Chapter 1: Suicide and a Heart Attack
Copyright© 2017 by Hunter Johnson
“Bye, Jason, have a good lunch, and a happy birthday!” shouted Jeff, cheerfully waving through his car window as he started to drive off.
“Bye, see you next week, Jason!” shouted Tom from the back seat. “Have a great day!”
“That was quite a ride. He’s pretty good for an eighty-year-old. He seems to be pretty with it, as well,” said Charlie chattily. “The hills in Perth can be tough. When I was migrating here from the UK, I thought Australia was as flat as Holland. I brought my old heavy bike with me. I have battled to get used to the hills. Jason went up the hills like a bat out of hell and then chatted about a technical concept of exercise physiology and wasn’t even out of breath.”
“You don’t know half of it! He has been one of the strongest riders but is also very switched on. He has still been doing consulting work at a high level.”
“That’s interesting. What sort of consulting does he do?”Tom asked.
“He started an IT company in the earliest days of computers and says that he specialized in computer security. Later he was involved in ‘ethical hacking.’ He said that now his clients just want him present at meetings for reassurance. The real work is done by his daughter and the company. He says she’s a ‘mega-brain’ and runs a very tight ship,” said Jeff.
“Today is the first day I met him. He passed me as if I was stationary, going up that steep hill on the way back. When I caught up later and said how impressed I was, he asked me how old I thought he was. I looked at him and said, ‘maybe 65’. He laughed and said eighty. How long have you known him Jeff?”Tom asked.
“I’ve got to know him pretty well over the last four or five years. He has an iron will, and never gives up no matter how steep the road or how long we ride. He’s a fine man and generally a good guy. He’s the first to stop to help if you’ve a puncture or have a mechanical problem; but he’s got a very sharp tongue if you get on the wrong side of him. Andrew tried to pull a fast one a few years ago, on the committee, and had an unforgettable experience at the end of Jason’s sharp tongue. He avoids Jason now like the plague!
“Harry told me Jason was a Colonel in Special Forces in Vietnam, and had a distinguished career. Jason never mentions it, and Harry says he refuses to talk about his experiences, ever.
“He’s still pretty athletic and can climb hills with the best of the younger guys. That fall he had today really did shock him. He said his balance isn’t what it used to be. He said he would love to be young again with all his experience, rather than an old crock waiting for the end. So, would we all!
“He also told me at lunch his wife has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He seemed very upset about it. I’d feel the same. I don’t know how I would manage without my wife’s organizational skills,” said Jeff.
“He said it’s at times like this he feels his age, and can’t believe he’s eighty ... except when he gets up in the morning, and feels all his aches and pains. I’m sixty-seven and some days I feel like I’m a hundred years old. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be that age. When he can’t ride anymore, I’ll miss him,” said Jeff as they stopped at Tom’s house helped him to take his bike off the rack.
Jason pressed the garage door controller and heard the two dogs frantically barking. ‘That’s unusual,’ he thought. He pushed his mountain bike quickly into the garage and lifted it onto its stand. He tiredly removed the bike’s computer and lights, put them into his bag, and put his helmet and gloves on the shelf. The dogs’ barking became even more urgent. He began to hurry. Their bark was not the usual bark of ‘hurry up, get inside, and rub my ears’. They sounded distressed.
The dogs were not in the house, which was disturbingly unusual. He opened the back door to let them in. That meant that the dog door in the laundry was locked, and his wife had deliberately locked the dogs outside. No tradesmen were expected on a Sunday, and he wondered why she had done it. The kitchen was dim, as was the rest of the downstairs area. None of the curtains had been opened. It gave the area a feel of foreboding.
Rather than greet him effusively, the dogs barked frantically while running around in circles, then dashing towards the stairs. It was unusual for the lights to not be on in the kitchen or on the stairs. The dogs were behaving very strangely, too, running to him, and then running up the stairs while barking insistently. He felt the hair rise at the back of his neck.
