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Christian Longo 5: The Man, The Murderer, The Magnificent Chapter 5
Look Deep Into The Night - The Harbor Speaks To You ... Just Steady Yourself And Focus
Chapter 5: A Time for Holiday Cheer but ... Something Else is Coming Near
Mary Jo had never been happier to be back home. As anxious as she had been earlier to spend some serious time with Chris, now she found herself fighting the feeling to run far away from him. But where would she run, how? Once the Thompson’s had been seen off and the kids were tucked in, she plopped down on the bed and tried to sooth her aching head. Chris came walking through to the bathroom. She covered her eyes. He walked back out without a word.
Mary Jo felt horrible as she lay there. Her head was splitting. Her insides were churning. She didn’t think she had ever felt this bad before. She wanted to scream out loud if not for little Madison sound asleep beside her. Instead she rolled over and between sobs, heaved wine and bits of Caesar Salad to the carpet.
Chris re-entered the bedroom. “Oh no Mary Jo, what have you done? That will have to be cleaned up. Yep, well obviously we do need to talk.”
“No Chris, no! I can’t take any more. Get out of here. Just get out of here. Just leave us alone. I don’t care what you do. You have taken away our future, Chris. You have killed us. I feel sick inside. Leave me alone.”
Chris turned on his heel and was out the door. He had had enough too. Wasn’t it always the same? He was ready to talk, get it all out, lay all the cards on the table and she had to go and pull a stunt like that. Plus, she had never before spoken to him like that. He grabbed a fresh bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, some good cheese and crackers and headed for the balcony
The Man - The Movie - The Myth?
It was a cold, blustery night, typical of winter on the Oregon coast, but never too cold for a nice glass of wine, certainly better than that mess inside. As hard as he wanted to keep that family together, he needed these occasional interludes. He gazed across the harbor at all the boats. Christmas was coming and many of the boats were lit up for the occasion. It was quite picturesque.
He imagined himself hopping into one of them and sailing off to the south of Mexico. Being that he was a Master Diver, it would be nothing for him to explore the coral reefs, searching for lost Mayan ruins. It wouldn’t be that hard to just hop into one of them and cast off. But then there was Mary Jo and the kids. It seemed like they were always messing up his plans.
It seemed like everywhere he went, every thing he did, that family of his was always dragging him down – like an anchor. The little bit of food picked up at the Thriftway earlier would not last the family long. He took a long sip of his Sauvignon and swished it around with his tongue to savor the bouquet. He sliced off a perfect square of his New York cheese and placed it on his cracker; a perfect fit. And he pondered the situation of keeping his family fed. It seemed that no matter how hard he tried, not a single one of them could appreciate the magnitude of the sacrifice he personally suffered in doing so.
Well, one thing was for sure, he was not happy about how Mary Jo had spoken to him. Who did she think she was anyway? She had become so boring. Why couldn’t she have stayed like she was when he first met her, fun and sexy; now she was nothing but a blauze’ momma. He could tell that she was definitely up to something. But she was no match for him; no matter what she had going on in that daft head of hers. First she wants to talk to him and then she doesn’t. Either she couldn’t make up her weak mind or she was trying to make him feel bad about things, more than likely the latter. But what did she know? She didn’t know jack squat. She didn’t have a clue about the things he had accomplished in the past year – and it was all done for her and those kids. He had sacrificed everything for them. What ever she was up to she would not get away with it. He gulped down his glass and headed back inside.
Back in the bedroom was a sorry sight. Mary Jo was lying there staring at the wall. Chris had never seen her quite this bad but no problem. He figured this to be one of the times she would be malleable as silly putty. She was weak like everyone else – susceptible to his presentation. Yet his heart went out to her – poor, pathetic thing.
“I’m so sorry you don’t feel well. You are so fragile. Here let me clean this up.” Chris gathered some cleanup materials and cleaned the vomit from the carpet. That would guilt trip her good. “You know I have always wanted the best for us and I have sacrificed so much for us. You have no idea. Good thing I have what it takes or we would be in deep doo doo. Do you know what I mean?”
Mary Jo weakly nodded her head. She had gone quiet. This was good. When she was like this she was easy to manipulate. What a shame he had to deal with her in such a fashion but after all, she was only a woman. One must do what one must do. It was a good thing he could read people as well as he could and he could read her like a book. She would be so miserable and helpless without him. She would be totally lost.
