It was a horrific sight. While having a Martini Monday happy hour chat with her friend Ramona, Carol and her friend’s laughter quickly faded to screams.
Ramona’s husband was difficult, to be generous. He was the star football player she swooned over in high school and they married young. But during her medical school training, she slowly realized that his bruised ego would never accept her intellect or success.
“He always tells me what to do. Even when it comes to medicine, he actually thinks he knows more than me. I guess he reached his peak in high school and can’t deal with me eclipsing him,” Ramona confided to Carol.
Over the years, Carol saw their relationship deteriorate through Ramona’s accounts and with her own eyes. Arguments, snide remarks, it was a battle of wills with no winner. Until that day.
Ramona’s husband Jeff came into the room, interrupting Martini Monday.
“Where’s dinner? I work hard and want my dinner when I get home,” he barked.
“Great—make it or buy it. I’m drinking my dinner,” she laughed sarcastically without looking at him.
But Carol saw his eyes turn red with seething pent up rage. He went over the cabinet and grabbed a heavy cast iron pan and slammed down on the table in front of her, shattering her martini glass. Shards of glass flew everywhere and one landed in Carol’s arm. It was a small piece of glass, but it broke the skin as dribbles of blood coursed down to her elbow.
Ramona’s face turned purple.
“That’s it. I’ve had enough of you,” Ramona screamed, picked up the cast iron pan and crashed it on top of his head with all her might, knocking him to the floor.
Carol stood there in shock and horror.
“Oh my god! Is he dead?” she said, panting in terror.
Ramona remained silent with the pan still clutched in her grasp.
“Ramona!” Carol yelled.
Leaning down, Ramona checked his pulse and looked at Carol.
“He’s dead,” she said devoid of emotion.
“Dead? What? Oh. No,” Carol said near hyperventilation, while Ramona pensively stared down at her dead husband.
“Don’t worry, I know what to do,” she said coldly and calmly retrieved her medical bag.
While Carol stared in confused terror, Ramona cut scratches on his arms and leg, tore some of his clothing and bandaged his head.
“Help me get him into bed,” Ramona smiled.
Carol helped her get him into bed, but she was puzzled at the reason. She said he was dead.
“Just forget about this. Now let me patch up your arm,” Ramona grinned at her with wide eyes and squeezed Carol’s hand.
She sat holding her fear while Ramona removed the glass, stopped the bleeding, cleaned and wrapped the wound with steadfast proficiency.
“Thanks. I better go now,” Carol mustered a fake composure and walked out the door. But as soon as she was on the other side, she ran to her car and quickly drove away sobbing and frightened.
She couldn’t report this or Ramona would know. But how could she witness a murder and say nothing?
Two days went by and Carol was a complete wreck. Her emotions on the edge of a precipice, she walked on eggshells waiting to hear something, anything.
She tried to maintain her daily routine and went to her weekly club bridge game. As soon as she entered the room, she heard the buzzing of the busybody bees rumor mill.
“It’s just awful,” one said.
“Can you believe he died,” another remarked.
She walked through the room listening but avoid anyone’s gaze, wondering if Ramona confessed.
When she reached her foursome, they were discussing Jeff.
“Did you hear about Jeff?” Barbara asked the others.
“Just goes to show, you need to let the professionals handle these things,” Margaret said.
Carol was confused, as she was for much of the last 48 hours.
“What do you mean professionals?” Carol asked.
“Oh you didn’t hear? Jeff was trying to trim the tall palm tree in the front of their house and fell off the ladder into a bush below and cracked his head open on a rock. He’s dead,” Janet explained.
“I heard Ramona just thought he had a concussion, but he died in bed of a brain bleed. There was no way to know, even for a doctor.” Barbara added.
Carol’s eyes widened. Everything she saw and knew immediately raced through her head, trying to piece it all together. Ramona made cuts to look like he fell in the bush and then told everyone it was an accident. At first, she admired the cleverness of her scheme. She knew what to do and thought of everything to get away with it. He was always fussing with the landscaping, a lot of men did, so the story was completely believable.
Carol fumbled through the card game and went home. She turned on the TV so the noise would drown out her worry, but she couldn’t help thinking about it. If Ramona got away with it, was she in the clear? If you witness a crime and don’t say anything, does that make you an accomplice? The only thing she did was help her move him.
“I helped her move him!” Carol gasped. “I am an accomplice.”
Days went by with difficulty as her mind’s picture of the attack haunted Carol. She couldn’t sleep or eat as the images kept appearing before her eyes. Then she felt sick and soon found herself in the hospital.
The doctors told her she was suffering from an infection from the glass wound and put her on a course of antibiotics.
“You need to remember to disinfect wounds like this. I’m glad we caught it. This could have been much worse if left unattended,” the doctor explained.
The doctor’s words “infected wound” rang in Carol’s ears.
She thought Ramona took care of it. Did Ramona do it on purpose to remove any threats to her coverup?
No, Carol thought. Ramona wouldn’t hurt her. This was a justified crime of passion and he pushed her too far. He was a horrible person.
The more she thought, the more paranoid Carol became. Sitting alone in the hospital, she created fanciful and dastardly scenarios pegging Ramona as a criminal mastermind pent on cleansing her trail. She became so harried with pale skin and skyrocketing blood pressure, the doctor ordered some sleeping pills to induce rest.
As she awoke in a groggy state part in and out of consciousness, she saw Ramona standing over her, calmly smiling.
“Everything’s going to be fine. I know just what to do,” Ramona said and Carol slipped back into unconsciousness.
The next morning, Carol was found dead in her hospital bed.
“The infection must have been worse than we thought and caused multi-organ failure. Her diabetes and age were contributing factors. At least she didn’t suffer,” the doctor told the nurse.
(c) Suzanne Rudd Hamilton 2022