Chapter 1: Sad Beginnings
I have a very sad tale to tell. I'll start at the beginning and try to get to the end.
My name is Ross Hanson. I was born in Round Rock, Texas, to James and Margaret Hanson. At the time, my mother was 54 years old and my father was 58. Yes, I was a very late in life baby. My mother thought she was going through the change of life and only saw a doctor when she gained twenty pounds all in her stomach. She was six months along at that time and, needless to say, I was a small baby. I weighed in at five pounds six ounces and seventeen inches long at birth; at six months, I was almost three times the weight and another four inches longer.
My parents ran an ostrich and emu farm just south of Taylor Texas. I had two older brothers; James Junior, or JJ, at 38 and Jonathan aged 35 when I was born. I also had a sister, Sophia, who was 37 at the time. To say it was unusual for me growing up with elderly parents is an understatement of great proportions. My mother was mistaken for my grandmother when I started school at five, and after a few arguments it became a moot point.
I had a best friend, Todd Peterson that lived a few doors down from us, who I met when we started school. We were like brothers, inseparable from the time we started school in kindergarten til he died in a drowning accident at Hamilton Pool the summer we were 13.
I grew quite a bit and by the time I was 14, I was 6'-1" and 155 pounds. My dad was now 72 and my mom was 68. We moved to an apartment in town when my parents retired from the farm and sold it to a friend.
Once I graduated from high school, they left for south Texas. They were to look at a retirement home in Pharr when they were killed in an auto accident. It happened in Alice, Texas.
A semi loaded with fruit was heading north out of Alice on SH 44/359 and as he came under the US281 overpass he noticed my parent's car in the intersection. He hit the brakes; they weren't there. He knew he had a tiny air leak, but since the compressor kept the pressure up, he wasn't worried. When he hit the brakes, the air line ruptured and he had no brakes at all at first, and then the emergency system kicked in and they locked up. He hit my parent's car broadside and pushed them into oncoming semi coming south from San Diego - Texas, not California. The light had turned and my father had assumed the semi would stop for him; they were killed almost instantly.
That was my 18th birthday present.
On my behalf, my brother JJ sued the truck company, the driver, and anyone else he could possibly sue and I ended up with just over six million in damages. I was now able to go to college without a worry for money.
But it was just not the same without my parents. They had paid for my first year at Texas State before they left. I vowed that I would not let them down. I was going to get a good education and make something of myself. I wanted my parents to be proud of me and what I would accomplish with my life.
JJ was living in Jackson, Tennessee with his wife, Shelia; his three children were all out on their own now. John and Candice were in California somewhere, the last I had heard. Sophia was a literary agent in New York City. So I had no close family and I was essentially on my own. Too bad I never got to show my parents what I could accomplish.
Why was it that my close friend and then my parents died without me saying goodbye one last time except at their funerals? Was this what my life would be like, always saying goodbye to everyone I ever loved or cared about?
Why didn't my life amount to something? Guess. Yes, a woman was my downfall. Her name is Laura Gernsbach; well it was when I met her in college during my sophomore year. I met her by chance when I had turned around to say something to Brad Pearson, my roommate and friend. As I turned back around I was slammed into by this angel. Laura was five-six and maybe a hundred pounds, but oh so put together in just the right places. She had long blond hair that shone with an inner light. She had on white shorts, white tennis shoes, and a pale yellow button up blouse. But she looked anything but angelic sprawled on the corridor floor with daggers shooting out of her eyes. I cringed a bit expecting the fury of this angel that had the look of the devil on her face, until her face softened with a giggle and then I was blinded by her smile.
I offered my hand and as I lifted her to her feet she weighed nothing, but the electricity that flowed through us gave me an instant hardon.
"Are you alright Miss? I'm so sorry, I should have watched where I was going," I drawled.
"It's Laura, Laura Gernsbach, and it was entirely my fault. Mister..."
"Ross, Ross Hanson, and the fault is all mine. I should have noticed an angel falling from heaven. Do you have class now?"
"No, I'm finished for the day. Why?"
"I would like to buy you a Coke or something to make up for my clumsiness. Oh, I'm sorry. I suppose that you already have a boyfriend, seeing as lovely as you are and all. Please excuse my brashness, but I never knew angels were real, until now."
"I would love a Coke, Ross. And believe me, I'm no angel either."
