"What did she say?"
"She said,'You can kill my husband.'"
"'You can kill my husband!'"
"I knew she didn't mean it. I just thought they'd probably had an argument, and I figured she was leaving for the Cape to cool down."
"Did she often go off like that? Just pack up and leave?"
"Well, Molly likes the Cape; says she can clear her head there. But this was different -- I'd never seen her leave like this, so upset." She looked at Molly, sympathy in her eyes.
"All right, Mrs. Barry, let's go back to that Monday morning, April 9th. What did you do after you'd seen the condition of the kitchen?"
"I went to see if Dr. Lasch was in the study. The door was closed. I knocked, and there was no answer. I turned the knob and noticed it felt sticky. Then I pushed open the door and saw him." Edna Barry's voice quivered. "He was slumped over in his chair at the desk. His head was caked with dried blood. There was blood all over him and the desk and the chair and the carpet. I knew right away he was dead."
Listening to the housekeeper's testimony, Molly thought back to that Sunday night. I came home, let myself in, locked the front door, and went down to the study. I was sure Gary would be there. The door was closed. I opened it....I don't remember what happened after that.
"What did you do then, Mrs. Barry?" the prosecutor asked.
"I dialed 9-1-1 right away. Then I thought about Molly, that maybe she was hurt. I ran upstairs to her bedroom. When I saw her in there, on the bed, I thought she was dead too."
"Why did you think that?"
"Because her face was crusted with blood. But then she opened her eyes and smiled and said, 'Hi, Mrs. Barry, I guess I overslept.'"
I looked up, Molly thought as she sat at the defense table, and then realized I still had my clothes on. For a moment I thought I'd been in an accident. My clothes were soiled, and my hands felt all sticky. I felt groggy and disoriented and wondered if maybe I was in a hospital instead of my own room. I remember wondering if Gary had been hurt too. Then there was a pounding at the door downstairs, and the police were there.
All about her, people were talking, but the voices of the witnesses were blurring again. Molly was vaguely aware of the days of the trial passing, of going in and out of the courtroom, of watching people coming and going on the witness stand.
She heard Cal and Peter Black and then Jenna testify. Cal and Peter told how on Sunday afternoon they had called Gary and said they were coming over, that they knew something was wrong.
They said they found Gary terribly upset because Molly had learned he was having an affair with Annamarie Scalli.
Cal said that Gary told him that Molly had been at their home in Cape Cod all week and wouldn't talk to him when he called, that she slammed down the phone when she heard his voice.
The prosecutor asked, "What was your reaction to Dr. Lasch's confession of this affair?"
Cal said they were deeply concerned, both for their friends' marriage and also for the potential damage to the hospital of a scandal involving Dr. Lasch and a young nurse. Gary had assured them there would be no scandal. Annamarie was leaving town. She was planning to give up the baby for adoption. His lawyer had arranged a $75,000 settlement and confidentiality statement that she had already signed.
Annamarie Scalli, Molly thought, that pretty, dark-haired, sexy-looking young nurse. She remembered meeting her at the hospital. Had Gary been in love with her, or was it just a casual affair that got out of hand when Annamarie became pregnant? Now she'd never know. There were so many unanswered questions. Did Gary really love me? she wondered. Or was our life together a sham? She shook her head. No. It hurt too much to think like that.
Copyright © 1999 by Mary Higgins Clark. Published with permission of the publishers, Simon & Schuster
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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