Cheating is Murder
Jane walked into the house Sunday night after her weekend away.
“Honey I’m home.”
There was no reply. She checked the bedroom and bathroom, backyard and study. Nothing. Only the lounge room light was on; the rest of the house was in darkness. Going back out to the garage she confirmed that Dave’s car was still there. Strange, she thought. Shrugging, she went to fix herself a snack. When there was still no sign of Dave by 10PM, she tried his cell. No answer. Just like Saturday night and this morning she thought.
At midnight she rang the police. They told her that they could do nothing until a person had been missing for one complete night. Despite her exhaustion she found sleep difficult. This was all very un-Dave like behaviour.
She decided not to go to work the next day but killed time until 8AM and rang the police again. The duty operator put her through. She told the story that she’d come home last night, but had been unable to contact her husband since Friday. They promised to send someone around within two hours. Jane rang Dave’s cell several times while she waited.
Just before 10 the doorbell rang and Jane ushered in two uniformed officers. She related all she thought was relevant.
“Madam, there are several common signs we look for in missing persons’ cases that give us an idea whether the person might have chosen to disappear of their own volition or whether foul play is a possibility.”
They then asked where Dave kept his car, wallet, phone, keys and passport.
Jane pointed out Dave’s keys hanging from their hook and took them to the garage to show them his car. They gave it a quick inspection but found nothing of interest. Next Jane opened the safe to show them Dave’s passport, then opened his bedside cabinet. At this point she started to get really worried. There was her husband’s wallet. Where could he go where he wouldn’t need that? The only thing missing was his phone.
Before she could worry further, one of the policemen started asking quick fire questions. The other stood well away just watching.
“Can you tell us about your husband, Mrs. Brown? Where does he work?”
“We have our own business, Havelock Industries, do you know it?”
The policeman nodded.
“Dave is the CEO and I help out in the office, general admin duties, help with the books and stuff like that.”
“Wow, you must be loaded.”
“Well yes. We can afford all the best things in life, yes.”
“And you say that this is completely abnormal behaviour for your husband? Has he ever disappeared before?”
“No, never. My Dave is a creature of habit. You could set your watch just by looking at his routine most days.”
“How would you describe your marriage, Mrs. Brown?”
“What are you trying to imply?”
“What I mean is, was your husband happy? Could he have run away with his secretary or something like that?”
Jane gave a short laugh.
“Well, for a start, I’m his secretary. Secondly, Dave would never do anything remotely like that. I’m his life. He is completely devoted to me.”
“Okay, Mrs. Brown. Now, can I ask for your whereabouts last weekend?”
“I, um, I went to visit my sister in Colville, I left Friday night and got home Sunday just after 7PM.”
“Yes, it’s only a three hour drive.”
“Okay, Mrs. Brown. That’s all I can think to ask at the moment. Can you give us your husband’s cell number, all his bank account numbers, personal and business; plus any credit card numbers he uses? Also, a list of his friends, his and your family members with their contact details please.”
“Why do you need all the bank account and credit card numbers?”
“Well, we know he left his wallet behind so if he is out there he needs money to live.”
“You said there were signs that indicated whether he had left of his own accord or whether something bad may have happened. What does it look like?”
“Sorry Mrs. Brown, but apart from the missing phone, nothing else looks particularly good.”
It took Jane about 15 minutes to get all their requested information. Then she showed them to the door.
“We’ll keep you posted. Of course, if he shows up, you will let us know won’t you?”
The two policemen left. Once they were in their car, the senior one turned to his partner.
“Well that stank.”
“What do you mean?”
“Didn’t you notice how defensive she got when you asked about the state of their marriage? Then she stuttered when you asked where she’d been for the weekend. I tell you John, I think we should fast track this one. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Is her sister’s phone number on that list she gave us? I think that would be a bloody good place to start.”
Two days later there was still no sign of Dave. Jane was getting frantic with worry. She rang the police at least twice a day but there was never any news.
Wednesday morning, the same two policemen from Monday showed up at the office and asked to speak to her. She took them into Dave’s office for some privacy. This time it was the senior officer who did all the talking.
“Mrs. Brown. On Monday you told us that you had spent all weekend with your sister in Colville right?”