That is how this all started. We dated for two years, then became engaged, and then married after we graduated. I found work at a hospital equipment company in Taylor and Laura worked at a law firm in Round Rock. We seemed to be happy, just the two of us. We had found a nice little bungalow in Hutto, which was kinda between both our work places.
I thought we had the ideal life. We loved each other with the intensity of our youth. We were making decent money, so we went out a couple of times a month, mainly to Graham Central Station in Austin. Well, they may have an Austin address but they are surrounded by Pflugerville and Round Rock, right off IH-35 North. It's a club that has six different venues: top 40, C&W, Live local bands, 70s, 80s, and 90s music, a party animal room, and karaoke. We mostly did the Denim and Diamonds room which was the country room. We went to shows and to dancing at the Old Coupland Inn several times a year too.
Things were quite good until her last promotion about eight months ago, during our fifth year of our marriage.
Laura had received that promotion to law associate for one of the senior partners. Then, about three months afterward, she had to start working late and traveling. They were mostly two to three day stays, but it happened frequently enough to really cut into our time together. I had gotten a promotion to floor supervisor in the cabinet section and I was being groomed for more responsibility.
Then the sex started to change. Laura would fuck me blind before a trip and then, for two to three days after coming back, I was cut off. Some days she would come home about an hour late, go right to the bathroom, and take a long soak. Not her usual shower, but a soak in the tub. That had me wondering what was going on.
With our money situation I couldn't afford to hire a PI, so I was stuck with what I could figure out on my own. Well I really could, but JJ, with my permission, had put all my millions into a trust that couldn't be touched until I was fifty, but I could get some during an emergency. We set it up that way so I would have a great retirement fund to be able to do what I wanted. But it did pay me just about $15,000 a year in December from the interest.
I talked to a couple of the guys at work, mentioning that my friend Brad thought his wife was cheating on him. That he was asking me what he should do and what he should look for. Brad now lived and worked in Dallas so no one here knew him. The guys were clueless as to what was really happening. Brian suggested that I check with some of the women I knew to see if they had some clue.
After asking some of my guy friends, I tried some of the women friends I had at work. They told me that with Brad's wife, Shirley, was not having sex with Brad right after coming back from a trip because that meant that whoever she was having sex with was larger than Brad. Then I mentioned the baths after work. One woman was sure that this other guy was bigger and he worked with her, that's why the baths. Shirley must have been so stretched out from the other guy that she had to work her Kegel muscles to bring her nether regions back to normal, and the two to three day wait was the same reason. The soaking would help with those exercises. That gave me the information I needed.
I asked to speak with my upper management boss, Rob Preston, he had recovered pretty good from a gunshot wound about a year ago, and was now back to work full strength again. Anyway, I asked if there was any training I could go to for a couple of days. Rob was where I was a few years ago, so he remembered that there was a useful training session that met one night a week at the Texas State School in Round Rock. The course was Instructional Strategies. This was learning to teach others how to do jobs, dealing with the strategies of how to teach people of differing backgrounds and education.
The class would run from 6:30 to 9:20 each Monday evening for six weeks. But I thought I could say the classes were on Monday and Wednesday evenings and I would have a window of opportunity to spy on Laura on my 'Wednesday class' night. The company would reimburse me once I passed the course so there would be no real money outlay. The only real cost for the course would be just my gas money to and from school.
I had to wait for two weeks before I could sign up. Fortunately, they broke up the semester into smaller segments just the length of these special courses. Those two weeks gave me plenty of time to discuss it with Laura and for us to decide that the course would be a good step towards my advancement. Once she agreed, I would be set. Laura, as a law associate made a bit more money than I did, but within a couple of years I could possibly pass her if she didn't advance as fast as I did.
I really liked the class and was getting a lot out of it. I would only tell Laura some of what I learned on Monday and then more on Wednesday evening when I got home. I let it go for the first week and then I hung around the neighborhood on the next Wednesday night. It was the spring semester and still got dark early. So I could sit unnoticed about half a block down from the house and watch everything that went on at the house, or if Laura left.
It was just about seven when a newer 'vette convertible drove up by the house and then turned around in a driveway about two houses down from ours. The car slowly drove up to the house just next to ours. Some tall guy got out and walked down to the house past ours and then back to our drive. Subtlety obviously was not his strong suit. When he knocked at the door, he was let right in and stayed until 9:15. It sure seemed like he skulked a bit when I saw him come out and leave. I normally came home around 9:45, so I drove home and acted horny.
