CAUTION! This is a very dark story with an even uglier ending. It’s pretty damn sick if I’m honest. Not at all like my usual stuff; there’s no love or romance at all in this black tale of cheating, deceit and revenge. I don’t like any of the characters, and I don’t think you will either. Be warned. If you hate BTB stories, please don’t even start reading this one. And don’t then bitch at me when you do hate it – it’s your fault for not heeding this warning.
My wife was killed and my stepdaughter hurt in an auto accident; some guy I’d never heard of was driving them at the time. Turned out that my son and I hadn’t ever really known the two women who’d been in our lives for the past eight years. In the end, everybody lost.
It was a cold but sunny early April day in Oklahoma.
The kind of day that tells you Winter will end, but maybe not quite yet. A great day for working outside and thinking about the coming Spring and Summer, and getting some early jobs done before the weather dips down again before Spring finally comes. Way too soon for planting anything out in the garden, but house maintenance or yard chores are worth getting out of the way.
Nat and I were at our cabin, just finishing off removing the winter storm shutters and checking the state of the roof and windows to see where repairs or paint were needed, when my cell went.
We’d had a great Dad/Son Saturday morning working together, and Nat had blown off a lot of steam about how his stepsister, Zeb, was currently being even more of a bitch than normal. She was making the most of being almost a year older than Nat, and he was taking more sneering and whining from her than I liked, even accounting for teenage hormone-driven moods on both sides.
My wife Donna wasn’t helping any; I’d been trying to keep a lid on some of Zebedee’s spoilt princess antics around the house, and Donna had contradicted me on a couple of occasions when I’d tried to discipline her daughter. Nat and I had both hoped that it was just a stage that Zeb was going through, but seventeen going on two was getting real tedious. Recently Zeb had shown me a couple of instances of pretty much open disrespect which had led to her going to her room; Nat had just told me of a few things I hadn’t noticed at the time, but they fitted the pattern. He also told me that Donna was always siding with Zeb against him, and that he reckoned he wasn’t getting a fair deal. I said that I’d sort that.
I reckoned that Donna and I were going to have to sit down and have a serious talk about Zeb that evening. I hadn’t realized that things had gotten that bad between my son and her daughter; or between Nat and his stepmother. Come to think of it, Donna had been a bit distant with me for a while; I’d been real busy at work over the winter and hadn’t really had time to tackle her on it. That work project was successfully completed, so I’d be getting home earlier in the evenings for a while, until the next big job came through.
I pulled my cellphone out of its holster. The caller display said it was my wife.
“Hi, honey, what’s up?”
A male voice answered.
“This is Deputy Sherrins. Is that Mr David Palmer?”
“Yeah, Dave Palmer here, Deputy. Something wrong for you to be on my wife’s cell?”
“I’m sorry to have to break the news, Mr Palmer, but your wife and daughter have been involved in an auto accident, and they’re in the hospital. Your wife is critical.”
“Shit! We’ll be right there!”
Nat was as shocked as I was at the news; we dropped everything where we were and piled into the truck. The speed I drove us to the hospital was more ‘please step out of the truck and into the back seat of my cruiser on your way to jail‘ territory than merely getting a ticket, but I didn’t need to call in any favors with my new telephone acquaintance Deputy Sherrins, because we weren’t pulled over.
I drove as close as I could to the ER entry and parked up the truck, then hurried in.
“My wife and daughter, Donna Palmer and Zebedee Schuyler?”
The woman on the desk motioned to a gray-haired nurse waiting nearby, and she led us to a small side room, where she sat us down round a low coffee table. I instinctively knew that it was the place where they broke the bad news. She looked me in the eyes.
“I’m real sorry, Mr Palmer, but although your daughter is going to be okay, your wife didn’t make it. The front of the vehicle was crushed by a concrete slab falling off a turning truck; she never stood a chance.”
Nat let out a horrified sob; I stared at the lady in disbelief.
“Didn’t make it?”
“No, she passed before they could get her out of the vehicle. It was real fortunate that your daughter was in the back seat.”
