Aces Full


Aces Full

A Novel By

Penelope Boyce


Sarah – Aces Full Copyright © 2011 by EB Publishing All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the author. ISBN (?????????????????????) Printed in USA by ??????????? Cover Photo By: (?????????)


To Liz and Syd For the inspiration


Table of Contents
Title Page ............................................................................... 1 Credits Page ........................................................................... 2 Dedication ............................................................................. 3 Table of Contents .................................................................. 4 Foreword ............................................................................. 5 Introduction ......................................................................... 6 Chapter 1: The Hole .............................................................. 7 Chapter 2: Learning to Play ................................................ 21 Chapter 3: Sharpening the Blade ........................................ 37 Chapter 4: Gwen’s Mom .................................................... 45 Chapter 5: Gwen’s Dad ...................................................... 53 Chapter 6: Vegas ................................................................ 63 Chapter 7: The One ............................................................ 89 Chapter 8: The Shop ......................................................... 103 Chapter 9: On-line Poker and Mr. Wolf ........................... 119 Chapter 10: Finding Susan ............................................... 137 Chapter 11: The Incident …………. ................................. 155 Chapter 12: Chasing the Rat ...…………… ...................... 177 Chapter 13: Saving Grace ................................................. 207 Chapter 14: A New Beginning ......................................... 217


The story is about how a young woman becomes a hi gh stakes professional poker player . She first learns poker with the nei ghbor kids, evol ving into street poker, and then lear ning hi gh stakes poker through a mentor friend . It starts in her mi d -teens and goes through to her earl y adulthood along with al l the tribulations of the game, of growing up, of getting into trouble, finding love, and finding a vocation . Some of the themes addressed in the text are; poker play, on -line poker play, lesbian homosexuality, experiences, investi gations . The author hopes you will enj oy reading it as much as she did writing it , and hopes you will take, at least, some small part of it to apply to your life in a way that will enhance and enli ghten it. gay marriage, rape, self -defense detective shooting, spousal physical abuse, sensual and sexual abductions, and


Sarah’s ability to read people and situations became her most val uable asset . She could play poker with the best, help sequester a “Rat”, and have love f or someone she had n ot yet met. Foll ow her on her adventures growing up, from a foolish teenager , to an inspired adult, experiencing life in ways she hoped no one else would ever have to.

The following stor y is set in the Unit ed States, from Boston to Los Angeles, and i s purel y fictitious. Any like nesses to real people, places, or situations are purely coincidental and/or accidental, and neither ill will, nor ill sentiment, is int ended in any way.


Chapter 1 The Hole
What makes someone shy? Is it the same stuff that makes someone outgoing, but with the opposite effect. Is it some kind of genetic potion gone wrong or j ust the result of st uff that happens to you as you grow up? On the other hand, is it both ? Sarah was about to push that envelope to its edges, in an attempt to di vert away from her a ll the conditions and traits that got her to this point. Sarah was a shy kid, not too tall for her age, maybe a bit “Husky” . You know, “Husky”, not fat, not slim, a bit chunki er than average . Sarah had an average appearance, not bad looking, but desired to be sli m, fit, athletic looking, and beautiful . bothered her to no end . not? It You know, teenagers are

extremel y critical of themsel ves anyway, are they However , Sarah felt like twice as ugl y as ever yone else. She was not ugl y, by any means, but she was not happy with herself, to an extreme . She could not seem to do anything about it . wor ked. wor k, not even falsie breast pads . wei ght on a diet . Nothing Diets, exercise, makeovers, nothing would She would gain She would try exercise, on the 7

machine in the basement . changing fat into muscle.

That onl y added bul k by

Her older sister Linda was all of what makes someone popular, and more . She was ver y beautiful, slim, athletic, outgoing, popular, and beautiful in her eyes, but no… name it. She was the quintessential “Prom Queen” , ever yone’s little girl . and she loved it . The boys were all over her, She was sli m, blond and athletic, Ei ghteen years Sarah did not have “IT” as she did. Ever ything happened for her, love, life, luxury, you

built like a brick shit hou se too, so the sayi ng goes. Just the way they all like it, ri ght ? old with 36C’s, narrow waist, long slender legs, beautiful long blond hair that cascaded halfway down her back in long straight locks of loveliness . Sarah thought, “Why not me too?”

The boys could not get enough of Linda, some girls too. when she Sarah would gi ggle to herself about it noticed some of them bumping and

rubbing, pats and rubs on the back, the twirling of her long blond locks, some flirting. Linda dismissed all that action. thought. She was in denial about that, Sarah


The lead cheerleader for the football, and basketball Well?……. teams Right? could do no wrong, ri ght. She could do no wrong, even

when Sarah would tr y to sabotage her. One day she planted some of her dad’s condoms in a pocket of a pair of her dirty j eans in the laundr y hamper, because she knew her mom would check the pockets before washing them, when she got home from the afternoon Tea with the nei ghborhood women . Sarah laughed to herself, at t he thought of it, “Tee Hee” ………………. But, no!…….… “Rats”, She said to herself, as Linda came home after cheerleader practice, instead of seeing Sam, her new boyfriend. Apparently, he had a dentist appoint ment or something, and Li nda found them firs t, because she went looking for her j eans, where she thought she mi ght find the note that Sam wrote to her in school yesterday, and was afraid their mom mi ght find it and get the wrong idea about Sam’s intentions, (LOL) but instead she found the condoms . “That little rat!” she yelled . could hear was, “Linda could do no wr ong”. She yelled again, for her, at the top of her voice, The onl y thi ng Sarah


“SARAH!” …………l ooking all around the house, not finding her … “WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU? ” ....... “I NEED TO TALK T O YOU!”………. Sarah hid in the tool shed until dinnerti me . She sat down at the table and looked across at Linda with a frown on her face as if to say, “Lucky You”, and “You Fucking Bitch.” Linda j ust sat there eating her dinner,

occasionally looki ng up at Sarah, with eyes or ire . Sarah thought “If looks could kill” daggers would have been flying out of her eyes towards her . But all Sarah needed to do is hold up a shovel and these daggers would j ust bounce right off, fall on the floor, and dissol ve i nto dust, because she had found the note, and held it out so only Linda could see it . The daggers turned into bullets, and would not stop firing until they parted to there rooms after dinner . All Linda did was open Sarah’s bedroom door, tossed the condoms into her r oom, saying, “These are yours now, I don’t need them . Sam has plent y.”

Sarah was j ust short, dumpy, and light . A bit of a tomboy, too . She liked doing all the t hings the 10

boys did.

Not into dolls, pink dresses and white

patent leather shoe s like Linda was . At four teen, she was fi ve foot four inches tall and 150 pounds heavy, as she would put it, with a light complexion and freckles. Oh, how she hated the freckl es . She wanted to be sli m, athletic and beautiful too . Sarah would not admit it, but she had a ver y pretty face, and hid the weight very well . The breasts were j ust starting to show, but the boys eyes would bulge out at Gwen’s, her neighbor friend, or Linda’s, as she thought to herself, “Short changed again”. If it was anyt hing at all, it mi ght have been being born towards the end of July, in the summer of 1982. Sarah will always remember the way her mother complained about it . Ever y year she pointed out how much the heat and humidit y bothered her, and how horrible the pregnanc y was, how sick she was, always in pain, and uncomfortable . Sarah always felt that her mother blamed her for it, and was proceeding to make sure Sarah would never forget it. It was, probably the worst ti me of year for a pregnancy in its last trimester, b ut it manifested itself as one of her most si gnificant excavation devices.


Sarah’s mother was not happy with her life, and made sure ever yone around her was as unhappy and as uncomfortable as she was . Bitch about this, bitch about that, “Sarah ! You fucking bitch get over here, so I can whack you. ” She would say that ever y time, especiall y ever y July and August . Sarah was so happy when September rolled around and the heat and humidit y abated and allowed the cool er dryer autumn air to roll in . What was worse was how she talked about her beaut iful baby girl Linda, and what a good little baby gi rl she was . wrong, and Sarah coul d do no right. Maybe it is j ust looks, luck, charisma, aur a, and genes, which makes and some can people do no popular, wrong. lovable, gor geous, She could do no


IS IT NOT? .......... It seemed an

unobtainable goal, to her, and it affected her all her life. As hard as she tr ied the more she did, t he more she got herself into trouble, and fell deeper into, ”THE HOLE”, so t o speak, deeper and deeper, incident after incident . Ever y ti me she tried to get out of the hole someone would push her r ight back in, and toss in a shovel along with the command, “DIG”. Self -esteem was an el usive and sensitive thi ng for Sarah, almost non -existent. Seems some people are more susceptible to the erosion of it, or merel y 12

j ust the presence of it, in the first place, because they do not know how to deal with it. It was the si mple little things, which happen at awkward moments . The kinds of th ings, which would send “The Others” into belly rolling laughter, ridicule, or even despi se . Disaster would str ike over a si mple overexcited moment and a stutter, or an unintentional misplaced thing like a wet spot on her j eans, or sticking your tongue on a cold metal fence post in January. It was disastrous . If you put that same wet spot on Lady Gaga’s, or Madonna’s j eans and ever yone would want one. You know who all “The Others” are….. They Right?......... It is all t hose kids and people you grow up with, who can, seemingl y, do no wrong . carry shovels around with them so you can have something to di g your hole a bit deeper with ever y time you have an incident . Sarah felt they followed her around, j ust waiting in the shadows for something to happen to h er. or so it seemed to Sar ah. Sarah fielded a ground ball once while playi ng softball with the kids who hung -out by the school playground. She was the last one picked, always She woul d always was, but that did not faze her . 13 You know whom I

mean. You….Yes it’s “You” . “IT’S ALL OF YOU”,

show up with the ball and bat and a couple of gloves and with those got a game going . She was deter mined to play well this time and acquire some fill for “THE HOLE” . Maybe next ti me they would pick her first. She made the third out of the inning by touching first base, after fielding the ground ball, which meant they wer e up to bat, so she tossed the ball onto the ground towards the pitchers mound as she returned to their bench, for the other teams pitcher to pick up f or the next inning, when WHAM ! The shovel hit her square in the face . stuck pi g, yelled, “SHE DROPPED THE BALL” Much worse, ever yone on her team had t o agree because no one had seen her toss it . All they saw was the ball on the gr ound . Well, for Sarah, that was it. Her hole had j ust become so deep it seemed to be bottomless. By the time she hit the bottom of the pit she had ended the game, taking her ball, bat, and gloves with her as she wal ked a way, never to play ball with them again. A si mple stutter, in an excited moment would be j ust one more thing that spelled disaster for Sarah. SMACK ! POW ! WHACK ! The base runner, squealing li ke a


“W-W -W-ow D-D-D -i d you S -S-See that! got an A on that Engli sh test!”


At least five kids would start rolling on the floor laughing uncontrollably, kicking shovels over to her two at a ti me. Boys, or rather, the lack of them, were always an issue, for Sarah and her parents, ri ght? You know what I am saying . No way are boys ever going to get into her pants, as if they were saving it for themsel ves or somethi ng, but Linda OMG she could get away with anyt hing . Even though boys never called for Sarah, and never stopped by to see her, they hardl y ever even looked at or talked to her at school. After a while her paren ts though she mi ght be gay, homosexual, lesbian, whatever you want to call it. She was not though, never felt that way, it was way off the radar screen . There was no need to worr y about that, ri ght? On the other hand, the boy next door was two years you nger than Sarah was, but they all had no idea . they all thought. Sarah’s parents j ust wanted to do the “Ri ght Thing” Nothing Sarah ever did was ri ght , though . She wanted boys to take interest in her . right, boys? The ball game disasters, the l ooks, the body was not quite No way, her parents thought, Oh Boy! 15 He was so familiar, and they grew up together, not hing to worr y about there , or so

Even if she could get a boy to call or stop by, the third degree would have been a disaster, horrible consequences , if word ever got out about it . OMG, it would spell the end of life on Earth . Ever ything would blow up in a “Matter Anti -Matter” implosion ………. or so Sarah thought, so then she proceeded to make sure that did not happen. Sarah was a good kid growing up . She helped around the house . Her room was a mess, though, but it was her mess and she knew exactl y where ever ything was, and could find it immediately when needed. There is nothing wrong with that, right ? Mom and Dad did not think so, though . You know, all those fights over the years about pick -up this, pick-up that put away this, clean -up that. It was “ad infinitum”, and extremely unbearable to Sarah. Parents carry shovels too, the bi g ones, t he ones that move a lot of dirt, hydraulic excavators . They are the biggest ones of all, which move tons of dirt on each scoop . We all dig holes for ourselves from ti me to ti me, but hers mostly had help from others, who were mor e than willing to hand a shovel down to her, if hers breaks or gets lost, or she g ets to thinking she doesn’ t need them anymore, and most of all they enj oyed hel ping her di g deeper . However , for Sarah it was mor e like always . To her, it was incessantly insidious, and unendingl y dreadf ul. 16

Another ball game, with a different group of kids, called by friends of a friend at another nearby school, she encountered a few more “Shovel Carrying” sons of bitches that made this game another horrible disaster for her . makin g outs . She was She was playing well getting hits, scor ing r uns, catching the ball, and What else do you need to do, right? short fielder, monst er man, playing

longstop , whatever you want to call it . It was j ust a way to get ten players on the field . It was li ke having two short stops, only you play a bit deeper between first and second, someti mes swappi ng places with the shortstop depending on the hitter . What happened was a batter smacked a low hot liner, ri ght at Sarah. She made t he split second decision to step back and field the ball off one bounce to be sure she held the batter to j ust one base . It would have been risky to step closer, in order to try to catch it before hitting the ground, but no, SLAM ! The shovel hit her right in the mi ddl e of her back . OUCH! OUCH! OUCH! Two of the outfielders started harassin g her about how she could have caught that ball before it hit the ground, and t hat she should not be playing, and that she is tr ying t o blow the game for them, and they were not even fr om her school . This continued for the remainder of t he game, and it ir ritated her to 17

no end.

Sarah thought to herself that these guys Her

must be from Mars or somewhere alien .

decision to field the ball rather than catch it did not seem to go over well with the rest of her team either . It was a ver y si milar situation, to before where she didn’t get the support of the others on her team, regarding how she kept the runner to fi rst base, rather than risk missi ng the ball altogether and the runner making second or even third . Chunk!..... Chunk!..... Chunk! “THE HOLE” gets deeper. What was incredibly ironic, to Sarah, about this incident is that, one of the players that were harassing her , near the end of the game, tried to field a long deep fl y ball . He stepped up towards the oncoming ball, deter mi ned to catch this one, t o end the game, …………. and as the ball flew, ……… way out into the outfield, …… laughing to herself, ……… it looked as if he mi ght not catch it………… . It was true, he did not catch it, it sailed ri ght over his head, off the field, and into the woods, he had grossl y misj udged it . By the ti me he found it, the hitter and two base runners had made it to home plate, winning the game by one run . No one blamed hi m or ridiculed hi m f or that . Rather, it was, “Good try” and “We’ll get’em next ti me” . Sarah went home that night chuckling to herself all ni ght l ong with


tears in her eyes, and the sound of “Chunking” in the backgr ound. Sarah had many of incidents like these . Each one of them drove the excavation so deep, i t seemed to her, at the ti me, that it was approach ing “the point of no return” . “The point of no return”, you know, when an airplane is crossing the ocean and they get half way to their dest ination, and it becomes closer to continue than turn around and go back, if there is a problem with the plane . Well, Sarah had a problem, and she did not know whether to continue or turn around . Turn around and go back could mean a lot of different thi ngs, but Sarah thought going forward mi ght become futile, no longer worth the effort, but, “Returning to what?”, Sara h thought ? She had nothing to ret urn to, li ke in the Steven King novel, “The Langoliers” . There was nothing to go Ever ything out there forward with either . behind her was being chewed up by the Langoliers . Ever ything in front of her was so covered by d irt and made invisible by years of hole di gging . she thought about it some, “There must be someone out there for me, j ust for me, or at least, someone who wouldn’t mi nd helping me fill “The Hole”. However ,


Time ticks slower, when you are young, and things seem to take sooo long to happen, and it seemed she would never get anywhere from there . You remember .......... You know........... You remember how long it seemed to take getting through Hi gh School . Seemed like it was never ending, and the light at the end of the tunnel would burn out before you got there . Nevertheless, going back was not the answer for Sarah . Maybe going for ward was, at least trying it one more t i me, shoveling t he dirt to one side. It mi ght reveal “The One” for her . So… It was full steam ahead, there was the answer .

straight ahead, tr ying to tunnel out of “THE HOLE”, from below . After all, she had plent y of shovels.


Chapter 2 Learning to Play
Sarah turned away from physical games li ke Baseball Softball, Soccer, and Tennis, Gol f, OMG ! Golf? NO! Talk about embarrassing incidents . She turned towards games of mindful thought, where she could excel, because she was ver y smart, li ke Chess, Poker, and other card games . Spades, Hearts, Solitaire, were among the challenges of sk ill and luck that she turned to in order to see if it would help acquire some fi ll to build a ramp to help her You remembe r when you were in grade school, don’t you? Well, in the sixth grade Sarah took the standard IQ test that a ll kids take, it helped the teachers at that time to place them in the Middle School Classes and st art a college and car eer plan . The next day the Pri ncipal called her mom saying Sarah needed to take the test again…………… . day. Her mom thought to herself , she must have j ust had a bad Sarah did not do well with grades in school . Her report cards were always full of C’s and D’s and an occasional B was cause for celebration, fireworks, parties, and shovels . It was much later that Sarah 21 get out of “THE HOLE”.

realized that they wa nted to retest because they could not believe how high her score was . scored 135, somewhere between Engineers Sarah and

Rocket Scientists, but not j ust once, twice, to their disorderly surprise . They still j ust could not believe it, so they did not, they never told her what her score was, and there was no explanation of the additional test. They were probably j ust covering themsel ves because of their own inadequacies, for not being good enough educator s to moti vate such a student . That did not matter to Sarah, she knew she was not dumb, they were the dumb ones, and she needed them much less then they were in need of Sarah’s ire. Sarah was smart, j ust not motivated, and how thirteen and fourteen year old kids entertain As far themsel ves is intrigui ng, at ti mes, is it not? intriguing.

as Sarah was concerned, it became exceedingl y She lear ned poker with the kids next Gwen was her age; It did not take door, Harold and Gwendol yn.

Harry was a year or two younger .

long for the game to get much more interesti ng than j ust poker. It was kind of boring, at first, not totally understanding the complexities of the game, but the idea of taking your cl othes off in front of someone other than your mother or doctor became intensely intriguing and interest ing to Sarah, Gwen too, Harr y especially. What twel ve 22 or thirteen year old

heterosexual boy would not be ?

Oh, my God Harr y

was in heaven . Two naked or at least partially naked girls right there in front of him, after hand over hand of intentionally lost poker hands so that the clothes would come off sooner . It was low hand wins . Strip Poker quickl y became the game of choice between them. When the parents are at work was li ke the old saying about the cat and mice . “When the cat is away the mice will play”, and the se mice played, and they loved it . FILL…. FILL… FILL…. away. The hor mones were raging, but waiting, waiting in the shadows for j ust the right moment to burst open the doors of adolescence, allowing the incarnation of lust and the pleasures of it, lett ing it loose to the world at j ust the right moment , as if it had never happened before. Occasionall y, Gwen would have Sarah over for a sleepover . Sunday morning . Al ways on a Saturday night, and They woul d then run ar ound the would sleep -in until the parents left for church, house after each hand with a bit less clothes on, eventuall y they were all naked, doing all kinds of things naked around the house . Poor Harr y, he used to get boners so hard it looked like it was going to burst. Sarah would laugh aloud at the site of it . She would grab it and pull on it, teasing him, repeatedly. That would drive hi m crazy, because she would not 23

get hi m off, and she l oved that . She would take hi m to the edge, but would stop before he came . He would end up back und er the covers whacki ng it off, spanking the monkey, playing with Mary Pal m, Gwen and Sarah laughing out loud the whole time . FILL…. FILL… FILL… The Strip Poker lasted for a while, but kids start growing up around that age and that kind of stuff started to get too serious and too close to real sex. Besides that, Gwen’s mother caught them and She ver y in on them one day . It was they could not see each other for a month . wal ked

embarrassing, “Tee Hee”, Sarah said to herself, though. There they al l wer e, naked as a J bird on the living room floor wit h ver y stunned looks on their faces. Harr y was especially embarrassed, with his big bone, and embar rassment written in red tones head to foot. Each tone lighter as it wor ked down to his feet, but ther e was no mistaking the embarrassment on hi m, it was li ke a giant red neon sign blinking in the night sky, “HARRYS GOT A BONER AND HIS MOM CAUGHT HIM WITH HIS HAND ON IT”. Sarah was not nearly as stunned as Gwen’s mother. She looked at them all, up and down, and all over. Sarah thought she mi ght have even enj oyed 24

it a bit. She had looked especially close and long at her. After all, she had seen Gwen and Harry naked before. Nothing new there, other than Harry’s bone, but that did not seem to interest her a s much as Sarah, a young girl starting to bud, beginning to become shapel y and appealing . Gwen’ s mother could do nothing to follow through with , right? Sarah now was thinking, “Could “THIS” be for me? ” Sarah did not let on how much she enj oyed it, at first. It mi ght leave the wrong i mpression, at least Sarah would develop plans f or Gwen’s for now.

mother, and Gwen’s mother thought about plans for her too. They j ust needed some ti me to figur e out all the details. FILL… . FILL… FILL…. away. Beyond t his encounter, Sarah found some ki ds to play real poker wi th, for money . MONEY ! Oh my God, Sarah’s thoughts ran to heaven here too, even though she knew that gambling was a sore spot with Mom and Dad. It was in her blood she thought, nothing I can do about it. Her moms’ brother, Sarah’s uncle, was a gambler, and was arrested and prosecuted for embezzlement of funds from the business where he wor ked. He was their Bookkeeper, and knew how to do it, and it wor ked, for a while, but that sort of thing catches up with you eventually . He could not pay it back because he had gambled it all away. He 25

spent several years in j ail for that . As soon as he got out, he got a j ob at Burger Buddy and started having poker games in his living room, late at night, which attracted attention with all the cars and commotion it would cause. He start ed out with one table, and then another. Soon his li vi ng room was full . The Count y Sheriff and State police raided them . It was not j ust one table anymore . living room. It was six tables s et -up in his He had wor ked up to havi ng poker There were

tables open ever y night . The tables were not always full, but this ni ght every seat was full . nearly fort y arrests that night . She never vi sited him in j ail, but he probably played p oker in j ail too, when they let them. For cigarettes, she guessed, and she said to her -self, “It’s in my blood too”. She would go over to other kids’ houses and play poker while their parents were at wor k, away on vacation, or off for a weekend . card draw for the most part . They pla yed fi ve Seven and five -card

stud, occasionally. Someti mes it was five -card stud with onl y the last card down . It was dealers’ choice . At the time, Texas Hold’em was not popul ar yet, so it was not even on the radar screen f or them. Sarah would do OK, someti mes, but mostl y lost. With experience, her game progressed and t he limits grew. Penny-ante became di mes, then quarters, dollars, and t hen fives, tens and twenties. 26

One day she got invol ved in a game of “Gut s” . It is like the five -card stud with the last card down, except it is where you get all fi ve cards str aight up. No skills, what so ever, invol ved here, j ust shear gut wrenching luck, or not . Sarah was not concerned about the “or not” part, she j ust wanted to win . Twenty bucks a shot, and there were five playing including Sarah . All guys, except her, the only girl, but no one seemed to notice, as usual . She was j ust one of the guys . to California. She was sixteen then, and these guys were mostl y seniors in hi gh school, seventeen, eighteen, or older. Sarah knew several of them fr om other tables, but the other t wo were new to her . She was apprehensi ve about going too far, and loosing all her money, but could not resist the opportunity, the temptation, and the adrenaline rush of winni ng “THE BIG HAND” . her, from her These guys were not inter ested in part -time after school j ob, the She Sarah, j ust her money . She onl y had twent y -fi ve on afternoon cashier at the local grocer y store . Short hair, dirt y j eans, tee shirt, ball cap, you know ? Like most, any guy fro m Maine

thought about it and decided she was going to win the first hand, then more, and eventuall y take all the others money and then run, and run fast, as fast as


her husky little legs could, because she kn ew she would have to. Therefore, she went for it and she did it ! She won the first hand, with a pair of aces. “Wow!” she thought, “This is great”. Now she had $105 . The success of that hand hooked Sarah. There was no going back now . She had to have it all. Shear gut s, all luck, and her luck did not betray her. “Let’s do it again”, she thought. “OK, I’ m in”, She sai d. Sarah lost the next one with onl y Jack hi gh. “Oh well, I’ ve still got $85 . Let’s go again, for all of my cash!” She exclai med. She thought, “Oh my God, now what have I done” . If they say yes, and I win, I’ ve got to be ready to run and pick-up the winnings as I do, and run faster than I ever have before, before they realize what j ust happened”. She thought about what mi ght happe n, Maybe they will have but said to her -self, “I’ll have to deal with the next day consequences later . cooled down by then”. They were playing in one of the boy’s second floor apartment . door. She was sitting close to the entry It was They were Sarah thought of it as t he exit door .

not open, but it was not locked either . 28

expecting more player s and left it unlocked so they did not have to get up to let them in . Good for me , she thought, easier to get out in my escape . They all agreed, “ALL IN” . stack, so to speak. Sarah’s $85 was the shortest You know what they say about Her adrenaline was No

“Short Stack Power” . Sarah felt the sur ge of power as the dealer dealt the cards. not matter here. flowing full tilt . It was difficult to hide it, but it did No skill and cunning needed . hiding feelings, looks, gestures, those minuscule things that would gi ve away your hand, j ust gut wrenching luck. First card was a King, second, a Sarah’s’ heart was seven, third, another King . explode.

pounding heavil y now, felt like it was going to With the fourth card came another King . “Three Kings”, ever yone gasped, because one of another players hand had two aces with one card to go. His card would come up first, Sarah’s next . She thought she mi ght have it won, b ut if the dealer dealt another ace, it would beat her three Kings . was a pause by t he dealer to let There ever yone

contemplate the outcome, but it was inevitable, and the fifth cards were ready for revelation . If she was going to get out of there it woul d take a mi racle, or so she thought . Here they came one at a ti me . Two aces became three, and her heart almost stopped in severe despair, but t he residual adrenaline kept it 29


Her card was next .

