Apocalypse . . . the last days in Virginia

Chapter Eighteen

© Richard L. Thornton, Architect and City Planner


From April 1993 until April 1996, Diana’s diary contained repeated entries of this statement, “Richard’s parents have promised me a lot of money to screw Richard and get him to their home in Georgia. They still have not paid me!” I found the diary In April 1996 between the two mattresses of the twin bed in the guest bedroom, where I was forced to sleep most of my time in Virginia. The message stabbed me in the heart, but I still did not understand what it fully meant until my mother’s deathbed confession in 2002.

In early 1990, my stepfather confronted my estranged wife, Diana, with extremely embarrassing information about her past activities even going back to her college years, obtained by a private investigator, employed by him. Many of them would have been immediate grounds for a divorce with the judge awarding me all assets. He threatened to pass on this information to me, unless she henceforth did as she was told. Immediately, he wanted the names and addresses of my friends and architecture clients in Virginia. He then informed her that he would pay her $50,000 ($115,000 today) if she would use her contacts with the occult to destroy my sources of income so completely that I would be forced to live with him and my mother.

He never had any attention of paying Diana a cent. Once she had destroyed me financially, there was nothing that she could do to force him to pay her. His only concern was that I had been pushed to the limit by her behavior and was going to divorce her before she had a chance to make me completely helpless financially.

My mother was persuaded by him to join this occult organization in 1989 by being told that it was a patriotic organization, which granted three wishes to all new members. She was led to believe that since all its members were good, Christian Republicans, God had granted them magical powers to fulfill these wishes, no matter how impossible they seemed.

This wannabe godfather was a nobody in the grander scheme of things, but he had increasingly done favors for organized crime and the occult since the early 1970s . . . especially while employed as a fiscal officer by the State of Georgia in the 1980s. After retiring from the State Government, he suddenly had a great deal more wealth, which he mainly used to punish me, while simultaneously reward my sister . . . hoping to make us enemies. It didn’t work.

One of my girlfriends in the early 2000s was also a victim of his hatred of women. She described him as a spider, lurking in a corner, that is no threat to the majority of people, but potentially lethal to any woman, who got close to me.

If the reader may recall from an early chapter, in one of the great ironies of my life, Vivi (my French soulmate) picked up the phone, when my mother returned a long distance call from a friend’s house . . . the morning after Vivi and I first met. They chatted for awhile like old buddies. LOL When Vivi handed the phone to me, my mother immediately said, “That French girl is really sweet . . . and intelligent. It’s shame that you are not single. I can tell that she really likes you!”

My mother at age 28. Until becoming pregnant, like Vivi, she had long shoulder-length black hair.

I led my mother to believe that Vivi was just “somewhat attractive” and just a brief acquaintance, who I would never see again. I certainly didn’t tell her that because she was 1/4th Mexican Indian, 27-year-old Vivi strongly resembled my mother when she was about that age.

Vivi remained unknown to the rest of my family (Thank God!) Yet, from the first night we met, she did everything possible to booster my self-confidence and promote my businesses. She claimed that her kindness to me was because it made me better in bed . . . but she could not fool me. In her heart, she was an angel. Vivi also wanted to have my children . . . something that my legal wife did not want to do. That essentially was the state of things at the beginning of 1993.

Attacked from all sides

The disappearing truck act

One of the dirtiest tricks played by Diana first occurred in the brief period in early August 1992, when she was back on the farm. Normally, I wrote the monthly check payment on my truck loan. The loan was held by a credit union in Asheville, NC. The loan would be paid off in October 1992.

Diana made it appear that she made the payment, even deducting the amount of the check from our bank balance, but she hid the payment envelope rather than mailing it. She did the same thing in September so I would not know that the August payment was not made. There were no warning letters or telephone calls from the Asheville branch of this credit union, as later claimed.

The first thing I knew that anything was wrong was early in the morning of Monday, October 5, 1992, when a pickup truck appeared at my house and its occupants began chaining the bumper of my truck to the rear of their much bigger pickup.

The check from the State of Virginia for the 200 pounds of cheese had arrived the previous Thursday, so I had more than enough money to pay off the auto loan and pay the truck repossession company for their drive from Asheville. The repo men said that the Asheville office would have to approve that. Fortunately, we had fax machines in 1992 so in addition to calling the credit union office, I sent a fax of my check book balance and the two stubs showing that we had written checks for both delinquent months. The woman, I talked to in Asheville refused to take the money, even if I paid cash.

As soon as the truck arrived in Asheville, it was then hauled hundreds of miles to Raleigh to be auctioned off. Somebody was in such a hurry to make me truck-less that they used the old North Carolina title for the vehicle rather than its Virginia title. That ultimately saved my situation.

At the same time that all my architecture clients were cancelling projects, I had no transportation. Eventually, I stopped talking to the Asheville women, who were obviously in my wife’s “sorority.” The CEO in Raleigh smelled a rat because we had been paying notes on time for five years and the Asheville branch was by law supposed to hold the vehicle for 30 days before selling it. The purchaser of my truck in Raleigh returned it because the vehicle could not be registered with its invalid title.

Initially, the Asheville office wanted me to pay the repo company $1600 to return the car, plus pay them three months notes with late fees. The CEO made them only charge $600 – just for the first repo drive, but the pickup was returned with $728 damage done to it. All the income that I had earned in September was spent to get a five year old pickup back.

And now she is a druggy also?

Diana had joined a commercial gym upon returning to Virginia. She was losing weight from going there, I thought. She also enrolled in a night time art class at a local community college. She would return home from those classes three times a week at about 10:30 PM, reeking of marijuana. Thursday night was her “girls night out” in which she spent vast amounts of cash.

I noticed a pattern on Thursday night. Diana would generally arrive around 9 PM. She would initially be arrogant, talking down to me like I was a slave. Then she would get belligerent. She would try to start arguments with me or takes swings with her fists for no reason. The final stage would change into extreme depression. She would often start crying or even go to sleep with her clothes on.

These behavioral changes were typical of psychotropic drugs like meth and cocaine. First, I found a plastic sandwich bag containing unlabeled capsules. She called them “diet pills” that she bought at the gym, but they were actually meth. That is why she was losing so much weight – not heavy exercise. Then, when I got my pickup truck back, I waited at a safe distance from her school. I then trailed her convoy of teachers’ cars to a house out in the country, where the women went inside and bought cocaine. The teachers rubbed the cocaine on their gums, so no one would notice nasal irritation from the cocaine. I realized that I would have to get a divorce as soon as possible. Otherwise, Diana’s drug use would destroy both of us.

The Shenandoah Chronicles continue . . .

January 25, 1993: I received a strange post card from Diana’s mother. On the back side is a witch hex sign and a statement, “You have been banned from all three sectors of the Universe, because you voted for Democrats.”

February 12, 1993: I was driving back from a project site near Strasburg to our farm, when two young men in the back of a pickup in front of me appeared to push a cardboard boxes from their truck bed onto US Hwy. 11.  In this part of the highway there were bifurcated one-way lanes. I steered my truck onto the road shoulder, which was at least 10 feet wide. 

After the boys put the boxes back on to their truck bed,  I was about to turn back onto the traffic lanes, when I saw a massive, red, 1960 Cadillac Eldorado barreling southward on the Valley Turnpike.  The driver veered into the left-hand land then curved right, pointing this red beast directly toward my door. I thought I was about to be in heaven.  In fact, to this day I still have a vivid image in my head of this battering ram being six inches from my left elbow.  My immediate thought in that split second was, “So this is what it is like to die.”

