Jack Morgan's trusty old F150 bounced down the nearly impassable trail and bounced through the last dry wash before he reached his destination. He could see the trail of dust hanging in the still air behind. It was a typical mid August day in Southwest Missouri. It was hot and dry with no real chance of rain for some time.
When Jack had left home to go to college seven years ago he swore he would never return for more than a short visit. Now it looked like he might never leave again. He had everything he owned in the world with him. All his worldly possessions were inside the beat up old truck his family had purchased new in 1996. There were some clothes and personal items, a few dishes and a belly full of hate and sorrow. That was all he had to show for the last seven years of his life. There were a few memories but many of the pleasant ones had been overlaid with unpleasant ones.
If it hadn't been for his grandfather's forethought he wouldn't have even had the land he was planning to living on. Before he died he had set up an irrevocable trust placing the land in it along with the balance of his worldly possessions. The trust was for Jack but he would not become the owner of the farm until he had graduated college or turned age 31, married, and fathered a son. In the event these requirements were not met the trust passed to his grandfather's sister's family. Until Jack met the full requirements of the trust he was serving as trustee. He was thankful the trust was so worded or he might have lost even this little piece of ground in one of his two divorces. Here he was, 25 years old and already divorced twice.
The bad thing about the land was there were no buildings of any kind on it. The good thing was it had a well and septic system and was situated in a beautiful little valley with a small river or large creek flowing through. Another positive aspect about the little farm was it was almost 25 miles from a town of any size and the nearest neighbor would be over a mile away. There were three small towns within a few miles but only one of them even had a store. Well two did if you count the old mill at Wilson's Mill. An old retired Army man had reopened it and put in a café. His wife sold a small number of grocery items but they were mostly of the emergency or snack food category. There were fish galore and some deer and other game on the land. With what little money he had managed to hide from his last ex wife and her sharks he could at least eat for a while.
I suppose you might ask how someone who graduated from the University of Missouri with a BS in Agricultural Economics and who had owned his own firm could sink to such a state as had Jack. Jack would tell you he suffered from a nearly terminal case of stupidity.
While he was reminiscing he finally arrived at his destination. The small meadow that had the well and septic system was overgrown. There was a bluff about 30 feet tall in a bend of the stream with a deep hole beside it where the bluff forced the stream to bend. The rock caused water to swirl and keep the hole clean. There was a nice gravel bar on each side of the stream just before the hole. Jack smiled when he saw the old mill dam still held the water back and kept the hole even deeper than it normally would have been.
The bluff wandered away from the stream then became shorter as it curved north then back east almost into a protective cup. Before the rock outcropping disappeared it encompassed and protected about two to three acres between the protection of the bluff and the stream.
The light pole that should have had an electric meter installed was there beside the bluff's highest point about 65 feet back from the stream bank. Sometime in the past the meter had been removed, hence there was no power. Of course right now that didn't matter because other than a small lamp or two and a microwave Jack had nothing that needed electricity. Oh, well, he thought. Man heated with and cooked over fires for millennia so I suppose I could regress. Jack gave himself a small grin and remembered the many nights he and his friends had camped in this very location when they were teenagers. They would catch fish within walking distance of the camp then swim in the ole swimming hole. At dusk they would cook fresh fish and the rest of their meal then lay listening to the chuckle of the stream as it flowed on past this little slice of heaven. Hell, Jack thought again. I even got my first piece of ass right here beside the stream.
Jack pulled his truck under the trees beside the light pole and the concrete pad his grandfather had poured years ago. The pad was next to the bluff. There were steel hooks embedded in the rock to hang things on. At one time there had been a roof over the concrete pad but time and perhaps vandals had destroyed the roof. All that was left were the steel poles set into the concrete that the roof had rested on. Jack planned to use the poles and hooks as anchors and support for his tent when he built it.
