She rushed into the bedroom to grab the phone before it stopped ringing. It was the call she had been expecting.
“Hello?” she said breathlessly after depressing the talk button.
“Yeah. I have a package for you to drop off this week-end.”
“Okay, where shall we meet?”
“The same spot we met last time. You think it will be possible?”
“Yeah man, me have it covered.”
“A’right, bless up.”
She snapped the phone shut, breaking the connection. She had not thought about much else all week. Times were rough and she had to step up her hustle in order to put food on the table. She was smart and always managed to use her wits to get by. She smiled and thought how easily led some people were and her family had the right amount of naïveté to help her pull off this job.
Carl came in and caught the last traces of her smile.
“What you up to now? I can see the wheels turning in your head.”
“You too visual for me,” she laughed in response. “That was the call I was expecting. We’re making the drop this week-end.”
“Shit! But it’s a public holiday week-end. Police will be swarming all over the island.”
“No worry ‘bout that, man. I have a foolproof plan. You think I’m a fool?”
“I know you not a fool but this is getting more and more dangerous.”
“No worry yuhself me say, man!” she said sounding a little frustrated. “That’s why you a go stay parochial. I’m moving to the big leagues.”
She had spent the last fifteen minutes on the phone calling around to the family. This was the last call she was going to make. She made sure to tell enough persons who would in turn pass the word along. She quickly dialed her sister’s number and waited for her to answer.
“Hey Sis, what’s goin’ down?”
“Hey, not much,” was the ready response.
“You have anything planned for this long week-end?”
“Hmmm, not really, why?”
“Well, we’re heading to the country for the weekend and thought you might like to come along.”
“I can’t make it. I don’t have a ride.”
“No worries, man. Me a go rent a car. You can travel with me.”
“Where exactly we going?” she asked.
“Westmoreland. I have a friend I want to see and decided to rent a villa and spend the entire weekend instead of doing a day trip. Come man, you’ll have a good time.”
She paused for a moment to think about it.
“It will be good for you, man,” she persisted. “And like how you always so tired and stressed out it will help you relax a little.”
“Okay,” she gave in unsure how relaxing that trip was going to be. Over the years she had found it to be quite taxing to be around the family. In fact they were the main reason she was so depressed.
“A’right, don’t back out now, yuh know. I’m counting on you to be there.”
They chit-chatted for a few more seconds before they broke the connection, and she smiled at Carl as she reached over him to place the phone on the table.
“Why it so important for her to be there?”
She laughed out loud.
“Who she? She too dam boasy an’ gwaan like she a tapanaris. You think me a go get in trouble all by myself? Better yet, her car bruk dung again so she will be travelling with me. If police a carry me off to jail she will be my company.”
She laughed out loud again and said, “That will be a story for the record books.”
Friday morning dawned bright and sunshiny. It was going to be a lovely day. She had made the reservations successfully, and rented the car for the trip. She had also met up with the ‘big man’ and collected the package which was safely ensconced in the trunk beneath the spare tire.
As usual they met at her cousin’s house which was on the way. It was an entourage of five cars filled to the gills with people and food. Although they had planned to leave at nine in the morning, the usual stragglers prevented them from leaving before eleven, but it was all good.
The day was hot as they left the city behind but upon reaching the outskirts of town, the air became decidedly cooler and lighter with the decrease in the dust particles in the air, plus it seemed as if there had been a sprinkling of rain earlier.
On and on they drove to the country stopping to buy guineps, plums and shrimp at the usual spots. It was an opportunity to revisit childhood it seemed, especially for the guineps and plums.
“Hey sis, you wanna drive for a bit?” she asked glancing at her in the rear view mirror.
“No sah, I’m quite comfortable being driven and enjoying the music. Plus if there is any possibility to make a wrong turn, I would be the one to make it.”
Carl said, “So mek me drive nuh. How come you nuh ask me?”
“You have license?”
“Yeh!” he answered sounding more than a little annoyed.
“You no have no license,” she said firmly brooking no argument.
