Saturday, October 31, 2015

Christa: The Dam Breaks

Larry stood in the rain in the parking lot of the prison and stared at the sky. Raindrops caused him to blink and Larry wondered how long it had been since he had seen the sun. He looked down, cleared his vision and noticed a plant growing near the fence. How long had it been there? He walked past this spot every day and he never noticed it before. It was nearly a foot tall and looked like an alien tree of some sort for it had a blood red stalk and its limbs were red as well. What kind of plant was it? Larry found it odd that he would choose this moment to notice something, a weed, that had always been there. Larry felt an odd tingling moving across his skin like a tiny sailing ship cris-crossing an ocean. He glanced skyward once more and hurried home.

Susan came home to find the case of wine in the sink, all the bottles uncorked, all the wine drained and gone. She stood looking at the emptiness of the bottles and wondered if Larry had snapped and gone off the deep end.
“Baby?” She called out and she wandered into the living room where Larry was sitting on the floor with his back against the sofa.
“We’ve got to stop drinking so much, Susan.” Larry said as if she had asked. “Things are about to get a lot stranger than we ever imagined. We’re either going to ride this thing to the end and get rich doing it or we’re going down. I think we need to stay sober from this point on.”
“Baby, are you okay?” Susan slid down beside him and took his hand. “What did she do to you?”
“She told me where Robert Jenkins was buried and how he was killed.” Larry said without looking at her. “I wrote it all down. Every word of it.”
“Who the hell is Robert Jenkins?” Susan asked and then remembered. A rising star of a politician who had disappeared without a trace after getting involved with one of Christa Fuller’s boyfriends, who had blown his brains out on the steps of the family’s church. It was the case that got Fuller the undivided attention of the FBI. “Oh god, Larry, you picked a hell of a time to stop drinking.”
“She told me every detail of how we hid the body.” Larry replied. “And then she told me where Marcel hid the money he stole. You aren’t going to believe how easy it is for us to get the money, Sue. It’s ours for the losing. And you were right; Christa doesn’t just want sex. She wants out. She has a plan. If I help her, if we help her, then she’ll leave us and the money in peace. If we don’t help her then she’s going to tell everyone who will listen about what happened.” Larry stopped speaking and put his hands over his face. “We don’t have a choice anymore.”
“The hell we don’t!” Susan snapped. “The hell we’re going to help that bitch get out! What do you think she’s going to do when she’s back in the wild? Take up knitting? Larry she’s killed or had killed a half dozen men, that we know about, and who knows what else she’s done? I say we let her say whatever she wants to say. Who is going to believe her at this point? Marcel’s car has turned up in South Carolina! I have no idea how it got there but you can bet your ass we can prove we had nothing to do with it. Screw the money and screw her too!” Susan stopped talking suddenly. “I didn’t mean that last part, literally.”
“Baby, I love you,” Larry said softly, “and you know I will always do what is right for us, right?”
“Yes,” Susan straddled Larry and hugged him hard.
“You’re pregnant with my son.” Larry told her.

Two minutes, Susan thought, what was two minutes? It was one hundred and twenty seconds. It was the time it took for toast. It was how long that damn red light at the corner of Main Street and Liberty to change when she was running late. Susan had peed on the plastic white stick with two windows on it and then handed it to Larry. “I’ll be in the bedroom, you know I can’t stand this sort of thing.” And then she waited. Two minutes. It had to be over by now. Two minutes had to have gone by. It had been an eternity. It has taken Larry two minutes to reach orgasm on their wedding night, if that, and two minutes now seemed like it would stretch out into the stars and moon and…
“You’re pregnant.” Larry said as he walked into the room.
“Take my clothes off of me and fuck me” Susan said. “Now.”
They lay sleeping together and Susan woke up first. Was Christa telling the truth? Susan put her hand on her belly and wondered why it would feel like when there was a life inside of her own. Whose life? She was just a week late, stress, she thought, and she tried to backtrack when she and Larry had last made love. There had been a party and they were both drunk as hell and she allowed him just to get him to stop trying. She was nearly unconscious at the time but it had still been better than nothing. That’s a hell of thing at conception, son, your father was better than nothing. Susan grinned. Murder had made Larry a better lover as well as a better husband. She wiggled her toes and wondered what sort of family life they would live. Christa had to be dealt with, of course, but they had survived killing Marcel, what was a prison break compared to that? Susan felt herself evolving, becoming someone else, and she welcomed the change. Whatever it took, whatever had to be done, it didn’t matter; she would raise her son with her husband and nothing was going to stand in the way of that goal.

