Sunday, November 18, 2018

"SPRING"ING AHEAD... Better days? (Part 170p)

“SPRING”ING AHEAD… Better days? (Part 170p)

Elle liked to be in bed by 10pm whenever she was teaching. She took Paula upstairs to get her squared away with part of that being bathroom protocol in the morning leaving me to watch TV. With four people needing to get ready time was always a bit ’tight’ but, now with five, it was going to be tighter. I left it up to Elle to orchestrate how it would work. I don’t know how long it was before I saw Paula approaching through the darkened living room. As she got to the entryway to the den she stopped. I could see a towel and pajamas over one arm. With her incontinence Elle never wore them but kept them anyway as my mother had given them to her. Paula stopped to say that she was going take her shower to save time in the morning. I didn’t know if it was Elle’s idea or Paula’s but I knew it would certainly help. Before she left I warned her about the steam build up in the tiny room and suggested that she leave the towel and pajamas just outside the door to keep them dry. I skipped the part about ‘cracking’ the window because of the location of it right behind the toilet and her height. I knew she’d never be able to get it open. She thanked me and said she’d see me in the morning.

With Paula in the shower I heard Elle call me from the top of the stairs to say she would leave a night light on in the upstairs bathroom. I wondered why she did that as I would’ve seen it on my own. Returning to the den I saw two piles of clothes in the hall just outside the bathroom. Normally, I would’ve returned to the den through the living room but couldn’t help myself and walked down the hall. I could hear the water running in the shower as I stopped to look at what was on the floor. One of the two piles was the clothes she’d been wearing… and right on top was something small and dark that had my attention as soon as I saw it. Emboldened by the sound of the water I bent down and picked it up. Soft and pliable, I was sure it was nylon… and probably panties but the dark color was puzzling There was no direct light in the hall and the kitchen lights were off so to get a better look I took it into the den. As soon as I made the turn I stretched them out. It was a pair of chocolate brown bikini panties. I’d never seen panties of any kind in that color so took a look at the label. J C Penney, size 4. I quickly put them back and retreated to my recliner, feigning sleep. I heard the bathroom door open and close a couple of times so felt comfortable in getting up after hearing the second one. I did go in and ‘crack’ the bathroom window to get rid of the steam before heading up to bed. As I did I was still thinking of Paula’s brown panties.

The morning, as expected, was a bit chaotic. Looking at Paula I kept envisioning her in those brown bikinis. When she, Elle and Kaye went out the door headed for school I wondered if I’d ever see her again. But, I had more important things to focus on while driving to work. The most important was the on going audit examination at the bank and just what the new guy from the Federal authorities would be like. In the background of my mind was Paula and how Lynda had made out in picking her up at the hospital. I knew the first thing I had to do was to meet with the new guy and to find out what his plan going forward was to be. I also knew that it would be a while before I’d get a chance to catch up with Lynda. Mike, the messenger/custodian was at the door, as usual, to let the employees in and when I passed by I asked if he knew if the new examiner had arrived. When he smiled back at me I knew the answer. I’d only made it halfway across the lobby when I saw Hobie headed for the elevator. I called to him and he waved me to follow him into it. I still had my overcoat and briefcase but he insisted that I accompany him anyway. Inside, he gave me a warning and that was for me to keep my mouth shut and not to do anything to raise the guy’s ire. I was able to ask Hobie if he knew anything about the guy. All I got was an affirmative shake of his head and a frown… not a good sign.

The meeting was held in the board room. I saw all our key people there as well as the woman in charge of the State examination. The man introduced himself and I detected a slight accent. He didn’t speak for long and when he was finished we all knew who was in charge. He wanted a private office to operate out of and the only space was J J’s office. When Hobie told him to get all of his necessary things together and to move to the office that Bob, the appraiser, occupied, I thought he would choke. Another whose ‘look’ was worth noting was the woman in charge of the State examiners. I actually remember feeling somewhat sorry for her as she was being relegated to second or maybe even third in command. As we were excused I wondered what the rest of the examination period would be like. Another concern was that no sooner would all the auditors be gone and we’d be into the ‘busy period’. Thankfully, we had no special promotions planned. It was going to be a daunting few weeks.

Before calling Lynda I had a meeting with Bret, Trish and Lorie to get them ‘up to speed’ as to what to expect from the auditors for the next few days. Then… I called Lynda. My blood pressure was still a bit high as I waited for her to answer. I got the feeling that she was really busy when she did but when she realized it was me I could hear her breath a sigh of relief. I told her all I needed to know was if Ruthe was settled in. I remember her giving off a half-hearted laugh when she answers “sort of” and then said she’d call later. The total time I was on the phone was probably less than two minutes. But, I was so engrossed that I hadn’t noticed J J walk up to my desk. When I saw him he looked like he was about to explode. His face was flushed red and when he started to speak I could hear his voice shaking a bit. I really did like J J but, at least at work, he annoyed me. I had actually enjoyed watching him get kicked down a notch and it was ironic that he’d come to me looking for sympathy. The one thing that stands out was him standing there pleading. “Can you believe that?”.

