When the dust settles chapter 2

When the Dust Settles Chapter 2
I know in my heart Henry is right about me not pushing myself as much as the men. I had 2 miscarriages doing men’s work. We probably would have had a couple of kids to pass the farm down too had I stepped back and thought about the consequences. My nephew Jordon is a Godsend he is as much a son to Henry as he is to his own father. Jordon loves farming his friends all decided to go to college after high school. Every one of his friends has jobs in business they make more money but the stress shows in their eyes. They love coming here and hanging out with Jordon. They tell Jordon how great he has it;  they would rather have the hard labor and worry over the bills than a job they hate to go to. Yet I believe they would not be satisfied with low wages and hard work they would dream of more. Whereas Jordon truly believes he has it all.
I went out early to pick beans, raspberries, strawberries, lettuce, cucumbers brought them in the kitchen washed them, made a salad, cut up the raspberries and strawberries preparing them to top the sponge cake I will make for dessert. I saved enough beans to go with dinner and froze the rest. As I finished this it was 3 pm I grabbed the lunches I made for Henry and myself and ran out to the barn where he was working he walked over to the hose washed his face and hands, and let the hose run over his head.  He finished by taking a drink from the hose.
I set up a spool for a table put a red checked tablecloth over it, set a bale of straw on either side and we sat down as though we were sitting on the sidewalk of a fancy cafe.  I gave Henry his sandwich and set a dish of fresh fruit to one side he looked at it and smiled then said: “I adore you.” It finally dawned on me I should have been doing this all along. I made a decision when I get a break I will make an appointment to get my hair and nails done. My Henry deserves to look across a spool at an attractive wife.
There are no weekends off when you are a Farmer, even the milk truck shows up seven days a week. The livestock have to be fed their bedding has to be changed, manure has to be shoveled and produce has to be picked. When the corn tassels out it have to be harvested and stored. It seems like a thankless job at times until the winter when you sit back and eat the vegetables, grains that are ground for cereal or bread and you know where your food comes from. There is nothing like it.

When the dust Settles

When the dust settles chapter 1

Every morning starts the same after personal hygiene and dressing I grab a cup of coffee run out the door. I don’t commute to work I live it every day. In the summer the heat and dust can be so overwhelming it zaps your energy if you are not used to it. Winter, you fight the ice and cold keeping your fingers and toes warm staving off frostbite.
Today I need to get the wheat harvested then go back and bail the straw for fresh bedding needed for the livestock. I chose this over cubicles any day. My father and his father gave their lives for this farm. Henry and I married in the barn. Today I will work with the crew to harvest the grain and then later Henry and I will bail the straw, I drive the tractor pulling the bailer behind as Henry lifts the bails stacking them onto the trailer. It will take us at least 5 hours.
By the time the wheat was harvested it was well into the afternoon we did not stop for lunch until 3 pm. Henry and I sat under a large oak tree eating sandwiches, potato salad and drinking cold ice tea. My throat was so raw and dry I winced when the first gulp went down. I sometimes think I am too old for this at 50 but there is no retirement plan for farmers we just keep farming till we are called to the field in the sky.
Henry reached for my dirty dry cracked hand and gave it a kiss: “Monica you are the best wife and partner a man could have always worked alongside me but you know you do not have to try and keep up with the men. I would not have a problem with you taking the afternoons off to do house chores, prepare meals and such we have plenty of help here on the farm.”
I looked at Henry and said: “I would feel guilty taking it easy while you are out here busting your britches.”
He laughed and said: “Women were not built for this kind of work I don’t care what anyone says besides I miss how your mom used to have a hot meal ready at the end of my day. That gave me something to look forward too and such pleasure with every morsel shoved in my mouth.”
I know Henry isn’t a chauvinist and he did have a point my entire body right down to the torn cuticle on my left-hand hurts. I looked at Henry and said: “I don’t want to let you down. I want to do my share.”
He gave me a long gentle kiss and said: “It isn’t possible for you to let me down, in fact, I would spend less time worrying about you. Charlie from town needs the work he will be here to run the tractor while I stack the bales. Go, take a cold shower and whatever  you need to get done in the house instead of staying up past midnight to finish the laundry.”
My heart ached and I was relieved at the same time. After we finished our lunch I walked toward the house and Henry walked toward the tractor where Charlie was waiting. I heard the engine of the tractor start up as well as the bailer rotation starting its complaint as Henry gave it a hard know with a hammer before it turned over. The darn thing needs a good oiling neither of us has had the time.
I took a shower washing my hair, as I wrapped my hair in a towel I looked in the mirror. My face has more wrinkles than my neighbor who stays out of the sun. My eyes have a tired hardness to them instead of feminine softness. I wonder how Henry can still consider me desirable but he really does. After towel drying my hair and body, I changed into some clean shorts and T-shirt. I decided to start the laundry and just before I grabbed the vacuum I decided to bake cookies. In between batches I spun the vacuum in different rooms and switched out loads of laundry. I hung the laundry on the line, came back in finished the floors and started on biscuits to go with the roast I had planned for dinner. It was after 7 before I heard all the farm equipment go silent. Henry came up the steps stomping the dust off his feet, slapping his hat against his jeans. He sat on a chair and kicked off his boots. I took him out a cold beer and sat down next to him to enjoy one of my own.
He looked at me and said: “Now this is what I need more than you as one of the hands. There is nothing more for a man than a wife with her hair down sitting next to him with a beer.” He reached over and said Cheers; we clicked our bottles of beer together in a celebratory toast.
 

