Yay. A new short story, first draft, because that’s how I like to post things now. It was developed from an idea that was going to originally be a novel until i realized that there wasn’t enough for that many words. Instead, it’s a little more than 5,500.
FOUR questions at the end. Good luck to me, and thanks to you.
I know the picture doesn’t greatly match the story, but you can’t know that now. Except that I told you.
Andy climbed slowly and steadily up the pine tree in the middle of Branchbrook Park. His camera hung behind him with the strap putting enough pressure on his Adam’s apple to hinder his breathing. Occasional needles tickled their way down the neck of his shirt as sap clung to his hands. Definitely gloves next time, he thought. At roughly seventy feet he found an opening through the drooping boughs wide enough to get a clear shot of a preserve that was overrun with people on weekends but rather desolate on a Wednesday morning.
“Son of a bitch,” he mumbled. With his glasses, he had to worry about dropping them from such a height. Without the glasses, he still had the help of the zoom lens, but even without he could still see that an indistinct car had pulled into the snow-covered parking lot, ruining the shot of the thirty-acre park with a pristine January blanket of white. “Another one,” he said. “How about you just put up a detour and send the whole town through?” he said as his steamy breath dissipated into the cold morning.
Andy sat on one branch as close to the tapered trunk as possible, then rested his chin across his folded arms on another branch. After a sustained exhale, he closed his eyes and cursed not just those two cars but the past two years. It was January two years ago when the managing editor of the Franklin City Times hinted that changes were coming, and the first cuts came not long after. More stories were syndicated from Associated Press, and fewer reporters were on the payroll. More photographs were bought from Getty Images, and fewer photographers were needed. Eventually, nearly everything was outsourced except those who made the decision to outsource. Then, only one January ago, the “paper” became fully digital. Everything from the front page to the obituaries was downloaded, pasted, and uploaded to a server before mass emailing to nearly one million readers who sat on trains with iPads instead of tabloids. Andy and the rest of the art staff were cut, but they weren’t “pasted” until an hour later in the Times Pub down in the lobby. Those had wives were lucky enough to get a ride home while a few took the subway and one took all night in jail to sober up.
Then next morning, when Andy’s wife picked him up at the police station, he knew he would spend countless years working to even just soften the scorn he had so quickly earned. He taught himself to cook her favorite meals, including desserts. He repainted every room in the house and nearly finished off the basement, all except the half bathroom he half-ass attempted. However, he couldn’t stop quietly griping that what was supposed to be a “man cave” was now a “ladies’ night retreat.” Both the 60-inch plasma and himself were supposed to be the focus of Sunday afternoon football. The flat screen was still there, but football was replaced by “chick flick” festivals that featured a door that stayed locked, except when the wife texted him to mix up another pitcher of margaritas.
As the ladies below were hooting and hollering for a shirtless Ryan Gosling, Andy was hollering at himself for stepping in another dog’s droppings while walking their standard poodle in sub-freezing temperatures. Without finding a job soon, there was no way he was going to ask about having a Super Bowl party. Without that snow blanket shot of Branchbrook Park, there was no way he could finish his photo book tentatively called The Parks of Cumberland County. Once finished, he hoped to network and Tweet and Kickstart his project enough to fund enough copies to at least establish himself as something more than just a former City Times photographer. More importantly, he hoped to establish himself as an equal partner in his home and marriage.
“Imagine what we would be dealing with if we more than one kid,” she said more than once. “I’m keeping us afloat, honey, but I need you to help keep me in the right frame of mind. Dinner, weekends, taking care of little Andy. Please just be ready to go along with whatever nutty thing or weekend trip I want to take, okay? Just to keep my sanity with the extra hours I’m putting in.”
“What could I say other than ‘Of course’?” he told his friends. “What could I do other than whatever she asks?” The friends did not disagree, but they also knew they would likely not see Andy very much anymore.
Just as they did not see him, he did not see the car on the other side of the Chevy Suburban that pulled in second and ruined his snow scene. The sun was setting, and also setting was the last light of day that was going to cast a cool blue flood across the snow. Although he had no glasses, he aimed his zoom lens at the two vehicles. He could see the Suburban clearly, a light blue body with a white stripe running front to back halfway down the side facing him, and he assumed the other side too. The other car was too hidden behind the monster of a truck. As he aimed his zoom lens at the vehicles, he could see the truck rocking back and forth.
