Friday, December 17, 2021

His Story, His Way

Short Story

His Story, His Way

(Originally published in The Ramblings of a Condemned Man, NEVER STOP NEVER QUIT, 2018)

It was a Tuesday.

Nobody knew who the hell Spencer Tucker was when he walked up to the administration desk of the Red Falls, Virginia Police Department and laid his palms directly on the plexiglass divider, staining the window with fog and spit from each excited breath. Tanya was not amused by the fat man in a velour jogging suit.

“Sir, can you please take your hands off the glass!” she insisted. It was not a question.

Spencer complied, though he continued his fight for air. Sweat dripped from handprints left behind on the glass. It disgusted Tanya.

“Can I help you with something?” Fatty was hunched over now, hands on his knees as he continued to snort and wheeze. Tanya didn’t get paid enough for this shit, so she picked up the desk phone to call an officer down from the briefing room, but stopped when she saw the guy had one finger raised in the air.

She could see beads of sweat dripping down his digit and gagged at the thought of the god-awful mess underneath his mass.

Spencer had nearly caught his breath. With his finger still raised, he stood straight and inhaled a few more mouthfuls of air before he could speak. Once he started, he wouldn’t shut up.

“Sorry about that,” he blurted.

“I just started running again,” he confessed.

“I’m trying to get back in shape,” he proclaimed.

“You know, there was a time I could run five miles without breaking a sweat,” he boasted.

The sentences grew longer as his need to suck in so much oxygen tapered off.

Tanya peeked over the counter to get a better look at the guy. He could see the disdain in her eyes, the judgment she was sending his way from behind her square hipster glasses, her overblown bleached-blond hair, and a liberal application of makeup, all brutalizing every modern fashion trend out there. “Sir, is there something I can help you with?” Spencer noticed a little more twang in her slight Southern accent this time.

“Yes, there is.” Spencer was now quite composed. “I would like to report a murder.” That ought to get her attention. The thought made him smirk. But for the excess blush on her cheekbones, all color faded from Tanya’s face. She pulled open the top drawer of her desk, grabbed a “Criminal Complaint” form, and checked the “Violent” box on the top left. She took a second to compose herself before looking up again.

Yes, it’s me. The poor man who must be going through hell right now. Spencer was savoring his feeling of control.

“You want to report a murder,” she echoed while completing the form.

“Three murders, actually.”


“Did I say three?” Spencer reared his head back and belted out a jolly laugh, as if Santa Claus himself had stopped by the police station to report a homicide. “I meant to say four. Four murders.”

Tanya stopped writing and looked back up.

“So, it’s four murders?”

“Yes.” Spencer could clearly see the form she was writing on. He could also see that all she had written was “Murde” in the “Complaint Description” section. I never even got a full word out of her.

“Do you know who committed these murders?” She posed the question in that singsong intonation you use when speaking to a child. Annoying, but that’s okay, he figured. This is probably the first time she’s had to document such a heinous act, let alone four of them.

“I do…umm…what’s your name?”

“Tanya,” she said, looking down at her desk, slowly tapping her pen against the nameplate—TANYA was written across its front.

“Tanya,” Spencer chuckled. “Yeah, I can see that now, right there. Tanya, I committed the murders. All four killings.”

She didn’t write another thing, leaving that one almost-word her only entry on the form. Surely, even if no one believes me, even if they think my statement—my confession—is a farce, they have to take my complaint and document it. Maybe she’s waiting to get more information? Maybe she wants to see if my story and details are going to change again. That one word stuck in his head: details.

“Oh, I see,” he declared, realizing his mistake with the confession. “When I say I committed the murders, I didn’t actually do the killing. I orchestrated the whole thing. Masterminded, if you will. I have people who do my dirty work.” Spencer stood a bit taller after his proclamation.

Tanya dropped her pen to the desk, pointed at a single metal chair that definitely wouldn’t accommodate his mass, and instructed, “Okay. Umm, why don’t you go ahead and take a seat right over there. I’m just going to make a quick call and have some of my people come out here. Maybe they can get together with your people and we can figure out what happened here. Okay, hun?” She picked up the phone and made a call.

