There's no reason to take it out on your family is there?"
Tom sighed and said, "I know you're right and I should talk to them but ... well if what I heard is true it will completely wreck the friendship and feelings I have for them. I just want to be sure before I go off the deep end. I'm going to talk to a couple of people Monday to see what they have to say about the problem then I'll let you know about it. OK?"
Julia smiled and leaned in to give Tom a gentle kiss before they got into bed. She rolled to Tom and tried to snuggle up to him but he moved away and turned his back. "Julie I'm sorry but I'm just so tied up right now I'm not in the mood. I'm sorry."
Julia felt the tears trickle down her cheeks when Tom refused her yet again. She was starting to get scared she had done something to upset him. She went back over the wording he had used when he told her what was bothering him and became even more worried. He was usually much more talkative about his problems. She also didn't like the way he had worded his response. There was nothing she could put her finger on but she felt very uneasy about his response to her questions.
Monday afternoon late Tom called Sally as instructed. She said she had permission already to share evidence collected for Stan's divorce with him. They visited and agreed to meet Tuesday for lunch then go back to Sally's office and review the evidence and discuss what he wanted.
They purposefully kept the lunch conversation light and didn't touch on Tom's problems. As soon as they returned to the office though Sally sat behind her desk and got a very serious look on her face. "Tom this looks bad-really bad I'm afraid. The pictures and PI surveillance report indicate Stan was having sex with a woman called Crystal and several of her employees when he was in LA. The PI says her actual name was Julia Jorgensen. She was the manager of Crystal's Catering."
"There were several other women Stan was intimate with, some of which were in LA and some in other cities including here. Crystal and he only met in LA and she was, oh, hell, the PI says the catering business was just a front for a Madam and her high priced call girls."
Tom felt his stomach roll and he physically slumped down into his chair. "SHIT. I guess that tears it. Julia's maiden name was Jorgensen. I never knew she was still using it. I provided the money for her to buy the business but other than have my attorney look over the paperwork for her I wasn't involved. I can't believe she used her maiden name on the paperwork. We'd been married about 9 years when she bought out her prior boss. Would it help if I found the legal documents?"
"No Tom the pictures and the PI report should be sufficient but..." Sally sighed and continued, "Tom I don't know if you have thought of this but you need to get tested for STD's if you haven't done so."
Tom smiled and his eyes became so cold he almost scared Sally. He gave a little laugh and said, "I thought of the tests the day after finding out about Julia's career. I had them done that next Monday. They came back clean but I will have to have others done for some time to totally eliminate HIV. I asked Stan if he hadn't worried about diseases and he said that one of Crystal's iron clad rules was everyone wore condoms every time they were inside any of the women. No one came near her or one of her girls unless they used a condom. He said he heard her offered $1500 one night if she would let them go bare back and she refused. I was pretty confident I would be clean after hearing that but you can never be totally positive. Your evidence and planned proceeding is enough for me Sally. I want the divorce. How soon can you file it and have her served?"
Wednesday afternoon Tom was in the den with his father. Julia and his mother were in the kitchen working on supper when the doorbell rang. Tom's mother answered it and they heard her yell, "Julia there's a man here that needs to talk to you."
Tom cringed because he knew what was coming. He turned to his father and said, "Dad I'm afraid things are going to get pretty nasty here in a few minutes. I'm sorry I got you mixed up in this but I didn't want Julie to take off somewhere before th..."
Julia came almost running into the Den with Tom's mother following. Her face was red and twisted in anger and she was waving an envelope and some legal sized documents. She cut into Tom's sentence and began screeching as she said, "Tom Jennings what the hell is the meaning of this? I was just served divorce papers and ... Tom how could you? You know I love you and would never cheat on you. How could you accuse me of adultery?"
Tom's parents were looking at the couple in shock as Julia continued to rant and rave. Tom broke into her conversation after he had reached under the cushion of the couch and withdrew an envelope. "Julia just shut up," he yelled. "You know as well as I do that you have committed adultery time after time. I know for a fact you have been cheating on me for at least the last ten years. Do you want to see these pictures? Pictures I might add of you with dozens of different men including one of my best friends? You were right to not want to go to the party at Jerry's. I think I even understand why you fought moving back here with me."
"I just can't believe your damn catering company was nothing but a stable of high priced call girls and you were the Madam though. I must have been the most blind, stupid husband in the world. How in the hell can you say you never cheated on me though? Shit, Stan told me you charged $500.00 a piece or $2500.00 a night for your personal services on top of the food you catered. How big a cut did you get from the other girl's tricks? Now pack your bags and get out of here. I don't even want to see your cheating ass and I'm sure Mom and Dad don't want you in their home any longer."