 

Cornerstone Chapter 5

Cornerstone Chapter 5

 

Monday was odd because some of the people knew what was going on while others did not. The ones that did not know what was going on thought that some of their co-workers took my side. You cannot keep a secret if everyone knows. Our cubicles are set up so as no one can view the other across from you. Your cubicle is private no one peers in and you do not peer out. Timberland and Forester felt this was best for productivity.

Many of us believed it kept us from communicating about our work. Some even believed it was to keep us from becoming friends and gossiping in the coffee room. Right now it kept us from relaxing with this cloud hanging over our office.

John Edisto was everyone’s favorite character he always found a way to break the tension or tedium in the office. I heard others start to chuckle some even laughed I looked over toward my door and noticed something moving above the wall of my cubicle. Was it a pair of feet? Then as the feet progressed John came into view at my door, he was walking on his hands he stopped long enough at my door to wave with his right foot, smiled and continued down the row of cubicles. I laughed out loud and hoped John would find another job after all this is over.

By Thursday the ones that did not know what was going on started to suspect something was going on. Mr. Timberland called Charlotte into the office she was there for an hour. When she emerged she looked worried until she walked passed my cubicle and gave a tiny smile and a wink.

I was not sure at that moment what was going on but I knew Kurt would call me when I got home We both knew communicating with each other while I was at work would not be a good thing. I walked into my house my cell phone rang it was Kurt.” Charlotte is very savvy Timberland and Forester questioned her about the morale of the employees and what was going on with you. Asked her if she knew what was going on with me. She stayed non-committal and did a lot of shrugging.”

I said: “All this sneaking and intrigue is making me nervous I am supposed to call Mr. Douglas every day and give him a rundown I will do that after I hang up with you. Are you coming over?”

He laughed and said: “Of course Mexican tonight?”

I answered: “No I am cooking.”

When I talked with Mr. Douglas he suggested I call in sick. He said he could not tell me why but to please do so. I figured since Kurt was coming over he would probably stay so calling in sick would be the thing to do.

Saturday morning Kurt and I were propped up in bed watching the early morning news drinking coffee and eating our breakfast. We both did a double clutch on our toast when the news interrupted the sports commentary for breaking news.

Cameron Forester was found shot in his home, his partner Jake Timberland laid near the door thus far they are calling it a murder suicide.

As it turns out we were not the only ones looking into the business and the owners.  The books and all correspondence were seized as were all of our computers.