He followed them to the stairs. His knees creaked and his muscles felt weak. His hip was sore from his fall. He held onto the handrail to pull himself upstairs. Jason felt every year of his age. He was light-headed and had to sit on the landing for a moment or two to prevent himself from fainting. The dogs barked even more frantically. Rosie pulled on his sleeve. He hauled himself up and went up remainder of the stairs feeling quite disoriented and nauseated.
The master bedroom door was closed. The dogs scratched on the door whining plaintively. He opened the door. The dogs dashed into the room, and ran onto the balcony. They stood there and barked. Rosie began to howl.
The room was dark; the blinds were closed, with the only light coming in through the balcony door. He saw light flickering on the wall as the wind blew the balcony curtain. He heard the tap, tap, tapping as the wind blew the blinds away from the wall and they fell back. There was a desolate feel about the room, which was very cold. He shivered in the draft. He walked as quickly as he could to the balcony door and looked out. Sarah was hanging from a rope tied around a rafter. The chair she used was lying on its side near her. Her body was very slowly swinging and twisting with the wind gusts.
As quickly as he could, he went downstairs to retrieve a large kitchen knife. He nearly fainted climbing the stairs, and dry retched on the landing at the top of the stairs.
He moved the bedroom chair close to Sarah, but against the wall so that he could use the wall for support. He climbed up, feeling quite dizzy and disoriented for a few seconds as he did so. He was forced to pause, holding on to the back of the chair while leaning on the wall, before he felt secure enough to cut her down. He held onto the rope to let her down as gently as he could.
He unsteadily climbed down, grabbing the balcony rail to prevent himself from falling. He noticed the sudden silence as the dogs stopped barking and were sniffing Sarah’s face and then whining softly. He fumbled very briefly with the knot, trying fruitlessly to loosen the noose and then carefully cut the rope from her neck while holding it away from her skin, even though every instinct told him she was long since dead. Her skin was completely cold and he could feel her muscles were rigid. She had no pulse and her skin was white. Her face was suffused and looked swollen, her eyes bloodshot, wide open and unreactive. He gently closed them with his hand.
“Goodbye my darling wife, I’m so sad to see you leave like this. Fare you well. I’m sure I will be seeing you soon,” Jason said softly as he sobbed while the dogs rubbed against him. They felt warm and reassuring. He saw a flash of Sarah when he had first met her, then felt the wind blow and heard again the tapping of the blinds bring him back to the present.
Sarah was wearing her nightie, her feet were bare, and he noticed they were blotchy, blue, and swollen. He retched again over the balcony, before moving to the phone. He called for an ambulance, and then sadly called his daughter, Lauren.
“Lauren, I came back five minutes ago from my ride to find your mother hanging from the balcony. Emergency services are on the way. When I got back she was absolutely cold and I suspect she has been dead for some time.”
“I’ll be over in five minutes.”
He walked down the stairs, slowly and carefully, and went into the kitchen. He poured a cold glass of water from the front of the fridge and put in an electrolyte tablet. He absently watched it fizz. Before he’d finished it, the front doorbell rang and he slowly led the paramedics upstairs and showed them where Sarah was. As they were carrying her body down the stairs two young policemen arrived and he showed them where he found Sarah. Lauren came upstairs and hugged him tightly.
“Sir, did you have any indication that she was thinking of suicide or that she had any reason for suicide?”
Jason looked at the young policeman standing in front of him with a notebook and absently thought that he looked much too young to be a policeman but then everyone looked younger every year.
Lauren said, “Last week the doctor confirmed that she was developing dementia. She hated the idea, as she had watched her mother decline with dementia and Parkinson’s for over seven years. She has always said that she couldn’t live with dementia, but she seemed to be accepting it and we were all looking forward to my father’s eightieth birthday party, today. We were all going out for lunch and she went shopping with me yesterday for something for my father. I didn’t have the slightest idea that this is what she was thinking about. My parents were thinking about moving into an old-age, resort village that also had facilities for those needing more intensive care.
“I feel terrible about the rope, as she had asked me to put it up for her three weeks ago. She said she was going to be putting up that basket of ferns that you can see in the corner of the balcony,” Lauren added sadly.
