Three years ago I would have said the worst day of my life was the day I learned my wife was secretly in love with Todd Patterson. Today, I can tell you, the worst day of my life was the day he stopped making love to her.
Todd and his wife, Stacy, were monsters. The one thing I truly regret was accepting their invitation to that 4th of July Luau. If it had been up to me we wouldn’t have gone. But my ex-wife Maryanne insisted. Reluctantly I followed her over there.
The first thing that greeted us as we walked up the drive was the Patterson’s big Irish setter whose name was Darby. The dog seemed to love Maryanne but he sniffed me up and down distrustfully. Maryanne walked beside Darby as he led us into the back yard. He glanced over his shoulder to make sure I was following.
The pool and cabana were all done up with a Hawaiian theme, potted palm trees and paper lanterns. Todd was tending bar, his chest bare tanned and hairy. One of those split Hawaiian skirts was round his waist and his neck sported a dozen or so shark’s teeth. I don’t think this was the first time I’d actually met him, but we did not know each other well. He pressed a Mojito or Maitai or whatever those things are on me. I took it and it was tasty and I had another.
“It’s so great you came, man,” he said.
I said something like, ‘whatever.’
Stacy came right over to greet my wife. She was a totally hot number. I don’t think I’d realized that before. She was also done up in the Hawaiian thing too, fake seashells covering her boobs and the Hawaiian skirt. She was flirting around, giving off a little hula action.
The whole neighborhood was turned out maybe twenty people give-or-take, in this not huge yard. People were swimming and dancing. They had Dick Dale and Don Ho on the sound system to keep the theme “authentic.” Everyone was drinking and a little reefer going around, nothing heavy. We were all within walking distance of our homes, anyway, except two couples who planned to sleep over. So there was no moderation. We kicked back and had a good time.
By nine or so I was pretty wasted. The Pattersons had a cement deck that led through sliding glass doors into their finished basement. It was like a man cave, leather couch and big screen TV. I sat on the couch with my drink in a red plastic cup. Suddenly I looked over and there was Stacy Patterson sitting next to me grinning.
She took a long toke on a joint and passed it to me. I took a hit off it but when I went to pass it back to her one of her seashells had a wardrobe malfunction.
I said, “Ahh, Stacy…” and she wrapped her hand around my neck, pulled me to her and started to kiss me. It was a good kiss too.
Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. After a moment I pulled away. I said, “Stacy, I’m married. I…”
“You’re not a jerk, right?” she interrupted me. I knew by the way she said it she was at least as drunk as I was.
“I’m not a jerk,” I declared.
“Okay, then let me show you something.”
She got up on her wobbly legs and pulled on my hand until I rose. She put her forefinger elaborately across her lips and said, “Shhh.” Then she dragged me up the basement steps.
The main house was dark except for candles strewn about on various surfaces. In the living room I could see two couples making out like teenagers. It startled me a little. I hadn’t been to anything like this since college. The smells of reefer and incense were all over the house.
She led me to a closed door and said again, “You’re not a jerk, right?”
“I’m not a jerk,” I assured her a little defensively.
“I’m counting on you,” she said. She turned the knob on the door and pushed it open just enough so she could get her head in. “Peek-a-boo,” she said.
Over her head, I could see the room illuminated by candles. Shadows flickered on the venetian blinds and a completely naked woman arching her back on the bed with a man who also appeared to be naked. The man waved languidly at Stacy. I recognized him as her husband Todd. It was probably only a few seconds but it seemed like a full five minutes before it dawned on me that the naked woman with him was my wife.
The truth hit me like a punch. I pulled back from the sight.
“You’re not a jerk, remember,” Stacy said in a warning voice.
An injured pout came to her lips. “Don’t you find me attractive in that way?”
“I find you very attractive in that way,” I told her frankly and more than a little angrily. “But that’s not the point. That is my wife.”
“And that’s my husband,” she said with drunken sarcasm. “So let’s show them how it’s really done.”
She led me back to the living room, pushed me onto the couch, and in the presence of two couples probably oblivious to what we were doing I had personal relations with a different woman or the first time since 1998.
I woke a little after dawn in just my shirt. Stacy was stretched out on the couch with her head on my leg. She was completely naked and I marveled at how lovely she looked.
