Thanks to the Hip and Knee doctor for editing assistance.
He wasn't at all what I envisioned a police detective to be like. He certainly wasn't that big or impressive and he sweated a lot. Every time I saw him he had a bag of corn nuts in his hand and was eating them one at a time. He wasn't unfriendly or intimidating, but he was hard to warm up to.
"Mister Fromuth. We can't let you got until tomorrow morning. There is nobody around on a Sunday evening to do the paperwork." Samuel Greene was trying to be professional and friendly at the same time. It didn't work.
I had been sitting in a holding cell for three days, and now he tells me I have to stay another night. The whole thing was a convoluted mess. I never should have been here in the first place. I guess they were anxious to pin the murder on somebody. Unfortunately, I wasn't good enough for them.
All I could do was look across the table at him and shrug my shoulders. Hell, I didn't really want to get out anyhow. I was disappointed when they told me that I wasn't going to be charged. The bastards were sending me home. I was being returned to my wife and my family. Returned? Returned?
No Deposit/No Return. I felt like an old soda bottle.
"The good news is that you get to order your supper tonight from Steak-Out. The money comes from a different fund now. You can order anything that you like."
I gave him a weak smile. "Sam. Will you be here in the morning?"
"Well I was hoping that you could give me a little help with this release thing."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I am going to be totally free, right?"
"Yeah. No strings attached."
"Is there some way that you can let me go without turning me over to my family?"
When Sam Greene laughed, little beads of sweat bounced off of his forehead. "You mean that you want to sneak out the back?"
After I nodded, he shook his head. "She really hurt you didn't she?" I nodded again.
"I'll tell you what, John. You figure out what you want and I'll figure out a way to help you get it. Is that okay?"
I had a chicken dinner that night and was the envy of all my fellow guests. After killing a fried apple pie, I spent the rest of the evening rehashing in my head what had happened and trying to plan for my future. The rehashing seemed to work fine, but I had no idea what my plans were going to be.
I worked at the Northeast Regional Ace Hardware Distribution Center. I spent my whole day loading and unloading trucks. It wasn't real demanding, but I enjoyed it and the pay was adequate. I kept my family fed and raised two fine boys on that salary. Todd was sixteen and Jeremy was a year younger. My marriage and my life was great up until three days ago, when I was arrested.
The arrest was pretty clean and straight forward, but when I found out the circumstances surrounding the arrest, things got complicated. Actually, I complicated them on purpose. However, that was not my intent at the time.
I was in the warehouse doing my normal job at my normal shift time when the police arrived. My supervisor pointed me out and I was immediately handcuffed and led out to a Black and White. This was all in front of my fellow workers. By the time that I reached the patrol car, everybody in the building was aware of what was going on. Of course, I had no idea. Being a law abiding citizen, I followed orders like a little puppy dog and didn't ask any questions.
That was when I first met Sam Greene. He was a little stern at first; no nonsense all the way. By the end of the day, his demeanor started to change.
We went through a couple of minutes of interview formalities before things started to get interesting.
Sam Greene was quite interested in where I was all morning. He didn't seem too happy when I assured him that fifteen men could verify that I had never left the warehouse. I was trying to be polite and cooperative until he dropped the bomb on me.
"Do you know a man named Thomas Esterly?"
"He is not a friend of mine, but I do know him. Why?"
"He was killed this morning at eleven o'clock in the Holiday Inn parking lot. His car blew up."
"Why am I being questioned about something that happened to Thomas Esterly? I haven't seen the guy in over fifteen years."
"What was your relationship with Mister Esterly?"
"There was none. He was an old friend of my wife's before I met her. I met him a few times, but never on a social basis."
"What was the relationship between Mister Esterly and your wife?"
"Detective Greene, you are starting to piss me off. Laura and Tom Esterly were a couple for a few years. I met her about six months after they broke up. I never questioned her about her relationship with him. I suggest that you talk to her."
"We already did that Mister Fromuth. We talked with her for two hours earlier today."
"You wife was with Mister Esterly just before he was killed. She was at the crime scene when we arrived."
All of a sudden I didn't like the way the conversation was going. I had a good marriage. My life was perfect. Laura had never given me cause to think otherwise. Of course, it might have been my fault, because I wasn't looking for anything. That was because I had never suspected anything. Tick-Tock. Tick-Tock. My brain was working at last and I didn't like the conclusions that I was coming up with.
Since I had not responded, he started talking again.
"The security cameras at the Holiday Inn show Mister Esterly and your wife going into room 311 at 9:45 and coming back out at 12: 30. Your wife returned to her car and Mister Esterly to his. When Mister Esterly attempted to start his Mercedes, it exploded. Your wife was far enough away so that she wasn't hurt."
"Can I have a cup of coffee?"
He seemed a little annoyed at my request. I interrupted his concentration flow. I needed a short break to clear my head. I just found out that my wife of eighteen years was unfaithful. My whole life was built around her and the children that I had had with her. Everything was falling apart. No, I hadn't killed Thomas Esterly, but I sure wish that I had. The rest of his questions would be superfluous.
Sam Greene left the room for a moment and came back with cups of black coffee from a machine. It was crap, but I needed a moment to think, so I sipped at it for a while.
"Detective Greene, can I assume that my wife has verified all this information or did she have some kind of alternative explanation?"
"No, Mister Fromuth. There was no other explanation. We showed her the evidence and she collaborated all of it. She met Mister Esterly and they did indeed spent well over two hours in room 311, together."
"I know that this is not a part of your investigation, but was this the first time that they had met or had they been together before this?"
"Mrs. Fromuth did indicate that she and Mister Esterly had been meeting monthly for at least three years. She had no idea who would have wanted Mister Esterly killed. Of course you understand why you are our primary suspect?"
I finished the coffee in one last gulp. My body seemed to shiver at its' bitterness. At the moment, it suited my mood.
"Why would she admit all of this?"
"Honestly. I think she was scared to death. It seemed that they usually arrived in the same car. Today she had to do some type of shopping, so she decided to meet him there. If they had followed their normal routine, your wife would be dead also. I think that she knew that."
"Well, I guess I better tell you everything so that you can wrap this up."
"What do you mean?"
"It was me. I parked my truck in the back of the warehouse and snuck out without anyone seeing me. I placed the bomb under Esterly's car and then returned to work. I was gone less than thirty minutes, so nobody even missed me."
"Are you willing to sign a statement attesting to that?"
An hour later, I was settled into my own private cell. Most of the other guests had to share, but killers got the private rooms.
So why would I do such a stupid thing? It was simple really. I was a quiet guy, but I was proud. How I felt about myself was important to me. Of course that meant that how other people felt about me was important also. This situation had changed all of that in a flash.
It was evident to me now that my wife did not hold me in very high esteem. I believed Detective Greene when he said that Laura had been having an affair with Thomas Esterly for three years. Not because of some information that I had, but just because she would not have made up something like that for any reason and neither would he. Not only did I not want to live with her anymore, I didn't even want to see her. I was sure that she would have a logical explanation for everything, but I didn't want to hear it. The best way to avoid her would be to go to prison.
.... There is more of this story ...