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It Is All About The Numbers -Thomas Calabrese

By   /  January 27, 2018  /  12 Comments


Sometimes They Just Add Up

Thomas Calabrese…Walter Kleiner and Terry Boone dated briefly during their senior year in high school in the small town of Mansfield Indiana and married after one year after their graduation. They were not in love, soulmates or even had some special or spiritual connection. Walter was wild, reckless and mean spirited while Terry was good hearted and naïve. Coming from a broken home she had no positive male role model to influence her while she was growing up. She was overwhelmed by the attention Walter lavished on her and deliberately ignored the warning signs of his violent personality until she had been captured in his web of deceit.  Walter was extremely manipulative and he eventually convinced Terry how wonderful things would be for her if she married him so he could take care of her, and she fell for Walter’s honey dipped sales pitch.

Walter’s untreated severe bi-polar mental disorder worsened over the years and his bizarre behavior got to the point that he would rather kill his wife than ever let her go, a threat he verbalized to her on a daily basis. Walter worked for a local company that manufactured barbed wire and chain link fencing. It was hard and dirty work and when he finished his shift; he usually went to Sally Jo’s Tavern for a few beers…then had a few more. Walter would either stagger the several blocks to his home or take the chance of driving drunk then pass out on the couch or stumble into the bedroom and collapse onto the bed. On weekends, he would get together with his biker friends and smoke marijuana or partake of whatever drugs that were available.

Terry worked at the Iron Skillet restaurant on West State Road 52, a favorite of truckers and travelers where she routinely picked extra shifts just so she could avoid going home. Terry had a bank account that she kept secret because she could never trust her irresponsible husband not to spend his entire paycheck on liquor, drugs or his motorcycle.  She recently gave her mother two thousand dollars for oral surgery because her dental insurance would not cover the procedure and this act of charity left her with only a few hundred dollars in reserve.

These last three years with Walter had been the longest and worst of her life and Terry realized the serious error that she made as she matured into a woman. She was bound and determined to find an escape from this unholy union and since her husband also threatened to kill her mother if she ever left him, her plan had to be perfect and right now she had nothing.

After returning to her small house at 4 a.m. in the morning, Terry saw Walter passed out on the bed in his dirty work clothes, snoring away. She shook her head in disgust and went into the living room and lied down on the couch. Terry was so physically and emotionally exhausted after a double shift that she fell asleep in a matter of a few minutes. The next thing she knew, she was looking up at Walter, who had dragged her off the couch and grumbled, “Fix me breakfast, I need to get to work.”

“Fix it yourself,” Terry snapped back as she tried to regain her senses and rise to her feet.

Walter reached down, yanked Terry to her feet by her right forearm, slapped her across the face then pushed her into the kitchen, “I’m not in the mood for your backtalk.”

Johnny Dalton graduated from Mansfield High School and enlisted in the Army with the goal of becoming an Army Ranger. After reaching his goal and being assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment, he applied to be a Delta Force operative. The 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D) is commonly referred to as Delta Force Combat Application Group (CAG). Delta Force and its maritime counterpart, U.S. Navy Seal Team Six are the U.S. military primary counterterrorism units.

He had been with the Delta Force for two years when his unit was sent to rescue a group of Melkite Christians that were being tortured and killed by ISIS terrorists in Hama, Syria.  It was a brutal battle that lasted for two days before the ISIS fighters were killed. Johnny was wounded three times in the operation when he was shot in both legs and received a shrapnel wound to his shoulder. He refused to be evacuated until the mission was completed, but the severity of the injuries effectively ended his career. He recovered enough to stay in the Army under a special waver, but could no longer function at the high level required by a special operative. Johnny had two options; re-train or accept a medical discharge, he reluctantly chose the latter.

Terry grimaced as she drove to work for her afternoon shift, her right forearm was black, blue and swollen and she could barely bend her elbow. She stopped off at the Kroger’s grocery store and purchased an elastic wrap and a small bottle of Aleve. On the way out, she bought one Powerball lottery ticket with the change and put it in her purse without noticing the jackpot amount of 411 million dollars. When she got to her car, she swallowed four tablets of the pain reliever and wrapped her arm, as much to hide the bruising and as for the support.

Johnny took I-77 N straight through from Fort Bragg to Mansfield, Indiana, only stopping for gas, snacks or to use the men’s room and made the 710 miles trip in under 11 hours. When he saw the Iron Skillet restaurant, he pulled into the parking lot as he remembered eating here when he was in high school. Johnny found an empty booth, sat down and was casually looking at the menu when Terry walked over, “Good afternoon, how are you today? Have you decided what you want yet?”

Johnny looked up and recognized his waitress, “Is that you, Terry?

“Johnny Dalton! The last I heard, you were in the Army.”