Later, Hobie called me into his area and gave me some insight as to the new Federal examiners. Being told to come to our bank was like a “slap in the face” to him as he was used to dealing with banks much, much larger. Hearing it made sense of an observation by Bret that all the examiners he’d had to deal with seemed “up tight”. It was then that I told him about J J’s situation. That brought out a smile. Once the doors were closed to the public I took a walk around the work area to see how the people from the State were making out after having been moved. The lady in charge had re-grouped from the morning meeting and was very cordial. Not wanting to upset her about the change I took a different approach and asked if there was anything I could get for her or her crew. With both of us more at ease I took the time to take a good look at her. Of course I was remembering the peek of white I’d gleaned the previous day but recognized it would take a stroke of luck to reprise it in the coming days. But, as they say, ‘Hope springs eternal…’

To be continued…

Friday, November 16, 2018

"SPRING"ING AHEAD... Better days? (Part 170o)

“SPRING”ING AHEAD… Better days? (Part 170o)

I couldn’t wait for my day to end… but the situation with the two lead examiners continued on. The clock was approaching 5pm when Joanie told me Bert (the president) wanted to see me. Lena, his secretary, told me to go right in and as I did I saw Hobie, J J, and Bette from accounting there with everyone standing. Bert was a very easy going man and the expression on his face almost always exuded the beginnings of a smile. Not on this afternoon! I really don’t remember what he said to start as I was too nervous to grasp it. What he ended up doing/saying was telling the three of us we were to attempt to accommodate the requests of the examiners during their time there… no matter how inconvenient it was for us to do so. He then stated that there would be a new person there in the morning to lead the Federal examination and that he was a senior examiner. That gave me the hint that the short, dumpy woman who’d given me a hard time earlier was being replaced. But, it also told me that my fear of having to face a stiffer audit had come true. With that, I waited for ‘the other shoe to drop’, and it did. I was told to aid and assist moving the State auditors out of the Board room and into the open work areas on the first floor. I was to see that the Federal auditors had all they needed to continue their work. While trying to assimilate these facts I couldn’t help but feel I’d been made the ‘scapegoat’. It had been Hobie who’d told each group where to locate their things… but that was because I’d been helping Lynda gather clothes for Ruthe and hadn’t been there to do it. It meant I’d be getting home late… again.

First things first and that was to call Elle… only it wasn’t Elle who answered the phone. It wasn’t any of the kids and I immediately thought I’d dialed the wrong number. However, with our new semi-electronic telephone system I’d entered about eight or so numbers into the desk set and all I had to do was push one button and the number would be dialed… and I was positive I’d pushed number one, our home phone. I don’t remember what I said but I heard the person on the other end of the line say “I’m Polly.” My retort was “Polly who?” Then the voice identified herself as the new teacher who would be replacing Elle and that Elle would be with me in a minute or two. The way the day had gone my patience was worn thin by then. While waiting for Elle I couldn’t help but think that she’d done it again... invited someone she/we didn’t really know for dinner. When she finally got on the line I was in no mood for a detailed explanation so I short circuited it by saying I wouldn’t be home until possibly 7pm… and hung up.

The move of the auditors was done with one less person than had originally arrived. The short, dumpy woman who was in charge of the Federal examiners was, thankfully, gone. Most of both groups were grumbling as it was past their quitting time. I headed for home around 6:15pm. Pulling up the driveway I expected to see another car but there was none in sight. I actually remember smiling as I thought the visitor had eaten and gone. Wrong! I walked in and saw a cute young woman all of about 5 feet tall. Before I could say a word I heard her call out “Hi! I’m Polly!” Elle was putting dishes in the cabinet and Polly was standing next to her with a dish towel in her hand. I know I must’ve had a puzzled look on my face and Elle, in seeing it, told me to take off my coat and have a seat at the table. In less than a minute she had my dinner on the table. Both she and Polly sat down with me but, Elle, as she did, admonished me not to say anything until she’d finished. My only thought was that this better be good.

I’ll spare you the details (although some of it was truly interesting) and ‘cut to the quick’. Polly was, indeed, the new teacher and would be taking over Elle’s class the following Monday. However, she still had some paperwork to complete for the school district and rather than rely on the mail, drove out from her college campus. She, on her own, had wanted to ‘get a leg up’ by observing the kids she’d be responsible for. However, when it was time to leave her car wouldn’t start. Cliffy’s father’s garage was less than 5 minutes, walking, from the school. Beth, Cliffy’s wife, worked at the school and called the garage for help. Cliffy determined that the gears on the starter drive had sheared off and the whole starter motor had to be replaced. Unfortunately, Polly’s car was a Peugeot (French) and there wasn’t a Peugeot dealership in the entire county. The earliest he’d be able to obtain one would be around noon the following day. Polly, of course, was quite upset and Elle, who liked taking in stray cats, offered to bring her home.

