I lived and went to college in the same town I grew up in. All my friends (minus the few that moved away or had died for some reason) lived nearby. My father owned and operated the local building supply center and hardware store. He had wanted me to get my degree and come back to help him, eventually to take over the store. When I was young he had forced me to work in the store. I spent many evenings and weekends there before I got out of high school and during college. I enjoyed talking to the contractors that purchased their material from Dad. When I made deliveries I watched how they built things and asked questions of them. I can't say I hated the job in Dad's store but I didn't like it. The best part of the work was going on deliveries to help unload and later making the deliveries by myself. I really did not want to take over the store.
When I was not working in the store I did like many boys in town and mowed yards for pocket money. One day I was working for a widow and watching her try to repair a storage building in her yard. She was having a lot of trouble, partly because she did not have the proper tools for the job, partly because she was not strong enough to do the heavy work and partly because she just plain did not know how to proceed. Finally when I finished the yard I offered to help her. At first she was hesitant because I was just a fifteen-year-old boy.
To this day I do not know where I got the courage to push her to hire me but I did. I told her it was obvious she was not able to do the work and I thought I was. I told her some of the things I saw her doing that were wrong and pointed out that she just was not strong enough or tall enough to do the job. I told her I would do it for $50.00 if she bought the materials. I told her if she did not like the work after I was finished she did not have to pay me. Finally she agreed to let me do the work.
I did the job to her satisfaction and she paid me. She actually did something more valuable for me than give me the money though. She began telling her older single friends about my work and how good a job I did for her both on the repair and in mowing her yard. I began getting calls from other women wanting me to repair things for them. I was always careful to do the work correctly. If I did not know how to do something I would ask one of my contractor friends. I always charged less than a real, licensed contractor would charge. After I had worked for several older women I began to get calls from men and families. By the time I was in college I had a small handyman business and had many of the necessary licenses to do the work. I also still had my lawn care business. I had to hire my friends to help from time to time to keep up—especially in the summer. I was making enough money in the evenings, weekends and summer to pay for my college, a newer truck and my dates I was also able to enjoy my youth although I have to admit I did work long hours and my dates always started later than most boys dates did.
After I graduated high school I got tired of living with my parents and rented an apartment. I lived in the apartment during my first year of college. I did not enjoy apartment living so began looking for a house to rent after the years lease ran out. One of my friends from high school had just divorced one of my best buddies, Joe. She had caught him cheating with one of our classmates and filed for the divorce. Glenda worked as a real estate agent and struggled to make ends meet. We were talking one evening, commiserating about her failed marriage at our favorite hang out. We both lived in apartments and neither one of us liked it. I told her I was thinking about renting a house. I asked her if she had any reasonably priced rental properties she could show me. She asked how much I could pay. When I told her she looked shocked and said, "Hell Stan with a thirty year loan you could buy a pretty nice house for that much a month. Why don't you buy a house instead of rent? That way you could build equity instead of pouring your money down a deep empty rat hole as rent."
I told her I had never considered that. I said I didn't have too much for a down payment. "Well, let me do some checking and I'll get back to you," she said.
When I left the hangout I managed to get an older friend to buy me some beer. By the time the evening was over I forgot about our conversation but she sure didn't. I guess the thought of a nice commission does that to you though. The next Monday evening Glenda called me and asked to meet her at the bar again (in our town we had several bars that served burgers and sodas in a small room where under age people could eat). When I walked in she had some papers in front of her and she seemed excited. Almost before I got seated she began talking, "Stan I found several places that I think you can afford but most of them aren't in very good locations. I did find one place for sale that I think you might like. Do you remember the old Harris place on the edge of town?"
I nodded yes and she continued, "Well you know when they got older they built a nice new three car garage and put a 'mother in law' apartment over it. I think they were planning to use it for a live in caregiver if the need arose. The new garage was several feet from the house. Two years ago you remember the house caught fire?"
I shook my head yes again and she said, "Well they decided not to rebuild and moved into a retirement community here in town. The garage was not damaged too badly during the fire. I was talking to Etta the other day and she said they were tired of paying the taxes on the place and doing what little upkeep they did. She said they wanted to sell the place and I listed it. It is twenty acres and they are asking $110000.00 for it. You would have to do a little work on the garage and apartment but it would be great for you. The best thing is all the utilities are already in. There are several newer houses going up in the area so I really expect a contractor to try and buy it soon and subdivide it. It isn't in the multi list book yet so it hasn't shown but a time or two. They would only need about $20000 down...Stan; a twenty year payment would be about half the rent you now pay monthly so if you could make the down payment I really think this would be a good deal for you."
I thought about it for a while. I didn't have that much money but from what I remembered of the place I really wanted it badly. I told her I wanted to look at it the next evening. Later that evening I went to Dad and asked if he would loan me the down payment. I have to admit he was not real anxious to do so but I reminded him the monthly payments on the land would be half the rent I now paid so I could pay him some back each month after I got the apartment repaired and livable. We finally agreed he would loan me the down payment if I wanted to buy the place after I saw it.