“Lauren, please call an ambulance for me. I think I’m having a heart attack. Tell them I’ve a crushing chest pain, I feel nauseous, and I’ve just found my wife hanging, dead,” said Jason as he was sitting on the bed, then lost consciousness.
He briefly regained partial awareness in the ambulance before waking with a different pain in his chest to find Lauren, Chloe, and Chuck sitting next to his bed. His throat was parched. He looked up to see the drip, smelled the typical hospital smell and felt the plastic under the sheet as he tried to make himself a little more comfortable before trying to speak. His voice came out as a croak. Lauren immediately went out and returned with a nurse who carried a paper cup of water with a straw. Jason strained to drink it. The nurse raised the head of the bed making it a little easier. She put the cup on the tray in front of him and bustled around his bed making him more comfortable.
“The doctor will be here in half an hour, but you are doing well,” she said reassuringly.
“Dad, you seem to have had it lucky. You got the A-Team of cardiologists, they have prevented significant heart damage, and you are the proud owner of two stents. They said you can come home tomorrow, but you will need to stay with us for a week so we can keep an eye on you,” said Lauren.
“Hi, Chloe and Chuck, how are you guys, shouldn’t you be at school?”
“No, grandpa today is a Teacher’s Professional Development Day at the school, and we have the day off. We are very sad about Granny, and we’ll miss her very much. What are we going to do every afternoon now she isn’t here to fetch us?”
“Darlings, we’ll sort out something,” Lauren said.
“Mum, please tell Grandpa about the disgusting detective,” said Chloe wrinkling her nose.
“Grandpa, I think, has had enough excitement for one day,” said Lauren firmly.
“All right, I’ll bite,” said Jason. “Tell me about the disgusting detective and his nefarious intentions!”
“You know when you see on the movies how they portray a corrupt, obese cop?”Lauren asked wrinkling her nose exactly as her daughter had done. “Well, we have seen one of those. Detective Clarke, in all of his sleazy, slimy magnificence, showed up just before we were leaving for the hospital. We had gone to your place to pick up some pyjamas and clothes for tomorrow, and he showed up with a search warrant. He specifically wanted to look at your office.
“I called Dan at his office and he said that we had to let him do it. He asked where all your papers were and I said that you don’t keep papers, and everything was on your computer. He then confiscated the computer and took it away. The search warrant said something about you being ‘under suspicion for being complicit in the death of your wife,’ or some such garbage.
“I don’t think you’ve anything to worry about, but he strikes me as the kind of person who forms a view, and no facts will interfere with his opinion. I gave him a piece of my mind and he just sneered at me and said, ‘yes ma’am.’ He’s a loathsome piece of work, as is his partner Detective Gourley who is as different in appearance as chalk and cheese. He is impeccably groomed and looks well dressed. He is skinny and has an unctuous air about him like a character out of Dickens. He is thin where Clarke is obese. Clarke talks incessantly, but Gourley never speaks. He just stands and smirks from behind his boss. Clarke wants to see you as soon as possible. I have to call him when you are available,” said Lauren angrily as she explained her encounter.
“There’s no point in any delay. Let’s give him a call as soon as I get to your place, and I’ll talk to him. You had better ask Dan if he will sit in on the interview, as I don’t like the sound of the guy. I know the type, and I don’t want to take any chances and leave myself vulnerable,” said Jason pensively but sounding determined.
“I also want to be a lawyer! Please can I sit in on the interview?”Chuck asked.
“No, fat-head, you are too young, and it’s not appropriate for a child to sit on a police interview. Please, grandpa can I sit in on the interview?”Chloe asked batting her eyelashes, smiling at him and then looking at him beseechingly, then put out her tongue at her brother. Jason sat and thought for a few moments.
“I think that I’d like both of you in the interview, as I definitely need your help, but I suspect that my lawyer would advise against it in case one of you would say something that would lead you to be put in jail! Also, both of you need to go to school, tomorrow,” Jason replied seriously.
