Edited by Barney R. Additional spelling and grammar checking by Grammarly.
The second most scary words in marriage. Almost as scary as ‘Honey we have to talk’.
Authors note: Some of my readers will pick apart the military references. A scam just like I describe was going on in an army training base involving food instead of weapons. The whistleblower was promoted and given a 100% disability.
I was sitting in the living room watching the 6:00 O’clock news when I heard the words that made my blood run cold.
My name Clancy Alby Thompson, 100% green-eyed, red-haired, freckled, Irish. My friends call me CAT. Only business people or enemies call me Clancy. I was 38 when I heard those words. I had been married for almost 6 years. We were childless, by choice. My wife Linda (Martin) was a black-haired pixie. She was just less than 5’ 5” and weighed maybe 110 lbs. with a heavy, wet, wool sweater on. She had coal-black eyes and an olive complexion. She also had a temper that reminded me of an active volcano, ready to erupt at any moment. Unfortunately, I loved her until that day.
I was returning home after 6 years of military service because I was being discharged from the army. I had been invited to leave when I uncovered a black market weapons scheme that went all the way up to the facility Commanding General.
The MP’s and the Provost Marshall were nice about it, and I give a two-grade promotion and given a 100% disability so that I would have the pension that I would have gotten had I completed my military career as I had planned. I just got it 14 years early. The FBI awarded me a nice, large, seven-figure tax-free reward.
I was 24, rich, and unemployed. I had talked with a friendly JAG officer, and he recommended a financial planner in my home town and also that I get a good lawyer on retainer. He even recommended a firm.
The General, the other military participants, and the ‘militia’ group that were to receive the weapons are all guests at the graybar hotel in Leavenworth Kansas. Because it had been kept out of the news, part of the reward was to partially insure that I never told of the security breach. My name for the investigation was Sgt. John Doe. It was stressed to all concerned that the name was to protect me from reprisals by the rest of the ‘militia’ group that was not involved in this trial.
I was deplaning off of a red-eye flight from San Francisco to Grand Rapids MI at 4:30 AM. I did not tell anyone exactly when I was coming home as I wasn’t sure when it would be. I grabbed my gear and my checked bag and was walking toward the taxi stand at the airport when in my haste I nearly ran over a lady and knocked all of her bags off of the luggage cart she had put them on. I apologized and picked up the scattered bags. I offered to help her to her car and load the bags as a way of atonement for not noticing such a lovely lady.
My attempts at penance were accepted with a giggle. I introduced myself. She introduced herself as Linda Martin and without my asking, she volunteered that she was 22.
She then asked if someone was meeting me. When I said that I hadn’t told anyone when I was coming, she asked where I needed to go, and offered to take me to my parent’s home. She said it was not out of her way; “In fact,” she said, “I am headed to an aunt’s house just three blocks from there.”
I accepted. We talked and I found out that she had just gotten her nursing degree and passed her licensing exam and was to interview at a local hospital for an emergency room nurse position.
I explained that I had just been discharged from the army and was not sure there was a call for a supply system coordinator in the civilian marketplace. I told her about my degree from the online and remote attendance at the University of Maryland in supply management. I explained that my main job in the army was to keep track of on the computer of every item of non-medical supplies and equipment on the base. I had to know how much, and as important, where it was on the base.
Linda seemed to think that there should be a lot of opportunities for a civilian equivalency. She mentioned wholesale food, wholesale auto parts, and even medical supply at one of the medical centers in our city.
When we arrived at my folk’s house, she leaned over and kissed my cheek and handed me a piece of paper with her cell phone number and her e-mail address.
I went to the door of the house and used my key to open the door. I quietly placed my duffle, kit bag and other luggage inside the door. I turned to softly close the door, the lights came on and my mother, father, both brothers and my sister were standing in the dining room with a huge yellow ribbon with lettering in black saying ‘WELCOME HOME’.
I got a huge lump in my throat and got hugs from mom and Lou, my sister. I got guy hugs from Jim, John, and dad. Mom went into mothering mode and said. “Let’s get some breakfast and let Al have a nap.”
I spent the next three days going around seeing all of the local relatives and family friends. I got a lot of free beer, handshakes, and questions. When I mentioned that my discharge was a medical discharge, the questions stopped from all but the most morbidly curious. I was under a non-disclosure agreement so I fibbed and used my cover story of a stomach operation that would not allow me to go to locations that I might be assigned. (That part about the operation was true. The rest was just a cover story the FBI gave me.)
After those duties, pleasant and necessary though they were, were over, I called Linda. She happily told me she was the newest E.R. Nurse at the county’s largest health care network. She would be rotating monthly between the two main hospitals in the county that belonged to the system.
I told her of my last three days of greeting the ‘Irish Mob’ that was my family. That earned a happy giggle. Then I got down to the real reason for my call. “Linda, I think I would like to get to know you better, would you like to go on a date with me. We could go to dinner and a movie, or maybe a play or a concert.”
I got a different giggle this time. “Yes, I think I would like that. But I know you haven’t found a job yet, so you don’t have to spend a whole lot of money on me.”
