Short Story: Guilty

Anyone who saw John and Jane together witnessed their love. The love these two had for one another wasn’t just shown in their eyes but in their regard for one another.  The way they were always touching each other, smiling at one another and sharing moments while the world watched. 

Normally the two would have never crossed paths, being from two different worlds and all. But Twilight Tuesdays in Forest Park on the lawn of the History Museum brought everyone of all types out. From early May to mid October a large part of the St. Louis population spent their evenings stretched out on the lawn listening to live bands recreate music of times past. Attendees would bring food, drinks, chairs, blankets, family and friends to groove to lifetime classics. That paticular night a band was bringing Michael Jackson back to us through his music. 

Their meeting was simple. Both were there with friends sitting just across the lawn from one another. In the middle of Smooth Criminal, a glass of wine and a nice groove on a blanket Jane felt the stare. At first she thought it was her imagination. She kept turning but didnt find the gaze.  So she chucked it up as just her imagination.

As the band ended Smooth Criminal they started Man in the Mirror with Jane still having the feeling of being watched.  Instinct told her it wasn’t her imagination causing her to turn again  towards the feeling, shock caused her to turn away.  She didn’t understand why he would be staring at her, she thought maybe she was mistaken only when she looked again he was still there, still staring. Again Jane hurried and turned away. Why was he looking at her like that? 

Why was he there just nonchalantly out in the open?  When he stood to walk over the crowd took notice.  You could practically hear their whispers of shock that he was there. Of course they all knew who he was, always in controversial news because of his family’s ammunition business. Jane didn’t dare stand and assume that he was coming for her, but with her heart beating a thousand miles a minute she knew for sure he was. Stepping to her like he didn’t see anything or anyone else he reached for her hand.  With Jane now standing he introduced himself and wanted to know if she would join him on his blanket. Who turns down the city’s billionaire and most eligible bachelor?

The first year aftet John and Jane met was a heaven of courtship. Their very first date found John picking Jane up in a chauffeured car, something that was new for her. She made decent money as an elementary school principal for the last six years and she loved it. But nothing that would afford her something like this. John on the other hand came from a wealthy family and he had a handle on the perks of that wealth.

That day they drove to Creve Couer Park where she watched John lay out the most beautiful picnic. Beautiful not just because of the single red rose he had laid in here place or the exquisite eating utensils nor was it the crystal wine glasses but because he himself laid it. It wasn’t prepared by a mystery person before they got there. John had taken the time to lay the blanket, arrange each container then help Jane to her seat. John became Jane’s bestfriend that day.  They talked about everything  from Jane’s first day teaching kindergarten to her principal position.  John told Jane about his exile to boarding school in his teens to his return for undergrad.  From that moment the two were inseparable.

Months later they had just finished a meal prepared by Jane when John stated, “I have something for you.”

Jane was excited because what girl wasn’t at the thought of a gift. John takes their plates into the kitchen before stopping to retrieve a small box from his jacket pocket.  

It wasn’t the little blue boxes Jane had become accustomed to him giving her but that didn’t dull her excitement.  

“What is it,” she asked as he handed it to her.

“Open it,” he smiles at her giddiness. And so she does. Inside she finds a key.

“What’s this,” she asks confused. At this point she cared for John but didn’t know if she was ready to exchange keys with him.

“A key to my house,” John answered smiling. “Look under the cushion.” 

There she found the codes to his alarms and front gate. Still she didn’t know how she should feel. John though was so in love with Jane that he didn’t understand her reaction at all. “What’s wrong?”

“Don’t you think this is too soon,” she asked truthfully.

“No Jane I love you like I have never loved anyone else.”

Another surprise to Jane, “you love me,” she questioned.

“Yes Jane. Ok I understand that we have never said that to one another but I thought it was evident.”

It was, but saying it outloud was just too real for Jane. She could admit to herself that John was great, but she was waiting on the other shoe to drop. Jane had felt that no matter how careful she was in starting a relationship or how gratifying the relationship appeared to be going she always ended up hurt and in tears. And truth be told she was waiting on that with John. 

Except it never happened. John remained attentive, loyal and loving to the point Jane couldn’t help but accept his key. And at their one year anniversary mark she accepted his marriage proposal with no hesitation. Accepted the lavish wedding and lifestyle John offered. They lived wonderfully together traveling and loving each other for more than five years.

“So Ms. Jones you are telling this courtroom that Mr. John Blue was planning to divorce my client,” Julie asked the confident Jezebel on the stand.

“Yes. We were planning to marry next year and he showed me the papers.”

“What else did Mr. Blue tell you about his relationship with my client?”

The Jezebel seemed confused by the question.

“What do you mean?”

“Did you confront my client after her husband’s disappearance with the same claims?”

“They weren’t claims. It’s the truth,” she spat looking at Jane with contempt.

“Of course, Ms. Jones. In this truth did you also tell my client how her husband was disqusted by her and you knew they weren’t having sex. Didn’t you tell her you satisfied her husband like she never could.”

“Object,” the prosecutor yelled as Julie knew he would. “She is testifying hear say for the client.”

“I withdraw my question, your honor,” Julie states as the Jezebel sat staring at Jane’s swollen belly behind the defense table.

