Thanks to the Hip and Knee doctor for editing assistance.
A Jake Rivers Invitational Story
Note from Jake Rivers:
This is my seventh semi-annual "invitational." The initial one was based on the Statler Brother's song, "This Bed of Rose's." The most recent invitational included songs written or performed by Willie Nelson. The current effort consists of stories based on song titles that have a weather term in them, such as "Stormy Weather, "Foggy Mountain Top," "Dusty Skies", "Heat Wave", "Summertime Blues," and "Ballad of Thunder Road."
Inspired from the song by Steve Earle
And the rain came down
Like an angel come down from above
And the rain came down
It'll wash you away and there ain't never enough
It took me a little over an hour to drive from Atlanta to Ellijay. I had to admire my wife's perseverance to drive this route every Saturday. I guess the sex was good. Maybe, just maybe, it was more than that. I didn't know because I never asked her. I do know for sure that Darlene had been meeting Clayton Mankey at his Ellijay cabin for over six months.
We were extremely well known in the Atlanta social world, because of my wife's interests in philanthropic causes. She insisted that we attend openings, banquets, and fund drivers for anything that came along. Not only did it require my attention, but also my money.
I loved my wife, but I had reached my limit. After the quite expensive weddings for our two daughters, I was hoping for some relaxation. However, Darlene, needed more, so she started looking for ego-stroking at other places. She found Clay Mankey at one of the fund raisers. I think that I knew from that first night, but never bothered to confirm my feelings until a few months later. If she had tried to meet him in the city, it would have been a disaster. She was too well known to sneak into a hotel. In Addition, she would never go to a motel under any circumstances, or to his condo. The cabin was perfect for them.
After the long drive, there was a single-lane, dirt and gravel road leading about two miles through the mountains to the log and stone lodge. Clayton had a lot of money. He was a contractor who specialized in big government projects. In addition to making money, he seemed to have a knack for investing or using it wisely. Most of the land between the paved road and the cabin belonged to Clayton. I am sure that he had plans for it in the future.
I drove all the way up to the cabin. I had one little thing to do and I had to do it quickly. With a small pair of wire cutters, I snipped the phone wires coming out of the box and going into the cabin. I carefully tucked the ends of the wires into the holes, so that it was not apparently that they had been cut. There was no cell phone service anywhere near the cabin. Now, there would be no land-line phone either. Twenty minutes later, I was back to the main road.
It had been cloudy and overcast the whole way up there. Darlene didn't ask where I was going when I left early. I knew that she would be leaving about an hour later, as usual. We never questioned each other about such things. I guess that was a sign of the deterioration of the marriage.
There was a gas station with a diner where Clayton's road turned off. Actually, it wasn't a gas station, but just a diner that had a few pumps out in front. I lucked out and got a booth by the front with a good view. About thirty minutes later, a full-sized black Hummer turned up the road. Clayton always liked to arrive in style. Gas prices meant nothing to him. Five minutes later, Darlene turned off in her Lexus GX470. And then the rains came.
It wasn't a regular rain, but one of those, that last all day and never lets up. I had to get started quickly before the road became not passable. I am sure that Clayton was not worried about the muddy roads, but Darlene's Lexus wouldn't do as well. At this point it didn't matter, because they were not going anywhere.
What amazed me about her meeting, was the timing. Tonight, we were having a fundraiser to save the Brazilian Three-toed Sloth. I am pretty sure that this was not what it was for, but it was something just as frivolous. She had been planning and preparing for over three months, yet she still had found time to get away, on the same day as the event, to see her lover. I have to admit that she had done a great job with the event. Even without her being there, it would be fine.
My Outback wasn't as roadworthy as Clayton's Hummer, or as elegant as Darlene's Lexus, but it would get me where I needed to be, if I didn't dally around. I paid my bill and followed my wife and her lover up the mountain. Actually, it wasn't as much up, as it was just curvy as hell. Trying to bulldoze a road though mountains like these is difficult. You have to follow the terrain when possible and that is not always easy.
The rains came and were showing no mercy. I got over halfway up to the cabin and decided to stop at a spot that had a place to turn around. The parka kept the rain off, but it got a little steamy inside by the time I got there. Darlene and her lover had been at the cabin for about thirty minutes. I was pretty sure she was going to make this a shorter visit than normal, so I got right to work.
Actually, it didn't take me that long. All I did was cut the valve stems on both vehicles. There was no way that they could get the tires fixed and changed today. By the time the rains finished, the roads would be so bad that no tow truck driver in their right mind would even attempt to get up there. Their only option would be to walk to the diner and find some alternative transportation from there. Of course, they would not even realize what was going on until they had completed their lovemaking.
They had no landline phone and no cell phone service. If he had any internet service, it was probably through the phone line also. Of course, he might have a satellite phone. That's the chance I would have to take. I was done.
The rains still came. Twenty minutes later, I was on the 575 back to Atlanta.
