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Payback, Inc.- Installment 4


The woman seated in the chair was nervous. Slim legs crossed and uncrossed. Manicured nails bit into the chair. Worry lines wiggled across her forehead. No botox there. Every brunette strand of hair was in place and her clothes screamed “expensive!” Didn’t matter. Neiman Marcus or Sears, rural or urban, the women all had the same problem: a man.

I greeted her warmly. “Hello, I’m Cassieta Modine and I believe you’ve already briefly met my partner, Schi LeMons.” Schi’s nod affirmed this.

“Y…yes, on the way in,” the brunette said in a shaky voice. “I’m Margaret Brownings. One of my friends… recommended you.”

“I see,” I responded pleasantly as I seated myself across from her. “What can we do for you, Mrs. Brownings. It is Mrs., right?”

“Yes.” The eyes looked at the floor. “Yes, it’s Mrs.” The voice was flat. Beaten.

“I know this may be hard, but if you let us know what the problem is, perhaps our firm can help,” Schi sympathized.

Mrs. Brownings took a deep breath. “Well…it’s my husband, Bill, or rather William. I call him Bill for short.” Her hands covered her mouth. “We’ve been married nearly twenty years and I recently found out that he has a…a mistress.” The distress of this statement was evident in her voice. “A mistress. Can you believe that?”

Yes, that and plenty more.

“How did you come to find out about this mistress, Mrs. Brownings?” Schi began in her lawyer voice.

“It’s funny, really. He’s an executive with a big oil firm and he’d been on a trip. Not a long trip but a weekender.” She shrugged her shoulders. “Anyway, he was asking for some specific socks that he wanted to wear with one of his suits. I told him to just grab a pair from the drawer and be done with it, but he just wouldn’t stop hounding me about those damn socks. I got so frustrated when I couldn’t find them anywhere and he was steadily breathing on my neck, that I decided to look in his suitcase to see if maybe he’d left them in there. Stupid move. Not only did I find the socks, I found a pair of thongs. Worn thongs.”

I scrunched my nose up since I knew that there were only a few ways to discern whether underwear had been previously worn. None of them appealing or sanitary.

“Uhhmp. That must have been a shock,” I said, stating the obvious. The distress was still clear in her face.

“A huge one. I thought that everything was fine between us. Matter of fact, I was always bragging to my friends how Bill was the ‘perfect’ husband. Humph.” She snorted. “Just goes to show you how stupid I am.”

“Oh, you’re not stupid at all, Mrs. Brownings. He is,” I pointed out.
“I sure feel stupid.”

“That will pass. Now, does he know you know?” I delved.

“He sure does!” Spittle flew from her mouth. “I confronted him. Showed him the nasty thongs and asked him whose they were!” Her eyes were flashing now.

“And he said what?” Schi interjected.

“Said he didn’t know whose they were. Had no idea of how they could have possibly gotten into his suitcase. He even had the nerve to insinuate that maybe they were mine,” she huffed. “He knows good and well I’ve never worn thongs. They are so cheap!”

Can’t tell from the thousands of women with them plastered to their ass, now can you?

“Now, Mrs. Brownings, do you have any idea of whose thongs they are?” Schi continued in a smooth voice.

“No. None. Up until a week ago, I thought I had the perfect marriage. No inkling that he had some honey on the side,” she asserted.

“That’s usually how it goes. The saying ‘the wife is always the last to know’ is quite true.” I stared at her. “My question to you is, what do you want us to do about it?”

Mrs. Browning slumped back into her seat, began wringing her hands. I saw tears collecting in her eyes. “I…I don’t know,” she whispered.

I patted her hands. Schi passed her a tissue and began her “Mother Hen” routine by hugging her gently while rubbing her arms. I don’t do too much ‘mothering’ of the clients. It’s not my style at all. With Schi, it works, however.

When she seemed to have herself under control, I began again. “Mrs. Brownings, our company offers a number of services. If you are interested, we can do anything from trying to identify who this ‘mystery woman’ is to acting out a scenario of your choice. It’s all up to you,” I indicated.

“The first question, you need to ask yourself before you decide is: Do you want a divorce?” Schi suggested.

“A divorce?” Mrs. Brownings eyes were wide and shocked.

“I guess not.” I surmised from her reaction.

“No…I never thought about a…divorce.”

I’ll bet old hubby has.

“So, you’re saying that you don’t want a divorce, correct?” I asked for clarification.

“I’m not…I don’t know.” Confused eyes stared at me. “Should I?”

I held my hands in front of me. “That is not for me to decide. However, it will be a factor in how our firm helps you. We can do investigative work, such retrieving phone records, to setting up a tail for your husband.” She nodded her understanding. “Or we can do something significantly more mind-altering, such as act out your rage through my partner and myself. You can choose what elements you’d like to have in the scenario and we’ll do the rest,” I finished with a smile.

“You mean to say that you guys will act out my rage and fears on him?” Astonishment shined on her face.

“That’s correct,” Schi affirmed. “You tell us how you want to pay him back and we’ll do it. Legal, of course,” she summed with a laugh.

