The plan was perfect. The execution would be even better.
Ah, now there's a word you can get right out of your mind, execution, George Sanders thought to himself as he sat in the dark dimness of Sammy's Roadhouse with a pint of Guinness in front of him. Execution is not a word you want to be thinking about right now, good buddy.
Yet the dark thoughts wouldn't go away, so he dumped more beer on them. He was only vaguely aware of the Monday night football game going on above him on the big screen tv hanging from the ceiling. He heard the ka-chunk of cueballs slamming against each other from the pool tables at the back, the hiss of the deep fryer in the kitchen, the clink of glassware. But he didn't take any notice of what was going on around him. He was thinking about the execution of his plan.
George Sanders was born and lived briefly in one of the hardscrabble farming communities in eastern Oregon. His father, greg, had inherited a small parcel of land from his grandfather, and had, in a fit of youthful optimism, decided to take his wife Rhoda out there and be a farmer.
Unfortunately, the only thing Greg Sanders could grow were debts, rocks and erections. He ended up leaving Rhoda for a waitress at a bar-probably very similar to the one his son was sitting at now, in fact-and Rhoda took George, then seven years old, to Portland. Rhoda divorced Greg but left George with his father's name. She got a job working for one of the banks in downtown Portland as a receptionist and administrative assistant. She also started taking classes at PSU with the idea of becoming a nurse, her lifelong dream.
Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. When George was ten and in school, Rhoda was heading over to OHSU and got broadsided by a truck on the bridge. Her car flipped over the railing and it took them a day to find her body, because she wasn't wearing a seatbelt. Game over, time to pack up, and it was off to the wonderful world of foster care.
He bounced around the Portland/Salem corridor in and out of various homes for the next seven years. He got into more fights than he could count, engaged in a few acts of minor theft, and finally it all came to a head when he was seventeen.
Ever since the death of his mother, whom he had loved deeply, George had felt alone and empty. In an attempt to fill that emptiness within himself, he joined various gangs and took to the lifestyle like a duck to water. It didn't fill the emptiness-didn't even come close-but while he was with them, he could pretend like he was part of something larger, something beyond himself. The criminal acts, the drugs, the stealing of merchandise-none of that stuff was all that important. It was merely the outward show of solidarity you took away with you. Yeah man, we're together in all this, and we always will be. It wasn't the acts themselves that were important, it was the spirit behind them. Doing things as a gang, and getting away with it, drawing the bonds of loyalty and solidarity even tighter.
Well, that's what he told himself anyway. Even though his less than educated mind couldn't articulate the concepts, that was what he felt.
Until he was seventeen.
He and the guys had decided it would be a good idea to burn down the police station. Not a smart move, in retrospect, but hell, what the fuck, it'd be a blast, right? Ha ha.
Well, the cops that caught them didn't see the humor in the situation, so they were all packed up and sent off to jail until they were twenty-one.
Jail taught him things. It wasn't at all like in the movies, but it wasn't that great either. George quickly got status and he got respect when word got out that he was in there for burning down a police station. He did his time, got out with a few scars, and started bumming all over the pacific northwest looking for odd jobs.
George always laughed when he saw stories in the paper about work being hard to find and when he saw stories on the news about the unemployment rate being so high. Jobs were all over the place. The real problem was that nobody wanted to get their hands dirty doing them. George might've been a criminal but he wasn't averse to hard work, not at all. Hell, he liked having spending money as much as the next guy.
So, it was over to eastern Washington to pick apples, up to Seattle to work in the fish market, down to Pendleton to work on the ranches. Lots of dirty back breaking work, but it was honest work, and he always had some cash. And he laughed at all the out of work white collar idiots who bitched and moaned on the tv about there being no work, while he nursed blisters on his hands from digging fence post holes.
That carried him for the next ten years, right up until about 1995. And it was the goddamnedest piece of good luck that ended it for him.
He was walking along a country road in central Washington and had come across a damn fine looking sports car stranded on the side of the road. Smoke raftered up from the tailpipe in thick clouds and steam gushed from under the hood. And standing next to it was the sexiest woman he had ever seen in his life.
"Looks like you got a problem there, Ma'am," George said, standing far enough away so that he wasn't perceived as a threat.
The woman jumped and turned, hands going up a little defensively before she saw that he was at a safe distance.
"Yeah, something went bang under the hood and I stalled out. I'm on my way to Wenatchee and I think I got turned around."
George laughed. "You sure did. It's off that way, and you're heading the complete opposite direction."
The woman smiled ruefully. "I was never any great shakes at navigation."
"Want me to look under the hood there for you?"
She studied him for a moment. "Do I have to be worried about you?"
"Not today," George said, trying to look harmless. Not easy when you're a big bruiser with red hands and three days growth of beard, but he did try, and it seemed to work because she eventually let him look under the hood.
To cut a long story short, he fixed her broken pistons and she fixed his wandering life.
All those years on the road had made George fairly well acquainted with the female body and all its wondrous permutations, but nobody turned over his motor like Beth Cunningham did. They dated for a year before they got married and in that time they did their best to try every position in the Kama Sutra and some others they just made up. She was insatiable.
Beth's father owned a construction company and, in an ironic twist of fate, it turned out that George had done work for one of Old Man Cunningham's crews before, and they told the old man that he was reliable and always got the job done. So George hired on there, first as a plain old carpenter, and then later as a foreman, and later still he was helping expand the business in the front office. He and Beth married a year after that initial meeting on that dusty road and they never looked back.
Things coasted along for the next ten years, George was fat, dumb and happy and he had no idea things were anything but peachy keen. Money was rolling in from the business (Beth's father had retired and George was running the thing single-handedly by 2000) and they were trying for kids, but not having much luck.
And then an overheard conversation changed it all.
Now, sitting at Sammy's Roadhouse and nursing his beer, George thought back to the day, just two days ago, when he first realized his Beth was a cheating slut.
It was an ordinary day, as so many days when momentous events occur are. George got up, made love to his wife, had his shower, drank his coffee, kissed his wife goodbye and headed for the office tower his construction business was based out of. It had sure come a long way from the old run down trailer it had started out in.
Things went along until about ten in the morning when George got up to get a cup of coffee from the break room. He was just about to step through the door when the sound of his wife's name stopped him cold in the hallway.
"Does George know about Beth?" came the voice of Jim Frederics, a roofer George worked with.
A laugh. "Not hardly. You think he'd put up with it if he did?" answered Ralph Billings, one of their subcontractors.
"Good point. So, who's she doing now?"
"I think she's got Frank McCarthy over tomorrow. Boss says he's going out of town to Portland."
Another laugh from Ralph. "Boy, I sure wouldn't like to be Beth or Frank tomorrow if George ever found out."
Turning, George left on a gale of their shared laughter and went back to his office, coffee forgotten.
His wife was cheating on him.
Had apparently been doing it for a long time.
At that moment, George was numb. He sat there behind his desk with his head in his hands staring at the desktop. Then, slowly, all the questions started running through his head.
How could she do this to me? What's wrong with me? Am I that bad a lover that she needs to find it elsewhere? Does our marriage mean nothing to her? How could she toss ten years of marriage down the crapper without a thought?
Then the anger came. She wanted to play around? Well fine then. But she would have to pay the consequences.
It was then that the germ of The Plan began to form in his mind. A slow smile came across his face. Yes, things would be different in the Sanders house soon. Very soon indeed.
.... There is more of this story ...