I moved my leg and that woke her. She caught my neck and pulled me down to her and kissed me again. I told her my leg was asleep and I got to my feet found my pants and carried them to the bathroom. Thankfully it was empty. Not many of us revelers made it home.
I threw cold water on my face and got into my pants. My mind was pretty well blown. When I opened the bathroom door Maryanne of all people was waiting to get in. She was wearing her party dress but looking very frowzy, her hair a mess, no makeup. At first she couldn’t look me in the eye and then she gave me a sheepish half smile. I was pretty cross with her and I’m sure I didn’t smile back. But I let her in the bathroom and wandered out to the kitchen.
Todd in a pair of swim trunks was messing around in one of the cupboards. He glanced at me. “Forget coffee here,” he said. “I’m too hung-over to cook. Mike Martino has an airport van. We’ll pile in and go to a diner.”
And that’s what we did. It felt kind of anti-climactic to me. All these people between probably 28 and 35 years old, it was the first time it occurred to me that we were really middle aged. Usually you think of middle aged around fifty. But if you double fifty it’s one hundred. Not many people live to be one hundred. Fifty is not the middle of anything where life is concerned. Double thirty-five, you get seventy. Seventy is old. I was middle-aged and so were all my comrades. So was my wife. And I was wondering what I was going to do with her.
We didn’t discuss what happened. I didn’t know what to say and she acted like no explanation was necessary. Everything went back to normal for about a week. Then the following Thursday afternoon she called me at work on my cell phone. She said there was an emergency situation at the office and she’d put in for overtime. Upshot she’d be a few hours late. I said ‘fine,’ and didn’t think anything about it.
Until about seven o’clock when I called her, and she didn’t answer. I started to wonder if she was really at work. I looked up Patterson’s number and after a couple of false starts I let it ring.
Stacy picked up almost immediately. “Is Todd there?” I asked, “This is David.”
“Nope,” she said in this way she had of saying a whole lot in not many syllables. “I guess Maryanne’s not there, either.”
“No,” I said dejectedly, “she’s not.”
“Let me guess, a sudden business meeting?”
“Yeah,” I admitted.
“You want to come over? It’s not so lonely here.”
We took our time. I stretched out in Todd’s leather recliner my feet on his leather hassock a cut-glass wine goblet of a very nice red wine in my hand. “Why do you put up with this?” I asked Stacy.
“Put up with it?” she asked. “I guess I love it. This is how it’s been from the first.”
Stacy explained to me that Todd had been raised in a hippie commune and got addicted to sex with lots of partners at an early age. Apparently when she too was a kid she realized she was never going to want to be with only one person for life. Because of this she had a lot of problems with guys in high school and college. Then one night at a barbeque she met Todd Patterson.
She said he swept her off her feet. He was very determined, aggressive and seductive. Within three hours of meeting him they were in bed at his apartment. What he’d failed to mention, he was living with another woman who happened to return in the midst of their romantic encounter.
Stacy said the scene was horrific. The woman grabbed all her stuff from the closet and bureau and left that night.
And Stacy moved in. She said she knew right then that Todd was going to work out fine for her.
“We both have the same problems,” she said to me. I’d moved to the couch by then and we sat with our feet on the coffee table our legs entwined.
After a while I wanted to go home but she stopped me. “It’ll be a lot better for you if you’re not sitting there waiting when she shows up,” she said. “We’ll know she’s home when Todd gets back here.”
I saw her point and we retired to the bedroom.
We were fast asleep when Todd showed up. He stamped his feet to wake us. “Why you little monkeys,” he said. “There I am busting my heiny and here you two are in flagrante delicto.”
“It wasn’t your heiny you were busting,” Stacy managed sleepily. Todd sat on the bed and kissed her. Then he reached across her to shake hands with me. It was totally weird.
I found my clothes and walked home.
Maryanne was running around in a panic. “Where have you been!” she demanded.
“Stow it,” I said. “I spent the night with Stacy. When Todd showed up I knew you were back.
“Maryanne, this is crazy. What the hell are you doing to us?”
The waterworks burst. Oh, she’d never felt like that before. She couldn’t go without seeing him. All this stuff!