There was no real reason for my escapade, but I was just feeling mean. Darlene and I had been together since college. I moved to Atlanta from Pennsylvania to join one of the more prestigious accounting firms in the state. In less than ten years, I had my own accounting company that specialized in the food service industry. We took care of bookkeeping, payroll, taxes, and even retirement programs. A few of our customers went national, and we went with them. Our lifestyle grew with the amount of money I was making. Sometimes, I felt that I was having trouble keeping up. Things were fine until Darlene decided to improve her sex life.
Of course, I might be wrong. Clayton was actually richer than I was. I didn't know for sure if Darlene was interested in his money or his body. I have to admit that he was better looking than I was, and he seemed to be in better shape. I guess that working on construction sites keeps you trimmer than sitting behind a desk all day. The son-of-a-bitch had more hair than I did also. I mean, I have not reached the point where I have to do a comb over, but it was not as thick as it used to be. I really didn't care why she did it, I just wanted it un-done.
Tonight was going to be glorious. I was anxious to see if Darlene would make it or not. If she did arrive before it was over, she would be flustered and out of sorts. As I said before, there was no reason for doing what I did.
I reached I75, and the rains were still coming.
I would be leaving Atlanta immediately after the party. All the preparations had been made far ahead of time. I had sold the business two months ago, for cash and a twenty year percentage of the profits. Three weeks ago, Darlene signed the papers to sell the house to a close associate of mine. He was aware of my situation and was more than willing to tackle any difficulties that might arise as a result of the sale. He paid me a million dollars cash for a house worth three times that amount. Darlene thought that she was signing forms to refinance the mortgage. There was no mortgage. The rest of my preparations consisted of closing out accounts, credit cards, investments, and retirement policies.
We had a few collectables in the house, that I had no trouble pre-selling. I would be taking Darlene's jewelry with me when I left. I was not going to leave her a half a million dollars worth of goodies that I had bought.
Clayton Mankey was another problem. In addition to being rich, he was well-connected, both locally and statewide. Although he was not one of my clients, I had no trouble getting data on my adversary. I assigned a small team of my best people to collect everything that they could on his enterprises. It was standard procedure for Clayton to be win bids for government projects and take nice cuts off the top. The big problem was that the books didn't match. A school district project would be for three million dollars on their books, but Mankey Enterprises would indicate that they only got paid two million. Clayton got to pocket an easy million, minus a few kickbacks. Nobody ever checked the two against each other. There was no way that I could have gotten Clayton in trouble with the state or local authorities because they were as guilty as he was.
The IRS however was extremely interested. Not only were they planning on ruining poor Clayton, but I was going to be getting a reward. At this point, I wasn't sure if I would be in a position to collect it, but maybe if I was lucky, things would work out.
The rains came harder as I reached Atlanta. I figured that it would be another two or three hours until Darlene and Clay discovered their dilemma. I had a party to get ready for.
The caterers and the other party people were busy when I arrived home. Darlene had planned on over two hundred people. Luckily, the house was big enough to accommodate them. I just smiled and waved to the workers. They were professionals and I had no intention of interfering. I took a long, hot shower and started getting the last of my things together. Darlene was going to miss her jewelry. I also cleaned out my personal safe. I was glad that I had the small collection of gold coins. The Subaru was in the garage, so at least I didn't have to get wet while I loaded it. The party people had long plastic runners all over the house.
It was late afternoon, but the lack of sun and abundance of clouds made it look like nighttime. The rain came down.
By five o'clock, I was all dressed up in my tux for the evening. My daughters and their husbands arrived early to make sure that things were going as planned. They both asked where their mother was at, and I just shrugged. The first of our guests were arriving when my phone rang. It was my loving wife.
"Robert. I am so sorry, but I had some trouble with the car. I will be home as soon as I can. Is everything going Okay?"
"Where are you at? I will come and get you."
"No. No. Stay there with the guests. I'll try and get home as soon as I can. I am so sorry."
"What is wrong with the car? That damn thing cost me over fifty grand. I expect it to be reliable for that amount of money."
"I have already made arrangements with a garage to get it taken care of. There is nothing for you to concern yourself over."
"Damn it, Darlene! Where the hell are you?"
"Robert. Calm down. That's not important. What is important is seeing that our guests are taken care of." There was no way that she was going to tell me where she was, or who she was with.
"Are you alone, or is somebody with you?"
"I am alone, but I am Okay. For God's sake, stop worrying about me. I'll be fine."
Both of my daughters were relieved to hear that their mother was okay. I smiled to myself as I envisioned her walking from the cabin to the highway in the rain and the mud. That rain was sent from an angel above. Darlene had to be miserable at this point; Miserable, wet, muddy, and tired.
About an hour later, the phone rang again. I had to excuse myself from the guests and walk out to the foyer.
"Robert. What the hell is going on? I gave three different credit cards to the car rental guy and they were all declined. I can't get a rental car with a credit card."
"Why don't you just call a cab?"
There was an exasperated sigh at the other end. "It's too far for a cab. I don't need any aggravation, Robert, I just need to know what to do about the credit card problem."