The hypodermic needle loaded with an experimental drug was inserted carefully between the patients’ heart and his defibrillator. Dr Sloan Clark started to perspire even though the procedure and the purpose was relatively simple, kill the patient. But why would a respected doctor want, need to kill his patient?
This is a story that might shock you. Like many interesting tales this starts with small beginnings and travels through unexpected events and some startling conclusions. The story begins with Doug West and a small town in Indiana.
Doug West is 49 years old, married with two children and reasonably successful financially. He was born in Batesville Indiana, casket-building capital of the U.S. When he graduated from high school he got a job in Gary Indiana and quickly learned he wasn’t cut out for steel work or the small working community that was made up of steel workers. Instead he went to Chicago and looked for a job that a high school graduate could get in1983.
He lucked out in a mailroom position at a major brokerage firm in the “capital of the mid-west” as he referred to it. He also met a secretary, Linda in the same place he was working. Linda was originally from Royal Oak Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, a very mid-west small town.
Doug was pretty average looking for a mid-westerner, five foot nine, dirty blond hair, piercing blue eyes. When he watched Linda at work he found her attractive. He couldn’t tell exactly why but he knew her face with that slightly olive complexion stirred his loins. Her breasts were perky and somewhat large for a girl/woman of five foot tall and about one hundred and five pounds. She had firmly formed buttock, consistent with her Polish German heritage, but still there was more than physical attraction, an almost obsession with her quiet voice and shy way of looking at him. In any case he asked her on a couple of occasions to join him at the Wrigley Bar, but she demurred and said she had to get home. Finally Linda caved in and went to the in bar in Chicago for the stock market set, The Wrigley. At that time the bar was still separate from the restaurant and both were open to the public but the bar was definitely for the high rollers. Doug felt right at home in the bar, his friends and colleges, all doing well like he was in the booming stock market game. Linda was impressed with the fact that everyone at the bar knew Doug and seemed to like him. They had a drink but couldn’t really talk about anything personal because it was so loud. Finally Doug suggested that they go to a little hid away he knew, The Ratskeller for a pizza. Once in the restaurant Linda began to ask the usual questions. Linda; where are you from, where did you go to school. Doug; I was born and raised in Batesville Indiana, the casket making capital of the United States, and then he laughed. He went on to say he actually lived on a farm for the first fifteen years of his life, a tenant farm where his parents worked the fields and made a decent living, this was before corporate farms started to dominate the agriculture market in this country. On a day to day basis life on the farm was pretty good, going swimming [skinny dipping with some of the other guys from school] in some of the tiny lakes in the area, fishing in the quick water streams for catfish, smoking corn silk behind the barn, riding a motor scooter on the country roads and most of all enjoying mom’s apple and rhubarb pies on warm summer afternoons were his fondest memories. His relationship with his father and mother was without emotion, they cared for him but he wasn’t certain they cared about him. Doug said that when his father was injured do farm work they moved into the actual town of Batesville and his father gat a job in town, night watchman at the casket maker’s factory.
Batesville is a true small town located in the middle of the mid-west, based along the Cincinnati to Indianapolis railroad line. A town of about four thousand people it was truly a small town. Linda: asked again, where he went to school and he replied; since there was only one high school it was the Batesville High School. Linda laughed because it had been a “make conversation” question, yet she was really interested because it seemed to establish that Doug was more like her than the other people she met since she went to work at the Chicago office of Winter & Green Investments.
Doug asked, what is your last name? Linda replied Wizberg and seemed embarrassed. Doug said; you’re uncomfortable, why? She replied that back in high school in Royal Oak classmates were constantly changing the pronunciation of her name like Wisenheimer and she was too shy to fight back. Doug said he didn’t see anything funny about her name and that the kids in Royal Oak must have been real duds to act that way. Linda was reassured and asks him more and more questions about his time in Batesville. Linda asked; did you have a girl friend in high school and Doug would lie saying, no I was too involved in playing baseball and football to have time for girls. Linda was relieved even though she didn’t really believe him. Finally she asked the big question; why did you come to Winter & Green. Doug said; well I was anxious to get out of Batesville, I hadn’t qualified for any scholarships and my parents couldn’t afford to pay for college so I moved on. I got a job in Gary Indiana in the steel mills. Gary was a quick life lesson. I got the job in the steel factory but I was only working in the custodial side of the company and didn’t really have to do anything that was heavy manual labor. Plus I got to meet other workers and my neighbors in the apartment I rented for six months. The people at work were primarily African American with mostly high school educations so we all felt comfortable talking with each other but there was a bridge to far when it came to their respective cultures. I didn’t and I still don’t understand the black culture, the hand signals and word games that I couldn’t make out. I believe I crossed the line, although I didn’t realize it when I asked a fellow worker out for a drink. She was African American and we had a good time for one evening. Suddenly I was less welcome at work with the staff and I even got some remarks about having drinks with “one of their people” as one neighbor put it. I lasted the length of my apartment rental and resigned from the steel factory. I never had another date with a black girl or any other girl in Gary after that first experience.
After six months I decided hard labor [pushing a broom] was not my cup of tea and moved to Chicago. I literally looked in the newspaper and found a mailroom job with Winter & Green and took it. But wait a minute, all of our conversation has been about me, what about you and why did you come to Chicago from Royalll Oak, he said pronouncing it incorrectly. Linda said; the name of my hometown is pronounced Royloak, not Royal Oak. In any case I also wanted to leave the small town and my controlling parents for the “big city.” Doug said; why didn’t you just go to work in Detroit? Her response was; I did for a short time working at the GM building for the Chevrolet division but one of the men I worked with made a move on me at the office party that was so traumatic I quit and with the help of GM got the job at Winter & Green. Doug said; oh, understanding more than he wanted to understand what had happened to her. He said; no wonder you were hesitant to have a drink with me. Doug was very familiar with young women who worked with big sophisticated companies in Chicago who were taken advantage of in “off campus” meeting, after hours drinking sessions or at the local watering hole ending up in demeaning sexual encounters that often led to the women leaving the company. At that time in history sexual harassment suites were rare and almost never satisfying to the young women involved. He speculated that some incident had caused GM to find a position out of the city of Detroit for Linda. The subject never came up again, much to Linda’s relief. He went on to say; heah, we’ve been talking for hours; I need to get you to your apartment. Linda said; thanks but she was thinking that she was really happy he hadn’t made a move on her, at least not yet.
After their “date” Doug and Linda saw each other frequently and it was very comfortable for both of them. Eventually they slept together and it was clear Linda was afraid of the intimacy but she liked, no loved Doug enough to take the risk of being hurt or even sickened [because of the experience at GM] by the love making process.
Chapter 2 – What Wedding?
Doug’s career was moving well. One never knows why things happen in business but in his case he was asked to help one of the brokers and displayed some aptitude with numbers and more importantly with people. In any case the stock brokerage business was booming and he got a chance to study and get his brokerage license.
He got his brokers license with no small help from Linda and when the money started to roll in Linda said; should we get married? Doug was perfectly happy with the current arrangement and was taken back by her question. He said; of course we should but maybe we should wait until we have a little more money. Linda wanted to move then but she couldn’t force him and she didn’t want him if he didn’t want her! This debate lasted a short time, about six months and then because he thought he loved Linda and he could think of no reason why they shouldn’t get married, he asked her. Doug said; Linda I want to get married and I want to look for a house in the suburbs like the north shore of Chicago. Linda replied; yes but only if you really want to! The next question was what kind of a wedding.
Linda was estranged from her family, probably because they blamed her for losing her job at Chevrolet more than the creative director that seduced her into a brief encounter in the art department at the office one night. Now Linda had been exposed to the usual petting efforts in high school but never intercourse or oral sex, but that was exactly what the creative director wanted, a blowjob. Linda like others in her department harbored secret hopes that she could end up in a serious relationship with this mature, good looking and powerful person. Without speaking a word she succumbed to his demands and if the relationship had ended right there she probably would have lived with the indiscretion and just have been a little wiser for a girl of eighteen. However the one interlude wasn’t the end of relationship and what blew her mind and broke her for some time emotionally was when an after hours group get together at the Normandy bar. The Normandy was in a sense owned by the GM people and regular gathering there was the norm. On more than one occasion young and not so young women from the Chevrolet division left the bar, slightly over served to end up in an apartment in the suburbs if the guy was single or one of the many motels dotting the Woodward corridor going from the Normandy right across from GM headquarters to Bloomfield Hills, the last stop before you were in the suburban version of the boondocks. I should point out that at this time the ad agency for Chevrolet was in one of the GM buildings right across from headquarters and so the agency contingent was also a regular at the Normandy. Linda had been encouraged to get to the bar after work frequently to meet and mix with men and women from the other departments as well as the agency types. On this one night Linda went with other staff females to the bar and had a drink. She was attractive and so it was not unreasonable for men from both the company and the agency to make conversation about the inside workings of an advertising agency and the major car brand in the country. It was fun being on the inside and if some of the men hugged a little too hard or made suggestive remarks it wasn’t out of line for the Normandy or the business, at least that is what the other women in her department repeated to her frequently. But this night was different. The creative director from Chevrolet that had coerced her into oral sex a few weeks before was back at her front door so to speak, suggesting they have a more fruitful interlude in his car parked just outside the bar. She didn’t dare hit him in the face although that is exactly what she wanted to do, instead she simply said no. Then she spent the evening, almost until closing time drinking and talking and she thought her suitor had found another target for his amorous intentions, she was wrong. This stupid man, over served to a fault, came from behind her and grabbed her, his hands firmly on her breasts and started talking gibberish as he attempted to maneuver her to a booth across from the bar. She struggled to get away, her women friends tried to ignore the struggle because they did not want to be a witness to a major manager in their company attempting to have sex with a fellow worker. If they were called to testify they would probably have perjured themselves rather than attempt to sink a key member of the Chevy team and they would have also probably lost their job. Linda was humiliated and by this time crying, her “suitor” had managed to pull up her skirt and started pulling down her panties, and that was just too much for the bartender. Now the Normandy had an excellent relationship with the police and that meant they stayed out unless called in to quietly break up fights between drunken co-workers or sometimes between lovers who under the influence expressed love by bopping each other with beer bottles or other such weapons. However in this case the bartender knew there was going to be a possibility of rape charges brought against one of his regular customers and it could spell doom for the Normandy. GM had put the Normandy off limits before because of unseemly incidents but this could be a closer. Teddy, the bartender called the police knowing they would be there in minutes and then went to pull the asshole accosting Linda off of her and try to calm her down before the police arrived. Teddy thought he might be able to get the offender out of the bar before Linda could bring any charges but it didn’t work that way. Now mind you she hadn’t been raped but it was an attempt, a sloppy attempt from a drunk that probably couldn’t have completed the act if he was given the opportunity, but it was attempt. The cops took the same approach; it was an attempted rape, period. Linda’s nemesis was taken to jail for drunk and disorderly but no mention was made of rape. Linda was questions and then thanks to some of her female coworkers was driven home to Royal Oak. Linda poured out her heart to her parents and seemed to be unable to stop crying. Her mother was sympathetic to her but Interestingly her father asked her if she had done anything to prompt this sexual behavior. Linda was aghast at the question, then she thought; did I do something that caused the attack? She went over the evening in detail, she was not drunk, she did not talk to the individual in question nor had she “come on” to any other men in the bar. The answer was that it was a rape attempt, sloppy yes but still a rape attempt.
The next morning she went to work as if nothing had happened. Of course by this time everyone in the office knew about the arrest and the ugly and humiliating scene she had been subjected to in the Normandy. Personnel [they weren’t called human resources then] came to see her, listened to her story and then departed without a word. At the end of the day the manager of her division and a senior personal director asked to meet with her. They suggested that she might have been the reason a key executive of theirs had been arrested and maybe unfairly so. They underestimated Linda if they thought she would roll over and take the blame for charges against their boy and attempting to ignore the attempted rape. Linda said she was going to file the attempted rape charges and she was going to make the point that the company apparently condoned the actions of their manager and asked her to take the fall for his indiscretions! Her manager and the personal director indicated she was mistaken and that they were not aware of the sexual charges and would meet with her the next morning to assist her in any way they could to resolve these ugly charges. In the morning a battery of lawyers along with the personal director met with her asking exactly how they could help her. They didn’t volunteer to pursue the rape charges for her but explained that it was in the company and her best interest to find a way to resolve the issue with the least amount publicity. Linda was eighteen and did not want to be identified as a “rape victim” in the newspapers but she didn’t honestly know what to do. The personal director came up with the answer. He said that GM had a financial interest in an investment firm in Chicago and that if she was willing to move there they could offer her a comparable job at a slightly better pay scale and GM would pay for her moving expenses plus a small amount of money for living expenses while she was getting settled there. All she had to do was resign from the Chevrolet division of GM and absolve them of any possible wrong doing in regard to their employee who may or may not have attempted to rape her.
Linda wanted to be away from her parents but had never had the nerve to take that step now it was being offered to her and so she took it.
She did not believe her father ever thought she was innocent of any complicity in the sexual encounter with the Chevrolet manager. She was correct.
Linda’s father a tool and dye worker was financially secure and could afford a nice wedding but Linda was at arms length from him and her mother, a stay at home house wife had little or no influence over him. Linda decided that she would tell her parents she was getting married and they were welcome to attend the ceremony in Chicago at the Northwestern University non-denominational chapel.
While Doug wasn’t at odds with his parents they had very few conversations, and those that they did have were all via phone and more a general update. Doug’s parents didn’t even ask if he was dating but he volunteered news about Linda and so the day that he announced to his parents that he was getting married they were not surprised. When he asked if they would attend the ceremony in Chicago they said they would try to drive up and meet the new bride and wish them well.