“Care to tell us why you were lying Mrs. Brown?”
This floored Jane. It had been pure reflex that she’d stuck to the sister story last time. She wasn’t someone comfortable with lying. Well, not till a year ago that was. Now it was practically second nature.
“I…I never wanted Dave to find out.”
“Find out what Mrs. Brown?”
“That I wasn’t at my sister’s.”
“Where were you Mrs. Brown?”
“At the Hilton, across town.”
“Were you alone?”
“Who were you with?”
“I…I don’t want to say.”
“Well, it’s your choice Mrs. Brown. Either you tell us now, or we arrest you, take you down to the station and you tell us there.”
“Wh..what? Arrest me. Why?”
“Well, look at it from our point of view Mrs. Brown. Your husband disappears and all the signs point to foul play. There’s also some other things which we won’t go into now but believe me when I say we have ample reason to detain you. So, your choice. Who were you with at the Hilton all weekend?”
The policeman asking the questions grinned at his partner in triumph. Jane missed the interchange. She was too busy looking at the floor; face flushed.
“Who Mrs. Brown?”
“Your lover Mrs. Brown?”
“And did you leave the hotel any time between Friday and Sunday nights?”
“No. The only time I left the room even was to go to the restaurant to eat.”
“Can you say the same for Mr Smith?”
“No, he left for about two hours Saturday afternoon. Said he had some personal business to attend to.”
“Where can we find this Dennis Smith?”
Jane hesitated before answering. This was spiraling out of control.
“Across the hall. He is my husband’s deputy.”
A look of distaste crossed the policeman’s face.
“Is it possible, Mrs. Brown that your husband found out about your adultery and abandoned you?”
“NO!… We were very discrete. My husband could never know.”
“Can you ask Mr Smith to come in here please madam, then leave us alone?”
Without a word, Jane stood up and walked into Dennis’s office.
“Dennis, the police are here. They know about us. They want to talk to you.”
Dennis’s face paled, then slowly he stood and walked into Dave’s office with the demeanor of a man walking to the gallows. Jane sat in reception for the next 45 minutes, her mind in a turmoil of dread. For the first time she really thought about her affair with Dennis. Until now she had partioned it into the emotional ‘too hard basket’.
Boredom had been the instigator. Sex with the same man for so many years had just become routine. Dave had stopped asking her for anything new and exciting years ago, so it had just become unexciting. When Dennis had made his wishes known for a special relationship, Jane had hardly hesitated. It added the excitement she was missing. Generally, there was very little guilt on her part. Except that one time. I had been about four months into her infidelity, when Dennis had suggested yet another thing that she’d never tried before. She’d experienced a momentary flashback to her husband suggesting precisely the same thing many years before, in almost exactly the same words. Of course she had refused him. It was way too slutty for her tastes. The vague thought had entered her mind that maybe she was mostly to blame for the routine nature of sex with Dave. The thought was brushed aside by the excitement of the new experience and afterwards was buried deep. Just one more thing to enhance her naughty experience by hiding.
Her secret weekend hadn’t ended well. Friday night Dennis had suggested they each file for divorce from their spouses and marry. Jane had immediately shot that down. She had no intention of leaving Dave. Dennis had pressed again on Saturday, until things became quite heated. Words were said in the heat of the moment, that made Jane suspect that Dennis was keen to get her half of the company.
Instinctively, Jane knew not to mention the real reason Dennis had disappeared for two hours Saturday night, to the police. He had stormed out. Yes, he had come back and yes they had made love, but Jane knew the affair was doomed and had begun the process of emotionally divorcing her lover. She knew it had to be done carefully to prevent anything changing suddenly which might alert her husband.
After the police left, she and Dennis talked until the end of the day, discussing all the possible implications. With heavy hearts, they went their separate ways at 6PM. Jane to her suddenly lonely house, Dennis to his wife. Sleep eluded them both.
Jane was woken by heavy knocking on the front door at 7AM the next day. She opened the door to be greeted by a man in a suit, holding a badge in front of her face. Behind him stood two uniformed policemen and two men in disposable coveralls.
“Mrs. Brown, I’m Detective Danny Bourgeois. We have a warrant to search these premises. We also have a warrant to search your business premises. We would appreciate you giving us your computer login information and your husband’s, if you have it.”
