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My Buddy and the Bank

 

My good friend Willis was instrumental in giving me advice and supporting me as my marriage was breaking up. He was a Vietnam Vet, and old enough to be my dad. He had gone through several marriages and divorces, with children. Willis had lost houses, money, custody and everything else you can imagine, so he had endless amounts of knowledge from which I benefitted. I’m grateful to Willis for being a sounding board and confidant.

 

Toward the end of my marriage Willis admitted that he hadn’t liked Frances ever, from day one. He said he could tell I was mesmerized by her ass and that it would do nothing but ruin our friendship if he said something to me.

When I moved out of the house, Willis allowed me to stay in a spare room in his home. I was missing my kids and wanted my family to be together.

 

One morning after getting off at 7 a.m., I drove around the city, despite being exhausted. I saw a Baptist church and went inside, where a group of people were sitting and sharing their issues and problems. I’m Catholic and knew nothing about what they were doing. I talked and cried harder than I ever had in my life, on my knees in a foyer, in front of all of those people. I didn’t care who saw me in that big group of strangers, mainly women. With two women rubbing my head and trying to comfort me I sobbed, “I love my wife, I want to be with my wife.” It was the greatest pain I had ever experienced. I prayed, asking God how He was going to get me past that. It took me years, with baby steps.

 

Frances baited me into coming back to the house even though she had filed a restraining order against me due to an altercation we had a month earlier. She asked me to come to the house on that Thursday and assured me that on Monday we would go to the courthouse and get the restraining order lifted.

 

When I told Willis I was going back home he said, “Rob, are you sure?”

 

I said, “Yes.” He was hesitant to see me go but I was determined to be with my family. I repacked all of my stuff and headed home.

 

Back at the House

I was happy to be back with my family and the kids were happy as well. Frances was six months pregnant. I believed we would work things out. The kids were asleep. I was worn out from having moved my things back into the house. We had settled down for the night. I turned off the lamp around 1 a.m., closed my eyes, and all of a sudden felt a tap on my chest.

 

Frances said, “And by the way, I don’t want Willis coming by the house again. I don’t want you calling him anymore. And I don’t want you all to be friends anymore.”

 

I said, “Excuse me? Why are you telling me this now, this late in the night? And since when do you tell me who I can and can’t be friends with? I’m a grown ass man.”

 

At that point, she reached over me and turned on her bedside lamp. “Okay, get your shit and get out right now. Get out.”

 

My back was hurting from moving in. I was tired, exhausted actually. When I moved back in, one thing I did right, which saved my ass, instead of hanging my keys on the key ring next to the front door, I put them in our bathroom drawer. I normally would have hung the keys and put my wallet on the nightstand. I had put them in the bathroom drawer. I had doubt back in the recesses of my mind and Willis warned me not to trust her.

 

After saying, “Get your shit,” she reached over on the nightstand, rummaging really quickly looking for my wallet. I reached for my sweats that were in the chair next to the nightstand.

 

She told me, “No, you can leave those here, you’re leaving now!” She expected me to leave in my underwear, with kids in bed.

 

At that point she leaned back over on her side of the bed, grabbed the cordless phone, and threatened to call the cops. I was petrified because of the restraining order. I knew if the cops came I would be arrested and my job would be on the line. Sheer terror went through me. So, as soon as she mentioned cops, I jumped up in my underwear and ran into the bathroom.

 

She said, “You’re not going anywhere.” Then she jumped up, with the phone in hand and ran out of the bedroom to the front expecting to grab my keys, trying to trap me in the house.

 

I ran to the bathroom and stuffed my wallet and keys in the front of my underwear. When I attempted to leave the room, she leapt onto my back, clawing and reaching into my underwear. I didn’t want to hurt her, and tried to avoid contact especially since she was pregnant. I grabbed her off of me, trying to get out of the house. She was screaming like a banshee, purposely trying to wake up my step sons to have them call the cops. Our children, who were three and one were crying, hearing the noise.

 

She was running through the house with only g-string panties on. The lights came on and there stood her boys, 11 and 9 years old, who told me not to hurt their mother and to leave her alone as I made my way out of the bedroom. She followed me and then ran past me, blocking the front door, trying to prevent me from leaving the house. I was trying to avoid any more conflict. I just wanted to leave. It was a terrible situation that none of the children should have seen. I moved her away from the door and ran out to my truck, with cell phone in hand, wearing only my underwear and without shoes. I knew that if anything jumped off, as long as I had my wallet I could get what I needed between cash and credit cards.

 

I jumped in my truck and locked the doors. She ran outside, pulled on the door, but couldn’t get it open. I started driving off. I was petrified, just thinking that I couldn’t afford to go to jail or lose my job. I didn’t realize her position, holding onto the tailgate of the truck. I pulled out of the driveway and she jumped off of my truck after a block, which is when I saw her. I’m so glad I didn’t hurt her.