At the last minute Linda’s parents also agreed to drive over from Bloomfield Hills but they didn’t offer to pay for the event and Linda never asked them to.
The wedding was set for April fourth and Linda expect about seventy people, mostly fellow workers from the office. Doug had arranged for his parents and hers to stay at the New Yorker Hotel and when both sets of parents arrived they were impressed. Interestingly these two sets of parents, both from small towns with children that hadn’t followed some unspecified life path they expected, still couldn’t articulate what they had expected and so they had distanced themselves from their children.
While preparing for the wedding Doug and Linda looked for homes on the north shore of Chicago and they had absolutely no luck. Despite Doug’s financial status they didn’t qualify for the homes they both wanted in the area they wanted. They ended up in the west, about thirty-five miles from downtown Chicago in Wheaton Illinois, best known for the fact that the town was dry and the most famous resident was Billy Graham [but only occasionally to visit his school in the community.]
Doug bought the house even before the wedding and while they didn’t move in they spent evening decorating the house. It was a sturdy brick home, fairly large but with a very dark interior. Linda started buying the furniture and by the time of the wedding they were ready to move in.
Doug and Linda, as busy as they were took their parents to see their new home and again they were impressed, as much as any conservative mid-westerner would allow themselves to be impressed by material things.
The day of the wedding things went off without a hitch, the chapel was beautiful and the minister, a friend of a friend at work did an excellent job by providing a short and unemotional ceremony. They were now Mr. and Mrs. West.
The reception was at The New Yorker and it was elegant and expensive. Doug thought he might have to push his clients to generate enough money to pay for this big event. Fortunately his company provided him with a large check to apply against the reception bill.
After the reception Linda and Doug sat down with their parents and talked about their future. Both sets of parents were interested in when the couple would have children. Once again it hadn’t crossed Doug’s mind and of course on the other side Linda had been thinking about it for some time. Doug said that they would let nature take its course since they hadn’t been using any protection to that point and of course Linda turned red with embarrassment.
Actually Doug thought that since they had been together for some time he might be shooting blanks. Sorry Doug, no sooner did they get into their home in Wheaton than Linda was pregnant and sure enough nine months later they had a little girl they named Helen after Linda’s mother. Doug blamed the religious conservative town they lived in, Wheaton for causing Linda to get pregnant, but of course it was just nature.
The next several years saw another child, a boy named Harold after Doug’s father and both the families were happy, an apparently good marriage, two children and a nice home.
I don’t think I mentioned it thus far but Linda quit Winter & Green to take care of the baby that was about to arrive and she got a good feel about her neighbors in Wheaton and the community she was anxious to become a part of the conservative upscale life Wheaton represented. Further with the children of manageable age she returned to school and received a nursing degree, helping out on a part time basis initially at hospitals in the area. Eventually she became a registered nurse and started working full time. Her added income was help for their family. Doug’s was of course preoccupied with the stock market business.
I should mention that Linda was also showing signs of her independent thinking right after Harold was born when she started taking birth control pills without Doug’s knowledge. Doug didn’t care because he wasn’t anxious to have more children and just figured the failure to have more children was an act of providence. Linda wanted more than Doug wanted out of life, maybe even more than she knew she wanted.
Linda went to school and with Doug’s money she hired a housekeeper who was very important in the children’s lives. The housekeepers name was Emila and she played a major roll later in the West’s lives. While Linda as a registered nurse appreciated the value of day to day nursing services what she preferred was her role as patient advocate. This preference would play a key role in Linda’s future.
Thirty-five miles away from home was more than just a commute to and from work. It was actually worlds apart between the high-flying stock market offices in downtown Chicago and the very straight-laced suburb.
I mentioned before that Doug liked the work atmosphere and the after hours entertainment, for a lack of a better word. His regular routine was to go to the Wrigley for cocktails then The Nightcap [a basement bar just off of Lake Shore Drive] and the Surry, another down and dirty bar near the Nightcap. He would take the Northwestern rail commute service trying to get the last train that left at eleven pm and arrived in Wheaton about midnight. It was a short walk from the train station to his home and usually Linda and the kids were in bed but sometimes Linda was up and lambasted him for the late hour and being over served. Doug used the usual excuse, entertaining his clients. The truth was he was selfish and it is to Linda’s credit that she kept the family together. Doug was a “weekend warrior” when it came to the family and he did a fine job on weekends being involved in the kids and treating Linda like the good wife she was.
Linda was also uncomfortable with his nightlife at the Wrigley Bar and the Su Casa Me Casa restaurant or for that matter the Billy Goat 24-hour bar and diner under Wacker Boulevard. It was known across the world for the printer patrons from the local newspapers. Printer workers, who held court on the sawdust floors with stories of the printing world. Drinking stories that did occur and sexual encounters that didn’t occur except in the well-oiled minds of the print workers. He couldn’t blame Linda for being upset, he was a weekend warrior at home and his two children knew him on a casual basis. There was of course another element in the late nights in the city, that of sexual encounters. Doug didn’t decide to play around or for those matters seek “love” he just felt powerful and there were a lot of women working in the brokerage business, mostly secretaries that wanted to have a nice night out. Many of them didn’t make enough money to hit the top nightspots or pay for dinner at the Ambassador East, The Embers or any number of the fine restaurants in Chicago and the invitations by affluent brokers were welcome. The ladies also thought that in some special case they might hit a home run and marry an up and coming broker. While the ladies of the brokerage business would prefer the upscale restaurants for a date they would readily agree to Butch McGuire’s, Rush In, Rush Over, The Surrey or even the Nightcap. Most of the time Doug would have a few drinks and then head for the train station. Sometimes however he would “connect” with a lovely young lady and if her roommates were out on the town he would bed his target lady in her own bedroom. He would then make a hasty retreat to suburbia with the explanation that his wife would kill him if he came home very late one more time.
There was another factor that brought him home and that was
Emlia at the house taking care of the children while Linda went to classes, sometimes night classes for her practitioner nursing degree.
Emlia was from Ecuador, nineteen years old and spoke excellent English. She came to this country as a baby and was an illegal alien. She had graduated from high school but didn’t have the resources to go to college and so she took the full time job with Linda while she figured out what she wanted to be. She and Linda hit it off immediately and of course the kids were easy to love. She was hired before she ever met Doug, he was as I’ve said repeatedly a weekend warrior and of course Emila was not there on the weekends, at least most of the time. One Saturday morning Linda called Emila over to watch the kids because she had a special class on nursing and Doug had a tennis match with one of his office workers. He pulled a muscle during the match and cut the contest short returning home about ten o’clock and finally meeting Emlia. Doug looked pretty good in his tennis whites and needed a little help sitting down because of his pulled muscle.
Doug doesn’t remember what the two of them talked about but they were together for about two hours before Linda came home. When she came in she said; well I see you’ve finally met the weekend warrior. Then she said; why are you back so early? Doug explained the tennis injury and Emlia went home.
A week later Doug had reason to come home during the day, he had left important papers that he needed in the office. This time the connection between the two of them was electric. He took her hand and led her to the bedroom, that’s right the one he shared with Linda. The sex was great; they didn’t really speak [unless you count the moans of pleasure] for twenty minutes. Doug did the usual “I’m sorry” but she cut him off and they said nothing more about it. Fortunately the kids were taking a nap so there were no problems, this time.
That first encounter was on a Thursday and they didn’t communicate in any way until the following Tuesday when he called home and asked if it would be convenient for him to show up about noon. She said yes, nothing else, no why just yes. Of course he showed up and it was a repeat of the Thursday/Saturday encounter. This went on, about once a week for three years. Then one day Emlia told Doug she had a boy friend and the sexual relationship had to end. Surprisingly he was able to accept the end to a very satisfying affair without rancor. Emlia stayed on with the family and Linda was never aware of the affair or the feelings Doug had for her childcare employee.
Linda still did not like Doug’s late nights and occasionally being over-served. The truth was she was having an exciting time finding her nursing talents and the ability to take command of situations, something nursing required if you were going to be a successful registered nurse. Linda was happy with Linda.
Chapter 3 – The Big Move
In two thousand five Doug’s company had a management opening in the Cleveland office, not nearly as sexy as Chicago or for that matter as much business, still he asked for the transfer. Top company management was surprised and yet delighted because Doug was a big winner in Chicago and the cliental in the Cleveland area is very similar to Chicago and Doug’s transfer might give a boost to a very average performing office.
He hoped that this move might save his marriage and to his surprise Linda must have shared that unspoken thought. She was great, finding the new house and, arranging for the sale of the Wheaton home and the moving vans, etc. to the suburbs of Cleveland, Shaker Heights.
Interestingly enough Doug had almost instant success with the Cleveland clients and they shared the wealth because in addition to the bonus checks he got from his firm he invested much like his clients and then he looked for other outside investments in stocks and found that building spec homes was relatively easy. Linda and Doug had developed a taste for Florida and they actually built a small vacation home in Sarasota and they loved it.
I should mention that Doug’s business/social life changed completely in Cleveland. First there were only a few brokers in Cleveland unlike Chicago so there were no regular bar hangouts and the local culture was totally different. People were very family oriented and the only parties he attended were in the neighborhood or at one of the country clubs, but he wouldn’t join because he still hated golf. He tried playing golf in Chicago and was surprised to see that his athletic prowess did not extend to chasing the little white ball around the course.
Linda chose to bring Emila with her from Wheaton. She could afford it and the children looked on Emila as more of a mother than Linda, though they never said that. Linda completed her nurse practitioner curriculum, not unlike a doctor in that she could then prescribe medicines for her patients.
Emlia never mentioned any thing about her boyfriend to Doug and he never asked until she agreed to move to Cleveland and continue on as the West’s nanny. He couldn’t resist asking what happened to her boy friend. She said; I told him about us because we were about to get married and when he found out he left me. He was a Latin whose pride was bruised beyond repair by my revelation. Doug said; I’m stunned and very sorry for your lose. He said to himself, maybe they would reconnect but she read his mind and said; I’m not going to resume our past relationship, I’ve grown to love Linda like a sister and I have too much respect for her to cause her that pain. Doug said; I understand and welcome to Cleveland and a new life. Emlia knew another fact; she was in love with Linda but not as a sister.
The West’s did find another source of fun in their frequent trips to Florida with sailing and deep sea fishing their primary activities. They bought their small vacation house in Sarasota even though they did their sailing and fishing in Tampa. When Doug decided to start building houses he did it because several of the people they met sailing were real estate people and they continued to rave about the market in Florida. Eventually the West’s started subcontracting the building of homes on a spec basis and further put their family’s investments in the vacation state of Florida.
The West’s joined a club called the Polish Yacht Club, it was really a bar and restaurant located in the dock areas in Tampa. The only rule was that you could not own a yacht if you were a member of the club. It was really a middle class drinking location where people could talk about boats, sometimes owning a small sailing or motor craft. Doug found that he and Linda really liked the eclectic mix of people, mostly coming from Middle America. Several people were just like them, from Ohio and more from the Cleveland area than anywhere else in the state. Interestingly enough they didn’t carry their casual relationships from Florida back to Ohio. Florida fun was Florida fun and Ohio family was family and never the twain should meet. It was true that Florida was a “let go, be somewhat wild,” enjoying being a little out of the main stream, sometimes drinking too much or taking risks with their rowboats or deep sea fishing. Mostly it was the beautiful warm afternoon on the deck of the Polish Yacht Club and sharing stories with the other part timers in Florida.
Because Linda was so busy in Cleveland Doug actually spent a little more time at the Sarasota house and of course the club. One of the people Doug met was Laurel Irving, recently divorced and about Doug’s age she was looking for fun, nothing else but fun. She knew Linda and they had shared drinks and war stories about being married. When Linda didn’t come down with Doug, Laurel would still have drinks and on occasion go back to her house that was much closer to the yacht club than Doug’s. Their sexual encounters were for the most part a bit sloppy and yet it was clear there were no ties and they were both satisfied.
On one trip down Linda asked Doug; had Laurel won a big settlement from her divorce and might be interested in joining their investment club, the Doer’s? Doug said he honestly didn’t know and they should approach her with the idea of investment in the club.
Linda actually brought the Doer’s idea up to Laurel at the Polish Yacht Club one night after they had all participated in a rowboat race that was actually somewhat dangerous because most of the participants were drunk. While Linda and Laurel had talked about Laurel’s divorce and lamented the stupidly of men in general and their husbands in particular they hadn’t talked about finances. Linda approached the subject of money carefully saying to Laurel; I hope you buried your asshole ex-husband financially, more a question than a statement. Laurel said; I got the house in Tampa, beneficiary from life insurance policy and half of his stocks and bonds. Linda ask; how is that working out for you? Laurel responded that she didn’t think about the tax issues with the house in Florida and the fact that she didn’t know whether or not her financial advisor who had control of buying and selling her account was actually working for her.
Of course Laurel like most women was very private about her ex-husband and Linda’s questions were intrusive at the least. Laurels husband was named Charles Irving Jr. and he was very close with his family when they first got married. Laurel was not Jewish and so his family was somewhat reluctant to accept her and in fact didn’t have anything in common with her. Laurel worked at a major department store in NYC and was a buyer of formal wear for the store. Charlie was in the rag business as his father had been and so he called on Laurel for business purposes. It was common for buyer and seller to have social relationships and that is what happened between the two of them. Charlie was particularly attentive to her and so they both approached marriage as a logical extension of their day-to-day lives in the rag business. There was romance in the first years of their marriage but sex was mostly a somewhat rote action, not bad, but not a bell ringer. After a few years sexual encounters between them were fewer and fewer. Laurel just didn’t have the nerve to ask if there was something wrong and of course Charlie as a man wouldn’t think of bringing it up.
