Fear of Flying

“She’s touching me.”

“She’s on my side of the seat.”

“Quit fighting.” Our mother vehemently said and glared at my sister and me.

There were a few minutes of silence as we watched our parents fly the airplane and talk about how bad the weather was. We could tell they were tense but it didn’t seem that scary to us and we continued to fight.

“Knock it off you two.” Our mother spoke loudly this time.

“She’s looking at me.” My sister answered.

“Don’t look back.” Our mother replied.

Then the most incredible thing happened. She actually reached back and slapped each of us on the legs. We couldn’t believe it. We looked at each and started laughing. It didn’t hurt at all. She hadn’t ever hit us before this. Her first attempt at corporal punishment had failed miserably.

“You girls need to stop fighting. We are going to have to land the plane because the weather is too bad to keep flying. Please quit. Dave and I are trying to find a place to land.”

We quit fighting. Not because she hit us but because she seemed so genuinely scared.  Our stepfather landed the plane shortly after that at a small airport a few hours away from our home.  This was the last part of our family vacation to Yellowstone Park that hadn’t gone as well as I expect my parents intended it to.

First off I got air sick about an hour into the flight. It was a beautiful day but there were lots of air pockets and it was like being on one of the rides at the fair that always made me sick to my stomach. The small four passengers Cessna 182 bounced up and down almost immediately after we took off. When I got sick into the small bag I had been given it caused my younger sister to get sick as well. We had two more hours to go before we got to the airport at Yellowstone.

Having a plane sounds cool when you tell people that you get to ride in it to go to cool places for trips and vacations but the reality wasn’t all that cool. For an airplane ride to breakfast at a town a couple hours away we had to drive to the airport in the car and then wait while our parents got the plane out of the hangar and get it ready for us kids to get in. About a half an hour to an hour later we took off. That part was cool. Our stepfather would hold the plane on the ground until the very last minute and then take off really fast. I always liked the way all of the houses got really small when we took off. He would frequently fly low in our neighborhood so we could look at how our house which looked like a toy down below us.

Then came the part I didn’t like.  By the time we got to the place we were going to have breakfast at I was usually sick to my stomach as it usually took about 20 to 30 minutes and by the time we landed and walked in to the restaurant at the airport we flew in to I had no desire to eat even though I was hungry. Between the amounts of time it took to get to the airport, then to get the plane out of the hangar and ready to fly and then to fly to the destination and back it took the same amount of time as if we had just driven there. I guess it is obvious what my preference was.

We weren’t rich but my stepfather was self-employed and had caught the flying bug from my mother. She was the first female pilot in the state of Oregon.  She did acrobatics in an open cockpit plane with my father. My father was an airplane engineer who died in a plane crash in a plane he had repaired to factory specifications. Unfortunately they were faulty and when he tried to take off the flaps on the plane went the wrong way and flipped him upside down and crushed him immediately. My mother was watching and she was six months pregnant with my little sister and I was three months short of being born. The schematics from the manufacturer were backwards and they paid my mother $15,000 for the loss of her husband. This was the maximum amount that could be sued for the state we lived in. Melvin Belli was willing to take the case but my mother would have had to move to California and she wasn’t willing to do that. My father’s death is one of the early reasons that airplanes became required to test the flaps and ailerons before they took off from the runway. Disaster is the mother of safety laws.

My stepfather bought the plane he had with two partners, Chad Long, who was a policeman, and Bob Haxby, who had been his flying instructor. I don’t like flying and it has nothing to do with my father dying in an airplane. I get sick to my stomach and I also don’t like the fact that I have no control over what will happen if something goes wrong. I am a good driver and I enjoy driving to places in cars. I feel like I have some degree of control over what happens when I drive. Though I do wholeheartedly believe that driving down the road in a car is when a person exhibits extreme faith. It takes an amazing amount of faith to drive down the road and believe that the other people driving will stay in their lane, because frequently they don’t. It is almost more unlikely to believe that people will stay in their own lane than to believe in God. As far as flying goes I do fly if I have to, like when I went to Spain many years ago. It is the only way to get there.

So, this two hundred thousand dollar airplane, with two partners that they made payments on was not cheap but not as expensive as it sounded like, was my stepfather’s toy. The biggest issue was that he felt guilty for having such an expensive toy, even though he was technically the one who was working and making the payments. He wanted the family to participate in the airplane so he could justify it. So that meant he tried to get us to fly as many places as he could. To any vacation spot, to the twenty acres in Central Oregon that my grandfather bought for us to vacation on which happened to have a small runway a mile away besides the out to breakfast trips.

Then there was the year we flew to Yellowstone and it was by far the most memorable trip we ever took in the airplane. Besides the part where I got sick on the flight there were other issues. Like the rooms we got at the motel, it had horribly uncomfortable beds to sleep on. Our parents traded beds with my sister and I because the bed was sloped to the middle and I ended up choosing to sleep on the floor because of how bad it was. My sister would lay on the side by the wall and push me out of the bed, she was asleep so we had to assume it was subconscious. The air conditioning in the rental car quit working halfway into the first day so we had to drive through the first half of the park without it working in 100 degree weather because it would have taken too long to return it and still see the entire park in the three days we had to do it in. We did get a different car for the other two days.

I do have memories of this trip that were good. It was a beautiful place but the things that were bad still live in my memory forty years later. And I still don’t like to fly.

 

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Mojave

     The black car slowly makes its way down the smooth dirt road headed towards the ranch that is the destination for the occupants of the car. The sagebrush and cactus are barely visible beyond the headlights and the lights of the house they are headed towards are barely visible on the horizon. There is only a sliver of a moon hovering over the desert as the car glides down the road.

     “Stop the car, I see one laying across the road.”

Sherrie brings to car to a stop. “I don’t see anything.”

Tom has a large flashlight in his hand and he hands it to Sherrie. “It’s right there stretched out across the road. I want you to point this light right in front of me and keep it there.”

Sherrie grabs the flashlight and turns it on as Tom gets out of the car. She focuses the beam in front of him as he walks around in front of the car. All of a sudden she can see the six foot rattlesnake that is stretched across the road. It is soaking up the warmth from the dirt that has been absorbing the hot desert sun all day.

“Pay attention. You need to keep the light right in front of me.” Tom yells at her.

“I’m trying. I really wish you wouldn’t do this.” She wasn’t too happy when Tom told her his plan to kill a rattlesnake so he can skin it and make a hatband out of it. She suggested that they purchase an already dead snake. Tom said they were too expensive and he has killed them many times before. He used to live in this desert.

“Hold the light still.” Tom says as he takes the pitchfork he had put in the trunk when they left the house.  They went to go to the county fair in nearby Lancaster. It was a much bigger fair than she had expected considering how small all the towns in the desert were. It had quite a few rides and a lot of food booths. Tom won her a stuffed animal at one of the carnival games. They stayed a couple of hours and headed back to his parents ranch. “I’m trying to. Don’t move so fast.”

Just about then the snake became aware he was being stalked and quickly coiled up and lashed out at Tom. Sherrie screamed.

“Damn it. Shine the light on the snake. Do you want me to get bit?” He sounds pissed off.

“No. I would prefer you wouldn’t even be doing this.” She is totally freaked out after watching the rattler strike out at Tom.

