The Error of Her Ways Ch. 02byPultoy©
Why hurt yourself with anger when someone else makes a mistake?
After over 2 years without having any contact with the O'Neal family at all, I was in my room at the Denver Rescue Mission. I had been given free room and board there. They said that they recognized my work on the streets of Denver and knew that I was integral in their own reach out to the homeless and helpless of Denver.
For the past 22 months, somebody had been depositing $5,000 on the 4th day of the month, into my personal account at Wells Fargo Bank.
As a minister and especially as a street preacher, I come in contact with hundreds and hundreds of people. I strike up conversations with so many, from the down and out, who are just waiting to die, to the idle rich, who are looking for some action, or people just travelling through my little patch of earth, on a sidewalk outside of some venue or other. I've rejoiced with those who rejoice, wept with those who mourn, and I've prayed with those who asked. It is my life's work, it is what I do.
So, I figured that somebody who I'd ministered to along the way had hit it big or someone who is wealthy had encountered me and remembered the ministry. It's not uncommon for someone who has been touched to want to anonymously support a work like mine. What I couldn't figure out was how they'd get my account number and bank name. I asked around the Denver Rescue Mission and nobody knew anything about it.
I asked at the bank, "who is making the deposits?" but they either couldn't or wouldn't answer me.
They explained that an electronic transfer took place every month and there was no personal interaction from them to any person making this deposit. All they had was a routing number from another bank and no name, into my account.
The sending bank, Chase Bank of Colorado, refused any information when I inquired. Citing privacy laws, they wouldn't even acknowledge who their customers are, when I suggested some names.
I just took the money as Providence of God, gave thanks and spread most of it around every month to those who I knew had need, and used a small amount for my own personal needs. It did not change my life at all. I had always eaten when I was hungry and slept when I was tired. Nothing was different, except for the mystery.
It was a Thursday afternoon. A knock came on my door and I opened it to a man in a brown suit, holding a light brown manila envelope.
"Mr. William Jefferson Wilkerson?" he queried.
"I represent the law firm of McCrery and Peters. Our clients, Mr. Hugh Downs O'Neal and his wife Kathryn Tatum O'Neal were tragically killed in that horrible riot and attack on American citizens in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last week." He said.
"Oh, I am so sorry to hear that. I loved the O'Neal's so much." I said. "They were my in-laws".
"Yes, sir, Mr. Wilkerson. I need to inform you that enclosed in this envelope are instructions to the executor of their estate, in the event of their death, their Joint Last Will and Testament, and information as to the access to and power of record for all their accounts, other possible heirs and whatever instructions they wished to be followed in the untimely event of their deaths. They were in Saudi Arabia opening up the Arabian Headquarters of the corporation which Mr. O'Neal was President and CEO, and Mrs. O'Neal a Vice President and director. Mr. Wilkerson, you are the executor of the O'Neal estate, as appointed by both Mr. and Mrs. O'Neal 2 ½ years ago when they rewrote their will." The gentleman advised.
"That would mean they wrote this document when Tammy and I were still together. Their daughter and I are not together, sir. Perhaps they wouldn't want me as their executor any longer?" I offered.
"This is the Last Will and Testament, sir. It is in effect as of the moment of their deaths." The lawyer answered me. "You are still legally married to Mrs. Wilkerson, sir. There never has been a decree of divorce".
"Well, but, I know nothing about running a conglomerate. I have no idea on earth what an executor is supposed to do." In exasperation I replied.
"I encourage you to read the documents, Mr. Wilkerson. Will you please come into our offices tomorrow morning at 8:30? Our team will meet with you. We have been appointed counsel but can only continue to serve as such with your consent and approval. There is much that needs attended to and we will assist you with all the details, if you are willing for us to serve you and advise you in the attention to those details, that you will address in the following months." He offered.
"I, I guess I can come in. Where is your office located Mr., what was your name?" I replied.
"My name is Peters, Mr. Wilkerson. Quinton Peters. No need to drive, sir. We will send a car for you at 8:10. You will have a car and driver at your disposal beginning this afternoon, sir." Peters said.
