I was still in frequent contact with Tom McKenny. I knew he was conflicted by what was happening, feeling pulled by his friendship and ten year’s worth of defending Robert from his Vietnam -related charges. I also suspected that he wasn’t entirely impressed with my reluctance to divorce Marilou, as much as he lauded me for my “forgiving nature.” Tom was also bothered by my accusation that Robert had spread vicious rumors about me in an attempt to justify leaving with Marilou.
One evening about two weeks after Marilou left the area with Robert; Tom came by on a pre-arranged visit. I brought him over to Cris and Valerie’s house, introduced him, then went back home leaving Tom there. Tom came back about 30 minutes later. His face was pale, and it was apparent he was in shock. I poured him a cup of coffee and we sat at my kitchen table. Finally, he collected himself and confessed that Valerie had relayed Robert’s stories about me.
Tom wouldn’t repeat the stories, on grounds he would be concerned by what I might do to Robert if I knew what was said. Tom did mention, as Cris did several weeks earlier, vague references to “coke bottles.” Tom did relay that Robert had told Valerie he (Robert) was taking Marilou away because she had asked his help to get her away from a monster – me. Tom described Robert as making himself out to be a selfless hero for helping a woman being battered and abused by an abusive husband.
Tom went on to state he did not believe any of it, but also admitted that if he had not met me before hearing those stories, he might very well have believed them simply because he believed in Robert. From Tom’s tone, expression, and words, I knew he had just lost a close friend, and all I could say was how sorry I was for him.
This was also the most information I’d yet received on the lies Robert had attempted to spread about me. I now knew that had it not been for Beth, those lies could very easily have gotten around the neighborhood and made it impossible for me to continue living in my house regardless of what happened to my marriage.
Several days later after Valerie’s talk with Tom, Cris and Valerie moved out of the area on Cris’s military transfer orders. Also, shortly after Tom’s visit, Marilou and I established a limited means of communications using Robert’s cell phone. I could never contact her directly – all incoming calls were picked up on Robert’s voice mail, but Marilou would normally call me back within a few hours of my contact. Through these contacts, I learned she was visiting with Robert’s family members in different parts of the Midwest, and she and Robert were slowly working their way to Seattle.
Meanwhile, I was having frequent talks with Tom McKinney. When it became apparent that Robert had deliberately spread vile lies about me I announced I was considering legal actions for “defamation of Character” and anything else I could throw at Robert. Tom nearly panicked and requested I not take this step. He was worried about the impact a lawsuit would have on the many business and legal projects he and Robert were jointly involved with. I remember being less than concerned with projects possibility benefiting Robert, and let Tom know this in no uncertain terms.
After several more discussions Tom announced he would notify various people personally, including Oliver Stone and Senator Bob Smith, as to what was transpiring. Tom’s statement was “It would be better to hear this from a friend than a stranger.” He actually thanked me for pushing him into notifying people. So, my marriage woes became the topic of discussion with a Hollywood movie director and a United States Senator.
On Friday, July 13, Marilou called and announced she would be coming home “to talk” within the next several days. She flew back on July 24, two days after arriving at Robert’s house in Seattle. I made her reservations and paid for her airfare home – not Robert.
Her flight arrived nearly midnight in New Orleans airport where I met her, and we didn’t arrive at the house until 3:00 AM. It was a tense two hour drive back from New Orleans. Our arrival home became very confrontational. While she was gone I had sold our bedroom furniture, bought all new furniture and bedding to my tastes, and redecorated the room. Marilou took great offense to all this and announced she had no intention of sleeping in our room.
Although she spent the nights in our house she slept on the couch. Over the next few days she pretended to slowly move her belongings back into our house that had been previously transferred to Robert’s house the day after she first left. I made frequent attempts to open a dialog with her and talk about us, and our marriage. But she was completely closed, sometimes even to the point of denying anything had been going on with Robert prior to the night I threw her out. Our “talks” normally ended with an argument.
After ten days, late one night during yet another argument she abruptly walked out and went to Robert’s house. The next day she started moving more of her belongings next door and announced she would be living in Robert’s house permanently. Marilou again demanded I file for divorce, and now I acquiesced. As our property settlement, I agreed to file for irreconcilable differences in exchange for her accepting my financial offer. I considered my offer fair, under the circumstances, but it was a lot less than she expected and a take-it-or-leave-it deal; Take what I offered or go fight for more and make her adultery public. She accepted my settlement. I found a lawyer who agreed to take the case and scheduled a date for me to sign the papers two weeks out. Marilou announced she was going back to Seattle as soon as the divorce papers were signed and filed.