Betrayal

Honey! Don't forget your briefcase! I screamed down the hallway. I looked around the corner, but Hank had already left. Damn! Now he is going to call home when he gets to the office and berate me on how he forgot his briefcase. I had gotten used to being blamed for his forgetful mind. Oh well. I could feel the steam from the bathroom coming out into the hallway. Shit! I'm going to lose all my hot water!

After my very short, lukewarm shower, I was in the kitchen reading the newspaper and drinking the last of the coffee. There was an article about three pages in about a rash of killings in my neighborhood. Over the course of the last three months, eight women were all slain by their husbands.

Wow. And I thought my husband was bad. Guess I should consider myself lucky. I really was lucky, don't get me wrong. I love my husband, but he can be a bit of a pain. I remember one time we were away for the weekend in Vermont. His parents have a summer house out there. Anyways, we were unpacking before dinner and he started yelling.

Hank, what's the matter? What are you yelling about?

I forgot my toothbrush! It never fails Jen, I always forget something. Hell, I'm surprised I even remembered my underwear! I remember him getting so upset when I suggested that we just go to a store and buy him a new one. He looked at me like he wanted to slap me.

I want MY toothbrush! I have to go back and get it.

What?! Are you crazy? Do you mean to tell me that you're going to drive three and a half hours home just to get YOUR toothbrush? Hank, you've really lost your mind, you know that?

Whatever, Jen. I don't expect you to understand.

Now what is the supposed to mean?

Nothing. I'll be back late. Don't wait up. With that, he was gone.

That had to be one of the strangest fights Hank and I have ever had. But compared to these eight dead wives, I really had nothing to complain about.

I met Christy, Lisa, and Beth at this little Bistro on Fourth and Tenth Street. It's right on the corner and has the cutest little archway covered by ivy and flowers everywhere. It makes you feel like you're in the park when you're really stuck right in the middle of New York.

Hey guys. Man I am starving!

Christy, you're always starving! Beth exclaimed.

Shut up Beth! Christy yelled back with only a half serious giggle.

Hey, did any of you read the paper this morning? There was a terrible story about eight women whose husbands had killed them. I was hoping I wasn't the only one who read the article.

Yeah, I read it Lisa said. It was horrible. I had read another story in last week's paper about three other women who were also killed by either their boyfriends or their husbands. And here you guys were, just last week, saying that having a husband is the best thing in the world!

We all laughed. Lisa was the only single gal out of the bunch. We always made fun of her because she is always reminding us of how wonderful single life is, and she is always with a new guy every week.

Having a husband is great Lisa Christy chimed in, Not all husbands are like the one's in those news stories. Those were just the bad seeds.

Yeah. My favorite thing about married life is always having someone to wake up next to in the morning. Or if I get scared at night, Hank is always right next to me to protect me. I love being married, I thought to myself.

I will admit, though Lisa, that those stories are kind of frightening. I mean, I would hope that those women didn't marry those men knowing that they were potential murderers. I'd like to think that us women are smarter than that.

Seriously. I know that if Jon was a murderer, I definitely would've divorced his ass a long time ago! Christy chuckled. She always knew how to lighten a heavy mood.

Let's not talk about husbands killing wives anymore okay ladies? Let's order. I always knew how to change the subject.

After lunch, we all decided to take a walk around the city.

Christy, how's the pregnancy thing going? Lisa wasn't a baby person and felt uncomfortable with the subject, but she always managed to get through it for Christy.

The pregnancy thing is going great!

Lisa, couldn't you have come up with a better word than thing? I asked.

What?

Anyways, I don't feel too nauseous yet. I'm sure that's coming. I do get kind of cranky in the mornings now. I never used to get like that. Jon is already watching how he acts around me. He says my crazy stage is just around the corner. I promised him that I wouldn't be like those possessed women whose heads practically turn all the way around when you look at them.

Women always say that they aren't going to get crazy. I said the same thing to Chris, and he just laughed because he knew it wasn't true. He was right. Beth and Chris had their first child two years ago. They had a little girl named Sophia.

I wish that I had the chance to say that I'm not going to be crazy. Every time I even mention the word baby, Hank raises his hands to get me to stop. I wish I had known before we got married that he didn't want to have kids. He says he's perfectly happy with just the two of us and that having babies would just complicate things.

Jen, would you have married Hank if you knew that he didn't want a family? Beth asked.

I don't know. That's such a hard question. I would love more than anything to have a baby, but at the same time I love Hank with everything that I own. I couldn't imagine not being with Hank. I don't know Beth, I really don't.

That night, I looked over at Hank. I could see his body softly moving up and down with every breath he took. Beth's question prevented me from sleeping. What would I have done? I know I say I can't live without Hank, but I've been dreaming about having a baby ever since I was a baby. I could almost feel a baby in my arms, smell the baby soft skin, and hear the soft baby noises. But then I could also hear Hank saying that all I do is hold the baby, that I'm spoiling the baby, or asking me to make the baby be quiet. Was that the kind of life I wanted to live? No, the life you want is Hank holding the baby and gushing over the soft baby noises with you.

Yeah, like that is ever going to happen, I whispered softly, and I tried to close my eyes.

Here's your breakfast sweetie. I have to go back to work today. I never thought I would be so excited for my vacation to be over. I miss the girls at work, though. I've been starting to go stir crazy having nothing to do around here. I had been on a personal vacation for about two weeks. I was so stressed out at work, with a million clients all wanting apartments that they couldn't afford, that I needed some time to just stay up late and sleep in late, too. But it's time to go back to reality.

It's been nice having you home, though Jen.

I smiled. Hank always knew how to make me smile.

You only liked it because I made you breakfast each morning and had dinner done when you came home at night. I laughed. Hank may know how to make me smile, but he didn't know how to fool me.

