Frank's palms slipped on the steering wheel. He was in a full panic attack now. Was the car following or not? His eyes flicked constantly to the rear view mirror. Hunched up over the wheel, his body hummed with tension.
“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” he said giving voice to his worry. He had to hit the brakes hard when a red Micra pulled out of nowhere. He had been so absorbed in the mirror, he failed to notice it coming from the slip road. The car behind him blasted its horn angrily, surely that was good. If they were tailing him, why would they draw attention to themselves? Frank’s exit was coming up, then he would know for sure. Leaving it to the last minute, he swerved into the turn off, not even indicating. When he looked in the mirror it was still there, taunting him, its grill smiling. It kept well back, but always there. The windows were tinted, a man’s car, an angry man’s car, a violent car. Whoever it was, they were following him for sure, and Frank had a damn good idea who was behind the wheel. He had no choice now. He had to get home and quick.
Before long, Frank was weaving through the rabbit warren of houses, which made up the cities commuter belt. The grid pattern of seventies estate design had been replaced with graceful swirls and twists. Each, revealing a small cluster of houses, while cleverly hiding the massive number of identical clusters, the miracle of modern living. Down along 'Ivey Terrace', the black car stayed behind him, around 'Elder Close', the car was still there. Turning on to 'Elm Road'. Wait, it didn't turn. The car was gone. Frank waited for the car to re-appear, but it never did. Five minutes later, Frank pulled into 'Honeysuckle Lane,' and his own driveway. Frank sat there, breathing hard, willing his heart to slow a little. He looked behind him and the road was deserted, he must have been letting his imagination run away with him. He had to get a grip on things.
Nine, identical detached, houses stood in a crescent, facing a small tree planted green. Front gardens with no dividing walls, window boxes and hanging baskets abounded. Not a person to be seen. People didn’t work or socialise here, they merely sleep, that’s commuter living. All kinds of people housed in identical boxes, those that couldn’t afford city prices, but still lived the city life. Frank stepped out of his car, taking his bag from the back seat. He walked towards his door and behind him, his car beeped, knowing the key was leaving, the car automatically locked up. When he first got it, he’d thought it was cute, like the car was saying good bye. Now it just depressed him. Locking the car, yet another task modern technology wouldn’t trust to a stupid human. Were we becoming obsolete, only useful for consuming and breaking things?
Frank strode quickly up the drive to the house, the feeling of being followed lingered like a bitter after taste in his mind. Once inside he locked the door behind him. At last he felt safe, in his own place. He rested his head against the timber, taking long calming breaths. Sweat stuck the shirt to his back, upstairs a floorboard creaked and Frank held his breath.
“Is that you Frank?” Barbara shouted.
“Hi Bar,” he called back, with just the hint of exasperation.
Who did she think it was? Frank yearned for the woman Barbra used to be. The woman who’d playfully call, “Bill you know you shouldn’t be here, Frank will be home soon.” A woman who’d chase him upstairs for a quickie, before the kids came home. Where did that Barbara go? Instead he was left with the new Barbara, the one who was a member of the tennis club and the church committee, a woman pre-occupied with what people thought about her. A Barbara who was obsessed with keeping up appearances. Frank hated it all, for the pretentious shit it was, and to his dismay he was starting to hate her as well.
When they’d meet in college she had been vibrant. He remembered it like it was yesterday, the first time he’d seen her dancing at a gig in the student union, moshing with abandon. Wild twists threw the hem of her skirt high into the air, flashing her knickers to the world. The wicked twinkle in her eye said she knew the effect she was having on all the men in the room, Frank included. When she caught his gaze climbing the long ladder of her bare legs, she didn’t blush. If anything, she twisted faster, causing her skirt to expose more delicious young flesh. She smiled at him and Frank couldn’t believe it. He drank her in with his eyes, becoming drunk with lust. He couldn’t help himself, he had to have her. He walked across that dance floor, and set about sweeping her off those dainty feet and swept she was.
In the months that followed, they spent hours spiralled across couches and single beds in a myriad of student flats, exploring each other’s bodies with lazy hands. He missed the feel of her taunt flesh beneath his fingers, he missed her wicked laugh and wanton habits but back then, he wasn’t a balding, forty-three year old estate agent. That bit of reality was harder to come to terms with. He knew he wasn’t a Greek God by any means, but he was still a man and a good man he thought. He treated her well, gave her a good life, a nice house and not once did he ever consider straying. Even now, when his mind wandered, it was to his wife’s face, body, and spirit. It was her he visualised when they made love, just a younger, brighter, version.