After walking around the site he proceeded to set up his new residence. Jack made a tent out of some old plastic tarps stretched over the concrete. Then he set an old card table and two chairs under the tarp fly with his cooler beside it. Next he unloaded a small gas BBQ grill and was in business. At least he had a small camping cot with a pretty good foam rubber mattress to sleep on. He put this under the tent also.
By the time his new home was constructed it was almost dark. Jack made a sandwich and wandered down to the cooler area beside the stream. He sat on the ground and leaned on a log while he thought about what had to be done in the next few days. He could do without many items but did need to find a job of some sort so he could have a place to live when it turned cold. Until then he would camp here.
During the divorce proceedings Jack had managed to hide almost $5000.00 in cash. He didn't declare that money so when the property was split he ended up with $7300.00. A lot of that had been spent moving back home though. The last time he counted money there was just under $4900.00 left. The land was rented to a neighbor but the rent wasn't payable until January 1. Then he would only receive about $3600.00. No way could he live on that for a year. Of course in the spring he would plant a large garden and that would help.
Most of his possessions were left in the truck. They would stay dry there and except for a few clothes he didn't need anything except what had already unloaded. The first couple of days in his new home Jack prepared for the rest of the summer. He brought some firewood up and stacked it then covered it with a tarp. Some he cut into lengths with his chainsaw. He made a list of things that needed to be done and another of things he needed to purchase right now and things that he needed to purchase soon but could wait on.
Early mornings he sat and enjoyed the morning while fishing for his days meals. There was a spring running out of the bluff beside the camp that provided sweet, cold drinking water. It was better than any water you could get elsewhere in his opinion. The stream was fine for bathing. Considering what a pile of shit his life had turned into he was happy. Many times he was thankful he was debt free and free of the blood sucking, cheating skanky leech his second wife turned out to be.
The third day after returning home Jack drove to the nearest town with a grocery store and stocked up. He arranged for mail delivery with the Post Office. Another stop was at the electric COOP to arrange for a power meter to be set so he would have lights and could run electric appliances. On his way home he went to Wal-Mart and purchased a small apartment sized refrigerator. By the time the day was finished in town he had spent another $700.00 of his meager stash.
During the day Jack had left applications at several businesses. None of them gave him any hope of being hired. They had all told him they weren't hiring right then. Jack even made a stop at the library to see if the paper had any jobs advertised. No luck there either.
When Jack returned home there was an old 1984 F250 diesel with dents in every sheet metal panel parked beside his tent. The truck was even more beat up than was Jack's. There was a weather beaten, leathery skinned old man sitting in one of Jack's chairs beside the truck. The man had white hair and about a three day growth of white beard on his face. His clothes had holes in them and were threadbare. His boots looked older than he was and were caked with dry cow manure.
The man stood up when Jack got out of his truck and said, "Howdy Boy. I hate ta tell ya this but this here's private propity and ya' all cain't camp here. It's late though so I s'pose ya kin stay 'nother nite though then ya need ta move on."
Jack looked at the old fellow and held out his hand. He said, "I'm Jack Morgan and I'm not camping here really. I own this land and that is my home over there under the trees."
The old man smiled and grabbed his hand in his. He said, "You're little Jackie Morgan? God Boy, you sure growed up after ya left here. Ya don't remember me do ya? I'm Gregg Hill. I been renting tha place whilst ya was gone. Bettie told me ya was comin back but she didn't say when. Welcome back boy. So whatcha gonna do now ya come back home? They sure aint much work hereabouts fer a young fella like you."
Jack's head was spinning after Mr. Hill's greeting. He said, "Well Mr. Hill, I really don't know but this is all I have left. I lost my business and two wives while I was gone. All I own in the world right now is here in front of you. I have no job, almost no money and not much hope. I guess I'll just have to get by on what I have for now and hope something comes up. I was in Steelville and Centerton looking for work today and stocking up on items I need but I didn't even get a chance to interview anywhere. Guess I'll just keep looking and hope something turns up."
