Tuesday, February 20, 2018

WEP - In Too Deep

THREATS & PROMISES


It was a calm spring morning when my world came to an end. An early morning rain made the marigolds brighter, the forget-me-nots bluer, and the multicolored pansies gave the garden a rainbow of color. I was sitting in the sunroom enjoying a cup of coffee when the sound of sirens destroyed the serenity and announced a day of reckoning.

~~*****~~

"Please, Mrs. Strong," the strain and impatience graveled FBI Agent Ronald Gray’s voice. "Just tell me about your husband," he pleaded. His tone was much less threatening than when we’d first been introduced. After being escorted to the Boulder police department by two surly police officers who refused to answer my questions, I was unceremoniously shoved into an interview room with the brusque Agent. His scrutiny made me feel as inadequate as a rat in a line-up of cats. A surlier man, I’d never met. He refused to answer my questions but kept demanding that I answer his.

"I don’t understand what you want from me. I haven’t seen John in two years. What can I possibly tell you?"

"Why. The world wants to know why Mrs. Strong. Why does a man kill innocent people? We deserve to know, why!"He slammed his fist on the table, and I felt the blow in my heart.

"John left this for you." The Agent slammed a letter down on the table. I read it, and that was the moment. There would be no more false bravado.






Deidre,

     You’ve always admired my penmanship. How do you like my blood red ink? Actually, my blood and written with a quill, can you believe it? Nothing but the best for you, my dear sweet wife.
     Well, you did it. You got away. Left the kids and me to follow your lustful heart. I hope he was worth it! No, that’s not true, I hope he beats you daily! Maybe took all your hard earned and hoarded money and left you high and dry. God, knows that’s a fantasy, a dream I have regularly. That and finding you.
     The finding you fantasy would’ve taken a book, but I’m sure you can imagine!
     But who knows? Maybe I’d have forgiven you. Now we’ll never know.
Enjoy the notoriety.
You’ve earned it sweetheart!

Always yours,

John
"Because of me?" I whispered. Tears streamed down my cheeks. "He did it because of me." I bowed my head over my arms and cried like a woman condemned. Hell would bring no more agonizing a punishment than the guilt that consumed me. The world went black.

At the hospital, I was all but catatonic. The doctors and my attorney refused to let the agent question me again. I slowly gathered my strength and agreed to talk to Agent Gray, but only on my terms. I wanted to go home, but no longer had one. Once the press learned of my location, no place was safe. I insisted on protection, and a new identity. The FBI saw to the changes, and I agreed to talk.

"You were married for over twenty years. What happened? What drove John to do this?"

"I can’t answer that question. I lived with the man for twenty years, and I can’t tell you who he was. I just know I could no longer live in the comfortable prison I'd allowed him to create for me. The children were adults. It was time. I found the courage."

"But why did you leave, why did it take you so long? We checked, there was no abuse. We talked to family and friends, they said you two were the couple everyone envied."

"We were, in public. For years I carried off the biggest fake out in history. I played the game. It made John happy, and when he was happy, I thought less and less of ending my life. It’s called survival."

"From what?" the agent asked in desperation.

"A man obsessed, controlling, angry. I’d left him before. But he always found me. We had children, they loved their father, even as they feared him. It was clear I’d never escape. If I did, it meant giving up my children too. Once they were adults, I could let go. I disappeared, changed my name, and prayed he’d never find me."

Agent Gray shook his head. "John left us a message too. He wrote, 'Ask Deidre. She knows the answers you seek. This is all on her.'" The Agent sighed deeply and asked the one question he’d been dying to ask for days. “Did you know?"

"Did I know?" I thought about his question. I stood, walked to the window and stared at the sky. "I knew it was a possibility. Ten years ago, John hears on the news that a gunman has killed twenty-five people from an elevated position and says, ‘I could see myself doing that, especially if you ever left me. I’d have nothing to live for.’ It was a threat, but one I knew in my soul he could accomplish.” I shivered. I couldn’t look at Agent Gray.

"I remember his grin. His self-satisfied nod, and his declaration, 'I could do it, and I would just to show you, you’ll never escape, and if you do. You’ll regret it until your dying day.'"

I wiped at the tears that seemed never-ending and caught the Agents eyes. "You tell me, did I know? Could I have stopped what happened based on that conversation ten years ago?"

Gray bowed his head. He couldn’t or wouldn’t look at me.

"If I’d reported him? Would you have listened?"