Furious, he switched the CD to music he preferred and slumped back in the seat, pushing it back slightly.
She turned down the music wanting to turn it off completely but decided against it to avoid a confrontation. She needed to concentrate on making a safe delivery and did not want to jinx the trip by having an argument.
It was a long journey and she was happy to see that they were entering the parish of Westmoreland, finally. As she turned the corner she saw that the entourage had stopped and she correctly assumed that they needed direction.
After digging around the car for a while, she finally found the paper with the directions and handed it to the lead driver. His job took him around the island a bit so he was more familiar with the area.
They continued and soon they were turning off the main road. After about twenty minuted, they approached the sign for the villa.
“Yippee!” she said as she turned into the gate. “Well, if nobody else is happy to arrive, my behind sure is,” she said as she switched off the engine. She opened the door and got out. She yawned and stretched.
“Oh, this feels so good to get out of the car finally,” she said. “How you so quiet,” she asked her sister. “You hardly said two words the whole time.”
Hardly meeting her glance, her sister replied, “I’m alright man, just taking in the sights.”
The villa was okay, fairly clean and spacious with a swimming pool and very dirty-looking water. The younger set did not seem to mind as before you could say Christopher Robin, they were already in the pool splashing about and enjoying its murky coolness.
After checking in and assigning rooms and spaces, she called her friend.
“Hi, we made it. When can we meet?”
They made arrangements and rang off.
“So how are we going to make the delivery with your entire family around?” asked Carl.
“Relax, man, me have it,” she said easily.
“So tell me nuh, so me can have it too.”
“The puncture tire think not gonna work,” she said matter-of-factly. “Too many people around and somebody might see that we fooling them. Tomorrow just before we head out for his house I gonna drop some coins in the trunk and talk 'bout it so everybody hear. Then you gonna take out the spare for me to get them and then you gonna find the bag. When you look in it act surprised and pretend like you don’t know what it is at first. Okay?”
“Yeah, me can do that.”
“Of course, Pantomime here I come.”
As planned, the weekend passed for the family with a lot of fun, food and sun and soon it was time to check out.
While loading up the car, she made sure to have some coins in her hand and drop them surreptitiously so some of them rolled under the tire.
“Rahtid! Carl, come help me get out this spare tire nuh. The money drop under it.”
One of her cousins came over with Carl and asked, “Then how much money that could be if is coins,” he said and sneered.
“Hm, every million dollars start with one cent,” she said as Carl unscrewed the tire from the bottom of the trunk. He ignored the bantering as he hefted the tire out and placed it on the ground exposing the black, flattened scandal bag.
“Wait, what’s this?” he asked as if he was seeing the bag for the first time.
He gingerly picked it up, untied the knot and peered inside.
“What the hell … what is this?” he said as he took it nearer to her so she could look also.
She lowered her head and sniffed at the contents.
“Smell it,” she said pushing it towards his nose.
He sniffed it with a question mark clearly defined in his features before switching his look to one of enlightenment.
He whispered conspiratorially to her, “It smells like weed, true?”
“That’s what I’m thinking,” she said plastering a look of shock on her face.
“Shit! What we gonna do with it? I’m not travelling back to Kingston with this in the car.”
“When we get down to Rankin’s house we ask him if he wants it. He deals with this stuff. He will know what to do with it. Put in back the tire,” she said as she returned the bag from whence it came.
“Come; let’s find Rankin before the police finds us.”
By that time everybody had gathered around shocked at the discovery. They quickly piled into the cars unwilling to have the cured ganja in their midst.
When they reached Rankin’s house, he had family members around so she pulled him to the side to tell him about the contraband and waited for his advise. At least that was what the general thinking was. He was happy to take it off their hands and laughed at the idea that they were so skittish to have it in their presence.
He offered them coconut water fresh from the trees which they were happy to accept and soon they were wending their way home. It had been a pretty successful weekend.
After dropping her sister home she drove around to see the ‘big man’ to collect her money. He handed her the envelope.
“Good job,” he said. “I knew I could count on you.
