Susan was trying to clean the teeth of a man who hadn’t seen a dentist before in his life. His employer had recently begun health insurance and the man decided to give it a whirl, in his words. To Susan it looked like the ground of a training video for bad hygiene and even worse, the man had eaten breakfast right before he arrived. She desperately wanted to push this one off on one of the other girls but they were busy. Sissy Bell came in with the look of dread in her eyes and whispered, “There’s someone here to see you. I’ll take over” and Susan knew it had begun. She stepped out of the room and saw two men speaking with the receptionist, Cathy. Cat looked nervous as a… And Susan suppressed a smile. Okay then, let’s go. “I’m Susan DeMurrey,” she told them. “You are?”
Susan sat with her hands in her lap and nodded when they asked questions. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Marcel had been lowering the price of real estate deals and taking cash kickbacks for it. Just as the Feds were about to close in Marcel had taken the money and ran. The texts, the photos, the emails, all of that, just as she knew it would, were stacked on the table neatly and she knew those photos just might hit the Internet one day, but underneath all the horror and shock of that knowledge there was the underlining desire to scream in celebration. There was a very good reason Marcel was missing. He had stolen a lot of money. And he had made some bad loans at the bank as well. The appraiser, cute little Jenny Echols, had been arrested already. Marcel must have been tipped off and hit the road. Susan was told as long as she helped with the investigation that she could be assured none of the information they collected would ever be released to the public. Susan was back at work in an hour and a half. Marcel was on the run. Susan stepped into the broom closet and cried tears of relief.
Larry arrived at work and he too, was greeted by Federal agents. The body of Floyd Carpenter had been found and they wanted to know how a seven year old girl could have known about it. They grilled Larry for a couple of hours on all aspects of his interactions with Fuller but Larry only knew what he had been told. They played chess and they talked about execution and death. Surely, Larry asked them, his conversations with Fuller were being recorded. Larry looked from one man to the other and realized what Fuller had told him was true; they weren’t recording the conversations. Larry fought against the urge to lean back and smile. They didn’t know anything that mattered and he didn’t know anything at all. They peppered Larry with questions for another hour but Larry couldn’t tell them anything. They told him his interactions with Fuller were going to be suspended until further notice and that was just fine with Larry.
Larry bought two bottles of wine on the way home and when he arrived he discovered that Susan had bought a case. The hugged hard and didn’t speak, didn’t dare speak, and Larry carried her to the bed. Later, as the candles burned low and they watched the news reports of the body of Floyd Carpenter being discovered, Susan finally spoke, and broke the spell.
“Okay, I need to know if you’re going to leave me.” Susan said. “If you are, let’s not do this anymore. I still love you, Larry. I love you more right now than I ever have before and if what I’ve done is something unforgivable just tell me now.” Susan held her breath and waited. She could feel her heart beating and she knew she had no right to ask him to stay.
“I love you, Susan. I want to stay.” Larry replied and he was surprised she had asked. “Look, I know we’ve got problems, even beyond what’s happened, but we can work this out. I know you believe in therapy and all that stuff, so if you want to go, just tell me and I’ll go. We’ve been together since High School. Let’s stay together now, okay?”
They both would remember that night as the best night of their lives to that point.
The next morning Larry drove to work and got behind a slow moving concrete truck. The never-ending rain caused the truck to pick up more water from the road than usual and Larry had to back off even further than he would have liked. When the truck turned off of the main highway Larry caught his breath. Were they working on the bridge? Larry knew he shouldn’t, knew better than to do it, but he followed the truck off the road and then he took one of the side roads that ran next to the river. The water was high and Larry knew if he got stuck it would be very bad. But from where he parked he could see the concrete truck backing up, its chute extended, and it was pouring concrete into one of the pilings.
Once at work, Larry chatted about the body of Floyd Carpenter being found and everyone wanted to know how Fuller had known. Larry didn’t know and didn’t care. They had separated Fuller from his reality and Larry was happy.
“Hey Larry,” one of the Feds asked, “I hear one of your local bankers skipped town with a truck load of cash.”
“Can’t trust’em” Larry replied. “The rich get richer.”
“Did you hear he bought a bus ticket to Mexico?” the agent said. “Yeah, he had planned this thing out pretty good. Used a black internet account to buy it and we have no idea when the bus left for which one it was.”
