Nicaragua, South West of Managua
The Village had settled for the night, the quiet was broken only by the cry of a hungry infant. The boats were in, and the fishing nets hung to dry down by the beach. William Walsh had arrived yesterday from Managua on the rumor that there was construction work here. He had spent the day looking for work. He had the skills - he had once owned a construction business, but those days were gone. There was work alright but not for Anglos no matter how skilled.
The place had a smell about it. In fact, the whole country had the same smell. He had tried to identify it, and finally decided it was the smell of poverty. This place was Poor, and the capital p was no mistake. The beaten-up little fishing village was down a steep hill from a sizable ancient hacienda. Between the great house and the village, two and three bedroom cement and steel retirement homes were sprouting like weeds. The new dwellings were for the not so rich North Americans who sought to extend their retirement savings in the low cost south.
There would eventual be work for an experienced builder when the fools, buying those cement boxes, sought to fix the poor construction. But for now Bill Walsh had to find a way to live. He was down to his last few dollars as he entered the town's cantina. The place was just four bare walls and a smattering of tables and chairs. The bar was at the room's far end. To reach it, he had to pass two members of the town's constabulary, seated drinking Tequila. He tried to remain relaxed as he passed them. He didn't think anyone was still looking for him, but you never know.
As Bill approached the bar, he noticed a man quietly drinking at one end. As the man looked up, he observed that he was another Angelo. Taking a stool at the bar, Bill ordered a Dos XX and before he could draw his meager cash the other man called out: "On me Jose."
Moving over to where Bill had taken his seat the other man offered his hand.
"Always happy to meet another Northerner, "the fellow said.
Bill looked him up and down. The word for this guy was average. He was average height, average weight, average age maybe fifty, and the average amount of thinning hair--the average American guy. But he was not dressed like an average guy, from his expensive silk jacket to his Italian leather shoes this guy flashed money. The two were very different. Bill was younger, early forties, tall at six-foot-three—had a better build at two hundred and thirty pounds of hard-muscled flesh. He had worked at his father's construction business since his fifteenth birthday, at least part time and full time after his associate's degree from the local community college.
The other man could have been anything, but he was no physical laborer. He caught Bill sizing him up and smiled.
"My new friend, you and me aren't so dissimilar," the man in the silk jacket said. "For example Jose here can't tell us apart." Turning to the bartender, he said: "Jose can you remember my name?"
"Si, of course, senor," the barman replied but ventured no name.
"You see to them we Anglos all look alike. It's very hard to get remembered," silk jacket said.
Bill gave a nervous glance toward the policia before saying, "Maybe that is not a bad thing."
The other man laughed, "Oh my new friend you've nothing to fear, the Treaty of Extradition between the United States and Nicaragua was signed in 1901. Back then this was a prosperous piece of the world. I think that's why the US sent the marines to occupy it. The crimes you're guilty of did not even exist at that time. People would have laughed at the idea of arresting a man for such offenses."
Bill felt a little resentment towards the other man's smug attitude. "How would you know what I might have done?"
The other man just shook his head. "My friend you think your story is unique, but it's an all too common tale that the white men around here can tell," he said. Then raising an eyebrow he continued,
"She was a cheerleader, a beauty queen, or just the prettiest girl in town. When you met her, she was younger than you but not all that much. She was not so young anymore, late twenties or early thirties; she had as the New Yorker's say been around the block and more than once. You were flattered when she came on to you. You're a big good looking guy, but kind of shy and not good with the opposite sex. So here's this beauty coming on to you and the next thing you're married and happy as shit."
"Well time goes by, and there are a couple of kids and then you discover she's messing around. You see she got the home and the family she wanted so why does she need you. That's when the pain starts, and you find that the women have got themselves a nice system. They get child support, spousal support, the mortgage and their car paid, and you get nothing. So she gets to fuck her boyfriend while you pay for it. Visitation with the kids-- well that's a joke."
