This last year has been rockiest of my life. In early July 2017, I wrote about my heartbreak when my relationship of over a decade ended. By early August, I had decided to move.
It was a long time coming; little of the move had to do with my Ex. He only helped in determining the place. My beloved fairy godfathers had offered several times to help me move back to Virginia and get settled. Looking around, I realized that there was nothing holding me back anymore. Well one thing, telling Papa that I was going.
September came with Hurricane Irma. My little yellow house, my precious little house survived the night. The power lasted until 5:20 am. It flickered on and off until going out with a crack. It stayed off for four days, I was out of work for a week while they worked to restore power.
On the second day after the hurricane, I got a roommate and lost my office. It’s a long story and only parts of it are mine.
One causality of the hurricane was my purple PT cruiser. The hurricane froze the brakes then electrical system decided it wanted attention. For two weeks, I had to pop the hood every time I stopped the car to remove a fuse.
My incredibly wise sister convinced to go looking for a car. I came home that day with a new car. The man who sold it to me turned out to be a distant cousin. (thanks again, Cousin Martin) Papa was there helping me make one of the biggest purchases of my life. It was one of the last times we went out. The next time would be my birthday.
Since May 2017, Papa’s was growing worse. His cirrhosis which we were lead to believe was treatable was not so willing to be treated. He was and out of the hospital. The road ahead for my parents looked bleak and was bleak.
My second year as a middle school teacher wasn’t going any smoother than the first year. Mentally, I was checking in and out at work knowing that I won’t be at the school for another year. Professionally, I had a lot of things to do to prepare for my move. Motivation to move was strong. The motivation to do the things necessary for the move was not. The paperwork for my new teaching license was left to the last minute.
Eventually all the change meant putting my plans to start a page on Patreon on hold. I was writing, but not finishing much of anything. I couldn’t see myself asking for me to support my heart if I wasn’t producing it. Starting and not finishing projects. My mind was too scattered. My life was being to be summarized by a series of things that I couldn’t get myself to do.
Thanksgiving came and Papa was in the hospital. We celebrated our last Christmas as a family and then Papa went into the hospital for the last time.
He passed on January 8th of this year. Momma, my brother Eric and I were with him. The whole night remains surreal.
Two weeks after he passed, I reconnected with an old friend. Not only did I have a mini adventure on Sanibel Island, but I am now planning on going to France next summer.
June 15th, I moved back to Virginia. Papa wasn’t told I was going. It was an open secret before his death. Before I left Momma handed a framed picture of Papa to me. It sits on my writing desk.
I feel at peace here in my new writing nook looking out the mountains. There are walks everyday. The writing routine that was pushed aside is coming back.
I still miss Papa. I don’t think I will ever stop missing the man who choose to be my father.
This Thursday, Papa will be interned at Arlington National Cemetery. Our family hero will be laid to rest with dignity and respect. I can not thank my friends and family enough for their patience, love and understanding this last year. The brightest spots in the year were because of all of you.
My heart broke recently. If my life was a book, the reader would have seen it coming before me. They might have been screaming at me to see what was a happening. Cursing at me for seeing it myself. Most of my friends did. They saw the doom on the horizon and braced themselves. But, I am stubborn and kept sailing toward it; right off the edge.
Once I love someone I don’t know how to stop loving them.
So I cry. I write. I cry. I plot and I write. I’ve done a lot of writing in the past week. Last night is the first night since it happened that I got any sleep.
In years past, I would have pour everything into expressing that heartbreak as if that is all I am a broken, tangled heart. There would have been lots and lots of bad poetry. Some drunken texts and heartfelt emails. Tears in the grocery store and at red lights. Days and weeks where I would gave shut down. My work would have been suffering.
Whether it is an increase in maturity, a lack of fucks to give or the way it ended, I am not a hot mess. I am still a mess. You don’t love someone for over a decade to be over it in a week. We first got together when I was twenty-eight. A year out from a devesting heartbreak and I fell completely and utterly in his thrall.
Maybe he is fine, right now. I don’t know. He had been pulling back over the last couple of months. He would say he has just been busy and this is true. As a writer and director, he has a ton of work obligations on top of other things.
From his perspective, I am the one to blame. I see it as both of us, but ya mostly him. I didn’t speak up when things bothered me. He keep putting off phone calls and visits. I looked for and saw reasons to explain his behavior. A recent health crisis only added to the list of reasons. But the postponing of things I needed to stay health in the relationship was a constant. Samantha on Sex in the City might just have turned to me and said “Honey, he just isn’t that into you.”