“Oh, grandpa you just don’t take anything seriously! Mum said that the detective was after your blood. I don’t want him to get your blood because I’m not sure that at your age you’ve got a lot of blood. Mum said when you stand up you get light-headed, and she said that you are not getting enough blood to your head, so you don’t have a lot of blood. I also don’t think you should be giving any to that horrible fat disgusting man. He stinks, and he kept pulling up his pants which are loose and dirty. He even had some egg on his tie. If mum says he wants blood he must be some sort of a vampire,” said Chuck with a catch in his voice. “I’m worried about you, Grandpa.”Chuck sat still for a moment thinking and then his face lit up.
“Grandpa, I don’t have a silver bullet for you, and I know you don’t have your pistol and rifle from the war; but Johnny’s dad is a carpenter. I’ll go there this afternoon and will ask him if he will help us make a few wooden stakes,” Chuck said looking very worried.
“Excellent idea, Chuck that would be really useful, we’ll watch him very carefully. Perhaps you can ask your dad if we can borrow one of his big hammers to knock in the stakes, if we need to use it on the detective. I also hope he has a bath before he comes to see us, as I hate stinky detectives. Maybe if he’s really stinky I’ll vomit all over him, Chuck,” said Jason smiling.
“Chuck, don’t be stupid! There’s no such thing as a vampire!”Chloe retorted.
“Is so! Mum said he’s after grandpa’s blood, so there! He’s a vampire! If mum said so that’s it and it’s true. Dad says Mum is always right, and I need to remember it,” Chuck replied convincingly.
“Come on, you two,” Lauren said, “we’ll find out tomorrow if Detective Clark is a vampire or not. I suspect that in his own way, he is. Chuck, you go ahead and make a couple of stakes and I’ll ask your dad for the large double headed hammer. We’ll sit at the dining room table and I’ll put the stakes on the serving table near me. I’m sure the interview will be held while you guys are at school. I’ll put on the air conditioning to help with the stink and spray the air ahead of time. We need to say goodbye to grandpa, for now. Chloe put the suitcase in the cupboard and we’ll make our way home. They are discharging grandpa tomorrow morning.”
Five minutes after they left Jason was visited by the cardiologist and his entourage.
“Mr. Kargo, you have had a major cardiac infarction due to a clot, which we were largely able to dissolve as we got to you so quickly. We also put in two stents. There is a good chance of recovery but you need to be careful and don’t exert yourself. We can’t yet predict the full extent of the recovery. Your blood pressure fell precipitously in theatre and you will need time for recuperation. There is a risk of residual cardiac failure,” he began to speak without introducing himself. “No exercise for the time being, other than a slow walk for fifteen minutes a day until I see you in three weeks in my rooms.”
He turned and left without another word.
‘Dr Alan Fellows-Jones won’t be seeing me again,’ decided Jason.
“Detectives, this is my father, Jason Kargo, and my husband Dan who is his lawyer. I’ll sit in on the interview as his support,” said Lauren assertively.
Jason looked over at the serving table and saw a large hammer and three very large wooden stakes. He laughed. Both detectives looked at him strangely. Lauren smiled, seeing where he was looking. Jason was feeling tired and upset about Sarah. The coroner wouldn’t release her body for cremation. Craig, his son, was due to fly in from Houston in two days for the funeral.
“Thank you very much for seeing us, Mr. Kargo. Are you sure that you need to have your lawyer and your daughter with you? If you’ve nothing to worry about are you sure you need your minders?”Clark gave a smarmy smile.
“Yes,” replied Jason.
“Do you have something to hide that you need your lawyer present?”Clark asked losing his smile.
“I want my lawyer and my daughter present.”
“Do you’ve something to hide?”Clark asked.
“Can you be more specific as I don’t know what you are referring to,” replied Jason.
“Your involvement in your wife’s death,” said Clark impatiently.
“What involvement exactly are you asking about?”
“You assisting and facilitating the death of your wife?”
“I had no role in assisting or facilitating the death of my wife,” said Jason softly.
“You had information on your computer about assisted suicide. Did you help or encourage your wife to commit suicide?”Clarke asked loudly and impatiently.
“I deliver a talk regularly at the old-age home around the corner from my house. The residents asked me to lead a discussion on the merits or otherwise of assisted suicide. You can clearly see the email with the request, and you can see my notes. I did some research. You will also see that I did discuss the models that are available elsewhere in the world of medically assisted suicide, which we did discuss at a second meeting. It was a lively discussion, but I didn’t express a personal opinion.