“Why, am I a suspect?”
“No. We’re just looking for clues where your husband might be Mrs. Brown.”
In a daze, Jane complied with their requests. Writing the requested passwords on a slip of paper. On further request, she handed over the keys to the office.
While the small army invading her house were busy, she rang Dennis’s cell. There was no answer so she rang the landline. Dennis’s wife, Andrea answered.
Despite being only 5′ 2″ tall, Andrea could have passed for a model. She had short blonde hair, worn in a boyish cut, under which was a round face. Alabaster skin surrounded light sky blue eyes and puffy lips. Her 38-D chest and flawless skin had always made Jane envious. Especially so, as the package was sealed with a genuinely honest and fiercely loyal personality. She was less likely to cheat on her husband, than a Frenchman living next door to a brothel was to move house.
Not for the first time, Jane wondered why the hell Dennis would choose her over his wife.
“Jane, do you know why we have six policemen tramping all over my carpets?’
“No Andrea. I’ve got the same over here. It must be something to do with Dave’s disappearance.”
“What? Dave has disappeared. Dennis didn’t say anything. What does that have to do with us?”
“I don’t know Andrea. Can I speak to Dennis?”
“He’s tied up with the police right now. Look Jane, what’s going on?”
“I have no idea Andrea; sorry I’ve got to go. Bye.”
As she returned the phone to its charging cradle in the kitchen, Jane saw one of the technicians kneeling on the floor with a strange looking torch. She left the house. In the garage, the other technician was inside Dave’s car. She made to get in her car but the technician stopped her.
“We haven’t done that one yet madam.”
With no escape, Jane sat in her den and listened to some relaxing music. The boys in blue left about 2PM with no words of comfort and her car. Jane drove to the office in Dave’s car. No one said she couldn’t. The police had left a bit of a mess in reception, plus Dave and Dennis’s offices. Dennis was already there and they exchanged words of comfort. Their recent animosity forgotten in their shared fear. Jane pushed him away when he tried for a hug, reminding him that they could never show anything in public.
They managed to keep their emotional and physical separation up until the weekend. Then desperate, frightened and alone, Jane rang Dennis and they met at their usual hotel for a brief interlude. She shut him down angrily when he groped her butt, but allowed a companionable cuddle. The whole meeting turned out to be a disaster for Jane. Obviously wracked with guilt and fear, Dennis actually cried. This opened Jane’s eyes. She started to see the veil that had clouded her consciousness, begin to lift. Had she really risked her happy marriage, her sweet loving husband for this wimp? An hour later the decision was clear. No bloody way. That was when the guilt and remorse really set in. She cried herself to sleep Saturday and Sunday nights and hardly slept a wink. Two things drove her insomnia. The first was her firm belief that her husband had discovered her betrayal and harmed himself. The second was guilt. Oh yes. She’d had it all along, but she’d done a brilliant job of burying it deep. Now it emerged with a vengeance.
Consequently, when Detective Bourgeois woke her up on Monday morning she was almost incapable of rational thought.
“Mrs. Brown. Would you agree to accompany me to the police station?”
“Yes, of course.”
“I have to tell you Mrs. Brown that you are entitled to legal representation.”
Jane had given some thought to this. In the back of her mind she’d known the police hadn’t finished with her.
“No, that’s fine Detective. Do I come in your car, or can I use mine?”
“Mine will be fine madam.”
The short drive to the station was a silent one. All the while Jane wondered if it was bad news. Had they found Dave? As they pulled into the station, she saw Dennis being led into the building. Danny showed her into an interview room where they were joined by a female detective who wasn’t introduced. Once they were settled, the questions came.
“I just want you to be aware that this conversation is being recorded. Can you state for the record that you agree with that?”
“Yes, I agree with that.”
“Can you also confirm that you have not requested legal representation?”
“Yes, that is correct.”
“For the record Mrs. Brown. We have been monitoring your husband’s bank and credit card accounts for the last week and there has been absolutely no activity since the Saturday morning you were away.”
“What about his cell phone activity?”
“I’ll get to that.”
“Mrs. Brown. A week ago, two of my colleagues attended your house when you reported your husband, David Brown missing. Is that correct?”