And she would have been right.
It is also true that I set the pattern where that behavior was acceptable. I was always waiting for him. I wanted to do it. I believe that by doing so I was being supportive. I own my own behavior. I own it so I can forward.
Asking some of my friends, why I got so much venom tossed my way at the end? Why did his last message not only kill our relationship but scorch the earth. It didn’t make sense. I wasn’t asking for much. I wasn’t trying to put anything on him. I just wanted to see him. Yes, I am just as naive and innocent as they statement sounds. That really was the intent of my last communication. I just wanted to see him.
I have waited for the time to be right and finally I got tired of always waiting. I have been supportive over the years to his career. If a job meant that our time together had to be rearranged, I was ok with it. I helped in any way I could. He did support me just not to the same extent. Truthfully, that bothered me.
The physical distance didn’t do communication any favors.
I accepted a smaller place in his world just to stay in it. A place I now realize means that many of the people who call him friend, don’t know about us. So why when I asked so little did I get so much venom.
The answer is simple. It makes this whole thing easier for him. If I am the villain or at least trying to make him one then it is easier to move on. He doesn’t need that negativity. He really doesn’t. If I am crazy and obsessed then he doesn’t owe me anything. It is in his best interest to get the hell away from me. People will congratulate him on getting away from me. If I was cheating on him, something he insinuated more than once over the last couple of months then even more reason to do the hell away.
I am not any of those things. I didn’t cheat on him. If I was approached by someone, I told them I told them I had a boyfriend. I didn’t make a big deal of it. Still I would get text implying that I was?
I did distanced myself as soon as realized what was happening. When I realize that this was the end. I didn’t wait. Weeks ago, I had decided that if we broke again I would do what I needed to make sure this break was for good. I only begged a little and tried my best not to demand answers. Mostly I was in shock.
Would I like those answers? Yes and no.
Yes, because my heart wants to understand. No, because the mind knows that even with the answers the likelihood that I am going to be comforted by them is slim.
Heartbreak gives me insight into my own character as well as how to write characters. Fear has ruled me for most of my life. I could have moved to New York, I was willing to move, I just needed a word from him. I was afraid. Afraid that he didn’t really love me. Afraid I won’t be able to find a job. Afraid I couldn’t deal with being up close to his other partner. Fear of rejection was a big part of the decisions I made. Some of which he didn’t ask me to make. I did it because I thought it would help. I was wrong. Hear that I was wrong.
While he has been in New York for the last couple of years, I dreamed of seeing New York with him. I wanted to go to shows and see the Met. It is one of my favorite museums on the planet. I daydreamed about the changes that live in one of the greatest cities in the world. I didn’t voice those desires to him. I didn’t say that I wanted more than to visit. When he mentioned me being there as an aside. I jumped on it. I didn’t discuss it. I was too afraid. I kept waiting for him to say more.
My own motivations are messy. How could I think that my ex or my characters motivations would be simple?
Sometimes they need to be messy. If they are too straight forward then they are boring. They need have layers just a like an onion and they don’t alway smell pretty. (Thanks Shrek) They have to have that human quality of relatablity.
Recently, I finished reading the Prisoner in his Palace by Will Bardenwerper. It is the story of “Saddam Hussein, his American guards and what history leaves unsaid.” History leaves a lot unsaid.
Saddam Hussein was sadist, a tyrant and a whole lot of evil things. He had two of his son in-laws gunned down after convincing them to return to Iraq. He was also an affable old man who expressed concern for the soldiers guarding him. He even gave one of them his watch before being excuted. He is a villain, but he was also a husband, grandfather and friend. Although, the latter provide to be quite dangerous to many Iraqis.
The book showed the complexity of Saddam’s character and how even knowing the evil that he did, it was hard not to like the guy. Reading it was eye-openoing in a lot of ways. Saddam was a villian, but his motivations were complex. He did awlful things because he thought they were the good things. He wanted the best for his people. His methods were evil. His intents according to him were only good.
Thank you, my love, my characters have just gotten a whole lot more interesting. The character that I patterned after you will still continue to make appearances in my work. I know you were pissed when Anthony was created. You thought people would judge you because of him. You didn’t see that Anthony was one of the heroes. I promise not to take my heartache out on him.