“As far as your second question is concerned I can only reiterate that I had no involvement in planning, assisting, or facilitating the death of my wife.”
“I see in your will and in your wife’s will that you both express the opinion that you are not to be resuscitated and no active measures are to be taken in the case of catastrophic illness or injury. Did you not view your wife’s condition as catastrophic and you knew she would take action and didn’t prevent it and you deliberately went out that morning to provide the opportunity for her. Did you not collude with her in her suicide? Did you not deliberately stay away from home yesterday to facilitate her suicide?”
“No,” said Jason.
“Is that all you have to say,” Detective Clarke asked sounding quite angry.
“I go out cycling with friends two or three times a week. I go to the gym at least another couple of times. I’m now eighty years of age, and I’ve had a similar exercise routine with small variations of exercise type, since my teens. I also walk the dogs, sometimes for hours at a time. There was nothing unusual about my going out yesterday morning. I’ve gone out on Sunday morning relentlessly, for many years.
“The family was then going out for lunch to celebrate my eightieth birthday. Despite the diagnosis of dementia - which incidentally was mild; though it was clearly progressing - my wife seemed happy the previous day. She went out shopping with my daughter. In the evening she chatted, as was usual. She had never previously talked of suicide, nor had she ever had a suicide attempt.
“She researched whatever she wished, as that was her nature, and was highly computer literate. I would suggest that you have a look on her computer to see if she was planning suicide ahead of time. I’d be very surprised if you don’t find something. She clearly was thinking about suicide weeks ago. Lauren tells me that she asked to have the rope put up on the balcony, three weeks ago. On the one hand, we may say that she simply decided that the rope was a good choice for suicide as it was already in place, but that’s improbable. She didn’t put up the basket for three weeks which is quite unlike her. She’s a very active gardener and never procrastinates. That indicates to me that she was thinking about it ahead of time, though we had no idea what she was thinking about. She was certainly worried about her memory for at least the last three to four months, and she was the one that initiated the visit to the doctor,” said Jason sadly.
“So you knew she was planning suicide?”Clark stated.
“No, I didn’t,” said Jason. “Did you find a suicide note while you were searching the house?”
“Yes, we did, and we are holding it as evidence,” said Clark smugly.
“Then I would like to have a copy,” said Dan, “what did it say?”
“Amongst other things she says that she thanks her husband for all his help over the years, and specially in this trying time. She talks about their good marriage their happy life and how she’s going to miss Lauren, your son and the grandchildren; but believed that it was better that they remembered her as she was, rather than what she would become. I believe, Mr. Kargo, that the help she refers to, is your role in assisting and facilitating her suicide, is that not true Mr. Kargo?”Clark said triumphantly as if he had approved his case unequivocally.
“No,” Jason said.
“Also I see, Mr. Kargo, that you’ve scratches on your arms, can you explain those to me as well?”
“Even I know that you are speaking utter rubbish,” said Lauren sounding very frustrated. “He helped edit papers that she wrote from the time they got together in their mid-twenties. He has a great sense of how to structure a document, and edits and proofreads well. She always appreciated his editing help. What kind of help could he give her to facilitate her suicide? There was nothing to it. She told me she bought the rope at the hardware store. The only person who gave her help was me! I put up the rope, for which I’ll feel irrationally but, I fear, inevitably guilty in the future. She was an active gardener, and had many baskets suspended on wires or ropes. I’ve done lots of related tasks for her over the last fifteen years, as she became frailer, and her balance and my father’s balance deteriorated. I had no idea of her intentions. I don’t even believe that she had decided at the time I put up the rope. My guess is she wanted to have a contingency plan in case she had dementia. What on earth is Dad supposed to have done, and what could he do to be a helper to her death, when she bought the rope and I put it up for her?”Lauren asked indignantly.
“As far as the scratches are concerned, I got them while cycling. I fell and scratched my arm; and yes, I have witnesses,” said Jason tiredly.