1960 Cadillac El Dorado

Well no, physics came into play and also quite possibly one of Susan Karlson’s angels. The Cadillac so massively out-weighed my Toyota truck that the truck behaved like a soccer ball.  The truck was kicked with me in it about 20 feet into the yard.  Since then,  I have read that this type of accident is T.H.E. most likely way to die instantly of a broken neck, but I was only sore . . . no significant injuries.

The only damage to the truck was a shredded driver’s side door.  I slide out the passenger side’s door and walked up to the front door of the house.  Very few people had cellular phones back then.  I asked the lady to call the Virginia Highway Patrol.  We also didn’t have any such thing as 911 service back then. She refused to do this and instead called the sheriff’s department, which did not have jurisdiction here because US 11 was a federal highway.

The deputy arrived all smiles about 7 minutes later.  The first thing he said was, “Where’s the body?”  A large tree and the crowd of onlookers blocked the view of my truck and me.  The crowd pointed to me on the other side of the tree. When the deputy saw me, his face turned red. He spontaneously squatted and beat the ground with his fists, spewing forth at least a dozen “expletives deleted.” 

When some of his composure returned, he radioed the Sheriff’s Department, “The damn bastard is alive . . . not a scratch on him, what do I do?  There is a crowd here so I can’t shoot him.”  I don’t know why he thought that I couldn’t hear him.  When he got off the radio, he walked over to me and handed me a ticket for “obstruction of traffic.”  He claimed that witnesses, plus the driver of the Cadillac stated that I had stopped my pickup suddenly in the right-hand lane of the road.

Say what?  My pickup had been parked completely off the road on the shoulder and the Cadillac changed lanes at an angle to strike me.  Just as in the intentional “accident” that occurred a little over a two years earlier,  when a red car struck me, while I was parked at the end of my driveway, I was charged with the accident.  However, also this time around, I had my Polaroid camera with me.

The Cadillac had left tire marks on the paving as it swerved to strike my car.  My tires had dug ruts in the gravel of the shoulder, when it was knocked into a front yard.  I obtained an aerial photo from the local agricultural extension agent to document the actual positions of the vehicles.

Again, the Commonwealth’s Attorney was acting as prosecutor in a minor traffic fine case that normally would not have any prosecuting attorney. Again, the deputy got caught in a web of lies and again the CA moved for a five-minute recess in which the deputy “was called to a car accident” and again the case was dismissed.   The only difference this time was that my new auto insurance company gladly paid for replacing the door in accident that could have resulted in catastrophic damage and my death.

Late February through Early March- 1993:  During this period, I took a several Senior Civil Service exams and had twelve interviews at the Department of Interior and State Department.  I was one of the few people there, who were not currently a government employee.   

Vivi and Aimee stayed at the Danby house in Alexandria most of the time, but I was only able to spend the night when there was an early morning exam or interview; alternatively, exams in the afternoon, followed by an exam or an interview in the morning.  Vivi had put on weight in all the right places. She looked great after deciding that it was no longer necessary to starve herself in order to play the parts in movies of women 18-22.  She even had to switch to a larger bra size.

We really only had a couple of “romantic” dates. Most of the time, we went out with Aimee in Vivi’s car as a family – visiting museums and the zoo.  I loved being both a husband and father.  Even at her tender age, I think that Aimee realized that she looked like my daughter  . . . almost identical to many of the kids in my mother’s extended family.  She always called me Papa, not Richard during this period.  Of course, when I was there at night, Aimee was delighted to sleep in her surrogate grandmother’s bedroom, so her mother would be “happy.”

March 15, 1993 – The Perfect Storm:  The eastern side of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic States experienced the worst winter storm in recorded history.  It was a counter-cyclone winter hurricane.  Winds blew up to 55 mph.  There were constant bolts of blue lightning that exploded on our pastures.  When it was over, a minimum of 38 inches of snow lay on our pastures, but over 15 feet of snow piled up over the west side of our barn.  The temperatures stayed near zero for five days.  Even though my tractor was under a shed, it was completely covered in snow for two weeks.  We also could not get out of our driveway nor have telephone service for a week.

Once I had phone service, I sent a fax to Monsieur Marcel Duval at the winery in France (Vivi) stating that my wife and I had been confined to our farm because of a severe blizzard and only that day had telephone service again.  It would probably be a week before I would be able to drive off the farm.  Duval (Vivi) faxed back that he had been concerned about me, because the TV news in France had show videos of massive snow drifts in the region around Virginia. He (Vivi) thanked me for contacting me about the delay in determining the septic tank situation on the proposed vineyard site.

During this period, my wife began cycling back in forth between wanting a divorce and wanting to file for bankruptcy.  She constantly belittled me because I stayed with an “old married couple” in Alexandria, when I should have been picking up women at bars and <expletive> them in motels.  During the last week in March, she began urging me to visit my parents at Easter, since they spent Christmas with my sister, so I had not seen them in 15 months.

April 3, 1993 – Kickoff ceremony for the American Battlefield Protection Program:  Jay Monahan (Katie Couric’s husband) and I were on the Citizens’ Advisory Panel of the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program and so were invited to this ceremony.  Fortunately, the weather had warmed significantly.  Jay recommended that we sit in the bleachers next to National Park Service Director, Roger G. Kennedy and his wife Frances.  He said that it would be good for my career.  Jay didn’t know that I had met him at a party three years earlier.  I hoped that Roger didn’t remember that either.

First, Roger didn’t seem to recognize me, then he blurted out, “goat cheese!”  You’re the guy who made that incredible goat cheese we had at the Smithsonian Christmas Party in 1990.”   I responded, “Yep, that’s me.”  I hoped that he stopped at that point, but he didn’t.   “Hey Richard, did you ever marry that gorgeous French actress, who was at the party.  She was all over you and crazy about you too!  We were talking with her about her past studies at the Sorbonne, but then she said that she had to get back to her man to get warmed up!”

Jay looked at me dumbfounded.  He had always viewed me as somewhat a rustic, who worked all the time.  He never conceived me being at posh Washington parties or being attractive to international celebrities.  I whispered, “I’ll be silent about you, if you remain silent about me.”  Jay got the message. The previous fall, early one Saturday morning, I had come across his Explorer, stalled in a Woodstock, VA restaurant parking lot.  I jump started it for him.  Oh, did I mention that his passenger was a lovely lassie of about 25 years, who Jay was hesitant to introduce?

April 6, 1993 – First exam results:  I received a letter from the National Park Service.  I had scored number one in the technical exam for Historic Preservation, ,also making me number one for Architect of the National Capitol, but a white male government employee had received 10 bonus points for being a veteran and 5 points for administrative experience.  A black female had received a 20 points bonus for being both a veteran and an African-American. She was a Registered Architect, but her only experience had been with designing military dorms and offices. So, my modified ranking was Number 3. 

I might be interviewed again for the job, if the other two didn’t work out.  I could expect many more exam and interview scores to arrive in the next few days. All were for positions in the Department of Interior that paid far more than I made as a private sector architect. Bob Danby thought I would be a shoe-in for one of the administrative positions involving historic preservation or downtown revitalization.

I now know that Vivi told Sara that she was pregnant in early April, but didn’t want to tell me until after the exams were completed . . . for fear it would upset me.  It is tragic that I was not told, too. I would have been ecstatic and instantly found some way to file for divorce rather than procrastinate to the point in time in which the Anti-wife and the Anti-parents could spring their trap. Actually, I would have been excited, because at last I was about to be with a woman, who truly loved me so much that she would intentionally have my child without any assurance of being married later on.