It took two years to find out what they were doing. Money was being channeled through fake accounts, businesses to an offshore account. My guess they were going to retire early and leave everyone hanging. People lost great sums of money but at least they have an opportunity to salvage what they have left, Timberland and Forester were not able to finish what they set out to do.

I am working at Douglas and Douglas Kurt and I are getting married next weekend. Charlotte is working with Kurt at Kramer and Justin. I was glad Edisto found work at Douglas and Douglas he has a way of breaking the tension.

 

Cornerstone Chapter 4

Cornerstone Chapter 4

 

I left late from Kurt’s place our conversation steered to more intimate details about ourselves if we were ever married, did we have kids, what we wanted from a relationship. We both answered no to the first two questions and tried to answer the last with the least selfish answer we could think of.

As I left I realized there is a chance a relationship between the two of us beyond work may happen, but right now all I could think about was the details we shared of what we knew about work. I told him of the tally sheet I started in regards to him using the discretionary fund he asked if I had any other tallies being that my job is in bookkeeping. I like keeping lists and I told Kurt that I would look at my lists to see if anything jumps out at me.

Saturday morning I pulled up on my computer my lists.

Coffee and the amount we consume and what it costs

Toilet paper how much is used in the men’s as opposed to the women’s restrooms.

Neither of these would help. I stumbled upon one that I labeled as Travel.

Mr. Timberland traveled to Switzerland every other month

Mr. Forester traveled to Cuba with the same frequency

I don’t know if this will have any benefit to what we needed to know but I called Kurt and told him what I found out even the tidbit about the women using more toilet paper than the men he laughed at that.

Charlotte called to tell me she passed the info onto her friend. I told her of the conversation with Kurt and let her know my discomfort using her friend but that we had no other choice. (this is my gray area and my toes are aching at the line in the sand)

Kurt called twenty minutes after Charlotte I knew they were communicating with each other and told him so. He said something I did not expect: “Emma, Charlotte is married to a great guy so my communication with her is only about TF.”

I laughed and said: “Not so fast buddy I get we are moving somewhere but I want to only think about figuring out who is taking the money and how. After that, I want to be comfortable in my job without it depending upon you getting me there. I know that sounds lame but that is what I need. I have put an application into Douglas and Douglas because if we are going towards a relationship I don’t want to work with you I need space.”

Kurt said: “Whoa you work fast this is Saturday how did you manage that?”

I said: “I called the office of Douglas and Douglas hoping to find someone there, the senior Greg Douglas was there and I told him I not only may need an attorney I need a job. I let him know where I work and asked if I could speak to him as my attorney. He said yes and he waved the fee. I told him what was going on. He said he would see what he could do to help.”

Kurt said: “Dang girl I am impressed and you are right we need attorney’s I have one and maybe since Charlotte and her friend will need one.”

I answered: “I thought of that and gave Mr. Douglas Charlotte’s phone number, she is on board but her friend cannot be since what he is doing may be illegal but Mr. Douglas said if he is needed he will represent him for nothing.”

Kurt asked: “Why is he doing this pro bono?”

I answered: “Because he and his brother have holdings in TF.”

Kurt said: “Oh shit! I forgot about that TF is a holding company.”

Kurt asked if he could come over he would be bringing Chinese and I said I had the beer this time. He spent the night.

 

Cornerstone Chapter 3

Cornerstone Chapter 3

I went to Cortland’s house after calling him we agreed on a time. When I arrived he greeted me at the door. It was interesting he looked different in a T-shirt and a pair of jeans. I did not realize how attractive he is. His hair was not slicked down instead his soft thick curls laid at an angle, his dark eyes seemed to draw me in. I realized I was staring.

He said: “Sorry about my appearance when I am home I can be normal.”

I smiled and said: “Well I don’t get dolled up on the weekends unless I have a special place to go. I like this look better on you.”

We settled in at the counter in his kitchen the pizza had been delivered just before I arrived we cracked open a cold brew clicked them together confirming our alliance.