That next evening I went to the place and fell in love with it all over again. Even with the burned out shell of the house there it was even prettier than I remembered. The fire didn't even kill all the trees and shrubs in the yard. I could look down the hill to a small stream meandering through the property. I told Glenda to write up an offer of $90000.
Tuesday evening after classes I got a call from Glenda. She sounded excited and said, "Stan I can't believe it. When I presented the offer to Etta and Homer they were going to reject it out of hand. I was getting ready to leave when she turned to Homer and asked him if he thought you were the nice young man that had cut their yard all those years. They asked me if you had a mowing service in school and when I told them you did they smiled and began telling me what a nice young man you were. Anyway, they won't take $90000 for the place but they did counter with $97500. Isn't that great?"
I didn't think for very long. I said, "Yeah, that's fine. Tell them I will pay that and I want possession at closing."
The bank required my father to cosign the loan but it went through and I got possession of the property in late April. I made the necessary repairs and moved into the apartment the first of June. The next few months I kept busy on my summer business of yard work and small building projects. By now I had ten employees, most of them seasonal.
I had a little time to date Patty and begin to clean up my property. After I got the trash from the burned house cleared away I had an engineer friend look at the foundation. He decided the foundation was sound since the sub flooring had not burned through (the fire had been in the attic and second floor primarily) so I could use it to rebuild. This would save several thousand dollars because I did not have to do as much dirt work and didn't need to pour a new cement foundation.
The house had been a smaller older structure of about 1000 square feet on the first floor. I rented a backhoe and extended a foundation toward the garage. Doing almost all the work myself, I began to use my spare time and spare cash to build myself a nice home. I connected the house to the garage with an enclosed cement floored, glassed in breezeway. I made arrangements to put a large hot tub on the cement pad in the breezeway. I put a wood stove in this area for heat and ducted it into the rest of the house as I built it.
The summer I got out of college I finished the house. It was 2450 square feet and I built it for comfort and convenience. I had stainless appliances, granite counter tops, oak trim, and brick exterior. In short, it wasn't a McMansion but it was a very upscale home. I had a beautiful covered patio facing south overlooking the small stream. I had finished it for about half the cost it would have sold for. Patty loved it. When we got married I almost got the impression Patty was marrying me for my house instead of myself. After what I saw last night I wonder...
By the time I got out of college I had graduated to building new structures. I built additions, repaired older homes and buildings and garages too but now a lot of my income came from new structures. I now had twenty employees. Patty began working for my father in his business when we became engaged. After she got her degree she became a full time person and assistant manager. He was grooming her for manager when he retired. I was an only child so the business would pass to us upon his death. I bought all my materials from Dad so we compounded the family profits from my construction business.
My wife Patty and I were childhood sweethearts and I thought like most married men that we would be together forever. Oh, sure we had the normal squabbles like any married couple but they were minor. When we were dating in high school and later in college we had broken up like most young couples do. We both dated others and were intimate with others during that time but we always came back together because we could not find anyone we loved more. I did have one girl that might have been the one but one of my friends had her tied up before we made that decision. Finally in our last year of college Patty and I became a solidly exclusive couple. That Christmas I asked her to marry me and she said yes. Patty set the wedding date in September after we graduated.
The wedding almost didn't happen even then because of Patty's insistence on a Pre Nuptial agreement. Now I wish we hadn't married. Oh, well, on with the sad story. Apparently Patty had inherited several hundred thousand dollars from her grandfather and she or maybe her father did not want me to get my hands on it. I told her I had no desire to spend her money and I resented the fact she thought I would marry her for it. In any event we were not speaking very kindly to each other the night she told me about the Pre Nuptial agreement. I suppose, now, that I was lucky that was an evening my parents were out for a drive and decided to stop off and see me.
When Patty heard them knocking on the door she was so angry she flounced out as I let them in. Before she went past them on the landing I heard her say, "You need to talk some sense into your son or this wedding may never occur."
Dad and Mom watched as she stormed to her car and drove off. I was still standing with the Pre Nup in my hands when they turned to me and asked what our argument was about. I told them and Mom said, "Oh, Stan, we thought it might be something important. Honey we know you aren't marrying her for her money so what's the big problem? Sign the darn thing and marry the girl if you love her."
Dad was sitting with a frown on his face and asked if he could see the agreement. He looked it over closely and said, "This seems pretty straight forward except she did not have the attorney exempt your place here or your potential inheritance from us from the community property. It seems fair that if she exempts her funds and anything she may inherit from her side of the family that the same should be exempt for you son. Why don't we take this to the business attorney and have him make suggestions?"
I reached for the agreement and read it through. Dad was right. It only addressed her money and her inheritances. I began to get angry again. I agreed with him and he said he would make an appointment for me. I had used his attorney for my few legal needs so I guess he was really my attorney also.