She had begun to feel tired from the long drive and was happy when they finally pulled into the driveway. Leaving the car to be unloaded for tomorrow before returning it to the rental company they went inside and locked the door.
She took the envelope out from her bag and opened it spilling the contents on the bed. She jumped in the bed pretending to swim in it and chortled with glee.
“You think a Pantomime, Hollywood, here we come.”
The Mitochondrial DNA Factor
She slipped off her shoes and sank back into the cushions. Immediately, her body started to relax and the knots in her muscles began to untie. Her job was so stressful but for now she had to continue until her plans for running her own business came into fruition. She had just separated from her husband of three years and already she was seeing the benefits. Thankfully they had not had any children thereby avoiding the complications separation usually caused.
Mark did not want the break-up but she was more a convenience to him and since she did not see what benefit she was deriving from the union it did not make sense to stay. It was already three months since she had left and he continued to call in an attempt at reconciliation. Housework was still a woman’s job but it was no longer the man’s job to support his wife. Hell, he does not even have to love and respect her, he married her hadn’t he?
Dealing with diabetes had made her realize that she could not take care of herself and him like she had been doing since they had been together. Living alone had made it so much easier to follow her diet and without the stress and drama of having Mark around her, her blood sugar was mostly at acceptable levels.
After a while she went to the kitchen to fix her evening meal and take her meds. She got ready for bed and picked up a book to read. Later she struggled out of sleep realizing that it was the phone’s ringing that woke her.
“Hello?” She said questioningly
"Hey, Judy, what’s up?”
She sat up as she recognized her sister’s voice.
“You tell me.”
“Nothing’s up. Just decided to check on you. I hope I didn’t wake you.”
“Yes you did but that’s alright it’s only eight o’clock. How are the children?”
“Well actually, that’s what I called about. Danielle needs two books for school and Tommy needs shoes so I was wondering if you could assist me in any way.”
“Sorry, this is a bad time. What about their fathers? Don’t they help you with them?”
“That’s not your business. Either you’re gonna help me or not. Don’t ask me my business."
“Well, taking care of your children is also your business, not mine, so when you have financial difficulties call your partners who helped in their creation.
“Why the hell she keeps calling me when she has problems. Doesn’t she think I have my own?” She fumed as she slammed down the phone.
Memories came flooding in as she remembered her difficult childhood. She could not wait to leave school and get as far away as possible. When she was growing up they did not care and now they expected her to care. How ironic can life get?
The next morning as she prepared to get to work, the phone rang. Thinking it was Myrna again, she hesitated before picking up the receiver.
“Yes?” She answered wearily ready to hang up if the same nonsense started again.
“Good morning. Am I speaking with Mrs. Rogers?"
“Yes, who wants to know?”
“This is Detective Thomas of the CIB. I would like to speak with you this morning. Could you make yourself available?”
“Well, this morning would be inconvenient as I am getting ready to leave for work shortly,” she responded.
“Call your office and let them know that you will be late, we need to speak with you now and you will prefer being spoken to at home, believe me.”
“What is it Mr. Thomas?”
“Sorry, we can’t do this over the phone. Make sure you are there when we come.” He said and hung up.
What a blasted nerve he has speaking to me like that, she thought angrily as she put the receiver down. Last thing at night and first thing in the morning, who needs
She called her boss and told him she had an emergency and waited for the detective to get there.
“I am afraid it’s not good news.
"Your husband was found murdered last night and we would like to know your whereabouts at six in the afternoon yesterday.”
“Mark is dead, but how …?"
“Where were you at six yesterday evening?” he repeated. “I was here. I left work and came straight home,” she replied.
“Anyone saw you?"
“No … I don’t know. I don’t recall seeing anyone that I know.”
“Well we need you to come down to the station to be fingerprinted and to be questioned further, ok?"
He left without saying anything further and she locked the door behind him. She picked up the phone and dialled a number
“Speak,” he said, “I’m listening.”
“Glen, this is Judy. The police just came and told me Mark was found dead last night."
“What? But I spoke to him yesterday and he was alright. How did that happen?"