“Donna dead? I can’t believe it!”
“I’m afraid so, Mr Palmer. I’ll leave you for a few minutes to let it sink in. Let me know if you’d like to talk to a minister of religion. I’m so sorry for your loss.”
She left the room; Nat and I stood and hugged each other for comfort, both of us crying. We’d left the two of them sitting at the breakfast table only four hours before, and now one was dead and the other injured.
We’d calmed down some when the nurse returned, some ten minutes later.
“Mr Palmer, could you please come with me for a moment; we need you to formally identify your wife, please.”
I was still numb; I left Nat sitting there, and let her lead me to the morgue. The mortuary technician looked up from his keyboard as we entered.
“This morning’s auto accident?”
He led us to two gurneys in the corner, and pulled back the sheets covering the heads of their occupants. One was Donna, the other was some guy I’d never seen before. I noticed that he took care not to draw the sheet below their necks.
I nodded sadly to the technician.
“Yes, the female is my wife, Donna Palmer.”
“Thank you, Mr Palmer. You couldn’t confirm the identity of the male victim, could you? He was driving, she was the passenger, and your daughter was in the back.”
I looked again at the guy. Younger than me, no distinguishing features, nah, still no idea.
“No, I don’t know him. Can you tell me his name?”
“I’m sorry, Sir, I can’t do that until he has been positively identified, in case my initial information is incorrect.”
“But you’ll be able to tell me later?”
“The coroner will, at the inquest.”
I took one last look at Donna before he covered her face again, then followed the nurse back out of the morgue.
“What happens now?”
“The coroner’s staff will release the body once they’re satisfied as to the cause of death, and you’ll need to choose a funeral home to care for her.”
“When will that be?”
“Should be Monday; there’s no question about how she died, and the police report won’t be complicated. They know that you need to get started on the arrangements, so they won’t delay.”
“Can I see my daughter yet?”
“It will be a few more minutes; last I saw they were cleaning up the cuts and checking that nothing’s broken. The doctor will come get you just as soon as she’s ready.”
She led me back to the quiet room, Nat standing up to hug me.
“Yeah, it was your Mom, Son. I’m so sorry. There’s something I don’t get – they say she was a passenger, and the guy driving them was also killed. I’ve never seen him before, I just don’t understand.”
He shook his head; he was clearly just as confused as I was.
“Any news of Zeb? She should be able to explain?”
“We should be able to see her pretty soon; they’re just finishing up.”
The door opened and a Deputy entered, carrying two white sacks.
“Mr Palmer, I’m Deputy Sherrins. I’m sorry that your wife didn’t make it; I need to hand over to you the personal possessions we found in the vehicle. They both had a purse and a phone; I used your wife’s phone to call you. Could you please check that these do belong to your wife and daughter, and then sign this receipt for me?”
I briefly inspected both sacks, recognized the phone and purse in each, and signed the receipt. Deputy Sherrins again said he was sorry and left the room. I pulled out Donna’s purse, and opened it.
Oh god, NO!!!
Nat saw my face.
“Dad! What is it?”
Numbly, I picked out the lacy red bra and panty set which had been stuffed into the purse. Then I looked at Zeb’s purse – again, bra and panties, not the schoolgirl white she normally wore, but navy blue with little bows.
This was a game-changer.
What the fuck were my wife and daughter doing driving around with some strange guy I’d never heard of, with their sexy underwear packed away in their purses? Nothing good, that was for sure.
Nat cottoned on immediately.
“Oh christ, Dad!”
“Looks like we know the reason for Zeb’s lack of respect now, Son?”
“Jeez, Dad, I’m so sorry!”
I laughed, bitterly.
“So am I! It’s one hell of a way to find out, though.”
I’d always taken my wedding vows as kinda central to my marriage. If you make such a total commitment before God and your friends and family, in my view you stick to it through hell and high water. It looked as if Donna had no longer seen it that way. Worse, she’d involved her daughter in her shenanigans, so they were both cheating on me.
