Reunion of Death – Part Nine
continued from part eight
“Well? These are some pretty serious accusations, Rita. Is any of this true?” Alexis asked her.
Closing her eyes and breathing in deeply, she suddenly opened them, looked at everyone individually scattered across the room, and finally spoke up:
“It’s all true. All of it. I am Sarah Mansfield. I am Matt’s disappeared wife.”
Nearly everyone but Seth gasped.
“What?” Philip questioned. “Wha– how? How is that even possible? You look just like her. You don’t look a thing like Sarah. I was friends with Sarah, and you don’t look…”
Philip had moved in on her as he spoke. The more he talked and really looked at her, the more he realized that she had been Sarah the entire time. The familiarity they all felt with her was because she really was Sarah posing as Rita.
“I agree with Philip, for once,” Christina interjected, inching closer to her to examine Rita herself. Upon really looking at her intensely, she began to see that the woman before her really was Sarah, her long lost classmate.
“You look just like her. How did you–”
“Plastic surgery,” Seth interrupted.
Sarah didn’t argue and nodded her head in agreement instead.
“Wow,” Philip exclaimed. “This is crazy.”
“Yes,” Seth agreed. “It is very crazy. What’s crazier is the thought about what actually happened to the real Rita.”
Calmly and collected, Sarah began telling her side of things.
“I killed her. Rita that is.” This visibly upset the ladies even further. “Don’t look so shocked or feel too sorry for her. She was a shitty surgeon. Always drinking and then operating on people. No bueno.”
“Of course you say that now that she isn’t here to defend herself,” Holly said, matter of factly.
“It’s true.” Sarah continued. “She had a hearing where they asked her to either step down as head of surgery or they were going to investigate to bring malpractice charges against her for botched surgeries. And it’s not like any of us were friends with her anyway.”
No one spoke up. They just sat there in disbelief as if all of this was some elaborate prank or joke that they hadn’t had the punchline given to them yet.
“You’re crazy,” Alexis finally whispered.
“Well of course I am crazy,” Sarah agreed. “I mean don’t you realize that I had everything? I had the perfect life with the perfect boyfriend–my high school sweetheart– who I married and wanted to spend the rest of my life with and have my kids with him. Until I one day realized that all of it was a sham. Matt used me to hide his disgusting lifestyle from you all. He took everything from me: my dreams, my wishes, and just flushed them down the toilet all because he wanted to live the gay lifestyle. I hated him in the end. Because I couldn’t stop loving him. I became so obsessed with the idea of him that I knew the only way to be done with him was to kill him.”
“Matt ruined my life. This house? This was supposed to be my house. This life (pointing a Seth), this was supposed to be my life. I killed Matt because Matt killed me the second he came out to me and announced to the world that he wanted a different life than the one we were living. The fairytale that I was the only one left believing in.”
“Jesus,” Holly said, not for it to be more than a thought in her head that she accidentally blurted out.
“So, why did you kill Rita?” Christina asked. “What did Rita do to you? What did she have to do with this?”
“Rita?” Sarah began. “Rita was a casualty of the trade.”
“That’s disgusting,” Holly sneered.
“I needed a way out. A new life. Matt had taken away everything from me. And I certainly couldn’t come back to Sedville. Not with everyone knowing how I was the disgraced divorcee. I needed a new life. The idea never even occurred to me until I remembered a shopping experience years ago at a mall in Kansas City when I was still actively married to Matt. I was trying a dress on and came out of the changing room to see if I liked the way it fit on me only to discover long lost quiet little Rita, doing the exact same thing. We hadn’t seen one another since high school and we decided to meet up and catch up later on. We both noticed that we wore the same dress size (She had lost all of the weight by then), and it suddenly occurred to me that we had the same body type as well. I remember even being a little jealous at noticing that she was slimmer than me.
At some point after I ran away from Matt and in hiding, I remembered that Rita and I did look a bit alike in body structure. So when it came time for me to want to start over, I knew a good way to do so was to take on someone’s life that I knew well or make up an entirely new one. The one problem with the latter was trying to figure out a way to weave my way back into Matt’s life. A stranger couldn’t necessarily get close to him. But someone who served on the same committee as he might be able to worm their way back in.
She wasn’t happy. She drank all of time–she was drunk when we ran into each other that first time at the clothing store. She was drunk when she ran into that couple and killed them.
Don’t you see? Rita was killing herself anyway. I gave her a way out. I just wanted what was owed to me: some resemblance of a happy, normal life.
Somehow Paul found out and threatened to expose me to you. And I couldn’t have that now, could I? Poor Paul.”