Spencer had no intention of trying to sit in the chair, not for her simple amusement. He stood close to the window, hoping to overhear the conversation, but Tanya had turned her back to him. Spencer Tucker tapped on the pane repeatedly until she gave in and turned back around.

“Five, Tanya. I’m sorry. The actual number is five.”

Sensing that Tanya had had enough, Spencer turned from the window and walked into the waiting area. First, he pulled out his phone and fired off a few text messages, none of which received a reply. Then, he began to gauge what exactly he was up against. It doesn’t seem like there’s going to be much of an intellectual battle here, not if this is the best they have. Sizing up the competition—that’s how he liked to describe it—Spencer rummaged through the notes and flyers tacked on the bulletin board. Barbecues, community workshops, lost dogs, found dogs—to him, they all seemed to blend into one never-ending, pointless theme: life here is dull. One of the faded-wallpapered walls was adorned with eight by ten glossies in cheesy frames, hanging on nails randomly scattered across its surface. Three retirement ceremonies, two volunteer-of-the-month awards, and a recent graduating class of the Teen Citizen’s Police Academy highlighted everything he needed to know about Red Falls. For a town not even one hundred miles outside of DC, everything turns real rural here, real quick.

After twenty minutes, Spencer’s critique of the station’s decor was interrupted when three police officers entered the reception area and approached him. No guns were drawn, but hands were hovering close. The officer in the middle broke the silence. “Sir, do you have any weapons on your person right now?” Spencer shook his head defiantly, sending his jowl and chins into rippling convulsions.

“Nope. Personally, I’m scared to touch them.”

“Are you in any danger right now?”

“I don’t think so. Am I?”

“Do you know of anyone else in danger right now?” The question made Spencer pause, as if he didn’t know which answer would be more entertaining. With a slight grin, he decided to go with, “No. Final answer.”

He was instructed to follow the officers, two leading, one following, into the back so they could take his statement. Once inside, Spencer looked around. Not impressive. How can they conduct an official interrogation from a round table? And, the room is carpeted! I don’t think the good crime dramas have carpeted interrogation rooms. Either way, it’s not safe. It’s not even sanitary. With a little kitchenette in the corner housing a sink, fridge, and microwave, Spencer realized he was in their break room.

He was invited to sit at the round table while the officers stood over him. Is this supposed to be intimidating? The only interrogating that is going to happen here is, “Who stole my leftover hoagie?” What a joke! The lead officer introduced himself and the other two, then explained the objectives of the interview. The officers muddled their way through a script like TV reporters trying to fill five minutes of dead air after finishing the last news story. Spencer drifted in and out. This is all so disappointing. And they haven’t even asked my name yet.

“And you, sir. Can you give me your full name, please?”

“Huh?” Spencer asked. Sergeant Daniels had caught him by surprise. Daniels knew that was going to happen. He could tell by the eyes. Whenever someone came into a police station—no matter if they were a criminal, complainant, or witness—and everything started to overwhelm them, they got that lookDaniels loved to snap them back by turning the conversation over to them. “Your name, sir. Can I please get your full name?”

“Oh. Sure. Tucker. Spencer Tucker.” Spencer thought for a moment, then clarified. “No middle initial. Just Spencer Tucker.” Daniels acknowledged this with a nod before moving on to date of birth, home address, employment status, marital status…

“Marital status?” A bit of a smirk, the check-this-shit-out kind, spread across Spencer’s face as he looked at the officer on his left, Bridle, then on his right, Donnelly. Check this shit out! “That’s a tricky one, Sergeant Daniels. My wife, Vicki, is one of my victims.”

Daniels could feel the hair on the back of his neck stiffen and stand. This was his alert, his warning signal. If nineteen years on the force had taught him anything, it was that when something raised the hair on the back of his neck, there was fixing to be trouble. He opened his notepad, scribbled a few lines, pulled the sheet off, and handed it to Officer Donnelly.