Julia looked shocked when Tom said that then her face flushed once more. She started talking loudly once again. "Why you sanctimonious Bastard. You run around staying gone for weeks at a time doing god knows what and screwing anything you can get your dick into and you get upset about me running a business. I never, not once, cheated on you. Anything I did was in my business. It was a job just like you had. GOD, did you really think I made nearly a half million dollars a year selling finger food? I felt bad at first but when Crystal explained it to me I saw what I was doing wasn't really cheating, it was just business. Of course when I saw how many business men made use of our services I knew you were doing the same thing in your meetings so where was the problem? I loved you then and I still love you. I never let either of our businesses affect our marriage."
"Julia I never once in our whole marriage stuck my dick into another person. You of all people should know that. Christ, how many times did you complain after I got home about all the sex I was getting and trying to get? Of course I can't say that about you can I? How many nights did I get laid after you catered a meeting? As far as I know none. Considering that, how can you say your business never affected our marriage? How many times did you refuse me the sex a husband was entitled to because you had just finished servicing your clients at a meeting you catered and were too tired? Hell you probably weren't so much tired as just too sated to worry about taking care of your husband."
"I think I've been more than fair in the proposed settlement. I have split our joint accounts evenly but I propose you keep the proceeds of your business sale less the money I put up so you could purchase it. I also proposed I keep the proceeds from my business sale. I don't think I could live knowing I have part of the money you made whoring yourself out. It would be too tainted."
Tom turned to walk from the room then had another sickening thought. He felt his face blanch then blush. He turned to Julia and said, "OH, you Bitch. I started to ask how you managed to hide your whoring around from Carrie when she was working for you but ... Damn you. She was one of your girls too wasn't she? You turned your own daughter into a prostitute didn't you? That's why she never told me anything about it isn't it?"
Julia looked shocked then she turned her head away from Tom. Her shoulders were heaving as she silently cried. She then said, "No Tom I didn't really ... I mean I heard her and some of her friends talking about having sex with men they would pick up in town. I heard them talking about charging them and also about how they would have the sex with them even if they didn't pay. She told them that if I could do that in my business she didn't see why they couldn't do it also. I decided that I would rather have her working for me where I could keep her safe and there would be a smaller chance she would be arrested. I, I admit I let her work with me but ... OH, Tom, she's a lot like me. She needs a lot of sex and she was going to get it somewhere so I figured why not somewhere safe..."
"Oh hell I not only have a wife that is a whore I have a daughter that is one too."
"NO! Tom I admit Carrie used to be a working girl but I'm pretty sure that when she got out of college and got married she stopped. I ... well I know she quit charging anyway but ... well, she may be fooling around on some of her business trips. I just don't know but, well, she's like me and needs sex almost daily..."
Tom glanced at his parents before he turned once more to leave the room. They were both standing staring at Julia in shock. "I've had enough. I have to get out of here. I think you should be gone when I get back."
As these things do the divorce drug on but finally it was over. Tom got what he wanted in the property settlement. He never felt comfortable in his parent's home or with his old friends again. He tried to live in his old hometown and spent the months of the divorce and the next three months in a rented condo.
One Saturday about three months after his divorce was final Tom was golfing with Stan and two of his other friends. During the conversation they told him Crystal's Catering had opened in town and his wife, daughter and several of their friends from California were operating the business. Later that evening he decided he just had to move on. According to Stan Crystal already had several of the local companies scheduling them to cater their meetings including his own. He said the managers in LA were super happy to hear they could once again sample Crystal's charms and had scheduled the next year's management meetings with her already.
The next Monday morning Tom went to the local Ford Dealer and purchased a new truck. He got a new F250 SuperCrew, Powerstroke 4X4 with all the bells and whistles. He then drove his new truck to the local RV dealer and picked up a nice 36 foot fifth wheel trailer, again with all the bells and whistles. He was going to tour the US and maybe Canada and he was going to do it in style and comfort.
Before he left, Tom thought long and hard about his next move. He still felt deep-seated anger with Julia and the way she acted when they were married. He finally decided to go for some revenge. On the day he left he sent the local district attorney an anonymous package. It contained a copy of the PI report from LA that pertained to Crystal's Catering and some pictures of what went on in the affairs they catered. He notified him that he heard they were now operating in his city and did he intend to allow this to go on?
Tom left town in the late spring and decided to tour the northeast then as the seasons cooled he would move south along the east coast before wintering somewhere in the south. He headed northwest when he left home traveling up through Kansas and into Nebraska. In Minden Nebraska, a small town just north of the Nebraska line he made his first two night stop. He spent two days enjoying the Pioneer Village. It had so many old vehicles, implements and machinery he didn't see it all even spending that amount of time. Finally he left, turning back east to I29/US 71. He went north then turned east on I90. Tom was in no hurry. He stopped when he wanted and stayed as long as he wanted. Some days he drove an hour or two, others he drove six or eight.
Tom loved to fish and float on free flowing streams. He also loved to eat good food and really liked to visit and sight see. He did all these things as the location and mood allowed. As he wandered farther east he made it a point to stop at the John Deere museum and the Ford Museum. He spent days on end viewing all the two museums had to offer. In the evenings he sat around the campsite visiting with other travelers, many of who also went to the same places he had seen.