I’d calmed down by the time I finished eating and decided to just let it all be. I decided to not ask questions and to just observe Polly. After a while Elle had filled some of my questions on her own. In the little talking that Polly did when filling in some missing ‘parts’ of Elle’s description of her background I got the feeling that she might be a bit overwhelmed by the new job she was taking on. It was her first full time teaching job and even though it was only first graders that she’d be working with I couldn’t help but remember some of Elle’s stories from when she started. My ’take away’ was she was a nice person and Elle was right in offering to help her out. That got us down to the ’nitty gritty’ of logistics. Anne’s room, where Barbara had slept while she was with us, made the most sense even though Jean would be ‘miffed’ by her not sleeping in her room. Then there was the subject of clothes. Polly hadn’t expected to be staying anywhere so hadn’t brought anything. The problem was her size. It seemed like it was a day for short people with problems starting with the Federal examiner at the bank. She was not only short but ‘dumpy’. Polly was also short, maybe 5’1” but thin. With me not present, Elle ended up offering her pajamas and underwear. As Elle told me later Polly was embarrassed about the underwear when she did so that was not going to be an option. That, of course, was a disappointment to me.

Polly proved to be adept at getting along with kids as she interacted with ours to the point of playing school with them. I would’ve thought that the older two girls wouldn’t want any more of school than they had already experienced but Polly had them ‘hooked’. With them tucked away and in bed the three of us sat and talked. I was surprised to find that Paula’s birth name was Pola which loosely translated from Polish means small or tiny. She explained that she was pre-mature and weighed under 4 pounds at birth. Her grandmother, from Poland, insisted she be named Pola which, after her grandmother died, was changed to Paula. She ended up telling us that as a pre-teen and in her early teen years had attended the Catholic girls camp just to the West of where Elle and I grew up. I’ve written about it in some of the earlier posts. She fell in love with the rural nature of the area and had set her heart on getting a job here… and now she had it.

To be continued…

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

"SPRING"ING AHEAD... Better days? (Part 170n)

“SPRING”ING AHEAD… Better days? (Part 170n)

I’ve never been one to take teasing well. I certainly wasn’t expecting it at that moment and I remember feeling my face flush after she said it. She was pointing towards the table and the lamp that had been knocked overlamp on the opposite side of the bed when she told me I’d probably find some panties if I went back there. As I made my way over the remaining clothes that were still on the floor I recognized the wad of colorful cloth I seen earlier. When I reached it I could see that it was a batch of folded panties. As I picked them up I could see/feel that they were cotton. I handed them to Lynda and as she reached for them she suggested I look on the chair and floor over where I was to see if I could find a slip or two and maybe some bras. There was a ladder back chair right in the corner of the room and there was a sweater half draped over the seat. When I picked it up found a slip and a couple of bras under it. I grabbed them and headed back to where Lynda was standing telling her that she better think about heading off to work.  Then I carried the now filled carton to her car and then watched her leave.

I still had the key to the house and as I was about to lock it back up I suddenly realized that there had to be more panties under the remaining clothes. I had a short debate with myself weather to go looking them for about ten seconds before re-entering the house. I went to the far side of the bed and right to the night stand. I moved a few items that were hanging on it and found a couple more cotton panties and bras. Holding a bra, I was curious as to what size Ruthe was. The label was pretty washed out but I was able to make out the important information… 34B. I found it interesting as Ruthe’s clothing choices were very modest and she certainly never flaunted her body. I wouldn't have guessed that was her size. When I checked out the panties to see who made them I was disappointed. The only label was located in the middle of the back and it had been cut. The only writing was the hip size, the number 36.  The ones I’d just picked up seemed to be like the ones I’d given to Lynda. Disappointing, for sure, but I stuffed both pair in my pocket anyway. On my way down the hall I slowed to take a look into what had to have been her kids bedroom what with a single and youth bed filling most of the floor space. A little further down the hall was the bathroom which, when I looked in, reminded me of one of the bathrooms in my parents house. Everything was old and seemed to be crammed in. When I took a step or two in I could see some things hanging over the shower curtain rod. With a closer look I saw some panty hose and another bra but no panties. With that it was time to leave.

From my "stash"...
Banks are required to have three audits of their ‘books’ and records each year, give or take a few months. One by State banking authorities; one by a Federal government agency and one by a private accounting firm. Back in the Fall the State auditors showed up but had screwed up when they failed to realize our deposits were being processed by a service bureau until after they had started the process. They aborted the audit and we were told they would be back some time in the future. On rare occasions the Fed people hook up with the State people and they do a combined audit. When I walked in I found that one of those combined audits was under way. A combined audit had both pluses and minuses. The plus is that we end up with one less interruption (audit) during the year. The minus is that we have to find space for both groups to work in and still be able to operate the bank. A usual compliment of people for the start of a singular audit is fifteen which gets whittled down to eight or nine after a few days on site. With the ‘double’ it was around two dozen. Walking across the lobby and looking in towards the work area it was wall to wall people. Hobie and Bret were in the process of herding the different groups to designated spaces as I walked up to them. I could see Hobie was stressed and knew I’d hear about my coming in late. I’d told Lynda to give me a call with anything new on Ruthe’s release from the hospital but when she called I was in up to my eyeballs with the auditors. In fact, Lynda and Ruthe were about as far from my thoughts as could possibly be imagined.