A Long Arduous Trip
The cross country journey Chris embarked upon with his little family was one that defies the imagination. Close calls and preposterous scenarios followed them all along his twisted trail. It is amazing that one man with a Jehovah's witness wife in tow, along with three small children was able to get away with all that he did in this long, twisted journey that spanned the country from Ypsilanti, Michigan to as far West as he could go - landing in little Newport Bay Oregon on the Pacific Coast.
Chris gently sat on the bed next to her and knelt down close, speaking in a hoarse whisper so as not to disturb sleeping Madison, “You poor little lamb. It is good that you have calmed down finally. You get too excited. You could end up getting yourself real sick, then where would the family be?” Chris stroked her hair and gave her a kiss on the forehead. “Let me tell you what it has taken to keep us together. It has been hard on me, you know.”
Chris proceeded to play the sympathy card. It always worked to calm her down and ensure his complete control of a situation. “OK, let me tell you about some things dear. Things are not all that bad. I’ve done what I had to do and I have done it for you and the kids so please try to understand. We are no longer living within the safe, secure confines of the congregation. We live out in the world now and it is a harsh cruel world and we must conduct ourselves as the others do, just as the bible says. When it is dog eat dog, you do what you must and fortunately I have always been up to the task. The teachings say that I must be the provider and I have done just that. And you have followed me just as it is said. You know, getting into that warehouse in Toledo was not an easy task. I devoted a lot of time searching for just the right place for us to fix up. I know I told you I paid a year in advance according to the standard lease but I didn’t. I worked out a special deal but it was just too expensive. We left there owing them.”
“Oh Chris them too? They will be after us too! Why oh why did we have to live in a warehouse? We could have lived somewhere far cheaper. It seemed like it was more for just storing all that stuff of yours. And what about all that stuff? How could we afford that if we couldn’t afford the other.”
“You mean the boat and the wave runners and the utility trailers and the bobcat. Well you know, they were kind of stolen, I think. But I didn’t steal them. It’s not like I am a criminal or anything. I bought all that stuff from Bob, cheap. I never asked him where they came from.”
“I can’t believe this. You could not have kept all of this secret from me. Then everything you told me about all that stuff was lies and on top of that, it is criminal. You were receiving stolen property. Don’t tell me you don’t know that.”
Chris acknowledged that it would technically be criminal and proceeded to move ahead with another one of his rationalizations, explaining all of the reasons why if he hadn’t bought the items someone else would have and how anyone who gets ahead does the same kinds of things and how he had done it for the family so them and the entire extended family could have fun and good times out on the water and be looking good in the process. Then he moved into his scheme he had worked out to register out of state and transfer ownership to make everything nice and legal.
Do you want to deal in stolen boats and heavy equipment?
Well, if you have a young wife and three toddlers along for the ride - you improvise. If you are like Chris, you will find a town along your path where you can swoop in and rent a warehouse to move the family into. Then you venture out into the night and manage to find thieves of the night who will collude with you on the fencing and marketing of the stolen loot. You simply store it all in your wharehouse/home with your family. How he managed all of this - God only knows if we will ever know.
Then he went on to tell her about the Penske rental truck used in their cross country run and how he had absconded with that. “Dear you had to have known how I got a hold of that truck.”
Mary was holding her head and not speaking. A clear sign he was still in control. He would keep going and lay it all on her. It was for the best.
He went on to tell her about stealing the tank of gas in Newport and the small matter of pawning the crab trap there as well. He worked at making her understand how he had no choice concerning the gas because they were down to their last dime and how they wouldn’t be able to get around and how he wouldn’t be able to drive to work to earn the money to feed the babies. He made her understand that the crab trap had just been lying around the old house down in Waldport. Nobody was using it. He reminded her of before they landed here at The Landing , that little cabin they had been kicked out of for non-payment. He had simply turned the crab trap into badly needed spending cash so the kids could eat at McDonalds and nobody would miss it anyway. He had merely found the crab trap laying about. It was not like he had actually stole it.
Chris was on a roll so he kept on rolling. It was actually beginning to feel good getting it all off his chest. Mary Jo was squirming a lot and strangely that seemed to make him feel better too. It was about time she felt his suffering. He couldn’t keep it bottled up forever. He proceeded to tell her about his dad’s credit card and how he had rung up the $10,000 debt on it without his knowledge and how his dad still did not know he had done that even after they had left Ypsilanti and moved on to Toledo, Ohio. He told her about the KIDVAN. Indeed the custom “KIDVAN” license plate was theirs but the Pontiac Montana van they had been riding around in all this time was not. He had stolen it from the Pontiac dealership outside of Ypsilanti. He reminded her of how often she had driven the van and gotten plenty of use out of it.
