Disillusioned, A Stan Turner Mystery Vol 2William Manchee / Mystery & Detective / Thrillers & Crime
A Stan Turner Mystery
Top Publications, Ltd.
Disillusioned, A Stan Turner Mystery
No part of this book may be published or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or information storage and retrieval systems without the express written permission of the publisher.
This work is a novel and any similarity to actual persons or events is purely coincidental.
Why is it that some people cannot say no? Stan Turner had this affliction and it damn near cost him his career, his family, and his life. To understand why he felt compelled to take on so many dangerous and impossible pursuits we only have to examine his childhood. Unlike most children who at age fifteen had no idea what career path they wanted to follow, Stan knew he wanted to be a politician. He was fascinated by politics and followed all the state and national elections closely. He quickly realized that anyone hoping for a career in politics needed to have an unblemished record. During his youth, he’d been able to avoid trouble to a large extent because he’d led a sheltered life. He came from a lower-middle class family and his parents had to work so hard to survive they had little time to micro manage his life. In fact, Stan was pretty much left to fend for himself. The only thing his parents insisted upon was that he did his chores, wasn’t late for supper, and got passing grades.
Not that Stan was neglected. He never missed a meal nor did his parents ever lay a hand on him. They simply left him to himself and as long as he didn’t get in trouble they were happy. This atmosphere resulted in Stan being rather shy, introverted, and more independent than most of his school mates. At school he kept to himself and only had a few friends. Although he envied the popular students, he was more or less comfortable being alone, at least that’s what he told himself. His seclusion had its advantages. He didn’t feel the social pressures to drink, smoke or experiment with drugs that most teenagers encountered growing up. Not that he didn’t try smoking and drinking. He did, but he never found much pleasure in them. In fact, he often wondered why his peers were so obsessed with such unpleasant habits. He particularly couldn’t understand why anyone would take drugs when the dire consequences of such behavior were so obvious.
Stan’s parents were Republicans so it was only natural that Stan would join the Republican Party too. But Stan didn’t think the political system in America made much sense. In his mind there were theoretically four major political classifications: republican, democrat, conservative, and liberal. What confused him was the fact that there were conservative democrats and conservative republicans and liberal republicans and liberal democrats. This made no sense to him until he realized that politics was more about power than philosophical beliefs, so people would pick the party that they thought would give them more advantage and then join either the liberal or conservative wing of the party to satisfy their philosophical leanings.
So at age twenty-two Stan had an unblemished record–eagle scout, number two in his high school class, congressional intern, graduate of UCLA, and the perfect marriage to his soul mate, Rebekah James. But that’s when Stan’s good fortune came to an end.
When he was fourteen Stan visited the county fair where the new Univac Computer was on display. To demonstrate the new computer’s abilities someone had programmed it to tell fortunes, so Stan and his friend, Steve, had their fortunes told. Whereas Steve’s fortune was benign Stan’s was rather disturbing.
Struggling in a hostile world
Pursuing your destiny
You will stand resolutely against adversity
Stan didn’t take the fortune seriously until a year into law school when he was inexplicably drafted into the Marine Corps. The Vietnam War was almost over and he’d drawn #339 in the Draft Lottery, but his draft board got the last laugh by drafting him just days before the lottery took effect. Stan and Rebekah were particularly shocked and bitter about this turn of events because Rebekah was pregnant and Stan was in his first year of law school.
Although he wasn’t thrilled about being drafted, he knew it was important to have a successful military tour of duty if he was serious about politics. Unfortunately, fate wasn’t in his corner. Just a few days into Officer Candidate School, he found himself in the worst trouble of his life—accused of the murder of his drill sergeant.
Stan was innocent but somehow by a bizarre twist of fate his fingerprints ended up on the murder weapon. When a court martial was convened it didn’t look good for him as he’d been disciplined by his drill sergeant the day before the murder and ended up in the hospital. He’d had a few choice words about Sgt. Foster while being treated, of course, which made matters worse. The eventual court martial attracted national media attention and Quantico was besieged with reporters wanting to cover the story.
Fortunately, Stan had friends and allies: the congressman he’d interned for, a nurse who had fallen in love with him, a reporter, Virginia Stone, who wanted his exclusive story, and, of course, his rookie legal counsel who’d never tried a murder case before but was cocky and confident anyway. With all this help he was able to prove his innocence.
After enduring the court martial Stan had no desire to continue his military service, so he requested and was granted a general discharge. Despite his acquittal there were those who still believed he was guilty and he knew he faced a lifetime of suspicion and doubt on that score.
