Phone Tag


After the officer took my toothbrush away to be analyzed, I waited with bated breath for the result to come back.

Then one day a few weeks later, I saw a missed call and voice message on my cell phone.

The number didn’t look familiar. As I  played back the recording, I discovered that it was the detective who was at my home, calling with information about what the lab discovered.

He said that I should respond as soon as I could and left me his contact number.

I returned his call. He wasn’t available.

I left him a message.  When he phoned me, I wasn’t available.

This continued on and on for the next several days.

The suspense was killing me! Figuratively speaking, of course. Suspense was no match for whatever Dick had up his sleeve!

It got to the point where the investigator was addressing me by my first name, telling me that “I was it” and that our little game of phone tag was continuing.

My “Officer Friendly” had a good sense of humor and a nice personality.

At least one man in my life knew how to communicate with me in a positive manner!

Finally, after several missed attempts, we were able to connect.

As  luck would have it, I was out riding my bicycle when I felt a vibration in my fanny pack, indicating that my phone was ringing.

There was no way that I was going to take a chance and miss the one call I was desperately waiting for.

I  stopped at the side of the road, pulled out my phone and saw my detective’s name on the screen. Since we were becoming phone buddies, I made him one of my contacts.

Finally!!! We were going to communicate with each other.

Nervously, I answered the call. Of course, being outside, with cars whizzing by wasn’t the ideal setting to hear the news I was desperately waiting to receive.

After making polite small talk, we got down to the meat of the call.

“It was discovered that there were no controlled substances or corrosives on your brush,” the policeman told me.

“Okay??? So what was the white powdery substance” I queried.

I was informed that the mystery remained a mystery.

“So, what was the next step?” I questioned.

“Well, since you are alive and appear to not be suffering from any lingering symptoms, the taxpayers of the county won’t pay to find out what the exact nature of the particles are,” my officer declared.

“You are free to take your brush to a private lab to be analyzed.” he proposed.

Without missing a beat, he continued, “However, I have to tell you that even if the  substance is identified, the evidence wouldn’t hold up in a court of law.”

WHAT THE F*$K!!! I silently screamed in the privacy of my own head.

“What do you mean by that?” I calmly queried out loud.

“You could say that your soon-to-be ex tampered with your toothbrush and the proof was that his fingerprints were all over it. However, he could claim that he innocently touched it while he moved it to a different spot . Without actually catching him in the act and having proof of the indiscretion, it’s just your word against his,” my detective retorted.

So that’s why the ER nurse was showing me the websites for nanny cams!

What good was all of this information after the fact?

Why couldn’t I have been privy to this knowledge before any of this went down?

Honestly, knowing myself as well as I do, even if I would have been forewarned, educated and alerted to the possibilities,  I wouldn’t have taken any action anyway.

Because, there was no way, that I would have ever believed in a million years that Dick could have dreamt up and carried out what he was doing to me.

Who was this man? Certainly not the one I married. I had no clue who Dick was anymore.

More importantly, I had no idea what else was  he capable of.

As unfathomable as it was, I was starting to fear that it was possible for him to get away with murder.  Equally disturbing was the fact that legally, at that point, the law was on his side.

Innocent until proven guilty.



CSI Suburbia


After my ER experience, I decided that since I couldn’t bring in a nanny cam to use as surveillance, I would do the next best thing.  My toothbrush in the bathroom would be used as a “decoy.”  I left the cleaned-off, tainted one in its usual spot and brought in a replacement, which I locked up in a small traveling case and kept in Ashley’s closet.

I had no clue where my new-found sleuth skills were coming from, but I had to admit, they were pretty impressive.

I kept trying to convince myself that my imagination was working overtime. I was simply overreacting in a major way and nothing sinister was going to happen.

However, the reality was that I couldn’t get the conversation I had with the ER doctor out of my head. Do you think your husband is trying to kill you? I’m not going to lie, that really freaked me out.

There was no way that I would allow myself to believe that Dick could have possibly been trying to kill me. That was totally insane.

Actually, this whole situation was becoming more and more insane every day.

Who knew what he was capable of at that point.

My nerves were completely shot. I didn’t know what to think anymore.

It was better to be safe than sorry.

Who was I kidding. Unfortunately, I was no longer safe and boy was I sorry!

