By Andy Betz
He eventually had to come to work again. He knew I was waiting here for him. Where else would he go? I just wish he would not take so long. We had a long night of discussions and decisions ahead of us.
He did walk in at 9:15. No more costumes today. George wore what I expected of him; a nice suit, a nice tie, and his nice .357mag revolver pointed at my head. He was serious, but not displaying any outwardly aggressive signs. I, on the other hand, held all of the cards. If he shoots me, he gets a series of needles in his arm at the state prison. If he doesn’t, I may get exactly what I came here for; no more, no less.
For a PI, George Miller was not as silent during his entrance as one would think. It was his lack of high heels that threw him off balance when wearing standard men’s dress shoes again. That constant changing is a source of discomfort for women. He should have known this by now.
“Might as well come in and sit down, George. We seem to have a good deal to discuss. Your feet seem to be hurting. Take a seat, I already poured you a double.” He looked around and seated himself in the chair I offered; hesitantly, same reaction reaching for the drink.
“George, take mine if you are worried, unless my lipstick on the rim bothers you.” I was goading him. “Miss Spencer, what keeps me from shooting you ending this entire facade?” Such bravado from the man who since the day I met him wore women’s clothing and acted more the woman than I did. If he was smart, he might receive another day playing that role.
“Drink or don’t drink. Take either glass. I will drink from the one you don’t.” To prove my poise, I reached for the other glass and took a sip. Now George had two glasses marked with my lipstick. He understood. George holstered the revolver and gulped the contents of the first glass. I smiled and beckoned him to relax. I would do the talking, he would do the listening, and we would behave like civilized people.
I refilled both glasses with the bourbon we both enjoyed at closing during my first month at work.
“George, you have a serious problem. Actually you have two. The first is I know that you killed your wife at the costume party last night. The second is that I recorded your actions and conversations. So, in a nutshell, I am going to screw you for a change.” I took a sip of this excellent bourbon emphasizing my point. He did look good in that suit. It would be a pity to conjugally visit him. His house is so much nicer for such a rendezvous.
“I am normally impartial, but I cannot sit back and watch you commit murder. Let’s go through the events of the last three days.” I spoke with a giggle. “We can begin Friday night.”
“Right before or right after we had sex?” George caught on to my flirtatious, but serious side. I took my heels off and stretched my legs over his. A light brush on his crotch proved an interest on both sides. “Rub my feet while I go through the details. If you are very good, you may be too drunk to have arrested after I have my way with you.” Having nothing to lose, George complied and I began my narrative of my first weeks observing him in his un-natural habitat.
“On June 28, you, dressed as a woman, interviewed me for the position of assistant. I did find this strange, but I was intrigued. I made you by your lack of a good female voice and visible Adam’s apple. Otherwise, you appeared amazing. So much so, I asked you out.” George’s hands left my feet and began working up my calves. I chastised him to retreat without penalty.
“June 29, we woke up together and I accepted the position and began work on Friday. So far, so good?” He nodded and kept the foot massage going through my nylons.
“Once I began, I opened your mail, filed your files, and answered your calls. I doing so, I found two things most unusual. The first, your fascination with wearing woman’s clothing. The second, our tickets to the July 8th charity Drinks and Murder event. I assisted you with the first (I am blushing, so is George) to appear unmakeable during the extravaganza. This was easy because the tickets insisted that the holder had to wear the costume assigned to the ticket holder. I wore my assigned Snow White gown. I insisted that I was too hippy for this, but you, in you androgynous Peter Pan exterior (looking as a woman playing Peter Pan) reassured me we both would blend in. I even asked you why we were in attendance. The books show we did not have the $2000 per ticket to purchase or the additional money to donate to the charity.”
Are you in agreement with me so far, George? He leaned over and kissed my toes to distract me from my story. Any other day, well …
“You told me that we were in search of thieves switching real jeweled necklaces and tiaras with costume copies. You gave me an uncharacteristic faux ruby necklace; actually, you insisted that I wore that necklace, and matching earrings that night. They looked amazing, so amazing that I put up so little resistance.” I removed my feet from his grasp and arose from the chair to step back into my heels and adjust my dress. George remained seated and armed.