As we talked about Timberland and his partner Forester especially concerning the viability of the company, Kurt said the company was going under and he used the discretionary fund knowing the workers will be the last to know. Kurt had signed a confidentiality agreement when he signed with the company. Kurt told me knowing my honesty he could trust me with this information.

I, in turn, told him about my conversation with Charlotte and how she knew someone that could look into the financials. Kurt winced at what I had said about Charlotte especially in regards to her knowing someone. I tilted my head giving him a question, “What is it about Charlotte you are uncomfortable with?”

Kurt answered: “Her associate is a hacker, and has been in prison for what he deems a gift.”

My eyes got wide and I said: “Yikes! Should I tell her not to mention anything to her friend?”

Kurt said: “No I will talk to Charlotte.”

I said: “I guess I will start looking for a new job.”

Kurt replied: “Kramer and Justin, I have spoken to them about employment once this mess is cleaned up, they know TF  is going under. I will put a word in for you, Charlotte and a couple of others who are great at what they do.”

When I came to Michigan I initially applied to Kramer and Justin but TF called first. Both wanted to hire me as it turned out.

Cornerstone Chapter 2

Cornerstone Chapter 2

The following week was horrible at work my co-workers acted as though I were invisible. When I went to the coffee room if anyone was in there they would leave. Finally, Charlotte came in with a plate of cookies, she filled her cup with coffee came over where I was sitting handed me one of the cookies and sat down.

“I understand that you are an honest person and you had no ulterior motive when you turned in the boss. I just want you to know what he was using the discretionary fund for; it was not to line his own pockets. He gave me $10 one day to help with paying day care. I was short that week because my youngest was sick and I had to take him to the doctors twice. John in billing needed gas money; his streak of bad luck happened when a deer totaled his car and the insurance company would not cover it, the repairs came out of pocket, he was short that week. There are many here that were helped by the boss.” Charlotte said

Tears welled up in my eyes and I hoarsely whispered: “I am so sorry, just to let you know the bosses were not concerned about the discretionary fund they are interested in who has been siphoning off the top to a tune of more than a million. I told them my error they do not believe me. I have to find out who is doing it for Cortland’s sake.”

Charlotte said: “ I will quietly tell everyone what you said and as for me if you need help just let me know what I can do.”

I perked up and leaned over to give Charlotte a hug. She hugged back.

I then said: “Charlotte do you know anyone who could check into someone’s financial records?”

Charlotte said: “I might, what are you thinking?”

I answered: “Mr. Timberland offered me Cortland’s position. I am nowhere qualified for that position; he knows very well that I am not qualified. This leaves me wondering what his motive is. I did decline the offer stating I did not want the responsibility.”

Intrinsic to my nature I reach out to others; some may say because I am so rigid in my stance since I will not lie, they believe I do not have the capacity to reach beyond my beliefs. They would be wrong; I stand at the line that I have drawn in the sand never wanting to cross the line my toes ache wanting to reach to others hoping even in the gray areas I allow myself, someone will at least touch the tips of my fingers not for help but simply to communicate. That is what Charlotte has done.

Charlotte left the coffee room assuring me she would give the information to the person she knows and she will let me know if anything is found in Mr. Timberland’s  financials.

I was glad it was Friday and I could just close myself in my little house and not poke my head out until Monday when I had to be back at work.

That did not work out the way I had hoped when I arrived home there was a message on my recorder from Mr. Cortland.”

“Emma this is Kurt Cortland I was hoping to speak with you. Could you give me a call and consider coming over this evening I will spring for a pizza and have beer on hand. We need to talk about Timberland.”

When I first heard his voice a knot clenched in my stomach, but after hearing what he said all the stress of the week seemed to evaporate.

 

Cornerstone Chapter 1

Cornerstone

 

While I was growing up my parents took me to church and Sunday school. One of the things I took with me into adulthood besides faith is we should build our lives on a corner stone. Christian faith has one true value that all agree on. Christ came in the flesh and died for all.

