Part 1

Prologue

Detectives Olson and Barron were talking in the hallway. I had just finished telling my story for the second time that night when Detective Barron asked Detective Olson to step out of the room. I could hear them talking in the hallway. It seemed that the hole I had fallen into on Tuesday seemed to just keep getting deeper.

I had told the detectives the truth, at least everything I told him was factual, it just didn't all happen the way I said it did. What I didn't tell them had happened by accident but I was sure no one would believe me so I left out that part of the story. I just hoped that the two detectives wouldn't make the connection.


Chapter 1: Riverton, Missouri

Riverton, Missouri is situated on the De Moines River, ten miles upstream from its confluence with the Mississippi. The city sits on the southwest side of the river and is protected from the river by a twenty-foot high levy that has saved the city from floods on several occasions. The current population of forty-two thousand is about the same as it has been since the end of World War Two.

Riverton Plastics was the largest employer in Riverton until 1995 when they were bought out by Detroit based Pace Automotive Plastics (PAP) which is a leading manufacturer of plastic parts for the automotive industry as well as being my employer.

My name is Tom Blanchard and I was born in Riverton. Except for the four years I attended the University of Missouri to earn a degree in electrical engineering I have spent my whole life here. PAP hired me right after graduation in 1997.

I had received some better job offers but I wanted to live in Riverton so I accepted a position as an Information Systems Specialists in PAP's IS department. My main job responsibility was to keep the company's computer network up and running.

My father, an Orthodontist, and my mother, an English teacher at Riverton Central High School, both took early retirement in 2000. They enjoy taking ocean cruises so they moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, which allows them to benefit from last minute deals on unsold cabins on cruise ships. Since retiring they have averaged a four or seven day cruise about every three months. The benefit to me was that they sold me their house, the house I grew up in, for a lot less than the market value. Up until that time I had been renting an apartment in town while my brother Jack, who was two years older than me, was working and living in St. Louis. Jack had no interest in the house or living in Riverton so he had no problem with my parents selling me the house.


Chapter 2: Holly Albertson

After returning from college my life in Riverton had become a comfortable routine. I got up at six o'clock every morning and was at work by half past seven. Lunch was in a brown bag and was eaten at noon. At 5:30 PM I was out the door and on my way to dinner. At least three and sometimes four or five times a week, dinner was the special at the Riverside Diner. The diner sat on the levy and had a wonderful view of the Des Moines River and Iowa on the other side. It was my habit to sit in one of the booths along the windows so I could watch the river traffic and the fishermen on the bank of the levy.

Before I met Holly Albertson I had no serious relationships but usually had a date on Saturday nights. My dates usually consisted of dinner and a movie and sometimes a little horizontal mambo ending with a wet spot in someone's bed.

In January of 2002, I was promoted to Manager of Information Systems for Pace Automotive Plastics, Riverton Division. It was the Friday following my promotion and I had just returned from a week of meetings at PAP corporate headquarters in Detroit and had gone to the diner to eat before going home. I had just sat down by the windows like I always do when she appeared at my table. I knew all of the waitresses at the Riverside but I hadn't ever seen this one before. She was a tall, about five feet ten inches tall, and her long dark brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail. Her large hazel eyes were the most attractive feature of her very pretty face.

While she placed a glass of water on the table I quickly glanced at her nametag.

"Well, hello Holly. When did you start working here?" I asked.

Holly pulled back from the table and gave me a worried look.

"Why?"

"You are new here aren't you? I just wondered when you started."

"I started Monday," Holly said, still looking a little wary of me.

I guessed that being new at the job, Holly was probably still a little nervous and that might account for her reaction to my question. After what seemed to be a long pause, Holly managed to ask me if I was ready to order. I ordered the Friday special, fried catfish, coleslaw, French fries and hushpuppies. I don't think Holly and I exchanged more than two words before I left.