The rain lashed the windshield and Larry wondered how long it could rain in Georgia before it all washed away. There was a tropical system sneaking its way across the Atlantic Basin and Larry wondered what it would mean to get a real storm when the low places were already filled with water. Larry resisted the urge, and resisted it often, to go down to the bridge and find out if the piling he had seen concrete being poured into was the same one with Marcel in it, or if they had filled them all. What if the river rose and the body floated out of the piling? But they had dumped a lot of dirt on top of Marcel. And those rocks. No, even of the water rose over the piling Marcel was staying put. Who the hell was it on that video in South Carolina? Larry wondered about that too. Larry wondered if Christa could see that, or if she had seen that, and he wondered what it would cost him to ask her.
Larry went into the wing where isolation was and the agent who had been in Deen’s office stopped him in the hallway “You know, DeMurrey,” the agent said, “it’s illegal for us to record anything that goes on down there in that hole.”
“Yes sir,” Larry replied. He didn’t like the man’s tone of voice or the smirk on his face.
“There’s a big difference between legal and illegal, but we don’t have to use what we find in court to find something we’ve been looking for.” And the agent grinned at him.
“You ever sit and wonder how she knew where Carpenter was buried?” Larry asked. “You ever wonder how a seven year old three thousand miles might have ever known that? You ever wonder if getting tangled up with this…” Larry paused as if searching for the right word, “…woman, might be the very worst thing you could ever do.” Larry took a step forward and put his face very close to that of the agent’s. “Because I think we’re both getting involved in way over our pay grades. The only difference is I don’t have a choice and I know what she is.”
Larry took a step back and grinned. “You already know more than she likes. Best of luck with that.”

Larry walked into the former solitary wing and could still feel the despair. The place reeked of hopelessness and was built, designed in fact, to be a metal grave for the human intellect. Here, time stood still for men, locked away alone without any light or any sensory input but what they created. They were fed once a day. There was a metal toilet in each cell that could be flushed twice a day when the water was cut on. There were no sinks, no showers, no bed, nothing but the toilet and the floor. The toilet flushing was the only sense of time the men here would have. The one meal was delivered at random times, sometimes not at all, to heighten the sense of isolation. “You have been forgotten” was the message that was to be understood and most of the men who had be housed here, no matter how hardened or how demented, began to believe it. The walls were unpainted steel with no way to mark them or alter them; no method could be used to mark time or the presence of the inmates there. Each cell had one recessed light which was turned on for twenty minutes a day. None of this was legal, of course, but none of this was ever reported by anyone other than the inmates and no one cared. Order was kept by the threat of this punishment and if an inmate knew something and the prison wanted that information they had but to place the man in the hole and sooner or later than information would come out even if the man didn’t come out sane. The guards took bets on how long it would take for anyone locked in to break and how much time any given prisoner could take. Larry hated himself for placing bets and hated himself for winning and he wondered if the men who had gone over the edge in this place had realized that there were other men who were drinking beer gained on their insanity.

Christa waited for him in her own cell which a reading light had been delivered and a cord ran from the guard room. A simple bed had been also delivered and Christa was reading a book, propped up on a pillow. Larry thought she could have been an actress, a model, some sort of celebrity, for there was an aura of elegance about her, as if she were a princess who would one day be a queen, and knew it. Larry looked down at the cord and wondered if giving her that sort of weapon was a mistake he would pay for.
“Larry, please,” Christa began, “don’t think such terrible thoughts. We have so little time left together I would rather you be optimistic.” She put the book down and turned off the light. The cell was totally black and Larry momentarily lost his balance in such darkness. “Please come over here and be with me,” she said. “I never realized there was such a creature as the fire ant until I discovered a nest of them in Texas. What they lack in size they make up, in a good fashion, with numbers and ferocity. People have been killed by these tiny insects and Southerners grow up hating them and fearing them yet no one has ever offered a solution to their infestation. One day I was out walking and I happened upon a rather small nest of them, a tiny mound of dirt that would have fit into a large man’s hands, and I kicked the very top of it over, just to see what they would do. I saw hundreds of eggs, none of them larger than a grain of rice, and the fire ants scurried about, looking for whoever had attacked their home and they also began taking their eggs back deeper into the mound. I wonder how they decide who takes the eggs back inside and who looks for the trespassers? I got down on my hands and knees, risking getting stung, to watch the process. It seemed that there were those who carried eggs and those who defended, but there didn’t seem to be any ambiguity. How do they know? How can they tell who is supposed to be doing what? Yet even with their incredibly primitive minds, if you could even call it that, they’ve craved out a niche in a foreign land and the natives flee before them. They kill and they reproduce mindlessly,” Christa paused and Larry could sense she was toying with him a little in the darkness, “no offense.”
“None taken”

“When I asked Lexi to kill for me I already knew he would.” Christa said. “I knew he would protest, that he would deny me, that he would stop speaking to me and threaten me, but I knew that the moment he started calling me again he was going to kill for me, and just the act of putting his hands on me again was a precept to putting his hands on her, the way I wanted his hands on me and the way that I wanted his hands on her, he knew that one meant the other.”
Larry stared into the total darkness of the cell and fell as if he were falling. He felt the wind whipping around him and felt as if all the sanity that has left all of the men who had stared into this same darkness was calling for his to join them. He felt Christa’s hands on him and he felt detached from the passion that rose within him. He felt as if she were small, so very small, so tiny, yet at the same time the smaller she seemed the more powerful she became. Larry fought against the allure of her touch but his muscles relaxed in his shoulders and just like someone watching a movie who had decided not to get absorbed in the storyline, Larry discovered that Christa was the consummate director. Everything she did was perfectly timed and Larry hoped, once that hoped was being drained out of him one drop of sweat at a time, that one day Susan could learn to put her hands on him the way that Christa did.
“You refused to kill for me, Larry,” Christa said in the darkness, “but Lexi did not refuse. Lexington was one of the greatest sculptors of the last century and I could have made him immortal. But he strayed. I knew he would stray if I didn’t keep watch but I decided to allow his toy decide her own fate. She was his model and she saw me as someone she could push aside. She was a body, sinew and muscle and bone and perfect, but she confused that with power. He had her sit in a chair, told her to be perfectly still, and she awaited with perfect discipline. Her chin was up, her breath stilled, and then she saw me walk in and she ignored me. I stood in front of her and she took no notice of me until I smiled at her and then there it was, that moment of realization. You were so close to it, Larry, but the mallet slammed into the back of her head just as the first moment of her body began. Lexington pounded her body to pulp and screamed in rage. But then he threw himself out of the window of his studio and fell twenty stories to his death.
Some people, Larry, no matter how they dress it up or how they explain it away, or how they disguise it, are still just insects waiting for some instinct to tell them what to do and when to do it and there is actually less reason in their lives than there would be found in a fire ant.” Larry felt her stand up and suddenly the reading lamp was a white hot sun. “I want you to go now.”