I have no doubt, if I had greeted my mother with the news that she was going to be the grandmother of a beautiful child, from a beautiful, wealthy mother, who would look like the Creek children in her family, she would have been elated. Her first response would have probably to offer driving down to the bank to draw money out her savings account to pay for a quick divorce. Remember my mother talked to Vivi the morning after we first met. I let my mother believe that Vivi had “okay” looks and modest income. Nevertheless, my mother said, “Its a shame that you are not single. That French girl really likes you.”

Black shorts and black shirts

April 8, 1993 – Easter weekend: As was a long tradition, my wife asked for a divorce as I was about to leave for Metro Atlanta.  This time it was different.  Enough was enough.  Soon after I arrived at my parents’ house,  I told them that Diana had repeatedly been asking for a divorce, so I was going to say “yes” this time when I returned back to Toms Brook.  They were not upset at all.  They said that maybe I should have divorced her years ago.  I agreed.   This was good news. 

As soon as the paperwork was filed, I would tell my mother about Vivi then show her photos of her and Aimee.  The fact that both Vivi and Aimee looked like mixed-blood Creek Indians would be a big plus with my mother.   My new family would fit right into her family.

This is a very critical fact.  About the only other item that I brought with me to my parents’ house was a box containing the original copies of all the evidence that I presented to the Georgetown Hearings and a 550+ page book containing all the depositions made by witnesses, plus the names and addresses of the investigative team. I did not want to leave it at the Toms Brook House, where Diana could read it or steal it. After showing the top-secret documents to my parents and explaining their importance, I hid the box in a remote storage space underneath the basement stairs.

April 12, 1993: I primarily brought with me a toilet bag and a second change of casual clothes, so I was off for Virginia early on Monday morning. I also had made what would prove to be a catastrophic mistake.  I had not bothered to bring my address book, because this was just a five-day trip. I went to fill up my gas tank and my gas company credit card was refused by the pump.  I went to the other two brands for which I had credit cards and they were refused.  I then tried to use my Visa credit card and my bank debit card and they were refused.  

I had to wait until 9 AM when the First Union Bank opened to find out what had happened. On Thursday, my wife had deposited a large check from an architecture client then at 11:45 AM on Saturday morning, my wife cleaned out our checking account.  We no longer maintained separate accounts for the cheese creamery and my architecture practice.  I immediately tried to call her on my new cellular phone.  There was an error message . . . “Account cancelled by subscriber on April 11, 1993 via land telephone.”

I returned to my parents’ home and told them what had happened.  They didn’t seem the least bit upset.  My mother then suggested that I live with them for five years while I got a law degree.  A law degree?  Had she gone bonkers?  In retrospect,  I now realize that it was odd that my parents didn’t immediately offer to loan me enough money to get home.  However, I was so upset, that never even crossed my mind.  I did notice something odd.   Then . . . and for the rest of the summer, my father only wore black shorts or pants and a black shirt.

I called all the 1-800 numbers on the backs of my credit cards.  All had been charged to the limit between April 8 and April 11.  Apparently, Diana had invited all her friends to fill up their tanks with our credit cards.  The Visa card had been charged to the limit by taking a large cash advance out. 

Vivi wouldn’t hesitate to send me money, if I needed it.  I got permission from my parents to use their phone to call Bob and Sara. Sara could then contact Vivi and get her to wire money to me with Western Union.    Directory assistance said that they had an unlisted number!  That unlisted number was in an address book 625 miles to the north in Virginia.  There was absolutely no way to contact Vivi. I didn’t even know her address in Paris.

Almost immediately,  my father said something odd.  Just out of the blue he announced,  “You think you are smart, but I am going to prove that I am smarter than you.”   He was playing some sort of mind game that I did not understand.

Rather than offering a loan, my father told me that he knew some people who might need menial work done.  My mother said that she could get me supply teacher assignments from the school system, where she taught before retiring. So that is what I did for the next three weeks, until I had enough money to return to Virginia.  I mowed lawns, spread  grass seed, plus unloaded straw bales and agricultural lime. Of course, I did all these things as part of running farm, but my father seemed to get sadistic pleasure out of me having to do it to earn minimum wage pay checks.

Friday April 16, 1993:  I received a certified mail from a law firm in Winchester, VA stating that their client, Diana Rita Thornton, had informed them that without warning I moved to the Atlanta Area to live with a woman (at my parents’ address.) Obviously, the attorney did not know that I was staying at my parents’ residence,   The legal firm had filed a Motion for Marital Separation from with the District Court of Shenandoah County.   The attached notice stated that I could not enter our property without her permission.  The law firm seemed unaware that this was a large working farm and that my architecture office was on the premises.  Under Virginia law, an innocent marital party cannot be barred from a work-related property, if that is his or her primary means of support.  

Through the future months and years, I learned that on that same week, my wife had called virtually every person in my address book, even going back to friends from college,  to tell them that I had cleaned out their checking account and then moved in with an older woman in the Atlanta suburbs.  Several of the people called were asked for money so she could buy food. 

Vivi also arrived in Washington, DC on April 16th.   She and Aimee stayed at Bob and Sara’s for the remainder of the month. Sara had called my house several times after I did not return to Virginia on Monday. Most times, she received a recorded message, but Diana did not call back. Finally, early one weekday morning, she caught Diana at the house. Diana told her that I had left her the previous week, while she was at school. She did not know where I was, but thought I had run off with another woman.

Vivi asked an American friend of hers in Washington to call until he got an answer at our farmhouse. He represented himself as an architecture client. I had not shown up for an appointment on Wednesday. Diana gave him the same lie as she did Sara. Vivi was getting suspicious that Diana had hired someone to kill me.

When attempts were made on Bob and Sara’s lives, they quickly departed for a place unknown to Vivi.  Vivi then moved into a motel in Winchester, which she used as a base for searching the Shenandoah Valley to find information on me.  She even went to my house, pretending to be the wife of Marcel DuVall.  My wife claimed to not know where I was.   Had my parents given me the money to rent an apartment in Winchester where I could continue my architecture work, I am certain that sooner or later, I would have run into Vivi.

April 20, 1993: That weekend, I was able to find the home number of Dr. Joe Hollis, a long-time architecture client, for whom I had designed several nursing homes. He was a professor at James Madison University in Harrisonburg. He agreed to advance me a payment on incomplete work, so I could drive up to Virginia and get my computer, drafting machine and architectural references.

On Wednesday the 21th, as I was going out the door to drive over 600 miles the farm on Toms Brook, my father asked me, “Where is your pen?” I told him that it was with my note pad in the pickup. He pushed a felt tip pen into my shirt pocket and said, “See, that is why you are unsuccessful. You don’t have a pen in your pocket.”

I was really irritated. “I have a very successful architecture practice in Virginia.” He laughed, “Then how come, you are living here in our house, penniless. I am going to teach you the value of money!” The man was totally insane, but also totally in control of my life at this point.

I drove up to Virginia, obtained the check from my client and then planned to drive by Bob and Susan’s house to tell them where I was.   However, once there in Virginia I decided that my first priority was to retain a divorce lawyer in Winchester,  since I was living 600 miles from my home. 

First, the female attorney called my wife’s law firm and told them that I did not run away from my wife, but was visiting my parents over Easter Weekend, when she emptied all our bank accounts and charged all the cards to their limits.

