"Who the fuck died and left you, boss?" Josie screamed at her sister. They lived with each other and shared the expenses. "I am the boss because our parents died, remember? And I am way smarter than you," declared Maddie.
"Yeah, I do, but I do not need to be told what to do and how to do it! I pay half the utilities and groceries here, so fuck off with your chores lists and shit to-do lists. I'll do what I need to when I have time," Josie said. "What is wrong with you? Are you ok? Anything you want to talk about?” Maddie, (who was eleven months younger) asked Josie.
“I am sick and tired of going to school and working all the time. Mom and dad have been gone two years; explain again to me why we thought we could stay together and actually wanted to just check in with a social worker every month to remain in the family home?” I was frustrated and actually started loathing my sister. She answered, “because their death allowed us to live mortgage-free, all we have to do is pay the taxes, utilities, and other expenses,”
“But, what a stupid fucking ass commitment we had made! How could we have known two years ago what it would take to run a household and what it would take to stay together and remain in senior high school?” We just got lucky with grandma living next door and Aunt Erna and Uncle Fred just down the road; we were allowed to live together in this home as long as we regularly attended school and kept up our jobs. What a bunch of malarky!”
Don’t try your bullshit with me, Josie! I’m just puttin’ it out there right now.” “OK, Maddie, just tell me what I can do to help you deal with whatever is going on with you,” and it worked. Maddie calmed down, and Josie helped her discuss what was bothering her inside. “School for me is not the greatest; I’m a B or C student at best, but lately, my marks have been slipping even more,” she confided in Maddie. “My marks are solid As and A+s, and I need everything to be just so in my world at school,” (Being a perfectionist came from her mother and knowing that did not help her.) Maddie admitted, “I cannot handle when other people don’t do what they were supposed to, and Josie, you are a colossal slob! Something that gets on my nerves all the time.”
The social worker came solely to administer funds and ensure the girls' basic needs were met. She never heard the brutality with which Josie yelled at Maddie and Josie's violent mood swings, nor did the social worker ask one question: she had a vast list of clients to get through, so she just ticked boxes and ran from one client to another, never asking a question at all.
"Turn on the fucking light bitch!" Josie yelled as Maddie turned out the lights in the hallway to save energy because the bill was too high from last month.
“I told you it’s likely due to you putting up those ridiculous party lanterns, Josie. "We have to watch the bill for electricity this month, and we have a budget we need to follow! Your damn patio lantern lights blew it already. So if you want the patio lights on, or any other lights on, you need to work extra shifts to keep the light on," Maddie said in an aggravated, elevated tone.
"I am working extra shifts already!" replied Josie, "but we have to live a little fun too. We barely go out, so we have to bring the party here occasionally, and I thought the lights would be fun!" "Yeah, they are only fun if you can afford them, Josie. Something you cannot do, and we cannot do. So they have to go." yelled Maddie.
The following day I awoke to the patio lanterns in a heap. The pegs were left where they used to hang. Josie was not up, so I ate my breakfast peacefully and headed out to catch the bus for school. Maybe Josie wasn't going to school today? I decided Josie was mad, so I let her sleep. When I returned home from work, I found Josie had not disturbed anything in the kitchen yet, which was odd for anyone who lived there. I didn’t want to, but I climbed the stairs to Josie’s room. I trepidatiously knocked and called out loudly to Josie, but there was no response. I opened the door and saw no one anywhere. I checked my phone for a voicemail message and found none. I began cooking dinner and anxiously awaited my sister's arrival or phone call. When dinner time came, I got a lump in my throat and a pit in my stomach. After doing my homework, as tonight was my day off, I went into the shower and went to bed. I fell fast asleep and didn't think about Josie at all.
The proceeding morning when I got up for school, the police drove into the yard. They asked, "is Josie at home? And can we have a word, please?" Maddie asked, "won't you come in, gentlemen? And then she said, "It's the strangest thing about my sister. She and I spat about these patio lanterns (she pointed to the lanterns in the kitchen in a pile), and then I went to bed. The following morning I awoke, and she was nowhere to be found. It is like she just vanished." I stopped talking and looked at the police officers for answers, only they had none! Just more questions.