I said, “Maryanne, Stacy knows all about it. She’s fine with it. They live like this all the time. I don’t want to live like this.
“She has her sugar daddies, he has his bimbos. That’s what you are, one of Todd’s bimbos. Maybe tomorrow maybe five weeks from tomorrow he is going to find himself a new bimbo and you are going to be yesterday’s paper. But what becomes of us?”
She put her face in her hands and peeked at me through her fingers. “Do you like Stacy?” she asked.
“I like her very much,” I told her. “She’s a kind big hearted woman and she’s very lovely. I don’t know how I’d have made it this far without her help.”
“Would you go on seeing her while I work this thing out with Todd?”
It got weirder and weirder. I never knew what she was doing. Some nights they didn’t come home at all.
The thing with Stacy was getting old. Outside of the bedroom we didn’t have much in common and I could tell I was beginning to weigh on her.
One night she’d gotten some hashish and we were in bed smoking it in a little pipe. I generally find that hashish depresses me but in that sort of situation you can’t really say, ‘none for me, thanks.’ So I started rambling about Maryanne and Todd and when did she think it was going to end.
I could tell she was getting pissed but I went right on talking. Finally I said to her, “Honestly, what do you do this for?”
Her eyes flashed angrily. “Honestly,” she said, mimicking me, “I do it for fun, but I’ve got to tell you, you haven’t been much fun from the first. You’re cheap, you’re lazy, you’re whiney, and you’re not even a good lay. Why not go home and mope by yourself. I’ve got a book I want to read.”
I was livid. I wanted to throttle her. Instead I found my clothes and went home.
The following night Maryanne came back. Her face was streaked with mascara and she looked like a woman in a horror movie. She was beyond furious. “What did you do, you selfish bastard?” she screamed at me.
“I didn’t do anything,” I said defensively.
“Todd says Stacy refuses to be with you anymore and that we have to break off until they find someone suitable for her.”
“Well, I don’t want to be with her anymore either,” I said aggressively. “I want to be with my own wife.”
“You haven’t got a wife!” Maryanne yelled at me. “I don’t know how I married you in the first place. I can’t stand to look at you.”
I went to embrace her to try to comfort her, let her know I understood.
She raised her hands as if I had a gun on her. “Don’t touch me,” she screamed.
She locked herself in the bedroom.
It was a month before I lost my job, but Maryanne had moved out by then and started divorce proceedings.
I wasn’t going to live in that house. I gave the furniture to Salvation Army and put the place up for sale. I moved into a studio apartment right in town. I had unemployment insurance and the joint savings account I had with Maryanne that contained about eight grand. Maryanne took nothing from me. She was apparently planning to leave me anyway and already had her own bank account set up elsewhere.
I expected to get about two hundred grand for the house. I still owed about a hundred and ten on it. But, of course, the market was soft back then and houses weren’t selling. It sat there empty and I sat in this sad efficiency trying to live on about four hundred bucks a week and getting more and more angry and depressed. I stopped paying the mortgage, expecting the house to sell any day so I was also getting deeper and deeper in debt.
Living in town, there were several bars that attracted women and I would go to them night after night hoping to get lucky. The women who were there were mostly single cynical professionals who took one look at my Dodge van, very stylish when I’d bought it, and waved as they skipped back to their BMWs. I wasn’t con man enough to keep up with them.
So I drank with the guys most of whom were broke but just as cynical if a little older than the women were. We’d tell dirty jokes to the barmaid who was always compliant and patient until you tried to take her home. “Come on, David,” she said to me once, tracing the center of my face from forehead to lips with her index finger. “We have a professional relationship. Don’t spoil it.”
I could have killed her. I put a ten spot under my coaster for her and left.
The next spring I developed a wart on the back of my right hand. My medical insurance was run out so I asked the pharmacist what to do. He directed me to an over-the-counter product that he said would remove it in a few days. It was less than five bucks. The wart got chalky white then disappeared. I checked the ingredients and it was almost entirely ether. I left it in the glove compartment of the van.
I used to get up at eleven and drive around all day getting angrier and more depressed. I went to bed at three or four in the morning drinking beer from quart bottles until I passed out.
