Authors: Debbie White
I remember clearly the day I interviewed for the job. Charles, the owner, asked the standard questions; how many words per minute I could type, if I could take shorthand, and what other skills I had. He then started to tell me a little bit about the job. I couldn’t help but focus on his eyes. He had the prettiest blue-gray eyes I’d ever seen on a man.
In the beginning, I mostly answered the phone, made appointments for Charles, and looked after his calendar. I found his line of work interesting. He paid more than the job at the insurance company, which is what interested me first.
Women dressed in high priced clothing would come in and from behind closed doors I could hear them ranting and raving their suspicions of their husbands cheating on them. They would hire Charles to get to the bottom of it.
Of course, women weren’t the only suspicious creatures. We had plenty of men come in and hire Charles to follow their wives around to see what they’d been up to all day while they were at work.
Soon, Phillips P.I. Firm was taking in new clients almost weekly and Charles had a hard time keeping up. He’d been discussing hiring a helper with me when I had a bright idea. “I can help!”
“You?” He asked looking somewhat surprised.
“Yes, I find your line of work rather fascinating.”
“Who are we going to get to do the clerical work?” He asked as he looked through the tall metal file cabinet for a file on a missing wife.
“That would be easy. I can place an ad at the secretarial school. There are plenty of young ladies who’d be interested.” I said eagerly.
He kept looking for the file, and sort of ignored me. I didn’t want to say any more but felt I was the best person for the job. I had a very inquisitive nature, and the work interested me. I walked back around to my desk and was just about to sit down when Charles pulled out the file he was looking for and slammed the drawer shut. As he walked back into his office, file in hand he looked over his shoulder. “Place the ad. We’ll go from there.”
I typed up the ad on a three by five card. Yelling into the office that I’d be back, I turned the sign on the door that said ‘OUT TO LUNCH’ and walked the three blocks to the school.
It wasn’t long after placing the ad that Ms. Kelly Parker interviewed for the job. She was very pretty with delicate features, petite in size, and long flowing blonde hair. Her eyes were vivid blue and she had enough mascara on her lashes for three women! She wore a smart looking two-piece blue suit trimmed in white with matching blue pumps. She carried a white purse and her cologne had a familiar smell, which later I’d recall as Chanel Number 5.
I asked her the standard questions: how many words per minute could she type, and what other skills she had. I was satisfied she’d be perfect for the job. I called Charles in to meet her and see if he had anything more to ask or add. He walked in, looked her up and down, and then being a man of few words said, “When can you start?”
It took a few days to get Ms. Parker familiar with things before I left her in her new position. She appeared to be very comfortable. Charles and I both felt she was a good fit for the practice, and she wasn’t too bad on the eyes either!
I started working closely with Charles on several of the cases. It was easy to blend in and follow the women we were hired to watch. They just saw me as another woman out shopping or having lunch. Little did they know, I reported my findings back to Charles, and sometimes they were pretty revealing. I witnessed women being kissed and hugged, checking into motels in the middle of the day, and all sorts of suspicious behavior. I loved the excitement my new job provided, and I didn’t feel the least bit guilty spying on people.
One of the scariest jobs we did was for a millionaire that wanted to see what his trust fund daughter was up to. He could have chosen any private investigator in a fifty-mile radius, but he chose us. He wanted to remain low key and decided we would provide the cover he needed.
We met with Mr. Solomon and he laid out the scenario. Apparently his daughter had become very secretive regarding her whereabouts. She was twenty years old, and in about two weeks would turn twenty-one. At that time, she was going to begin receiving approximately twenty-five thousand dollars a week until the age of twenty-five. Then she’d get bumped up to thirty thousand. He wanted to make sure she wasn’t hanging around bad people. He had a hunch she might be. Charles and I began to lay out our plan for following her.
Mr. Solomon gave us a detailed itinerary of his daughters’ typical day. Charles and I set out to see what we could find. The first couple of days we didn’t discover anything significant. She went to the bakery; ordered a sticky bun and coffee, and ate it at a little bistro table outside the establishment – alone. Later, she went to the library and browsed the stacks only to leave empty handed.
The next day, she went to the department store and tried on eight dresses before leaving empty-handed. To Charles and me, this didn’t seem to be a young woman who would go through her money like water. She didn’t even spend any now, leaving us wondering if her father’s fears were unfounded.