Spencer Tucker

Pull anything you can

Find his wife. Vicki

Without a word, Donnelly was off. “Bridle,” said Sergeant Daniels, “can you check and see if Interview Room A is available?”

“Sure thing, Sarge.” Spencer and Daniels were alone.

Spencer Tucker was no longer a fat buffoon lost in a fantasy world. Spencer Tucker had just put a name to his victim. Neither man spoke another word until Bridle returned, confirming the room was open. Finally, Spencer Tucker was going to get the treatment he felt he was due. Officer Bridle patted him down, kneading his sweaty jogging suit pants to confirm there were no weapons; he was only carrying a wallet and phone. Both were bagged for safekeeping.

Spencer was escorted down the hall and into Interview Room A. Looking around, he smiled. Now, this is more like it! Barren walls. A rectangular table. No rug. But where’s the video camera? Do they mount it at the end of the table or use a standing tripod? They don’t have a two-way mirror—how disappointing. But this is a significant improvement.

Daniels read Spencer Tucker his Miranda rights and asked if he wanted a lawyer present. Spencer declined. “No lawyer. I have a better idea.”

“What do you propose, Mr. Tucker?”

“Simple. I’ll tell you everything you need to know. I just want to be able to tell my story, my way.”

“That’s it?” Daniels kept his part of the conversation short; letting a perp talk was usually the best starting approach. If they felt like they were in charge, they usually started singing. That made getting to the truth much easier. Daniels figured that if this guy turned out to be a crackpot, his own words would be his one-way ticket to the psych ward. If he was guilty, and the reality of his crime felt like too much of a burden for him, a confession would be his redemption—and his conviction.

“That’s it, Sergeant Daniels.” Spencer looked around, like a lion overseeing his domain as he decides where to strike first. “Now this is an interrogation room,” he mused. “Where’s the video recorder?”

Daniels held up his cell phone. “We don’t usually shoot video, Mr. Tucker. We just record the interview from our phones here.” He could tell Spencer wasn’t satisfied with the answer. “Would you like us to use a video recorder, Mr. Tucker?”

“I think the brutality of my crimes warrants a filmed confession, don’t you?” The sergeant nodded at Bridle, who stood up, left the room, and promptly returned with a video camera. No one spoke for the next few minutes while the camera was being set up. Spencer was wondering just how far he could push this, gauging how much control he possessed. Daniels was wondering the same, though he was calculating how much rope to give Tucker.

The camera was placed at one end of the table, on top of an empty cardboard box, since Bridle couldn’t find the tripod. Spencer sat at the other end of the table, his arms spread leisurely across its otherwise empty surface. When the red light turned on, and Bridle confirmed, “We’re running,” the stage was Spencer’s.

“Can I get something to drink? A pop, maybe?” This was not the opening statement Daniels was expecting.

“Mr. Tucker, you are trying my patience here. If a crime was committed, let’s get on with it. If not, this charade is about to rack you up a whole slew of charges. Now, why don’t we—”

“Vicki Tucker,” Spencer cut the sergeant off. Suddenly, jolly transformed to evil, a mood change that caught fire in an instant, flushing his fat face from pasty white to blazing red. “My wife, Vicki Tucker. She was my fourth victim.”

Showing no emotion, Daniels continued writing notes on his pad. “Who were the first three?”

“Where’s my pop?” Another nod from the sergeant sent Bridle off again. “The regular kind,” Spencer yelled after the young officer. “That diet stuff is no good for you.”

Spencer got his pop, the regular kind. His face had returned to what was probably its normal color. He was ready to talk. “I met Vicki at a Christmas party almost six years ago,” he began. “She was drop-dead gorgeous. She had it all. I mean, she had the long blond hair, nice firm tits. Not like those ridiculously over-pumped silicone ones. No, hers were nice. And her body was tight. I mean, she could’ve had her own Pornhub channel, it was that nice. And she kept it nice.”