Oh My God here it

comes. It is another seven, “FULL HOUSE”! Kings full of sevens . She had won, and in a split second, before anyone could react, she grabbed as much of the cash as she could and headed for the door . Just as she did, the door opened . arrived to play poker . Two more players She thought as She What Luck!

she pushed them aside as she ran out the door, down the stairs, out to the street and into her car . sped away before anyone realized what happened . Several of them ran after her with the rest of her cash, but she was gone. The next day the two boys that she knew, at the poker table last ni ght, were waiting for her at the store where she worked after school . They knew she wor ked there and needed to talk to her . were OK, so she a pproached them. One of them said, “What the hell was that all about, last night ? Why would you do that ? We followed you out the door, but you drove away without the r est of your winnings”. Sarah, blushing now, did not know what to say. “Well…..I j ust thought… there was going to be trouble… You know?” She got nervous, and worried, but she knew them and they


They asked, in unison, in a tone of un -believe ability, “Why? You’ ve caused trouble by doing that !” “It was a lot of money, and I didn’t know them, the other t wo, and the ones at the door, I was afraid.” “Those guys got angr y complain because and of t he their commotion you caused . They were afraid the neighbors would tell parents. Well, here is the rest of your money . Don’t do that again”. They got into their car and drove away . shovel, Chunk ! Chunk! Chunk! After wor k before she headed out the door f or home, she asked the manager if it would be OK to leave an envelope of hers in the store safe . asked, “Why?” Sarah thought for a few seconds and said, “It’s a surprise f or my mother’s birthday, which is tomorrow, and I didn’t want her to find it before then”. He said, “OK” And off she went . She had never had that much money at one time and was afraid of losing it, 31 He Just then, Sarah realized that they had j ust gi ven her another

or something. home.

Moreover, she could not bring it The

What if they found it, she thought . ”Where did you get this?”

questions would come. Or, “What’s this for?” “OMG” she thought , they would think I was gambling, or something. Sarah headed out the door towards h er car . It was parked around back, to not to take the customer parking spaces up front . As she approached her car, she saw t wo guys sitt ing in the back seat of the car next to hers . She did not think much of it at the time, and did not connect the dots until it was too late. As soon as she got into her car she remembered seeing them at the Apart ment last night, you know, the two guys coming i n the door . No sooner than she made that recognition, someone sitting in the back seat reached forward and grabb ed her face. One hand was over her mouth and the other over her eyes, pinning her to the headrest . The keys dropped to the floor, where they woul d later find them later, to start the car, as she reached up to grab those hands over her face but could not remove them, he was j ust too strong for her . She figured these were the other two from last night, but did not know for sure . Then the other one came around into the front seat pushing her 32

over towards the passenger side while the other sequestered her t here. She was struggling and trying to scream, but to no avail . By this ti me a third j umped in on the passenger side and restrained her legs with his, partially sitting on top of her as they drove away. them. thought to The fourth in the other car followed herself . The adrenaline rush was Oh my god t hey are going to kill me, she

over whel ming, but not enough to overcome the restraint. They drove somewhere, but she could not see. The road got bumpy so Sarah thought it mi ght be the road j ust out of town down by the river . Oh, my god she thought, they are going to drown me and sink me to the bottom of the river for the fish to eat . However , they did not, at least not yet , she thought to herself. They stopped after what seemed about a mile down the bump y road. They dragged her out of the car and onto the ground . them spoke up . Sarah could see them now. Yes, they are the ones from last ni ght . One of She thought he was the one that lived there, in that apartment . He said,” “I’ m in bi g trouble becaus e of you. “You are in trouble b ecause of me? She said in a questioning whi mper of a whisper . She could hardl y tal k, because of her heavy breathing, brought on by the adrenaline glands now pumping copious amounts into her blood stream. 33

“Yah, You, runnin g out like that and causing all that commotion the neighbors talked to my parents and my old man knocked me to the floor and pinned me t here . I was humiliated in front of Jimmy, over there, who was wi th me at the ti me . My old man made me tell hi m ever ything. Now I have lost my j ob at his Hand it garage for six months, so I want the money from last night to make up for it . over.” “I don’t still have it”, Sarah squeaked out. “Where is it then we’l l go get it.” “I gave it to my dad t o help pay the rent a nd bills, sorry.” “Well then we’ll have to take it out on you in other ways . Drag her to the hood of the car face down and hold her ar ms” They all had their turn raping her, then left her lying on the ground in a heap of sobbing emotional mess, but not without a warning of an encore perfor mance of what j ust happened, if she told anyone about this . They drove off in thei r car , into the ni ght, as she lay there curled up in a ball, thinking about what to do . She could hear , off in the distance what seemed l ike the sound of shovel s di gging, Chunk ! Chunk! 34 Chunk!

She managed to get back into the car and headed home, the whole time thinking that carrying a big stick mi ght help keep that from happeni ng again. The next day she purchased a used 44 Magnum double action revol ver, with a four and a quarter inch barrel. It is easy, even for someone li ke Sarah . She knew a guy who wor ked at a nearby Car Wash . She had played poker with him several ti mes . Bill could get anything, for anyone . Just for the asking. It was a challenge f or hi m, and he loved a good challenge. needed. She did not know what she wanted or The next day when She left it up to hi m.

she saw the piece she said… “Wow! bullets?” Billy said, “Of course, it wo uldn’t be much good without them, now would it.” He had also acquired a full box of the 44’s at the same ti me, from the seller . She headed out to the gravel pits, where she would set -up a tar get range . Others would use thi s spot for target practice too . There were spent shells all over the place . Mostly shotgun shells, because you do not reload them, some 22-caliber ri m -f ire, occasionally a few lar ger caliber center -fire shells from those people who do not reload. In addition, littering the area were r usty 35 That’s a great looking gun, got any

old tin cans with mega holes shot through, leaky old buckets, Swiss cheesed LP tanks, shredded paper targets, clay pi geon shards, and an occasional intact clay pi geon that was missed and did not br eak when it hit the ground . She found a few of these along with some partially br oken ones, and stood them up on top of a log at the base of the gravel bank, took 10 steps back, and star ted shooting. “Woe!” This could bl ow a hole clean through someone”. She said to herself , “ Well, What a mess that would make”. Oh Yah, Sarah was learning to play poker OK, but she had a long way to go to full y understanding the game and its ultimate consequences . This last game told her you need to remain cool, have confidence, and know who you’re playing against, at all costs, and leave t he game peacefull y with your winnings, if they let you. The ver y next ni ght she took the 44 locked and loaded, strapped the piece on, in its holster, under her j acket, and headed off to another poker game.


Chapter 3 Sharpening the Blade
The tables were getting bi gger , and better , f or Sarah. The more she played the better she got . She was not winning a lot, but enough to continue without breaking the bank, You Know. the Bank”? “Breaking Where ever yone takes all thei r money “Breaking the Bank”, could also be Anyone can

out of the ba nk and they have no money to l end, and the bank fails . more cash. construed as “Smashing the Porcelain Pi ggy” for It was not j ust the cards . play the cards, and maybe get lucky, sometimes . No, she was learning to pl ay the players . This way you increase your odds of winning . By as much as you can see the others hands, in their faces, their posture, and their inflections, ad infinitum … It was all right there for her to take in. To Sarah it was like sharpeni ng a blade. As if getting ready to plunge it deep into someone’s gut, who had j ust bet the far m, so to speak, on just a pair of aces, or less, or let us say, on a King hi gh bluff . It was wor king on t he others, who have had less experience than she did, i n playing poker, where she learned how to read them like a book . She got good 37

at reading their faces, and their movements .


better players can hi de their hands well, but most people do not play enough to know any better . Li ke the look of excitement a nd the rush to place a bet on their Aces over Kings . Sarah would gi ggle t o herself when that happened . She would fold her pair of Jacks, thinking what an ass . She could see t he words written on their faces, “high two pair, at least, maybe more”. She co uld tell if it was a bluff too, someti mes, when ther e was a check before the draw and a two -card draw, along with a si zable, sheepish, and slow to come bet after the draw, accompanied by a slight frown . She knew her three fours were good . Someti mes a goo d pl ayer will fake this action, and have three queens or better, but if you know the player by previous encounters, or by reputation or lack of one, your odds of being right get better, and Sarah was getting better. Hi gher stakes games were becoming Sarah’s games of choice, with bett er, more experienced players. Poker talk was another of Sarah’s tools toward success at the table . during the hands . She was getting good at distractions, by tal king about things other t han poker Some players got upset with her She would engage because of it, but she l iked that too, because that was a distraction in and of itself. other players with small talk . She would talk about 38

the weather, her visit to the Mall , or somet hing li ke that. Some of the more distractive tal k, she found, She was of a sexual nature . Not j ust talking about it but also actually suggest ing a sexual encounter . flirtation, and touching. would pri me the player next to her with some Some of these guys would fall for it and if she could get a hand under the table to fondle the dragon as the bids went ar ound the table, pulling her hand back to receive the draw or make a bet. She was very good at doing it, carefully, and slowl y, without attracting too much att ention of the other players . However, some of them knew, from having been through the experience . She would look up at them while doing it, and they had a hard time keeping from smiling, or breaking out in laughter. They would have to look down and away trying not to gi ve it away, to anyone wh o did not know what was happening . Sarah would smile back at them, but they would look away before t hey saw . She was enj oying this distraction . What usually happened was the player getting the hand would carefully get up from the table after folding his hand. Sarah would t hen make sure she had a good hand when appl ying t he “coup de gras”, so to speak . They would go off to the restroom or ba throom to finish the j ob . They would much their cards and Sarah would collect the pot . She did this with Harr y 39

one day, poor Harr y, she thought, when she had his out of his pants, and did not stop in ti me . She was good at taking it to the point of no return and stopping j ust before it came . Ar guments stil l happen from ti me to ti me whether or not she did it on purpose or not, only Sarah knows for sure, and she is not telling. He got so excited he stood up and He ej aculated all over the table, cards, and chips .

turned several shades of red, of which Sarah had never seen before, as ever yone who knew what was happening were rolli ng on the floor laughing li ke there was no tomorrow, taking several shovels back from her and gi ving t hem to Harr y . was disgusted and left the table. Besides causing trouble, Sarah had to learn how to avoid trouble too . players at her table . and poker rooms. Sarah needed knowledge of li mits and welltimed folds. avoid some someone Folds became i mportant in order to circumstances . get so Once at in a awhile annoyed loosing the It mostl y invol ved knowing the temper ament and reactions, of the How they handled certain circumstances, as well as avoidance of certain tables Ever yone else


previous hand that they over bet the next, and Sarah could sense that now and had the experience to know fold if she didn’t have a good hand . Sometimes she 40

would fold even though she thought she could win the hand, because if she did not, she knew what the consequences would be. Fists would fly, and mayhem would lead t o a bounce out the door, not only for the perpetrator but for anyone involved in the hand, for j ust being there and possibl y instigating the incident. One day Sarah was about to be set -up for more trouble, it was a late night table and only a few players there . Ever yone else had left for the night, and Sarah was a bit apprehensi ve about stayin g to play, but the call of the chips and the money was too much for her to resist. After all, she was getting ver y good at this. She gave up her cashier j ob, because she was winning enough to help with the bills at home and then some . She bought a car, and there -by did not She j ust need to borrow Moms or Dads any more .

told them that they gave her a raise and moved her to the next town over, and did not need it anymore . They believed her for the short term, but time would soon tell on Sarah, now would it not? Always did, and always will, nothi ng she could do about it. The night wore on and her stacks were not growing anyways near as fast as she had hoped . The two guys she wa s pl aying were prett y good . Her reputation was growing too and they had heard of her 41

and had to see for t hemsel ves how good she was . She had to admit that she did not know these guys ver y well, but she was learning, as they played, hand after hand. Her confi dence was gr owing, with time, but ti me was ticking away, and with ti me, her stacks grew, and it suddenl y became a bit too fast, she thought. One of them was mucking a bit too often She started winning, hand upon for her comfort .

hand, without any si gns what so ever, and when she started to realize that this should not be happening. OMG Sarah thought . I am in trouble again . These guys are not here j ust to play poker, she said to herself, j ust as one of them got up and pushed her back in her chair, sending them both crashing to the floor as he j umped on her, the way a dog hum ps your leg. He pulled her pants down as she struggled to get out from under hi m, but his friend helped. Before he could have his way with her, she pulled out the 44 and blast ed a hole bi g enough to push your hand through his chest . He was done with, an d she knew the other guy would be on his way out the door before she coul d fire again, running away as fast as he could . She was relieved that to see his sorry butt moving away at nearl y the speed of light. At the Police Station Sarah thought that t his was it. The bi g house, the pen, the hole, the pits, was it for her, for the rest of her life . The detective 42

interrogated her for only about an hour, probabl y going over the details ten times over . There was not much to say reall y, “I j ust blasted him whi le on top of me on the floor. I was afraid for my life”, She kept telling them, balling it out, repeatedly. “All this is over penny anti poker?” The detective kept saying . insisted, “This wasn’t about poker . I was al most raped and was in fear of my life”. Nevertheless, Sarah

The other suspect ran. told Sarah’s parents,

Jumped the coop, got away,

AWOL, could not be f ound, anywhere . The detective “Looks to me like self -defense, but where’d she get the 44?” They said, “I don’t know” Al most in unison they both responded, “Much less, until now we didn’t know why she would even need it . had it, though”, Her mother said, “She could be dead, not hi m, I suppose”. The detective said, 43 Thank God that she

“Well, we’re going to release her to your custody, keep her close at hand until you hear from us. We will need to hold on to the 44 Unless and until until we can end this case . cut, and dried. Defense”. Mom and Dad had tri ed to understand, all the way home, but when they got there, the shit would hit the fan. What a mess Sarah thought . All that shit all over the walls, floor and ceiling, j ust like the guy I j ust blasted . I am going to have to dig another huge hole to get away from this one, and Mom and Dad would be more t han glad to gi ve her more and larger shovels to do it with too.

we find the other person, this case is fai rly To be filed away as “Self


Chapter 4 Gwen’s Mom
Sarah had put thoughts of Jeanie in the back of her mind. Needing to move away from poker a bit brought her back to the fr ont. She needed a vacation, a holiday, a respite, j ust some time off, like any j ob, as if put ting a gaping hole in someone was not enough to make you quit that j ob . It was getting virtuall y too hot to handle . She tried chess, but somehow chess with Gwen and Harr y did not seem to have the same appeal to Sarah . She was way beyond kid’s games too . Saying to herself that, with what has happened t o her recently, she definitely cannot take a step back. The symptoms. lack of adrenaline has withdrawal It was not so much, any physical

symptoms, but the worse kind, the thoughts and memories and her i magination, fantasies, night mares, night -pleasures. Night -pleasures, you know, the She loved the one where dreams you have that when you wake -up and you wish you had not awoke . she had found herself walking naked in a public shopping mall and everyone was watching her as she wal ked, and looked back and smiled, and they smiled 45

back at you, because t hey li ked what they saw . After all, in the dream she was having fun doi ng it, or rather, dreaming it. Funny thing about dreams, you onl y remember them if you think about them ri ght away after waking up. It is some sort of temporary memor y that is replaced up by something else and you f orget all about it in seconds, i f you do not do something to make the conscious mind remember it . Sarah wondered how many dreams had she dreamt and forgotten. How many dreams came, went, and never entered conscious thought . They say you need to wake -up as you are dreaming, in order to re member it, and make a mental or physical note of it before remembering it later . “How many ni ght -pleasures had there been?” Many never make it to the surface. “OMG”, she thought, “how many ni ght mares too?” She was tired of dreaming about Gwen’ s’ mom, so she turned her thoughts towards her . Gwen was OK, but her mom really got Sarah’s attention . It must have been the way she looked at her, that time they got caught. Gett ing to know her better was not going to be ea s y. She so desperately wanted her she could taste it . It was the taste of desire, not j ust You know, curiosity, as she thought about the cat . desire. 46

the cat, which was killed by something less then

They would visit each other on occasions, like holidays, Friday ni ght cocktails with the ne ighbors, cookouts, weddings, etcetera, but always wi th whole families around . It would be odd to be seen with her without anyone else around, Sarah thought, so it would have to wait for a while . It would wait until the moment was ri ght , and this whole th ing seemed right to Sarah, to pur sue her, and beyond . She saw the looks and felt the brushes of her hand as she passed. The soft hand running over the shoulder or down the ar m she wanted it too . She knew, because Sarah would do the same things, feeling the power of “Carnal Knowledge” in a passing of the hand over the buttocks after a hug, the way you do it when you know no one else can see it . Just a gentile rub , as It woul d arouse you drop your hands after a hug .

Sarah, and hoped Jeanie would too. She thought so, by the look in her eyes after such encounter s. Playing poker with her would not be the way to her heart . It mi ght have been to Sarah, had Say if, Jeanie wanted Nevertheless, was still circumstances been reversed .

to play strip poker, or something . anyti me soon. Sar ah figured

Sarah did not see that situation headed her way Jeanie scheming on some other approach. She would have to pursue Jeanie in order to acquire her love, she thought to herself, or it j ust 47

won’t happen, and it wasn’t goi ng to happen while j ust thinking about it, after all, life really isn’t what happens to you whil e you’re busy maki ng other plans, right? It is what you do, for the better, or for the worse of it, at least as far as those who do not have “IT” . Jeanie? Which one was coming to Sarah and It Was it for the b etter or for the worse?

would have been anyone’s guess. Sarah would fantasi ze about playing strip poker with her, ending up on the living room floor in front of a blazing fireplace . They would be totally naked making love for hours and hours . Sar ah would always wake up from this dream, to find something burning on the stove, or something falling out of her hand hitting her foot, causing pain, somet hing that j olted her back into reality……. and she would g o about what she was doing with dampness between her thighs. Loving her would be the easy part . Jeanie’s lust for her into love would Turning be the

challenge, but Sarah did finally come up with a plan for this, that was sure to wor k, or so she thought. Sarah there knew that someone every Wednesday Jeanie possibl y seei ng her? would be at home, alone, but how would she get in without Ever yone’s house was so close to each other and people were coming and going all the ti me, and old 48

man Phillsum had not hing better to do than watch all the comings and goings up and down the street, all day long li ke a securit y camera . All I would have to do, she reasoned, is get a disguise . If I could find j ust the right dress, shoes, hat, book bag, sunglasses, I could look li ke one of those women that come by to study the Bible with you, over a cup of tea, in the afternoon. Yes, that was it, Sarah exclaimed . She was off to the depart ment store to do some shopping. Later that afternoon she got all dolled up . She went heav y on the make -up and put the entire new outfit on. She was sure this woul d get her through the door, undetected, at least, not as Sarah . She had parked her car in the garage, which was attached to the house, so she could get out of the house relativel y u ndet ected, at least not det ected as the Bible Lady. She hid the sunglasses and hat beside her on the seat until far enough away and around the corner . Then she par ked the car in an out of the way spot near the grocer y store and proceeded to wal k back up the street to Jeanie’s house . was getting excited . This could wor k, ri ght ? It wor ked, or so it seemed, and it is hard to describe changed Jeanie’s to delight . surprised Jeanie look at Sarah’s what an appearance. It was one of surprise , and it quickl y thought, She

ingenious plan, to herself as Sarah walked through 49

the door, and she qui ckl y looked up and down the street to see who saw, if anyone . Mr. Phillsum, j ust across the street, caught that look on her face, peeking from behind his window curtain . about” he said to himself . toting women around here. Hmmmm, he thought, “wonder who that is and what that’s all I know all t he Bible Never saw that one

before, even though he onl y saw Sarah from behind. Sarah had some explaining to do, she thought to herself, as Jeanie l ed her by the hand thr ough the living room to the downstairs hall to the spare bedroom. Sarah was caught by surprise at how quickl y the clothes fl ew off her as hers were now being removed. Jeanie had beautiful long blond hair, when she l et it down, 40ish not too sli m, a bit husky like Sarah, but as horny as a bull after a cow in heat, as horny as a bull after a cow, in heat or not . Sarah had never seen her naked before and now she was in heaven, as Jeanie’s hands, lips, and body touched her in j ust the right ways and places . Sarah was finally in a good place and felt like she could stay ri ght there for eternity, and hoped Jeanie would feel the same way, as tears rolled down her cheek, because she knew this woul d not last. embrace of a new found love. How could it, repeatedly, in her head, while enj oying the war m


Now what would they do .

Ever ything has

changed for them. What have we done ? They said, almost in unison to each other, while looking at each other as Sarah stood in the doorwa y, about to face the Gauntlet on the other side of the door . Nei ghbors ! You know, “The Nei ghbors ”. The Sarah

thought to herself. Maybe this ti me ever ything will wor k out for the best . Of course, Sarah knew that it would not, as tears began to well up agai n in her eyes. Sarah thought to herself, we’ ve lingered way “I’ ve got to go, Rob will be home soon . There will be trouble if he sees us together”. Just as Sarah was about to open the front door and go, Jeanie’s husband Rob came t hrough the side door from the garage and looked through the Kitchen towards the front door to see the surprised looks on their faces. “What’s wrong?” He asked as he approached, “Wow Sarah, you look like you’re dressed for church or something. “Oh!.... yes!” She blurted out. Hope no one died and you’re on your way to a funeral.” too long, and said,


“I have an Uncle in j ail . He was stabbed with a homemade knife f or winning at a poker game. See ya”, She said, as she bolted out the door, without her hat on to cover her fac e. Mr. Phillsum now recognized her. He went to his garage to get a shovel, but Sarah was gone by the ti me he reached the curb.


Chapter 5 Gwen’s Dad
Now and then Sarah t hought about the day she and Jeanie got together and so did Rob . He now wanted her too, after Jeanie confessed about their encounter, and spilled her guts, all over the place, with all the details, word for word, leaving nothing to the i magination, fil ling in all the blanks . Jeanie was so shameful about it, that it would have turned Sarah’s stomach inside out, if she had been there to hear it. He had suspected something odd when there was no news report about a stabbing at the Count y Jail, and nothing in the Obituaries. It was the strip poker part, which intrigued hi m the most , at first, but then, he had also heard about Harr y’s dilemmas, and wanted to see if the boner part was true . Even the poker table part interested hi m. Was she that good? After gi ving up poker for a while, she was able to get her j ob back at the store . They f el t sorry for her after all that she had been through . They felt it would be good to help keep her from the poker . It was prett y much a full time j ob, now that she had graduated hi gh school . Not to mention that she 53

promised not to get into any more troubl e over poker. Laugh out loud. One day Rob stopped by the store to pick -up some beer, and told her, as he was checking out, that he was having a poker party later that night and that she should stop by to play . He said…. “No money invol ved, j ust free chip s and beer, with a little fun on the side” She did not know what he meant by that but told hi m, “I’ll think about it, maybe later after wor k” “No way”, she thought to herself, “No way”. Sarah was leaving for home when the thought crossed her mind, “Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to play for j ust a short while, a couple of hands, after all it was free chips, and what could go wrong, Ri ght? ” She knew better, but was in denial . It was in her blood, and could not resist. That little devil on her right shoulder tal ked her into it ever y ti me . All the way there, she kept thinking, “What kind of trouble am I going to get into this time? It could be a lot of fun finding out , besides, Jeanie mi ght be there” . She was not sure what would happen, but what was about to happen could not have happened any ot her way, and would ulti matel y prove to be no fun at all. It was a bit strange t o Sarah, that there were no cars parked in front of Rob and Jeanie’s house 54

that night. She thought that maybe they were j ust a few local neighbors who must have wal ked over . She also noticed their garage door was open and onl y his car was there . How odd, she thought . It was Saturday, and maybe Jeanie had gone to visit her mother or something, she thought, and Harr y was out with the guys, maybe. She let herself in knocking as she entered, to announce her arrival, peering around the edge of the door she saw, to her surprise sitting at the kitchen table, both Rob and Harry . OMG, she thought. I cannot play poker with Harr y . I will be distracted all night thinking about histor y, laughing to her -self as she sat down . Rob had tried to get Harry out of the house but to no avail . He had made the mistake of telling hi m about the poker game and that Sarah mi ght be here for it . goin g to miss this one. It did not take long, j ust a few hands, for the conversation to come around to Harr y and his dilemmas. Sarah asked, “Where’s Jeanie, Rob? ” ……… He “Hemmed and Hawwed” a bit and said, “Off to see her mom f or the weekend” . Har ry looked away and down at the floor . Sarah could read his face like a book, something was up, and it was 55 Rob saying, “I wish I could have been Trying to change the subj ect there to see that” . No way is Harry

not j ust poker .