After following her for over a week, we were about to report back to Mr. Solomon that we didn’t uncover anything that would make us suspect she wouldn’t handle her inheritance wisely. Then we discovered something so profound I had a hard time believing it. I was sort of naïve, I suppose. Charles, on the other hand, said he’d seen it all and wasn’t shocked by her behavior. Looking back, I shouldn’t have been too shocked either as my own daddy did a little gambling.
Apparently, Ms. Solomon was a runner for a notorious bookie. She was meeting the clients at the bakery, library, department store and the final place we caught her in the act – nursing home while visiting her grandmother!
We’d been told by her father that her grandmother – his mom lived there. We saw her go into the nursing home and waited in the car for almost an hour before she came back out. We didn’t suspect any funny business but wanted to stay on her trail.
I noticed him first. Some guy with jet-black hair slicked back with enough grease to fry a chicken. I saw her slip him a large envelope and said, “Hey, Charles look. She just gave him an envelope.”
We watched as he stuck it down his pants. She quietly walked away, and he went the other direction. We waited until she got in her car and drove away before we proceeded to follow ol’ slick. Sure enough, he took us to a local pool hall that was infamous for gambling. We decided to watch her a bit more carefully now that we had an idea of what might be going on. Things were about to get interesting.
Each day she’d go to different places, trying to throw off the scent, but by the end of the day, she always led us to some individual that was on the receiving end of money. We weren’t sure yet, but we were pretty sure money was in the envelopes she turned over.
“We need to find out who is giving her the envelopes to deliver,” Charles said.
Nodding my head I exclaimed, “I agree!”
We continued doing our research, and it wasn’t long before we discovered Ms. Solomon was involved with one of the biggest gambling families this side of the Mississippi River. Mr. Las Vegas, as he was affectionately called, had a reputation for being pretty mobster like, and I was getting a bit scared.
“Charles, maybe we’ve met our match. This guy is bad news.”
“We’re not going to confront him; we’re just gathering evidence for Mr. Solomon.”
“I know, but, I’m still nervous. What if he puts a hit out on us?”
“We’re not going to get that close. We just need a bit more proof.”
The danger we were exposed to was still nerve racking. This guy meant business. If he thought for a second we were about to interfere with his business, or get the police involved Charles and I would have been wearing cement shoes.
Lucky for us, Charles was right, and we soon got the evidence we needed to report back to the client. He was saddened by the news and wasn’t sure how he was going to handle it. That wasn’t for us to decide, or to know. We just wanted payment for finding out what he wanted to know, and go on our merry way. He handsomely rewarded us and we never heard from him or his daughter again!
“You know, we make a great team!” Charles said lightly touching my hand.
I stared into his blue-gray eyes and my heart started beating a mile a minute.
I always felt comfortable with him – from the very first moment we met. Now, I felt something else. I knew it probably wasn’t wise to get involved with my employer. We were working together day in and day out, and it was natural to form a bond. But what I was beginning to feel was more than that. I wondered if he felt the same.
Soon we were spending a lot of time together - not just working cases in the office or out in the field, but after hours as well. Most of the time, work was the underlying reason for our after hour visits. However, I soon found myself laughing at his jokes, watching his every move and hanging on to his every word as if it were his last. We’d order Chinese take-out, pepperoni pizzas, or giant sub sandwiches and devour our meals over a coffee table spread with pads of paper – that contained our notes for the current cases we were involved with. I loved being with him.
Over the course of our courtship, I found out Charles ended up in California when he was in the Air Force. He liked it so well he decided to stay and make California his home. His mom and dad lived in Michigan along with an older brother. His sister, Carole was tragically killed by a hit and run truck driver when she was only five.
He was a few years older and more worldly than me. While he was in the military, Charles had traveled to Guam, and Japan, and saw how other cultures lived. We both liked the idea and looked forward to the day we could travel. His investigative firm was growing by leaps and bounds; it was a real possibility that his dream would come true.
After one of our late nights, we were cuddled on the couch just enjoying the silence, and being with each other. I was rubbing his arm lightly and noticed the difference in our skin color. He was a few shades darker than me.
“It doesn’t matter to me but are you white?” I asked him.
He shot me a weird look. Then he looked at our arms laced and could also see the difference. “I’ve been told that I have Native American blood in my ancestry.”
“Native American blood! That’s neat!” I recalled telling him.
“We can’t prove it, but that’s the rumor,” he said.
“With your investigative skills, you should be able to uncover that,” I said with confidence.