While I thought that Holly was quite attractive I am not the type of man who thinks that he has to get to know every attractive woman he meets. I had put her out of my mind as soon as I left the diner that evening and when I returned to the diner Saturday evening for dinner I had given no thought as to whether she would be working or not. I took my usual table by the windows and was watching a barge being pushed upriver by a large tug. I was still looking out the window when a glass of water was put down in front of me. I turned to look at my waitress and recognized her immediately.

"Good evening Holly, nice to see you again. How are you tonight?" I said, in what I thought was a friendly tone.

Holly looked at me suspiciously and asked, "Are you ready to order?"

It seemed that for some reason Holly didn't like me. I couldn't figure out why, but I had long ago learned that no matter how hard you try you cannot make everyone like you. So, I just didn't worry about it. I ordered the fried chicken special and didn't bother trying to engage Holly in any further conversation.

I went back to the diner again Monday evening hoping that Holly would not be there or at least would not be working my section of the diner. I was watching a young man pulling a large channel cat out of the river when she spoke to me. There was an edge to her words that startled me.

"Why are you following me?" she hissed.

"Following you?"

"You show up out of nowhere and then you keep coming back and sitting at my station," she said. "Are you stalking me?"

I could not believe what I was hearing. "Stalking you? You think I am stalking you just because I sat at your station three times? Don't flatter yourself." I said. Her accusation had pissed me off.

"You've only been working here a week, I have been coming to this diner three or four times a week for the last four years and I always sit at one of these tables by the windows. If you don't believe me you can ask any of the other waitresses, they all know me." I said. "Here's a news flash for you, I am going to keep coming here and sitting by the windows, so if you don't like waiting on me you can either work a different station or you can quit. So either take my order or send over another waitress."

Holly seemed to be a little flustered and she made a quick exit. A minute later I saw her talking to Carol and Jean, two of the other waitresses, near the kitchen door. She pointed at me and then it looked like she was just listening to what the other waitresses were telling her.

Two minutes later she was back at my table with a menu and a glass of water.

"I am so sorry that I acted that way. I guess I am still a little jumpy. I'm new in town and I don't know anyone here. Carol told me this was like your second home and now I just feel so fool." "Apology accepted," I said. "Why don't we just start over? I'm Tom Blanchard and like I said I come in here three or four times a week. Once you get to know me you'll see I am not really a scary person."

"I'm Holly Albertson," Holly said.

Holly and I didn't immediately become a couple. I continued going to the dinner three or four times a week and Holly usually waited on me. Over time, as we learned more about each other we became friends. At first Holly wasn't very free with information about herself but I did manage to find out that she had gone to college in New Jersey but she was vague about exactly what school she had gone to or what she had studied. She was raised by her mother, who was killed in a car accident a couple of years earlier. Holly never knew her father.

We often discussed books and movies. As intelligent as Holly was it kind of bothered me that she was working as a waitress in a diner, but I didn't question her about it.

It was three months before I finally asked her out. We went out to dinner but not at the Riverside, and then to a movie. After the movie we went out for a drink. It was then that I asked her why she thought I might be stalking her.

"I lived in New Jersey before I came here," Holly said. "The guy I was living with was abusive and when I tried to break up with him he threatened to kill me. One night, when he was asleep, I packed what I could fit in one suitcase and I left. I stayed in a motel that night and emptied my bank account in the morning. After that I just started driving west. My car broke down when I got to Riverton and while I was waiting to get it repaired I saw a help wanted sign in the window at the diner. I made a quick decision to apply for the job and if I got it I would stay here for a while.

"When you showed up the following week you seemed to know my name and you asked how long I had been working at the diner, it scared me. I thought that ah ... Mike ... might have sent someone to find me. Then you were back the next night and again a couple of nights later. It just scared me."

"I knew your name because you were wearing a name tag," I said.

"I realized that later."

"Do you still think Mike, is that his name? ... Do you think he might still be looking for you?"

