Jack wasn’t much of a religious man. He hadn’t been inside a church since his third and last wedding. Look how well that turned out. His wife had breathed a long, measured sigh of relief as she descended the courthouse steps. Their divorce was final. ‘Irreconcilable differences’ was the official cause listed on legal documents. Did she really know the man she married? Who was Jack Prime? Was he capable of murder?
Their love story had begun ten years earlier having met at the birthday party of a mutual friend. Jack’s strong good looks and piercing blue eyes caught Katherine’s attention immediately. Her dainty, doll-like features, ivory skin and jet-black hair had cast a spell over him. He’d recently graduated from the University of Texas and was determined to live the American Dream. He shared his hopes of starting his own business and grabbing onto the opportunities Houston could offer.
His optimism an d fortitude were exciting and very attractive to a young girl who grew up in a large family fighting for food and wearing older sibling hand me downs. She also felt the exhilaration of a shared vision for success. Two years after the couple married with the blessings of their parents, relatives and friends their future looked bright.
Jack’s business began to take off, and almost exactly a year later, their son, Alan was born. By all outward appearances, the couple lived a fairy tale life. However, behind closed doors life in the Prime household was less than perfect. Dealing with the ongoing issues of running a small business took its toll on their relationship. Tensions increased between the newlyweds. Family friends witnessed Jack’s increasing verbal abuse toward Katherine and his paranoia. He was not the Prince Charming she’d imagined.
His blushing bride was not the perfect woman he envisioned, either . Their ho me in Friendsood was a stunning, modern, three-story structure on the outside, but it was always an unkempt, cluttered disaster inside. Her friends described Katherine as increasingly listless and bored with the life of a housewife.
Each year of marriage found them drifting further apart. Finally, Katherine found the love she longed for in the arms of another man, prompting her to file for divorce. Jack was incensed that she’d claimed to fall in love with a man who was not only outside of their shared nationality, but also outside of their race.
The final straw came when Katherine received full custody of their five-year-old son. That may have been what threw him over the edge. Watching for his ex-wife to come home from a hot date with a lover boy, Jack decided he’d had enough of the games she often played with his heart.
A fast trip to Freeport that night had him muttering every prayer he could remember. As the Corvette drove up the house Jack was now paying for, his rage boiled over into an insane urge to hurt them badly. His ragged nerves danced up the back of his neck and down to his extremities. Growing more acquainted with obsession; Jack had taken all possible precautions to a void suspicion. If it had been broad daylight, his attire and Chevelle would have been a beacon to law enforcement and average citizens alike.
Jack was cloaked in a black hooded sweatshirt, recently purchased from Target. He had it zipped to the throat with the hood drawn tight over his head, even though it was mid- August and sweat rolled down the back of his neck. As luck would have it, the car air conditioner had run out of Freon two days previously and now blasted warm air directly at Jack’s flushed face. He was too centered on his mission to notice.
The ultimate accessory of his deadly attire were shady, wrap-around sunglasses, despite the fact that it was 2 a.m. on a back street. Jack’s Malibu had been ingeniously altered for the trip as well. Several of the numbers on his license plate were replaced with mailbox stickers. Of course, the replacements weren’t an exact match to the letters and numbers on his original plate.
They were slightly askew, showing they’d been applied in haste earlier that evening. Nevertheless, Jack felt secure in the fact that he could not be traced. He let ‘Romeo’ leave, and then got out of the car to approach Katherine. She looked startled. “You’re under a restraining order! Get away from me! I’ll call a cop!”
Jack laughed. “Do that if you can make it to the front porch.” He took her in his arms, kissed her twice and then punched her on the jaw. Blood dripped down her chin. Katherine’s eyes rolled up into her head. A babysitter Gladys Renfro stared out the window seeing him take her. As he tied Katherine up and put her in the trunk of his Malibu, Gladys was already calling the police. He ranted, beating his fists on the car dashboard in anger.
Jack hadn’t meant to hit her. Taking the bitch with him was a last resort to appease his madness. Katherine was awake and kicking the trunk lid from the inside. Now, if she’d just stop her yelping! You’d think she was sitting next to him, not tied and gagged in the trunk. Thank God they were alone on the highway. No one would hear her. Just a few more minutes, and he would be rid of this experiment gone badly. He started to search frantically for a spot to deposit his liability. Nothing but woods and darkness surrounded them. He couldn’t leave her here.