Harr y knew if he stayed he would

have to say somethin g eventuall y, but he did not want to be there when she figured it all out. “What’s wrong Harr y?” She queried, but he di d not say anything and j ust got up and left the room without a word . A few seconds later, they heard the front door close . He left the two of them there alone . Sarah was getting nervous now. She had felt that tension before . Just seconds before she hit the floor and blew that guys guts out . She was not packing toni ght, but she now had the feeling as if she wished she were . about Jeanie . She had to ask Was she It was What had really happened ?

really at her mothers, or somewhere else ?

difficult for her to hold this man account able for something that really was not any of her business or responsibility. heartbeat. “One Or was it? Frozen by his st are, she unable to speak, gagged by the adrenaline and heavy He continued to stare at her as he dealt hand, wi nner chooses t he the cards, saying, consequences”. She nodded yes, and picked up her cards . They were playing fi ve -card draw, apparently, because that is what was dealt . Once the cards were dealt, he said, “We’re playing Guts no draw, what ’ ve you got?” 56

Sarah looked at her cards and said, “I’ll tell you what………… .. truth about where Jeanie is.” Rob looked down at his cards and thought for a moment, looked up and said, “You’re a smart girl, what do you think t he truth is?” And “You look worried, concerned, and ready to bolt out the door . Why so ner vous?” If I have t he winning hand then you promise to tell me t he

Sarah could not break her eyes away from hi s stare it was so intense . She knew all was not a ll right with Jeanie, but could only i magine what mi ght have happened. Her thoughts went to their encounter and maybe would lead to something horrible . Her eyes filled with tears and no longer could focus on his . He reached acr oss the table to wipe the t ears from her cheek and said, “I can tell how much you care for her . That’s why you’re here, ri ght ?” Sarah had thought of it, and it was true, or at least partially. Jeanie was still on her mind, a lot in fact . She could not forget how well she felt for that short time they had together . He went on to say that, Jeanie had left him, and probabl y will not be back. 57

Sarah’s head was down now contemplating what t o do now, but when he said that, her eyes looked up at hi m with an expressi on of extreme concer n as she realized that he had hurt her, not j ust emotionally but physicall y as wel l . Jeanie would not have left He sensed that for good without sayi ng good-bye.

Sarah now knew the truth and had to say no more . Sarah also knew now that it was because of their encounter that day, and up until now had felt no remorse about it. “How badl y hurt is she?” Sarah squeaked out, but he was no longer i n a mood to talk. cards. He j ust loo ked down at the table without She looked at her They were al l hearts, queen hi gh, and laid “I win”. Sarah j ust got up and left, and went looking for Harry. Harry was not to be found that night. Probabl y found a bed for the night with one of the guys. Harr y did not have a girl friend, at least as far as she knew . She thought that he had feelings for her, but that was not mutual, or at least not in the same way. Not love, that is, it was o nl y inf atuation . The feelings you get out of the closeness . However , the honesty, the inability to hold anything back, the 58 acknowledging her question . them on the table and said,

willingness to submit t o the close personal scrutiny, that which you onl y get from a loved one, from a lover, and from the mutual a doration. have to wait for that, f or now. Days passed before t heir paths would cross again. Her emotions had not quelled though . Her feelings for Jeanie ran deep, as she wondered how she felt about the two of them . Harr y came into the store, not to shop, but to see her . She asked for a break so they could talk, and went outside f or a few mi nutes. He said his father told hi m about the poker game the other night, and that the outcome was different than he had hoped. “He told me about wantin g to do the strip poker and all ”. Sarah’s eyes bul ged nearly out of her head, and yelled, “He wanted to do what ?” Harry taking a step back so that the wor ds mi ght miss his ears as they whooshed by, Sarah said, “That little shit” Then Harry said, “Good tr y, missed again.” “That fucking bastard!” Whoosh! Smack! Found its mar k this ti me. Harry would


“OMG! Shhhh, someone mi ght hear you, and get the wrong idea . That got Sarah’s attention. “She wants to tal k to you about what happened.” Sarah apologi zed. “I’ m sorr y, this is all j ust so confusing . Where is she?” “She’s at her sister’s place . Here’s a map and address. It’s not too far away”. The next day Sarah t old her boss she needed the day off to visit a friend in the hospital over in the next count y. He said, “Ok, we’ll cover for you”, Off she went . When she got there, and it was not too hard to find, Jeanie’s sister Pam met her at the door , who was not at all pleased that anyone was at the door, much less asking for Jeanie. “May I see Jeannie?” “Jeanie’s not available for callers, go away” She slammed the door in her face . told Pam, “Go back out there and ask her in”. Pam looke d at her as if she had two heads or something, but let Sarah in despite her obj ections . 60 Jeanie was looking out the window at who was at the door and I’ m j ust here to let you know where mom is . She asked for you”.

Standing j ust inside the doorway Sarah could see why Pam was so cauti ous about letting anyone in to see Jeanie. “Oh my god Jeanie what has he done to you?” Sarah sobbed, wanting to hold her but not sure of what she could touch . Jeanie had two black eyes and a split lip with stitches, and who knows what else was black, blue, and stitched under her clothes . Sarah held back from hugging or touching her in any way, afraid to cause any more pain. “Can we go somewher e where we can tal k?” Sarah asked . guest room. Jeanie grabbed her hand and led her Sarah notice a bit of a li mp as she down the hall to her bedroom, which was Pam’s wal ked, and thought t hat cannot be ver y go od. The door closed and Sarah asked, “Can I hug you?” Jeanie said, “You better”, They hugged and kissed for at least ten minutes, they then sat down and j ust looked at each other l ike there was no tomorrow, with tears rolling and eyes reddening. It was as i f someone had collected all the shovels gi ven to Sarah over the years, and was dumped on top of her , all at once. It was not easy to see the pain in Jeanie’s eyes . It was not j ust the hitting. It was the powerful feelings of failure in her 61

life that brought both of them to this point in time . Jeanie said she felt enough pain for t went y people, but that it was from her own mistakes and not j ust their encounter that day. She was l ying, and wanted to spare the pain for Sarah . It was true, and it Sar ah knew brought all of her pai n to the surface .

better anyways, but thought Jeanie would feel better if she went along wit h it and said she understood . They j ust sat there for the longest ti me j ust looking deeply into each other ’s eyes thinking, “Why?” Jeanie’s sister brought them lunch . Jeanie would carefull y sip a mil kshake through a straw around the split lip, but having trouble keeping it all in her mouth as she swallowed . They laughed a bit about it, as Sarah gnawed on an Italian sub . Jeanie told her that she’s staying here for a bit, at least long enough to recover, but from that point on she did not know. Sarah left Jeanie not knowing if she would ever see her again, which brought anger and despise towards Rob to the surface . Sarah could hardl y bare the pain she felt for Jeanie . trucks towing the All the way home, the followed her and excavators

started digging right outside her bedroom window and would not stop to let her sleep at all that night.


Chapter 6 Vegas
Mr. Phillsum was shocked at h earing about his long ti me friend and neighbor’s predicament . He felt bad for Jeanie, but was friends more with Rob then her. He knew Sarah was a good friend of the famil y, and stopped by the store to ask her over for tea some afternoon, to tal k to her a bout the Bible . They both knew he did not want to talk about the Bible, and Sarah figured it was about Jeanie, so she sai d, “Yes, I’ m off tomor row and would be by around 2:00 PM, with a Bible”.

Ever since he saw her all dressed -up going to see Jeanie that day, he developed an interest in her . He did not know why , exactly, but he did know of her. He knew she played poker, because he did too . Their paths never crossed at a table, but ot hers who he played had played at her tables . Sarah had a good reputation for being a good poker player, not to mention good with a 44 too . However, Sarah had not heard much about Tom. hi mself for the most part . He was quiet and kept to She knew he was good,


but had no idea j ust how good, and was about to find out, first hand. Next day, sure enough, 2:00PM rolled around, and there she was at his door . “Brave little soul”, he thought to hi mself as she entered . enough, and was not worried Sarah was old about what the She

neighbors would think anymore, especially since she was seeing the “Security Camera” hi mself . knew she could take care of herself, in any case. Sarah was surprised t o see a ver y nice poker table in the den j ust off Tom’s living room . Oval shaped African mahogany with green felt, and places for up to ni ne players at once . It had a dealer’s seat with slots and spaces for chips and car ds. Sarah could only i magine what it mi ght be like, but she had seen pictures of tables in Vegas, and this one was as nice as or nicer than t hat. “Want to play?” He asked, noticing the gleam in her eyes as she entered the den, and placed her hand on the cushioned ri m of the t able. “Wow!” She said, “This is nice . not. It must have cost a fortune. ” Turning to look into his eyes, to see if it was true or


“Good girl, you ’ ve got good eyes for the finer things in life.” “Yes, of course, sill y!” She exclai med, as she sat down in one of the matching seats, with green leather uphol stery, to match the table felt color and the mahogany wood. “Very comfortable, you could play all ni ght at a table like this”. “That’s the idea”, He said in a serious tone . With that, Sarah wondered, j ust how good of a player is he?

Sarah knew she was about to find out, as he opened a fresh pack of cards and spread them out on the table to shuf fle them up, getting ready to deal the first hand. “How much you got on you?” He asked. “Well, I don’t nor mally carry much j ust out and about, but I suspected something was up so I brought $10,000 with me today.” “That’ll be enough to get started . No play money here.” Sarah thought to herself, “$10K j ust to get started ? How much more woul d I need? ” afraid to ask. 65 However , she was If you are really going to learn poker, it has to be real .

“Go ahead, ask” He said. “How much more are we tal king abo ut here?” She asked sheepishl y. “Don’t worr y too much about that, let’s just get started and see how it goes . Ever been to Vegas?” “Vegas? No, maybe I will someday.” “You’ll need to learn Texas Hold’em, You someti mes referred to as “Flop” poker . ever played it?” “No, but why do I feel like I’ m about to be taught” “It’s the same as all other poker hands . You make the best hand you can from you’re t wo pocket cards, which are dealt face down and only you see them, and three out of the five communit y cards on t he table that get dealt in three phases . We call the first three cards the “Flop”. The next card is called the “Turn” and then the fifth card is called the “River” and you make bets as each phase is dealt” . “Not too difficult, I guess, huh?” “OK then, let’s go” They played for several hours, j ust getting used to the Texas Hold’em for mat . Sarah was down several G’s but she was feeling good about the play. 66




f or




sai d .

“Beginner?” Tom squawked. “A beginner would h ave been out of chips after j ust three hands . fine.” You’re doing j ust

All the concepts are the same . The only thi ng is the communit y cards, which ever yone plays . It is j ust a different format of play . You j ust need to keep in mi nd that if there are t hree Jacks on the table, that everyone still in the hand has three Jacks too. If you have pocket nines, you would have Jacks full of nines, a Full House, and if there is a ten on the River and another player has a ten in his pocket , and then he wins with Jacks full of Tens . Kicker cards become i mportant too . Say you have a King in your pocket, another player mi ght have an Ace, but if no one has a pair to make Full House or an Ace or the last Jack, three Jacks with a King kicker wins . You can tell someti mes by the betting, unl ess there is a bluff, but that is Poker, it is a gamble. The trick is to be ri ght more times than wrong, and hope someone else wagers against your “Ri ght Stuff” . Sarah knew a lot about poker with the guys, and then some, including some of the “Other Guys” . However , this seemed to her a different class of 67

Poker, a step -up, less of the street type, more of the refined educated t ype. Sarah would find her self back at Phillsum’s often. He really was a great person, even though he was old enough to be her grandfather . She would come to think of hi m as a great friend, but not as a potential lover . He thought of her as a great protégé, who could go far in this game, and perhaps her good fortune mi ght bring him some too . As far as he wa s concerned, she needed to know about Odds and figuring Outs etcetera . Nevertheless, that would be a challenge for her . Poker to her was more of an art, a feeling for it, the reading of players, having the experience of thousands of hands of the t ype tha t you get i mprinted on your brain, as to how often something comes up or not . player, and chip maneuvering . To her it was not She would get a

strictly the math . It was an art; it was creative card, laugh ever y ti me she beat a player by calling his bet and getting a third King on the draw, or River , to beat his three Jacks . “You had no business making that call, it was a stupid call, and you shoul dn’t have won that hand” . “Teee Heee Heee” she went all the way to the bank. Granted someti mes this did not wor k, but she was good at it, or j ust lucky, or something, because she won more than she lost . There had to be something there . 68 Sarah understood

the concept of fi guri ng the odds, and maybe with time, she could remember some of the rules, but her mi nd did not wor k li ke a calculator or a computer, instantly whi zzing up the answers with mini mal input, as some player s can . She never had enough All she knew time to do it in her head, at the table, while others were waiting, and get ting i mpatient . win. Playing heads -up with j ust Tom was not good enough. Heads -up is j ust two players against each other. It plays different . The more players the more potential there is for over cards against you, or vice versa. Tom began asking some of his other poker buddies over to help . First one, then two, he slowly increased the number s of players to help point out the subtle differences and nuances of the play, and help her to i mprove how to play them. was that it was not the math, which allowed her to

This day Tom a sked, “Sarah, you still packing that 44?” “Why? You worried or something?” “Well? ...... Yes or no?” “No, OK ? …..Don’t feel the need, especially here” “Good” Tom said. 69

“I’ ve gotten over the street game mentality, with the boys, who would be men . My ai m is a bit hi gher these days . I’d like to put those days behind me, and let the “Langoliers” eat them all up.” “The Langoliers?” “Yah, you know, the Steven King novel about time Munchers? They made a bad “B” movie out of it several years ago too, I thin k.” “Do you still have it?” “The 44? Noooo, too dangerous, and scary . Besides, I won’t be i n those kinds of games any more . RIGHT?” “Right Baby! You ar e too good to fi ght wi th the “Time Munchers” . me “My Pretty”.” “Vegas? Reall y? I don’t know. Do you thi nk I should? Is it too soon?” “Have no doubts Sarah, because, if you do you will fail. “ soon. WE” will fail. No, it’s not too Believe me. There are many fools Come to Vegas with

there, seemingl y will ing to part with their money j ust like snappi ng a whip, and you are good enough to rake i t all in from them . we’ll be off as soon as we can.” Go pack your bags, I’ll get the airline tickets and


It was the next morning, Januar y 12, whi ch was a cloudy cold wi nter day in Boston, at Logan International . Wind blowing out of the nort h, and a threat of snow in the air . that behind in Boston . Sarah was glad to leave She was looki ng forward to Los Vegas, a dusty little

sunny skies and war mer temperatures, of which there was plent y of in Vegas . town in the middle of the desert in southern Nevada, who would have ever thought they would come to this. She looked out the window, as the plane l ifted off the ground . She thought about ever ything that It was the lack of carnal At the she has been through, and could not shake the feeling of unce rtainty. knowledge, of an adventure yet to unfold .

same ti me she felt the confidence that comes from experience and that she had something bett er than a 44 under her j acket, and was looki ng forward to pulling that tri gger . “Well Sarah, how does it feel to be on your way to the gambling capitol of the world?” “Oh My God Tom, what have you gotten me into?” “No second thoughts now . that.” That’s enough of


“I know, j ust teasing, we are going to ki ll them, all of them. They’ll be j umping from the rooftops by the dozen, RIGHT?” “That’s my little girl” Check-in was a whiz, the service i mpeccable, and “THE ROOM” It was a double suite with bedrooms and baths on each side of a li vi ng room , with a kitchenette the size of most Bosto n apart ment kitchens. There was plush carpeting, mar ble tiled baths, and cherr y woodwor k and paneling on the walls, wainscoting up to about three feet above the floor. Floor to ceiling drapes obscured the view, but when drawn open revealed one of the mos t stunning views on earth . Looking out at the Vegas strip fully lighted at ni ght from the twenty -third floor of the Las Vegas Western Hemisphere Hotel and Resort . Truly has to be one of the great wonders of the world. Sarah said to Tom, “Good thing the Hoover dam is close by generating enough power to keep all those lights burning out there, in a city that never sleeps, “Sin City 24/7/ 365” “Never mi nd that,” Tom said, in a disgust ed voice. “You need to concentrate on Poker” 72

“OH! That. Yes, back to reality.” “Do I need to pull the drapes closed again?” “No, I can handle that . before we head down?” “No, let’s j ust go down. However, we should get some dinner, and talk a little about strategy, then hit the t ables.” What is next, Some Heads -up? Just you and me, to war m -up wi th

With that, they wer e off to the restaurant where they ordered dinner and talked about where they would start and what their goals were . thoughts were to play the $100/$200 Tom’s dollar

Small/Lar ge blind tabl es first, with $10K o r $12K to start with, in order to get the $100K stakes for the Private tables upstairs, behind closed doors, where the big money was . Sarah’s thoughts went t o the 44, “Why did I get rid of it? ” However, the reality was that she really did not need it . you”. RIGHT? After all, Tom always says, “What you don’t know won’t hurt “So there’s no reason to be apprehensive, because luck and skill are on your side, right? ” She would repeat in her head, “Luck and skills are on my side” and “I j ust need to win a l ittle bit more than I loose”. The rest would fall into place, and she kne w when the ti me is right to plunge the blade . The proverbial blade, plunged deep into some rich man’s 73

guts, then she could sit back and watch his chips bleed all over, over to her side of the table . They pondered which 100/200 table to sit at . Tom suggested watching a few to see which one mi ght suit them the best . The ones with a lot of chips and bad calls would do ver y nicel y tonight . One table had a couple of guys trading chips back and forth willy -nill y with little thought about what they were doing, so Tom said, “This is the one, you sit, I’ll watch. ” the table. Sarah sat and placed her chips on Although, It seemed to her that her $10K would be

short, compared to some of the others . she thought, “That will change quickl y.”

She started out slowly, folding to any bet, unless she had somet hing reall y worth bet ting on, like three queens or better . However, her cards were coming in pretty col d and she was folding most ever y hand. She was waiting and watching, though . Learning about how t he others were playing . Tom could see her face fr om the other side of the table, trying to keep under cover, but watched from the sideline and could al most hear Sarah’s mind click, at the registration of each bit of infor mation . thought, “This won’t take long. ” started winning, and the stacks grew . Tom It did not, Sarah The others

were fretting, sweati ng, wringing their hands, and folding. Thousands of dollars in chips sliding across 74

the table, almost on their own, as if they knew they were Sarah’s in the first place . thought to herself, “I can do this. ” “WOW” Sarah Her confidence

grew, with each successful hand, over and over again until each and ever y stack of theirs was hers, or nearly so . Some woul d get up from the tabl e before all was lost, realizing it was futile to continue, th ey would like to have stayed to regain their chips, but at some point we all come to a realization that we should not go for war d, risking it all, lest the devil prosper, and they saw Sarah as the devi l . The writing was in bi g letters on the wall, invisible to most, but to some, who were percepti ve enough, it said, “GET OUT BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE”.

It was ti me now to look for their next mark . Tom knew of several potential sources of games, but they were sketchy at best . Tom needed some time to think about it, make some calls, get some leads, and develop a reputation perhaps . That mi ght help . For example, they could move up to a private table at $1000/$2000 Sma ll/Large blinds . That would get the town’s attention, if Sarah could win there. “Let’s rest for now, my prett y . We’ll hit the big tables tomorrow. ” Tom said, as off they went to


get a good ni ghts sleep, getting ready for the next days adventure. The sun rose over Vegas, the next morni ng, again, without a wisp of a cloud anywhere, as usual . The air was dry there . All moisture rung out of the air as it rose and j ourneyed up and over the Sierra Nevada Range, and settles down over the desert as if to say, “I’ m thirsty. Gi ve me all your water.” Most people go from air -conditioned comfort of home to air -condit ioned comfort of thei r cars to air -conditioned comfort of their workplace, casino, or shopping mall . prepared. The heat of the sun and the dryness of the air can be nefarious, if you are not Of course, around the pool and at the outdoor bar, you are never far away from the satiation of thirst or seclusion from the heat . Sarah wondered what it would be li ke to be left out there somewhere, alone wit hout water or shade . never have to find out.” Tom slept late that morning, as Sarah order ed breakfast. The room service was as i mpeccable as Ever ything you need and more . the concier ge was . “Hope I

Sarah liked Vegas . She said to herself, “Gotta get her e more often” As she devoured the Eggs Benedict, melon chunks, and various berries, that accompanied the eggs . Tom awoke and said 76

“Ahhh, wake up and smell the coffee” And “Hey, where are my eggs ?” Sarah pointed to the ot her end of the table and said, “Under that sil ver ser ving lid.” “Great, I love this stuf f, good choice.” After breakfast, they headed down to the fl oor to find the hi gh stakes tables. “Not many people her e”, Sarah said. “Too early for the hi gh rollers, we’ll tr y again later” Tom said, as he headed for the car rental off ice . “We’re headed for a f riend’s house j ust out of town in the foothills, out near Las Vegas Lake, in Waterton . I called him before we left and he’s expecting us . Larry is another player I met several visits ago a nd to whom of whi ch I lost a lot of money. We’re still friends though. He said call next time you’re in town and I’ll gi ve you a chance to win it back . Nice guy, huh?” “I’ll say. Is it a nice place?” “It’s among the best around here.” They headed to wards a palatial residence on a hillside overlooking a golf course and Lake Las Vegas beyond . apprehensi ve . Sarah could not help but be a bit She could not help but feel she was 77



embar k





adventure, leading to disaster agai n, somehow, and could not get “Stranded in The Desert” out of her mi nd. They pulled into Larry’s dri veway, headed for front door, and were met there by his gi rlfriend, Candy. She was dressed for the pool, weari ng onl y a bikini bottom, and a ti ny one at t hat. Sarah thought, “Why even bother wit h that?” “Hi, come on in, he’s expecting you.” Sarah could not get her eyes off her boob j ob . The skin was so tightl y str etched it looked li ke you could bounce a quarter off them and have trouble catching it, because it would bounce ri ght back at you as fast as it was thrown . Tom could not take his eyes off There was no them because of how big they were .

bounce to them at all, when she wal ked, though . However , Sarah coul d not help but notice the way she wal ked. It was as if to say, “They’re here … so please look at them.”

Larry was sitting in a lounge chair next to the pool, enj oying the br ight sunny Vegas day . Sarah thought, “They’re sun worshipers, all of them, with golden brown tans, blond hair, and sungl asses, spending all day by the pool, and all night


gambling.” He stood up to greet us, shaking Tom’s hand saying, “Good to see you again, glad you could make it all the way out here, and who mi ght this pretty one be?” Sarah thought he was j ust being kin d, but stuck her hand out and said, “I’ m Sarah, Tom’s little girl poker player.” “Oh, I see. one?” Tom had not mentioned anyone else to her and she thought, “Oh, Oh, where is this going to go?” Sarah looked over to Tom, se arching for a clue . He diverted his eyes from hers and thought for a moment and said, “I hadn’t told Sarah about that yet, Larr y . cat is out of the bag now . tell you later, maybe.” Sarah wondered “why maybe? ” Larry said, “Believe it or not I heard about your poker table last night . you little girl?” I have friends ever ywhere, who tell me ever ything. You are good, aren’t However, f igured it was a sore spot with him and would let it go for now . I was waiting for j ust the right moment, but t he Sorr y Sarah, I’ll Tom? You’re training another


Sarah blushing now l ooked up directly into his eyes to see if he was telling the truth or j ust fishing for infor mation. She was surprised to see that he was Maybe I am that speaking seriousl y and truthfully . react.

good, or was it j ust his ploy to see how she would Either way, Sarah’s read on hi m was right . The He was serious about her ability, and she got the feeling he wanted t o find out first hand . reputation was growi ng, Tom’s thoughts went to playing poker, and Sarah’s went to filling “The Hole”. The three of them sat down at a pool area table. It is one of those outdoor glass tables out on a stone patio with a freestanding canvas pati o canopy for shade. asked, “Ever yone comf y here?” As he opened a new deck of cards and spr ead them for shuffling, and Candy brought out the chips case . Tom nodded in the af firmati ve, and Sarah gave the “thumbs up”. Larr y interj ected by pointing out that he felt like it was two against one, and said, “You guys mind if I call Ralph, a buddy of mi ne to sit in, to even the sides?” “If you must,” Sarah thought to herself, “Hmmmm Larr y couldn’t tease the dragon under this table” .


Tom squawked . Ralph lived next door so it did not take long, sat right down and they were off and running as Candy star ted d ealing the cards . Candy had been a dealer at some tables in one of the downtown casinos, and she knew what she was doing. She was ver y professional, and accomplished at it. Sarah thought, how handy, he a li ve -i n dealer, and a maj or distraction at a pool side table in Vegas . OMG Sarah thought, Tom does not stand a chance . They started low with 100/200 blinds, j ust to get war med up. They qui ckl y moved to 500/1000, then 1000/2000. No one of them was winning more than the others, it was pretty even, win o ne, loose a couple. aggressi ve Sarah deci ded to become a bit more in order to liven things up, break

something loose, and get something going, for the better or worse, j ust something . She started raising on a pair of aces, or fours over twos, and l ow thr ee of a kind, j ust to upset the balance a bit, and not be too predictable . It seemed to be wor king. She would win a bit on those but mostl y lost to better hands, but now they were not so sure about what she was playing. She was also watching Larr y and R alph closely for si gnals, signs, breathing changes, eye twitches, anything. Larry was smoki ng a ci gar, and she noticed he would pick it up and puff deeply ever y ti me he hit a good hand . She thought it must 81

be an unconscious reaction on his part, because he was ver y consistent wi th that action . It is funny how we all, at one time or another , something do things or unconsciousl y while doing else,

thinking about somet hing .