"No. Thinking about it now, I don't think he would bother. He was a player so he probably had another girlfriend before I even got to Riverton. Besides, I don't think he would pay anyone to look for me. It's just that when I got here I didn't know anyone and I was scared. I am not scared anymore."

When I took her home that night she said that she had a great time. I told her that I did too. She kissed me gently on the lips and said good night.

As she closed her apartment door I could still feel that kiss. I have kissed a lot of girls harder with much more passion than that kiss, but I had never had a kiss that made me want another one as much.

After our second date we sat in my car in front of Holly's apartment building making out. I opened Holly's blouse and unhooked her bra. I cupped her warm soft breast in my hand and I could feel the pounding of her heart. I caressed her breasts first with my hands and then with my lips, while she kissed my neck and nibbled on my ears. Minutes later she asked me to stop.

"I am getting so hot that I am afraid that if I don't stop now I won't be able to later," she said. "I really like you but I am not going to have sex with you on our second date."

I didn't try to force things opting instead to wait until Holly was ready. It was on our fifth date that she decided that she was ready. That night when I brought her home she invited me into her apartment. That was the first time I had been inside. I had come to the door to pick her up and to bring her home on our previous dates but she hadn't invited me to come inside. I didn't miss the significance of her invitation.

Holly poured us both a glass of wine and then tapped my glass with hers before taking a sip. Holly then put her glass down and smiled at me.

"What would you like for breakfast in the morning?" she said. "I have bacon and eggs or cereal."

"Are you sure?" I asked.

"I'm sure."

"Bacon and eggs."

Holly took my hand, led me to her bedroom and began to remove her blouse. While she finished removing her blouse and bra I removed my shoes, socks and then took my shirt and pants off. Then I watched as Holly unzipped her skirt and let it slide down her legs to the floor. Holly stood there in just her panties while I stripped off my under shorts.

I went to Holly and embraced her. We began kissing, gently at first and then with more passion. Holly wrapped her hand around my already throbbing erection and I slipped my hand inside her panties pressing my finger into the warm damp cleft in her vulva. When my finger entered her already slippery sex I felt her tremble and her body began to sag as though her legs could no longer hold her up. I lifted Holly up, laid her on the bed and removed her panties. Then I retrieved the condom I kept in my wallet and put it on.

Holly spread her legs for me and I moved between her thighs pressing my rigid cock against the warm soft flesh of her vulva. When the head found the cleft in her mound I slowly entered her. I'm sorry but I have trouble trying to find the right words to describe the feeling of being inside Holly that night. All I can say is that it was wonderful. I could feel the heat of her passion as I penetrated farther and farther into her. I could feel the muscles in Holly's buttocks tighten as she pushed her pelvis up to receive me while at the same time I felt my desire building with each stroke.

When I was fully inside her I stopped moving and asked if she was all right. She told me she was and that it felt great having me inside her.

When I began to move again I pulled myself almost all the way out of her then pushed back in. I continued to do this picking up speed as I continued stroking into her. I kissed her on the mouth and neck and then whispered, "Does my cock feel good inside your pussy?"

"Yes it does. It feels very good, ' she said.

"Tell me how it feels," I said.

"I love the way you're fucking me with your cock," she said. "You are making my pussy so hot. I think you are going to make cum soon."

Later, Holly told me that she couldn't believe that she had actually said those things but she liked the way it made her feel when she used those words to describe how she was feeling.

Soon I felt her begin to orgasm and it was unlike any other woman I had ever been with. Holly kept saying, "Fuck me. Oh yes fuck me hard. I'm having a fucking orgasm. Oh God it's feels good."

Right after that I started to climax and I had the most intense orgasm I could remember ever having.

At that moment I didn't think there could be anything better in the world. When it was over we just held each other. There was no more dirty talk, just the afterglow of lovemaking.

Over breakfast in the morning Holly told me more about her past life. She had a law degree but due to a bad experience, that she wouldn't talk about she no longer wanted to practice law. I suggested that she should look for a job that was more befitting her level of education rather than being a waitress. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with being a waitress, but it is not the right job for someone as highly educated as Holly.