Larry drove home and wished for five minutes the rain would simply stop. Susan was there when he arrived and she looked as tired as he felt. They hugged, held one another without speaking, and suddenly, Larry felt as if his time with Christa was worse than the murder he had committed. His wife was pregnant, with his child, and he was selling their future off to a murderer as he enjoyed her flesh. He felt sick, violently sick, but held Susan closer, as if he could use her as a shield against what he had done and what he was going to do.
“Go take a shower.” Susan told him. “I’ve called for pizza.”

“Yeah, I’ll be right out.” But Larry soaked in the hot water that came out of the shower head until the water began to cool.

Larry found Susan curled up on the sofa eating pizza and drinking a diet soft drink. This was a sure sign that she wanted comfort food but wasn’t binging on it, even if she was. Larry knew to approach her cautiously. “How was work?” he asked.
“Bad.” Susan replied. “Hormones.”

“Is there anything I can say or do that won’t make it worse?” he asked with a smile.
“No” but Susan had to smile back at him.
Larry took a piece of pizza out of the box and Susan glared at him. They ate without speaking and Larry dared not reach for the remote. The television’s grey-white screen was as dead as the sky and Larry longed for color.
“How many people has she killed?” Susan asked suddenly.
“More than she’s told, more than we’ll ever know, maybe, I counted at least six, if you count the guys that commit suicide after having dealt with her.” Larry disliked the subject matter but knew better than try to divert Susan in this mood.
“How did she know where Carpenter was? She was seven. She was half a country away.” Susan picked a pepperoni off the pizza and held it out to Larry like a peace offering.
“Christa told me that during the time she was being raped by her step father on a regular basis she could tell when he was going to attack her and sometimes she could tell how. After she killed him she started paying more attention to her dreams and how she felt about things. She went out to California and when a guy tried to pimp her she rolled him up in the sheets of the bed and used a rope to tie him up, like a mummy. She took him out into the desert and camped out with him, sitting in the car with the ac running and watching him die. It’s an odd thing, Susan, how small and tiny she is, and yet she can move the bodies of men with ease. She uses ropes and rugs and all sorts of things I would never thing of using.”
“That’s because you’re a big man, Larry” Susan laughed. “We ladies have to use our heads.” 
“But she said by the second night the guy was dying, babbling, and suddenly she could feel his life beginning to leave his body. She said she began to see a lot of things, like a movie that was all around her and she saw Carpenter being killed and she saw where his body was.”
“You think that murdering other people gave her this ability?” Susan asked quietly. “I never thought of it.” Larry said honestly. “But if I had to guess I would say that when she killed someone she was really focused on what was happening around her. It’s got to bring a sense of awareness. She’s different, Sue, she was a very young fourteen when she started killing, and she never has known much of anything else. But I also think it’s kind of a death spiral. Like a toilet flushing.”
“Well, that’s poetic,” Susan had to laugh, “but what does it mean?”
“I think Christa see things more clearly when she’s recently killed but killing causes her to be hunted. Be hunted causes her to have to hide, which creates a darkness in her vision. The more she kills the more she see but the more she is hunted for it. Eventually, she was caught while hiding not caught while killing, and now that she’s in a box she can’t control it at all.”
“But she saw what happened here.”
“I think she can feed off of what other people experience.” Larry said slowly. “I’m not sure about any of this. We can be pretty certain she’s lying when she saying anything at all.”   They ate without speaking and Larry counted the number of pieces of pepperoni on the pizza before picking up another slice. Susan was prone to accusing him of getting the most populated pieces and he had to admit this was true, sometimes. There were four pieces left and he took the one with the second fewest bits of pepperoni. Susan smiled at him.
“You know, Susan, she’s never mentioned your name.” Larry said while chewing. “I don’t know if she knows your name. She told me she thought I was going to kill you. Her vision is imperfect or clouded sometimes.”
“Could we talk about something else?” Susan asked. “I don’t want to go to bed tonight with her on my mind or on yours.”

