The Manhattan Murder Mystery (Chapters 1 Thru 3)
James Massaro


(Part 1 The Premise) (Chapter 1) William and Catherine were discussing the Gannon case, whether they should take it or not: 
The gist of the story was this Gannon guy discovered an article online about his 2nd ex-wife’s old roommate who died of a drug overdose; he was starting to think that maybe they were lovers and she killed her. This ties in because:
Gannon had been married twice; his first wife and him had a daughter; she was three years old when they got divorced. Then he married a year later. A year after that, him and his new wife were at their posh apartment in Manhattan. It was late. He had been drinking scotch, about a third of a bottle, and was watching television and was dozing on and off. According to him his wife was upstairs and smoking dope and doing the same, watching television and dozing on and off. His daughter at the time was just shy of five. Later that night they found her in the pool dead: she had drowned. He said they both panicked, thought there was no way they could call the police and tell them that their daughter had drowned while he had a third of a bottle of scotch in him and she was high as a kite. They decided it would be best if he took her lifeless body and buried it in the cemetery out on the Island, and then they would call the police the following morning and tell them there had been a break in and someone had kidnapped their daughter. Gannon placed the body in the trunk of his car and went by himself; they had decided there was no need for both of them to go. On the way to the cemetery, he got pulled over for swerving, and they found his daughter’s lifeless body, and arrested him. He explained what happened, telling the police and the DA his wife had been out, it was all his fault, that he was supposed to’ve been watching her and had one too many scotches and slipped off and she must’ve made her way outside and fell into the swimming pool and drowned and he panicked and that’s why he did what he did. A jury felt he was negligent, among other things, and sent him to twenty years in prison.
A year after he was in prison his second wife and him got divorced and she received pretty close to three million dollars in money and assets. At the time he didn’t think much of it, just signed the papers the lawyers had given him; he was still wallowing in the death of his daughter, and prison life had taken its toll, —and he thought it good to let his wife move on with her life—even though he knew she was partially to blame—but he didn’t really look at it that way—.
After reading the article about his 2nd ex-wife’s ex-lover, how she died, he was starting to think things, though: he wanted William and Catherine to take the case—see if there was anything there—did his 2nd ex-wife’s ex-lover have money?, was it an accident?, and if it wasn’t, is it possible that his daughter didn’t drown?, that she his 2nd ex-wife planned this out and set him up? He told them he had no money, and he tried contacting his first ex-wife to tell her what he discovered, but she wasn’t taking his calls—refused to ever talk to the man who killed her daughter. He wants them to talk to her and see if she’ll foot the bill, and get him exonerated.
William and Catherine were driving back from upstate New York, in the pouring rain, in William’s black Mercedes, from the prison Gannon was in. Upstate New York, driving, it’s like down South, or the Midwest, or West like in the desert, it’s just long stretches of not much, just time to think about things, and one would probably be better off driving by themself so they could ride their train of thought without being disturbed; for certain people, it might even be therapeutic, the quiet landscapes that is.
There had been only one radio station William was able to pick up. They were playing classical, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. William had the volume on low.
They passed a farm in the distance on the driver’s side, and between them and the main farmhouse, there was a rundown shack. It looked ominous, and they were both looking at it, and being lawyers they were probably thinking something like that, and then a chain of lightning struck down close to it.
They both looked grave, like the driving back and forth, and the weather, and going into prison, and now the late afternoon hours, had taken its toll.
They were discussing what they thought of Gannon, how long he had been in prison, when his daughter died, the evidence that night—what it pointed to, when his second wife divorced him—and how it came about ultimately, and even if they thought she had done what he thinks she might’ve—to find evidence that far back, was no easy proposition. But three specific points they heavily discussed, and the reasoning of these three points were going to decide whether William, who ultimately made the decision or not to accept or decline cases, took on Gannon’s request or not. First, what happened to Gannon, even if his second ex-wife hadn’t killed his daughter, Catherine thought twenty years in prison was excessive, that the jury gave him the shaft: William thought Gannon was a piece of shit and got what he deserved. Secondly, why would she have killed his daughter? —She thought of this master plan to kill his daughter to get his money? Catherine had reasons for why (that expounded on what Gannon thought); William was skeptical at best. And the third point they discussed was his wife’s alibi the night of the murder—William thought it logical that she was able to find an alibi a call away—but Catherine disagreed. Their reasoning to these three points were as follows, and more facts came into light, including the prenuptial, and this might’ve been the tipping point in whether William was going to take the case or not: Catherine had put up a strong argument as to why she would’ve killed his daughter, and it had to do with the prenup.