Holly took my advice and a few weeks later she was able to get the job of assistant to the head librarian at the Riverton Library. The head librarian was in her sixties and was planning to retire in a couple of years so Holly became her heir apparent.

After dating for about four months I asked Holly to move in with me. She was more than happy to accept and then in May of 2005 Holly became my wife.


Chapter 3: Life Goes On

When we got married Holly and I decided to hold off having children for a few years. Our financial position was sound but we wanted to significantly increase our savings so that Holly would be able to take a few years off to be a stay at home mother. We established a dollar amount for our savings goal and agreed that when we reached that target we would start our family. One evening a couple of months later I got a visit from John Dixon. John and I went to high school together and we have remained friends over the years.

John and I spent a few minutes catching up before he got to the point of his visit.

"Tom, I have an opportunity I think you might be interested in. It will give you a chance to pick up some extra money, if you are interested," John said.

"I am not going to sell Amway products for you, John," I said. I was joking. I knew that he would think my Amway reference was amusing. John works for the local telephone company but a couple of years earlier he and I had both been approached by an Amway distributor. Neither of us was interested in his pitch.

"What do you know about Amway?" he said and then laughed. "Don't worry, it's not. This is something that is right up your alley and it doesn't require you to make any investment. My company has just started offering DSL high speed Internet service to our telephone customers and we are looking for installers.

"All you would have to do is go to the customer's home and switch them over to the digital signal and install a DSL modem. Then you would configure the modem and install some software on their computer. Finally you would make sure that the customer has a digital filter installed anywhere that they have an analog device connected to their telephone line."

John explained that because most to the installs would be done at customers homes the majority of these installs would need to be done in the evenings or on Saturdays when their customer's were at home so this wouldn't interfere with my day job.

Holly and I discussed the offer and decided I should take the job. It was something I could easily do and I could earn a few hundred extra dollars a week until the workload slowed down. So, starting the following week I was out doing DSL installs two or three nights a week and once in a while on a Saturday.

At first I was concerned that Holly would get tired of being left home alone two or three nights a week but she became a literacy volunteer at the high school on the nights I was out doing DSL installs.


Chapter 4: The Good Life

In the three years since we got married life had been very good. Our marriage was strong. I was crazy about Holly and I don't think I could ever find a more loving wife. We had reached our savings goal and had begun talking about when would be the best time to start working on making a baby. We decided to start trying in July hoping that our baby would be born in March or April.

Last January my brother Jack got the good news that his company was sending him to Paris for a two-year assignment. In preparation for the assignment, Jack sold his 2006 Mustang to me. We moved the rest of his personal belongings consisting of his furniture, motorcycle and riding gear, and the clothes he wasn't taking with him, into a ten by fifteen foot storage locker that he rented in Riverton. Jack gave me the combination to the locker and asked me to keep an eye on his stuff for him.

I was really happy for Jack. I knew that he was excited about the opportunity to work in Paris. Mostly, though, I was happy that he gave me a great deal on the Mustang.

Evenings were my favorite time of day. That's when Holly and I sat together relaxing with a drink and talked about our day.

This past March was a busy month for us. It seemed like I was out doing DSL installs almost every night while Holly was busy with the literacy volunteers and was tasked with doing a complete inventory of the library, books, furniture and fixtures. One Friday evening at the end of one particularly long week when Holly had been working late every night on the inventory and we hadn't had much time together, Holly and I were relaxing with a drink and talking about our week. Holly had just finished telling me about a few things that happened at the library relating to the inventory, and then asked me, "So how was your week?"

"This was a pretty good week for me," I said and began to laugh. "That is except for three DSL installs that were a little out of the ordinary." All of the DSL installs I did were in customer's homes and I ran into a lot of strange situations during these installs. Holly always enjoyed my stories about the strange things that occasionally happened.

"Monday night I went over to the old house on the corner of Third and Utica."

