Scarlet Rose – Chapter Four

Two days later we took my note to the college, along with the biggest shard of glass from the bottle.  One of the professors said that he could translate the note in a jiffy.

I asked if he recognized the language.  He laughed when he teasingly said “there is this marvelous invention called Google Translate.  It’s available through the internet.  You may have heard of it.”

Of course, we’d heard of it.  I had the internet at work and Noah had it at school.  We just didn’t have it at home yet and neither one of us liked to spend hours on the computer so it had not been a priority.

I was old school anyway.  If I didn’t know what a word meant, I looked it up in the dictionary that my dad had given me when I was 12 years old. Unfortunately, it didn’t have translations of other languages and certainly not the plethora of “new” words that have been recently coined.  Still, it was my go-to source for definitions.

The professor looked at the note and asked where I got it.  I told him that it was in a bottle that I found on the beach, when I was eight years old.  I showed him the broken piece of my bottle and he said “this is pretty old glass and I can tell by the little bubbles inside that it was hand-blown. Hmm.  Let’s have a look at the note.”

He went on to say “okay.  This is in Swedish and it says ‘my name is Scarlet Rose.  I live in Sweden.  I am lonely.  Will you be my friend’?”  He said “that note traveled a long way.”

I asked if there was any way to possibly find out who wrote it.  He said “there’s no town and there’s no date so I would think it would be difficult, but there are websites for this kind of thing.  Who knows?  You might get lucky and find something.  I would guess, considering the bottle glass, that this note was written quite some time ago.”

We thanked him and as we headed home, I said “see?  I was right.  I don’t know how but I knew that my bottle held sadness.  Some young girl or maybe even an older woman, was so lonely that she sent a message in a bottle, hoping to find a friend.”

Noah said “you know, you may never find anything out about that note.”  I knew that he was right.  I would keep the note and I would always treasure it but I would admit defeat.  Several times I had been called “the girl with the bottle.”  Now it was time for a different moniker.  I would be “the girl with a purpose.”

My priority was to find out about our heritage, particularly his.  I put the note away, covered with the shard of glass from its broken home and said “goodbye” to Scarlet Rose.

To start the journey of tracking our ancestors, Noah and I decided that we needed to get the internet right away.  I wanted to know more about my family and as I said, I really wanted to know more about his.  Although he wasn’t resistant, he seemed rather nonchalant.  He had never even asked about his birth parents, even though his mom and dad had told him that if and when he was ever ready, they would tell him what they knew.

The first order of business to me, was to get as much information as we could from them.  “Now is the time to ask questions.” I told Noah.  “Now is the time to try to find answers.”

Noahs’ mom and dad had never shielded him from the fact that he was adopted and they had always told him that he had been selected, not rejected.

We drove to their house and told them that we wanted to talk to them about his birth parents.  I was asking most of the questions but as I said, Noah wasn’t resistant.  I told his mom that we had done the DNA thing and he was almost entirely Scandinavian.

She said “I guess that could be possible.  He came to us through St. Mary of the Angels Convent in Ithaca, New York.”

She couldn’t offer much in the way of information, other than Noah had been born to a young girl who had been surrendered to the convent after having disgraced her family.  The circumstances surrounding her surrender were never made clear and Mrs. King had made no assumptions or judgments.  Whatever they were, she was forever grateful to the young girl who had given them such a wonderful gift.

They weren’t the only ones who had been given a gift.  Noah had been raised by these two extraordinary people who had provided him a life filled with happiness and love.

Mr. and Mrs. King gave their blessings and offered hope that Noah and I could find what we were looking for.  “Heritage is important,” his mom said. “And if we don’t know from where we came, there’s always a yearning to fill the emptiness inside.”

Noah and I arranged a few days off and were on our way to Ithaca, New York.  We were cautiously optimistic but we were also prepared to accept defeat, just as I had done with finding the author of the note in my bottle.