The lead auditors were both female. After talking with each I came away with mixed thoughts. The one from the State was tall and attractive and the Fed one was short and dumpy… almost exact opposites. It didn’t take long to find out that their personalities were also quite opposite. The two of them got into what I’ll call a ‘discussion’ over the space they’d been allotted by Hobie. They were in the middle of the work area when they started in. It all had to do with which entity had more importance… the Feds or the State with the Fed lady claiming that position. She was most adamant that her group be given the ‘prime’ work area. Their ‘discussion’ was interrupting the whole work area so I got involved choosing to speak to each individually. The Fed lady (?) insisted on being first so, with Bret getting a bite to eat, I sat the other woman in the side chair at his desk. I could see from the outset that this examination period was going to be a ‘test’ of a different nature. I listened to the woman for a few minutes before noting the other woman was leaning over the side of her chair trying to get something from her briefcase. As she struggled her knees spread apart a fair distance and I glimpsed a white triangle. I honestly don’t know how long she was at it but I was still watching when the Fed lady asked if I was listening to her. When I turned back to her I decided to end the whole charade by telling her that the best thing for her to do was to contact her supervisor and for now things would stay as they were. If looks could kill I would’ve been wounded, for sure. I knew I was taking a chance that she’d take her vengeance out in the form of a stiff audit of the bank but there was no way I was going to come up with an amicable solution without her dictating the end result.

It was after the doors to the lobby were closed that I thought of Lynda and Ruthe. The plan, as I last knew it, was the wife of their office manager would call the hospital to find out Ruthe’s release time… then come to the brokerage office to pick up the clothes from Lynda and then pick Ruthe up and take her to her home. As I dialed the number I hoped that it had all gone well. I had to wait a few minutes for Lynda to get off other calls and when she told me Ruthe was still at the hospital I didn’t want to believe it. The story, as I got it, was that one of the doctors who was treating her at the hospital had some ‘reservations’ about releasing her. I knew very little about Bill (the office manager) and his family but I knew they had young children and that the delay probably had the woman frazzled. As much as I wanted to jump in and say I’d do it… I just couldn’t as I knew Elle wouldn’t  even try to understand. There was silence on the phone line as I, very briefly, contemplated it. Then Lynda said she’d do it and that somehow, even with the Corvette, she’d get Ruthe and the clothes to Bill’s house. I really felt bad about not volunteering but, sometimes you just have to say “No…”.

To be continued...

Monday, November 12, 2018

"SPRING"ING AHEAD... Better days? (Part 170m)

“SPRING”ING AHEAD… Better days? (Part 170m)

It was after 5pm when the phone rang. Joanie was gone so I answered it fully expecting it to be Lynda. Thankfully, it was… because if it had been Elle I would’ve been in trouble. Don’t ask me why I opened with “Meet me at the house at 8am.” before identifying who was on the line but I did. It surprised Lynda because I didn’t get an immediate response. When she did speak it was to ask how I knew it was her… and that brought forth a little laugh from me. It was probably the first time since the whole ordeal had started. She asked if I had something to cover the blood in the house and I told her I had some old chenille bedspreads that I’d used for drop cloths when painting the interior of our house. There was another pause before she agreed. Then she told me she was on her way to the hospital to see Ruthe and to find out just what clothes she’d like. I, wanting to get home, told her I’d see her in the morning.

I told Elle I had an early morning breakfast meeting for the Chamber of Commerce about the upcoming Easter promotion. I actually did have such a meeting that day but it wasn’t at 8am so it wasn’t a total lie. As I pulled to a stop at Ruthe's house I saw that someone had nailed a wood panel over all the glass in the door. Lynda’s Corvette pulled in a few minutes later. When she got out she told me the key was in the birdhouse hanging outside the kitchen window. It took a bit of effort to retrieve it and I’m not sure anyone had ever tried to get it out after placing in there. I told Lynda to stay in her car until I spread the cloths in the house. I really wasn’t looking forward to going inside. Standing in the doorway to the living room I looked around. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting to see but it didn’t look all that bad. The blood had dried and was now a dark red color and not the bright red that I’d seen that morning. I’d never gotten all that far into the room so in seeing it up close this morning it didn’t look that bad. Most of the blood was on a pillow and one seat cushion but I put the old bedspreads over the back and seat of the couch anyway. While doing it I was in a position to look down the hall to the bedroom. It looked like there was a pile of clothes in the doorway.

I immediately headed in that direction and when I got to the doorway I was shocked at what I saw. It looked like a tornado had gone through the room with clothes, all kinds, spread all over. Most of the drawers of the low dresser were either pulled out all the way and empty and the ones that weren’t were askew. Taking a few steps into the room I could see the chifferobe doors (the house had been built prior to 1900 and had no closets) were open and all the hanging clothes that had been inside were now in a heap in front of it. All in all it was a mess. I retraced my steps to go and get Lynda making sure there were no signs of blood anywhere as I did. Back at her car I warned her of what to expect as far as the clothes were concerned. She hesitated but I prompted her to come in saying that she should be able to find a few things to meet Ruthe’s needs. I'm thinking it was after 8:15am by the time we entered the house. I assured her there was no blood to be seen as she gingerly made her way to the hallway that led to Ruthe’s bedroom. The cry from Lynda’s mouth… “Oh my god!”… when she saw the clothes skewed all about startled me. I had to sort of shove her into the room so I could enter. I know she repeated her ‘cry’ at least one more time before asking what we should do. That was a good question!