It was odd to Sarah,

though, that this person was so lax in discipline at the level they are playing at . Maybe he j ust thought these people are amateurs or something and was too sure of himself, and was not concerned about screwing up. The next hand was being dealt . Sarah watched closely . The pocket cards were dealt, then the flop. Sarah had the Ace and King of Sarah looked Spades, and the flop revealed a Two of Spades, a Five of Hearts and a Five of Spades . straight ahead at the table, the flop cards, and did not register a puff on the cigar, but he placed a 20K bet on the Fi ves, she thought he mi ght have a Two, or an Ace kicker, but probabl y not anot her Fi ve . Therefore, she called the bet, the other two folded . Candy dealt the Turn card, and it was a Ten of Spades. any kind. Larry checked, without any added sign of Sarah, of cour se now had an Ace hi gh She

Flush, but she j ust stared straight ahead at t he table and the cards, and checked to the Ri ver card . knew if she bet there was a chance he would fold . Sarah thought that if she were going to win t his hand and win it bi g, he wou ld have to bet first and bet bi g . 82

There it came, the bi g puff on the ci gar, as t he Ri ver card was dealt, and it was a Six of Diamonds . She had the flush. What did he have , was the question . Sarah suspected it was one of the other two Fi ves and that a s izable bet would be made, and sure enough, here it came $50K . now at $93K . With that, the pot was Sarah, hesitating a few seconds not

wanting to make it seem she was too anxious to take the hand, said, “ALL IN” . She had $75K and pushed it out to the mid dl e of the table, Larry called immediatel y and she f lopped her pockets, ACE/King of Spades, he mucked his, too ashamed to show what he had. There was nearly $300K in that pot, and Sarah was nearl y beside herself, but hid the emotion well. It is neither good nor polite to gloat in front of someone who j ust lost $150K in one hand. “Well Tom, she is good . Where did you find this one?” Tom was not telling, but felt that Larry had been more than accommodating and thanked him for his hospitality, but that he and Sarah needed to catch their flight back to Boston . Larry said, “Wait.” Sarah said, 83 “Double or nothing on one hand of “Guts”, fi ve cards strait -up, no betting.” Tom stuffed his brief case with the winnings and headed for the door as

“Sure, why not” As Tom was turning several shades of red over the thought of it, but gave her the go ahead, despite his reservations. Sarah said, “Candy, go ahead deal, but t his is bet ween you and me Larr y” “OK, you and me . Go ahead Candy.” The cards came one at a t ime. flow now, bi g stakes here . First, an Ace for Sarah, then a Ten for Larry, the adrenaline starts to Next cards a Jack for Sarah and a Seven for Larry, not looking good for Larry, Tom thought, but Sarah was not out of the woods yet . Third cards were another Ace f or Sarah and another Ten for Larry . Heating up now, it could be anyone’s hand now . Fourth cards were a Five for Sarah and a Two for Larry . That is Aces against Tens, the final cards would tell the tale for this day, big stakes for a bi g han d at poker, in Vegas, Duh ! Like that never happens, “RIGHT” Well here it is, right in front of Sar ah, it was happening, but she could not believe it . It was too much, too big . The adrenaline must have been too much for her as she passed out, fell to the floor, as the last cards were dealt, another Ace for her and a Queen for Larry . It took a while for her to regain consciousness . She dreamed of the desert with the vultures circling, waiting, to devour her dehydrated body once she 84








happened for a few mi nutes . looked at Tom and sai d, “I did it, didn’t I?” “You sure did sweetie”

Once it sunk in, she

Off they went, back t o Boston with a pile of cash . OMG she thought, “Now what?” They headed back to the hotel . Sarah particularly . They needed

to recover from the intensity of the day’s activities, They would head up to their room and call room service, for dinner, and then the plan was to, after diner, get some sleep and head out to the airport first thing in the morning. but notice how beautiful this woman was . T he room She was service waitress arrived, and Sarah could not help not too tall, maybe f ive foot five, long bl ond hair tied back in a ponytail, for the ser vice Sarah thought. She had a slim build, size 6 or 7. She said, “Hello, my name is Susan, and I’ll be waiting on you this evening . Here is your order, and if you need anything, or something isn’t to your li king, I’ll be right back here in seconds, j ust ask for Susan.” Sarah followed her to the doo r to gi ve her a tip, and had to comment to her about her beaut y . 85 Susan

grabbed her ar m, pul ling her to the corridor, and whispered into her ear, “Larry told me about you . I don’t usual ly He wait on rooms, but I had to meet you . showed me the video of y our game today.” Sarah said. “That little rat” “Noooo, don’t get the wrong idea . better.” Sarah wanted that too, so she said, “Come back for the cart when we’re done, I’ ll call down for you, and I’ll leave my phone number at home on it . We’re headed back to Boston tomorrow . Call me.” Tom asked, “What was that all about?” “Something about seei ng me play last night at the tables, I think she li kes me, or something.” Tom thought that t hat was a bit unusua l, but dismissed it, because it was probabl y nothing . They ate their dinner and headed for their bedrooms for the night. However, not before they talked about the split. They both agreed that 50/50 was fair. Sarah had trouble sleeping that ni ght, becau se there was no sound of digging, 86 no excavators I loved what I saw and want to get to know you

outside, and not a shovel in sight, j ust the gentle sound of the wind whooshing by outside, around a corner of the building, like a lar ge dump truck filling a hole.



Chapter 7 The One
The next day Sarah f ou nd herself at home at her parent’s house . It was j ust outside Boston, north shore area, a short commute to Boston, if you wor ked there, and many did . It was what they called a bedroom communit y, full of people supporting the big cit y machine, who mi grate back and for th ever y day and come home t o sleep the night, and go back the next day, all over again, over and over again, day in and night out . Some were ni ght in and day out, but it was the same thi ng, the changi ng of the guard. On the plane ride back, Sarah had made the decision to look for an apart ment in Bost on . She decided also, that she needed to rent verses buy, at this point. Perhaps somewhere, where she could find a “Lease to Buy” arr angement, where the rent gets applied to the purchase price, or mort gage payments, if she decides to buy. She said to herself, “Tomorrow, that’s what I’ll do, go looki ng for a place in Boston.” Places directly in Boston, such as Beacon Hill, or Back Bay, or North End, mi ght pr ove to be quite expensi ve, even Charle stown, j ust 89 outside









Charlestown Navy Base .

This was a great location She had her

for Sarah. She thought it would be perfect, for her, if she could find the j ust right seller . eye on the condomini um’s built in the 90”s out on one of the old Navy Piers, which has a great view of downtown Boston across the harbor . They also looked over towards Old Ironsides, the historic Navy Sailing Ship, that is at dock there . They gi ve tours of the ship daily, and anyone touri ng Boston has to go there to see a bit of our USA History . old vessel, as if to si gnal, “All is alright, and another successful day in the life our grand old country”. Ever y sunset they fire a canon off the stern of this grand

They also fire it at 8:00 AM to si gnif y the start of another day, and to signif y they are still on watch for those who would har m us. Yes, this would be the place for Sarah, if she could pull it off . After all, she could bluff the pants off Vegas clowns in broad dayli ght for every one to see. When Sarah got home that night, there was a message on her telephone answering system . It was Susan. The message said,


“I’ m going to be in town at the Har vard Vista Hotel in Cambridge, on the Charles out near Har vard Uni versity. see you next week.” Sarah thought, wow, she is not wasting any ti me . Sarah thought she would wait until she called, verses calling back before she leaves, not to gi ve the impression she is over enthusiastic about her visit . Slow progress is bet ter than j umping all in and finding the water freezing cold . She woul d let the fires war m the waters first, j ust like in a poker game. Sarah found the condomi nium she was looki ng for. It was one of the uppe r two floor townhouses, It‘s a two story unit about half way out t he pier . I’ll gi ve you a call with Hope to my room number when I get there .

townhouse t ype set -up with bedrooms upstairs and living areas downstair s . It was one of the units that had roof terraces , and even a small plunge pool/hot tub on the upper roof th at faced the downtown skyline. The rent will be steep but she had to have it. Tom Phillsum and she will need a high -class to groom pr ospective hi gh stakes poker place

players, and this place was perfect, for that . “Susan will be impressed too”, she thou ght as she was moving in. “Susan might be “The One” for me . I must make a good i mpression on her” . She thought, as she fell asleep to the sounds of the city in the 91

backgr ound, that ni ght, for the first time in her new home. Susan arrived late one aftern oon, that next week, and found her way to the Har vard Vista Hot el on the Charles. The taxi driver knew exactly where to go . He said. “Been there many ti mes, lickady split,” However , across Boston from Logan International would prove to be a night mare . Ever try going through the tunnels and through the “Bi g Di g” and get to the other side , much less, attempt Memorial Drive at rush hour ? Susan was getting a f irst hand dose of Boston traffic, and did not like it, it was nowhere as little as Sarah liked it , but that is Boston, take it or leave it, and Susan felt li ke leavi ng it that day. “This is nothing li ke Vegas.” All those or ganicall y oriented hi ghways, like tree roots ending up nowhere in particular with no way back. here. There are no east/west, north/so uth, grids It seemed to her like they followed the Goat Going ar ound the But the wol ves

paths to and from the pastures . woods where the wolves li ved .

would devour you, ever y ti me someone got lost in the never ending matr ix of Boston streets, while the 92



seemingl y,

hi ggltey


around the cit y as if t o confuse you, not assist you, in getting to where you needed to go . Man, you got to know where you are going, if you don’t you’ll find yourself out in Medford on Interstate Route 9 3 headed north towards New Hampshire, with no place to turn around, as if to say, “Get the fuck out of here, we don’t want you here, if you don’t know where the fuck you’re going”. Susan got to the Har vard Vista Ok, but was none too happy about how long i t took, and she paid the taxi bill and left a tip, but she was pissed . Sarah had called the hotel before Susan got there and had a bouquet of flowers pl aced on the bed, so she would see them as she enter ed the room . It was t wo dozen Red Roses, “To Sarah”. Susan started to cr y, and said to herself, “How thoughtful” And, “That makes up for the hassle of getting here” And, “Thanks Sarah”. She then cal led down to the Concier ge to see if they would bring up a vase to put them i n, as she 93 with Susan", Babie s Breath to flower s Boston, as an adornment, and a car d that si mpl y read, "Welcome Love

unpacked and looked for the phone number to call Sarah. Sarah was not there when Susan called . she had j ust moved, s o she left a message saying, “Hi Sarah, thanks for the flowers, ver y sweet of you. Call me, I’ m i n room 954.” Susan wondered, is she ever home ? However , Sarah this time was out looking for more furniture to fill out the Townhouse . Sarah would call hom e often for her messages, and would eventuall y pick up and listen to Susan’s message. It was a great room. It had a huge single ki ng size bed, a large cable TV and a desk and chair with internet connection for your computer, along with a huge cushy easy chai r and ottoman, not to mention the ceramic tile lined bathroom with gol d faucet fittings. But best of all was the lar ge sliding glass door to the roof top patio that looked out over the Charles Ri ver basin with a, ”to die for”, view of downtown Boston’ s Back Bay and Beacon Hill . From there you can see all the way from the Bunker Hill Monument to t he start of the Fenway and beyond. Susan thought, “What a super mar vel ous spot . all the trouble to get here.” It was wor th She was calling Sarah’s home number, and had no idea


As she leaned on the railing si pping a Mart ini on a bright, sunny, cal m, not too cold January day. Sarah had finally picked up her messages and headed over to Cambr idge . When she got there, she called up to her room And Susan suggested to meet at the roof top sky -room restaurant on the top floor of the hotel . Sarah headed for the elevators where she noticed a man sitting in a lobby chair seemingl y reading a newspaper . It seemed a bit odd i n that he was looking over the paper as if sur veying the area for something, or looking for someo ne in particular, and had not yet found his mar k . Could not be me he was looking for . and said to herself, “Be careful, you don’t really know her.” It was true. Sarah left Las Vegas with a lar ge sum of money, and began to understand why Mr. Phillsum monitored the street so closely. Sarah met Susan at the restaurant . Susan was seated at a table by the window that had nearly a 360-degree view of Boston and some of the subur bs. Al most all the tables had a si milar view as the floor to ceiling windows ran al most all the way around the entire room, with the exception of the elevator and lobby areas at the far side away from the downtown He would have seen me already. Could have been looking for anyone, she thought,


view. The kitchen was below and out of v iew from there. The two of them sat there, j ust looking at each other, for a few minutes . said, “Wow, you came all this way j ust to see me”. “No, I came here to get to “know” you bet t er. I feel li ke a teenager again with a puppy love crush on you”. Sarah, blushing now, at the look of ador ation in Susan’s eyes, and didn’t know what to say, except that, “I know what you’re feeling . dinner cart, back in Vegas”. “Do you believe in “love at first sight?” “No, I don’t, not really, but maybe something akin to it perhaps . I think it’s more l ike infatuation, fascination, or passion, at first, and love develops from your relations hip af ter that. ground. Kind of like a seed planted in the If it likes the soil it’s been planted I felt the same way when I first saw you, bringing in t hat Each wondering how to start the conversation, when Sarah spoke up and

in, it will grow well, and produce flowers, and fruit, and large healthy seeds, and gi ve off a good healthy, happy, appearance . If not, the plant mi ght j us t wither and die, or j ust get 96

along li ving a painful, slow life, not so happy, and not so healthy looking”. “I guess I would agree with that . choose the soil it’s planted in.” “Yes, and if it could, it woul d choose the soil that has an appealing out ward appearance wouldn’t it?” “Your visit to Vegas blew you to me like a seed in the wind . Now I want you to grow and prosper through your roots in the soil I have to offer.” Sarah j ust smiled and said, “Let’s hope for some r ain.” On her way out of the hotel, Sarah was approached by the gentleman she obser ved on her way into the Hotel, who was hiding behind the newspaper obser ving or rather monitor ing the comings and goings of the Lobby . He now seemed to want to talk to her . Apparently, he had foll owed her to the restaurant and had seen her with Susan . asked, “Can we tal k? ” He looked around the Lobby one more ti me, as if he was seriousl y in danger of being found by someone He The difference is that the seed doesn’t get to


with a grudge against hi m or s omething, Sarah thought to herself. He said, “There’s a bar downstairs at the bottom level of the court yard, woul d you please j oin me”. Apprehensi vel y, Sarah nodded, yes, and followed . They found an out of the way booth in the back and he started to sa y something but he stopped and looked around one last ti me before continuing. “Larry sent a guy to watch over Susan.” “Susan? Why?” “She’s his daughter” “Oh my”, “No wonder she had access to the video” “Video?” “Never mind, that’s not important . are you telling me this?” “I’ m j ust here to warn her to stay out of sight for the near future” “Why are you so concerned about Susan?” “I’ m her brother, and our dad, Larry, is a control freak and needs us to be under his thumb ever y minute” “OMG what kind of t rouble am I getting into this time” But why


“This has happened before . I think he’ll lose interest if he can’t find her right away . got a place to hide out for a few weeks?” “I do” “Good, don’t tell me where . If I know, I mi ght spill the beans , if cornered . Just get her out of here before his g oons find her . They will take her back to Vegas if they do . I’ll take care of things here, j ust get me t he room key, and I’ll check out, while you get her out of here.” “OK but I need some time and I’ ll be back in an hour or so.” Sarah thought that her Bible Lady disguise mi ght wor k here too . They both could get dressed up and wal k out of the Hot el without a second look . It would be easy, all they had to do is just wal k through the Lobby asking the d esk cler k if it is OK to leave a few Bibl e Study magazines on a few Lobby tables . On one of the tables, Sarah left Ken was something a bit more than a magazine . You

watching and Sarah noticed it, and with that, Susan and Sarah were off, and apparentl y incogn ito. Over the next few months in Sarah’s new apart ment, these t wo would get to know each other quite well, sharing everything, ever y minute of ever y day and ni ght, leaving nothing to each other’s 99

imagi nation.

For some people this is a difficult The sharing of t houghts,

thing to do, someti mes .

desires, fantasies, your body, are among the most intimate and difficult to let go of, as they might drag you over the edge of the cliff as you release the thoughts and words and things into the air for someone else to hear , comprehend, and caress . It comes from the fear of rej ection, or disapproval, but these two had ever ything out there on the table for inspection, and they f ound that there was nothing out there that could fall between them that would splash the muck of dar kness, woe, or fear onto them. All this sharing of thoughts and desires, their beings, their souls, their hearts and breasts, brought Susan so close to Sarah and Sarah to Susan t hat they were becoming one, inseparable by anything or anyone, or a ny wor ds. It was not a difficult It is the struggle, at all, li ke many heterosexual couples, who have a physical attraction to one another . mental part of the relationship, which tears them apart. Just look at the divorce rate these days . It is more prevalent than not . How many ti mes have you heard “Oh, it won’t l ast”, they are too different, or too young, or too something . ideas. It is differences of opinions, or the abject dismissal of desires and Those things and actions that manifest themsel ves, in a variety of ways, into ever yday life 100

between couples, that ultimatel y dri ves them apart . Many couples have differences, but manage to cope with them. Some see their differences as strength of their relationship, enabling them to be mor e sapient with ever yday issues and stresses, because the other may have better solutions to problems or a better idea as to how to cr eate pleasant feelings, or j ust plain cook a better meal . Nevertheless, what Susan and Sarah found, though this period, is that the two of them had no differences of thought, or opinions . Of the type that really matter, not j ust what to have for breakfast, you know. Sarah pondered the last few weeks and concl uded that she and Jeanie were j ust infatuated with each other, and that love was beginning to happen, between her and Susan. They shared the same sexual desires for the most part. Some fun games and fun toys made the It was, for them, less about sex more enj oyable .

procreation, for obvious reasons, but not like most people, respondin g to hormonal induced desires, but more tr ying to create pleasure for the one you love, and in return recei ve the same . something less than j ust pleasure . this was different . Susan, however, Sarah recalled introduced Sarah to a side of sex that included some of her encounte rs with several S . O. B’s, but Some pain and restraint was invol ved but of the kind that was not inj urious but 101

whose purpose was to enhance the pleasure, which she knew she would encounter, afterwards, having the effect of magnif ying h er or gasms by numbers incalculable. It was the sensual experiences and It She She stimulation taken from one extreme to the other, without the nor mal f eeling of being in control . knew, once started t here was no stopping. happening to her whi le not being in contr ol . was being done to her, but at her insistence, and she extremel y enj oyed the fact that these sensations were trusted Susan and knew she would do the ri ght things at the right ti mes and that would play a lar ge role in the magnification process, and at the same ti me she was learning how to reciprocate the pleasures for Susan. In Sarah’s mind, Susan became “The One” f or her, and “The Hole” now seems to be finally filled, and maybe j ust a bit of fill left over, for emer gencies.


Chapter 8 The Shop
Sarah did not need to wor k but she found a j ob as a cashier at a consignment shop downtown Boston. She had lots of time between poker games Susan on the other

and needed something to do .

hand, enj oyed j ust staying at home, being domestic and taking ca re of Sarah. Sarah could take the ferr y across the harbor from the Navy Yard to Boston Landing, over by the Boston Hilton Hotel . The shop was j ust a short walk from there, it was perfect, no need to drive the proverbial “Streets of Boston” . She found the shop owners to be ver y nice . Sarah had shopped there for some off price designer clothes, at 50 cents on the dollar . Some were never worn, some worn once, but impeccable quality at a great price, and great service . You could do worse; say buying somet hing at Mall -Mart or somet hing. The shop owner, Janna, would greet her every time she entered the shop . She was soooo nice that Sarah would think of that shop ever y time she wanted to buy some nice clothes , not to mention the nice touch on the shoulder o r accidental rub of the ar m, or bump on the butt . Sarah thought she was


looking for sex with a woman . Sarah recognized the signs, as well as the signs for poker . and J anna knew. Sar ah knew, Maybe it was the way t heir eyes

met, with the look of familiar ity, and congeniality, but Sarah was not biting at that hook . Janna sensed that Sarah knew and l et it go, thinking that she’ll be back anyway, maybe I can get her to wor k here and satisfy some of our good customers . Janna was good at that. suits, Helping them tr y on their dresses and pant offering suggestions and accessories to Janna was good at selling

complete their outfits .

clothes, the way Sarah was good at poker, and Sarah recogni zed that in her . Sarah was totally into Susan, but that does not mea n that life stops at Susan . This was an opportunit y f or Sarah to get inter ested in something other than poker, which had been a source of trouble, al most all the way through to Vegas, and even at that, there well to were do and still are some regul ar tribulations. Several Ladies were customers of Janna’s . They j ust loved her and the The “Nose” of other The

attention she gave them when they shopped there, not to mention the use of the “Nose”. would dri ve these women crazy . them wait until the shop w as Janna would have empt y

customers and made sure the cler k at the desk warned her when someone entered the shop . 104

“Nose” was a sex toy that had a vibrating Nose, and a rotating tongue, that would dri ve any woman to ecstasy in minutes . They would ask wher e ca n you buy one of those, and Janna would say, they do not make them any more you have to come here t o use it . I keep it char ged up, j ust for you, and they would come back ti me after time, for a new outfit, whether they needed one or not . Janna laughed to herself, all the way to the bank. Sarah thought to herself, when Janna told her of this, that wow “Sounds li ke a ver y “Inti mate Kiss”.” Mary was a partner with Janna, not j ust with the shop, but they li ved together and shared intimacy at home with each ot her ever y ni ght . hours in front of the fireplace . They tal ked about the Gas Fireplace and bearskin rug and sex for Sarah was familiar with sex for hours wi th Susan and could relate with Janna and Mary about how they must feel about each other. Janna sai d, “Sarah, you’ ve got a j ob for life, that is if you want it ” . not commit to forever . Sarah wanted it, but could After all is said, and done .

Sarah would r emember the Vegas clowns. There would be encounters at the shop with customers expecting f ull serv ice, from ti me to ti me, when Janna was not t here. They had sever al shops and moved bet ween them when needed . They would be ver y disappointed that Janna was not there and 105

asked if Sarah would be willing to administer the “Nose”. She would remar k to them how great it was, and how Janna had explained to her that she wanted to be the onl y one f or you . Truth was she really Sarah preferred not to get invol ved with it . After all, it is probabl y il legal, and could be busted for it . was beyond the troubl e days and wanted to stay away from it, but she also wanted to stay in the shop too, and hoped there would be no trouble over the denial. Sarah pondered, “What was that?” “OMG!” “Not again! ” “Chunk!” One day, another one of Janna’s satisfied repeat customers came into the shop and approached her, opened her shoulder bag to show Janna a “Nose”. This caught Janna by surprise, she had to laugh, and laughing out loud, she said, “You found one” “From now on I’ll br ing my own, no telling where yours has been .” With big smiles on their faces, they headed off to the fitting rooms, which were set -up with hard walls and full doors gi ving them the ultimate in privacy . Janna grabbed a dress along the way, off a rack, to gi ve the impression of legitimacy, in case watching, while saying, 106 someone was

“I think you’ll li ke thi s one.”

Sarah had wor ked with cash registers, and UPC scanners, hand held tag scanners for product ordering, and the li ke, but never had much t o do with computers. She had some word processing classes in school, and knew how to email and browse the internet, but not on a scale that was available to her at the shop. These days’ preschoolers have access to computers either at home and/or at school, but until now, it was in the background for her . They used the computer for ever ythi ng, from inventor y control, to pricing, to consi gnment contracting, to on -line bill payments, entertainment games, bookkeeping, tax payments, licensing, on and on and on again. This is where Sarah first learned of on -li ne poker sites, but she was not quite ready to approach that subj ect j ust yet . She needed to know more about the basics of computer ownership and operation . Most people j ust go buy a computer, plug i t in and away they go, and that is how they are design ed to wor k. They tr y to make the use of them totally through user friendliness, ease of transparent, an illusion. unordinar y remembered

operation, something f or ever yone, etcetera, but it is Ever ythi ng is j ust fine until something or unusual happens . Gates 107 Sar ah had seeing Bill unveiling a new

operating system soft ware package, where on trying to boot the computer, it crashed, locked up, wouldn’t boot, on a live pri metime TV show . She knew, from seeing j ust this one li ttle bit, that all the hype was j ust that, hype, and that there was more to computers than j ust plugging them in and turning them on . Sarah had witnessed some crashes where a days worth of infor mation was lost, where, for whatever cause, a bad bit of infor mation rendered the computer syste m temporaril y un -usable, thereby

loosing some infor mat ion. First rule of thumb for computer use is, “Save Often”. That is, to save the files you are working on while they develop, on a regular basis . Many people save their file at the end, when done, or where you are at the end of the day. That way you have the file or at least a good portion of it on the hard drive, available for use on r eboot, not lost in it’s entirety to the vast cavernous vacuum of cyberspace, because it resided solely in the tempor ar y random access memor y. The second rule of computer use is, “Always save your work before getting up from the computer,” to get something or do something else even for j ust a minut e . You cannot expect to find the computer in the state of co ndition you left it. Stuff happens, particularly when you are not looking, like someone else sits down to do somet hing and 108

closes your file without saving it, to spite the warning message or, a power spike induced crash, or some other thing that is done to it that co mpromises the file you were working on . something. time . before. Third rule of computer ownership is to “Back up your wor k, often” . You should do, or schedule, a daily back up, on a remote dri ve/di sk/storage medium that is away from the origin as far as possible to avoid loosing both from the same cause . In addition, at least once a month do a total back up of your entire system . More often if you can, and Sarah had seen have the space and f acility to do it, because you never know what mi ght happen . hardware problems, where central processors and motherboards burn up from excessi ve heat because a cooling fan failed, or a hard drive had a mechanical failure, or developed bad spots on the di sk itself rendering it and the system useless. Fourth rule is, “Keep the equipment in good condition, and update old out of dat e systems on a regular basis, often . Computers are general ly out of date as soon as you buy them, and she thought that at 109 The second ti me There is always you enter the

infor mation always seems to go faster than the first Sarah always t hought that it was because of the familiarity of having done it once or twice

least once a year would be a good thing to do, at least evaluate the state and condition of software as well as the hardware . This all depends on what it has been subj ect to and how much use it has seen. She was learning that any things that are electronic and mechanical are vulnerable to the gremli ns hiding on the underside, j ust waiting for you to look the other way. They come packaged with the product from the factory, and remain totally invisi ble until you least expect them, and to manifest themselves as problems, such as crashes and burnings. Sarah was getting to know computers . what they needed to know . Shops. So good, that Janna had her train any new employee on Janna also made her responsible to start developing a web site for the At first it did not need to be much, j ust enough for anyone to get some basic inf or mation about who they are and where to find us . They hired a web site development company to assist them to do this. They would ulti mately show them how to make updates and have blog pages where they could gi ve special event infor mation or inventor y updates, or where customers could leave feedback on their buying experiences. At this point Sarah had purchased a comput er for home. desktop She decided on a portable format, in a replacement notebook/laptop 110 format .