Before we had time to speculate more about our discovery, the door opened and the doctor who was looking after Zebedee came in and introduced herself.
“Mr Palmer, I don’t think there is any serious physical damage to your daughter, just cuts and bruising, but I want to keep her in for a night just in case there’s a delayed effect, like concussion or a possible blood clot. With luck you’ll be able to pick her up tomorrow and take her home.”
“Does she know her Mom is dead?”
“Yes, and I’ve given her a sedative in her IV. She’s distressed, of course, but we’ll keep a close watch on her. It’s a dreadful thing to lose your mother at that age. Would you like to see her now?”
“One moment, please, Doctor. Has Deputy Sherrins told you the circumstances of the accident?”
“Just that her mother and the male driver were killed.”
“It looks rather more complicated than that. You see, as far as I knew, they were planning to stay home all day. I don’t know who the man was, or exactly what his connection was with my wife, but the deputy has just given me their belongings, and both my wife and my stepdaughter had placed their underwear in their purses before the accident. See?”
The doctor blanched as I held up two handfuls of underwear.
“My son and I were going to be working on our cabin all day. It looks like they were up to something that I wouldn’t have liked, but as yet, I don’t know exactly what. I know from our medical insurance statements that Zebedee had gotten a Depo shot that her mother approved. It’s very possible that she has been having unsafe sex; I know that I’m going to get myself tested because it sure looks like my wife has been running around on me, and I’d appreciate it if you would have the STI tests run on Zeb too.”
She shook her head as if to clear her brain to process that new information.
“Oh my! I think in that case I’d better run some full bloods as well, and keep her here until I’ve got the results. Is all this going to be a problem for you, with seeing her under these circumstances? She will still need your emotional support. I’ve got one of the nurses holding her hand at the moment.”
I shook my head.
“No, she’s been our little girl for eight years, almost half her life. That’s not going to change fast. She’s just lost her Mom, and she’s gotta be hurting real bad right now. We can sort out the facts in time.”
I kept on telling myself that as the doc took us in to see Zeb. It was early days, but my suspecting that Zeb had been fully involved in whatever her mother had been doing was sure going to alter our relationship, and likely not for the better.
Jeez! Even though I’d just seen her mother in the morgue, and was expecting it, the actual sight of my little girl hooked up to IV’s and monitors shook me. She was deathly pale and seemed so small in the bed, and I hoped that the cuts and bruising on her face and arms looked worse than they actually were. She had fallen asleep, and I agreed with the doc that there was no value in waking her.
“Will there be scars?”
“Slight scarring, but nothing disfiguring or worth having cosmetic surgery over; she’ll probably want to use more make-up for a while until the new skin blends in. My real worry was that dirt might have gotten into the scratches, so we’ve cleaned them out well and given her antibiotic and tetanus shots, just to be sure. She’s dozy with the sedatives right now; she wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense if we did wake her.”
I thanked the doc and we headed back to the truck in silence. On the way home, I stopped off at my boss’s place. He was shocked when I told him that Donna had just been killed, and he told me to take at least the next week off, with pay, and to call him if he could be of any use, for anything. I thanked him sincerely, and got back in the truck. He was a good guy to work for; I’d always come through for him, and he had remembered that.
Donna’s car was parked up in front of the house; I pulled in to my slot next to it. Looked like they’d been picked up from home. I guessed it saved me having to drive round town to locate it.
We entered the house and had ourselves a sandwich for a late lunch, in our confusion forgetting the sandwiches I’d made at breakfast, which were still in the truck. Then we sat there like a pair of zombies for a while. It was slowly sinking in that Donna wasn’t coming home again, and that the future was going to be very different from how it has seemed that morning.
I went through their purses. There wasn’t a lot to see, the usual feminine bits and pieces. No incriminating stuff other than the underwear. No condoms; I couldn’t decide whether that was good news that they hadn’t gone out to have sex, or really bad news that they were going to do it bareback and risk disease.
