One might say that the moment we walked into our new apartment in Omaha, the writing was on the wall for our little makeshift family from Norfolk. But a better metaphor would probably be the bloodstain on the floor.
Only… it was not a metaphorical bloodstain, it was a very real bloodstain. It was real and it was real big. Someone had died right there, or at least lost enough blood to have died. It was big and dark and no amount of scrubbing would ever have gotten it out of that old wood floor. And so there it lay, right smack dab in the middle of the large main living room of the house.
The bloodstain in the middle of our large, main living room.
It was now our living room in our new three-bedroom apartment on the main floor of our new (old) house in our new (to us) neighborhood in midtown Omaha.
So it was now our bloodstain.
Fred claimed that he never saw it because the lady that showed him the place had the bloodstain covered with a large throw rug and he didn’t think to check under it. So Fred had given her the deposit and the rent money (no doubt, including what he’d stolen from me) and we were stuck with the apartment, bloodstain and all.
Maria hated it but Fred and the boy’s didn’t care. I could easily have seen it as yet another irreparable mark on my relationship with my so-called friend. I don’t remember how I felt about the bloodstain, but I do remember that very soon after arriving in Omaha, the lies of my so-called friend were fast becoming more and more apparent to me.
My so-called friend for whom I’d left a perfectly good situation in Norfolk and come to this bloodstained place.
Yea, yea… my adult self knows that my going with him, Maria and the kids to Omaha may have saved me from the very probable lung cancer that would have been a real danger had I stayed in Norfolk and continued to work for that company. A company that was so regularly and nonchalantly exposing its workers to asbestos. But maybe not… after all, the reason it took so long for industry to acknowledge the danger of mesothelioma is the long latency period for the disease, as much as forty years. I’m thinking I’ll get an MRI sometime soon… just to be sure.
But bloodstain or no bloodstain, once we got to Omaha, Fred’s use for me diminished significantly. He had so many other resources there, once I was no longer a clear asset, I soon became a nuisance and finally a liability. Fred got a good job right away and when two weeks went by and I still had not, he made it very clear that I needed to find another place to live as soon as I could.
This actually worked out quite well for me in the long run.
First of all, it clarified to me that Fred had been lying all along about the band. He actually almost said as much. When he got the job as head of security (HA! what a joke!) at the doomed Brandeis Department Store downtown, he was finally in a position to downsize his operation.
Fred would end up getting fired from his job sometime just after Christmas so I can’t now tout the irony of him being the victim of similar market forces. The formerly prominent Omaha retail icon would permanently close it doors in less than two years so Fred would have been shit outta luck if he’d actually tried to make a career at the place.
Of course, my adult self reminds me that naive, nineteen-year-old, good boy me only knew of this job (and his getting fired from it) from that special kind of liar Fred himself so…
Anyway… the other way this all worked out well for me was that, since Fred was in the money (however he was getting it now) he suddenly wanted me out of the picture. So he “loaned” me two hundred dollars to get my own place. Perhaps he saw it as an investment of good will. In case he needed to use me again. Of course, we all “know” Fred was actually not losing a thing.
So Fred presented me with his plan. He and Maria and the kids would be moving into the two-bedroom apartment upstairs (saving them nearly a hundred bucks a month) and I would move out and pay him back as soon as I could.
“I have complete confidence you’ll get a good job soon my friend.” Fred said with feigned reassurance as I took the cash nodding in agreement. By then I knew he was full of shit. He wasn’t even trying to hide the sliminess I could now hear in his voice. He usually did that automatically when he was actively in scamming mode. But I was no longer of consequence in Fred’s world. I was no longer a mark, so he made no effort to hide his true nature.
I was so glad to get out of there with anything, I completely forgot that I still had no ID and had not thought of how that would impeded my ability to do basic important things like… cash a paycheck. Man! If I’d suspected he was the one who’d stolen my wallet I would have kicked his ass so bad…
Anyway, I’d have a chance to kick his ass a bit a few months later but I’ll get to that story a bit later.
The important thing that happened next was that I found a place to live (with no bloodstains) and very soon found a job that paid me pretty well. Eventually, I was able to keep my part of the bargain and pay Fred back as agreed.
So in the end, I paid Fred back the money he had stolen from me.
The final scam.