"Well, we know she was embezzling money from her place of work; now they say they won't press charges if they get their money back. So if you know Josie's location, it will be best if she comes clean now," said detective Dillon. "I don't know anything about that. We keep our money separate and pay our share of the bills as they need to be paid each month. I organize it all and ask her for her share at the end of each month. The bills are all paid online here," I offered.
From Maddie's behaviour and how she was acting, the police knew that she was telling the truth and had no idea where her sister was or what her sister was up to at her job. They looked around the house and offered to have Maddie get set up with some money from the Police Community Liaison Officer, who could pay a visit as early as this afternoon. “That would be great!” I said and showed them the door.
When they left, I reluctantly tried to call Josie's cell. The number was no longer in service. It was like Josie had disappeared off the face of the earth. I thought about places where Josie would go when the going got tough. She immediately thought of Costa Rica or Spain. Maddie decided to take a trip at Christmas. She would now work extra shifts and save every dime for her trip to Costa Rica. So time went on, and Maddie lived alone and found that she was in a much better state of mind the last couple of months without Josie. Then it came time to decide whether the trip to Costa Rica was a go. Maddie chose not to go: if Josie took off, she must not want to be found.
When the first thaw came, Josie was discovered in the cistern first by the vultures and then by me. A rafter of them was circling high above the cistern, which drew my attention to that location and then I made the grim discovery. I dialled 911. The police got there and called the coroner because the death was at home and could be suspicious. I had no tears for my sister but remained calm and composed when I found her.
The officers noticed that Maddie was almost not registering what was happening. She was in a state of shock. She was given her sister's clothes and belongings with her body. The police took a look at all of it first, but nothing was of interest to them. Within three days, Josie was cremated and buried in the family plot. The gathering was tiny, with a few of Josie's friends and mine in attendance. After Josie was on the ground, I returned to the house. I began taking Josie's room apart; I was looking for the money Josie was said to have embezzled. No such luck in her bedroom.
Something told me to pull the string to the cistern when the spring thawed, and I would find the money down there, in the cistern. Sure enough, I looked down into the bottom of the cistern and saw a big brown package at the bottom tied by a string. I waited until it was dark out and pulled out the box with the help of some farm implements.
When I opened it, the note read inside: Maddie, if you are reading this, then I must be dead. I think Ole Man Miller was on to me, so be careful with what you do with this money. Keep it out of the bank. Perhaps you could invest it; you were always good at that. But go out of town where it would be all confidential. Enjoy the money while you have it. Sorry, you could not have enjoyed me as much as you wanted the money. Regards, Josie. As I read the words, I felt nothing inside. I ripped now at the package, trying to see how much money Josie had left me. It turns out Josie had over $50,000 in that package. They were all in fifty-dollar bills, and they were all rolled.
I was reluctant to use this money as the serial numbers might be traceable, so I needed to launder the money. I called one of my buddies, who was a regular dealer in town. I told him I wanted to get rid of some dirty money for clean cash and that the dealers could not use the dirty money around here no matter what. He understood and contacted his boss. His boss was more than interested and said he could make the switch. He came to my house. He brought the cash amount they discussed with a 2% finders fee. He and I exchanged the money, and I stressed that the money was traceable and the serial numbers were out on an alert from the police. I was finished now and happy. The dealers were not dumb and had laundered lots of cash in their days.
The following day I went straight up to her doctor's office and out the back door to an investor's office in the adjacent building and invested the entire amount. Then I went back through the back door, into her doctor's office, and sat down. The nurse called my name next. I went in, and as I did so, I saw the police officers coming into the doctor's office. I closed the door behind me. I knew the police had been following me this morning. My doctor came in and checked me out and said everything was normal and that she would see me again in six to nine months.
As I got into my car, the police officers stopped me and asked me what my business was here today. She replied, "I was at my doctor's for a checkup; why? Did I do something wrong?" "No, nothing wrong. We wanted to confirm that you were here for a doctor's appointment." "Thanks for checking up on me, but I am fine, gentlemen. Have a great day!" I returned home and found the police liaison officer waiting for me on my doorstep. "Oh, sorry, was our appointment for today?" "No, it was for yesterday, but the other people in another home waylaid me; I couldn't make it, so I thought I would swing by today on the off chance you are available."