Their phones told me a whole lot more. Luckily neither of them had reset the default password, so I was able to read their texts and call histories. Seemed like they’d been exchanging texts and IM’s with a couple of guys for a while; I made a special note of the numbers, but the initials ‘LA’ and ‘BL’ meant zilch to either of us.
Then I picked up their tablets. Once again, no password problems. Donna’s browsing history made fascinating if sad reading; there were a whole lot of visits to internet sites listing rental apartments in Tulsa. It looked like that’s where they had been planning to hide out or make their new life without us. In the ‘recent items’ I found a couple of documents that would need careful going over again when I had time and privacy. That guy ‘LA’ seemed to have been paying Donna five hundred bucks pretty regularly; sometimes two hundred went to someone called ‘Z’. I only knew one person with a name beginning with Zee. I didn’t tell Nat. The total at the bottom of the spreadsheet was impressive, more than I’d ever managed to put aside in the savings account in one year.
When I finished scrolling through, I locked the tablet in my gun safe, to look at the rest of her data later. I’d have to remember to check out Zeb’s before she came home from the hospital; to see what she’d been researching.
I zapped a couple of ready meals out of the freezer for our dinner; they were food, and that was all that mattered. We ate out of the containers which then went into the garbage, just leaving a couple of bits of silverware to wash up. Neither of us made a good meal; I left just as much uneaten as Nat did.
I left Nat at home when I went back in to the hospital at seven to check on Zeb; they said that she’d eaten something but she was asleep again, so I chose not to wake her, just stared at her for a long while, wondering how things were going to turn out. She’d been my adored stepdaughter since she was almost nine; although the last couple of years had been much more stressful as her teenage hormones kicked in. I guess that was the moment when I realized that things would never be the same between us – from the evidence of her calls, she’d chosen to join her mom in deceiving me. Yeah, I shed a few more tears. I’d loved her.
I’d taken in some overnight kit for her: pajamas and panties, wash kit, hairbrush, that kind of thing, and I told the nurse that I’d left them in her room. I said that I’d be back the next afternoon, and to call me if there was anything she needed.
I bumped into Deputy Sherrins on my way out to the truck.
“Hi, Mr Palmer.”
“You still on duty, Deputy?”
“No, I’m done for the day, but I hoped I might perhaps catch you. Got a minute?”
“Sure! How can I help?”
“I need a quiet word.”
We went over to one of the hospital benches and sat.
“I know this is still all of a shock to you, but you might want to do something for yourself tomorrow, before it gets out and other agencies get involved. Let me tell you a story, you understand that it’s all fiction of course?”
“Okay, I get it. I take it that this conversation isn’t happening either?”
“Correct! Once upon a time in Fairyland, there was a Deputy who was assigned to a fatal auto accident and its follow-up. After talking to the husband of the female passenger, he went over to the Silverton side of town, an address out at 4951 Lake Road, to notify the death of the male driver, a guy named Larry Aikman. Seemed that the male lived alone, but as the Deputy found the back door open, he hollered the house and then entered to see if he could find anyone. He didn’t see any sign that anyone else was living there, but he did find a bedroom set up as a film studio, with lights, a camera and an editing suite. It’s a house set back from the street, so he made a note that come Monday he’d make arrangements for the property to be secured, so that any relatives could be informed and asked to take charge.”
I saw where he was headed.
“I guess that with a set-up like that, a guy might be doing things that a relative could find distressing?”
“Yes, or perhaps Child Protection Services might start interfering if they heard reports of anything illegally involving people under 18.”
I nodded. I was getting the message.
“We’re lucky to live in a place where that kind of thing doesn’t happen, aren’t we?”
“We are indeed. Now, I’d better be getting home. It’s still cold at nights, a guy would want to be wearing gloves if he was out and about tonight, especially near Lake Road. I guess the temperature isn’t going to get any higher than 49 or 51, is it?”
“I guess not. 49 to 51 it is. Well, thanks for your help, Deputy, perhaps if you need a coffee one night this week you might come over my way?”