Frank dropped his bag on the hall floor, he walked to the kitchen, flicking the switch on kettle to boil some water. Upstairs he heard the hoover roar into life, furniture scraped over the polished timber floor. Frank missed carpet, Barbara wouldn't have it in the house.
“Carpet gathers dust,” she told him, when she re-fitted the house from top to bottom with laminate flooring. Now the house echoed like a cathedral, every careful footfall sounded like the thunder of buffalo. There may be no dust, but there was no rest in here either. It exhausted him. The only carpet to be found was in his shed, at the bottom of the garden. He loved his shed, it was his sanctuary. . Inside, Frank had placed old leather chair, formed to the exact contours of his back. The desk and files were dressing, he never did any work here. The shed was his playground, he went on line, played games, or just sat in peace. It was the only place in the world, he could be himself.
Sadly, this bastion of sanity was now tainted by dread. The computer that sat on the desk, hitherto a source of endless possibilities was nothing more than the provider of limitless temptations. Everything is on line these days, Facebook, news, YouTube, porn, gambling. All held dangers, but was gambling which proved to be Frank’s weakness. One day, while flicking through his e-mail, a pop-up for a free poker site appeared. He clicked it, after all what was the harm? It was free, no money, nothing to lose. He selected, “join game,” and within a few hands he had the hang of it. He started with two hundred virtual dollars, but within the hour he had transformed that pitiful amount in to a herculean, thirty six thousand, all be it virtual, dollars.
That night he went to bed over the moon. He lay there long into the night imagining if all that money were real, a year’s wages in an hour, flipping hell, it was like money for nothing. He played again over the coming days, walking away thousands in the black. His virtual bank busting with credits. Could it really be this easy to make money gambling? You never got to see who was on the other side of the key board. Frank imagined dozens of bored housewives or students sitting half tanked in their underwear, flittering away money they didn’t really need. It was nearly a sin not to take advantage of it. The thing was this was only pretended money, the computer equivalent of playing for buttons. Okay, people are stupid with fake money but what if they were playing for real? Frank couldn't resist the urge to try, what’s the worst that could happen, he reasoned. He might lose fifty, or even a hundred Euro. Frank whipped out his credit card and punched in the numbers. The green oval table appeared and Frank took his place. He felt his pulse quicken as the cards flipped in front of him. That could have been the moment he was taught a lesson, it could have been his wake up call, but disastrously he won.
His account grew to over a thousand euro in real money, even though he only played occasionally. Frank felt great, he enjoyed the games, and even more he enjoyed winning. With a big stake behind him Frank moved up into the bigger games, he gambled more. One hundred and two hundred stake tables. The players here got better and the wagers rose higher. He won some, lost some but the thrill of the chase outweighed the gamble at all times. Slowly his money dribbled away. Not quickly enough to alert him up to the fire he was playing with. Frank dipped into his pocket for his credit card more often. It wasn’t real money, after all just a click of a button. When his next bank statement landed on his shiny hall floor, he owed nearly three thousand on his card, most of it to, “Emerald Eyes Inc.”
That was two years ago. Frank fought back, broke even, time and again. Each occasion, he promised himself never to play again, but each time the call of the shed, the thrill of the win, crushed his resolve. Six months ago, he had a string of games that should have gone his way, but didn’t. It cost him a lot. He was on his third credit card, his first two were already maxed out. He owed seventeen thousand Euro, an amount he could deal with. It was the twenty one percent interest that was killing him. He should have told Barbra everything then, cut up his cards and paid off his debts. He should have manned up and taken his licks. He should have done it, could have done it, and now he wished he had.
“Fool,” he quietly berated himself. In his hollow sounding kitchen. The kettle whistled and the switch flicked up with an authoritative clank. Frank fixed himself a mug of tea. No matter what happened now he was in too deep to simply stop. Frank sat on one of the high stools that bordered the breakfast bar, looking into his milky brew, wishing it were whiskey.
“Frank, don’t forget you’re picking up Enda in half an hour,” Barbara shouted, over the sound of the vacuum.
“I remember, and where’s Kirsty?” he shouted back.
