Amethyst Purple Pt. 03
This is a work of fiction which exists solely in my imagination.
While I've used actual towns, landmarks and locations in the following tale, none of the people, events or businesses depicted have any actual or implied connection to any actual event or person, alive or dead, with the exception of certain historical references. These references are included only to allow the reader to be able to relate better to the timeline of this work of fiction.
Thursday, September 21, 1995
Ted was once again preparing for a prominent trial. This one wasn't a rape and murder defense but it was quite complicated and with the travails at home Ted found himself staying at the office well into the evening more and more often. One of the interns, Kim Litesey, made a point to be nearby and available whenever he was working, her admiration for him a secret no one saw any point in trying to keep. Ted had discussed the distance growing daily between himself and Marti and Kim expressed her consolation and surreptitiously offered solace but Ted had continually resisted her. She stepped behind his chair while he was sorting documents to make them easier to find at a moment's notice in the courtroom and began rubbing his shoulders and neck. Ted rested his hands on the top of the conference room table where he had files stacked on one end and lowered his chin to his chest, luxuriating in the impromptu neck rub the intern was administering. Ted began to realize the level of stress he had been experiencing and gloried in the brief reprieve Kim was providing. He noticed something else, too, he was becoming erect. Ted knew without being told that he only needed to stand and push the young intern onto the table and she wouldn't resist in any fashion. He'd be able to find the relief so unattainable at home lately if he only stood up from his chair and took what Kim had so obviously been offering for weeks.
So, that's what he did.
The guilt that Ted had often experienced when he recognized the attraction he felt toward the girl was nowhere in attendance that night. When Ted went home later he felt sated in a way he hadn't felt in nearly half a year but once he saw Marti the guilt flooded in as if a door had been opened under the surface of a swimming pool or a lake and he hated himself for what he'd done.
Marti saw the look on his face and knew. She didn't know how she knew but she had no doubt, Ted had been unfaithful. Following closely behind that knowledge was a sense of forgiveness. She couldn't blame him, she'd been denying him his physical needs and now, she realized, she'd been denying him his emotional needs as well. Besides, hadn't she succumbed to the same temptations Ted had and with much less provocation than he'd been suffering? Seeing the recognition in Marti's expression, Ted imagined his marriage collapsing like so many others have done and the guilt was unrelenting.
Marti stepped up to him, reached up and wiped the tear that was creeping from the corner of each of his eyes, leaned up and kissed him on the corner of his mouth and spoke.
"Two things: first, I don't want to talk about it, I don't want to know any details and second please be discreet. We'll be past this soon and things will go back to normal. Now, as accepting as I am willing to be about this, I want you clean when you come to bed so go take a shower."
Ted stood, stunned as he watched Marti turn and walk toward their bedroom without looking back.
When he slid, freshly washed into their bed, Marti rolled over facing Ted and draped her arm across his chest, leaned in and kissed him then lay her head on his shoulder and they both slipped into a fitful sleep.
The next morning Ted called his office and took the day off.
During the next few months Ted and Marti agreed to try counseling to find an answer to their dilemma and Ted made a point to avoid all women, regardless how attractive he found them, he didn't want to make the same mistake again. Eventually Ted and Marti's sex life did return although not quite as proliferate as it had been during Marti's pregnancy with Matthew and by Thanksgiving they both professed to have much to be thankful for and their love for one another was as strong as it had ever been. They began discussing their desire for another child and decided that they wanted their two to be as close in age as possible so it was agreed that they would begin trying for round two immediately.
Sunday, December 31, 1995
"Make sure you pack enough cold weather clothes, the forecast isn't too promising for this week." Ted advised Marti while she was deciding what to pack for her trip to Virginia coming up in two days.
"You know weathermen only guess what to predict most of the time." Marti returned.
"Maybe, but it's better to be prepared in case they get it right for once; even a blind squirrel finds a nut on occasion and I don't think you'll find a lot of decent clothing stores in Luray, Virginia."
"OK, daddy, I will." Marti chortled sarcastically.