“Really?” he said. “Sex in the park? Really? You can’t even get a motel room or something?” Andy zoomed in further but the day was too far gone to see anything but windows reflecting the darker sky. What the hell, he thought, and he started clicking away, picture after picture of the truck and tiny fraction of the other car. “Must be kids,” he said, no longer seeing his breath as it was too dark. “Or,” he paused. “Two cars. Cheaters. You bastards. You come here in two different cars because you’re both married. That’s why you’re banging in the park.” He snapped away more. The truck stopped moving.
“Done,” Andy continued his monologue, audible only to himself and the squirrels. “Didn’t last very long, did you, buddy? I’m quick, but I could do better than that. Make sure you smile when you get out of the car.”
He aimed the camera after adjusting for low light. He could barely see the rear door open when he snapped a series of pictures. However, when he adjusted the exposure, he accidentally turned on the flash. Multiple flashes exploded before him with such surprise that he fell backwards and slipped several boughs before grabbing something securely enough to keep from falling. His camera was caught on his chin as he hung sideways, arms trembling, eyes tearing, and underwear now wet from tightening his stomach and diaphragm so much he nearly herniated a disc.
The two people at the truck paused then moved back into their own cars before driving off. Andy could see the red tail lights racing away with a pinkish glow on the snowy parking lot before they disappeared into the night.
“Honey?” asked the surprised Mrs. Pointer, “what happened?” She darted to him as he limped through the back door into the laundry room, then towards the kitchen where little Andy fought to reach the last few Cheerios on his high chair tray.
“I was trying to get pictures of some trees. You know, with the snow falling today, I thought it would look great for the book.” She pulled gently at his coat sleeve as he winced with each tug. “So I was up in a tree to shoot the trees from their level. You know, from the ground you can’t fully see the snow up on all the branches.” He eased into a kitchen chair. “And I slipped.”
“You fell out of a tree?” she blurted. “You could have been killed.”
“I didn’t fall. I started to fall but caught a branch.” He lifted each arm, testing for pain that might have been covered by adrenaline. “It was scary as Hell, tell you that much. I think I pissed myself.”
“Oh, honey, get yourself up in a hot bathtub.” She helped him out of his boots before parking them in the laundry room. “C’mon, upstairs. Hot bath and I’ll have coffee ready when you’re done.” He stood but not easily as turned him towards the stairs up to their bedroom and master bathroom.
“I know, it was stupid,” he said, “but I feel so useless right now. I just think maybe if I can get this book ready, maybe it could lead to something.” He winced with each step, and she winced right with him.
“Forget that for now,” she said. “The overtime pay is really helping with bills. Luckily, my boss has been cool about it. He’s even let me take over things from another building. Those people think the overtime was outsourced. Just don’t know it was outsourced to me.”
“Tell Jerry I said ‘thanks.’ Good thing we got him a really nice Christmas present.”
“It was your idea,” she said.
“Was just laying some groundwork, and he remembered,” said Andy. “That’s how it works. People remember and try to pay you back when they can.”
“Hot bath.” She kissed him quickly with a smile to pick up his heart a little. “Go.” As the sounds of his steps on the stairs faded, so did her smile.
The following morning Andy made scrambled eggs with cheese, put his wife’s laptop and lunch on her front seat, scraped the frost from her windows, and lifted the dog so they could both wave as she pulled away. Shortly after, Andy noticed two things. First, that damage to his camera, though cosmetic, was more than he thought. Second, he had forgotten all about the couple having sex in the truck during the snowfall. With his son still asleep, he quietly returned to his desk.
He popped the media card out of the camera and inserted it into his laptop. A few clicks and before him was a folder with over two-hundred pictures. As he scrolled through the thumbnails, the pictures grew slowly darker and moved from the park entrance, to the playground, and eventually to the thousands of pine trees. More scrolling took him to the height of the tree and eventually the car and truck in the snow.
Andy cropped and magnified several pictures until he accepted they were probably nothing than a memory of his near death experience, but he stopped his finger just a fraction before dropping everything in the computer’s recycle bin. Most pictures were not the greatest of quality due to the distance and low light, but one picture had one small element that the others did not. The license plate of the truck was legible enough that zooming and sharpening gave Andy the numbers and letters.
“NHH 174,” he said. NHH 174. Ain’t that something? Damn yeah it is.