Mr. Hill looked at Jack and said, "Hell boy ya don't have ta call me Mr. My name's Gregg. I aint got much and don't need no help but you drop by and see us in a day or two. I'll ask around and see what I can come up with fer ya. I know Bettie would like ta see ya. What's it been seven, eight year since ya was 'round these parts?"
"Yeah, 'bout that I suppose. Didn't plan to ever come back but you know how it goes. Men plan and fate intervenes. I been screwed by the fickle finger of fate aided by my own stupidity."
Gregg didn't say anything to that. He just shook his head. He started to walk back to his truck. He looked in the bed of Jacks vehicle, stopped and turned back to face Jack. He said, "You gonna unload that refrigerator here Jack?"
Jack said, "Yeah, the electric company's supposed to get me a meter installed before the weekend so I can use it to keep my food cool. It'll be good to have some lights after dark too."
"Well, come on then. I'll help ya with it before I go."
Jack and Gregg unloaded the refrigerator and placed it on the concrete pad near the light pole. Gregg turned and waved then walked back to his truck. After he had gotten in he started the old diesel and gave a nod before he drove off. After Gregg left Jack moved his cooler with the cold food inside over beside the refrigerator. Hopefully the electric company would get there before his ice melted and the cold food spoiled. Of course some of it could be placed in the cool spring water if he had to. That would extend its life a short while.
Jack made another sandwich then sat in his chair and watched night fall. He relaxed, listening to the flowing water and all the night sounds. In the background he could hear a tractor in a neighbor's field. In spite of the way his life had gone to hell he was more relaxed and happy than he had been for years. He almost didn't worry about his uncertain future.
After lunch the next day Jack was sitting beside the stream working on a list when he heard a vehicle coming down the dusty lane once more. When he got to where he could see he found Gregg and Bettie getting out of the old truck. Bettie was carrying a box with several Tupperware containers inside. Gregg looked over at him, grinned and said, "Here Jack. Gimme a hand fer a minit."
Jack walked with him to the back of his truck and watched as he tugged on an old generator. Gregg looked over at Jack and said, "Well don't just stand there help me unload this heavy bastard." They carried the generator over beside the power pole and sat it behind the pile of wood Jack had cut. Next Gregg got out ten gallons of gasoline and an extension cord. He started the generator then plugged the refrigerator into the extension cord.
Gregg turned and looked at Jack and said, "The tank holds five gallons of fuel. It will run for 18 hours or so on a tank. Should be enough here to hold ya until the power company gets your meter in." He turned to Bettie and reached for the box she was still holding. He continued speaking, "We brought ya some home cooked food. It isn't much but it's better than sandwiches and I suppose you'll get tired of fish pretty quick without it."
Jack watched as Gregg put the food inside the new refrigerator. He moved his chairs slightly and said, "I don't have a very good place to sit but please have a chair."
His two guests sat in the two chairs that went with the card table and Jack sat in his only yard chair. They visited about Jack's family and they tried to fill him in on local residents. Some of the names Jack recognized but he couldn't really say he remembered any of the people. Finally Gregg leaned back and said, "Ok Son. Now why don't ya tell me why ya told me yesterday ya got screwed by your own stupidity? And tell me whatever happened to that wife of yours. Afore they died yore parents said she was a real nice girl. I guess ya married the one ya was engaged to before they died?"
Bettie turned to her husband and said, "Gregg! You just leave Jackie alone now. He'll tell us whatever he wants us to know in his own good time."
Jack sat a moment then decided what the hell. He had been a friend to the family for years and Gregg was helping. He deserved to know how stupid he had been.
