I swerved and hit the coffee table. Blood gushed down my side burns. The intruder held the gun steady on my forehead. I glanced at the wall across dabbed in Sarah’s blood.
She must have heard the intruder, she came running out of her room. Intimidated, she blurted, “Daddy is he a bad guy?”
“Sarah, go to your room,” Grace yelled from the kitchen.
“Daddy, he has a gun in his hand. I will call 9-1-1!” The intruder’s bullet punched a hole.
The aroma of freshly baked bread on the kitchen counter engulfed the stench of murder around. Beyond the tiny body, the white kitchen tiles soaked in blood.
Grace was frantic as Sarah fell. She reached for her cell phone on the kitchen counter. The second bullet found its victim. I heard her whimper.
“Where is it?” the intruder grumbled.
“What do you want? We are a decent family. We go to church regularly!” I choked. My body is weakened, my mind is cluttered and my thoughts meander as I lay in despair.
Yeah! I am a nice guy, your next door neighbor and a social butterfly. I grew up in a quiet neighborhood, played league soccer, went to church on Sundays and finished high school with good grades. I graduated from college with a BS. My college life was nothing unusual. I dated on and off, partied hard, played till every muscle fatigued and maintained my grades.
Grace and I met during my junior year and we dated for six years. I had big dreams too: steady career, new car, a house, marriage and kids. All of it happened but not in the same order. One fine morning, I heard the unexpected. Three months later, we were pronounced “Husband and Wife” with Grace’s baby bump evident. We went on our honeymoon six months after Sarah was born.
Sarah was an imprint of Grace, with beautiful blue eyes, long nose and curly black hair, except for height. Sarah stood tall like me. She was a blessing! Life was a smooth sailing until we noticed a strange, impulsive behavior: urge to open or meddle with other’s possession. She always messed with my laptop bag, Grace’s purse, and anyone who came home.
“Sarah, you can’t touch other’s belongings without their permission. Do you understand?” we reiterated.
“Yes daddy, yes mommy!” she replied politely and promptly did it again. There were incessant complaints from school. We were embarrassed and helpless.
“Sarah, if you don’t make the right choice, you can’t go to school! You will have to stay at home forever.” We didn’t know if the fear of discontinuing school kept her behavior under control or it was her new passion.
“Daddy, a police officer told us we can dial 9-1-1 if bad people bother us, or if someone needs help….” she was ceaseless and lessons were frequently practiced at home. Grace cut her finger once while chopping onions and Sarah dialed 9-1-1. Sarah couldn’t find her Barbie doll and we almost had the FBI at home.
“Mommy, can I have a dress up Barbie party? My Barbie needs new dress and jewelry,” we heard her every-day for the past week. She couldn’t wait to celebrate her fifth birthday.
A sharp pain disturbed my reverie.
“Where is it?” the intruder sneered.
“What do you want?”
“I want the necklace in your lap top bag!” He kicked me in the groin.
Ouch! I twitched.
“I want my necklace! Marlyn told me about you.”
“I don’t know any Marlyn!”
“You don’t know Marlyn, the care taker?” he pressed the muzzle harder on my forehead.
“Mary?” I frowned.
Mary and I ride the train every day to work in First Class. I don’t recall how long she’s been on this train but someday I noticed her. She was always dressed in formal attire, mostly in skirts, revealing those long curvy legs. Her skin was flawless. She rarely wore any makeup, except for a thick coating of lipstick. Her accessories were simple and hair was nicely done. But she always wore a scarf around her neck regardless of the weather. A couple of times I noticed her neck enamored by beautiful pearls.
Although I spoke to her more than a dozen times, she was reluctant or terse, but I remained persistent. I asked her once, “Where do you work Mary?” “At a hospice,” she was terse. Smitten I retorted, “So you are not a HR or front office personnel?” She simpered and adjusted her skirt and continued reading. If she wasn’t reading, she was in deep thoughts. I don’t know why but I even gave her my business card once. She used it as a bookmark ever since.
I felt a shooting pain.
