My job had been rocky for many months due to serious personality conflicts between myself and a better-connected co-worker. After the holidays our conflict took a turn for the worse and I could foresee job hunting in my near future. The issue of jobs was now being frequently discussed during evening conversations between Robert, Marilou and I. What I remember is that for all Robert’s talk about getting Marilou a job in Hollywood, he never once made me any offers of referrals or job leads with Hollywood-based companies. But, I would not have believed him if he had.
By now, I was convinced that Robert’s claims of Hollywood greatness were as much crap as his stories of Vietnam. I occasionally gave my opinions to Marilou, and every time she became strongly defensive of Robert. So then I kept my opinions to myself, with the thought that at some point Marilou would have to see the truth. However, this created a conflict that became a wedge between us.
Lourdes was still in the Philippines and waiting for someone to help her get back home. Marilou and I began to make tentative plans to travel to the Philippines for two weeks, visit with her family, and bring Lourdes back with us. Although we had been married 14 years I never had the chance to meet her family back in the Philippines. But with my job looking increasingly unstable we didn’t know how we were going to be financially able to make the trip. The issue of getting Lourdes home became another stress on top of everything else we were dealing with in our marriage.
One evening in late January Robert asked me to follow him out to an auto repair shop 30 miles from our house, to give him a ride home after leaving his car there for servicing. After we left the shop Robert invited me to dinner – the first time he’d ever offered to treat for anything. During dinner, he talked a lot about Marilou and her potential for a career in Hollywood. He told me about his upcoming project working for director Oliver Stone, which he claimed would be filmed mostly in the Philippines.
The point of the dinner and conversation became clear when he asked me if I would have a problem with Marilou working for him on this project. Robert explained this would be an ideal chance for Marilou to get out to the Philippines all expenses paid for several months. Robert also claimed that, as Marilou was so smart and industrious; the project could lead to her getting other Hollywood jobs. He was vague as to what position she would actually have with the project. Robert claimed that on any major movie production, there was so much money floating around leading individuals (which on this project would include him) could hire personal assistants without specifying the duties in advance.
I agreed with him that it would be great for Marilou to get a new career, and it would be great if she could be back in her native country for a while. I already believed him to be a complete fraud but I still played along. Even though I had no expectation that Robert could actually get Marilou the job he claimed he could, I wanted to see what his game was. I now suspect Robert was testing me to determine just how gullible I was.
Later that night, back at home, I told Marilou what transpired during dinner. I did not tell her I believed Robert to be a fraud, but presented what he told me as though Robert could actually deliver what he offered. It was my belief that this was the only way for Marilou to recognize Robert was just spinning out fantasies, and get her to recognize what I already knew.
I also told Marilou that I trusted her on a job that would take her out of the country and away from me for a long period of time. From the sudden strange look she gave me, I knew something was very wrong.
We invited Robert over for movies and popcorn one Saturday evening in early February. After the movie, as he was getting ready to leave, he “remembered” he didn’t have a flashlight with him and it was pretty dark outside. We loaned him one of our flashlights; he went over to his house, got one of his, and came back to the house to return ours.
Marilou met him by the door while I was in our bedroom getting ready for bed. When she came into our bedroom her face was flushed and she had an expression I’d never before seen on her. I now believe she and Robert had a rather serious good-night kiss at our front door.