Shelly was born a bit early in Mark and Robin’s marriage. She was a bright child who made it through K to High School without any major drama. If there was it came from her almost unerring ability to pick out really bad men. In high school she had a brief but stormy affair with a twenty five year old grocery manager. Her parents thought she’d settled down but she brought home Jimmy Wales. He had a steady job, loved her and for all intents and purposes was ready to settle down to domesticity. Shelly was happy and into the first year of marriage she turned up pregnant. It was a boy. Jimmy was overjoyed. Two years later Shelly delivered a daughter. Jimmy wasn’t as happy. His paycheck was stretching thin. He began enjoying a beer or six every night. He came close to snapping when Shelly showed signs of another pregnancy. He began hitting her. It was minor at first but it culminated with Shelly in the hospital with major injuries. He got arrested, she got a divorce. Shelly was unprepared for life with three kids, no job training and a skittish personality around men. Mark and Robin took the kids in until she got job training. She got a job as a medical tech but doesn’t stray too far from home. she has an apartment five minutes away from her parents.
Will didn’t need a lot of educating. Math taught him about his older sister’s arrival and he had no desire for that. Her marriage was a Master’s Class in family life. He made it through school with just above average grades. He went to the state university and got a degree in education. He took jobs in school systems that were in need of bodies to fill spaces lost to attrition. He met a nice girl, a teacher. She didn’t mind moving every two or three years. Will’s nephews and niece kept his wife on birth control. He loved his parents but stayed away. He was afraid that he would get into a cycle that suck him into tending for his mother and feeling guilty.
Sam started drinking and using drugs at fourteen. Which wasn’t the real bad news. He discovered women at twelve. It wasn’t uncommon for him to be dragged home by a girl’s parent after he’d been discovered playing doctor. He learned to charm women. He gave up on younger girls when he found out there were women who enjoyed the company of a teenager who wasn’t a newcomer to mind altering substances. He was willing and knew that he really didn’t need to support himself. He’s approaching twenty one and his life style has aged him.
Mark spent four days in his office running disks through the computer. Pettiman’s business was funneling a grand a week for starts to a charity called Dr. Wilkin’s Health and Soul Saving Ministry. It seems five years back Dr. Wilkins set up shop in the outskirts of West Hartford. He attracted a multi-racial group with promises of miracle cures and an in to Heaven. The miracle cures happened and more people began to show up at a deserted Methodist church that grew into a near cathedral-sized building with crosses and stained glass. The real bump up came when some of the town’s more affluent folks began to have “miracle” cures for age related diseases like arthritis and glaucoma. All of this and more flooded Marl’s computer when he, in an off-hand way, let it be known that he was investigating the good doctor. The first call came from a former boss who led him to a hot-shot in the Revenue Division who’d been watching the operation but was called off because of the possibility of First Amendment problems. Town officials called wishing him luck and offering any investigative papers that they had. The landslide happened when an “uncle” he had connected with the State Police delivered six cases of files, a lot of them unseen by the Doctor’s advocates. Mark appreciated the help but he tried to explain all he was doing was checking a client’s books. He got an answer.
Sunday night he was wading through paperwork when Robin called him upstairs.
“There’s somebody here to see you. I really think you should see him.”
He ran upstairs. Robin was backed against the back wall. A tall thick man in a business suit was standing over her.
“What the hell are you doing?” He hollered.
The man turned slowly. Mark got a look at a boxer’s face. He was wearing tinted aviator glasses, his hands showed that they’d been used a lot. He spoke, a quiet rasp came out.
“My name is Jespersen, your problem with Pettimen has attracted the attention of a lot of people who’d like information. You’re very good at discovering it. You might suspect the people involved. They’re willing to offer as much support as possible. Financial support will be generous. There are, people who have been, um, relieved of funds they cannot afford to lose. Some of the had access to folks who could push this along.”
“What do you want me to do?” Mark was getting irritated at the fact someone had dumped all of this data in his lap and wanted him to clean it up.
“Basically we want you to sink the bastard.” The big man smiled. “I’m sorry for frightening your wife, my daughter is in a wheelchair and I know the frustration and the hope you have.”
“I’ll se what I can do.” Mark didn’t sound hopeful.
“Thank you, a lot of people will appreciate your effort.”
Mark let the man out. Robin bitched about being scared witless. He wheeled her into the bedroom. In bed he held her. She fell asleep and he stayed awake trying to understand what the hell he’d gotten into.
The next day Mark worked sorting the data. He liked working with the actual files. Computers were easy to fool. Robin told him that Shelly had called. Shelly was not happy. Sam had crashed at her apartment the night before and she wanted him out. She didn’t want to call the police on her brother. She thought Mark or Robin might talk to him. Robin also talked about a dream she had. A silver haired man touched her and gave her wings so she wouldn’t need the chair anymore. Maybe the man was an angel, or God. She thought about going back to church.
C’mon help me out. These people are just begging for some kind of trouble in their lives.