It took a few seconds for me to get back to the basic reasons we’d come to the house… get some clothes for Ruthe to wear when leaving the hospital and some clothes to wear for her stay at her office manager’s house for, hopefully, but a few days. My first thought was to at least try to sort through some of the things and to make piles of like items. I suggested that Lynda tackle one side of the bed and I tackle the other. I’d walked past Lynda by then and was standing in front of the low dresser and on a pile of clothes. I was able to survey the room from there so suggested that we start by picking up the clothes from the chifferobe and putting those that still were on hangers back inside it to make room for Lynda to move about. The primary makeup of those clothes were mostly skirts and blouses with a few suit type jackets and dresses. With that done I suggested that I start on the other side of the bed and to pick the things up off the floor so Lynda could sort them. As I did I noticed the clothes on top were mostly sweaters. I asked Lynda if she’d had a list of the type of things Ruthe wanted and she reached in a pocket of her coat and pulled one out. When she read it off I asked about a nightgown or pajamas and she she made a face indicating that might be something to add to the list. I almost immediately pulled a flannel pajama top out of the group of clothes I’d just dumped on the bed. Lynda didn’t waste much time as she quickly sorted through the pile. I scooped up a couple more piles of mixed clothes that were clumped together and placed them on the bed. Then I started on the pile of things in front of the dresser. I’d pretty much determined that it must have been Ruthe’s ‘ex’ who had created this mess and it had been done from pure vindictiveness rather than as a robbery. Standing in front of the dresser and looking at where some of the clothing had ended up he had to have been blind with rage. I noticed some small colorful clothing items wedged in behind the night stand next to the bed and the lamp that had probably been on it now between the table and the bed. I pointed it out to Lynda who agreed with my assessment about the rage. For some reason she suggested I go stand the lamp back up and, with time running out (Lynda had to be at the office at 9am to answer the phones) and so much more important stuff to do, I ignored her. The things right on top of the pile were mostly sweaters. I grabbed a couple of them and asked if they were something she wanted for Ruthe. She had a sour look on her face and I wasn’t sure if it was because I’d not picked up the lamp or that the sweaters were not acceptable. So, I continued to ignore her and dug deeper into the pile… more sweaters and what appeared to be a bunch of warm weather clothes. Seeing them, Lynda told me to leave them on the floor as she was running out of room on the bed.

I figured it would take between 10 to 15 minutes for Lynda to get to her office so, looking at my watch, suggested that she make her selections. I watched her start to pick some items off the different piles and realized we’d need something to put them in. The only thing I could think of off the top of my head was the carton I’d stored the old bedspreads in. I went to the car to get it and when I returned she had a batch of clothes in her hands. As she placed them into the box she had what I’d call a ‘wicked’ smile on her face. I noted it and asked what she  was thinking. Her answer made me smile as well. It was something along the lines of… “I still need to find underwear for her… something that should be right up your line…”

To be continued…

Saturday, November 10, 2018

"SPRING"ING AHEAD... Better days? (Part 170l)

“SPRING”ING AHEAD… Better days? (Part 170l)

It was hard not to think about Ruthe and her situation for the rest of the weekend. So as not to keep Elle’s concern down I made sure not to do/say anything about it to the point I made no further attempts to get any more information. It was hard. In bed at night I kept going back to the my initial sighting of her lying on the couch with all that blood. Even today, in writing this part, it still bothers me as I dredge it out of the recesses of my mind. I was really looking forward to getting to the bank on Monday to talk with Lynda and to see if Bret any any information on the ex husband.

Bret was walking up to the back door when I pulled in. He reversed course and headed to where my parking space was located. Walking up to the car he had both hands up and was shrugging his shoulders. I rolled the window down and he spoke the words that his actions had already indicated… nothing new on Eddie. With that out of the way it was on to calling Lynda. I apologized for not calling her over the weekend and she told me there wasn’t much information other than Ruthe was to be evaluated that morning. Lynda told me she’d established a bit of a relationship with Ruthe’s roommate and the only news she had was that she’d had a good night of sleep. One of my favorite (but trite) sayings is (…little victories…) and, to me, this was one.

My mind was somewhat occupied that morning by Bert (the president) calling me to his office to find out just how “close” I was to my college fraternity brother who was in business just down the street from the proposed branch. The reason was it now appeared there was going to be some problem (other than parking lot ingress and egress) in getting building permits. My friend’s father had ‘connections’ in the township’s governance and Bert wanted me to see if I could find out anything that might help Morris (the consultant hired by the bank to guide it to making a better branch selection than had been made for the first one) get through the process. In hearing what he wanted/expected from me I wanted to shake my head. On the one hand it was somewhat rewarding to be the one asked to take on projects like this but there was a limit on just how much I could handle. We talked for a few minutes and I assured Bert that I’d do what I could. It wasn’t like my friend was easy to contact and interact with so that was to be the first hurdle.