Sarah’s pri mar y interest was in the internet, and internet based programs . It is here, that she would encounter on -line games and things, whi ch would lead her to the on -line gambling sites , where you can gamble your life away right at home over the internet. Sarah didn’t think of it that way, but she would stay away from it for the ti me being, thinking it mi ght present a whole new set of troubles, that she was tr ying to get away from . However, she kept hearing the sound of “Cha Ching” in the background ever y ti me she sat down at the computer and looked at the small red icon in the far corner of her Windows desktop screen . The icon is symbolistic of the characters on a set of playing cards . It is a red spade in the shape of an inverted heart with a white star in the middle.

Janna and Mar y became good friends wi th Sarah and Susan . They would go out to din ner, go to ball games, and go t o the beach . stuff good friends do together . her place for dinner . They All the kind of Sarah has fond would all cook

memories of the ti mes they all would get together at something, never telling the others what it was goi ng to be. It was really potluck. Someti mes they would all bring an entrée, but never did they all bring j ust dessert. Someti mes two desserts and once three, but 111

Sarah was cooking homemade pi zza and had enough for all. Usuall y after dinner, they would h ave a few after dinner drinks, along with several hours or so talking about metaphysics . Then each couple would head for their respective bedrooms . Sarah had two, and Janna and Mary would stay in her guest room, and head for home, or the shop, the next m orning. It was an easy commute, over to the next pier, hop on the ferry, and at wor k in 20 minutes or less. During the summer, t hey all would take thr ee or four day long escapes to Cape Cod . They would rent a house on the beach, along the narrow strip o f land between North Truro and Provincetown . It was the upper floor of a two -unit house ri ght on the beach, on the bay side . The water was war mer and calmer on this side, but they would adventure out to the outer beaches from The Meadows to Herring Cove, past Race Point . Someti mes hi king the breakwater and beach at the southwest end of the bay, j ust south of Provincetown, over to Sandy Point, this is the ver y, ver y, outer tip of Cape Cod . The whale watching boats, fishing boats, and f erries to and from Boston would pass by j ust off the point of the beach, and they would wave to the passengers, while listening to the tour guide on the public address system. tour guide say, 112 They would occasionall y hear the

“Oh! Or, “Oh!

Look over there, there’s a school of

flyin g fish”, Look over there there’s a pod of

Porpoise” Usuall y at this point, they are j ust describing places of interest on the outer Cape . They would comb the beach for seashells and sea glass . Once Sar ah found a chunk of clear, or rather, wh ite frosted glass, at this point. It was as big as a golf ball . Probably the remnants of a cr ystal decanter stopper and handle, Sarah thought . It is unusual to find such a large For some piece, particularly where she found it .

reason, usuall y the sea g lass is about the same size as the particles of sand or gravel in which you find them. That is to say that, if the gravel is about one half inch in diameter the sea glass you find there is also about one half inch in diameter . This one Sarah found it in a stretch of course sand . She figured someone else found it in a gravel patch and dropped it in the sand, where it was buried, and reappeared j ust in time for Sar ah to find it . at the apart ment, and at the shop. The sand in parts of t he Cape come s and go es all the ti me. A coastal stor m can move tons of sand hundreds of yar ds down the beach refor mi ng and 113 They kept a collection of sea glass in glass bottles and j ars, back

reshaping gone by.








yesterday, as it has done for millenn iums of time The sand probably ori ginated somewhere in the mountains of Ver mont and New Yor k, washed down to the sea by the Hudson and Connecticut rivers, pushed east by stor ms and the gul f stream waters, for ming Long Island, the Cape Isl ands an d the Cape itself . Sarah did not care much about where it came from, she j ust knew she li ked where it was, at this point in time . It was the war m summer breezes moderated by the ocean water, which helped keep the air temperat ure down . the beach. Much cooler than inland, but war m enough to be comfortable all day at Occasionally they would encounter j ust the right combination of weather elements that would make the day on the beach among some of the most memorable that Sarah would ever be able to think of . Sarah was not too sure of the exact number s . Maybe it differs from per son to person. Generally, she would tell people, if the air temperature was between 75 and 80 degrees, the sun is out or it’s j ust lightl y hazy, so that you can still feel it’s war mth, the humidit y is above 90 percent, the wind is at about 10 to 15 miles per hour , and you were naked to the wind, it would feel like twent y hands gently caressing your body all over . There are many

stretches of beach on the Cape where you’ll find 114

ver y few if any others around, and on days like that they would hi ke out a mile or two from anywhere and enj oy a great day, totall y naked . They found that nude sunbathing, and outdoor acti vities, act like an aphrodisiac, hei ght ening the desires, and drives, for sex, and sensitizes nerve endings gi ving you a greater appreciation for life afterwards . These women had trouble waiting until they got back to their rented house . They would find a private spot in the dunes, or set up a windbreak pri vacy screen or pile up driftwood to hide from view of passers by, and have sex and extr aordinary or gasms, gi ving each other pleasures way beyond nor mal, and memories to match. They would tal k about trips like that f or weeks after, at home and at the shop . Once, Mar y was explaining about the “Breeze Phenomenon” to one of their regulars, one of the well to do woman shoppers, who frequented the shop at least once or twice a month. Rhetta was fortyish, with long dark hair. Very pretty, slim, well dressed, with an under sexed husband. She said she had to go try i t, but she would have to tal k her husband into it . Mary said, “I’ m sure he won’t mi nd one bit, j ust tell him you’ll do anything he asks” . Next ti me she was in the shop she grabbed Mary’s ar m and dragged her away from a customer, thanking her profusely, and tel ling her 115

how much they enj oyed the day, and cannot wait to do it again. Sarah was happy wit h the way things were going. So much so, she became skeptical about how much longer this would last . so much in love and so She and Susan wher e many ti mes before,

something would happen to end her st ream of nor malcy, interrupted by shovel carr ying S .O.B’s. They had tal ked about getting married, but the mainstream of public opinion over the issue was not all there yet . Sarah never understood the desire for homosexual couples to get married, anyway . Most heterosexual couples get married for a stack of reasons, but Sarah fel t that the foremost reason was to gi ve their commit ment to each other in front of God, so that they c onfor med to the teachings of the bible and could love each other and be together forever, in life and after, spiritually . plans, but were thinki ng about it . Janna and Mary had talked about getting married . They had no Sarah would ask them “Why?” and wou ld point out the teachings of the Bible, that say marriage is to be between a man and a woman, onl y, and that it is a sin to do it any other way. There are ways issues to solve the being social/political equality without

married. Sarah felt that this was solely an emotional issue with some Homosexuals, not a practi cal one . 116

“Well, I j ust want to be married, and that’s all there is to it” said in a tone and inflection onl y a ver y feminine homosexual man can say it, Sar ah would imagi ne while contemplating t he issue. Every ti me those words edged there way into her thoughts, she felt like going outside on the sidewalk and finding someone li ke that and gi ving them a knee in the crotch, followed by t he words, “Grow up, will ya” . She had no reser vati ons about l etting people know how she feels about the issue, but she never really intended to follow through with the knee thing, it j ust irritated her to think of it, and used that anecdote to describe her feelings, short of actually doing it. No… Marriage would n ot be something It Sarah and Susan would be doing anyti me soon, but Sarah loved the sound of the whooshing gravel . was music to her ears.



Chapter 9 On-line Poker and Mr. Wolf
Between poker games with Tom and some of his acquaintances, Sarah started play ing poker on line. You remember , “The little red icon” . She had downloaded the program and installed it, out of curiosity. Sarah found it to be a good way to practice. It was li ke honing the edge, sharpening the blade, so to say, on unsuspecting, inexp erienced players, even some of the more experienced players . She played the free chip tables, where they start you out with $1000 in what they call “Play Money Chips”. With her first 1,000, she started accumulating play chi ps . grew. She never had to go back

to get more. They j ust kept adding up and her stacks At first they grew to ar ound 150 ,000, but when she started playi ng the 100/200 small and lar ge bind hold’em tables , or the larger buy -in “Sit and Go” tournaments, she was able to accumulat e enough chips to stay somewhere between 12 and 20 Million. Some of the 100/200 blind tables play as if the blinds are 40,000, which is the maxi mum buy -in for those tables. They would post bids of at least that amount pre -flop. The players each always seemed to 119

have 100’s of thousands of chips and some 1,000,000 plus, with 30 people on the waiting list to get on one of these tables. There was no tangible value in the T hey are j ust a way to measure play money chips .

how good you are, and/or how lucky you ar e, o r not. There was no “or not” for Sarah. She would toss some chips to a few on -li ne players that she bef riended, at the tables, even though they give you more if you run out . However , at the larger stakes t ables you need a ton of chips j ust to get in, so she would help some up and coming players to get there . Besides that, she li ked playing with them. They were someone familiar to chat with while playing. Sometimes creating distractions, as Sarah does at the real tables, except you cannot reach under t he table for real, j ust talk about it . On the other hand, maybe she tossed chips j ust so she could win them back . and spend them. Practice makes perfect, Ri ght ? how vulnerable she was . adversar y. international He was a Sarah wo uld ultimatel y learn how much it would take to know Tom called Sarah, one ver y rich Wolf CEO of an bright spring morning with news of a pr ospective banking fir m, International Therefore, there is value to the Play Money chips, you j ust cannot go to the store

Banking Corporation . Mr. Frederick D. Wol f was his 120


Tom knew hi m by reputation through some It

guys he had played poker with in Vegas, and had acquired his number t hrough his banks web site . was a protracted process, but all he had to do is say, “I have $1,000,000 bu rning a hole in my pants pocket, his”, Saying onl y, “Aces Full”, to his Executive Assistant. and needed to talk about the circumstances under which it mi ght become

It took onl y about five minute s to get a call back from hi m. Tom had expected t hey were one of those fronts for illegiti mate “Off Shore” accounts for tax evasion purposes and money laundering for the mob and drug cartels . However, those were j ust rumors . Sarah Tom told Sarah under no circumstances, what so ever, should that be a topic of convers ation. thought to herself, “Oh, by the way, how much money did you launder for the mob last year?” She laughed at the image of herself in cement overshoes and heavy chains wrapped around her as she was sinking to the bottom of the bay. “Laugh out loud Tom. What kind of idiot do you think I am?” 121

“I’ m j ust making sure, “My Prett y” .

It ’s

scheduled for next Friday, 8:00PM . Be ready with ever ything set up and ready to go and it’ll be $500K each with $1K/$2K blinds, f or draw poker.” Sarah thought, “Oh good, I love draw poker.” For these games, Sarah would convert her bedroom into a game room. It was on the top floor of the building, with a deck off it facing the Boston skyline across the ri ver and Boston Harbor . She had one of those beds that fo lds up into the wall and disappears into a nicely done wood paneled wall . Tom had ordered anot her Poker Table set, like his at home for playing her e . It was stored in t he spare bedroom where there was another fold up bed . The sun will have set by 8:00 a nd the office lights in the towers that overlook the city 24/7/365 woul d light up the buildings . Sometimes the li ghts in the rooms of the buildings were set up to spell words and phrases, like “Happy New Year” or “Give Blood” or “Rita Marry Me?” town to see. Sarah thought it‘d be ironic that the CEO of a multi -national bank would be sitting literally right 122 Sarah hoped she never would see the words “Di g Sarah” and “Chunk” lit up for the whole

under the noses of some of the large banki ng fir ms and businesse s that he has dealings wit h, while gambling their money away . Sarah was recalling how she tossed chips to players at the on -line tables, and suspected Tom would toss his $500K her way and sit back and let her do the work . She made sure Janna and Mary woul d not interrupt their game, by telling them, “Susan and I are having a financial advisor over to tal k about retir ement invest ments”. Sarah did not want them to know how well she was doing by playing poker . They suspected there was more to her stor y than she had let on about it . How does a store clerk, computer wi zard , afford the place she lives in? had no idea. Susan would be the dealer . deal in Vegas. She could show hi m her Certificate of Training she earned in order to She also still had a valid and up to Tom would tell him he had date Casino ID card . tonight, if he asks . They t hought inheritance, maybe, but

hired her and had her flown here from Vegas, j ust for If he knew her and Sarah were partners in life , he might think there was more than j ust flesh up her sleeve. Sarah was looking forward to the ni ght’s adventure. She was war ming up with the on -line tables, thinking about how to read the on –line 123

players. It is difficult at times . There are no faces there. You could find no twitches, move ments, or Sarah did notice several Like how How many actions, of any kind that mi ght gi ve clues , as to what cards they were holdi ng . clues though, or actions that perhaps mi ght tell a story in the development of a hand . quickl y you place a bet, or how slow . decide.

cards you discard, and how long it takes you to Passing of time on -line can be deceptive, with the electronic delays over the web caused by bad or slow connections, but for the most part Sarah could see patterns over ti me, looking for anythin g she could find . are losing. knowing it. All anyone needs is some sort of tiny little edge, in order to win more chips t han you She learned to look beyond the Avatars All they could do is j ust sit t here and and into the brains of the players, without them even scratch there heads wondering, “How’d she do that?” Not that the on -line players could hear what she said, but she would tell them, “Just hand”. It is not Rocket Sc ience, it is perception, wit h a little bit of luck painted on by the cards, and at times, it seemed Sarah was very, ver y, lucky . 124 Someti mes pay attention to what’s happeni ng, instead of j ust what cards you have in your

players would show how good of a hand they had, or how bad it was, after she folded to a large bet . was as if to wipe it in her face by saying “HA, HA, HA I bluffed you” Or, “HA, HA, HA you are a looser” However , all the ti me, Sarah was watching, gaining an edge, registering the infor mation, to use next time, to clean hi m or her out of all their chips . Sarah had learned a long ti me ago that you never gi ve your opponents any more infor mation than is absolutely necessar y. To Sarah, it was like Neo in the Matrix movies, where they could read all the actions and infor mati on in the Matrix by watching the cascading t ext and numbers . It was all right there for the taking, and she took it. She pl anned to try the Real Money tables, but ri ght now, she had a real, Real Money table to deal with . Sarah knew that the stakes are different once you put real money into the mix. It changes your perspective . Something more tangible is at stake, particularly when it comes to $1Million. Tom had left word with the Security Guard that a Mr. Frederick D. Wolf would be by to visit later that night . Mr. Wolf arrived exactly at the stroke of 8:00 PM. Sarah could hear the chime of the 125 It

antique Seth Thomas clock on the mantle over the Fireplace, at the same time he Knocked on her door . Susan had purchased it at an estate auction f or Sarah, to commemorate their first anniversar y . Tom greeted hi m at the door with a large grin on his face, “C’ mon in, I’ m Tom and this is Sarah.” And, “Nice to make your acquaintance,” He said, as he shook their hands , and was offered a seat in the living room. “Nice view,” He said, looki ng out at the Bo ston skyline. “Great location, I could keep an eye on a bunch of my customer s and investors,” He laughed about the thought of it . Sarah f elt as if the thought of it made hi m a bit uneasy, a bit vulnerable, a tar get maybe . However, the distance The across the bay and up from the water assured rigorous anonymit y f or all in her Apart ment . security guard at the entrance mi ght be anot her story though, and unbeknownst to Sarah and T om, Mr. Wolf had a personal guard of his own j ust outside the entrance door a nd another in his car j ust outside, monitoring, all the comi ng and goings. Susan had gone over to see a neighbor friend for a few minutes, to enhance the illusion, and make her entrance after Mr. Wolf had arrived . Precisely at 126

8:05 she knocked on the door , and entered, with a huge smile and said, “Hello my name is Susan, and I’ m your deal er for the ni ght . How ar e you all?” In a ver y bubbl y schoolgirl kind of way. “We’re all j ust fine” Tom interj ected, “Right this way upstairs, I’ll show you to t he table”. That left Sarah and Fred alone for a bit, in the living room. They looked at each other as if to measure and sur vey the opponent, as if to try to find something to take advantage of, they were looking for something that mi ght gi ve an advantage to o ne of them, one way or the other . Not much ther e, Sarah thought as he changed the conversation. “How do you think the Red Sox would do t his season?” Sarah thought, “That’s it, he’s a sports nut maybe . He’s from New Yor k, and a Yankee’s fan, no doubt.” Sarah said, “Well….I don’t know, not into sports all that much, what do you think?” Fred piped back, “Yankee’s will beat the pants off them I’ m sure, as usual.”


Sarah could not help but think of the Vegas clowns, as he said that, and thought, “He’s n o Vegas clown, I need to be careful” . Tom entered the room saying, “It’s all set, anyti me you guys are ready”. With that they all retired to the game room, up the stairs to the front room, where Fred said, “The view gets better the higher you go doesn’t it?” “Even better on the roof top patio where t he pool is”, “Oh, you have your own pool here huh ? How nice, let’s play poker.” Susan looked ner vous, and she was, but Fred looked at her and said, “It’s OK honey, ever ything’s going to be fine, j ust deal the cards”. Susan tried to say something about how big the stakes are here but was frozen by the fear of the unknown and what mi ght be happening, all she could say is, “Very well, here we go.” She had been in high stakes games before but was never as close to the players as she is with Sarah and Tom. She then said, “Good luck all” She started dealing the first hand when Tom said,


“Wait, Fred do you mind if I sit out, and gi ve Sarah here my chips and let you t wo pl ay heads up? It will be fairer for you, one against one instead of two against one.” “Sure, why not, she seems to be a nice sweet girl, and won’t be too angr y when I take all her chips.” He was s miling li ke the Cheshire cat in Alice and Wonderland, as if he had already won them. said to herself, “Wow another one for me . disappointed he’s going to be.” The game started, it progressed slowl y . They each were testing the waters, checking each other out like two gladiators circ ling around each other, swords in the air, shields up, waiting for the j ust the right moment, or finding j ust the right chink in the ar mor, in order to gain an advantage over his opponent. Hand after hand, trading chips back and More like j ust the odds of the forth, but Sarah noticed s he was loosing just a bit more than winning. cards. If you go st rictly by the odds t hen each Sarah He was

being too opti mistic, and over confident, Oh, how

player eventual l y will equal out, with some wins and losses along the way, but eventuall y equal ing out, like water seeking its own level when upset in some way. It slashes back and forth but eventual ly settles 129

down and levels out . This was unusual for her, but she was not getting anything from Mr. Wolf . Sarah turned to an earlier conversation and said, “Mr. Wolf, I think the S ox are going to beat the pants off the Yankee’s this year, not t he other way around.” He did not even look from his cards to cat ch the look in her eyes and j ust said, “Good tr y Missy, but that won’t wor k . j ust call me Fred, no need to be so for mal.” Sarah did not say anything more, j ust looked up at Susan and mouthed, “I’ m fucked”. Susan j ust winked her left eye at her, which was away from Wolf, and mouthed, “Noooo”, (not yet, i mplied) . Tom, on the other hand saw all this, stood off to one to side, and looked at Sarah with a stern frown, as if to say, “Just do it.” Sarah knew this look and wondered, “How would Tom do this?” She decided to be a bit more aggressi ve, and start betting a bit heavier, and pushing smaller pairs to see if she could break something loose . like luck. In “Heads Up”, the cards are a bit less about odds and more Smaller hands have a better chance of 130 But So

winning because there are not six players at once, leaving the odds of someone havi ng a better hand higher, than j ust one other hand out there, competing for the pot. Sarah tried playing a few bluffs too, li ke a bet five ti mes the blind with King hi gh, j ust to see the expression on his face when he called and saw the cards or when Sarah mucked them . She was trying to set hi m up, for the “All In” hand, getting hi m used to the bluffs, upping the bets, and fooling hi m, when the hand was right . She even bluffed by using Pat hands with nothing to be Pat about . Sarah thought, “I’ ve got hi m”. A few hands later, Susan dealt her a straight flush, five to nine in hearts . she thought as she sai d, “Check” On the lar ge blind aft er he called on the small blind . He drew two car ds, and she said, “I’ll play th ese,” Fred did not look sur prised at this, but Sar ah could not help but wonder , “Was the time ri ght? ” Tom was watching from one side, so not to make it seem like he was looking at anyone’s cards, and it was killing hi m, ”What does she have?” It was Fred’s bet. He “What a pretty hand”, He called one, and had a surprised look on his face,


fired $50,000 in chips into the pot, and as Susan was stacking them, Sarah said, “All In” The pot would be nearly two million doll ars if he calls. Sarah thought that she may have bet too quickl y for his comf ort, gi ving the i mpression of over eagerness, but he also mi ght take it as a part of her strategy to bluff a poor hand . “What could he have,” Sarah thought . Did he make the four th of his three of a kind? ” It is hard enough to fold three of a kind on a lar ge bet, Impossible to fold on f o ur. She hoped he thought she was onl y dealt a straight or a flush, or was bluffing . last thing on his mi nd . before the draw? said, “I call.” Even the sounds of the city in the background seem to have abated at those words coming out of his mouth. He laid his cards down first, he had four Sar ah had done it . She had j ust She laid t he cards Aces……………. A strait flush coul d be the Being dealt a straight flush He

T he odds are phenomenal .

won $2 Million on one hand.

down on the table and ever yone but Fr ed burst into tears at the relief of the tension of that moment . Fred j ust slumped back in his chair, looked out the window and said, “Well, I tried guys.” 132

$1 Million did not mat ter too much to Fred . It was chump change to him . Well….Maybe not j ust chump change but when it comes to billions it seemed a small amount to him . What matter ed more was that he lost . The few thousand he had left was j ust about enough to post one more blind, and after that last hand who could play another . It was li ke the end of a football game where the winni ng team grounds the ball to l et the clock run out with ten seconds left . Sarah had j ust grounded the ball to win this game. Life had j ust dealt Sarah another bit of success, at least as being the best poker player anyone has seen in recent times, or so Tom thought . What would be next, a game for $10 Million? Tom would shuffle this thought to the rear for now, because that would mean panting a few more Vegas Clowns to get the buy in money . Mr. Wolf, however, was no Vegas clown, and what was about t o happen would set Sarah ’s life back a few years. Sarah and Tom were about to celebrate their extraordinary win, but were still a bit shocked about what j ust happened, and they had no idea t hat Wolf had an arrangement with Lar ry. Wolf owed Larry a lot of money and was in the process of using hi m to abduct Susan, in exchange for a lar ge sum of money to which was to be deducted from what he owed 133

Larry. Wolf must have had some sort of signal to his guy’s down stairs . Just after the loosing hand, they moved into the entr yway where the Security Guard let them by as if nothing was out of line, as if he knew they were legitimate, or as if they lived there and he knew them well . By the time they got to Sarah’s door Wolf had his arm around Susan’s neck and a knife pointed at her heart from j ust below the rib cage , “Let them in or I’ll do it” He said in ver y morti fying tones . Tom opened the door and his guys came in and grabbed Susan and headed out the door with her, as Sarah, and T om were dumbfounded and nearl y frozen by what was happening. as theirs. saying, “I’ m Larr y’s banker,” He then headed to the door when he turned and said, “If you tr y to follow us you will fail and you’ll never find her again”. As they exited the apart ment and the building a moment later, Sarah went to the balcony, i n time to see Susan being stuff ed into their car and scr eamed at the top of her lungs, “SUSAN…...” 134 Wolf demanded his money back as well While stuffing the three cashier’s checks

into his pocket he onl y offered a meager explanation,

As it echoed across the harbor, she could only watch as they drove away, and in sever despair they dissolved from si ght by the tears in her eyes, and the sound of gravel whooshing out of “The Hole” was deafening to Sarah .