Jack leaned back in his chair and said, "Well, you know I went to college when I left here. While I was in college Mom and Grandpa both died in a car accident while she was taking him to the doctor. I guess that took the will to live out of Dad 'cause he died just before I graduated. The accident that killed Mom and Grandpa hurt Dad pretty bad. He just seemed to lose the will to live after that. Of course the doctors all said someone in their late 60's after that serious of an accident just had trouble going on. I think he died of a broken heart. Oh, I know they said he died of the flu and Pneumonia but I think he just didn't want to go on without mother. When he got sick he didn't go to the doctor. He had been dead a couple of days when I got worried about him not answering the phone and got the police to check on him."
Dad didn't leave much but with it I managed to finish college. Of course you know I married my college sweetheart and we both got a job at Archer Daniels Midland. We had a good salary and after a year we bought a house together. I worked another year and decided to go out on my own. I had enough money that I began investing in commodities and some stocks. I spent hours researching. I wasn't making as much as I did at ADM but I did OK. Stephanie stayed at ADM. I took the courses I needed and got my securities licenses. I had a few friends that wanted me to manage some money for them. My business was starting to grow when I got a brain fart."
"Well, go on son. How did ya lose it all," Gregg asked.
"Well, one day after work Stephanie brought one of the women she worked with home. I worked out of a bedroom in our house I had converted into an office. She had a friend—well a woman she worked with at least—with her. I can remember it like it was just yesterday. She came down the hallway and yelled for me.
"Stephanie said, Jack, are you decent? Honey I have someone with me I want you to talk to. She just got a divorce and has some money she wants to invest. I told her you might be able to help her.
"I came out of my office and stopped in shock. I lost my breath. There behind Stephanie was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life. She was tall—I later found out she was 5'10"—and built like a brick shit house. She had the most beautiful blond hair and a figure that would make Miss America weep. Her perfect legs went from the floor to the most perfect ass..."
Jack looked over at Bettie and said, "Oh, I'm sorry Bettie. I just meant..."
Bettie laughed and said, "I've heard the term before son. Now you just go on with your story."
"Well, anyway, she was just so beautiful I could hardly speak. Finally I invited her into my office to discuss investments and the risks involved with trading commodities. Stephanie sat with us a short time then got up, gave me a kiss and told me she was going to change while we talked. I was a mess. This woman was sex personified. Her voice made me shiver and melt. I fell into her blue eyes. By the time we were done with our meeting I was in love. All I could think about the rest of the night and the next several days was her. I don't know how many times I called her at work pretending I had business to discuss just so I could talk to her. Of course we visited and flirted more than we transacted business."
"It became common for us to take lunch together. At first we both pretended it was to discuss her investment portfolio but really, it wasn't. I just had to be with her. I was head over heels in love with her already and would do anything to be with her. Of course, she didn't help any. She always flirted with me. She would touch me, stare into my eyes and make suggestive comments. Then she took it to the next level. She began kissing me when we met and when she left. The kisses weren't sexual at first, just a gentle kiss on the lips between friends. After a while I noticed the kisses became longer and she began rubbing her chest on mine. One noon when she came to the house we stood in the living room kissing. It was a real kiss with tongue. I was rubbing her and God help me she unh, well, she had her hand on my crotch. I noticed a flash, then another one. Then I heard Stephanie cursing us. I turned and Stephanie was there taking pictures. She had one of the men from her work with her. They told me and Dianne to get out of the house.
"Dianne gave her a shocked, almost scared look and took off like a scalded dog. I started to leave then decided to brazen it out. I refused. I told Steph it was my house and I would be damned if I would let her kick me out. Besides, I worked there and needed the computers, phone lines and reference books I had in the office to do my job."
"The man began to advance on me and threatened me. I picked up the phone and called 911. I told them my wife and her lover had come into the house and he had threatened me. They were trying to throw me out of my own home and I needed help. I don't suppose it helped Steph's and her friend's case because she began screaming at me and he threatened to beat the shit out of me if I didn't leave. The police heard them over the phone and documented the threats."