“That’s real kind of you, Mr. Palmer. I might just do that.”
I drove home, dumped this morning’s sandwiches in the garbage, and found Nat sitting on the couch staring into the distance. I sat next to him and put my arm around his shoulders.
“Are you okay, Son?”
“I will be, Dad. I’m just real conflicted; I should be devastated by Mom’s death and Zeb being in the hospital, but it’s clear that they were doing something that they didn’t ought to be doing, so I guess my emotions are kind of on hold?”
“I know, Nat. That’s pretty much how I feel; when I pulled their underwear out of their purses, I felt like I’d been kicked in the nuts. I can only think of one reason for them doing that with another man in the car, and it’s killing me.”
He squeezed my hand.
“I’m so sorry, Dad.”
“We’ll get over it. Are you ready to eat something more? I know I don’t feel like food, but we need the nourishment. Why don’t you call for a pizza?”
The pizza went down okay; the empty box went into the trash. I swilled down the rest of my soda.
“Nat, I need to go out for a while. If I’m not back by the time you want to go to bed, just leave the kitchen light on for me, please.”
I’d debated taking Nat with me, but I reckoned at sixteen he was too young to risk being caught burglarizing the home of a recently dead man. The judge might take extra exception to those circumstances and ignore my reasons. That was a risk I had to take, but I wasn’t going to involve my son. I left him channel hopping and set off at nine, with gloves, flashlight and a roll of garbage sacks in case I found anything to bring back. He didn’t ask where I was going, I didn’t tell.
4951 Lake Road was easy enough to find, even in the dark. It was the first turning on the block, and the numbers on the mailbox stood out clearly in my headlights. I pulled into the long drive, and parked up in front of the garage. There were no lights visible once I’d doused the trucks headlamps and I sat for a while and listened. Pulling on my gloves, I knocked at the front door; there was no sound from inside, so no dog. Taking the flashlight, I carefully walked round the side and examined the back. Still no lights.
The door was closed but not locked. Taking care to move quietly, and checking that I was indeed entering an empty house, I made my way inside.
Jesus! The bedroom was set up like a film studio. There were four or five flood lights on stands, and three HD cameras on tripods, with a fourth lying on a cheap office desk against the wall. The queen sized bed was the focus of the lights and camera; it took no imagination on my part to realize what had been going on in here. There were thick drapes over the window, adding to the sense of furtiveness. That suited me. I switched on the room light so as to see better than with my flashlight.
I carefully opened the closet; the base was stacked with boxes of DVDs and mailing sacks, the shelves lined with nearly a hundred more DVDs, these ones labeled. I ran my eyes over them; they were in alphabetical order; maybe fifteen different names.
Shit! There were a dozen marked ‘Donna’, three ‘Donna and Zeb’, and six ‘Zeb’.
I pulled one out to look at it. It had a paper label gummed to the back reading ‘Donna 2017-04-11 oral doggie cowgirl’. Jeez, this had been going on for more than a fricking year!
I bagged up all of ours, and then on an afterthought bagged up all the other labeled DVDs – they probably featured other people’s wives and/or daughters, and I reckoned that I should save the families the pain of being visited by CPS. The Larry Aikman guy was dead, at this very moment he was lying cold in the morgue right next to my dear departed wife. No-one else was going to clear up this mess without the law being officially involved.
Then I went thru the drawers of the desk. In the top right hand one there was a security-type key. I knew enough that where there is a key, there is normally a lock. I assumed it was in this room, and started looking. It took me a few minutes, but shifting a chair in the corner of the room showed me a mark on the wall where the carpet had been pulled up, and there was a square panel with a floor safe underneath.
Holy fucking shit!
I left the bags of pills and powders right where they were, but the cash went into a triple-thickness of two garbage sacks inside a third, and I tied the top very carefully.