I was leery of tainting her perception of me so I did not tell her of the reward money. Instead, I told her; “I have a lot of my military pay still, so I intend to wow my first civilian date in 6 years.”
I continued, “I am fairly conservative, so I won’t be putting myself in a financial bind by taking you out. Please, just enjoy the evening and the time together. I will say that your concern for my wellbeing shows that you are someone with compassion. I like that.”
We went out the next Friday evening. I took her to ‘Ruth’s Chris Steak House’ for dinner and then to a roadshow of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ at the local professional playhouse. It was a marvelous evening, and when it was over I asked for an opportunity to see her again.
Linda said, “CAT, I really enjoyed our evening, but I have just left an abusive relationship. I don’t think I want to start any new romantic adventures just yet. I hope you understand.”
With that, I kissed her cheek and left without saying anything. I tried to think of something that I could have done differently or could do in the future to not have this happen again. I did send her flowers and a note telling her that I enjoyed the evening and wished it could be repeated.
I decided to job hunt, but first I went to the financial advisor that the JAG officer recommended. S. Cressmore was a nice mid-30’s lady who insisted that I call her Sally. She looked over my bank balance and immediately told me the best (in her opinion) way to protect myself was to set up a trust fund. She explained that the trust could be configured so that it was safe from any lawsuits or judgments. It could also be set up so that if I were to marry and divorce my spouse would not be able to benefit from the trust.
After I pondered what she said, I asked her who would be best to set up the trust. She recommended the same law firm that the JAG officer did. Then she said she worked with them, and they usually used her as the financial advisor for their trust clients. We shook hands and I asked for the bill. She said the first consult was part of the thanks for my service. It seems the JAG officer had given her a little background information.
I decided that I was tired of cab rides, so before I contacted the law firm I thought I would go with my Dad car shopping. I have never been a sports car or luxury car kind of guy. My first car was a Ford sedan with a six-cylinder engine. Great gas mileage, not a drag racer.
Dad was all excited. He is a GM (read Buick) guy he took me to all of the Chevy and Buick dealers in town. It was at about the fourth Chevy dealer that I saw what I wanted and near the price I was willing to pay. I ended up with a Ford Escape, 4 wheel drive, low miles, and a killer sound system with a six-CD changer and satellite radio.
We had to dicker, but it had a price on the window that I thought was too much, but we got it for what I wanted to pay and added a set of four snow tires. Michigan winters are brutal. We were finally in agreement on a price when I burst the salesman and his sales manager bubble and paid cash. The bank transfer took less than ten minutes, and I drove out in my car.
The next morning, I called and set up an appointment with the lawyers. After I explained what services I needed, they set me up with Mary Castile, their staff trust and real estate law specialist. The trust was created and Mary asked if I intended to look for a house. She went on to explain that because of a depressed market a house not only would provide with living space but could be considered an investment by the trust.
I asked for and got recommendations for three different real estate offices that she had past dealings with and trusted. She warned me away from a couple of others that did not live up to their promises.
With Linda still in the back of my mind and transportation problems solved, I took the time to look for a job that would use my skills. I perused the newspapers, and there were a couple of positions that I thought might be something that I would be comfortable with. They were both through the Kelly Girls employment group. I called and talked to the councilor who was in charge of those types of accounts. He wanted to meet me and start the processes need to refer me for the jobs.
I went to his office and filled out the application and the employment agreement. That agreement was necessary because one of the jobs was a temp-to-hire position so if I got that one I would be paid as a Kelly employee.
He told me about the two jobs that were in the local newspaper but cautioned me that he thought I was overqualified for both of them. He then said, “Not to worry, after seeing your education and experience, I have an executive position that I think would be a great fit, The plus side is it pays a salary that is equal to the responsibilities.”
He explained that the position was Assistant Supply Manager for the same medical group that Linda was hired by. The pay was great, and the job did not require any overnight travel except for once or twice yearly trips to conventions/new products shows.
He set me up an appointment with the head of personnel at the medical group.
I kept the appointment, the man was impressed with my credentials and said he would give it to the selection committee and I would probably be called in to meet them sometime in the next week.
I asked for a list of no-no’s for executives, as the position was considered an executive position. When he went through them I was fine with all but the non-frat. When I explained that I had met and dated a nurse in their employ before I talked to them about the job, I would insist that the previous relationship be excluded. He did not think that it would be a problem, but to make sure I should inform the committee of her name when I was asked. He laughed and said I would definitely be asked.
While I was waiting on a call back from the medical group, I went house hunting. Like my car, I was not into status; but I wanted acreage and an as problem-free a house as possible. A barn/stable would be a plus. I wanted to get a few horses and some goats.
The first place I went to dealt only with urban residences and wasn’t interested in what I wanted. They tried to push me into a condo. Strike three for them.
The next place on Mary’s recommended list was much better. They had several properties that I might be interested in. When I told them my budget, they eliminated all but two of that list. Judy Garcia, the agent said that the two properties were a couple of foreclosures that were available and well within my budget. One even had a horse barn and several riding horses as part of the package.
I told her to talk to whomever she had to and see if we could get an appointment to see the horse farm, and one of the other properties that she recommended.