"One day you have had enough of working and slaving so she can play, and you take a runner. You head south and end up here, the last stop, broke and looking for work. You'll find it eventually, but it will be a long hard struggle."
Bill would have liked to pop the guy in that smile of his, but the bastard was right. He had everything but the color of her hair and eyes.
"I didn't think it was that obvious," Bill said with sadness in his voice.
The other man leaned in put his left hand on Bill's shoulder and said:
"I have a story to tell you, but first—Jose bring us a bottle of the Patron tequila and two glasses."
My story begins with a fellow just like us. Aston Phillips was a fellow just like us. You may ask what kind of name is Aston; well it's a family name which came down from his grandfather who founded the Phillips law firm in a small town in Northern New York. It was a one-lawyer Law Firm and had been so since Aston's father had retired. "Al" as people called him made a good if modest living doing estates and corporate filings for small firms. He was a good competent lawyer. Not flashy, but well liked and a regular around the surrogate's court. His troubles began with an oil change.
"Bit late on the oil change, aren't you Mr. Phillips?" said Tom of Tom's Foreign Auto.
Aston Phillips had brought in the wife's two year old Honda Odyssey for an oil change.
"What do you mean Tommy? It's only been three months," Aston said. His father had drilled into his head that they were lawyers, and a smart man gave the other man his due. You maintain your vehicles by giving the mechanic his due, change the oil every three months and every 3000 miles.
"She's at 4,500 additional miles Al," said Tommy.
Well, wasn't that odd, where could Doris be driving to add that kind of mileage? Al had switched cars with Doris that morning to bring the Odyssey into the shop. Otherwise, he would have been driving his Accord. Al's father swore by Fords, but Al had switched to the boring if more dependable Hondas
Never mind he needed to be at Court. The case of the State of New York against the Richland estate was called at 10:17 a.m. The Phillips law firm had represented Stephen Richland, the founder and chief operating officer of Highland Oil until his retirement. He and his wife Connie were great friends of Al's father. The Richland family was wealthy but unfortunate. Their only daughter Sharon Richland had married James Allen, Mr. and Mrs. Allen were killed in an auto accident. Their son Peter Allen was eleven at the time. As he grew, he developed a drug problem and the associated run-ins with the law in a state with extremely harsh drug laws. At some point, Peter skipped for points south.
Steve Richland died first, his estate passed to his wife Sara, who in turned left everything to her grandson Peter Allen. That was five years ago and Al had searched desperately for Peter ever since Sara's death.
"Your honor this estate has been open for seven years." Margaret Sharpe began before Al jumped in to correct her.
"No! Your honor this is the estate of Sara Richland not Stephen. Sara died only five years ago."
"Your honor the state has been patient, but with no heirs here."
Judge Macklin looked down from his high bench. He was a rather short man and had raised the ancient Surrogate's bench a half foot to make it more impressive. He was not a martinet and he liked to think he had a kind soul.
"Al have there been any developments since last month on locating this heir?" the Judge asked.
Al was ready for this. "Judge as you know I traced him to Mexico City and then Guatemala. Finally, my private investigator tracked him to Nicaragua. At that point, I had to look for a new PI since the firm I was using didn't cover that country. I'm hopeful of obtaining news very soon," Al said.
"All right one more adjournment of thirty days," said Judge Macklin.
Maggie Sharpe was not happy, and she would have been incensed if she had an accurate accounting of this estate. When Steve Richland died, he left an estate of about ten million. When Sara died, it had risen to about twelve. But that was five years ago, and Al had not done what he was supposed to. Proper administration said he should liquidate the assets and reduce them to cash, but at the time interest rates were in the toilet, but Oil prices were on the rise. Highland Oil was a takeover target when that happened the estate that was principally stock in Highland Oil vastly increase and increased again when there was another takeover that was followed by another. The estate now held over one million shares of Exxon Mobile at a price of over one hundred dollars a share.