“Still at work. She said, she was going to be late. They are doing a stock take,” Barbara said.
“Stock take my arse,” Frank huffed.
Their daughter was sixteen years old and had a part time job in a newsagents about a mile away. They seemed to have a stock take every second day it seemed to Frank. It had to be a boy, he knew the signs. Her make-up got thicker by the day and her skirts got smaller. Lately it seemed the blouses she wore were opened so low they were only joined by a single button. What the hell did he expect, she was sixteen after all, she was hardly going to stay Daddy’s little girl all her life but Frank wasn’t ready for her to turn into Madonna just yet.
“Check the chicken, will you,” Barbara asked as the hoover came thumping down the stairs. Frank looked through the glass door of the oven at the golden chicken, bubbling in a lava of its own fat.
“It’s still in the oven.”
He was amazed he could joke after the day he’d had. The hoover died, and in bustled a vexed Barbra. She was short and slim, with a neat blond bob. She wore a dark, pleated, pants and white blouse. Her make-up was done, she wore a set of pearls on her tanned neck, a tad overdressed for housework but what a fantastic looking woman, it’s just she didn't shimmer like she once did. Where was the dancing dervish that had ravished him, till he thought he may die? How had she been ousted by the need to be accepted, the need to keep up with the neighbours and climb the social ladder? Perhaps that wasn’t the complete reason Barbra’s spirit seemed broken. Perhaps it was being married to him, being the mother to his children, which had silenced her desire?
“Men, I swear, are useless,” she grumbled, opening the oven. She poked the poor bird with a knitting needle. Being dead and roasted wasn’t enough torture, apparently.
“Give it five minutes and then take it out,” she said, as she went back to the hovering. Frank sipped his tea. As he waited, his mind reeled back to the moment his life went from bad to irreparable. Four Fridays ago, at five thirty in the evening exactly, in the back room of the Black Swan Pub. Back to a poker game he’d not even been invited to join. If he hadn’t stopped for a pint on his way home, everything would have been different now.
“Have you room for one more?” he’d asked, seeing the guy setting up the chips.
“Sure, but it’s a cash game.”
“Aren't they all,” joked Frank, walking over to the table. “What’s the buy in?”
“We’re in for three hundred each, but whatever you want to start with, is fine. Rules are, half the pot, five euro, all in. Greg, behind the bar, holds the money. You can chip in with him.”
Frank walked over to the bar and handed over three hundred Euro, getting a fist-full of chips in return. The men said little about themselves while they played cards but even so, you can’t sit at a table for two hours without learning a few things. Sean, the man wearing a well-tailored suit, owned a café in the middle of town. Then there was Martin Sikes, he was a big man with hairy hands, a builder who looked like he’d walked straight off the site. Ben Wiseman had a string of clothes shop spread all across the country which he had inherited from his wife’s family. He was alright, in a looking down his nose kind of way, but a bad card player. Next man at the table was a young lad called Chris McCarthy who wore brash clothes, like some kind of LA rapper, Frank didn’t like him much. He seemed like a cocky, thug. Too thick to ever have a real job. Frank did his best to keep his distance from him as there was something not right about him. Chris was the son of the last player, Harry McCarthy. Harry wore a black leather jacket and black shirt. He was edging towards his sixties but he looked solid, like a man that had spent years at in a gym. Perhaps he’d been a boxer, because his nose had seen a few punches in its time. Appearances aside, the Harry McCarthy was very welcoming. One thing you learn when playing cards is to look out for partners, two or more players secretly playing together is a recipe for heartache . It’s one of the quickest ways to get ripped off in a card game. Frank started off playing carefully, feeling out each of the players, looking for signs he was being scammed.
Harry and Chris were, by far, the most aggressive players at the table. Mind you, they went head to head against each other, as often as they took down anyone else. It seemed Chris wanted to prove his worth to the old man, while his father wasn’t willing to let his the top seat at the family table go, just yet. The rest of the players were all good players, Ben Wiseman aside. After half an hour, Frank was happy it was a clean game and began enjoying himself. The cards flew, as did the time. Before long, Frank had to visit the bar for more chips but it was all in good fun. Just a couple of quid, he assured himself.
“That’s it for me, lads,” Frank said, when it was gone seven. He had a few chips left, but had lost at least five hundred Euro during the game. It was a lot, but he could afford it, just.