Chapter 10 Finding Susan
Sarah and Tom were in shock about Susan . Tom was pacing back and forth, thinking about Larry and Ken. Sarah thinking to herself, “We need to find her as soon as we can . asked, “Tell me more about Ken” “I don’t know much, we j ust talked for a mi nute that one day… Do you think the hot el mi ght be able to help? ” “They mi ght have security camera tapes and credit card infor mation?” “Well, it’s a place to start.” “I know some guys in Vegas . track them down to see if anything.” Tom was on the phone within minutes, with his little black book, making some phone calls, to some of his friends in Las Vegas. “Have you seen Ken, or Larry, know of anyone who has?” I’ll try and they know Who knows what that SOB Tom will do to her, or w here he mi ght take her? ”


All he could get was something that sounded like a shrug over the telephone, “Sorry man, haven’t seen nor heard a thing . As a matter of fact I think his place is all closed up, no one there.” Tom did not realize it at the time but the empt y house was a clue that he would overlook for now . After three or four cal ls like this one, he gave up for the night. Sarah said, “Get some sleep . time . Thi s is going to take some Take We’ll do better in the mor ning .

the spare bedroom. I’ ll be OK out here on the couch.” She said that knowing there was no way she was going to sleep that ni ght at all , not knowing where Susan was or what t hey were doing to her . She suspected they were keeping her out of public view, perhaps a pr ivate plane headed somewhere towards wherever Larry was . Sarah did not understand his Sarah’s It is need to dominate his offspring like this .

parents were glad to see her out of the house. their former lives back. bird to fly the nest .

not that they did not love her. They wanted a bit of It was ti me for this baby The wind was up that night

blowing in from the east, off the harbor and had the smell of rain in the ai r . The whooshing noi se made it sound so familiar. 138

The next morning Sarah called the hot el, to see if they could help at all . Just a frame or two of video showing Ken’s face would gi ve them something to go by . They told her, “Well we’re sorry but we recycle the security tapes, and looks li ke the bill was paid for in cash. Oh, wait! When someone other than the person who registered the room pays for it, they photograph them j ust in case somethi ng is amiss. There is a special camera , that ’s It’s a digit al behind the concierge desk.

camera and the i mage s reside on a hard dri ve in the office, behind the front desk. You are welcome to come by and view the files, j ust ask for Jen.” “Great, thanks so much, I’ll be over short ly, I’ m Sarah.” Sarah turned to Tom and said, “Get dressed we’re going across town to t he hotel in Cambridge . I think we’re in luck, at the ver y least they mi ght have a photo we could use to help find Ken.” Sarah could not get there fast enough, but t he Boston traffic someti mes seems never to abate . Even if there is no traffic and you make a wrong turn you could end up further away from your destination than 139

when you started, because by the ti me you find a place to turn around, if you can even find one, you are way away and swearing like a drunken sailor . Sarah believed that road rage ori ginated ri ght here in Boston. This ti me Sar ah made all the ri ght t urns and found the hotel with neither tribulations nor four letter words. Jen brought Sarah and Tom to a PC in t he office and found the photo folder where that days recordings where stored . It looked to Sarah t hat they had photographed everyone that day . Thumbnails page after page, but she found that they were organi zed by and named by the ti me each were recorded and they exit ed the hotel around 9:00PM or so. There they were . A set of them taken a few seconds apart , for the time he was at the desk. There were photos from each side, a front shot, even a rear view. Sarah had them copy several of the files onto her memor y card so she could plug it into her computer for enhancements and cropping, t o form a set of mug shot s for some Vegas bound posters. Sarah had photos of Susan but not Larry, but anyone who knew Susan and Ken would know Larr y too, she thought . They packed a few bags and were off to Vegas later that day . They tal ked about where to hand out the post ers and where to post them.


Sarah thought that they should start in Larry’s neighborhood. Tom said, “I think it’s a plan.” Ever y telephone pole with -in a mile of his place had a poster saying “HAVE YOU SEEN THESE TWO PEOPLE” “IF SO CALL ( 666) -555-4321”. It was all they had to go on . The phone number was Sarah’s cell phone . She made sure she had coverage out here, it was a national plan but she checked it out anyway, j ust to be sure . That afternoon she got a call, “Hello, this is Sarah” “Hello, this is Lt . Jones from the Watert on Police Depart ment, j ust calling to see what ’s up.” Sarah hit the speaker phone so Tom could hear the conversation, “I’ m a ver y close fr iend of Susan’s . could say lovers and partners in life . You I

haven’t been able to locate he r and this was the onl y way I could think of to find her . Her father’s place is all locked up and seems to be abandoned, at least closed down for a while.” “Larry’s a good friend of mine, but he only left word that they were going to be out of


town for a few weeks or so, and could I keep an eye on his place once in a while.” “Do you know of any places they mi ght possibly have gone?” “I can’t say for sure, but they have a place in San Diego out near Torres Pines, and a place out on the beach on Paradise Island in Nassau . Other than that, I can’t help you. Thanks.” “Thank you, we will.” Sarah looked at Tom and Tom looked at Sarah and in unison said, “Paradise Island” Sarah went on -line to find a sate llite view of the Island. She found several prospects for where to start looking, when they get to Nassau . The plan was to rent a r un about and investi gate by sea, because the places they were interested in were accessible onl y by boat . These places l oo ked to Each of these places Sarah like they would afford the residents a bit more remote security and privacy . had their own piers and boat slips, mini -marinas in some cases . There weren’t many, but the ones they were interested in wer e on the western en d where the island narrows to nearly nothing where t he boat 142 Make sure you remove the posters before you leave,

landings and back yar ds are on the bay side facing Nassau, and their front yards were ri ght on t he beach on the ocean side. They approached one pier where they saw someone tending a boat there, as king hi m, “Do you know a Larr y Clifford?” “Why yes, but haven’ t seen hi m or his fami ly for weeks now. I haven’t seen any acti vity, what so ever , over there, the next pier over.” “OK, Thanks, He told us to stop by someti me when we were down here . Guess we missed them this time . We saw that there was no boat there and wanted to ask you if you had seen them. Have a good day.” “Alright then, you too.”

They headed back t o Nassau so that they would not bring attention to themsel ves by heading directly to their place . They planned to return later, after dark, to see if they could gl ean some infor mation about where they mi ght be. They approached the pier in the dar k, several hours after sunset to assure as much darkness as possible. They then t urned their running li ghts off a short distance out across the bay . They idled the motor in order to be as quiet as possible on their approach. When they got there, they tied t heir boat 143

up to the dock and headed up to the house .

It was

dark, and the moon was not up yet, but there was enough residual li ght from the nei ghbors and the adj acent resorts that they could find their way . closed and locked as well, except for one . All the doors were locked and all the windows were It was one in the back, storage room, whi ch had a door to the house if they could get in thought the window . It was small, but big enough to get through with some effort. Sarah figured that Larry and Candy were trying to exert tough love onto Susan, for her departure to the other side, homosexu ality. Susan did not think of it as “the other side” j ust an alternate way of thinki ng about life . Yes, it is true it is an aberration of nat ure . However, gi ven the state of society and politics in the USA, there i s a hi gh level of toleration and accept ance for all things abnor mal these days . Sarah believed that nature deals a different hand to each individual, and with the hand dealt to you, you do what you can to make yourself as happy as you can. The demarcations bet ween genders were not clear at all to her. Sarah believes that t here are many segments of bei ng female or male . That is to say that some people are ver y male, or ver y female . However , many people fall between the lines as 144

mostl y male, or somewhat male, or hardl y male, or not at all mal e even though they possess a penis . There are some women that look more li ke men then most men, and there are some men that look more like women then most women . Just look around . They are ever ywhere . It has become a fact of life. Sarah did not see the need for the Marriage equality, but certainl y saw the reality of the genetic diversit y facing us . Some are dri ven by t he genes . Make no mistake, Sarah Some are dri ven by t he SOB’s that cloud our minds beyond reconciliation . loved Susan, and was in the process of proving that she would die for her i f necessary. Once inside they looked around and did not find much of anything anywhere, except Sarah noticed a computer in a room that looked like a residential type office, with a desk and file cabinets and a computer with an internet connection . Sarah did not care if it was connected or not but was interested in the browsing histor y, which would be in the system if someone had not deleted it . She pushed the power button and it whirred up and booted to a Wi ndows desktop and she f ound the Internet browser and punched the History button, and what she was about to see would gi ve her incredibly high hopes to finding Susan . In the history, she found a web site called “freindlybayresort .com” It 145

was a resort on Ca t Island, which is about 100 miles southeast of Nassau . It resides on the leeward side It is one of the “Out of the Island, which offered calmer waters and grand crescent shaped beaches . Islands” so called by Bahamians . They are the lesser developed Isl ands that have few amenities outside of the resorts that reside there . There have been many improvements over t he years but they ar e still a throw back to years gone by . Surprisingl y t he native inhabitants are mostl y far mers, not fisher men, but Conch fishing is prevalent but not the mainstay . They grow i mmacul ate vegetables in the worst looking gardens one could i magine They would carve out of the j ungle li ke vegetation, plots of gardens, dig a hole in the li mestone laden soil, add some soil and fertilizer, mainl y composted Bat guano from the caves, and plant tomatoes, and other common garden vegetables and would eek out an existence. Sarah had found them she was sure . “FDISK” hit “Enter” and left . Before she left, she rebooted to a DOS prompt and typed She looked up the They link when they got back to their hotel room.

had villas, cabanas, and hotel rooms . She suspected that they had rented one of the larger vill as, with three or four bedr ooms, because of the entourage that followed them ever ywhere, from securit y to other relatives. She made a reservation for the next day in 146

one of the two -bedroom villas right on the beach . It is called “The Beach House” . Sarah found this name to be a bit unusual as they were all beach houses . None of which were m ore than 30 yards f rom the open beach with beach sand ri ght up to their patios and porches. rooms were. This one was right next to the main The larger Villas were further up the lodge, where the concierge , kitchen, and dining beach to the other side of t he main building. Sarah and Tom would try to be as inconspicuous as possible. These people know them and would It would be a chall enge for recogni ze them, as soon as they saw them, so they needed to be careful . for here. Before they left Nassau to head for Cat Island, they both headed for the mar ket place down by the Cruise ships . brimmed possible. hat There she would buy a very wide and sunglasses the size of Carol Sarah, what kind of disguise could she com e up with

Channing’s eyes, to cover as much of her face as Tom said he would j ust stay near the bar He Like all of us, in the house and let her investi gate the ot hers . was not as young as he used to be .

time ticks and the candle wicks eventuall y burn out into a tiny pile of wax that has little val ue other than the memories you leave behind , with the ones you love, or the ones that despise you. Tom felt Sarah’s 147

love for hi m, and he loved her, but for her i t was li ke the grandfather she never had . “like the daughter he never had” . They arrived on Cat Island in a one plus four seat two engi ne Beechcraft Baron, capable of flying from Nassau, New Pr ovidence to New Bi ght, on Cat Island in about 30 minutes . New Bi ght Airport is an Believe it or not but International Airport For hi m it was li ke the wife he never had, but he would have to settle for

capable of flying direct from the USA or any other country, j ust that some planes can’t l and there because the runway is too short . immi gration officials were there You also had to to meet you . arrange ahead of ti me to ensure the cust oms and Getting there was no problem for the Beechcraft Baron. It is desi gned for this type of flying where it is always a good idea to have two engines , when flying pri maril y over water . If one engine stalls the other one will get you to a place you can land safely, not drop you into the water to fend off the sharks while no one comes to rescue you . They were greeted war ml y by the hotel staff and shown to their beach house . style, slow, cordial, and wonderful . wanted, Sarah thought . No check in It is a great necessary, things wer e ver y relaxed and B ahamian place to unwind and do nothing if that is what you However, there was plenty 148

of adventure too, if you were up for it, ever ything from, to die for snor keling to Bone fishing in the mangrove swamps and creeks . sailing rigs, kayaks, and canoes . They had Sunfish They would even

rent you a runabout outboard motor boat to explore the secluded cays, bays and beaches around the island. “That’s not what we’re here for”, Sarah said to Tom in a stern voice, but he knew why t hey were there, as they tal ked about what to do . Sarah thought she should j ust walk t he beach by each of t he Villas and see what she coul d see . She would j ust take in the sights, as a vacationer would. She wal ked in the direction of the Villas where she suspected they were staying . The first one seemed to be unoccupied, but they could have j ust been away for the day. The second one surprised Sarah had to It Sarah. “Oh my God, i t’s Susan, sitting right there on the patio j ust outside the Villa ”. reserve herself lest gi ve away her presence .

proved to be one of the most diff icult things she ever had to do. She turned away and continued her wal k down the beach as if nothing had happened . She decided that she h ad to continue at least several hundred yards as to not draw attention to her . It was the most difficult two hundred yards out and back she ever had to wal k. Her knees where weakened by the adrenaline and she hoped it was not so bad to be 149

noticeable. She nearly tripped and fell right in front of the Villa, right in front of Susan, but she knew she had to keep going and avoid notice by anyone. “Tom!” She blurted out, “She’s here!” Out of breathe from the adrenaline. “Oh Sarah, we’ ve done it, we found her”. They hugged for minutes it seemed to Sarah . Tom knew how much she loved Susan and felt like a loving father, or grandfather to her . He was 40 years older then she was, and no way would they ever be lovers. This is as close as he would ever get to Tom had never married . Sarah fi gured that is Sarah, and he regretted not having met someone like her before it was too late . Never found the one for hi m .

why he was such a crotchety old man. Sarah schemed that night on how to retrieve her, get her out of there, and away from here . She felt they mi ght feel safe here and be a bit lax about security. After all, who would think to look for her on one of the Out Islands of the Bahamas? Sarah could not sleep that night . going over it and over it aga in in her head, “I need to j ust walk down the beach past their Villa and sit and sunbathe, and wade in the water.” 150 She kept

She hoped that Susan was free to walk the beach on her own, being lax about securit y . After all, how would she be able to leave the island , without help ? They were not thinking about help were they ? Sarah would reserve tickets on ever y flight out that day, j ust in case she could intercept her on a walk down the beach. Her plan was to have a car ready on the back dri veway j ust over the beachhead through the mangroves behind several of the beach houses down where she would be sitting . j ust a short distance away. The next morning, about 9:00 AM she headed out. This was e arly for most, especially here, ever ything was so laid back that nothing was hurried or so important that it needed immediate attention . However , she felt the over whel ming need to be there for Susan. She made sure Tom would be in position as soon as she arrived at her spot . She did not see anyone while wal king by the Villa, nor by the dining room, where they ser ve a continental style breakfast . You could order up anything you wanted ahead of time, if you placed the order the ni ght before, but most j ust partake of the usual . none of them were . something. She was not there, She thought maybe t hey were She brought Tom would be there with a car ready to head to the airport, which was

still sleeping or making their own breakfast, or She j ust wal ked and sat . 151

two lar ge beach towel s, one to sit on and one to dr y off after goin g into the water . It wor ked as a headrest until it got wet . There were so few people on the beach she felt comfortable enough to go topless, after all, not too much there to get up about anyway, she thought to herself, but Susan would recogni ze her i mmed iately, would she not? Most days there are sunny war m and dry, almost arid, li ke a desert . The afternoon sun would puff up some ther mal generated cumuloni mbus clouds and a brief shower caused by them would j ust cool you off a bit, and the sun would be ri ght back out, wor king hard to evaporate more water, starting the process all over again. About an hour passed, and Sarah looked towards the Villa, and saw someone wal king in her direction. There had been several others pass ing by and back again, but this one came from the Villa, rather than from the resort . Sarah looked away As she She was suspecting someone mi ght be watching. approached, Sarah saw that it was Susan .

wal king with her head down , hands in her pockets, and kicking the sand as she went . As she approached Sarah’s heart pounded, pounding out the words “I love you Susan” . Just as she was about to pass, head still down, Sarah said, “Just keep wal king, and don’t look at me.” 152

Susan stopped without looking towards Sarah and said, “Sarah?” “Just keep wal king!” She did, but before she was out of hearing range, Sarah said, “On your way back follow me into the mangrove and we’ll get out of here”. Susan kept wal king and the tears in her eyes made it hard for her to see where she was going, but no way was she going to miss this opportunity to escape the “Larry”. Apparentl y, no one noticed the momentar y hesitation next to Sar ah, and on her way back , Sarah had left the beach and hoped Susan could follow her tacks into the mangrove where they would me et up with Tom and head for the airport. As the plane was lifting off the runway Sarah looked down to see a car pull up onto the r unway as they flew away. All Sarah could think of, as she laid her head back onto the headrest, looking over towards Susan, was t he i mage of that car thumping down into the bottom of a rather large hol e, with a smile on her face and Susan by her side, clutching hands as if welded together forever.



Chapter 11 The Incident
Sarah and Tom had to approach t he

Condominium associati on with a complaint about security. They had a legiti mate complaint, but with no proof of any wrongdoing, it was difficult for them to do anything. Apparently, someone messed with the tapes and there was no record for that date . All they could do is register the complaint and if they get more complaints about other issues then they mi ght be able to do something . They assur ed Sarah that their complaint would remain anonymous . The security guard will not know about her complaint, and that she should feel safe about living here . “Safe, here? ” Sarah questioned to her self, and thought, “I’ m going to have to think about what’s safe or not.” She knew Susan did not feel safe, and that bothered her. She thought of the 44, but also of, “How would that have he lped in her abduction ? Probabl y not. ” For the near future they were all Larry had never been there staying at Tom’s place, because he was sure they did not know his address . mentioned Boston. 155 and he was sure he had never told hi m . He had only

Sarah would click on the little red icon often . “On-line poker can’t be too much trouble can it?” she would say to herself every ti me she went there . She spent ti me learning the chat box and texting abbreviations, by making friends with some of the regular player s, becoming a regular herself. Sarah’s Avatar was a photo of herself, or part of one that she had cropped and si zed to fit . It was her hand, holding fi ve playing cards, as if playing poker, holding fi ve aces . Her Players name was Part of the program Sarah543, which was foll owed by several players, and Sarah would follow them . allowed players to find other players and would display which table or tournament they were playing at and you could go and watch the tourney, or j oin them if there was an open seat , at the open ring tables. Sarah li ked the five card draw tables with t he low buy-in. She would select the mini mum number She liked turning 300 of chips necessary to sit .

chips into1200, over a period of an hour or so . Someti mes that would happen in a matter of minutes with the right player s at the table . The regular players would call them “Bingo” players, because they floated lar ge bet s on the table with poor hands hoping to get lucky against another Bingo player, like in real Bingo the player yells, ”Bingo!” when 156

they hit the ri ght number on their card ..

Usuall y

when they got lucky l ike that they would t ake their chips and run, or would loose them to a good hand and then run as well, and quite often would continue, if they still had chips, with bad bets until all their chips were gone . Someti mes they call ed these However, Sarah players ATM machines, seemingl y j ust gi vi ng there chips away hoping to get lucky . would fold to large bets like that . She would wait to get a good hand and would check to t he Bingo player, and raise his bet after having checked . Ninet y percent, of the ti me, a Bingo player would call or even re -raise, with little or no hand at all, looking for a fold and the pot, and all the regulars would text on the chat line LOL, which, f or those of you that do not know stands for “Laughing Out Loud”. Sarah ty vm wb thx yw LMAO IMFAO brb was learning many other texti ng abbreviations, such as: thank you ver y much welcome back thanks you are welcome Laughing My Ass Off Laughing My Fucking Ass O ff be right back or bath r oom break 157

gt mu good to meet you u2 nh vnh g1 g3 you too nice hand ver y nice hand good one good three of a kind

nstr8 nice straight The list goes on but these are the ones Sarah used the most. They would describe feelings or a ctions by typing out descriptive words with -in par entheses, such as: (Smiling) (Crying) (Sobbing) (Rolling) (Blushing) Etcetera …………………………… Al most anything goes here, as long as it is not on the list of forbidden words. Forbidden words are mostl y al l those four letter words your mot her never let you say without getting a bar of soap pushed into your mouth . program censors out any of those words The and

substitutes an asterisk in the place of each letter typed . Sarah would occasionally see player s p ut an underscore in between each 158 letter, such as,

“B_i_t_c_h” or spell it “Bich” and it would escape the programs censor r outine . It seemed to Sarah that they could have progr ammed those into it also, but wondered how long t hose players would be able to maintain the pri vilege of Chat . Occasionally Sarah Someti mes would encounter a regular player who would not respond to a greeting or comment . another player who knew the silent one and would relay the fact that the silent one had lost his chat privilege o ver an incident with some other player or players, where words were spoken in abusi ve or lurid language. This would lead to suspension for a Sarah would period; say a week t o start, a month for a second violation and per manent for a third . wonder how man y players at the tables had their chat suspended per manentl y but could not tell you. Quite often, she would comment to a player and get no response at all, and she could not tell if they could not or would not . English is the only language allowed, in or der to be fair to all players, and they can choose to set the language that the chat shows up as, whi ch is why she could not understand why some players still, chatted in Spanish, Ger man, Italian, or other . suspected. This also could be grounds for chat suspension , Sarah If a player did not know Spanish then


they could discuss how to play the hand without the other players knowing what was being said. Chat acquaintances someti mes would become Chat friends, or buddies, and seek each other out ever y ti me t hey played . It was fun for Sarah . There were conversations and laughs, j ust like as if they were good friends around a real table, playing poker for fun, much li ke friends in real life. Sarah began to wonder, though . How real or how unreal someone coul d be in this situation . You have seen the warnings on the TV ads where some 15-year -old girl thinks she is chatting with another 15-year -old girl, but it is a fifty-year -ol d chubby bald man sitting at his computer hoping to lure her into his clutches . the hard way. Anything and ever ythi ng could develop into a problem, as Sarah has come to learn, She wondered about Sydney and Ashley, seemingl y a lesbian couple much like she and Susan. They shar ed a lot of common gr ound and the chat seemed so real to Sara h, but she recognized that synchroni zation of perception and reality is an illusion. Their Avatars were of beautiful women in their twenties or thirties, Sarah thought, but they can get those photos al most anywhere these days . They were ver y fuzzy and bl urry when she exami ned them closely, reali zing that they could belong to some


fashion models phot os somewhere forei gn to the player displaying it. The chat would be about most anything people talk about nor mally . They would chat about the weather, wor k, r elati onship issues, what t hey were doing that day, flirting, teasing, poker hands, and etcetera. Sarah always thought that it was unusual to see only one of the two of them at a time at the tables. When they first started chatting they were friends living apart, but soon Ashley said Sydney asked her to move in with her . Ok, she thought, that mi ght explain it . They onl y have one computer and only one player can be on -line at anyone ti me . Sarah would go on -line searching for Antique shops like the one they were describing as their business . She was afraid to ask the name and they were not gi ving it out either, afraid that they would feel like I wanted too much inf or mation, the same way Sarah felt about hers . Like many things, Sarah felt it was probabl y too good to be true, but the curiosity was gnawing at her ankles like a bad little Yorkshire Terrier, that j ust would not stop or go away. One day Sydney was chatting about how far away they li ved from each other and woul dn’t it be nice if we got together for real someday . Sarah was non-committal, and the conversation changed to 161

something else .

Sarah was being cautious, and Sarah wrote it It would be a

wanted to stay friends . Ashley had flashed her email address on the chat l ine one day . down, but was hesitant to res pond.

scary step, even though it was as anonymous as the poker site, maybe j ust one layer less public, but “What could it hurt,” she thought . beginning, of the end. That was the She was hooked and wanted

more, even though she knew it wasn’ t right, at least not 100% sure . How could you or anyone be sure? I will be cautious, take things slow, and see what happens. Susan did not like any of this at all, and told Sarah to drop it and get onto something else . Sarah would agree, but there was still that little devil on her ri ght shoulder saying, “Just do it”.

Sydney was not Sydney at all . He was a 28 year -old sli m ratty looking guy who j ust really did not know who he was . hair in front He was one of those whose stay on top and was would not

constantly sweeping it back on top with his hand to get it out of his eyes . It was dar k brown gr easy, but strait. He hated to cut it short because it would stand strait up like short quills on an excited Porcupine. He was also Ashley, and a bunch of oth ers Sarah did not know about . She someti mes suspected 162

that others mi ght be but could not verif y i t, or did not want Syd and Ash to think she was snooping . She did not know it at the time but he wor ked for the Antique shop, not the owner , whose’ characters he portrayed, and drove the deliver y and pick -up truck, as well as do some repair and maintenance wor k around the shop . It was a part time j ob, but he spent all his time there when away from his computer . He too loved poker, but ever y ti me he played wi th real money, he lost often, and would loose more than win, and quite often could onl y play the “Fr ee Chips Play Money” tables. His name was Richie, short for Richard . hated Richie, but everyone called hi m that . He He

thought they liked it because “Ri chie the Rat” sounded good to them, and seemed to fit, and they would call hi m that because he was so humorless, and withdrawn, seemi ngl y hiding in the shadows li ke a rat. He had a large nose and a slim face . The kids, when he was in school, first nickna med him that, they seemed to think it made hi m look li ke a rat, and it stuck with hi m ever since . them some day, all of them.” His mother was an abusive Lesbian, a Diesel Dyke, with a butch haircut, tattoos, strappy tee shirt, 163 He could not seem to shake it, and he would think, “I will get even with

loose j eans with holes in the knees, and built more like a man than a woman . She drove one of those large Diesel tractor -trailer rigs, hauling loads back and forth between LA and NY and ever ywhere in between. someti mes. She would be gone for days, weeks He fi gured she got pregnant, with him,

by some guy pretending to be a woman, j ust to demean her and her life style . He would i magine the surprise on her face when she saw “it” . He would chuckle to hi mself, s he deser ved “it” . Maybe it was j ust a mean fucker trucker, he j ust did not know because she had never talked about it . He would also try to i magine what a last tri mester pregnant Diesel Dyke looked li ke, but that was an i mage too difficult for him to vis ualize. Richie was glad to be living at home alone now. He suspected she was either dead or living with some woman that found her attractive, or j ust liked her truck. Richie lesbians. was looking for attractive female He could never score with a woman of

either persuasion, so he felt he would have t o turn to deception, entrapment , and abduction, in order to fulfill the desires that drove hi m . What better place than the internet . He could chat and play poker at the same ti me . He was in heaven . He woul d have to come up with a clever lure to be successful, though . 164

He knew Sarah had a partner and was very happy with Susan, but he also knew, or suspected by their chats, that she was drawn to other lesbian couples, because of her chats about Janna and Mar y. Syd and Ash were wor king har d to make the meeting become a reality. They would chat about how much wor k there was at the shop and how it is hard to find help , and this and that about opening another shop, or how they li ved so far apart that they probab ly never would be able to meet each other . meeting. One day Sarah suggested, “Why don’t you come to Boston for a vacation, I’ll show you the town and maybe a side trip to the Cape . condo apart ment j ust across the downtown, it’ll be fun? ” accepted the invitation saying, “I’ll have to clear it with Ash, but I’ m sure she will be excited to go.” The next day the first chat was to confirm t he get together . They were closing their shops and coming next week. Sarah suggested meeting first in a public place, and suggested where . It would be at the “Lucky 7” Restaurant in Charlestown, f or lunch at noon on Wednesday. It is located j ust over the 165 I’ ve got a from harbor They were wor king inch by inch to get Sarah to suggest a

To her surprise , Syd

railroad 93

tracks and

and in

elevated view of

transit the

between Hill

Cambridge and Charl estown, j ust beyond Interstate highway, Bunker Monument. Richie made sure he was there well before noon, so he could try to deter mine which car was Sarah’s. Sarah. Sarah had emailed hi m (Syd) saying she He had arri ved several days in advance and would leave word wi th the Maitre d’, j ust ask for had acquired an ol d wrecker truck and had it repainted at the Jiffy Paint Job place . The paint was almost still wet . He was good at pa inting letters, and as he was lettering the si gn on the doors, he thought he should do this for a living . His plan was to disable Sarah’s car by pulling several spark plug wires, coming to her rescue by towing her car to a repair shop, having her ride bes ide hi m in t he truck, drop her car, and stuff her into his rental car and head for California . He took some license plates from a vehicle that looked like it was abandoned on the street near where he bought the truck . They were out of date, but at least they would suffice for now, because it was going to be on the road for a few hours at best . He had also rented a car and it was waiting in the par king lot a few blocks away, out of the main public view. He had paid the Maitr e d’ $50 to tip him off when s he was seated, asking hi m to 166

wave out the front door . good friend and he

He explained she was a wanted to make an

impressionable entrance, and to surprise her with a wonderful gift . be Sarah. Richie was paying attention to who drove up and got out of which car, th ose who mi ght He kne w as soon as he saw her, though . Just at the stroke of noon . Sure She was right on ti me .