When the final tally was in Al expected the estate to come in at more than one hundred twelve million dollars. He stood to get two, and a half percent of that or two point eight million dollars, but to get that he needed to find Peter Allen. If the estate were to be forfeited to the state, Al would be paid for his work on a schedule based on an hourly rate maybe a few thousand dollars for seven years of work. He had to find Peter, and all his troubles would be solved.
Al had troubles. He was married to Doris, a strikingly beautiful woman. A lady well out of his league, but notwithstanding that she had come on to him some twelve years ago at the wedding of a close friend. He was flattered that a woman so breathtaking would be attracted to him. He asked her out of course half expecting she would turn him down. But Doris had said yes with just the right bit of hesitation to keep him wondering. So it began and in short order he found himself married to this gorgeous woman. At first everything had been great, but after the birth of their second daughter, Doris began to lose interest in sex. They went from several times a week to maybe once every two weeks, and only when Al pushed it.
Doris made up for a reduced sex life by shopping, gallivanting with her girlfriends and eating fancy meals in expensive restaurants. She kept her figure doing yoga five days a week. Al made a good living. He was highly respected and had the reputation of being scrupulously honest. But Al was having a hard time keeping up with the bills.
Doris had wanted the big colonial center hall in Highland Estates, the new Honda Odyssey with all the extras. Their daughters, who he loved above everything else in this world, went to private school at the cost of $24,000 a year for the first and $16,000 for the second. Al was having problems keeping up with expenses. The Richland estate was his life-preserver, if he could bring that in, and he was saved.
On the way out of the Courthouse, Al ran into John Fletcher the state pathologist.
"Hey, Al wait up," John called to Al.
Al turned and waited for John on the Courthouse steps.
"How you been?" John asked. The two men had not seen each other in several months and decided to have lunch together since it was 11:45. They decided to have lunch at Benny's Lunchroom that was a sandwich served with chips kind of place. Al passed on the chips, so John consumed his chips as well.
"What brings the State Pathologist to Columbia County?" Al asked.
"The Dawson murder trial starts next week and I just met with DA Perkins to go over my," then speaking in strict confidence to his old friend John explained the problem with his evidence.
Janet Dawson was indicted for stabbing her step-father to death. She may have had a good defense that he was sexually abusive, but she decided early on to deny all involvement in the killing.
"Yah see the Dawson girl, after the killing, burned her clothing in the big fireplace that the old Dawson house has. She did a thorough job of it too. So the only blood evidence is from the ashes," John said.
"Now most people watching TV these days think you should have DNA evidence," John continued "But the fact is heat destroys the DNA, so all I can say is that there is evidence of blood in the ashes not whose blood it is, could be the father's or anyone's."
"Sounds like a problem," Al said.
"Yea, but I guarantee she won't escape a conviction with Ted Perkins prosecuting. He's bound and determined to make a run for Attorney General next year, and that girl's fate is sealed," John postulated.
The two men finished lunch and said their goodbyes, promising not to let so much time pass without reconnecting. Al set the conversation into his memory of little facts you might need some day.
The fact that was nagging Al was the excess mileage on the minivan. He had no idea how his wife could have incurred that amount of excess mileage. He should ask her, but for the last several months things had been rather strained between them.
Doris, his wife, had always been very affectionate but just lately the affection between them had seemed to cool. It was clear that she had been taking some trips that he had not been a party to. He was uncertain as to where she was going without telling him. When they were first married she had been everything you could ask for in a wife: Loving and affectionate in public and at home, the very standard for a good wife. In the bedroom, she was a tigress. Doris denied him nothing and was up for anything a man and woman could do together. Then the girls were born, first Susan and then Dianna.
The girls became Al's reason for living. He showered his love on them and Doris, but Doris seemed to pull away. She had everything she had always said that she wanted, the colonial house the new minivan, and membership in the country club. Al gave her everything, but the more he gave the unhappier she became. Their sex life faltered but never disappeared - that was something Al would not tolerate. For her part, though unhappy, Doris seemed to love him and the girls. Doris was still the good wife and mother, although unable to be happy for some reason. This was the odd state of respected attorney, Aston Philips', marriage, a kind of uneasy equilibrium.