“You can still get him, can’t you?” Larry tried to sound hopeful.
“Yeah, but who knows how much cash he took with him, you know?”
Larry agreed and left the breakroom even happier than before.
“DeMurrey,” it was Warden Deen. He was waiting for Larry at the last door before Death Row, “if you have a few moments we would like to speak with you.”
Larry had never been in the Warden’s office and the Warden had never spoken to him before. Deen was a thin faced and humorless man whose office was filled with photos of condemned men. That’s creepy, Larry thought, but he didn’t say anything.
“Christa Marie Fuller is a monster on an order of magnitude that very few people ever witness as closely as you have, DeMurrey, and still live to speak of it.” Deen said. “We appreciate the fact that you managed to impress her enough so that she shed light on a murder nearly twenty years old.”
“You’re welcome.” Larry said and one of the agents in the room chuckled.
“She wants to interact with you on a more regular basis.” Deen told him. “She’s offered to give you the names and locations of victims we don’t know about yet. But I think you ought to know something up front about this.”
“Yes sir?” Larry swallowed hard. He didn’t like the way this sounded.
“The first thing is that Fuller was in the first grade, and she lived in Kentucky, and Carpenter was murdered in California.” Deen said. “We cannot find any connection between that woman and that murder.”
“Somebody had to tell her then.” Larry said but he didn’t believe it.
“We would like to know too,” Deen said, “if you can get it out of her. But she has a second condition.
“Yes sir?” Larry saw one of the agents was grinning at him.
“She wants these visits to be conjugal.”
“The turnkeys told you of my demands, Larry?” Christa sat in an overstuffed chair that had recently and quite rapidly been brought to her cell. “The expression on your face right now is truly priceless.”
“Why me?” Larry asked. His palms were sweating. “I mean, all along, why me, why pick me out of the crowd?”
“Why not you, Larry?” Christa laughed. “You have more to lose right now than anyone else outside this cell and in uniform, that’s true isn’t it?” She unzipped her jumpsuit and Larry wondered if she planned to take him right here in the cell. “I see a well made of steel, a body hurtling down to the bottom with sand, then rocks, and finally mud poured down upon it. I see a river with a gun rushing to meet its reflection. I see a hole in a wooden floor. I see a lot of things Larry, and you want to keep what you have. But I’ll make you a deal; if she says no I’ll find someone else and I’ll keep your secrets. But if you say yes then I will tell you were a dead man hid more money than you’ll ever be able to spend in your lifetime.” Fuller zipped her jumpsuit up very slowly and Larry realized she had caught him looking. “Go ask permission to stray, Larry”
“She wants what?” Susan’s voice was a lot calmer than Larry expected and that frightened him even more than if she had exploded. Susan sat across from the table from Larry with her hands folded in front of her. “So what if she sees a steel well? So what if she sees a gun in the water? So what if she see a hole in the floor? Everybody thinks Marcel is on the run. You think they’ll believer her if she starts talking about steel wells and reflections?”
“Susan,” Larry began, hesitated, and then began again, “remember, it was Christa who told me you were cheating on me.”
“Oh, yeah, you were going to tell me about that.” Susan wondered why they both had avoided the subject.
“She told me to go home.” Larry replied. “She told me to go home and do what any man would do. Christa told me to go home in the dark and I would see what she saw.” Larry paused for a few seconds. “It isn’t what she says sometimes it’s the way that she says it. Carpenter was buried in an open field ten miles from anywhere and two thousand miles from where she was. Yet she was able to describe the place in enough detail they found the body in a few hours. She claims to know where other people are buried, people she ether had killed or people she killed herself. I can stall her, we can stall her, but I’m telling you right now, the next time she pinpoints a twenty year old murder we’re going to have to talk about what that means.”
“You really believe this, don’t you?” Susan finally said after moments of silence.
“She hasn’t been wrong yet.” Larry replied. “And there’s something more.”
“More?” Susan rolled her eyes. “Let me guess, she wants to make a sex tape?”
“Christa told me she would tell us where Marcel hid the money.” Larry told her. “I think she knows where it is.”
“So you’re a Death Row sex toy and a prostitute?” Susan asked. “Larry, this is insane.”
“She knew about you and Marcel.” Larry replied evenly. “And she knew where Carpenter was buried. And you have to admit that her description of where the gun is and where the body is matches pretty well. What are you going to think if she tells them where another body is buried?”
