Article - Laura Knight-Jadczyk
Pam tried to control all of them and get the print shop to run, but it was a losing battle. I was practically desperate to get the magazine finished and Pam began to manipulate me to that end. She couldn't get to my magazine, (which had been paid up front), until other, even older, backed up orders were finished so I ended up spending many nights in the shop helping her get the orders out. But, we could only do that if Patrick showed up in condition to run the presses which was problematical at best. He would disappear for days at a time, showing up bleary eyed and sullen with no explanation for where he had been or what he had been doing.
And worse than that, he was dangling after my daughter who was completely insensible to any warnings I gave her that she was being sucked into a black hole!
It was turning into a nightmare! My dreams of producing a magazine and getting it to the Gulf Breeze conference were rapidly fading, my daughter was being drawn into the clutches of a family that I was beginning to see as Tobacco Road incarnate, and meanwhile S** and her wicked witch mother lurking like spiders in the background. I resolved to keep my cool, navigate these treacherous waters as best I could, and try to get out of this minefield with as little damage as possible.
Meanwhile, as if things were not crazy enough, another weird element was introduced into the situation. Against all odds and opposition, I finally had all the layout done, the copy was finished on the computer, (I should add that I had to learn the program by doing it!), and we were ready to print. At this point, a man came into the print shop talking big money and big print jobs. He was a huge guy, over 6 and a half feet tall, puffing a cigar and punctuating the verbal dollar signs he was scattering through the atmosphere with smoke rings. Pam and her kids, desperate for more money, hung on his every pronouncement of how he was the answer to their prayers; they were sitting on a gold mine in their print shop, and he was just the guy to turn every ream of paper to riches. I could see my magazine being shoved to the back room with every word.
Not surprisingly, all of a sudden, Pam and her kids were no longer interested in the magazine or anything but the promises of gold and glory being spun by the "mysterious stranger." I couldn't get anyone to answer the phone at the print shop; no one answered the phone at Pam's house and I was feeling desperate again at the thought of all my hard work being locked up and inaccessible to me. At least my daughter seemed to be seeing the light and was distancing herself from Patrick. I counted my blessings on that one.
Then Pam called. Something was not "right" with the "mysterious stranger." Things were getting totally weird in her life also! She needed to come and talk to me and she needed to ask the Cassiopaeans some questions. Well, finally! The light was shining through and everybody was going to figure out all the issues and start acting like human beings again!
As best I could make out from the very confused tale she recounted to me, this mysterious man was taking control of her son and filling his mind with promises of big money while, at the same time, not coming up with any money of his own to back up his big words. Not only that, but the stories he recounted to all of them about his experiences as an "undercover agent" were getting stranger and stranger. He claimed to have been a spy against the Nazis in WWII and he also claimed to have been single-handedly responsible for bringing down the Outlaws Motorcycle Gang! (This mention of the Outlaws Motorcycle Gang was a really creepy thing and comes up again. It was just another of the many crazy connections threading through this whole drama.) He also claimed to have been forced to divorce his wife and abandon his family to do this job, which was a great and noble sacrifice on his part, though no reason was ever given as to why this had been necessary. Further, after it was all over, (and all this was supposed to have taken place in Tallahassee), he had re-married her, they had a child, and this child had convinced him to give up the cloak and dagger life, which was why he was now looking for promising businesses in which to invest lots of money. The only problem was, the money didn't seem to be materializing.
He promised to show up with a large check to put down on a big job for Patrick that was going to be the start of their future money-making enterprises; however, this event kept getting put off over and over again. So Pam was becoming suspicious and thought that they were being taken for a ride by a con artist. She expressed this opinion to her son, and Patrick was so "taken in" by the man that he fell out with his mother and spent more and more time away from the shop, which meant that less and less work was getting done!
I really wanted OUT of this mess. But, I didn't know what to do. I knew that Pam was not in any position to pay back the money I had already paid her to purchase the paper which was sitting unused in the shop. I knew I couldn't just take my paper to another shop and get a similar deal where I could do some of the work for a lower cost. I also knew that I didn't have the money to just go to any print shop and get the whole thing done from scratch. What's more, time was growing short. If we wanted to have a thousand magazines to take to the conference, it had to be done pretty soon!
As it happened, the very day that Pam called me, right after she hung up the phone, the mysterious stranger DID come in to the shop to reassure her that he would be dropping off some big money in the next few days. AND he had his wife with him along with the child. The only problem was, as Pam expressed it to me when she called later, the child was only about 8 or 9 years old, and the woman was clearly in her 70s or thereabouts. The man, himself, didn't look to be much over 40, so all the numbers regarding when he was doing what just didn't add up.
Pam was mystified.
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