Many years ago, while still married to my first husband, Joe, I received a call from him telling me that he was sending a nice couple to the house to stay overnight. Joe was a recording engineer at the time and was working late. He told me that this couple wandered in looking for Tim, the owner, who was a friend of theirs. Tim was out of town, but Joe struck up a friendly conversation with them. Jack and Lindy were from Seattle and they had their three-year old daughter in tow. They said they were doing some traveling and wanted to surprise Tim and were hoping he could put them up for the night. Since Tim wasn’t there, Joe offered our house. We lived in Carmel, in a tiny two-bedroom cottage. As you can imagine, I wasn’t very happy about this, but given the fact that this couple was standing right next to Joe as we talked on the phone, my protests were ignored.
“But we don’t know these people,” I said.
“I just have about an hour’s left of work to do, then I will be home,” he said.
“What?! You aren’t coming with them? No,” I pleaded.
“Okay, babe. See you soon,” he said. And then he hung up.
Shit. I tried to get a handle on it. I had no choice. I figured they were probably nice people because they were friends with Tim, and they also had a little girl with them. My own son, Jarrod was also three, and sound asleep in his bedroom. Okay. What’s one night? I would put them in Jarrod’s room and move him to our bed for the night.
Jack was a tall, balding man of about 40, with a beard, and the sweetest, calmest voice I had ever heard. Lindy was younger, soft-spoken and didn’t make eye contact. I was only 25 at the time. I guessed she was about my age. We quickly settled into an easy conversation after they put their daughter to bed. I discovered that they had only known each other a few months and that Lindy was divorced from her daughter’s father. They seemed happy together. Actually, she seemed spellbound and hung on his every word. They talked about a few things that gave me pause, though he did most of the talking. It was apparent rather quickly that they were somewhat nomadic. There wasn’t a clear-cut plan with their trip. In fact, they said they were traveling about trying to figure out where they wanted to live. They also went into great detail about an idea they had of commune living if they could find like-minded people. Don’t look at me, I thought. True to his word, Joe arrived a little over an hour after they did and we all stayed up late into the night eating, drinking and talking.
Jack and Lindy didn’t stay just one night. The very next day, Joe told me that Jack asked if they could stay a few days. We reluctantly agreed. Lindy also asked me for our mailing address so that her mother could send them some money. I gave her our P.O. Box number, which is the only way to receive mail in the town of Carmel. I admit we had a good time together and Jarrod loved having a playmate, but after a few days, this was wearing thin on both Joe and me. When a few days turned into a five and with the weekend approaching, we decided Joe would ask them to leave. It was obvious they weren’t going to leave on their own. I didn’t want to be around for any of that, so I took Jarrod and went to visit my parents. It did not go well for Joe. It turned out they were somewhat desperate and Lindy started to cry. To his credit, Joe stood firm, though he did give them some money.
A week or so later, I was cooking dinner with the news on when a story came on about a couple that were being sought for some sort of charity scam. I was only half paying attention to a reporter interviewing a manager at a car dealership in Monterey about this couple. He was saying they seemed very nice and that they had a little girl with them. That’s when I stopped what I was doing. My jaw dropped as the story went on to identify them, show a mug shot of Jack, and also to say that the charity scam wasn’t the only thing they were being sought for. Lindy’s ex-husband had sole custody of her daughter up in Washington, and they had kidnapped her.
And so it goes. We called the police and told our story. They were caught and arrested soon after. I also turned over any mail that came for them to our P.O. Box, which turned out to be quite a lot, with random pieces showing up in our box for several months. I think they had our little cottage in mind for their commune. Also, Tim had only met Jack once. They weren’t friends.