When Lynda finally called I was waiting on a customer so had to wait to talk with her. I decided to go up to the Board room to make the call to have some privacy. It’s hard to describe Lynda’s frame of mind… excited, concerned, puzzled or all three mixed together. Even though I had the presence of mind to make notes they turned out to be more like hen scratchings. Trying to decipher them I remember I struggled with them from a sequential basis. When I wrote them up I could only hope they made sense. We were on the phone for at least a half hour and at one point Bret came up to check on me.

The first thing Lynda told me was that it was hard to understand Ruthe because of her broken jaw. So, she ‘qualified’ what she was about to tell me as being what she understood and could be wrong. Her evaluation, on a pass or fail, basis was a “pass”. She was to be released the next day and that was the first of her new problems. She told Lynda that under no circumstances was she going back to her house unless her ex husband was in jail. Next… her mother and father had taken her kids and gone to Connecticut to make sure her ex husband couldn’t get to them (which had been her greatest fear after she regained full consciousness) so she couldn’t go to their home. Bill, her boss, had volunteered for he and his wife to take her in during the early recovery period but… he'd had to go to Baltimore where the company’s headquarters were located. The next problem was she had no clothes she could wear upon her release. There were other minor problems as well. I knew from the sound of Lynda’s voice that she was not the person to decide on a course of action. Bill, her boss, would’ve been the most logical one but from what Lynda indicated to me the meeting he was attending was “critical” as far as the future of the branch office was concerned so he couldn't get involved. I was into the ’situation’ far deeper than I wanted to be and as I sat there after hanging the phone up pretty much knew I was going to get in even deeper.

That was when I tried to make sense of the notes from Lynda’s phone call. Going back to my grandfather’s ‘mantra’ “first things first”, I wanted to identify just what that should be before I headed back to my desk. To me that was to have Lynda confirm that Bill’s wife would be the one to pick Ruthe up upon her discharge. Next would be clothes for her to wear. Both of these, thankfully, fell on Lynda. I decided that it would probably be best to go over to her office. There was no chance for her to go to lunch with both Ruthe and her boss out of the office. I called and asked if she wanted me to bring something to eat but she said Stan, her boss had ordered something from Michael’s Lounge, across the street. When I walked in things were a bit hectic as Stan was handling not only his clients but Bill’s as well… and Lynda having to process all the transactions herself. I wondered if I should leave but Lynda motioned for me to stay.

It was probably twenty minutes before things slacked up a bit. I knew what I had to say to her and gave it to her as fast as I could. She was able to confirm that Bill’s wife would come and pick Ruthe up at the hospital. But… when it came to getting clothes for her, Lynda just shook her head from side to side saying she wanted no part of going into the house and seeing Ruthe’s blood. I hadn’t thought of that and when she said it I couldn’t help but agree. I hated to say it but threw out the idea of buying some new things for her. I remember looking at Lynda’s face and seeing her reaction. She took a deep breath or two and kind of shrugged her shoulders as if to say ‘if we have to but…”. I stood there feeling a bit foolish with nothing to add. Stan had overheard our conversation and turned to us and suggested that maybe I could go to the house with Lynda. She started shaking her head again. The phones were ringing and she had to answer them. I told her I’d get back to her after the bank and stock market closed. I remember her smiling and giving me a wave as I walked out the door.

It was Lynda who called.  I could hear the hesitation in her voice when she asked was it possible to get to Ruthe’s clothes without her having to see blood. I didn’t really know but I told her I thought she could. She said she’d call before leaving which left me ‘hanging’ as to my role in the retrieval process. Thinking about the blood it came to me that I could drape a blanket or something over the couch. I wasn’t sure if there was any blood from when they took her out of the house to the ambulance. It seemed like the more time that passed the deeper I was getting into the whole thing and I wasn’t looking forward to Lynda’s call.

To be continued…

Thursday, November 08, 2018

"SPRING"ING AHEAD... Better days (Part 170k)

“SPRING”ING AHEAD… Better days? (Part 170k)

I’d not mentioned Ruthe’s ex-husband but now there were two people, unconnected, who after hearing about her being attacked asserted that he was the person responsible. Bret seemed certain that he’d been the one. After hearing two people sort of accuse him I had to pretty much fall in line. Bret made some references to a few things he’d done back when they were in school together and shaking his head from side to side as he did. It made me curious about the guy but my phone rang and thinking it might be about Ruthe told Bret I’d catch up with him later. The call was from Bert (the president) wanting to know the name of the guy I’d gone to college with who had a business right down the street from the proposed new branch. After squaring him away I looked up and saw Bret huddled together with Trish and Cara. I, for sure, knew what that was about. I started flipping through my mail but kept an eye on Trish and, as I expected, she headed for Lorie. I knew next to nothing about Ruthe’s ex-husband other than he came from a somewhat prominent local Polish family. The father seemed to be in the newspaper a lot in his position as Executive Director of the agricultural co-op in town and for donating a lot of money for the hospital expansion. I also knew the father had shortened their name so as to lessen the Polish ethnicity factor. So, watching the three surviving members of the bank’s old “Polish Mafia” with their heads together gave me the impetus to pursue their interest in the now infamous ‘incident’ that I’d reported to Bret and to get the real ’scoop’ on him.

