Ted Franklin was a guy who had it all. In high school he was popular with the girls. He was taller than anyone else in his class. He had a dark complexion and raven colored hair. His eyes were as dark as coal. He had a perfect smile with dazzling white teeth. His hair had just enough curl in it so that could be worn in a casual, tossed look. He looked just as good after an hour in the wind as he did when he showed up for school.
Throughout high school he had dated Becky Thatcher. Becky could have easily been a spoiled brat. He father had inherited a small tool and die business and had built it into the largest manufacturing company in Watahoochee County. Becky was cute even before she was beautiful. She was tall, slender, and blonde, and she had developed through the years into a beautiful teenager when she caught Ted’s eye. They started dating in the ninth grade.
Ted seemed to have it all. In addition to his natural looks, he also had tremendous athletic ability. In spite of his tall frame, he was quick on his feet, fast, and smart. He also had one of the best throwing arms the coach had ever seen. By his sophomore year, he had played starting quarterback.
At the end of Ted’s junior year, all of Watahoochee County was talking state championship the next year. Then tragedy struck. Ted’s mother died during the summer. Ted’s father owned a small farm and struggled each year just to have enough crop and livestock to pay all the annual debts and get the farm a little closer to being paid off. Without his wife to help, it looked like Ted would have to work on the farm instead of playing football.
Becky’s father, Nat Thatcher, rode out to see Ted’s father. The next day Ted went to work at the factory, just summer work, a few hours after practice, no work on game days, and half a day on Saturday. The pay was worked out so that Ted’s father was able to give Ted some spending money and to hire a worker full time. Football is almost a legend in the South, and no one questioned or even mentioned the unlikely relationship.
The team did indeed win the state championship, and Ted got a full scholarship to the state university. He was to have had the starting position on the university team in his junior year, but a freak knee accident during spring practice ended Ted’s career. He came home to find Becky still waiting for him and to find that local pride and Mr. Thatcher’s good favor secured him a good paying job.
Ted became the sales representative for Watacoochee Tool and Die, which was now called Thatcher Manufacturing. With Mr. Thatcher’s ability to run his company, and with Ted’s ability to charm and to sell, the business continued to grow. Somehow, Ted had gotten in with a government bid coordinator, and Thatcher Manufacturing seemed always to have two or three government projects under way, all of which payed extremely well. He and Becky were married within the year.
Becky knew that Ted, while at the university, had enjoyed flings with several girls on campus, and even some of the local girls at the state capital where the university was located. She had waited for Ted, seeing him on every trip home, but during that time he had treated her almost as a pit stop in his busy life. She was sure that things would be different now that they had married.
During the first year, Becky and Ted spent a lot of time together and went on trips together. Becky was the happiest she had ever been. By the end of the first year, however, things began to change. Ted mad more and more trips out of town, saying that he needed to do more selling. Although Becky had gnawing doubts about his truthfulness, she had no proof that he was lying, and the sales continued to soar. Still her frustration grew month by month.
Then Becky’s father died, and Becky was devastated. Ted took over the Thatcher business and ran it well, but his time at home was less and less. Becky began to hear rumors about Ted and his out of town trips. Then she began to hear things about him and workers at the company. She noticed that some of her female friends either very obviously changed the topic or else became strangely silent when she came into the room.