Diana’s attorneys refused to allow me on the premises to retrieve my work-related equipment without a letter that would be co-signed by my wife.  Having no money for a motel room after paying the lawyer’s retainer and past due bills in Virginia, I had to head back home, but first I dropped by Susan’s townhouse to see if she was living again in Winchester I did not have the enough money for gasoline, if I drove to Alexandria to stop by Bob and Sara’s house.

My keycard for Susan’s townhouse complex still worked, but she was not there . . . and had not been there for several months.  The folks in the sales office remembered me and so took a note from me to Susan in which I explained my situation and gave her my parents’ address. They agreed to forward the note to Susan’s secret address. Until then I could not stay at her townhouse.

I had NOT signed any Marriage Separation Agreement. I decided to stop by the farm, since my wife was at school teaching. It was so sad.  My three beloved herd dogs raced up to me, overjoyed to see the only human on the farm, who gave them love.  Soon the goat herd raced up to the front of the house, overjoyed to see me.  How could I explain the situation to animals.  At least, I would be able to get my address book, computer and accessories.  Unfortunately, my wife had changed the locks on the house, but the barn was unlocked.  I was able to get my bicycle out of the barn and put it in the back of the pickup.  At least, now while stuck in my parents’ house, I could get some exercise by bicycling.

Shortly, after returning to my parents’ house, I discovered that my top-secret box containing the depositions for the Georgetown Hearings were missing.  My parents denied ever seeing them, but within minutes after I arrived at their house on April 8, I had explained to them that these items were top secret and should not be viewed by anyone.  What could I do in the short run?  I had been manipulated into a situation of being penniless and homeless. Meanwhile, the murders of law enforcement officers and witnesses start.

April 23, 1993:  My attorney was informed that my wife has refused to co-sign the letter.  After telephoning me with the bad news, my attorney sent another, much shorter, letter that reminded my wife’s attorney that Virginia law requires that she let me retrieve my work-related equipment, tax records, clothes and personal items.  There was no response.  My attorney sent me a bill for $1200, along with the copy of the second letter.  That ate up most of the $1500 check that my architecture client had given me and I still had not done that work, because I didn’t have my computer, plotter and design drawings.

Periodical escapes from living hell

April and May, 1993:  I was in living hell.  Being at my parent’s house was a hundred times worse than being in the farm house part time with my now estranged wife.  My father was treating me alternatively like his prisoner of war or his gay lover.  He was constantly trying to get me to suck a straw from a drink, so he could watch. My mother was treating me like a 17-year-old.  Repeatedly my father was calling me a failure.  Both of them were repeatedly saying crazy things like “if you loved us, you would want to be like us” or “what we want you to do is live with us in the suburbs like normal people and commute to downtown Atlanta.” They might also suggest that I live in the house for five years and attend law school!

Again and again, he told me that I was a failure as an architect and that the only thing I was qualified to do was work as a salesman at Home Depot or as a construction laborer.  Remember, at the beginning of the month, I had been sitting beside the Director of the National Park Service and discussing my appointment to jobs that paid the equivalent today of $150,000 to $250,000 a year.

Their home was a typical brick rancher from the late 1960s, with tiny rooms and too much furniture. I missed my animals, my pastures, Toms Brook, the Virginia Mountains, the highly educated friends in DC,  the cultural sophistication of the Washington, DC Area.  and especially the almost daily instant message exchanges with my beloved in France.  

The Separation Agreement stated that “both parties are free to live as single people, except that they cannot remarry until this marriage is permanently dissolved.”   That meant I could immediately live with Vivi and Aimee . . . if I could only find a way to communicate with them. Vivi would have been happy to pay for all housing costs. It was pocket change to her. Remember this was about six years before the world wide web and email came of age.

When I was not laboring on construction sites or working as a substitute teacher in nearby high schools, I went to the main county library in Jonesboro, GA and looked up everything I could find on Georgia and Virginia Domestic and Divorce Laws.  I also obtained all contact information for the Shenandoah Sheriff’s Department and the French Embassy in Washington, DC.  I immediately learned that without a court order,  my wife had absolutely no legal right to bar me from the house or even live in the house. 

I did not need an attorney.  All I had to do was submit a Right of Access Warrant to the Shenandoah Sheriff’s Department and they would be required to set a date and time for me to enter the house in the company of a deputy.  I typed one up, got it notarized then faxed to the Sheriff’s Department from a photocopy and business supply shop.   A couple of hours later, they faxed back an acceptance letter and set the date/time for 9 AM on Monday, June 7th.  

I then typed a letter to Ambassador Jacques Andreani at the French embassy, which reminded him how he knew me, explained that I had suddenly been required to relocate temporarily to the Atlanta Area and asked him for contact information for Vivi in France.  A response was mailed back to my parent’s house.  It did not arrive until Friday, June 4, 1993.   The brief response was written by a low-ranking mailroom clerk in the embassy.  It stated in French and then in English that the policy of the French government was that only French citizens could be assisted by embassy staff.  Obviously, Ambassador Andreani never saw my letter.

A miracle in Peachtree City, GA

Peachtree City is now a very successful planned city on the southern edge of Metro Atlanta.  When I arrived there in early 1973, there was not much there.  The Wikipedia article on Peachtree City is incorrect.  Joel Cowen did not design or even conceive of the path system in 1959.  I did in 1973.  By 1993, the path system had grown to about 30 miles long, so it was a logical place for me to bicycle away my anger and grief.   PTC was about 10 miles from my parent’s house.

I was bicycling away in PTC on May 9, 1993, when another bicyclist pulled to the left and slightly behind me.  I glanced for a mini-second and saw a blond lady with sun glasses on.  A few seconds later, I heard a familiar voice say, “Well, Richard, aren’t you going to say hello to your second wife?”  It was Susan Karlson!

To be succinct,  Susan had received the note that I wrote for her at her Winchester townhouse complex. She was horrified when she heard what had happened to me and promised to help me forget the pain.  She could not tell me where she lived in Georgia or what she was doing.  She had no clue how to contact Vivi or where Bob and Sara Danby were.  We could not travel together in the daytime in the same car.  However, she really missed the good ole days of making out at the Wayside Inn and so we spent a lot of time making out in her big Volvo in a Peachtree City parking lot. 

Susan begged me not to mention her to my parents, relatives or friends.   I would be putting her life in danger.  I could only call her from a pay phone.  She also would not tell me how she knew when I was riding my bike in Peachtree City. 

Susan suggested that I stay in her townhouse when in Virginia because it was dangerous for me to stay in a motel (and a lot more expensive).  She had another set of keys made for me and told the condo management that I might be staying alone at the townhouse from time to time.  However, beginning in September 1993, the town house was being occupied by someone on the Witness Protection Program,

Susan owned this Volvo sedan the whole time I knew her, from 1993 onward. She liked to appear out of nowhere to wave or blow kisses at me. I could even be in Tennessee or western North Carolina and there she would appear out of nowhere. At the 2003 Southeastern American Indian festival at Ocmulgee National Park, she parked her Volvo next my car then returned after dark on foot, avoiding the rangers somehow . . . then slithered into my tent for the night.

June 6, 1994: Susan was never able to find out where the Danby’s or Vivi were.  She did learn that things were in condition “red” in northern Virginia.  A female covert federal agent in the Shenandoah Valley was murdered in late April.  The Danby’s were among many law professors, investigators and witnesses at Georgetown, who had experienced life-threatening situations since mid-April.  Apparently, they are participating in something akin to the federal witness protection program.

Susan says that the FBI system still listed my residence as being on the Toms Brook Farm. Since Dan and Sara’s whereabouts were confidential, she thought that it was best that my official address remain as is.