“During the night, when the lights went out, a patron-character would be discretely asked by the host to leave the room to disappear. Their night in the festivities was now at an end. For the remaining patron-characters, each would have a timed opportunity to find clues and the fake killer. I was to find anyone foolish enough to grab my fake jewels. Your role appeared to be mingling throughout the night. I can understand why. Everyone in town recognizes you. I was undercover, the unknown woman. You drew the attention from me to you. It was as perfect as perfect could be. Unfortunately, it was a bit too perfect.”
Sarcastically spoken, “But sweet Jennifer, what do you mean, too perfect?” George had a way of accenting his words to bring out their flavor. Today was no different.
I returned to my seat with a small stack of paperwork. I placed it in front of George. “What you see before you are the receipts for the surveillance equipment I installed. Don’t worry; I paid for it all myself. I consider it a very good investment. Currently, they are in operation and the server is not in close proximity to our location. I do not want to press a panic button, but that revolver of your bothers me. Could you please place it in the safe? It is unlocked and empty.”
“What do I get in return?”
“What do you want?” I expected a request for sex.
“What I want is simple. I want you to continue recording everything we do here tonight. Then I want equal time at the end of your dialog to speak. Deal or no deal?” He looked sincere. This was George Miller, private investigator, at his best. I said deal.
George complied with his part. I complied with mine.
Back to our chairs with a hefty refill of bourbon and a side order of cold cuts from the small fridge and we returned to our previous adversarial roles.
“Where was I?”
“The charity event”, George replied.
Smelling the aroma of Prosciutto di Parma amidst wafting bourbon, I continued.
“What you planned, worked exactly as you planned. I counted costume characters, at the onset of the event, and wrote 32 in my notes. At the conclusion, at midnight, I saw 31 leave. I was not the only one who made such an observation. The host’s notepad matched mine by number.”
“And”, George drug this sole word out before he swallowed a small bite of Italy’s best cold cut.
“And, what no one commented on was the discrepancy caused by you. Mr. Miller, no one saw you leave the charity event. Do you have a reason for your absence?”
Of course he did, but I had to lead George down this primrose path, for the record.
“If you remember, during the second darkness, the host tagged me with death and asked me to silently leave. I could have remained, but since we both drove separate cars, you had a way home. And, I remembered something very important I had to attend to.”
“George, what would that be? Take your time in answering.”
George Miller, so secure in his position, almost smug-like, did not heed my warning. Nor did he directly answer my question. “Jennifer, if you know where I went, why don’t you tell the rest of the story. I will not interrupt. I find the fare here excellent.”
And with that, I did.
“The reason you cannot explain where you went at the conclusion of the charity event is that you never left the charity event until everyone left the charity event. I will make this simple.
George, you came as Peter Pan, but you left as Cinderella.” He wanted to refute my claim, but I threw a piece of prosciutto at him reminding him of his promise.
“It took me a while to figure it all out. If I may (George’s head nod indicated a yes), here are the details. You, George Miller were married for four years to a Sarah Jones of Albany, New York. You both filed for divorce at the one year mark and went your separate ways until the divorce was final. But, it was never final. During the interim, you won the Pennsylvania state lottery of 52 million dollars. But you could not cash the winning ticket because between Mrs. Miller and the IRS, Mr. Miller would have nothing to show for his $1 investment. So you found a way to establish a shill corporation, under your control, so you could permit the corporation to cash the winning ticket. It did not hurt that said corporation is chartered in the Bahamas, just outside of those punitive taxes of the US. This end-around move diverted both the assets and attention from the soon-to-be-ex-Mrs. Miller. How do I know this? I was once an accountant and a tax preparer. All you have to do is ask the right questions.”
Still no change in George’s facial expression. He was still enjoying that prosciutto far too much for a man accused of murder.
“But I digress. In the extended time your dummy corporation purchased for you, you had to either hurry the divorce proceedings or dispose of Sarah. I found no amendments in your case file. That means, Sarah had to die. But how? How can someone kill an estranged wife without the authorities scrutinizing every aspect of your financial and personal life?” That got a rise out of him.
“The secret was to make it look as if Sarah never died. Now this takes patience and persistence. I pulled your telephone records for the last two years. Since neither of you spoke once during that time, I guessed neither of you met either. Because of this correct guess, the rest of the pieces fell into place. First, you began losing a lot of weight. We are not talking a few pounds.