Yeah, it was nice. But seriously, Jen, I'm glad that you're back on your feet. I was getting worried about you, always coming home so exhausted. Who would've ever thought being a real estate agent in New York would be so crazy.

Hank never really acknowledged the difficulty of my job before. He works in an office for a big law firm, and I am a real estate agent at Lanes. I resented him for the longest time. I hated how he used to make me feel like my job wasn't that hard. He figured that anyone living in New York had money and selling a place would be easy. But this morning, he was sincere.

Goodbye baby. Have a wonderful, stress-free day. I love you.

I love you, too Hank. I'll be thinking of you! I blew him a kiss; he caught it and smacked it against his lips. He can be such a kid sometimes, but I love it.

On my way to work, Christy called me, crying.

What's wrong?

It's Jon. We had a fight this morning, and he stormed out of the house! Christy managed to get the sentence out in between her sobs.

What did you fight about?

He said that I'm demanding, and he can't take it anymore. He said I've only been pregnant two months and I'm already driving him crazy!

Demanding? How have you been demanding? I knew that Christy would never admit that she is demanding and spoiled, but I had to ask.

Jon says that I asked him for different foods at all hours of the day and night. And he says that I supposedly throw a fit when he questions me about anything. How could he say that, Jen? I'm carrying his baby for Christ's sake! Christy was obviously very upset. She never says Christ's name in vain.

Sweetie, you and Jon are first time parents. This is all new, for both of you. You know how you're going through all kinds of new things? Well, so is Jon, just in a different way. Everything will be fine. When he comes home, just sit down and talk to him. Maybe ask him how he feels, what he's thinking. It?ll be good for you, okay?

Thanks Jen. You would make a great mom someday.

Thank you Christy. I have to get to work. Call me if you need me. Bye.

At work, things were exactly how I left them; Crazy. While I was out, I expected someone to take over for me, thinking that when I got back, I would have a cushion of time before I had millions of calls from people wanting to live in ?the city that never sleeps?. God I get so tired of hearing that! But of course, my secretary, Ann, had plenty of messages for me.

Mrs. Burg called for you everyday that you were gone, Jen. She is desperate to get an apartment. She says she can't stand living in the country anymore. She claims if you don't help her, she will kill herself. She's not serious of course, but that's how bad she wants it. Mrs. Burg. That woman drives me crazy. She is a recent widow and wants a new life. I can sympathize with her; it must be hard being on your own after having a companion for over fifty years. But she was calling me everyday even before I left. In fact, she is one of the main reasons I needed a vacation. Somehow she had managed to get my cell number, and was soon calling me in the middle of the night to see if anything new had opened up.

I found her number and dialed.

Mrs. Burg, hi, it's Jen from Lanes Realty.

Jen, it's so good to hear from you! I've been calling and calling and your stupid secretary tried to give me to another agent! You really should talk to her; I think she might be sabotaging you.

Who, Ann? I'm afraid your mistaken Mrs. Burg. I've been on vacation for the past two weeks, and Ann wasn't sure when I would be back. Even I wasn't sure. She was just trying to pass you to a colleague so we can get you here to the city. If she says the city that never sleeps I swear I'll quit.

Ah yes, the ?city that never sleeps.

I cringed. That damn lady said it. What is it with people these days?

That is so sweet of you Jen, thinking of me when your on vacation. It's no wonder you're a top selling agent.

Onto business, Mrs. Burg. I'm afraid nothing new has opened up in the last three weeks. I promise you, though, as soon as something is put on the market, you will be the first one I call. That was partly a lie. There is this other client who never bothers me. I have to keep calling him to make sure he is still interested in buying. He always tells me to take my time because he knows how stressful real estate can be. I might call him first.

Oh, that's alright. Well Jen, I must go. I'm having brunch with the ladies from my book club. Goodbye.

I could feel all the stress come flooding back into my body. Maybe I came back too soon. No, it wasn't that. It was Mrs. Burg. Maybe if I changed my name, Ann could tell her I quit and I would be rid of her forever. It was a nice thought, but nonetheless, just a thought.

I got home that night around nine o? clock. It was dark in the two story apartment, except for a faint glow coming from the kitchen. I turned the corner, and there was a beautiful dinner laid out by candlelight. Next to the salad lay Hank, asleep on the table. I smiled. Hank had never done anything like this before. He usually never got home before two in the morning. I walked over to him and lightly rubbed his back. He sat up, eyes all puffy from sleeping.

Your home. I made dinner, and apparently fell asleep in it, too, he laughed.

That is so sweet of you. I'm sorry I'm late. Everything I left was still there when I got back. I had a lot of catching up to do. This dinner looks wonderful.

Are you hungry? I can reheat everything if you like.

No, that's alright. We?ll eat it tomorrow. What I really want to do is go to bed.

That is a great idea. Let's go. Hank grabbed my hand, blew out the candles, and led me upstairs. We fell asleep in each others arms, something we hadn't done in a long time.

The next morning, Hank had to go to the office early. I was sitting at the table reading the morning newspaper and having a cup of coffee when I came across another dead wife. This was the twelfth case in the last three months. What was going on here?

I decided to take the day off. After that one talk with Mrs. Burg, I thought I deserved it. I got on the internet, and scrambled through three months of the New York Times in search of more wife killing articles past three months. I don't know what I was hoping to find. It was just so strange how so many women were being killed by their husbands. Was it something in the air, in the water, something that only men were susceptible to? It didn't make sense that these men were going crazy. Who ever heard of an outbreak of men losing their minds all at the same time?

I called the girls to see if they wanted to meet for lunch.

I read another story about a woman being killed by her husband. It is so strange.

Jen, why are you so interested? Beth wondered. Beth was always so practical. One of those ?if it ain't broke don't fix it? kind of people.