“You have made that perfectly clear.” Then Tom lunges with the pitchfork and pins the snake to ground. “Shit, it just bit itself. Now we can’t eat it.”

Sherrie is just glad he has stopped it from striking. She couldn’t care less about the meat of the snake being ruined. “That’s alright. Didn’t you just want to make a hatband out of it?”

“Yeah, but I was hoping to eat it also. It really does taste like chicken.” Tom stabs the snake again to make sure it is dead. He picks it up and puts it in the trunk of the car.

Sherrie starts the car up and drives back to the ranch. When they get there she makes Tom walk in front of her as they go into the house. She doesn’t want to run into another rattlesnake. After he walks her into the house he goes back to the car and brings in the dead snake.

“One time when I was a kid my mom ran over a big rattler on the way to town and I got out and put it in the trunk. We went to the store and then started to come back here to the ranch. Mom spotted the snake on the back seat in her mirror and freaked out. She stopped the car in the middle of the road and jumped out. I took a stick and killed it but she didn’t want it in the trunk again. She made me sit on the trunk all the way home holding the snake. Dad thought it was funny.”

“I don’t blame her.” Sherrie watched as Tom skinned the snake that he had already cut the head off of. She couldn’t believe it as she watched the skinless and headless snake meat coil up as if it were going to strike. It was amazing what the natural reflexes of this creature were. It is a truly prehistoric monster.

When she went to bed that night she had a nightmare of a huge white headless snake striking at her. She knew where that nightmare had come from.

The next day Tom’s parents host a barbeque for their friends and neighbors to celebrate their son and his girlfriend coming to visit them. They had bought a lamb from one of their neighbors and they were going to bury it in a pit and cook it overnight. This made for a two day party.

The first day consisted of playing croquet and badminton on the grass and sand play ground that was set up next to the outdoor barbeque pit. All day long everyone played croquet and badminton in teams while taking turns throwing chunks of wood onto the rock lined pit under a large grill that they would barbecue chickens on for dinner the first night of the party. Everyone drank and ate all day.

That evening they dressed out the lamb and stuffed it with onions and garlic and poured jars of homemade salsa all over the outside. Then it was wrapped in wet burlap bags. The rocks in the barbecue pit were shoveled into a hole that was dug in the sand next to it and the burlap package of lamb slathered in salsa and onions was placed on top of the hot rocks and more rocks and then dirt buried the carcass.

The next afternoon the party started again and the lamb was dug up. The burlap was removed and the lamb that was falling off the bone tender was placed on platters. Piles of fresh tortillas and roasted vegetables were placed on a table for the guests to dig in. Cold beer was served along with the melt in your mouth tender lamb.

Later on in the evening, next to the barbeque, lay a six foot long rattlesnake. He is enjoying the heat provided by the warm rocks that were removed from the barbeque pit.

Tom is drinking beer and enjoying the succulent lamb along with everyone else. His parents are really excited to meet his girlfriend. He told them that they were planning on getting married. He walks over to the barbeque and walks right into the snake that is resting on the rocks. Before he has time to react the huge snake coils up and lunges at him.

BAMM!!!

The snake strikes him on the leg. No one has any weapons. They are all drinking and eating.

BAMM!!!

The snake strikes again. This time Tom manages to jump back and someone starts beating the snake with a shovel. The snake is killed.

Tom’s parents had a snake bite kit.They live in the Mojave Desert and it is home for rattlesnakes.

The Neighbor

My boyfriend Greg lived in a lower middle class neighborhood when I met him. Most of his neighbors were much older than we were and either had retired or were close to retirement age. There was a golf course less than a mile away that had a nice bar, with the not so unique name of “Tavern On The Green”, which served decent food and had live rock and roll on the weekends. It was the early ‘80s and there were a lot of decent young rock and roll bands around. In fact one of the bands that played there called “The Nighthawks” would eventually spawn two groups from its members that would both go on to achieve a decent amount of success. We really enjoyed having a good place to party that was such a quick drive. In fact when push came to shove, or if we got really wasted it was only a 20 minute walk. In the summertime we frequently would walk there. Life was good and we were having fun.

We also really enjoyed using the golf course there as well. Greg, with his buddies and I with my girlfriends. We tried going with each other a couple of times but that didn’t work so well. Women should never have a boyfriend teach them how to golf, men are too competitive. I will never forget the second time we went together with another couple and Greg got so mad at the 9th hole, after he kept hitting his ball out into the field next to the course, that on the third time he did so he threw his club at the hole and bent it. That was when I decided his idea of fun and mine weren’t the same when it came to golfing. After that I went with the girlfriends and wives of his friends who also didn’t understand getting so mad at the golf ball that you would let it ruin your whole day. After all it is supposed to be fun, or at least that’s what we girls thought. We just laughed if we kept hitting the ball so badly that it took up to six shots to get on the green for a par 3 hole. We would let everyone play through that wanted to and drink one of the two beers we put in our golf bags when we left the club house, if you took any more they got warm. With us women it wasn’t a sin to use the wrong club either, something which we had all found out how the men in our lives felt about that. Like I said, we thought playing a game was supposed to be fun. I used to like to golf with the girls on a nice sunny afternoon. Scores were way less important than having a good time. Greg and Larry would spend a whole afternoon sulking in pissed off silence if they had a bad game.

Larry and Debbie only lived a couple of streets over from Greg’s house, we could drive to it in five minutes and walk there in ten and we did both depending on the weather. We used to have dinner at each other’s houses quite often and we would go the bar at the golf course as well and party on the weekends. There was more than one memorable night through the years and some were good and some not so good. Like the time Debbie and Larry got so mad at each other they got in a big fight on the dance floor and we all got kicked out. After we got home neither one of them could remember what they had been fighting about. Debbie had been Greg’s girlfriend about six years earlier and she met Larry when she was dating Greg because they both worked for the same company and attended the same company picnics and parties. When Greg and Debbie broke up Larry asked Greg if it would be alright if he asked her out. Since Greg and Debbie had an amiable break-up he didn’t have a problem with her dating Larry. At least until they got really drunk, but most of the time everything was copasetic.

Greg had only one neighbor who was close in age to him and his friends. I was the baby of our group at 23, Greg was 31 as was Debbie and Larry was 33. The neighbor directly across the street from Greg was 35 and when we had barbecues and other parties we started to invite Bill to participate. We really liked his girlfriend, Jennifer, who was only a couple of years older than me. We really hit it off. As we got to know Bill we found out that he was an ex-alcoholic and didn’t drink. Jennifer did and Bill didn’t mind associating with people who drank, he just said that he couldn’t do it. We all understood we thought, though of the rest of us all drank.

Bill became an asset when it came to going out to bars to dance and drink, since he didn’t drink he could always drive. Greg and Larry had bought a 1968 classic Cadillac to go golfing in, the trunk was a lot bigger than new cars and they could fit four guys in the car and four sets of clubs in the trunk so “the boat” became a popular party car. It was in pristine condition on the outside and because it was a “joint venture” in ownership for the four guys to take golfing, which frequently took them some distance away, they spent the money to make sure it was a reliable “ride”. It was a very comfortable car to sit in for up to six people, it had a lot of acreage, inside and out.