Finally Laurel began to suspect that Charlie was having an affair but she couldn’t figure out where, when or how. Needless to say a “good friend,” aren’t they always, told her they had run into Charlie and a small group of men at the Seventh Avenue South bar in the lower eastside, Laurel remembered the club as a jazz joint attracting the somewhat seamier side of the Manhattan “in” crowd but her good friend informed her that while they had gone there looking for jazz music they found the club was now a gay gathering spot. Further they had spotted Charlie there with two other gentlemen. Laurel was shocked and didn’t want to believe it but she knew she would have to confront him and get a straight answer…..if you will pardon the pun.
Charlie didn’t deny the question and said that he didn’t believe they needed to change anything in their relationship, continuing their business relationship and personal life with a “normal” heterosexual relationship. She was discussed with the thought of having relationships with him and made it clear by saying that she could not stomach the idea of his penis being inside of her when she knew where it must have been with men. Charlie seemed to expect that kind of an answer from her and asked how did she want to go about getting the divorce. Actually Laurel hadn’t thought about divorce and yet it was so logical. The other feeling she had was a complete inability to understand how Charlie could break the relationship of many years so easily. The answer was of course that he knew it was going to happen at some time and so being the fatalist he is he was doing the logical thing. There was no dispute about the division of property and saved resources, interestingly Laurel didn’t want to get even with him by stripping him of his wealth, she just wanted out. She never admitted to her friends that Charlie was having a gay relationship, even the “friends” that told her about Charlie’s appearance at Seventh Avenue South. She also did not mention it to Linda or Doug. Her sexual encounters with Doug were more a reassurance that she was still a woman that could satisfy a man, a straight man that is.
Linda suggested that Laurel might learn more about the ebb and flow of stocks in particular and business decisions in general if she joined the Doer’s. Laurel said that she couldn’t afford to fly to Cleveland for the regular meetings and Linda responded that she could be wired into the meetings, asking question, voting on purchases, etc. without leaving her home. Further Linda said that when she came down to Florida with Doug she could meet with Laurel and go over the numbers in person plus give her a heads up on future projects they would be working on. Laurel decided to join and asked what the initial investment would be. Linda suggested five thousand dollars and Laurel made out the check to The Doers and she was in.
The West’s experiences in Florida also became a subject of conversations back in Shaker Heights and the neighborhood parties.
Linda was shining in the neighbor party circuit and had developed social graces appropriate for Shaker Heights. Shaker Heights is a little suburb of Cleveland on the east side with twenty six thousand population and a great golf club you may have seen on national television for national golf tournaments. It also turned out that the parties in Shaker Heights and her work as a patient advocate really helped as she developed the investment club. She had recently added Laurel Irving to the club from Florida and there was no reason to believe she couldn’t add more investors outside the geographic area of greater Cleveland
The truth is between his bonuses, the booming home market and Linda’s new job at the Cleveland clinic as a patient advocate they were doing well and living relatively high.
Linda had met some very bright and successful doctors and administrators in the clinic and they were involved in investment club’s that are a popular activity across the country.
Investment clubs had been started in the late sixties and they made great sense. Collective consideration of stock performance and careful investments made for modest financial success and a good feeling among the members of the clubs.
They would meet in a somewhat social setting every three or four weeks looking at stocks and approving very small amounts of investment.
The people that Linda recruited were a mix of different ethnic and educational backgrounds. I shouldn’t say recruited but rather offered a intriguing new opportunity to break away from the mundane day to day life that was upper middle income in Shaker Heights.
One of the people that Linda got close to and brought into the investment club was from a strong Catholic background. Shelia Farnsworth, whose maiden name was Brezzile and was originally from New Jersey. She met her husband, Bruce at College in Albany New York. She was the first in the family to attend college. Her father was an appliance salesman in a Wards store in Trenton New Jersey and her mother was a secretary in a law office in Trenton. Bruce was from an upper income family in White Plains New York and followed in his family footsteps by going to Union College in upstate New York. Shelia went to Union on a full scholarship and was actually much smarter than her soon to be husband. The religious difference, he was a First Baptist and she as a Catholic was pronounced but he had committed to a wedding in her church and a promise to raise her children Catholic. While Bruce and his family weren’t really big into religion they didn’t like the idea of Bruce becoming a Catholic let alone their grandchildren. Of course love conquered all and they were married in the Catholic Church and their children were raised Catholic. The problem for Sheila was that she had never decided what to do beyond college. She had a high IQ but no outlet for her mind to work on and solve problems. Bruce provided well for her as an attorney and the Catholic Church was well represented in the greater Cleveland area so she was isolated except in the intellectual sense. The investment club was a true relief for Sheila and she took to it like a fish to water. She was also good at looking at numbers and evaluating business statements, particularly those statements cloaked in double talk. She really liked and admired Linda and spent as much time as Linda could spare with her, learning to open her horizons. I should mention that Shelia brought more investment opportunities to the club than any of the other members and her husband was very proud of her participation and success in the Doer’s.
Most of the other members of the Doer’s were not as enthusiastic or as good as Sheila. Some of the members actually joined because they had heard of Dr. Clark, a local hero in the medical field was involved so they wanted to be part of the club.
Doug actually couldn’t invest directly because he was a broker but it didn’t stop Linda who was participating and he of course slipped her information when he had some insight into an investment category or global trend.
To summarize, he was knocking down some big bonus checks, His stock investments were doing well, the spec house business was rolling along. Linda had moved from the Cleveland Clinic to the Tucker Clinic because she had a smaller group of patients to deal with and a generally better paying gig as nursing gig’s go.
However Doug’s line of credit was over extended and if the bonus checks had not been coming in the call on his spec houses would have broken him financially. He like so many in the country did not see any end to prosperity in all areas, stock, homes and venture capital efforts which brings me to the cruxes of his story.
Chapter 4 – The Big Collapse
In 2008 we watched the stock market go down hill but since Doug was in the business he had hints of what was happening and so he moved money to mutual funds, treasury notes and bonds that secured somewhat his financial future but took away those big payoffs. His spec house investments were still working out well although he had put all of his real estate investments in Florida. However the Florida real estate market was getting shaky but he was hopeful he would continue to clear good profits from the sales and he would be able to reinvest those profits into more spec homes.
Linda was totally aware of the decrease in income but like Doug she was confident that with the bonds and mutual funds and with careful management of their income they should be OK.
As I said before, the investment club was not an unusual activity for middle to high-income families to participate in. It usually gave the wife a feeling of being in business with a minimum of financial risks. Linda actually had thirteen people in her club after just two years in existence. Most of the members were from the Shaker Heights area plus three from the clinic where Linda worked. The club was pretty successful with about an eight percent return on the clubs money and no one family had more than a few thousand dollars in the investment pool. However when the stock market and debt crisis started to show itself to some of the members who were losing jobs or huge amounts in the stock market dropped out of the club.
Linda’s investment group had been having more and more problems with investing. The group was growing smaller with people dropping out when a short calls came through and they had to tap their savings to cover their call margins. The market changes had spurred the group to try a more “entrepreneurial” nature as the numbers of members grew smaller and the risks went higher.
One of the first to drop out of the club was Shelia and Bruce. Shelia had read the signs in the market and she was quick to get out. She also tried to warn Linda because she admired her and didn’t want to see her get hurt financially. However her biggest concern was with her husband whose business was mostly with small businesses providing parts and supplies to the auto industry and that business was taking a big hit. Bruce actually thought the auto business was going to come back and so was resentful of Sheila’s observations and recommendations to diverse his client base. By the time Bruce could acknowledge that Sheila’s recommendations were correct the family was in deep financial trouble. Sheila was willing, almost eager to downsize the house and seek work based on her college degree in an advertising agency at an entry level. She was actually lucky to get the position because advertising agencies were suffering major budget cut backs by their clients and downsizing as well.
Another club member, Donna Brazil and her husband Phil had been late additions to the club but was very enthusiastic about the object of the investments the club was making and put a little more in than other members. Linda had met the Brazil’s at the gym where she worked out. The Brazils were health nuts and Phil was in great shape but Donna was not buff, after four children and like Linda she worked in the nursing profession. She and Phil both wanted the investment club to actually be productive. Like so many recently successful in business, he owned a franchised cell phone store and was under pressure to build more locations. His franchise contract called for him to build three stores within a three-year period or he lost his earnest money of fifty thousand dollars. Still he couldn’t gain enough business or raise enough capital to meet his obligation; maybe the investment club would help them make their nut.
The Brazil’s were spending to their maximum income and trying to stay up with “the Jones’s” when the market started to go down. The Brazil’s were immediately panicked similar to people in Vegas who should have been attending Gamblers Anonymous but instead were doubling down on investments in a time when the market was plummeting. The Brazils were prime targets for a high-risk high reward venture like Linda was about to present to the club.
One night Linda came home very excited. It seems the one doctor in the group; Sloan Clark had recommended a unique investment approach, “Life Settlements.” She said proudly; investing in death was the next big market for investors who do good research and negotiate a deal that guarantees big returns!
Dr. Sloan Clark was, is the epitome of a successful doctor. He is six-foot tall, wavy black hair, dark black eyes and the apple of every female nurse’s eye at the Cleveland Clinic. While he is married his wife did not participate in the investment club and since he knew Linda best they gravitated to each other.
Despite being forty nine years old Linda continued to be very attractive and she was attracted to him, probably more for his power in the Cleveland market health business but yes a little for his good looks. Doctor Clark on the other hand had many flings and so he was hesitant to mix the business of the investment club and romance, at least for the immediate future.
As I said; Sloan and Linda had been looking at more entrepreneurial ways to invest. Naturally they had looked to the health care field because it was booming as a business and it was an area they knew well. The good doctor was the first to bring up the life settlement business. In short order they decided that the area they wanted to pursue was people with life insurance policies of some size that were older and generally in poor health. People who would sell their life insurance policies for cash surrender value above the stated amounts in their insurance policy and freedom from the premiums they had to pay for that life insurance policy.
Linda flew down to Florida to talk with Laurel Irving about the life settlement investment idea, after all she had promised to keep her up on new investment ideas. Laurel actually knew about the life settlement business from her ex-husband, a business he invested in. She didn’t know if or how the business was paying off but she did admire her ex’s abilities in business and so gave her approval to invest in this project if the majority would go along with it.
Linda dubbed Sloan “doctor death,” trying to lighten the perceived stigma associated with capitalizing on some person dying in order for the club to make money. The rest of the members as they became comfortable with the idea of betting on the actuarial tables to make big money also called him “Dr. Death.”
At this point in time the club had been in a state of flux because of the marketplace and the declining economy. Some like Sheila and Bruce had tried to sell their club membership in essence unloading their stocks but they didn’t have much luck. Other members did the unforgivable, they just dropped out. However there were about five Doer’s members that due to financial situations or a willingness to risk money for an exceptional return were enthusiastic backers of the life settlement business plan.
Now getting into the life settlement business wasn’t as difficult as it might appear.
Most investors become concerned about government regulations and with good cause, one could make a huge investment and lose it all with one decision from the government. The biggest concern is the Securities and Exchange Commission. If they identified life settlement deals as a process that had to be presented and listed by a registered securities brokers the deal would be dead. This issue went by the boards when the group made the decision to only make life settlements in Ohio. It turns out that in Ohio life settlements fall under the insurance commission. Fortunately there were two lawyers in the investment group and one was a registered insurance agent in the state and very familiar with the insurance commission rules. The other lawyer, Don had a contact in Florida with a firm that had individual investments for private parties that were usually higher risk, higher reward projects. Don explained to the investment group about this small venture capital group in Florida that was investing in life settlements and showing returns of from fifteen to eighteen percent for their investors. The Florida firm of Katz, Kimmel and Schwartz offered to take the investment clubs money in on the life settlement business.
Chapter 5 – Acquiring Funds
The problem for the club was that life settlement investments required much larger financial commitments than their normal five or ten thousand dollar investment and many of the members were hesitant to get in that deep. I mention that the name of the investment club was the “Doers.” The club in its formative stages was reluctant to actually make a financial commitment on projects recommended by other members and they were dubbed “the thinkers’ that lost out on good opportunities. Some of the more sophisticated investors threatened to drop out if the members didn’t stop thinking and become doers. It worked; peer pressure that infers an investor is not a smart risk taker can make someone move. By the way most investment groups in that period of time often had names like the “Blue Hairs” or “Bald is Better”, in any case the Doer’s were about to put up a lot more money than what they had in the past when Linda and Sloan came up with a “better idea.”
Linda and Dr. Death decided the club should go direct rather than take small shares of the K,K&S deal. Further the club should make the life settlement deal direct with the client/patient and make the big time money by not paying the management fees to K.K&S. or any other company. So what are big time earnings? Well this is the time to explain what the potential results of investing in death really are.
However before they could make the transition they needed an investor in the club that is licensed to file the necessary papers with the Ohio Insurance commission. Don found an agent Warren Sym’s who was young, twenty-five and really anxious to make some big money. He had heard of life settlement and with very little research he confirmed that the program was workable for him and he could easily handle the filings. Doug gave Warren a special deal; he could share in the profits from the life settlement business with a five percent share of the profits in exchange for his insurance filing. These payments would have to be under the table because Warren was not part of the club.
Chapter 6 – Life Settlements
People who have large life insurance polices, one to five million dollars in payouts usually started at a very young age with life insurance provided by the company they worked for and frankly it never occurred to them that as they grew older the premiums go up and in there late fifties, early sixties might be facing a hundred thousand a year or more in payments.