I don't know. I've been reading these stories every week it seems for the last few months, and being married myself, it makes me curious. Aren't you guys the least bit interested? I hoped that I wasn't the only one.

Christy chimed in, Actually I am kind of curious. I don't know if its just my hormones but I was walking into the kitchen one day, and Jon turned around and he was holding a knife. My first thought was that he was going to kill me.

What are you talking about? Your irritating sometimes yes, but not enough for Jon to want to kill you. Lisa didn't really have a tactful bone in her body.

Shut up Lisa. These stories have got me spooked. What about you Beth? Ever wonder if Chris wants to kill you?

Christy, that's crazy. Chris wouldn't harm one hair on my head. As for these other husbands, who knows what got into them.

Yes but that makes it all the more frightening. These women probably had no idea that their husband was planning to murder them. It just goes to show that you really can't trust anyone, not even the person you married. I was starting to scare myself. What if Hank was planning to kill me? I know that sounds crazy, but those women didn't know what was coming. Any one of us could be in that same boat and not even know it.

Hank's loving phase was wonderful. Usually he works until at least two in the morning, but in these last few weeks, he has been home before me. On several occasions I've come home and dinner is on the table, he cleans, he buys me flowers. It's been heaven. But after about three weeks of this, I began to question. Why was he being so attentive all of a sudden? In the last five years that we've been married, this is the first time he has ever been this sweet and loving. Is he having an affair? Is that why he's being so nice, because he feels guilty? No, that's crazy. Hank may not always be domestic but he's not a cheater.

I was sitting on the bed going over thousands of reasons when Beth called.

Hey how are you?

Good Beth, how are you?

Doing alright. Hey, I wanted to talk to you about something. I've wanted to talk about it ever since you told me how great Hank has been.

Okay. Is something wrong? I was really curious how Hank had anything to do with what Beth wanted to talk about.

Have you read any more stories about wife killings lately?

As a matter of fact, no I haven't. Maybe the outbreak is over. I laughed, but stopped short realizing that wasn't really funny.

Well, and this is just a crazy observation so don't get mad with me, but haven't you noticed that these murders stopped around the same time Hank started coming home on time and even early? Beth closed her eyes, just waiting for Jen to start yelling.

Beth, what are you trying to say? You think my husband had something to do with the death of all those women? I couldn't believe she was even implying that my husband might have killed someone, or better yet like thirteen people.

I'm just saying, Jen, it seems kind of odd. I didn't want to tell you earlier because I didn't want to hurt you, but Hank knew a few of the women who were killed.

What are you talking about? He never mentioned that to me.

I didn't think he would. Jen, I've seen him, several times, with three of the women.

What do you mean? What is going on here?

He was kissing them. I couldn't tell you because you were so happy. I'm so sorry, Jen. I shouldn't have said anything. I'm sorry. Beth was beginning to regret saying anything as she heard silence on the other end.

I don't want to talk about this anymore, Beth. I have to go. With that, I hung up. How could one of my best friends suggest that my husband was cheating on me? That's absolutely crazy. Hank loves me. he's been cooking dinner for me every night, waiting on me hand and foot. There is no way he is doing it for any other reason other than love.

The next morning, Hank once again had to go to the office early. Instead of coming home late, he was leaving home early. Beth's call the night before really had me shaken up, but I had to shake it off and go to work. I finished the last of my coffee, grabbed my briefcase and headed out the door to hail a cab. On my way to the office, I started thinking about what Beth was saying. Stop it Jen! Your husband is not cheating on you. How could you even believe it for a second? Beth had not only suggested that Hank was cheating, she had also suggested that Hank had something to do with the deaths of those women, too. Was she out of her mind? Hank couldn't hurt a fly.

I got to the office, relieved that Mrs. Burg was sitting in the waiting room for me. I knew that she would keep me busy so I wouldn't have to think about Beth's observation.

Mrs. Burg, good morning. What brings you to my office today? I actually wanted to know.

Good morning Jen. You don't look so well, are you feeling okay?
I'm just a little tired. So what can I do for you? She stared at me only for a minute before continuing.

Well, I was taking a walk the other morning and came across this beautiful apartment complex. It had ivy growing up the beautiful brick wall, huge windows, and a gorgeous park next door. But there was one incredible thing about this place that stopped me dead in my tracks. Mrs. Burg stopped and grinned at me like a kid in a candy store.

What was that Mrs. Burg? I could tell she wanted me to guess but I just wasn't in the mood.

A for sale sign! In big red letters! An apartment is on the market!

That's great, Mrs. Burg. Where is the location? I hadn't been notified that anything on this side of town was being put out on the market.

East Sixty Fifth Street. Right next to the park. Oh, Jen, please help me get. I fell in love it with it the moment I saw it. Mrs. Burg was fluttering her eyelashes as if she truly were in love.

Did you go inside, or did you come to this conclusion just by staring at the front of the building?

Well, I didn't go inside, but it was so wonderful!

Mrs. Burg, let me get some information about the building, the previous owner, and I'll make an appointment to get you a tour of the place. How does that sound?

That sounds excellent! I just love you Jen. You are the best! Are you sure you're alright? You don't seem your cheery self today. You know what they say; it helps to get things off your chest.

I thought about it. Mrs. Burg would be a good person to talk to because she doesn't know me or my husband personally so she would be objective, unlike Beth or any of the girls.

I don't know. I really appreciate the offer, but it's kind of personal.

Whatever you say to me stays between you and me. I promise.

I don't even know if it's true, to be honest. I really wasn't sure about this.

If what's true?

Supposedly my husband was having an affair with a few of the women from those stories in the newspapers. You know, the women who were killed by their husbands. Jen shut up! Why are you telling her this? It's none of her business.

Oh my! Jen, I'm so sorry, this must be hell for you. How are you dealing with this?