Andy pulled his cell phone from his shirt pocket and texted one of his contacts. Not long after, the reply arrived. Meet you at my house in an hour. He put his phone back in his pocket and turned back to his laptop. He deleted every picture from Branchbrook Park except one and then emailed it to himself.
Andy stood on the front porch, his shoulders hunched up to his neck because he had forgotten his scarf when he left his house. He was looking back at the driveway, specifically the unmarked police cruiser, when the door opened.
“Hey, dude,” a very strong handshake, “how you been? C’mon in?” A big man, head shaved, nearly pulled Andy into the house.
“Dave,” extended Andy, “good to see you. Been a while, I know.”
“We need to get another poker game going soon. Maybe after the Super Bowl?”
“Yeah, sounds good,” said Andy, feeling like a child next to his friend.
“Let’s go in the basement.” Andy followed his bulky friend as they descended a staircase lined with family vacation pictures to the man cave Andy almost had. It was all there: giant flat screen tv, keg machine, L-shaped sofa, wet bar, and pool table. Dave pulled two pint glasses from a freezer, hit the tap, and handed one to Andy. Then he wandered to the pool table where he pushed random balls against the bumpers.
“So,” Dave fumbled, “you need a license plate or something?”
“Address,” said Andy after a long mouthful.
“You know I’m not supposed to.”
“I know. If you don’t want to, then don’t.”
Dave pushed the cue ball into the eight. “Can I ask what you need it for?”
“Not if it’s better that you don’t know,” said Andy.
“So it’s illegal?”
Another gulp. “More like I’m trying to stop something wrong from happening.”
“You sure?” Dave worked on his beer and left the pool table.
“It has nothing to do with you still being out of work?”
Andy searched his thoughts. “I was doing some work. Saw someone doing something wrong, that they could get in trouble for. I just want to warn them not to do it again.”
“Then why not just let me do that?” asked Dave as Andy refilled his glass.
“That’s what I figured.” Dave finished is beer. “I’ll have it for you tomorrow.”
“Text it to me?”
“No way. Not even going to write it down. I’ll tell you once, and if you lose it or forget it, then you had your chance.”
Andy blinked and nearly stepped back. “Really? That’s kind of harsh, isn’t it?”
“Dude. You don’t understand what can happen. I really feel back about your situation. I know it’s tough and your wife is working late and all, but you still have to be careful. I want to help, really, but I don’t want to get involved in anything.”
Andy put the glass on the bar and glanced at the clock. “I have to get home. Where am I meeting you tomorrow?”
“I’ll stop by about six?” Dave said.
“I’ll be there.” He extended a hand. “Thanks. And I appreciate your sympathy.”
Andy looked at his smartphone screen again and again, mumbling to himself.
113 Cleveland Ave
It ran through his head in rhythm while brushing his teeth.
113 Cleveland Ave
As he swept the kitchen floor.
113 Cleveland Ave
And as he made tea for his wife as she sat curled in a blanket watching her soap operas on the DVR. Twice during the show, when she asked his opinion about who was doing what behind whose back at the fictional hospital, he stalled for time by asking, “I’m not sure. What do you think?” When she took a little longer each time for her attention to return to the television, he knew he was likely busted.
113 Cleveland Ave
“Was that Dave I saw driving away when I got home?” she asked.
“Yeah. Was passing by, saw me putting winterizer on the lawn, so he stopped to say hi.”
“You put winterizer on the snow?”
He blinked. “I meant measuring to see how much I need. It’s on sale, and it’s good to put it down when the grass is wet. Soon as the snow melts is the best time.”
She watched. “Oh.”
About an hour after his wife left for work, Andy sat in his car six houses away from 113 Cleveland. The blue and white truck was in the driveway. It was not difficult for him to fog up his windows in the freezing temperatures, and he kept his camera ready. After roughly a half hour, a man who Andy assumed was Mark walked quickly without a coat to the mailbox, fished out a small pile, and hustled back inside.
“You frigging idiot,” Andy said to himself aloud. He found his Google browser on his smartphone and searched the address. Up popped “Kingsway Kleaning. Office, residential, no job too small.” He looked up again to see the truck backing out of the driveway before heading the other direction on Cleveland Avenue. Andy wiped the insides of the windows enough so that he could drive, then drove up behind the blue and white truck. He followed fairly easily because of the size and color, occasionally feeling an anxious moment when a traffic light was turning red. Fifteen minutes later, but an hour from home, Andy and the blue truck stopped in a bank parking lot.