"Ross! Not tonight, please. Did you see some cute coed bending over in front of you tonight that got you all hot and bothered? If you need it so bad, I can maybe give you a hand job."
"How about one of your patented blow jobs? That shouldn't take a lot out of you if you're tired."
"Not tonight, Ross. I'm not feeling good, okay?"
"Sure, Sweetie. Some other time is fine with me."
That pretty much told me what was going on. Sure, it could have been business related, but I really didn't think so. Well, next Wednesday night I would have to take my camera with me. I could then sneak back into the house and take some pictures as proof.
I wouldn't really need proof for a divorce, but did I really want a divorce? Or, did I just want Laura to stop cheating on me?
Divorce was expensive and the cheater would get the most benefit instead of me. I would probably have to pay some alimony even though she has the bigger salary. Most men do, right? And then give her half of everything we have accumulated so far. True, a lot of what we have came more from her paycheck than mine. But I pay all the bills and her pay goes for things we want over the household bills.
God, what to do? Do I just let her go on cheating? The question is not do I let it go on, but can I let it go on? Man, I love Laura more than anything or anyone in this world. But this is just about killing me. I had to really think about this dilemma some more.
I tried to sleep that night next to the cheating slut, but I kept tossing and turning, so I slept on the couch. Even still, it was a very short night. The couch was lumpy and I kept seeing things in my mind ... like some tall guy with this huge cock pounding into my Laura.
At work the next day, my supervisor Bill Peters took me aside to discuss my recent distraction. I didn't know I had been so obvious but we talked and I told him everything. I couldn't believe I told anyone, but he got a stubborn look on his face and escorted me to our boss, Rob Preston. He shut the door to Rob's office and explained what I had told him.
Rob picked up his phone, "Kathy, I'm not to be disturbed til I call you again. Thanks." He hung up and then dialed another number. "This is Rob Preston; I need to talk to Steve Pender ... No, that won't do, it's an emergency ... Then have him call me right back. Thank you."
"Ross, from what you say, someone is coming over to your house when you are supposed to be at school, right?"
I nodded to mean yes as just now, I couldn't trust my own voice.
"You didn't get a good look at this guy last night?" A shake of the head from me. "Could you recognize his car again?"
I hesitated a bit, but I thought I might recognize it, so I nodded.
"Good. Bill, take Ross over to where his wife works. See if he can get a plate number for me, then right back here. Got it?"
"You bet, Rob. We'll be back as soon as we can." With that said Bill grabbed me and we were off, out the building and gone. We were soon driving west on US 79, toward Round Rock.
"Ross, you do know that CRS is kind of a family as much as it is a company, right? I know you've only been here about five years but we look after our own. Rob is pissed right now. He had some problems a little while back and the way everyone at the company stood by him and welcomed him back with open arms proves that this is a very close knit family of workers. Your problem becomes our problem, and we'll help all we can. Okay?"
I had finally found my voice and said, "Bill, I know and that is what is so hard. I think I get more love from my co-workers than I get from my wife here lately." I just kind of let loose and explained all about Laura and I on that trip to Round Rock. I even told Bill about my life before I even met Laura. About how I grew up and how my parents died and everything. The trip was about 25 minutes long, but it was long enough to tell my whole life story. We got to the Old Town Square building where Laura worked and there was only one newer corvette convertible. I wrote the license number down saying that I was pretty sure that it was the one I saw last night.
Bill had me call Rob with the number as we headed back. I really didn't think this was a good idea, but I was not firing on all cylinders yet either. The trip back to Taylor and CRS was pretty much silent. I think we were both deep in thought.
Once back we found out that the car belonged to James Edwin Hughes of Hughes, Jamison, and Gunther, Attorneys at Law. James was 42, married with three children, and senior partner in the firm. His father, Edwin Hughes, was one of the principals who started the firm thirty years ago. Also, by the time we got back, a guy from M. Falcon Security and Investigations out of Georgetown was waiting for my key to the house. He was going to wire the house for surveillance so we could be sure what was going on. I gave the guy my key and he said he would be about two to three hours.
Rob and Bill talked to me a little longer and assured me that things would work out for me. I was sent back to work and the day did seem a little brighter from the midnight gloom of earlier.