 (Chapter 2) William thought Gannon got what he deserved if his 2nd ex-wife hadn’t killed his daughter. To have polished off a third of a bottle of scotch (in a higher than thou questioning tone), and slipped off, while his daughter had made her way out to the pool, fell in and died? He didn’t say that Gannon got what he deserved, meaning that his daughter was no longer, but meaning the aftermath: he had to be held accountable. He equated it to what would have been the difference if Gannon had polished off a third of a bottle of scotch, decided he ran out of cigarettes or something, and needed to go to the store, and then while driving, he hit somebody and killed them: the difference? Besides the fact that the person he killed wasn’t of the same blood as him or related to him or he knew them: either way, he fell asleep at the wheel, and someone’s dead.
Catherine argued that he was being unsympathetic, the man just lost his daughter. (They held off on the point of how he and his wife tried to cover it up or whether it wasn’t an accident, they were just discussing the point of the child’s death accidentwise.) Catherine continued to argue, what would’ve been the difference if he wasn’t drinking, had put her to sleep, and he was sleeping, too, and she had awoke and made her way downstairs and the same thing happened? He can’t watch her twenty-four seven.
“It’s completely different,” William said. 
“How’s that different?” she said.
“Come on, Catherine, it’s totally different,” he said, “you don’t see that? Besides, one could argue, even if they were to buy what you’re selling, if he wasn’t drunk, if he had just been sleeping, maybe he would’ve heard her get up—and then got up himself to see what was going on. . . .  —How do you think that he’s not responsible? You can’t be serious? He’s got a five year old kid in the house and he’s just polished off a third of a bottle of scotch?”
“I’m not saying he’s not responsible,” Catherine said, “but he obviously didn’t think anything like that was going to happen, and when all is said and done, the punishment should fit the crime, and I think the burden of now living with the fact that he was drunk and his daughter died on his watch was more than enough to satisfy that requirement.”
“Well, I understand what you’re saying, but you didn’t answer my question about what if he had been driving drunk and killed somebody? So you just wanna let him off because he happened to be related to the person? That’s a fine line.” 
Catherine realized that William was being repetitious, knew they had had a long day, and when long days start to take their toll, the mind starts to wander. They weren’t arguing or anything like that, on the contraire, they were very relaxed, tired, but relaxed, taking in the rain and the long stretches of landscape; they were just saying, throwing questions out there: none of the questions had any force to them ( . . . though William’s questions seemed just a tad at times to be trying to paint Catherine into a corner, but not as much as they might’ve seemed). (When it came to throwing around questions, between the two, it was just like a friendly game of tennis, an easy back and forth. They both knew, anybody who played hardball, or tried to paint other people into corners, or tried to grill people, had character flaws, because they both knew there were always points that were overlooked, or askew lines of reasoning that branched off and weren’t addressed correctly because they seemed inconsequential at the time, or in most cases there was just an overabundance of information that no person could’ve possibly known about or fully processed without having overlooked something.)
“I’ll have to think about it,” Catherine said, “you do have a point, but I feel as if in this particular case—” (and she ever so slightly emphasized the word particular, knowing that William knows each case should be based on its own merit, you can’t just have one law and it applies to everything: each law has currents, and subcurrents, and you have to ride that particular current or subcurrent of that law for that particular case . . . awakening William up from his tiredness: and when she emphasized the word particular, the way William sort of came to, was like he knew what she was talking about, and he was kind of like a dog  that thinks a person is coming up to their house, maybe sticks his head up from his sleeping place in the living room or wherever—William wasn’t so obvious as that, but he awoke, knew his mind was wandering, and maybe Catherine had a point: he wasn’t the type of person who just tried to get his point across, he listened and was willing to see other points of view, especially Catherine’s, who he always gave weight to, or in the very least, didn’t let it go in one ear and out the other—he entertained whatever she said, however farfetched—not that what she was saying was close to far-fetched), “—compassion or empathy or whatever word you’d like to use, in its purest form—full blood—not watered down, in this particular case, supersedes the accountability you’re attaching to continuity, the continuity of treating everybody equal, everybody who’s fallen asleep at the wheel, for whatever reasons.” Then Catherine looked at the window on her side and was watching several raindrops race down the window. William didn’t answer her, he knew she was right, each case is different, and then he kind of, ever so slightly, twitched his head to the left a little, maybe thinking, okay, I’ll concede the point for the time being.
Then they began to talk about why Gannon’s 2nd ex-wife (current wife at the time of the drowning), why would she have killed Gannon’s daughter? William was having a hard time swallowing Catherine’s cooking on this one!