“Hard luck Frank, you play a good game,” said Chris, shaking his hand with the tiniest a hint of smarminess, in his voice. “We’re here most Fridays if you want a chance to win your money back.” Frank kept shaking Chris’s hand and kept a smile on his face but he couldn’t deny the sting of the little shits words. He waved good bye to the men at the table and nodded to Greg behind the bar as he left. He’d only got a hundred yards down the road when his blood was boiling at the snide comment Chris had made but good sense and cowardice kept him walking towards his car.
The following week, Frank was back. The game started well, for him with Frank winning back more than he had lost the previous week. He was getting a feel for the players and how they played the game. By half six, he had a sizeable stack of chips sitting in front of him. Over and back the game swung, and the hours passed quickly. The banter was good natured and drinks flowed. That was when the poker Gods smiled. Frank opened the betting with two pair, aces and tens, a good hand when you were playing with a full deck. Everyone stayed in. Frank flung his dud card away, and was dealt a fresh one. He shuffled his hand, backs up, before slowly spreading them close to his chest. Out peeked the ace of spades. Full house! Play it cool Frank, play it cool, he thought to himself. Now was the time to make Chris pay for his cockiness, and he was going to make him pay big time.
Harry had dealt, Frank was on his left, so he had opened the game with his original two pair, and Sean had stayed in, but changed no cards at the burn, so he had either a full house, a blue or a run. Frank’s house was a monster, so no danger there. Chris had played and bought two cards, more than likely he was sitting on three of a kind. Harry bought three cards, he could be holding a pair or nothing at all, and he was the weakest of all the players.
“I’ll check,” said Frank, hoping to disguise the strength of his hand. He wanted to let some else build up the pot, only to swoop in and clinch it at the end for himself. Sean was eager to bet and Frank was only too happy to let him. Sean pushed a small stack of chips into the middle, “I’ll go eighty Euro.”
Chris looked at his cards, “It’s a nice hand, but not nice enough,” he said, throwing them away. Inside Frank was furious, he had wanted to skin Chris alive on this hand but somehow he’d smelled a rat and dodged the trap. Frank had to be careful not to tip his hand too early and let the rest of them out of his sights. This was a once in a lifetime hand and he had to make the best of it.
Harry stayed in the game adding his eighty to the eighty Sean had already wagered. The betting was back in Frank's hands.
“I’ll see your eighty, with a hundred on top.”
Sean whistled, “You think you’ve got me, Frank?” Sean asked pausing for a hell of a long time, trying to read Frank’s face. Frank concentrated on staying as blank as he could. In the end, Sean counted out a stack of chips and tossing them on the ever growing pile in the middle of the table. “Your hundred, with another three hundred.”
Harry looked at his cards, Frank was sure he’d fold, when Harry surprised him and shoved over the extra chips, Frank knew the pot was his there was no way either Sean’s hand or Harry’s could beat his. He counted up what he had left in front of him and pushed it all into the middle.
“Your three, with two hundred and eighty on top,” Frank said.
Sean sat back in his chair, locking his fingers under his chin, while he looked at the mountain of chips in the middle of the table. Frank felt sweat break out on his forehead when Sean sat forward, “Your two hundred and eighty, with a thousand more.” Sean pushed in all his chips and added a fold of notes on top which he produced from his jacket pocket like a magician pulling a rabbit from a hat.
“For Christ’s sake, Sean, I can’t cover that,” said Frank, realising that he had been outflanked.
“It’s no limit Frank, if you can’t cover the bet, you are out,” Sean said.
“I just don’t have that kind of cash on me,” Frank said
“Not good enough Frank. Cash on the barrel head or no bet,” Sean said, delighted he was going to steal the pot.
Harry quietly pushed his chips to the middle, while the other two men were arguing about the bet. Frank was on the verge of throwing in his cards, when Harry said, I’ll lend you the money if you want it, Frank?” Harry dipped into his pocket, and fished out a thick brown envelope stuffed with notes. He counted out twenty, fifty Euro notes. Frank stared at the bundle of notes and said, “Can you make it two Grand?” Harry shrugged, and dipped into the envelope again, adding more notes to the bundle, handing it all over to Frank who promptly dropped the whole lot on top of the stack of chips making up this life changing pot.
“Back to you, Sean,” Frank said. Sean knew he had just been shot with one of his own bullets, and collapsed back in his chair.