At the time he was drafted, Stan had been in law school in California, but his father-in-law had been transferred to Dallas in the interim. Rebekah wanted to be close to her parents, so after Stan was discharged, he applied for entry into SMU School of Law for the fall semester of 1975. There were a lot of questions about his trial and disastrous military career, but the Dean of Admissions admitted they couldn’t legally hold his court martial against him since he’d been acquitted. So, after many interviews and endless paperwork, they reluctantly accepted his application.
Although getting into law school was a big relief for Stan, it also triggered a myriad of problems, not the least of which was how to survive financially, particularly because he was married and had four children. Rebekah was an ER nurse, so her income was good, but it was not enough to pay SMU’s steep tuition and the cost of books, along with all the other regular family expenses. Stan had little choice but to get a job to pay for his legal education or mortgage his family’s future by taking out student loans. Since he already had unpaid student loans from college, Stan elected to get a job instead of going further in debt.
His job hunting had been difficult, and the best thing he could come up with was selling life insurance for Cosmopolitan Life. He hated the job, but the hours were flexible, so he could work around his schedule at SMU, and the pay was just enough to cover his tuition and books. During his six-week training course, he not only learned about insurance but a lot about business and marketing as well. He found this interesting and figured it would be useful knowledge to have when he started his law practice. They gave him some nifty little gadgets too—calculators, an insurance needs slide rule, and a briefcase with a built-in audio-video player-recorder for making fancy presentations. He also soon discovered that insurance agents often were asked by their clients for referrals to lawyers for needed legal services, so the connections he made in the insurance industry could be very beneficial to him when he started his law practice.
Even though Stan knew a political career wasn’t an option for him anymore, he was still keenly interested in politics and couldn’t say no when he was asked to join the local Republican Party. In the summer of 1976, the Democrats still controlled almost every political office in north Texas, but that was changing, and for the first time since Reconstruction, Republican candidates in northern Dallas and southern Collin counties actually had a chance of beating their Democratic opponents. This excited Stan as he’d always found himself pulling for the underdog.
When the members of the Republican Executive Committee learned of his legal training and experience as a congressional intern, they asked him to run for County Chairman. When he protested that he didn’t have the time to take on that kind of responsibility, they assured him the staff would do most of the work and he wouldn’t be expected to put that much time into the job.
Rebekah, of course, thought it was a bad idea and told Stan as much, but Stan’s was so flattered that the party officials wanted him to run and excited by the prospect of being an elected official, that there was no way he could have turned it down, even though it made no sense to be taking on such a big responsibility. For the first time since his Marine Corps debacle Stan thought maybe he could have a political career after all. So in the June 1976 primary elections he became Collin County’s new Republican Party Chairman.
It was Saturday, July 3, 1976 and Stan and Rebekah were attending a barbecue at the home of a wealthy businessman, Brad Thornton. The home was a palace compared to Stan and Rebekah’s $18,000 Fox and Jacobs tract home they’d recently purchased. As they strolled past the parade of Cadillacs, Lincoln Town Cars, and Jaguars parked in front of the house, Rebekah spotted their friends Rob and Cindy Shepard coming from the other direction.
“Cindy! Hi,” Rebekah said.
“Hi, Rebekah. How are you?”
“Fine. Can you believe this house? It’s huge.”
Cindy nodded. “Yeah, I love this French country home style. This one’s got five bedrooms and seven bathrooms. We looked at it before the Thorntons bought it. It’s almost as big as my parent’s house.”
Cindy Shepard was in her mid-twenties, short, with light brown hair, beautiful green eyes, nice figure and a perfect complexion. She came from a wealthy family that owned a lot of real estate and operated several prosperous businesses in north Texas. Rob’s family had been around a long time too, but they hadn’t accumulated near as much wealth. Cindy’s parents hadn’t been thrilled when the two of them announced they were going to get married, but Cindy had a mind of her own and didn’t much care what they thought. As a result, there had been a lot of tension between the two families, and that strained Rob and Cindy’s marriage.
“Hey, Rob,” Stan said, shaking his friend’s hand.
Rob was tall and muscular. He’d been the star quarterback on the high school football team and consequently was quite well known and popular in the community. That was why Brad Thornton had recruited him to run for state representative. The Republican Party needed someone well known if they were to have a chance at upsetting the Democratic incumbent, Ron Wells.
“Hi, Stan. Can you believe this heat?” Rob asked.