Mrs. Brownings shook her head. “I…I just thought that Sheila was only joking. I figured that you guys were private eyes or something.”

“No, were not private investigators. We’re on a whole ’nother level.” I lifted my eyebrows at her.

“I see.” She leaned closer to the table. “So, if I only wanted to find out who his mistress is…how much is that?” She questioned.

“Our flat fee for routine investigation without a tail is two thousand,” Schi announced. “If you’d like us to tail him and return with photos, that is five thousand for one weeks work.”

“And if I want the pay back scene thing?”

“That’s a fee of twenty-five thousand dollars,” Schi finished.

“Ouch! Are you sure it’s worth it?” Mrs. Browning searched my face.

“You have to ask yourself that question. I can provide you with a few satisfied clients that would be willing to talk to you if you’d like,” I supplied.

“I…I have to think about this. It’s so sudden. But then again everything has happened so sudden. Last week I was in suburban heaven. This week, I’m…I’m in walking hell.” Her eyes began to tear again.

Schi cooed, “We’re here to help you, no matter what you decide to do. Marriage counseling may work for your situation. I don’t know. Only you do.”

“That’s correct, Mrs. Browning. We only help if you think you need us to. We will not, ever, interfere where we are not asked to,” I emphasized. “If you decide that you want to try a more traditional route, we’ll forget that you were even here. Even if you pay us for a job and change your mind, no repercussions whatsoever.”

Mrs. Brownings tented her fingers and pinched the bridge of her nose, deep in thought. I could see the cogs working in her head. Suddenly, she slapped her hands on the table. “Let’s do this. There’s no telling how long this affair has been going or how many other mistresses he’s had. It was unlucky for him that I found out when I did!”

All right!

I leaned across the table, my hand held up for a high-five which she gave me with a resounding slap.

Schi took over at this point. “Now, what do you want us to do?”

“Let’s make that rat I married regret the day he strayed into somebody else’s thongs!” Mrs. Brownings yelled, a ready participant now.

“You want the full deal?” I discreetly crossed my fingers.

“You bet I do,” she said, as she began rummaging around in her purse. A checkbook emerged seconds later. “How much again?”

“Twenty-five thousand for the entire package which includes a full investigation, a tail and a scenario of your own creation,” Schi chimed in, not batting an eyelash.

“Who do I make the check out to?” Mrs. Browning inquired, pen held aloft.

“Modine and LeMons,” Schi supplied. “I would say Payback, Inc., but your husband might become suspicious then.”

“I like that term, payback. Fitting name for a fitting situation.” She smiled as she tore the check out and handed it to Schi.

Let’s get this party started!

“I’ll need the preliminary information: your home phone number, his work number, cell numbers, type of car he drives, place of work.” Schi wrote down the answers as quickly as Mrs. Brownings supplied them. She then read the information back to her to avoid any mistakes. Mistakes are costly. In these types of situation, they could be deadly.

Yeah, if you don’t choke. My body chilled suddenly. Where did that come from? Flashes of a dark room flitted past my open eyes, but…I couldn’t place the where, why or what I was doing there.

“Mo? Mo?” Schi repeatedly calling me name brought me back into focus. “I said, would you like to discuss the health phase with Mrs. Brownings?” Schi had concern written across her face.

“Sure.” I gave a sorry smile and drew my attention to our client. “First, I recommend that you get a full checkup, including a STD evaluation.”

“What? Are you sure that…it’s…necessary?” Mrs. Brownings frowned.

“Very. Here’s the card of a good OB-GYN I recommend. She’s discreet and if anything is found, she’ll discuss treatment options in depth.” If there are any.

Mrs. Brownings deflated into her chair. “I never even thought about that. Oh God, what will I do if I have HIV or something?”

“I know this sounds harsh, but you’ll find a way to deal with it.” Just like I am, I didn’t say. “It’s better that you know than you don’t know.”

“Yes, Mrs. Brownings, it is very necessary. We care about you, not just your dollars. There are millions of women who this has happened to and they never knew until it was too late. We don’t want the same thing to happen to you,” Schi said gently. “This is about survival and living like you want to live. With or without Bill.”

I imagined that a multitude of memories, hopes and dreams burned up in the few moments it took her to respond. “All…all right. I’ll make an appointment.” She held out her hand for the card.

“Next, we get to the fun part. What type of scenario are you considering?” What she tells us lets us know the time frame we are working with.

“Now that you’ve put all this other stuff on my mind, I’m definitely looking for something excessively humiliating. I don’t know…something like naked and chained to a pole in front of the Capitol building.”

“We can do something like that if you’d like. The Capitol building might be difficult, but we can sure do one of those mighty oaks in front of it or across the street.” I winked.

“Butt-naked?” The light was back in her eyes.

“As a baby’s ass,” I reassured her.

“I can’t wait!” she squealed. “Oh, I do have one ‘special’ request though.”

As she told us what she wanted to have done, I almost wet my pants laughing. This was either going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back or the needle in the haystack that sewed them back together. One thing for sure, ol’ Bill was going to be one naked, mad son-of-a-bitch when it was all over and done with.

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