“I’m out,” he spat, throwing his cards on the table face up, showing a run to the king. Frank let out a little yelp of joy, as he reached for the chips.
“Hang on, Frank, I’m still in,” said Harry who dropped another bundle of notes on the massive pot and said with a smile, “I’ll see you.”
Frank laid his cards on the table showing everyone his aces and ten’s full to the brim. “Sorry about that, Harry, but at least some of it’s still yours.”
Harry looked resigned, but calm, as he picked up his own cards “No, it’s all mine,” he said, throwing down four deuces.
Frank felt like he’d been kicked in the balls. He watched as Harry re-stuffed his envelope with all his cash, and more, besides and raked a mountain of chips to his side of the table. The chips covered so much of the table in front of him that Harry was having difficulty stacking them so he shouted to the bar. “Greg, can you cash me out?” He walked away from the table, beckoning Frank to follow. Frank’s legs felt like jelly, but he had no choice but to follow Harry across to the bar.
“Don’t feel too bad Frank, its only money.” Harry said, smiling.
“Yea,” Frank agreed, not sounding glib. “I’ll have the two grand for you in a few weeks.”
“Ah, Frank, what do you take me for, a charity? In two weeks you’ll owe two thousand eight hundred Euro.
“Eight hundred for what?” Frank exploded.
“We all have to make a few quid, somehow. It costs to borrow, Frank.”
“Eight hundred is extortion!”
“I don’t like that word,” Harry said coolly. “It’s called interest. Twenty percent a week Frank, industry standard, my industry.” Harry’s voice was quiet, which added to his menace.
“What if I can’t get it all?”
“The juice flows on what you owe. Any interest that builds up, twenty percent on that, too,” Harry said, his eyes hard as flint. Like a flash, he was friendly again. “Look, I’m a reasonable man. Pay off the money this week, and it is only two four you owe me. I’ll even start your clock from tomorrow. Can’t be fairer than that now, can I?" he said, waiting for an answer.
“Guess not,” Frank eventually said.
“Good man, just one more thing, Frank. Pay something every week, that’s a golden rule,” Harry said, laying a hand on Frank’s shoulder. “If you miss a week, I’ll be coming to collect, and you don’t want that.” The hand tightened painfully on his neck. The meaning was crystal clear.
That was two weeks ago and Frank hadn’t gone back to the bar again. He wasn’t a regular there, and he didn’t remember telling them anything other than he was an estate agent during the two games. Frank figured, as Harry wasn’t out any cash, he’d let it go, sooner or later. That was up until today. A letter was hand delivered to his office while he was out. Inside the envelope, inside was a simple slip of paper, with an equally simple message.
“Frank, I keep missing you, Harry”
“Jean, who left this?” He asked the office secretary.
“Oh yea, two friends of yours called. Did you not know them?” Jane said.
“Not really. Don’t give them any information if they call again, okay?” he said.
“Sure,” she said. “They looked a bit on the rough side, now you mention it.”
When Frank left the office, he was sure a black BMW had been parked across the street. When he saw the car again on the motorway, Frank was sure it must have been Harry coming after him. Now that Harry knew where he worked, there was no way of getting away from him. He’d have to figure something out, but the biggest problem was, he had no money. Not a penny. Harry had to realise he couldn't get blood from a stone, after all he wasn’t a complete fool.
“Frank, did you take the chicken out?” Barbara called from upstairs.
“Shit!” he said, jumping off the chair, to open the oven. The bird wasn’t burnt, well, not too much.
“Yea, it’s on the counter,” he called. “I’ll run down and pick up Enda.” Frank said grabbing his jacket and running for the door, trying to make good his escape before the impending nagging over the burnt bird ensued. Outside, parked behind his car, was the black BMW with Harry McCarthy sitting on the bonnet. Harry smiled at him as he shuddered to a stop still holding the door half closed behind him.
“Did you think you were going to be hard to find?” He asked. “Big mistake, Frank.”
Mary Sweeney stood inside her sitting room window, watching the man loitering outside Frank O’Shea’s house. She was on the verge of phoning the O’Shea’s, when Frank come out. It was hard to be sure, but he didn’t seem overjoyed with his visitor. A few minutes later, they both men got into Frank’s fancy new car.