The craziness that I went through on a daily basis just to practice simple hygiene was unreal!  I swear, if Dick wasn’t going to do me in, the bacteria that was most likely swarming on the moist bristles of my toothbrush, that was being sequestered in a dark, plastic storage case was probably going to finish me off.

I could almost hear the teaser for the nightly news   — She was found dead on her bathroom floor with a toothbrush in her hand.  At least she led a clean life. Stay tuned…

However,  my paranoia actually turned out to be warranted. Within a week of initiating “Operation Toothbrush,” the bait was taken.

One morning I walked into the bathroom after Dick had left for work and discovered a white powdery substance on the bristles of my toothbrush.

My heart instantly sank.

What the heck was going on.

Ashley was still relaxing in bed. I went into her room with the evidence and asked her if she saw the powder. She confirmed my findings.

I went downstairs and called my attorney to share my discovery. He instructed me to call the police and have them come to my home immediately.

I told him that Ashley would be going out-of-town in a few days and maybe it would be better to handle the situation when she wouldn’t have to witness seeing a cop in the house.

Without missing a beat, he said to me, “Would you rather Ashley sees a policeman in your home or finds your dead body on the floor?”

Subtlety was obviously not his strong point.

I don’t know why, but at that moment, the old game show Let’s Make A Deal, popped into my head. I imagined the host, Monty Hall standing in front of three doors. Would you like to take Door # 1, Door #2 or would you like to take what’s in Monty’s cookie jar?

Since my lawyer only offered me two options, I felt that the most reasonable one to go with was calling the police. I’ll take what’s behind Door #1.

Before I proceeded, I went back upstairs to Ashley’s room and told her what I was about to do.

“You know this is not normal, acceptable or safe, ” I started. “Things have gotten out of hand. I don’t know what your dad is trying to pull here, but I can’t allow this to continue. This is beyond vengeance. Things have crossed into the danger zone. I just spoke with my attorney and he advised me to have the police come over as soon as possible.”

Ashley was quiet. She didn’t respond.

I then called the non-emergency phone number of my county sheriff’s office and explained my predicament. They told me that a deputy would be on his way.

I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. This couldn’t have really been happening.

A short time later the deputy arrived. I took him up to my bedroom and showed him my toothbrush. He put on latex gloves and placed my toothbrush in a plastic evidence bag.

This was getting crazier by the minute.

We went back downstairs. He, Ashley and I discussed the situation. The officer told me that they would test the substance for corrosives and controlled substances.

I was then asked if I wore contact lenses or used eye drops. After acknowledging that I did indeed wear contact lenses, he told me to remove them and the solutions from the bathroom. I was informed that one of the quickest ways to get a drug into the system was through the eyes because of the rich supply of  blood vessels.

Continuing on the subject, my new law enforcement agent said that the traders at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange used to put cocaine in their Visine.

I found that information very interesting and have since asked a number of former traders if that were true. None that I asked claimed to have known anything about it.

The deputy then gave me his card, told me that when the results of the testing would be complete, he would let me know the findings. In the meantime, if I needed to call for any reason, I had his number.

By the time he left, I was just grateful that Dick didn’t happen to come home from work early that day and find the officer sitting in our living room.









Late Night ER


While driving myself to the  hospital at 1:30 in the morning, I felt as though I was moving in a hypnotic state.

Contemplating what my future would hold, (or more realistically)  how much of a future I could look forward to at that point, I was in a sickened, confused, scared-out-of-my-mind, state of shock.

When did this crap become my daily reality? I silently questioned to myself.

I definitely didn’t sign up for any of this when I innocently walked down the aisle as a blushing, naïve bride a few decades earlier to say, “I do.”

Getting back to my crisis at hand: It seemed as though  I was cast in the starring role in a new horror flick.

Honestly, if I would have been privy to the coming attractions, I wouldn’t have stayed for the feature flick and would have given it a  moldy green tomato splat on Rotten Tomatoes.

For the record,  I never liked scary movies (or anything frightening for that matter).  And, as we all know, in this genre of motion picture, things always got worse, before they became better. Sometimes, things got really, really nasty and ugly before the villain was eventually caught.

After parking my car in the hospital emergency room parking lot and robotically making my way to the building’s entrance, gripping an innocuous brown paper bag  containing the “evidence “- my plastic bathroom cup,  I kept questioning to myself what I was doing there and what the outcome of the visit would reveal.

