The Photo Ch. 02byIncoming©
The Photo continues...
I arrived home about 5:00PM. The traffic was heavy. The house was quiet. Ellen had not yet arrived from work. I set down my briefcase in the den, and walked over to the bar to grab a glass and pour myself a single-malt scotch. As I sat down in the living room, I heard Ellen's car and the garage door opening. I thought to myself, "Here it comes!"
I could hear Ellen come in through the kitchen/garage door and set her purse down on the table. After a few seconds she walked into the living room at sat down opposite me. "Jack, I want to see the photo. I was very upset after you left. You have accused me of behaving inappropriately and being unfaithful to you. I have never been unfaithful. I want to see the photo, NOW!"
"Fine, Ellen," I sulked, as I pushed the photo across the coffee table. "Please note the message on the back."
Ellen studied the photo quite intently for several moments and then flipped the photo around and read the message. She looked up at me and calmly stated, "Jack, I have no idea who this woman and man are, and where or when this was taken. I do not own a dress like this nor do I have a pair of shoes with open toes. I have no idea who sent you the photo and wrote this message. There may be people at work who are jealous of my success in climbing the corporate ladder but I can't imagine they would stoop so low as to pull this kind of stunt. I value my marriage and simply do not have the psychological make-up to act like this. "
I searched Ellen's eyes to see if I could see past her poker face. Her facial features revealed nothing. I was trapped and had no choice but to cave. "Ellen, I believe you. I don't know what is going on in your office but obviously some one means you no good. I was upset when I got the photo. There was no return address on the envelope. Forgive me for doubting you. I am still very upset, but not with you. Let's go out and grab a bit to eat and share a bottle of wine. I am, and I'm sure you are, too mental exhausted to deal with dinner and dishes tonight. Let me make coffee for tomorrow morning and set the timer and then we will be off."
Ellen and I had a pleasant dinner and, maybe it was the wine, but the minute we hit the sack, we were both fell asleep. I just remember the alarm going off and the smell of coffee coming from the kitchen. Ellen was still asleep so I wander into the kitchen and poured myself and mug of black coffee. I held the mug under my nose and took a big sniff - God that smelled good. A good sized sip got the caffeine circulating and the cobwebs were gone!
I went upstairs shaved and showered. As I was getting dressed, Ellen began to stir. I walked over and gave her a kiss, wished her good morning and told her there was a hot pot of coffee waiting for her. She smiled as I finished dressing and I walked downstairs to leave for work.
As I drove towards the office, I went over the way Ellen acted last night. Her behavior gave me no clues. I was still completely in the dark. The only hope I had was to see if there were any clues on the voice recorder in her purse. I would have to wait for tonight. I would make sure she had a couple of glasses of wine after dinner to get her to bed early. Then I could listen to the voice recorder.
When I got to the office, I decided to contact and old friend, Bill Jackson. Bill always had an ace up his sleeve and might be able to give me a few ideas to clear up this mystery. I walked past my secretary, Sherry, and told her I would be on a conference call with the "Home Office" for about ½ an hour and to please see that I was not disturbed.
I dialed Bill's number, "Bill! How have you been? This is Jack, Jack Meoff."
"Jack! Nice to hear from you. How's Ellen?"
"Bill, that's why I called, I have a problem and I'm not sure how to handle it. Let me tell you what I know..."
I gave Bill the background on what I knew and happened. When I finished, he said, "Jack, this first thing you need to do is follow up on the voice recorder. See what information you can obtain, watch Ellen's behavior closely, and called me tomorrow. Take care Jack, and don't do anything to give yourself away. We need more information. Ellen may just be the victim of a jealous office workmate or she may be into something way over her head. I'll wait for your call."
The day went by slowly and the mystery surrounding the photo had a chance to work on my system. By the time I left for home, I had a mild headache. I grabbed a couple of aspirin and, a few minutes later, I was feeling better.
I got home a few minutes before Ellen did. I took my coat off and wandered into the kitchen trying to figure out what to eat when I heard Ellen come through the front door. I yelled out, "Honey, I'm in the kitchen. What do you want for dinner?"
She responded, "I am not really hungry - maybe just a salad.'
"That's a great idea," I yelled back. "I'm not really hungry either. Why don't you open a bottle of wine and I'll set up these salads we bought at Costco."
There was no way I was going to raise any issues with Ellen. I had no facts and my gun was loaded with blanks. Ellen held all the ammunition. So I wanted to keep the dinner conversation very superficial and friendly. This would allow me to feed her two or three glasses of wine and she would hit the sack early. This would give me time to digest anything that the voice recorders in her purse had picked up.
A couple of hours had passed by and we were watching TV on the sofa. Ellen was giggling at some stupid sitcom with her head on my shoulder. I knew the wine was having an effect. So just as the show ended, I said, "Honey, I am really beat. Why don't we hit the sack and get a good rest for tomorrow. Tomorrow is Friday and it is going to be a busy day." Ellen just yawned and I helped her up. We both headed off to bed. Five minutes after we got into bed, I could hear Ellen snoring softly. She was out like a light so I carefully got out of bed and went into the living room where she had left her purse.
I felt around at the bottom of her purse and there was the voice recorder. Thank God it had not been discovered. That would have raised all kinds of trust issues and may have ended my marriage. As I removed the recorder, my heart was beating considerable faster. I had no idea what the recorder had picked up. I had to sit down to calm myself.
I flipped the switch and the voice recorder started. I heard a couple of bangs and it sounded like some one opening and closing desk drawers, and shuffling of paper. Then a telephone rang and I heard Ellen pick up the phone, and speak, "Good morning Rick! What did you find out?....... Please bring her to my office so we can discuss this further... Thank you."
