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Short Story Day 74 of 365
After college, Harry Corter became a programmer for the railroad long before programming was a thing. He worked the 3-11 shift and was at home every night without fail before midnight.
Harry smoked two packs of unfiltered cigarettes a day, which was his only vice. When he died of heart failure at 52, the family was devastated. Since Corter was the only breadwinner in the family, how would they manage?
As Claudia Corter began going through her husband’s paperwork, she discovered his pension wouldn’t take affect for 15 years and he had no life insurance policy. Harry had kept many receipts but didn’t organize them outside of yearly IRS tax folders. Bank statements, ATM receipts, railroad pension paperwork, and health insurance bills all just baffled her. Between the grieving and the funeral arrangements, Claudia was naturally overwhelmed.
Many who knew Harry said he was a good man and a brilliant programmer. They, of course, didn’t know that he held most of his financial secrets close to his chest.
The third day after his death and one day before the funeral, Claudia got up in the middle of the night because something in all the paperwork puzzled her: bank statements and the ATM receipts.
After arranging the ATM receipts in chronological order, she added them up. Then she compared her figures with the bank statements. The receipts contained one thing the statements didn’t: time of transactions.
Tuesdays and Thursdays between 2:30-2:50pm or 11:10-1130pm for the last six years, Harry Corter had drained the Corter joint bank account.
Claudia sat on the couch with all the paperwork strewn about. She knew her husband, or thought she did, but was trying to grasp what she was seeing.
Home on time every night.
No trips anywhere.
No late night excursions.
Ate at home.
He smoked but that was it.
He didn’t drink.
Nothing he did ever carried suspicions of impropriety or immorality.
And now she found out the joint bank account that originally had $30,000 in it six years ago was down to less than $2,300 with consistent $40 and $50 ATM withdrawals.
Where did it go?
What did he do with those withdrawals every week?
Claudia closed her eyes and cried, not for losing him this time, but for what she was now up against.
She could pursue the mysterious withdrawals or she could let it drop. Either way, it wouldn’t change what she needed to do next to survive.
Was it worth the extra mental and emotional anguish to discover the truth, that is, if she could ever get to it? What if she never could find it out, then what?
When Claudia opened her eyes a full hour later, she still had no answer so she went about her business, hoping it would all come out in the end.
She had almost forgot about the issue until two weeks later when she was sorting through his closet. He had clothes packed away from the days when he was first married, clothes he’d never be able to wear again if he had been 150 pounds lighter.
As she dug the clothes out and put them into bags to give away, she began pulling stacks of money out with those clothes as well. After the closet had been cleaned out and several garbage bags were full of clothes, she had a stack of bills totaling $25,290.
Claudia wept. How she missed her husband dearly.
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