“Lindsay we have to go,” James’ voice came from behind me.
I was huddled over the toilet, eyes full of tears; I could barely make out his face. We had to go? No. We had to call the police. Why would he say that?
“No,” I said, in-between sobs, “We gotta call the police!” My hair was sticking to the back of my neck. I stood up, hoping to be able to pull myself together.
“We can’t call the police, Linds. We’re breaking and entering. For all anyone knows, we killed her.”
“She’s my best friend. I have no reason to hurt her,” I said, turning to face myself in the mirror. My mascara was running down my face. I looked like a very upset raccoon. I splashed some cold water on my face and dabbed some toilet paper underneath my eyes, trying to wipe up the black smudges of mascara.
“Yeah, but – I don’t know Linds…” James scratched the back of his head. He was thinking. “We both know who did this. But how can we even prove anything? Matt had no motive.”
We both stayed quiet for a few minutes. We couldn’t just sit there, waiting for her body to decompose. I made the final call.
“We’re calling the police.”
I walked through the house, trying to find Stacy’s house phone. She was one of the only people I knew who still had a landline, I rolled my eyes. and dialed 911.
“911, what’s your emergency?”
“Yes, I need to report a murder,” my voice cracked.
“My best friend’s dead…I – I’m at her house and her throat… it’s – it’s slashed,” I could hardly form a sentence, my heart was racing. James rubbed my back, trying to comforting me.
“Ma’am, where are you?
What’s your name?
What’s your friend’s name?
How did you get in the house?
How do you know the victim?”
The victim. She’s just a victim now. I answered questions until the police showed up. And then I answered more questions.
“Where is Stacy’s husband?
Do you know anyone who would’ve had a motive to kill her?
Why were you sneaking around her home?
How can we contact her husband?
And who are you?” asked the investigator, a tall broad shouldered woman named Agnes.
“My name is James Hunt, I was with Lindsay when she came to see Stacy.”
“And how do you and Miss Waltham know each other?”
“We uhh – we met at the Farmer’s Market… I um, do some handiwork at her home.”
“Hmph,” Agnes grunted, as she scribbled more notes into her legal pad, “handiwork, huh?” she rolled her eyes and turned over to a new sheet of paper.
“So you two think you have an idea who did this, do you?”
“Yes,” I finally piped up, “My husband, Matt Waltham, he’s dangerous. I ran away and I think he might’ve come here looking for me.”
“Oh great – there’s a husband,” Agnes popped her bubblegum and started writing again, “so you mean to tell me that your husband killed this woman. Not her husband… Your husband.”
“He’s psychotic – he tried to hold Lindsay hostage when he found out about our relationship,” James spoke up again.
“You mean to tell me… a man was angry when he learned about his wife’s infidelity?” Agnes’ voice was filled with sarcasm. She raised an eyebrow, peering at us over her ugly bifocal lenses.
“Detective, he had an affair first – I didn’t…” my voice trailed off.
“As much as I’d love to make this murder more about your failed marriage, we’ve got a crime to solve,” she shut her book and stood up, looking around. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes.
“Don’t you want to know more about her husband? Won’t you question him?” James asked the detective, his tone was worrisome.
“It’s kind of far-fetched,” muttered one of the crime scene investigators, as he started taping off the crime scene, “Husband finds out about his wife’s affair… Tries to kill her… Then she runs away with prince charming and they discover a body? Let me know how it ends,” he laughs.
“You’re not even gonna look into it? We’re telling you this man isn’t sane! He tried to have me killed too!” James’ voice was getting louder.
“Did you file a police report?” asked the responding officer.
“Well, no…” James stuttered.
“Then it didn’t happen,” Agnes replied, matter-of-factly, “You’re lucky we don’t arrest the two of you for breaking and entering. You could be murder suspects too, you know.”
My heart sank. Now I knew why James didn’t want to call the police. They wouldn’t hear anything we had to say. If anything, we just became their prime suspects.
“Look, we’ll talk to him. But as of right now, he’s not a suspect. This is your own personal domestic dispute. As far as we’re concerned, it’s unrelated,” Agnes stated, apologetically, “We’ll have to bring you down to the station for more questioning.”
James and I were questioned in separate rooms for what felt like days. But when I finally got a bathroom break, I glimpsed at the clock on a receptionist’s desk. Monday 12am. I was supposed to be at work in 8 hours. Except I didn’t have a car or even my phone. I walked back into the small room where Agnes was still taking notes and writing questions.
“My boss expects me to be at work in a few hours…”
“We’ll be done soon,” she muttered, flipping back through her notes.
“I was going to ask if someone could escort me to my home. My husband took my phone and car keys from me.”
Agnes set her pen down, seeming interested.
“Why haven’t you filed a police report?” she asked, pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose.
“Hm, let’s see. I escaped him and stumbled across a dead body. You guys were the first people I called.”
“Settle down Miss Waltham. I’ll have an officer escort you back home… Do you want to stay there?”
“Did you not hear anything I told you? The man tried to kill me. He drugged me every time I tried to leave.”
Agnes cleared her throat, “We spoke to your husband. He claims you left him. The two of you’d been trying to work on your marriage? Hm?”
I couldn’t speak.
“Matt says the two of you were experiencing some financial struggles. He was unable to provide so you ran away with another man. Is that true?”
“What? No! I mean – yes, but…”
“You don’t have to stay in your husband’s house, Lindsay. That’s just his side of the story.”
“His house? It’s my house! Why can’t you make him leave…” I crossed my arms and flopped into the chair behind me.
“According to my records, pretty soon that house will belong to the bank. Looks like you two defaulted on a home equity loan recently,” Agnes was so calm, so rude. I wanted to hit her.
“Miss Waltham, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you might just be better off staying with your husband. I’m sure the two of you can come to some sort of agreement. Meanwhile, we’ve got Stacy’s husband flying in any minute and you may or may not want to be here for that.”
Agnes stood up and walked out of the room. Another officer walked in a few moments later.
“I’m told you may want an escort to your home?”
“Yes,” I replied softly, “Can I talk to James?”
“He’s already in the car.”
I squeezed into the backseat of the tiny cop car. James was on the other side of the hump in the middle. They were taking him back to his car at Stacy’s house first. I asked if he could follow us back to my house and take me back to our hotel room. He agreed.
Stacy’s house was still being searched and investigated. Police cars lined the street. Officers walked in and out with plastic bags of evidence. We pulled up to James’ car. He started his engine and followed us to my house.
“Should I escort you in?”
“Yes, please. I don’t want to stay here. I just need my car.”
I knocked on the front door, and waited quietly. The officer stood beside me, one hand on his holster. The door swung open. There stood Matt. In pajamas, rubbing his eyes sleepily like a Good Samaritan.
“Oh, Lindsay! Thank God!” He cried, sweeping me up in his arms. My body went stiff. I didn’t say a word. “I’ve been so worried, sweetheart. Please don’t leave again.”
“Cut the act, Matt. I just came for my things.”
The smile fell from Matt’s face.
“My phone, keys, a change of clothes.”
“Lindsay, you took everything with you…” Matt looked at me puzzled, man this guy could act, “You left in your car. Took all your stuff. Even some of mine.”
The officer looked at me, disapprovingly. I stepped inside the house, Matt quickly got out of my way. I walked into our now empty bedroom. A flimsy old mattress sat on the floor next to a copy of In Cold Blood. That’s it. I walked towards our walk in closet. My side had been completely cleaned out. Even my shoes and jewelry were gone.
“WHAT DID YOU DO?” I spun around, glaring at Matt. He looked at me, frightened.
“Linds… Sweetie,” he looked at me with a smile, “you did this.”