Andy quickly left his car first and headed into the bank. He pulled out his ATM card and intentionally fumbled with the machine to take longer than he needed. Peripherally to his left, a man in a blue workshirt and black workpants strolled by carrying a bucket filled with a few small towels, a spray bottle, and a squeegee. Without a word to anyone, he began working on the glass doors. Beneath the bright fluorescent lights, gleaming directly at Andy, was a wedding ring. He made mental notes.
Good looking guy. Slight facial hair. Receding a little at a young age, but so am I so I can’t knock it. Sandy blonde. Built guy gets a good workout from cleaning offices. That’s good. And now he’s banging somebody on the side when he’s supposed to be cleaning offices at night. Congrats, buddy. Pretty much every other guy would do that if they could get away with it.
Andy had seen enough. Before heading to his car, he lifted a pen from the ATM area and pocketed a few deposit slips. Once behind the wheel, he scribbled a note.
Mark. First, the good news. Snagging a woman in the park last week. I saw that truck of your rocking. Must have been fun. Saw her when she got back into her own car. Very nice. Bad news, you’re wife might find out. It won’t be free for me to keep my mouth shut. I know where you live, so you can’t hide. I have pictures of you and the woman, so you can’t deny it. All you can do is pay up. I have your work email. I will be in touch soon.
Andy kept an eye on the man cleaning the granite countertops of the main teller area as he stepped towards the blue and white truck. He folded the note, placed it beneath the driver’s side windshield wiper, and drove home quickly, hands shaking all the way.
Four days later, the blue and white truck was in Chestnut Park, two towns away from Branchbrook. There were no photographers around this time. When the other car pulled up, Mark unlocked the doors, then slipped into the back seat, and tried to smile.
“What the hell is going on?” she asked.
“Can I get a kiss first?” They did. “Can I get laid first?”
“You really think this is a good time for jokes?”
“Janet, calm down,” Mark tried. “Getting upset won’t help anyone.”
“Really? I shouldn’t get upset?” He pulled her closer as she had left her coat in her car. She parked her head somewhere between his armpit and neck. “A stranger saw us and is now trying to blackmail you for five grand, and I shouldn’t be upset?”
“Yes, because it’s me, not you.”
“But if he knows who you are, it’s only a matter of time before he finds out who I am, and then I’ll get the same email.”
“No. I made him promise he would leave you out of this if I gave him what he wanted, and he agreed.”
“Oh,” she pulled away to face him, “and you’re going to believe a guy who blackmails you? Because he’s so trustworthy?”
“I don’t really have much choice, do I?” She replayed that before settling back against him. “Let me handle this as best I can. I think it can work out.”
“What about us? How are we going to work out?” she asked.
“Well,” he started, “we might have to cool off for a while. Take a break.”
“Dammit, I knew you were going to say that.” She pulled away again. “I know it. You’re going to call it quits on me, aren’t you?” she cried. “Just go ahead. Don’t drag it out. Just dump me now if you’re going to dump me.” She turned her face into his chest as his shirt soaked up a few early tears. He reached around and pulled her closer, then her early tears were followed by late sobs. Her upper body shook enough for him to pull her more tightly and turn his ears slightly away. “We’re done!” She backed against the door of the truck, glaring at him with the whites of her eyes.
“Hey, hey!” he tried. “Relax. Last thing we want to do is panic.”
She pulled her legs against her chest and hugged herself. “No, no. We’re finished. I know it. My husband will find out. I mean, he’s not great, but he’s still my husband. I can’t lose all that.”
“What do you mean?” Mark asked. “I thought we were going to split and be together soon?” He teared up a little. “That’s what we said. Give it a year and then we would break the news to them. Then we can start over again with each other. Isn’t that the plan?”
“But it’s over now. This jerk with the email ruined it all. It’s over. I don’t see how.”
Mark now backed against the other door. “No, we’re not over. We can get through this. I know we can. We’re great together.”
“No, no no.” Janet’s hands were shaking almost as much as the rest of her. “No. My husband probably already knows. This is it. It’s all over. I’m going to lose you, lose him, lose my son, lose everything. Oh, no no. No, please no. I can’t take being alone. I don’t want to be alone. This is wrong. Wrong. Wrong.” She hid her face in her hands, then slid her hands up and pulled at her hair as her face reddened. Mark’s face dropped, and he rubbed at his eyebrows.