“They didn’t want to tell me because they haven’t finished questioning me yet. I have to go down to the station for further questioning. I am so afraid. Could you accompany me? I would be so grateful to have someone familiar there.”
“Alright, I’ll go with you because I need to know what happened. Will you be alright? Perhaps you should arrange for a few days off.”
Three months had passed since Mark had been murdered and the police had no idea who or why. At times she sensed she was a suspect because she had no alibi for the time of his death. She had been alone in her apartment and their acrimonious relationship was sometimes put on display because he had been such a drama queen.
She was getting ready to leave for work when there was an urgent knock on the door.
“Who is it?” She asked through the door.
“It’s Detective Thomas,” was the clipped response.
As she opened the door a feeling of doom came over her and she shivered. Detective Thomas was accompanied by two police officers. He turned to them and said,
“Read her her rights.”
As they recited her rights she fainted. Moments later she recovered to find one of the officers handing her a glass of water while the other was helping her up.
“Why are you doing this, Detective Thomas?”
“Well, for a while now you have been the only suspect because someone came forward and said you threatened to kill your husband a few months ago and
the forensic evidence puts you in the apartment?”
“But I’ve never been there. We gave up the house when we separated and rented individual apartments. It’s just not possible.”
“A woman was seen leaving his apartment and the description fits you."
Realizing it was futile to argue she asked him if she could call someone and she quickly called Glen. He assured her that he would call her lawyer for her after he confirmed where she was being taken.
At the police station, she answered the questions as best she could. She could not tell them how her DNA from blood that was found on the victim got
there. Glen was able to get a lawyer who reached the police station in short order.
“Don’t answer any more questions, we have to talk first.”
The lawyer, Mr. Knight, was as baffled by the presence of her DNA in an apartment that she had never visited as she was, so he set about finding an alibi.
“Nobody saw you at all that evening, what about the phone. Did you speak to anyone at all on the phone?"
"No … yes, my sister called me about eight. I had fallen asleep early so she woke me up.”
“OK, I’ll give the police this information and see what can be done about
getting you out on bail.”
Mr. Knight came back about an hour later but the news was not so good.
“They spoke to your sister and she said she has neither seen nor spoken to you in a while, certainly not on the night of the murder.”
“Yes she called me. She asked for financial assistance and was mad at me because I told her I couldn’t help.”
“Alright, don’t worry. That can be verified by getting your telephone records from the telephone company.”
“Oh, you don’t need to go to the phone company. Just go on the net and print the bill. It’s much easier and more convenient.”
“OK, now I’ve found out that in addition to the blood they found, they also found DNA on a glass that was in the kitchen sink. It’s different from the blood but there is a connection. The evidence shows that you have the same mother so now they are saying that you had an accomplice.”
“You mean that my sister was in the apartment. That would explain why the woman they saw resembled me. I know we don’t get along but I can’t see her as a murderer.”
“Well, in life you have to expect the unexpected. Was she close to your husband?”
“Yes, I met him through her and I think she was always resentful of me because she felt he would have married her had I not been in the picture.”
“Okay, I have some work to do and you need to get some rest. They are going to book you and show you to your cell. Know that I am working my hardest to sort out this mess.”
One week later she was getting ready for the hearing when Mr. Knight appeared with a big smile on his face.
“Pack your bags, girl, we are going home.”
“How come?” I asked in stunned surprise.
“After your sister realized she had been caught in a lie, she broke down and confessed. She had collected all the test strips from your garbage over a period of time, soaked them in water to get out the blood then threw it on him after she killed him.”
“The strips with which I tested my blood-sugar levels? My God, so how did she kill him?”
“She put sleeping pills in his drink and when he had passed out she suffocated him with a pillow. She had planned to wash her glass before she left to get rid of her DNA but was overcome by her action and rushed out. “Gosh, she really hates me. I could never do that to someone.”
Though she was joyful to be going home she had a great amount of sadness knowing that Mark had to die in that manner. She could not help thinking that her sister must be crazy. That is the only thing that could save her from the electric chair.