I don't know. Usually my husband comes home from work around two in the morning. He works for a big law firm. Anyways, for the past few weeks, he has been home on time, cooking me dinner every night, waiting on me hand and foot. That is when my girlfriend told me she saw him with at least three of those women from the news. I know my friend would never lie to me, but I just can't believe my husband would cheat on me. She even suggested he had something to do with the murders. Can you believe that? I was starting to feel more confident that Beth was wrong the more I talked about it.

Did she tell you why she thought that?

She claims that the murders have stopped at the same time that my husband started coming home on time or even early.

Wow. Mrs. Burg was nodding her head as she concentrated on the floor. She had a troubled look on her face.

Mrs. Burg? Is something the matter? I wonder what's going on in her head.

Oh, it's nothing. Just had a thought, but it's nothing. Well, I must be going. I'll be waiting for your call about the tour.

Wait a minute. You're not getting out of here that easy. Usually I can't get you to leave, and now you're so eager. What was your thought? You know as people say, its good to get things off your chest. See how she likes a taste of her own medicine.

Jen, I really shouldn't. It's not my place.

Please, Mrs. Burg. You wanted me to tell you what's on my mind, so tell me what's on yours. Please.

Well, your friend might have a point. It just seems like too much of a coincidence that your husband knows some of the women, and that the murders stopped when he started coming home early. But I might be wrong. I really should get going, Jen. Feel better, and I'll talk to you later.

Goodbye Mrs. Burg.

I can't believe this. Am I the only one who can't see this connection that everyone else sees? I decided I wasn't going to think about this. I had a new apartment to look up, and interviews to conduct.

I lay in bed that night, unable to think. For the first time in several weeks, Hank wasn't home. It was almost midnight. I wondered what he was doing, or who. I could hear the rain tapping on the window outside. I found unusual that it was raining this time of the year. I kept picturing Hank holding another woman in his arms, kissing her. you've got to stop thinking about this. You're going to drive yourself nuts! But what if? What if they?re right? Maybe if I do a little snooping, I can put this whole thing to rest. he's never come home smelling like another woman's perfume, or had lipstick on his shirt, or anywhere else. I figured if I looked around and didn't find anything, then I could tell Beth that she was wrong. God I wanted her to be wrong.

I went into the closet. Looked at his shirts carefully for any stains, smelled them for any unfamiliar scents. Nothing. I looked in his gym bag. Nothing. I went into the bathroom and even checked his stinky, dirty clothes that have been in there for days. Still nothing. Jen, you've sunk to a new low. You're rummaging through your husbands things, this is crazy. And then it hit me. His briefcase. he's always forgetting it, but I remembered it; it's sitting on the floor by the front door. Hank had put it there so he wouldn't forget it. I walked downstairs without my robe or slippers. Damn it was cold in this place! I turned the corner and there it was, right by the door. I figured since it was only twelve thirty I had plenty of time before Hank would be home.

I brought it upstairs and set it on the bed. I didn't open it right away, fearing what might be inside. It never occurred to me that I have never looked inside his briefcase before. I have never seen what he has in this thing. I was afraid to open it. Afraid that the second I do, Hank will walk in the door and see me going through it, and then all hell will break loose. I sat next to it, and slowly snapped the latches on both sides. I lifted the top and gazed in. It looked pretty ordinary. His address book, appointment book, pads of paper with a bunch of legal crap written all over them. I started taking things out, making sure I had seen everything, so I wouldn't have any doubts or questions in the back of my mind. There was a piece of paper neatly folded several times. I opened it up out of curiosity. Everything else had been attached to something, except this stray piece of paper. I unfolded it, and saw a list of about twenty names, most with check marks next to them. Women's names. Who are all these women? Under the sheet of paper were several folders. Some of the names matched those on the folders.

You shouldn't be looking at this. I said aloud.

These were divorce cases. Maybe this list was for all his clients that were getting divorced. It made sense. But I recognized one of the names; Miranda Gomez. I had read about her in the newspaper. Oh my god! She was one of the women who were killed by their husband.

Well, its no wonder he wanted to kill her, she wanted to divorce him.

At least sixteen of the names matched to a folder, involving a divorce. Its sad how many marriages fail. I became curious. Beth was right about one thing, Hank knew one of the women killed because he was handling her divorce papers. That explained it. This Miranda woman probably was upset and Hank tried to console her, and that's when Beth saw them. She just mistook it for something else. Thank god! I knew Hank loved me, I knew he would never cheat on me! I went down the list and realized I recognized several names on the list.

I've read these names before. But where?

That's when it hit me.

I called the girls the next morning and asked them to meet me for lunch. I told them I had something very important to talk to them about.

Where's Lisa? I asked.

She couldn't come. She's sick in bed with the flu. Must be this weird cloudy weather, she can't handle it. Christy was closer to Lisa than the rest of us.

Well, this can't wait. Beth you already have an idea about what I'm going to say. I went through some of Hanks things last night, to see if I could find anything that would suggest he was cheating on me.

Cheating on you? Christy interrupted. Hank is cheating on you?

Well, I saw him with another woman in his arms, and I told Jen the other day. I couldn't keep it to myself anymore.

Anyways, I didn't find anything that suggests that he was cheating. But I did find something weird. I found a list of about twenty names, women's names, with check marks next to most of them. There were also several folders that matched the names on the list.

What does that mean? Beth asked.

Well, I looked inside the folders, and they all contained divorce papers. Hank must have been handling all of these women's divorces or something.

What do the check marks mean? Christy inquired.

At first I thought it just meant that the divorce was done, and case closed. But then I recognized one of the names.

Who?

Miranda Gomez. I paused when I saw Christy's eyes widen.

What's wrong Christy? Beth looked worried.

I've heard of that name. That's the name of one of those murdered wives.