Mary Jo was crying. “Chris you are always rationalizing everything. You seem to think that every thing you do is ok because you say it is. But it’s not! That was stealing – out and out. There is no rationalizing that. You stole from people, that is a sin. You have damned us in the eyes of Jehovah. How could you Chris? What is wrong with your brain? I don’t understand.”
“Oh Mary Jo, you are always thinking in terms of right and wrong. You seem to be totally unaware of the gray area which is the rest of the world. Like I said we have to live in it. I am sorry I made you cry dear. Now you have made me feel bad.”
“You feel bad? My God, what about how I feel?” Mary Jo’s voice was raised but still almost drowned out by her sobs, “What you don’t understand is that you have become a criminal. I don’t care what everybody else does. We were not raised like this, Chris. It was not always like this. In the beginning I had a good job, so did you. We had everything we needed. Oh Lord what has happened? How could you do this to us? How could you do this to you. You could end up in Hell, us too. I …hate to ask what more.”
”But I have always been a good husband and father. Even when we had our newspaper distribution business, which I should add that I was very successful at. Do you remember how I was promoted there, too? Everything I have achieved - it has always been about my family. Even that time in Chicago…”
This covers the facts concerning the crazy, cross-country journey
“What the…what about Chicago, what are you talking about now, Chris?”
“I’m just saying that, that woman who came on to me during that NY Times convention in Chicago didn’t get me because I wouldn’t let her, like all the other times. We had a two hour dinner then she came up to my room and I stopped her before anything could happen. I have restraint you know.” Chris conveniently left out some details about some other women such as that time the paper sent him to a convention in San Francisco.
“You say this now, after telling me about all these lies and deceptions and you expect me to believe you?” Mary Jo’s voice was rising, “I have followed you faithfully throughout this entire, crazy journey, despite how terribly I have missed my fellowship and my family and yours. I have stood behind you as ordained in the Book. And I have been faithful to you. I don’t know what you have been. I don’t know you. I can’t trust anything you say. I have lost faith in you, Chris.”
Madison had awakened and begun to cry. Mary Jo set about comforting the baby, giving Chris the green light to slip out of there quickly. It was a good thing, too because he was feeling that he was about to go hysterically crazy out of his head. He had finally been open and honest with her, sort of; and look what happens! He headed back to the balcony where the sauvignon would be plenty chilled. He was thinking how he needed to give her space. No, he needed to cool down, to hell with her.
You dolt! There was his inner voice speaking to him again. Now you've really done it. You have poured out all your secrets to her now. What were you thinking? “Damn,” he blurted out into the night air, “What in hell was I thinking?”
Chris proceeded to mentally kick his butt for being such a dolt and a softy. He asked himself what on earth was wrong with him. He had told her way more than she needed to know and even enjoyed doing it! What did this mean? Why couldn't he do things right like his dad? He would never do stupid things like this. And dad was just a mere human, nothing special. But it was different for Chris. He had to do everything right. Absolutely everything! Chris had a special relationship with Jehovah that nobody else knew about. But Hell was not an option. What could he do to atone to Jehovah?
You know what you must do. We’ve gone over this before. “Shut the fuck up!” Chris didn’t usually holler at his inner voice or use profanity but sometimes he just didn’t want to hear it. He had been following his inner voice for as long as he could remember and it had always done him well, up until now. He was in a situation. The feelings going through him were new and strange. He was feeling a kind of rage from inside, something different to a fellow who was known for keeping his cool. Heck, even when he was mad he rarely ever seemed to feel that way. It was just a show he put on to impress someone or make something happen. But this was different. He was mad at Mary Jo for sassing him and mad at himself or perhaps mad at his damned inner voice. He wasn’t quite sure.
He put his head in his hands and wracked his brains. With as high as his IQ was, there had to be a way for him to think his way out of his mess. He found himself looking toward his inner voice again as he had done so many times before. He had sometimes been accused of being impulsive but he really wasn’t. Sometimes his inner voice would tell him to do things and he would just do them because if he couldn’t trust his inner voice which was, of course his own self, then who could he trust? So its not that he was impulsive – it was more like he was decisive – a man of action, so to speak. But alas, he had to admit that he was nothing more than a schmuck who followed orders. Mary Jo had said that she did not know him. He felt like he didn’t know himself. Who was in charge?