“Were, the key word in that sentence. I just got out and this is my first stop since I got back.”

“I’m honored, and thank you for your service,” Terry smiled.

“Your welcome, I remember that this place used to have a really good turkey meat loaf plate,” Johnny said.

“It still does.”

“Then that is what I’ll have and a glass of ice tea,” Johnny said.

“Coming right up…once again, welcome home,” Terry was gone in a flash.

When the meal was ready, Terry turned to Gail, another waitress, “You think you could cover my tables for a while? I have a friend that I haven’t seen in a while.”

“That good looking fella’ in booth 11?” Gail asked.

“I hadn’t notice,” Terry smiled.

“Of course you didn’t, take all the time you want,” Gail encouraged.

Terry brought the food over to the booth and set it on the table, “Want some company?”

“Absolutely,” Johnny replied

Terry sat down and grimaced when she inadvertently bumped into the table. “Are you alright?” Johnny asked.

“I sprained my elbow,” Terry lied.

Something didn’t ring true, but it was none of Johnny’s business so he didn’t push the issue. When he tasted the meat loaf, he exclaimed, “This is even better than I remembered.”

“I’ll pass that compliment along to the cook. So what are your plans now that you are home?”

“I don’t know,” Johnny said, “I’m hoping I can come up with one, I kind of got into the habit of letting other people make my decisions for me.”

“You will, everything that you have set you mind to, you’ve accomplished.”

“I appreciate your vote of confidence, but enough about me, how are you doing?”

“I got married, “Terry admitted.


“More like condolences,” Terry sighed.

Since Terry opened the door, Johnny took the opportunity to ask, “Is that what happened to your arm?”

“Walter can get a little grabby sometimes,” Terry answered.


“Walter Kleiner, we got married out of high school,” Terry said.

Johnny thought for a moment, “I knew a Freddy Kleiner…a real knucklehead.”

“That’s his brother, runs in the family.”

“One of the first lessons that I learned in the Army is that you have to get out of a bad situation before it gets worse,” Johnny encouraged.

“You guys probably had a better exit strategy than I do,” Terry got up from the table, “I had the biggest crush in the world on you when we were in school. You were a senior and I was a freshman and it was never going to happen.”

“Really? I didn’t know…sorry.”

It’s not your fault, I didn’t even tell your sister Julie and she was my best friend. Maybe we can continue this conversation at a later date. I need to get back to work right now.”

“I’ll be around,” Johnny smiled.

“So will I.”

Freddy Kleiner was meeting with his brother Walter at Sally Jo’s Tavern, “I got a way for you to pick up some extra cash.”

“What are you into now?” Walter was more than a little suspicious.

“I need you to do some pick-ups in Indianapolis for me?” Freddy replied.

“Pick up what?” Walter asked.

“It is better if you don’t know.”

“I’m not going down that road… I’m not doing anything unless I know what it is.”

“Fentanyl,” Freddy replied.

“How much?” Walter asked.

“How much what?”

“How much am I picking up and how much are you paying?”

“A kilo, maybe two, five hundred per delivery,” Freddy answered.

“That’s not much considering the risk.”

“That is how much they paid me when they first brought me in,” Freddy replied.

“Who are they?” Walter inquired.

“I don’t know and that’s the way they want it,” Freddy answered, “I made ten pick-ups and now they’re moving me up.  I thought I’d give you my old job because you’re my brother, but this is not a negotiation, so take it or leave it,” Fred snapped back. “It won’t be hard for me to find somebody else.”

“Lighten up, bro, I’m in.”

When Johnny got home, he visited with his mother and father for a while, and then called his sister Julie who was attending San Diego State on a softball scholarship.

“Welcome home,” Julie said, “If I had some time, I’d come home, but I’m pretty busy with school and softball right now.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’m the one with the flexible schedule so after I spend some time here, I’ll come out and visit,” Johnny promised.

“I’ll hold you to that,”

“I ran into an old friend of yours who is married to Walter Kleiner, anything you can tell me about her?”

“Don’t get involved, that’s the first thing I can tell you,” Julie warned, “Terry is a decent person and we were really good friends until she started dating Kleiner, but he didn’t like her having friends so he isolated her.  She broke up with him once when we were seniors and went out with another boy. After she came home one night, the boy was attacked by two masked men and beaten so badly that he was in the hospital for two months. The boy couldn’t identify his attackers, but everybody was sure it was Walter and his brother.”

“Do you think that he is abusing her?” Johnny asked.

“Oh yeah, it wouldn’t be a big leap for him to go from possessive to aggressive.”


“I told you not to get involved, but you’re not going to listen to me, are you?” Julie asked.

“Depends on what your definition of involved is. I don’t have any romantic interests in her; I just hate to see someone in a bad situation and not help if I can.”

“You just got out of combat and now you’re going to put yourself back in danger. How does that make any sense?”