I was also hoping beyond hope, that I was experiencing one doozy of a nightmare and I would wake up shaken, but overall fine.

The doors opened to the waiting room and I approached the receptionist. When asked what the purpose of my visit was, I was embarrassed, shamed and uncomfortable to admit that I was there because I had spoken to Poison Control a few hours earlier and was advised to go to the ER to make sure that whatever was causing a bubbling phenomenon in my bathroom cup wasn’t wrecking havoc with my internal organs.

A nurse led me to a cubicle at the back of the ER where she also proceeded to question me as to what made me decide to visit the hospital at that ungodly hour. I explained that I was going through a very nasty, bitter divorce with a physician on staff at one of their network hospitals.  We were living in the same house and his antics were escalating to the danger point. He had put some undetermined substance on both my toothbrush and bathroom cup  which left me with sores, (which had resolved) and a burning sensation in my mouth.  The nurse walked out and  left me sitting and nervously waiting for what seemed like an eternity.

Finally an emergency room physician came in and asked what I was doing in the ER.


At that point it was around 3:30 am. I was beyond exhausted, drained and concerned.

I’m here doing quality control on your ER. Tomorrow evening I will make a visit to another local hospital and rate my experiences… was the sarcastic thought going through my mind.

Instead, I rehashed to him what I explained to the nurse and the receptionist a while earlier.

With a deadpan gaze, he asked me if I thought that Dick was trying to kill me.

Wow!!! If that didn’t get me to bolt up to attention quickly.

“I hope that he is just trying to scare me and make me want to settle our divorce sooner than later,” I retorted.

Kill me??? Kill me??? Kill me???

Dick was angry, bitter, resentful and hated to lose at anything. But kill me??? Could he really stoop to that level?

I shuddered at the thought. Until that moment, I never, in my wildest imagination, could have imagined that Dick could possibly consider murdering me as a way of ending our marriage.

The doctor did a brief exam and concluded that there appeared to be no signs of lasting damage. He gave me the name of a toxicologist to follow-up with.

The nurse was waiting for me, led me to a computer in the central area and proceeded to show me websites for nanny cams. We searched through various models.

One looked like a teddy bear. Another one resembled a plug-in air freshener.

I explained to her that since I moved out of the bedroom, Dick would become very suspicious if suddenly I put a stuffed animal on the bed! He also would wonder why out-of-the-blue I  would purchase a plug-in air freshener for the bathroom.

These were a little too obvious!

I appreciated her helpfulness and concern.

Unfortunately, the cams weren’t viable options for me at that point.

If nothing else, I was creating a trail in the event that something suspicious would happen to me.

The hospital now had a record of my visit and what had been transpiring in my life.

I left the hospital around 4:30 in the morning totally flustered, ready-to-drop and completely depleted.

At that point, I had no clue as to what Dick could have possibly planned for me next.



Cup of What?


Any hopes that the toothbrush incident was an isolated incident quickly vanished.

A few nights later, when I was brushing my teeth, (of course I had thoroughly checked my toothbrush) I noticed that the water that I filled from the sink into my bathroom cup appeared bubbly.

Was I becoming paranoid?

I had to get a grip on my situation and my imagination.

Trying to calm myself down, I tried to think about my circumstances rationally.  We lived in an area whose water source came from a well. As a result, the H2O was rich in not only minerals but lots of other unknown gunk as well.

Maybe something in the system was causing a reaction that appeared to resemble a mild acting Alka Seltzer when water ran out of the faucet. After rinsing out the cup a few times, I decided it was probably safe to swoosh and spit after I brushed. I wasn’t going to swallow anything, so I thought there was no harm to be had.

Once again, my logic failed me.

Some advice — never go gambling with me. Or if you do, pick the opposite of what I am betting on. The odds would be in your favor.

The burning sensation returned to my mouth. Fortunately, the small sores didn’t.

Being that it was close to midnight, Dick was getting ready to hunker down for the night.

I, on the other hand, retreated to my basement for some privacy, where I proceeded to  call Poison Control. After explaining what had transpired and what my symptoms were, I was advised to take my cup and head over to my local emergency room to get myself checked out.