Bridle squirmed in his chair a bit, kind of hoping Donnelly would find some photographs of Spencer’s wife. Sergeant Daniels took a different course. “So, you two hit it off, I guess?” Bridle snickered a bit, imagining a gorgeous body like hers pinned under Spencer Tucker. One look from his boss, however, and he clammed up. If there was one thing Daniels hated in this world, it was having to care for these damn rookie cops. Wipe their nose. Tell them when to speak, when not to speak, and when not to giggle like a six-year-old schoolgirl.

“I’m not an idiot, gentlemen. I know how fat I am. I weighed 347 pounds this morning. Although that is three pounds less than last week.”

Daniels just wanted to get him back on topic and to keep him talking. “Officer Bridle has a little difficulty controlling himself.” Daniels shot Bridle another look that clearly meant, Keep your fucking mouth shut. “Self-control is clearly a trait that comes with age. Mr. Tucker, please go on.”

“Anyway,” he continued, staring straight into the camera, “I was a lot slimmer six years ago. Not skinny, just thinner. I think I was about two-fifty-ish when Vicki and I met, but I had something that won her desire one thousand times over. I had lots and lots of money!”

Daniels wrote a note on his pad: “MONEY,” accenting his speculation with two firm underlines.

“I made my millions as a defense contractor, writing software applications for the military. Our Christmas party that first year served a dual purpose: commemorating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the successful test of my satellite targeting algorithm. We could shoot a laser from space, vaporizing a single terrorist standing in a schoolyard full of children without any collateral damage.”

Spencer Tucker leaned back and closed his eyes. He could smell the seared flesh, the result of his computer code. But, this is not the time to reminisce about past exploits. We’re here to discuss your most recent achievement. “Anyway,” he summarized, “blah, blah, blah. The sex was incredible for me. We got married six months later and moved out here about five years ago.”

Daniels seized the opportunity to poke his first hole. “Well, I’ve been in Red Falls all my life, been a cop here for more years than I care to remember. I never heard of a multimillionaire defense contractor living here in town.”

“Exactly,” Spencer shut the question down. “We live outside of the city boundary. Well, we lived…or is it she lived?” With a quick smirk and a shrug of his shoulders, he moved on. “No matter. It’s unincorporated no-man’s land, I guess. I don’t get out much, usually just stay home writing code and getting fatter, but Vicki took a lot of trips to DC with her friend, Samantha.” Spencer felt it was time. “She was number three.” Daniels and Bridle both snapped their heads up, Daniels from his fourth page of notes, Bridle from his lethargy.

“Samantha was the third victim?” That question came from Daniels. Bridle knew better than to talk.

With his attention directed to the sergeant, Spencer Tucker replied, “She was. Samantha Eppling. And her prick fuck husband, Robbie, was the second.” Now, we finally get to square off, Sergeant. For the first time, a new shade of crimson brushed across Spencer’s face.

“And who was the first?”

“Jeremy Poshure.”

“Why him?”

“He fucked my wife.”

Daniels knew his plan had worked. He’d let Tucker slip deeper and deeper into his own self-absorbed monologue until he could no longer control himself, sending the conversation exactly where the sergeant desired. All Daniels needed to do now was extract the details.

Spencer loved details. As a man who built his fortune using the most complex syntax in the world, he appreciated the importance of having every command, every subtask, properly formatted. If his plan compiled correctly, the result was a work of art. Spencer was exceptionally proud of his most celebrated compilation. Now, all I need to do is share every detail with them. He launched into it. “Vicki and Samantha enjoyed their DC excursions. They loved to shop and gossip.

“The problem was that Samantha truly loved her husband, Robbie. Their marriage was a goddamn fairy tale.” Spencer’s face showed disgust, not jealousy, as he described their magic. “Two gorgeous people madly in love with each other, both driven to succeed, both independently rich. Then, there was my wife, Vicki. She was dumber than shit and, without question, had no interest in earning her prosperity. She found sex with me repugnant but stuck around because I had the wealth she craved. But, you know, we were a happy couple, just living separate lives that occasionally crossed to satisfy my lust for sex and Vicki’s desire for affluence.”