And thank you for all the things that you did to help me on my journey as a writer. This blog is here because you encouraged me. You gave me advice when I needed it. You are an amazing man, writer and friend. I miss you, but I get it.
If you’d like more information on Lucinda’s work subscribe to this blog, follow her on Twitter or like her page on Facebook. Her novella, Blood Child is available on Amazon. You can also find her on Instagram where she posts pictures of foster critters and other adorably evil things.
How does one deal with being so lost that they have finally gotten tired of throwing their hands up in the air? Of starting all over once more. Of staring at the end and knowing how much work it is going to take to make it a beginning. If one is a writer, you write. You talk about it with people and then you write some more.
This is me doing just that.
This is me working it out.
Today, I crossed off 11 of the 14th things on my to-do list off.
I did good, today.
All and all, it was pretty spectacular for someone who has been sleeping through much the last month of her life one of two sofas. My living room is a mixture of items I have been given over the last five years. There are only a couple of items in the room that I purchased. A lamp shade I purchased with an ex-boyfriend from Ikea that looked vaguely like one of the chocolate oranges you see around the winter holidays. It is absolutely hideous. And fits perfectly. It works in the space. It adds something to it The rugs and one of the bookcases as well as the TV make up the rest of the items that I purchased. Well, beyond the books which even some of those were passed on by the dearly departed.
There are a lot of things in my home that came from death. The death of a friend or love one has filled my living room with furniture. My favorite lawyer bookcases and the desk where my TV sets all came from a friend’s parents. They gave me these things after her death because I needed to furnish my new home and they were moving. It was too much for them to stay where she had died. So much of the last two years of her life were spent with them watching her.
I wear a set of rings they gave me everyday. These belonged to my friend. It is my way of remembering her. Of honoring her. I feel naked without them. If I forget these things then I will dash back into the house.
Death and the past are constant companions. Maybe that is why I have such a hard time mapping out my future direction. So much of the home I cherish has come from the past. When you walk in my house, it is clearly that I have an affliction for darker things. I stopped repacking the entirety of the Halloween decorations years ago.. My living room, the first room, that you see has seven skulls in it. One witch, two bats and a couple of dragons. The only room without a skull or something Halloween in it is my bathroom.
Then there are the books. Lots and lots of them. A great deal of them are histories from around the world. Scattered among these are the skulls and various nick-nacks.
My house sometimes scares my landlord. I have been a good tenant for the last five years which combined with being a writer as well as teacher has ensured the good will of the landlord. Thus he has learned to humor me. I may be odd, but I pay my rent on time and don’t cause trouble.
Drapped in death and the slightly macabre my home gives most visitors a sense of peace. What is more peaceful than death? The long sleep. The goal for me in decorating has been to create a place that is inviting. So far, it seems to be just that. I have worried in the past that my collections and love of skulls would turn people off, but as far as I know I haven’t scared anyone away. And if I have then I have no problem with it since they didn’t tell me they were uncomfortable. I can’t fix what I don’t know is a problem.
The map I am trying to layout currently is going to take me away from this place sooner or later. This is the second place that has been totally mine in adulthood. I have lived here longer than anywhere else since I graduated college. Before that I lived with my birth father after my mother and I lost our home. I would spend the next three years living like a guest in his house. My picture rarely made the wall of family photos and when it did, it was only for a short time. If you walked into my father’s home, you would never know that I was his child. There is no evidence of me there at all.
The house I live in now is home. I love the idea of the life that I have built for myself. I am proud of how far I have some in the last couple of years. And then there is the shame I feel for not having gotten farther. Why don’t I own a home? Why do I live so close to the edge? Truth be total, my family won’t allow me to fall too far. They have always been there to save me from rock bottom.
Another truth be told, I have been coasting for the last couple of years. I am smart. This isn’t a bragging. It took me a long time to realize that I am in fact intelligent. My mother and sister are genius so being an intelligent woman runs in my family. I am not a Mensan like them. I haven’t bothered with the test or like my mother has suggested on more than one occasion when I as in therapy had a psychologist sign off on the paperwork. She believes in me. She has always seen the intelligence that has been bouncing around in my head. Years of being talked down to by my birth father, grandparents and the rest of my siblings taught me that if I wasn’t as smart as my sister and mother I wasn’t smart at all. So I never pushed myself academically. It was either sink or swim. I am good at floating.