To be continued______________


Scarlet Rose – Chapter Three

I managed to scream but I couldn’t move.  Noah came running over and asked what happened.  I looked at him and said “I broke my bottle.”

He said “I’m sorry.  I’ll help you clean it up.”

‘NO!” I said.  When I said that, I could tell that he was puzzled.  I said “let’s go read our ancestry tests.”

He asked “are you sure you don’t you want to clean this up first?”

Again I said “no.  I want to wait.  When I clean it up, it will be real and I’m not ready for it to be real just yet.  You have to remember.  I’ve had that bottle since I was eight years old.”

He gave me a hug and told me that I was going to be alright.  Of course I was going to be alright but I had just destroyed something that had been a part of my life all these years.

I felt like I had failed as its guardian.

I settled down and we were ready for the big reveal.  He had the idea that we should switch.  He would read mine and I would read his.  Then we flipped a coin to see which one of us would go first.

He won, which meant that he was holding my heritage in his hand.  He opened it and suddenly got this serious look on his face.  I said “what? What is it?”

He shook his head and said “well…it says that you are 50% European, 45% Irish, 38% Scottish, 53% French and 98% pure Martian.”

I threw a pillow at him and said “seriously.  What does it say?”  He laughed and said “it says that you are 45% Irish, 38% Scottish and 17% French Indian.”

“I knew it!”  I said.  “I told you that I had Cherokee blood.”  Noah smiled and said “I don’t think the Cherokee originated in India.”

I got that famous pouty look on my face.  I had never lost the ability to be the queen of “poutdom.”  I said “pffft.  So my grandmother lied to me when she told me that my great-grandfather was Cherokee?”

Noah said “maybe, but at least we now know that you get that pouting from your Irish blood.”

It was my turn to read his.  I started reading and said “wow.  You are 95% Scandinavian!”  Noah said “don’t tell me.  The other 5% is that sideways gene.”  I laughed and said “no, it says the British Isles.”  I said “you know when you think about it, you do look Scandinavian.  You could be Norwegian or Swedish or Danish.”

All he said was “I guess.  Let’s go clean up your bottle.  You can’t just leave it laying on the floor.”

I had been able to forget for a while but he was right.  I couldn’t leave it laying on the floor.  We walked over and I just stood there, looking at it. Noah came in with the broom and dustpan.  What I feared when I was a little girl had happened.  I had just released something sorrowful…I just knew it.

I picked up the folded piece of paper, yellowed with age and held it in my hands.  Noah said I should go sit down and read it.  “But what if it’s something private?” I asked.  “What if it was meant for only one person to read?”

Noah said “I have always thought that everything happens for a reason.  I think it was meant for you to find that bottle and I think the message inside was meant for you to read.  Why else would someone go to the trouble of sending it out to sea?  They wanted it to be found.”

Noah always had a way of making me feel better…a way of making the world make sense…a way of making me feel special, like telling me that this note was meant for me.

I sat down and carefully unfolded the paper.

He came in and asked what it said.  “I don’t know,” I said.  “What do you mean you don’t know?” he asked.

“It’s in a foreign language.”  Noah looked at it and said “I’ll bet we can find a professor at the school who can translate it.”

I said “I can read Scarlet Rose but I have no idea what the other words say.”

I stared at the words and wondered who wrote them so many years ago.

Jag heter Scarlet Rose.
Jag bor i Sverig.
Jag är ensam.
Vill du bli min vän?


To be continued______________________  



Scarlet Rose – Chapter Two

My friend Amber was just leaving when he walked in.  She put her hand over her heart and said “oh.  I have fantasies about that boy every night in my dreams.  I’d better go before I start foaming at the mouth.”

He was a tall, blonde, blue-eyed Adonis.  In my eyes, just by the way he walked, I thought he was quite full of himself.

He saw me and like a scene from a movie, slowly walked over and said, “My name is Noah King.”