Susan slipped out of the bed, nearly fell again and silently cursed her inability to remember the new bed height. Falling was out of the question now, as well as drinking, and she had begun to train herself not to stress out as much as she usually did. She wanted to bathe her unborn son in waves of soothing emotions as much as she could, even if she knew she couldn’t do it all of the time, she still wanted to try. She went to the refrigerator where the remains of the pizza waited to kickstart her heartburn to a new level but Susan didn’t care. She felt ravenous even though she knew she was still only a few weeks pregnant, two months at the very most, but the idea of the condition had begun to consume her. She slipped out into the darkness of the yard and stood in the driveway and wanted to see stars but the rain was still falling. Again, she put her hand on her belly, and searched for signs of life. There had been some weight gain but Susan wanted to feel a kick or a push or anything. She hungered for that sign like she did odd cravings for food. The rain soaked her hair, made her nightgown cling to her skin, but she didn’t care. There was some primal about standing in the rain while pregnant. It was a primitive and terrifying experience to hold a life within her own and know how fragile that life was. Susan felt like a lioness and she felt incredibly isolated. There was a swirl of emotions and Susan drank them down, gulped them all in, savoring each new experience with each new wave of hormone driven thought. This was part of it. This was the beginning of motherhood. Susan planted her feet in the mud of the yard and braced herself against the wind and the rain and within her came a feeling that there was to be a battle, a battle from that moment on, that the world would try to make itself less hospitable for her child and Susan would not allow herself to lose that fight. Nothing would stand in her and nothing would dare. She would not drink wine or take her sleeping pills anymore. She would begin to eat better but the rest of the pizza was going to be devoured. That bitch in that box could be in league with the devil for all Susan cared but not even the greatest of all evils would harm her son. The wind picked up and the rain pounded Susan as she slipped off her nightclothes and stood naked against the weather. She clenched her fists and raised them into the air and from her mouth, her throat, and her soul, a sound came like no other she had ever made before. The forces of good and evil, darkness and light, those awake and asleep, those without the ability to hear and those that could, knew there was one alive who would fight to the death for her offspring. 
“Susan what the hell are you doing?” Larry shouted at her in the rain as he came outside.
Susan launched herself at him, wrapped her body around his, pulled him down onto the earth and bit his neck hard, and grabbed at his body as if it were a life raft in an ocean. There, in the rain and the wet earth, the two mated again, furiously, frantically, with more passion than either had known existed.

“My vision, Larry,” Christa told him at their next meeting, “rarely extends into the future, but when it does, it does so with exceptional clarity. That’s what started my path, the first time I picked up a knife and put it against the skin on the throat of a man, I had already foreseen it. I knew what it would feel like and what it would taste like and I knew how frantically he would try to stop the flow and I knew he would look at me at the moment he realized it was too late, and he knew he was going to die, and very soon, and I knew that look in his eyes would be unlike any look any man ever gives a woman. I knew I would kill again, and I knew that what I could give a man would be enough to tempt him into killing for me. That’s what drove my heart to beat and made my blood rush through my veins, Larry, is watching a man kill another man for me. You felt that. You handed her a gun and you were on the cusp of watching her become so indebted to you that she would never dare a free thought again in life, except that one of killing you. You were so very close, Larry, but you stepped back where I stepped forward. I wonder which one of us will die with the deepest regrets?”
“Are you sure you’re going to survive this?” Larry asked.
“Marginally.” Christa replied with a smile. “I will survive the initial breach. After that there is peril in every second for us both. If they find my body dressed in civilian clothing they will know it was you who helped me. You could go to prison.”
“But not as long as I could for murder.” Larry said.
“True,” Christa got up and began getting dressed, “but the time draws near. The dam at that park will collapse in a few minutes. This should be the last time we speak. Did you mail the letter as I asked you to?”
“I did,” Larry replied, “and you could tell if I was lying.”
“I will not tell you where I will go only that it will be very far away from you and your children and your wife.” Christa tied her shoes and sat back down. “Go now. Thank you, Larry.”
“I hope you drown,” Larry said “death is the only place you’ll ever find peace.”
“In less than half an hour you will know.”

Larry pushed the swing slowly, gently, and he knew if he pushed too hard Susan would glare at him. Little Timmy liked the speed of a fast push and would babble for more, as long as his mom wasn’t watching.
Susan watched from the kitchen window and she smiled at the way Larry liked to get away with little things with the baby. Baby? Tim was nearly two and growing like a weed. He would be a big man, like his daddy. Susan would never tell Larry about the DNA test she had ran, just to make sure, because to Larry it didn’t matter. Larry didn’t see himself in his son but only his mother’s beauty. Susan marveled at the idea that man could really love her that much. Was it time for another? Christa had said “children” and Susan now believed the woman’s sight. Half that damn prison had collapsed on top of her but no body had ever been found.
Christa had been right about the money too, Susan thought, but it was not time yet to dig it all up. It would keep, it would stay hidden, until the kids were old enough to move, and who knew, maybe they would never dig it up. Life was good, hard, but good, now. They had bought the house where Marcel had hidden his car because that was where Marcel had hidden the money. Christa was right about how easy it had been to lay claim to it. The back yard was belonged to them and therefore the money.  Susan look out of the window and wondered where that woman was. Susan hoped that at some point in time, Christa had been washed down the river, past the place where Marcel lay sleeping forever, and Susan hoped that was where she had drowned.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Christa: Blood and Sand.

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.”