I heard Ellen place the phone back into its handle, another bang and then nothing. Damm, she must have put her purse back in the drawer. I have no idea how much time had elapsed but the next sound startled me. I heard a slap or a clap and then I heard a woman scream and then a faint sobbing. "What the hell was that," I said to myself. I rewound the tape and listen again. I was not mistaken. It sounded as if a woman was slapped on spanked or something and then a scream followed by faint sobbing. Was the woman who screamed, Ellen?
That thought was quickly dispensed when I heard Ellen, in a low voice, say, "Rick, get her out of my sight. Now!" There was nothing more on the tape. I sat there wondering what in the hell is going on. I need to discuss this with Bill Jackson tomorrow. I was getting tired so I put the voice recorder in my brief case and went back to bed. I lay awake for awhile but finally dozed off.
At 5:00AM the alarm rudely woke me up. I got up and headed into the kitchen to make a pot of coffee. Boy! Did I needed a cup of coffee! Ellen was still asleep and I left her that way. I need a little time to gather my thoughts of what I wanted to tell Bill. I needed to find out who Rick was. Ellen was always very secretive about her job so I had no idea who she interfaced with during the day. Her work was always "hush, hush' and involved patents and closely guarded company secrets. I was simple had no knowledge of her company and her function. It was a minor source of irritation but I learned to live with it.
Six AM rolled around very quickly by the time I had shaved and showered. I went up stairs and gently shook Ellen to wake her up. As she opened her eyes, I bent over her and gave her a quick kiss. I told her I was off and I would see her tonight.
On my drive to the office, my imagination was running rampant. I had no idea to what was going on and I wasn't sure if Bill would be of any help. Before I realized it, I was pulling into a parking space. I got out and hurried into the building and into my office. I sat down at my desk and paused to gather my wits. I picked up the phone and dialed. "Bill!" I stammered. "I really need your help. I listened to the tape last night and this is what I found out..."
After I went over my discoveries with Bill, he said nothing for several seconds. Then Bill spoke, "Jack, what you heard is not normal office behavior. So we can assume that Ellen is involved in something very disturbing. At this time, we have no idea what her activities may involve. I believe we need to gather more data. I will snoop around and see what I can find out about Ellen's company and this guy Rick. I don't have a last name but I suspect he is in management along with Ellen. Don't do anything to give away your suspicions or to let on that they are under any type of surveillance."
"No problem on my end", Bill. "I'll walk the straight and narrow." I knew Bill Jackson was a "balls out, take action" kind of guy, and we would get to the bottom of this sooner than later.
I went on with the charade and I actually notice that Ellen was becoming less tense around me. She was starting to feel comfortable again and life with her was becoming very tolerable. Unfortunately, I suspected that this was the calm before the storm.
I didn't hear back from Bill for three days, but around 7:00AM on the third day, I got a call on my cell phone as I was driving to work. "Jack! This is Bill. Are you free this evening? I'm having a barbeque and I would like you to come. There is an abandoned farmhouse about 7 miles north of town and 15 miles up the Old Mill Road. Drop by about 6:00."
'Bill, did you find out anything? Having a barbeque out in the boonies is a little bit out of the ordinary."
"Jack, just do what I tell you and be there at 6:00. I'll tell you more then."
I left work around 5:00PM and head north out of town. It took about 45 minutes to reach the abandoned farm house tucked away in an isolated valley in the surrounding hills. No one had lived there for years. I parked the car on the side of the house. I didn't see any other cars so I walked around back. There was Bill. He was sitting at an old wooden table beneath a large oak tree. I noticed a rope strung over a tree limb and guy propped against the tree. The guy was restrained and his feet were tied to the rope.
Bill had brought a portable barbeque with him and had put a couple of hot dogs on the grill. They smelled good. I was starting to really get hungry. I couldn't help but wonder who the guy was that was sitting with his back to the tree.
Bill hollered, "Hey Jack, glad you could make it. This is my buddy Rick. I invited him to the barbeque too, but he's a little tied up at the moment. Sit down a grab a plate and a couple of buns. There is a six pack over there so help yourself to a beer."
Bill and I scarfed down the hot dogs and chugged a couple of beers. Bill then got up and walked over to this guy and said, "Ok Jack, it's time to get down to business." Bill removed the gag from the guy's mouth and said, "Rick, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. It's your choice. Either way, you will tell me everything."
This guy started yelling for help. Bill chuckled, "No one can hear you, moron. But you have now got me pissed off. So we will do it the hard way. Jack come here and help me with the rope. Let's hoist him up about 3-1/2 feet off the ground."
We pulled on the rope and the guy swung up feet first. When his head was about 3-1/2 feet off the ground, Bill secured the rope around the tree. Bill gave the guy a gentle push and the guy swung freely back and forth.
"Bill! Who is this guy?"
Bill responded, "This is the infamous Rick from your tape recording of Ellen."
I felt a chill go through my body. I knew Bill and I knew this guy was in for a rough go of it.
Bill looked at the guy and softly said, "This is your last chance. I want you to tell me everything you know."
The guys screamed, "I don't know what in the hell you're talking about. I don't know what to tell you!"
I watched Bill walk over to the barbeque and roll it under the guys head. The guy tried to jerk his head up to keep away from the heat and began screaming, "Oh God, help me!"
Bill said, "I gave you a chance to tell me everything. Now you are going to bake."
The guy screamed, "I'll tell you anything. Please don't kill me."
Bill rolled back the barbeque and said, "Tell me everything about Ellen Meoff. You won't have another chance."
The guy said, "Please get me down and I'll talk."
Bill untied the rope from the tree and lowered the guy to the ground. Bill said, Start from when you first met Ellen and take me to the present. Don't leave anything out."
To be continued....