“There’s growing and persuasive circumstantial evidence that your father colluded with and assisted your mother in her suicide and I will assemble the necessary information to prove my case unequivocally.
Have you at any time had your wife’s life insured?”Clarke asked.
“Yes, I did have insurance for her life in the past. We cancelled those policies when we became financially independent.”
“Is there anything else that you can tell me, Mr. Kargo?”
“There’s nothing further for me to say, Detective. I await with interest your further conclusions,” said Jason.
The two detectives made their way to their car where they stood and talked animatedly for a few minutes before leaving.
“Jason, I don’t think you’ve anything to worry about, other than the aggravation that I think you are going to have to go through with this idiot. I suspect we won’t be able to sort it out quickly.
“I’m going to have a chat with one of my friends who is a senior prosecutor. That guy is completely off his rocker. There’s no case here, and he’s talking drivel,” said Dan.
“I suspect my friend will say that we need to let the investigation go on a little longer, and let the detective hang himself. I think his partner was far from happy.
“I’m amazed that he’s exactly as the children described him, and he does stink. I think he either has the same tie on as he had yesterday, or he has two ties with egg on them!”Dan remarked incredulously.
“I’m going to your house to pick up Sarah’s computer and I’ll go through it to see what’s on it,” said Dan. “I think I will take a hard drive along with me and copy everything from the drive-in case they take it away.”
“Dad that detective was a real disgusting piece of work. You seemed to take it all quite calmly but I must say I’m really worked up about this,” said Lauren as Dan reversed down their driveway.
“Lauren, at the end of the day, I don’t really care. I’ve had a good life, and that ass has nothing to threaten me with.
“Your mother and I were very close; we’ve had a good relationship since we married in our twenties. We were blessed with you and your brother, and now we have four grandchildren. I’ve enjoyed my work and my career, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my semi-retirement and my hobbies.
“I’ve been feeling very old in recent times. With the stress of what has been happening with your mother, I’ve put on a lot of weight, and I also have type II diabetes. I’ve the beginnings of osteoporosis, and almost no cartilage in my knees. Every morning I wake up and feel innumerable aches in my body. In recent times, I’ve felt that if I died it would be a relief. As you know I’ve had high cholesterol for years, as well as high blood pressure, which has been well controlled, but now fluctuates from normal to low, sometimes with no provocation. I am beginning to fall apart, despite all the medication.
“I relentlessly pursue my exercise, but it’s getting harder and harder. My balance isn’t as good as it used to be, and I’m starting to have some difficulties with climbing hills despite actively doing gym cycling classes. Going up the stairs at home, particularly after a ride, is very difficult; and, as Chuck said, you know I have low blood pressure when I stand or go upstairs. My biggest nightmare is fainting in the bathroom at three o’clock in the morning, and having a fall and breaking my neck or fracturing my skull. I also have terrible arthritis in my neck; probably precipitated by the auto crash I had years ago.
“I can tell you that aging sucks; and then you die. So, if I may get back to the essential point that I’m trying to make, I’m a progressing physical wreck, not far from the end of my life. It’s largely been a good life, and that irritating mass of lard doesn’t scare me at all. I just don’t feel like going through the whole roller coaster that he’s trying to put me on.
“I would like to spend some time on my own mourning your mother. I’m thinking about going down south to our house in Busselton for a few days. Yes, Lauren it may be a risk without you guys looking after me, but if I die so be it. Sarah and I had so many great memories there, together. I feel restless and want to drive. Craig has been delayed to Monday so there is no reason not to go and return Sunday night. I have all my medication and my bag packed,” said Jason.
“Dad, I don’t like the idea and think it’s an unwarranted risk, but please be careful,” Lauren replied.
Jason loved driving. The trip took him a little under three hours, with a brief stop for gas and a cup of coffee. The traffic was light, the weather idyllic and the farms were green and lush. As he neared his holiday home, he stopped briefly to buy some cheese and a bottle of wine from their favorite vineyard. He enjoyed the cool country air and recalled many a happy time visiting with Sarah, drinking wine, and eating a delicious meal at the restaurant. He remembered her sitting and laughing, the wind blowing her silk scarf and fluffing her hair as they sat in the open with a patio umbrella flapping above them. Thinking of the flapping noise brought on a flashback of Sarah gently swaying on the rope and the blind tapping on the window in the wind. He gazed over at the gentle hillside with vines laden with grapes extending as far as he could see them to the horizon and beyond to bring his mind back to pleasant memories.
