Toilet explained that Rita was a bartender/waitress at some of the biker bars that they (Toilet, his ex-wife, Mom and Dad) had frequented. She had a reputation of consuming lots of alcohol while working and swinging from the chandeliers - literally. Her nickname was Shotzie for her drink of choice. Apparently Shotzie had quite a "loose" reputation.
I filed this bit of information away.
One night about a month after the wedding, Mick's mother called and invited me to dinner. Remember that Mick's father was the brother of Rita's ex-husband. So Mick and my step-siblings were cousins. I agreed to come over.
Mick's parents sat me down and proceeded to tell me this bizarre story about Rita. I'll explain what I was told -- it's outrageous and I'm not sure what I believe and what I do not.
Rita was married two or three times before. No one was really sure which. There was also confusion about her real name, the spelling and her last names - which changed regularly with each marriage.
Her husband had a history of dying in strange ways. Mick's parents suspected mob connections. This wasn't totally unbelievable, given that I grew up in New Jersey, just outside of Philadelphia. Mick's parents became concerned for their brother when he developed leukemia. He was quite weak and confined to bed. However, he apparently managed to drag himself out to the barn (quite a distance away) and either shoot or hang (can't remember) himself. There was an investigation in which Rita was suspected of killing her husband. However, Rita developed a relationship with the investigator and was cleared of wrongdoing. Later the investigator met with some injury too - a car accident I believe - and also died.
Mick's parents also asked me to be on the lookout for strange things involving the children. They believed the children had been physically and sexually abused. The girl child seemed to know more about sexuality than she should and Mick's parents suspected that she was being "farmed out" to Mom's boyfriends. They had reported things to Social Services but nothing was supported. They also said the boys were often bruised and injured in mysterious ways.
Mick's parents warned that Rita was manipulative. She had a way of thwarting the system. Despite owning a 50 acre horse farm and lots of valuable horses, the children received welfare money. The Christmas she and my dad met, the children had been signed up to be "adopted" by a church for the holidays. Each child received more presents than my sister and I combined. Rita and the children received life insurance from the death of the fathers and also social security. Rita could spin a story to get a handout every which way.
I left Mick's parents house confused about what to do. I tried to discreetly make inquiries. I tried to clarify with Rita exactly how many times she had been married, names of spouses, which child belonged to which man and other details.
Soon thereafter, the relationship majorly deteriorated........(to be continued)...