Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Chapter Twenty

As his speeding car careened toward the utility pole, Richard threw up his arms to protect his face. His reaction was a reflex. And it was futile. He was dead on impact. He didn’t hear the sirens of the approaching rescue equipment or the matter of fact comments of the EMT’s. He wouldn’t hear his wife Abby’s reaction to the news of his death.

Richard’s collision with the pole caused a monstrous back-up on the outbound lanes of Suitland Parkway. Richard had been heading south. When he lost control of his car it spun around three times and ended up in the northbound lanes before it struck the concrete pole. Traffic was backed up all the way to the Frederick Douglass Bridge. The authorities worked quickly to clear the wreckage and document the accident before the evening rush hour.

No one even noticed Fanny lying bound and gagged in the ditch that ran along the northbound lanes until almost an hour later when Brutus discovered her while collecting picking up cans. That night Brutus would tell his friend Charlie about the white woman he found in a ditch by the Suitland Parkway. “You think maybe I should tell somebody about it? She could be hurt or something.”

“Are you crazy, man? You looking to get your black ass locked up? You mind your own business. You don’t want to get messed up with that crazy white woman stuff.”

“Maybe you’re right, Charlie, but I can’t get over how scared she was.”

“Do us both a favor and forget it, okay?”

Richard had been planning to kill Fanny. He hadn’t decided exactly how he was going to do it, but there was no doubt in his mind that she deserved to die for what she had done What right did she have to interfere in his life? Abby had denied it, but he knew it was her damned sponsor who had planted the idea in her head to leave him. She denied it even after he beat her. Of course he immediately begged Abby to forgive him. He had cried and pleaded with her to give him another chance. But she had told him to get out. Threatened to call the cops if he didn’t leave. It was all that bitch’s fault. He was sleeping in his car while she was living in that fancy house. Well she wasn’t going to get away with it. She was going to pay.

Fanny had expected to die at Richard’s hands. As she was buffeted about helplessly in the back seat of his car she knew it was only a matter of time before Richard would stop the car, drag her out and kill her. Harold’s warnings echoed in her ears. Why hadn’t she listened to him? During the terrifying minutes that she was imprisoned in the backseat of the speeding car Fanny found herself worrying about Harold. How would he ever manage without her? He depended on her so completely. She wanted him to depend on her. Each year she joked that her New Years Resolution was to make Harold’s life as easy as possible. “When you’re happy, I’m happy, honey.” She had meant it. Now he was going to be alone. The thought of Harold helpless and alone made Fanny cry.

When the authorities called Abby at her office and told her that Richard had been in an accident her first reaction was “I hope he dies.” She immediately chastised herself for having such a thought. But when they brought her into that little room and pulled back the sheet for her to identify him, she felt nothing but relief. “Yes, officer. That’s my husband.” He had been very kind to her. “Is there someone you want us to call for you?” Suddenly she wanted to talk to Fanny. “Yes. There is. My friend, Fanny. She gave the officer Fanny’s numbers.” He came back a few minutes later and told Abby that Fanny wasn’t in the office that day and there was no answer on her home or cell phone. Abby had started to go home but had ended up returning to the office. She called her mother and father and told them she was coming home. She didn’t mention that Richard was dead. When she hung up the phone, she was smiling.



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