I took the lights and cameras as well as the editing suite; the Deputy had given me a strong hint that it would be better all round if there was no obvious evidence left of what had been going on. I went through the rest of the house, but there was nothing more of any interest to me. Just as well; the bed of my truck was pretty full when I stretched the tarp over the top. On a whim, I emptied the mailbox as I left. There must have been two dozen letters in there, none of them official.
I drove home carefully; this was not a time to be stopped. Luckily the police were probably in their usual Saturday night places closer to the bars to pick up the drunk drivers before they got very far.
I slept until ten the next morning. Then I showered, dressed, and went into the garage to check on the truck. It was still locked up, and the bags were all safe. I went back into the kitchen and put on the coffee machine. The noise and the aroma brought Nat out of his bedroom.
“Dad, I heard you come back in early this morning. Where’d you go?”
“Nat, please understand that I can’t tell you that just yet, but I will do, I promise. I did get myself a name for the guy who was driving them, Larry Aikman. Mean anything to you?”
“No, can’t say I do. Where’d he live?”
“Out Silverton way.”
“Nah, can’t remember hearing that either.”
“Okay. Now, we dropped everything at the cabin yesterday when we left in a hurry, so we’d better go tidy up once we’ve had a bite to eat. Scrambled eggs do you?”
I moved a few things out of the truck bed and into my workshop before we set off; it was better that Nat saw as little as possible. We had indeed dropped everything where it was in our rush to get to the hospital; the tools all needed wiping down from the dew, and we finished storing the shutters in the small barn next to the cabin.
We stopped in at the hospital on our way home; once again Zeb was asleep so I just peeked in and asked the nurses to tell her that we’d visited, and that I’d be back in the evening, and this time I would wake her so she could talk to me.
I picked myself a beer out of the cooler, and then I pulled out a second one. Nat deserved to be treated as an adult now. He nodded as I passed him his beer; he already looked a couple of years older than he had the previous morning. Losing your Mom again at the age of sixteen hits you hard; though finding out you’ve been fooled by her hits even harder when you’ve been married for eight years.
“Right, son, we need to work out where we are. There’s been a whole lot going on that neither of us knew anything about, so we gotta find out who DID know. Let’s start with your Mom’s stuff.”
I nodded. That attitude wasn’t the worst way for him to handle the loss of the woman who had been my wife since he was eight. Yeah, she’d been his mother for eight years, but the manner of her passing kinda put the good bits into the shadow. I could live with that mindset, there were much worse terms he could be using. Some of them had been going through my mind ever since I’d opened the closet and seen the DVD labels. Skank was my current favorite, even though I knew it was totally inadequate for the depth and length of her betrayal of her marriage vows.
“Right, your step-mother’s stuff. First priority is to find out what they were up to, second is to gather it all up for disposal. I shan’t be keeping anything out of sentiment. Let’s do her closet first.”
I’d learned from the spreadsheet on Donna’s tablet that Larry Aikman had paid her a total of something near twenty grand in cash for her and Zeb’s film roles. I’d found fifteen hundred in Zeb’s underwear draw, just had to locate the rest. I checked all the pockets of the clothes as we piled them into more garbage sacks to go to Goodwill, finding nothing, but at the back of the closet, an old-fashioned ladies overnight case was crammed with notes. Luckily Nat was carrying bags to the garage at the time I opened it, so he didn’t know, and couldn’t tell. I put it away under my bed for later.
That task completed, I took a look at Zeb’s tablet. Pretty similar to her mother’s browsing history; at least she had looked at a couple of high school websites, so she’d done some thinking about her long term future.
Nat and I went for pizza delivery again. At his age he could have stuffed his face with pizza every day of the year without complaint; I did it for the convenience. We decided to leave emptying Donna’s draw stack until later.
While we were eating, I remembered to tell him that I was going to lie to Zeb about the purses and phones; he agreed to keep to the story.
Seven o’clock, I drove over to the hospital.
This time, Zeb was awake. She was no longer on the IV; she’d had a meal and looked a whole lot better than she had twenty-four hours earlier. Her hair had been brushed and she was wearing her own night-shirt that I’d taken in the evening before.