June 7, 1993:  The Shenandoah County deputy was waiting for me when I arrived at my farmhouse.  He was very polite and friendly.  He said that the same thing had happened to him, when a man moved in with his wife.  Diana looked terrified.  Things were not going as planned.  She had expected the Winchester attorneys to bleed me dry financially.  Instead, I was becoming my own attorney. 

I was able to obtain all of the items on the list given the Sheriff’s Dept., including the secret codes for our Instant Messaging system inside a file cabinet in the cheese creamery.  However, my wife claimed that the address book had been given to her attorneys.   I told her that she herself said that I was too stupid to find a girlfriend.  Her attorneys never did return the address book, because my wife never paid them a red cent. When I sent them a certified letter, demanding my personal property . . . the address book . . . they sent me a $15,000 legal bill that Diana had run up with them. They said pay her bill and you will get your address book.

My Winchester attorney charged me $120 to tell me that I would have file a case in state court to get my address book. That would probably cost about $10,000! I was only in the attorney’s office about five minutes, but she billed me for a half hour.

While I was up in Virginia,  Susan called the security section at the French Embassy.  They found my name listed as a “friend of the ambassador.”   They then contacted Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure. Vivi had resigned from the agency in January, but they promised to contact her at her apartment.  The next day, while I was still at Susan’s townhouse,  an embassy official called Susan and told her there was no one at Vivi’s apartment. Neighbors said that she had been gone for several weeks. Vivi had flown to London, England with Aimee on April 2, 1993 and apparently never returned to the apartment. Neighbors said that in early May, some men had come to her apartment and moved out her clothing, personal belongings and some furniture.

After I returned back to my parent’s, I set up my computer and FAX in hope of contacting Vivi.  I don’t know, if didn’t work on a different phone number or what.  My FAX never received a message that the FAX message had been transmitted and received by Vivi’s FAX machine.

July 1993: Susan and I had dates, several times a week . . . mostly bicycling, picnics on the banks of the Chattahoochee River or meeting at a movie theater in Fayetteville. One time, we were in line at the movie theater ahead of a gal who looked like Jo Evelyn Kelly, a close friend from high school.  Jo Evelyn is mentioned in several of the “The French Courtesan” chapters. The lass turned out to be Jo Evelyn’s look alike daughter and a student at Georgia Tech.   

Sometimes, we went to restaurants that were a considerable distance from where she lived. Susan also had use of a gated vacation cabin in Carroll County, GA, when we wished to have privacy.

Shortly after our Fourth of July picnic,  Susan informed me that my father had hired a private eye, who had been following me from day one. Diana had also hired a private eye that was driving past my parents house twice a day. That meant my father (who in 2005 I learned with a DNA test was not my biological father) had spent an enormous amount of money to keep tabs on me. 

Two FBI special agents contacted the PI and explained to him that he could go to prison for up to 10 years for interfering with a criminal investigation.  Henceforth, he was not to report seeing Susan’s Volvo or Susan being near me.  He complied with their wishes and discontinued his work for my father.

During the third week in July,  my wife’s psychologist in Winchester called me.  She was very friendly and immediately advised me to start seeking my “nurturing” elsewhere. My wife was going to require years of therapy.  I told her that my wife had put me in a situation where I had very little money for going to bars and discos to meet women. 

The psychologist said that Diana had first come to her, claiming that she had many emotional scars from living with an abusive husband.  “Richard, I quickly saw through her lies and was convinced that you were the abused spouse.  The more I explored that woman’s mind and past, the more concerned I became.”

The psychologist then told me that my wife had been keeping many secrets from me.  She added that her profession’s standards prohibit the passing along of “secrets” to other parties, but the Commonwealth of Virginia did require that all information connected with human reproduction must be told to the husband.

For starters, my wife had borne a child out of wedlock prior to us meeting. Diana had told me that she got sick during the autumn of her sophomore year and had to drop out of school for the rest of the year.

Diana had several abortions while we were married, dating back to when we first moved to Asheville, NC. As soon as I moved to Asheville ahead of her, she began an affair with an African-American man. Not knowing who the father was, she had abortion a few weeks after joining me in Asheville. The child was obviously mine, a nurse later told several years later. For years, she had sabotaged fertility treatments by using spermicide after artificial insemination. 

Richard, I asked her why she told you that she wanted children, before you two were married.  She said that a priestess had told her that she would be killed if she had a child with you.  She knew that if she told you that she really didn’t want children, you would not have married her.”   I told her that I almost got an annulment after our honeymoon because she told my Mexican friends that she didn’t love me.

Your wife has requested that the two of you have a joint counseling session on your anniversary, August 3.  It is against my own recommendations, but under our professional standards, I am required to have at least one joint session, if my patient requests it.”

The psychologist closed her telephone conversation with this warning, “Richard, your estranged wife is very dangerous.  Stay away from her.  No matter what she tells you, don’t stay in that house with her!”

August 2, 1993:  I drove up to Susan’s house, where I would spend the night.  Susan was there waiting on me.  What we planned to do was drive in her car to Alexandria after the counseling session and hope that we could find out where Bob and Sara Danby were . . . maybe the country where Vivi was now living.

Second building from the left was the psychologist’s office.

August 3, 1993:  I was apprehensive about being in a joint counseling session with the semi-ex, but the psychologist quickly made me feel comfortable and really asked me few questions.  The only question that I remember now is if I had ever hit my wife.  I told her, “No, I have never hit any woman, but she has hit me several times without provocation.  The worst attack occurred after I fixed her a gourmet dinner, complete with wine and candles and served in our fancy dining room.   As soon as she came in the house and saw the table set, she went into a rage, ultimately hitting me several times on the head.”   Diana confirmed that it was all true.

The only other thing that remember distinctly is Diana looking me straight in the face, in front of the psychologist and saying, “I didn’t love you when we married and I never loved you.”

In front of the psychologist, I stated that I needed to get my fall and winter clothes, while I was up here. Diana had boxed them for me.  I was going to drive back to the farmhouse then leave after I loaded the clothes.  The psychologist told me not to remain in the house any longer than necessary.

Diana had told the psychologist that she had boxed my clothes. She had not boxed them. They were in a pile on my bed and there were no boxes in the house or the barn.

This is a scene that comes back to me again and again in nightmares.  I came in the kitchen to say I was leaving.  My wife was leaning backward against the same cabinet, where Katie Couric had leaned the previous summer. My wife said, “Honey, I no longer drink coffee or tea, but I made a special tea for you that I think you will like.”  I was an absolute fool and drank that tea.

First, there was something in it that made me physically weak.  A pathologist later determined that was some form of muscle relaxant . . . perhaps a sedative. They also found cadmium and cocaine in my digestive tissues. 

Then a terrible pain was felt in my abdomen.  I told her that I needed to lay down for a moment.  I couldn’t get up until the next morning, when I was in excruciating pain.  I dosed in and out of consciousness, but either there was something like Viagra or she gave me several pills when I was unconscious. Whatever the timing,  she raped me much of the night, with me being too weak to stop her.  I now realize that she expected me to be dead by morning, which was my birthday, but I was so drugged and disoriented, I really didn’t know what was going on.  It was some sort of bizarre ritual.

As soon as I had the strength to get up in the morning, I raced off to my family doctor.  He found that my urine was extremely alkaline and that I had a severe peritonitis infection in my abdomen.  An xray showed many holes in my intestines and my abdominal muscles had ruptured.