The night it fell apart they had an invitation to the Alexander's house. It was a party given to celebrate Jack Alexander's birthday. He was fifty -five. Jack and Al had never been close, but since they were both attorneys in a small town they had exchanged invitations on numerous occasions and often filled in for each other for court appearances and other professional matters.
Jack and Melissa greeted Doris and Al warmly when they arrived. Melissa was a good ten years older than Doris and not near as pretty, but she had the kind of warm, loving personality which Al had always envied Jack for. The party was well underway when Doris and Al were approached by a couple that Al did not know.
Manuel Nieves was a big man about six foot two. He was clearly part Hispanic, but part Black as well-- the woman with him, Jasmine Dakarai, was very dark indeed. Jasmine had remarkably European features for a black woman. She was tall maybe just under six foot and model thin. The two were expensively dressed, but they felt wrong to Al. He had been a lawyer for more than twenty years and in that time he had learned to spot the client who was not quite on the level. They were a very handsome couple, but just not right.
The next thing he noticed as they introduced themselves was that although they pretended not to know Doris they clearly had a familiarity that was inconsistent with having just met for the first time. Moreover, Manuel was giving him the kind of false smile that to Al said that the black man knew something that Al did not.
The conversation was trivial, and Al was hardly listening until it came to where the couple lived: Castleton –not very far about forty miles, a good eighty miles round trip. Could it be? He looked hard at his wife Doris. Yes, at that moment he knew he had no proof, but he knew. This arrogant mulatto was cuckolding him with his tramp of a wife.
On the way, home Doris knew something was wrong. Al was silent, but she let the matter slide; this was a mistake she would eventually regret. Al on his side was lost in thought when had it started. Why was it happening, and of course was he giving her something that Al could not.
Al was sure of what was going on, but he had to know for certain. The next day at his office he set out to catch Doris. It was not difficult. Fred Thomas was a PI that Al had used for years to locate people in estates maters, but Fred's main business had always been cheating spouses. Al had never thought he would need Fred for this purpose. Fred was even surprised.
"It happens," he said when Al called, "but you never know. A third of the time the woman is entirely innocent. Let me check and get back to you."
It only took Fred three days. He had pictures.
"Not very discreet, they don't even draw the curtains," he said passing pictures taken through a bedroom window. "Kind of a 'ménage et trois'," Fred said.
Al could see everything in the photos; Doris, Jasmine and Nieves. The guy was hung like a horse, and he was using Doris like a cheap whore--so much for the marriage. It was over right there.
"Ok, Fred this stays strictly confidential for now," Al said and Fred assured him it would.
Al spent the rest of the day trying to calm down. There are times it is not good to be a lawyer. He knew how this came out. Two kids meant 27% of his gross in child support; then spousal support, plus half the mortgage and all those credit cards that Doris had run up in his name. New York was an equitable distribution state so forget 50/50 on assets. The law seemed designed to give over to the guilty spouse the lion's share or more accurately the lionesses' share of the assets. There was no way that Al could survive unless he took advantage of the warning, given through the grace of God.
When he went home that evening, he played it as if he knew nothing. When rather surprisingly Doris initiated sex he played right along. She dragged him into the bedroom, shedding her outer garments to reveal a lacy bra and panty set. Sex between them had always been rather tame, but tonight Doris was a tiger. She had sent the kids to his sisters, and she seemed out to fuck him to death.
Doris started with a blow job not her usual activity. Tonight she spent a good twenty minutes bringing him slowly to a climax in her mouth. She gobbled down all his cum and then continued until he was hard again. At this point, she mounted him and fucked him until they both reach orgasm. Lying next to her, he asked what had brought this on.
"Just thought I might've been neglecting you," she said with a smile on her lips, but what he wondered what was in her heart.
