Part II: Mark begins digging, a semi-prodigal son, Robin wants to fly, first somemore background

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.

The story:

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.

 

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Okay, let’s get started. We’ll meet some of the charcters and get some backstory. There will be questions

.Mark Warren is an accountant. He’s a college educated CPA. His degree got him a job with the State of Connecticut. He investigated tax fraud. After twenty years he took the money and set up a cottage industry out of his cellar. He does the books for small businesses and taxes for relatives. He’s married to Robin and they have three kids. More about them later. His life would have moved along normally if he didn’t get two bits of bad news. First, his desk job had thickened his waist and arteries. He’s taken care of that. Second Robin has contracted a neuro-muscular disease that has confined her to a wheelchair. Mark has to help her with some of the daily things in life like bathing and dressing. He’s had the house modified to accommodate her.

Robin Warren is confined to a wheelchair. She married Mark just after their daughter Kim was discovered. The two boys came five and seven years later. She was in school  when her condition was discovered. She left school and married Mark with hopes of going back. That never happened. She became a contented housewife. Around her forty-fifth birthday she began noticing that she was beginning to have pain when she moved. At first she wrote it off as aging. It got worse. She went to what seemed an unending series of doctors. What it came to was a wheelchair, medication and pain-killers. She does her best to function, cleaning, cooking and  serving as a buffer between her husband and clients who called inquiring why ten years of accounting records couldn’t be processed in three days.

The kids are Shelley, the eldest. She been married and divorced and lives near home. She takes care of her mother when Mark has to visit clients at their businesses. Her younger brother, Will, is a teacher. He’s married and has a son. The youngest child  is Sam. He hasn’t quite settled down yet and his parents dread the fact that he’ll move back home.

That’s the daylight world. Mark paid for college by joining the military. He did time in Vietnam. It effected him. The doctors he saw when he came back talked him down from the ledge that shelling, stress and recreational drugs put him on. During the day, he could cope. A lot of talking and some light meds helped but he gave up the pills. He drank for a while. The sloppy feeling it gave him was unpleasant. He quit. Tobacco was never a problem.  What scared him was sleep. He dreamed. Dreams about war that involved his family and friends. Sometimes they shot at him. Sometimes he shot at them. Sometimes the enemy was an unknown being that attacked his soul. The dreams sometimes carried over into the day. He caught them in the shower or by focusing on work. If he let his mind empty out and wander, the night entered. A bit at a time.

His life doesn’t allow Mark to deal with problems he has. He’s scared. What if the dreams take over his life? That’s the first question. Now the story:

He woke up next to her. She slept late these days. the painkillers she took to allow her to make it through the day petered out about ten at night. She was laying on her side surrounded by a body pillow that let her sleep on her side. She fell asleep that way after they talked. He swung his legs over the side of the bed. He stood slowly, his back hurt. It part of getting older. He staggered into the  kitchen and started the coffee machine. Back in the bedroom he pulled out clean shorts and a tee-shirt out of the dresser drawer. In the bathroom he turned on the shower and stripped. He climbed into the tub and leaned against the front wall of the shower stall. He let the hot water relax the muscles in his back. As he dried off he looked at himself in the mirror. His body wasn’t that bad for a guy just north of sixty. The office job let him get sloppy and a visit to his doctor got him eating healthy. He sat down on the toilet seat and dressed.

He could hear her in the bedroom. She had pains early in the morning and had difficulty moving. In the bedroom he pulled on gym shorts and set up her meds. He knew them by heart. One blue, one yellow and three big white horse pills. Her eyes were open and she was smiling,  good sign. He leaned over and kissed her. He stroked her hair. He took the body pillow from around her body and eased her onto her back. He got the wheelchair next to the bed and lifted her in. He  got a change of clothes and  wheeled her into the bathroom. He got her onto the toilet seat to take care of her morning duties. He left her alone. When she was done he adjusted the seat in the tub and turned on the water. Warm, not too hot. He adjusted the shower head to a gentle mist. Back in the chair he began to help her undress. There was a time when they could not do this quickly enough, but now it was mostly lifting limbs and tugging clothing. The tub had six or so inches of water and he got her out of the chair and onto the tub seat. She could wash most parts but he helped when he could.

When she was washed he wrapped her in towels and  dried her. He wheeled back to the bedroom. He lay her on the bed and began to massage. He’d watched the physical therapists and took a course in Therapeutic Massage. He worked her legs to keep circulation going. He massaged her back and shoulders just because he enjoyed it.

“Still trying to cop a feel after all these years. You tried the first date but I’ve got a bit easier.” She said.

“Yeah but you’re just the same hot girl I married.”

“Except I traded legs for wheels.”