He felt a sudden rush of tears, turned and stumbled back to the car. He sat with his thoughts, hands clenching the steering wheel tightly for several minutes, before driving off sobbing. The house looked desolate and empty, the sky gray. A faint misty rain began to fall as he carried his small bag to the door, fumbled with his keys, and opened it. He leaned on the door for a few moments as his light headed feeling dissipated and walked into the house. It had a familiar musty smell. He opened the windows and the door leading over the gardens to the sea. He began to sob as he saw the flowers Sarah had lovingly planted. The sea looked as troubled as his mind felt, grey and choppy. He heard the waves impatiently hitting the rocks and washing up the beach. He loved the salty air.
Jason uncovered the furniture on the deck, took out a plate for him and Sarah, the cheese the bottle and a corkscrew then returned for the glasses. He distractedly put Sarah’s plate and glass in front of her chair, realized what he had done and laughed, then cried.
He cut the oozy Camembert one piece for him and one for her. He half filled both their glasses. Jason raised his glass.
“To you my beloved wife, a toast to a great life together, may I join you on your journey sooner, rather than later. Let’s celebrate this last time together.”
He saw the red sun slowly setting, and fluffy clouds scudding quickly across the slowly dimming sky. He felt Sarah’s reassuring presence as clearly as if she was there. He heard the sound of her laughter, and saw the children when they were younger, playing on the lawn. There were so many wonderful memories.
Jason decided to walk along the beach for a few minutes before it got dark. He switched on the outside lights, leaving the wine and largely uneaten cheese on the table.
The sea looked angry with the waves thunderously attacking the nearby rocks. He was out of breath within a few minutes, and decided to return on the path, having to stop twice before getting back to the house. His cell phone rang, and he pulled it out of his pocket.
“Dad, sorry to disturb you. How was the trip?”
“Fine, so many memories.”
“How are you?”
“I’m all right. Sad, mourning; but I’m feeling the presence of your mother. Most of the memories are happy and joyful. Lauren is there a problem?”
“Clarke wants to see you tomorrow morning. Dan has put him off until Monday. He was insistent about how urgent it was. They got to the stage of shouting at each other. Gourley was standing, smirking, behind him. They both simply showed up unexpectedly to see you, and Clarke was furious you were not here. He said you needed to remain in town. Dan told him to screw himself, you were entitled to go where you chose.
“Clarke said you were ‘under suspicion’ and needed to stay in town. Dan is convinced that the man is insane and says there is no reasoning with him. Chuck and Chloe are worried. They heard the whole exchange. Chuck is convinced he is a vampire and almost has Chloe convinced. Chuck has been asking how bullets are made and where silver can be obtained. I heard him and his friend Charlie talking about it.
“I know the type, Lauren, in the end he will lose but it will waste a lot of effort and emotion to handle him. Have a good weekend, I will see all of you on Sunday,” Jason said as he sat pensively at the table picking at the cheese and drinking his wine. He unpacked his bag and charged the phone.
Jason returned before dinner on Sunday, feeling washed out. He went to shower before sitting down at the table.
“Where’s Chloe?”Jason asked.
“The diabetes attacked her, Grandpa. She’s in Princess Margaret. The doctor said she is breaking and all of what has gone on bent her out of shape,” said Chuck seriously.
“Her diabetes has been brittle for some time now, Dad, and they have been evaluating her for a pump. She has been in hospital six times in the last year and is quite unstable. The recent events triggered a bad hypo, and she had a seizure just as we got her to the hospital. They rushed her in, and she was in ICU, but is recovering and is now in a medical ward and appears quite cheerful. She can go to school tomorrow. I will fetch her early from the hospital and take her to school.
“The endocrinologist says that the pump he is waiting for will be out in six weeks and he thinks she should get it. He says she more than meets the criteria now. They are going to monitor her closely while the whole Clarke thing is going on.