The good doctor, an Irishman, gave me a hefty cup of “stop leak” which would temporarily seal the holes in my intestines.  He then used a massive syringe to inject the amount of antibiotic into my abdominal cavity that would normally be given an elephant.  He told me to go straight to the emergency room in the county hospital . . . but I had very little money and the county school’s insurance would no longer pay my healthcare bills, since we were separated.  I bought a rawhide doggie chew bone.  I put in my mouth and then drove 650 miles to my parents’ home in South Metro Atlanta. 

The next morning, I went my mother’s internist, a Mexican physician,  who x-rayed me and then sent me to the hospital, where they drained my intestines and then began serious treatment for the peritonitis.

Susan had freaked out when I didn’t show up at her house to go to Alexandria.  She drove by the farm and saw my truck, but did not like that at all.  Somehow, she later found me at the hospital in South Metro Atlanta and posed as a nurse for the internist to get inside my room to find out what had happened.  It helps to have a professional spy as a girlfriend!  She chewed me out for not divorcing my wife three years earlier, but I protested that my wife would have then tortured the animals instead of me. 

For the next 14 months, I had to live with constant sharp pains and keep a bandage around my abdomen to hold the organs in place as they healed.  In December 1995,  I had the surgery to sew 110 stitches in my colon and place a nylon mesh over my organs.  

Late April and early May 1993: The nomination of the Architect of the National Capitol actually comes from the President. The National Park Service only interviews and tests the candidates. In 1996, I learned from National Park Service Director, Roger Kennedy that someone in the Whitehouse noticed that I had the last name as the first Architect of the Capitol, William Thornton. This person or someone else noticed that I was listed as a Native American, but was not given bonus points for being Native American. The three top candidates were sent back to the NPS for review.

It was also found that the woman, who scored the candidates had not given me any credits for many years of experience in historic preservation, whereas the other two had virtually none. but got points for professional experience. When the points were recalculated I was ranked number one. The next step was to be interviewed by someone in the White House.

A letter and a phone call was made to set up an interview appointment, but there was no response from me, since Diana never forwarded me the letter from the National Park Service. Roger Kennedy dispatched two rangers to my farm. They were told by my estranged wife that she didn’t know where I was, but didn’t think that I would be interested in the job.

*It is interesting that in her diary, Diana viewed herself as the victim in the unsuccessful attempt to kill be with poison. The world never allows her to have what she wants!

Octoberfest in Winchester, Virginia

Diana called my parents house and left me word that all my clothes were in boxes now and I could pick them up at 4 PM on Friday, October 8 in the parking lot of the Red Lobster Restaurant on Tunnel Road in Asheville, NC. She was spending a long Columbus Day weekend with friends, living near Asheville. My mother was appalled that Diana would even have the gall to call me after trying to kill me in early August.

I smelled a rat. It was a five hour drive back to my parent’s house, including time for eating dinner and pit stops. I would be driving in the dark. Either she was going to act super sweet and invite me to eat with her at a restaurant, where they could try drugging again or there was someone waiting to cause a wreck on a dark, curvy mountain road that night.

Whatever the case, she would expect me to drive back to South Metro Atlanta that night. Instead, I was heading north on US 23 (now I-26) and not stopping for dinner until I reached Interstate 81 in Tennessee. Saturday afternoon, I was going to drop off the drawings of the Alzheimer Patients Home at Joe Hollis’s house in Harrisonburg and pick up the check.

Late in the afternoon I was going to put heavy duty locks on the gates at the farm. Diana was intentionally unlocking the gates and leaving them open in hope that more goats would get hit by cars. On Sunday, I would give spare keys to the gates to the realtor. On Monday I planned to meet briefly with my attorney and then again, briefly with Diana’s psychologist. I then planned to drive into Washington to the French embassy, to see if Ambassador Andreani would help me find Vivi. I start heading south that day then drive the rest of the way back to Metro Atlanta on Columbus Day.

Well, Diana wasn’t super sweet. She was playing the victim act. She was slightly late then parked her car about 100 feet away from my truck, whereupon she tossed the boxes haphazardly across the parking lot and drove off. So, I literally did “pick up my boxes in the Red Lobster parking lot.”

I drove all the way to Roanoke, VA that night. My only pit stop was a quick meal at a KFC on I-81. I stayed at the cheapest motel possible then made it to Joe Hollis’s house in Harrisonburg around 9: 00 AM. We discussed the plans over breakfast. There was plenty of time to drop by the First Union bank in Harrisonburg to deposit Joe’s check and get a wad of cash.

The 32 remaining goats and 12 Barbados sheep raced across the entire width of the pasture, when they saw my yellow pickup. They were not being fed, but 55 acres of pasture provided them with an abundance of forage. Eventually, I was able to get most of these animals to a farm in Elbert County, GA.

Next came the visit to the farm. It was so sad for me. I missed the place so much and the animals missed me. The poor dogs were ecstatic to see me. They were whimpering as if to say, “Daddy, why did you leave us?” They were being fed by the realtor, after he realized that Diana was intentionally starving them. Then the 32 remaining goats spied my car from about 1200 feet away and came running to me. I was in living hell at my parents’ house and missed the farm and animals so much.

Of course, that is how Diana had gotten away with grossly immoral behavior. It was constantly threatening to destroy our beautiful lifestyle and my animals. By this time, I realized that the constant threats of divorce were not that she wanted a divorce . . . she want me as an emasculated slave . . . or as she told Sara, “an old plow mule.” Her witch friends had made her expect to see me crawling back on my knees, just to be on the farm, even though she was the “bad guy.”

When it came for time to go, all three dogs jumped into the back of the pickup camper top and looked plaintively at me . . . begging me to take them home with me. I can still see them today in my mind. Leaving them there condemned to horrible deaths. Over and over again during that period, I made the mistake of playing by the rules and being the nice guy . . . which often resulted in the people and animals I loved being harmed. Evil people only understand one thing . . . fear.

As I turned north onto the Old Back Road, I remembered there was something special about today’s date, October 9th. It was the 129th anniversary of the Battle of Toms Brook.

Typical streetscape in Downtown Winchester, VA.

I drove on to Winchester, where I planned to stay in a comfortable motel and have a nice meal. In a relatively large city like Winchester, it was unlikely that anyone would spot me or harm me . . . at least if I was only there for a couple of days. I had forgotten how vastly more interesting and beautiful, Virginia towns were than those in most of Georgia. There were a surprising number of cars and visitors to Downtown Winchester that day. Perhaps it was because, we were approaching the peak day for leaf color on the mountains.

I decided that I would walk around the old part of the downtown and take photos of the historic buildings. This is something I had always wanted to do, but never had time to do, while living on the farm. I had walked and photographed special buildings along one block, when I saw a sign.

My first stop was the Old Courthouse Museum

Hot dang! There were all sorts of things for me to do on Saturday and Sunday, right here in Winchester. I could visit the lawyer and psychologist on Monday morning then drive most of the way back to Riverdale, GA that afternoon.

My first stop was the 1841 Courthouse museum, which is in the center of the photograph above. It is dedicated to the events of the Civil War around Winchester. I always wanted to go there, but never seemed to have the time. After finishing the view of the museum, I stepped over to a vendor and bought a huge apple fritter and cup of apple cider for lunch. I then walked toward the entrance gate to the entertainment part of the festival.

As I was standing on the corner of the pedestrian street and munching on my apple fritter, I begin hearing a young woman’s voice scream, “Richard, Richard, Richard Thornton . . . turn your head over here. It’s Cindy!”