One Saturday morning earlier than usual I drove by the old house to throw away the mail. That is how I was dealing with those problems. As I looked out the living room window who should I see walking her dog but Stacy and she appeared to be about eight months pregnant.
I can’t really describe how seeing her that way made me feel. I did the calculations and realized it could not possibly be mine. She was on birth control during our fling, but that didn’t console me. I became more depressed wondering whose it was. Was it Todd’s? Was it the guy they’d replaced me with?
She’d been gone three minutes before I decided I had to know.
I rushed out, jumped in the van and caught up with her. I let down the power window on the passenger’s side and called to her very friendly, “Well, look at you. Something new is added.”
She was just as friendly. “Hi, David,” she said, “yes, change is the only constant.”
Darby the red setter sat on the sidewalk and looked at me intently. Stacy came over and leaned on the car window.
“Do you guys see much of Maryanne?” I asked in what I thought was an off-handed way. Stacy rolled her eyes and shook her head in a way that said very clearly, ‘you’ll never learn.’
“No,” she said. “Maryanne is ancient history. This week the great love interest is named Tanya, a leggy twenty-five-year-old blonde with a 6-year-old daughter, also a leggy blonde. Todd just loves the chase.”
“What about you?” I asked. “Whose child is that?”
She laughed candidly. “Not yours, if you’re worried,” she said.
“I know it’s not mine but are you and Todd still together?”
“Yes, it’s Todd’s of course. I’m not much fun these days I’m afraid. But he’s excited about being a dad. He drove up to San Francisco before dawn this morning to go fishing.”
“Fishing?” I asked, surprised, “in San Francisco? That is one hell of a drive.”
“Yeah, he’s gotten very enthusiastic about fishing the bay up there. He bought a boat and everything.”
“You believe him?” I asked.
She raised her eyebrows and flattened her mouth. “He has no reason to lie,” she said.
I don’t know what it was about the way she said that but my heart sank. That bastard had ruined my life. Because of him I’d lost my wife, I’d lost my job, I’d lost my home, and when unemployment ran out I’d be living out of my van by an underpass someplace. While he had his wife, soon he’d have a kid, and he still had all the women he could pick up no strings attached. My blood boiled.
“Hop in,” I told her. “Let’s go someplace for breakfast.”
Stacy looked at me wanly. “I don’t think so David. I’ve already eaten. I’m glad I got to see you though.”
She wiggled her fingers through the window, snapped the leash and walked away from me.
An icy cold precision took over my body. On the passenger seat of the van was a rag I used to wipe condensation from the windshield. It was mostly clean. I opened the glove compartment, took out the wart remover and poured half the bottle on the rag. I got out of the van opened the side door just enough so it would slide easy and rushed after her.
There was no one else on the street. I clamped the rag over her nose and mouth and held her by the neck until she stopped struggling.
Darby turned on me and I gave him a vicious kick in the ribs. He grunted but he did not howl or bark. He was surprised though. He’d obviously never been treated like that before. He came after me eventually but by then I had her in the van. I snapped the sliding door on his muzzle and then he started to bark. I jumped into the driver’s seat and took off. Let him go ahead and follow us. He’d have sore paws in a mile or two.
I drove toward Main Street and realized I’d have to get her someplace before the ether wore off. All I could think to do was to take her back to my old house. I came around the back way passing her house. There was no sign of Darby. I used the automatic door opener and pulled the van into the garage.
She was more to handle than I remembered. Pregnancy added about eighty pounds to her. But I got her from the garage to the finished basement, a matter of three steps. Off the finished basement is a little room that houses the water heater. I put her in there and went back to the garage to get a chain, a couple of padlocks and a rubber bucket. I chained her right foot to a healthy fat pipe, shut the door and sat on the stairs to think.
It was a little while before she came to. I heard her murmuring and then she exclaimed, “WTF?”
She called to me, aggravated but not frightened. “David? What do you think you’re doing?”
I went into her sullenly. “I think we’ll just let old Todd find out what it’s like to lose his wife,” I told her.
“Come on!” she said, exasperated. “Todd had nothing to do with Maryanne divorcing you. Maryanne had been having an affair with her boss from the day she got that job.”