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Christa: Before the Storm

Susan walked into the house and smelled salmon baking and there was, she had to pause at this sight, wine glasses on the table, real wine glasses, and there was a table cloth, too. Larry was busy at the counter looking at, and this was a sight she never thought she would see, Larry was bent over a cookbook while holding a cucumber in one hand and a knife in the other. The man looked like a culinary wizard trying to summon some Demon of the Dark Arts of Cooking. He heard her giggle and turned around.
“There are no recipes for salads in this cookbook” he said gravely and Susan had to laugh.

“It’s a Syrah,” Larry said, “which means it pairs well with salmon that has been broiled with a hint of I- left- it-in- about- a- minute- too- long.”  He poured the wine into one of the glasses and Susan held her breath. He did it. He didn’t pour it all the way to the top.
“Larry,” Susan paused just for a second to catch her breath again, “what are you doing up at this hour?”
“I’ve been transferred to first shift starting the day after tomorrow” Larry raised his glass. “And I’m also ten percent richer for it.”
“Wow!” Susan raised her glass to meet his. “What brought this on?”
“They found Carpenter.” Larry said and stopped smiling. “Right where she said he would be.”
“Yeah, but we still have reason to celebrate.” Larry then hurried to the kitchen and brought back matches and lit the candles. “I think after the last couple of weeks we ought to have a drink.”
“I’m with you there” Susan said. “To ten percent!” She toasted and Larry smiled again.

Susan went into the bedroom to change clothes and take a shower and there was a new bed. It was a king sized bed with the wrought iron headboard and footer like she had said she had wanted when they went shopping for furniture right after they had gotten married. The man had actually made the bed, and as she dug down past the new pillows she smelled the sheets and was amazed he had already washed them. The mattress was one of the firmer ones and she hated a bed that was too soft. But Susan knew why he had bought a new bed but the fact he had bought one she liked said a lot.

Susan sat on the sofa in stunned silence. Larry had just ordered “Under a Tuscan Sun” off of Netflix and opened a second bottle of wine. He’s dating me, Susan thought to herself, he’s putting real effort into making me happy. She leaned back on the sofa and, she felt herself beginning to blush just a little and her body began to interact with the wine and emotions. What if he tries to get me into that bed, she thought. She tried to remember the last time they had kissed and couldn’t. It had been, three weeks, maybe? Should she give him some help and take her bra off or just let him drive? Susan tried not to grin. Her body was fueled by wine and by the fact her husband seemed to have suddenly noticed the things that made her very happy. He was an easy man to love, Susan realized and she caught her breath when she realized she wanted to tell him that, now, suddenly. She remembered the first time Larry had carried her into this house and laid her down in this very sofa. The bra was itchy. Susan reached back and unsnapped it while Larry poured more wine.  It was the least a woman could do.

Susan got up in the middle of the night and nearly fell. The new bed was much higher than the old one and she was disorientated. Years ago, when she had been a child growing up the bathroom had been down the hallway, on the left, but now there was a bathroom to the right of the bedroom. Susan had to pee,badly, but she kept going left, down the hallway to the kitchen. The room was dark except for the lights from the clock on the microwave and the oven. There was even an LED clock on the refrigerator. Susan really had to pee. There was another light, a brief but intense burst of blue. Her cell phone was buzzing at her. Susan picked it up and saw that it was “Work2” which was the code name for Marcel. The text message read, “I need to see you.” Susan caught her breath. Urine began to run down her legs as she felt her body surrender to terror. But she had known this might happen. They had talked about this possibility and everything that might happen once the car and Marcel’s phone was found. This was the police, Susan knew it, and they were trying to see if she would respond.
“Fuck you,” Susan typed. “You run off with some whore for two weeks and now you want me back? Hell no.”
She waited. She wondered if she ought to wake Larry but no, this was her mess, and she would clean it up. She felt the sliminess of her urine on her legs and hated herself for it, but she would clean that up too.
“I can explain” a text came in.
“I can too” Susan typed in. “You’re a slut. You dumped me for somebody else and now she’s gone and you want some” She sent that one in and typed again, “They changed Larry’s shift. He’s home now. I can’t do this anymore anyway. Fuck off.” And with that Susan closed out the messenger and blocked “Work2” from contacting her again. Susan didn’t turn on the kitchen light but opened the refrigerator instead and cleaned up her mess by the cold light. She put her nightgown in the washer and bathed with a wet washcloth before getting in bed with her husband and staring at the ceiling in the darkness until the alarm clock went off.

“This came in last night.” Susan told Larry as he woke up. He read the texts silently and cursed their timing.
“We knew this was coming,” Larry said “and here it is.”
They both felt as if something good had been sullied by the past but deep inside, they both saw relief in the beginning of what they had both dreaded. As long as there was no body there was no crime. As long as neither turned on the other there was nothing anyone could so. Larry had taken the courses to be a detective and knew their methods. He and Susan went through the dialog over and over, both playing the part of inquisitor and both playing the part of the innocent accused.