“It makes sense because it is the right thing to do,” Johnny replied.

“Since I can’t discourage you, then I guess I’ll just have to support you,” Julie sighed, “Be very careful, promise me that.”

“I’ll keep you posted.”

Over the next few days, Johnny made it a point to eat at the Iron Skillet and sit in Terry’s section.

“You’re getting to be a regular,” Terry smiled.

“Good service and good food, that’s a tough combination to beat,” Johnny said.

“I usually take my thirty minute break at 3:30 so if you don’t mind having a late lunch or an early dinner, why don’t you join me.” Terry offered.

“I’ll make the appropriate adjustments to my dietary schedule.”

While Johnny and Terry were enjoying each other’s company in a back booth the next day, Carl and Andy, biker friends of Walter walked into the Iron Skillet, “Isn’t that Walt’s wife?” Carl asked.

“It looks like she’s having a pretty good time with that dude,” Andy answered.

“Too good,” Carl answered.

Andy pulled out his cell phone and videoed the couple and sent it to Walter, “This should freak him out.”

Both men laughed and sat down at the counter.

Next day, Johnny arrived at the Iron Skillet at 3:25 to meet Terry, but did not see her, so he walked over to Gail, “Where’s Terry?”

“She called in sick,” Gail answered.

“She seemed alright yesterday.”

“I’m worried about her?” Gail said with great concern, “I’ve seen her come into work in pretty bad shape so for her not to be here, it must be pretty bad.”

“Why don’t you give me her address and I go check on her,” Johnny suggested.

“I don’t know if that is such a good idea,” Gail warned.

“She already told me about her husband, I’ll be careful.”

When Johnny got to Terry’s house, he sat in his car for a minute as he pondered if this was the smart thing to do and decided that Terry’s welfare was more important than being smart. He knocked on the front door several times before Terry finally called out, “Who’s there?”


“Go away, I’m sick.” Terry called out.

“That is not going to happen until I see you,” Johnny promised.

“I said go away!” Terry yelled out.

“You might as well open the door, I’ve sat in the rain and the cold for days, it will be a piece of cake to sit here and wait until your husband comes home.”

Terry opened the door and quickly turned to walk away, but Johnny stopped her and pulled her hands away to look at her face. Terry had a split lip, black eye and the left side of her face was swollen.

“Grab some clothes and whatever you need, you’re getting out of here,” Johnny said as he barely controlled his anger, “Don’t even think about arguing with me.”

“Where? I don’t have any money!”

“Is this about money? You’re letting yourself be abused because you don’t have the money to leave. Well as of right now that problem is officially solved. I have my separation pay sitting around doing nothing and I can’t think of a better use for it than making sure you’re safe.”

“Why would you want to do that? You earned that money by risking your life, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m badly damaged goods,” Terry sobbed.

“Not to me you’re not. In my eyes you’re a fighter, there’s no disgrace in being wounded.  The other thing to remember is that it’s always easier to fight your enemy when you have reinforcements. I’m reporting to duty, Ma’am.”

Terry choked back her tears, “I guess that I’m not going to be able to talk you out of this?”

“You’d have a better chance of winning the lottery than that ever happening. You can tell me everything you know about Walter and his brother while you’re packing.”

“What about my mother? Walter will go after her when he sees that I’m gone,” Terry warned.

“No problem, we’ll pick her up,” Johnny responded.

As Terry packed, she told Johnny everything that she knew about her husband and his brother and when she was done, “That’s everything I think I need…wait a minute,” Terry opened the closet and pulled out a metal box, “You might want to take these.”

Johnny opened the metal container and saw two Glock 17 semi-automatic pistols, “You’re right these just might come in handy,” then noticed another container hidden beneath some shoe boxes, “What is in that one?”

“I never saw it before,” Terry answered.

Johnny opened the lid and saw several tightly wrapped packages, “What’s that?” Terry asked.

Johnny held one of the packages in the palm of his hand then handed it to Terry, “How much do you think that weighs?”

“A couple pounds maybe.”

   “I’d say 2.2 pounds which equals a kilo, the measurement of choice for drug dealers,” Johnny replied.

“Are you going to take it?”

“Absolutely, it is the one thing that we can probably use as leverage against him.  Drug dealers are notoriously unforgiving when their product disappears,” Johnny smiled.

Johnny picked up Terry’s mother on the way to the Marriott Spring Hill Suites in Terra Haute, Indiana and paid for their executive suite, “I’ll be back.”

Terry gave Johnny a hug that indicated much more than just appreciation, “Be careful, once Walter finds out it was you that his friends saw with me, he’ll be coming after you.”

“He won’t have to do that, because I intend to find him first.”