I so badly wanted to be fast asleep and in the middle of a horrible nightmare that I would wake from and carry on with my regularly scheduled life.

Instead, I was living an unimaginable nightmare.

As much as I fought sleep, I prayed that when I finally succumbed and dozed off that I would wake up the following morning.

At one in the morning, I had places to go and people to see.

Brushing Up


When trying to make a significant change in life, it is common to face resistance.

People attempting to lose weight, quit smoking or better themselves personally or professionally commonly face strong opposition from family and so-called friends who  don’t want to disrupt the status quo.

These individuals are comfortable with the relationship just the way it is and don’t want to rock the boat by having positive growth or change occur for the individual wanting to better their life.

So they do things to sabotage any progress made to keep the one desiring advancement to thwart their plans.

In my situation, my proud feelings of standing up to Dick were short-lived.

At least I was able to bask in the glow of glory for a whole 24 hours!

Intellectually, I knew that Dick would be majorly ticked off that I stood up to him and didn’t follow his demands.

Like I said before, it was a big move for me, in spite of how scared I was to take a stand.

I alos realized that he wasn’t going to sit back and take this lightly.

He would retaliate and do it swiftly.

However, in my wildest dreams, I couldn’t even begin to fathom that Dick was capable of pulling off what he proceeded to do.

His relationship with Juanita was progressing forward.

In addition to taking frequent jaunts out to Scottsdale to visit her or fly her in town for extravagant weekends (using our marital assets to pay for everything including her household expenses and a cleaning service for her home), he was brazenly (I know…like the aforementioned wasn’t brazen enough) having phone conversations with her while sitting in our family room.

One evening, while he was in the middle of a deep discussion with his amore, I asked him if I could have the checkbook (which due to the ineptness of my first attorney , we had to share), he sarcastically retorted that I better get a job because he wasn’t giving me any money. With his new love as backup and support, he was quite the bigshot.

I answered that I needed to pay some bills and my work life was not up for discussion.

From her end of the phone, she must have been egging him on big time.

One thing led to another and he asked me if I knew what cancer was, because that was what I was.

That comment was beyond low.

I lost a sister to cancer and couldn’t believe that Dick would have the gall to say something so hateful and hurtful.

As his bravado was being fueled by his sweetheart, he made a statement to her that the answer was poison and cancer.

What the heck did that mean???

Poison and cancer? What could the two of them have possibly been conjuring up?

The next morning, I got a taste of what that was.


When I went to brush my teeth, I noticed a brown substance on my toothbrush. Assuming that some dust or other particle might have fallen on it, I rinsed it off and commenced with my oral hygiene.

Immediately I had a burning sensation in my mouth. A short time later, I developed several small sores on my inner cheeks  inside of my mouth and tongue.

As my luck would have it, I was scheduled to teach a workshop at the yoga studio where I was a student. I had to get dressed and head out to the class.

The timing of this couldn’t have been worse.

I had to be prepared, composed and positive.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t claim being any of those.

I was flustered, shaken to my core and convinced that I would soon drop dead.

On the positive side,  if I made it to the yoga studio and something were to happen to me, at least I wouldn’t be alone.

When I got to the studio I explained to my instructor what happened.

He told me that not long ago he was listening to a radio show about divorce. One man, going through a nasty divorce, called in and admitted that he cleaned the toilet out with his wife’s toothbrush.

“Maybe that’s what your husband was doing to you,” my yogi proposed.

At that point, chills began running up and down my spine.

Could Dick really be that mean and conniving to actually use my toothbrush to scrub the toilet?

Maybe I should have been looking for the good in the situation and have been grateful that he finally decided to be domestic and help around the house.


Thankfully, within a few hours, my mouth returned back to normal and there appeared to be no long-lasting effects.

However, without a doubt, things in our home were taking a dangerous turn for the worse.




Throwing In The Towel


Dick was not a happy camper.

Realizing that this divorce was not going the way he hoped and planned,  (that he was simply  going to take everything, leave me with nothing and live happily ever after) he found himself in a position where he would have to explain himself and be held accountable to the legal system for his actions.

So he did what any rational and mature man would do in his situation: he started stooping to more upsetting, disturbing and tormenting actions.

Because as we all know, that’s the best way to handle things when the going gets tough.

