This is the story of how a long-suffering housewife became eminently concerned for her safety. It is also an account of how corruption in a small town has allowed for crime to continue unchecked. These days, some say that we live in supposedly the most enlightened time ever, but long-standing good old boy networks and lack of internal accountability seem to challenge that notion. As for our housewife, mounting fear for her life became increasingly consuming the more that our lead tallied up the inconsistencies around her. It's for the reader to decide who had what intentions because to this day, the truth was never looked into. This is the retelling of how a murder for hire plot opened old wounds and created new ones for a family.
In an early spring not too long ago Helena* is surprised to find that her husband, Sam* has come home early from work. Sam addressed her curtly and told her that his sister Naya* had been arrested for hiring an undercover police officer to commit murder for cash. Helena thought it was a joke or a misunderstanding. Naya was a wannabe Hooters girl of just past 30 years of age, and a bit of an idiot. Helena didn't know Naya very well, despite having been married to her brother for some time. The most Helena could say about Naya was that she had a drinking problem, used too much spray tan, and liked to take pictures of herself with her phone. Sam was more angry than devastated it seemed to Helena about his sister's circumstance. He said Naya had been framed and it was a corrupt setup. Sam was quickly out the door and on his way to the bank to get an emergency loan to bail Naya out of jail without a thought to the effects that it would have on his own financial standing. He said his chief concern was that Naya was pregnant and in her first trimester.
Upon making bail, at an amount that could have been a down payment on a small house, Naya had an epic conversation with Sam, that Helena was not privy to. The story that Naya told that Sam later relayed was convincing. She said that she was involved with a disgraced former military man, who of course was married (being an adulteress was not an uncommon issue that Naya encountered). The man she was involved with had told her he was divorced, another thing that every man in her adultery stories says. According to Naya, this man wanted a family right away and so Naya became pregnant to please him, as he had always spoken of how much he had wanted to have a son. It seemed he and his "ex" wife only had daughters and that a son was what he had always felt would complete his family and could carry on his military legacy. When Naya found out that her unborn baby was a boy, the man called his high school friend, now cop buddy, and had him record a dialog between himself and the cop. During this conversation, according to Naya, the men spoke and would at times ask Naya to enter the room to answer "yes" or "no" questions. Then, soon after Naya found herself arrested for a murder for hire with the taped and "edited" conversation as the only evidence against her. Naya swore the motivation for her lover to have done this was because he wanted to return to his "ex" wife with custody of her unborn son, and with her, in jail, she could not contest her circumstance.
Normally Helena would have internally eye-rolled and gave some basic shoulder to lean on support to her husband, who seemed to be taking this very hard. Only, Helena had a knot in her stomach that made her wince. Sam was not a perfect husband by any means. As a matter of fact, Sam seemed to have heavy resentment about everything Helena did and intentionally sabotaged any positive aspects of her life, which was something that Helena came to accept as her many divorce efforts had fallen flat by Sam's "starve her out" tactic that would always bring back Helena, no matter how unwillingly. The indifference to life Helena found in Sam's reaction to the murder for hire plot Naya tried to carry out reminded Helena of years prior when Helena's car had a cracked gas tank. Sam had promised he had fixed it and even filled the tank up to the top, even though Sam was a notoriously tightfisted man. Still, Helena smelled gas leaking every time after Sam had said he had fixed it. Helena eventually took the car to a repair shop behind Sam's back. The parts around the tank had been worked on but the tank was obviously leaking gas. Caught in a lie, Sam actually fixed the gas tank, but had he been trying to put Helena and their child in danger? He knew that car was their single mode of transportation and yet he lied about fixing a very dangerous gas leak multiple times. It never sat well with Helena and part of her thought that Sam had wanted that car to burst into flames with her and their baby in it, just so he could go back to being single again.
To make matters worse Helena had a quiver in her step because Sam had just before Naya's scandal hit, started making ghost guns and selling them out of their garage. Helena made the immediate correlation between the ghost guns and the murder for hire. Helena swallowed hard and tried as best she could to hide her terror. Being sure to lock the guestroom door when she went to sleep that night, the farthest she could get away from him in their own home. Sam may not have sold the gun that Naya had paid the undercover officer to use in her murder for hire plot, but Sam was no stranger to crime and Helena knew to watch her back.
