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Downtown Abbey

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To Stay or Not to Stay

“I’m tired of hearing it.” Linda Stokes threw her jewelry in the suitcase on top of her clothes and slammed the lid, “I’m through. I’ve had nothing but promises from you for twelve years, and I don’t want to hear anymore.”

“Please, Baby; this is the big one.” Jerry Stokes followed her out of the room. “I promise, Friday night, we’ll be celebrating. You’ll see.”

Linda didn’t look back. As far as she was concerned, it was over. Her Buick left a skid mark on the pavement when she pulled out. How could he do this, after I’ve worked so hard to get us out of debt and pay our creditors? He knew that money was for the down payment on our house.

Linda reached for her cell phone to call her best friend, Lisa. “Well, it’s over. I left him.”

“Really? What happened?” Linda heard Lisa catch her breath on the other end of the line.

“I’ll tell you about it when I get there. Oh, by the way, can I stay at your place for a couple of days?”

“Sure, my door is always open.” Linda knew that Lisa would do anything for her. They had been best friends since third-grade.

“Great, I’ll be there in about twenty minutes.”

Twenty minutes later, she rang Lisa’s doorbell. Even in blue jeans and tee shirts, Linda was beautiful. Her dark eyes needed no make-up. Her French braid made her look younger than her thirty-four years.

“Come on in; the tea is on the coffee table.” She could tell that Lisa knew it would be a late night. “What happened? The last I knew, Jerry was doing well, and you were saving for your new house.”

Linda slowly set her cup down. “I thought everything was fine until I got the bank statement today. He paid our twelve-thousand-dollars to his bookie. He even tried to convince me that he invested it, and we would double our money on Friday.”

“You’re kidding.” Lisa was stunned.

“Lisa, he took the money three-weeks ago. I don’t understand why he can’t just be content to live a normal life. He keeps telling me that he’s going to be great one day. He’s going to make it big.” Linda twisted her used Kleenex.

“Hum, the problem is that big is never enough.” Lisa bit into a cookie. “I just wish Jerry could believe that God can give him what he needs.”

“Yeah, he has such a warped sense of values. We just paid all his debts, and now he owes another twenty-eight thousand dollars. I’ve never seen him so afraid. He pretends that everything is okay, but I know someone’s after him. I’m almost afraid to be in the house anymore. I can’t go through this again. His bookie, Sam Tillson’s, not a patient man.” Linda drained her cup and reached for the teapot.

“I don’t understand him anymore. He says that he’s doing it for me. I just want a great guy, not someone who is great. My idea of greatness is a couple of kids, a house, and a husband who loves me and will serve God with me. I never know from week to week how much we owe some bookie. Tillson has a reputation for going to serious lengths to get his money back, and Jerry owes him a lot.”

Lisa reached for her friend’s hand, “What are you going to do?”

“I’m not sure. I guess I’ll rent an apartment. I just know I can’t live like this.” She squeezed Lisa’s hand. “I’m just glad I have you, or I don’t know what I’d do right now.” Linda stifled a yawn. “I guess I’d better go to bed. It’s after midnight, and I have to be at work early. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.” Lisa hugged her just before she closed her bedroom door.

Linda quickly fell into a deep fitful sleep. At 3:02 AM, her bedroom door opened, and the light came on. Lisa stood in the doorway, her face ashen. “Linda, the police are here. They want to talk to you. It’s about Jerry.”

Although she had only two hours of sleep, she was wide awake seconds later when she entered the living room. “Yes, may I help you?”

“Mrs. Stokes, Mrs. Gerald Stokes?” The officer stood in the foyer.

“Your neighbor told me that you were here. I’m afraid I have some bad news, Ma’am.” He removed his hat.

“Yes?”

“It’s about your husband. Someone shot up your home tonight. Your husband was there. He’s dead, Ma’am.”