The temperature in Dallas in July usually hovered around a hundred degrees, and this day was no exception. The girls were dressed in shorts and halter tops since it was an outdoor party. Stan gazed at Cindy’s long, sexy legs then smiled at her when she caught him looking.
“Yeah, thank God for air conditioning,” Stan replied.
“Look! A waterfall,” Rebekah said, pointing to the corner of the courtyard.
“Wow! That’s cool,” Stan replied enviously.
They entered the courtyard, appreciative of the shade provided by several large cottonwoods. Stopping for a moment, they admired an assortment of exotic plants and a pond full of tropical fish. A small stream ran in front of the house from the waterfall to the pond. They continued to the front door, where they could see guests inside through a stained glass window. Rebekah knocked on the door. A second later Melissa Thornton swung the door open and smiled out at them with her ultra-white teeth and bright blue eyes. She was a dirty blond in her early forties, but with the help of a skillful plastic surgeon, she still looked quite stunning.
“Hello. Come on in,” she said.
“Melissa, this is Rebekah and Stan Turner,” Cindy said.
“Oh, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you,” Melissa replied. “Hi, Rob.”
“Hi, Mrs. Thornton,” Rob said. “How are you?”
“Fine. Go on over to the bar and get yourself a drink. Brad’s around here somewhere. I’m sure you’ll run into him.”
“No doubt,” Rob replied.
They went to the bar, got drinks, and then went onto the back patio where most of the guests were mingling. A half dozen children were swimming in the large pool, and a catering company was setting up a buffet. Rebekah spotted an empty table, and they went over and staked a claim to it. After a few minutes they were joined by Brad Thornton.
“You finally made it,” Brad said to Rob. “I’ve been anxious to find out how your meeting with the Chamber of Commerce went.”
“Everyone seemed friendly,” Rob replied, “but you never know what they are thinking.”
Brad Thornton was a tall, thin man with dark hair and a thin mustache. He was never without a Stetson on his head and a grin on his face. Rebekah thought he looked a little like Clark Gable.
“True. A lot will depend on how the presidential race goes. If Reagan gets the nomination, you’ll have a good shot at winning.”
Ronald Reagan had trounced Ford in the May 1, 1976 Texas primary, winning all 100 Texas delegates, despite the fact that the Republican establishment had been squarely behind Ford. Rob was one of the Reagan delegates scheduled to go to the Republican Convention in August. Stan would have been a delegate had Ford won the primary.
“I hope Reagan gets the nomination,” Rob said. “He’s a hell of a lot more popular around here than Ford.”
“Don’t you think the conservatives would prefer Ford over Jimmy Carter?” Stan asked.
“Sure,” Brad agreed, “but they won’t turn out in the same numbers for Ford as they would for Reagan.”
“I don’t know,” Rob said. “The thought of Jimmy Carter becoming President is pretty scary.”
They all laughed.
After a few minutes, Brad left to mingle with his other guests, and Stan and Rob went for more drinks. On his way to the bar, Stan was stopped by Kristina Tenison, one of the volunteers assigned to help Stan with his duties as County Chairman. Besides being young and beautiful, Kristina was very well organized and efficient. Stan had been in awe of her from the moment they’d met. In fact, he felt a little guilty because Kristina did most of his work yet he got all of the credit for it.
“Hi, Kristina,” Stan said, smiling broadly.
“Oh, Stan, I’m so glad I ran into you.”
“Yeah? What’s up?”
“I got a call yesterday from Robert Brown, Ford’s Dallas Campaign Chairman.”
“Yeah. The President’s coming to Dallas at the end of the month. There’s going to be a reception for local officials and candidates. Robert would like you to pick a dozen people from this area and invite them.”
“Really? Why me?”
“Because you’re one of only a few who signed up to be a Ford delegate at the convention. Most everyone else is backing Reagan.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t get picked to be a delegate.”
“That doesn’t matter. They know where your allegiances lie.”
“Anyway, he needed an answer right away, so I told him you’d do it.”
Stan laughed. “Okay.”
“Are you mad at me for accepting the job for you?” Kristina asked. “I didn’t want you to miss such a great opportunity.”
Stan shook his head. “No, no. It’s fine, as long as you’re going to help me decide who to invite.”
“Of course. Monday’s a holiday. Maybe we can get together for a few hours to work on it. ”
The thought of spending time with Kristina excited Stan. As a shy teenager he hadn’t had many dates. One problem was he looked younger than he was and girls his age were attracted to older boys. It was frustrating for him to be around so many pretty young girls but unable to establish a romantic relationship with any of them. In fact, in high school he’d had only one serious relationship. When he was a senior he went steady with a sophomore girl but that inevitably ended with his graduation.