She was alone and headed for the restaurant . the Maître d’.

enough a minute or t wo passed and the wave from He proceeded to go over to her car, and using his door lock tool opened the car door and popped the hood wher e he pulled several spark plug wires so that the engi ne would run ver y rough if at all, on onl y two cylinders, when she came back out to start her car . In the meanti me, he moved the wrecker, dri ving around the block and then waiting for a space to open up a bit closer, so he could see Sarah and her car from the truck. She waited nearl y an hour and a half, and apologized to the waiter and the Maitre d’, on her way out, she said she had left them a tip for their trouble. said, “Wait, miss, there was a guy here a f ew mi nutes before you ar rived . He gave me $50 He to wave out the door when you arrived . As she was wal king away the Maitre d’

said, he wanted to wait for you t o be seated, 167

so he could make an entrance of some sort, and surprise you with a gift”. Sarah’s face showed a look of surprise that the Maitre d’ wasn’t expecting, as she said, “What? That’s odd, very odd, I was expecti ng two women.” …. I’ m ver y confus ed now, but thanks for the infor mation,” She handed hi m another $20 thanking for his concern. She was looking around the parking lot for someone, but was not sure who or j ust what . She spotted the newly pai nted old wreaker truck and a ratty looking drive r, but could not be sure he was the one. it. She decided to wal k in a direction away from As she turned to the right, she looked over her car to see if he would look or do somethi ng about toward hi m and he looked up, ri ght at her, and she now knew he was the one that was here for her . She froze for a second not knowing what to do now, as he started the engine in his truck and pulled out of his parking space . Susan ran back to the restaurant, through the door and looked out the window, j ust in time to see hi m and t he truck race out the driveway, turn without stopping almost causing an accident, as he drove away at high speed , high speed for an old beat -up truck with a new paint j ob.


Sarah turned to tell the Maitre d’ to call the police as she explained about what j ust happen. He said, “I saw that truck, and you running back over here and I have the phone in my hand”. After he made the call , he sat her down at a nearby empt y table and got her a cup of coff ee and a muffin. “Wow! you?” “Yes, I do. I’ ve had these chat buddies f or months now and decided to meet . I thought I was meeting two women, not a rat faced idiot, who would tr y to abduct me . fool.” “Not to worr y honey, he’s gone now.” “Guess my curi osit y got the better of me.” The police arrived to investi gate . First it was a nearby patrol car fol lowed shortl y thereaft er by the on duty Detective from the nearby Station . about the inter net chatting and emails . Henney said, “You’re lucky. That was a close one . If you hadn’t tipped and spoken to the Maitre d’ and waiter you would have gotten to your car and 169 Sarah j ust told the story as it happened with all the details Detective I’ m such a He said, do you think he was aft er

been in his truck headed for who knows where. Let’s go look at your car. Chances are he did something to disable it, and would have been ri ght ther e to help you start it, rather, well, something else for sure.” They headed out to the car . Detecti ve Henney said “Don’t touch anything . There mi ght be evidence in or on it . We’ll have to get a CSI team over here ASAP, I think they’re on t he way anyway, if the di spatchers are doing their j ob”. By then many other Police vehicles and Patrolmen were there and started to cordon off the area around her car with that yellow plas tic tape that says “Cri me Scene Do Not Cross” on it . As they got int o his car, He said “Follow me . We should let the CSI team look for the evidence” .

On the way there, Sarah phoned Susan about what happened and asked her to come to the station to be with her through the ordeal . Susan sai d, “Oh! Sarah ! I told you to drop all that … I’ll be right over baby. you.” “I love you too.” Hang in there . I l ove


Susan would do anyt hing for Sarah, and of course, Susan knew f irsthand what Sarah would do for her, thankful that Police Station comf ort was all she needed to do, this time. At the station Henney said, “I need to file a detailed report . APB to find the truck.” Detective Henney was ver y nice, he lpful and patient about all the details, leaving the r oom for only a few mi nutes to check on Sarah’s history . As he returned to the conference room where they were recording all the details, he mentioned to her about some of her previous encounters with S OB’s, “You are no stranger to adversity, are you, little one?” “Well, no.” Right Susan?” Susan there now, sitti ng by her side saying, “Oh sweetie, it doesn’ t find you, you find “i t” all on your own, darling.” Henney chuc kled a bit and said, “You two are a couple aren’t you?” Sarah j ust cocked her head a bit and nodded and said, “Yah, but not for long, huh?” 171 She said. Trouble finds me . In the meanti me Phil over t here has radioed in an

With that, they all started laughing as Sar ah broke out into a huge smile and hugged Susan, thankful to be there right then. One of the patrol men opened the door and said, “We think we found the truck, but no si gn of anyone, looks li ke it’s been abandoned.” “Care to go look at it t o see if it’s the one?” “Sure, let’s go”. Susan and Sarah got into the back of Det ective Henney’s police car, he drove and a patrol officer sat up front. The truck was parked out behi nd a gas station out off of Rutherford Ave. right near the intersection of US 1 and I -93, where you could find an on ramp to get onto I -93 South and head t o j ust about anywhere from there.

As soon as they got there, Sarah said, ”That’s it, no doubts what so ever .” “OK Sarah, we’ll put up the cri me scene barrier and wait for the CSI to finish up down at the restaurant and head up here.” It onl y took a few mi nutes to put up the barrier, but the CSI team, took a few more minutes to get there . They onl y had Sarah’s car, the front door, and onl y a bit of the front desk area of the restaurant to cover, but they exami ned it all trying to find something . 172

The restaurant went quickl y .

There were so many

people in and out of there before they could do anything there that anything would be lost for evidence purposes . T here was not much on the car either, except they found the two unplugged spar k plug wires. They j ust said, “Must have worn gloves to cover the finger prints”, They could not come up with any other material evidence either , no obj ects, or threads, or anything out of the ordinary, other than some torn rubber on the window seal where he had j i mmied the door lock. They went to wor k on the truck and Henney and the girls went back to the station . There they j ust made sure Sarah had covered ever ything that she could tell them about what they needed to complete their initial report . tell Sarah, “Glad you’re still wi th us honey, and don’t fret too much, I’ m sur e he’s fled the area, but if we come up with anything we’ll be in touch.” Sarah thanked hi m, and he was off . “He was probabl y busy sol ving other cases”, Sarah thought, as they stood up and headed for the exit, turning to Chief O’Neal poked his head around the edge of the door to introduce himself and


thank Henney and asked hi m to thank all invol ved for her. The next day Sarah got a call about somethi ng they found in the truck. It was a solitary fi ngerprint, and it was fresh . Apparently, he missed it in his This hurry to wipe it down and get out of town .

print is from a guy who has been investigated before . They never found any evidence to prove anything, but it was relati ve to the disappearance of another young lady, si milar age looks and circumstances to this incident, but she had never been found . Her name was Tami Wilder, from Seattle Washington . “His name is Richard F. Bellhausen, fr om 19B Westwood Dri ve East Pomona California . This is an address from two years ago, no telling if it’s current or not”. house. By the number, Sarah thought that it is At the sound of his name Sarah though, Sarah would ponder the thought of go i ng there, to see what she could find out about this guy . She was sure he was no longer there, at that address but it mi ght lead to some clues as to his current place of residence . She wondered if ther e was or could be another victim who was not as lucky as she was. To spite the little devil on her shoulder, Sarah probabl y an apartment in a duplex or triplex type “Richie the Rat.”


fell asleep that ni ght to what sounded li ke a little chipmunk chirping out the words, “Di g, Sarah, Di g.”



Chapter 12 Chasing the Rat
Sarah’s and Susan’s fl ight into LAX would be pretty uneventful. The first thing they would do is rent a car and dri ve t o East Pomona . It was a war m early fall day, sunny, hazy as usual, Santa Anna wind blowing the temperatures up the scale . As usual, there was 100% traffic . It would t ake nearl y two hours th at day to go a little over 45 mil es. That is averaging j ust about 22.5 miles per hour on elevated li mited access multi -lane super highways . They got on I-105 west and would try to head north on I-605 up to I-10 and head west over to East Pomona . Sarah thought that this was not as bad as going from Lynnfield to Braintree on I -95 south on the old Route 128 loop during rush hour, but was sure glad to have the A/C wor king overti me in the heat. The traffic on the Boston route 128 loop would go from bumper to bumper traffic at 75 MPH to bumper -to-bumper moment’s notice. tr affic at a standstill at a You really had to pay attention

otherwise, you became the meat in the mi ddle of a metal sandwich, literally. The j aws of life chew on metal sandwiches there quite often. 177 Even if you

manage to stop in ti me, you onl y flow at the rate of 1 or 2 MPH. You can wal k faster than that . This would go on for miles until you pass the accident or breakdown, or the intersection at I-93, or j ust the “Inch Wor m Effect” . You know, “The Inch Wor m Effect”, it’s where the traffic is moving al ong well, but the highway is near or at it’s maxi mum capacity and someone slows down for some oddbal l reason, like “oh look there’ s a sale on bananas at the super mar ket” . “Idiot s!” What happens i s all the traffic for a mile or so slows down allowing cars to accordion up into a bunch . It is much li ke bananas, and it takes a while for them to spread out again, but because there is a continuous line of traffic, the compression zone of cars remai ns until the traffic density di minishes enough to eli mi nate the compression zone . This can go on and on for miles and miles, 75 MPH to 2 MPH to 75 MPH to 2 MPH, repeatedly. It’s no wonder so many people need hair transplants in the Boston area . This cont inues as long as there is enough traffic and idiots t hat slow down too much for the traffic to handle. When they got there they found the house vacant and for sale . he had lived. The driveway leads to an outback apart ment, which they assumed was where The house was locked up and shades drawn, so they would need to call and schedule a 178

showing by the Realtor . Perhaps they could ask the current owners if he had left a forwarding address . Susan suggested contacting the police regar ding their investi gations of hi m several years previous . Sarah said, “We’ll have to contact the Realtor anyway, to get into this place . There mi ght be somethi ng inside that mi ght gi ve us a clue, saving us t he hassle of contacting the police, raising red flags and causing a comm otion and all, you know?”

The Realtor was more than glad to meet them there that afternoon, and would be ri ght by with the keys . It was a short distance from the office and she had no other appoint ments that day . Sarah had them start their tour of the house in the rear apartment . Megan, the realtor, was a bit curious as to why, but Sarah explained, “We like the pri vacy back here and woul d possibly consider renting the front apart ment out to someone . We’re only planning to be here a week at a time eve r y few months or so, and j ust needing a pl ace to crash for a few nights at a ti me . That way we can rent the maj ority of the house reducing our over head.” “What kind of business are you in?” 179

“I’ m a professional poker player.” “Oh my, that must be a ver y interest ing profession”. “You have no idea, honey.” Sarah said, in a sarcastic voice, looking at Susan as she did. Susan half smiled and half frowned as Megan led them out back to the rear entrance and unlocked the door. “Go ahead look around, I’ll g o open up t he front of the house and let some fresh air in.” It was j ust a small two-room apart ment, with a Living/dining/ kitchen combination and a bedroom with a full bath . There was a room all the way back off the bedroom that seemed a bit odd to Sarah . It was like a wal k -in closet without windows, shelves, or clothes racks or closet poles . It was j ust a small eight foot by ei ght -f oot room. It offered security as well as seclusion from the world . The house was one story with ei ght -inch thick brick and stucco exterior walls, wood framed r oof and plaster ceilings, with the terracotta roof tiles and a concrete slab on grade floor with the 12 x 12 Spanish tiles . It was pretty typical Souther n California Spanish St yle . However , the room intri gued Sarah . Susan dismissed it as j ust a closet and said, “Let’s get out of here . here.” 180 It’s hot and dust y in


j ust







wondering if this was, or some other room li ke it going to be her destination, and was there some other poor young woman al ready there, but if he came to Boston looki ng for another there may not be, unless he’s always thinking ahead and looking for new victi ms for his pleasure . the owners, “Are they available to ask questions?” “Like what? I may be able to answer them f or you, but if not I can ask for you.” “Great, then, ask t hem if they have a forwarding address of the person or persons who lived here last . I’d j ust like to get their opinion of the place.” “Ok, but they moved to Port land or somewhere near there up in Oregon, about a year ago. I’ll need to go to the office and look it up and call you later with it.” “Here’s my card with my number on it, we’ll be at the Sheraton, but that’s my cell phone number.” All her card had on i t was her name, “Sarah”, the phrase, “Aces Full” and her number, “(666)-5554321”, all center j ustified in italic Garamond font. “You’ll get us anywhere the signal finds us, thanks.” 181 Sarah asked Megan about

“OK, see you two later, Tootles.” Turning to Susan, Sar ah said, “I saw a restaurant back by the hi ghway . I’ m hungr y how about you?” “OK, but nothing much for me thanks, coff ee and half a bran muffin for me, maybe.” “We can wait there for the call about t he forwarding address . What do you think about finding a valid forwar ding address?” “Not good. I think he moved out because of the investi gation, last time, and hightailed it to some other place to hide someone fr om view, that is, if he’s hiding someone.” “I can’t say I disagree, Susan, but I’ m hopi ng to find something, making this tr ip worthwhile.” “You and me both” Megan called, j ust as Sarah was finishing her burgers and fries, Sarah picked up her phone and answered, “Hello, this is Sarah.” “Hi Sarah, Well, I contacted the Mrs. And she said there was nothing left be hind. gone.” One evening they came home and ever ything was


“Do they remember the date, or did any neighbors see a truck or moving van?” “No, but, I remember a news story at the time the police were investi gating where a nei ghbor mentioned something about seeing an unmar ked truck in the driveway but, that was all I remember about it . have a written report, remembers.” “OK then, thanks for your trouble, we’ll be in touch.” “Can I show you two any other places?” “Not today, I’ll call tomorrow, OK?” “OK, bye.” Sarah’s thoughts went to Tami . “What Maybe the police or someone who

possibly could have happened to her ?

Is she still

alive, sequestered in a closet, cellar, or some other hole in the ground? ” She could not get it out of her mi nd, neither the thoughts, “What could have happened to me? ” Turning to Susan and sayi ng, “I think we should go to the police to see if they have any infor mation that mi ght be able to help us.” “I sure hope we don’t open up a “Can of Wor ms.”


Ever y time Sarah hear d that phras e she would think, “Why would anyone ever want to can wor ms ? Much less, open it? ” Sarah would di g for wor ms and night crawlers for fishing, but why ? Go to a store and buy a can of preser ved “Wor ms” ? When you can j ust go out back and di g for them for fr ee. Course ! You gotta dig for them. Richie the Rat was no stranger to abducting young women. There had been several before Tami . All of which had been murdered due to narrow escape investi gations . found yet. None of which have been All of them murdered in order to make Well, yes ! Of

the move to a new location . They would be chopped up into pieces, placed in plastic trash bags, and disposed of in a remote section of woods of the Sierra Nevada Range on some lonel y back r oad up a mountain pass . Oh My God ! Sarah thought, “Who mi ght be found within his grasp next”. The police were not very helpful either . Their investi gation was comprised of a ver y poor eyewitness’s description and a poor police artists rendering of his likeness . discrepancies. There were several For example, his age, hei ght, eye

color, and wei ght, not to mention the clothes and shoes that he had been wearing that he had burned a long ti me ago. His greatest defense was how the 184

accusation had an err or in it . It was about the ti me of day he was seen near the abduction site . This error gave hi m an alibi, or at least the impr ession of one. How could they pursue hi m with evidence that weak? They would have to arrest hundreds of people with noses li ke that . About the onl y thing that was close was the description of the shape of his nose, which was not enough to hold hi m, gi ven all the disinformation that was in his favor . question. Sarah sat down and read the investigati o n reports, with a heavy eye on any details of Richie that was confirmed and accurate . One thing that was interesting to her was his travel to Ever green Hills California. One person who recogni zed hi m , from a wanted poster mug shot rendering, li ves in Eve r green Hills. He actually helped him fix a flat tire on his She car, on the roadside, on route 155, someti mes called The Evans Road, out near Ever green Hil ls . suspected the area j ust to the north of there along Forest Route 23S16 could have been his dest ination. It is an area in the southern reaches of the Sequoia National Forest, that l ooked to be a remote section of woods with logging and j eep access roads that comb the woods around there . Sarah could never explain why she had the abili ty to put assoc iations together 185 As a result, a search warrant for his apartment was out of the

like that.

It was a long shot, but everything

surrounding all this is a long shot, and Sarah was trying to get something into focus before it is too late again for some poor unsuspecting young woman, like she was for a few hours one day n ot too long ago. up to Sarah’s power of perception had gui ded her, now, and she was not dismissing this carefully, with much consideration, and trepidation, perception, this time . for Sarah to begin . forte’. She has never really been Reasoning, anal ysis, drawing

good at dismissing any of them, and now was no t i me conclusions from disparate infor mation, was Sarah’s It is what made her good at reading poker She was j ust players, or finding Susan, or j ust reading people’s intensions before they acted on them . the process of proving it again. Sarah and Susan drove out the Evans Road j ust to see if anything would slap them i n the face about where Richie t he Rat mi ght have gone to do who knows what to how many girls. As t hey were approaching Ever green Hills, Susan said, “Maybe he moved here or somewhere near by” “Nah, he’s probabl y still in the LA area close to where the shop is . I j ust don’t know where that is. But it’s something we can focus on if this lead goes nowhere.” 186 good at evaluating situations in general, and was in

“Good point Sarah, but do you know how many shops li ke that t here are?” “I know…..I looked at the phonebook back at the hotel before we left . there’s maybe hundreds.” In the LA area

First, they headed f or the center of town, which was j ust off the Evans Road . Ever green Hills is j ust a very small rural town . small it was . There was nothing too much out of the ordinary there, other than how They then headed out towards Forest Route 23S16 . Sarah attempted to turn right onto it, also known as Ever gr een Hills Drive, tr ying to head north to see what they could see out there . this is a Jeep trail . wheel drive ORV . road before but Wow, “Good thing we rented a four Looks like it is mostl y an ATV thought, “This Jeep Wrangler She would

road, but it’s manageable. ” Sarah had never been off Mountain is great. ” In 4WD mode, she felt confident to traverse the rough spots in the road . j ust take it slow and easy and to her surprise right up and over, or through a hole with no trouble at all . The road was not all too bad but was easil y passable with it. Sarah knew she would not be doing any rock crawling any ti me soon but a mountain road like this she could handle . Soon after the turn they drove under some long distance power transmission lines , 187

and a little further they passed by a residence . Sarah said to Susan, “That’s funny, no power or t elephone lines extend up here, must be on solar or wind power, cell phones, and radios. ” Sarah had never considered living off the grid before and thought they must be heart y souls, to be so independent, off on their own why like that . However, mi ght want she could for understand themsel ves. someone that

This place, however, was not too

remote, as to be total ly detached from soci ety, but Sarah would think about what it mi ght be like to live somewhere where it takes hours by seaplane to get to with nothing but woods and mountain ranges between you and ci vilization . “She would have a She thought about mentioning fit if I suggested that” . it to Susan but stopped before doing so, thinking, Nevertheless, she would do it for me, and end up not liking it and would not be happy at all. They rode up and over a ridge and down along a valley beside a dr y brook bed, when t hey came upon a woods road that crossed their path. One side went up the mountain ridge to their right and the other up the ridge they j ust came down off of. Sarah asked Susan, “Which way?” “Sarah, you know whi ch way you want to go . You don’t need me to muddy the waters . But, 188

since you asked, I think you want to go to the right up the hi gher ridge than we j ust came down off of, RIGHT?” “Right…You know me well don’t you.” “Some day you’ll tell me why, but for now j ust keep your eyes on the road and keep it slow and steady.” What is “Intuition”, particularly “Women’s Intuition”? sixth sense? Is it guesswor k, and luck, intel ligence? Sarah t rusted her intuition, and was Is it j ust feelings, inner voices or brain nudges, a following a lead on a road that goes nowhere . Bumps left, ruts ri ght, as t hey went up and over and through as they climbed the slope looking for something that they had no idea of what it was . They were in low r ange now progressing slowl y, having to remove some small tree falls along the way, and Sarah was noticing that only a few ATV’s have been up this way recentl y, but other t han that, the onl y si gns of life were of the wildlife . They got near to the top, j ust a few hundred yards short of the top of the ridge . The road seemed to end at a cul -desac with a narrow ATV trail o ff to the left, which lead to a small clearing. now, wal ked slowly, They left the Jeep and Sarah, appr ehensive in anything and headed towards the clearing . taking 189

ever ything, not being sure what mi ght be i mportant . She was also thinking about the 44, an d the possibility of a bear encounter . American Black

Bears are known to inhabit this area, usuall y gi vi ng people a wide birth, but someti mes not . Just as she was thinking about bear attacks, the i mage of a bear dragging her into the woods came to mi nd . turned to Susan and said, “What if he had come up here with a body or even killed her right here, built a campfi re and cooked something for dinner, or had a bear attractant scent, and let the bear drag her off into the woods for dinner, and the coyot es finished off the bones.” “Oh my god Sarah, what an awfull y gruesome thought, but would they eat ever y last piece of a body?” “I don’t know, but I’ m hoping not.” “Hey! Look over there, it’s remnants of a campfire.” “Good eye Susan, let’s take a closer l ook” Sarah thought it woul d be difficult to know or find anything of value here at the campfire pit, but it confir med to her about the notion of the campfire cooking lure for the bear . camped for the ni ght. 190 At least it was possible, but may have been j ust a hunter or some hike rs She

“It’s getting late, we should head back and come back tomorrow and look around the area out into the woods to see if we can find any remains.” “Oh God, I hope we don’t”. Susan si ghed. “Awe, come on, buck it up . OK, let’s get out of here”. We need this .