As the summer progressed he found he was meeting the same people over and over. Many of his fellow RV'ers became very good acquaintances if not friends. As they visited they would tell each other what they had seen and liked, making suggestions of where the people they were talking to should go. Tom was directed to many wonderful things using this informal, verbal travel guide. He exchanged phone numbers with many wonderful people and much to his surprise they tended to keep in touch. He was beginning to feel like he had family and friends once again and was gaining a modicum of peace after the tumultuous divorce.
Finally as the leaves began to turn Tom found himself in New England, Maine to be exact. He really enjoyed the scenery and history but the roads were murder trying to pull his trailer. He parked and took several overnight trips staying in hotels because of the hassle of pulling down narrow streets and roads and the heavy traffic.
Tom was staying at a small resort along the coast. He decided he was beginning to get over his painful divorce and he was beginning to enjoy life once more even though he still missed Julia-the Julia he thought he had been married to anyway. He was eating some wonderful seafood and watching the sunset when a group of younger men and women came in. It appeared the men especially had already had way too much to drink. They were loud and obnoxious, even arrogant and treated their women so badly it angered and embarrassed Tom. One young man, in particular constantly brow beat the waitress, always complaining about the service or the quality of the meal. He never spoke politely to the woman he was apparently with. She appeared to be deeply embarrassed by the actions of her companions. Tom heard her ask them several times to be polite and stop being so obnoxious. Several times he had to stop himself from going up to the table and talking to the worst of the crowd.
Tom was trying to enjoy his carrot cake and a nice port wine when once again he heard loud voices. The obnoxious man was once again complaining, and then Tom heard him raise his voice once again as he stood. He said, "I don't give a damn whether you are through or not. I'm leaving. The service and quality of this slop is so substandard I can't stand to spend any longer in here."
The rest of the group stood and started for the door. The woman the man was with was sitting head bowed blushing badly. He walked angrily up to her and grabbed her arm trying to pull her away from the table.
She looked up into his face and said, "NO. I'm not going anywhere with you. I can't believe I let Margo talk me into going out with you. After the way you have been acting I sure don't intend to spend any more time with you. Now just go and leave me alone."
"Shit. Fine then. Find your own way home. I've had it with you and this damn place." Tom had stood when the man began pulling on the young woman and he arrived at the table as he stalked off. The young woman was sitting silently crying into her napkin.
Tom knelt beside her and said, "I'm sorry. I don't understand why some men have to be such absolute assholes. Is there anything I can do for you?"
The woman looked at him a moment then smiled and shook her head no. "I'm fine. I'll just call a cab and have them take me home. Some first date huh?"
Tom watched as the young woman stood, gathered her purse and wrap then walked toward the door. As she was opening the door the waitress rushed up to her and thrust a piece of paper at her. She stood a moment then looked at it and burst out crying. Tom walked up to them and asked, "What's the problem here?"
The waitress said, "This lady was trying to leave without paying for her meal. I was just lucky I caught her."
"But I didn't order all this. I mean I was on a date and he, we had a disagreement and he left me here. I don't have the money to pay for this. I left my credit cards at home and only have a few dollars cash."
About that time the manager walked up and inquired what the problem was. After he received the explanation he, too demanded the lady who Tom now knew was Abigail pay the tab. She broke down crying once again and said, "I don't have the money. I'll have to call my parents and see if they can come get me and pay. I'm sorry."
Tom put his hand on the manager's arm and led him away from the waitress and Abigail. "Look," he said. "I was sitting near the young lady and I heard all that went on at her table. I'm sure you also heard the commotion, as her companions were extremely rude and rowdy. They constantly harassed your waitress and made disparaging comments about the service and food. They tried to force Abigail to leave with them in a great rush. I suspect they had planned on doing the 'dine and dash' from the first. Abigail refused to leave with them so now she is being stuck with the bill. I suggest you get names, addresses etc from her and try to recoup the bill from those other individuals. I will be glad to pay for her meal when I pay for mine if you will allow that."
The manager looked at Tom and appeared deep in thought for a few moments then sighed. He said, "Well I suppose I can do that but I want her name and address also because if I cannot collect the bill from the others I will have to get it from her or call the authorities."
Tom and the manager walked back to Abigail and she was informed of the decision. She began crying once again when she found out Tom had helped her out. After all the business was taken care of Tom offered to take her home. She tearfully accepted and they left the restaurant together. She said she had just recently moved back to town after finishing college and was living with her parents until she found a place of her own. She gave her parent's address and Tom programmed it into his GPS. Tom decided she must be younger than she looked since she said she had just obtained her degree.
As they drove Tom and she began to talk. He found himself more and more intrigued by Abby. When they arrived at her home he was impressed. It must have been 4000 square feet in size and was well landscaped sitting back from the road on what appeared to be at least a three-acre lot. Abby insisted he accompany her into the house to meet her parents. Alas when they got inside they found they were gone. They had left a note for her saying they did not expect to be back until very late that evening.