“It’s not that important to me to find out if I do or don’t.”
We didn’t talk about his possible Native American ancestry much after that. Every now and then, we’d say he was a quarter Native American. It seemed to satisfy those who wondered.
Sometimes I’d reminisce about my days in Iowa. I’d try to remember conversations with family and friends to see if I could put any of the pieces to the puzzle together regarding my adoption. I usually came up empty handed, or at the very least became frustrated by the mere fact I lived so far away from my earliest beginnings.
These were the days before computers, the Internet, and Google. I wrote to the city records department to get a certified copy of my birth certificate only to be told there wasn’t one. Instead, I received a copy of a certificate of live birth with both Irma and Lyle; my adoptive parents listed. I wrote again, inquiring about the adoption specifically, and received yet another correspondence saying the adoption was closed and no information could be released. It seemed one roadblock after another was placed in my way as I tried to discover who my biological parents were.
As Charles and I got to know one another, my adoption became a topic of interest with him. His investigative personality was intrigued by it, and he would often ask me questions surrounding the event. I’d try to tell him as much as I recalled. Much of it was fuzzy. I told him I personally thought I was connected to the family in some way, and that a big secret was being kept buried. I told him the few incidents of words slipping from family member’s mouths, and how my daddy’s sisters - my aunts loved me to pieces. The biggest clue that I may belong to the family in some way was the way in which Irma; my mother, treated me and my half-sister, Teresa.
It was after one of our big deep discussions involving Iowa and my adoption that he leaned in and kissed me. I wasn’t really expecting it but welcomed it just the same. His lips were warm as he gently pushed my lips apart. I don’t recall much about that evening, my head swirling from warm wet kisses, but that night changed our relationship, and Charles became the family I never had.
In between finding lost spouses and the occasional runaway teenager, we nourished our relationship. Soft kisses soon turned into longer, more romantic kisses, and the passion I felt deep in the pit of my stomach let me know Charles was the one.
We worked great together, both professionally and personally. Our financial future was brighter than ever, and our nest egg grew considerably. Soon Charles was talking about marriage. I was elated.
We decided we’d be married by the Justice of the Peace - a simple ceremony for simple people. I invited my aunts; Toots and Margie to witness the ceremony and to celebrate the marriage. We went to dinner at a nice restaurant and decided our future over steak and lobster.
We were doing pretty well financially, so Charles said we could take a few days and go on a honeymoon.
I’d never flown before and was a little scared when he suggested Hawaii. Nevertheless, the adventurer in me soon took over, and I was excited about my first flight over the ocean to the sandy shores of Hawaii.
We stayed in an ocean view room, drank funny little fruity drinks with umbrellas, and took long walks along the beach holding each other tight. We truly were in paradise.
Not really knowing the extent of Charles’s experience in the sex department, and not really wanting to know either, I was a little nervous about our first night together as husband and wife.
He was patient and gentle; touching me in all the right places, and kissing me softly, yet erotically. He carefully moved from my mouth down my neck. If he didn’t have a lot of experience, he could have fooled me.
He gently pulled off my negligée and ran his hands all over me; stopping at key points. I couldn’t concentrate, but I knew that whatever he was doing, he was doing it right.
Soon I felt the weight of his body on me, but he didn’t feel all that heavy. I think between the heavy breathing and moaning, it allowed me to forget about his weight.
After we had finished, we laid in each other’s arms. I was exhausted but fulfilled in such a wonderful way. He gently ran his hand up and down my shoulder and arm. It felt so good for us to be so close.
What I had read about first times couldn’t even come close to what we’d experienced that night. I knew that all our lovemaking would be just as special.
After we had returned to the mainland, we settled into marriage great. Our union was a happy one filled with much laughter and kindness. I craved those things, and Charles made sure every day was filled with both.
We still were hitting the pavement, chasing bad guys, or gals, and reaping the monetary awards for a job well done. The work seemed to never end. We were newlyweds, though, and so in between our jobs, we always made time for one another.
Charles was the greatest lover on earth. Not that I had anyone to compare him to. I just knew there was no one better than him.
Feeling more comfortable with our union, I decided to take a bit of liberty with my role as a wife. I would greet him at the door with a cocktail, and a warm wet kiss; letting him know there was more where that came from. I would prepare his favorite dinner; letting him know dessert would be in the bedroom. He never seemed to find my gestures too forward. He loved me, and I loved him.