" ... that old Victorian?" Holly said.

"That's the one," I said. "I rang the doorbell and someone called out from the back of the house and told me to come in. When I walked in I noticed newspapers had been laid on the floor leading back to the kitchen. No one came out to greet me so I identified myself and why I was there. Someone in the kitchen called out and told me to come back there. Looking at the newspapers on the floor again I figured that they must have mopped or waxed the floors and didn't want me to walk on them yet so I started across the room stepping only on the newspapers. I was halfway across the room before I realized my mistake. The papers were not laid on the floor for me to walk on but to cover up several accidents my client's three puppies had in the living room."

"The dogs peed on the floor?"

"No, little piles of puppy poop."

"Oh, yuck!"

"Exactly. It was embarrassing trying to explain to the customer why I walked on the piles of poop. The customer wasn't real happy and needless to say I threw those shoes in the trash when I got home."

"Did the customer file a complaint?"

"No. I guess they realized that they were at least partly at fault for not meeting me at the door and telling me not to step on the papers.

"Anyway, on Wednesday evening I had a call at those new condos on the north side of town near the river. This guy comes to the door is dressed in boxer shorts and a sleeveless undershirt. He was about five foot nothing, fat, bald and was wearing a pair of glasses that looked as though they were made from the bottoms of a couple of Coke bottles. On top of that, he was eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and the jelly was running down his hand to his wrist and there was a big glob of jelly on his undershirt. He reminded me a little of Danny DiVito and when he spoke he sounded like Truman Capote. I almost burst out laughing."

"That's quite a picture," Holly said.

"There was almost no furniture in the place. No kitchen table or chairs and there were only two chairs in the living room. His computer was set up on a card table in one of the bedrooms."

"Well he was probably just moving in," Holly said.

"That's what I figured too. Then, when I sat down at his computer to configure the DSL modem there was a gun sitting next to the keyboard."

"He actually left a gun lying on the table where you had to work?"

"Yep. I asked him to remove the gun but instead of taking the gun he asked me if I was afraid of guns.

"I told him I wasn't but I didn't feel comfortable with his gun being right there where I was working. He said it wasn't loaded and then asked me if I even knew what kind of gun it was. It looked like the guns you see on all of the cop shows on television so I said it looked like a nine millimeter. Turned out to be a good guess.

"He told me to go ahead and check to make sure it wasn't loaded. I had no clue how to do that. So he stood there, still eating his sandwich while he told me how to eject the clip and pull the slide back to make sure the gun was empty. The clip was empty and there wasn't anything in the chamber either. I tried to hand the gun back to him but he said he didn't want to get peanut butter and jelly on it so he asked me to put the clip back in leave it on the table."

"Did he say why he left his gun on the table?" Holly asked.

"No. I'm guessing that he bought himself a gun so he could feel like a tough guy,"

"You would think that he would put the gun away knowing that you were coming to work on his computer," Holly said.

"You would think. Maybe he left it on the table just to see what I would do. Like I said, he was just a strange little guy."

"What else happened?"

"Nothing, I got his computer up and running on the Internet and left."

"I'm not sure I like that story so much. I don't like guns and I don't like the idea of you being alone with a guy like that." "He was harmless," I said.

"Well, I still don't like it. You said you had three stories," Holly said.

"The last install was on Thursday night. It was at an old farmhouse out on Old Hawley Road. When I pulled into the driveway two huge dogs ran out to the car and stood at my door growling at me. I had to wait in the car until their owner came out of his house and called them off. When I got out of the car the dogs sniffed me and then settled down. By the time I got to the porch both dogs seemed friendly. The problem with that was when I tried to pet one of the dogs the other would growl at me. The owner just laughed and said, 'don't worry about that, they just get a little jealous of each other.'"

"Were you scared?"