My mind reeled when she said that. It explained a lot about Maryanne’s behavior before I ever heard of Todd Patterson.
“That’s a lie!” I told her.
“Wake up!” she thundered back at me. “When they had clients coming in from out of town, it was Maryanne’s job to entertain them… all of them. Does anything I’m saying ring a bell?
“Maryanne was my friend before she ever saw my husband. What I’m telling you is the tip of the iceberg. Didn’t you have any idea who you married?”
I squatted beside her and dropped my head. Maryanne was about the straightest girl I met in college. She dressed conservatively, was very serious about her legal studies. My parents loved her. But I guess I always knew I was missing something.
“David,” Stacy said, “you’ve got to let me go. We can make this all end here. Let me find my dog and go home. I understand you were distraught. I don’t want the world to know all about my personal life. I don’t want to get you in trouble or to make a public scandal about your divorce. I just want to go home to my house.”
“If Maryanne is like you say why did she ever marry me?” I pleaded.
“Your mother told her you’d come into a fortune,” she said. “They’ve set up a trust fund for you. It’s over two million dollars. It was supposed to be your college fund, but you only went to junior college so they decided save it. Your mom told Maryanne you’d get it when she started having children. That’s why she married you.
“But living with you was such a drag she decided it wasn’t worth it.”
I saw red. I stalked out to the van and found the rag. I poured the rest of the little bottle of ether on it, went back to where she was chained and screwed the rag into her face this time.
She battered at me helplessly and suddenly she vomited. She got it all over my arm and the leg of my pants. The stink of the vomit and the ether had me light headed. I threw her from me, dropped the rag and stormed upstairs to try to clean myself up.
I did my best to clean my shirt and pants in the downstairs shower. My head was reeling from the things Stacy told me. The more I thought about them the more they rang true and explained whole parts of my life that confused me before.
I knew I had to negotiate with her and let her go. She was right, if this all got out it would be very embarrassing for them, too. It did trouble me that that ether stuff was probably not good for her unborn baby but what was done was done.
I walked carefully down the basement stairs. She was not yet awake. I eased the door open and said her name. Then I peered around the door.
When I threw her from me she must have struck her head on the pipe. The pipe and the cement floor were covered in blood.
I held onto the door for support. It was a head wound. They were notorious for profuse bleeding. I kneeled beside her took her hand and tapped her face. Her hand was like ice. Stacy Patterson was dead.
I was hyperventilating. I paced the finished basement. First thing I determined to do was get rid of the locks and chain. I’d call the police, tell them she was helping me with something and had fallen.
I imagined them going through the place, finding traces of her vomit, the autopsy showing the ether in her lungs. What if the ether had brain damaged her child? I knew I couldn’t risk it.
I decided to drive around a little, get some lunch and think my options through.
I couldn’t see how I might get away with this. If I confessed it would look much worse than it was. I’d be up for kidnapping and double murder. If I hid her body and she was eventually found I might look like a serial killer.
I went back to my apartment and took a nap hoping I’d wake and find it all a dream. It was the first deep sleep I’d had in months. But when I woke Stacy was the first thing I was thinking about. I doubted I could stand up to interrogation. When the police started asking me questions, I’d tell them everything. And it was just a matter of time before someone said they saw my van and Maryanne talking through the window. I went back and forth, confess or hide the body.
Finally I reasoned, conceal the body and see what happened. I went to Wal-Mart and bought plastic sheeting and bleach making sure I paid cash. Then I went back to the house. I pulled the van into the garage. When I opened the basement door the stink was already growing. I found a painter’s mask and went into her.
It was the worst task I’d ever had to do in my life, wrapping her in plastic. Her body was rigid. I sealed her up with duct tape and trundled her into a big freezer in the garage, removing the few things that were in it and putting them up in the fridge.
Of course the body wouldn’t fit. I used a circular saw to cut her head off. For good measure I cut her hands off too. I thought when they found her it would look like I was trying to disguise her identity. I wrapped the head and hands in more plastic, stuck them all in the freezer and got the hell out of there.
I used my debit card to buy a bottle of Johnny Walker’s Red and went back to my apartment. I was sweating. My old house was the only empty house in the neighborhood. When they started searching for her they’d want to search there first.