There was Cindy, running toward me. She was grinning ear to ear and wearing a traditional German outfit . . . well, that was appropriate, since she was mostly German. I had assumed that I would never see her again after the August 15, 1992 party. The closer she got to me the more she looked like she was skipping with joy.

Once we made contact, she acted like she was the wife of a man, who had been in combat overseas for a year. She began giggling, hugging me, kissing me on my cheeks and lips . . . basically showing a lot of built up emotion. The note that she mailed me a few days after the party did say that she had never had a chance to show her feelings for me. It was obvious that she did have strong feelings. I had just never paid attention to her.

I suggested that we sit down and order glasses of Riesling wine from a cafe near the gate. That way, we could catch up on what each had been doing. Jenny agreed.

Before we sat down, I said, ” Cindy , there is something you should know, if I should suddenly grimace or yell out in pain, it is not you. Look!” I pulled away my shirt to revel my abdomen wrapped in bandages.

Cindy said, “Oh my god, that monster shot you!”

“No,” I responded, “She poisoned me on my birthday, this past August.. It’s going to be at least a year before my liver, pancreas, colon and kidneys heal enough for them to make final repairs on my colon. I am on a special diet until the end of February. I have to eat mostly lean meat, fruit and some eggs . . . as little bread as possible. I kinda cheated by eating the apple fritter, but it was awfully good. Is there a restaurant in Winchester, which will make custom meals?”

Richard, you can come to my townhouse for dinner. I would love to cook for you. Did you know that I had to wear the same type bandage for two months and have special diet, because of one of the chemicals in the daquiri that the crazy woman gave me. I don’t think my abdomen is in bad a shape as yours, but there were a lot of other things messed up. “

Winchester now has many restaurants, cafes and bars that serve outdoors in good weather. It gives the city a European flavor.

We ordered our wine and then gave the floor to Cindy so she could catch me up to what her life had been. She said that she was in rehab at Johns Hopkins for three months. The concoction of drugs that she was given caused her to have a stroke in the part of her brain that controls her legs. She also had a few holes in her stomach and intestines. The scariest thing the drugs did, though, was make her temporarily psychotic. She kept on dreaming that she had tried to kill me. In her dreams, she would see blood everywhere and my clothes torn apart.

She continued that after the psychosis went away, she was very depressed. The only thing that kept her going was a fantasy dream that she had experienced repeatedly since she was 20. The two of us were out in the pasture, kissing passionately and were surrounded by goats.

I told her, “Well, I can make that a reality. We can just drive our cars down there on my way south and stop by the farm. Doesn’t matter if the neighbors see me. I am legally separated and Diana has had a string of guys at the house since last April.” Cindy ordered another glass of wine as if she was trying to get courage for another request.

We continued with some small talk, until Cindy finished her second wine glass. “Richard, I thought that I would never see you again, but here we are. Let’s start our first real date with an agreement to be totally honest.”

I will begin. Do you mind, if I smoke?” I said no. She pulled out a pack of Virginia Slims and lit a cigarette. Blowing out the first smoke, she added, “Shocked?”

I slightly smiled and said no again. “From what I’ve seen, almost all the young, upper middle class women in the Valley drink and smoke moderately, even if they don’t smoke in public. They also stay trim before and after marriage. That is something I like about them. Is my observation correct?”

Cindy laughed, “You are right on target, Richard. On most first dates I have had this year, I told the men that I didn’t smoke then tried to cover up the lie by sneaking around. It poisons things from the start and ridiculous, since most of the women in a restaurant or bar my age are smoking in public. Just look around here. No more lies!”

Oh guess I should fess up on another thing. I despise straight whiskey or vodka, but I do like pot. However, I know how the cops are around here now. We girls are very careful to smoke in a house on a farm or somewhere way out in the woods. How about you?”

I answered, “I have nothing against it. Believe it should be legalized . . . but it’s not, so I avoid doing anything that anybody could arrest me for.”

Cindy nodded approval then continued. “Now I have a question for you. This past spring, your wife told everybody that you ran off with another woman and she didn’t know where you were. Lots of people in the Valley have seen you here driving in your truck alone and going around paying her bills. Now she is saying that your use of cocaine bankrupted them and that after you beat her up, she threw you out of the house. Is that true?

I looked Cindy in the eyes, “Never . . . I have never touched cocaine or meth and never hit any woman! She’s the one, who has been using cocaine and meth. She has hit me several times!

Cindy quickly responded, “I believe you Richard and I am going to tell everyone, who knows you that. Now I have a proposal for you.”

We both have been severely hurt by toxic mates . . . you much worse than me. At least Jake’s lawyers turned over his house and farm to me to keep me from suing him. I cleared $260,000 on the sale. [That’s $550,000 today] How do you feel about us pretending that we have been a couple since last year and spending the next few days together as long time lovers? We won’t have to play any games, trying to convince each other how desirable we are or try to seduce each other.

I can tell in your eyes that you want to be with me. I am your beloved until Wednesday morning, when I have to go to work and you have to go back to Atlanta. There is no obligation on your part after then. I only ask that you treat me as a woman you love until then . . . well in your case, be as affectionate with me as you are to your dogs!

With Cindy’s display of vulnerable trust, I had to be honest. I told her the general overview of my past relationships and deep feelings for Vivi and Susan. At the end, I told her that Vivi had evidently decided to move in with a wealthy man in England this past April . . . which was a much wiser decision for her children’s long term welfare. Susan and I always got along well, but she was unavailable much of the time. She couldn’t even tell me where she lived and she refused to visit me at my parents’ house.

I was making an income now, but almost all of it was going to pay bills in Virginia because Diana was trying to force me into bankruptcy. That was not going to occur, but I had little money for cruising bars to pickup babes. In short, I was not a good catch anymore, but on the other hand was emotionally available to make Cindy’s weekend a real experience, not a delusion. My answer was yes.

Cindy was silent for at least 20 seconds . . . trying to ponder in her very bright mind, the surprising information that I had given here. Then the cellular phone in her pocket phone rang. She raised her hand up to say in sign language ” – just a minute.”

Hey Mama . . . Oh, I am at the Octoberfest here, just tootling around . . . Mama, I am fine. I am no longer depressed . . . I don’t mind being alone . . . It’s been good for me. I should have never moved in with Jake right after graduating. I don’t have to have a man around me all the time . . . Yes, I know that Jim Walter wants to go out with me. I don’t want to be married to a doctor and deal with his teenage children . . . but guess who’s sitting across the restaurant table from me? [She pushed her leg forward and started rubbing my legs with it] RICHARD THORNTON! . . . yes, he’s been living with his parents in Atlanta since early last April. He’s legal now! . . . his ex-wife poisoned him . . . he has bandages wrapped around his belly right now . . . Mama, I can’t believe you said that! You’ve gone modern on me! . . . I don’t know. I’ve invited him to dinner at my house. We’ll see how we get along.

Cindy gave me a seductive look, “Mama wanted to know if you are staying over with me tonight.” She then giggled.

Her father picked up the phone. “Hey Daddy! Yes, he’s right here.” Jenny handed the phone to me. Her father, after first giving the standard greetings, asked if Jenny and I would like to be their guests for lunch tomorrow at the Wayside Inn in Middletown. I said yes, I was very familiar with the 200 year old restaurant, but had never eaten there at their famous Sunday buffet.

