“Oh, he was for sure, a man of secrets, though they didn’t come to surface.”
“If he were standing here, would you tell it to him,” Detective Douglas Sexton asked Linda Macaulay.
“But he is dead, and so is the question.” She answered, staring at the Detective.
Unmoved by her answer, he, with a slight motion to his hand, placed his over her hand.
“Sounds like you’re counting his money again, and he is all dead…!” said Douglas.
“All right, for the sake of argument: if Cassandra, whom is back in that hospital in Wisconsin now, if she never shot her self, and he, Jason Hightower was back to normal-yes. You guys want us to love you from birth to the tomb, and I’ve only known you a while, since that day in December of last year, now it is March of 1977, so let’s say three months and a week, for that matter, you are still a stranger.”
“I was there Linda, I asked you out, if I recall right!”
“Yes, I remember that too,” answered Linda.
Detective Sexton was getting a bit bitter, and spitting out some sarcasm, “…perhaps it’s my bad luck to be a poor detective.”
“Oh yes, bad luck, not for you but for me, since I am dating you…” she said, hands clinched on her lap, as they sat in his apartment watching T.V., eating popcorn, watching ‘The Creature from the Black Lagoon,’ now she took his hand off her’s.
“Maybe if you’d just act rich, it might help; you don’t act like you want to keep me, rather as if you own me.”
“It goes both ways, there is only sex between us anyhow, and I suppose Jason was worse than a father or uncle, he became worse when he got his wealth I heard, so the neighbors said, insurance, and the plantation, and the furniture, you looked kind of eagle-eyed for his money if I recall.
Linda, pauses for a few seconds, then gets up, walks over to the window, looks out it, it is a nice spring evening.
“He wouldn’t let me out of his sight, but bought me snazzy cloths, negligees and all that girl stuff. All to make me happy and you can’t buy me a stick of gum. Is it that child support you have to pay, or is it that you get a little when you visit your kids, from your ex-wife? I really was happy also you know; I just had to be there for him. He made an effort to make me happy, but there was an eccentric side to him, a placid side, a side that when he talked, was emotionally flat, he had many sides I suppose.”
Doug, stops speaking, reaches for a cigarette from his shirt pocket, lights it, with his lighter, watching Linda look out the window, puts it in an astray, and sits back, after a few puffs off the cigarette, puts it out, almost a whole cigarette, and wants to speak but stops himself, then says:
“How was Jason with his daughter, and you, I mean, did you see her much?”
“I drove him around town in his new Cadillac, he liked me to go fast around those corners, and into the alleyways, perhaps missed it as a kid, Cassandra never left her room, and we were gone quite a lot. He liked me taking him to the red-light district, if only his wife knew what was in his head, how he got there before I’ll never know, and he never told me, but he knew Jenny and Kathy and the whole lot of the whores there. I even waited outside of the car for him a few times, while both those gals took care of him. You just don’t know people, do we? You’d think his item wouldn’t work-because he’s in a wheelchair, it was really his legs that didn’t work, the item worked well, he even had flashy pants underneath those blue jeans of his.
But not me, not Linda Macaulay, I did not stop him, I worked for him those months twenty-four hours a day, doing his laundry, even her’s, Cassandra’s: yes I was in the middle of sin, and we didn’t see Cassandra all that much, her mind was too much for us, fathoms deep, so we left her alone, and I did what young girls my age do, shop, shop, make love with the rich, and drive the Catholic around and showed off.”
“Ah,” said Doug quickly as if to hear more, but Linda seemed to have hushed up, “What about Betty, did he cheat on her?”
“Does a cat meow?” replied Linda, “of course he did, and he called it moderation, with little truth, something like that; although he was known in his own circles as the pillar of truth, and honesty, and fidelity, and the most faithful of the faithful. He was not a criminal of course, not in the since of how we see them nowadays, not a thug, god forbid, but he’d go into a few nightclubs, they knew him at the few he had me take him to. He never talked Betty out of going to Saigon either, I think he wanted his time in the bars, he’d go to them when she visited her sister in North Carolina, Caroline, and he put the pistol in the house, even told me were it was, loudly, as if to let Cassandra know, although I cant’ say there is a connection here.”
“I see. This-Hightower guy-” and Doug just shook his head without finishing his sentence, then added, “funny no one discovered his betrayal, he used to have servants did you not, I mean, Jason Hightower?”
“That was long ago, I don’t know a thing about that, he was very efficient, even in his debasing moments; with a spark of dignity everyone saw him, servants, I don’t know. But I do know he was likened to a spider after the fly, when he wanted something, he even could produce a mindless outrage for what he wanted, and we around him were really armatures compared to him.
“When Betty was in Saigon, he went unchecked, and his capacity for rage and revulsion, seeped out of him.”
“I see these are the parts his wife never knew!” said Doug.
“And what does that matter either? Whether he was or not? What can anyone do about it, he’s dead, and Cassandra will get all the money, all the $200,000 left for the furniture, and the land which sold for 1.8-million, and the house, yes the house that sold for a cool million. If the hospital doesn’t take it all away before she recovers, if she recovers.”
“No more, Linda.”
“So you had enough of the Hightower’s and Abernathy’s for an evening, and love also?”
“Thank you for that remark, I mean, love, we make love, but neither of us have fallen in love, have we? I thought I was ready to, but somehow I lost it. You said to everyone he was a good man, Jason Hightower, now this.”
“I said he was a good man, yes, after I left them, I simply just told my second self, I lied, you see, he’s dead, you know that, so what’s the difference.”
“Sure, yes, he’s dead, oh yes, he’s very dead, but seems to be alive tonight, I seem to be angry I can’t have vengeance on him, tell his wife, yes, I’d like to go tell his wife, but she’s dead too.”
Now they stared at one another, continued to stare at one another, as if this was an agonizing affirmation.
“You could have black mailed him,” said the detective.
“I got $10,000-dollars worth of materials, things, a place to live a while, a Cadillac car in my name, I suppose you can call it what you want, but I don’t call it blackmail, I produced a service, with another set of rules, it’s all fair in love and war, so they say, you just got to lay all your cards on the table, and I did, I never lied to him. And he never lied to me, we didn’t have to lie to each other, we didn’t want to reform each other either, we liked it how it was. Do you want me to tell you all?”
“Not for anything, I heard enough, an old man died, and a young girl became a woman, just so you don’t have to climb down the drainpipe when you get married.”