Her personal priorities were real informative.
She started on my case straight away, almost before I’d gotten from the door to the side of her hospital bed to ask how she was doing. I hadn’t even started on how sorry I was that she’d lost her Mom.
“Dad, I need a new phone. Mine got lost in the accident.”
“It’s on my list of things to do, honey. You’ll have to use the landline until then.”
“But all my contacts were stored on my phone! I’ll need to get the network to reload them. And, Dad, my purse went missing too; I haven’t got any money.”
“Tell me what you need, and I’ll drop it over for you in the morning. You’ll need some more clothes too, I guess they had to cut your old ones off because of the blood.”
She hesitated. Guess she didn’t want me looking in her draws, in case I came across the dildo, vibrator, lube and the small bag of weed that had been concealed at the back of her underwear draw. Nor the small clutch with fifteen hundred bucks folded into it. That little collection of items had got in my face to shout out loud at me that Zeb wasn’t my sweet young daughter any longer. I knew exactly how she’d come by that much cash – and it sure wasn’t by saving the odd nickel and dime out of her weekly allowance.
“There’s a pile of clean washing that hasn’t yet been put back in your closet; I’ll bring some of that; I’m more likely to get a matching outfit for you than if I pick from your draws.”
“Make it jeans and sweatshirts, Dad, you can’t go too wrong there. And a pair of trainers; they’re probably under my desk.”
“Okay, Zeb, I’ll do that. I’ll bring them in tomorrow afternoon.”
“Mom would have brought them in already!”
I bit back the retort that came to mind. Sounded like the bitch was back.
“Zeb, honey, I know that you were closer to your Mom than I would ever be. I’m truly sorry that she’s passed. I can’t imagine how you must be feeling. Now she’s gone, I’m going to have to take on some of her duties, and so are you. I’ll do my best for you if you’ll do yours for me. You’ve been asleep because of your injuries every time I’ve been here, and I can’t read your mind. That’s why I didn’t know what clothes to bring you.”
“Well, duh! You’ve seen me every day for years, you know what I wear!”
She was trying to irritate me. I didn’t hang around long enough for it to hurt.
“I’ll get you something and bring it in tomorrow. I’ll be off now.”
She did look shocked as I turned to close the door behind me. Before Saturday, I’d have sweet-talked her out of her snit; now I’d simply walked. She wouldn’t know how to handle that.
I headed home.
When Nat had gone to bed, I briefly looked at three of the DVDs I’d picked out. They made me nauseous. In the first, Donna was having noisy sex with a guy, then the two of them together were in a 69 in a lesbian scene, and the last one, of Zeb sucking and being fucked, had me retching over the waste bin. There was now no doubt; my wife and daughter had been starring in porn movies. And I’d had no idea, no fucking idea at all.
I guess seeing the daughter I’d tended and nurtured ever since she was nine fucking some guy on camera finally killed off the last remaining bit of love I felt for her; my feelings for her had been on life support since I’d confirmed that she too had been researching Tulsa, and that she was up to her eyeballs in Donna’s scheme.
When my stomach stopped heaving at me, I got out the envelopes I’d taken from the mailbox and opened them up. I guess that was probably a Federal crime to add to my other felonies, but hey, that was the least of my worries. They all contained a filled in order-form for one or more DVDs, and multiples of $25 in cash. That explained the large amount of cash I’d found; Aikman was running a small scale operation and was trying to keep off the Internet.
I policed up all the envelopes and other paper so Nat wouldn’t see them; when I collected the DVDs to put them safely away, I got another body-blow. One of the DVD labels read ‘Donna 2017-12-22 oral missionary anal’. I got pissed – we’d tried anal when we first got together, eight years ago now, and Donna had whined that it was too painful, so I hadn’t asked for it again. It looked like she was happy enough to be butt-fucked when she was whoring, but not by her husband. I couldn’t decide whether or not to check the accuracy of the label; curiosity won out and I looked at the disc. I saw enough to be sure, and then ejected it. Not content with cheating and hanging horns on me, she’d been giving away something that she’d denied to me.