Early the next morning he was out of the house early. He spent the day moving assets around. His major ploy was to move as much money as possible into the girls' educational trusts. Most divorce settlements in his situation required the non-custodial spouse to pay college expenses. He was under no illusions about who the non-custodial spouse would be. So by taking what would be viewed as a joint asset and converting them into the children's assets he was cutting Doris off at the pass. He had set up each girl's trust at their birth solely in his name for tax purposes, so he changed the trustee to his sister without need to consult Doris.
Susan Philips Harder was his younger sister by three years. She was his only sibling. She was Samuel Harder's wife. He was an electrician by trade. They were well off, but not rich, and childless. Uterine cancer had left his sister sterile. As a result, she and her husband doted on his two girls. He trusted Susan to do the right thing for the girls. By divesting himself, he made the trusts unreachable but only after 90 days.
His next move was to max out the HELOC second mortgage on the house. It had been sitting there for years untouched, but now he depleted the equity to pay off all the bills. What was left including all his IRA, he moved into a new trust for his daughters again administered by his sister. He made sure to withhold all the income and gift taxes. By the end of the day, he was broke.
Around four-thirty, he received a visitor. His secretary announced her and indicated that she didn't have an appointment, but was looking for just a few minutes of his time. Jasmine entered his office in a dress that left nothing to the imagination. She was an incredibly beautiful woman and was openly flirting. If he had been the clueless fool these people thought, he would have been quite flattered. But he knew this was a setup. He just did not know why?
Ostensibly Jasmine wanted a will drawn up. She was offering to pay top dollar. However, she was pressed for time and would only be able to meet him after working hours. She suggested the next day at six. He declined and suggested a week later. She pressed him for a sooner appointment, but he remained adamant. He was under no illusions that her goal was to get him alone in the office and either seduce him or cry rape. Either way Doris would be justified in divorcing him.
Was Doris was going out for overkill? Not only going to divorce him, but portray herself as the injured party? He saw Nieves as the driving force here. The guy was a phony. He would suck Doris dry after the divorce and then move on to his next victim. He saw a co-conspirator hiding behind Jasmine's sweet smile. He needed to stall, to put some distance between his financial transactions and the divorce.
"So next Tuesday at six thirty," he said showing her to the door. He would call late Tuesday and cancel, rescheduling for another date.
At home, Doris was treating him better than she had in years. She was the perfect and very loving wife. His daughters noticed the difference. Susan, the elder girl, named for Doris' mother, told Al how glad she was that mom,
"Seems happy again."
Diana always the pessimist said: "It won't last."
Al loved his daughters, and he knew it would break his heart to lose them, but he was not a fool. He knew he had no chance of keeping them in the divorce and Doris would have little trouble cutting off his visitation and turning the girls against him. His only hope was making his sister trustee of the money, it would give him some leverage. But for that to work he needed to stall.
His ace-in-the-hole was the Richland Estate. If he could bring that in, he would have a ton of money to fight Doris at every slippery turn in family court, New York's disgraceful excuse for divorce court. The family court seemed designed to insure that children would suffer the maximum pain in a divorce and that men would be deprived of any rights.
Al cancelled Jasmine's appointment. The next scheduled meeting with her in the evening, he paid his secretary to stay late and draw the will she was requesting. It didn't do him any good. The following Saturday he came down to breakfast to find the children at Doris's parents and Doris sitting at the dining room table with all the windows and the patio doors open. She was sporting a black eye and assorted bruises. As he entered the room, she began screaming at the top of her lungs.
"NO--NO DON"T HIT ME! –PLEASE," as she said this she smiled and then raced out of the house. AL knew what came next. Almost seventy percent of wife and child abuse charges in divorce cases are false. The seduction scenario having failed they were going for spousal abuse. Well, he knew what to do. He exited the house climbed into his car as he did he saw Doris being comforted by the neighbors who were looking daggers at him. He headed for Fred Thomas' office. Fred was not there, but Fred wife Joyce was; he had her take pictures of his hands, face, arms and chest to prove he had not been in an altercation. Then he went to his office.
