More on Sam: He’s a womanizer. He’s indiscreet and basically has the common sense of a turtle, to quote Judge Judy. His last girlfriend was only partially divorced and her husband was going to use Sam as lever to possibly decrease any money his future ex-wife might get. Because he’s a tad slow, he knows that his parents will toss him out on his ass. Will is a no-go. Shelly is wounded enough to recognize a kindred spirit or someone who appears to be one.
Robin has some pull over Mark. He knows how desperate she can get. He also knows that when she first started getting worse she looked outside conventional medicine and was led into some iffy places. Faith healers, mechanical devices and whatnot. Mark has tried to keep things close to reality. Lately she’s had that “go back to church” look in her eyes. He doesn’t mind going but he came to catholicity late in life and still had the kind of distrust that Protestants have of Catholics with all their ceremony. The “humanizing” of the church has helped but he’s originally from the south with tent revivals and faith healers. He thinks he’s above that, he’s not so sure about her.
He loves his wife but he needs to be away. He’s checking data. The quiet relaxes him and he has a feeling of accomplishment. He’s worked all of his life and he doesn’t know any better. A vacation would drive him crazy, and confine him with people he loves. That could be a bit dangerous.
“He’s at her apartment” Mark said.
“Sam, the latest girlfriend tossed him out. He got drunk and crashed there. She’s scared.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Why does it always have to be me?”
“You’re their father.” Robin was getting into her mother mode. “Anyway she might call the police.”
“And this would be different from the other times how? When the grad student kept him in her apartment even though he was only seventeen? Or the woman who kept him in a hotel room until her husband found out? Do I have to continue?”
“He makes some bad judgments.”
“The boy was a bad judgment. I should have been clipped after Will.”
“What are you going to do?” She was stern-faced and her voice was determined.
“Alright, I’ll drive over and see if I can talk him into moving out.” He didn’t feel good about the trip.
Mark got dressed into what he called his “outside” clothes. Khakis, short-sleeved shirt and loafers. He had a tie in his jacket pocket. He drove over to Shelly’s apartment. She lived in a rehabbed six family. When he pulled into the parking lot he saw Sam’s car parked sideways in a guest slot. He climbed up to the second floor and knocked on Shelly’s door. She answered. She was paler than usual. She let him in. He didn’t need to know the way to the living room. On the couch, in his shorts and tee-shirt, snoring was his youngest son. He shook him.
“Get the hell up.” His voice louder than usual.
“Wake the hell up.”
The body on the couch moved. It rolled over nearly falling off. An unshaven face with hair hanging down onto it looked up at him.
“Dad.” The face said or something like it.
Mark had a speech about irresponsibility, acting an ass and generally not acting his age. He knew better. Sam had a way of looking at you when lectured him. He looked contrite but you could almost hear the gears in his brain plotting some form of payback for interrupting his day. Mark rolled the boy off the couch. He tossed his clothes on top of him.
“Get dressed and get the hell out of here. Go back to wherever you were leeching.”
“Or what are going you going to do?” Sam was trying to stand.
“The police sound like a good idea.”
“You won’t. Mom won’t let you.” He was sitting pulling on his pants.
“I know enough cops to have you locked so far back they’ll have to pipe fucking air to you.” For the first time since his youngest became an adult he wanted to really punch him. That was a bad decision. Once the boy was dressed, Mark grabbed his collar and frog walked him to the door.
“Get the fuck out and don’t come back.”
He drove home, fighting tears. He’d gotten too angry, way too angry. He gave Robin a quick recap and headed downstairs. He turned on the radio and picked up a file off his desk. On a legal pad he began to write down dates and amounts. He picked up a red pen. He checked the numbers over and over. He marked dates and amounts. He checked another file. The dates were beginning to match up. Deposits to the charities came on the thirteenth and the deposits he’d got coming in were on the fifteenth. That was a short turn-around. Somebody was pulling strings just out of the reach of the authorities. Sometime around midnight he saw a corporation that was donating money and the small donations dropped off.
He put Robin to bed. She’d watched TV until he came upstairs. He undressed and crawled into bed. He lay next to her. He stroked her breast. They kissed and for the first time in months they made love. It wasn’t like in their teens but the love was deeper.
He woke at nine, the bedside phone was ringing. He picked up. The voice was a heart attack from his past. It was smooth and silky. He recognized it. A business trip, a mistake and a lot of guilt. One thing he knew. He must not mention her name. He told the person to hold. He arranged Robin comfortably. He picked up the phone.
“Still in bed? You used to be up early in the morning. How’s your wife? Robin? She feeling better?”
“What do you want?”
“Well, I should tell you that I’ve moved farther into the department. You’d be working for me by now. Actually, all that data you’ve been getting? It’s a bit hot. The people who released them got a memo to pull everything you would need and release it to you. It was a mistake on my part.”
“You’re setting me up. For what? Because I wouldn’t leave my wife?”
“No, nothing that simple. There are a lot of people involved in this and a whole crapload are going to get loose. We want them all. If they know you’ve got the records they’ll go after you. We’ll pick them off.”
“What about my family? You’re going to watch them?”
“If we can. Anyway you were good for a few weekends. Maybe we can talk. Oh yeah check Pittermen.”
Is Sam gone? Is he going to crack the case or is he being used as bait? A female calling in the morning. She knows about him. They had an affair? Yep. Is it going to come up?