I was thinking how fitting that name was, considering he looked as if he was wearing an invisible crown.  He was beautiful but I had always believed that beautiful men were dangerous.  I was determined not to act as if I was about to swoon nor was I going to act like he had just elevated me to importance by speaking to me.

I told him my name and was just about to say “stick around.  I’ll cut you down to size,” when he held out his hand.  When I shook it, it was as if there was an ethereal connection.

He sat down and we started talking.  Before we knew it, we had talked until closing time.  From that day forward, we were inseparable.

A year later, I was promoted and although it wasn’t to the upper tier, I was on my way.  Noah was finishing his graduate degree.  He was living off of an endowment left to him by his grandparents but he wasn’t the typical entitled trust-fund baby.  He appreciated the gift and was almost what you would call overly frugal.  I was sure that he appreciated his movie-star good looks but he was the most humble, unassuming man I had ever met.

It wasn’t long until we started planning to move in together and talked of eventually starting a family.  I casually said “we could have our own little Cherokees running around.  He looked at me and asked what I meant.

“I’m Cherokee,” I announced.  “Um, yeah.  I can see that,” he said.  “Especially with that blonde hair and those green eyes.”

I giggled and said “well, you know that everybody in my family has black hair and brown eyes but I got that sideways gene.”

“That sideways gene?” he asked.

I said “yeah.  You know, that gene that goes sideways and makes you look different from everybody else.”  He laughed and said “well, it worked.” Then he said “but I will say that you look just like your sister and brother.”

I asked him about his heritage.

“I don’t really know,” he said.  “I was adopted when I was three days old.”  I couldn’t hide my surprise when I repeated “you were adopted?”

Noah looked at me, laughed and said “didn’t you wonder where I came from?  You’ve met my parents.  I mean I have two little short Jewish parents with black hair and brown eyes.  I look nothing like them and I’m pretty sure that I don’t have that sideways gene.”

I asked him if he knew who his birth parents were.  He said “no.”  I asked him if he had ever thought about trying to find them.  He said “sometimes I think about it.  Mom and dad said they would help me but I never really pursued it.”

I found his lack of curiosity strange until I remembered my bottle.  All these years, I had kept my bottle and had never been curious enough to try to find out what the note inside said.  But that was just a note in a bottle.  We were talking about his heritage.  Even so, I wasn’t exactly sure what I would do if I was in his situation.

I said “why don’t we do that ancestry thing?  You know, where you swab your cheek and mail it off and they send you a graph that tells you who you are.  At least you would have some information about your heritage and maybe I can find out where my blonde hair and green eyes came from.”

“Please, please, please?”  I asked in my best little girl voice.  He finally said “alright” so I sent off for the kits.

That summer, we found an apartment and began moving in our things.  He didn’t have very much and what he did have was far too caveman for my tastes.  He had a huge, badly worn leather sofa that looked like every student in the school had either slept on it or gotten sick on it.  “This,” I said, “is going to have to be left on the curb.”

It seemed to take forever to get everything moved in and put where we wanted it.  Between work and school, there had been precious little time to do much of anything other than unpack but we were finally at the home stretch.

Noah walked in and was flipping through the mail.  He said “oh.  Our DNA tests came today.  Why don’t you take a break and come sit with me for a minute and we’ll look at them together?”

I was so excited I could hardly wait but I told him that I only had one more small box to unpack.  I picked it up and the bottom fell out.  I heard a crash and my heart almost stopped beating when I looked down.

My bottle lay in pieces.


To be continued_________________


Scarlet Rose – Chapter One

When I was eight years old, my family took a trip to Myrtle Beach.  I hated the beach.  I hated the sand.  I hated the water.  I hated the ocean.

The ocean always looked so cold and lonesome and the waves looked like drooling monsters waiting to swallow me up and drag me into the deep dark bowels of oblivion.  There were no mountains…not even hills…just endless water as far as I could see and I refused to go anywhere near it.  When my brother and sister teased me and accused me of being a scaredy cat, I stuck my tongue out at them and call them bucketheads.