My parents instilled in me the cornerstone can be applied to our lives the choices we make the lines we draw in the sand are all part of our own personal cornerstone. A cornerstone is a piece of a whole we build our lives around and upon that one thing. My cornerstone is ‘I will never lie’ that may seem insignificant to some but if you think about it how many times in your life did you tell what some people call a fib just to spare someone’s feelings?

That is harder than you think. If a friend would ask me “how do I look in this outfit?” I would say “It’s just my opinion” but I don’t think it is you. I would point out several outfits they have that I liked better on them.  My friends know me, many will not ask my opinion if they really do not want to know.

My problem arose at work; my boss wanted me to look the other way when he dipped into the discretionary fund. I did not go to his boss I merely told him that I would not lie for anyone. I hoped he would do the right thing and would stop and eventually put the money back. I kept an account of what I knew for sure when and how much he took. One day there was a meeting all bosses were in attendance. Soon it came down to mid-level which was what I was. They wanted to know if anyone in the room knew who was stealing. My heart started to race and my palms sweated. I did not raise my hand I waited until the end of the meeting and approached my boss’s boss.

The action was swift and harsh my boss Mr. Cortland was ushered out in hand cuffs he looked directly at me and said: “Fuck You!”

As it turned out the bosses did not want to know about the little stuff but who was embezzling millions. I stood before the bosses and explained my mistake. They did not believe me.

 

 

Best Friends conclusion

Best Friends Chapter 4

Mike stood off to the side he looked over at me near the tree. I had to turn and walk away, at this point I did not know what else to do except double back and place myself behind Mike.

When I finally got in place I saw Carole and the two kids but I did not see Colleen.

Mike was looking frantically for Colleen he turned toward the parking lot I moved slowly out of his view. I brought my camera up and took a shot of Colleen reaching her hand into a car window, pulling out something in a small Ziploc bag. The substance was white. Damn, I am getting the feeling Mike might be onto something. I am wondering if he is trying to get evidence that would prove Colleen was using drugs.

Mike took photos as well, his photos will be from a different angle which is a good thing. I texted Carole telling her what was going on. Her text back said, “SHIT, she asked if I could watch the kids for a moment because she left something in the car.”

By the time Carole and I got back to the office Mike was coming out of Jacks office, he stopped dead in his tracks, I jumped into Don’s office disturbing him and a client. Mike came storming through the door right after me.

Don stood excusing himself and took me by the arm while motioning Mike to follow us. He ushered us into Jacks office and told Jack he would be right back as soon as he was done with his client. Carole was sitting; she had already told Jack what had happened.

Jack said to Mike: “They work for us, which is a good thing for you.”

After everything was said and done Colleen is in rehab, Mike has temporary custody of his two kids. Carole and I made Two hundred dollar each that week. We decided if this keeps up we will quit our jobs.

Now how do we tell the guys what we have been up too? Dale and Ken are in Boot Camp, not everyone who wants to be a Marine becomes a Marine.

Thus far we have had a chance to Skype chat with our husbands but not much more than that. They both are upbeat and beat up. I guess they figured it would be a breeze since they are in such great shape. This is different than working out at the gym or going hiking, playing sports. Dale described it as “Full frontal contact sport with no referee.”

Carole and I decided we would not tell them until they come home on leave. 12 weeks was a long time but it finally happened the guys came home for a short week. We spent most of our time in bed if you know what I mean. One evening we decided on a campfire and a beer fest.

Carole said: “Well guys Savannah and I have something to tell you. We have been working for a local PI firm. Our goal is to learn the ropes in hopes of getting our own licenses. Thus far we have made enough money per week to quit our other jobs.”

Neither of them said a word for the longest time. The first one to break the silence was Dale he started to laugh, Ken joined in adding: “What the Fuck!”

It is not in their nature to tell us “No you can’t”. We talked that evening about taking precautions, also taking a self-defense class which Carole and I have already started. Neither Carole nor I want to be a secretary at our husband’s security firm we want to participate in a more vital role. Who knows maybe Carole and I can open our own agency and work hand in hand with our husbands from time to time. 4 years is a long time to wait Carole and I figured we should spend that time working towards a goal.