On the way there and the way back out they encountered not one other vehicle or hiker or anyone at all, and Sarah thought that such a remote place like this fits her theory and hoped they had j ust found the spot, or at l east one of them. When they got back to town, they found a General Store that had a Restaurant, and a couple of Cabins for rent . Sarah said, “Well this is j ust perfect . Ever ything we need right in one spot . the General Store.” “What do we need at t he store?” “Just a few things to help us look for stuff in the woods” “Like what for example?” Let’s get a cabin and comeback for dinner and see what we can get for supplies at


“Well if you must know, I think we mi ght need to protect ourselves from a bear, or bears, mo untain lions, wol ves, coyote’s” “No Sarah ! No guns ! Please!” “Well, I’ll see, but will you let me at least look?” “Noooooo!” Sarah would look to spite Susan’s obj ections . The cabins, Sarah sur mised, were for out of state hunters who come in during hunti ng season for a few days or a week. They were a small twelve foot by sixteen foot single room wit h a wood stove, a cold water sink, a couple of bunk beds and a toilet in a closet at the far end. Sarah started a fire to warm t he place up a bit and they bo th headed back to the store, for Sarah to check out the guns, and Susan to keep her from buying one . When they got ther e, Sarah She spotted a ver y nice l ooking 45 long colt revol ver with a 6-i nch barrel and six round capacity . asked, “How much?” “$350, ammo and holster will be extra” “OK I’ll take it” “Oh no you won’t” Susan interj ected. “You two together?” “Yes we are, and Susan there, is going to keep to her self, aren’t you?” 192

Sarah looked at her wi th a stern frown and head nod. “You got a valid Calif ornia Dri vers license?” “Well….Ahhh…No . Do I need one?” “Yes mam, in California you need to be a resident.” “Oh, I didn’t know that.” “What do you need it f or? “We’re hiking up in the woods and thought we should have some bear protection.” “That’s a good idea but I’ m afraid I can’t sell this to you. I can offer you an alternati ve.” “What’s that?” “Hire me as a guide and I’ll make sure no bear eats you.” “How much do you charge for a day?” Susan was looking quite happy over the news about California Gun L aw. “What’s your name ? Mine is Fred.” “Sarah” Holding out his hand, he said, ”Glad to meet you t wo Sarah and …. what was your name again?” “Susan. Glad to meet you too, Fred.” “Well, I usuall y get $300 a day for hunting, but for bear guard, I’ ll make it $2 50 j ust for you two pretty women.” Susan batting her eyelashes at hi m sayi ng, 193

“Well, you should know we’re a couple and men don’t appeal to us.” “Oh, that’s OK . My wife doesn’t let me screw around with strange women anyways . that right, Hun?” Looking towards the waitress in the restaurant who looked over towards hi m, turning and cocking her head to one side saying, ”That’s right DEAR.” In a ver y sarcastic tone and smile, she turned back to setting tables. “OK, it’s a deal . dinner?” Got anything good f o r Isn’t

At first light, the next day they met at the restaurant for breakfast and Fred was there j ust about ready to go. He had a few pieces of equipment that mi ght be handy to have in the woods . He had about a hundred feet of thr ee quarter inch brai ded nylon rope, a tow chain, a large hand winch with about a twent y foot reach with stainless steel aircr aft cable, a small chain saw, a two foot square piece of three quarter inch thick marine grade pl ywood, a bottle j ack, a folding shovel , and a small to ol box with a variet y of hand tools.




carr y






You never know when or where

you mi ght get stuck out there.” “Looks like you’ ve been there and done that before.” Susan replied. “Too many ti mes, and hope not to again . stuck for sure . yesterday.” Susan turned to look at Sarah, but Sarah j ust looked towards the dining r oom as if she had not heard anything and said, “Anyone for breakfast ?” If you don’t bring this stuff then you will get You’re lucky you didn’t

After a feast of eggs, bacon, bagels, muffins, j uices, coffee, and fresh melon wedges, they were off again into the woods retracing their path from the day before. Fred said as they approached the cul -desac at the end of the si de road, “Wow you guys are really lucky you didn’t get stuck out here . This is a rough trail.” “It’s the Jeep” Sarah said. “Yah Ri ght.” “It’s true anyone can do this . This is my fi rst time four wheeling.” Fred j ust looked at Susan and said, 195

“She always like this?” “Annoying isn’t it?” “Wow” On the way there, Sarah had explained why they were here and what they were looking for . They had no idea whether or not they would find anything today or not, but they were there and ready to go, bears and all. No sooner than they started up the t rail to the clearing, they spooked an approaching bear cub, which turned and ran up the hill away from them and up a nearby tree. “Careful” Fred whispered. “Mama may be close by. between her and her cub.” “Over there”. Sarah pointed off to their left . Fred whispered, “We’re not quite in line with the cub, but the cubs up the tree and we’re not too far from it . She mi ght think we’ ve cornered cubby and become alar med. Let’s j ust back up slowly keeping your front towards her.” Fred no w had his 50 caliber S&W out and ready to fire. Momma Bear continued towards the tr ee cubby was up and groaned as if to signal, “OK to come down”. Cubby did and they both headed north along 196 Hope we’re not in -

the ridge eventuall y disappearing from si ght though the trees and brush. “Wow that was close, glad you were here Fred.” “That’s what I get pai d for, j ust another day’s wor k.” “Yah, Ri ght ! Like all you do ever y day is ward off Bears.” “Yah, I know, but j ust gi ve me a little credit will ya?” “OK so we know there’s bear s around . should take care of some doubts . people someti mes, ri ght?” “Right.” “Let’s find.” They started to spread out, looking ar ound for anything out of the or d inary, anything that stood out of place, or extraordinary. They could not seem to find anything, spreadi ng out further and further from the campsite, in ever expanding circles. “Let’s not get too far separated” Susan said. “I don’t want to be too far a way from Fred if the bears come back.” start looking around for bone fragments. That’s probabl y all that’s left to That Bears eat







lunch ?


nerly11:00AM and it’s been nearl y fi ve hours since breakfast, and I’ m getting hungr y.” They broke for lunch, Fred saying, “Remember where you are so you can start up again after lunch.”

After not finding anything all morning Sar ah began to wonder if this was the right spot . They had covered a lot of ground and were becomi ng a bit more familiar with it and its patterns. Some of t he elements she consider ed were; the terrain t hat is the slope the type of soil, the rocks and boulders . Then there was the vegetat ion . The way the sl ope faces the sun, or not how t all the trees can grow before a wind will topple them to the ground . She noticed the way the fauna create paths through and around trees and shrubs, and someti mes creates a worn path, slight depressions in the ground, and where only short ground cover t ype plants gr ow due to the pounding of hooves and paws, folding them down, as if they were looking f or someone li ke her t o foll ow them helping her to find what’s she’s looking for . Sarah was looking and learning, someti mes following the smallest of trails, consisting of j ust a f ew small footprints in the sand, placed there by some small mammal, li ke a mouse or small squirrel . It was the 198

larger ani mals that she was looki ng for, like the bears they encountered earlier . his victi ms. Maybe even Mama Bear was one that mi ght have helped devour some of Sarah started searching i n a more organic pattern verses j ust in circles around the ir starting point . She was beginning to see the patterns that mi ght lead to something and began f ollowing them, instead of wasting ti me in areas that mi ght not yield results. A bit later that day, Sarah found some bones piled randoml y j ust off following. a game tra il she was They looked li ke they were weathered

and old but not too old . It was a couple of what she would call leg or ar m bones with a few smaller unidentifiable fragments . Sarah mar ked the spot with some flagging t ape she had purchased at t he general store, and went to find Fred, t ying a mar ker ever y twent y or thirty yards, so she could find her way back to that spot . Perhaps he could identify the bones. She did not want to disturb them in case they were human, thus contaminating the evide nce . Sarah’s adrenaline was flowing now at the thought that she mi ght have found what she was looking for, plus she was running to find Fred and Susan, and by the ti me she found Fred, she could onl y huff and puff and point to the flagged trail . Fred understood and started out that way t o see what she had f ound, as 199

Sarah waved to Susan, in view now as she saw Sarah running towards Fred from a lower elevation down slope. Susan had been trying to stay withi n si ght of Fred anyways, fearing being lost in the woods or eaten by a bear . Fred said, “Sure enough” “Human bones?” “Yep, I think you’ ve done it Sarah.” All Sarah could do is start weeping at the thought of what had happened here . Her visions were becoming a reality and it was beginning to over whel m her . Susan had caught up and was now hugging Sarah , as the bottom dropped out from under her feet. It was if she was standing on a trap door that opened and she was falling out of control like Alice . You Know, “Alice in Wonderland” in pursuit of the little white rabbit, tumbling down the rabbit hole . At f irst, she j ust dropped to her knees, Susan holding fast to one ar m, and then she slumped to the ground as her consciousness waned from realit y into a bri ght white light at the end of a long dar k tunnel . It had her in a trance that she could not break . All she could do is follow the tunnel towards the light . anything else . She was compelled by an unknown force , unabl e to do The human mi nd is a complex and funny thing someti mes, making wild interpretation s of stuff that they see or experience in some way . 200

Such as, Alien Abductions, Near Death Visions, and Baptist Revi val Meetings where the preacher heals mortal illnesses by a touch of his hand as if to transfer the power of Jesus through his body . Stuff like this happens ever y day to someone, somewhere, and what we make of it is usually mult i -faceted misunderstandings of the facts . Granted there is no physical evidence of such things, j ust the highl y emotional ramblings of people that experience them . Sarah woke up from this dream with a splash of water from Fred’s water bottle and some smelling salts from his first -aide pack. “Oh my, what j ust happened?” “You fainted or somet hing.” Susan said. “What I saw… something.” “What did you see?” “Just a bright white light, at the end of a long dark tunnel . I couldn’t do anything except stare at it and wal k towards it” “Oh my God Sarah, I’ m glad you managed to come back to us.” “Oh don’t be silly Susan . overdose of adre naline. It was j ust an I’ll be OK in a few I thought I had died or

mi nutes, j ust gi ve me some room to stand up.”


They mar ked a trail all the way back to t he road, where the Jeep was par ked, and were about to head back towards the highway, when Fred made a call to Margaret, his wife, to look u p Jim’s number . He was the Forest Ranger assi gned to this area . He wanted to call with the location, and get them up there as well as the State Police . They were elevated enough to get recept ion over the other ridge j ust west of their location. “Hello, Jim Morris here.” “Hello, Jim, this is Fred, I’ m up j ust off Forest Route 23S16, about a mile in and a half mile up towards Evergreen Ridge . We’ve found something up here you need to see . You should alert the State Police too . I think they’ll be found.” “What is it Fred, they’re going to want to know. They won’t go out there without knowing?” “You think this is a secure enough phone connection.” “Well it’s not exactly like the old days wi th radios now is it Fred?” “No, you got a point …We found what I think are human remains . Just a few bones, but enough to know they are not ani mal bones.” 202 ver y in terested in what we’ ve

“Oh my God, Fred, Stay there and make sure no one gets in there before we get there . I’ ll be out there as soon as I can . Meanwhile I’ ll make the call.” Sarah was glad they brought enough food for several days, j ust in case they got stuck . She felt like she could eat a cow after all that hiking and adrenaline. While they were waiting, Sarah thought that maybe the Forest Ser vice had a re cord of a Campfire Per mit . After all, it seemed li ke ever y other tree around here had a si gn saying , “Campfire Per mit Required.” After they had all gi ven their statements and were told they could l eave, Sarah asked Ranger Ji m, “Do you guys keep r ecords of old Campfire Per mits?” “Yes, we do? Why?” “If I can gi ve you an approxi mate date can we look through to see if we can find someone, perhaps the killer hi mself?” “You bet , great idea ! do this for a living. compelling. You, little girl should Your story is quite

I’ ve never seen someone focus

on facts, traces of infor mation, and intuition like you j ust did for this find.” 203

“Well, thanks for the compli ment , but that’s a story for another ti me . Campfire Per mit.” “Follow me back to the st ation, and we’ll find it” Back at the station, t hey had a room fi lled with all kinds of infor mation . infor mation later. for seven They kept this kind of years, j ust in case an For now it’s the

investi gation li ke this one mi ght benefit someone Sarah had the approxi mate da te of the investi gation, which was j ust about two years ago last August . They wer e filed chronologicall y but had a cross reference list alphabetically by the name of the applicant . All they had to do is look up Richard Bellhausen, and there it was . They had f ound it, but it had his old address on it from East Pomona . It also had a license plate number, a current California registration, number 7654321 . “Homerun” ever yone in the room heard as Sarah yelled it out. “All we have to do is get you guys to r un t he number to see if he still has it, along with a new address.” “Will do. Let’s head over to my desk, and I’ll make the call.” With that call, leading to Richie the Rats new address, the California State Police reopened several 204

missing persons cases , including Tami’s, because the DNA testing of the bones Sarah found would match a DNA test of a hair sample from Tami’s hair brush at home. Sarah had been hoping it was not Tami’s. She had never known her but grew close to her during her discoveries . Getting to know her without having met her and almost experiencing what she did, because of a rotten little rat . The State Forensic teams would scour t he woods in that ar ea where Tami’s bones were found, finding three more sets of remains, all attributed to The Rat. They would ulti matel y find and search his new apart ment and make an arrest, based upon the Campfire Per mit and t esting of the bones dating the death to about the time he was there, and the witness who saw another person in his car that day who he helped change his flat tire . He now would identify that person as Tami f rom a photograph supplied by her parents. Sarah and Susan headed for LA, at the invitation of the Cal ifornia State Po lice Detective Barry Whit more, for the search of the “Rats” apart ment. They would ultimatel y find nothing She could not shake the Left unattended she

unusual, at his apartment, but Sarah had a ver y uneasy feeling about that . idea that there mi ght be someone else, and they would need to find her soon . would not li ve long. They all had an uneasy feeling, 205

Especially Sarah .

The interrogations were going

nowhere and the uneasy feelings were leading to paranoia and anxiety. They needed to do something but nothing came to anyone’s mind that day . Sarah could not sleep that night due to the little Devil on her right shoulder again, squawking like a Parrot, “Di g Sarah Di g”.


Chapter 13 Saving Grace
The ver y next morning Sarah woke up in her hotel room to the sun rising over the eastern hills overlooki ng San Ber nardino . continental style br eakfast morning starting at 7:00 AM. The hotel offered a in the lobby ev er y Sarah went down to Susan was still

get some coffee and pastries for her and Susan, and would bring them up to the room. sleeping soundl y, but knew she would b e up soon. While down in the lobby she noticed that , some of the furniture looked old but well preser ved and ver y tasteful. Sarah’s mind went to the “Antique Shop” where the “Rat” wor ked. “Oh my God” Sarah yelled out, as the five people in the Lobby turned to see what she was concer ned about. “Oh!......I’ m sorr y, I j ust had an epiphany.” Ever yone si ghed, in relief that there was not a rat in one of the pastries or something . Sarah ran back to their room to wake Susan and phone Whit more about it, trying not to spill t he coffee on the way. “Susan ! Wake up; we’re going to his shop where he wor ked” 207

“Can’t it wait until I wake up?” “No! there.” She explained about her concern, but all he could say was, “We’ve searched the shop and found nothing . Another team searched it while we were at his apart ment.” “I’ ve got to go there to see for myself . Will you meet me there?” “It’ll take me a while, I’ m not dressed yet, but I’ll be there as soon as I can.” Sarah could not get going soon enough, “Susan ! Hurr y, hurry, hurry” The shop was across t own from their hotel and Sarah was too anxious for the traffic . drove . She was beside herself knee deep in four letter words as they They got t here eventually, to spite the It was one insistence of the traffic to the contrary . I’ m calling Whitmore now, to meet us

of those one stor y st orefronts on one of t hose six lane main avenues thr ough Los Angeles, built in the late fifties or early sixties but was in a thirties Art Deco style. The rear half was two stories, whe re the offices and special showroom were located . This showroom was for the older ver y good condition expensi ve pieces in a bit higher -class showroom for 208

the more demanding customers . The buildings in the area were all slab -on-grade t ype constructi on, wi th no basements, usually. This building was no The exception to that rule, or so it seemed during the first search of the pl ace . Sarah arri ved fi rst . store was open by t hen and she had to get ri ght inside and start looking around to see it for herself and begin assi milati ng infor mation . Whitmore arrived a few minutes later and said, “Hope you haven’t disturbed any potential evidence yet?” “No! Not yet,” Said in a ver y sarcastic tone. “What took you so long?” “I got here as quick as I could” “There’s not much out here . back in the storage area?” “They didn’t find anyt hing there either.” “Upstairs?” “Nothing” Sarah stood at the entrance to the storage area j ust looking, looking for something, the smallest of clues. However, she was finding nothing. “This place looks to be about fifty years old or so.” “Someone said it was built in 1958.” “Back in the “Cold War” days, huh?” 209 What about out

“That’s about right, the post McCarthy days.” “I’ ve heard that many people built bomb shelters during that time didn ’t they? “Yes, ver y well” Their attention turned to the floor slab in the storage area. There were many old pieces of furniture and artwork, such as paintings and sculptures . There was one large furniture pi ece that caught Sarah’ s eye . It was a rather lar ge piece in not ver y good condition . Nevertheless, the mar ks on the floor indicated it has been moved recentl y and many ti mes at that . The shop owner said that that piece has been here for many years, ne ver finding a potential new home, probabl y since it’s condition would require extensive and expensi ve restoration, and would then only be a restoration effecting its ultimate value . It was a large sideboard piece with upper and lower cabinets and a count er top over the base cabinets, for serving a dinner in a large fancy dining room in a large fancy old house. “What do you say? Shall we move it to see what mi ght be the reason for the scratches on the floor?” Sarah questioned. The shop owner, Sarah, and Whit more, began moving the piece to one side and found what looked to be a hatchway in the floor . It was concrete much 210 You remember that movie “Blast from the Past”?”

like a bank vault door .

It had what looked like a

cast iron frame and door edge, with a recessed handle that turned to latch and unlat ch the hatch. It was a circular door about the size of a city sewer manhole, j ust big enough for a person to pass through easil y. Sarah was getting increasingl y Whitmore notic ed that it apprehensi ve now, as to what they would find on the other side of that hatch . did not have any apparent locking mechanism, at least from the outside, but suspected that it might lock onl y from the inside . Whit more proceeded to unlatch the door by t urning the handle to the left . “Lefty Loosey, Ri ght y Tight y”, Sarah thoug ht, as he turned the handle . It was something she remembered that her father would always say when dri ving and removing screws and bolts and felt that same logic would appl y here too, which it did . Sarah would She enter first slowly, looking for a li ght swi t ch. she flipped that switch .

was not prepared for what she was about to see as All Sarah could do is hold her hand over her mouth to muffle her screams as the over whel ming emotions welled up from so deep down with -in her soul as if she was face to fa ce with the Devil hi mself . What she saw was a naked young woman sitting on the floor of the shelter, hands overhead chained to the wall . Sarah quickl y recovered from the initial emotions to rush to the 211

side of this poor weakened young woman, whose faculties and well -bei ng were dulled by mistreatment and malnutrition, maybe even dehydration . Whitmore followed in behind Sarah with as shocked a look on his face as Sarah’s. “My God Sarah, you saved her.” “What’s your name Sweetie? ” Sarah asked. “Mmmm my nnnn name is Gggg Gracie. ” She said in an extremel y weak and emotional t ones, as tears rolled down her cheeks and cr ying in the face of salvation from the devil incarnate. “Oh my God honey, ever ything’s going to be alright. home.” Grace was chained at the wrists , to a rebar in a recess in the concrete wall, Sarah thought for lifting the pre -cast concrete shelter unit into place, perhaps. The chains were long enough f or her to reach whatever food and water was left for her by her captor if she stood up to reach a near by shelf . They also allowed her to sit on the floor, but that was about all she could do . Sarah asked the shop owner to get a blanket or clothing to cover Gracie’s naked body, and some tools to remove the chains . He quickl y brought a blanket and said, Whit more, call an ambulance . We caught hi m honey, it’s all over . You’re goi ng









Richie”. ” I think we’ll need a bolt cutter in order to cut the padlocks from the cuffs”. “He’s a Rat … Richie the Rat.” Sarah said with extraordinary ire . The E.M.T. had arrived in j ust a few minutes, and amongst their tools, they found some bolt cutters and wer e able to cut off the pad locks and release Gracie f rom the grasp of the Devil, and get her on the way to the hospital.

Gracie was recovering ver y well .

She was

j ust a bit malnourished and not too dehydr ated, but they kept her for fi ve days to be sure there were no complications . For t he first few days, the CSP let It had been for Luckil y, she had had an intra her reconcile with her relatives . about six months .

uterine contraceptive device i mplanted so that she could be sure of not becoming pregnant unti l at least after graduating college . She was looki ng forward to completing her studies, but would have to cope with being a year behind where she would have been . It would take some ti me for her to get over this incident. The physical healing would be easy, but she feared that the emotional 213 scares woul d last a



al l,





physically and emotionally restrained and secluded. Sarah visited her ever yday at the hospital, and Gracie had asked her t o come home with her after the Hospital released her . Sarah agreed readily . Gracie was thankful for her efforts . that she had never even She would ultimatel y met before . Gracie love her for her compassion and caring for someone suspected that there was more about Sarah than j ust her uncanny ability t o sniff out rats and wanted to get to know that side of her better . about Susan and their Gracie knew from relationship

conversations at the hospital, but it was not about that kind of relationship . friends. Sarah followed her home . Susan stayed at Tom’s place still worried about “The Larr y” . Grace and her famil y were f rom a small town j ust outside of Denver Colorado . They lived in a modest three bedroom house in a suburb, where she was the onl y child. Gracie was j ust a little over twenty years old . Now, after all that h ad happened, she felt like she was approaching forty -fi ve. Sarah would help her It was the with her emotional suf ferings, as she needed to grow beyond what had happened to her . perverted sex, the rest raints, the pain, not meant in a 214 Their relationship would develop into one of like two sisters, or very good

manner conduci ve to l ove, but one of hate and disgor gement of suff ering. Gracie felt safe with They would She Sarah around, and would prove to be tremendousl y helpful in her emoti onal recover y . spend ever y day together for the next month, telling Sarah about her experiences with “The Rat”. explained where her i nterest in poker came from and started playing on -li ne, and how her chat with another, seemingl y similar person led to a meeting in Denver at a restaurant . As soon as she mentioned that part of the story, Sarah broke down i n tears . She had not yet explained to Gracie about how close of a call she had with the same “Rat”, and that that was how she got involved in finding hi m and saving her. Gracie would be forever thankful to Sarah and Susan, for letting Sar ah spend t he time with her and away from Susan . It helped her to come back to her family and friends, and gave her a level of understanding that even someone as astute as Sarah could get dragged into the same situation . This was ver y i mportant to her, as it showed her how evil intensions of her life. can fool anyone under the right conditions, and would help her continue with the rest Gracie looked forward to comi ng to Boston to visit, but it would be a year at least before


she would venture out again feeling she had enough control of her life to f eel secure. When Sarah got home, Susan showed her some correspondence and phone call notes from Whitmore at the CSP. consulting They were offering her a j ob, or a contract for special investigations .

Ever yone there was so i mpressed by her abilities that they had to have her, and she could name her price, she was that good in their eyes . decision. Sarah and Susan would ponder the idea for a while before making a Sarah knew Susan was not comfortable here in Charlestown a nd figured she would welcome a change, keeping Larry on his toes, if he had anything left for her after their last encounter . Not even the sound of gr avel whooshing, keeping “The Hole” full would keep her and Susan from sleeping well anyti me soon.


Chapter 14 A New Beginning
Whitmore was pressing Sarah to come back to California and Sarah was considering it, but Tom’s health had taken a turn for the worst while they were in California . He was holding back from saying anything but could not hide the fact t hat he was heading for the hospit al . He had an inoperable brain tumor, a “Glioblastoma” in an advanced stage. had been having headaches for over year He and

dismissed them as many things, such as lack of sleep, bad eating habits and too much vitami n “J” . You know, Johnny, Jack and Jim, do you not ? They wanted to try radiation and chemotherapy at a level that needed constant supervision in the hospital . After a while, it became obvious that it was not responding well to t reatments . It was t he ver y malignant t ype with roots much li ke tree root s . They had spread into the brain tissues, in a very sensitive location. Removal was not an option because the removal process would more than likel y leave hi m brain dead, or j ust p lain dead. Sarah called Whitmor e to see if they would gi ve her some additional ti me to consider their offer, 217

due to the circumstances surrounding her current crisis. Without hesitation, he said that she could have as much ti me as she needed . Their offer had no expiration date, j ust ca ses that needed her abilities . She felt their pain, but hers right now needed quelling. Sarah would stay by Tom’s side as long as it would take. days as They sent Tom home to make his last as possible in a familiar comf ortable

environment, gi ving friend s and relative’ s easier access in his last days . He did not have many close friends or relatives . Sarah and Susan were j ust about it. They had become close these last few years in their adventures together in poker games, finding, and protecting Susan . So close they became as close as famil y. Tom was like the great old Uncle or Grandfather that Sarah never had, and it would have taken a bulldozer to get her away from his side during this ordeal . He had taught her ever ything he knew about the bi g stake s poker games, and gave her the confidence to foll ow through with it, and all that would remain with her until she dies . Tom spoke ver y seldom, and when he did it was, “this needed to be done” or “that needed to go to so and so. ” It was like a businesspe rson shutting down a shop that had j ust gone bankrupt and foreclosed on . Sarah was quite emotional at this point but did not want to 218

appear overl y so, out of respect for his feelings and love for hi m. He did not want anyone to f ret about his passing. Sarah, “Do you remember what you did to Harr y, all those years ago? You know, under the table?” “Yes Tom, of course, how could I for get?” “Ever since I first heard that story, I’ ve fantasized about how much I would have liked to have been Harr y on that day.” Sarah had a difficult time holding her emotions back, but at that moment she broke down, unable to hide it any longer, and started crying, leaning over, holding his hand and laying her head on his shoulder, tears rolling, saying, “I wish it had been you too” Sarah knew he did not have many loves i n his life and not his j ust feelings good in for her She ages under too different the in circumstances would have been more towar ds lovers , friends . their regretted differences differences and He woul d tell people, “life’s to o short to worr y about me”, but near the end, he asked

circumstances, and wished they could have been lovers as well. Those words would be Tom’s last, as t he tumor, winning the battle, took his ability to hear and speak, as he drift ed off i nto a comma, never to 219

awake again.

Sarah imagined he dreamed of better Sarah j ust

times and circumstances and hoped those dreams would leave hi m happy for eternity . whispered in his ear, “I love you Tom, hope to see you soon.”

Sarah and Susan would be moving to southern California, where it never rains, as the song goes . She would take the j ob with CSP as a consultant on a case -by-case basis. Where she hoped she could help return stolen souls to their rightful owners . “Rat” had stolen too many. The Sarah woul d try to

regain Tami’s but purchasing the house in East Pomona that they looked at while trying to save her . Sarah and Susan turned that small room, where she suspected she was hel d, into a Memorial dedicated to Tami. They walled in the interio r door and added an exterior door for access by anyone who cared to come and tr y to reconcile the crime, hoping to return Tami’s soul to its correct and deserving owner . Tami’s relatives brought items of hers to commemorate her life and her love . It was more for those living in memory of her than anyt hing, but Sarah could not help but feel good about doi ng it . It helped her and hoped it would help others to rise above the morass of humanit y that would do something li ke that to another person . Sarah had the 220

following statement cast into a bronze plaque, which she mounted on the wall in Tami’s room right under a photographic portrait supplied by her parents, which says, “There is much love out there for you, even though from people you have not yet met, be cause some of them care about you, and can only do so much, as they tr y to do it all.”

Sarah would return to Vegas occasionally, remembering the good old days, “bluffing t he pants off of a Vegas clown” . She would win every ti me, leaving the table with more than when she sat down . She could play poker, and she could sniff out a rat from 2500 miles away, bringing them t o j ustice ever y ti me. The State of California and many people around the countr y would be forever in her debt for the good she would do for them. All anyone has to do is, in her words: “Just look around, pay attention to what you’re looking at and the answers j ust pop right out at you.” At the ver y least, that is what Sarah woul d say to anyone who would ask, particularly when t hat little devil on her ri ght shoulder would squawk out the words, “Di g Sarah Di g” 221

Sarah hoped that someday she would be able to smash that damned little devil, and be done with hi m forever, but reali ty would ulti matel y prove that “The Hole” is one that you can never totally fill in, all you can do is manage how deep it gets.


Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful