Military stories from past to present, both wars.

Don’t count your chickens…

January 29th, 2007 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

Sometimes, the truth is stranger then fiction. I think this post should be sent to “Cold Case Files,” but I’ll leave it up to you, the readers out there in Cyberland to determine who did what to whom.

When I lived in New Bern, North Cackalacky, back in the mid-nineties, I was renting the most awesome house directly across the street from the New Bern Airport also located on a beautiful fresh water lake. At that airport, within sight of my house, is where I kept my 1967 Cherokee 140, a small white and blue low wing four-seater aircraft with a mighty 150 HP engine. I used to walk to the “F.B.O.”(fixed based operator), where I met this older guy, Bob (name changed), wearing a Navy flight jacket with patches all over it. We Marines like to say that the Navy guys put patches all over their jackets so that they can remember where they were when they parked their aircraft carriers. Bob told me he flew during Vietnam in the mighty SPAD, a prop plane that dropped many a bomb on the bad guys. After hearing a couple of his stories, I was addicted to drinking coffee and listening to Bob talk about the near miss he had off a bombing run in the Qui Trang area when his SPAD took small arm hits all over. With his experience, you would have thought he would fly for one of the commercial airlines, but, no, he was now flying cancelled bank checks in a Piper Navajo at night for some fly-by-night outfit out of New Bern. I thought it strange since he said he was a Naval Reserve Commander for a P-3 unit in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Old Bob was married to a VERY young gal he met while taking graduate courses at a local college. It was a very odd relationship, but one that seemed to work, or so I thought.

Now, there were a couple of young flight instructors at the airport who graduated from the prestigious Emery Riddle Flight school in Daytona Florida, where it costs $100,000 to get all the ratings, and then the pilot spends the next twenty years paying off the school loans incurred as they pump gas, and fly in the mighty Cessna 150 that was held together with bailing wire and chewing gum. They were all trying to build up time to eventually one day become commercial airline pilots. A couple of these guys come into play later.

Due to the nature of the Marine Corps, my roommate was leaving in a month for Okinawa, Japan, for a fast back fill there (urgent replacement). I needed a roommate Riki Tic, so I put feelers out, and found myself in a bit of a rush to replace my friend for I would lose this awesome house on the lake if I didn’t find one soon. We are talking about the best bachelors pad in the world! Two guys who pumped gas at the airport lived in a trailer at the back of the airport with ten other flight instructors. They were available to move into my house with me thus saving me from having to find a new place to live. This turned out to be a bad decision and one of the worst of my life.

One guy, “Ted,” was from New Jersey and reminded me of Ralph Macciho from the Karate kid. He was of Italian descent with dark hair that was my same age. The other was “Beal,” a lazy piece of crap who always had a dip in his mouth, and was a real “couch potato.”
I came to the stark realization that this arrangement was a mistake when Ted showed up at my house with a girl in her mid-twenties named “Elizabeth.” She liked to smoke lots of cigarettes, and if that wasn’t bad enough, she was the wife of the Ex-Navy pilot named Bob from the FBO at the airport. I learned that Bob, a man in his fifties married a girl thirty years his junior, had asked Teddy to take his wife out for an occasional movie and dinner while he was out flying. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that these two would hook up, and have an affair behind Bob’s back. They started dating and before long, Elizabeth and Bob were separated.

Now, here starts the wild ride. Bob, who had never had kids, asked Elizabeth if she would have his child. The deal was, he would pay for her to fly to New York, and get artificially inseminated by a doctor buddy there. The other stipulations in their agreement included his taking out a million-dollar life insurance policy for himself, and that he also set up a trust fund for the baby. The weird part is that she agreed to do this, while dating Ted, and separated from Bob. She goes off and presto, the baby takes in her misguided womb and she is now pregnant. I kept busy and tried to avoid her when she came over. I wouldn’t allow her to smoke inside the house so she was out on the back deck a lot.

You can imagine that there was some tension over at the F.B.O. between Bob and Ted over his wife who was still legally married to him. As the months went by, Elizabeth’s belly got bigger and bigger, and I heard some more stories about why she left Bob from Ted, who would spew madness from time to time. Apparently, Bob wasn’t able to perform in the bedroom unless he watched at least two hours of porno beforehand to get him in the mood, all stemming back from his long stints aboard aircraft carriers. All sorts of crazy stuff, most of which I’m sure was created by Elizabeth to justify what she was doing. She claimed to love Bob, but she couldn’t live with him. At least she claimed this on the day he died.
While driving home in his old, ratty jeep, he apparently succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning from a hole in his exhaust that leaked into the jeep’s closed cab. He veered off the highway, headlong into some of those tall pines you see along the North Carolina highways. His jeep exploded like a massive torch, and pretty much melted into a molted pile of metal, because it turned out that he had a bunch of scuba tanks in the back filled with O2, not compressed air. I guess the police where able to track down who owned the jeep from the license plate that was thrown from the back of the wreck. What a way to go.
On that cold night, I had hit the rack early only to be awakened by loud voices on the back deck outside my bedroom window, a set of French windows always cracked. It was the super wife and Ted. She, with a smoke in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, was counting the money already in her head, and ole Bob wasn’t even in the ground. “Let’s see, we have the million from his life insurance policy, and oh, don’t forget, we will get $250,000 from the Navy for his SGLI insurance. I can sell his house and make another 20K off of that.” She was working the numbers, and Ted with a smile on his face was just nodding. I never understood what spell she cast over him, but I wasn’t sure that Bob’s death was an accident after all.
They had a memorial at the airport for Bob that Sunday, and, of course, it was a nice military send-off for a war hero. Knowing what I had overhead, it was pretty weird watching the mourning wife, with her belly swelled out a foot, crying on Ted’s shoulder. Here is where the fun began…
That Monday morning she got the shock of her life, the first of several. Bob had paid his premiums on the million-dollar policy, well at least the first two installments, and then let it go. There was no money to be had since he elected to default on the payments. You could hear her screaming all the way to South Carolina as the realization hit her, no insurance money and she was about to have a baby.

Stand by for the rest of the story
Semper Fi,