On the last day of our trip, mom, dad, my brother and my sister were jumping waves and yelling for me to join them.  Being hard-headed, I steadfastly refused as usual and started pouting.  Nobody could pout better than I could.  I folded my arms and started kicking the sand as I walked. With every kick, I was covering myself in those detestable grains of nuisance, which made me pout even more.

Suddenly, my foot hit something.  I sat down and started digging.  It didn’t take long before I uncovered the culprit.  I found a bottle.  It had scrapes and scratches but I could see something inside.  About that time, dad walked up and said “what have you got there?”

I wrapped my arms around it as if I was afraid he was going to take it from me and said “I found this.”  Dad said “let’s have a look.”  He said “this bottle looks like as if it’s been on quite a journey.”  I asked him if I could keep it.  He laughed and said “well, finders keepers but I think we’ll have to break it to see what’s inside.”

I don’t know why but I jerked it out of his hand and said “no.  It’s mine.”

Mom walked over and said “what have you found?”  I said “I found a bottle and it’s mine.  Dad said I could keep it.”  She looked at it and said “do you want to break it open and see what’s inside?”  Again, my answer was a firm “no.”

When we got back home, I put my bottle on a shelf in my room, next to all of my dolls.  But later that night, I began to worry.  I had always wondered if my dolls came to life at night and if they did, I didn’t want them to knock my bottle off the shelf and break it so I moved it to my bedside table.

It stayed there throughout my childhood.  When I was getting my things together for college, my bottle was packed with everything else.  Mom said “are you sure you want to take that with you?”  I said “it’s my bottle.”  She smiled and said, “well, I guess you need to take something from your younger days, as a remembrance.”

During my four years in college, different friends came and went and at any given point, invariably one of them would ask about my bottle.  They wanted to know why I had never been curious enough to break it open. “Don’t you want to know what the note says?” they asked.  “Maybe it’s a letter to a long-lost love.”

“A last letter should never be opened,” I said.  When they asked why, my answer was “because if you never open it, there will always be one more.”

I admit that sometimes I was tempted.  But when I held my bottle in my hands, it seemed to hold a sadness and I was afraid that if I opened it, I would let that sadness out.

Four years later, my college days were over and I was anxious to start my new, independent life.  Right away, I found a job in Telecommunications, which was ironic given the fact that when I got my first cell phone, I couldn’t even figure out how to turn the darned thing on.  But the saying “you’ve come far, Pilgrim,” certainly applied to me.  I could troubleshoot a problem that most of my supervisors couldn’t.

Every day after work, I would spend time at the local Starbucks.  I always ordered the same thing, a Venti decaf Mocha.  Starbucks was the perfect place to meet people because everybody who was anybody in that small town spent time there.

Guys would flirt with me and I would flirt back but I had no intentions of getting tied down.  I had already set my sights on climbing the corporate ladder.  The upper echelon traveled all over the world and I wanted a piece of that pie.

Then one day…he walked in.


To be continued________________





Happy Fathers’ Day “B”

You were my daddy.  You cursed like a sailor and smoked like a chimney.  To this day, I love the smell of cigarette smoke on somebody.  It reminds me of you and it reminds me that sometimes you were nice to me.

You never drank anything other than milk and coffee and that cup of coffee had to have two drops of cream.  You could tell if it had one or three and you would complain if it wasn’t right.

I wonder though.  Did it ever bother you that none of your children called you “daddy?”

You called your daddy “Papa.”  You were raised hearing your mama refer to him that way.  We were raised hearing you called by your initials.  I remember that even at an early age, I thought it was disrespectful.  I shortened it to what I thought was a more endearing “B.”

We were never taught to call your mama and daddy, grandma and grandpa. They were always “Mr. and Mrs.”  I knew mama didn’t like them and I guess we never wondered why her mama was “granny” and your mama was just “Mrs.”  But your sweet mama and Papa never complained.