Not more than a half hour later, I was paged to Rob's office. It seems that our little bungalow had already been bugged. Rob was on the speaker phone with Dan Sterling of M. Falcon.
"Rob, what I found was cameras and mikes that were about ten years old. The batteries were corroded and I didn't find the transmitter or the recorder though. I seem to remember that there was a place in Hutto about ten years ago where a husband came home early and found his wife with another man. He shot both of them dead and then turned the gun on himself. I'm wondering now if this was that same house."
"Dan, let me do some research and I'll get back with you. For now, just remove the old stuff and get the new up and working. We can go from there. Thanks for the heads-up though. See ya later." Rob took the phone off speaker and looked at me. "Do you know anything about this Ross?"
"Not me, Rob. We found the place about five years ago and bought it. I thought the price was a little low, but the house was in real good shape: new carpets, new paint, and everything so we bought it. Well, the bank and us own it. We knew nothing of its past, if that's the house."
While I was speaking, Rob's fingers were flying over the keyboard. He nodded appropriately and then kept typing.
"It'll be ten years on July 14th. Jim Kyle found his wife Alice in bed with Frank Goshen on the evening of the 13th and killed them with a .45 and then turned the gun on himself and swallowed the barrel. The bank got the house back."
"There had been some people living in the house when we looked at it. They were moving to a bigger house in that new development, Country Estates Park, off of FM 685. So they must have upgraded the house with the paint and carpets to sell it."
"Well, for now, Ross, we wait and see what happens next week. Ross, Bill told you that we take care of our own. Right? Well, believe it. Things will work out and you have a lot of friends here. Remember that."
"Thanks Rob, I never knew that people I hardly knew would be so caring."
"Someday, Ross, we will have to compare our early years. I think we are a lot alike in some ways. Now go be productive, we're counting on you."
"Yes Sir, Boss."
As I left Rob's office, I had a new spring in my step that I hadn't had for a little while. I knew things would get better, even if they were not with Laura. There were a lot of nice ladies that worked here and quite a few were unmarried. Things may not be so bad after all. Only time would tell.
About two, I got a page that I had a visitor up front. Dan was there with my key. He said, "Ross, we are done at your place. Let us handle everything. Once we have the evidence then we can give it all to you, your lawyer, or whoever you want us to give it to. From experience, I would ask that you not see everything we collect. Most guys go off the deep end if they see and hear what is really going on. Just knowing that it is going on is usually enough. But that is just a suggestion. Gotta run. See ya later Ross."
Dan's words got me to thinking; did I really want to know all the intimate details or was just confirming my suspicions enough? I would have to think about that. I went back to work and got on with my life, such as it is. Now my question is: how do I go on living believing, but not absolutely knowing, that something is wrong? How can I make love to her? How can I stop making love to her? She is going to know something is not right if I refuse sex. What I saw in my mind last night is only going to get worse. Then what, ED? ED is not just for older men or ones on blood pressure medicine and other medicine like that. I can just see me losing an erection when she approaches me for sex.
I went over to talk to Stoney Martin. He is a well-known ladies man. They call Gerald, Stoney because he looks and sounds a lot like Stoney LaRue the singer. He also has a lot of tats and rides a Harley.
"Stoney, I'm having a real problem with my love life that cropped up and I need some advice."
"Sure Ross, let me shut this machine down." His trimmer machine wound down and he turned around and looked at me. "Shoot."
"This is private Stoney; nobody needs to know, okay?" I get a nod from him so I go on, "I think my wife is cheating on me, and I don't want to have to have sex with her until I find out what is really going on. How can I get around that problem?"
"Damn Ross, that sucks big time. Shit, the one thing I heard that could work is fake a hernia or pulled groin muscle. When you lift one leg it will pull and getting a hardon will hurt like the devil. You need to walk gingerly and a little stooped over. Not much, mind you, but kind of like when you get your nut sack pinched when you're driving or sitting wrong. I'm sure that has happened a time or two?" After getting the expected nod, Stoney grinned and continued, "Well, think about that, and then act accordingly. A guy injury should carry you for a couple a weeks. Can't milk it for more than that, unless you see a doc. If ya see the doc, then you can take pills for about 10 days before it gets better."
"Stoney, you are a wealth of information, how do you know all this?"
"Ross, I've known lots of bitches in my life and sometimes you gotta get creative to fake 'em out. You do what I said and you'll be set for a couple a weeks."