“Let’s go to work” Larry said and they kissed before they left. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Christa: Found

 Keith Boer didn’t know anything about murder or adultery, or much of anything else. He had drifted from one prison to another, one jail to another, and stealing was all he really knew. H did miss his friend Bruce, who had tried their first attempt in making home brew in prison. Too much of something and Bruce had bled out before they could get him out of the cell.  But he was here to steal not relive memories. The rain kept people in and Keith stole from houses not people. People were trouble. Keith had been walking since yesterday and had tired of it. Most houses that had for sale signs in front of them were locked but every once in a while they’d be careless and leave one open. Keith tried one after another in the new subdivision and finally a door opened for him. All the amenities of a new home! Keith took off his clothes and bathed, wished there were towels and soap but he would settle for clean warm water. Keith allowed himself to air dry in the bathroom and decided to explore the place, nude. There was a washer and a dryer, but no soap for the washer. Keith didn’t care. He’d take what he would get whatever it was. No food, no booze, nothing he could carry away at all, which was sad, but at least he was dry and his clothes would be somewhat cleaner. Keith checked the garage and a second or two of fear gripped him. There was a car there. He stepped back into the house very quickly and locked the door behind him. Oh shit! And he was naked. But the house was empty; he knew that, so what the hell was the car doing there? He peeped out the window and the car was just sitting there. Finally, Keith decided, naked and all, to investigate the car. The keys were in it. There were some clothes that looked like they might fit him and even some cash in the pockets. He opened the trunk and found more clothes, a little more money and booze. There was a case of wine and a couple of bottles of whiskey. The keys were in the car. Keith knew if he got caught he could do some real time but he also knew if he moved fast enough he could be in South Carolina before anyone missed the car. He could hit Myrtle Beach and ditch the car, keep the booze, rent a cheap room somewhere and drink hard on the beach. Keith left his old clothes in the washer and drove off wearing new pants that were just a little too big for him. He hadn’t noticed the cell phone in the car but when it dinged Keith jumped. Damn, they could track him with that thing! Well, let them track this, Keith thought and he pulled over to a mail box and left the cell phone in it. The rain poured down and it took Keith nearly a full minute to discover how to turn the wipers on. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Christa: In Time

The rain was still falling as Larry drove to work at the prison. He had no illusions as to what would come his way eventually. Susan and Marcel had been texting one another on a daily basis for two months now and had exchanged a lot of emails. Susan starting sending texts to Marcel as soon as Larry had left for work every night and the two had talked for hours.  Even as Larry passed the last house at the end of the road where they lived he knew Susan, to keep up appearances, was sending emails and texts to a dead man. It might be a while before Marcel’s car was found. Susan told him Marcel always parked in the garage of a house that was for sale and Susan would pick him up there. To keep his wife from knowing where he was he would turn his phone off. Now that phone was sitting in the car, sitting in the garage, of a house that Marcel would never sell. How long would it take before his wife started looking for him? How long before they missed him at work? Marcel was a known party animal, loved the night life, and so Larry thought it might be a couple of days before anyone thought anything was wrong. If there was a merciful God in Heaven then they would get a week before anyone made any serious attempt to find Marcel. But at the most, in ten days, someone was going to read Susan’s texts and emails and then the investigation would lead to his front door. Susan would pretend to be mad at Marcel for cutting off communications and call his office pretending to look for a new house. She would keep it up for at least a week and then slowly stop trying to contract Marcel who in a week might be under two hundred feet of concrete. Larry hoped Marcel was seeing someone else, other than Susan, and he wondered how deep the investigation might go. But until there was a body there wasn’t a murder and Larry hoped Marcel’s wife would simply think he had ran off with some other woman. But deep down Larry knew that if someone went missing and that someone was seeing a married woman, the husband was going to be looked over very carefully. How he acted at work might be questioned. Everything that he did would be now be considered normal or not normal and Larry had never once wondered what would happen if he had to act like himself. Larry got out of his truck and fished his ID out of his pocket and scanned it, and then went inside.

Susan took a deep breath and looked over the texts she has sent over the last couple of days. They would look very much like those she had sent, and received, over the last eight weeks or so. She, too, knew that soon she might be sitting across a table with page after page of her innermost thoughts printed out and part of a public record in an investigation. What was worse is she had to keep adding to the volume of work. Susan sent a message chiding Marcel for standing her up and asking him for an explanation. She would send a few more and the tone would get angrier and angrier. Susan had been stood up by Marcel before, when his wife was suspicious, but he always sent a text within a few hours. Susan also pulled up her account with a local furniture store. They had once offered new flooring with every new refrigerator someone bought and she had filled out all the information but never completed the transaction. She had hoped the price had dropped but it never did. If the offer was still up they could get imitation Oak on the floor and that would explain the carpet being gone. But they had to do all of this very slowly.