"When the patrol car arrived Dallas (Stephanie's friend) and I were fighting. He had refused to leave my home and was still trying to kick me out. Most of his comments and attempts to kick me out were caught on tape over the phone. When the dust cleared I was left in the home, Dallas was in custody and Stephanie was escorted from the residence."
"Damn Boy. Sure seems like you shit in your nest. What made you do something dumb like that anyway?"
"Hell, Gregg. Don't you think I know that? I loved Stephanie with all my heart. I just ... I've asked myself that same question for months and I can't answer it. All I know is I fell under Dianne's spell. From that first day when I met her she excited me. Hell, she was the one who began making the suggestive comments during our phone calls. She began coming to our house without an invitation during her lunch period. I should have known what she was doing but I was so besotted with her I didn't realize what was going on until I was sliding down that slippery slope."
Jack stopped talking and looked over at Gregg and Bettie then he continued, "I know I wasn't squeaky clean but I DIDN'T cheat on Stephanie. Oh, I supposed I did have an emotional affair but I never, not once, had sex with Dianne or touched her under her clothing until after my divorce from Steph. I'm pretty sure Steph and Dallas can't say that though. I saw them together way too much during the proceedings to believe they didn't have sex before we divorced. Several nights when I was out with friends I would see them in dance clubs dancing, kissing and fondling. I'm convinced, now, that the whole mess was a setup but then I just thought it was the way things worked out."
"I tried to talk to Stephanie many times about what had happened but she didn't want to discuss it. It seems she, Dallas and Dianne's desks were near each other at work. She supposedly heard many of Dianne's phone calls with me. She supposedly had tapes of Dianne telling me how wonderful our loving was. I never made love to her until after the divorce and I never heard her telling me that on the phone. I am sure Dianne was talking to someone else or to a disconnected line when Stephanie made those recordings. Stephanie and Dallas followed Dianne to our house several times. During the divorce Stephanie presented a lot of pictures taken on different days to support her case as well as the recordings she made at work. Stephanie did admit that none of the times she followed Dianne did she catch us having sex. The worst was the day she confronted me when Dianne cupped my ... Unh touched me. That was the only really hot, lustful kiss we had exchanged.
"Well, anyway, I gave up and didn't contest the divorce. We had not accumulated much during the marriage and after all our credit cards were paid off we were about even. Neither of us could afford the house alone so it sold. We took less than we paid and after commission to the real estate people we ended up in the hole on that deal. After it was said and done, we each kept our retirement accounts, vehicles and went our separate ways. I did get to keep my office equipment but I had to find another place to live and work. Luckily, I rented a small house just two blocks from where we had been living. The neighbors were not too friendly to me any longer because they all were upset at what I had done to poor ole Stephanie.
"I thought Dianne would leave me alone after that but she didn't. Even during the divorce she kept in touch. After the divorce she began coming over to my house again. Her greetings became even more uh, well, romantic. I was still so besotted with her I couldn't leave her alone even though I knew I should. By then I found out she had been married and divorced three times and had been the cause of four men's marriages ending in divorce. She explained it all away. Her husbands had been assholes and she had to leave them. I fell for it. Her explanations sounded believable, hell, I WANTED to believe her! I never thought to even question why a 25 year old woman could be divorced that many times and be the cause of so many other marriages breaking up."
Bettie looked at Jack and pressed her lips together. She said, "Jack even I can see you should have ran away from her screaming for help. How in the world did you let yourself stay involved with her? Why did you believe she was so good?"
Jack smiled and continued with his tale of woe. "Bettie I guess I'm just plain stupid. She was a beautiful woman and she sure knew how to make me feel good. When I was with her all I cared about was how good she made me feel. Oh, I know now she was the devil incarnate but then ... Hell NO. Or at least I wouldn't admit it. One day she convinced me we were in love and she began moving in with me. At first it was just a few clothes so she could spend the night, then a few more, then she told me it was really stupid for her to keep an apartment since she was at my house all the time. I agreed and we became a couple. I never asked her to marry me. We just ended up at the courthouse one day and she led me into the clerk's office. For some reason when she said we wanted a marriage license I didn't say anything, I just gave them the information, signed the papers and paid the fee."