“Maybe we should just go home and cool down,” he said. “You’re not losing your family, not losing me. It’s all going to be fine. But go home, spend a nice night with your son and your husband. Have a glass of wine. Watch a movie.”
“See?! I was right!” she cried. “You want me to go back to him. You don’t want me anymore. Son of a bitch, I knew it.” She turned and fumbled for the door handle as Mark now tried to stop her.
“Janet, stop. Janet, listen,” he tried. “Come here. Wait. Calm down.” He fought to keep her in the car, but she broke away, got back into her car, and drove off.
Andy woke up, peeked at the clock, and was surprised not that it was 3 AM but that he was the only one in bed. Although it was still dark, he easily found his slippers and robe. Finding his wife was not as easy. Bathroom, living room, kitchen, son’s room, all nothing, but he eventually noticed a glow beneath the basement door. She was curled up, asleep on the sofa, her cell phone in her hand, a box of tissues near. He looked at the screen where Meg Ryan was arguing with Billy Crystal on a street in New York City.
As he reached for the blanket that had fallen to the floor, he thought about all she had been doing for him. All those nights he hoped, barely hoped to bring her a smile when she trudged in late, her stomach two hours past hungry, hair a mess, eyes worn, but a favorite dish hot and ready on the table, son coached to say the right things, hot bath and foot rub on the dessert menu.
He thought about how much of the word “failure” he embodied. About what must happen in one’s life so that blackmail is an option. About a man, maybe with his own son, and what $5,000 could buy him. About how he himself would react if he had gotten such a threatening email. Then he thought about how polished a product he could create with five grand. About appearing in local bookstores and selling autographed copies. About presenting a special edition to the governor. About this self-produced book could lead to a contract with a publisher.
From behind the sofa he watched his wife in the middle of a much-deserved sleep and contemplated whether to just leave her or lay next to her. Before he could decide, the inactivity timer on the television turned it off automatically, leaving them in complete darkness. Only seconds later, another light and a buzz as her cell phone vibrated in her hand. She snapped awake, appearing as a silhouette to him, head turning quickly as she remembered where she was. She lifted her cell phone to read a text message, replied, then curled up again.
Andy, frozen, weighed options before choosing to wait until he was certain she was asleep again. Then he went back up to his bedroom where he tried to get back to sleep.
“Hey,” said Andy when he caught his wife coming out of the shower.
“Hey. Sorry about last night.”
“I have a meeting this afternoon that I’m really worried about.” She roughed her hair with a towel. “I have someone I have to let go, and it’s really getting to me.”
“I know how he feels,” Andy said.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have mentioned it. It’s just that he’s been really good, but I have to choose between two good people. I can’t keep both, and I know it’s going to crush him.”
He watched as she walked away, towel pulled up a little higher than perhaps she realized. Then she stopped, turned her head, and caught him eyeing her. She smiled, then let the towel fall. She didn’t move, which was enough for him to know an invitation when he saw one. He pushed himself against her from behind, arms reaching around for soft places wanting the feel of hard hands. His teeth found the back of her neck, which then arched and gave him more. She reached back, first with her hands on the back of his head, then reaching back with her whole body against his. But she stopped and spun around, leaving him with only a simple peck on the lips.
“Save that for tonight, mister,” she smiled. “I’m going to be an emotional mess when I get home tonight, and I’m going to need you to help me forget about.”
Andy went back downstairs and poured a cup of coffee before joining their son was watching Sesame Street while munching on a bowl of dry Cheerios. He checked his email through his cell phone, looking both for replies to job applications as well as confirmation, received, from the man who would hand over $5,000.
Noises from upstairs distracted him, something that sounded to him like boxes or things tumbling to the floor. He was about to go upstairs to see if his wife needed help, but the boy accidentally dumped over his cereal, about which the dog was very happy. Andy was happy that the boy was too young to add milk to the cereal on his own. He got up from the sofa when he heard a sound that had been missing for a long time.
“Hey, you need help up there?” he asked, but then changed gears quickly. “Heels?” He smiled. “You haven’t worn those in a long time.”
“Too long,” she said.
“Well, it’s a power thing. If I’m going to fire someone, it helps to feel a little taller.” She buckled her fur-lined coat. “But there’s also a guy who needs some of my attention. And a woman in heels like these usually gets a guy’s eye rather quickly.” He was about to pull her close again, as he had when he caught her coming out of the shower, but she kept him at half-arms length. “Not now,” she said. “I told you to save it until later.”