“The same thing I’m thinking now, Larry,” Susan stood up and paced. “IF what you are saying is true, and IF she really has some sort of psychic powers, I can’t believe she’s telling deep dark secrets just for a roll in the hay before they put her down.” Susan stopped pacing. “Larry, this woman wants a little more than just sex. That’s the hook to get you in her bed. That chick is looking for something and she’s using you to find it.”
“Whoa” Larry said.
Susan’s phone rang and she started to turn the ringer off but answered it and gave Larry a wide eyed look. “Hello?” Susan said. “Yes. Really! Well that’s interesting. Hey, Cat, let me call you back later, Larry’s got to go to work in a few, okay?” Susan sat down beside Larry and grinned. “Marcel’s car just turned up at Myrtle Beach. They got a video of him abandoning it at a cheap hotel.”
Larry drove through the rain as it pounded down as if it was targeting his truck. He wondered if Susan would know if he didn’t tell her? But did Christa want if sex wasn’t all she wanted? Why him? What did he had to offer her that no one else did? That thought ran through Larry’s mind all the way to work and all the way into Christa’s cell, where she was waiting for him.
“Odd, isn’t it, Larry,” Christa began, “all the excuses she had to slip into the darkness with another man can be used to allow you to slip into the darkness with me. There’s only one real reason two people ever mate with one another and that’s because they want to do it. There may or may not be reason enough to push them towards it or away from it, but in the end, two people with an attraction are going to consider the possibilities and if there isn’t enough pushing those two away they’re going to join. What you’re waiting for now, Larry, is a good enough excuse, some reason to throw reason out into the rain. She’s intrigued by all this, you know that don’t you? So little, so very little, pushed her into the darkness with another man, yet there is so much here for you to experience and she’s so much against it. She isn’t against it because of religious reasons or ethics but because now she wants you to stay. You will, of course, but that doesn’t mean you’ll say no to me.”
“I still don’t know why you chose me.” Larry said. He could feel his blood in his veins. Christa was sitting in the chair with her legs tucked under like a cat and Larry wondered how long it had been since a man had touched this woman and lived to tell about it.
“I chose you because you were the one I could bring here.” Christa said. “I saw everything I needed to see. Honestly, my vision is never truly as clear at one time as it is the other. I thought you would kill her. I thought you’d need me more at this point than you do, but there’s still that bullet resting on the road, that thing I didn’t see until it got here, and there is still enough money hidden in a new place to make you and that woman happy forever.” Christa paused. “But Larry, what are you going to do if I get undressed right now? Are you going to turn around and close your eyes? The men in the upper floor of this building want to put a camera and a microphone in here but they fear losing anything I tell you. They fear me because I am a woman who kills and kills men and wrecks their lives. But you do not fear me.”
“No” Larry said and he licked his lips.
“Then go tell those men I can tell you where the remains of Robert Jenkins are.” Christa said. “And tell them I want everyone prisoner in solitary removed. There are seventeen cells in that wing. I want them all for myself, and for you. But before you go you’ll beg me to see. You’ll beg me for the truth. You’ll toss away all doubt and all uncertainty. You will enter the darkness with me, Larry, and you will do it willingly. ”
“No” Larry said and Christa laughed at him. Larry went to her.
“Do you actually enjoy sex?” Larry blurted this out before he realized he had thought it. Christa lay on her back by his side and Larry had been watching her breathe. Her skin reacted to his touch; gooseflesh appeared on her breasts when he touched her neck and her legs parted slightly when he ran his hand down the length of her body. Yet Christa used sex to lure men closer to her, and Larry wondered how much of what they did was to lure him close to some end he could not control or predict.
“Yes” Christa answered after a moment. “I enjoy it a great deal. For different reasons, depending on the lover, but with you, yes, it’s a starkly physical thing. With the men I have killed it is very much like playing chess, arranging the pieces no pun intended, and setting the trap with a bait they will come back to even as they sense the danger.” Christa stood up and stood over Larry and he gazed up at her wondering how men came to be so blinded by this woman as to be killed by her. But he had to admit she was thorough. Christa put a lot of effort into pleasing him and he could see getting lost in that effort.
