Mr. Stark was trying hard to get back into Emberlyns’ good graces. Every morning, he came into her room and gave her a rose. She always smiled and thanked him, making sure she played the part of the forgiving, good wife.
Deep down, she was outraged. Was that rose supposed to heal what he had done to her? Was that rose supposed to make her forget? He never failed to offer a rose but he always failed to offer an apology. He always failed to offer any expression of regret or remorse.
In her mind, he had taken her childs’ life and she intended to take his.
Two weeks later, Mr. Stark was dead, which takes us back to the beginning of the story.
Emberlyn won the battle with Mr. Starks’ children. Being his wife and therefore, legally the next of kin bears weight under the law. Suspicions and accusations aren’t a legitimate reason for an autopsy, coupled with virtually no evidence of foul play. Her wishes to have him cremated were carried out and an elaborate service was planned. People from near and far attended and expressions of surprise and great sorrow were evident. Also evident was the absence of his children.
When Mr. Starks’ will was executed, everyone was stunned when it was revealed that he left his entire fortune to Emberlyn. His children had no chance of contesting, as Mr. Stark had specifically excluded them and left no question about his intentions. Everything, the mansion in Chestnut Hill, the house in Marthas’ Vineyard and all his holdings were now hers.
She played the perfect grieving widow. I came to realize that it was pretentious sadness and I knew in my gut that she had murdered Mr. Stark. I just didn’t know how.
I could have tried to push for an analysis of his remains but like I said, there was no proof of foul play. The coroner had pronounced death due to a heart attack. His age and propensity to eat a diet rich in red meat and deep-fried foods were certainly contributing factors.
Emberlyn had never told but one person about the fall and how it happened. That person was Helga. I had secretly corralled her one day and she reluctantly gave me the details with only one condition. The condition was that I promise I would never tell Mrs. Stark. I kept that promise…for a while.
During my last meeting with Mrs. Stark and despite my better judgment, in my mind I was still playing mental videos of us together. I kept having to remind myself that I was talking to a murderess but I found that I was sympathetic.
Sometimes, existential despair is an understandably powerful motive. Not a justifiable motive of course, but understandable.
I broke my promise to Helga and told Mrs. Stark that I knew about the baby. She had no reaction, not even surprise. I looked at her and said “revenge is sweet. Not legal but sweet and I understand how difficult it must have been.”
She cut cold, fiery eyes toward me and said “do you? Do you really?”
I felt like a crumb and made my apologies because she was right. I had no idea how difficult it must have been.
There was a brief silence and I found my mind wandering again, thinking “who wouldn’t want to have a child with this stunning woman?” I quickly regained my senses and remembered why I was there. I asked her point blank:
“How did you do it?”
She surprised me when she calmly and without hesitation, said “succinylcholine.” I knew about that drug. It was called the perfect murder weapon. It is almost immediately broken down by the body and leaves no trace. Modern day techniques can now analyze the enzymes which break it down but with no reason to look for that anomaly, it is indeed the perfect murder weapon.
I asked how she got it. The only thing she would say was that she had acquired it when she was in the hospital.
“How did you give it to him?” I asked.
“I put some of my sleeping pills in his drink and waited until he fell asleep.” she said. “I raised his arm and injected him where it wouldn’t be detectable and then I watched him take his last breath.”
She had an almost satisfied look on her face when she said “then I put a rose in his hand. Somehow, it seemed appropriate.”
She had just admitted to murdering her husband. I knew that it would be impossible to prove, even with an admission. The effects of the drug were long since gone and she would most likely not admit guilt to anyone else.
Did I really want her to be punished for killing the man she believed was unrepentantly responsible for the death of her unborn child? Would it be worth thousands of taxpayers’ dollars and hours and hours of my time to try a case that I knew beyond a reasonable doubt I would not win? Should I let her get away with murder? If I did, I would be guilty of obstruction of justice and I had sworn to uphold the law. Could I live with that? Those were the questions that I could only answer after searching my conscience.
Five years later.
While waiting for a confidential informant, I happened to look into a window. It was a new art gallery that had just opened in an area that was undergoing gentrification. I had arrived early so I decided to walk in, for no other reason than to escape the chilly weather.
I wasn’t the least bit interested in art. I didn’t understand some of it and admit that I had little appreciation for most of it. Scanning the room as if I was a seasoned collector, my focus became fixed on someone in the corner.
My heart skipped a beat when I realized that it was Emberlyn Stark.
Her eyes met mine.