Love is a Killer
Two cops huddled in a dingy backroom finishing up reports on what they agreed had been a suicide, but then the best friend of the deceased called and said she was responsible for the death and wanted to be arrested.
The younger cop said, “She’s lying. There is no way she lifted her best friend up onto a table saw, of all things, switched it on and somehow pushed her into the blade. It’s not even physically possible. Murders are done with guns or knives, not table saws.”
The older cop smiled ruefully. The kid thought he was ‘doing justice,’ or some such shit.
He said, “It’s good enough for me. You don’t get confessions to murder every day, buddy. Maybe she was being blackmailed by her so-called best friend. That’s a motive for murder.”
The younger cop hadn’t considered that. No matter how remote, confessions had to be checked out.
They drove to the home of Anne Doss in a fashionable gated community. Ms. Doss, dressed impeccably in a chocolate brown pants suit, let them in and led them to a well-appointed sitting room. Big gold rings dangled from each earlobe. Big blue eyes shined, marred only by stained tears she'd been wiping from her face. She held onto the tissue she'd been gripping, moving it from hand to hand as she spoke, still dabbing at the corner of each eye.
The young cop, Tim Lane, spoke up. “We’re not arresting you.”
Anne Doss’s dark eyebrows arched. She said, “Why not? I’m responsible.”
Tim nodded. “We heard you. Problem is, it looks more like suicide.”
Anne Doss looked at him with calm, serious eyes. “What do I have to say? If it wasn’t for me, she’d be alive.”
“Tell us why you believe that.”
Anne Doss plopped on the sofa. Confession is good for the soul, they say. Why not just blurt it out? Well, for the same reason she couldn’t confess to Cherry, she didn’t have the courage to say the words.
She said, “I must pay for what I did. I’m responsible.”
The young cop took an envelope from his breast pocket, opened it and took out a sheet of plain lined paper that might have come from a school notebook.
“You might not know about this, Ms. Doss. Cherry left a note.” He handed her the paper, on which had been scrawled the words, “Fucking love.”
He said, “Plus, we found her husband, JoJo Compton, who left her. The medical examiner thinks she was suffering from separation anxiety, also known as love sickness. He thinks she died of despair.”
Anne Doss nodded, closed her eyes. Only a few more steps through her logic and they’d see the truth.
Anne said, “Did you ask JoJo why he left her?”
“He thought he wasn’t good enough for her. Said he was a male slut and always would be.”
Anne piped up. “He told you he was seeing another woman?”
Tim said, “He said there were several.”
Anne Doss cringed. Her body stiffened. The eyes were no longer calm.
She said, “What?”
Tim said, “Three or four.”
Anne Doss clenched her teeth, looked away. She muttered, “The dirty bastard.”
Tim said, “We thought so, too.”
Tim Lane looked at Murphy and nodded, a tacit agreement that the woman was confessing to a crime she didn’t commit. She was surprised to find out JoJo was cheating on her, too.
Still, Murphy wanted nothing more than to arrest the woman and let the chips fall. They could not be faulted for arresting a person who freely and voluntarily confessed to murder. His smart young partner wanted to be prosecutor, judge, jury and maybe even God.
It was late and Murphy wanted to get home to his wife and kids, three fingers of single malt Scotch, and a warm bed. His job was to get criminals off the street, retire as young as possible, and enjoy what life was left to him. Why would anybody want more?
Tim Lane believed life was much more complicated. To him, it was a matter of living for the furtherance of a principle; justice sure, but with a strong dose of empathy. Humans had souls that needed protection. How could he arrest a woman when he knew damn well she wanted to take the blame for the worst crime in the book because she felt guilty for betraying her best friend?
He wasn’t going to do it, no matter how much more cop experience Murphy had. This was more important than police work; arresting her would be a fundamental wrong. He had nothing to go home to except his tiny apartment in a beehive complex. He, too, looked forward to a strong shot of booze while he fell asleep watching the news on television. If he arrested this woman, he wouldn’t sleep at all.
Ann Doss stared across the room and out the window. A moving van passed, driving a breeze into the trees in her yard. Leaves floated to the ground. Somebody was moving on. That’s what people did. But she could not, not the way things were.
Tim Lane stood.
“Ms. Doss, let me talk to Officer Murphy for a minute, please.” She nodded.
The two cops stepped outside the front door.
Tim said, “I’m not arresting her. She should see a lawyer or psychiatrist.”
“Okay, partner. Life’s too short to argue. You’ll figure out one day you can’t solve all the problems of the universe. You’re just one weak-ass human.”
Tim laughed under his breath, and then walked back inside. Ann Doss was waiting on the sofa.
“Ms. Doss, I know you feel responsible, but I don’t believe you are, not in a legal way.”
She stood up, her face red.
“It wasn’t just that I betrayed her. I didn’t have the balls to tell her I betrayed her. Don’t you see what that makes me?”
Tim nodded. “Yeah, I see. It just isn’t murder.”
They stood in silence for a while, her eyes pleading.
She reached out a trembling hand and said, “What am I supposed to do? Tell me.”