I remember your jet black hair, your olive-colored skin and your dark chocolate-brown eyes that sometimes revealed the slightest twinkle.  I remember your muscular arms and your worn, calloused hands and although I never saw them, I remember you telling me that many a woman had cried herself to sleep at night because she didn’t have legs as pretty as yours.

You could talk to back-woods Southern “hillbillies” and never make them feel inferior.  You could talk to Harvard educated braggarts and never let them feel superior.

I really didn’t know you very well but I wish I had.  I never knew your thoughts or your hopes but I did know one of your dreams.  You wanted to be a doctor.

You were smart and determined.  You worked every odd job you could find to save enough money to go to college.  When you graduated from high school, there was no money for a new shirt to wear to the ceremony, so your mama made you one out of a patterned bed sheet.  When you walked across the stage, you said everybody whooped and hollered.

Your dream of going to college came true but then you were called to serve your country.  You spent your time in the Army as a medic but you never talked about it.  I imagine you saw some horrible things while you were there and maybe you just wanted to forget.

After your tour of duty, you wanted to finish college and fulfill your dream but they told you that you were too old, so you got married and had children.

You liked my oldest sister.  I remember when you brought her a box of thin mints on her birthday.  I think you were fond of my little sister, too and I imagine you remembered her birthday.

You never remembered mine.  I’m not even sure you knew how old I was most years.

I remember you winked and said “[your older sister] is crafty and what she says is pretty much law.”  I understood.  When I pierced my own ears, she and mama made fun of me.  They called me a heathen and suggested I put a bone through my nose.  You agreed but several weeks later mama and both my sisters had their ears pierced and it was….okay.

Although you were not shy about pulling out your belt, you didn’t beat me like mama did.  There were times when you stood up for me and it made me happy, even though I knew I would pay a heavy price later.

When mama mashed a bowl of beans in my face, you stood up and sternly said her name.  When you stood up, we all knew that you meant business. It caused a fight and she and my sisters sat at the table and glared at me until supper was over.  Again, I paid a heavy price later but it made me feel so good when you did that.

I started crying and told you that mama had made me take off all of my clothes and stand out in the yard while people driving down the street looked at me.  You weren’t outraged.  You just shook your head and said “you must have done something to rile her.”  I asked if you thought that was okay.  You said “you know your mother gets madder than a wet hen but she loves you.”  You were defending her by default but you did it as gently as you could, I guess.

When I asked you what you thought when you saw the black eyes, bruises and welts on me, you said that you believed those marks were justified because mama said I was sassing her.  You would try to cajole me into believing that she cared when you again said “your mother loves you.”  How desperately I wanted that to be true but I knew it wasn’t and I think deep down you knew it wasn’t, too.

When I was allowed to go home, after signing a “contract” written by mama and my oldest sister, I was thrilled.  You read all the conditions while they sat there, waiting for the slightest resistance on my part.  They were thirsty for blood but I would have agreed to anything.  I capitulated when I was told that I couldn’t live there unless I went to church so that God might make me a decent person.  I received daggers from mamas’ eyes when I asked if I was the only one who had to go.  You said my sister would go “when she could.”

Later that day, I told you that I didn’t need to go to church to be a decent person and asked if you wouldn’t make me go.  You said “them’s the rules and if you don’t like ’em, there’s the door.”  I reluctantly went but I have never darkened the door of a church since.

Your mama had given me a small metal jewelry box and it was a prized possession.  My oldest sister, having been raised to feel entitled, took it from my room because she wanted it.  I wasn’t allowed to go into any room without permission but I broke the rules, went into her room and took it back.

When she realized it was gone, she came to get it.  We struggled and being bigger than I was, she wrestled it away from me.  When I threatened to tell you, she threw it at me and hit me in the eye.

Mama came to see what was going on and my sister told her that I had stolen something from her room.  Even my little sister joined in the fight by hitting me in the stomach with a shoe.  She helped mama and my oldest sister drag me out of the house.  Mama locked the door.  It was snowing and I was barefoot but she didn’t care.  She had always made fun of me for going barefoot.  She’d say “it must be winter.  [I****] doesn’t have on any shoes.”