I never went out on the street that night. I spent the entire night reading, and, praying. I read the cover letter from Mr. O'Neal; my appointment as executor, the Joint Last Will and Testament, and several pages of corporate papers, information of accounts, employees, executives, quite a bit of information to take in. Much of what was in the will I did not understand. It was all legal mumbo jumbo to me. It was all just a precursor to information that would soon follow. I did see that it was Hugh O'Neal who was my monthly benefactor, depositing the $5,000 into my account. He must have been able to get the number after Tamara and I were married. I probably had written a check or left the checkbook lying around when he was around and he had obtained my information from that.
I walked out of the Denver Rescue Mission, at 22nd and Lawrence, at 8:05 the next morning, Friday, and a large black stretch limousine was illegally parked right outside the front doors, the chauffer was standing by an open door to the car and motioned for me to enter. I was embarrassed to have the hundreds of homeless folks I had been serving for all these years see me enter that car.
I crawled into the car and a lovely young woman, Gloria Sinese, was sitting in the seat opposite me. She introduced herself, offered me coffee and said she was my personal assistant, unless I desired someone else, and I could pick from several when we got to the offices of McCrery and Peters. Gloria has grey eyes, dark hair to mid back, small, firm breasts and was about 32 years old. She was as beautiful as women get, as far as I was concerned, 5'6" and a petite 110 lbs. She had perfect teeth, a pristine, kissable mouth and medium lips with a hint of pale lipstick. Her professional business attire was a two piece women's suit, and her skirt, while she was sitting, rose an easy six inches above her knees. Her legs were toned and she wore white silk sheer stockings. As pretty as she was, she was all business at this first meeting. And, her business, I gathered soon was to see to my creature comforts; Coffee, jelly donuts, temperature in the car, answering the phone, speaking to me about whatever her women's intuition revealed to her about my interests or wants or needs.
In almost no time we pulled in front of a large building off Colorado Boulevard and Mexico Street in Southeast Denver. The door opened and Mr. Peters greeted me, shaking my hand and welcoming me to McCrery and Peters.
When I walked into the conference room, there were 8 men and 8 secretaries, one behind each man around the table, and Tamara Wilkerson, my estranged wife. Gloria was to sit behind me.
Tammy, the willow fox that she is, walked over to me, with teary eyes and then wept as we hugged. No words were exchanged for the moment. Her parents were dead, our marriage was in shambles (no divorce had ever been filed), she was embarrassed beyond belief and, it would seem, her future was in my hands.
After a few moments, Mr. Peters suggested we begin the meeting. Tamara went to her chair, at the other end of the long table. I was seated at the head.
Mr. Peters began the meeting. He introduced me as the executor of the estate, read the proclamation, or whatever it was called, and then read the will in painful detail; every last page of it. It took quite a while.
The people in the room were the lead corporate officers and directors of the O'Neal Corporation and their secretaries. Tamara was there as the only child and apparent sole heir. But, a twist in the will left her nothing without the executor's, my, express declaration.
After the reading of the will, Mr. Peters presented me with a sealed envelope, that simply read, "To Bill Wilkerson" "To be opened only on the occasion of the death of Hugh Downs O'Neal and wife Kathryn Tatum O'Neal." And, it was dated 2 ½ years earlier.
It was not a legal document, and Mr. Peters said that whatever was in the letter was personal, and would have to wait for later, since there was pressing business. I handed it to Gloria.
First, I had to sign a document agreeing to be executor, then a series of documents authorizing me to, in the interim, head the corporation, appoint a general counsel, handle accounts and make general decisions as to the future of things associated with O'Neal's finances. I had to sign a document putting me in agreement that the fee for my services as executor and temporary President and CEO of the Corporation would be 25% of whatever the final liquidation figure of the estate became. That figured to be about Eight Hundred Million dollars plus change. The O'Neal's were 80% owners of the corporation and with various properties, corporate stock and cash on hand were worth $3,226,792,000 (three billion, two hundred twenty six million, seven hundred ninety two thousand dollars) as of the date of their deaths.
Here's the kicker: Tammy didn't get anything without my say-so. I don't exactly know how that worked but the lawyers were adamant that it was sound and irrevocable. Tammy sat there and stared at me, mouth agape. I sat there and stared at her, mouth agape. Who'd-a thunk it?