In college, however, things had changed. He’d grown taller, slimmed down, and girls seemed to see him differently. After a while he found himself hanging around with a number of different women. That’s when Rebekah snagged him and hauled him in. Women liked Stan because he was a good listener, actually paid attention to what they had to say and threw out compliments like rice at a wedding. But his compliments were genuine and not followed up by a romantic advance, which some woman found gratifying and others frustrating. So, even after marrying Rebekah, if Stan met a pretty woman, it was a good bet they’d soon be good friends. In fact, most of Stan’s friends were women, which made Rebekah very jealous.
“Okay. It will be great meeting the President in person.”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
Stan smiled. “Thanks, Kristina. You’re amazing.”
Kristina blushed. “Why do you say that?”
“You always seem to know what to do and never hesitate to act. I don’t know why they asked me to be County Chairman. They should have asked you.”
“They’d never elect a woman County Chairman.”
“Why not?” Stan asked surprised by the comment.
“They just wouldn’t.”
Stan resisted a strong urge to put his arm around Kristina and give her a big hug. So far, he’d managed to resist any show of affection toward her, but it hadn’t been easy. Several times they’d been alone at Republican headquarters, and he’d had trouble concentrating on the work they were doing. He wondered if she had similar feelings for him or if it was just her nature to be flirtatious with the men she worked with. But he knew it would be a mistake to try to find out.
When Stan and Rob got back to their table with fresh drinks, Rebekah and Cindy had already filled their plates with barbeque and were starting to eat.
“We got tired of waiting for you,” Cindy said to Rob. “What took you so long?”
“It was Stan’s fault. Kristina grabbed him the moment we got in the house.”
Rebekah’s eyes narrowed. “What did she want?”
“Oh, the President’s coming to town, and his staff wants me to invite some guests to a reception he’s having. I’ll put you on the list, Rob, if you’re willing to be seen with him.”
Rob frowned. “If I thought it would help my campaign, I would, but I’m not sure.”
“It couldn’t hurt. He is the President.”
“Let me give it some thought. I’ll let you know on Monday if I want an invitation.”
Stan and Rob took their plates and got in the food line. Ten minutes later, they were back and dug in. After dinner, when it got dark, everyone gathered in the back yard to watch the annual fireworks show put on by a church down the street. When it was over, they went inside and caught the end of the big bicentennial celebration in New York on TV.
An hour later, Stan looked at his watch and sighed. “Well, this has been a blast, but we’ve got to go.”
Rebekah nodded in agreement. “Yes, we promised our babysitter we’d be home by ten.”
“I’ll call you on Monday,” Rob said.
“Oh, just put us on the list already,” Cindy said. “You’re not going to miss a photo op with the President of the United States.”
Rob shrugged. “Okay. I guess you’re right.”
“Good,” Rebekah said. “We’ll all go together. It should be fun.”
Stan and Rebekah said goodbye to Melissa and Brad and then left the party. When they got home, Jenni, Reggie, and Mark were watching the bicentennial celebration on TV. Jenni immediately got up, obviously delighted to see them.
“How were they?” Rebekah asked.
Jenni shrugged. “Okay. Peter went right to sleep at nine, but I had trouble getting Marcia to go down. She just fell asleep a few minutes ago.”
“She was probably overtired,” Rebekah said. “I have trouble getting her to sleep sometimes.”
Stan paid Jenni and she left.
“Alright, it’s bedtime,” Stan said to Mark and Reggie. “It’s after ten o’clock. You guys should already be asleep.”
“We were watching the fireworks,” Reggie protested.
“Well, if you two don’t get in bed in the next two minutes, you’ll see some real fireworks.”
Mark and Reggie ran up the stairs, and Stan followed them to tuck them in and to check on Peter and Marcia. When he returned, Rebekah was sitting on the sofa watching TV. Stan gazed at her from the top of the stairs for a moment. He loved her long black hair, big brown eyes, and smooth olive skin. He went to her and gave her a long kiss.
“What was that for?” she asked with a sly smile.
“Just celebrating the bicentennial,” he said, turning off the lamp next to them.
He kissed her again and then led her to the bedroom. She didn’t resist him but the passion she’d shown when they were first married, and she so desperately wanted children, was gone. It seemed to him now that she was simply performing her wifely duty in bed and just as soon be reading a book. Stan never said anything to her but he missed that passion and wished she enjoyed sex as much as he did.