Marti was scheduled to go to a small rural town in Virginia to assess a failing family business that was trying to secure funds from her bank to restructure and hopefully be successful again. This was the first trip she'd made since her trip to St. Louis and she was feeling guilty and self conscious about the events that occurred on that earlier trip. Regardless, she was certain she'd never make the same mistakes she made in Missouri again.
"My flight back to Knoxville leaves Saturday afternoon, just make sure you're there to pick me up, I don't want you forgetting about me in a week."
"As if anybody could ever forget about you, you're pretty memorable."
The company Marti was auditing this time had taken several loans from Fellowship Trust Bank over the past five years and with the prospect of Bankruptcy looming in the company's uncertain future Marti was assigned to audit the company in an attempt to ascertain if it would be in the bank's best interest to call in the loans or invest in further attempts to salvage it. She had completed everything she could from her office in Knoxville, now she had to perform her onsite evaluation. Marti expected to complete her remote portion of this trip in three days, one of her shorter trips. She was scheduled to fly from Knoxville to Charlottesville, VA on Tuesday, January 2, 1996, complete her audit from Wednesday through Friday and then fly back home Saturday evening. Marti was not enthusiastic about this trip, not so much because of the separation from Ted, it was a relatively short trip and they still hadn't recovered the closeness they once had, but about the drive in a rental car from the airport to the small town of Luray just over an hour away.
Tuesday, January 2, 1996
Charlottesville Albemarle Airport
"Are you kidding me?! A Geo Metro?!"
"Yes, Ma'am, that's what we have." The clerk behind the counter with bored eyes and loose tie said.
"OK, then I'll just have to upgrade to a mid-size." Marti sighed.
"No, Ma'am, you don't understand, that's all we have left, it's our last rental." The clerk's face still showing little empathy for Marti's misfortune.
"Seriously? You don't have anything scheduled to be returning anytime soon?"
"No, Ma'am, we don't know when to expect someone to bring a rental in. We could get one in ten minutes or it might be two or three hours before one comes back, maybe even longer then it would have to be inspected, cleaned and prepped for re-rental and that can take two or three more hours. This is the one your company reserved for you, that's the only reason it's still on the lot."
"Fine, let's just get this done, I still have more than an hour's drive to Mayberry or wherever I'm going."
The clerk made no attempt to reassure Marti, he just filled out the rental agreement as quickly and efficiently as he could so he could regain his solitude in the rental office as soon as possible.
Less than five minutes after Marti pulled out of the lot in her struggling Geo Metro, a customer returned a four wheel drive Ford Explorer SUV.
Almost an hour and a half later, Marti drove into the small town with a population of about 4500. The historic community provided a welcome sense of comfort that Marti appreciated immediately. She knew at once that she'd have to temper her sympathy for the employees of Waxler Manufacturing with the fiscal needs of the bank when she made her recommendation to the Underwriters. She knew she could be tempted to put more emphasis on keeping the company running because from the appearance of the town so far it just might be one of if not the largest employer in the area. If Waxler bankrupted the already suppressed economy of the county would take a devastating blow. But if the company could not be restructured in such a manner as to begin making a profit once again no bank or investor would be able to prop it up financially for long.
She stopped at a small diner, ate a late lunch and got directions to the quaint Bed and Breakfast where she was supposed to be staying just east of town.
Marti checked in and was shown to her room, which contained only a queen size bed, a round bedside table covered with a white lace doily, a windup clock and a lamp with a painted glass globe, a cedar wardrobe and an antique dressing table with an oval mirror and straight back wooden chair. She showered and unpacked her luggage, hanging her dresses, blouses and slacks in the right side of the wardrobe that had a full size door and folded the rest of her clothes into the drawers that made up the left side.
Marti then made her way downstairs to the living room which was designated as the lounge with a fireplace, a television and a modern (compared to the rest of the decor) 'U' shaped sectional 'pit' sofa set, where she found the owner sitting with two other people. The owner, Mrs Parsons, reminded Marti of Aunt Bea from the Andy Griffith show and she had to stifle a laugh when she remembered telling the clerk at the car rental counter she was going to Mayberry. Mrs. Parsons introduced Marti to a young oriental couple, Ichiro and Hiromi Nakano.