Jack looked into the distance and sighed. He said, "That is where I lost the only friend I had left in the area. When Mike found out we were getting married he came unglued. He told me more about Dianne than had come out in my and Stephanie's divorce. He even told me she was seeing another man while I was living with her. I called him several names and told him I didn't believe him and never wanted to see him again. He kept trying to tell me I was making a mistake and I hit him."
Mike lay on the ground, looked up at me and said, "Dude, I'm sorry. I've tried to help. When you find out what she's done to you you're going to feel like an ass but I'm done with you now."
"The day of the ceremony, before we got to the Judge's office to get married Dianne handed me a pre nuptial agreement and asked me to sign it. I was shocked and began questioning her about it. She explained her friends had suggested it because she was the only one with any money coming into the wedding and if we broke up it wouldn't be right for me to get any of it. The agreement was in legalese and I didn't read it very carefully. Now I wish I had. If I had taken it to an attorney at least I would have kept my retirement account and maybe my business.
"The agreement stated if the marriage ended for any reason before three years were up she got all our assets. I didn't think much about it because in my mind I didn't have any assets left and she had several hundred thousand dollars in investments. I just signed the agreement and went to get married."
Gregg looked at Jack like he was an idiot and said, "Boy what were you thinking about? You just signed over everything you had to that woman!"
Jack gave him a sickly grin and said, "Yeah, I sure did. I didn't realize the way it was worded she got my 401K and retirement accounts as well as my business, vehicle and so forth. I just thought we were talking about bank accounts and investments. I had none so why not sign?
"After I handed the agreement back to her she squealed and gave me a toe curling kiss. We went into the Judge's chambers for the ceremony. In less than fifteen minutes we were married. We left from there to the airport where we went to Florida for our honeymoon. She took three weeks off work but I could only get off a week and I had to work some each day while I was there. I didn't realize until the day I was to leave that she wasn't coming home with me. I was upset but accepted her statement that this was her vacation too and she needed to relax so she could go back to work revitalized. I flew down twice to be with her and we would not do anything but make love and nap. I was in love and followed her lead like a puppy.
"When she got back from her vacation and our honeymoon Dianne worked for three more months then she was laid off she said. By then I was making enough for us to live pretty comfortable so I didn't say anything. Hell, I even liked it. We were still newlyweds and oh, how we loved each other. Not a day went by that we didn't make love. After a few weeks though Dianne said she was bored. She needed something to do. The only woman on the block that would have anything to do with her was a travel agent. Dianne talked to her about working in her business or at least in the travel industry. She was making a trip to visit several resorts in Florida and Dianne worked her magic on her. The woman invited her to go with her so Dianne could see if she wanted to do that kind of work. They were supposed to share the room Maureen had but Dianne had to pay her own way and for her own meals.
"When Dianne came to me she was so happy I couldn't tell her no. They left on a Sunday and I missed her so badly. I called her Monday night and she was rushed. She said they were going out to dinner then to check out the night life so our neighbor could discuss it with her clients. We didn't talk long and I felt upset. I called the next three nights and my greetings and the conversations became cooler, Dianne was sharp with me. She complained I didn't trust her. She told me that I needed to quit bothering her. She said that she was at work and she didn't bother me when I was working. Dianne said it was embarrassing for me to call and check on her like she was a child or as if I didn't trust her.
"I was hurt. The next day I was even more hurt. The husband of the woman Dianne had gone to Florida with came to see me. He was angry. He asked what kind of a skank I had married and sent off with his wife. I became angry with him and threatened him if he didn't leave my home. Since he was one of the men who had taken Stephanie's side in our divorce I didn't pay much attention to him. As he was leaving he said 'You know Jack, I always thought you were stupid and I know you shit on Stephanie but this is even too dumb for words. I'm going to show you just what you threw Stephanie away for."