My mindset was that I only had so much intelligence. There was no way I could be as smart as other people. Talent was something I lacked and could not develop. Psychologist Carol Dweck calls this a fixed mindset. I didn’t really see that I was coasting a great deal of the time just below success. I honestly thought that if I was meant to be successful it would just happen. I never quite got there but I am never far off from it,
Don’t get me wrong, I do work hard. Sometimes I work too much. But that is mostly to make up from having coasted. Or when things really need to get done. Or when I get the energy. Lack of energy has been the theme of the last couple of years. Truth be told, I believe that I burnt out before I ever became a teacher. Ironically, teaching is where I finally began to believe in my own intelligence.
I have been working since I was 12 years old. Given the nature of the employment, I worked long days and made little money (75 to 100 a week), which at twelve was big money since I didn’t have any money. I saved pretty much every penny I yearned for either school clothes or my college fund. I made it through college and went where life and opportunity lead me. I didn’t explore much. Kept waiting for a sign or something. The course catalog was the sign I missed.
Kept waiting dreaming of that door to open. Kept dreaming of it. Didn’t know how to manifest it. People kept telling me I could do this or that. I didn’t believe them. Seriously, I thought because of my learning disablity (dysgraphia) that I would never be a writer. Mmm, who was an Amazon Best Selling Author? And who is going to continue to write no matter what? Me.
I follow some very talented people online. Some of whom I am friends with and the thing about their talent. The secret to that talent is that they work at it. They keep working on it, made mistakes and kept working on it. They do the work. (Thank you, Lisa from Halfmoon Creative Works for reminding of this. )
I wrote Blood Child in a heart beat. I did the best I could. I got help from professionals and friends to make and after months of hard work, there were mistakes. There are always mistakes. No matter how hard you work there will always be typos and things you can do better. You have to learn to do them better fix them the next time around.
The next book is coming slowly, but it is coming. It is going to take more energy and way more work. It is time for me to take the skill I have and begin to refine it. I just need to shake things up and make a new map for myself. One where I am growing. Get out of the comfort zone and back to my happy. My happy often comes from learning new things, traveling and having conversations. Things that my depression and anxiety nearly robbed me of. Things I can’t always do from where my life is right now. From where I have directed my life.
Happy isn’t easy. Happy doesn’t always mean that you feel well happy. There isn’t a glow to it always. My happy maybe more of a flow. When I am flowing, I am growing I moving with my life and better able to see opportunity when it presents itself. I think though for me it is a little bit like the lamp in my living, not always pretty by itself but given a chance a thing of beauty. The trick of manifesting that thing of beauty is seeing the potential, not listening to doubt and doing what is necessary to make it shine. The lamp shade, didn’t natural fit the lamp. The lamp itself had to be taken apart and reassembled. It is still a little wobbly when bumped.
My new map is going to be made day by day. Word by word.
For the last four weeks, I have been the type of sick that people dread. The kind that makes your whole life slow to a crawl. There is nothing you can do but rest, drink lots and lots of fluids and hope that people don’t get tired of you asking for help. Help getting groceries, driving and doing laundry. My body didn’t have the energy to stand or sit long enough to fold my own laundry. I had to ask for a lot of help. Bronchitis turned into pnenomina. My body forced me to rest. It is still forcing me to rest. While drafting this post, I took an hour nap.
I am on the mend. I am off the antibodies and codiene laced cough syrup and back to my morning coffee. I’m back writing in my office under the watchful eye of my Ghostbuster figures. All good things.
If I take things slowly, I can get back to a normal pace of life.
The problem is I am not sure I want to go back to the way things were. To be blunt, my life is comfortable and there are a lot of awesome things in it,but it isn’t working. I am not happy. I am lost. I’ve been this way for a while.
It is the combination of a lot of things. Things I am willing to talk about and things that I am not sure how to talk about.
Twleve years into teaching and I am not inspired to be creative anymore. What is the point when I am never going to be really recognized for the work I do or paid fairly for it? It isn’t about being Teacher of the Year or anything life that. It is about not having to worry constantly about money or what deeming thing is going to said to myself or collegues next.
I tried unsuccessfully to exit teaching this year. I figured that it was time. My resume was met with an understandable silence. I didn’t have on paper what they were looking for. I would have loved the job, been good at the job but I have no one but myself to blame for not landing an interview. I didn’t do everything I needed with my resume to show them.