"A little bit. These dogs were big enough to eat me in about three bites. Anyway, when I walked into the house it was filthy. I could see cat hair all over the furniture and the house reeked of cat urine. The smell was so strong that it was difficult to breath. When I finally got to the computer and started working the guy's two-year old son comes over and stands as close as he can get to me and watches what I am doing. The guy said, 'Baby Tommy wants to watch you, ' then he laughed.

"It might have been funny if the kid wasn't wearing an over loaded diaper. The smell from that diaper was literally making my eyes water and nearly triggered my gag reflex. I just couldn't understand how the father could not know the kid needed a diaper change.

"I had just finished setting up the home page for the guy when his wife came in. She noticed that the kid needed a diaper change immediately and asked her husband why he hadn't taken care of it and he said, 'Tommy wanted to watch didn't you baby?'

"As soon as I walked out the door I started sucking in fresh air so fast I almost hyperventilated."

Holly leaned over and kissed me. "You poor baby," she said. "I do love your stories but it isn't fair that my days are never as interesting or amusing as yours.

"Amusing? I'll trade dog poop and stinking diapers for your inventory any day."

Holly kissed me and said, "I'm sorry you had such a tough week, maybe this will make you feel better." Holly then pushed her tongue into my mouth and her hand into my pants. We ate dinner very late that evening.

That was three months ago. Since then things have settled down. I have been doing fewer DSL installs and having achieved our savings target Holly stopped taking her birth control pills two weeks ago and we started working on making a baby. Everything in my life was great until this past Tuesday.


Chapter 5: The Troubles Begin - Tuesday June 10, 2008

Tuesday morning Holly and I had breakfast together and then as I was headed out the door Holly asked me what time I would be home.

"I don't have anything scheduled this evening so I should be home by 5:30," I said. "Why?"

"I was thinking we should have a quick dinner and then get back to work on making a baby."

"Sounds like a great plan to me," I said.

"I almost forgot, could you go over to JC Penney's and pick up my catalog order?"

"What did you order from Penney's?"

"Something that might come in handy tonight," Holly said.

"Oh, okay, I'll pick it up during my lunch break."

"Thanks Sweetie, love you."

"Love you too. Gotta go."

At five o'clock I shut down my computer, cleared off my desk and headed home. I was over halfway home when I realized that I had forgotten to pick up Holly's catalog order at Penney's. To go to the Riverton Mall, where the JC Penney store was located I would have to turn around and drive back past my office at PAP so I debated just going home and telling Holly I would pick the order up on Wednesday. I ended up turning around and going back to Penney's because I remembered what Holly had said about her purchase coming in handy that evening. I was thinking lingerie.

I called Holly from Penney's to tell her I was running late but she didn't answer the phone. I didn't bother to leave a message. When I got home at 6:35, Holly's car was in the garage so I was a little surprised when I walked into the house because it was so quiet. Holly always had music on when she was home alone. Not only was there no music but there was also no answer from Holly when I called out to her. Then I noticed the smell. It was familiar but I couldn't immediately identify it. Then it hit me. It smelled like someone had lit off a firecracker in the house.

"Holly?"

No answer.

"Holly, are you here?"

Again there was no answer. I was beginning to worry as I walked through the house. The smell got stronger the closer I got to the kitchen. Somehow I knew that whatever waited for me in the kitchen was not good. I dropped my briefcase and the bag from JC Penney's on the sofa and walked to the kitchen door.

I could feel my heart pounding inside my chest as I drew in a breath and forced myself to go into the kitchen. The sight that awaited me I will never be able to erase from my mind. Holly was lying on the floor in a puddle of her own blood. It appeared that she had fallen as she was trying to go out the back door. She was lying on her left side with her left arm extended through the partially opened door.

I called her name as I stumbled across the room but Holly did not respond. I pulled her head into my lap and checked her pulse in her neck as I pulled out my cell phone and punched in 911. Her pulse was faint but she was still alive.

"911 operator, what's your emergency?"

"I need help. My wife ... I think she's been shot."

"What's your address?"

I gave the operator my address.

"Whom am I talking to?"

