Over the weekend I read a suspenseful book that I downloaded free to my Kindle.
Then one day you’re driving your children home and you see that there are all kinds of activity on your street. Police cars, neighbors milling around.
You slowly edge closer and see that a car has veered off the curve and plowed right into the side of your garage.
You start to get out of your car when an officer rushes up to you. You tell him it’s okay, that this is your house. And the officer reaches toward his gun.
Your heart starts racing. You have children in the backseat. Can’t the officer see that?
The officer tells you to raise your hands and not to move quickly.
This is crazy, you’re thinking. He’s mistaken somehow.
You get out and the officer roughly turns you around and begins to put handcuffs on you.
The neighbors are abuzz. Your children, still in the back seat of your car, watch this humiliation in horror.
Then you look over and see that your husband Mel is also in handcuffs.
As you get your bearings and finally look straight at the hole in the garage beyond the car that crashed into it, you see a young woman hanging there.
You scream. This is when your nightmare existence begins.
You keep telling the authorities that you hadn’t parked your vehicles in the garage for years. That Mel had taken it over as a workshop. He kept it locked because he said his tools were very expensive.
You never questioned him.
They don’t believe you. You go to jail.
Your mother has to come from out of state to get your children. You are tried as an accessory.
The press and whodunits and crazies dub you “Melvin’s Little Helper.” You get hate mail and threats.
People can’t believe that you didn’t know what he was doing all this time in his garage/woodworking shop. They believe you helped him kidnap and kill those innocent women.
Finally, finally, you are exonerated. Hate abounds everywhere you go. So you go get your children and go into hiding.
You and your children have to pack light and continue to flee when someone online manages to find you. You have to keep changing your names. You can’t put down roots.
The world, as you knew it, is destroyed. Your now ex-husband sits on death row. And many, especially the families of the victims, think you deserve the same fate.
Mel sends you letters. No matter how much you run, he somehow manages to find you.
You see through him now. His diabolical pathology is on full display. You hate him and wish him dead because you know he will never leave you alone for one reason.
And that reason is that they only had him for the murdered woman hanging in the garage.
But after you were exonerated, you came across evidence that there were more victims. And you turn your discovery over to the police.
That put him on Death Row, and he’s never going to forgive you for that. He will
find a way to get even. You don’t know how he does it, but from inside his cell he manages to taunt you, laugh at you, threaten you.
And there’s nothing you can do because it would draw attention to where you
are with your children.
You question yourself. How was it you didn’t suspect anything?
As you think back, you realize Mel kept a tight rein on you. You were complacent and thought it was his intense love for you.
And now you know you were a fool.
Mel (Melvin) had inherited money when his parents died, and once you were out of jail, you’d found it hidden away in his garage of terror.
It was probably his fail safe means of escape had the car not plunged into the garage and he hadn’t immediately been arrested.
You didn’t tell the police or investigators. That money has become the means of your own escape.
After moving every few weeks or months, you find yourself driving through a town that somehow beckons to you.
You think of your suburban home where you’d lived what you thought was an idyllic life.
But after Mel’s crimes came to light, it was trashed so many times that finally the city
demolished it and created a small park in memorial of Mel’s victims.
A cheap house needing a lot of work is for sale right on the lake. Stillhouse Lake. Part of
you knows not to put down any kind of roots. The other part of you knows that your children deserve a real home.
You are so tired of running when the internet trolls catch up with you. Your children are traumatized over and over again.
You part with some of your cash and buy the house. It is in bad condition and you and the children work to make it livable.
You took shooting lessons while on the run. After buying the house, you acquire a gun permit. It makes you feel a bit safer.
You’ve learned the hard way that staying on your toes is your only means of survival against a world that will never believe you were innocent.
You are no longer the woman who believed her husband was working on his woodworking hobby while you and your children went about your lives. You are a warrior now.
You install alarms and use every means available to you to turn your home into somewhat of a fortress.
A year passes in your new home. Your children begin to make friends. Your son and daughter seem happier.
Then a woman is found dead in the lake near your house. And then another.
And the police figure out who you are and who you were married to.
These women were killed by the same methods Mel used. The nightmare starts all over again.
The police believe there’s no way your proximity to the lake or the way in which the women were killed is a coincidence.
And you begin to fight for your freedom and your sanity all over again.