Oh God, don't let this be true, I thought as I weaved my car in and out of traffic.
He can't be serious.
Or can he?
Just a half hour ago, I was working at the bank helping a family secure a loan for their first house. Then the call came. The police. My husband had been seen with a gun in the house.
"Yes Ma'am, a neighbor came over to borrow an item and saw him. Seems he's threatening suicide. We need you here to help us talk him out of it."
Suicide? But Conner loved life. He has always been so happy go lucky. Why would he--?
It can't be about...
I pushed that thought away as I turn onto our street. It was a circus. Several police cruisers lined the road, as their former occupants surrounded the house. There was even a live truck from the local TV station set up in Old Man Parker's yard.
I tried to maneuver the car to get by all the commotion, to get to him, but an officer stopped me.
"Miss, you have to go around. We have a situation here and--"
"That's my house, Officer! My husband!" I interrupted him, my voice a scream. The man looked at me for a second then waved me in. I parked the car and then exited, only to be attacked by the local media.
"Is your husband overly violent Mrs. Richards?"
"Has he tried to kill himself before?"
"Is he wanted for any crimes elsewhere?"
I had no idea how to answer these people. Why can't they just leave me alone? My husband. My love. He needs me but they swarmed around me, preventing me from getting to him.
An officer grabbed my arm and rescued me from the vultures. She led me to van across the street from my home. Outside it, several men were talking around a small table.
"I can get a man in the house right there. Should be able to get a good shot from there."
"We're not here to kill him," another man answered. "We have to help him."
"He's a danger to himself and us. If he attacks my men then--"
"NO!" I yelled at them.
They all turned to me. As they started to ask who the hell I was, the young lady officer answered them.
"This is Mrs. Richards."
"Oh! Thank you Carrie." The second man approached me. "Ma'am, I am Toby Curtis. I am the negotiator for the local PD. Can I talk to you for a second?"
The first man stopped him "We need to know how many weapons he has. Could be a damn militia man in there and--"
"We don't own a gun!" I interrupted. "I don't know where he got the one you say he has."
"Must have just gotten it. That's good, we can case the local gun shops and--"
"Rick, could you let me do my job first before you start shooting?"
The look on my face seemed to stop this Rick guy. Are they serious about shooting my husband?
"Come here, Mrs. Richards." Toby led me away. "I have to ask you some questions. Has your husband been depressed lately?"
"No, not really." Liar, I told myself. I have to tell them about... No they don't need to know that.
He sighed. "Ma'am--may I call you Jennifer?"
"Did you know that your husband quit his job two days ago?"
"No he couldn't have. We were just talking last night. He was so happy and--"
"You mean he was happier than normal?"
"Well we had been having problems but I got us past them and we were better. He was happy."
"What kind of problems?"
"Sir, that doesn't have any bearing on--"
"Jennifer, I hate to pry, but the more information we have, the more we can help your husband."
Another officer came running up to us.
"Hey Toby. We have made contact with the individual."
"How? I thought the phone wasn't working."
"Somehow he's got a signal going to the live truck across the street. They say we can use their equipment if they can get an exclusive to broadcast."
"I don't like this. How could he get a signal to them?"
"My husband used to work at the station. He was the engineer for their truck. He installed half that gear in there so if anyone could he could," I answered. I don't think I hid my pride in his intellect from my voice.
They led me to the news truck. It was much like I remembered it. Oh a different carpet on the floor but there was still all those buttons and stuff. How Conner kept it all straight in his head, I don't know.
Inside, one of the pretty reporters that assaulted me before was talking into a microphone while looking at one of the screens. To my horror Conner was in the screen.
His appearance had changed so much it scared me. He was bare-chested and had cut his normally shoulder-length hair into a near buzz cut. But the thing that scared me the most on the slightly fuzzy picture was the gun in his hand. Conner hated guns. He knew that I was afraid of them. Why did he have one? Unless... fear gripped my heart.
Toby grabbed the mic away from the lady. "Conner, this is Toby Curtis. I am here to help you."
"Shut up!" Conner's voice was unlike anything I had ever heard before from him. It was filled with anger, pain and even hopelessness. A Voice that I would have expected to come from some deranged lunatic, not my loving husband. "I know what you are doing. You are trying to stop me! But I can't be stopped. I HAVE to do this! I can't go on. I can't live for what I've done. I can't take it any more. She can't forgive me. I can't forgive myself!"
"Conner, who's 'she'? Is it your wife? Jennifer is here. I can put her on if you want. You can talk to--"
"OH YOU CAN'T FOOL ME! She's not there. You'll just trick me--she wouldn't come."
"How can we prove that she's here, Conner?"
"Show her to me. Let me see her."
"We can't do that, Conner. Not with your having a gun. Her safety--"
"Then put her on the air! Put us in a split box!"
Toby turned to the girl. "What is he talking about?"
"Oh it's a common thing for TV news. He'll be on one side of the screen with her on the other. They can talk to each other that way."
"Set it up."
"Give us... oh three minutes and we can be on the air."
"The air? You mean live?" I asked, wondering what is going on.
"Deary, how else is he going to see you?"
The next few minutes were a blur with them setting up a camera and talking on the phone with the station. Next thing I knew I was in front of a camera with this weird gadget in my ear, all mic'ed up and waiting for... something.
Suddenly I heard a voice in my ear, Connor's voice.
"Is that you honey? Are you really here?"
"Oh Conner! What are you doing? I -"
"I'm doing what I should have done two weeks ago. When I woke up next to Sherry! I should have ended it all then. But I didn't. Now I have to pay. I can't stay here. Not after what I did."
No, he was still on this. I told him it was over. I had gotten back at him. What, what will I do if he--
"Honey, that's all in the past. We have moved on. I forgave you."
"You forgave me but I can't forgive myself. I was a good husband. But after the party. After the party I had to mess it up. I had to... to..."
He was still guilty about this. The thought started to eat away at me, my own guilt joining it. I can't let him end it. I love him so much. Damn Sherry and her ideas... if she hadn't--
"You know the funny thing dear? I can't remember it. All I can remember is being so sick the next day."
"It was all that you drank, honey. You were out of your mind. Drunk. You couldn't help what happened."
"But I could! And look what I did. I broke my vows and made you break them too!"
I could feel the eyes of the people around me, staring at me. But I had to press on. He was so agitated. So animated. He was serious!
"Oh honey I should have never done that. But I thought I had to get revenge on you. Paul didn't mean anything--"
"But you enjoyed it. I know--you made me listen! I made you whore yourself out. What kind of man does that?"
"Honey, we can get past this. My revenge was stupid. I should have never listened to Sherry about-n"
"Sherry? I thought you didn't talk to her anymore!"
Oh shit... I had to cover this fast...
"She came to me. She apologized. She told me I had to get back at you. I think her own hurt was getting her to say it."
"Jen, I love you but I... I... I can't do this... I slept with another woman. I broke your trust. I deserve to die. I can't live with that knowledge."
His words cut me to my heart. Then, to my horror, he lifted the gun to his head.
No, he's going to... I can't let him. The words were out of my mouth before I could even get a response to him.
"You never slept with Sherry!"
Everything was quiet. I think everyone was shocked. None more shocked that Connor or myself. I can't believe I just told him the truth, I thought. I swore I would never tell him.
"What do you mean? I woke up next to her. We were naked. She told me we--"
I couldn't let it go on.
"Then how did--"
"We drugged you, Conner. To make you think you cheated. I knew you never would but we thought if you thought that you'd cheated you'd let me sleep with Paul. I'm sorry, honey, but I just wanted to sleep with him. Nothing more. I had--"
"Why would you do that? What did I do?"