Mrs. Parsons rose from her seat and told the residents that she'd have breakfast ready to serve at seven the next morning and asked if anyone had any special menu needs or requests then excused herself into her private section of the old country home.
Marti and the Nakanos decided to drive to the diner Marti stopped at earlier for a shared supper. Marti explained the purpose of her trip and the couple shared that they were on vacation and were spending the week exploring the Shenandoah Valley National Park and other historic sites in the region. After their meal they returned to the Bed and Breakfast where they sat in the common room until late in the evening talking about family and the adventures they'd all experienced then worked out a bathroom schedule before retiring to their rooms for the night.
Wednesday, January 3, 1996
Waxler's Blacksmith shop began its existence in 1952 when 18 year old Marvin Waxler first offered his services as a Farrier and blacksmith from the barn on his family's farm outside Luray, Virginia. Marvin began with a simple hand-cranked coal forge and a 208 pound anvil, he forged most of the rest of his tools himself. In 1961, he took the extra profits he had saved over the past nine years to a government surplus auction in Norfolk where he bought several pieces of surplus equipment recently removed from a salvaged Naval ship. With the three phase diesel generator he was able to power the Pratt and Whitney engine lathe, the Bridgeport milling machine and the Lincoln arc welder that he also bought and had shipped back to Luray by train. Waxler's Blacksmith shop then became Waxler Manufacturing and his business grew. With this new equipment, Marvin was able to expand his services to include manufacturing industrial fittings for factories from North Carolina to as far north as Maryland. Within fifteen years Waxler Manufacturing, Inc. had grown into a large production facility with more than a dozen lathe and milling machine stations and their clientele spread throughout the entire eastern United States. In 1975 the company began bidding on government contracts and its value continued to increase. Marvin and his wife, Eula, were vacationing in Europe when they were among 193 people who were killed when the ferry they were taking from Belgium to England capsized and sank on a sandbar only minutes after leaving port on March 6, 1987. Even proliferate government contracts couldn't ensure Waxler Manufacturing's continued growth after the loss of Marvin's direction. Marvin led the company from the production floor, spending as much time there as in his office and knew every employee by name on sight, in fact most of the company's employees had, at one time or another, been a guest at the Waxler home. Marvin and Eula were childless and leadership of Waxler Manufacturing fell to a Board of Administrators appointed by the key Shareholders. The new administrators lacked Martin's insight as an old-school machinist and resorted to "expert established" statistical rubrics to establish bid amounts for prospective new contracts instead of knowing first-hand what would actually be required to complete them. As a result the company was under bid on many contracts and the contracts they did successfully bid on ended up losing money because the bid was too low and the company was on the verge of failure.
Marti found the production facility without any problem and was able to begin her evaluation when the doors opened at seven am. Since she had to be out of the BnB before Mrs. Parsons finished breakfast she stopped at the diner again for a quick bacon and egg sandwich on her drive in.
Marti spent her first day at Waxler meeting with the Board of Administrators and was surprised that none of the members even had offices onsite. In fact not one of the Administrators were within fifty miles of the production plant on any regular basis. She was further astonished at the aloof attitude shared by each and every one of them and the fact that none could readily answer any of her questions regarding the day to day operation of the plant without needing to consult with an assistant in some far away office to look up corresponding figures. After she made her initial walk-through of the production floor, escorted by a long time employee named Ralph Fuller, she was convinced that the company was doomed in its present state of management. That the Machinists and other plant employees didn't recognize a single one of the well dressed strangers walking through the plant spoke volumes to her mind.
As she drove back to the BnB Wednesday afternoon Marti was certain that her recommendation to the bank's Underwriters was ultimately going to be to end their support. This did not sit well with her because even she could see the potential the company had, if only it had competent management who motivated the employees.
Back at the Inn Marti decided she'd take care of bathing before the Nakano's got back from their day of sightseeing so she wouldn't be rushed and was sure of having enough hot water in the single small bathroom shared by all the rental rooms of the converted farm house. Afterward she sat in the common room talking to Mrs. Parsons. When she mentioned the purpose for her visit she noticed a change in the Inn Keeper's demeanor but kept talking about what she had observed that day.