"Well, here I am! Won't you come in?" The officer was delighted and went right in. She looked around and noticed many money-saving antics all over the house. She asked, "how many hours a week do you work?" "I work about 35 hours a week. Sometimes more if I can handle it." "How does that go with your school work and friends? "Well, I don't have time to socialize much because I work all the time, but I have a place to maintain, and with my sister's death, I only have one income now. So I am sure it is going to be more challenging now than it was before. I know she had a life insurance policy, which may help, but I have to keep working, and I am afraid that I will not be able to attend university and work to maintain the house and tuition." "Well, that's why I am here. As a community liaison officer, I can access grants and funds to help you stay on your feet while pursuing your dreams. Would you like that?" "I would love that! Thank you!"
I smiled as the officer worked out how much I could get and knew that the tiny bits of an anti-depressant in my sister's drink for the past few months had taken effect, and she died by suicide. The extreme mood swings and the vulgar language were all directed at Maddie. Sweet, unassuming, Josie willingly ate and drank the anti-depressants daily, never realizing the subtle changes to her personality and behaviour over time. All the pieces of my puzzle were coming together now; I looked like the helpless victim I portrayed for all to see.
I got my sister's money, the police liaison money and grants to go to school, and I kept working. In one month, I had transformed my life from barely making it to being on the road to becoming an educated millionaire. Nobody was the wiser except me. I had outwitted everyone and should have been the happiest person in the world. I lived it up for a while and bought myself whatever I wanted. I even went out on a few dates with some of the highest society available bachelors in town. I travelled abroad for six months of the year (before starting school) and spent time in the Central and South American Continents. Ultimately, I found that none of these trinkets, men, or trips could make me happy.
I now realized the error of my ways. What I had done and caused my sister to do to herself was finally sinking in and causing significant disruption to my life. I could barely eat and could scarcely sleep, making me look terribly undesirable. It was all I could do to go to school and to work every day. I put a smile on my face and wore makeup daily, hoping to mask myself to others - I became a skinny-looking scarecrow-type framed woman.
I could not figure out the problem, but I knew something was at the core of my violent change. When I needed water, I found it easier to buy it and use it in the house without even realizing that I was doing it. One day I realized, on my sister’s birthday, that perhaps it was my sister's death that was causing all of this undue stress. Awake at three thirty in the morning, I finally put my finger on it and discerned I was lonely. Digging deeper into my feelings, I registered that I felt guilty too for inadvertently killing my sister; and that the grass wasn’t any greener on the other side! Living with myself and my realizations was proving difficult now as I could barely look at myself in the mirror. My plan did not account for my feelings or my conscience. As the days moved forward, I became increasingly sickly, and in time, I took my own life by hanging.
In her note, she stated: “I admit to the dosing of my sister with the anti-depressants we were prescribed after my parents died. I realized that if she got a little bit more each day, the feeling of suicidal ideation would take hold of her, and she would die by suicide. I was not thinking about myself and how I would feel. I was only thinking of the money and the wealth that would be mine. I was wrong in thinking that my life would just go on and be rosy. I miscalculated that I would actually miss my sister dearly and that living alone would be terribly lonely and treacherous. To have to walk by her bedroom nightly, clean the areas that were once hers, and know that I had a hand in her death. It haunted me and intervened in my otherwise perfect life. There was no way that I could get over those feelings, and there was no one I could speak to about this problem of mine. I realized that I would be tortured by her death for the rest of my life, so I concluded that it was best to join her in the end and hopefully meet her on the other side and ask for her forgiveness there so my soul could rest in peace. The money and the house can be given to her girlfriend Kelly as she rightfully deserves it all.
Please consider this when you bury me and have a priest do the ceremony. There is no need to explain the details other than simply offering him twice the amount he usually gets paid, and he will be inclined to bury me. I mainly learned that the grass isn’t actually greener on the other side! I’m sorry, Josie. Please forgive me, Maddie