What if she died in the forest? He had no intention of adding murder to his rap sheet. Jack knew he’d soon be reaching Surfside. The sign he passed a few minutes ago said it was only five miles ahead. He was so close and searched a gas station or deserted shop front, where he could drop her to run. But it had to be out of sight. He could not, would not be discovered. Too much was at stake. Headlights appeared in his rear view mirror.
Jack slammed his fist against the steering wheel. His breathing quickened. He could taste the salty droplets of sweat that appeared on his upper lip. He slowed down to exactly the speed limit, just in case the luminescent circles barreling down on him belonged to a highway patrol car. Lights of Surfside beach popped up through the trees as he rounded the crest o f the next hill. He was so close. Katherine’s kicking feet battered dents in the Chevelle’s trunk lid again and again. The noise increased. Jack slowed the car to 35 M.P.H. He checked his rearview mirror. The lights behind him belonged to a large, red, Chevy truck. At least it wasn’t a cop.
His Chevelle reached the first stoplight in town, just as the truck, complete with gun rack clamped to its rear window, caught up. They sat side-by-side waiting for the timed red light to change in an otherwise deserted intersection. Two men in ball hats laughed together and spit brownish streams of chew juice out their open windows. Katherine screamed and kicked at the trunk, throwing Jack into a state of panic. The man on the passenger side of the Chevy glanced over at him.
Jack instinctively re ached f or the radio and tried desperately to find a station. The first one he landed was classic country. Perfect he fumed, his absolute least favorite genre. He cranked the melancholy tune, glancing sheepishly in the direction of the men in the truck. Both red necks now stared blankly at Jack.
‘Do something, do something, do something’ kept running through his head like an electronic information board. He smiled at the men through the window and started to lip sync along with the song he had never before heard and had no intention of ever listening to again. Lyrics to country songs were predictable and repetitive. By the end of the first chorus, he had a pretty good idea of the words and was singing along with gusto. The man in the passenger side of the truck nodded to Jack in approval; the light mercifully changed to green.
Jack’s relief was short-lived, though, because one block later he was in the same predicament. He came to a halt next to the truck one more time, just as the second verse of that awful song blared to cover the cries for help coming from his trunk. Then, God heard his prayers – or maybe God wasn’t a fan of country music, either. The truck turned left.
Jack switched off the radio as soon as the taillights were receding dots in the distance. He was alone again on the deserted street. Well, almost alone. Katherine was now pleading and whimpering behind him, with an occasional kick to accentuate her incomprehensible words. At the third intersection, Jack made a snap decision. He turned right, heading for a safe drop point.
He hated the thought of letting Katherine go but saw no other way to rid himself of her obnoxious behavior. Her bitching drove him batty at times. Everything he fed her gave the woman gas. His marriage had been a disaster. She refused to cook for him and kept his home in a mess.
He decided to feed her, stopped at a rest area, opened the trunk and took the gag out of her mouth. Katherine tried to sit up and couldn’t because her legs were stiff from the cramped ride. “Mama’s boy! Let me out!”
Jack backed up in surprise. “Pretty good. Is that what you meant to say to me?” He seemed startled for a moment and then smiled. “I can take you right back to my play pen and keep you for a while.”
“Go ahead. You’ll get nothing from me.”
He laughed. “Don’t you mean I won’t get a thing from you?”
“Nothing!” She kicked the inside of the fender with her bound feet. He gagged her again, closed the trunk bumping her head slightly.
He mumbled, “sorry,” got in his Malibu, shifted into drive and screeched the tires on takeoff. She bumped her head again an d yelled louder. Within a tent h of a mile he approached what appeared to be his perfect destination. The area was devoid of human life. A Super Seven store sign no longer flashed a welcome, but security lights gave the parking lot a ghostly glow. This was it.
Jack pulled around to the rear of a small building. He left the motor running, looked around for any signs of security cameras, slid out of the driver’s seat and went around to pop the trunk lid open. As soon as he tried to untie Katherine’s feet she kicked with renewed vigor. Jack tried to lift her from the trunk.
“Damn! Stop it! I’m letting you go!” He yelled into her ear desperately, realizing she didn’t understand most of what he was saying.