“Sarah, I’ll be back at ten!” Steve grabbed his coat and headed out.
I didn’t answer. I was too pissed. Three months of his crap had me wondering what possessed the man I had vowed to love and respect.
Attending those religious meetings had turned him into a nasty, cruel bastard.
His demeanor had changed lately. “Those are your idiot kids!” The words rang in my ears. “And, you’re nothing but a drunk!” His face showing the anger of a maniac, and his eyes narrowed as if I was his enemy. I avoided arguments and ignored his attempts to provoke me into one.
I poured myself a glass of wine and retreated to the living room. The boys were watching tv.
What kind of stupid religious sect leader came to your house once a week and coached you on life skills. Especially an elder. Steve had made sure we weren’t seen or heard. It all seemed very strange.
I sat there thinking and then something occurred to me.
“Boys, mommy’s going into the office, okay?”
Christian and Oliver turned their heads. “Okay mom.”
I took my glass and went into the large, new office Steve had renovated. Sitting down at the desk, I opened the top drawer to inspect the contents. Steve still did things the old-fashioned way, preferring paper to technology. I did the books on my pc in the basement, where he thought I belonged.
Both hands flipped through the papers and junk he kept in there. Building a million dollar home had been one of the benefits derived from his expertise as a house builder.
There it is.
I pulled out the bank statements. A substantial amount of money was gone. The balance in the account fell far short of what I thought we had. The substantial line of credit showed withdrawals as well. One check he wrote just yesterday to that religious cult for fifty thousand.
Sending the boys to bed, I took off my ragged track pants, and worn out tee shirt, slipping into a pair of five-year-old pajamas. I climbed into bed and cried myself to sleep thinking about how things had gone so wrong.
Suddenly, without warning, I felt a shove. Then just as shockingly, I felt a jolt and pain as I hit the floor. My arm and my back hurt. Stunned, and not sure whether I could move, I looked up, to find Steve staring at me.
“You drunken bitch!”
“Wha…why did you do that?”
“Don’t you know your place around here?”
“Steve, what’s wrong?”
“I’m fed up with your crap. I shouldn’t have to put up with this. I work hard and what do I get…a lazy ass woman, who drinks and doesn’t take care of our home.” He planted his hands on my side of the bed, so I couldn’t get back up. His face red and his eyes glaring at me in anger.
I stayed there, feeling the pain in my back escalate as I tried to move a bit.
“You stay down there where you belong!” He shouted.
“I’ll go sleep on the couch,” I said quietly. “I don’t want to fight.”
“You better sleep with one eye open.” Shifting his weight toward me, his hand came down and grabbed my hair. “And, those kids better too.”
I reached back and grabbed his hand to loosen his grip, but he had a firm hold. I dug my nails in defensively, and he finally conceded and let go. Quickly, I got up, and hurried out to the living room, my body aching.
I couldn’t sleep, and knew this had gone too far. I had to figure a way out, and I had to protect my young boys.
The next morning, while making breakfast, Steve came in the kitchen and dropped some papers on the counter. “I want these signed before I get home tonight.”
“What are they?”
“Don’t ask questions; just do as you’re told!” He snapped.
The boys looked at me. “Are you okay, mommy?” Oliver asked.
Steve glared at Oliver.
I put Christian and Oliver’s lunches in their backpacks, and said, “Okay boys, the bus is coming. Time to get going.”
“I’ll be home late.” Steve scowled at me. “Stupid ass kids.” The boys didn’t look at him. In their own way, I think they knew he’d changed, and had avoided any interaction with him at all. I couldn’t remember them calling him ‘daddy’ once in the past couple of months.
“Bye mom,” the boys said, as they grabbed their coats and headed out the door. “Love you.” I said. “Have a good day.”
Christian turned to me, and smiled an awkward, nervous smile, and my heart sank feeling he knew exactly what was going on. I had never seen that look on his face before and it pained me to watch him go out the door that way.
Steve pointed to the papers on the counter. “Before I get home, or else.” As he walked through the foyer, he deliberately knocked the small priceless sculpture of a woman my mother had given me many years ago, which fell to the travertine tile and shattered into an immense number of pieces. “Now, maybe you’ll have something to do today besides drinking.” Then he left.
I sat down at the kitchen table and cried. My face reddened with tears, my stomach upset from nerves, I decided to look at the papers Steve had left for me.
My stomach churned in agony as I read the papers. He intended to give our home to that religious organization he’d become involved with. I shook my head. NO!
I decided to call the religious organization and a young woman answered.
“I’m calling about one of your members.” I said. “Steven Parker.”
“Oh, Steven, yes.” She said sounding very excited.
“Do you know him?” I asked.
“Of course, my father, the minister introduced us. He’s my fiancé.” She beamed. The pain in my heart agonizing as I felt her words pierce through me. I wanted to die right then.