I was on the highway, driving to Willis’ house, almost an hour away. It was freezing cold. I was in the rain with nothing but my underwear, my wallet, my cell phone, my keys and my truck. I decided not to stay in Tucson and go to a hotel, afraid there would be an APB out. Driving to Willis’ in another township seemed to be the safest thing to do. He wasn’t there when I arrived. I called him. He was at work in Tucson. He told me he would be there in a minute to let me in. I slept in the cold truck in my underwear. About an hour later he showed up to his house, and let me in. He gave me a shirt, pants, socks, shoes and a jacket, then he made me breakfast. That’s my brother right there!

 

He knew I was upset, that’s why he fed me and talked with me. I then realized, about 7 a.m. that my check was going to go into my account that morning in Tucson. I had not closed the account, therefore she had full access to the money, just like I did. I knew that if she beat me to the bank she would take every cent and I would not have any money for food, gas or surviving. I told Willis what I was thinking.

 

He said, “Let’s go! We’re going to Tucson to get your money.”

I didn’t want to go but he talked me into it. He drove my truck instead of me just in case we were stopped. If I was going to get arrested I wanted him to keep my truck, that was my thinking. The bank opened at 8 a.m. We pulled up at 7:50. Guess who was sitting on the parking lot with Joseph and Angelina strapped into their car seats?

 

It was payday Friday morning and there was a line of people outside of the bank, waiting for it to open. Frances glared at me the moment she saw us pull up. She immediately threw her car in park, left the kids in the car, jumped out, and ran to the front door of the bank past everyone. She began screaming loudly, banging on the glass door trying to get the attention of the security guard who was inside, preparing to open the bank. As she was banging, I saw her speaking to him through the slightly opened door, while she was pointing to me and my truck.

 

After we saw what she was doing, Willis peeled off and we left the parking lot. I thought we were heading back to his house but he said, “No Rob, we’re heading to another branch, up the street.”

 

At that point I was even more petrified.

 

“Don’t worry about it; we are going to make it to the other branch in time.” Willis assured me.

 

There were at least 20 people in line as we pulled up. The doors opened. I bolted past everyone; I verbalized my dilemma to everyone in line, as I moved past them. Ironically most of the customers were men that morning. I said, “Fellas, I have an ex-wife that’s down the street standing in line trying to beat me to my account to empty it. Would you mind if I stepped in front of all of you?”

 

None of them objected. I was the first person to be served. A girl asked my name in a slow and methodical voice. I went off on a rant with my name, checking account and social security number, as I placed my ID on the counter, expressing my urgency. The girl seemed to sense the importance and began typing.

She said, “Someone’s in your checking account right now, how much do you want?”

I said, “Empty it.”

She pressed the button, asked me how I wanted it, and I said, “Just give it to me.” The saving grace was that I had money in both a savings and a checking account, and I was able to get the majority of the money out before she took it.

As I walked out of the bank, the men in line were yelling, giving me high fives and hugs, acting as an entourage, cheering me on. Good ole’ Willis had been standing watch and telling them the gory details as I was praying internally and fighting for my hard-earned cash. I had a few thousand dollars in hand when I exited.

At that point, I knew the fallout was going to be bad. She would be even more pissed since I got the money. Everything I owned was in the house and I was afraid she would burn it down, just to spite me. I knew she had to be at work, that the kids should be at the babysitter, and figured she wouldn’t expect me to go to the house after the money incident. That influenced my decision to go there as quickly as I could to retrieve what we could get into the truck.

When Willis and I pulled up, we saw the $6,000 worth of Italian marble, which was to be used to replace the kitchen countertops smashed into pieces in the front yard. That was such a foolish choice. In her rage she destroyed it, instead of selling it and recouping it for the value. I’m not even sure how she managed to do that. I was pissed, but my fear of another confrontation had me focused on handling my business. Willis backed my truck up to the front of the house and I got as many of the most important things I could.

Going to the House Was a Tough Choice

I knew if I let an extended period of time go by without getting my belongings, she would destroy them. Between family heirlooms, camping and fishing gear, and my gun collection, I had to roll the dice and hope she didn’t pull up. I was scared, but felt I had no choice. In those moments my belongings meant more to me than the possibility of going to jail.

Willis was right by my side, and had my back. It was just one of the many times he would support me during my time of need. I moved in with him again until I was able to retain possession of my home, which took a bit of time.

Being around Willis, listening to his advice, helped me to develop a solid plan. In one of our discussions, he reminded me of that old saying, “Possession is nine-tenths of the law.” All parents, and especially fathers, who are going through divorce need to know that each parent has as much right to the children as the other. The person who gets the kids and files for custody will likely be the primary. Once I knew that, I made sure to have the kids and take care of them. It definitely helped me with the case.