Rita, now revealed as really Sarah Mansfield, looked down at the ground, obviously ashamed. Taking a few seconds, she finished by saying:
“I’m guilty. And you’ve found me out. Now I’ll have to live with the consequences of my actions.”
“How did you know?”
Alexis asked Seth. Only she and Holly remained with him at this point. The last of the police had driven away. Both ambulances had taken the two bodies away. The sun, in a sick twist of events, was out shining having bested the storm and sent it packing. These three musketeers sat on Seth’s porch looking out at the road to the house.
“How did I know what?” Seth replied.
“How did you know it was Sarah?”
“Well,” Seth started, “I figured it out from a few things. For one, I am a researcher and I studied the shit out of Matt’s high school yearbooks. I remembered that picture of Sarah at the Spring Fling. You know? The one that takes up the entire page of your junior yearbook?
But it wasn’t that. The second she mentioned Matt having his appendix removed I knew she was lying on more than one account. First of all, any doctor should know human biology and should know that the appendix is no where near where Matt’s scar was located. Rita was a skilled surgeon at what point. How could she have missed that. Second, Matt never had his appendix removed or an appendicitis as far as I know. That wound was from a bike accident when Matt was 11. Unless Rita had had sex with Matt, the scar is so close to his privates that only someone who was intimate with him would know it even existed. Matt was always gay, so why would he have also slept with Rita when he was already married to a woman that he didn’t want to have sex with. The last person that Matt ever had sex with was Sarah, other than me.”
“You wanna know one thing that is bothering me?” Alexis asked.
“Other than the candlestick going missing?” Christina answered.
“Well, that too.” Alexis continued: “What troubles me is Rita…I mean Sarah saying that she used morphine to kill both of them and that she had no clue how Paul got hit with the candlestick. Why would she admit to one and not the other?”
“That’s a good question,” Seth replied.
It was all very ingenious on Seth’s part. A year and a month after the reunion, the house was for sale and the market was rising. He’d halted the bed and breakfast Matt and he ran: who’s gonna wanna stay in the “murder house”? Well, obviously some morbid sole was willing to pay millions of dollars to do so, because he had just received his first offer on the property that his late husband had left him. $2.2 million to be exact. It didn’t hurt that the entire house and the land it sat on was hiding a massive amount of crude oil fifteen-hundred feet below the soil surface. This was something that only Seth had discovered, being the caretaker of the property. Oil on the property, Seth realized being the researcher he was, meant that he could hold out for even better offers.
Seth had finished moving everything and was back on the property to give the place a final looking over. He got out of his car and then stared up at the house in front of him where everything had happened and then down at his cell phone. A few taps later on his smartphone and it began ringing in the earpiece, calling someone.
“Hey,” he started. Someone obviously answered on the other end. “Can we meet up at the restaurant at 4? Ok. Awesome. Perfect. See you then.”
He then hung up the phone, smiled, and walked back into the house. He immediately ran up the stairs and into the bedroom that he and Matt had shared. He started his final walk through of the house in the master closet. They had only lived there a few years, but he still wanted to make sure he had gotten everything out. Satisfied, he left the closet and looked about their bedroom. He did this with every bedroom, all seven of them, and the bathrooms, too. When he reached the room where Paul had stayed and later perished, he took a few extra moments to glance about the room and reminisce about that terrible week. Once he was finished with the upstairs he went back to the first floor of the house to look everything over down there.
There on the side table in the hallway at the foot of the stairs sat some keys and a small personal bag. Soon, Seth realized he was finished with his walk-through and needed to leave in order to arrive on time. So he swooped up the keys and the bag, walked out the front door, locked it behind him, and trotted away from the house. He didn’t turn around and didn’t even give the house a final look.
He drove for over an hour, finally stopping at a little roadside restaurant in the middle of nowhere, Missouri. The sun was out in full force shining bright, so Seth was wearing his sunglasses and didn’t even take them off when he walked in to the establishment. he looked around at the booths inside the cafe and at the few guests eating there. The waitress behind the counter told him he could sit anywhere.
“I’m waiting for someone, thanks.” He said to her, smiling.
Behind the server was a clock on the wall and the time read 4:05. Seth was late, but what about the person he was meeting? He scanned the place again, this time removing his sunglasses to get a better look. There in the back corner of the restaurant waving at him to come sit down was that someone. Smiling, Seth walked over to the other side of the place to take his seat at the table.
concluded in part ten
previous: Reunion of Death – Part Eight
first chapter: Reunion of Death – Part One
more by KOELEN ANDREWS
photograph by Ivars Krutainis