He sat her in the chair and  dressed her.  Soft bra and panties, white gym socks, sweat pants and  long sleeved tee. In the kitchen he set her place  by one of the counters. Coffee, toast and cold cereal. Her pills were in a small egg cup by the side of the  cereal bowl. She tipped the pills back and swallowed some water. The counter was adjusted as were most parts of the kitchen to accommodate her chair. Mark sat at one of the few normal height sections of the counters.

“What do you have going today?” She said between spoons of cereal.

“Some guy named Pettiman. He thinks the accounting firm that the insurance company recommended is stealing from him.”

“Does he sound like a nut case?”

“I’ll have to listen to his story. I told him to bring as many years back as he could go. Ten years max. That usually thins the herd. When they have to work for something that they might be trying to pull off, they usually don’t  want to do too much work. Scammers try to get by with as few real  details and a lot of shiny stuff.”

“So if he shows up with a lot of files he might be telling the truth.”

“And I’ll be up too my ass checking paperwork.”

Mark cleaned up the dishes and made the bed. Robin rolled around the kitchen wiping and cleaning. He went downstairs to his office and unlocked the door that led to the driveway. He turned on the radio.  Quiet wasn’t  good for him. Stuff crept into his head, bad stuff, old stuff. He  turned on the intercom. It was mostly for him. He had to hear her moving. She knew what she had to do and just did it.

At nine the client showed. Pettiman was round. Round head atop a round body held up by bowed legs. His whole head was red from the exertion of hauling two briefcases into the office. Beads of sweat were showing through his bad comb-over. He barely got the two cases onto the desk. The were the rectangular type designed to carry files. Pettiman plopped into the seat.

“Mr. Pettiman I see you brought the files.”

The words came out of Pettiman in gasps. “Yes They’re on disks.”  “Everything.” “Past ten years.” “Fifty dollars to  my nephew to copy them.”

“Mac or PC?”

“What?”

“What operating system Mac or PC?”

“PC,  I think.”

“Doesn’t  matter.” Mark used both systems. A job he’d done for a less than legitimate electronics store owner got the PC  delivered after a successful audit.

“How long has your accounting firm been shafting you?”

“About five years.”

“And you’re coming to me now.”

“It wasn’t too bad at first, maybe three and a half years. I checked the books myself. The  accountants just sent me reports and I assumed they were legit. Then I noticed a problem the books looked good overall but the nuts and bolts profits and losses were off.”

“Can you explain?”

“I deal in import/export. I’ve got four stores open and I’m looking to open a fifth in a year. A lot of money orders are being sent overseas to Eastern European countries from my West Hartford store. There aren’t a lot Eastern Europeans in West Hartford. The business was mostly import of food and clothing.  Now money is being sent to foundations and medical centers.”

“They’re probably legitimate charities.” Mark was trying hard to pay attention to the radio.

“I don’t think so, I tried to donate but when I sent a check to the local branch it came back. They don’t exist.”

“What’s the problem? Don’t give money to phony charities. It’s simple.”

“A lot of people gave money to those people and they might think that I’m involved.”

“So you’re looking to cover your ass.”

“Um, no, yes. The people who recommended you said you worked in forensic accounting and were one of the best.”

The best you can afford Mark thought. He and Pettiman talked about what Mark could and couldn’t do. Pettiman signed releases. They shook hands and Pettiman levered himself out of  the client’s chair and waddled out of the office. Robin called him upstairs for lunch.

They sat and talked about things that were on the schedule for the week.

“So what do you think?” She asked.

“About Pettiman?”

“No about world peace, of course Pettiman.”

“He’s lying. People are using his business to funnel money to phony charities and he wants to cover his ass.”

“Go through all of his records thoroughly bill the shit out of him and  send him  on his way.” She had that look on her face that he first saw when his parents offered to pay for the wedding. She could be  mercenary when she wanted to.

Back downstairs Mark ran the earliest disks through the computer. They were clean. He skipped ahead to the past two years and ran the disks. The program he’d had installed searched for anomalies. They began popping up.  The money was deposited in one account and within  twenty-four hours an equal amount was headed back.

Questions:

Mark is a hand grenade. How soon do we show it?

Robin isn’t a cheerful wheelchair-bound person she’s in it for the money and what else?

Pettiman comes in with a set of bogus  books. If he checked he’d know Mark would find out any errors. Is he what he says he is? Is it a CYA job?

Mark has a past. Can this be pert of it coming back to bite him in the ass?

Any questions or suggestions? Put them in Comments  Section. See you next Wednesday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The story that will (hopefully) never end.

I’m a writer. Not published for money, yet, but I do every day. I’ve got a story that requires 24/7 attention. I’ll begin posting on Wednesdays. I want you, the readers to use the comments section to offer suggestions bout how you’d like the story to go. No porn or explicit gore. I want real characters moving through life with maybe a surreal step or two off the path. I’m not real sure how to get the “about” part written so I could tell you about myself and maybe include a selfie, nothing personal, you don’t want to see. 

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