The long green stairway loomed before her. “Come on Sheryl, just one more flight.” Nan sat down on the bottom step of the second floor landing. The stairs were steep and overly long, the type of old building built before the turn of the century. A little rest won’t hurt.
Sheryl puffed to the landing. “Who do you suppose painted this thing?”
“Yeah, I love the purple stripe running between the green stripes. Reminds me of grade school.”
Sheryl laughed. “Well, it reminds me of the right eye bruise left by the apple hitting Robert.”
Nan looked up at her friend. “How’d that happen?”
“Slipped out of my hand.”
“Yeah. It was the first thing I could grab.” Sheryl plopped down beside Nan.
“I guess that led to your divorce?”
“No, not exactly. Thinking back on it, there were a number of things. Probably, the key was the letter I got from the mortgage department at the bank -- about foreclosing on our house.”
“I didn’t know about that?”
“Either did I. I saw the check register every month. I saw the check stubs. I gave him the envelope to mail since he went to the post office every day.”
Nan leaned against the railing. “So?”
“So, he was taking the check out, and cashing it.” A tear ran down Sheryl’s cheek. “Then spending the day at the casino.”
“What about his exterminating business?”
“It’s all in the shed out back of the house. He said that because of the hurricane that there wasn’t any business.”
“After I threw him out, I got an extension from the bank. Lee loaned me one house payment, my mother gave me another.” Sheryl stood up apparently preparing to climb the final stairs.
Nan pulled herself up by the rail. “So, the mortgage was what caused it?”
“Part of it.” Sheryl took a step up. “The Bunny Club, was the last straw.”
“You mean the ‘Rabbit Hutch'? It used to be on Magazine, I thought the authorities shut it down. As I remember, it was a closed door key-club. I heard some things about them, but I didn’t believe it.”
“Believe it sister.”
“Wow, I never took Robert for one of those.”
“I didn’t either. For seven years.” Sheryl took three more steps.
Nan pulled herself up to the level of her friend. “So, did you catch him there?”
“Worse?” Nan put her hand on Sheryl’s arm. “What could be worse?”
“Another letter, from the club, with pictures of Robert and…well, you know. It had a hand written little note on lavender notepaper. It had little cherries around the edge.”
“Oh, gross.” Nan could feel the perspiration gathering on her forehead.”
“Yeah, it said, ‘We're back in business. Missed you Friday night.’”
“Okay, I think I understand the black eye.” The two women took the last steps to the third floor landing. Nan pulled on the door.
Their boss, Lee Burke, was standing inside the room. “Hey ladies.” His snide tone irritated Nan.
"Long climb, Lee." Nan blew a lock of hair from her forehead.
Lee held the door for them and bowed. “Glad you could make it. To save me, I can’t figure out why you didn’t take the elevator.”