We had a board of director's meeting right there and then. I stated that, "I am not a businessman, have no experience and no desire to become one. I direct that the corporation be put on the block and sold for fair market value." I asked for discussion, and then assigned each their duties; to contact customers, creditors, debtors, stockholders and competitors as to the salability of the corporation.
The lawyer, Mr. Peters sat there like a jackass looking through a gate after I finished my "board of director's meeting". I asked him if I could use his conference room for a while. He deferred and I asked Gloria to leave Tammy and me alone.
"Bill, it is good to see you again" Tammy started, reaching for a hug and kiss.
"Tammy, if you are going to see a dime, you have to go into a six month intensive treatment for alcohol and drug abuse; and complete it. You will need to be sober for 1 year, or more if I feel unsure about you, after you complete your treatment before I authorize the release of any funds to you, other than basic maintenance." I stated solemnly.
"You can't, what are you talking about? I am no alcoholic. I am the sole heir, you cannot do this. It is mine and you cannot stand in the way." She growled.
"Let's open this letter from your parents, Tamara. I'd be interested to hear their thoughts at the time they wrote it. Sit down." I ordered.
If you are reading this, it means both of us have passed. We do not feel Tamara is capable of making quality decisions of the magnitude that she would need to make if something serious happens to one or both of us.
Bill, it is no secret to you that Tamara is in trouble with alcohol, maybe drugs. She isn't a daily user, but binges. She goes for weeks, months without a drop and then when she falls, she falls all the way.
After her assault, where you killed those two men while rescuing her, then endured the abuse, questioning and suspicion of authorities; when you only fought for her, did not try and take advantage of her both she and we realized we'd never met a man that hadn't tried to take some sort of advantage of her. We're sure you will agree that Tamara is a beautiful girl, woman, and she's had men at her beck and call all her life.
You are the one and only man who never seems to cater to her every whim. We recognize your grounding and it served to ground her, mostly; except, for that last contact you two had after that Monday night Bronco's game. She was so humiliated and ashamed, as were we, when she told us all about it. She is seeing a counselor about that, and we believe she is helping, but we've come to understand that Tammy is in a life long struggle that she could lose at any point along the way.
Her beauty will always serve to elevate her without any effort on her part. Her weaknesses will always be glossed over and her lack of innate good sense will always be a threat to her well-being. We feel that you are the one soul on God's earth that truly had Tamara's well-being at heart throughout your first meeting up until the time you left her after her terrible performance on that horrible Monday night.
We never contacted you after that, because we realized you are a man of principal and would never quarter her behavior. We think she never contacted you because of shame. We do not know what is happening or has happened at the time you are reading this letter, of course. We hope only for the best.
Bill, we rewrote our will a year ago and we have asked you to be our executor. We've offered to pay you handsomely, but we also know that is no motivation to you. Discerning right and wrong seem to be your life's journey, and to that course we commit our daughter's welfare.
Help her, Bill. Help her as only you seem to be able to do. Get her helps, lend her your help, and make her get help; whatever you have to do. Remember your vow, "in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, till death do you part."
Bill, if she just won't face her demons and you cannot win her over, our will is iron clad-we are told-and you can give her a lifetime maintenance, but use this money for the spreading the gospel. You have our blessing. This is not a legal document, but the will is a legal document and it empowers you. This is a letter spelling our heart's desire for the true welfare of our beloved daughter, Tamara. Please help her. Help her in the way she needs help. Whatever it takes, help her.
You have our love and trust."
The letter was signed individually;
Hugh O'Neal and Kathryn O'Neal
I put the letter down on the table and Tammy cried; so did I. At that moment, the task ahead of me seemed insurmountable. I wondered what it seemed like to Tamara. I know now.
She looked at me and began to speak, "Bill, I don't know where, or what to do. How do I be or become what I should be?"
Without answering her, I rose from my chair and went to the door of the room, "Gloria, would you step back in here please".
"Yes, Mr. Wilkerson. Mrs. Wilkerson" Gloria nodded at Tamara, they made eye contact.