930 words / FCA

Yolanda Renée © 2018


~~*****~~

I wrote this a few months ago. I hate that it's a reality.
Please, Lord, Bless the children . . .




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51 comments:

  1. Hi Yolanda - we don't know do we ... but you've truly brought the horror of the possibility forward into our thoughts ... the onlookers, the press, and the distraught families ... and as you so rightly mention ... would anyone have paid any attention. Your thoughts sadly are so easily borne out in today's world ... but reading another's mind - would they, could they do something they threaten - that we will never know.

    Really traumatic and so well written - something that probably is true ... well done - cheers Hilary

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    1. True and real on too many levels. Thanks, Hilary!

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  2. It is like this story could have really happened. It reminds me of the mass shooting in Las Vegas where I am sure they questioned the killers wife, asking her what and if she knew of any plans.

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    1. Friends and family members are left to answer, and most probably held no clue.
      Thanks, Deborah!

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  3. Being the spouse and having him leaved such a letter would sure weigh on one for life if they let it. But nutballs like that make the decision. Sadly it was true to life indeed. So many times they blame everyone else. And yeah, doubtful anyone would pay attention.

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    1. Guilt and unbelievable pain, is the horror they leave. Why is never truly answered.
      Thanks, Pat!

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  4. This is chilling. I feel so awful for her. People can be monsters, and even if one person sees their monstrous nature, that doesn't mean the world will believe them. Not until it's too late.

    Wonderfully done!

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    1. Sad to say I've known too many monsters that very few ever recognized.
      Thanks, L.G.

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  5. What a horrible thing happened to her. And that murderous husband of hers blaming her after his killings? I hate such people. I want to kill him myself. He's a monster, he doesn't deserve to live. I hope he is dead.
    Great story!

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    1. Yes, in this story he is. Took his own life, but left her to pick up the pieces.
      Thanks, Olga!

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  6. Will for me to read a story and have it end quickly is not normal. Very will written locked me in and flowed well. I understand death to one’s self but never to another.

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    1. I love the short story, especially for the impact it can have.
      Thanks, Ellis!

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  7. It is sad now how many people take a gun and commit mass shootings - or even just shoot family - just to show how unhappy they are. I understand that the FBI can't stop everyone, look how our society advocates self determination for the mentally ill, and not incarcerating a person for something they have not yet perpetrated. The world is such a mess today. And blaming the victims - or the the authorities - isn't helping things.

    The letter was such a nice touch. I can imagine someone writing just such a self deluded suicide note. Or excuse.

    Well written, intense, and timely. Made me tear up.

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    1. For some reason we want to blame 'someone' anyone when we don't get the answers we desire. Thanks for the note about the letter. I wanted to show his thinking too.
      Thanks, Donna!

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  8. It could be straight out of the news, Renee. So sad. So terrifying. And such blame. When you heard of the latest shootings, you must have thought you were psychic. Who can understand a mind that dreams of hurting people on a mass scale and who can understand a society that gives these people the means to do it. Unfathomable.

    A chilling entry for In Too Deep. I do feel for that poor woman and the families of shooters. Have you read Jodi Picoult's 19 Minutes. An eye opener.

    Denise x

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    1. Psychic, no. But definitely dialed in. After my last post Hawaii had that false alarm happen, it made me stop too. Who knows where the story comes from? I put my muse to work and this is what happens. :)
      No, I've not read Jodi Picoult's 19 minutes, but I've heard the story.
      Thanks, Denise!

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  9. What a tale!! The possessive male and the always submissive female and then her one decision brings her in a web of questions no one would ever be able to answer. Well told.

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    1. Thanks, Nidhi:
      All decisions have a consequence, even those that seem most right.

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  10. This was chilling, and chillingly real. You have given us a glimpse into a mass shooter's mind with brilliant perspicacity. So reminiscent of so much in the news. All abhorrent and unfathomable, but I can still see a middle-aged man doing it, but why would a 18/19 year old young man do something like this? and why would his community make it easy for him to do it? Uff, turns my brain inside out!

    I always think of the mothers/wives/families of the criminals, how do they move on? We have a saying in my language - no-one listens to the thief's mother's laments - meaning no-one pays any attention to the criminal's family, no credibility and no sympathy...before and after. Had the MC pointed that out before it still would have gone unnoticed most probably, society needs hard evidence before any preventive action can be taken, which is somewhat weird and self-defeating.

    A brilliant take on the prompt as usual.

