Thanks to the knee doctor for editing assistance.
It was the middle of the week and the house was empty again. My wife, Darcy, and my twin daughters were not home, as usual. I don't think it is unreasonable for a man to expect his family to be home when he arrives. It wasn't always this way. Until six months ago I could count on a warm welcome and a nice supper. Not any more. Something changed and I am not sure it is for the better.
Darcy and I had been married for six years. We met in high school, and had the wedding right after I finished college. I had never been with another girl. Darcy was normal in every way, and I felt comfortable being married to her. She had brown hair, brown eyes, a nice figure, and normal breasts. She didn't stand out; just blended in. Because of this, I never had any reason to doubt her fidelity. Maybe that is the reason I should have.
We had two beautiful, four year old, twin daughters: Janet and Janice. I loved them dearly but Darcy didn't seem to feel the same way. She didn't enjoy the childbirth and insisted that I get fixed immediately afterwards. For the first few years, she would look forward to my getting home, so that I could look after the twins. Then we met Bill and Emily.
Emily Mercer could not have children of her own and would volunteer to baby sit every chance she got. Darcy was elated. She could get out of the house and go shopping, or take care of other personal things, any time she wanted. I swear that within three months time, the twins were spending more time with "Auntie" Em, than they were with their own mother. Quite often, the four of them would go out together, but usually, Emily would watch the girls while Darcy was running around.
Lately, I started to wonder exactly what the running around was, that Darcy was doing. It didn't seem to be necessary to be gone that often, to support a normal household.
Overall, I was happy with my life. I had a comfortable job, a nice home, a late model car, and a picture perfect family. Darcy and I would go out occasionally, while Bill and Emily baby-sat the twins. On weekends, the four of us would get together to play cards or have a Bar-B-Q. I liked Bill and enjoyed his company. I wasn't sure of Emily, but Darcy seemed to love her.
My concern about how my wife spent her free time was not deep enough to cause me to look into things. I just sort of made a mental note of it and moved on. It was a Tuesday morning, when things got interesting.
I parked my BMW in my reserved spot at work. I was high enough on the food chain to get a parking spot, but not a good one. It was at the end of the lot and on a slant, but better than no slot at all. A level parking lot in our town was rare. Why the founding fathers choose a place as hilly as this, to build a city on, always baffled me? I was only at work for about an hour, when I had to go out on a call. I think the crappy parking spot saved my life.
It hadn't rained it several days, but there was a wet spot on the ground by my front wheel. Normally I wouldn't have had a second thought about it, but not today. It was running across the asphalt in small, shiny, rivulets. There was a metallic shine to the liquid, and I felt forced to touch it, with my finger. It was not water. The BMW was less than a year old and I could not imagine that anything had broken. I definitely did not want to drive it. Twenty minutes later, a mechanic was on his back looking under my car.
"I am sorry Mister Evans, but I am going to have to report this to the police."
"A broken brake line has to be reported to the police? Sorry, but that doesn't make sense."
"I am not an expert at this stuff, but that line didn't break or come loose. It was tampered with."
"You mean it was cut?"
"No, it wasn't cut. It looks like if was filed or sanded down with something. Things like that don't happen by accident to metal flex lines. This was done on purpose. Don't touch anything and let the cops handle it."
"How far could I have gone?"
"Two blocks at the most, and the whole system would have been emptied. With the hills in this town, you would have had a hell of a ride and a nasty stop. Let's leave this and go to the shop. I can give you a loner until the police are done with it."
By the time I left work, the BMW was not there
I finished the day using the free rental car, and got home at my normal time. Darcy was home and seemed surprised to see me.
"Hi honey. Did you have a good day? Where is your car? Why are you driving a Ford?"
Something seemed suspicious. Why did she choose today to stay at home? Was she waiting for a phone call? I noticed that she didn't have supper ready. I got the feeling that she wasn't expecting me to come home at all. Even the twins were there to greet me.
"The Beemer was due for a thirty thousand mile check up. They won't be able to get to it until tomorrow. What is for supper? I don't smell anything." I saw no reason to tell her about the brake line.