George, you went from 170 to 120 pounds. It took the better part of a year, but you did it. Now you needed a reason for this weight loss. Enter the sudden and visible fascination with wearing women’s clothing. The lighter you became, the better you appeared. Ironically, as a PI, you could, at least initially, tell your clients that it was all for undercover work. The problem with that is this town is too small for such a lie to go unchallenged. And you knew that. Thus, you hired me. Under the auspices of training a female PI by being a female PI, it all became believable again. I didn’t hurt that I was also your assistant.”
Now I required a drink. George handed me a double bourbon. I hesitated. George chuckled when he said, “Take mine if you are worried, unless your lipstick on the rim bothers you.” It was funny enough to break the building tension in the room. George laughed and I smiled. He should seem more concerned with my narrative. If I were he, I would be.
“Now all you had to do was lure Sarah to a time and a place of your choosing. Your books indicate absolutely no interest in charity functions and then suddenly, both of us have tickets to one of the swankiest on the society calendar. I wondered about that. I also wondered why the tickets demanded we dress as the character on the tickets. If I had my druthers, I would not be Snow White wearing fake rubies. But you, you lucked out. Your ticket said Peter Pan. Mr. Androgyny himself, or should I say, herself (no takers on this one). This gave you the perfect opportunity to wear a skimpy costume and makeup at the same time. Now this was ultimately important because of the time factor. To kill your estranged wife, you would have to be removed by the host early (all that takes is a bribe) and have Cinderella exit right after. With the lights out and your cover of leaving the event soon, you became the man who removed the patron-character. You moved Sarah, dressed as Cinderella to a secured place and strangled her. Then, in a stroke of patient brilliance, all you had to do was remove her gown and place it over your costume. What is a large gown compared to a shirt? To cover your Adam’s apple, you removed her black velvet choker (ironic) and placed it around your neck. Then you could dump her body in the dumpster and return to the event until everyone saw you leave as Cinderella.”
Now I began to look for nervousness, or at least, another pistol.
Nothing but smugness from George. I have no choice but to proceed.
“It would have been perfect if not for one small thing. The shoes. You might have been able to starve yourself down to a size 6 dress, but your size 9 feet would not fit in Sarah’s size 6 shoes. That is why you carried them out with you. The other patron-characters all will testify they heard Cinderella say these heels made her feet hurt. Even I heard you say that. The problem is when you spoke; you didn’t say it as Sarah would. George, you may have the body that some may find irresistible in drag, but your voice, however you may practice to alter it, is still your voice.” I made eye contact with him as I finished my bourbon. I would not drink any more.
George finished his bourbon and rose from his chair.
“Remember our deal, Miss Spencer?” I nodded. “Here’s where the fun begins. Keep those cameras rolling. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” He was so grandiose, almost pompous at point in the night. Maybe too much bourbon for his slender frame. Maybe too much arrogance. Either way, George Miller could hold his liquor and was ready to spar.
“Now it is my turn. I also accuse you of murder. I accuse you of the heinous cold blood killing of Tess McKenzie, your Aunt Tess, married to your Uncle Henry, widowed many years ago. Does any of this ring a bell Jennifer Spencer?”
I froze, wishing I had his revolver in my hand. How would he know this about me? Who could have told him? Having George begin narrating my sordid past was now beyond my control.
Tonight could not end in any manner other than badly, very badly.
George began to tell my story.
“Miss Spencer, and that is not your real name, you are also very good at deception. Let me take you back to when, still living with your mother, you were 14 and poor. Not the type of no-one-knows-I-am-poor poverty. Nope. I am talking about the I-once-had-money-and-now-I-don’t-where-did-it-all-go-poverty. You and your mother were going bankrupt with no solution in sight. That is until Aunt Tess entered the picture. Aunt Tess married into your family at its financial zenith when Henry’s law practice made money hand-over-fist. At this time, your mother, also a young widow, depended on Uncle Henry to provide for the two of you. Had he not met his unfortunate demise so early, you might have made it to an age of self-sufficiency.
When Uncle Henry died, the money died. Aunt Tess bought your house and began making demands upon you that your mother could not say no to. But you began saying yes to Tess and life got better. That is until Tess’s demands became somewhat bizarre.”
I do not have the self-assurance that George possesses. He was a rock during my cross examination. I am (now) no sturdier than wet tissue paper.
And still George continued.
