At this moment, I am a very satisfied man. Beth is lying next to me, snoring softly. I am going to make this work, I can make this work, I tell myself. A divorce is out of the question now — no matter that, Beth and I have so very little in common — although a divorce could be forgiven. But an affair will not improve my standing in this very conservative district. Best to come out with an impeccable front — an adoring wife, beautiful children, squeaking clean me. No messy baggage. I couldn’t think of anyone elected in this district in recent times that hasn’t come off that way.
The affair is over, I told Sherry. We had to stop.
“But I love you,” she said over and over.
Told her it was so wrong to keep it going behind Beth’s and Teddy’s backs. Told her the guilt was too much for me.
She cried. I hate when Beth does that, even more when Sherry does. It never moves me. Just makes me want to dig in more and I did. Did my best to lay a strong guilt trip on her. I think she bought it. Even without my political ambitions, it needed to stop. She was starting to bore the hell out of me.
Now that Sherry is out of my life, everything is right in my world and now I will have everything I want. I can sleep peacefully now.
Except it’s almost midnight and the phone is ringing and I can see “Evans” on my cell phone screen.
“It’s Teddy. Go back to sleep,” I say to Beth and head to the hall with my phone.
But it’s not Teddy.
“You have to come over here right now,” Sherry tells me. The huskiness in her voice makes it almost unrecognizable.
“Sherry, are you nuts? Are you drunk? I can’t come over there now. How would I explain to Teddy why I’m visiting you in the middle of the night? I thought we had this settled.”
“He’s dead. Do you hear me, dead? Your partner committed suicide. I don’t know what to do. Maybe I need a lawyer. Teddy was my lawyer. I guess that makes you my lawyer now. Do I need a lawyer for this?” Her rant finishes with, “Please, just get over here.”
As I hang up the phone, I think, damn, Sherry is back in my life.
We stand in front of the desk in Teddy’s study and stare at his lifeless body, his upper torso sprawled across it. Blood and what I assume to be brain matter littering the desk, a bit of white paper sticking out from under it all.
“It must be a suicide letter under him. I’m sure that’s what it is,” Sherry says. “I was afraid to touch him. But if that’s what it is then the cops won’t think I did it.”
“Why should they think you did it?” I ask.
“When they find out about our affair, something might be made out of that.”
“Nobody knows except you and me, Sherry. How are the cops going to find out?”
“I told Teddy. It was just too much guilt for me. I needed to unload. He started to cry.”
“Where were you when it happened?” I ask.
“Upstairs. Should I get dressed?”
“No, the cops will wonder why you’re dressed at this time of night.”
“Should I put some makeup on? I look awful.”
“No! You look like you should look at a time like this. Just go find someplace to sit and wait for the cops to come,” I say as I push her out of the study.
“What do you think he wrote in the suicide letter?” Sherry asks.
“I don’t know,” I say.
“Damn it, you’re my lawyer. The trial’s next week. Where’s the suicide letter?”
“Sherry, I’m doing my best to get you off,” I say.
“The cops said there was no suicide letter. They said the body was wrong for a suicide. I didn’t tell them about our affair. I guess that won’t help matters now. Maybe, give me a motive. But the letter was there. You saw it,” Sherry says as she wipes at the tears running down her cheeks. “Do you think the cops are holding it back to frame me? Maybe the DA needs a conviction to make him look good. I’m looking at years in prison if that letter isn’t found.”
“You’re right. Talking about our affair will only make things worse for you,” I say giving her hand a gentle squeeze. “We’ll stick to the defense that he embezzled the missing money and took the easy way out because he had no way to repay it.”
“I still love you,” she whispers as I turn to leave.
The trial is over and the guilty verdict will now keep Sherry out of my life for many years to come.
The missing letter made known that I, Teddy’s “trusted friend and partner,” had destroyed him by taking the love of his life, his “dearest Sherry,” from him. It also mentioned the million that I embezzled. It seems the man could not go on living when the “two most important people in his life” had failed him.
It was a devastating indictment on me.
After reading it, I wiped his fingerprints off the gun and moved it to the other side of the desk and out of what would have been his reach.
At this moment, I am very satisfied with myself. Shame on me, I think as open my safe to take care of one last thing.
“Looking for this?” a voice says from behind me.
I turn to face Beth, the blood-stained letter in her hand. “Oh, the satisfaction I will get in exposing you for what you are,” she says.
Short stories authored by Bern Sy Moss have been published in several anthologies and in print and online magazines including Mystery Tribune, Woman’s World, Spinetingler Magazine, Mysterical-E, and various others.
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