Things would move fast from here. Doris had no good way back from this, but he still had cards to play. He got his passport from the wall safe. He had waited long enough for someone else to find Peter Allen; it was time he took a shot. He did not go back to the house. He headed directly to the Airport where a friendly United Airlines clerk worked out his round trip ticket at an exorbitant price.
A week in Nicaragua had led Al to a small house in one of the poorer districts. Arriving on his first day, he had checked into a luxury hotel along the Pan American Highway. The cost was eight dollars a day - about what a cheap motel charged at home. Trying out his high school Spanish he soon reverted to English, which everyone seemed to understand. He spent his second day looking for a good private investigator without finding one. Late in the day he played a hunch and walked into Vivian Pellas Metropolita, a private hospital to ask about drug-related admissions. A young women who was on the administrative staff listened to his questions and then politely told him she could not help, but that if she were him she might check the government registry for Aids-related admissions.
Nicaragua was experiencing an AIDS epidemic. IV drug use and AIDS went together. A trip to the registry office the following day and a few bribes and he had a list of every tall blond man with an approximate age between twenty-five and thirty-five who were treated for AIDS. Peter Allen was Thirty- one. The list had eight names, none was Allen or Peter, but three were listed as unknown. He soon found that these three had been dead when added to the list. He started with the information on the unknowns.
Maybe he was just lucky or unlucky. The second place he visited, the women did not want to talk about the American who died five years before. She claimed to have no recollection, and her English got worse the longer Al tried to talk to her. The young man who called himself her Grandson was of little help until Al pulled out some cash. When twelve one-hundred dollar bills were on the table, a shoe box appeared.
The shoe box was marked Churchill, a brand of expensive shoe favored by Stephen Richland. There was nothing of monetary value inside the box: two photographs and a letter. However, the letter was from Sara Richland to Peter Allen. The two photos were the wedding photo of his parents and one of his mother as a young woman in a cap and gown. He had found Peter Allen.
That night Al ate white fish and refried beans again and tried to drink his sorrows away. The cost of living in Nicaragua was cheap, but it was a dreary place to be alone. At that moment, he felt very alone. It is after all not every day you lose a fortune. The wife who should have been consoling him was planning a divorce. She was planning to take his meager wealth and his children. He could almost stand that she would ruin him financially, but he knew he would end up standing by watching the love his daughters had for him turn to hate. Doris would brand him an abuser, and no amount of proof to the contrary would suffice.
Al knew the system all too well. The accusation was enough. No judge would risk his career by ignoring the accusation. Oh for sure poor women get a bad deal from the courts just like poor men. But a good looking woman with the money for a good attorney would be able to game the system every time.
Al was sitting in the hotel bar contemplating his hopeless situation. Drinking a bit too heavily, but not seeming to get drunk. He wondered if they watered the drinks. The bartender's name was Miguel, at lease that is what his name plate said. It was the third time Al had been at the bar with this particular bartender on duty in the eight days he had been in Managua. On both of the prior occasions, Miguel had offered Al the services of a woman of the evening and after being declined inquired whether a boy would be preferred. Now as Miguel set another drink in front of Al he made the same offer again as if Al had not turned him down two previous times. Al refused again and pointed out that this was the third time. The bartender shrugged and moved to the next customer. It came to Al as a sudden revelation that Miguel did not recognize him, that all the Anglo customers looked alike to him.
"We're interchangeable to these people," Al thought. It's little wonder that Peter Allen is buried in an unmarked grave. At that moment the only human being on the planet who knew Peter's fate was Aston Phillips, lawyer; this was a sad commentary on life. Someone once told him that lawyers had an unpleasant job because no client ever came in because of happy circumstances. They are injured, accused, getting divorced or as in Peter's case dead. At that moment, Al saw his life as a complete waste. Then gestalt hit. One minute there was nothing and then everything.