“Oh, I see.” I held back the tears. “So you must be….”
“Carla. And you are?”
“I’m his sister, Susan,” I lied.
“So what can I help you with, Susan?”
“I was just checking if Steven had a meeting tonight.”
“No, but we do have plans for dinner.”
“I see, okay, thanks…oops my boss is calling me, I have to run. Thanks Carla.”
“Anytime, take care Susan, hope we meet soon.”
I hung up without answering.
Then I called Bill, our bank manager.
“Bill, I need to verify all our account balances.”
“No problem, Sarah, just let me pull them up on the screen.”
He gave me the balances and I found that between all the accounts we had less than three-hundred-thousand. The line of credit still held two hundred thousand.
“I need you to draw up the paperwork for me to withdraw all of it.”
“But I’ll need your husband’s signature.”
“No, I have power of attorney on the accounts Bill, so I’ll bring that document with me.”
“No problem, Sarah, I’ll get it all ready. What time will you be in?”
“Around three o’clock.”
“Okay, see you then.”
“Bye, and thanks Bill.”
A headache was starting to take over, and I knew I had to get through the rest of the day.
This was the worst day of my life. I called my sister in Hawaii and let her know we’d be there sometime tomorrow. She was ecstatic, since Steve and her had never seen eye to eye.
“I don’t have time to explain everything. I will when I see you.”
“Okay, be safe and I love you sis.” She said.
“I love you too.”
I called a realtor and asked them to put the house up on the market. They said thy needed to appraise it. I asked them if they could do it today and they agreed.
My plan in motion, I packed up the kids’ clothes and their favorite things. I left most of my clothes. I had no need of the garbage I had become accustomed to wearing. Then I gathered up all Steve’s nice clothes, his favorite things and took them out to the back yard where we had a big barbeque pit. I tossed everything in it, doused it with lighter fluid, and threw a match to the pile. The blaze enchanted me.
A car pulled up, and I peeked out the front window, my heart pounding, afraid Steve might come back and catch me.
It was the realtor. I started breathing again. The woman knocked at the front door and I greeted her politely.
“I want the house sold as quickly as possible.” I said, rushing her through the house, knowing time was valuable right now.
“How much are you asking?”
“I’m in a hurry and I’ll take anything over eight for it.”
“It should sell quickly at that price. Are you sure you want to go that low?”
Everything is custom, isn’t it?” She asked, looking around. “Who was your decorator?”
“Guilty.” I blushed.
“Quite beautiful and tastefully decorated.”
I smiled my first smile today. “Thanks.”
“Then, I’ll draw up the papers. Should I drop them off to you.”
“No, I’ll email you a forwarding address tomorrow. My husband won’t be signing the papers since I have power of attorney on the property and business.” Steve had thought it was a good idea to do the power of attorney saying I was the reason he was so successful. It was nice to know it would bite him in the ass.
“So, I’ll put the ‘For Sale’ sign up immediately. I have one in my car.
“Ill have my lawyer call you to discuss the details of the paperwork.” I added.
“Okay, thank you.” She handed me her card, “It was a pleasure.” She smiled, shook my hand, then left.
Changing my clothes, I made a quick call to the airport and booked a flight for three to Hawaii. I grabbed our passports, my important documents, the house deed, and a few other things before heading out to the bank.
I went out to the garage where Steve kept all of his equipment, tools, and things. It was locked but I knew where he kept a spare key. I opened the large door and went inside to a spot he had on the wall where the boards were loose. Inside the wall, Steve had stashed money away from jobs he didn’t invoice. Cash jobs were his real source of income and his way of not paying taxes, thus affording us many luxuries we wouldn’t otherwise have.
Pulling the boards off, I reached in and realized there was a lot of cash hidden there. I grabbed both stacks and headed back to the house.
I grabbed the papers Steve left on the counter, set them on fire, and then flushed them down the toilet.
I grabbed the luggage, my purse that now held quite a large sum of money, and the rest of the things I had set aside to take with me. I packed the car, and glanced at the ‘For Sale’ sign on the well-manicured lawn.
Just as I was pulling out, Steve came speeding into the driveway. My heart practically stopped. His face full of horror, and I knew right then he had spoken with Carla. The tires squealed as I pulled out of the driveway, my hands shaking on the steering wheel as I headed toward the bank.
I didn’t put a stop payment on the check Steve had written yesterday. There would be no funds to cover it now that I had cleaned out the accounts.
I picked the boys up from school and headed for the airport, my mind recapping the day’s events.
“Mom, where are we going?” Christian asked.
“Vacation. Hope you guys are up for that?”
“Yeah!” They yelled.
“I hope we never go home.” Oliver said.
Justice felt empowering.
Filed under: My Stories |