"Gloria, I'd like a list of the 4 or 5 best substance abuse centers in the world. I hear there is a cutting edge hospital in Tel Aviv; I want to know all about that one and use your resources to find the best newest and most advanced techniques available."
Tamara's eyes were as big as saucers. Her makeup had run from all the tears and she looked a bit of a fright. She'd never seen me as proactive except for the one time I'd fought those thugs in the parking lot, killing those two she'd never seen me as anything but docile. She'd forgotten the wild look in my eyes that night, when I instructed her "duck" and then swung. Today, she was taken off guard.
"Yes, sir, Mr. Wilkerson", said Gloria. I thought I detected a waft of arousal.
"Have the car come around and pick me up. If you need to contact me call me at the Mission. I hardly slept all night, praying about all this, so I'm going back to my room and taking a nap." I said finally. "I need to be back on the streets tonight".
I was tired, I knew there were wolves about and that I was but a sheep. I think the wolves were trying to figure out a strategy for me and weren't ready for any attack at this point, anyhow. It wasn't that often that the sheep attacked the wolf and that is how they saw today's events, I'm sure. "That which was meant for your harm, I will turn into good".
I looked at my wife and nodded a good bye. "I'll be in touch" was all I said. Then I left the room. Gloria followed after me.
"Mr. Wilkerson, will you need me to accompany you, sir?" Gloria asked.
"No, just get me the information I asked for, Gloria. I do not want the car after today. I'll use my own car or catch a bus. I'll see you on Monday or Tuesday afternoon back here at these offices. Where is your personal office so I can find you?"
She told me she was part of a secretarial pool and did not have an office. I asked her if I had one, "Yes you do Mr. Wilkerson; it is right here off the conference room."
"Ok, that is now your office too, Gloria." I said. Get me Mr. Peters please."
Within one minute into my office stepped a very wan Quentin Peters. I asked if he was ok, he just said his lunch didn't settle too well.
"From now until I complete this task, Gloria will use my office as her own. If I need anything, I'll go through her and if you need to talk to me, talk to her, she will know how to reach me. By the way, how much does she make?" I asked.
"Oh, I really don't know, Mr. Wilkerson. I imagine $23 or 24 K per year, what most of the secretaries without experience make." He answered, eyeing her warily.
"From today, she makes $10, 000 per month plus full bennies". I said. Her eyes opened wide and I think I heard her fart, wasn't sure.
"Of course" he shakily replied. It may have been he who farted. I detected an aroma.
Peters left the room, and it was just Gloria and I alone. "Gloria, I just ask you to be loyal and available. Get us each a private cell phone. Only you and I will have each other's number. I can reach you and you can reach me at any time. I need your promise to answer this phone if I call, will you?" I asked.
"Yes, of course, Mr. Wilkerson. Thank you so much for that confidence. And, that raise" "I only..."
"It's ok, I trust you Gloria. Just get on those treatment centers. Anything else?"
"No sir. Thank you." She replied.
I went back to the Mission and to bed for a good nap. Then, out onto the streets where my heart was free and my soul was joined to those who needed to hear from the Good Shepherd.
I noticed that I was being watched while I was out. Every night, I had a tail. One night, I was passing out sandwiches and thermos' of hot soup and one of the more derelict of the derelicts took a swing at me with a 2X4 and was in the act of robbing me of the rest of the sandwiches and thermos' of soup. I was on the ground from the blow I'd received and the next thing I saw was this guy in a suit. He'd dispatched the derelict and was tending to my bleeding head wound. As I came around, I asked him who he was, and he just chuckled, "Your guardian angel Mr. Wilkerson, just your guardian angel". Then, he walked off when the ambulance showed up to take me to Denver General Hospital. I found out years later that Gloria had paid him, out of her own salary, to watch out for me when I was on the streets.
My private phone was ringing. It was 7:40 AM. I'd been out until 2 AM with God's little lambs. It was Gloria. "Mr. Wilkerson, it's Gloria. Sorry to bother you, but Tamara is demanding to talk to you, sir. She insists that she needs some money. I think she sounded a little drunk, sir. Could you call her, or talk to her sir?" Gloria asked in one breath.
"Tell me what all she said, Gloria" I yawned.