Exactly. I was shocked too when I figured that out. There's more. That list I mentioned has all the names of the wives that were killed. It looks like they all were getting divorces and the one thing in common is that my husband is handling their papers. Hank knew every one of those women. I couldn't believe I was thinking like this. Here I was, gossiping to my friends about how my husband is connected to a bunch of dead women.

What are you implying Jen? Christy looked confused. Are you implying that Hank had something to do with the death of those women?

I don't know what I'm implying Christy. Beth, you told me you saw Hank with another woman. What exactly did you see? I wasn't sure if I really wanted to know, but I had to find out if there is something serious going on with Hank.

Are you sure you want to know?

Yes, I want to know everything. I mean it Beth.

Fine. I was walking past Hank's office and I saw him hugging another woman. She had blonde hair so I knew it wasn't you. I paused and soon they were kissing. Pretty passionately. But Beth's gaze turned away from mine. Beth worked as a secretary at the same law firm as Hank, so she sees everything. There was something she wasn't telling me.

But what Beth? Is there more? God Jen, do you really want to hear about this? Your heart is breaking with every word she says.

That wasn't the first woman I saw him with. There have been others. Other women, I mean.

Who are they?

Clients. They come in for their appointments, only they don't discuss the legal brief, if you know what I mean.

I could feel my eyes swell up with tears. I tried to hold it back but I burst.

How could he do this to me? I thought things were great, I thought we were in love. I guess that's why he has been so attentive to me lately. He feels guilty. That asshole! Why would he I can't even think!

Maybe we shouldn't talk about this anymore Beth. Christy looked as if she was going to cry.

I just want to go home. I got up and walked home.

I feel so horrible Chris, Jen just burst into tears. I shouldn't have said anything. Beth felt awful telling Jen about Hank's other life.

Babe, you had to tell her. She had a right to know. Yes it's horrible, but you're not the one hurting her, Hank is. You know damn well that if she found out another way, and then found out that you knew all along, she would've been even madder.

I know. I just feel so terrible. She loves him so much. How could he do this to her? And you know, Chris, I have a funny feeling that the affairs isn't the whole story.

What do you mean?

Hank knew all those women. Jen is aware of that. She said he had a list of women's names, all his clients because he had matching folders with their divorce papers. On the list, there were check marks next to most of the names. But that's not even the odd thing. Lately, Jen said Hank has been home on time, being really loving and affectionate towards her. Now Jen realizes that it was out of guilt. But there is something strange.

What's strange about a cheating husband feeling guilty?

Well, when Hank started coming home on time for a change, the wife murders stopped. We already know that Hank handled all those women's divorce cases. A few days ago, Hank starts showing up late again, and guess what starts again, too?

What?

The murders. Another woman was killed two days after Hank starts coming home late. I recognized the name of the lady in the news with a name that was on his list. Chris, what if Hank has something to do with these murders? Beth knew she couldn't tell Jen this, especially not since Jen just heard that Hank has been cheating on her with several women.

Beth, that's crazy. Besides, in each case they have evidence that the husbands did it. They found the wife's blood on the husband's clothes. What more do you need? Chris can be so skeptical sometimes.

Haven't you ever heard of framing someone? I know that sometimes people can lose sight of reality when something bad happens. In these cases, their wives were all filing for a divorce. Who knows, they may have even knew about the affair that they were apparently all having with their divorce lawyer. But doesn't it seem odd that twenty something husbands all reacted the same way, by killing their wives? That sounds a little odd to me.

Let me see if I understand you Beth. You think that Hank was having an affair with all these women, killed them, and then framed their husbands?

Yes. He had all the resources to do so. He knew all the women. I personally saw him getting personal with most of his female clients. He couldn't risk his affairs getting out so he had to kill them. He probably figured that since these women were getting divorced, that would give the husbands motive to want to kill their wives, the perfect frame. He would have access to the husbands? clothes because he was sleeping with their wives. Honey, I've seen enough Law and Order to see these kinds of things. Beth laughed. It wasn't a laughing matter, but come on, how could Chris admit that this was not a possibility.

Don't let this go to your head, but yeah alright, it's a possibility. Have you told Jen what you think?

God no. I had a hard enough time telling her that her husband is cheating on her. She burst into tears when she found out there was more than one woman. Chris, you should've seen her. I almost burst into tears myself. You cheat on me, I'll kill you! Beth and Chris laughed. It was what they needed; the mood had become so heavy in their bedroom. They turned out the lights, and went to sleep.

A few blocks away, Jen was tossing and turning. It was three thirty in the morning and Hank still wasn't home. he's never been this late before. I started thinking about what I had started to say at lunch. I agree with Beth; Hank might have something to do with those murders. I hate to say this, but things add up. Beth was right; the murders did stop once Hank started coming home on time. And they started back up again when he went back to his late nights. God, please don't tell me I married a murderer.

I sat up around five in the morning. Hank was walking upstairs, I could hear his footsteps.

Jen. What are you still doing up? He looked so surprised to see me.

I can't sleep. I heard you come in. It's really late Hank, where have you been? Do I really want to know?

I decided to stay late at the office, and I fell asleep at my desk. Lost track of time I guess. I'm beat. I get two hours before I have to go back to the office.

Hank got into bed, still in his suit. I continued to sit there. For the first time, I smelled women's perfume, and it wasn't mine.

I was still asleep when Hank left. I was so tired from tossing and turning that I slept in until noon. I was awakened when the phone rang. It was Ann from the office.

Jen, where are you? It's twelve in the afternoon. Are you okay?

Ann, hi. Yea I'm fine. I didn't get much sleep last night. I think I may be coming down with something.

Are you coming into the office today or should I let your clients know your out for the day?

Yes, that would be great. I'll call you later, okay Ann?

Okay. Get some rest. I'll talk to you later. Goodbye.

Bye.