Early on in the divorce process, I stopped preparing Dick’s meals and doing his laundry (under the advice of my attorney and every other well-meaning person who voiced their opinion to me on what I should do going forward).

Dick persistently raised hell over the fact that I wasn’t serving his every need while he continued to provide for me financially.

Also, the fact that I had a new attorney who was actually taking an active role in my case was not setting well with Dick.

When he realized that his rants weren’t getting him anywhere,  Dick decided to step things up a notch.

That’s putting things mildly…

My Sunday morning routine included changing the bedding and the bathroom towels (except of course for Dick’s).

During one of my standard weekend ritual mornings, Dick insisted on locking himself in the bedroom with the laundry basket. When he finally emerged from the room, he greeted me with an unusually smirky look on his face.

Something was definitely up.  HIs facial expression told me everything I needed to know. He had done something that he was quite impressed with and that he knew I would blow up over.

As they say…It’s simple things in life that are always the best!

However, what kind of self-serving satisfaction could he possibly have obtained from denying me access to OUR bedroom… other than making me wait for him to finish whatever it was that he was doing — or in his case, probably not doing?

He definitely knew how to rile me up. That brought him such joy. Maybe he thought that simply throwing me off  schedule was enough pleasure for him for one morning.

When I was finally granted entry into the room, I quickly picked up the laundry basket and headed down to the basement to start the wash.

For some reason, the basket felt much heavier that normal.

Could  I  possibly have  been coming down with something and the first symptom was weakness? Out of the clear blue?

I quickly discovered that I was totally healthy! My muscles were fine and thankfully no impending virus was settling into my body.

The only bug lurking in the house was Dick.

As I was unloading and sorting the dirty laundry into piles, I noticed that Dick had hidden his towels into the mix.

And I do mean hidden.

Barricading himself in our bedroom a few hours earlier, Dick was busy painstakingly removing and rearranging the contents in the basket. He added what he needed to have washed in such a way that unless someone was carefully inspecting, the additional items would go unnoticed.

He figured that I was too stupid to see what was transpiring. I would do his laundry and he would get what he wanted.

Brilliant plan in his mind!

Unfortunately for him, that was not to be.

I quickly made my way up the stairs and confronted him about what he tried to pull off.

As usual, he denied doing anything underhanded and quickly turned the situation around to blame me for causing an argument.

However, this time things were different.

There was a transformation taking place in our home, in our lives and the way things would be moving forward.

In the not so distant past,  when a situation like this would have arisen, I would  have done the chore instead of heaven forbid make any waves. Because that was how I was raised….be the nice girl….the good girl…the one who didn’t do anything to upset anyone.

But that way of life was no longer working for me.(Not that it ever really had. I just didn’t know any better)

I didn’t acquiesce.

I held my ground.

What an empowering feeling, although quite scary,  that was for me.

It was definitely a turning point in my divorce, in how I viewed myself as a woman, and in how I felt I deserved to be treated.

I wasn’t anyone’s servant.

I didn’t give in and do his laundry.

In fact, those towels stayed on the laundry room floor till our divorce was finalized and Dick moved out.




The Tables Were Turning


pexels-photo-630835.jpegHiring my new attorney escalated my circumstances in many ways.

Some good… and some not so good! (That’s putting things extremely nicely.)

On the positive side, my counsel got the ball rolling to move our divorce forward. Very quickly, a trial date was set.  Dick was served with financial subpoenas. A deposition date was arranged.

For the first time in a long time, I felt like I was gaining control over the situation and the outcome could turn out positive for me.

Even the  hairs on the back of my neck were excited to finally take a break from endlessly standing on end and were relieved that they could  get some much-needed rest.

Ahhh. … life was looking pretty good!

This divorce thing — piece of cake! No big deal!

I am woman, hear me roar!

While starting to bask in the glow of  my new-found confidence and self-esteem,  it became clear quite quickly that the celebration, though thoroughly satisfying and well-deserved, was to be short-lived.

Well — it was definitely fun while it lasted.

Seriously though, did I believe for one iota of a second that Dick would accept all of the new demands, requirements and deadlines without lashing out in one way or another?

A girl could only hope and dream!

At the time, who knew that hoping and dreaming were the best things I had going for me.

Because at that point, there was no way I could have predicted, prepared myself for, anticipated or imagined in my darkest nightmare, the hell that Dick was about to unleash in my life.