“Yes that is correct.”
“During said visit, they asked you to account for your whereabouts the previous Saturday and Sunday. You stated that you had been visiting your sister. Subsequent investigations proved that was untrue and you later admitted to spending the weekend in a hotel with Mr Dennis Smith. Can you tell me why you lied Mrs. Brown?”
With her blatant untruths thrown in her face like that, Jane felt very embarrassed again. Thus it was again after a pause that she replied.
“I didn’t want my affair to become public knowledge.”
Danny turned to the lady sitting away from the table. They exchanged nods. Having successfully disconcerted her, Danny continued questioning Jane.
“Mrs. Brown, do you know the passwords for all your husband’s business accounts?”
“Of course, it is my business as well.”
“Did Mr Dennis Smith also have access to the company accounts?”
“Yes of course. He is the Chief Financial Officer.”
“Okay. Are you aware that on the Friday before your trip, the sum of $8.3 million dollars was transferred to the personal account of Mr Dennis Smith then immediately transferred to an untraceable account in the Cayman Islands? That sum represented almost all of your company’s working capital. Can you account for your whereabouts at 1.17PM on that Friday Mrs. Brown?”
Jane had a sudden sinking feeling. What time had she disappeared with Dennis into one of the stock rooms out the back that day? This was just getting worse and worse. She became aware that both detectives were still waiting for her to answer.
“No, I can’t. I would have been at work though. If I can get my diary, I should be able to confirm that.”
“Maybe later Mrs. Brown. I have to say we suspect that your husband is dead.”
“No! That can’t be!”
“Look at the evidence Mrs. Brown. Absolutely no action on any of your husbands accounts. No sightings. We know he hasn’t left the country, as his passport is still here.”
Jane tried to interrupt with the information that as Dave had dual citizenship, he had two passports. But Danny knew his stuff and refused to let her regain her composure. He interrupted again.
“You asked about your husband’s cell phone before Mrs. Brown. I have to tell you that with the cooperation of your husband’s service provider, it was found in a dumpster one block away from your business premises on Tuesday of last week. With it was found a quantity of plastic sheeting. Both the phone and the sheeting showed evidence of blood that has been identified as the same type as your husbands. Do you have any comment Mrs. Brown?”
Jane went as white as a sheet. If something had happened to Dave, she would be devastated. The detectives watched the look of horror invade her face and completely misinterpreted it.
Danny Bourgeois was one of a new breed of detectives. A product of a deliberate recruiting policy. Ruggedly handsome, with a natural ability to put people at their ease. Unassumingly intelligent, but with a slightly chequered past. How can I put this? Let’s just say that before his recruitment, he was already known to the police. The combination of intelligence, disarming demeanour, and insight into the criminal mind had ensured his quick rise through the ranks. With his instinctive approach, he knew the secret was to keep suspects off balance, he plunged on.
“Then maybe you can explain where the trace of a large bloodstain came from, found on your kitchen floor and also confirmed as your husband’s blood type?”
At this point, all Jane was capable of, was looking at the floor and shaking her head. Mixing it up a bit to cause further confusion, Danny pressed on.
“For the record Jane Brown is shaking her head. Mrs. Brown, would you like to comment on the prenuptial agreement, found in your safe, which clearly states that all assets from the marriage between yourself and David Brown go to the offended party in the case of proven infidelity?”
“For the record again, suspect is shaking her head.”
“Are you aware Mrs. Brown that during a search of the premises of Mr Dennis Smith, a fishing knife was found? Attempts had been made to clean it, but it showed traces of human blood, again with a type shared by your husband.”
“For the record again, the suspect is shaking her head.”
“Lastly Mrs. Brown, can you account for a quantity of blood, of your husband’s type, found in the trunk of your car? A car that by your statement was parked at the Hilton Hotel from the Friday night to the Sunday night. That blood was tested as being spilled somewhere on the Saturday evening plus or minus 12 hours.”
The full gravity of her situation finally began to dawn on her, as well as a deadly certainty. It was fully five minutes before she responded. The two detectives seemed happy to let her take her time.
“I think I need a lawyer.”
“No shit Sherlock. Jane Brown, I am arresting you for the murder of David Brown. You do not have to say anything, but anything…”
At that point Jane fainted.