You are in charge you stupid idiot. All the things you have accomplished in your life and you sit here like some dope. Does it all lead up to this. You know what you are entitled to. What about that million dollars you were going to make? How are you going to do that in this dink town, slinging lattes or selling hardware for Freddies? You don’t even like working retail and look at you now. Do you want to be a failure for the rest of your life? You got to get the fuck out of here. You got to get mad. You got to be a man. You heard what Mary Jo said in there. She can’t live without you and you can’t live with her, if you are ever going to amount to anything. So you just can’t up and leave her now can you. If you keep going the way you are you will surely drag them all down to Hell along with you, as it is written. And you can all suffer for an eternity just like you do now. But you can give them a chance. You know how.
“Shit,” he hollered out into night air, “dammit.” The sea lions that had been engaged in their unique chorus which consists of a cacophony of barking suddenly went quiet. Now he had a headache, thanks to Mary Jo. He refilled his wine glass and swished some around with his tongue to savor the bouquet. Then he cut off a perfect sized square from his cheese and mated it to a cracker. He stared out into the harbor.
This is what Chris would have seen with his first swig of wine
There was a stiff wind blowing in from the west. He could hear bells jangling along with the foghorn blowing. The lights strung across many of the boats were whipping in the wind, making for a mesmerizing scene. One sailboat in particular had this goofy looking greenish blowup Santa tied off the top of the mainmast. It looked like some kind of grinch. Actually it was kind of evil looking for a Santa. It whipped around crazily in the blowing wind. The thing had an evil grin on it. Chris pondered whether or not he liked all the noise that was going on out in the harbor. It was the middle of the night, not a creature was stirring yet it sounded like a dozen dairy farms during an earthquake. He reached for the wine glass and swilled some around in his mouth to savor the bouquet. He did it again.
Chris decided to just relax and chill out on a chilly Saturday night in Newport. The sauvignon tasted mighty fine and he felt he might just polish it off to keep himself warm. It’s not like he had a whole lot of options, what with a passed out wife inside and a gaggle of sleeping kids spread out from the bedroom to the living room. He would just sit there and have a little communion with his other side. It might seem a little crazy – but no crazier than the night scene in the harbor that lay out in front of him.
This night on the balcony was different from his previous wine and cheese nights. Before, he would come out to relax and allow the wine to wash away all his troubles. Since the family had arrived at the coast, any more, these were about his only opportunities to chill out.
He was feeling a strong pull that the wine could not seem to counteract. In his thoughts, his inner voice seemed to be working him over – almost making fun of him. Where before, it would be telling him he was the master of his own ship and he could sail away to parts unknown and really enjoy life, now it was calling him a dismal loser that would never amount to anything.
It seemed as if the Fargo family had reached the end of the line, the end of land and the end of life as he had once known it. This town could not seem to supply him with what he needed – what he craved.
We Search for the Reasons Why - Sometimes the Reasons are as Elusive as the Answers
You can identify with this story because ...
It was the people.
Chris could care less about his recent promotion to the Freddies Home Improvement Center. He hated retail. The people in this town were down to earth, simple folk, not at all the kind of people Chris conspired to consort with. They didn’t look like him, think like him, dress like him or share his thirst for the exciting life. They hardly ever had any money to speak of. They were no different than the families he had left behind in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Where were the beautiful people?
What’s more; not only was this place cold, wet and windy but there were no opportunities here. He could not put together any entrepreneurial pursuits that would be beneficial to his style of business. He was like a fish out of water. These people were so simple minded they couldn’t even put two and two together without getting four. None of them had ever been anywhere to speak of nor did they much care about where he had been, not that he dared offer much concerning his recent travels.
Yes, there were some things that needed to be kept secret. He could never tell any of these people too much about where he came from, no matter how much it would have impressed them. Well, in time he would. In time, perhaps he would become a writer and tell his story to the entire world. He just had to get himself into the right place.
Chris re-busied himself with his taste testing task at hand. Somewhere along the line he closed his eyes for a moment.
I don't suppose I have to tell you what comes next.
You're not going to like it.
If you are the type who enjoys peace of mind - you might want to consider stopping here ...
© 2015 Chuck Fasst