Spencer went on to describe the strain in their marriage. As he did, Sergeant Daniels learned how Spencer’s insecurities about keeping a woman of Vicki’s caliber led him to hire a private investigator. The PI’s audio and video recordings of conversations between his wife and Samantha ended up substantiating Spencer’s fears. He said that Vicki craved love. She longed for passion, when it was the result of being the object of attraction as well as when she felt that uncontrollable desire for someone else. As far as he could tell, Samantha and Robbie Eppling kept no secrets from each other. The PI told Spencer they were the ones who hatched the plan to introduce Vicki to a guy named Jeremy Poshure.

“When my contact first showed me pictures of Vicki and Jeremy together, I was devastated. I found out they slept together less than three hours after they met.”

Spencer’s grim attitude softened for a moment. “I planned to confront her, but when she got home that day, she acted so happy. It had been a while since I’d seen her truly happy. When she was happy, she made me very happy.” Bridle contained himself when images of a blond goddess making her fat guy “happy” popped into his head.

“So, I let it go for a while. I had my contact keep track of Jeremy and Vicki. It turns out Jeremy and Robbie were attorneys at the same law firm. Vicki and Samantha’s trips to DC became more frequent. My wife started going to DC for the weekend by herself, though she always said she was with Samantha. It wasn’t long before she was just driving to his house in Gates Ridge.”

Spencer’s eyes dropped and his arms slumped into his lap helplessly. For the first time, he looked defeated. “She still came home happy, but no longer shared her euphoria with me. I tried to rekindle the romance we feigned for many years by suggesting a month-long getaway in Hawaii. Do you know what she said?” Spencer asked no one in particular. “She just pointed at me and said, ‘I’m not going any place where you’re allowed to walk around with those titties hanging out, but I can’t.’

“When she returned from her fictitious DC trip that week, we had our last conversation. She was wearing this banana-cream sleeveless maxi dress. You know the kind? It hugs a woman’s body all the way to the knees before flaring out?”

“Sure,” was all Daniels could say as he watched Spencer’s demeanor morph yet again.

“Well, she was wearing that with a matching floppy fedora. God, did she look amazing! As I looked at her—feeling her captivating radiance—the only thing I could say was, ‘You are going to suffer for this.’ That was the last time I ever spoke a word to my wife.”

Daniels stared into the face of pure evil. For the first time in his career, he was scared to ask the next question. “So, what did you do next?”

“I talked,” snickered the once-again jovial dumpling. He pushed the chair back to make room for his belly, kicked his feet out, and sunk down a bit before taking another sip of his beverage.

“I talked, and I talked, and I talked. Much like we’re doing now, you see, but I wasn’t conversing with her. I wasn’t even talking at her or to her. Instead, I talked around her. Much like we’re doing with your protégé here,” pointing at Bridle, who was still sulking in his chair against the far wall, separated from the big boys’ table. “Mostly, she just listened. Sometimes she would ask questions. Other times, she would beg and plead. But mostly, she sat there in horror as I detailed what I was going to do to Jeremy Poshure…then Robbie Eppling…then Samantha Eppling…and finally, to Vicki Tucker.”

Sergeant Daniels kept his mouth shut as he weighed his options. The obvious choice was to stop the interview and call the medical staff over at County. He had never seen this level of detail in a delusional suspect before. Then again, what if the story was true? Was Tucker boasting of his sadistic accomplishments? Or did he feel remorse for his crimes?

Daniels realized Tucker had stopped talking. He was sitting quietly, waiting, with an ever-so-slight smirk on the left corner of his mouth. Daniels knew the guy was just waiting for him to continue to play the game, to indulge him. If the police wouldn’t play their part, neither would he. Daniels cursed Donnelly for taking so long. “All right, Mr. Tucker,” he said, giving in. “What exactly did you tell your wife?”