"I was angry. I was so angry I couldn't see straight. I decided to call Dianne and tell her what her friend's husband had said. I wanted her to come home and get away from that woman. I called her cell and got no answer. I called the rest of the day, that night and the next day. Still no answer. Finally I called the resort and asked for the room. I got asshole's wife. She said Dianne was not there. Hell, it was after midnight and I knew Dianne would be there. I became obnoxious. Finally I pissed the woman off and she said, you asshole, Dianne hasn't been back to our room before three the last three nights. Yesterday she didn't come in until ten a.m. I don't know why I ever agreed to let her come with me except I felt sorry for her. As soon as I can get away from her I'm outta here. I can't believe you dumped Stephanie for this bitch."
I just hung up the phone and sat staring into space. A couple of days later I got a package from FedEx. It was a surveillance report from a PI in Daytona Beach, FL. It had CD's of Dianne having sex with several different men. It had tapes of her conversations with people in the resort and in bars. She was gushing over some of the young men's tight asses. One time she and another woman were watching a man swimming in the pool. The other woman said, 'Oh, GOD. Look at the ass on that one. I bet he could slam his cock into you so hard you'd be bruised for a week. Look at the size of that bulge in his trunks. I'm gonna get him tonight or die trying.'
Dianne looked at the young man and smiled. She said, "Oh, yeah. I've been with him twice this week and my pussy's still tender from the last time. We were out here swimming after we got back from the bar. He took me down beside the sea wall and did me. I think he may have the largest cock I've ever had pushed up my cunt." Other conversations on the CD showed her laughing and talking with women comparing the quality of lovers they had both had at the resort. I heard Dianne tell one of her new friends that she and her next oldest sister wouldn't even let their younger sister see them on dates because she always told their parents about them screwing everyone they could.
"Of course that sort of helped me understand why Dianne's younger sister wouldn't talk to her at family gatherings or at our wedding. Dianne had just told me the sister was a little bitch and thought she was too good for her and her middle sister.
"I was devastated. I couldn't believe how that conniving bitch had taken me in. I went to my attorney and we filed for divorce before she even returned from Florida. When I confronted her in the house when she got back she just sneered at me and said, so what? You knew what kind of woman I was before we got married. Why are you so upset about what you knew was going to happen. You agreed to it you know. Now either get over it or get the hell out of my house."
I was shocked. I just couldn't believe my sweet little Dianne could talk to me like that. Finally I decided to leave. I began breaking down my office equipment and she had a fit. She told me to get the hell out and leave her possessions alone. I kept working and she disappeared. On one of my trips to my car with computer equipment I was met by a policeman and her attorney. I was served with a restraining order preventing me from taking anything except my clothing and personal hygiene items. I was specifically allowed to take the truck over there."
"At the hearing things just got worse. I had filed asking for a split of assets based on what we had when we married. I didn't try for her savings or investments. I only wanted the $1795.00 I had in the bank when we married and my retirement accounts, computers and vehicle. They countered with the pre nuptial agreement asking for everything. My attorney was livid. I think he was as angry with me as them. When he asked me about the agreement and why I hadn't told him about it I was at a loss. I told him what I had thought when I signed it, that I didn't realize it covered my retirement and vehicle."
"We tried to break the agreement. That dragged the case out for several months. We did get the restraining order lifted so I could get into the house and continue operating my business. That was when I began rat holing money. I took cash from the bank a couple times a week. I made sure I was seen in bars and restaurants. I kept receipts, hell, I even picked up receipts from the ground and wherever I could find them to document expenses. Finally we had our day in court. The judge ruled the pre nuptial agreement would stand. I lost my business, 401K and all our joint accounts. All I had left was the cash I had hidden and not declared. The only reason I got to keep ole red over there is because I never had it transferred into my name. Grandpa had signed the title over to me but I had never recorded it. I lied again and said it was Grandpa's still. State motor vehicle records showed him as owner so the truck was excluded from marital assets because of the trust wording."