I waited until Bret returned from lunch. I’d decided to give up mine so that if Lynda called about Ruthe’s condition I’d be available. So, with Bret’s desk right in front of mine it was fairly easy to communicate with him without it being obvious. Reluctant, at first, to answer directly as to the guy’s moral character, I asked a couple of leading questions that broke though his resistance and then it was like I couldn’t shut him up. It was the question of what’s the first thing he thinks of when hearing his name that was the key. Bret, as I’ve alluded to, was a very laid back person and not very demonstrative. But that question ‘lit his fire’. It had to do with the championship football game when Bret was a senior. The game was important to both the school and the town because they hadn’t been in a championship game in a long, long time. The game was played at a neutral sight and the team had to be bused to it. When it was time to leave Eddie wasn’t there. Bret was the quarterback and Eddie was an offensive lineman who was to protect him but he wasn’t there. Long story short… in spite of the coach pleading with the team to get a good night’s sleep, Eddie went out and got drunk… and overslept. He got to the game on his own but the coach wasn’t going to let him play. Bret and the other players convinced him to change his mind and even though hung over he did a good enough job that the team won. Bret was still upset enough all these years later to offer up a bunch of expletives about him.

With that all said, Bret went on to give a bunch of examples of how he'd disregarded rules and stayed pretty much in trouble due to his drinking. He didn’t have the grades to get into college but his father made a big donation to his own alma mater to get him accepted but he got kicked out before the first semester was over. According to Bret, after that his father ‘put his foot down’ and made him join the Army. Bret, who was in college at the time, said he’d heard that he got kicked out in less than a year. There were other stories but they were hearsay to Bret. After his own time at college and returning home he ran into him only to find out he was now married. Bret editorialized a bit at this point to say he pitied the poor girl. I asked if he knew her and he said “No…” but that she was a year or two behind him in school. By this time I was getting a pretty clear picture of Eddie.

When it got to be 2pm and I hadn’t heard anything about Ruthe I called Lynda. She hadn’t talked with Bill but he’d called in to the office to say she was being operated on and would call as soon as he got any news. I asked how she was doing and she claimed to be OK… but worried about Ruthe. Again, I told her to call as soon as she had anything at all. I was a bit upset that she hadn’t passed on that little bit of information but let it pass. The doors of the bank were still open when one of the non uniformed policemen that had showed up at Ruthe’s house in the morning walked in looking for me. That was not a good feeling even though I’d done nothing wrong. He proceeded to ask if he could ask me some questions. I’d thought I done all of that back at the house. But, one thing that was a positive was that they were looking for Ruthe’s ex-husband as we talked as she’d identified him as her attacker. That made me wonder why they were back asking me questions. I was told the reason was because they wanted to see if he had anybody else in on the attack. The cop focused on just what my relationship to him was… if any. When I told him I wouldn’t know him if I fell over him, he apologized and got up and left. I remember feeling somewhat abused as I watched him go through the gate and out into the lobby.

When Lynda finally called I could tell she was a bundle of nerves from the sound of her voice. A concussion, broken jaw and nose, possible damage to her hearing on her left side and some broken ribs. She was awake but groggy and worried about her kids. She had expressed to someone that she was fearful that her ex-husband might try to take her kids. With all that went on in the morning I hadn’t thought about her kids and, in fact, if her parents had been notified. I asked Lynda but she didn’t know. If left me in sort of limbo. I was glad to have some information even though it raised more questions. After hanging up I got Bret’s attention and told him about Ruthe’s condition. With his wife being a nurse I was thinking that she might have some ‘connections’ at the hospital to get more news than what I had. He agreed to pursue it and promised to call me at home, one way or the other. Leaving the bank that afternoon I stopped to reflect on my day and knew it was one I’d never forget.

When I told Elle about it she focused on how and why and how I’d gotten involved with Ruthe and not on her condition. I had nothing to hide and using my grandfather’s advice…”Tell the truth and you’ll have nothing to forget.”, I explained and hoped she’d understand that I was just trying to be a nice guy. When I was finished I wasn’t sure where her mind was. It was while she was putting the kids to bed that Bret called. There was nothing more on Ruthe’s condition but he told me he’d made a few calls to friends in the police department who knew her ex-husband. They still hadn’t located him but was told they thought the attack was in retaliation for Ruthe having had him arrested for not paying child support. He’d spent a night in jail and raised quite a ruckus before his father bailed him out. Hearing that on top of what Bret had told me about the guy earlier in the day I couldn’t help but think that some things never change.