I crawled up into the rafters of the garage and waited for you to come home.  I ignored the cold.  I thought “they are really going to get in trouble when he finds out what they did.”  You were my hero…my champion…my defender.

A few hours later, you finally came home and I went back to the house.  I could see mama and my sisters sitting in the front room, watching television.  They ignored my knocks.  I finally kicked the door and said if they didn’t open it I would break it down.  Big talk for a little girl but I just knew that you would be on my side.  I heard mama yell “she says she’s going to break the door down.”

Suddenly, I could hear you.  You always stomped when you walked.  You opened the door and dragged me into my room.  You never even gave me the chance to tell you what happened or what mama and my sisters had done.

That was the worst beating you ever gave me.  I remember after you had worn me and yourself out, you sat on the edge of my bed and said “you’re my young’un and I’d fight anybody who said anything against you but I’ll kill you before I let you run over your mother and your sisters.  You need to pack your bags.”

Did you know that mama taught my youngest sister to hate me?  Did you know that after you told me to leave, my little sister said that if she ever passed me on the street, she would spit in my face?  She was eight years old.  Fifty years later, I’m sure she still feels the same way.

I didn’t hold any of that against you.  You were in an impossible situation. You were faced with having to choose between me or mama and my sisters. The good of the many always outweighs the good of the few or the one. Understanding that at an early age would serve to make the later years of my life a little more bearable.

When I left town after high school, I stayed gone for three years.  I came home and wanted to see you so I walked uptown.  When I said “did you miss me?” you asked “were you gone?”  I pretended that it didn’t bother me.

You absolutely adored my oldest sisters’ son.  You would of course, because he was hers.  But I wish you had wanted to know my children.  I think you would have appreciated their beauty, their talent and their intelligence.  I wish you had remembered their names.

I wish you had remembered and appreciated that my second daughter was named after you.  I wish having a namesake would have meant something to you.  It probably would have, had it been my oldest sisters’ son.

If you blamed me for my little brothers’ death, I never knew.  You wouldn’t talk about him but one time I asked you how he died.  You looked sad when you said “the doctor said he had every symptom of aspirin poisoning.”  I didn’t know then that I had opened the bottle…but you did.

When I told you that I wanted to be the first woman neurosurgeon in our hometown, you laughed at me.  You said “you need to stop that crazy talk. You need to get married and have some young’uns.”  You never did give me much encouragement.

I don’t know if you wondered if I would survive my childhood.  I don’t think it was ever even on your radar.  You could have never known that even though I did indeed survive, I would suffer the same abuse, albeit a different form in my adult life.  If I was being honest, I’m not sure you would have cared.  You would have probably been like mama and only had compassion for Loser.

You never hugged me or told me that you loved me.  When your mama and Papa showed you pictures I had painted, I remember seeing this uninterested look in your eyes.  Had they been painted by my oldest sister, your eyes would have been filled with pride.

Still, I remember you with fondness.  I never had any illusions that you loved me but I wanted you to at least like me.  I remember thinking that because you were sometimes nice to me, it meant that maybe you did like me.  I know now that I mistook your indifference for caring.

I wish you had wanted to talk to me.  I think you would have found that I too could carry on an intelligent conversation but you never had the time or the inclination.  It’s okay.

When you died, we drove five hundred miles for your service.  My children looked for tears in my eyes and they were puzzled when they found none. Tears had been beaten out of me years earlier.  It didn’t mean that I wasn’t sad and sometimes I wonder.  Had I been there, could I have saved your life?

I wish I missed you the way a daughter should miss her daddy.  I wish you hadn’t been the template that I used when choosing a husband…a brilliant man whose focus was on everybody but me.