(Chapter 3) When the two of them met Gannon and spoke to him in prison, they didn’t ask a lot of questions of him, they just listened. There were multiple reasons why they did this, but one of the reasons was because William, from experience, knew to argue or ask questions of a fanatical person or a liar, was just a waste of time.
Gannon said that he now thinks his 2nd ex-wife killed his daughter to get his money. At the time, when he was saying this, when William thought about it, it made no sense, so he didn’t bother asking Gannon anything. And when Gannon said that, Catherine looked at William, and he noticed the look: it was one of those looks that said, yes, we’re thinking the same thing. So neither did she ask any questions, either.
It should also be taken into account, when Gannon was talking to them, he was mumbling under his breath, and what it sounded like was I don’t trust anybody. He kept repeating it, I don’t trust anybody. I don’t trust anybody. I don’t trust anybody. 
Later, William and Catherine found out Gannon had been taking medication for depression, multiple medications; he just seemed unsound and confused: it was a difficult proposition. And he kept mumbling under his breath, and this is maybe where, and most likely, Catherine came up with her argument; he kept mumbling, she knew she could break me, she knew she could break me. She’s smart. She’s smart. (And all Gannon’s responses were like this, they were broken and soft spoken and in riddles.)
When William and Catherine left the prison, as they were walking to William’s car, you could see the wheels of Catherine’s mind turning, she was thinking things. But William seemed disinterested, and at one point, he smirked, just slightly, maybe he was thinking, Christ, people let that guy manage their money.
They passed another farmhouse in the distance, on Catherine’s side, and between them and the farmhouse, there were three gigantic windmills, their arms spinning madly. William took no notice. Catherine had on her long platinum chain, the one with the big platinum cross: the cross was the size of her hand, a little bigger. She was massaging it, unconsciously with the fingers of her left hand. Then she took off her black suit jacket, was in a white blouse, and by the neck of the blouse, there was a small black tie, like the shape of that pink ribbon they hand out for breast cancer: Catherine took it off. If up close enough, the silk blouse she was wearing was see-through of sorts, and she was wearing a lacy white bra underneath. William had taken off his suit jacket and tie before they had entered the car; he threw them into the trunk, and when he threw them in, there looked to be six or seven suit jackets and ties and drycleaning of suits all over the place. And when he got into the car, he took off his watch and placed it in the center console; his sleeve bottoms were unbuttoned but not turned up: and he was wearing a white t shirt under his starched white dress shirt.
Catherine asked him, “why is it unreasonable?” She had posed the scenario, Gannon has this prenup, she gets little to nothing if she is the one who divorces him, or if they get divorced because she was the one to blame for whatever reason. (The prenup was almost one hundred pages, and they hadn’t looked it over yet, so Catherine was generalizing about what she knew of others.) So to get at least half of what he has, she has to get him to divorce her, so she has to break him somehow?
“I understand what you’re saying,” William said, as he lowered the volume on the radio. It was so low it was now hard to recognize what song was playing. Then he said, “the first part that is, but you’re telling me, to break him, she decided to kill his daughter?”
“She wants the money,” Catherine said, “the only way to get it, break him; she kills his daughter, making it look like it’s an accident; figures he’s going to fall into a pit of never-returning depression, and while he’s down there, she works her magic. Over the course of months, maybe she gets him to think it would be best to get divorced. Maybe she starts to tell him, ever so subtly, she can’t live like this, she didn’t sign on for this, and maybe he thinks she’s right, and maybe he thinks she didn’t really do anything wrong, and maybe he thinks she’s entitled to something, which sort of ultimately happened.”
“That’s a pretty elaborate scheme,” William said. “I don’t know if I buy into it.”
“Why not?” she said.
“What about the whole fact that they tried to cover it?” he said.
“Who knows,” Catherine said, “maybe that was her plan, have them cover it up, he buries her in the cemetery, weeks or months later, as the investigation is taking place, she puts in an anonymous call, says something like I think I saw that Gannon guy burying the kid in the cemetery that night, the police check it out, they find the body, next the media and people on the web  are calling him a child molester and a murderer, he goes to prison for life, and she’s done nothing wrong. —I can’t believe it says anything in the prenup about child molestation and murder . . . she gets what she wants. But what happens is, a snag hits, as we’ve seen, he’s pulled over for driving drunk and the police and the DA buy his story, but he still has to serve time. Either way for her, it plays into her plan, break him; and you saw him, that’s a broken man who ain’t getting pieced back together for a while. Or, who knows, I don’t think this, because of her alibi, but maybe she killed her, and the cover up wasn’t planned, it was spur of the moment that night—she just thought the depression and medications over the months would do the job. The whole cover up and prison was a bonus, an elixir.”