I have tried and failed to develop a consistent writing routine. I have also failed to complete any of the projects that I have going. The list of unfinished work gets longers and longer.
The sequel to Blood Child remains unfinished as does my first novel. Everything in my life is in the works.
I have craft and art projects that are collecting dust.
I am lost. Lost in my work life, in my personal life and pretty much everywhere. I feel like if I really let someone know what is going on then I am going to break down the cry. And the tears won’t stop.
Because not only am I a mess, I am also deemed to be broken one. Broken because I am over weight and depressed. Lossing weight isn’t going to cure my mental health issues. And curing my curing my mental health issues isn’t going to fix my weight.
I am lost because I want to move and at the same time I am terrified of it.
Leaving teaching means leaving job security and my health insurance. It means abandonning the known.
My folks are fine with me moving if it is for a better position and place in life, but I don’t know that it will be. I can’t guarantee that I will be making a move that is going to make everything better.
If I roll the dice and pack up my life, I fear that went the dice land they are going to come up snake eyes.
There is more.
I have a serious case of imposter syndrome. I feel like I am a huge fraud.
I am a poet who can’t snap her fingers.
I am lost.
Here is the point in writing that I would normally write something hopeful and inspiring. It is tempting to end that way once again. We all like stories of redemption. Stories where the underdog makes it to the end, finds their ray of sunshine and lives their dream. I think in always trying to be the protagonist in that kind of story, by forcing life into that mold, I have lost myself. I have lost the ability to admit mistakes, short comings and given into the notion that I must always put a positive face forward.
I crave being seen yet, I have been trained to hide myself and not be trouble. Not to worry others.
When I talk about depression some well meaning friends are always concerned that I have gone to that dark place again. The one where sucide is the only exit to freedrom. I am not there, trust me. I was never really there. I saw the other exits can clawed my way to them, sometimes figuratively some times literally.
I am in a different place, where there are a thousand doors and the reality of happily ever after has forever been shattered.
When I posted the Work, I didn’t mean to come across as complaining and I wasn’t really in a bad place. I was attempting to express what that one moment was screaming at me. I was just tired of feeling like I am trapped on the giant cosmic hamster wheel of tedium.
Things never seeming to get better. Just one day after another and no visible end in sight to the dilemmas and conundrums.
Things undone and needing to attention. Things that need to be seen.
Sometimes I don’t feel like I am being seen. Like my problems and issues are too mundane. Too first world to count.
I know I am lucky. I know that I have been blessed with more than two decades of continuous employment. I have been everything from a model to a legal secretary. Since 2006, I have been a teacher.
It was my dream job. The dream that I let myself have.
The one that was acceptable. Honorable.
But for the last thirty years of my life, there has been another dream. The writing dream.
Many of us have it. Many of us give it up to find things that pay the bills. Dreams are pretty good at not paying the bills.
Life shouldn’t just be about paying bills. It should be about living. It is easy to get caught up in the things that we do to make the money to live. It is even understandable. The electric company won’t take a free copy of my last book as payment for next months electricity.
Paying the bills is a necessity. But, the life you choose to live doesn’t have to all the bells and whistles. It just has to have the ones that matter to you. Not to everyone will understand.
And they don’t need to do .
You just have to get to the work that makes you happy. That work that feeds more than the bills.
Writing was slow this weekend. Not because Captain A returned, but thanks to a lovely winter cold.
I spent most of Saturday in a hazy followed by a nap. Then another nap. I did make it in to the land of the cognizant for a couple of hours to watch Deadpool with a friend. (Great movie, but please don’t take your kids. Seriously, don’t do it!) I thought about writing, even opened the notebook to begin writing. It was a fail. I ended up crawling into bed and staying there.
Sunday wasn’t much better. Although I did watch two more movies while I was at my sister’s house enjoying some homemade treats and doing pretty much nothing. (Thanks, Zee-Mama) I came home and went straight to bed.
This writer has been laying in bed all morning trying to summon the energy to get into gear. And you know what it isn’t happening.
The dishes aren’t going to get done. The laundry will stay slightly stinky and I will spend most of the day drifting in and out of napping.
And that’s alright. It is ok, to take care of myself and not to push myself. It is ok to let my house get a little messy.
It isn’t a permanent state.
