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Richard was falling asleep at the wheel. He felt his head dip down to his chest. A few times. What’s wrong with me? The road was quiet pre-dawn and as he was shaking himself awake, a monster transport truck came hurtling past him. He realized how close he could have come to crashing. He turned on the local news, loud, and drove into town from the airport, disgruntled, jet-lagged and a little afraid.
His business trip to Hong Kong had been a disaster from the get-go. He had been prepared to provide his buyers with an advanced bespoke software application. What should have been an easy sellturned into a non-event as his potential new clients failed to show up for the final round of talks which would have garnered him a substantial commission. Repeated attempts to contact them were ignored. He found out that they had checked out of the hotel early yesterday morning and left no messages for him. He had a horrible second sense that they had used his presentation materials to help create their own algorithms. He’d flown all that way and spent all that money for absolutely nothing. His business, already troubled, was now at a new level of jeopardy.
He sighed heavily. It never rains but it pours. The old adage had become his reality. First all the problems with his beautiful new wife, then yesterday’s anxiety attack. Well, as the triage doctor kindly informed him that afternoon in the Adventist Hospital which caters to ex-pats, at least it wasn’t a coronary.
“Mr. Cummings, your tests are fine. It appears to just be anxiety, which can often mirror heart issues. From what you’ve told me, you need to try to relax and deal with your personal issues in a calm manner. Stress is avoidable, but you'll have to lead the charge on that one.”
How can I de-stress when things are going so wrong, he thought. Almost home now, he envisioned a large latte, a relaxing shower and maybe even a compliant, welcoming wife for a change. He turned into his drive where he almost crashed into a large moving van. “What the hell?” he yelled out loud.
He slammed the car door and raced to the front door of his house. The door was open and the movers were unloading a sofa inside. Richard grabbed one of the workers by the arm. “What’s going on here? This is my house!”
“Hey buddy, chill! I’m just doing my job. You got a beef, take it up with the owner.”
“I’m the owner, you moron!”
Richard ran into the completely empty cavernous living room where a startled young couple were looking at blueprints.
“Can I help you sir?” said the elegant brunette pointedly.
“What are you doing in my house?” Richard screamed.
“There must be some misunderstanding,” she responded matter of factly. “This is our house. We just bought it. We’re moving in as we speak. We settled the purchase with Mrs. Cummings.”
“That’s my wife. She can’t sell my house without me. Where’s my furniture, my paintings?” Richard shrieked.
“Well, I suggest you ask her,” came back the velvet toned voice.
Richard felt his blood pumping furiously in his chest. He felt faint. He put a hand up to the wall to steady himself and his erratic heartbeat.
“Are you okay? Can I get you a glass of water?” The young husband asked.
“I’ll be alright in a minute. Is it possible to see your sales agreement?”
The man hesitated.
“Look I’ll show you some identification,” Richard pleaded. He pulled out his wallet. “See, I’m Richard Cummings. This is my address on my driver’s license. I didn’t agree to sell this house. It belongs to me!”
The woman tentatively held out her hand to shake. “I am Julia McLaughlin, and this is my husband Tom. We bought this house from Marilyn Cummings. The deal closed a few days ago.” She walked over to a briefcase and took out some files. She rifled through a sheaf of folders. “Here you go. Have a look. All completely legit.”
Richard looked over the document. It was all in order, all except for the signature page. He saw Marilyn’s scrawled signature but the signature underneath wasn’t his own. It was close, but it was definitely not his own.
“May I take a photo of this with my cell?”
“I suppose so. I hope you are not going to cause trouble. We’ve invested a lot of money into this property and we’re starting renovations this week,” said the brunette.
“I have to go. You’ll be hearing from my lawyer,” Richard stated simply and walked away.