I NEVER KNEW
An original short story by Eliza Lloyd
I was arrested, tried and convicted of killing a man I never knew.
The lengthy investigation flamed, stalled, sputtered. My neighbors spoke in whispered concern and outright lies. I listened. I heard. I thought I was aware of every aspect of the inquiry into the double homicide.
A crime of passion was how most people described the troubling episode.
No one paid a bit of attention to me until someone remembered they’d seen me with him.
But I was still surprised when they came for me. A knock on the door. A warrant for my arrest. A phone call. Ridiculously high bail. And then the waiting.
My defense attorney, a bright and shiny advocate fresh from law school, stood by me. He assured me that the jury would never believe I had a thing to do with this murder. He said I had a certain air of innocence and naiveté. My alibi was weak, but then anyone who lived alone would have the same predicament.
The victim was found naked, in bed with a woman of astounding beauty. There was no mistaking the man’s reason for being there. Do I need to mention that she was also naked? And stone-cold dead?
Opportunity? We lived in the same apartment complex. I thought it seemed like a nice place to live when I’d moved in two years ago—close to work, near the mall and my favorite restaurant.
Means? The crime scene photos caused me to turn away. They weren’t gruesome, just passionate. A single shot in the head for her. A single shot through the heart for him. Based on the blood smatterings, they thought he’d been killed after the woman. Perhaps he’d turned to beg mercy from the killer. Perhaps he laughed. Would anyone ever know?
Motive? During the trial, they said he was a professional gambler and cheat. They said he used women to get what he wanted. They said I was typical of his victims.
Other photos were displayed. Him with other women. Him without a care.
They said the case was all about him.
The case revolved around circumstantial evidence, and I began to feel relief that the end was in sight. My attorney had thought he was cock of the walk, until two days before the trial ended when a search warrant had turned up the gun used to kill them. Him, really. She was just an afterthought. They’d found the gun where I had hidden it. Inside his casket.
I had worked at the mortuary in charge of his funeral. Possession of the gun would have been something of a problem to explain. My anxiety had fled in a moment of crazed relief as I’d read the clipboard with the duty assignments. After the autopsy, his body had been sent to me.
I don’t know about poetic justice. Perhaps it would have been, had I gotten away with the crime.
Typical of his victims? No. His other victims had let him get away with the swindle and heartbreak. His other victims would quietly nurse their wounded pride while he went about the business of emptying bank accounts, ruining lives and living large on other women’s ignorant generosity.
My grandmother always said we were a family of passionate women.
I found out the night I killed him, she was right.
Even though he was my lover, I never knew him.
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