Alone, Then Again, Maybe Not
Life is shit, then you marry it.
All the warning signs were there, the late nights, trips over the weekends, missing money and that, tell-all, the look on her face.
Not that there was any one thing to blame. We started to drift apart soon after the wedding, like 3 days after or so. It did not take a rocket scientist to see it coming.
Little things told the tale, I broke her ribs, she shot me in the face, the lawyers called it irreconcilable differences.
She got the house, the car, the coins and to make it fair, I got the bills. Yes, we had great lawyers, but I was free. Things were looking pretty bad, the face I put on at the Agency was just that, a face. How do you do your job, and still feel sorry for yourself?
She was daddy's little princess. To this day her Daddy swore he was not a 'made man', but 24 uncles, cousins and nephews seemed to run various 'family' businesses around town.
The combination of 'good guy' and 'bad guy' seemed to result in a sort of 'Limbo' with questions being asked by both sides. I had been raised to respect both sides of the law.
In reality, law enforcement was often as corrupt as the criminals they were supposed to be going after. It was no different at the 'Agency'. Money corrupts, money and power corrupts, absolutely.
There were only a few ways to get out of the 'Agency', die or meet with an accident. I searched for another alternative.
My friendly Exxon Thrift Mart provided the solution, money. The Lotto and power-ball were not record setting, but it was enough for me to 'pay' some higher-ups to place me in a 'deep-cover' scenario. Now I just had to get lost, never to grace the 'Halls of Langley' again.
I had read a story about a guy who struck it rich, raised a family and never seemed to want to leave his mountain. Maybe that was some TV show, whatever, it sure was nice to be able to live a simple life.
One thing I knew what I wanted was to blend in, this ruled out the 'For-No-Go' destinations.
There were several places where it would be easy to start over. The West, Appalachia, Alaska, and the border areas, both North and South came to mind. I wanted to be far away from urbanization, yet close enough to stores, airports and those things many of us deemed as 'necessities'. Virginia, that was someplace to start, all my ID's and paperwork said that Virginia was my home.
With my new wealth safely in my domestic and off-shore accounts, taxes paid and a large bundle of cash and pre-paid credit cards I went to my local, friendly RV and Trailer yard. I fell in love with a 53", luxury demon, named, 'Rover". One look and I just knew this was it. It was silver and gold, had beds (4), bath, kitchen, awnings, hot tub, power, TV, Wi-Fi, etc. At nearly $180,000 it was everyman's dream.
Remembering why I wanted to getaway and blend in, the 2-year old, 35' tag-a-long trailer, with a few costly but hidden options would do nicely, thank-you-very much.
I was recommended to a Toyota dealer, who soon had me buying a 3-year old Tundra with everything I would need for towing my new 'Beast'.
Being used, it even had several Virginia Park stickers, an assortment of maps, and that 'god-send', a GPS system. A quick trip to 'Hunter's World', 'Wally's Catch and Release Land', and good old Wal-Mart and I was ready to go, mmm, where, I was not sure yet.
I kept my apartment, had a service collect my mail, clean and make it appear all was normal at 123 Vista Drive. Meanwhile I headed South, on my way to a new and boring life. Just the way I wanted it.
About two-hours out, there was not much traffic between Tyson's Corner and Richmond. My kind of place, now if I could replace 'Chicago' with 'Stillwater Junction' circled on the old map; this might be a good place to start.
I pulled into a rest stop, saw another trailer parked and asked that age-old question, 'How y'all doin'.
When they decided that I was not going to rob them or do worse to the women, they politely told me to 'git'.
Luckily there was a full-serve Mobil station a little way down the road. The cashier there, a pretty young thing, answered my basic questions. Stillwater was a nice small town, take the road left about 15 miles and you'd be in town, there were two or three bed-and breakfasts and if I needed a place to stay, she and Rose, her BGF, would be very happy to help me out for the night.
It was less that three hours on my new life venture; and already it looked like I might have the first two members for my harem, that is if her BGF looked anything like this one here. Stillwater Junction it was then.
After paying for the fuel, some snacks and cold drinks, Sheila took my hand an I found her address and phone number on the torn slip of register tape. "In case you need help" she purred.
This was not what I had expected in a small town, she was very 'friendly' and gave new meaning to 'Southern Hospitality". I wondered if you had to be 16 or 18 to work in these places.
