RedemptionJanuary 4, 2017
He made his money during the early 2000s when Fishtown was making a turn. Gerald Rivers was there to scoop up what he could. Young professionals, hipsters and later on millennials were appearing on the narrow streets and along Frankford and Girard Avenue. Rivers bought up all he could and sat on most, rented out what he could. By 2010 Rivers had flipped all his residential real estate at almost triple the price he paid for it. He began buying on the commercial strip where coffee shops, bakeries, vegetarian restaurants and hipster pubs opened up. He flew under the radar as other big buyers made splashes about their talents developing old city neighborhoods. Rivers preferred to be in the background although he was known in certain circles as realtor, speculator. In others he was known as a skirt chasing cocaine sniffing egotist. The one thing Gerald Rivers didn’t realize during his money making days was his age. He was now 16 years older than when he began his business dealings. 52 in Fishtown was a lot different than being 36. His other problem was he would hit on any woman in a skirt no matter the age and was horrified when a twenty something asked him bluntly how many grandchildren he had. The change came to him one night at Johnny Brenda’s when he bought drinks for a group of ladies, he waved at them when in unison they all said “thank you Pappy”.
Caroline Peterson had her eye on Gerald Rivers for some time. She had come out of a bad marriage, obtained her real estate license and worked for a small broker. Some of her girlfriends told her stories of Rivers, his condo on the river, his cocaine habit, how wealthy he was. Caroline considered herself different from the others. She came out of her marriage hardened not needy. In her early forties she knew she had a brief period of time to make some money and land a man she could take advantage of. She knew how to dress, spent her free time at the gym, hardened her body as she had her mind, wore her hair in a bun although when set free it hung down to her waist. Caroline was at Johnny Brenda’s the night Rivers was called “Pappy” and made sure he noticed her laughing at his stunned look. The following morning she made sure to bump into him at his favorite coffee shop and did so for the next two weeks until Rivers made his approach. She smiled at him the first time he attempted to speak to her and left the shop. Caroline made a habit out of wearing short skirts and low cut tops with just the right pair of heels. She would sit at the first high top table and cross her legs. Rivers would come in and order his coffee and without fail come over to speak with her. After his fourth attempt she engaged him. He was charming asking what she did for a living and what her hobbies were. Rivers was impressed she was in real estate telling her he dabbled a bit here and there. He asked her out on a date and she politely declined. That evening she arranged to be at Rivers favorite restaurant, arrived at five and took a table in the corner. Like clockwork he arrived at five-thirty and immediately noticed Caroline. He walked to her table and asked if he could join her as he sat down. Caroline smiled at him. They each spoke of their lives and ambitions and Caroline of course told him she was newly single and desired to get involved with a decent man. Rivers told her he just might be that guy. Caroline was spinning her web and Rivers didn’t notice, he was enthralled with her. Over the next two months they dated, went to theater, five star restaurants and not once did Rivers even get to third base. Caroline noticed Rivers wasn’t snorting cocaine although he drank a bit too much.
The moon was full in the summer sky; there was just enough humidity in the air to cause Sean Forks to break out in a sweat. It took him over four years to admit to himself that he had been a bad husband. He often thought back to telling his ex she was too fat, her hair was shabby and her clothes disgustingly tight on her. There was nothing she could do that was good enough and when he got drunk he slapped her around. Sean stood along the river at Penn’s Landing breathing in the warm air thinking of what an idiot he was and still is. The last time he slapped her around she broke out a baseball bat and cracked his ribs. Within an hour she had moved out all of her stuff and he hadn’t talked to her since. Their divorce was uncontested, she didn’t ask for anything. Over the last month Sean Forks had been stalking his ex-wife who was in fact stalking a rich realtor. Unlike Sean, Caroline has transitioned to a full dating relationship and now the guy was chasing after her. Sean had noticed a woman everywhere he went while on his stalking detail, she was always lurking in the background. Every so often she would enter a restaurant and sit in the back watching the couple.
It was a Tuesday evening at seven o’clock and like the clock Caroline and her realtor arrived at El Rey on Chestnut Street. He noticed the woman standing at the Dunkin Donuts. Sean decided to walk over and talk to her.
“I’m Sean, I’ve seen you around a bit.”
“I noticed you around.”
“So what brings you here?”
“I’m hunting a pig!”