What I can do right now is get some rest and take care of myself. Burning the candle at both ends won’t help the next book get written or grade the student papers. All it will help do is give my cold a lease to stay longer.
Taking care of yourself isn’t a waste of time. It is necessary.
So, it is back to bed for me.
Love and Sneezes,
P.S. Check out my book, Blood Child, on Amazon. It is only .99 cents for the month of February.
One year ago, Blood Child was officially released. It has been a great year. Thus far, little Blood Child has earned 8-5-Star reviews and spend sometimes on an Amazon top-ten list.
Thank you once again. Enjoy chapter 1 of Blood Child. The complete novella is available on Amazon for only .99 cents.
“I am not drunk enough to talk about it now.”
The interview I had lobbied over six months for just turned on her heels and walked back into the shadows of the house, leaving the door wide open and giving me an excellent view of her curves. My appreciation for them was short-lived, since cool air slapped me as I hesitated on the threshold, trying to take in the house’s details. The ten-foot walk from the car had broken me out in a sweat, making it difficult to concentrate. It wasn’t even May, and already Florida was managing to melt British tourists and small yippy dogs into smelly, sticky puddles. Since I was British born myself, it was only being raised in the United States that kept me from disintegrating.
As I watched the current Countess Bathory return, it occurred to me that she was nothing like her infamous blood-bathing ancestor. She had no aura of power or authority. She was, in fact, a wino, judging from the bin overflowing with bottles on the front porch. Albeit, an incredibly attractive one.
Technically, she wasn’t a countess, having renounced the title but keeping the money she had inherited along with it. Only people in fairy tales give up both, and usually for love. As far as I knew, Ms. Bath was single.
Nothing about Emily Bath made sense. She was richer than Donald Trump and had more degrees than Neil Degrasse Tyson, yet she lived in a tiny orchid-colored house in a mismatched Orlando neighborhood. She taught high school—not even a regular high school, but an alternative one for students who had been kicked out. She could have done anything and willingly chose to work in high school hell.
The interior was incredibly modest, if not a little old-fashioned for a thirty-something heiress or anyone in her thirties. The floors creaked with each step. There was no TV in sight, just bookshelves and seating. All the furnishings looked like they were hand-me-downs from someone’s long-deceased grandparents. The sofa engulfed me in patterned floral pillows. The countess smirked as I struggled to right myself. At least she had a sense of humor.
Still nothing about the home spoke of the mounds of wealth she had; it was all understated and sadly normal. I expected more—craved it, to be honest.
Emily Erzabet Bath was the survivor of a modern-day murder mystery. Nine years ago she and her three older brothers spent the weekend at their late father’s estate for his funeral in upstate New York. Her brothers died, along with twenty other souls.
The manor had been drenched in blood, literally. It dripped off tables, pooled inpuddles on the floor, and had unartfully spattered the walls. The first officers on scene inched their way around the edges of each room as they searched for survivors. They weren’t trying to preserve evidence. No one wanted to step in that much blood. It was inconceivable that anyone could have survived the carnage. Pieces of victims were carried out bit by bit for nearly a week. The local police chief was one of the dead, along with his wife, so state police were immediately called in. They in turn called the FBI. It was a forensic nightmare. It took years for them to sort everything out, and then the picture that the evidence painted didn’t make any sense.
People were found at nearly all the exits, but no one made it outside before being killed. No one tried to call for help. All the phones at the estate were working, yet no one used them.
The officers who found Emily broke into her room after following a blood trail, only to find her cloistered in the back of the closet beneath a bunch of old musky coats stained with her blood. The combination of the smells—musky fur, stale blood, and human excrement—remained with the two men. Their stomachs emptied upon seeing Emily broken and begging for help with her eyes. Ten years later, even mentioning her or her condition made the two turn green. They thought she was dead until her bloodshot emerald eyes opened. She was severely dehydrated, with deep bloody scratches that had turned her flesh into ribbons; her wounds would seep blood for days after her rescue, confounding the medical staff. It was months before she was released from the hospital.
Emily allegedly had fled to her room and remained there the entire weekend. She couldn’t explain how she had gotten there or what had happened. Her story just didn’t hold up. Many believed she was at least partially responsible for the deaths of the twenty-three people in attendance. Maybe she really didn’t remember? It was possible, but why did she hide instead of calling for help or attempting to leave the estate? There were more questions than logical answers in the bloody tale of Emily Bath. The tabloid media had attempted to keep the story alive, supposedly to get answers, even after the relatives of the deceased pleaded with them to stop. A couple of lawsuits, combined with the complete unwillingness of law enforcement officials to contribute to the macabre circus surrounding the case, finally brought things to an end after about three years.