Hank had thrown the clothes he was wearing on the floor in the bathroom when he took a shower this morning. I grabbed them, and brought them up to my nose. Sure enough, I smelled perfume. On the inside of the collar was pink lipstick. I would never be caught wearing pink lipstick. I had read the paper from this morning. Another woman had been killed. Sarah Waters. I had seen her name on Hank's list. I decided to call Beth.

Beth sipped her coffee very slowly. I could tell she was nervous to talk to me. She felt so bad after that day at lunch.

Jen, I'm so sorry about the other day. I feel horrible.

Don't. I asked you tell me. You were just doing what I asked. But I wanted to talk to you about something. I didn't invite Christy over because she is so sensitive and gets upset too easily.

Is this what you were trying to tell me at lunch that day?

Yes. I had been doing some thinking about what you had said. About Hank possibly having something to do with those murders.

Oh Jen I'm so sorry. That was so out of line. I shouldn't have said that.

But you believe it's possible don't you?

Beth looked at me, not sure what to say.

Yeah, I do.

Me too. I stopped, Beth just stared at me.

You do? Are you sure?

Yes. That list, and those names, and last night he came home around five. Five, Beth. he's never been that late. And he smelled like perfume, and it wasn't mine.

You poor thing. What a creep.

Anyways, I have a plan. I need to know once and for all what is going on. And I can't just ask him about it. He doesn't even know I know about the affairs.

Your not going to do anything crazy are you?

No, I'm just going to follow him. But I need your help.

How can I help?

You work in the same office as Hank. Just keep an eye out for me. I need you to let me know when every one is out of the office. When you call, I'll watch him. Follow him wherever he goes. See what he does when the office shuts down. Will you help me?

Of course. But you can't follow him by yourself. You have to have someone with you. Wait for me. Once I call you, I will meet you somewhere. Okay?

Thanks Beth. you've been such a great friend.

I would do anything for you. You know that Jen.

I woke up feeling sick. Today was the day. I was going to find out what Hank does when he doesn't come home. I looked next to me; Hank wasn't there. He must have gone to the office early. I got up, and walked to the bathroom. Hank had just thrown his clothes all over the floor. Nice, honey. You cheat on me and leave a mess in the bathroom. I kicked them aside and started the shower. I had to go to work today. I had been taking so many days off that my boss was starting to worry. He had called the other day, left me a voice message wondering if I was okay. I had never called him back.

Mr. Mooney came up to my desk, looking very concerned.

Jen, it's so good to see you. I tried to call you but there was no answer. You never called back, are you okay?

Yes, I'm okay. I'm sorry I didn't call you back, Mr. Mooney. I've just had a lot on my mind lately. Some personal things, you understand? I felt so bad for not calling him. Poor thing, he looked like a worried father whose daughter was out on her first date.

I understand, Jen. I'm just glad that you're okay, and that you're back at work. I hear that you're doing research on a new apartment for Mrs. Burg.

Yeah, actually she was the one who informed me about it. She was taking a walk when she came upon the for sale sign. I'm in the middle of researching the neighborhood, building owner, and the current tenant. I've scheduled an appointment at the end of the week to talk to the tenant, um, Ms. Boyle I think her name is. Then next week I'm taking Mrs. Burg to see the inside.

She hasn't seen it? How does she know she wants it then?

She fell in love with everything else. She loves the red brick building, the park next door. Said that was all she needed.

Well, this sounds like an easy sell. If she loves the bricks outside, it shouldn't be a problem selling her the inside. But then again, you've never had a problem selling anything. I was the best agent this place had. I haven't lost a sale in two years.

Thank you, Mr. Mooney.

I'll leave you to your appointments. Bye Jen.

Bye Mr. Mooney.

I had done research on the surrounding neighborhood and found that it was a fairly nice place to live. The area was low on crime; only a few break ins, nothing serious. The landlady was next. I had talked to her briefly, and she had seemed nice. She was friendly and very eager to meet with me and Mrs. Burg. That was a good sign. This might be the easiest sale I've ever had. The client found the place and everyone is so eager to move things along. I wish they all could be like this.

I was on my fifth cup of coffee, I think, when Ann paged me.

Jen, Beth is on line one for you.

Thanks, Ann. I picked up the receiver and clicked line one.

Hey Beth, what's up?

Oh nothing, Just sitting here at my desk, alone in the building, except for Hank of course. Beth was surprised that Jen was so calm. She figured she would be a nervous wreck by now.

What time is it? I looked over at the clock. It was eight o? clock. I didn't even realize how much time had passed. I had worked right through the day.

I had so much work to do that I completely lost track of time! So everyone has left the office? I could butterflies in my stomach.

Yeah, besides Hank I'm the only one left. And I am on my way out, to meet you.

Okay. There is a coffee shop right next to the office. I went past there this morning. It gives you a good view to the entrance to the building. Are there any other entrances to the building?

Just one. It leads to a hallway which leads to the back of the building. But it has an alarm. When the door is opened it goes off. You could probably hear it on the other side of town. I really doubt that he would use that exit. That alarm is loud and to be honest, our last secretary lost the only set of keys to turn the damn thing off. We didn't try to get a spare set because she's lost them before and the building inspector kind of lectured us last time.

Okay. Well, meet met at the coffee shop. Don't take your eyes off the front doors. I don't want him to leave without us seeing. I'm leaving as we speak. See you in fifteen.

K, bye Jen.

Hank was sitting at his desk, going over some papers for Mrs. Lindy. She was in the process of leaving her husband. She says her husband doesn't do it for her anymore. This is why she started seeing Hank. He knew exactly what to do to make her toes curl. He looked over at his desk clock. Nine o? clock. He was supposed to see her tonight.

He grabbed his jacked, turned out the last of the lights, and made his way to the front. He locked the doors behind him, looked around, and hailed a cab. Shit! We?re going to lose him!