Jane was remanded overnight, until 11AM next day, when a judge set her bail at $250,000 and ordered her to surrender her passport. She was able to access a loan account to transfer the money to a business account. She caught a cab home. That night, the absolute shell of a woman that had been on top of the world a mere eight days before, contemplated the future. A woman that once had everything. She had accepted the fact that her husband was dead. What she couldn’t face was the realisation that she’d caused it. The guilt and remorse she felt almost stopped her heart. She tried to imagine Dave’s face in happier times, but images of him gasping his last breath on her kitchen floor prevented that. The mental image of his plastic wrapped face staring at her as the trunk closed, ate into a soul no longer armoured by denial.
She sat in the kitchen in a daze. The phone rang and the beaten shell automatically answered it. It was Dennis.
“Jane, you have to help me. I rang Andrea and she said she’s left me and cleared out our bank accounts. You have to bail me out; please.”
She went back on line and transferred another quarter of a million from the loan account. Using her new found knowledge she was able to pay the second bond.
The next day, shortly before lunch, Dennis rang again.
“Thanks lover. Can I come and see you? I really need a hug right now.”
“Okay Dennis, see you soon.”
As soon as she heard the cab pull up outside, she stood up and went to the door. The shell of Jane Brown opened the door. Whatever tiny part of her sanity that remained snapped when she saw an ogre standing on her porch.
“You lying, murdering bastard! You killed my Dave!”
Raising her husband’s pistol, she pulled the trigger. She didn’t see the look of shock on its face as the monster was blown backwards, a 0.45 inch hole in the centre of its chest. It went down so fast that the second bullet went over its head. The last six hit though, smacking into the twitching body lying on the path.
With the gun still clutched in a suddenly limp fist, something slumped to the top step with its back against the doorframe, as the spirit of Jane Brown fled.
Ruth arrived at her sister’s house, mentally prepared for the grim task of putting Jane’s affairs in order. Noticing there was mail in the box, she retrieved it. Mostly bills but one postcard. With the common logic of, ‘if people wanted to keep the message on postcards private they would use an envelope’, she picked it up.
On the front was a photograph of a beautiful beach on Grand Cayman. On the back, simply the words, “Wish you and Dennis were here. Love D & A.”
What was that all about? She kept going into the house.
Dear reader. Some may think the punishment is a little harsh. I have seen enough of the aftermath of infidelity (in both sexes) to liken it to the murder of love and trust. In extreme cases it causes the aggrieved to have absolutely no chance of ever living a normal life. Some change their name to Anonymous and lead bitter and twisted lives lambasting well-meaning author’s stories and calling them “closet cucks” for forgiving their spouses or stopping short of leaving them as a cooling, twitching corpse.
For any RAACs that made it this far. I did warn you.
One of my reviewers has pointed out that this story has a passing resemblance to ‘A Circumstantial Case’, by Jake 60. Purely coincidence, as I didn’t read it until I’d finished this.
Now lighten up.
The teacher tells the class what a parable is and gives them homework of researching a real life one.
The next day. Mary tells the story of her father needing to sell 12 chickens, so he bought 12 eggs and incubated them. Only 10 hatched, so he didn’t have 12 chickens to sell. “What is the moral of that story, Mary?” “Don’t count your chickens till they’re hatched, miss.” Mary gets a gold star.
Judy is up next and tells the story of her mother buying a dozen eggs which she carried home in a basket on the front seat. At one point she slammed on the brakes and all the eggs broke when the basket fell off the seat. “What is the moral of that story, Judy?” “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, miss.” Judy gets a gold star.
You guessed it, the next speaker is Johnny. He relates a story told by his dad. His aunt, Shirl, was a fighter pilot shot down over Iraq. As she was coming down by parachute she saw she would land amongst about 100 enemy soldiers. A review of her possessions revealed a half bottle of whisky, an M60 machine gun and a machete. She drank the whisky, landed amongst the enemy, mowed 85 of them down with the gun then finished off the rest with the machete.
Of course the teacher was flabbergasted. “What is the moral of that story, Johnny?” “Dad says it’s, don’t fuck with Auntie Shirl when she’s pissed.”