Now, as the ten-year anniversary approached, interest in the case was reemerging, making this interview priceless. And I was the man who landed it—the first and only person to speak to the reclusive Ms. Bath on the record. Persistence, charm, and just a bit of cyber stalking had won the day; being unemployed finally had a benefit.
No evidence was found linking Emily to the deaths, according to the investigator’s report in my satchel. No evidence was found linking anyone to the crime. The report had cost a pretty borrowed penny. Now I was wondering if the expense had been worth it. She was just so ordinary. So painfully ordinary.
Emily returned from the kitchen carrying two glasses of deep-red wine. When I started to protest, she informed me that I would need it.
“Mr. Clark, please…humor me.”
“All right, Ms. Bath. Do you mind if I record this conversation?”
“Not at all. I would appreciate a copy. Also, my attorney, Mr. McNeal, would like you to
sign this disclosure agreement prior to us continuing.”
“I don’t think my editor would approve any agreement that limits or restricts the content of the article.”
“Let’s be frank, Mr. Clark. You don’t have an editor. And you haven’t had one for the last six months. Your freelance opportunities have dried up, along with your hope and savings.”
I wanted to protest, but she was telling the truth. I had been let go from the Times six months ago. Budget cuts or some other bureaucratic nonsense was the official reason; sleeping with my editor’s grandson was the true cause of my separation from the nation’s foremost paper.
In my defense, Philip was twenty-one, and I had no idea that he and my editor, Ashley, were related. She wasn’t amused to find us cuddling in the afterglow on her $1,500 sofa. It probably didn’t help that I was also sleeping with her and was too intoxicated to notice where I had passed out. In the paper’s defense, I was only great at my job when I was sober, and I was rarely sober. Drunk, I was just OK. Sad, but true; I could do my job intoxicated and get away with it for the most part.
Looking over the agreement, I was surprised to see that it didn’t restrict what I wrote—only that I share any new information I found with Ms. Bath and her attorneys, as well as proofs prior to publication. If I had an editor or had been attached to a company, I would have had them research it before signing, but I didn’t, and Emily had called my bluff.
“Why do you think I have access to information that you don’t have?” I asked.
She sighed, reaching for my satchel. Before I could protest, she pulled out the investigator’s report and tossed it on the ottoman.
“You purchased that from Detective Anderson two months ago. My sources weren’t able to get a full report. They didn’t think to approach him directly, a misstep on their part.”
Her smile was the first hint that she wasn’t entirely innocent; I didn’t think she had killed anyone, but that still didn’t make her guilt-free. She just didn’t seem capable of mass murder. Still, everyone is guilty of something. It just might not be illegal. “Of course, your copy doesn’t include all the crime scene photos. I am willing to share if you sign.”
“Touché, Ms. Bath.”
“Sign and you can call me Em.”
I shook my head as I signed it, just to be dramatic. The wine was beginning to look more and more appealing.
“Anything else, Em?”
“No, the floor is yours. Let the inquisition begin.”
I had to glance down at my notebook to be sure where to start. Em had thrown me off more than the past six months without meaningful work. Or maybe it was everything that was riding on this interview going well. I was pretty sure Ashley had started to use her connections to blackball me when I didn’t appear to be suffering enough to satisfy her. Even Cat Fancy’s editor refused my calls. Pulling off this story would make me instantly marketable again.
Looking at Em, I realized she could have been her ancestor’s twin, except she was most definitely curvier. She had the same delicate almond-shaped eyes, china-doll skin, and brunette hair so dark; at first glance it appeared black. She leaned back into the plush sofa as if she were having a conversation with an old friend. Smiling, I began…
Five hours, two bottles of wine, and ten pages of notes later, I departed the tiny orchid house, making it back to the hotel as quickly and safely as possible. Luckily, I had experience driving during these conditions. Becoming inebriated in the course of an interview is never recommended or suggested, but Em had been right; the wine was necessary even for this seasoned drunk. I knew I could count on the recording to help me where my notes trailed off. Experience had taught me well to always have a backup plan.
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