Beth, what are we going to do? We can't get out and get a cab because he?ll see us. We can't lose him!

Jen, calm down. It's going to be okay. We?re not going to lose him. We?ll just cover our faces. Jen, so many people hail cabs up and down these streets, Hank isn't going to pay attention to two people getting a cab. He won't see us.

We walked out of the coffee shop and got a cab pretty quickly.

Where to ladies? the driver asked us.

We need you to follow that cab right in front of that movie store over there. You see it, the one with the dent in the side? God I hope he doesn't ask questions.

Following someone, are you? Do you mind if I ask why? The driver looked in the rearview mirror with a sideways grin.

Actually, yes I do. I didn't mean to sound harsh but I didn't want to inform all of New York about my cheating husband and my lie of a marriage.

We followed the cab for about half an hour. God, where is he going? Right after that thought, we stopped.

Why are we stopping?

Because the cab you're following stopped lady.

Oh. Sorry. Thank you. I looked out the window and saw Hank get out of the cab. Beth paid the cab driver, and we got out and hid on the side of a building next to the one Hank was going into.

Where are we? I asked Beth.

I don't know. I've never been to this side of town before. Excuse me, sir? My friend and I are lost. Where are we?

You guys are in Boston.

Thank you. Well, Jen, we are in Boston.

No shit Beth. Hank never mentioned anything about Boston.

Jen, look. Beth pointed up to the building. Look in that window. You can see right inside. You can see Hank. And some woman.

Oh great. I get to stand here in the cold and watch my husband have an affair. This isn't exactly what I would call a great time.

Wait a minute. I recognize her. That's Mrs. Lindy. Soon to be ex Mrs. Lindy. She's one of Hank's divorce clients. Beth kept staring at the window, and then looked at me, eyes wide.

What is it Beth?

Do you remember seeing her name on that list you found in Hank's briefcase?

I don't know. I should've made a copy of that stupid list. Damn it! What if that lady, Mrs. Lindy is in trouble? So far, Hank's women haven't had too much luck. What if her husband comes home while Hank is still in there? What if something happens? My mind went over all the things that could possibly happen. Why did I care so much about what might happen to Hank? Because you still love him that's why.

Beth and I sat by that building for what seemed like hours.

I don't think anything else is going to happen. Beth, I didn't learn anything new from this stupid trip. I already knew Hank was cheating when he smelled like perfume, and had lipstick on his shirt. It was at that moment that Hank and Mrs. Lindy came out of the building. They stood outside for several minutes.

I turned to Beth, We should leave, Beth. I have to be home before he gets there. I'm always home and in bed before he gets home. He might get suspicious if I'm not there.

Chill out Jen. We?ll leave right now. When you get home, haul ass upstairs and get in bed. I laughed. Beth always knew how to make me laugh when all I wanted to do was cry.

Okay, let's go.

We got a cab, and went home. I ran upstairs, put on pajamas, and then got into bed. I sat up real quickly and tousled my hair so it looked like I had been sleeping. I lay down as soon as Hank walked into the bedroom. I remained ?asleep? and watched him through half open eyes. He went into the bathroom, took off his work clothes, threw them on the floor, and got into bed. He leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. I could smell that woman's perfume on him. I have her lips on my cheek now. Thanks Hank.

I went to work the next day as if the previous night had never happened.

A week later, I was having lunch at my desk waiting for Ann to bring that morning's paper by. Hank had decided to take our paper to work with him because he left in such a hurry this morning.

Here you go, Jen. Ann handed me the paper.

Thanks, Ann. I unfolded the paper, and that's when I saw it.

?When Will it Stop?? the article read.

Another woman had been killed. Her name is, or was, Monica Lindy. Lindy? Oh my god! That's the woman that Hank was with that night. She was one of his clients. What the hell is going on here? I couldn't believe it. There was no way that this was all a coincidence. I called Beth right away.

Beth, did you read the paper today?

No, why?

Mrs. Lindy was killed last night. I was so upset I could barely get the words out.

What? The same Mrs. Lindy we saw that night? The one Hank is representing? Beth sounded about as shocked as I did.

Yeah. Oh god, Beth, please tell me that my husband isn't a murderer!

Jen, I have to ask you something. Did Hank come home late last night?

Yes he did. It was at that moment that I realized what Beth was thinking. She was thinking that my husband was out killing that woman. I can't believe this is happening.

You have to go to the police about this.

I can't. I can't accuse my husband, the man I promised to love till death do us part, of murder. I have to go. I can't talk about this. I hung up and sat at my desk for several minutes.

Ann, could you cancel all my appointments for the rest of the afternoon? I have a ton of work to do here.

Sure, Jen, no problem.

Thanks. I had to figure out how I was going to deal with this. I've got to find out what is going on.

I had to prove that Beth was wrong about Hank. But how?

The next morning, I was surprised to find Hank still sleeping when my alarm went off. Usually he was just leaving or already gone when I get up. I turned off the alarm and lightly touched Hank's arm. He budged only a little bit, still asleep.

Hank, sweetie, it's time to get up. Actually its past time for you.

What? What time is it? Hank managed to say.

It's seven o? clock in the morning. You overslept. You better get going.

Shit! I have an appointment with a client at eight. Hank jumped out of bed, and put on his suit.

Why don't you just call the office and have them push it back until nine? I knew that would be a long shot.

I can't. This is my biggest client. Her name is Shelley. She is dealing with a soon to be rich ex husband and she's trying to overthrow the pre-nup. I can't miss this.

You're not even going to take a quick shower before you go? This wasn't like him.

No. He leaned down and kissed my forehead. I love you honey. Don't wait up tonight. I'll be home later than usual now that I'm going to work later than usual. Bye.