Google offers an explanation of what kind of insurance polices investors is willing to buy.
What types of life insurance policies does Life Settlement Financial buy?
Life Settlement Financial includes these types of life insurance policies that insure the lives of one or more individuals into the portfolios
1. Universal life insurance
2. Whole life insurance
3. Term insurance that can be converted to permanent whole life insurance
4. BOLI (bank owned life insurance) used to insure bank officers and provide collateral for monies borrowed at a bank or other financial institution after the loan is paid off
5.“Key Man” insurance used to insure the life of a business owner or key employee
6. COLI (company owned life insurance) used to protect an executive’s value in a non-qualified deferred compensation (NQDC) program after funds have been paid and the insurance often allowed to lapse
7. Second-to-die life insurance often used for estate planning liquidity when the insurance is no longer needed for estate tax purposes.
Investors in about the year 2000 started offering the policy owners cash plus assuming the hefty premium payments for the total payout on their life insurance policy. In other words say an individual, 70 years old with a bad heart and a one million dollar life insurance policy would get a cash settlement of $250,000 plus he or she would be freed up from the premium payments. Why would an insured agree to lose so much of a life insurance policy? Well in this example the insured has been “retired” for five or more years, on a very small pension and his social security. On the negative side they had mounting health bills, drastically declining home or other real estate investments values. They were selling everything they could to free themselves from payments on real estate and premiums on life insurance policy’s. Consequently the deal sounds good and in fact it is a good deal given his or her financial and health status.
The key of course for the investor is estimating how long the insured will live, something good doctors with access to the medical records and a look at actuarial tables should be able to predict within one year. So in the example I used they have premium payment of $32,000 a year for an estimated three year of life expectancy or just under a hundred thousand dollars plus the $250,000 to the insured for an out of pocket for the club of about $350,000 with a pay out of one million to the club, a tax-free profit of $650,000. That is if it all works as predicted by Dr. Death and Linda and they have the ability to identify potential candidates. In essence it is an actuarial casino with a substantial potential win, much more than any traditional investment for a much shorter exposure of your original investment. A 65% profit in three years!
Selecting the candidates turned out to be more difficult than they had anticipated. Doctor Clark was the first to realize that as his liability insurance premiums were reaching one hundred fifty thousand a year his patients would be under scrutiny if they were to pass away without a logical explanation or even an autopsy. Linda on the other hand was in a perfect position to see medical records without arousing suspicion. She also had the added advantage of meeting with the patients and drawing important information that normally falls under the category of privacy issues, a growing factor in the health care field.
In fact the privacy issue was a major problem. Employers started to ask employees and potential employees personal questions like; do you have any alcoholism in your family or mental illness. Companies saw their health care cost rising at a frantic rate as their business profits were being squeezed. They were looking for a way to alleviate the costs of health care. Life insurance policies fell under the category of health care and so in the last ten years companies that had offered life insurance fully paid as a perk were eliminating the life insurance policies or offering them on a shared cost basis. Then there was the issue of whole life verses term life insurance polices. Some of the insurance offered by employers was term, short-term, usually ten years to twenty years at relatively low rates and there was no cash build up during the term of the insurance. Whole life on the other hand has a type of equity or cash face value and if the employee wants to continue the policy after his or her service with the company is terminated he or she does that by continuing to pay the premiums. So the target for the invest club was older people with whole life insurance policies and people who were sickly even for their age.
The truth is that more and more life insurance is being offered to top executives and usually as part of a tax dodge to help pay key people without any tax penalties.
Meanwhile from the investment club’s business perspective the logical targets were those older patients who have had company whole life insurance policies paid for initially by the companies they work for.
One of the things Dr. Clark brought to the club that had real value were the actuarial tables that dramatically shows the life cycle of humans in the United States marketplace.
The following statistics and observations are from the sources indicated and reinforce what may be the obvious observations by Dr. Clark that age and diseases reduce life expectancy in the age category of 65 to 75.
U.S. News and World Report Causes of Death.
More than 2.4 million Americans died in 2006, including nearly 1.8 million people ages 65 and older. Among this older group, the five leading causes of death were heart disease (29 percent), cancer (22 percent), strokes and other blood-vessel issues in the brain (7 percent), respiratory disease (6 percent), and Alzheimer’s disease (4 percent). Over time, Alzheimer’s will move toward the top of this list.
Illinois Department of Public health Statistics
Because men usually develop heart disease 10 to 15 years earlier than women, men are more likely to die of it in the prime of life. (American Heart Association)
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women.
Nearly 700,000 people die of heart disease annually – the equivalent of 29 percent of all deaths in the United States. (CDC)
About a quarter of all heart-disease-related deaths occur in men ages 35 to 65. (CDC)
In 2004, heart disease was the cause of death for 410,628 males. (American Heart Association)
In 2003, nearly 288,000 men died of cancer in the U.S., the second-leading cause of death for both sexes. (CDC)
Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death for both men and women. (CDC)
Cigarette smoking causes Ninety percent of lung cancer. (CDC)
In 2003, 89,964 men died of lung cancer. (CDC
In 2004, more than 58,000 men died of stroke (American Heart Association).
About 700,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke in the United States each year and more than 150,000 of these people die (American Heart Association).
About 5.7 million U.S. stroke survivors are alive today, many with permanent stroke-related disabilities (American Heart Association).
As of 2005, 10.9 million or 11 percent of all men aged 20 years or older in the United States had diabetes (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates about 2 to 4 times higher than adults without diabetes. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Heart disease and stroke account for about 65 percent of deaths in people with diabetes. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults 20 to 74 years of age. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, accounting for 44 percent of new cases in 2002. In 2002, 44,400 people with diabetes began treatment for end-stage kidney disease in the United States and Puerto Rico. The risk for stroke is 2 to 4 times higher among people with diabetes. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Non-modifiable Risk Factors
Person-years lived by the hypothetical life table cohort within an age
Table A. Expectation of life by age, race, and sex: United States, 2007
All races White Black
Age Total Male Female Total Male Female Total Male Female
0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77.9 75.4 80.4 78.4 75.9 80.8 73.6 70.0 76.8
1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77.5 74.9 79.9 77.8 75.4 80.2 73.6 70.1 76.8
5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73.6 71.0 76.0 73.9 71.4 76.3 69.7 66.2 72.9
10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68.6 66.1 71.0 68.9 66.5 71.3 64.7 61.2 67.9
15 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63.7 61.1 66.1 64.0 61.6 66.3 59.8 56.3 63.0
20 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58.8 56.4 61.2 59.2 56.8 61.5 55.0 51.7 58.1
25 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54.1 51.8 56.3 54.4 52.2 56.6 50.4 47.2 53.3
30 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49.4 47.1 51.5 49.7 47.5 51.7 45.8 42.7 48.5
35 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44.6 42.5 46.7 44.9 42.8 46.9 41.2 38.2 43.8
40 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39.9 37.8 41.9 40.2 38.1 42.1 36.7 33.8 39.1
45 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35.4 33.3 37.2 35.6 33.6 37.4 32.3 29.5 34.6
50 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30.9 29.0 32.7 31.1 29.2 32.8 28.1 25.4 30.4
55 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26.7 24.9 28.2 26.8 25.1 28.4 24.2 21.7 26.3
60 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.5 20.9 23.9 22.6 21.0 24.0 20.6 18.3 22.4
65 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18.6 17.2 19.9 18.7 17.3 19.9 17.2 15.2 18.7
70 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.0 13.7 16.0 15.0 13.8 16.0 14.0 12.4 15.2
75 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.7 10.6 12.5 11.7 10.6 12.4 11.2 9.9 12.1
In this example I’m sure you’ll see that in this case males in the seventy year old category the life expectancy falls dramatically and it made sense to the club investors as it would to anyone that has aging parents, uncles and aunts.
Doctor Clark added to the visual effect of the high rate of death among older patients, patients with specific illnesses. Further he pointed out that cancer and heart disease are more related to the 70-75 age group than any other; people over 75 become more prone to impairments of hearing, vision, mobility and mental function. Over 80% of circulatory disease deaths occur in people over 65. Worldwide, circulatory disease is the leading cause of death and disability in people over 65 years. Dr. Clark provided many charts and graphs all proving the obvious, older, sicker people die faster. The net affect was to clarify the fact that older people with life settlements and with the leading diseases among older people is potentially a good business venture.
I might add that on a percentage basis very few people actually buy and maintain premium payments on their own. They buy life insurance when they have their first child or a worried wife insist that she has some protection if the husband dies because she is a stay at home wife and mother. In many cases the premiums become too big a cost and their policy is quietly dropped.
Chapter 7 – The “ But” in Life Settlements
The allure to this investment in the certainly of death is pretty clear BUT what happens when things don’t go as planned and like Doug and Linda you are in deep financial trouble.
The Doers had accelerated their investments driven by
Sloan. Linda and Sloan did a careful review of the medical records of potential life settlement candidates.
Linda was able to pick out candidates with sever health problems and substantial life insurance polices. Doctor Death would verify the medical records and plot the medical information against actuarial census information. Eventually this decision to use census information proved to be a problem of calculating accurately the life cycle of potential life settlement candidates for the club investments. The bottom line was that census actuarial tables presented longer life potential than health actuaries.
The investment group had acquired the rights to approximately twenty million dollars in life insurance policy’s with an approximate financial commitment to pay premiums on the twenty million of life insurance of two million dollars a year.
If they failed to make the premium payments the Doer’s could not collect on the life insurance policy’s, they could not get back the two point five million in one time payments to the insured and if any of the insured lived beyond their actuarial estimates premium costs will continue at a rate of one million a year, money none of them had. The club disbanded but the obligations remained to those who had participated in the life insurance program and while there were varying degrees of participation Dr Sloan and the West’s had the lions share. Warren Syms was unaware of the details in the life settlement plans and he didn’t care because he didn’t invest any of his own money and he was going to get his five percent no matter what.
Now Dr. Death had suffered in the real estate market and his stocks had disappeared. He had moved money to mutual funds and bonds like Doug had done but over all his practice had not suffered and he was able to continue to make premium payments on the insured he took as his own projects. The rest of the club members like Doug and Linda tried to sell off their insured using Dr. Death’s medical review and actuarial tables.
Some former members were able to sell off their small percentages in the life insurance business but most of them lost money and some had invested their entire 401 K plans or other retirement programs and they were for all practical purposes broke.
It wasn’t that simple for the West’s and Dr. Clark, they had seven million in life insurance clients wrapped up in three insured clients. Their annual premium payments were approximately two hundred fifty thousand a year and they had invested another one million seven hundred fifty thousand in one time payments to the insured, something they could never get back and it drained their financial resources to the bottom. Of course all of their investment calculations were based on Dr Sloan Clarks review of the clients medical records and the census actuarial tables. If just one of the insured died this year they would have enough money to pay the premiums for another year for the two remaining insured. None of the three insured died and the premiums were all due. While Dr. Death had a better financial base than Doug and Linda he also had a bigger nut than the West’s.
Here’s how it works. A man or Woman has a life insurance policy and as they get older their premiums go up. Now in 2008 many with big life insurance policies also had big investments in the stock market or real estate and they were losing on all fronts. Many were giving up life insurance policies from one million to five million dollars because they just didn’t have the cash to pay their ever-rising premiums. The premiums were in many cases $100,000 a year or more and the owners were generally older with many illnesses that promised to shorten their life. The doctor’s idea was not to invest in the various investments firms offering to buy these life insurance policies but rather to have the investment club fund the program on an individual-by-individual basis. Doug had to admit he was very doubtful about capitalizing on a person’s death. On the other hand his brokerage business was going bust. His staff had been reduced by half, and revenues were off seventy percent from two thousand seven. In essence his income had been wiped out at the bonus level and he couldn’t maintain his day-to-day living expenses let alone the cost of maintaining the life settlement premiums. Further he was noticing that the spec houses were taking longer and longer to sell. This idea required a big investment [paying the monthly or yearly premiums] but the majority of the life insurance policies would go to their investment group now consisting of five active members; the Laurel Irving, the West’s and Dr. Clark and Warren Syms. This would mean millions of dollars with no tax obligations and if they judged correctly based on medical information they could obtain using Linda’s clinic experience as a patient advocate and most recently as nurse practitioner and doctor Sloan’s expertise, they would be successful.
Everything was going well, they found a few very good candidates with big life insurance policies, they paid the premiums and they waited.
While they waited Doug experienced some further financial problems. He had walked away from the brokerage firm because of the drop in value for the average salesmen and while his mutual funds were safe his real estate investments were about to kill him financially. The spec homes sales that had been bringing in about a million dollars per home suddenly stopped. Doug had of course built these homes on credit and paid the bills with his bonus checks but now there were no more bonus checks and the profits from one spec house wasn’t there to cover debts for the other houses in his spec program. Now Doug was selling some mutual funds from his portfolio to help make the insurance premium payments.
To make things worse the people they had selected to fund life insurance polices weren’t dieing, at least not on the actuarial table that the doctor partner has set to justify a very large cash payments of insurance premiums.
At this point Doug is in a severe financial bind. He has three spec houses he can’t sell; he is converting some mutual funds to cover debts and some living costs. He sells his house In Shaker Heights, Linda has been laid off and they have lost her very good income. Doug and Linda moved to their vacation house in Sarasota The pain this caused was a surprise to both of them since they didn’t think they would miss their neighbors but they did. They missed the parties and the neighborhood friendship. The loss of their friends paled in comparison to the fact that they didn’t have enough money to cover their part of the life insurance payments they have contracted for. What can they do?