“Alfred Robinson was a man well placed in the church and I knew by the way she shook hands with me he was looking for something that no Godly man would ever seek. I knew he would try, and I knew if I turned him down he would have to keep trying, and I knew if I started with him I could stop and he would give me anything, and everything to start again. I flirted with a friend of his, a politician, a man named Robert Jenkins. At first their friendship, and their need to promote Jenkins’ ascension to power, kept me as sort of a side bet, an interesting competition that either could lose and neither would destroy their work to avenge. They had other men around them who were watching, waiting, and both had other competitors for other parts of their power and I was seen as women like me are always seen as; property to be used, borrowed, enjoyed, but ultimately cast aside or destroyed. Marilyn discovered this far too late, and used the power she held to no affect at all. Had she simply told the President of the United States that she wouldn’t ever see him again she would have been able to print money with her picture on it and spend it anywhere. But she gave into to him to the point he was careless and his power meant more than her body. I cut them both off at the same time and I blamed my love for the other man to each.
Jenkins was going to be the next Senator from California and there were many men with much money who wanted to see that happen. Alfred knew this and he was beholding to some of the same men for his power inside of the church. When tensions between the two reached a boiling point there was a meeting set up to focus both of them on the long term goals of the moneyed. There were those who saw the tax exempt status of the church as a way to hide their real estate holdings and there were those who saw Jenkins as friendly to this endeavor but it would take teamwork for this to happen and no one wanted a piece of ass to get in the way.
It was at this point in my life I started paying attention to the details of my dreams at night. I also began surrendering my time to my daydreams which were getting stronger and stronger. I could tell when a man would call. I could tell what he wanted before he asked for it. I could see the thoughts of those who would use me and I could suddenly see quite clearly that Alfred mean to be Jenkins’ alibi when I was given an overdose of drugs and dragged into the sea to drown. But even in this they both sought to gain position over those around them. This was their wedding vows; the event that would bind them together forever. My death was the ways and means for the two to become one for they would each be culpable. Alfred told his people, as Jenkins told his own, that they would handle the problematic whore and the deal would be sealed.
The three of us were sunning on a private beach, one of the church members owned the property and there was no way to get there except by boat. After my death, they were going to dump me off near a much more public swimming area and my body would wash up and be found by people not even remotely connected to either church or state. Robert Jenkins, for all his bright smiles and shrewd ability to handle people, had no idea how to kill someone, even someone who would be drugged beyond the ability to fight back, and Alfred was, deep down inside, a coward. Neither could do more than to offer to get me drunk and they both waited for the other to spike my drink. After a couple of hours of flirting shamelessly with both men and both of them were beginning to wonder what it would be like to share me, I walked over to where Robert Jenkins was laying on a bright white blanket in the sand and I put a razor to his throat. He knew I mean to kill him and he turned on all of his charms and his smile and he spoke to me in a voice meant to have the pope himself kneeling but the look in his eyes told me he knew. I pressed down and pulled the blade across his jugular vein and blood leapt from his body as if had been waiting all these years to finally escape.
Alfred, poor Alfred! He was so totally shaken by the event. As Robert Jenkins lay with his blood evacuating his body, and Larry the man never moved, Alfred ran back and forth from the ice chest to the blanket yammering as if even his voice couldn’t believe what he was seeing. I watched the realization in Robert’s eyes go from, ‘She is going to kill me,’ to ‘I am going to die’ a very subtle yet very intense difference in emotion. Then the light in his eyes faded and he stared at the sun without blinking. I dropped the razor and waded out into the clear water of the Pacific and the blood stained red the waves. That was the first time I could see very clearly how the future would come to me. I knew Alfred would bury the body where it lay and I knew he would kill himself rather than admit he had failed so utterly and had lost so much. I knew that too many man had their plans wrecked by what lie between my legs to simply let go. They would come after me now and now I realized that the men I had killed in the past would come back to haunt me, but really, Larry, no one who kills truly believes that the future ends in peace. The question was if I could or would kill again, and give them something to pin on me that they could turn into an execution. Besides, I saw it almost as a dare. I already knew who to kill and how to kill, if I really wanted them to lose sleep at night.
But the private beach, Larry, it was once owned by Sherman Dawn, back five years ago when Jenkins bled out. There was an old lighthouse, nothing but the steps remained, really, and if you draw a straight line from the middle of those steps about fifty feet or so, Robert will be there waiting, under about five feet of sand.”