“Oh, crap,” he said, “I forgot to make your lunch. I’m sorry.”
“No no. We’re all going to lunch today to finalize the list of who we’re keeping and letting go. Don’t worry about it.”
“Okay. Good luck.” A kiss and she was gone.
There was a blue and white truck parked at the Airport Marriot that afternoon. Inside, there was flesh, sweat, and heat wrapped in bed sheets that eventually came to rest on the floor near the window that overlooked the highway and city skyline thirty miles away. Clothes were across the sofa, shoes were near the bathroom, and grunts were echoed and gone. Two wine bottles were empty. Two people, still greatly affected by the wine, were in the midst of a short nap, still on the floor, but one was stirring.
Mark awoke to see a blurry Janet standing unsteadily in only her heels and long coat, open, her naked body leaning against the window with the city behind her. Her smile was the kind he usually saw when she was ready, and she was. He got up on wobbly hands and knees and crawled towards her, increasing her smile to a more devilish twist. Her hands in the pockets of the coat pulled it more open. She inched her legs further apart and watched his glassy eyes moving from her breasts, then lower, then to her glassy eyes, then lower, and again, until he got up on his knees and tasted anything his dry, wine-stained tongue could reach. She put one hand on the back of his head and kept the other in the coat pocket.
As she guided his mouth and angled her hips, she asked, “Are you still paying that guy the five thousand?”
Between kisses, he slurred, “Yes.”
Between moans and sharp breaths, she slurred, “You know that once you pay him, he’s going to keep asking for more, right?”
Between tastes, “Maybe.”
Between tears, “And then that might mean the end of us. After our first anniversary just passed, you’re willing to risk all that?”
Between licks, “Maybe.”
Her one hand on the back of his head pushed his tongue deeper inside her as she thrust herself into his face. Her other hand moved from her coat pocket then to the back of his head, but something was in her hand.
In the parking lot where the blue and white truck rested, people looked up, thinking they had heard something unusual.
Later that afternoon, when Andy heard the doorbell, he moved a little faster than usual because his son was sleep on the couch, still in his pajamas, still with pieces of cereal in his teeth. When Andy saw the unmarked car in the driveway, he immediately expected it to be his friend Dave. Instead, he thought about the number five thousand.
“Yes?” he asked.
“Are you Andy Pointer?” asked the stocky man in a suit and overcoat next to a thinner man dressed the same.
“Yeah, what’s wrong?” He pulled the door closed behind him to keep peace for his son.
“Detective Birch, this is Detective Mills. Can we ask you a few questions?”
“I supposed. What’s going on?”
“Do you know anyone by the name of Mark Hetson?”
“Doesn’t sound familiar, no. Why?”
“He was found dead in an airport hotel today. He was an office cleaner. Windows, floors, all that.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, but what’s it got to do with me?” Andy asked, arms now folded.
“Were you anywhere near the airport or the Marriot today?”
“Anyone vouch for that?” the detective continued.
“My son, inside sleeping. Does a two-year old count?”
“What’s this got to do with me?” Andy asked again, feet fidgeting and neck sweating.
“Mr. Hetson was shot to death.”
“I still don’t understand what – ”
“Mr. Hetson,” the detective interrupted, “happens to clean the office where your wife works. And it seems that Mr. Hetson might have been having a relationship with your wife, Janet Pointer.”
“Are you,” Andy slumped back against the front door of his house, “is. Did.”
“Mr. Pointer, I’m sorry to tell you this, but your wife Janet was also shot to death in that hotel. We have an idea what might have happened, but we need you to come with us. And if you have an attorney, it would be a good idea to give him a call.”
Question 1: At what point, if any, did you suspect that Andy’s wife was also the same woman meeting with Mark in the truck in the park?
Question 2: Did you wonder why I was not mentioning Andy’s wife’s name? If so, that’s the reason – so as not to tip you off that Janet was both the wife and the woman cheating.
Question 3: The goal was for you to focus on Andy being in trouble for the blackmailing, but then it gets flipped, and then you realize he caused his own wife’s death. So he’s free from the extortion charge, but he’s personally guilty of his wife’s death. Did you get to feel that “flip” at the end?
Question 4: For this story to work, you have to accept that Janet was unhappy at home with Andy but unstable enough that she would flip out when faced with the idea of losing both her lover and possibly losing her family if everything was found out. Can you accept that?