“From what I gathered, long before I hired you, Tess wanted a sexual boy toy. You where that toy. That is, of course, when you were a boy. Tess became your girlfriend, your mistress, your dominatrix to satisfy all her sexual demands. She seduced you, then feminized you to become the woman you are today. She gave you your name. She paid for your surgery. She, not your mother, raised you as her own. And yes, she taught you everything you needed to know in every subject you needed to know. I knew all of that before I even placed the ad to eventually hire you. I can understand what happened. I read Tess’s memoirs. She wrote that you enjoyed the transformation, the clothing, the makeup, the domineering, the manipulation and she enjoyed pushing you each day further into the role. Tell me now, Jennifer, is this all true?”
If he read Tess’s notes and diaries and now, memoirs, then George already knew the answer. I raised my head to meet him eye-to-eye to feebly say, “Yes”.
And still George continued.
“But that wasn’t what pushed you to kill. You told your mother of what happened. You begged her not to call the police. If your secret came out, both of you would be destitute and you forever ruined. No, you merged what Tess wanted with what you wanted. From the pictures of her, I say the sex must have been great. Maybe a bit kinky, but great.”
Now I needed a drink. Unfortunately, the bottle was not full an hour ago and it was never going to endure a morning hangover. I rose for a glass of ice water instead.
“By the time you turned 24, you became what you are today; a college educated professional with a life to live. Tess gave you your freedom if you remained silent forever. The house, in the bad shape it was, Tess deeded back to your mother. With that, she packed her bags, sold her house, and moved away, never to be seen again. It was over. Or was it?”
The ice helps with clear thinking. I was terse, but deserved all he had to give. The cameras, once my friend, became my executioner. I would endure what was to come.
“My records indicate you found a small obituary of a young boy, barely 5 years old, who died in a car crash while his mother drove. His obituary listed Tess as the mother and your original name as the father. Tess apparently crashed her car with your son in it. Think about that Jennifer. Your son. You were the father of a child before you fully became a woman.”
I wanted to throw the water glass at him. I did. It missed. He expected as much.
“How did Tess get you to impregnate her during your transformation? Before you went under the knife, you must have injected hundreds of hormone doses. That should have ended your swimmer’s chances. So how did Tess manage to have you father this child? You can answer.”
I didn’t want to, but I did. “Tess must have collected sperm samples from me when I was 14, before I began hormone treatments. She plotted and planned this years before. She had no right to this! She had no right to my son! That manipulative bitch! She did this so I would NEVER be free of her.” Now I found my strength. “I hated her for that. I used that obituary to find her before she could do this again. And I did find her, in her basement. It was so easy to walk down the steps, with that knife, and exact the revenge for all of those years, all of that obsequious behavior, all that she took from not just me, but my mother, and my son.” Now my fury came fast. “I wanted her in the same little pieces she torn me into. So I cut her again and again and again. I carved her body and buried the pieces in various places. I cleaned the scene so even the best forensics expert would find nothing. I did it for him.” With that, I fell to my knees.
George had one last question. “What was your son’s name?”
I replied, “Kevin”.
We remained in the office for the rest of the night and cleaned up in the morning. Physically, I was exhausted. Mentally, I was beyond repair. And I still had to deal with George.
“So what happens now? Do we go to the cops?”
“I have a solution to our problem. Miss Jennifer Spencer, will you marry me?”
If took all the courage I could muster to answer, “No”.
Shocked, he fell back on his chair.
It was my turn to take the lead.
“What I mean is yes, I will marry you, but no, I will not be your wife.”
“What does that mean?”
“When we marry, neither of us can be forced to testify against each other in court concerning the murders of Tess and Sarah. Neither of us would want to. It is not in our best interests. This proposal reinforces the trust we have to have, but a marriage cannot be built on that type of trust. I will marry you today, if you like, but I cannot be the new Mrs. Miller. Please understand.”
And he did.
By 10 am, we were married in a small civil ceremony at a courthouse four counties away and then both of us returned to the office, as if nothing ever happened.
I still live with my aging mother. I still work for George Miller. I am still enrolled in on-line classes for my PI license. Where I go from here, is now solely my decision.
I made my mark once on this world. It is time for me to do it again.
Bio: Andy Betz has tutored and taught in excess of 40 years. He lives in 1974, and has been married for 29 years. His works are found everywhere a search engine operates. Andy has written many great things that have been posted to The Yard: Crime Blog. He has written “The Less You Have, The More It Hurts To Lose It“, “How My New Life Began“, “I Knew Her as Tigist“, and “Water“, which was written by Jaysa Brown, in collaboration with Andy.