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    1. A child seeking attention, wanting fame for all the wrong reasons. He has no empathy for others he's too lost in self.
      I've known the two faces of evil, and a monster with the ability to appear 'normal' a wife with a 'grudge' hasn't got a snowballs chance in hell.
      Thanks, Nila!

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  11. Yes, this is a chilling reality that happens all across the world and unfortunately, no culture is exempt from it. The obsession to keep someone under a person's control is deadly and it always will be, unless the person who feels threatened learns how to love.
    An outstanding submission.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

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    1. It is obsession, and so many are in way too deep to get out. They see the possibilities and make their decision with hope deep inside for deliverance.
      Thanks, Pat!

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  12. You never know what goes on behind closed doors. Gave me shivers. Great writing.

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    1. Thanks, Sally! I loved your happy ending!

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  13. Sometimes people have to create facades to mask their own pain from everyone including themselves. Unfortunately some people don't know how to cope once the facade is broken. Lashing out in unpredictable ways at the world and the ones they love alike.An interesting read.

    From: christopherscottauthor.wordpress.com

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  14. Very timely and so true. A psychotic controlling person is a sure indicator of hidden violence. Someone like this is hard to predict, as it only takes one incident to twist their mind into thinking they have the right to control other people's lives. Usually I believe these people are missing something in their DNA, and chemical imbalances have been noted in studies. A tense story that is reality based, a sad comment on social mores of the day. Bravo for identifying domestic violence, something that seems to increase when guns are so easily available. Great entry!

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  15. Wow...powerful and dark. The ultimate "no win" situation for this woman.

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    1. Thanks, Carrie Ann, you're right 'no win'!

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  16. A very heartbreaking and too close to truth story. Thank you for sharing it.

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  17. How much you've said in those few words. I'd forgotten about the word count and when the story was done I felt I'd lived through the twenty years myself and was quite surprised that you'd done all that in 930 words. Very powerful and believable.

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    1. Thank you, Kalpanaa.
      The headlines of late are filled with such stories, sadly.

      Delete
  18. It's so sad that horrible people like him actually exist. It grieves me that he made his wife feel guilty about it. Heartbreaking story, very well-written!

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    1. Thank you, Elizabeth.
      It's almost unbelievable such people do.

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  19. He's skillfully set her up to being seemingly partly to blame for his actions. More to the point you've skillfully taken us into the minds of him, his wife and those of the police. Brilliant.

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  20. Chillingly brilliant, Yolanda. I love the pov from the Perpetrator's wife. The letter is an insight into the killer's mind and the ordeal Mrs Strong went through in her marriage to a monster. The last line is a gem. We all know the answer to that one, unfortunately. But it makes us think: what if the police had a more proactive approach to dealing with crime?

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    1. Thank you, Adura, It seemed the best way to get him into the story.

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  21. Chilling. this really pulled me into this poor woman's life. Great writing.

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  22. Hi Renee..... SURPRISE! Lol....

    Very glad I dropped it... WOW.... You have come SUCH A LONG WAY with your writing. SO tight, flowing, and BELIEVABLE! No info dumps... LOL. The dialogue, spot on, told the story. I am genuinely shook up for this poor soul who will still be abused even though her abuser is dead.....

    My hat's off to you.... WELL DONE!

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    1. Hi, Michael!

      I'm thrilled to see you back on the net. I hope things have calmed down for you. We miss your entries at WEP. You know me, always learning! :)

      Delete
  23. What a crazy world we live in that your fiction unintentionally touched reality.

    It's a really good story. I like the way you revealed information. Great work.

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    1. Thanks, J. Lenni,
      It's more than crazy - it's downright frightening.

      Delete
  24. Wow, this is so heart-breaking and horrifying. This poor woman, my heart broke for her. And the letter written in blood freaked me out so much! Powerful work as always, Yolanda.

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    1. Thanks, Julie
      It seemed an important write.

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  25. That last line was right on! Great story in this WEP, Yolanda. Congratulations.

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  26. Unfortunately, society has rarely heeded women regarding the "red flags" governing the men in their lives. If a man "acts nice" in his public persona, society embraces him and the woman is dismissed as having a screw loose. If they don't actually "see" a man doing anything wrong, they refuse to believe he's any different behind closed doors. I think that may be changing, though. The #metoo campaign is making a difference.

    Great job, kiddo. You made this very realistic, and the inclusion of the letter added an interesting peek behind those closed doors. So to speak.

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