She sent another text and thought about more wine. No, sober was better right now. Wine was one of those little things, one of those small sharp pieces of a sandspur caught in an ankle sock. Larry gulped wine, good wine, and never once thought that it might be more than just a buzz. Beer was his alcohol of choice and wine had to be cold and sweet for him to drink it. A good solid Cab meant nothing to the man. Marcel knew wines, loved talking about wines, and Susan loved wine, too. She wanted to go to Napa Valley and just spend a week tasting wine. Larry wanted to go fishing for five days and drink beer until he passed out and snored. Susan sent a text and scolding Marcel for being a coward. Did he see Larry’s truck parked outside the house last night? Is that what spooked him? Was the threat of getting caught greater than what she could do for him? Susan knew it was. She knew all that she had ever been to Marcel was a conquest, a number he could count up when he thought about how many women he had slept with, and Susan knew that was all it would have ever been. It would be easy to believe that Marcel had found some young thing and gotten carried away with being with a younger woman and simply left for a while. Marcel’s wife was used to her husband’s excuses for not being hone and Susan wondered how in the hell… But now she would find out. Susan bit her lip and tried not to start crying again. Larry might still leave her and she wasn’t sure that was what she wanted, even now, especially now. They had talked about what the detectives would say if they came, when they came, and they had talked about how Larry was going to react to reading the texts and emails. Susan knew that she just might land Larry in prison and hell, she might go too. But even if they got away with it, deep down in her heart, Susan thought she was going to lose him anyway. But why not? She had instigated the affair and she had reveled in it. Susan had known Larry might find out, but what was he going to do? The idea he might kill Marcel and even kill her, was always in the very back of her mind but she always thought it would end in divorce. She never thought of it ending with her and Marcel together. But now he was dead. Susan closed her eyes and prayed for forgiveness. Her inability to handle the post High School life of a cheerleader had led to this. A man was dead and another was helping cover up a murder because she had gotten bored. Susan wondered how it would feel to simply walk into the police station and tell them what she had done and serve the time due her. Susan decided that if they were caught she would confess. She sat down and wondered if she would go to hell for this. 

Larry scanned his ID again and was checked for weapons by the first set of guards. “Evening, Larry,” Mitch said, and Larry wondered how many times they had gone through this.
“Evening, Mitch,” Larry replied, “hear your youngest made the football team.” Larry couldn’t remember the kid’s name.
“Yep,” Mitch said, “but if’n he don’t get his grades up he’ll be watching from the stands.”

And that was that. Larry marveled at how calm he sounded, how normal it seemed to be at work. Larry walked into the breakroom and got a two cups of coffee and a tray. He walked down the corridor and through two more checkpoints and then he was there.
“Morning, DeMurrey,” the guard said. Larry didn’t recognize him. He must be a replacement for one of the three Federal Agents who were there to watch over the prisoners after one had committed suicide last year. Larry thought it ironic they would guard someone from suicide when that person was there to be executed but the Feds were like that. “She’s waiting for you.”

“So, Larry,” Christa stopped setting up the chess pieces said as he entered her cell, “about last night…” Larry wondered how this woman came to be here and not for the first time. Even in a black Death Row jumpsuit Christa Fuller looked beautiful. No, Larry stopped and looked at her again, elegant? No, there wasn’t a word he could think of but each time Larry saw Christa he paused, and he noticed her, as if it were the first time.
Larry felt a cold chill run up his spine but he tried to vamp his way through it, “I wasn’t on top of my game.”
“Weren’t you?” Christa laughed at him. “You finally got to know me a little better last night, Larry, you understand at last what makes me get up every morning and move forward. Now, we truly have something in common, don’t we?”
“What do you mean?” Larry swallowed hard. She didn’t know. She couldn’t know.
“Ever wonder what it would be like to be able to see in the dark?” Christa asked. “What if you could and no one else? What would it mean if you were the only one, or at least one of the few, would could see what no one else could see, even if you couldn’t predict when you could see it?” Christa laughed and stood up. “What if I told you that none of the conversations we have ever had were recorded?”
“What?” Larry was stunned. “Why wouldn’t they be?”
“That was one of the items that came up in the lawsuit.” Christa told him. “Poor Mr. Malcom Petty felt like he was under a microscope all the time and that’s one of the central reasons he killed himself.” She laughed again, “No, that isn’t vision, Larry, that’s straight from my lawyer. That’s the reason that they allow you to play with me. But they cannot spy on us and they never will.”
“They told me…” But Larry stopped and thought about it. When the Feds debriefed him after each visit they always seemed surprised at what he told them. They really didn’t know.
“They’re pretty sure they have me now, you know” Christa say down again, “but they aren’t really sure what information they can use if they get it illegally. That only applies to me. If they find out what you’ve done I’m pretty sure you’ll be housed a few doors down.”
“What do you want?” Larry demanded.
“I’ll tell you when the time comes.” Christa said. “But right now you and I need to play chess. Your openings are improving but you’re letting me distract you from the game. I have some things to tell you but I’m sure you’ll not see the wisdom in it until the time comes. Sit. Play. Act normal. We have an hour together. You might as well play your part in this theater that you and I have begun.” Christa smiled at Larry and he felt an odd warmth for her. “We all have our parts to play, like the pieces on the board, Larry. I can help you get off the board.”