I had to get her out of there and I had to bleach the blood off the pipe and the floor. Even that might not be enough. Luminal would discover it or at least discover something had been cleaned in that room. I could feel the prison cell closing in on me.
I poured three fingers of Johnny Red into a whiskey glass and turned on the TV looking for the news. There was nothing about it at all. Of course she was only missing about 12 hours then. I had to get her out of that house. Where could I take her?
That was Saturday. By noon on Sunday the news was starting about the missing pregnant housewife from El Monte. Her husband reported her missing when he came home Saturday night. Her parents had been calling the police since the afternoon. Apparently she was supposed to meet her mother and uncharacteristically the mother claimed, she never showed. A big part of the early mystery was that a neighbor found the dog wandering loose and took him back and secured him in the Pattersons’ yard. If anyone thought about it this would give them a pretty good idea of the time she went missing. But they might not think about it.
Things were still pretty low key. The news seemed to think it strange that Todd had traveled so far to go fishing. I did too. But, according to Stacy it was true. The news described his morning locations very clearly and they interviewed the people at the marina who helped him with his boat and had seen him that day.
That’s when I got a bright idea. My name had not come up in this at all. I could take her in my van up to the general location of where Todd had been, make like I weighted her body down, and when it came up it would certainly give them a lot to think about regarding old Todd.
If they did the math and figured when she was last seen alive it wouldn’t make much sense. But with a little luck they wouldn’t do the math. If they liked the story and they didn’t like Todd I might luck out.
By morning, of course, driving into my old neighborhood was like parking at a state fair. News trucks packed the streets and they were interviewing everyone. I had to bleach out those blood stains before anyone demanded to search the house. I knew my rights. If they wanted to search I could demand they get a warrant. But if I did that it would sure look like I had something to hide. I had to get her out of that freezer. But I was as neatly wedged as an egg in a carton.
I drove back to my apartment and left the van then walked back to my old house, coming in the back way through a neighbor’s yard. I used most of the bleach but it did not take very long to eradicate the blood stains. Of course I had to check the freezer. The parts were still there. I wished I’d used rubber gloves when I handled that plastic, but there was nothing to do about it now. Somehow I had to get her out of there.
That’s when Todd unknowingly joined my team. He let his beard grow, dyed his hair blonde and drove Stacy’s SUV to San Diego to sell it. I saw him on television and thought he was crazy. Eventually I understood. Todd had not realized this would become such a media event. He was hoping to disguise himself on TV so his current girlfriend would not recognize him. Of course, he was lying to her about everything.
This played completely into my hands. The media and I guess the police started looking at him as the prime suspect. The media moved all their equipment out of my old neighborhood and down to San Diego to question him as he tried to sell that car. On Tuesday I had a window of about 36 hours to get Stacy up to San Francisco. Believe me, I took advantage of it.
I stayed in the old house on Monday night and got up before dawn. I loaded Stacy’s body into two plastic containers and put them in the van before I went to sleep. I also brought nylon rope and cinder blocks to weigh her down. Then I headed out on I-5, the fastest route to San Francisco. It still took me most of seven hours to get there. But when I did it was a bright sunny afternoon. I’d have to kill time until it was dark before I could dump the corpse. I drove around looking for a likely place. Of course driving around to deserted piers was likely to draw attention to my van. Under no circumstances could I afford to be stopped. I was a nervous wreck when I found the right place.
It was an old warehouse that had been converted to a bar-restaurant which went out of business. It was a sad dilapidated old building but there was no security fence around it and I could drive right out on the pier. The back of the building stopped about twenty yards before the pier ended so I could pull the van around behind the building and use the building and the van as a shield. The traffic on the bridge to my left could not possibly see what I was doing. Best of all it was right across the water from the place the news reported seeing Todd on Saturday.
I realized suddenly that I hadn’t eaten so I went off and had a big lunch then snoozed in front seat of my van until dark.
I intended to wait until midnight but I was too nervous. By nine-thirty it was plenty dark. The streets by the old piers were dimly lit but the abandoned restaurant was black and deserted. I drove up the side of the building and killed my lights then drove around the back of the building and parked diagonally across the pier.
