Looking back on it, Marlene was clearly a poor choice for PTA treasurer. But in her defense, she never wanted the job in the first place. At the yearly kick off meeting, Sue Ellen, after being voted President, outlined the tasks of the treasurer and asked someone to volunteer. Then she begged. When no one stepped up, she tapped her good friend Marlene for the job. Marlene grimaced, being treasurer sounded like a drag, one that didn’t play to her strengths. But over coffee the next day, Sue Ellen pointed out that after dropping the kids off at school, Marlene’s days were free, and so she could easily deposit and withdraw funds as needed.
Marlene was also meticulous, another trait Sue Ellen valued in her friend. In the fall, Marlene’s job as treasurer served as an able excuse for the two friends to have lunch together on the PTA’s dime. But on the Monday following the highly successful Swingin’ Soiree fundraiser, Albert, Marlene’s unreliable husband, texted his wife to say he had filed for divorce. Marlene was happy to see him go. The fact that he busted up their marriage via text was par for the course. Financially speaking, however, Marlene was screwed. She took a part-time job at Town Hall processing building permits. But despite economizing, her bank account rapidly dwindled.
Still she held out hope that they’d be able to squeak by. It was the fender bender on the icy corner of Pine and Tanglewood that tipped the balance. Too proud to ask family or friends for a loan, she borrowed money from the PTA, but not before taking a solemn oath, alone in the bathroom, that she’d make it right on the fifteenth after getting paid. Despite her best intentions, “things” like groceries and utility bills got in the way. One miserable rainy night in April she didn’t feel like cooking and the thought of Chinese take out made her cry, so she took the kids out to a Pizza n’ Brew, reasoning that if Sue Ellen could do it so could she.
In this fashion, the boundary between her bank account and the PTA’s blurred. By the end of May she had lost track of exactly how much she had owed which made closing the books for the year tricky.
Fabricating numbers, covering up her crime, though she never called it that, was the roughest patch in a very tough year.
In July, while Sue Ellen was on vacation with her family in Nova Scotia, Marlene rented a U-Haul and moved her family back to Minnesota. Convinced that eventually the next PTA treasurer would find her out, Marlene left no forwarding address. (Photo: Tim Duch)