She called me back later that day and asked if I could meet her at the horse farm at 9:00 the next morning. I agreed. Then she said, “The bank wants this off their books, the older couple that lives there now are about to lose it because of nonpayment. We could submit an offer based on that information. There are two surprises, a three-bedroom guest house and an additional thirty acres of woods that were not on the condensed listing.”
We met Gene and Gloria Gorman, the older couple that was losing the place, Gloria explained that while they were only in their late 40s, but when the husband lost his factory job, they did not have the money to continue to pay the mortgage. They tried to sell, but the only offers would have left them without any money to find a new place. They kept hoping the husband could find a job and they could find a place to live. As he only had farming skills and was considered unskilled labor, jobs were hard to find.
After touring the place and the land, I was impressed. I looked at the barns, the guest house and then was floored by the main house. The horses were like kids and came to me looking for treats and pats on the nose.
I talked to Judy while we made the excuse that I wanted to check the barn again. She suggested a price to offer. I came back with the idea to offer that price contingent upon me finding a live-in property manager. Judy got a twinkle in her eye and said. “You’re going to offer the current owners the guest house and the jobs of manager, aren’t you?”
“Caught, but with one change, all equipment, furniture, and animals come as part of the deal. Also, if she is any good, I will offer Gloria the job of cook\housekeeper.” I continued; “I can have the money for the bank within forty-eight hours of the deal being accepted.”
That got me surprised look from Judy. I explained the trust fund and also told her that when she writes the offer, to set a price 10% lower if Gene and Gloria don’t accept my employment offer.
We went back to the bank rep and said that I needed to talk to Gene and Gloria about what would happen if my offer is accepted. The Banker got a funny look and said, “They are out of the equation, the bank has started foreclosure proceedings, and when we get that through the courts they will have to leave.”
I got my back up. “Judy, we will not be making an offer with this slimeball as the representative. If the place comes up at auction within the next thirty days, we will bid on it.” Then I started for the door, motioning Gene and Gloria to come with me. The bank guy sputtered but could not say anything as I had just told him to buzz off.
The folks did come out with me and I asked them if they thought they could live in the guest house and stay as employees of mine. They laughed and said they built the guest house to be their retirement house and they had planned to give the farm to their son. He did not want it or anything to do with “Horse shit and fresh air”.
Judy settled the asshole from the bank down and when I nodded told him an offer would be on his desk in the morning. She also said that because of his attitude and harsh words it would be 10% less then what she and I talked about. If it wasn’t accepted, there was always the auction they would go through.
The guy gulped again and said fine.
I got the place, We put the title in the name of the trust. Gene and Gloria were moved into the guest house in 48 hours after closing.
I was asked to appear before the selection committee for the medical supply position. I did, they offered me the job, and wrote in the contract that the non-frat did not apply to any employees not in my direct chain of command and\or under my supervision.
Now I needed to see if I could convince Linda to go out with me again. I texted her and gave her my new house phone number for the farm and asked that she call me.
She did, and the first thing she said was, “I’ve changed my mind, I thought about what a great time I had when we went out, so if you are still interested, I am willing to go out with you.”
This time we went to a concert by the local symphony orchestra. Then we had a late pizza from a local restaurant. We talked and I gave Linda all of the up to date information including my new house and job. I also told her that we were not breaking any rules because I was not her supervisor.
I asked Linda if she had ever been horseback riding. When she said she used to own a horse and loved to ride. I told her our next date would be on my horse farm.
She squealed and said; “I knew you bought a house, but a horse farm? A real horse farm?”
“Yes, a real horse farm with 130 acres of area to ride, and 30 acres of wooded area that I am going to put trails in.”
We continued dating for about four months and I had not made any sexual moves beyond a couple of through the clothes gropes of Linda’s breasts. On one of our horseback rides, Linda asked if we could stop and talk.
We stopped, dismounted and she asked; “CAT, do you like me?”
“Of course, what brought that doubt into your mind?”
“Well, you have never made any sexual advances toward me. You know that I am not a virgin. I actually like sex, I just don’t like abusive sex.” She continued. “You know that I left my last boyfriend because he was an abusive controlling asshole. You are none of those. Do you want to have sex with me?”
“Linda; I am not a virgin either, but I do not take sex lightly. I know you are not dating anyone but me, but I haven’t asked for that kind of commitment from you. Do you want that? If you do, I will still not have sex with you, but I will make love to you as best I can. Who knows, maybe we can find things sexually that turns us both on. One thing that I have to warn you about, if we are together, there is to be no one else. Absolutely no one else. Are you ok with that?”
She looked deep in thought and didn’t say anything for a long while. Instead of waiting, I got on my horse and rode back to the barn.
While I was finishing up the care of the equipment and currying my horse; Linda rode up and said; “I need to tell you something.”
‘Oh-oh’ I thought this does not sound good. “Go ahead tell me.”
“I was asked out by one of the ER doctors, and we went to his place after dinner and had sex.” She stopped and looked down at the ground.
“Well, there isn’t anything I can do to change that. However, that makes your request for me to have sex with you moot. I can’t have sex with you while you are dating and fucking others.”