I never felt any love for Irma or Teresa – definitely not the way I felt love for Charles. However, when my aunt brought over the obituary for Irma, I did feel a little pang deep in the pit of my stomach. I guess because that part of the puzzle was now gone from my life forever.
“Who sent this to you?” I asked my aunts.
Straight forward, just like I like it, Aunt Margie said, “Teresa.”
Running my finger over the glossy bookmarked obituary, I nodded and asked, “Where’s she at these days?”
“Still in Sioux City,” Aunt Toots replied.
“Ah, yes, I see that now…” I said, feeling a bit stupid that I’d asked the question in the first place.
“Well, thanks for this,” I said holding up the bookmarker.
“I know you haven’t had any contact with the family back there…” Aunt Annie trailed off.
“Nope, and I don’t plan to,” I said directly to all three of them.
“Just think about it, honey. You just might want them in your life one of these days,” Aunt Margie murmured.
Being the strong willed character that I was, I replied, “No way. They were never there for me, why would I ever need them? You’re all the family I ever need,” I said looking first at Margie, then Annie before settling my eyes on Toots.
“Well, that brings us to another topic. Whitey is going to drink himself to death!” Aunt Toots bellowed.
“It’s a real shame too because he just got a record contract with RCA,” Aunt Margie said before adding under her breath, “What an idiot.”
“I’ll talk to him. I’m pretty busy helping Charles with the business, but I’ll make time to see him.” I told them both.
I did as I promised and tried to talk some sense into Whitey, but drinking and women seemed to be his passion these days along with singing and making records. It was a shame that was the path he chose.
I learned a long time ago, you can’t help those who will not help themselves. Whitey went on to become a famous singer and guitar player, but his drinking made him a one hit wonder, and sadly, it eventually cost him his life. What a shame too. He really had talent.
Charles and I decided to start a family, and I couldn’t be more pleased. The pitter-patter of little feet was exactly what I needed to fill the empty void I felt. It wasn’t long before we had our first child, a boy, who we named Charles Jr.
Charlie, as we affectionately called him, was the love of our lives. We worshiped him as much as any parent could. He was happy, healthy, and we were madly in love with that little boy!
I still helped with the business, but mainly just paperwork. I wanted to be part of Charlie’s life, that was a priority. Every now and then, I would get sad about Charlie not having grandparents nearby. Aunt Toots and Margie were the next best thing, and they smothered him in love just like they’d done for me as a small child.
When Charlie was about two, along came Carole. Carole was the name of Charles’s little sister who’d been killed. Our Carole was a quiet child, but she filled our hearts as much as Charlie did.
It was great to have the kids only two years apart. To this day, they’re close. We had a little longer break in between Carole and child number three. We decided to change letters and capture names that started with “P” like my own, Patricia.
Peter was a delightful child, but headstrong. He was always challenging my authority and kept Charles and me on our toes. He would be the child that continually pushed the boundaries.
There was about eight years difference between Peter and Carole, but she didn’t see him as a bothersome little brother. She loved to take him for walks, and played with him outside. Charlie was also a big help with his little brother. I knew if Peter was with either of the older children he’d be well taken care of.
Life couldn’t be any better. I had a house with a picket fence on a tree-lined street, married to the love of my life, and three beautiful children. What else could a girl want?
I still felt a void that I couldn’t fill, even though Charles did his very best and the children kept me extremely busy. Every now and again, thoughts of Iowa, Mother and Dad, and the article explaining my entrance into their lives came creeping in. It would cover me like a dark cloud. The kids would irritate me or I would pick fights with Charles for no reason. Other days, I would be too depressed to get out of bed.
I think back to some of the things I said and did, and I’m ashamed of myself. My family never mentioned the instances of instability. It was just a way of life. As I grew older, there were less of them, as I had accepted my fate, and once I let it go – all the baggage, I was a much nicer person inside. I regretted it the moment I hurt any of my family, but it was hard to take it back once the damage was done.
After several years of this on again, off again happiness I felt Charles suggested I talk to a professional. I scoffed at the idea.
“Me, talk to a professional about my birth parents not wanting me?”
“Now, honey. It’s not that they didn’t want you,” he tried to reason.
I ignored his request, and instead, regrouped and became the happy go lucky mother of three. It was short-lived, though. About every six months or so I’d go through a bout of depression that would last a few days. I’d always bounce back, but if I didn’t get answers to my questions surrounding my birth and my adoption I’d always have this pattern of happiness and depression creeping into our lives.