Chapter -8- The Question
This might be the time to address the question everyone should have; how could educated people with strong moral backgrounds even consider profiting from people who were truly hurting. So many of the insurance policy holders had counted on these insurance policies to take care of family members in later life, to pay off debts and to give that sense of security that goes with a million or more dollars. None of them had counted on the premium going so high as to cost more than their monthly income from retirement funds and savings. The insurance company was notifying the policyholders that if they didn’t pay their premiums on time they would lose all the money they or their companies had invested in them for that big payoff. Most didn’t know what to do and assumed they would lose the payouts until some entrepreneurs in the investment field came up with the idea of buying the insurance policy from older, sick policy holders. Not a pretty picture on a moral level or humanitarian basis. People, policy holders knowing that in accepting relief from the insurance premiums and cash lump sum payment they would have companies, investor groups watching them, waiting for them to die. The sooner the insured died the faster the investors will be paid off. Having said all of that it was obvious that Sloan, Doug and Linda were facing their own premium shortfall and the potential loss of their homes. There was also the children’s education, most importantly for Sloan, his sterling reputation and possibly the loss of his medical practice. So while it appears harsh at the outset for these conspirators to so quickly agree to profit off the pain of others they were desperate. I might add that they did not create the idea but simply found a way to make it work for them, at least initially.
The conversation that caused the three to decide to kill life settlement holders went like this; Sloan said; I never thought of myself being religious but I keep wondering will I go to hell if I help murder someone. Logic says that heaven and hell are the product of superstition and lack of education. On the other hand I can’t shake the thought that I might be wrong and in that case hell awaits me. Linda said; I know it is wrong to even think about killing someone let alone doing it but I just can’t face our financial situation. The thought that my kids can’t finish college unless they quit school and work for some years to pay for the remainder of their schooling is too terrible to contemplate. Then I think about declaring bankruptcy, something that seems inevitable under the current economy. I don’t want to lose my life style and so I think about the people we are considering killing. The truth is that these people are going to die sometime and their future; particularly those that are sick and we are in a sense helping them out of their pain. Doug chimed in; you are full of shit! We are taking a calculated risk that we don’t get caught, sure we have research on our side as well as medical expertise but if we are caught, we are dead. The thought of any of us getting the needle Is pretty far fetched but life in prison is not. We also have to carry the secret of actions to the grave. Most importantly we cannot suffer with guilt after we have murdered the number of people we need to kill to keep our lifestyle. Linda, I know you keep a diary but none of what we do can go into that book. Sloan thought about the conversation for while
and said; Doug has hit the nail on the head. We have made a decision and we must follow the plans we make and no recriminations after the deed is done. All three put their hands in the middle like a basketball huddle then broke away, somewhat embarrassed. There would be more conversations in the future about what they are going to do but this was the decision-making conversation.
What Doug needs to do is acquire some funds to cover his mounting debts and get free of the funds he has committed to the “life insurance” business. It is clear that all of Doug’s financial problems center on the investment club that seems to have taken over his life.
No one died, was there some way out?
Chapter -9- The Way Out?
The doctor, Doug and Linda sat down to see what if anything they would or could do. They couldn’t sell off any other property, there was absolutely no cash flow for Doug and the premiums were due. Doctor Sloan asked if Doug could layoff some of the spec home construction to banks or land speculators with a better financial base. Doug replied that they had researched various financial firms and had some meetings with possible venture capital companies but never was able to get a legitimate offer. Doug said; I believe the banks and financial institutions are facing the same problems that we faced, a bad economy. The truth is that we have no other alternative but to “cash in” on some of these life settlement deals.
No one wanted to deal with the idea of causing the death of one of his or her clients. However as they talked they realized they might be able to solve all of their financial problems with an “accidental death” and do it as quickly as possible.
As the three talked they came to the conclusion that if the deaths were medically untraceable and in concert with the census actuarial table projections they would be clear of blame and financially sound again. Their deaths would be a real end to their problems. But how and when do the deaths occur?
Sloan had access to all insured clients and he could examine them on some pretext to select the most eligible for death.
Chapter 10 – People Who Need to Die
Kris Clemson was seventy-six old, three heart attacks, a defibrillator and very high blood pressure. Kris was a “character” in Cleveland high society, if there was a high society in Cleveland. Kris’s wife was a beauty, several years younger than Kris. Her name was Chris or Chrissie as her husband called her. They seemed to love each other and Kris made certain that his wife had the best of everything, good tennis instructor, horseback riding school, beauty parlor access, and an indoor swimming pool so she could stay in shape year round. They went on frequent trips overseas before his heart attacks but travel had been curtailed after the heart problems with good reason, there had been sever damage to his aorta and a series of meds had been added to his daily regimen, something he hated but his wife assiduously pursued three times a day.
Dr. Clark called Kris in to the office on the basis of some break through meds that he was testing. Kris came and brought his wife for the conference. Chrissie asked; Dr. Clark is this new medicine safe since it is an experimental program? Dr. Clark said; I’m not certain I can answer this question correctly because there are always risks but we need to weigh life style against risks. Kris said that the changes he has made after the heart attacks have materially affected his life and more importantly his wife’s life. Chrissie of course denied any problems and said she had adjusted nicely to the changes. Chris said that was malarkey, their love life was non-existent and he didn’t like it anymore that she did. Chrissie said; I love Kris but I won’t take chances and since we can’t use Viagra because of the current list of meds that included ace inhibitors causing severe side affects what was their choice. Dr Clark said; I don’t want to make any promises Kris can’t keep but it is possible with these new test meds he could regain full sexual activity.
This issue was more important than it appeared with the almost casual statement about their sex life. They both smiled at the statement and went on with more detail discussions about the process of this experimental medicine.
When Kris and Chrissie got home Kris said I’m sorry that we have never discussed the sexual void in our life before even though we both knew it was a very big gap in our relationship. Chrissie responded; I’m not sure why I couldn’t talk about this because it is important, maybe I was afraid of dealing with the final answer or I was afraid to say that oral sex was satisfactory but whatever the reason I’m sorry. Kris responded; I married a younger woman, beautiful and sensual, I always knew I might get too old to “service” you. I was truly afraid you would find sexual satisfaction with some one else and I love you too much to even think of you being with someone else. Chrissie responded by saying; what can I say, I want to make love to you and I want you to be able to make love to me, maybe this experimental drug will do the trick. Kris finally said; well the children are set financially with my business as you are so let’s take the risk, after all I want my life to be as close to normal as possible and take full advantage of my relationship with you.
It was settled. Dr. Clark had the first victim and Kris had his hope for the future.
Kris had a million dollar life insurance policy that Dr. Clark had purchased via the investment club in exchange for two hundred fifty thousand in cash that he need for his youngest daughter’s wedding and honeymoon. Kris’s daughter, Darlene was from a previous marriage as were his two sons, Dan and Dean. The children did not get along with their stepmother who was much closer in age to them.
The children were almost mean when it came to Chrissie, they didn’t believe she loved him and they were most worried that their stepmother was after the money and they would be cut out of the company and the insurance money. Darlene was particularly upset and in the heat of the wedding planning told Chrissie what she thought; Chrissie you are a money grubbing gold digger and I’m surprised you didn’t get dad to stop paying for my wedding. Chrissie wasn’t surprised at the diatribe and said; how can you be so selfish, your father has major health problems and that should be your only concern. I expect your brothers to be detached from the family and me but not you, you’re a woman and smart and you shouldn’t be so self-centered. For what it is worth your father has made ample financial arrangements for you and your brothers and one other thing. In the event, and God forbid your father passes away in the near future, provisions have been made for me to own the majority stock in your father’s company and I will continue to run it as I do now. If you ever want to participate in the company you better get a grip on your self and accept the fact that your father loves me and you will do well to accept that fact and me as well. That was the last time she had any trouble with Darlene.
Since the children were raised at a level of wealth Darlene expected a first class wedding and Kris was happy to oblige. The opportunity to sell his life insurance policy was opportune because it offered a lump sum of cash, more than enough to cover the wedding and the honeymoon.
Kris could probably make his premium payments on the life insurance policy even though they had reached forty two thousand a year but he felt that his estate was in fine shape and his young wife and children would do fine taking over his marketing business. Besides he had other life insurance policies that paid directly to his wife and three children. While Kris didn’t need the cash disbursement he did need money for the wedding. He had no interest in dieing so he came to the meeting with some positive expectations about the new medicine. Clark really did have some experimental meds for heart patients but it hadn’t been extensively tested and he had doubts about its safety.
Clark went ahead with the experimental treatment since he and his wife agreed that it was worth the risk. Kris was admitted to the program with the proviso that he releases the hospital; the drug developer and the doctor administrating the drug were protected from any negative reactions including death. Interestingly, the insurance company could not void the life insurance policy because it was a legitimate effort to save or improve his life style.
The treatment that was conducted was out patient surgery, the medicine had to be inserted between his defibrillator and his heart in order for it to work. Kris’s death during the procedure was unexpected by Dr. Clark as much as the drug manufacturer representative that attended the procedure. Dr. Clark did not intentionally do anything to cause the death and in the autopsy it was revealed that the level of the experimental drug overwhelmed the heart muscle and caused a fatal convulsion of the heart.
Dr. Clark met with Chrissie; I’m very sorry to tell you that the procedure failed and the worst-case scenario occurred, Kris lost his life. Chrissie cried; I was so selfish to let the idea of a normal love life cause me to agree with such a risky procedure. Sloan said; Kris wanted that normal life as much as you and he knew the risks he was taking, it is just a tragedy that he passed away. Don’t blame your self and forgive the practice of medicine for failing this time. Chrissie said that she didn’t blame Dr. Clark, they knew what the risks were and they had lost. She went on to say; I don’t know what I’m going to tell the children, they have never liked me and always felt I was somewhat sort of a gold digger even though I was an integral part of the marketing company Kris owned and I was financially secure on my own. Again the doctor said; Chrissie, I feel terrible but I just don’t know what to say.
The policy was paid to the investment club as it stood with just five members; Doug, Linda, Dr. Clark, Laural Irving and Warren Syms.
Chapter – 11 – One Down
The death and payment helped Dr Clark and the West’s to meet the other commitments for the life insurance business. Laurel got a percentage of the profits and Warren got his five percent. In essence the conspirators minus Laurel, and that is what they now were, conspirators in this murder plot for money, had taken the first big step. The doctor agreed they should be able to kill more of the clients they had but the doctor could not participate directly or the authorities would become suspicious. When they performed the autopsy on Clemson, Clark was worried, it was his nightmare and while he came out clean he just couldn’t take the risk with one of his patients. The next job was picking out the insured that would offer the easiest access to killing and in this case it must be a Doug and Linda client. They needed the money.
Of the three clients they had left the most desirable for death would be the five million dollar policyholder, Chet Welsh. Chet had recently been “retired” by his media agency and he was going through a divorce. His five million dollar life insurance policy had been paid for by the company and now with his departure he would have to make those premium payments himself.
The problem was that Chet was a young, sixty-five and his medical diagnosis was an aorta aneurysm that had been fixed by surgery. His only concern was aneurysms in his legs that could rupture and so he was a regular visitor to Dr. Clark. No one could figure out how to kill him so he was set-aside for other candidates. Doug and Linda still needed money.
Chapter -12 – Target Two
Candidate number two was a very successful businesswoman, Sherry Baumgartner, forty-two years old. Sherry had been diagnosed with a stomach tumor that threatened to burst, it was controlled by meds until Sherry’s general health was good enough to be operated on. She saw Linda every week for shots and an evaluation of her general health that had been deteriorating. In fact Linda was the one that suggested to Sherry that if she had an insurance policy The Doer’s might be able to buy the policy with cash payment to Sherry. It turns out Sherry’s business had suffered like everyone else an she was about to layoff key creative people in her company, people she felt she couldn’t lose.
Sherry was a piece of work, as they like to say. She was ambitious from the outset getting an athletic scholarship to Michigan State University in track; she became a four-point o student for her entire four years of school. She was the first in her family to attend college and she was going to make the most of it. Her mother worked in a shopping center in Dearborn Michigan and her father had passed away when she was twelve leaving her as head of the household. She seemed to have one flaw; she seemed to irritate her female classmates and that carried through as she entered the work force. She was very successful in early positions in advertising agencies and publishing companies. Men liked her as much as women found her irritating.
Unfortunately Sherry picked the wrong type of men. She met her “true love” at a coffee shop, Lucky off of Lincoln Park in Tremont. If she had lived in New Orleans it would have been the Café du monde, a lower east side bistro in Manhattan or a Starbucks in Chicago. Young professional women often like to find a place where they can read a paper or a book, sip coffee and looked sophisticated and in this case it was Lucky’s in Cleveland. Harold “Bud” Sherman was a good-looking, easy talking man who for some reason shared a fondness for Lucky’s. Sherry was at a table for four and of course alone. Bud asked if he could sit down and she allowed him to do so but with a somewhat lofty “suit yourself.” Bud immediately liked her, she had that frosted voice and cool look that belied the fact that she was very insecure, the usual target for Bud when he was looking for a new conquest. Sherry couldn’t help but be impressed by Bud’s looks and his easy way. Eventually Bud asked her what kind of work she did and that question unlocked a flood of words about her schooling, her aspirations and her current position as an owner of a boutique-advertising agency. Bud let her go on for at least an hour. He was a good listener. Eventually Sherry felt comfortable enough having established her own success she asked what Bud did for a living.
Bud said he was in show business but Sherry couldn’t believe he was an actor or producer so she was skeptical but because he found her attractive she let it pass. Bud was a cool customer, he didn’t make any moves on her but he did suggest they meet next weekend on Saturday, because he correctly assumed Sherry was a creature of habit and came to Lucky’s every weekend and only on Saturdays. Sherry accepted the meeting again appearing frosty but it didn’t work, Bud knew she was really interested in him.