"One of the men Dianne was caught having sex with in Miami was Dallas, the friend of Stephanie's that had tried to kick me out of the house. I did enjoy seeing that on the tape. I mailed a copy of it to Stephanie's office at ADM. I had heard she married him after our divorce. I heard the crap really hit the fan when she got the CD! She called me a couple of weeks before my divorce from Dianne was final to talk. It seems she had signed a similar pre nuptial agreement with Dallas as I had signed with Dianne. The only major difference was she had taken hers to an attorney and gotten her retirement accounts excluded. She still lost everything else because she and Dallas spent their entire salary and what she had saved. At first I thought she was going to ask if we could get back together but she didn't.
"We talked civilly for the first time since she caught me kissing Dianne. We finally understood we had both been played and played very well by Dallas and Dianne. Our attorney's agreed but we had no proof of anything illegal. We both agreed too much hurt existed for us to ever get together again. Besides, Stephanie said that even knowing I had been played by a predator she had lost her trust in me and didn't think she could ever get it all back. I admitted I saw her point and told her I could never forget what she and Dallas had done while we were married either. We parted on a friendlier note than we had when we divorced and agreed to go our own ways with a little fonder memory of each other."
Jack stood from his chair and went to his ice chest for a beer. He held one toward Gregg and Bettie and raised his eyebrows. After they had both shaken their heads no, he continued, "Well, that's my sorry story. That's how I lost two wives and a small fortune in a little over three years of marriage."
Gregg sat looking at Jack for several minutes. Bettie seemed too shocked to say anything. Finally Gregg leaned forward in his chair and placed his forearms on his knees. He clasped his hands together and said, "Son I never heard a story like that in all my born days. Ya was dumb ta fall fer her line of crap but I suppose alla us could do something like that if the circumstances was right. Aint there anything ya coulda done 'bout it? It sure don't seem right she took everythin' like she done. Besides, if ya loved Stephanie and she loved you like your folks said it looks like you coulda got her back."
"No, I talked to my attorney about going after Dianne and Dallas. He said even if I filed a lawsuit it could cost more than I would gain. He said since the divorce judge let the pre nuptial agreement stand the chances were slim I could win. Dianne only got about $23000.00 but it's the principle I guess. I think she believed my business was worth more than it was or that I'd keep her around longer than I did. I guess she just got too greedy too fast. I was just starting to make big money in the business. In three or four years I would have had a lot more in the bank and she might have been able to sell my business for a lot of money. All she had to do was be a good little wife for a couple of years and she would have really gotten some money from me. As for Stephanie, there had been too many hurtful things said and done for us to ever have worked again. I am still so angry at her I could choke even though a lot of the blame is mine."
"Well son, I guess ya made the right decision but it's still a bite in tha ass." He looked over at Bettie and said, "Ya ready ta go home woman?" She nodded yes and stood.
At the truck Gregg turned to Jack and said, "Oh, I almost forgot. Why don't ya go down to the Fielding's Feed Store in Steelville and see if they need help? I heard in the café the other day those wimmin was having trouble keeping up with the books and such."
The next morning early Jack went to the store as Gregg recommended. He talked to Amanda Fielding about a job. She said, "Well Jack, I do need some help from time to time but it isn't full time. If you want to fill in occasionally and work weekends mostly we can give you a try. I'll understand if you find something better and move on because we probably won't need you more than 16 hours a week or so. If you wanted to help in back you might get a few more hours if someone got sick or something. We always hire part time help during harvest season so you will get more hours then too."
"Great. I'll take it. Anything will help right now. I need to find something better and a place to live before it gets cold but that will give me some breathing room."