Mr. Starks’ children were adamant that an autopsy be performed but Mrs. Stark wanted him cremated as soon as possible. That of course, led to a temporary injunction and even more hostilities.
Mrs. Stark was hiding something. I was sure of that. Mr. Stark was “with the angels” and I wondered. Did she arrange the meeting?
A return visit to 38 W. Chestnut Hill Avenue for a follow-up interview with Helga, rendered nothing more than what seemed to be a rehearsed account of Mr. Starks’ kindness and generosity.
Thomas the butler, was somewhat guarded but echoed Helgas’ account almost word for word. In my experience, they both had the signature characteristics of having been coached. But coached by whom? Mr. Starks’ children? Mrs. Stark?
Exercising due diligence, I began to look into Mrs. Starks’ past and I was completely unprepared for what I would find. Behind doors that opened dark, unknown places with skeletons in every closet, lay deep secrets and a life from the wrong side of the tracks that she had desperately wanted to escape.
Her mother was alive and still lived in the trailer park where Emberlyn Beck had been raised. They were by all accounts, estranged. Emberlyn was ashamed of her mother and even more ashamed of where she was from and who she was. She didn’t want anybody to know that she was a “bastard child” as her mother liked to call her, when she was drinking.
Her mother had never married and word had it that she didn’t even know who Emberlyns’ father was. How she had managed to make ends meet was clear but when she decided to sell Emberlyn to a prospective John, Emberlyn ran away from home.
She quit high school, lied about her age and got a job at a night club as an exotic dancer. After finding Emberlyn asleep under a bush in the parking lot, the owner, Mr. Richards, allowed her to stay in a back room in exchange for sweeping up after the club closed each night.
He was a strict businessman but he was also a kind man. He took Emberlyn under his wing and became a father figure to her. He protected her as if she was his own daughter. He brought food to her and even added extra locks on the door so she would feel safe.
Night after night, she danced and served drinks, enduring cat-calls and inappropriate drunken passes. But she was a quick study and soon learned how to manipulate that kind of man. A little insincere flattery and the promise of perhaps a touch later, would open wallets faster than a speeding bullet.
One night Emberlyn danced for a well-dressed gentleman, named Otis Carrington. He had become a regular and it was clear that he was completely smitten with her. He slipped hundred-dollar bills under her garter as she danced in front of him.
It wasn’t long before his benevolence reached beyond the club. He was a lonely old man who was willing to pay for companionship and she was a young woman who was willing to sell it.
Otis Carrington was a self-made man who himself was from the wrong side of the tracks and like Emberlyn, he knew early in his life that he wanted more. Not formally educated but highly intelligent, he started a software company and made millions when he sold it.
He was a recent widower, having been married for almost fifty years. He sired four children, all of whom were drug users and petty criminals. Their name and his money had kept them from suffering any severe penalties, such as prison but they were entitled children who expected an inheritance that would provide for them. What they didn’t know was that Mr. Carrington had completely cut them out of his will and everything he had would go to charity.
It wasn’t long before he asked Emberlyn to move into his house with the promise that he would take care of her financially.
He was her ticket to the kind of life she had always dreamed of. To her, this was a business agreement and having a sharp business acumen, she agreed only if marriage was on the table. Her hypocrisy did have its limitations. She wasn’t above moving in with a man she didn’t love but she was not going to be his whore.
There was no hesitation on his part and he agreed. Two days later, he presented her with a 15 carat flawless, near colorless diamond ring.
When she told Mr. Richards of her plan, his only question was “why would you want to marry an old man?” Her response was “money.”
Despite the disapproval of his children, the date was set and although Emberlyn intended to follow through, she had questions. “Exactly what are you expecting from me?” she asked.
“All I expect from you is to be my companion,” he said. “You will want for nothing and I will ask for only one thing.”
“What is that one thing?” Emberlyn asked.
“I would like for you to continue to dance for me,” he said.
“Is that all?” she asked. When he said “yes,” she was puzzled and asked why.
She listened as he said “I was diagnosed with prostate cancer ten years ago and my reproductive organs no longer function. I understand that you are a vibrant young woman and you will be in what is a rather unorthodox marriage but I want you to know that if you want to have a friend, it’s alright. I would only ask that you be discreet.”
At that moment, Emberlyn felt such compassion for this gentle man whose attention she had captured. He wasn’t trying to buy sexual favors from her. He was offering to take care of her and was even more generous in agreeing to share her.
Suddenly, she wanted to take care of him.
To be continued_______________