"Tom Blanchard. Please hurry, I think she's dying."

"Help is on the way. Now stay on the phone with me. Tell me what happened."

"I don't know what happened. I came home from work and found her on the floor. There is blood everywhere."

"Try to stay calm Mr. Blanchard. Is your wife breathing?"

"I think so. I can feel a faint pulse. Please hurry."

"Help should be there in a few minutes. Now, how do you know that your wife was shot?"

"I don't know ... It's just the smell and all this blood."

"What smell?"

"It smells like a firecracker went off in the kitchen. What's with all the questions, my wife is dying. She needs help."

"Stay calm Mr. Blanchard. Help is coming."

Finally I heard sirens. I gently laid Holly's head down and ran to the door.

"Mr. Blanchard? Who shot your wife?"

"What? I don't know. I wasn't here when it happened."

As the emergency vehicles got closer I ran out to the street to flag them down. I still had my phone with me but I was no longer listening to the 911 operator and her endless questions.

The first vehicle to arrive was the fire emergency truck followed closely by a police car. The paramedics were still getting their equipment from the emergency response truck when the ambulance arrived.

The police officer that arrived with the paramedics was the first to reach me.

"Where is the victim?" he asked as he approached.

The two paramedics followed as I led the officer into the kitchen. The paramedics immediately went to work on Holly as the police officer began asking me questions.

"What's your name?"

"Tom Blanchard."

"What's the victim's name?"

"Holly Blanchard."

"Your wife?"

"Yes."

"Can you tell me what happened?"

"I don't know. I found her like that when I got home."

"Is that your wife's blood on your hands and clothes?"

"Yes. I knelt down on the floor with her to check if she had a pulse while I called 911."

"Did you see anyone leaving the house when you came home?"

"No."

"Do you own a gun Mr. Blanchard?"

"No."

Just then more police arrived. One man, not wearing a uniform seemed to take charge. He gave orders to the uniformed officers and then approached me.

"I'm Detective David Olson, are you Mr. Blanchard?"

"Yes."

Detective Olson look to be about fifty. He was about five feet six inches tall and probably weighed around 160 pounds. He had silver hair that was quite thin on top.

"Tell me what happened here."

"I don't know. I came home and found my wife on the floor." As I turned to point to where I found Holly I saw the paramedics lifting Holly onto a gurney. The tubes from at least three IV bags were already pumping fluid into her body.

I looked at the pool of blood on the floor where Holly had been laying and I suddenly felt faint. I think I started to go down but Detective Olson grabbed my arm and held me up.

"Are you all right?"

"I'm a little light headed. I think I need to sit down."

Detective Olson followed me into the living room where I sat down on the sofa. It took me only a moment to start to feel stronger. The detective was just about to start asking me more questions when one of the paramedics announced that they were ready to transport Holly to the hospital.

"Can we do this later? I need to go with my wife."

"Go ahead. I'll see you at the hospital in a little while."


Chapter 6: Waiting

My memories of the next hour are incomplete. I don't remember climbing into the back of the ambulance but I do remember holding Holly's limp hand as we raced to Riverton Memorial Hospital. Most of what went on in the emergency room is a blur. I do remember a nurse pushing me away from Holly and telling me to go to the waiting room. How appropriate is that name, 'waiting room.' What was I waiting for? Good news or bad news.

I have no idea how long I sat there before someone came to talk to me. I have no recollection of who he was. I think it must have been one of the doctors that had attended to Holly in the ER.

"Mr. Blanchard, we have stabilized your wife and she is now on her way to surgery," he said.

"Is she going to be all right?"

"I don't know. We don't yet know how serious her injuries are. We'll know more when she comes out of surgery."

"How long will that be?"

"Could be an hour or it might take several hours. It all depends on the extent of her internal injuries. I'm sorry I don't have more definitive answers for you."