Clarke re-appeared looking as obese and disheveled as Jason recalled him to be. The side table was loaded with a hammer and stakes as before. Jason smiled.
“How can we help you, detective?”Dan asked.
“Mr. Kargo you were in the army?”
“Mr. Kargo, you were investigated for seriously questionable conduct were you not?”
“Yes, and I was cleared.”
“Did it involve murder?”
“I can’t say.”
“Your record is heavily censored and redacted by the Army. Do you know why and what were you doing in the army?”Detective Clarke asked as Gourley smirked in the background.
“I was in the SAS. I was involved in covert operations.”
“So, you were involved with assassinating people?”
“Amongst other things,” said Jason impatiently.
“What other things?”
“Walking in the jungle, doing jumps, planning operations, doing surveillance, liaising with our allies, finding targets, setting ambushes, training; and so on. I did all the usual activities that are part of special forces operations. Later, I was primarily involved in operations planning, in Vietnam.”
“Mr. Kargo you first were in the Army?”
“Yes I was for nearly five years,” said Jason.
“I see you were selected to become a lieutenant soon after entry is that correct?”Detective Clarke asked.
“Yes, I entered the Army after University. I was selected to become an officer.”
“I see you were selected for Intelligence?”
“I was selected to join Army Intelligence after training.”
“You were an expert marksman?”
“Why did you join intelligence?”
“I was approached to join intelligence as the situation in Vietnam was deteriorating. I learn languages easily. I learned Vietnamese quickly.”
“You faced an investigation while in intelligence did you not?”
“My record is complete in that regard. Information was being leaked to the Soviets. The agent was found and arrested.”
“Why did you apply for the SAS?”
“I was approached to apply. I was getting tired of a desk-bound job, I was young, idealistic ... and probably foolish, in retrospect, however I am proud of my service.”
“What do you mean?”
“Firstly the training is a nightmare, and that was followed by the even worse nightmare of jungle warfare. You could trust no one. The jungle was dangerous, and the enemy brutal and ruthless. Our allies were infiltrated by the enemy. Knowing friend or foe was nearly impossible. I was fortunate to be promoted quickly and was exposed to less direct face to face conflict.”
“How did you adjust after the war?”
“It was difficult. I still have nightmares about the war and some flashbacks. My wife and my family have been very supportive. It was a difficult time to be ex-military in Australia. I did postgraduate studies to get back into normal life, and then began work. Our children were also growing up.”
“Tell me about your marriage?”
“What do you want to know?”
“Was it a good marriage?”
“It was a good marriage and partnership. There were few downs, mostly it was level or good, often very good. Our families got on well, and had known each other before we married. We had similar backgrounds and views of the world. We largely agreed on most things. We had few financial pressures. Both families were very helpful and supportive. Our children were excellent students and sports mad. I enjoyed my work. Sarah enjoyed her work. I have no regrets, and I have never met anyone else that I regarded as a better prospect. Sarah was a fine wife and mother, and above all a good woman.”
“You were happy to help her?”
“We helped each other. She was an excellent judge of people and unraveled people problems for me. I liked to structure documents and edit them which I did for her.”
“You loved your wife?”
“I did. I wouldn’t describe our marriage as a grand passion. I don’t know that either of us believed there was a perfect person out there and we were it. We believed in making a marriage and a partnership work. It was a loving relationship, and we were very close.”
“Mr. Kargo, to what lengths would you go for your wife?”
“My wife never asked for anything that I wouldn’t do. Her requests of me were simple. She was an undemanding woman, who was fiercely independent. She would never have asked me to help her die. Our medical requests of each other and the family were carefully framed to not allow heroic attempts at medical intervention when there was to be no life quality.”
“You knew your wife well?”
“Yes, I did know her well with some notable exceptions. She could and did hide things from me. She planned celebrations secretly. My sixtieth and seventieth birthdays were examples of this. I had no idea she was planning either event.
“She knew if she told me about her suicide plans, I wouldn’t help her.”
“Mr. Kargo, I believe you knew, but chose not to be present to hinder her.”