“The pearl necklace is in your laptop bag.”
My laptop bag?
“Yes, Marlyn told me before she died.”
“She died!” I fussed.
“Yes!” the intruder remorselessly recalled.
I met Marlyn as scheduled on Saturday. She usually came alone but she brought her twins that day and was restless.
‘Where is the necklace Marlyn?”
“I lost it!”
I didn’t believe her. She has been acting strange lately. “I lost the necklace,” she repeated. I became agitated. I pulled the trigger on one of her boys and pulled her by the collar. She screamed hysterically. “Please don’t harm us. I don’t want to be… with you anymore………. spare us and we will be… out of sight,” she pleaded.
“Where is the necklace Marlyn?
She was panting and her twin boy was agitated. I could barely hear her. “As usual…. I picked the necklace Friday evening and boarded the train….. but my mind was foggy. I didn’t want to do this anymore…….. I wanted to leave town……….and start a new life. I decided to throw the necklace away. Hazy and in despair, I dropped it in a laptop bag in the train. I don’t want…… I want……my boys somewhere and start a new life,” She scrambled for words.
The intruder slapped my right cheek, “you know Marlyn was dumb! She could have told me she threw it away and at least saved your lives. It wasn’t hard, after minutes of confrontation she showed me her book with your business card. I fired two consecutive shots, retrieved the visiting card from her dead hand and destroyed all crime scene evidences. I waited patiently by your office since this morning and followed you home.”
“When did Mary touch my laptop bag on Friday?” I tried to recall.
Mary boarded the train and sat beside me. I was on the phone with Grace. Sarah had fallen off the swing and was at the doctor’s. I glanced momentarily at Mary and noticed she was visibly upset. Few minutes later, I greeted her but she refrained from talking and seemed in a hurry to get off the train. I heard Sarah crying in the background, and engrossed in my conversation I eventually became oblivious to Mary’s absence.
“That laptop bag is over there by the love seat! I don’t know anything about her necklace.”
He ransacked my bag with his gun still steady in my direction. He came back and pressed the trigger harder, “There is nothing except these junk,” and scattered the contents: old receipts, Sarah’s hair bands, crayons, gum and some candy wrappers.
“I don’t know,” I cried.
He slashed my right cheek.
“I don’t know anything about the necklace,” I reiterated. “But why did you kill her? She was a compassionate, hospice care taker!”
Perturbed, he lifted me up by my shirt collar. My jugulars constricted. Faintly I heard, “Marlyn was our mule!”
The Daily News
Mystery deepens in the multiple murder case. Early reports indicate no signs of break-in or anything missing from the house.
Funeral services were held for all three murdered victims. Friends, neighbors, colleagues, kith and kin delivered their eulogies. Silence decked the funeral home while minds were in a chaos. Mrs. Nikki, Sarah’s preschool teacher delivered the eulogy:
We are gathered here to celebrate the life of Sarah. She will be remembered for her compassion, vivid personality and her dolls. Sarah loved Barbie dolls. One of her favorite dolls lost her arm and she took it the doctor’s to get it fixed. She told me one day, her dream was to become a doctor so she could fix her arm. Ms. Nikki narrated the 9-1-1 calls Sarah dialed when her Barbie doll went missing.
The audience giggled while Ms. Nikki wiped her tears, took a deep breath and continued, “Sarah couldn’t wait to celebrate her fifth birthday. She wanted a dress up Barbie Party. Today is Sarah’s birthday!”
“Sarah walked inside the building delighted that fateful Monday morning.” She was excited about her “Show and Tell” and couldn’t wait to share it with her friends. She pulled her Barbie doll out of her back pack. Ms. Nikki stayed composed and pointed at the doll on Sarah’s casket. “Sarah’s compassion was endless at her tender age,” Ms. Nikki paused briefly and continued. The little girl held her toy up to me and cheerfully said, “Ms. Nikki, my Barbie has no hand but look what she has now, a new necklace!”
The service ended at 4:00 P.M. All three victims were buried next to each to each other. A reception followed for all attendees.