These details hurt Jane, brought back painful memories but she knew it was necessary or she would be in someone’s jail cell. 

“How do you know he didn’t lie about his supposed divorce so that you could keep satisfying him. How do we know you didn’t do something to him when you found out the how much he loved his wife?”

“I object,” the prosecutor yells again.

Before the judge could rule Julie offers to again withdraw her question. Told the court she had no further questions and strutted back to her table. It wasn’t about the Jezebel’s answers, it was about getting enough doubt out there that no one wanted to send a possibly innocent preganant woman to jail.

Jane and Julie had been friends since childhood. Julie had been there when John and Jane had met sitting on the blanket full of glee for her friend. She had been her maid of honor in their wedding so when Jane called, Julie didn’t hesitate. 

The prosecutors were on a manhunt and they didn’t even know for what. Both John, a suitcase and a large sum of money had disappeared. No body, no physical evidence of foul play and the family was on Jane’s side. No one believed that she could do something to John let alone make him disappear. Many had testified to this and the love they saw in the marriage of the Blues. All except for the Jezebel who wanted John for herself. This homewrecker had tried to steal the love of Jane’s life. The Jezebel wanted to spend John’s money and live Jane’s life. Neither Jane nor Julie was going to let that happen

“What do you mean you’re leaving me?”

“I’m sorry Jane. You can keep the house and I will pay alimony and child suppory but I’m in love with someone else,” John told her simply. 

This couldn’t be happening. He had pursued her so diligently and hadn’t stopped since they married. Just a couple of days ago they had come home from London after leaving their lock of love. He had upgraded her four carat princess cut diamond to a seven carat Marquise. It was how now at this moment she was standing before him ready to tell him about their pregnancy. Ready to tell him about the beautiful laughter that was about to fill their home.

She didn’t know when he had fallen out of love with her. Didn’t know why he hadn’t shown it so she could have at least been pre-warned. 

Jane didn’t know what to do.  All the arguing and crying following his revelation wasn’t swaying him. Jane screaming behind him yelling and screaming as he packed a bag wasn’t changing his mind either. Jane knew he didn’t have a business trip because Jane knew everything. His secretary did really well in keeping Jane in the loop about things like that. He was really leaving her.

John didn’t seem to be slowing down no matter what Jane said. His mind was made up and so was Jane’s. She was ringing the alarm no one was taking her husband. She finally found her man and no one was taking him. Before she could rationalize her thoughts she picked up a beautiful steel vase from a hall table and swung it with all her might at her loves head. 

It was a quick action. John didn’t see it coming, didn’t understand the sudden pain or fall to the floor. Didn’t think Jane would ever hurt him, but she had thought the same of him. Thought he was hers forever and she had no reason to be looking for the other shoe to drop. She had stopped looking for the other shoe. Hopefully she had knocked some sense in him. She would see when he woke.

Only hours later after preparing dinner John still hadn’t woke. Jane knew her small frame couldn’t have hit him and leave him knocked out like that. 

Kneeling beside him Jane gives a little shake, “John.”

John doesn’t move, doesn’t stir even a little.

She calls his name repeatedly while shaking him but he still gives no response. Nervous Jane starts to shake her husband harder, screams his name louder but still nothing. After more shakes she searches for a pulse, a breath under his nose. Nothing.

Jane scoots away from what she now knows is a dead body. Tears come with the realization that she had just killed her husband. Shaking she didn’t know what to do. Her first thought was to grab her phone, call the police. They could help. They would understand or would she end up pregnant in jail. Touching her belly she thought of giving birth to a parentless child in prison. 

This was all John’s fault she wanted to scream. They were happy and in love. Why would he want to ruin that? At that moment she knew there was only one person she could call.

Jane was happy the staff was off for the weekend. It creeped her out to have people trying to do things for her she could do herself. So early on in their marriage they compromised to send them home on weekends and when he was out of town.

True to form Julie arrived in record time. Before showing her the body Jane broke down the events of the day. But Julie didn’t care, no way was she letting her pregnant best friend go to jail because her husband turned into an adulterous ass. 

Together the girls spenting all night and most of the next morning burning John’s body in the old furnace in the basement along with his packed suitcase. Jane then drove his car thankful of its tented windows to the Amtrak station were they left it. 

Although the police couldn’t find a train ticket in his name they also couldn’t explain what he had done with the one point five million dollars he had withdrawn just days earlier. Jane assumed that was his run away money because they had no prenup. She also assumed that the Jezebel may have had it but didn’t bring it up because it would be confiscated, but that didn’t matter. That was nothing compared to what Jane and her unborn child would end up with if she got out of this. 

“Has the jury reached a verdict,” the judge asks interrupting Jane’s cruise down memory lane. Her ever present tears were falling as she turned to the jury.

The courtroom turned in unison as the foreman stands and announces, “We the jury find the defendant not guilty on all counts.”

“Mrs. Blue you are free to go,” the judge announce as Julie and Jane stand hugging each other. As John’s family hugs Jane the Jezebel is screaming her disdain.

Jane looks at her and feels nothing for the Jezebel’s hurt of John’s death. He was her husband and he will always be her husband.

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