“You really think she’d do that and think it’d work?” William said.
“For one point five to three million dollars, I wouldn’t put that past anybody; and whether she thought it was going to work or not, I don’t know: maybe yes, maybe no: and maybe no, and she thought what do I have to lose? And to be honest, I’d have to think she thought it would work: I mean, your child drowns while your drunk, that would have to eat away at anybody’s sanity.”
“And you think she thought she was going to get away with it?” he said.
“It’s not like books and movies, isn’t that what you always tell me?” she said. “I can’t think what she was thinking, at some point, reason fades away and a type of thinking only known to psychos takes place.”
William sort of was staring out the window, on his side, nodding yup, it’s possible, but it’s a stretch. “I’m not sure, Catherine,” he said, “Gannon has no money, I doubt his first ex-wife is going to be receptive; she’s gonna say he’s got every reason to be full of it to get out—“ 
Catherine interrupted him, “Why? He gave away all his money, why would he now wanna get out and be poor?” 
—William had an answer, and said, “if she’s as bitter as I think she’s going to be, she’s going to say, good, he has no money, too, fuck him!” Then he continued and said, “Catherine, he divorced this woman, and then he was drunk and her only daughter died, she ain’t gonna give a shit about him, and you’re not taking into account, we can’t just go pointing the finger at his 2nd ex-wife with no proof, so we’d have to tell his first ex-wife, we think somebody murdered your daughter, and when she asks how do you know this or where did you come up with that, we have to tell her your crazy, broke ex-husband told us, and we can’t tell you who we think did it, but do you mind giving us a signed blank check? How do you think that’s going to work out?”
“So it’s about money?” she said. Catherine didn’t repeat the question she had interrupted William with—she had been slightly nodding no that she wasn’t satisfied with William’s answer—that she felt her question was strong—why would he give away his money and then ask his first ex-wife to help him out?—unless new evidence had surfaced indicating what he was saying, and how could you be so sure that his first ex-wife would be so angry still? (which she thought was possible), and that she wouldn’t listen to reason? —and wouldn’t wanna get the killer of her daughter if it wasn’t an accident? Catherine seemed like she thought what William had said made sense: she knew plenty of women who were divorced and wouldn’t mind seeing their ex suffer for all eternity, but she thought her point superseded that.  Either way, maybe because of the long day, the line of reasoning from that back and forth branched off and digressed: William never really gave Catherine the answer she wanted to hear, or was totally satisfied with. 
“It’s not just about money, Catherine,” he said, “but that is part of it; your salary doesn’t just fall out of the sky you know.”
“You’ve taken other cases, no charge,” she said, “is it because you think he deserves what he got?” She was wrong, William had changed gears on that point prior: if she had been looking at him and not watching the rain fall she might’ve realized she had swayed him. William wasn’t thinking about that question or the question she had previously interrupted with that he didn’t really answer correctly, he was kind of taken back by Catherine: she was sort of calling him out. It was like going to dinner with one of your cheap friends or relatives, sort of hoping they’d finally pick up the bill for once, insinuating something. If it was up to Catherine, she’d take everybody’s case free of charge: Alms for the Poor: she was like some type of awful character from a bad law thriller, how the lawyers were always poor and strapped and were making these great sacrifices, and taking on these David versus Goliath types of cases, her being David of course. But for William it wasn’t like being in a book or a movie, it was reality, and he was like the poor sap relative who got sucked into another one of his younger brother’s or younger sister’s bad business deals, just signed on because they were related, knew deep down it was a bad move, but if they had said no, that person would be pissed, and deep down, they knew they could take the hit, so rather than having said no, they said, I’ll take the hit, entertain this fool’s dreams for a little while, give them something to cling to, and in the worst (being sarcastic), who knows, maybe that million to one shot ‘ll pan out, but probably not, and in all eventuality, I’ll ve probably just burned up more money—where they’ve really lost nothing. Or it was like Catherine was a younger sibling who William always lent (gave) money to, knowing he’d never see it again, and he couldn’t say anything, because that was just the type of person he was, he just had too much character to push the point, but sometimes, she really was asking for too much—.
“That’s not it, Catherine,” he said, not knowing what he even answered to; he was still thinking about her sort of implying he was all about money.
She realized she had maybe stepped over the line and then stopped talking for some time. Then after some time, they started talking about how Gannon’s 2nd ex-wife so easily came upon an alibi.



Copyright © 2012 James Massaro
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