Yes, the Wayside Inn is where Susan Karlson and I faked faking an affair. Needless to say, I did not mention that while dining there with Cindy’s ‘s parents on Sunday October 10, 1993

Cindy told both her parents how much she loved them and closed the flip top cellular phone. She then looked into my eyes and said, “Okay, now for my comments about what you just told me.”

I have no doubt that you love Vivi very much and are very fond of Susan, but do you realize how starkly different you are from them? They represent opposite extremes, but both of them had bad childhoods and now are estranged from their families. They never experienced being best friends with their brothers or how close you are to your sister. You will never meet their families. Look, here you have already been invited into our family!”

Susan sounds weird to me. If she really loved you, she would have taken a job with the FBI, where she could have a normal relationship with you. That pipe-smoking thing . . . I wonder if she is bisexual? Whatever she is, I bet you will never meet her parents or brothers.

Now, I think that I would really like Vivi, but she can go anywhere in the world on a Concorde jet and you can’t. As could be expected, she got tired of being tied down to the boring life of a middle class professional. She did you a favor by running off to a man in England. It would have happened sooner or later. You will probably never meet anyone in her family either. She is from a broken home.”

Think about this Richard. If either one of those girls had passed you on a sidewalk, they probably would have barely noticed you. Both of them were forced into meeting you in unusual situations. Then there is me. Dozens of guys asked me out for dates every week at Tech, but I walk into a ancient barn and see you rubbing your hands over a mama dog’s head, whose has been nursing a litter of puppies. I instantly fell in love with you . . . okay now I’ve said it. I’m sorry. You can walk away, if you like.” [I didn’t walk away. I felt honored.]

We spent much of the afternoon at an Alpine pavilion with an Austrian band, dancing waltzes and slow, romantic dancing then talking and really getting to know each other. After 12 years of dance lessons and being a cheerleader for a major university, Cindy was basically a professional dancer. Yet she called the experience of waltzing with me . . . MAGICAL. She couldn’t understand how a Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech had become so adept at leading a lovely Virginia Belle in a waltz. Well, I had to be honest . . . as unbelievable as my explanation was.

The first and only time I had ever danced the waltz was in the jungle of Campeche, Mexico . . . around a Maya hut illuminated with sterno lamps. “My teacher was a radically modern, unusually tall, Mexican senorita, who was destined to become a famous anthropologist . . . and she enjoyed smoking skinny, little French cigars . . . her parents loved and spoiled her just as much as your parents spoil you.”

Cindy laughed, “That’s funny. My roommate at the Tri-Delt sorority house was an almost six feet tall, blond Dutch girl, named Arabella. She smoked those skinny little cigars and looked very sexy at it. Sometimes, I smoked them with her, but Virginia Slims are more my style.”

Cindy then asked me the name of the Mexican senorita, who taught me how to waltz. I told her that her name was Ana. Jenny smiled, “You were dancing with Ana this afternoon, weren’t you? She’s my real competition. No matter what woman, you end up with, you will always be thinking of Ana, unless you receive proper therapy.”

As we were walking around the other section of Octoberfest on Piccadilly Street, Cindy spied a shop named, “John B. Hayes, Tobacconist.” She told me to wait on the sidewalk, while she went inside. In little bit, she came out of the shop smiling, “I am going to make you forget Ana tonight. You are going to see a treat that no man, has ever seen.”

On the way over to her townhouse, we stopped at a Krogers Supermarket to buy fixings for dinner. It turned out that Jenny lived in the same gated townhouse development that Susan had lived in. Cindy’s townhouse was much larger than Susan’s. Cindy’s deck , overlooking Opequon Creek, was almost as large as Susan’s whole house.

Cindy showed me another side of her personality that was totally unexpected. I always labeled her an anti-intellectual “party girl.” That she was not. She was very interested in nature, science, archaeology, animals and history. She longed to travel and see the world. Summer cheerleading camps, cheer leading conferences, Tri-Delta National Conventions and dance lessons had kept her from going to Europe like most women of her socio-economic class. And yes . . . she was one helluva gourmet cook. She masterminded a Polynesian feast on her expensive Weber grill, which consisted of meats, fruits and fresh vegetables . . . just what the doctor ordered for both of us.

She had moved a table and one of those new inexpensive CD playing boom boxes out on to the deck. After dinner and desert consisting of fruit ambrosia, she brought out her first surprise . . . a decanter of very expensive French cognac and a cylinder of skinny little cigars. With a French accent, Jenny said, “See monsieur Ree-shard, Ana and Vivi have nothing on me.” Actually, Cindy was breaking her own rules for the “long time lovers weekend,” but I was enjoying the show. She first poured cognac into two glasses then handed one to me.

Before I had time to react, she said, “Okay mister, if you can smoke a pipe with Susan, you can smoke little cigar with Cindy every now and then!” She quickly stuck a little cigar in my mouth and then lit it. She really had smoked cigars with her Dutch friend. She knew how to light a cigar. While still standing up, she lit her cigar, blew out some smoke and sat in the lounge chair beside me.

As she relaxed, Cindy began to tell me more about her family. She interrupted telling me how proud she was of her brothers by saying . . . “Hey smoking little cigars with you is a lot more fun than with Arabela. I think I am going to be able to talk you into joining me for some pot, next time you are here. That will be even more fun. Especially what comes afterward!

She went on to tell me how her parents met in a barn. Her mother was home on summer vacation from the University of Virginia. Her mare was having trouble delivering a foal on a Sunday afternoon. Their veterinary hospital dispatched its youngest vet . . . her father. They kissed spontaneously after pulling out the foal. However, her mother married a hotshot football star at UV. That marriage lasted long enough for Cindy to be born. Then her mother quickly married her stepfather and they have been happy every since.

Cindy announced, “Now for the main attraction!” She poured me another glass of cognac and excused herself to change clothes. She came back about ten minutes later, draped in a beautiful white, gossamer dancing gown. She turned on the CD player. I began to hear the Blue Danube Waltz! I was mesmerized as she swirled around and around the deck with the most beautiful dancing, I have ever seen. It was a magic moment that I have never forgotten.

She then re-loaded the CD and bade me to waltz with her. We swirled around and around into the living room. At the end of the waltz, she dropped her gossamer veil to reveal herself . . . she thought for the first time. Well . . . as of August 3, 2021 this story may go on to the present. We had a wonderful three days together. Her family felt like my family already.

I took a photo of her dancing, but with a night time lighting and slow film, it didn’t turn out well. I have enhanced it a bit with my computer, so you can a least have a suggestion of that experience.

Those magical moments when cindy first danced for me.

October 18, 1993 –  Vivi birthed a healthy baby boy (8 lb. 8 oz. ~ 3.86 kg) at a hospital near Alexandria, VA. I now know that she listed the father as “anonymous donor.” This was done to protect my vulnerability in a divorce case. However, by this time Vivi was facing the reality that I was probably in heaven and my remains were hidden in some unmarked grave in Virginia.

Bob and Sara Danby were there, but did not tell Vivi where they were living. Unlike French babies, Vivi’s gift to the world had a full head of black hair and strong bones. Vivi swore it was swinging a tomahawk as it came out. After the experience, she was not sure if she ever wanted to carry a Creek Indian baby again. LOL They are much more robust than their French counterparts. 

Vivi is living in a rental townhouse in Alexandria, but still does not know where Bob and Sara live. They visit her at least once a week. Bob and Sara have started preparing Vivi for the reality that I am probably dead and that my body may never be found. Already, the FBI has two counter-espionage agents, who are missing in action while investigating the Florida-Georgia-Virginia Drug Pipeline. They were a married couple like Bob and Sara.

The Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss


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