Larry drove home in the blinding rain. How many days in a row did this make? It had rained every day for, five, no, a week now, yes. A streak of lightning flashed and Larry saw everything lit up as if it didn’t exist without the light. He wondered if Marcel’s car had been found yet or if anyone had really started looking. No, it was still too soon. Larry pulled into the driveway and got out in the rain and went inside. The house was filled with the smell of bacon and Larry felt some of his tension ease.
“Hey baby,” Susan called to him from the kitchen, “in here!”
There was bacon and eggs and Orange juice on the table and Larry wondered if Susan had gotten up early just for this. He sat down at the table and wondered how to begin to tell her about Christa.
“Is it okay to talk about us right now?” Susan asked before Larry could speak.
“Yeah, okay.” Larry said.
“Look, I’ve done wrong and I know it,” Susan began, “but I want you to know that whatever happens I still love you. I’m still in love with you.” She paused and then continued. “I can’t take back what I did but I can tell you if you think there is any way at all for us to work this out I will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes. You don’t have to answer me right now and I won’t ask anything of you right now, but I just want you to know, okay?” She sat down and Larry realized she had been practicing this. Susan had wanted him to know how she felt and she meant what she said. Larry couldn’t help himself and couldn’t stop the tears. “I love you too” he managed to mumble, “but there’s a problem here.”
“What?” Susan looked a little surprised. “You mean…?”
“No, much bigger than that.” Larry said. “I’ll have to start from the beginning.”

“It was about two months ago,” Larry began and he and Susan exchanged glances, “when we got a prisoner who came into the yard in an armored car. Usually they take the really bad ones to a Federal facility but because she had been convicted in Georgia first we were going to get the first crack at killing her.”
“Her?” Susan asked.
“Christa Marie Fuller.” Larry replied. “And you wouldn’t believe how tiny she really is.”
“The woman they called ‘The Mantis’?” Susan was stunned. “You didn’t tell me about this! Is that the woman they think murdered all those men and drove the rest to suicide?”
“The very one.” Larry replied. “Anyway, the first thing she did was trip and fall, and I caught her. A day after that she offered to disclose where the body of Floyd Carpenter was buried if they would allow her to teach me how to play chess.”
“The Floyd Carpenter?” Susan exclaimed. “The founder of Carpenter Records?”
“The very same,” Larry continued, “and they didn’t know how she knew anything about it. She was seven when he went missing, but the Feds decided that after that, whatever she asked for she was going to get, and that included me.”
“Why you?” Susan asked. “Other than you’re really very hot,” she added hastily.
“That’s the odd part.” Larry said. “She couldn’t have known my name but asked for me by name. The first meeting she wanted to teach me to play chess, and I’m as dumb as a rock as far as that sort of game goes. I thought they had the place wired for sound but today she told me they didn’t. I think she knows, uh, things.”
“Things?” Susan didn’t like the way Larry sounded now. “What things?”
“Two nights ago,” Larry began, “she was telling me that I ought to break my routine, I ought to go home and take care of business. She was pretty empathic about it. That’s what I was doing home.”
Susan didn’t respond so Larry continued.
“Tonight she asked me how it went.” Larry took a deep breath. “I think somehow she knows what we did.”

“That’s not possible, Larry.” Susan said but she wasn’t sure she believed it. “How?”
“She told me tonight that there were times she could see in the dark.” Larry got up and got some more bacon. “Bacon?’ he asked after he realized he had taken the last pieces.
“No, you go ahead,” Susan said but she smiled at him. “Okay, I have to get to work. We have to keep our routines but I want to know more. We’ll talk when I get home, okay?”
“Okay.” Larry replied. “I’m going to get a shower and get some sleep. I’m really tired.”
Susan stood up, hesitated, then walked over and kissed Larry on the top of his head. ‘I’ll wake you when I get in.”

Susan got into her car and despaired at the rain. It was coming down in buckets again. Sheets of rain tore through the now normal downpour and her wipers seemed to just piss it off. It had only been two days, not two full days, and she was still texting and emailing a dead man, just as she had done when he had been alive. It was an odd thing, Susan thought, to know someone was dead, that she had a hand in killing him, yet she was doing her part to avoid being implicated in his death. Susan kept checking her phone at work, as if she were expecting a text or an email, and at lunch she went dropped by the bank and paid the mortgage, even if it was a week early. She hung around and chatted with one of the tellers and Susan made sure to glance towards Marcel’s office more than once. Yet it has only been two days. Likely, just now, someone was wondering if something was wrong.
Susan stopped long enough to eat a salad and pondered why Larry hadn’t told her one of the most famous female serial killers of all time was less than a half hour drive from their home. Oh, and he had taken up chess and fortune telling with, Susan searched for the name, Christa Fuller, and the name brought the vision of a bright eyed, dark haired woman who couldn’t have been more than five-two yet had managed to get three men to kill for her and three more to kill themselves, that everyone knew of so far. And now Floyd Carpenter? Susan wondered why she hadn’t heard about any of this in the news. If they found Floyd Carpenter after nearly…how long? Susan shook her head and tried to focus on keeping her schedule. She texted Marcel again, this time threatening to break up with him if he didn’t call her tonight.

It was raining even harder when Susan left work. She was one of the two dental hygienists in town who had lived in Jacksonville Georgia all their lives and she knew who was sleeping with… Susan paused at that thought. How many people knew about her and Marcel? She counting the times they had been together. Since the first of last month, four, no, five times. But three of those times had been in the last month. Still, Marcel was nothing if he wasn’t careful. They always met after dark and they never took their cell phone on dates. Susan wondered when they would find Marcel’s car. She wondered how long it would take before his wife reported him missing. Larry had already left for work when Susan arrived. The house was silent and dark. Susan sent an angry text to a dead man and took a Valium to help her sleep.