Until he mentioned how late he was going to be, I had almost forgotten that he was cheating on me. Despite that fact, I still loved him with all my heart and soul. He was my companion. We had worked so hard to get where we are. I just couldn't imagine throwing it all away. I guess I didn't really have to worry about that; Hank was throwing it all away for the both of us.

I got up and started the shower. For a little while, things felt okay. I actually felt happy, like nothing was wrong. I was rinsing my hair when I figured out what I had to do. I had to follow him again. But this time without Beth. She can't even know. I don't want her there if I find out anything; especially if I find out she was right. I would do it tonight, since Hank said he would be later than usual.

I went to work, and tried to keep myself busy. I took Mrs. Burg to the apartment to meet the current owner and to take a tour. By the end of the day, Mrs. Burg had put in a bid. It looked promising.

Thank you so much Jen! I am so excited! Mrs. Burg was smiling from ear to ear.

Don't get too excited yet. The owner said there were a few more people interested in the apartment. We won't know anything for a week or two. I was probably just as eager as Mrs. Burg to get this apartment; mainly because I wanted her out of my hair. Ever since she found that apartment, she has been calling endlessly to find out if I had heard anything.

Soon after Mrs. Burg left my office, I looked at the clock. It was seven thirty. Hanks office would be closing in a half hour. I grabbed my things and rushed out of the office. I hadn't realized that I was the only one still here. I locked everything up and hailed a cab. I went to that same coffee shop across from his office and waited.

As soon as eight o? clock rolled around, I saw Hank come out of the office. He walked down the street a little ways, and then stopped. His cell had rung and he was talking on the phone. I looked back at the office, I don't know why, but I saw a shadow come out from around the corner. It was a small figure, most likely a woman. I didn't think anything of it, until I noticed that she was watching my husband. Who is that? Hank raised his hand as he tried to get a cab. I rushed outside and got my own cab. So did this mysterious woman.

Where to Miss?

I need you to follow that cab up there on that corner. I pointed to Hanks cab.

Sure thing. The driver pulled out right behind Hanks cab.

I looked over to where the woman had been standing. She was getting into a cab, that was following me. A few minutes later, she came up right next to me. I tried to see who it was, without them seeing me, but it was so dark I couldn't see her face. She sped up, and merged into the space between mine and Hanks cab. She was following him. I tried to look out the window, around this other cab, and noticed that Hank stopped. So did mine and the other woman's cab. Hank got out and met a voluptuous blonde in front of an apartment complex. I paid the driver, then got out and went around the corner. I could hear what they were saying perfectly.

Hey sweetie. I was beginning to think you weren't coming tonight. She had such a Barbie doll voice it made me sick. I looked over at the other cab. The woman was still sitting inside.

Sorry baby. I was just running a little late that's all. But I'm here now. Why don't we go upstairs? I have something I want to show you. He smiled at her the same way he smiles at me. I could feel tears well up in my eyes. Pull yourself together Jen! Hank was upstairs for about four hours. I had almost fallen asleep on the curb. I heard the door open so I ran back around the corner.

Bye baby. I'll call you tomorrow. And don't worry about the pre-nup. I'll take care of everything.

The pre-nup? Hank was with his client that he met with this morning! I looked over and saw Hank get into a cab. I wasn't worried about getting home before him. I was going to confront him. I was tired of living like this. When the cab pulled away, I just sat there. Well Jen, there goes your marriage. After tonight, you?ll be on your own. I began to walk to the street to get my own cab when I noticed that woman walking down the street. I hid behind the building so she couldn't see me. She rang the buzzer, and asked for Shelly. Shelly came down and I heard the woman say that she had something important to discuss with her and asked to come inside. They went upstairs for about twenty minutes, when I heard a scream followed by shattering glass. I looked around the corner, and saw the woman run out of the building and down the street. The door was open so I ran upstairs. There were blood prints down the hallway. I followed them to a partly cracked door. I pushed it open and saw Shelly lying face down in a pool of blood. I screamed and immediately called the police.

After a few hours of giving a statement, a squad car took me home. I got upstairs expecting to see Hank, but he wasn't home. It was almost four o? clock. Where was he? At least now I know that Hank isn't the killer. Thank god my husband isn't a murderer. Beth had been wrong. I couldn't shake the eerie feeling I had after seeing that woman lying there, in her own blood. I didn't get much sleep.

I decided to leave early the next day. I told my boss that was feeling very nauseous and I was going to stay home and rest. Instead, I called Beth.

Beth, your not going to believe what happened last night.

I know. I read the paper this morning. Another woman was killed.

I was there Beth. I knew she would have a lot of questions.

You were there? What the hell were you doing?

I followed Hank again. He said he was going to be home really late, and I needed to know the real reason why. But I wasn't the only one following him. Another woman was following him, too.

Did you see who it was? Beth sounded worried.

No. It was too dark. Anyways, when Hank left, the woman, one of his clients, was still alive. Then this woman goes upstairs, and that's when I heard Shelley, Hanks client and newfound friend, scream. This woman comes running out of the apartment and when I went up, Shelly was dead.

What did you do?

I called the police. I gave them a full statement. You know, even though this was a terrible thing, I'm relieved because it clears Hank. At least of the murdering part.

Wow. I can't believe this Jen.

I know me either.

What are you going to do now?

Beth, I have no idea. I really didn't. I wish I could've seen that woman. Hank still isn't home. I'm assuming he doesn't know what happened. You know what I don't get?

What?

How come Hank hasn't wondered why all of his clients keep showing up dead? You would think he would be confused or concerned, or something, wouldn't you? I hadn't thought of this until now.

I don't know. Maybe he hired that woman you saw to do the dirty work for him. Beth suggested.

Inside Joko Jun

Joko Jun features Filipinos from around the world... musicians, writers, photographers, and other creative people.