“Petra can’t be forced to be a witness at my trial. She’s my wife.” Robert took a long drag on the cigarette Margil handed to him from across the table. The guard watched closely from across the room, but allowed the exchange of cigarette and words between Robert and his lawyer during the ten minutes allowed on this prison visit.
“She ain’t your wife Robbie–she’s his wife, ain’t she?” Margil brought him back to the present, then followed the question with a raucous hacking cough. Still, he took another drag off the cigarette, watching his old friend and client. He was exploring every avenue to try and help him but he was running out of options.
“Then drag her in here!” Robert stood quickly, upsetting the folding chair. The guard took a step in his direction but he held his hand up that he was done, setting the chair to rights and sitting back down. He lowered his voice, leaning forward over the table. “Bring her in to testify. Bring her in here first, so we can find out what she’ll say. She knows the truth. She knows that I didn’t kill her aunt Sadie. Hell, I never killed nothin’ but time.”
He sat back. He looked defeated already.
“Can’t find her Mack. I can’t find her anywhere.”
“The pub, the casino? She’d never go this long without placing a bet.”
“I’ll be back. I’ll find you something Robbie. Can’t do no less for your father’s boy. I’ll find you somethin.”
Margil left, hat in his hands. Once he was out of Robert’s field of vision, his face took on that same defeated look Robert’s had.
Petra spent a few days in jail sitting out the bigamy charge until Mr. Perkins sent a lawyer to pay the bail and bring her home. By then she was steamed and ready to be done with Perkins and let him rest in Aunt Sadie’s grave. She certainly wasn’t there. But there were too many details and everything was set. She would not blow it now. Mr. Perkins–husband, benefactor, multi-millionaire. No. She was in this for the long haul.
“This isn’t the way home.” The driver was silent and Petra knocked on the window that separated front seat from back, then slid it over.
“You hear me? This is the wrong way.” Her Czech accent came out especially prominant when she was losing her temper.
“Boss says it’s not safe.”
“Then where the hell….”
She looked out the window and watched the markers and signs go by. The airport. He had thought of everything. She picked up the phone.
“He said to disconnect the phone ma’am. Not safe.”
Something in her belly turned. She did not recognize the driver.
“What is your name?”
“Will he be there at the airport?”
“No ma’am. He will meet you there.”
“Where’s there?!” In spite of her words spitting out of her like nails, the driver’s demeanor never altered. He lifted up the folder with the airline ticket in it, and with his thumb he opened it so that she could read it. She tilted her head. Monaco! She sat back and smiled.
“Thank you, Alphonse.”
She could really use a holiday. She’d earned it, hadn’t she? Did everything Perkins told her to do, all the dirty work, and got Sadie’s life savings and insurance to boot. It’s amazing what a good washerwoman could put away when she did not spend any of it. The stories she told were of a very opulant childhood, everything she could ever want. That was when she had started cooking up the idea to relieve her of her inheritance.
The flight was 12 hours, give or take, but Petra did not sleep. She wouldn’t sleep until she was with Perkins and knew that she wasn’t walking into the arms of the FBI or interpol. At the airport, he had thought of everything, and she once more trusted her life with an unknown driver. Deposited at the Hermitage, she walked the short red carpet from car to door, barely looking at the doorman when he opened it for her. Everything was working out.
The private elevator brought her up to the penthouse suite, opening up to Mr. Perkins with his arms open.
“Darling!” He did not embrace her. But that was normal for him. He did have a box in his hand with a huge red ribbon across it.
“Of course, my darling. You earned it.”
He filled her arms with the box and checked his watch.
“Meeting in five minutes. Meet me by the pool for drinks and dinner. I’ll be there at 9 o’clock. Wear something new. Everything is in the closet.”
And he was gone, before she could reply.
“Oh Aunt Sadie, you said you would do everything for me. You have kept every promise.”
She opened the box and whipped out the mink coat with a flourish. Laying it over the bed, she laid on top of the coat and fell asleep quickly. Outside the hotel, Perkins lit a cigarette and stood in his tuxedo, overlooking the grounds. His plans to do away with Petra were not going to be easy to execute. But she had done her job, and now it was time to silence her.