I didn’t sleep at all well.
Monday, once I’d called the high school first thing and signed both kids out for the week, I started on the legal stuff arising from Donna being killed.
The coroner had no doubts about the cause of death, so was releasing the body to the funeral home. The hospital had a death certificate ready for me; I got them to make me four notarized copies that I could use. Next up was calling our attorney to make an appointment, then to the bank to take our stuff out of the deposit box and inform them of Donna’s death. Next I called the insurance broker; he would need a death certificate and a copy of the police report, and then he’d get on with processing the claim. With the two kids approaching college age, Donna and I had both opted for double indemnity payouts for accidental death. That would be a useful chunk of money. I did wonder if she’d been hoping to collect on my policy, rather than the other way round.
There was one bright spot in all of this.
Being Donna’s lawfully married husband, I mean widower, and Zeb still being a minor, meant that I was pretty much Donna’s sole legatee – I was going to get everything, rather than being screwed for more than half my hard-won assets by some shyster lawyer in our rotten divorce courts.
Or, as I discovered when I opened a ‘to do’ document on my wife’s tablet, being taken for pretty much the whole of my net worth by a scheming bitch who had access to all our accounts and to the deposit box at the bank. Jesus H. Christ! Could she really have remortgaged the house by forging my signature? I guessed that it was quite possible; she had access to all the original paperwork.
I kept on reading.
Bingo! There was a second name and the same cell number as “BL”. Byron Logan was the guy I needed to be looking for.
The afternoon, Nat and I both went to the hospital. I managed to persuade the doc to hold Zeb until Wednesday, and then we visited with Zeb. She whined some more at still being there, I explained that with having to make all the arrangements about her mother, we weren’t in a position to care for her properly. She was pleased that we took her in some clothes – not that she let us think that we had chosen a wearable combination. She didn’t jump at my offer to come back in the evening, so I told her that we’d see her next afternoon, and to get the nurses to call me if she needed anything more. She mouthed off that she needed her phone; I told her again that her stuff seemed to have gone missing in the smash.
The evening Nat and I spent sorting through the rest of Donna’s stuff from her draws and bagging up her clothes for disposal. There were several items of lingerie that I’d never seen; we also found almost a thousand dollars squirreled away in one of Donna’s old purses in Zebedee’s closet. My mother’s jewelry was in Donna’s make-up bag; I locked that up in my gun safe too.
Tuesday morning I rented myself a small secure storage unit. Most of Donna’s personal stuff and the things that I didn’t want Zeb to have access to went in there; I didn’t want to take anything to Goodwill until I’d carefully checked it over again. The stash also included a few garbage sacks of blank DVDs, and a pile of other items that a guy might need if he was going to set up a small movie studio. I’d have to find a home for them, but at least they were now out of the way, and Nat hadn’t seen them. I used the privacy of the unit to count the cash; there had been six grand in Donna’s shoe box, and more than thirty grand from Aikman’s floor safe, plus another seven-fifty from the envelopes, and almost a grand from the closet. Jeez, I’d never seen so much cash in one place in my life.
Then I went over to the funeral home. The guy was keen to part me from as much money as he could, and it wasn’t long before I got tired of him offering extras, at extra cost.
“Okay, here’s why I’m not going for the frills. She was killed while she was out trampling all over her marriage vows, with a guy I knew nothing about, riding in his car with her panties and bra in her purse. So, I want a plain box, closed casket, no funeral cars, no death notice, and no headstone. Funeral as soon as you can do it. Do you get that now? Think like you’re burying a Jane Doe on the County’s dime.”
He didn’t like it, but he finally got it. I did have to agree to a small flower arrangement on the coffin from the three of us, as it would have looked real strange without something of a symbol of grief. Oh, and I made him hand over Donna’s wedding ring. He wanted a receipt, which was fine. I wasn’t having her wearing my ring in her grave. He asked me if I wanted to visit her; he got a straight “No!” back.