Mary wasn’t a nosey neighbour, she just happened to see the man, and didn’t like the look of him. He looked like a thug, perhaps he just had the bad luck to be born with a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp, but that’s rarely the case. Mary knew from bitter experience that if it looked like trouble, walked like trouble, sooner or later it was going to be trouble. Even though she had more than enough strife in her own life, it was difficult not to worry for other people. You were never sure what was going on behind the neighbours closed doors, as she knew well. What she’d actually been watching for was her own husband. She liked to be there to see Pat arrive home, not because she was love struck, just the opposite. It gave her a chance to see his humour. If he slammed the door of his van, and stomped into the house, she knew it was going to be a rough night. Those few precious seconds allowed her to ready herself. Pat’s moods were like storms coming in from the ocean, sending waves of bad tempered fury crashing against the harbour wall. Sadly, she was Pat’s harbour wall.
Mostly, the days passed in sulky silence, not happy, but not raging, either. The majority of Pats life, and subsequently, her life lay somewhere in the middle between happiness and misery. She had taken slaps and punches over the years, but they were few and far between, most of the abuse she suffered, at the hands of her beloved, were mental. One night ten years ago, she’d discovered Pat was basically a complete coward. After years of withering under his sharp, unhappy, tongue it came as quiet a surprise. That particular night, he’d come home flaming drunk, it didn’t take long for a row to start, and escalate to the level of a world war II She made some comment or other, stinging his pride, and he punched her hard, in the stomach.
She crumpled to the ground, the wind sucked out of her. Something in her mind snapped, she struggled to her feet, and felt rage thunder through her veins. Mary launched herself at him, with a strength she didn’t know she had. She lashed out at him, clawing his face, raining blows down on his head. Pat cowered in the corner, until her red mist cleared. She stood over him, hands fisted and trembling, shocked at herself, at what she’d done. The startling fact of the matter was, she’d loved it, she like seeing him cower and the power she felt inside.
Then other feelings came: shame, worry, disgust. She stood above her fat, witless husband and felt sorry for him. Pat bolted for the door escaping into the night. Hours passed, Mary’s feeling of victory faded, and the spectre of worry descended. What if she’d gone too far? Would he leave her? How would she cope with the house, the bills and the kids? Long into the night she waited, but Pat didn’t come back. When he turned up the next morning, Mary felt a wave of relief wash over her. Pat never mentioned what had happened the night before but he looked at her with new eyes, spiteful eyes. Just enough fear there, to keep Pats fists to himself, well most of the time.
If you tell people your husband hits you, they react with horror and say things like, ‘how could he’, ‘you must have been terrified’ or ‘get out of there, just take the kids and go’. The problem was, go where? All those do-gooder intentions would vanish into the ether, if she turned up on their door step with her brood in tow. Mary was above all things, a realist. She’d finished school, just about, but she’d never had a job, aside from being a wife and a mother. Where would she get money from, if she ever left him? Pat might look after them, but Mary knew he’d more than likely, drink every penny that came into his hands. Pat is a weak man, with a weak mind, and no morals to speak of. She didn’t love him, but could put up with him. What alternative had she? Prince Charming wasn’t waiting in the wings to sweep her off her feet. It was laughable, considering she now tipped the scale at fifteen stone. On the day she married, Pat she was a mere slip of a thing, weighing in just over eight, stone despite being encased in the most hideous toilet roll holder of a wedding dress. Pat was all she had wanted that day and all she was getting now. Her bed was made, she’d have to lie in it.
Her kids didn’t understand what it was like, to have no options. They thought families should be ideal, and were well aware that their family fell far short of that mark. It was impossible to hide the rows in such a small house, not that Pat ever tried. That’s what hurt her the most. He seemed to want the kids to watch, as he undermined her. He tried to make her look stupid, or at least more stupid, than he was, every chance he got and the more the kids saw the worse he got. Most of the time it was easier to say nothing, but now and again, she just had to bite back. Then they would fight, raging at each other, until one or other of them stormed off. Mary had told her mother what Pat was like a few years after they had married and her mother had said, “That’s men for you.” She had also told her, how lucky she was to have landed a man that would put food on the table, and not go whoring all over town. Not everything that had come out of her marriage to Pat was terrible, she had been blessed with three lovely kids - Angie was nineteen, and full of spirit, then there were her boys – Johnny, twenty-one and in the army, Billy was a surprise, he was eight.