"Thanks Stoney, you're a real friend."
"Hey, I got to look out for my brothers, why not you too. You always treat me right and don't shit on me, so I treat you right too. That's how the brotherhood works."
"Thanks, Stoney, I won't forget this advice. Maybe I can do something nice for you sometime."
"Now that's brotherhood, Ross. Now I got to get back to work afore my boss gets on my ass for screwin' off. See ya later, boss."
Stoney turned around and started his machine again and I went back to my job of monitoring the production floor. Well, my part of it anyway. Stoney's advice was just what I needed and I think I just made a closer friend than I had before.
I knew that Stoney belonged to a motorcycle club in the area. Those are probably the brothers he meant rather than the regular kind. I've seen him with his vest on when he rides his hog. I can't remember what the club name is but if I know anything about Stoney, it would be a great club; not one of those clubs that cause a lot of damage and harassment. I remember that there were several charities that his club supported. I have even contributed to a few of them.
So now I was pretty well set to go home and act hurt, and blame it on work or maybe even from climbing into my truck. I could slip on the nerf bar getting in. Yeah, that's it. I slipped when climbing into the truck. The truck, oh yeah, I got a twelve year old Dodge quad cab Dakota. The little one with 4 wheel drive and the 3.9L V-6. Most people didn't want it because it was a 4x4 and had a 3" lift kit in it. Now me, with my height of 6'-4", I never had a problem, but Laura needed me to lift her in and out. Hey, I really didn't mind, but she had a 3 year old Camry she loved to drive. So we drove it most of time the two of us went somewhere.
I was set now. I just had to wait for her to cheat and I would have my ammunition to hit her with a divorce.
Wait, a divorce would mostly affect me, not her. Damn it! Why is the US court system prejudiced against men in divorces? A woman cheats and she gets half of everything they have, plus alimony, plus child support too. The man gets the shaft, he pays all the bills, the mortgage for the house he no longer lives in, plus all the bills and then he has to find somewhere else to live so that's more expense. It reminds me of the Jerry Reed song "She Got the Goldmine, I Got the Shaft". One thing I don't have to worry about is kids. Shit, she makes more money than me, so she should pay me alimony. Yeah, like that's going to happen. I'm the injured party and I get the shaft.
Since I got home before Laura, I looked for the cameras and could find nothing. Man, those M. Falcon people are good. I went ahead and started dinner for us. There were no messages on the machine and Laura hadn't called me, so she should be home at regular time, about 5:45. I usually get home about 4:45. I never have much traffic going home, where Laura had lots of traffic coming her way east. Our hours being different made it nice for us. Laura could put something in the crock pot in the morning because she didn't have to be to work until 8:00 and got off at 5:00. I, on the other hand, had to be at work by 7:15 to start at 7:30 which let me out at 4:30. I usually used that fifteen minute gap in the morning to go over the previous day's production, and to see if anything happened on the night shift, when the machine maintenance took place.
The crock pot was empty today but there were a couple of big pork loins thawing in the fridge, so I cut up some potatoes and put them on to boil. I would mash them up later. There was applesauce in the fridge as well. Man, I loved cold applesauce and pork chops or loins, even with pork roast. I thought about marinating the pork in some Italian dressing and baking them. I'd wait until Laura came home first.
I went into the spare room / office and got on the computer. I looked up on the Round Rock Leader website for their archives to see what I could find on this murder suicide that happened ten years ago on July 14th. There it was on the front page of the twice weekly paper. Both Alice and Frank were found nude in a compromising position and Jim was found in the doorway of the home all three were dead from gunshot wounds sustained from the gun in Mr. Kyle hand.
It all had happened just ten feet from where I was sitting right now. I got up, looked at the bedroom, and stood in that very same spot that Jim Kyle stood that fateful night in July. I looked and they had shown a drawing of the room layout and where the bodies were located. Our bed was in the same spot. That didn't take a genius to figure out that the only place in that room to put a bed was right there. The dressers were in the same place too.
I stood there and suddenly a vision came into my mind. I saw the tall man and Laura, they were on the bed, and he was fucking her in the missionary position. Her legs were in the air circling his body urging him on. I saw my arm rise up and there was a gun in my hand. The gun was an M1911A1, .45 automatic, just like the gun used by Jim Kyle. I saw it point to the two on the bed and then ... BANG!