Best Friends Chapter 3

Best Friends Chapter 3

Once I cleaned up I went to the office Don was sitting at his desk his door was open so I just tapped lightly on the door jam. He looked up from his computer and motioned for me to come in. I handed him the camera and said I believe I captured Campbell in his incriminating birthday suit. I told him what had happened in my pursuit of this evidence and asked if there was hazard pay. He laughed hard and long. Once he caught his breath and wiped the tears from his eyes he viewed the photos.

He looked up at me and said: “Bravo there’s no hazard pay but there are bonus’s for superb photos and especially clarity. Write a report making sure to not leave out the detail that you saw him go into the room, and what you saw through the window. You can leave out the part of the pile of shit.”

I nodded and left the office with my next assignment. I had to go to work and told him so. I told Don I will get the photo’s of Mike Spenser stalking his ex-wife after work.

After work, I arrived home just as Carole was getting out of her car. She smelled like she was in a cologne factory when there was a malfunction. I would rather smell like that then shit. Although the strength of the scent caused me to gag so I guess it’s a toss up.

Once Carole showered and threw her clothes in the laundry she came into the kitchen where I was making dinner. She told me her assignment was to catch 2 women shop lifting. The store has their own security which the women both know on sight, store management hired the agency knowing they would not recognize anyone from there. They were adept at keeping away from surveillance cameras they have been at this for a long time. Security knew they were doing this and caught them as they were leaving the store. When they were before the judge they convinced him it was a girls day out and they were talking so much they had no intention to steal the garments they just forgot to pay.

Carole followed the women and observed them placing items in their purses, in their bras and even pulled the clothing on under what they were wearing. They were good at it unless you watched carefully you would never notice because they worked as a team using distraction as part of their act. Carole clicked off a few shots before she was noticed. One of the women came running over to her to try and grab the camera while the other sprayed cologne in Carole’s eyes and mouth. Carole has great defensive skills she took them both down simultaneously and the security guards converged on the scene aiding her in the apprehension. Carole said Don told her she would receive a bonus as well.

Her next assignment was to follow Spenser’s ex-wife to see if there was any child neglect or abuse. Great Don and Jack are playing for both sides. Don works for the mom Jack works for the Dad. This should be interesting.

We put our heads together and decided that Carole will try and make friends with Colleen and I would try and follow Mike without being noticed. Carole found out by reading the file on Colleen her routine.

Tomorrow is Thursday on Thursday Colleen takes her 2 children to the park anywhere between the hours of 9 am and 11 am. I set on a bench by the fountain where I could get a good view of the play area and a portion of the parking lot. I noticed a man walking towards the fountain and realized it was Mike Spenser. He walked over and sat near me. A half an hour passed when Colleen walked into the park accompanied by Carole. I sat wondering how she managed that.

Mike noticeably tensed up when he saw Colleen. I continued to look down at my phone which I planned on using for the photos. Mike cleared his throat, I looked over at him and said: “Excuse me?”

He glanced at me and said: “Sorry, just clearing my throat. Allergies.”

I nodded as though I understood, I had hoped this would distract him enough to make a move toward Colleen. He did just that.

I said: “Are you alright?”

He said: “Mind your own business”

I took a photo of him running in the direction of Colleen. I texted Carole that Mike was on the move. Instead of taking a direct route right behind Mike I went around the restrooms and peered from behind a tree. Colleen was pushing her daughter on a swing and Carole was at the bottom of the slide waiting for the boy to descend.

Winging it

Winging it

My day is shadowed through the wings

Just when I believe I am winging it

A flutter passes my remembrance 

Touching my soul softly as a butterfly

This gives me hope

A whisper I turn too, I see depth

Never sure why, I wing it! 

Subtle changes bring a song

A melody I heard long ago

I reach for the reality

Only to find a wings whisper

Angels on high Hallelujah