Darcy was stammering around a little. "I thought we could order in tonight, and wanted to wait to see what you were hungry for."
"Pizza is fine. I am going up to take a shower."
Before I got under the water, I could hear Darcy talking to someone on the phone. Things were getting interesting.
I had an early visitor the next day at work.
"Robert Evans, I am Lieutenant Daniel Greene. Do you have a minute?"
"Of course. Is this about the car?" Daniel Greene was a large man but not fat. He had close-cropped hair and wire framed glasses. Except for the rosy glow to his skin, he seemed to reek of efficiency.
"We are done with the car Mister Evans, and you can pick it up at the shop, any time. Your mechanic was putting a new brake line on as we were leaving. We have a few questions, if you don't mind?"
"Am I suspected of something?"
"No, of course not. But we do suspect something fishy is going on. Have you had any arguments or disagreements with anyone lately? Is anyone mad at you or holding a grudge?"
"Not that I know off. Was that mechanic right? Is someone setting me up? Could I have been killed?"
"Well Mister Evans, someone was definitely hoping to cause you bodily harm and maybe death. It was strictly an amateur job, however, I don't think you would have been killed, although it is possible. Whomever did it, didn't bother to turn off your air bags. That car has front and side bags. Unless you were going at a high rate of speed, I don't think you would have been killed. However, that's not the point. Just because they didn't know what they were doing, doesn't mean they were not trying to kill you."
"Damn, that is reassuring. I guess if someone is trying to kill you, it is best if they are incompetent. Instead of dying, I could just be maimed for life. Great. What do we do now?"
"Take my card. If anything comes to mind give me a call. In the mean time, be careful. I'd bet my next paycheck that they are going to try again."
"That's encouraging as hell. I'll definitely think on it."
As he walked out the door, Lieutenant Greene stopped and turned. "By the way, how is your married life?" I didn't answer and I don't think he was expecting me to.
I left work shortly thereafter and went home. The house was empty. We had a small room that was used as an office of sorts. It had our home computer, a desk, and a small filing cabinet. I sat at the desk for several minutes with a cold Fosters, trying to figure out what to do. It is disturbing to say the least, to know that someone wants you dead. I am a good guy. I never screwed over anyone. Why would anyone wish for my demise? I thought my marriage was good. Darcy never really complained about anything. I gave her a nice house, a good car, a batch of credit cards, and two beautiful children. What else could she want?
Darcy took care of all the household bills. She took care of the checkbook. She paid the utilities, car payments, mortgages, credit cards, and insurance policies. Insurance? Insurance? Just on a whim I pulled the insurance folder.
Like most young couples, we were terribly under insured. When you are young, you don't think about the possibility of death. I had a small insurance policy, thorugh work, for $50,000. Other than that, the only coverage I had was the home mortgage insurance that Darcy insisted on. If I died, the house would be hers, free and clear. It was cheap, because I was still young, so I had it added to the mortgage payment.
I never went into the file cabinet or the checkbook. Darcy knew that, and it turned out to be her mistake. She was meticulous. Her bank account always was right, to the penny. She always knew where every file and receipt was.
The mortgage payment included the cost for the homeowners insurance, so there was never a receipt for that. My insurance from work was a payroll deduction. Why were there two receipts for $150 each, in the same month, made out to Republic National Insurance?
I never dealt with that company, and I had no knowledge of any insurance policies with them. I put the receipts in my pocket and kept looking. Nothing else unusual came up.
Darcy kept papers on everything. It was a compulsive thing with her. I felt that this was something, that I was not supposed to know about, but she was not able to help herself. She had to keep the proof of the payment, to satisfy her compulsion.
I called the Mercer house. Emily had the kids and said Darcy was shopping. She was friendly but evasive. I called Darcy's cell phone but it was turned off. Interesting. I decided to go for lunch and then do some investigating.
"Robert Evans, fancy seeing you here. What can I do for you?"
.... There is more of this story ...