Within four weeks Bud had bedded Sherry and would spent two or three nights a week at her posh apartment. This drove Sherry crazy because he wouldn’t stay every night or even move in. Meanwhile she learned that Bud worked at Candy’s or some such strip club in downtown Cleveland and he was not an actor, producer or dancer. Bud had not gone to college and his work in the strip club was as a bouncer so there did not appear to be a future for him, which further added to Sherry’s stress. She was madly in love with this man who only stayed with her at night when it was convenient for him. Other nights he was out on the town, usually sleeping over at a dancers apartment or a cheap hotel room. He never once invited Sherry to his place for a night together. What was she going to do, she wanted him but he was everything she was not striving for in her life. He had no real ambition, he wouldn’t “show” well in her business and social meetings, he probably couldn’t stay loyal to any one woman and he was already mooching off of her, borrowing money every other day.
Her business success was as a boutique-advertising agency owner. Many of her clients were fashion driven organizations and her company had grown with the economy and of course when the marketplace went to hell, so did her business. In the advertising business, particularly the boutique side of the game, talented artist and writers are essential to survival. She was about to lose talent crucial to keeping the accounts she still had.
It was clear that the business pressures were affecting her physically. She intensified her hours at the gym because she had always been a health nut but it wasn’t helping. She went to her doctor and after considerable medical tests he discovered a tumor in her stomach, actually in her intestines. Because Sherry was a worrywart, had lost weight and was suffering from a deteriorating health profile he didn’t tell her how serious her tumor was. He needed to wait until she was healthier and then tell her she needed an operation. Meanwhile he sent her to the Tucker Clinic to meet with Linda, a nurse practioner and a patient advocate. Sherry identified with Linda immediately, Sherry saw her as a self-made women with an excellent career in the growing field of health care. Linda was been given instructions to give Sherry an injection of painkiller’s that would help in the short-term to relieve her pain. Linda looked at Sherry and talked with her at length about fashion gaining her trust. Soon Sherry was making weekly trips to The Tucker Clinic for her injections. Linda as we said, identified Sherry as a candidate for a life settlement policy.
Doug objected to selecting a young woman as a target, after all the research all pointed to old people who are very sick. Linda had to explain to Doug that this candidate was much sicker than she knew and with very little work she could cause Sherry’s death without suspicion being aroused.
Sherry took the quarter of million in cash and felt no concern about losing the potential of million dollars from the policy she got through her company program and frankly she placed little real value on the insurance policy. The question is of course why would the conspirators be willing to purchase the life insurance policy of a forty two year old? Linda recognized the pressure that Sherry was under and she also knew that the tumor was very serious. Sherry’s doctor had made a decision not to tell Sherry the seriousness of her condition until and if she stabilized her health long enough to be operated on. Linda had had enough experience to read the signs and she was confident Sherry wouldn’t last long. She had also cut a deal that required Sherry’s company to pay for her premiums to the age of retirement, sixty-five and there after the investment group would make the premium payments. It seemed like a win win to Sherry, she got the cash she needed interest free and her company was paying the premiums until she turned sixty five then the investment club took over the payments. But how to kill her, certainly Dr. Clark had no access to the patient and while he did read the medical charts thanks to Linda he was puzzled how they could perform the murder and get away with it. Actually Linda had an answer, high risk and not immediate but in the final analysis Sherry would die.
Linda’s job was to make the tumor burst open, which according to her doctor would most certainly result in her death. Linda as a nurse practitioner knew of a prescription that would irritate the tumor without any side affects and it would be very difficult to track so she started the treatment on a weekly basis and hoped that within six weeks she would have a dead life insurance holder. Too bad Linda didn’t notice that Sherry’s blood tests were going directly to her doctor and the doctor saw the erosion of the tumor after the first treatment and called for an emergency operation to saved her life. When Sherry was operated on Linda was in the operating room and Sherry expressed her appreciation for Linda attending, never knowing of course Linda had tried to kill her. Linda was also correct and lucky that the meds she had been giving Sherry were not detectable. The doctor expected the tumor to burst at some point in the immediate future, so there was no investigation, and besides Sherry survived!
Doug and Linda would have to wait a long time to collect on Sherry’s life insurance policy. Good for Sherry and bad for Doug and Linda.
Chapter – 13 – The Kids
I haven’t mentioned the West’s two children. They had grown up in the lap of luxury once Doug made in big in the brokerage business. The kids were happy with Emila taking care of them and even though they were in college they depended on Emila for almost everything. They were both now in private school and of course that made it even more costly for Doug and Linda. When their parents put the Shaker Heights house on the market the kids were mildly surprised but not visibly affected since they spent most of their time in college. When they visited home Emila was there and there were no changes because they were unable to sell the house at the price they needed to break even. Doug and Linda finally dropped the price on the Shaker Heights house to point where it was a must buy for a young doctor transferring into the Cleveland Clinic. The short sale actually cost them money because they were now upside down in the home and the only relief was not making a $10,000 a month mortgage payment. They had to move and decided the vacation home in Florida; paid for would be the logical choice. Of course once they started moving they realized that the Florida home was much smaller than they were used to and a large amount of their furniture went into storage. Other than the financial loss they were very happy to be in Florida and free of the mortgage expenses. The college expenses were another problem they now had to face. They just didn’t have the next semester’s tuition and living expenses. They had to let Emila go and it was a disaster for Emila and it would be bad for the kids when they found out. How were they going to tell the kid’s? How were they going to tell Emlia?
Linda and Emlia’s relationship changed from employer and employee to lovers just before the transfer to Cleveland. Not unlike her first encounter with Doug, Emila was alone with Linda
While the kids had gone to the shopping center. Emila tried to explain her feelings and Linda thought she misunderstood the move to Cleveland. Linda said; the kids and I love you and you are going with us. Linda hugged Emila and Emila kissed Linda passionately. Linda had never had a lesbian experience in her mid-west upbringing and she didn’t know what to say or do. Emila instinctively knew what to do and she pressed Linda until probing tongues and gentle lips in bed exploring each other with quick hands. When the encounter was over Linda explained that she couldn’t explain why she had allowed this thing to occur but she wanted Emila to know she wasn’t gay. Emila reassured her that she was not gay either and that the encounter was just a natural out growth of her natural passion for Linda. The ground was set for many more encounters. Now Linda had to make up her mind, could she afford to keep Emila on a part time basis or asked her to stay in Cleveland and find another job. Linda could give up the sex with Emila but not the affection she had for her. In the final analysis she leveled with her and told her of their financial programs and Emila said she would start looking for a part time job with the rest of the time being spent at the West’s Cleveland home until and if they were able to sell it. Yes they continued their love affair albeit on a limited basis.
Chapter – 14- Next
You may have noted that I didn’t reference the doctor and his life insurance clients. Doctor Sloan Clark realized that he had been lucky with the first killing and he had participated in the planning and execution of an attempted killing. The good doctor could not stop helping his partners; the West’s and they wouldn’t let him out of the agreement. The good doctor believed, correctly that his fellow partners in crime would kill him if he didn’t help them with there targeted life settlement clients. Dr Clark’s role now was to advise on the best way to get to a client medically and cause that death.
From Doug and Linda’s standpoint they wanted to kill Chet Welsh but they just couldn’t figure out how so they went to their third client.
Annabelle Stover was a patient Linda had cultivated when she was at the Clinic because she was eighty years old and had every illness you could imagine. She was preserved by meds and constant attention by her family physician. The main health target for Linda and the good Doctor Death with Ms. Stover was her delicate heart condition. Her family physician was expecting her to die at any time. The one million dollar life insurance policy was just one of many she had. When she was approach by Linda she found the deal attractive because she wanted to take one last worldwide cruise and needed very special care plus very expensive accommodations. A quarter of a million in cash would just about cover the eighteen-month voyage. Unfortunately her emergency trips to the hospital for her heart kept creating problems and prevented her from starting her cruise.
There is no question that the patient was a prime target but because of the attention she was getting they didn’t know how to take her out and avoid an autopsy.
Dr. Death couldn’t come up with a logical way to carry out the murder and as the three conspirators talked they noted how easy it was to speak of murdering a human being, in part because they had performed the first killing and to their collective surprises they didn’t suffer from guilty feelings, no bad dreams, no self recriminations.
Linda came up with the best idea to reach Mrs. Stover, she would to go to work for her. Since her family had moved to Florida and the house had sold it would make sense for her to stay with Dr. Clark and his family while she offered to work for the target patient who knew her fairly well from the clinic. Linda would be in the home of the patient giving her the numerous meds she took and monitoring Ms. Stover’s vital signs. Linda went to work right away.
Mrs. Stover was wise beyond her years and that is very interesting statement because she was actually eighty three, she had lied on her medical history, she didn’t like being that old. She “understood” people and she had survived the onslaught of her three children and their unending requests for money and the extremely poor advise she got from her financial advisors. Annie, I call her that but no one in her presence would dare to refer to her as Annie, had inherited her wealth from not one but two husbands. While she didn’t distinguish herself in business she had been wise enough to know stocks and commodities and regularly defying her financial advisors made what turned out to be brilliant investment moves.
While Mrs. Stover insisted on interviewing Linda to take care of her in her home she already knew her from her regular visits to the clinic. When Linda arrived at the home Mrs. Stover invited her into the den and offered a drink, non-alcoholic of course. Linda took some tea and asked Mrs. Stover how she was feeling and got an unexpected replied, Mrs. Stover said that she would not be interrogated by any one about her health and that Linda’s job was to tell her how she was doing …and not tell anyone else inside or out of the family. Linda was taken back and said that it was part of her oath to protect a patient’s privacy and besides she wasn’t a gossip. It seemed to clear the air between these two. Both had made their positions clear and It was apparently the making of a good relationship. Annabelle asked Linda about her family, specifically her husband. She said; why did your husband fail in the brokerage business? Linda was caught off guard by the question. She thought for a moment and then said; he didn’t fail, the profession failed along with the economy. That seemed to satisfy her patient and now it would appear her employer. Annabelle did ask two more questions. One, she wanted to know if Linda would be living in her home and two, how were her children taking the family’s financial set back. Linda responded that she couldn’t believe the full weight of the financial losses they and their neighbors were suffering through, foreclosed homes, children pulled from private schools, bills going unpaid, it was financial hell. Mrs. Stover said; I’m having the same problem with my children, they just don’t realize the significance of the current financial state. Linda then volunteered that she was going to live with Dr. Clark who was relatively close to Mrs. Stover’s home and that seemed satisfactory to her. It was a good first meeting and Linda felt she would be able to settle in and become a nurse and companion to Mrs. Stover.
Doug and Sloan made the point that time was of the essence and constantly reminded Linda; she must find a way quickly to do away with Mrs. Stover.
On her first full day at Mrs. Stover Linda met her client’s primary doctor, Dr. Abel Kindle. Dr. Kindle had been against hiring a nurse practitioner in part because of professional pride, part because he had never approved of the idea of giving nurses so much power with the prescription pad. Understandably Linda was uncomfortable with Dr. Kindle’s scrutiny but she had to bluff it through. Mrs. Stover was aware of the doctor’s objections to Linda but she liked Linda and felt she would hold her own. Linda and the doctor discussed the patient’s condition and the doctor seemed satisfied with Linda’s knowledge and so left a few directions for her to follow. He left saying he would be back the next week.
Late in the afternoon one of Mrs. Stover’s key lawyers came by to discuss some business issues. Needless to say Linda wasn’t included in the meeting but Mrs. Stover wanted Ned Jacobs, a favorite attorney of hers to meet Linda. Ned was about Linda’s age and took a liking to Linda right away. He shouldn’t be any problem for Linda when it came time to handle Mrs. Stover’s financial wrap up after her death. Although Ned did take Linda aside on the walk out to his car and say; I’m familiar with life settlement agreements and I must tell you it might be challenged by the state not just the children. He went on to say that the kids would probably not protest loudly because they had so much other potential income from the estate. Linda asked if he thought the life settlement was legitimate and Ned said that he couldn’t say for certain, this was not his area of expertise. He also said; I think the fact that your investment club bought Mrs. Stover life settlement policy makes your role here to take care of her suspect. I would advise you that there would be an investigation if Mrs. Stover dies suddenly even though her health is precarious. Linda said that the reason she took the role of caregiver for Mrs. Stover was because they had become close during their weekly visits at the clinic, Ned seemed to buy that idea but he was still suspious.
Linda noted that Mrs. Stover was very tired after the meeting with Ned and asked if everything was OK. She explained that Ned was being hassled by her children for more money than what she was providing in their trusts. She said; I’m just too old to put up with this bull, the kids want money at every turn and I feel as if they are waiting for me to die so they can pick my financial bones. Linda sympathized with her patient but more importantly she recognized that the stress was very hard on Mrs. Stover’s heart.
Later in the week all three of Mrs. Stover’s kids came to visit. Linda observed when talking to Doug on the phone that they were no kids, probably the youngest was in his late thirties and the oldest early fifties. The “kids” didn’t even acknowledge that Linda was in the room. They concentrated on Mrs. Stover with statements like; mother you don’t need the money and we do. We are going to lose our offices or in one case a business and they were pressing hard. Mrs. Stover’s heart started to pound, it wasn’t that she was afraid of her children’s attacks she was just tired and heart palpations were hurting her. Linda stepped in and asked the kids to leave so she could give her patient some meds to calm her down. The offspring left but reluctantly and grousing about Linda’s high handed methods. Mrs. Stove loved her for it. Linda was in like Flint after just one week.