If I had not been looking, I would not have seen the turn-off, just the place I wanted, dull, quiet, and out-of-the-way. All seemed right with the world, then I spotted the 'beater' with the hood raised and doors open. I was worried a might, placed my Sig-Sauer 40mm close-by and proceeded ahead, slowly.
Things became less threatening when a little lady, followed by 4 very small shadows came near the road. "Please mister, we've been stuck here for hours. Can you give us a ride into town? Maybe Jake can work his magic again, but I think 'Betsy' has given-up-the ghost' finally.
They were drenched, dirty, and looked like Hell on a bad day. The smallest shadow, ran up to the window, took my hand and looked into my eyes with her clear blue eyes. "Please mister, Can you help us?"
What do you say to a little cherub like that? "Sure Honey, get your stuff, you girls ride in the back and let your mommy ride up front. I'm new here, how far into town?"
"I'm Jenny, my tribe here is Mandy, Beth, Heather and Elvira, they are 9, 12, 13, and 15. We don't mean to be no bother but we needed food, and Elvira here, was getting her woman time."
"Jen, I'm Nick, and I'm sorry you had all this trouble. Would it help if we did the shopping and I get something for the girls before we head back, or would your husband be upset, we just meet so I understand what can happen. I have a cell phone if you need to call him. I am planning to settle here for a bit and could really use you and the girls and your husband too, to show me around."
"Hell's Bells Nick, I've been on my own such a long time that any trip in a car or truck that works is like a vacation. Richmond, is about 17 miles to the left or there is a gas mart to the right, but they may not have the right things for Elvira"
"Richmond it is then, buckle up, you girls need to share and if your real nice, lunch is on me."
Jen and I did not say much. Whatever silence there was questions were hurled at me from 4 tireless minxes. The fact that some girl, Sheila, told me about Stillwater Junction was received with mixed responses. Jen it seemed, knew Sheila and just shook her head. I did not mention that she gave me her address and phone number and an invitation to spend the night.
Just outside Richmond we came to a new mall, Wayfarer's Pride it stated. It looked brand new and had acres of stores and even 3 hotel/motel sites, good, better and best it seemed.
Jen, turned and mentioned that she could not afford the prices that they charged here, that there was a Discount Dell a little further up ahead.
It was like a large hammer landed on my head. "How long has it been since you and the girls did not have to worry about prices and just had a good time shopping, eating and maybe seeing a show?"
"Never", she said. Then she began to cry.
'C'mon girls, it looks like y'all are about to enjoy life today. I know we just meet and some may think I will rape and pillage you, but 'Trust This', I will not hurt any of you and I have no one to buy a few nice things for, other than you. So, what do you say, can we shop until you drop, then you can be my 'slaves' and help me get settled in Stillwater, sound OK?"
"Yay", came a chorus from the rear. Even Jen started wiping her eyes. I reached for a rag by the seat then handed it to her. Her eyes saw the glint of the pistol. I picked it up and placed it on the floor in front of her seat.
"I hope you won't take advantage of this poor, defenceless stranger? I said to her."
She gave a small giggle.
"We'll talk more later", I said.
The term, 'Shop Till You Drop' took on a whole new meaning.
Lunch, if you could call it that was at the 'Rainbow Grill'. Jen and the girls had never been to a place like this. In addition to the normal fare, I had the waiter bring about 1/2 dozen special and exotic dishes. When they made a procession to the rest room, I could see the wear and tear on their clothes and the fear in Jen's eyes that I might not be there when they got back. I had the waiter bring several store guides and directories back to the table.
When he returned I asked him if he could have 2 or 3 hostesses, at the best store in the mall shop and model for Jen and the girls. I ordered 6 desert selections and handed him a $100 tip.
Jen and the girls came back to the table, looking very glad that I was still there.
"I ordered some sample deserts, try them all, if you find something you like, just order it." They all looked at me like I was crazy.
"Take your time, enjoy, your trip to Fantasy Land has just started. Jen, may I ask you something personal, please?"
She raised her eyebrows, shrugged, and said, "Well if it doesn't lead to me slapping you, ask away."