To be continued…

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

"SPRING"ING AHEAD... Better days? (Part 170j)

“SPRING”ING AHEAD… Better days? (Part 170j)

The next thing I remember doing was rushing back to my car. I’m not sure I said anything to the lady. The next thing I remember is almost hitting an oncoming car as I pulled out onto the road. It was only a matter of a couple of minutes before I turned back into Ruthe’s driveway. The only thing on my mind at that point was to find out if she was alive. I rushed through the kitchen to the doorway to the living room and stopped. I really didn’t have a plan. I could see Ruthe had moved. No longer on the couch she was now on the floor. Not only that but I could hear some sounds coming from where she lay. I moved towards her, slowly, because I’d not expected to see her battered face the first time and hadn’t taken a close look but this time, even though expecting it, didn’t really want to believe it. I had taken but a few steps when I heard a car door slam. I stopped and in what seemed like no time had passed at all, felt someone bodily move me to the side. I watched as a cop bent down and tried to talk with her. All I heard as answers were a series of moans. Then the cop got up, looked at me and told me to get out into the kitchen and stay there as he went out to the patrol car. I watched him talk on whatever device they were using to communicate in those days and then saw another patrol car pull up. That cop got out and went to the other car for a few seconds and then came up to me and demanded to know who I was and why was I there. The one who’d been on the phone went back inside and as he passed announced that an ambulance was on the way.

I was asked all kinds of questions most of which I couldn’t answer other than to tell him who the woman inside was. He wanted to know if Ruthe was married and I told him I thought she was divorced. I’d not kept up with her situation other than to know it was “ugly”. Then, he wanted to know who her ex-husband was and if she had kids. I knew the guy’s name was Eddie. I also knew, but didn’t add, the fact that he was the son of a prominent local farmer and that he’d been in trouble, on and off. I figured the police would know the facts rather than hear me pass on what I’d heard, kept my mouth shut. After telling him that her two kids were with her mother it turned out that the most pressing question was what was her name. I had absolutely no idea. It was about then when the ambulance arrived.

Back in those days there were no EMT’s and ambulances were privately owned and staffed. The one that showed up was owned and operated by the largest undertaker in town. I remember hoping that it wasn't an 'omen'. The cop left me but told me not to leave. That would’ve been an impossibility as I was now blocked in by three vehicles. I’d been outside for well over a half hour and although it wasn’t bitterly cold, just standing there, not moving, it was beginning to get to me. Right after the ambulance pulled away another car pulled up and it was more policemen only without uniforms. I had to go through some of the same questions with them before I was told I could go… and that they’d be in touch with me again. Before I could move my car the two uniformed cops had to move their cars and when they did they just drove off. I looked at my watch as I finally started my car and it was around 10am.

Even though it would only take me about ten minutes to get to work there was one thing I knew I had to do and that was to tell Bill, her boss and the brokerage manager, about Ruthe. Just down the road, about a mile and half, was a small restaurant that had quite a reputation for home baked goods and I’ve written about it on occasion. I knew they had a pay phone so stopped and dialed up Bret at the bank.  All I told him was that I was involved in ”an incident” and hoped to be in by 11am. He, of course, wanted more information but I put him off. The next stop was to the stock broker’s office. As I’ve written in a number of posts about it, the building originally housed two small retail establishments. All they did was to remove the wall between the two stores to meet their needs. They chose to leave both doors operational, as they'd been, with the one on the right leading to where Ruthe and Bill worked and the other to Lynda and Stan’s area. I always entered through the left door as Stan was my broker. On this morning I walked in the right side door. Bill was on the phone with his back to me. I walked past him and made some sort of animated motions with my hands to get his attention. I heard him say “I’ll get right back to you” and then saw him hang up. By then both Stan and Lynda could see that my state of mind was anything but normal. As I started telling Bill that Ruthe was in the hospital I could see Stan slide his chair over towards the low partition that separated him from Bill. I was in the process of telling him how I’d found her when I heard Lynda scream out “THAT SONOVA BITCH!” and slam her hand down on her desk.

Bill immediately got up, grabbed his coat off the coat tree, and went out the door. It only took Lynda a few seconds to move from her work area into Stan’s cubicle and to be pressed against the partition separating Bill’s and Stan’s work space. She almost demanded to know what had happened and I couldn’t tell her much of anything other than finding Ruthe all bloody on the couch. Lynda was shaking her head as I tried to describe the scene as I’d found it and then interrupted saying that she’d warned Ruthe that her ex-husband would “do something”. After seeing Ruthe lying there I had no thoughts whatsoever as to who might’ve beaten her. I’d avoided talking about personal stuff with Ruthe on our rides in to work. I’d been told that she’d had problems with her ex-husband and that had left her somewhat fearful of men in general and that it was the reason for her stand-offishness when I first started going the the office. I also remembered reading about him in the newspaper as being a big football star in high school. But, standing there listening to Lynda, some of the mystery of her beating was being erased.

I didn’t stay at the brokerage all that long but it was after 11am when I got to my desk. When I left Lynda and Stan I asked for either one to call with any news about Ruthe’s condition. Bret was like and ‘old woman’ wanting to know about the "incident" I’d alluded to in my call to him. I knew Bret knew Ruthe’s husband because he’d been the quarterback when the high school team had won their last championship. I figured that Trish, Cara and Lorie had also been in school with him at the same time but I didn’t know that much about Ruthe’s background. So, I started off slow explaining that I’d been stopping to pick Ruthe up on Fridays for a while and when I got there earlier I found her all bloodied up and semi conscious. As soon as I told him he started shaking his head and blurted out something like “I always knew he was crazy!”. It was sort of like confirmation of what Lynda had said only a few minutes before.

To be continued…