I’d intended to remove what was left of Stacy from the plastic sheeting, tie her legs to a cinder block and toss her in the water. I maneuvered the plastic containers close to the edge of the pier and peeled the duct tape off the plastic sheeting.
I cannot describe how disgusting that was.
First I vomited then I let her roll out of the plastic into the bay. She landed with a splash that seemed to echo out to the highway bridge. My entire plan fell apart right then. I pulled everything out of the van and tossed it all in the water. I had no stomach to weigh down anything. I tossed the rope, the blocks, both of the containers and the plastic into the bay and I got out of there.
Driving home I turned off the radio and just thought about all the things that could go wrong. Every time I heard a siren or saw flashing lights my blood ran cold. By the time I passed Bakersfield though I was beginning to relax. There was nothing now to connect me to Stacy’s disappearance. If they searched my house they wouldn’t see a thing. Sure, if they poured Luminal in the boiler room they’d see the bleach, but they’d have no reason to do that. No probable cause. For the first time in five days I could see light at the end of the tunnel.
I turned the radio on. The news was all Todd Patterson. A woman had come forward, Tanya Friel, who told police she’d dated Todd for two months and he’d represented himself to her as a widower.
It looked as if the Jack of Hearts’ luck was running out.
Of course the police turned up many of Todd’s other affairs but Maryanne did not come forward nor apparently did they find out about her. The guy was a first-class liar. I knew he had his wife’s permission to be with other women but he wasn’t interested in meeting like-minded playmates. He enjoyed seducing normal single women, making elaborate promises to them and letting the relationships fall apart. To the police, the public, the media, Todd Patterson looked like the devil.
Stacy’s body turned up the day after I dropped it. It was generally assumed that Todd had used his fishing trip as an excuse to dispose of his wife. If they found the plastic containers or other things I’d used to carry her they never reported them. One thing I’ve learned about the police, they like things neat. If they turn up evidence that doesn’t fit their theory they are most apt to reject the evidence.
I did feel sorry for Todd many times over the next two years as his case made headlines and eventually went to trial. When I felt self destructive enough to confess though, I only had to think about how badly his sick lifestyle had ruined my happiness.
Around Christmas the year of Stacy death I got a letter from Maryanne. It was one of those 12-step apology letters they make you write when you enter a program. She confessed to me that she’d been an alcoholic during most of our marriage and that after she left me she’d become addicted to cocaine. She didn’t say whether it had anything to do with Todd or not. In fact she never mentioned Todd or Stacy at all which seemed strange to me. Their names were in the news constantly at that time, pictures in tabloids and even Time and Newsweek.
Maryanne did verify nearly all the things Stacy told me before I killed her. Her adulteries were revealed in details I really didn’t want to know. The thing my mother told her about the money they had for me was in it too. I knew it was true when Stacy said it but I told myself maybe she was lying for her own reasons. Getting that letter from Maryanne put all those hopes to death.
I was despondent for days. My unemployment was running out right about then and I was so screwed up I forgot to apply for an extension so I was in serious trouble.
I drove up to Seattle where my parents live for Christmas. When they read Maryanne’s letter you could see it rocked their world. They were very sympathetic. “It wasn’t just you, David,” my mother said. “She fooled all of us.”
My father went out one morning and came back with a cashier’s check for a gigantic sum. Not as much as Stacy said but a lot more money than I’d ever had before.
“Get yourself straightened out,” he told me rubbing my shoulders.
It takes months to foreclose on property and I was losing the El Monte house and my credit rating was tanking. It took a tiny portion of the money my father gave me to resolve that whole thing. I went to an agency and put the place up for rent. The agent let slip that I was interested in selling to the first family who looked at it. They made an offer of $170,000 and I took it. There were a couple of false starts but they finally found a lender. I leased a BMW and started dating a dental assistant named Peggy Stark, a beautiful girl thirteen years younger than I am. We bought a partnership in a motel-restaurant and started over fresh.
Todd Patterson was sentence to death by lethal injection on Wednesday, March 19th, 2008, for the murder of his wife, Stacy. Had the court looked at the evidence they would have seen he could not possibly have done it. But they didn’t. They loved his mistress. They hated the lying, conniving, cheating jerk and they’re going to kill him.
Who am I to argue?