While Linda wasn’t close to Dr. Clark’s wife or children she fit right in to the household and of course she knew she wouldn’t be there long because they needed to strike quickly to get the much needed cash for their premium payments, spec house commitment and living expenses.
Dr. Clark and Linda huddled in Cleveland and discussed the exact meds needed to take out the target patient and how to administer them. Their plan completed they had a drink and relaxed. There had always been a sexual tension between them since they started working together at the clinic or at least the tension was there for Linda. One drink led to another and eventually they both returned to the doctor’s house. His wife was out of the house and they retired to the guest room Linda was using and made love.
Interestingly Sloan was very civil in the morning and so was Linda. They both seemed to think their little get together was very normal. Sloan inferred that they needed to be careful but Linda thought it was a redundant statement and they both went off to work without a further word. Linda like the sexual relationship with Sloan and he with her so there were more get away meetings in the future.
I’ve only mentioned Sloan’s wife in passing because her role in the life settlement business was non-existent much like her relationship with Sloan. Patricia Handley was from the Scarsdale Handley’s an upper crust New York family, a product of Vassar and a woman keenly aware of her social and family duties. She dutifully provided the children to the family and maintained her role in the community as a wife of a famous and respected surgeon. The only problem was she didn’t love Sloan in a romantic sense and apparently that was all right with him. She did not apparently have any romantic interests and even less interest in business.
Doug was in Florida trying to get into a new business, anything that would give him some cash and something to keep his mind off of the pending debt crisis and the murder his wife was about to commit. He used the remaining mutual funds he had to buy a ski boat rental business. Doug didn’t know anything about the business he had just purchased and of course with the bad economy the tourist business in Florida, the potential source of all of his rental business was way down. Doug was now losing money on his new business. He didn’t tell Linda because he figured she had enough on her mind with the pending murder. It never occurred to him that Linda would be unfaithful and since the time at the good doctor’s was a short one he never did find out about the brief tryst that lasted about two weeks.
One of the interesting things in this tale is the transition story of Linda from a mid-western born and bred middle class woman who’s only big time adventure was going to work in Chicago to a somewhat sophisticated murderer.
It is true she met and married Doug and started a new life in Chicago but it doesn’t explain her adventures with the investment group, exploring investments beyond the norm like the life settlement program, her transition to a stone cold killer who seemed to revel in the process of killing innocent people and on top of that to have an affair, no matter how brief it was with Dr. Death. Would her life ever be the same if they got through this financial nightmare caused by an adventure in high risk investments and a down turn in the economy?
It turned out that special meds weren’t needed, Linda completed the murder by simply running an air bubble into Ms. Stover and it of course caused her heart to seize up and she died. Doctor Kindle was called and declared her death was caused by a heart attack. There was no suspicion and so the conspirators expected the insurance check to be delivered in six weeks.
However the recipients of the estate demanded a complete accounting of the assets and they had never heard about selling a life insurance policy so they wanted to make certain it was legit. During the autopsy hearing Ned recounted the conversation he had with Linda about the life settlement but he said; I checked the legal status of life settlements in Ohio and the state insurance department covers it and the concept is legal. It was fortunate that Linda had made the comments about why she was working for Mrs. Stover, it put to rest any doubt that there was foul play involved.
The medical examiners meeting confirmed the death as “by natural causes.” The kids wanted a meeting with Ned Jacobs to confirm that the life settlement was legal and that Linda was not doing anything improper. In the end they settled the estate and the insurance company authorized the payment to the investor group.
As fate would have it the check from the insurance company was out of the pay cycle the conspirators had to make for the insurance premium payments. They were once again under the gun. They had time constraints, huge financial commitments and no plan on how to kill the one remaining big fish they had. He was a man in his sixties with a health problem, while dangerous it was not the life threatening disease they needed.
Linda was not particularly interested in going back to Florida and her attitude toward Doug was one of ambivalence at best. This may have been caused by the affair with Dr. Death or it may have been weighing on her mind that the next and hopefully the last killing of Mr. Welsh was totally on her shoulders and it would require a special approach.
Chapter -15 – Carla
The kids learned that tuition fees would not be paid at the University of Michigan and Ohio University the respective universities they attended. The kids were smart and they understood what happened but they didn’t have a way to pay their tuition and they were angry with their parents, but not as angry as the parents were with themselves. They were also even more upset by the fact that Emila was going to be released as well. She was just another financial pressure on the West family.
Linda started to evaluate the target, Mr. Welsh. Chet Welsh lived alone after a very recent divorce frantic divorce court battle. As I stated before Chet was sixty-five with aneurysms that could burst at any time, much like a time bomb in his body. He was also a lonely man after his divorce from Carla a very beautiful but selfish black haired, blue eyed former dancer, turned real estate broker with an eye toward wealthy men with a wandering eye. Allow me to address Carla’s life in somewhat greater detail because she was a very important part of Chet’s life.
Carla was born in Atlanta Georgia she was from a middle class family. Her father was a doctor and the mother a social butterfly who had “come out” to polite society in Atlanta and had visions of Carla doing the same at the appropriate age. Carla was a rebel in the typical sense, rebellious at age fifteen. Carla got into drinking early, sex early and yearning to get out of Atlanta as quickly as possible. She went to New York City with her parents and eventually with one of the group of older teenagers she hung out with in Atlanta. Although Carla wasn’t a big drug user, she did pot occasionally. Cosmopolitans on a regular basis because it was the “in” drink, didn’t taste too strong and it looked good. And looking good was what Carla was all about or would become all about. In one of her trips to New York City she was at The Leopard, a trendy bar in Manhattan living the good life, at the age of seventeen, drinking without being questioned, kind of a Manhattan thing. She was now five foot nine, with beautiful long legs, creamy complexion; flashing blue eyes, raven colored hair and an aura of self-confidence that said model. One of the modeling agency officers was at the bar and approached her. Carla was no fool and she had had a lot of men try to get her into bed, a sophisticated bed at a upscale downtown hotel. She wisely didn’t buy into their pitches. It wasn’t that she wasn’t sexually active, but only with the boys back in Atlanta and at her own personal whim. The approach from the modeling agency couldn’t be timelier. Carla was anxious to get her “real” life going and even though she had never modeled she accepted the offer for the interview and hopefully a career, at the age of seventeen.
Over the next ten years Carla learned to be a reasonably good model but she didn’t like the long hours, the diets and mostly the boredom. She made good money but she wanted much more in the case of wealth. Meanwhile I should make the point that her parents were more than disappointed because by the time she was eighteen she was living in New York and made it clear she would never return to Atlanta, at least not to her family. This was particularly hard on her family because she was an only child and so there was a great disappointment in her mother’s life.
Carla’s time in Manhattan was well spent, she dated several men, some married and the pitches for her to become a mistress were frequent but she wouldn’t bite. She was going to use her assets to hook power and money and she did.
She was thirty-four when she met Chet who of course was married. She had been on a shoot for Chet’s agency and when he looked at the proofs of her shoot he was impressed. He made contact with her on her next shoot and invited her out for a cocktail. Carla had done her homework and knew Chet was powerful in the ad agency world and pretty well off and most importantly he was married.
Carla owned Chet in about three months and she got all of the spiffs that go with being the young lover of a middle-aged man in a powerful position. Carla wanted to get out of modeling but she did not want to be a kept woman. Chet did not want a confrontation with his wife. He didn’t want the loss of property and money and the scorn of his family and friends, especially his children when they found out he was leaving his wife for a young beautiful women, that is if he agreed to leave her. Meanwhile Carla made it clear it was a divorce or no more bedroom time with her. Carla was thirty-five when Chet gave in, started the divorce proceedings and moved in with Carla.
To add to the complications of the divorce Chet’s wife became ill and his children were so angry with their father that they wouldn’t talk to him. The divorce proceedings dragged on because of the illness of his wife.
Carla and Chet had been living together for five years when Chet’s wife passed away, the illness was never identified but her life steady fading away. This was hard on Chet because he didn’t hate his wife he just loved Carla so much that he couldn’t see himself being without her.
It was scary for Carla, she seemed to understand Chet’s feelings for his wife. She even accepted the fact that they hadn’t been married; still Carla was supportive of Chet’s concern and love for his wife Maureen.
When Maureen died Chet mourned for her and would not talk to Carla about marrying her. His kids were reconciled to the idea that their father was Carla’s man and they just had to accept it.
Gradually Chet got over the loss of Maureen and eventually ask Carla to marry him. They were married at a friend’s home in Scarsdale by a prominent judge from Chet’s club in Connecticut. They bought a large apartment in Manhattan and settled down to a social and business life they both wanted. When Chet reached sixty the board of directors, individually contacted him and suggested that he should be considering retiring. Chet was upset but he knew the routine, Chet had done the same thing to his predecessor. His expenses were outrageous, especially Carla’s expenditures and while the romance for Chet had never gone out of the relationship he was very tired of the life style in Manhattan and Carla’s continual quest for more, more, more.
Finally the board told Chet about his package, it was very good and it was clear they weren’t unhappy with his performance, it was in their collective minds time for him to move on and fresh blood to come into the leadership of the agency. Chet had a fairly long lead-time and he had not told Carla that his powerful position would soon evaporate and with it her social stature.
When Chet told Carla, she was caught totally by surprise and she was not happy. She was even more unhappy when he told her they would be moving to Cleveland, his hometown. She said she would not leave Manhattan.
The issue of moving or not was a none entity after Chet had an aneurysm rupture during a standard physical at his doctor’s office. Normally when aneurysms rupture the bleed out is almost immediate. The patient needs a vascular surgeon immediately to perform a bypass of the ruptured vessel and give the patient plenty of blood. In Chet’s case his doctor was able to get him to the operating room and operated on by a vascular surgeon almost immediately. Chet’s rupture was in the aorta and they were able to fashion a bypass of cortex materials that saved his life. Still he was in danger for several weeks and the recovery in the hospital was carefully monitored. By the time Chet was ready to go home he had been told by his doctor that he had discovered six more aneurysm’s in his legs and that eventually they would have to be operated on. Aneurysms are frequently described as an inner tube when it suddenly develops a balloon, a thinning of the wall of the tube of the tire. Burst and the aneurysm is almost immediately life threatening, depending on where the weakness occurred. An aneurysm in the brain is the most dangerous and the quickest road to death for a patient.
Carla knew with the aneurysm the quick trips to Europe and fun weekends in the Caribbean were gone. She carried enough about Chet to agree to move to Cleveland but she wasn’t going easily or cheaply. She found a beautiful house in Lakewood, a wealthy suburb of Cleveland, and in the process of purchasing the home started a career in the real estate world. She did reasonably well in selling because she had the slick veneer needed to ask one million dollars for a house that should be selling at seven hundred thousand. She was also looking for a way to separate her life from Chet’s until such time as she could find a reason to move back to New York City.
Toney neighborhood or not it wasn’t Manhattan. Carla became mean to Chet and to his children who had moved to the Cleveland area, not because they wanted to be close to their father but because he had provided for them in a certain life style and there was no way they could afford to live in Manhattan when Chet wasn’t picking up the bill. It was somewhat amusing that the kids joined Carla in hating the city and even more importantly blaming Chet for their terrible life style.
It took less than a year for her to file for divorce and move out on Chet. Chet was heart broken; I know that sounds trite for a sixty plus years old man. Still it is accurate to describe how saddened Chet was about losing Carla. He was also angry, right or wrong he felt he had given Carla a great social life and plenty of luxury and most importantly, he had really loved her.
Despite the harshness of the divorce action Carla and Chet spent a good deal of time together and while most of it was about financial issues she did seem concerned about his health. The children on the other hand were concerned about his health for purely financial reasons. Chet was vulnerable.
Chapter -16- A Plan
Linda had to get closer to Chet in order to see where he was weak and vulnerable.
The first step was to meet with Chet and examine the lay of the land, to formulate a plan. Chet had been a very successful advertising executive in New York City and only returned to Cleveland, his hometown, after a political coup in the agency Chet had run for over ten years. The company was very generous to Chet and he left the company with an excellent 401 K, stock options [worth little in the current economy] and a modest consulting agreement for ten years with the agency, an agreement that was paid for to assure the new regime that Chet would not offer any inside information about the agency, criticize the agency or steal any of the accounts. Chet had purchased an elegant home in the Cleveland suburbs, larger than he needed, but with the intent to make Carla happy, as it turns out that was an impossible task. Linda had actually met Carla at a charity event and she approach the subject of additional insurance on Chet because she believed that Carla saw this is as an issue. Money interested Carla. The bottom line was that Linda knew Chet and Carla socially and in Chet’s case professionally from the clinic.
When Linda called Chet to talk about his health and the charities that he had participated in at Carla’s requests he was less than enthusiastic. He did recall, however, that Linda was very attractive and so using his medical issues as an excuse he agreed to see her. Chet needed a release from the actions of the divorce.
When Linda went to Chet’s home they talked about unimportant things. Chit Chat aside he liked Linda, she was short, well built and in particular he like her olive complexion and great eyes. She had such a pleasant laugh that he got caught up in small stories, sharing with her some of his private stories from New York. Linda steered clear of references to Carla and the recent divorce.
It turned out that they shared a lot of things that some how made them closer to each other than one short meeting. It was clear that Chet was available and Linda’s life would be a lot easier if she could use her charms to build a relationship with her next and most important target.
This first meeting ended with a proposal inviting Linda to dinner……in New York. Chet rented a jet for two days and booked separate rooms for them in the city. Linda could not think of a better way to read Chet’s health condition and get closer to the target, a trip to New York City was an attractive bonus since she loved the big city.