One idea led to the next in rapid succession. He tossed out one to be hit with another better one. It was as if the entire plan had been there laid out from the start, and all he needed was to take off his blinders. He had served his family, clients and country with his sweat and blood for nearly twenty-five years as an honest and honorable man. The blood was literal he had been an army corpsman in Desert Storm and received the Purple Heart. Now he knew it was time to change sides; those he had served had dishonored and cheated him, it was time to go.
Yes, he was taking a risk--a very substantial risk. But what did he have to look forward to, if he did not take his chance- a life of slavery so his cheating wife could play. No, the system is fixed; the only way to win is to cheat. Now he saw it, it was clear and clean. He needed to seize his opportunity. He called to Miguel.
"I need a truly bad attorney," he said. The barman gave him a funny look, but of course, had a recommendation.
Thursday morning bright and early he was at the Albany airport picking up his old Accord. He drove straight to Mechanicville. The butcher's shop there he had visited three Christmases ago when his father-in-law had decided to make black pudding for the holidays. They had looked all over for a source of pig's blood and finally found it at this Mechanicville butcher's shop. He stopped and bought three pints. No one gave him a second look. A few miles down the road in Latham, he purchased two five gallon plastic gas cans at the Walmart. He filed the Honda's gas tank half full at the first service station he came to and also filed both gas cans. He paid cash. One more stop at a pharmacy to secure a 16 gage needle and the related equipment.
He stopped at a bike store in Albany and purchased a good used bike for cash. His final stop was to the Goodwill for some used clothing. Returning to Highland, he filled the Honda's tank making sure to use a credit card. He took a swing by his house. In the drive, he saw the Honda Odyssey and behind it a late model Mercedes with the vanity plate 'Nieves II.' Things could not be working out better.
He made a stop at his office and his secretary was glad to see him saying that his wife was trying to serve him papers. He told her not to worry, that he was hopeful that Doris would come to her senses and that everything would work out. On his desk was an unopened express envelope from Managua. He did not open it; he knew the contents.
From his files, he drew the documents for several deceased clients. Birth certificates, passports, and driver's licenses. All these individuals died in Nursing homes, and he had collected their documents to secure them.
He rented a motel room using his credit card and then got a good night's sleep. At 11:00 he rose and dressed casually. He put the clothing from the Goodwill in the Honda.
He arrived at his former home about twenty minutes after he left the motel. He walked in without knocking and listened. He could hear them upstairs. It was a wonder they did not wake the girls.
They were in the master bedroom, in his bed. Manuel was fucking Doris from behind. Jasmine was underneath apparently licking Doris' clit while she was getting fucked by the big mulatto. His giant cock was pile driving in and out of Doris' slippery cunt. Doris was moaning in a way she had never done for Aston. He could appreciate the attraction, this was sex taken to another level.
He stood there watching the scene until he felt his stomach do a flip-flop, and he feared he might become sick.
"Ok, that enough," he said in a firm and confident voice that he did not actually feel.
The action on the bed stopped, but Nieves did not pull out. Doris had the decency to look scared and said: "Oh no." It was Jasmine who jumped up grabbed a pillow to hide herself and said, "SHIT."
Now was the time that Al had to put on his best performance as the surprised and angry husband. He advanced on the bed his hands balled into fists. As he moved forward he made sure to note where Nieves had left his clothing; it was across the room throw casually over a chair. Nieves sprang up from the bed.
"Now hold on no need for violence," Nieves said putting his hands up defensively in front of him. He was apparently a lover not a fighter. Too bad that might be difficult. Al gave him a solid if ineffectual blow to the abdomen with his right hand. Nieves pushed him back, but Al came on again.