Sean looked her over. She had long blond hair, green eyes, and an excellent figure. He took her for a rich girl by the designer pocket book she had slung over her shoulder.
“So who’s the pig?”
“A creepy old guy like you! All I want is to get him alone but he’s always with that glamour chick!”
“Hey I’m not a creep!”
“What else do you call a guy who walks up and talks to someone he doesn’t know?”
“I think we have something in common.”
“What the fuck would that be?”
“Your pig is dating my ex-wife.”
“Isn’t that something? We’re both loser stalkers!”
“So why do you want to get him alone?”
“He dated me for a month, he degraded me, had his way and when he was done told me to get lost, treated me like a fucking whore!”
“So what do you want to do to him?”
“I wanna blow his brains out! What do you think of that?”
“A little drastic I think.”
“Drastic? That fucker gave me the clap!”
“So what did the princess do to you?”
“She broke my ribs and left me.”
“That’s pretty cool.”
“No one deserves that!”
“You look like an abuser, she probably waited too long to kick your ass!”
“I wasn’t a good husband. I’ve changed.”
“So you think she’ll take you back?”
“No. I just want to say I’m sorry.”
“She doesn’t care.”
“Good advice from you. Your stalking a guy, call me names and you want to blow his brains out!”
“At least I’m not a whinny bitch like you.”
“You didn’t tell me your name.”
“Well Monica, I thought about you being in all the places I was and figured you were doing the same thing I was. I have an idea.”
“And how aren’t you a creep? You have a plan for me?”
“I was thinking instead of you lurking out here or hiding in the back of the joint we could go in together.”
“So let me get this right. You are asking me on a date so that we can stalk our exes together?”
“I just thought we could both get this over with and I don’t think you need to shoot him.”
“What’s your plan?”
“Let’s go in like a couple, grab a booth across from them. They always sit in a booth. We can act like a couple and I’ll pretend to notice Caroline and take you over to introduce you. After I apologize to her you can have your say with him.”
Monica and Sean entered El Rey and were seated at a booth directly across from Caroline and Rivers. Monica leaned to the middle of the table and called Sean to her, he leaned across and she kissed him full on the lips. When they leaned back Sean noticed Caroline was staring at him. He stood up and walked over to the table.
“Hi Caroline. I just wanted to tell you I was sorry.”
He waved at Monica to come over.
“Leave me alone. I don’t care. I wish I never met you scumbag.”
Monica walked over as Caroline told her to run as far away as she could from Sean. He was a wife beater and a drunk.
“Really? Did you know your rich boyfriend has VD! He gave me the clap!”
Gerald Rivers looked at Monica.
“Who are you?”
“I’m the girl you fucked for a month, gave the clap and dumped me like I was nothing! You don’t remember me?”
“Well there were so many back in the day. Now that I think of it, you’re that crazy chick!”
“You’re a fucker you are! I ought to blow your brains out!”
Sean and Monica were tossed out of El Rey. They went to Dunkin Donuts and had coffee.
Caroline and Gerald left the restaurant. Caroline told him she was getting a cab, not to call her until he could prove he didn’t have any VD and was not HIV positive. If he didn’t do that he shouldn’t call her ever again.
“So if I do that you’ll sleep with me?
“Go get a test asshole!”
With that Caroline grabbed a cab and went home. Sean and Monica went their separate ways after they chatted and finished their coffee. Neither of them asked for the others phone number. Gerald Rivers went home to his condo on the river. He felt he wasted over a month and half on a chick who would never sleep with him. He drank a few beers and went to bed.
A few months passed as Sean made his way through the twelve steps of life. After his apology he moved on with his life. It was autumn and the city streets came alive with vibrant colors of trees. He had been dating a woman in the Northeast section of the city and the two of them enjoyed the great park areas of the Northeast. On Sundays they would go to the Quaker Diner for breakfast. On this October Sunday they sat by the large screen television. KYW news was on and it quickly caught Sean’s attention.
“Early this morning a Fishtown realtor was stabbed to death in front of Johnny Brenda’s. Police believe it to be a domestic violence case and they have one male in custody.”
Sean looked at the crowd shot. Leaning against a light pole with a huge smile on her face was Monica.
“The latest information from police is that a jealous boyfriend attacked the realtor. More to follow later in the report.”
Sean and his girlfriend finished their breakfast and headed off to Burholme Park for a walk in the West Woodlands.