Marilyn phoned her friend, former employer and mentor, Richard. “Daniel’s been having affairs with women all over the country; I have the proof. We’re finished.”
“You can’t do this yourself. Get back to the office and make sure someone is with you for the next eight hours at least. Hold an emergency sales strategy meeting; order dinner in for the whole gang. Just stay with people, the more the merrier until you hear from me again. I’ll handle it personally.”
“Richard, I don’t want him killed, just gone. Just talk to him for me. Tell him I never want to see him or speak with him again and that he’ll hear from my lawyer. ‘My lawyer’, I don’t have a lawyer. Do you know a lawyer who can handle this for me?”
“Relax, I’ll talk to him and arrange a lawyer to handle everything.” With that he hung up on his young protégé. His reassuring words comforted Marilyn as they were meant to, but Richard knew there was only on solution to this problem. It would be worth it to come out of retirement for this special contract, he had always known that Daniel was wrong for Marilyn. Perhaps now it was time for him to tell her how he felt. Marilyn had given up on the idea of children long ago and he was no longer her employer. She deserved to be loved and cherished and if she would have him, he would spend the rest of his life making her happy.
Marilyn sighed; everything she had done had been so that she and Daniel could enjoy an early retirement together. Everything Daniel had done had been for Daniel’s own pleasure and benefit. He had been hiding money from her so that he could have numerous affairs around the country. Poor Daniel, he would have loved the houseboat she had just purchased.
Thinking she had a few years until retirement Marilyn had been carefully cultivating her possible replacement, the problem solver to whom she would turn over the company. She could have just sold the business, but she liked knowing that people always had one last place to turn to when their problems overwhelmed them. And then there were the special assignments, the ones that exacted the type of justice the legal system never could.
As Richard told her, ‘sometimes bad things need to happen to bad people.’ At first she was horrified until she learned about the escalating violence Jack’s family had to endure. And Cindy’s story convinced her that although Richard was taking the law into his own hands, it had been the only solution. Sometimes the laws that were meant to protect the victims only succeeded in protecting the criminals. Watching how easily Richard had solved those particular problems, Marilyn knew that she could handle any upcoming special cases until she was ready for retirement. However, with Daniel out of the picture she could afford to retire immediately.
At first Marilyn thought that Jason could be her replacement, but she realized he just didn’t have a killer instinct. He would continue to get routine assignments; convincing a stalker to leave their client alone, recovering ‘lost’ property, helping tenants with uncooperative landlords and other problems that didn’t take too much creativity or skill to solve, just motivation and persistence. Like many of the other employees who had worked there over the years, Jason would never know about the other division of the company he worked for. Marilyn decided that the next problem solver would be another woman, Nora.
Going to back to work she called Nora into her office for a little chat. Like Marilyn, Nora had a head for business and was anxious to take over as soon as her benefactor declared the time to be right. They planned the ‘impromptu’ meeting together, ordered in meals and braced themselves for a long evening. Marilyn didn’t want to be available in case Daniel didn’t take Richard’s warning to heart. Daniel had destroyed whatever feelings she still had for him and she wasn’t sure how she would react if they ever came face to face again.
Once Richard phoned to say that he had spoken with Daniel, Marilyn would quickly wrap up the meeting. To be on the safe side she had decided to stay at a hotel tonight, just in case Daniel decided to drop by the house.
However, it wasn’t Richard’s phone call that broke up the meeting. The visit from the police did that. They had come to inform Marilyn that her husband and another man had burned to death in a car explosion.
“Do you have any idea who your husband was with?”
“No, I’m sorry. He didn’t mention any meetings today and I haven’t spoken with him since this morning.”
“Do you know what he was doing in that part of town?”
“What part of town, I’m not sure where this happened.”
When she learned where it had happened she wondered why Daniel was there and how Richard had tracked him down.
After giving the police their names and telephone numbers, all the employees who had been present at the meeting were allowed to leave. It was obvious to everyone, including the police and Nora that Marilyn was in shock. After a few more routine questions, the police told Marilyn that she should go home. They had asked Nora if she could stay with her and she agreed. There was no need for Marilyn to stay at a hotel now.
“Marilyn, come on drink this.” It was a glass of brandy that Nora proffered. Under the circumstances it was silly to bother with niceties like snifters.
Marilyn quickly scrawled a note. No verbal communication other than what the police would expect to hear in case the house was bugged. Nora nodded her understanding.
“I guess you’ll need to take time off of work. I’ll cancel your appointments for the next two weeks and ask Jason to handle things for you until you’re able to come back to work. Do you want me to help with the funeral arrangements?”
“Yes. No. Not Jason. I want you to take care of things. You run the business until I’m ready to come back. I’ll inform the others after the funeral.” They both already knew that Marilyn would not be returning. Within weeks the paperwork making Nora the new owner of Problem Solvers would be filed. Just as Richard had been there for Marilyn when she first took over, Marilyn would watch Nora’s back until she could handle things on her own.
Marilyn started weeping again. With shaking hands she wrote ‘Why didn’t Richard call? Was he the other man in the car with Daniel? Is Richard dead?’
Nora shrugged her shoulders and said, “That’s it honey, cry. Let it all out, then try to sleep and we’ll make the necessary arrangements in the morning.” She quickly wrote ‘If Richard was still alive he would have called you by now. I’m so sorry.’ She took the notes and tossed them in the fireplace.
The place probably wasn’t bugged, why would it be? Besides, the police hadn’t had enough time to do something like that. But, as Marilyn had stressed earlier when going over the details of the business, you could never be too careful in their line of work.
Marilyn announced her official retirement at the next quarterly meeting. When she appointed Nora as CEO she saw Jason stiffen. She hoped he would not give Nora any grief in the days to come but was sure that if he tried Nora would deal with him swiftly and efficiently.
There was still no word from Richard and Marilyn was certain he was dead. She hadn’t realized how much she had loved this dear man until he was gone from her life. Just one more thing she could thank Daniel for.
Making sure that the police found only what she wanted them to, they had soon discovered that Daniel had been having simultaneous extramarital affairs acrossCanadaand theUnited States. Marilyn was shocked at their findings and insisted that it was impossible.
“Well yes, he was often late without a good excuse and he did seem to make a lot of secretive phone calls. None of that meant he was having an affair.”
You could see it in their eyes; ‘the wife is always the last to know.’
There was also the matter of the secret savings account. Daniel had squirreled away ten thousand dollars.
“Did you know about Daniel’s secret bank account? Where did the money come from? What was he planning to do with the money?
“I had no idea. He used to have a gambling problem. Perhaps he was still gambling and had a string of good luck…” Marilyn’s voice trailed off in speculation. “It still doesn’t mean he was having an affair. I had been putting aside money for our retirement and just bought a houseboat. I wanted to surprise him with it and never had a chance to tell him.”
She started crying again and they finally left her alone.
Date and Time Agreed
Copyright 2001 Alex Knight
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events, business establishments or locales is entirely coincidental.