Doris was shouting at Al, "PLEASE STOP, IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY." But Al was apparently not listening. Eventually, Nieves struck back giving Al a good right-hook to his face and splitting Al's lip. It wasn't much blood, but enough. Al seemed to stagger and then stumbled across the room where he fell into Nieves clothing leaving a trace of blood behind before he righted himself.
Nieves followed Al across the room more to help than to hurt.
"Don't hurt him," Doris called out.
"I'm not trying to," Nieves said trying to reach out to Al.
Al slapped his assistance away and made for the door. He was down the stairs and headed out the door before Doris caught up with him.
"Al I'm sorry, I didn't mean for you to see that. It's over between us, but I don't want to hurt you. I still love you," she said.
Al turned back toward Doris, for the first time that night he was actually angry.
"Listen you bitch. You never loved me, you used me. But that's going to change. I mean you every bit of the pain you're going to suffer." His look, the clear hate in his face, froze Doris. She began to weep. Nieves and Jasmine had followed after Doris. Manuel came up and embraced Doris.
"It will be alright he can't hurt us," Nieves said to Doris as he cradled the distraught woman.
Al laughed a sinister laugh that sent a chill through the trio and said: "Guess we'll just have to see about that.
At 2:45 a.m. the fire trucks arrived at the camp site off Mountain View road, about a mile from the falls that give Highland Falls its name. It had started raining around midnight, but it stopped just after 2:30 a.m., No amount of rain could stop this fire. The Honda must have had a full gas tank because the explosion and fire left very little. By the time the police arrived, the scene was a mess. It was not until the next day that it was officially declared arson, and the search for Aston Phillips began.
Aston was long gone by then. He had staged the scene, set the fire and ridden off on his bicycle. He caught the early morning bus in Catskill dressed in clothing from the Goodwill. He was across the Mexican border by the time the arrests were made.
"You see my friend a woman may cheat with impunity, but should some tragedy befall her spouse, people being people will believe the worst," said the man in the silk jacket.
"You mean--" began Bill, but he was cut off. A large overweight man in a police uniform replete with gold braid had arrived at the table occupied by the two police officers.
Silk jacket rose, scooped up the bottle of expensive tequila and led Bill over to the police. They offered their bottle, and there were more bottles after the first. As the little group drank into the night, silk jacket offered up the story as to how the fat man, who was Captain Ortega head of the local police, had single-handedly disarmed a bandit who carried two pistols.
"I've never seen anything like it—our brave Capitan simply walked up to the man and told him to surrender. Had I not seen it with my own eyes I wouldn't have believed it," said the man in the silk jacket. Silk Jacket spent the evening with the officers repeating his name over and over and over as the Tequila flowed.
Sandra Parkman was the chief detective of the Hyland police. She had been the supervising officer on the scene the night they found the burning wreckage of Aston Phillips' 2006 Honda Accord. She hadn't been in charge long, the following morning the Chief of Police took over, and he was soon pushed to the side by the Criminal Investigation Division of the State Police. The FBI even got in on the action as did the ATF.
The Phillips case quickly became a major homicide investigation and all too quickly the culprits were identified. There was never any significant period when the suspects were not attached to the case. The day after the car fire, the PI, Fred Thomas came forward with the information about the extramarital threesome, and the attempt to frame Mr. Philips for spousal abuse.
The case was neatly tied up by the discovery of Aston Phillips' blood on the person and clothing of Manuel Nieves. Then it was only a matter of time. Doris Phillips was the first to crack turning on her former lovers in exchange for a favorable plea deal. Jasmine soon followed leaving Nieves to stand trial alone, maintaining his innocence all the way. He received a life sentence. Jasmine received fifteen to twenty-five years and Doris three-to-five years. She would be out in eighteen months; although homeless and penniless.
Ted Perkins the DA had been voracious. He began the trial in the media and was intent on riding it straight into the Attorney General's office. To Sandra's mind it was all too neat. She had been the first to interview Doris. At that time, the wife had been sure the husband was trying to set them up. Doris had seemed utterly confused and bewildered by her husband's car fire and disappearance.