"Jen, judging by looks alone, I think you and the girls have had a very hard life. If I will place no demands on you and the girls, would you let me treat you to all those wonderful things that you could only dream about? I really mean no demands or 'special benefits'."
Before she could answer the waiter returned with a slip of paper. "See Marie, she will have representatives from all of the finest houses and shops ready for you. She is my sister and be prepared to take all-day and spend a small fortune." I handed him another $100 bill and told him that he and his sister were the best in my book.
'All-day' must be a code-word, or was it 'small fortune' because I had 4 girls hugging me like some long-lost puppy. Even Jen, was looking at me with tears in her eyes. "Jen, I said, I want to give you and the girls something that you will remember, so please just have fun, I can afford it."
Marie was everything that I hoped for. We were escorted into a room, refreshments, snacks and an assortment of drinks were set. A dozen or more pert hostesses were lined up and waiting to do their thing.
Marie sat next to me. "I usually don't do this but Josh, my brother, saw something in you that made me pull out all the stops. Your women will get a complete make-over, head to foot. I need to just ask you one thing, at the end of the day, what will be the limit you will place on me? I can spend your money on these girls faster than anyone can."
"I chucked, took out my wallet, selected a card and ID and handed her the Black Amex Card. There is no limit, do whatever you want. Will you also get them each a nice Sony Laptop. Could you also make a reservation for 2 nice suites at the best hotel around. I don't mean to presume but would you and all these wonderful hostesses join us for dinner this evening say at 8:30, and use the card for hotel, limo and dinner reservations."
Now she went back on the chair. "Mister, she said, do you want to adopt all of us too?"
"Oh, I almost forgot, since you are being so nice, would you be sure that each one of you select a couple outfits and one for tonight. I hope Dior and Halston are not in this mall, this might end up in Vogue."
Near 7:45 PM, Marie presented the girls. If Vogue Models were live on-stage that would best describe what was in-front of me. I cried, they cried, they were angelic.
Marie told me reservations were at the Excalibur, a new 5 Star Hotel nearby, a Limo would be waiting to take us there; then return for the workers.
Dinner was at the Hotel and the rooms were to be provided for my guests, compliments of the mall stores. Everything had been, or will be taken to the hotel for us.
Marie presented me with my Amex, ID and 23 totaled receipts. I think she was expecting sticker shock. I signed each one, then handed her an envelope.
"Don't you even want to check them or know how much they total", she asked incredulously.
"Did you check them?"
"Why of course, this was the largest sales we have ever made."
She looked at the money in the envelope. "There is a $2,500 tip for each of your helpers and $10,000 for you. You don't know how much I appreciate everything you have done."
"By the way, can I take some cookies and those Godiva Chocolates back to the hotel?"
On the way to the Hotel, Jen just said a few things. 'Why?" and "Who are you?"
"Jen, there is a simple answer. I did this because I could and I thought you and the girls needed a break for a change. As far as who I am. I also need to start my life over. I have made a mess so far and hoped Stillwater Junction might allow me to begin again."
"I don't know what got into me. It was like a dream. Marie kept showing us things, trying on this and that. The girls and I were in a daze. Marie also said that the girls things would be replicated in three sizes except the formal evening wear for this evening. She said we are going to a Hotel. Nick, I just can't, I..."
"Jen, I think I told you, no demands on you or the girls. I just want you to have fun. We have separate rooms. We have one or two extra stops tomorrow; then the food store; then home. The only thing I want you and the girls to do for me is to help me get settled in Stillwater Junction."
She started to cry again. Now the girls were crying. Soon I was getting misty.
When we arrived at the Hotel, I told the doorman, "Allergy."
When I offered the limo driver his tip, and asked him whether all the helpers would fit, he said everything was arranged.
When I walked into the lobby, Jen and the girls just stood there, looking up. Then Jen started shaking. She was a ghostly white and stated to fall. I raced up and grabbed her. "Heat and a busy day, I said."
"No Problem sir, your rooms are ready, you will all be on the 14th floor, there is a private elevator. James will take you up and explain the amenities. Dinner will be in the private room on your floor and no one else will have access to it but you, your guests and staff."
Chapter Two will tell more about Nick, the girls and how his quiet and quaint lifestyle may have to change.
Marie, Sheila, and a dozen other helpers may be willing to 'entertain Nick' if Jen is 'put off with him.'