Officer Bridle leaned in closer, hungry for an answer, yet reluctant to imagine the horror he was about to hear. Spencer could see suspense building in the junior officer. I bet you’ve never heard a tale like this before, skippy. Bridle just stared into his eyes, unable to move, unwilling to talk. Spencer loved it. I am going to give you nightmares for years…

With a wave of his hand, Spencer continued. “Jeremy Poshure moved in fast on Vicki. It wasn’t his fault. He was young and horny. I mean, he just wanted to get his dick wet. Then, they go and plop Vicki in front of him. Hell, I probably would’ve done the same thing he did. I didn’t know Poshure and he didn’t know me.” With a vengeful gaze, he stared right through Daniels. “But then he got close with my wife. He pulled her in as she was pushing me out. So, he had just entered his apartment when they got him. One shot to the head. POW!” Tucker’s hand slammed onto the table, the burst reverberating off the bare walls, sending the camera and its cardboard stand skipping across the table. (The rest of the interview was filmed at an unusual angle with the star slightly off-center, a mishap that Spencer thought ruined an otherwise flawless confession.)

“No, there was no need for him to endure pain.” Daniels was sure there was more to the story. Tucker was too meticulous with the details of the rest of his fantasy. And there was.

“When Vicki first heard what I was going to do to these guys, I’m convinced she never imagined any of it would become reality.” Spencer smiled the biggest smile his face could form, sat upright, and arched his back, as if he intended to dazzle the audience with his first presentation. “My, how everything changed when she opened the box with Jeremy’s severed penis and a note card that said, ‘So you will never be separated from your true love again.’”

Bridle and Daniels both squirmed uncomfortably, a sight Spencer cherished. Then, giggling in anticipation of the next scene, he moved on.

“Now, I’m sure you can imagine Vicki’s reaction,” he said matter-of-factly, “or maybe you can’t. I’ll admit, I had a hard time envisioning it myself, which is why I got a photographer. The shots are quite lovely. I’ll have them sent to you when we’re all done, okay?”

“Thank you, I guess.” Daniels kept playing his part.

“You’re quite welcome.” Spencer kept going. “Anyway, after the Jeremy episode, I was sure Vicki would remember the pecking order I had described to her: Jeremy, Robbie, Samantha, and then, finally, her. I hoped she would run to her fellow conspirator, which she did, for the pictures I have of those two girls together when the second box was discovered are priceless.” He sustained an ear-to-ear smile, making it clear that he was especially proud of the second murder.

Playing his role, Daniels asked, “You cut off Robbie’s penis as well?”

“Oh, no, Sergeant. Robert Eppling was much more complicit in my betrayal. He violated my trust as a friend. He helped put this whole affair in motion. He was so much more than just a dick, so I took more. I carved out enough so the ladies knew exactly what I thought of that asshole prick.”

Bridle silently prayed for the story to end. He knew there were still two to go, but he just needed Tucker to stop talking.

“It’s almost a shame Vicki knew how the rest of this part of the story went. She could not bring herself to watch the videotape of my trophy being pulled while Robbie still took breath.”


“Officer Bridle, do you need to go outside and take a moment?”

“No, Sergeant. I’m fine.”

Daniels was hoping for a yes, unsure of how much more Bridle could stomach—or he himself, for that matter.

Oh, I can’t have you give up just yet. Maybe I will extend you the slightest bit of compassion. After all, you did get me my pop! “I see my narrative is taking a toll on you both.” No one responded. “Why don’t I give you the rest in a condensed version?”

“You just go ahead and say what you feel you need to say, Mr. Tucker.”

“Thank you, Sergeant Daniels.” His momentary air of civility did not mask Tucker’s thirst to relay the gruesome images with pride.

“Vicki ran, for fear of her life. Let’s just say Ms. Samantha, the freshly crowned widow, expended way too much energy mourning the loss of her fortune. She watched helplessly as everything in her home was dismantled and destroyed. I took her passion. I took her possessions. With her hands bound together, holding a pistol to her face, I gave her the option: take her own life or watch me peel it from her bones. She chose the former.”