They arrived in NYC about 4 pm, Chet had one of his regular London Town drivers meet the plane and they headed off to the Sherry Netherlands hotel and checked in. They started their evening with cocktails at the 21 Club, one of Chet’s favorites [a little old for Linda] and followed with dinner at Bobby Van’s. Joey, the head bartender at Bobby Van’s made the Skyy Vodka on the rocks with a lemon twist before he and Linda could sit down. Everyone knew Chet from his agency days, they knew he was a big spender even if he was forced to retire and so they treated him well.
Linda had to remind herself that this guy was the target and not a potential reason to leave Doug. What Linda learned from the trip, outside of the fact that he could have saved the cost of one room at a very expensive hotel was that he was horny. He was bitter over misreading his wife Carla, he thought she really loved him and not the trappings that went with his position, he was wrong. What really got him was the fact that he didn’t read her correctly. It had embarrassed him and he worried that it was part of getting old, something that he really dreaded. Chet never believed that Linda really wanted to talk about the charity programs in Cleveland or his illness but he couldn’t figure what she wanted. He was fully aware she was married although he didn’t remember meeting Doug and he also knew she was good friends of Dr. Sloan Clark, an arrogant but very successful doctor in the Cleveland community.
Now Chet’s medical condition was potentially explosive, a ruptured aorta or major vein could cause an instant death or in the best-case scenario within minutes if he didn’t get immediate help from a vascular surgeon. No meds would alleviate the problem with aneurysms. It had to be bypass operations but they were very risky for any one and particularly so as people get older.
Linda enjoyed her time spent with Chet and she liked the attention he gave her but she had a very tight timetable and she was still looking for a way to kill him. In the mean time Chet was trying to find out more about Linda’s motivations for these continuing encounters. It certainly wasn’t because he was young and virile and it was pretty clear after Carla left him that he was not a good catch.
Linda decided that she should keep Chet’s sexual fires stoked while she figured out how to kill him.
Chet dazzled Linda with dinners, flights down to Atlanta and New Orleans for special over night stays and very romantic times. He also shared his hatred of Carla and his concerns about his failing memory and ability to deal with financial numbers. He was worried that he would be alone and dealing with dementia and maybe worse. These conversations were not helping Linda and her planning of his death.
In making conversation Chet and Linda touched on Harvey Clemson and his untimely death. It occurred to Chet that Linda had convinced Harvey to buy into their insurance purchase program and he had died quickly after the deal was completed. It was insane to think that Linda, her husband or Dr. Clark would conspire to kill patients, still the payoff was big and they might need the money. He began to wonder if he was the next target.
Doug asked Linda how she was coming with the plan since they were after all under a severe time constraint. He was also uncomfortable with the amount of time Linda was spending with the target without any idea how to kill him.
Doctor Clark was also worried that Linda had forgotten the assignment. On top of everything else the guilt and hope that with this last killing all debts would be paid. Looming large in his mind was the fact that they could go back to their normal, boring everyday life.
Linda was well aware of Doug’s distress, the fact that she had no plan, and was really in “like” with Chet.
Chet decided he better check further on Linda’s activities and contacted the clinic only to find out she had been released for unauthorized use of prescriptions and a patient Linda had insured had almost died. Further he talked with some of the Stover family and discovered that Linda worked for Ms. Stover and Ms. Stover had bought the insurance deal that Linda sold. Chet was now convinced that he was the next target on Linda’s list, after all it meant five million dollars to her, but what was he to do about it.
First things first, He hired a private detective, well known in Manhattan, a former policeman with the NYPD and a questionable reputation for honesty. Chet selected this PI for a couple of reasons; first he wanted someone from outside of the Cleveland area to investigate his suspicions without feeding the rumor mill that Cleveland with a small town mindset often producing rumors at an alarming rate. Secondly Chet wanted a detective like Danny Shea that would be willing to do the leg work on a project and then regardless of legal considerations take the steps he wanted taken, including but not limited to doing nothing.
Chet contacted Danny via a bartender he knew at the Bull and the Bush, an Irish bar on third avenue right near the Palm restaurant, one of his favorite steak houses. Danny hung out at the Palm, mainly at the bar downstairs, a very short bar about twelve feet long and used primarily as a staging area for the waiters filling the drink orders at the tables and processing the credit cards. An amusing story, the credit cards were brought to the bar and processed through the phone, unlike today and they were frequently rejected. Most of the patrons at the restaurant were selling or buying things, media time, warrants, stocks, etc. In many cases their credit cards were maxed out and they submitted as many as three with the waiter coming back to the table and announcing a little louder each time that the charges had been rejected. In some cases the “host” had to ask friends and clients for cash to pay bills that were most often several hundred dollars, an embassing situation for a “successful” salesmen to endure.
Danny was allowed to order lunch at the bar, something virtually no one else was allowed to do and so he heard the credit card stories as he sipped a drink at the bar or had a beautiful steak sandwich. Of course Danny never paid for a drink or a meal, he was a friend and on some occasions when a patron’s check bounced he was a collector, without portfolio.
Danny was a detective for the NYPD and worked on the organized crime detail. He became friends with many of the people he was supposed to be investigating and his ties to the Irish gangs was blood as well as kindred ship with his sister Mary Catherine married to a man named Billy Sullivan. Billy was allegedly a “collector” of bad debts on Long Island but his playground was Manhattan, so Danny and Billy spent time together and drink a considerable amount of Irish whiskey and shared a few women. Billy also shared information with Danny and while it didn’t reflect on the Irish mob activities he had no compunctions about passing on the Italian mafia activities to Danny.
Danny’s career with the NYPD ending abruptly but no explanations ever filtered out to the “civilian” population. Suffice to say that his PI license was granted promptly and he seemed to do well in business, particularly with the seamy side of the profession.
Danny called Chet; they had met frequently at the Palm and the Gay 90’s bar, favorites of the Irish Manhattan population as well as the advertising community in the big apple. Chet explained what he needed and of course he would pay Danny well. Danny explained that he didn’t like working outside of NYC and besides his license didn’t apply in Ohio. Chet explained the investigation was not going to a trial or any criminal activities on his part. Danny accepted the assignment though somewhat reluctantly.
When Danny arrived in Cleveland Chet had made arrangement for a rental car at the airport and Danny called Chet to say he was on the job. That was the last time the two men talked until Danny delivered his final report. Danny was under a time constraint because Chet believed if his suspicions were correct Linda would be moving quickly to kill him.
Danny had access to the same information Chet did and in reality that wasn’t much. He started with the investment club, The Doer’s and the members. He was able to acquire some records of the early trading before they went into the life settlement business. He ended up with all thirteen investor, the maximum investors at any time in the investment clubs history. He quickly honed that down to five active members. Danny was surprisingly good with people and whittled information out of Dr. Clark’s wife and Laurel Irving and gave him a clear view of the power partners in the club and he had no doubt Linda was the driving force behind the life settlement business. Next he checked the hospital records and doctor’s charts by posing as a federal inspector looking for the CDC. No one ever questioned his documents, or authorization badges. It was so obvious to Danny that the scam was real and the potential for Chet being killed was real.
When Danny called Chet with his report it was short and sweet he said; she is out to kill you, I believe she has killed at least one of her life settlement clients and she is stressed financially. Frankly I would love to have her in Manhattan to make some deals for me. She’s good she’s dangerous. Chet said; good enough for me and where do I send the check. By the way will you send me the copies of the materials you did uncover just in case I want to use it for some leverage in this unusual relationship? Danny went back to NYC and sent the materials requested to Chet. He was really interested in what Chet was going to do about Linda and after about a week called Chet and said; if you need that problem eliminated I’ve got someone that could handle that individual. Chet said: I have to say no…….at least for now.
Chet could have just broken off the relationship with Linda and reported his suspicions to the police but that would not be enough. Besides Chet hoped there was a legit explanation for these co-incidents because he really did like her. Chet remembered Carla’s exit, the pain he felt and that he had been used by a woman. Chet decided that no woman, not even one as attractive as Linda would use him again. He decided to see if he could trap Linda into attempting to kill him.
Chet knew that he needed to “give Linda and opening” to kill him but what opening? Then it struck him; she didn’t need a medical reason to kill him. An accidental death would also pay off with this insurance policy. The key was how to set it up.
Chet told Linda one of his favorite things to do even at his age was to sky dive. He knew Linda had not sky dived before and he would treat her to a few lessons because he really wanted her to go skydiving with him. Linda readily agreed to the lessons and the skydiving date.
Linda called Doug and then Sloan to say she had found the way to kill Chet. They were both dubious and in Doug’s case he was concerned about her safety. She pooh-poohed the objections and told them she would tell them as soon as the time was right.
The parachute lessons were simple and Linda learned quickly. One of the things she learned in the safety class was that unlike the old war movies where the Nazi secret agent cuts the straps on the good guy’s parachute the more practical way to cause the chute to foul up was with the pull cord. The cord could actually be cut and it would be perceived as torn loose due to poor packing or it would open prematurely catch the chute on a wing or other portion of the plane. Good information to know before she went skydiving with her target. You see Linda knew this skydiving date was a legitimate way to kill her target. So, the plan was set.
Doug and Sloan were actually relieved to just hear that Linda had a plan and it made some since. Doug didn’t ask what Linda was doing spending all this time with the target and Dr. Death was just anxious to get it over with.
The night before the skydiving adventure Linda and Chet had dinner at a French restaurant they both liked and they talked about a mired of things including risks with their parachute jump. Chet even mentioned the fact that his life insurance policy would pay off if he died and it was too bad his estate wouldn’t get the payoff. She didn’t have to be reminded about the payoff since she was planning on collecting on the insurance policy. They went back to Chet’s house and they made love. Linda thought; like this will make up for me killing him!
The morning came and Chet and Linda went to the dome to get dressed and take the plunge. Linda wanted to do her own parachute packing and so did Chet. For Linda the packing was a complicated process and on two occasions she asked for help. The trainers at the jump school were happy to help the attractive Linda. They had helped her Just as they had helped her with understanding the ripcord and the automatic parachute release during her training. Chet came over and ask if she was ready to go. She said she was ready and anxious to make her first jump.
Chapter – 17 – One Step Back
Chet told Linda he was going to pay for the jump and that she might want to double check both of their chutes while he settled up with the pilot and the school. Linda said she would check the chutes and meet him back at the plane. Chet told Linda he needed to talk to the instructor regarding air currents, the specifics on the jump site and he would bring the chutes out after he got the jump specifics from the instructor. This made sense to Linda and besides she had already rigged Chet’s chute during her inspection that Chet had suggested. Chet talked at length with Linda’s instructor and noted her interest in the pull cord and the potential “accidents” that could occur using that cord. Chet went to his chute and sure enough Linda had rigged it to fail. He quickly corrected the rigging to make it safe again for him. He went to Linda’s chute and returned the favor by rigging her chute to fail.
Air born, the two talked about how much they enjoyed their time together and what a great adventure the skydiving was going to be. Chet then told Linda about the investigations he had been making into her activities, the deaths of Clemson, Stover and the near death of Baumgartner and the obvious fact that she and her co-conspirators had targeted him next. He said that while he enjoyed the sexual escapades with her his bitterness from his divorce from Carla was his driving force. He didn’t ask her why she and her cohorts had decided to murder but he did make the point that he assumed it was money driven series of acts. He told Linda that when they landed he was going to call the police and turn her in so she better enjoy the last great ride to the ground.
Linda thought it over and decided that one; he didn’t realize she was going to try and kill him on this jump and two he had not indicated he knew how or when she would try to kill him. She said in a somewhat flippant manor “let’s jump.” Linda went first confident that Chet would open his fouled ripcord and fall to his death, quite unable to tell his story or turn her in for an arrest. She was so relieved that he had told her of his suspicions and he hadn’t guessed about the ripcord adjustments. She stepped out of the plane with the utmost confidence.
Chet stepped back from the door instructing the pilot to land because he had become air sick. He also said he was anxious to greet his date on her first jump from an airplane.
When Linda pulled the ripcord and it didn’t respond as it was suppose to she knew Chet had reversed the ripcord action… that was all the time she had to think before she went splat!
Chet feigned great consternation that his skydiving partner had died on her first ever jump. There was an investigation and the board classified the death as accidental, the jump school, the pilot were of course exonerated as well Chet who had failed to jump because of air sickness.
Doug and Sloan were beside themselves with grief and decided to meet with Chet and possibly gain some insight into what happened. Chet told them he had no idea how Linda’s chute had opened incorrectly but he suggested it was a fortuitous accident. He had he said, investigated Linda’s actions regarding three of her life insurance clients and it was clear she had killed two and intended to kill another. Chet said that he had hired a private detective to investigate the other deaths and while they all seemed to be legal or medically correct he made the point that the co-incidence of life settlement agreements all from Linda’s investment club and her attendance of these people was just not acceptable. He went on to say that he realized the payoffs had been made to the club members that included Sloan and Doug.
He said he assumed they had nothing to do with the insurance scam and didn’t know about the murders; he said that is correct isn’t it? And of course Sloan and Doug agreed immediately. Each looked at the other and they all knew they had accepted a code of silence. Linda’s death didn’t ease the financial difficulty but it did force Doug and Sloan to realize there had to be another way out of the actuarial casino they had entered by purchasing other people’s life insurance polices. Almost suddenly righteous they both decided bankruptcy was better than murder.
Just as Doug and Sloan were about to leave the other shoe dropped. Chet said; one more thing, I truly hate my ex-wife Carla and I want you two to use your expertise in murder to take care of her… you could have heard a feather drop and so the story will continue.