"So, then, what's your opinion?" Mrs. Parson asked.
"Well, right now I haven't completely formed an opinion yet but from what I witnessed today the Administrators certainly don't inspire much confidence in their ability to operate a company successfully. I still need to meet all the production employees to see if there's enough competence to work with." Marti answered.
"Then you're going to close the plant down." The Innkeeper said dejectedly.
"No, I'm not going to close anything down. Regardless of what I see I don't make that decision, I report what I find on the operational state of the organization to the bank's Underwriters and they use my report with other information to make their final decision. In fact they seldom ever tell me the final results on any of my assignments."
"That's a pretty cold attitude to take when other people's lives are affected." Mrs. Parsons seemed to be simmering.
"I'm sorry you feel that way. I always try to find solutions to problems I uncover and make suggestions before I submit my reports."
Mrs. Parsons sat quietly, staring deeply into the cold, empty fireplace.
"Please, forgive my petulance. You see, my late husband was Marvin Waxler's first hired hand, he rode with Mr. Waxler and helped him buy his first equipment from a government auction in Newport News in 19 and 61. It hurts my heart to see his company run down the way it has since they died. My Leo died two years before the Waxlers went on that vacation, he turned his tractor over on the back side of our property and Mr. Waxler helped me set this Bed and Breakfast up with Leo's insurance money so I wouldn't lose the family land. I guess I still have a soft spot in my heart for them."
"That's OK, I understand how you feel. I've been trying to figure out a way for the company to recover enough that I can recommend for the bank to continue backing them. I'll know better after tomorrow but right now I think the problems lie primarily with the Board of Administrators but I still haven't observed the employees yet to know how much potential they have."
"Ralph Fuller." Mrs. Parsons said.
"Yes, I met Mr. Fuller today, he seemed forlorn and despondent but he led me and the Board around the plant and pointed out the different manufacturing sections and the people working at the equipment." Marti remarked.
"Talk to him, get him alone for a while and ask him how to save Waxler Manufacturing then when you talk to your Underwriters, you tell them that if they'll trust Ralph the company will make money again." Mrs. Parsons stated confidently.
Although Marti didn't share Mrs. Parsons' absolute confidence, her advice comfortably fitted with Marti's operational method so she assured the Innkeeper she'd consult the Machinist the following day.
"By the way, my cellular phone doesn't seem to be able to get a signal anywhere in this town and I didn't notice a phone in my room, is there a phone I can use to call home to let my husband know I'm OK?" Marti asked the Innkeeper.
"Certainly, just use the one over by the fireplace, do you mind making it a collect call?"
"No, I don't mind at all." Marti answered.
As Marti picked up the phone and dialed the Operator to connect her with her home phone the front door opened and in stepped a sandy haired man who looked like he might be in his early thirties, slightly pudgy with striking gray eyes and a confident, friendly smile carrying a suitcase..
"Ahh, you must be Mr. Connolly, I expected you earlier in the day. How was your trip?"
"Yes, call me Lucas. It's been a magnificent day, actually, in fact I've taken my time driving all day today just enjoying the trip and the scenery, not in any hurry at all." The newcomer answered, smiling.
"I'd like for you to meet Mrs. Kilgore, one of our other boarders and the Nakanos should be back from touring the park soon. They're a nice couple, you'll like them. Let me show you to your room." Mrs. Parsons proclaimed as she led the man up the stairway toward the BnB's three bedrooms.
"Yes, I'll accept the charges." Came Ted's voice over the phone line. "Hey, Doll, how's your week been?"
"Hectic and non-stop, this is going to be a tough one. How has yours been?"
"Lonely and boring." Ted chuckled.
"Yeah, I miss you, too. Mrs. Parsons is a delight, she owns the Inn and there's this nice Japanese couple here this week who're really interesting, we sat in the living room talking until pretty late last night after supper. I think they're staying until Saturday, too. You'd love them."