Bill soon started hosting parties for his new friends as well as going to the parties we hosted. He worked for a company that I had been good friends with the president of for several years and several of the friends he had made at work attended these parties. We had a very fun and cool social scene going on. Whenever Greg and I went out of town for any period of time Greg had Bill watch the place and gave him a key to the house. We went to Mexico for two months one winter and Bill watered the plants and kept an eye on the place. When we got back we threw a big welcome home party and invited all of our mutual friends. We noticed that Bill was drinking but he didn’t do anything odd. It got our attention because for the previous three years we hadn’t ever seen him drink anything. When I mentioned it to him he said it had been long enough that he didn’t have a problem with it anymore. He didn’t seem to have any problem with drinking and his girlfriend was alright with it as well.

Greg and Larry got laid off from their jobs not long after this. A mutual friend of theirs had a construction company that was remodeling a motel complex in a small town. It was next to the freeway and about a six hour drive away and he offered to hire them for a month or two. They accepted and so Debbie and I became widows for two weeks at a time. The guys came home for about three days every two weeks. I had an apartment and a roommate that I lived with part of the week and I lived at Greg’s house for the other part of the week. Greg had asked Bill to watch over his house while he was out of town. Even though Greg was gone most of the time I still spent several nights a week there, I enjoyed the privacy of not having anyone around.

One night I was lying in bed reading and I heard someone opening the front door. I got a little freaked out but then I remembered that Greg had asked Bill to watch his house so I hid in the bedroom and waited to see who was letting themselves in. It was Bill and he apologized for not realizing that I was there. I said it was alright and I got up and spent several hours drinking a bottle of wine with him while we watched a stupid movie on TV. He never let himself on the house again while Greg was out of town.

Greg and Larry finished working out of town and started back at their regular jobs. One night soon after that I was at Greg’s and he told me that Bill had called him earlier in the day to tell him he had been arrested and asked him to go over to his house and feed his two dogs and cat. I went with Greg to take care of the animals. I noticed his house was in a state of disarray. There were empty bottles of beer all over the place and girlie magazines spread all over the house, he obviously hadn’t planned on having anyone see it like this. Bill was released from jail the next day. I happened to go over to my roommate and I’s friend Rick’s house the next night. The friend who was the president of the company Bill worked for. Rick’s wife was quite the gossip.

“Did you hear about Bill getting arrested?”

“Yes I did, I went over to his house with Greg last night to feed his pets. Do you know why he was arrested? Greg thought Bill said it was for threatening someone?”

“Yes, it was. He pulled a knife on a gal that works with him and Dana, she works directly under Rick. Supposedly she told Dana that she is pregnant with his child and said she is going to make his life miserable. Dana told Bill all about it and that he was afraid she will ruin his relationship with his fiancée. Bill followed her from work to the store and got in her car and threatened her with a knife if she didn’t leave Dana alone. She started screaming and jumped out of the car and ran. Bill ran away but the cops came and found him hiding behind the store and took him to jail.”

“That’s pretty weird. Why would he do that?”

“I don’t know but the police came to talk to Rick about it today. We found out Bill is a registered sex offender. They wouldn’t tell Rick what he did but if I were you I would stay away from him.”

Trust me I will!”

Erin and I stayed for dinner and then as soon as I got home I called Greg.

“Did you know Bill is a registered sex offender?”

“Who told you that?”

“It was Rick’s wife, Diane. You met her, Rick is Bill’s boss.”

“How did she know Bill is a sex offender?”

“Apparently the police came and talked to Rick about Bill’s threatening the lady they all work with and they told Rick. I don’t want to have anything to do with him.”

“I’d like to hear what Bill has to say. I think you are overreacting.”

“I don’t. I don’t have any tolerance for people who commit sex crimes.”

“I think we should find out the truth first.”

“From Bill? Do you think he would tell you the truth about something like that? Just to make sure I don’t have any more contact with him.”

“Whatever you want, but I still think you are overreacting.”

I went over to Greg’s house the next night.

“I asked Bill about what the police told Rick. Bill said that he used to a serious alcoholic and did some really stupid things but he was never in jail. He said there were minors involved so they had a file on him and he was labeled as a sex offender. He said they harass him whenever they feel like it. I believe him.”

I didn’t think that sounded right but I just let Greg think what he wanted to. I planned on having nothing to do with Bill ever again.

A couple of nights later I was visiting Greg and Bill came over. I didn’t say anything to him. He had just come over to borrow something of Greg’s and didn’t stay long. He seemed to be the same as he always was which made me wonder a little bit about whether he was being falsely accused, but not much.

The time drew near for Bill’s court date and he told Greg that he was sure that he would end up being found guilty and go to jail. He believed that the police were mad that he didn’t do any jail time from the case from ten years before and that they would make sure he did this time. He said they had questioned him over the years any time they could and that they had it in for him. It was starting to sound like a bit of a set up.

The house Larry and Debbie had been living in had been for sale while they had been renting it and it finally sold. They were frantically looking for a place to live. Bill offered to rent them his house. He was sure that he was going to do jail time and he would like it if they would live in his while he was in jail so he didn’t lose it because he wouldn’t be around to make the mortgage payments. He admitted he had been drunk and doing drugs again when he threatened Dana’s girlfriend. He was pissed off that she was trying to ruin his Dana’s life.  The sex had been consensual by both of them so he didn’t think it was fair for her to screw Dana over but he also knew it was none of business. He was upset because Dana was so stressed out that he was talking about suicide.

Bill asked Greg if he could stay at his house while he waited for his trial so he could rent his house to Larry and Debbie. He said even if he didn’t get convicted he would still rather rent them his house and live somewhere else that was cheaper since he no longer had a job. He said all he needed to do was find places for his dogs to live. Greg told Bill it was alright with him. I had been staying away since I didn’t know what to believe about the whole situation.

Larry and Debbie rented Bill’s house and moved in. His trial date was five days away. He moved into Greg’s spare bedroom but I didn’t know this yet. I went over to Greg’s house two days later. Greg was gone to a union meeting but I had left some things at his house that I needed the next day.  I was sitting on the couch when Bill walked in the door and sat down. I knew he was living there so I wasn’t surprised to see him.

“Hi, how are you?”

“Alright, how are you?”

“I’m not very good actually. I’m being framed because of some stupid things I did when I was drinking too much and doing drugs ten years ago. I’m sure I’m going to be sent to jail for doing something even stupider even though I didn’t hurt anyone. The police have been trying to send me to jail for ten years and it looks like they are going to get their wish.”

I was trying to be unbiased. “So you didn’t do anything wrong?”

“I did something wrong, I stupidly threatened Kim for trying to ruin Dana’s life. But that’s all I did and I was drunk and did some coke. It doesn’t really matter what I did. The police have it in their minds that I am guilty and they want me to go to jail.”

He sounded sincere. I began to doubt that Bill was dangerous, pretty stupid, but not a threat.

“Would you go out to dinner with me tonight? I really want to have one last dinner at the Valley River Inn before I go to court. I really love their food.”

I have always tried to trust my inner voice and it told me I had nothing to worry about. I felt Greg was right, “Sure I’ll go out to dinner with you, but I’m driving.”

“Fantastic, I will buy you whatever you want.”

I drove Bill and I to dinner at this very nice and expensive restaurant. We had a very good dinner and a nice time visiting, just like before he was arrested. He told me how freaked out he was about the prospect of going to jail. He asked me to stop in the park on the way back to Greg’s house and I did. We watched the teenage kids ride around on skateboards for a while. Then I took Bill back to Greg’s house and since Greg was still at his meeting I went home.

The next evening Greg, Larry, Debbie and Bill were watching a pay per view boxing match at Larry and Debbie’s house (Bill’s house that they were renting). Part way through the match Bill went over to Greg’s house to get something and a few minutes after he left there was a knock on the door.

“We are looking for Bill Snyder.” There were two policemen standing at the door.

“He just walked across the street.” Larry told them.

“Isn’t this his house?”

“Yes, but he is renting it to me right now.”

“Does that Camaro in the driveway belong to Bill?”

“Yes, but he is across the street at my house right now.” Greg is at the door with Larry.

“Can we go over there to talk to him?”

“Sure, I think he is coming right back. I can go over there and get him for you.” Greg left the house and walked across the street. The policemen followed him. Greg walked up to the front door and turned the door knob. He heard Bill say something.

“Don’t come in.” Bill yells out.

“What do you mean, it’s my house.” Greg said and the police are standing next to him.

The unmistakable sound of a gun being cocked can be heard. The policemen pulled their guns out. Greg yelled at them.

“Let me go in there.” He didn’t wait for an answer he just opened up his front door and walked in. He can see Bill lying on the floor with a gun in his hand and he has it pointed at his head.

“What are you doing?”

“Keep away from me!”

“I will. Don’t pull the trigger.”

“Why not? They want to arrest me and take me to jail.”

“No. They just want to talk to you.”

“No they don’t.”

“Why don’t you go to Serenity Lane, maybe they can help you. That’s where you went before right?”

“Yes. But they don’t care if I go there.” Bill still had the gun pointed at his head.

“Let’s go there and you can talk to them.”

“The police won’t let me go.”

“Yes they will. Let me call Serenity Lane and tell them you need some help.” Greg slowly grabs his phone book and looks up the phone number. “Hi, I have someone who has been through your program and he needs your help again. He has a gun pointed at his head right now. If I bring him down there will you talk to him?”

“Sure, what is his name.”

“Bill Snyder, he was there about ten years ago.”

“Alright, we will be expecting him.”

“Okay Bill, let’s go down there. I’m going to out and tell the police what we are going to do.”

Bill got off the floor and followed Greg to the garage and got in the car’s passenger seat, all the while holding the gun to his head. Greg opened the garage door and drove the ten minute drive to the alcohol recovery center and the while Bill held the gun to his head. When Greg drove in the parking lot he could see a SWAT team taking positions around the building. He looked at Bill to see if he had noticed. He didn’t seem to.  Greg pulled into a parking spot and turned the motor off.

He realized the police were probably going to shoot Bill before he got in the building so he tried to grab the gun out of Bill’s hand. Boom. One shot went through the floor of the car. Boom. Another shot went through the roof of the car. Bill yanked his hand free from Greg and pointed it at his temple again.

Greg realized he was not going to be able to overpower Bill so he got out of the car and walked towards where he saw a SWAT team member standing. As soon as he gets there he was grabbed and handcuffed to a pole. They weren’t going to let him risk his life again.

A SWAT team member walked over to where Bill had sat down on the curb next to the car, still holding the gun to his head. The guy started talking to Bill. He seemed to have the situation under control, and Bill lowered the gun and the guy slowly walked up to him. Just when he was almost close enough to touch him Bill put the gun up to his head and shot it. The standoff is over. Bill is dead.

The police told us the reason they came to the house was because the previous night a hooker had been abducted by a man in a 1969 Blue Camaro with a fuzzy dash board and she was raped and tied up to a tree with duct tape. Bill’s car, the one parked in his driveway, was a 1969 blue Camaro with a fur on the dash. They were coming to arrest him and he obviously knew it.

The next day I took Bill’s things out of the spare bedroom at Greg’s house and I found a handwritten piece of paper under the mattress. On it was written “dogs, duct tape, lye, rope, plastic”. I got a very sick feeling in my stomach. We never saw the dogs after Bill said he found them new homes. I felt very lucky to be alive and unharmed. I would never second guess my first instincts again.

Playing With Toys

Hunter and Bella are silly. They argue all the time about all sorts of stupid things. Just this morning Hunter wanted to sit where Bella was sitting and he went over and just stared at her hoping she would get up and sit somewhere else so he could have the spot they both covet. Usually she leaves because she knows he will just keep on bugging her until she does. This morning she decided not to let him get his way and she refused to move.

Just yesterday I brought home a toy for each of them, the exact same toy so they wouldn’t have anything to fight about, or at least that was my hope. They both followed me when I came in the house with the bag of stuff I bought from the store. They were fairly patient as they watched me put the groceries in the refrigerator.

Then when I finally got to the last two items in the bag their eyes got big when they saw I was taking two toys out. Rather than have them make a mess on the floor with the packaging I decided to take the toys out of the cellophane wrappers before I handed them over.

Their eyes were glued to the toys and I took the wrapping off and handed each of them a toy. Hunter took his toy and quietly went over by the couch to play with it. They were noisy toys and he delighted in the noise his was making. Instead of playing with her toy Bella just watched Hunter excitedly playing with his. She barely even touched her toy and just kept watching him play with his. I could tell she wanted to take his toy away. She is three years older than him and has always loved to steal his toys. He frequently tries to hide when he gets a new toy so she can’t steal it. She gets really mean and threatens to beat him up when he won’t let her have it.

I thought I had solved the problem by getting them the exact same toy. Same toy, no reason to covet it, or want to steal it, or so I thought. Wrong I was. She didn’t want him to even have a toy it seemed.

The last time I gave him a toy she waited for him to get tired of playing with it for half an hour. She watched him intensely and walked around waiting for him to quit playing with it. He finally got even with her. When he broke it he tore it up so she didn’t have any reason to want to steal it. It worked. When he left the broken toy on the floor she didn’t even pick it up. He finally won a battle.

Pretty smart on his part I thought. This made me think that they were making progress in getting along with other, at least as far as playing with toys anyway. I figured that by buying them the exact same toy there wouldn’t be a problem anymore but she dropped her toy on the floor and just stared at him playing with his as soon as I handed them out. He wins again and he didn’t even have to tear up his toy this time.

Back to this morning, Hunter of course came back to where Bella is lying at the front door and she starts snarling at him as soon as he approaches her. Maybe he won by not letting her have his toy but she isn’t going to let him make her leave the spot on the floor by the front door where you can look out the window and see all the action outside. It is especially cool when a cat or a squirrel walks by.

Like I said, Bella and Hunter are silly.

Scruples and Other Moral Dilemmas

This is the first chapter of a novel I am writing, feedback please!

Chapter One: Scruples and Other Moral Dilemmas

“My turn, this question is for Randy. Your agent helped you get established when you were a struggling actor. Now a large agency wants to sign you. Do you dump your agent?”

Randy is a fairly handsome man and looks as if he could have possibly have been an actor. He looks up at Shelly and knows that if he doesn’t answer this question truthfully she is going to challenge him. He figures she wants him to answer yes and he notices that she is close to getting rid of her cards.

“No I wouldn’t.”

“Liar, I challenge.”

“Alright, let’s hear it.”

“When you were working for the car dealership, the one that gave you the first job after your wreck when no one else would, you immediately quit working there when Borden offered you your old job back. How loyal were to them? Not at all that I remember.”

“Yeah, but Borden offered me a lot more money, Annie and I wanted to get married and since she had a son I needed to earn more so I could support her and Ian.”

“You just proved my point dummy. I didn’t say you didn’t have a reason. I said that you would quit.”

“Okay everyone let’s vote on it.” Jack just wanted to get the game moving again. “1-2-3 vote!”

“And the winner is Shelly. Give Randy your answer card and let’s move on to Annie’s turn.” Jack is quite gregarious and is also handsome in a somewhat subtle manner.

“You accidentally damage a car in a parking lot. Do you leave a note with your name and phone number?” Annie has directed her question to Randy also.

“It depends on if there were any witnesses.”

“Unfortunately I believe you, it’s only illegal if you get caught, right?”

“Pretty much, so how did you think I would answer?”

“I figured you would say no, but you would have to admit it you got caught so I lose this one. It’s not that you have any morals though.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means you always think you are superior to everyone else.”

“Alright you guys cool it. If you are going to fight we should quit playing.”

“That’s just fine with me.” Annie gets up from the table and leaves the room.

“I told you that this game is a good way piss people off.” Shelly says to Jack as Randy gets up from the table also and walks to the bedroom where Annie went to. Shelly noticed that Randy’s bad leg was really bothering him from the way he was limping.

Annie and Shelly are both attractive blondes, Annie is taller slightly more slender and Shelly has a bit more of voluptuous body type; it is very easy to see the similarities they share as sisters. They are only three years apart in age, with Shelly being the oldest.  Annie is wearing a very short skirt and a skimpy top and Shelly is dressed in jeans and a tight fitting tee shirt, they are both quite attractive.

“I knew that Annie and Randy were having problems but I thought they could manage to play a civil card game. Obviously I was wrong.”

“This isn’t exactly a normal card game. I have seen lots of people get mad when they are accused of being a closet cheat or a thief. If you read the box it does call the game ‘a moral dilemma game’, you don’t think that might me a red flag or something?”

“Never mind the cards!” Jack yells down the hall that Randy and Annie disappeared down, “Get back in here and let’s party!” He looks at Shelly, “I am a little bummed though, I have the card that lets me make up my own question and I was looking forward to using it.”

“What question did you want to make up? It wasn’t one that would piss anyone off was it?”

“I hadn’t gotten that far, but they all seem to do that, I guess it is probably better that I didn’t get to use it now that you mention it.”

Randy walks back into the kitchen and he has a mirror in his hand, it has lines of cocaine on it and he hands to Jack.

“Here, have a line. Let’s get back to our party before I have to go to work.”

“Where’s my sister?” Shelly asks Randy after she snorted her line.

“She’s still in the bedroom but she said she was coming back out here.”

Shelly handed the mirror to Jack. “Here, take this. I’ll go get her.” She went back to the bedroom and left Randy and Jack at the kitchen table doing lines.

Annie was sitting on the bed crying.

“Are you alright?”

“Yes, it’s just that Randy always thinks he is right about everything”

“That’s why we call him Mr. Perfect.” Shelly said referencing the nickname her and her sister call Randy, behind his back of course, because he really did think he was always right.

“I am getting tired of his selling coke to his friends and then him leaving me to entertain them when he goes to work. Then he gets mad because he says I flirt too much, but that’s what he and his friends want me to do. I don’t understand.” She starts to cry.

Shelly doesn’t like the way Annie flirts either but she does blame Randy for leaving Annie at the house after drinking and doing drugs all night and expecting nothing to happen. It seems to Shelly that Randy is setting Annie up to fail. Annie has always been insecure and needs to be reassured that she is cute and that is just what Randy’s friends are more than willing to do for her when Randy leaves them alone with  booze and the cocaine that he had become addicted to after the horrible car wreck he was in before he met Annie.

Three years before this Randy had just gotten out of the army and was on top of the world. He was good looking, single and had saved a lot of money and to top it off when he got back from Germany his friend Jack’s father had hired him on at one of the biggest corporations in the country. Everything was going his way.

One evening Randy was on his way home from an afternoon of skiing and boating at a popular hot spot in his brand new Alfa Romeo with his beautiful fiancé. All of a sudden a man in a pickup truck crossed over the center line and in an instant Randy’s fiancé was dead and one of Randy’s legs was wrapped around his body and broken in pieces. The driver of the pickup truck was drunk, had no insurance and barely had a scratch from the wreck.

One year later Shelly drove up to Fall Creek Reservoir with Annie and Annie’s two year old son Ian on a hot afternoon to go swimming with some friends of theirs. They ran into lots of people they hadn’t seen for a long time and one of them was a young man Shelly had met four years before when he was home on leave from the army and a mutual friend of theirs brought him to a party she had thrown for Halloween. He had hit on her but she was already dating another man, but she did remember what a gentleman he had been and if it had been another time and another place something different might have happened.

While driving home in the car that afternoon Annie told Shelly about a nice guy she had met at the lake, he was in a full body cast after having been in a horrible car wreck the year before and they were rebuilding his leg with pins and metal plates. She told Shelly that he had just gotten out of the army when he got in the car wreck that he was still recovering from.

Thus began the soon to be tumultuous relationship of Annie and Randy and within a year they were married and had a son of their own to add to the son Annie already had.

Back to the party, Annie and Shelly were talking in the bedroom after Randy and Annie had gotten in the fight while they were playing the game called “Scruples”.

“I know, but sometimes you do get a little carried away with your flirting, but usually Randy doesn’t mind. Why don’t you come back to the kitchen and party with Jack and I. Randy will be going to work in another half an hour and you won’t see him again until tomorrow.”

“You’re right. Let’s go back to the kitchen.”

Annie and Shelly join Randy and Jack at the kitchen table. Shelly notices that the guys have put the game away. Good thing she thought. Randy offers the mirror with a line of coke on it to Annie and she takes it and sits down at the table.

“I have to get ready to go to work, why don’t you guys stick around awhile and party with Annie.”

“No problem, thanks man!” Jack remarks.

Shelly was thinking that there hadn’t ever been any doubt that he was planning on staying there. She was about ready to go home but she didn’t want to leave Annie there by herself to party with Jack, too much temptation for her little sister. She had spent most of her life looking out for her little sister and she wasn’t about to stop on this night. She stayed until Jack went home and then went home as well; one less evening for Annie and Randy to fight about, and one less “screw up” for her sister. There were a lot of Scruples on the line but Shelly knew that the game they had played this evening was the last thing that needed to be considered.

Who is Ichabod?

WHO IS ICHABOD?

By Michele Rae DeJean

I walked in the front door of the shop and I noticed all of the guys were over in the far corner under the stair well where the “snake cage” was located. I continued to walk to my little office next to the front “sales” counter. I noticed that the 12 foot Burmese Python, named Monica for some reason, was stretched out to the middle of the floor to the side of the front counter. I tried to appear calm as I walked along the other edge of the counter and slipped through the door of the office and carefully closed the door behind me. This was something I almost never did, but she is almost never out, and certainly not out anywhere near my office but since she is my door gets closed. I watch the activity out on the floor of the shop through the window located next to the door, it overlooked the front counter and the area right in front of it. When it started to appear that most of the guys had moved away from in front of the counter area, and hopefully the snake was with them, I opened the door to the office and tried to look nonchalant in my walk around the counter to the coffee pot in the customer waiting area. From the corner of my eye I could see that Monica was back in her cage so I finished pouring my coffee and went back into my office and left the door open like I usually did.

I started entering the sales slips from the day before into the computer.  I looked out at the counter from time to time to see if there were any customers standing there so I could call up a salesman if needed.

I heard someone talking and looked up to see two men wearing suits had just walked up to the counter. I got up and walked towards them thinking that they looked like insurance salesmen and that they were probably looking for my boss.

“Good morning, that is a really large snake you have in that cage.”

“It isn’t mine but yes it is very big. Can I get someone to help you?”

“No, we are looking for Michele, is that you?”

“Yes. What can I do for you?”

“Is it alright if we talk to you in your office?”

I looked around to make sure some of the salesmen were in the shop and I caught one of the guy’s eyes as I turned and walked back into my office.  I still was leaning towards their being insurance salesmen. They came into the office and when I got behind my desk and turned around one of the men quietly shut the door and the other one handed me a piece of notebook paper.

“Would you please take a look at this?”

I took the piece of paper and began to read it to myself “To who it may concern: This letter is to inform you that there is a man living at 1850 West 24th street who owns an UZI.”

As soon as I read the address, I recognized that it was my address! I got a really weird feeling in my stomach. This letter was talking about my roommate! I hesitated and looked up at the man who handed me the letter. His eyes met mine and he nodded as if to encourage me to keep reading. “This man brags about having a vicious wolf dog and he has claimed he could shoot kids on the playground from his back yard.” When I finished reading the letter I looked at the two men.

“I don’t understand this.”

“Do you know the man in the letter?”

“Of course I do, you know I do or you wouldn’t be here. It’s my roommate but this letter is bullshit!”

“Does he have an UZI?”

“Yes he has one. He uses it to shoot beer cans and anyone who knows us can tell you our dog is so vicious that she will lick you to death. I have a photo of her here on my desk.”

“She does look like she has wolf in her.”

“She does, but vicious is far from the truth.”

“What do you think your roommate’s reaction to this will be?”

“The same as mine, that it is ridiculous.”

“Has he ever talked about shooting anyone?”

“If he did it would be drunken stupid talk because he is totally nonviolent. He just has guns to hunt with and to shoot at targets.”

“This letter was sent to the school behind your house and they gave it to us. We have to follow up on things like this.”

“Of course you do. I would expect you to as you have no way of knowing if it is true or not. I have to believe you don’t think it is very true or you wouldn’t be here talking to me.”

“Do you have any friends that you are having disagreements with?”

“Not that I can think of. Why?”

“Because that is the usual reason for people sending letters like this, they are trying to get their friends in trouble.”

“I have some friends that don’t like each other very much but none that I know of that don’t like Aaron or I.”

“Do any of your friends go by nick names?”

“One friend whose last name is Wallace goes by Wally. I have a friend who goes by Guido but neither one of those guys would write a letter like this.”

“No this is a one word nickname.”

“We have a friend that used to be a bartender and went by Burrito Bob, but he hasn’t used that name for a long time.”

“No this is, well the name that was signed to the letter was Ichabod. Does that mean anything to you?”

“No. I don’t know anyone that uses that name.”

“We are going to need to come by your house and see the gun.”

“I have a lunch break at noon; I can meet you at the house.”

“That will be fine. We are going to go talk to Aaron right now. We will see you at noon.”

They left my office and I immediately called Aaron to tell him what had just occurred. He worked right across the parking lot in another business so I knew there wasn’t much time before the detectives got there. He was kind of dumbfounded just like I was but he wasn’t freaked out since he knew it was false information just like I did.

Aaron likes to smoke pot and over the many years that we have been roommates we have had a good number of fights about his not putting the bong and pot out of site. I always tell him to hide them when he leaves the house and not to leave everything in his top drawer because that will be the first place anyone would look. This has always really pissed me off because he had pretty much totally ignored me on the subject. I took my break and rushed home, we only lived 5 minutes from where we both worked, and hid Aaron’s bong and took the pot he kept in his top drawer and hid it in a closet. I know that isn’t what the police are specifically going to be looking for but I figure it can’t hurt if they don’t find anything. I went back to work and waited a little while longer before I called Aaron about his visit with the detectives.

He had about the same kind of experience with the cops as I had, they told him the same things they told me and made sure to have him come home at noon as well to show them his guns.

When I pulled up in the driveway at noon Aaron and the detectives were already at the house. I walked in the house and Aaron was in the living room with one of the detectives and showing him some of his guns and the other detective was just watching. After I got there the second detective, who hadn’t said anything before this, asked if it would be alright if he looked around in the bedrooms. He specifically said he wouldn’t go through any drawers. I knew he was lying and when I went in my room five minutes later to get something I could see he had pulled open the top drawers of my dressers a few inches and hadn’t closed them. Just as I figured would happen so I was glad I drove home and hid Aaron’s pot. I realized it wasn’t much of a crime to have the pot but I didn’t see any reason for it to be a factor at all.

I went back in the living room and listened to the detective talk about whether or not we could think of anyone that would have sent the letter. I had remembered after they had left my office that morning that two of our friends, Steve and Bob, had a verbal altercation over a bb gun that Steve had loaned Bob several years before and when he decided he wanted it back a couple years later Bob couldn’t find it and Steve became totally unglued over it. Part of the reason was because Steve’s youngest brother had just committed suicide and the bb gun had belonged to him and Steve wanted it back to remember his brother by. The problem was that Steve had given Bob the impression that he didn’t ever want it back so Bob had let a friend borrow it and hadn’t bothered to keep track of it. I told the detective that the whole incident had gotten quite ridiculous and that both Bob and Steve were a bit unstable and I knew that Bob was taking Prozac. Aaron and I hadn’t been involved with any of that incident and as far as I knew neither Steve nor Bob were mad at us. Bob had done some fairly whacky things around us but had never threatened us. I told the detective that maybe he ought to talk to Bob and Steve but I really didn’t think that either one of them had anything to do with it. The detective wrote down their names and phone numbers. The vicious wolf dog jumped all over them to prove how wrong the letter was about her. We were told that they would talk to Bob and Steve but as far as they were concerned they didn’t think that Aaron was a threat to anyone. They said they would call us the next day and tell us what they found out from talking to our friends.

I called Steve when I got back to work to tell him that the police would be contacting him to tell them how wacked out Bob was. We talked for a while and he acted rather interested in the whole affair and said he might stop by later. I then called Bob to tell him that the detectives would be contacting him. When he answered the phone he was all freaked out. He said that the detectives had already been there and when they handed him the letter to read he said that he freaked out because he thought the letter was about him until he got to the address. He said Steve had sent him a letter much like that after the bb gun incident only it threatened to send a letter to his boss telling him that Bob was a drug addict to try and get him fired. I didn’t tell Bob that I had indicated to the detectives that he might be the one who wrote the letter. I got a very horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. Through the years Steve had spent hours and hours at our house, we had been a good friend to him through all sorts of personal events, we had even given him a key to our house whenever we left town. I had always thought we were good friends but the similarities between the two letters were too close to be a coincidence. I called Aaron at work and told him about the conversation I had with Bob.

I finished out the day at work and had already made plans to go shopping with my sister shortly after I got off work the day before and I couldn’t think of any reason to cancel them. Annette pulled into the driveway at the same time I pulled in from work. Aaron was already home and I noticed that Steve’s car was also in the driveway. I briefly filled Annette in on what had happened that day before we went into the house.

Aaron was sitting on the couch and to the right of him Steve was sitting in the wood rocking chair that was situated between the couch and the television and he was drinking beer. Aaron was not drinking beer and the air in the room was so thick with tension you could cut it with a knife. Annette feigned ignorance of the whole situation and greeted Steve and sat on the couch next to Aaron. I went into my bedroom and changed from my work clothes into my “shopping clothes”. I visited a little and then Annette and I left to go shopping. I was a bit worried about the situation but wasn’t sure what to do. Annette and I immediately went to El Torito’s to have a cocktail, it was always our first stop at the shopping mall before actually going shopping. We weren’t even done with our first drink when Aaron walked into the bar and sat down next to us, he also knew this was always our first stop. I looked at him and had to ask.

“What the hell was going on at the house? It felt really weird.”

“Steve was waiting in the driveway with a half of case of beer when I got home from work. When he went into the kitchen to put it in the refrigerator I got my gun and put in down the side of the couch and sat there next to it. I wasn’t sure what he was there for but I was pretty sure he sent that letter. You and Annette walked in right after that.”

“Annette and I were talking and we are sure Steve is guilty, you could feel it in the air.”

“Yes I am sure he is also, that is why I got the gun out. I wasn’t sure what he came over for.”

“So what did he say after we left?”

“He didn’t say much of anything. I think he was waiting for me to say something but that wasn’t going to happen. He must have gotten the hint that I didn’t want him there because he finished his beer and left. Then I drove here because I knew you would be here and if you weren’t I needed a drink anyway.”

“I just can’t understand what the hell he did it for. We have been his only friends when he didn’t have anyone else.”

“It sure surprised me as well.”

The three of us drank and compared notes on not understanding why Steve had sent the letter to the school and went home. The next morning I called the detective to tell him that I knew who had sent the letter.

“Yes we think it is Steve also. When we went to visit with Bob and showed him the letter he got very frightened and told us that Steve had sent him a very similar letter.”

“Steve stopped by last night and I could tell he was guilty.”

“As far as we are concerned our investigation into this matter is over. I advise you to let it go. We don’t want to be called back for retaliation.”

“Don’t worry, he isn’t worth it.”

As soon as I got off of the phone I called Steve, my mind was racing with all the questions I had as to how he could do this to people who have always been there for him.

“Hi Steve.”

“Hi, the police never called me.”

He sounded disappointed. “They aren’t going to.” I said.

“How come?”

“Because they think that you are the one who sent the letter.”

“What do you think?”

“I think, and I can’t believe if after all of the things that we have done together, that it has to be you. It totally blows me away. Was it you?”

“Yes, it was.”

“Why, I don’t understand why you would do it?”

“When I was in Junior High Aaron burnt me with a cigarette.”

“Huh, you are kidding right?”

“He has a good job and he doesn’t deserve it. I am a lot smarter and deserve to be working a lot more than he does.”

“What in the world does that have to do with anything? I can’t believe you did that after all the things I have done for you. All he nights that you visited and told me about all of your problems, and then there were all of things we have done together through the years. The police told me that we were lucky, that if they had been a little more convinced the letter was true they might have broken down our front door and someone could have been shot.”

“I didn’t mention your name.”

“Aaron and I live in the same house and you didn’t think that the letter wasn’t going to affect me?”

“I wasn’t trying to hurt you. Does this mean we aren’t friends anymore?”

“What do you think? I can’t believe you can’t see how screwed up this was. Aaron has been a good friend to you. You are really whacked out to hold something against him he did when you were kids.”

“There have been other things. Like the time…”

“I don’t even want to hear any more of your screwed up words. You need help but you aren’t going to get it from Aaron or I any more. I still can’t believe you did this. Goodbye forever.”

That was the last time I ever talked with Ichabod. Soon after this he moved to Illinois and never came back to the town he grew up in. Good riddance to Ichabod.  I still am dumbfounded by how someone I was close to could be that dysfunctional and I couldn’t tell, it kind of scares me.