Johnny stopped at a Walmart on the way back to Mansfield and bought a pair of Nikon binoculars and a pre-paid cellphone then stopped at an electronic store and bought a wireless IP camera. When he got back to Terry’s house, he went inside and inconspicuously placed the camera on the dresser and pointed it toward the closet. He made sure that the signal was connected to his cellphone then went back to his car and waited for Walter’s arrival.

When Walter entered her home he naturally assumed that even though he had beaten Terry, that she still went to work. Johnny watched Walter on his IPhone screen as he went into the closet to get his drugs. When he realized that they were gone, Walter panicked and began searching through the bedroom in a frenzy. He pulled out several drawers and saw that they were empty, then went back to closet and saw that some his wife’s clothing was also missing. He ran out of his house, got on his motorcycle and raced off. Walter was so upset that he didn’t notice he was being followed.

Terry was watching television in the living room of her suite while her mother was in one of the bedrooms. She opened her purse and began to rearrange its contents to pass the time when she saw the lottery ticket in one of the pockets. She used the hotel’s WIFI to access the winning numbers on her cell phone for that particular Powerball drawing and compared the numbers on her ticket to the ones on the screen. She did this ten times, but still didn’t believe what she saw.

Walter raced up in his motorcycle then skidded to a stop outside Freddy’s house. Not far away, Johnny was watching through his binoculars, he pulled out the ‘burner phone and called 911, “I hear gunshots, there’s a drug deal gone bad and they have hostages…do not use sirens. The address is 4694 Jefferson Road, hurry!” then tossed the phone away.

“All gone,” Walter trembled.

“What’s gone?” Freddy asked.

“The drugs…Terry left and she must have taken them,” Walter trembled.

Before Freddy could respond, they heard a voice from outside, “I want the rest of the drugs or I’m going to kill you!” Several bullets hit the house and both men dived for cover as another   round shattered the front window and sprayed glass over the two brothers.

“You led them here, you idiot!” Freddy shouted at his brother as he ran to a hidden panel in the wall and pulled two AK-47’s that were converted to fully automatic. He handed one with several magazines to Walter and went to the window and looked for the attackers, “We’re going to have to fight our way out.”

Johnny fired three more rounds through the front door to keep Walter and Freddy pinned down until he noticed the police cars approaching then made his way to the back of the house.  Freddy and Walter came rushing into the street, blasting away at the officers, whom they thought were a rival gang trying to rip them off.  The police immediately returned fire and both men went down in a hail of bullets. When law enforcement officials searched the property, they found several kilos of fentanyl in the storage shed located in the backyard.

Johnny and Terry were honeymooning in Lake Tahoe and coming down the elevator from their room in Harrah’s Resort when Terry said, “I need to talk you about money, do you think it could ever affect our relationship?”

“Never, I know what you’re thinking, I don’t have a steady job yet, but I promise you that I will find something and work as hard as I can to make sure that you have a good life. I can’t guarantee you that we’ll be rich though.”

“Never can tell,” Terry said, “remember when you said that I’d have as much chance of winning the lottery…well.”

It is about the numbers when you put the right woman and the right man together at the right time… Sometimes They Just Add Up

The End













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  • Published: 12 months ago on January 27, 2018
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  • Last Modified: January 24, 2018 @ 4:25 pm
  • Filed Under: The Back Page

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  1. John Michels says:

    Different type of story, not my favorite.

  2. Pat Madden says:

    Good story. I enjoyed it; very different

  3. Kyle says:

    Everybody seems to agree that this a different story from Tom, different is good sometimes. I enjoyed it.

  4. Cary says:

    I liked it, kind of romantic, the plan to get the bad guys was pretty good, the lottery ticket was a nice touch

  5. Joe says:

    I was a day late reading your story, was attending my grandson’s wedding. Good story, again?Thanks

  6. Terry says:

    Hey Tom I’m enjoying your stories

  7. Wolf says:

    I liked it , The hero returns from battle and befriends an old school mate who is being abused by her worthless drug dealing husband. Sets up the crooks to be in killed in a police drug raid. No cops hurt. Hero marries the girl. Plus she wins the lottery. This is better than Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in PRETTY WOMAN.

  8. Josh says:

    I’m glad that Johnny Dalton’s plan worked out so well. I knew it would.

  9. Tony says:

    Another great story that shows Mr. Calabrese’s versatility in writing.
    He made everything come together at the end in one neat little bundle. Excellent writing and good read not only on a Sunday but any day of the week.

  10. Mona says:

    Clever plot to this story! I liked the way it all came together….wish it could have been longer!!!

  11. Clyde says:

    Tom took the subject of domestic abuse, drug dealing and put his usual hero triumphs over evil spin to it. love it

  12. Craig says:

    Good work Tom. I especially enjoyed the method you devised in which the evil Walter and his derelict brother met their demise. And Terry and Johnny lived happily ever after(I hope)

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