Wherever you are, I hope you have peace and happiness.  You don’t have a grave to visit but I do have some of your ashes.  I say hello to them now and then and I often wonder if that slight twinkle would be in your eyes if you knew that mama was in the trunk of my car.

Happy Fathers’ Day, B.


The Angel Maker – Chapter Thirteen

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.

I nodded.

She smiled.



The Angel Maker – Chapter Twelve

A year had gone by and Emberlyn had transformed the house into a grandiose spectacle fit for a king and his queen.  She and Mr. Stark had settled into a life of entertaining celebrities and uppity-ups and being the envy of even their own peers.

She hadn’t been feeling well and under the guise of going shopping, stopped by Dr. Giles’ office.  After an examination, he smiled when he told her there was a reason that she didn’t feel well.

She could hardly contain her excitement as she drove home.  A special dinner was in order she thought, so she asked the cook to prepare Mr. Starks’ favorite meal.

That afternoon, she put on a dress that had always been one of his favorites.  He called it her Sexy Sally dress.  When she walked out of the dressing room, he smiled and said “hmm.  Do we want a new Mercedes?” She smiled and said “no, I wanted to look special for you tonight.”

“But you always look special to me,” he said.  When they got to the top of the grand staircase, she stopped and said  “I have a surprise for you and I hope you’re going to be pleased.”

He smiled and said “I believe I can smell Crown Roast and that’s always a pleasant surprise.”  She said “no.  Well yes, you smell Crown Roast but that’s not the surprise.”

“Well, it must be something special because you have on your Sexy Sally dress,” he said with a wink.  “What ever is it?”

She looked at him and said “we’re going to have a baby.”

For an instant, he stood in stunned silence.  Then in a rage, he raised his arms and screamed “I told you I didn’t want any more children.”  He frightened Emberlyn and when she recoiled, she took a fatal step backward and tumbled down the stairs.

The next morning, she awoke in the hospital.  She urgently rang for the nurse and with desperation in her voice, said “my baby?”  The nurse shook her head and said “no child.  There is no baby anymore.”  Emberlyn asked her to leave the room and began to cry uncontrollably.

Doctor Giles came in later and asked Emberlyn if she could tell him what happened.  She lied when she said “I just lost my balance and fell down the stairs.  I must have had a snootful.”  He looked at her and said “okay, but why did the toxicology report show no alcohol in your system?”  Emberlyn looked down and said “I don’t know but that’s what happened.”

She had bruises and scrapes consistent with a fall but Dr. Giles heard what he thought was a combination of anger and fear in her voice and wasn’t convinced that she just lost her balance.  She would physically recover because she was young and healthy but he wasn’t sure about her mental recovery.  It was clearly evident that she was emotionally destroyed by the loss of her child and he thought her not yet strong enough to hear that there would never be another.

That afternoon, Mr. Stark came to see her and asked how she was feeling. He said nothing about their baby.  When he handed her a rose, she unsuccessfully tried to hide her umbrage and he saw it but ignored it.  He said “when you get home, we’re going to take a trip and you’ll forget all about this unfortunate mishap.”

“This unfortunate mishap?” she said.  She began to cry and said “that’s what you think this was?  An unfortunate mishap?”  He tried to console her but it did no good.  She became hysterical and screamed for him to leave. When the nurse came running into the room, she saw that Emberlyn was emotionally distraught and needed a sedative.  She told Mr. Stark that she believed it was best if he left.

Dr. Giles let her go home the next day and not making eye contact, gave strict instructions that she was to do nothing but rest.  Emberlyn could read Dr. Giles’ face and asked him what he wasn’t telling her.

Reluctantly, he told her that she had suffered too much internal damage to ever carry another child.  He was surprised by her reaction when she smiled and said “thank you doctor.  Is that all?”

Mr. Stark had hired a private nurse and when Emberlyn got home, she requested that her things be moved into another bedroom.

She demurely told Mr. Stark to try to understand that she needed time to heal.  What she didn’t tell him was that he was never going to touch her again.


To be continued__________