I was then told where I should go to wait, another waiting room. On the way I stopped into a bathroom. When I looked at myself in the mirror I became violently ill. I just barely made it to one of the commodes before I began to vomit. When my stomach finally settled down I was able to look in the mirror again. The front of my shirt and pants was covered with blood, as were my hands. As I looked at my bloody reflection I felt another wave of nausea but it quickly passed. I managed to wash all of the blood off my hands but I couldn't do anything about my shirt or my pants.

I had been sitting in the waiting room for a little over an hour when Detective Olson arrived.

"Any word?" he asked.

"She's in surgery. They said it could be a few hours before I hear anything."

"How are you doing?"

"I think I am running on adrenalin and caffeine right now."

"Would you mind if I asked you a few questions?"

"Does it make any difference if I mind or not?"

"I know this is difficult for you but we have to do this. I am sorry."

"Go a head and ask your questions."

"Do you own a gun?"

"I already told the cop at the house I don't own a gun."

"Did that officer test your hands for GSR?"

"GSR?"

"Gun shot residue," Detective Olson said. "It's blow back from when you fire a gun."

"But I didn't fire a gun."

"We just have to verify that as part of our investigation. So, did the officer test you?"

"No."

"Did you wash your hands?"

I held my hands up so that Detective Olson could see them. "They were covered with blood. I had to wash them."

"We'll have to get your clothes later. We can test them."

"Fine."

Detective Olson continued to ask me question for the next two hours. He seemed to be asking me the same questions over and over only he worded them differently. It was obvious that I was his prime suspect and he was trying to trick me into a confession. This bothered me a great deal but there was nothing I could do about it. I was confident that once they looked at all of the evidence they would know that I didn't try to kill Holly.

It was 8:45 when the doctor finally came out to talk to me.

"Mr. Blanchard, I am Dr. Shah."

I tried to read his face to see if he was going to give me good news or bad news.

"How's my wife?"

"We have done everything we can for now," he said. "Your wife had two bullet wounds. One bullet entered from the back on her right side, went through her right lung and exited the intercostals space between ribs four and five. The second bullet entered her right side and struck rib number six. Hitting the rib fragmented the bullet causing a lot of internal damage. We were able to repair most of the damage. Mrs. Blanchard was in shock when she was brought in and slipped into a coma during the surgery. At this time we can't say for certain whether she we recover or not."

"How long before you know?"

"Could be a few days or it could drag on for a long time," Dr. Shah said. "We just have to hope for the best."

"When can I see her?"

"She'll be brought down from the recovery room to intensive care in a couple of hours. I think it would probably be best if you went home and got some sleep and then come back in the morning. There most likely won't be any significant change in her condition over night."

I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to leave Holly alone at the hospital but I didn't want to spend the night sitting in the waiting room either.

I looked at Dr. Shah and said, "If anything changes someone will call me immediately?"

"Of course."

Then I looked at Detective Olson. "If you are done questioning me I guess I will go home then."

"Is there somewhere else you can stay tonight?" Detective Olson asked. "You won't be able to stay at your house, it's a crime scene.

"I'll get a hotel room then but I need to go home and get some clothes," I said.

"I'll have an officer take you home and wait while you change. He'll need to bag the clothes you're wearing and bring them into our lab."

I had a sudden vision of the police lab on the CSI television program and almost laughed when I tried to imagine what kind of lab the Riverton police department would have. The moment passed quickly when the image of Holly lying on the kitchen floor in a pool of her own blood flashed into my head. I felt my legs giving out and I had to sit down while Detective Olson called the station to arrange to have an officer drive me home.

There were still police officers in my house when I got home. I wasn't allowed into the kitchen and I was escorted everywhere else I went in the house. The officer that brought me home waited in the room with me while I got undressed. He then bagged everything I was wearing including shoes, socks and underwear. I wanted to take a shower but I didn't want an audience so I elected to wait till I got to my hotel. The officer then watched me closely as I packed a few clothes into a suitcase and then he drove me to the Motel 8 on Broad Street.

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Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Mystery /