Sergeant Daniels was ready to put an end to Tucker’s games. Before he moved, there was a quick rap on the door. Officer Donnelly stuck his head into the room. “Hey, Sarge? Can I run some stuff by you?”

“One moment, Mr. Tucker.” Daniels got up and rushed toward the hallway.

“Take your time, Sergeant Daniels. Me and Officer Bridle here will get ourselves acquainted.”

Daniels looked over to the rookie. “Don’t you say a fucking word.”

“Yes, Sergeant.” Bridle was glad Daniels had said that out loud. All he had to do was sit and stare at the wall while Tucker stared back at him, smiling.

Out in the hall, Donnelly beamed with pride. “It’s all bullshit, Sarge. Whatever he’s telling you is all bullshit. His wife is alive. She’s sitting right out in the waiting room. Apparently just came back from a trip to DC with a friend.” Donnelly flipped through his notes.


“Yeah, that’s it, Sarge. Samantha Eppling. But Mrs. Tucker says she doesn’t understand any of it, says she and her husband haven’t even had an argument.”

After instructing Donnelly to go stay with Tucker’s wife, Daniels stood still. For the briefest of moments, he considered the two debating cartoon images on his shoulders. The angel, who told him to follow procedure, stop the interview, and call in the County doctors. Obviously, Tucker was crazy. The devil was agitated by the wasted afternoon and having to sit there listening to the deranged stories, stories that would probably give Bridle nightmares for a month. He decided it was his turn to play games.

He returned to Interview Room A, casually took his seat, and looked over to Officer Bridle. “Where were we?”

“Um, we had just finished hearing about the incident with Samantha Eppling, Sergeant.”

“That’s right. Samantha Eppling.” He turned to Spencer. “Mr. Tucker, I believe you were going to talk about your wife now? Vicki Tucker?” Spencer detected Daniels’ sudden air of superiority. He fought off the urge to make the sergeant his nemesis, as there was still one last story to tell.

“It’s obvious you’ve grown bored with me, Sergeant. To be honest, I am also fatigued. But I will tell you, Vicki got exactly what she wanted. Once she came out of hiding—you know she couldn’t hide forever—I had her taken to a special location. There, she spent the rest of her life in a room not much bigger than this.” He scanned over all six sides of Interview Room A, nodding in agreement. “Yep. Not much bigger than this room at all. She was surrounded by everything she wanted. Lots of money. Lots of jewelry. And her friends Jeremy, Robbie, and Samantha. Well, at least what remained of them.”

“So, she just stayed there?” Sergeant Daniels tried to imagine how a person could create such a fantasy.

“Of course not. What kind of loving husband would I be if I didn’t leave a gift of my own?”

“Not much of one,” Daniels mocked.

“No,” he agreed, “not much at all. On the walls, I arranged photographs of her three friends in all their glory. Two televisions, mounted high out of her reach, blared videos: the final moments of Robbie and Samantha Eppling. It’s amazing how long a body can last before surrendering to famine, thirst, and insanity. Yes, indeed, Vicki Tucker died with everything she wanted.”

“And what about victim five? You mentioned there were five victims.”

“Yes, that’s right. Of no significance,” Spencer said, waving his hand as if sweeping the air clean. “I don’t even know the poor fool’s whole name.”

The sergeant beamed as he stood up. “My turn.” Picking up his phone, he called the contact already pulled. “Yeah, bring the witness in now.” Daniels turned to Spencer Tucker with a smile, placing a hand on his shoulder.

“Mr. Tucker, your story is indeed a fantastic tale. I’d like to bring in someone who, I think you’ll agree, has a slightly better version.” He walked over and opened the door. Officer Bridle nearly fell out of his chair when he saw Vicki Tucker standing in the doorway very much alive. She was as beautiful as Spencer had described.

Spencer Tucker looked over at his wife and hissed, “You are going to suffer for this.” Vicki jerked back in surprise, dropping her banana-cream fedora.

Spencer Tucker had been in County Psychiatric for ten days when Vicki found a package on her doorstep.

No one has seen Tanya for a week.

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