I got an appointment for the following Tuesday and the attorney agreed with Dad. He scanned the agreement into his computer and made the changes we discussed. When he finished revising the agreement it exempted my land and business and anything I might inherit just as it exempted the same thing for Patty. I went to her home the evening my attorney finished the changes to the agreement. I had already signed it.
When Patty and her father read the new agreement they both became angry. He looked at me and said, "Just what is the idea of changing the agreement we prepared young man? I thought you loved my daughter and now you are accusing her of wanting to take your house and business? You know when you marry that will become her home also. If, heaven forbid, you divorce don't you think she would deserve a place to live?"
I became angry with him and replied, "Yes sir. She would deserve a place to live but it seemed fair to my father and to me that if the possessions she had before we marry and her potential inheritance were to be protected in case of divorce the same should apply to me. You will note that any accumulation we have from earnings or investments during the marriage would be divided equally unless the marriage ends due to infidelity. In that case each of us would leave with what we brought into the marriage or inherited and the non-injured party would leave with 75% of the marital assets accumulated after the marriage. I feel that there should be some penalty built into the agreement as a compensation or punishment for any infidelity."
Patty and her father were way beyond upset. They were furious about the proposed agreement. Needless to say for the next few days' things were very tense between Patty and me. I asked several times why she was so upset about the agreement since she was the one that wanted a Pre Nuptial Agreement. Most of the time Patty said it was because I wanted to turn her out in the street if we divorced and she loved that house as much as I did. She didn't think it was fair for me to get to keep her home if we divorced. I was almost ready to ask for my ring back when she began to thaw. She signed the changed agreement but it took us several weeks to get back to where we were before she asked for a Pre Nuptial Agreement. We finally forgot our anger and forgave each other for the hurt feelings raised by the Pre Nuptial agreement. We married as planned and for the next two and a half years we did not look back and were never sorry. We never looked at another person as a lover—or at least I didn't. Now I know Patty did. I caught her yesterday.
The only problem I had with Patty working in the lumberyard was all the flirting she had to put up with. I admit I was a little jealous but I knew many of the men that purchased items from Dad. They were pussy hounds and Patty was a beautiful, fun loving woman. One of my friends—Joe—was already divorced because he couldn't keep his pecker in his pants. Many times I would go into the store and find him flirting with Patty. I won't say we argued over him or the flirting she did with other men but we did have some spirited discussions.
Patty maintained, and to a degree, I agreed with her, that she needed to flirt a little to keep the customer's happy. I told her I thought she just needed to treat them nice, friendly and be their friend, not a flirt. Of course she took exception to me calling her actions flirting and said that was just what she was doing.
My college degree was in construction management and Patty got one in business administration so our degrees supported our vocations very well. Shortly after I got out of college I decided we had enough money to build a home on speculation. Dad let me be an exception to his rule requiring all accounts to be paid at the end of the month. He said since I was family I could draw up to $100000 on account and pay when a house sold. He did keep a lien against the properties however in case something happened to me. All other customers were supposed to pay in full monthly.
I was good at my work and knew it. I was a general contractor but I used very few sub contractors. I had my own framing, dry wall, finishing, plumbing and wiring crews. I did hire the heating and air done. I even used my still operating yard care crews to landscape and put in yards on my projects (assuming of course, that the clients would hire us to do so).
In any event, I used the Speculation house to keep my crews busy during off periods. I did not want to lay my men off if I didn't have to so I tried to keep them busy. We finished the spec house and it sold before we had the yard in. I started another and it sold before it was finished and we finished it to the new owner's desires. Now I had enough money saved to do two spec homes at once. All at once the business was booming and I almost didn't have time to do the smaller jobs that had once been my bread and butter. Between Patty's salary and my profits we were in tall clover. We were rapidly becoming one of the highest income families in our small town of about 25000 souls.
All our success came at a price though. I would work eight to ten hour days with the crews and do paperwork before and after the day's construction. Evenings I would meet with customers and potential customers that worked to make bids and discuss progress on their projects. Patty took to working late in the office to do her books. We seemed to have less and less time together.
Many times I would go by the building center and see her car and two or three other's there. Sometimes I would go in and there would be Joe or one of our other classmates sitting talking to her. They all worked in the building trade so were supposedly getting prices from her but something just didn't feel right. Sometimes Patty would be flushed when I went into the office and many times they would be drinking beer. Of course I would have one with them and we would visit but things felt wrong to me. Finally I decided to disable the local buzzer on the building alarm. Normally when someone entered the building by any of the doors a buzzer went off. I disabled the one on the entrance from the warehouse.
Yesterday before I dropped by Dad's store I was a loving husband with a wife I would die for and two friends that I enjoyed greatly. I had a very successful construction business and a great future. I was looking forward to the time my wife and I would have a child. Today I am a bitter asshole bent on destroying my wife and friends. Oh, I don't plan to do anything to get myself put in jail but...Hell, who knows? I might slip up and go berserk. I suppose you might want to know why I changed overnight? Well, I didn't really change overnight; rather I began worrying several months ago and changed in the blink of an eye. Listen to my tale of woe and follow along as I careen down the pathway of revenge.