Beyond Normal: The Next Door Neighbor

I have had many things happen in my life that I consider beyond normal, and by beyond normal I mean things that don’t happen to hardly anyone ever! I seem to have had more than the average amount of these types incidents happen around me, or to me or my friends. I have had a pretty full and sometimes colorful life but I grew up a fairly well-grounded child even though I came from a household that was pretty dysfunctional in many ways so there wasn’t many good reasons for anyone in it to be well grounded but I did manage to maintain my base in reality as well or better than most anyone I know. The story I am going to tell here is about one of the strangest events in my life and I think it would qualify as really a strange event in anyone’s life.  I will not bore you with all the little details of my life that were dysfunctional as they don’t play a part in this bizarre story as it had nothing to do with my dysfunctional family. This one incident is basically sometimes you are just at the wrong place at the wrong time. I didn’t have anything to do with the way this strange and dangerous set of events, they just happened. In 1984 I had a boyfriend that I had been going out with for over three years and for most of our relationship I went over to his house in the evenings, because I lived with a roommate in a rented house and my boyfriend was buying the house he lived in so I guess he thought I should come to his house since he was buying his though in retrospect I realize it was because he was not willing to inconvenience himself by staying at my house when he saw himself in the superior position of buying his own house but it took me until after our relationship had ended to figure out his motivations, better late than never as “they” say. For the whole time I dated Greg he had a neighbor that lived across the street who he had become friends with, his name was Bill and Greg said that he had met him the year before I started dating him when he first moved into the house he was buying. I met Bill many times throughout the three years I dated Greg since he lived right across the street and Greg usually invited him over to his house when Greg had small parties. Bill also invited Greg and I over to his house occasionally when he had friends from the place he worked at come over for barbeques or other occasions. He never drank or did any drugs and he had basically admitted to me that he was an alcoholic which was why he didn’t drink and that made sense to me and I never questioned it. There were several times through the years when Greg and I were fighting he would come over and visit me the next day while I was still at Greg’s house after Greg had gone to work when he knew we were fighting and he was very understanding and helpful when I needed to talk about those things. There were a couple of times that Greg flew back east to where his family lived for a week and I stayed at his house to “baby sit” it that Bill would come over to visit with me in the evenings and I trusted him and thought of him as a good friend. He had been given key to Greg’s house so Greg could call him and have him check on it when he and I were gone for the weekend and also to check on the place the time Greg and I went to Mexico for a couple of months. He had proved himself to be honest and trustworthy by all of the times I was around him for three years I knew him, both at Greg’s house and when we had been invited over to Bill’s house for the evening. All of Greg’s friends felt the same way about Bill as I did. During the summer of 1984 Bill started drinking, but he didn’t seem to be out of control so there didn’t seem to be any reason to be concerned. Then one evening when I was over at Greg’s house he got a phone call from Bill telling him that he had been arrested for threatening a co-worker’s girlfriend and he asked Greg to go over to his house, Greg also had a key to his house, and take care of his dog and cat until he got out of jail. We just assumed that it was a minor issue and we took care of his dog and cat until he was released from jail the next day. A day later I was over at another friend and his wife’s house and they knew Bill because he used to work with one of them a few years earlier and they told me they heard that the reason Bill had been arrested was that Bill had threatened a co-workers girlfriend with a knife because she was taking the ex-boyfriend, who worked with Bill, to court to sue him for child support for her child she had just had. Bill had been told by his friend he worked with that the gal was lying and it was not his child and she was just trying to ruin his marriage because he had spurned her attentions. They also told me one of the main reasons they heard Bill was arrested was because he had an arrest record for raping someone several years ago and was on the official sex offender’s registry and the reason he was an ex-alcoholic is that it was a condition for his not being in jail. When I heard that my first thought was I don’t want to have anything to do with someone who had raped someone. I told this to Greg and he told me I was overreacting. I listened to the reasons he gave me for not believing that Bill was dangerous and that I was being paranoid so I went against my first reaction and continued being a friend to Bill when I was visiting Greg. About a month later he was set to go to trial for the crime of attacking the co-worker’s girlfriend and he expected to lose he said because it was his word against hers and he had a record. He said he gave his dog and cat to a friend, and he rented his house out to two friends of Greg’s so they would take care of it while he served however much time he thought he would be sentenced to and Greg let Bill rent his spare room from him while he was awaiting the court date. Two nights before the court date Bill called me up and asked if I would go out to dinner with him, sort of a last dinner before he went to jail and he wanted to buy me a nice dinner at the place of my choice for being such a good friend. Well I didn’t feel right in refusing him so I suggested we go to a place I really liked and he asked if I could come over and pick him up for dinner at Greg’s house where he was staying. I went over there and Greg wasn’t home from work yet, it was summertime and he frequently had to work late, so I picked Bill up and we went to a very nice restaurant that I really like next to a river and had a very good dinner. After dinner Bill asked if we could drive to a local park that has a nice view of the city on our way home. I said yes and we went there and he told me he was very scared of going to jail while we were parked there looking at the stars. I sympathized with him and we had a pleasant conversation. He also told me that he was worried about his dog and cat and I told him that if he did get sentenced to jail time I would find a good home for them. I drove us both back to my boyfriend’s house and dropped him off and went home. The evening was his last evening before he was to go to court and at the house he owned and had rented to the couple that were friends of Greg’s they rented a Pay Per View Fight at that house and Greg, Bill and Larry and Debbie (the couple that had rented Bill’s house) had small party which I didn’t attend because I was not a big fight fan and I had to go to work at 6 am the next morning. The next day I was called at work at 4 pm just before I went home by Greg and he asked me to come by as soon as I got off work. He sounded pretty serious so I didn’t ask any questions I just went over to Greg’s house. When I walked in Greg was sitting there with Larry and Debbie, the ones who had rented Bill’s house. Greg hugged me and said “Bill killed himself”. I immediately started crying and didn’t ask any questions, I suppose I just assumed he committed suicide when faced with going to jail. Then after I calmed down I asked Greg what happened. He told me that during the “fight” party at Bill’s house across the street Bill had left the house saying he needed to go get something from over at Greg’s house where he was staying. Not very much after that Greg said the police came to Bill’s house and knocked on the door and when he answered the door they asked where Bill was. Greg told them that Bill was across the street at his house, they asked him if it was alright if they went over there to talk to him. Larry told them he would go over and get Bill and bring him over to his own house so they let him walk over there. Larry then said as soon as he walked in the door Bill pulled a gun on him and told him to leave and Larry left. When Larry went back into “Bill’s” house, the one that he was renting that the police were at and told that to the police they told everyone to stay where they were and went across the street to Greg’s house. Apparently as soon as the police walked up and knocked on the door they heard the sound of a gun being cocked and backed off. They went back over to Bill’s house where Greg, Larry and Debbie were and told them what had just occurred. They then went outside to discuss the next course of action. For some very stupid reason Greg got it in his head that he needed to save Bill and went over to his house while the police weren’t watching him and entered his house. He told me that Bill then held the gun he had to his head and told Greg if he got any closer he would shoot himself. So for the next three hours, it was about 3 in the morning by this time, Greg tried to talk Bill into giving himself up to no avail. So he then suggested at 6 or so in the morning that they drive over to the local drug treatment facility that Bill had been treated at many years earlier so he could talk to the counselor’s there. So apparently Bill said yes and Greg drove his car there with Bill sitting in the passenger seat with a gun to his head for the entire 20 minute drive. When Greg drove into the parking lot for the place he could see SWAT team guys hiding around the side of the building. After he parked his car he told Bill they needed to get out of the car and he then attempted to wrestle the gun out of Bill’s hands which only ended in a shot being fired into the floor of his car before Bill wrestled his hands free and told Greg to get out of the car. Greg did as he was told as he found out Bill was a lot stronger than he was. Greg then walked over to the SWAT team guys to tell them not to shoot Bill and they promptly grabbed him and handcuffed him to a pole at the side of the building so he couldn’t put himself in danger anymore. They then walked to Greg’s car where Bill was sitting next to it with the gun to his head to try and negotiate. As soon as one of the men got near Bill he pulled the trigger and shot himself dead. I was in sort of a state of shock when I heard these events told to me. We all were. We turned on the local news at 11:00 and the whole suicide was caught in its “entire splendor” by the local news media. Greg, Larry, Debbie and I were really depressed by the whole affair and thought the police had pushed Bill to suicide. The next day we all found out that the reason the police had come to talk to Bill the night before he was to appear in court was because two nights before, the night before I went out to dinner with him, he was a suspect in an incident where a local prostitute had been picked up by a guy driving a blue 1969 Camaro with a fuzzy dashboard (the exact description of Bill’s car which would explain why he wanted me to drive when I went over to Greg’s house to go out to dinner with him) and she had been tied to a tree and her mouth taped with duct tape before she was raped by the man. Since he knew he had done this crime he was ready for the police to come visiting on the night they did. After all of the facts came out I didn’t feel sorry for Bill, but I felt I was either extremely lucky, or had a guardian of a higher power, or that Bill really respected me for all the good things he told me I had always done for him and everyone else but I have got to say that even if I am a great person I never want to count on that saving my life ever again. I really feel that there for the grace of “me being a good person” I might not be here today and I never ever want to count on that even if it may have been the only reason Bill did not harm me. From there on out I always go with my “gut” feeling no matter what anyone else tells me. The eeriest thing about this event was after Bill had killed himself I was cleaning out the bedroom he had been staying in at Greg’s house and underneath the mattress I found a handwritten list, which had on it “Lye, duct tape, garbage bags, shovel, ropes” and we never ever found the cat and dog that Bill had told me he was worried about their well-being, he may have given them away but I don’t know who it would have been to. Kind of creepy and kind of a horror story!