The next day, Sam went back to work with extra vigor, now for the purpose of paying back the massive loan used to bail out the excuse machine Naya. Helena noticed that with each phone call that Naya made to Sam, he would go into the garage and lock the door, something he never did, even during his own multiple affairs. Helena went about her daily chores with mounting anxiety, knowing that if she were to make an accusation it would be denied even if it were true. There was a reason Helena had her reservations about speaking to the police. It seems Sam had made more than one cop friend of his own from a stint during one of his many affairs in a local online swingers club. Helena, made enemies with them however after Sam had volunteered her as an offering and she refused a few years prior. After that, she was not safe in her own town and no amount of police reports would protect her from any abuse or crime, because just about every report she made was thrown in the trash. It was also why she stopped trying to divorce Sam, as now she was labeled a "problem" by the police. She knew full and well if she were to initiate another divorce, she would be in a dangerous place herself.
A few days later as Helena finished up with the dishes from breakfast, her sister Megan* called. Helena was all ears when Megan told her that local news outlets had been reporting that Helena too was meant to be killed in Naya's murder for hire scheme. Helena now terrified ended the call and mustering all of her patience and courage went to the place she was least welcome the police station. She went straight to the sheriff's office and asked about the crime Naya had committed in another state and that she wanted some follow-up to see if she was in any danger. The police officer working had a Russian accent, a man who Helena had dealt with before regarding her husband. He folded his arms and told her that they have nothing to do with out-of-state crime and to call the place where Naya had been arrested. Helena left the station and called the county sheriff where Naya had been arrested. Nothing, straight to voicemail. Helena was in a precarious position, if she were to leave and Sam had not planned to have her killed, he could argue in court that she was in fact unstable. The Russian cop Helena had talked to, had thrown away police reports about Sam's ghost gun activities prior to their earlier interaction. With buddies like Sam had, Helena would lose custody of their child and Sam would not have to pay the child support he had always refused. On the other hand, if Sam were trying to kill her, likely so that he and his nurse girlfriend could finally be together, Helena's concerns of seeming irrational to the eyes of the court were less an issue. Helena had lived this long in fear, she was just going to have to wait a little longer. The local cops couldn't protect Sam forever, right?
Not long later Naya's story changed, this time because it was found out that she was not having a son, but a daughter, thus making her entire first story crumble. She changed it after to say that her lover was a hit-man himself and that she was going along with it to please him for fear she would be next. All the while there was an uneasiness between Sam and Helena. She did not know if the police had gone to Sam to warn him of her suspicions. It seemed they likely tipped him off though because right after that report, Sam paused his ghost gun activities in their home. Nonetheless, with a house full of ghost guns and more distributed into town by Sam to his loyal friends, Helena was as pleasing as she could be. She could not skip town with her child as no cop in town would arrest their chum Sam, who brought them any female he knew into their swingers club to satisfy their grotesque wants and provided them any number of untraceable guns at their request. Helena could disappear and she knew it. So, she smiled and agreed as much as she could. It was ironic that Naya seemed to try to copy the story of Helena's life to save herself in court. Helena knew only a fool would want her problems.
The time marched slowly toward the trial. It was rescheduled twice at least. Helena waited the months turned years for the police to bust down the door and arrest Sam. Helena thought that Sam had used Naya as a test to see if she could get away with murder and that Helena would have been next had Naya succeeded. Sam during this time seemed to distance himself from his usual adultery, publicly anyway. Still, those hushed conversations and secret phone calls to Naya reminded Helena how at any time, anything could happen to her and that it would be an "accident." The few conversations Naya had with Sam that Helena was allowed to be in the room for revealed Naya to be highly unrepentant for her crime. She often spoke of how "no buddy better be talking about my trial!" Once again Sam the reliable cheater had taken up an unduly familiar relationship with Naya's friend "Frosty" Helena might not have known who she was, but the assumption regarding an adult woman who willingly referred to herself as "Frosty" could only lead her to believe that her's was not a biblical name.
More unsettling secrets emerged over that time. In a seemingly arranged meeting, Helena was sent on an errand for Sam to the house of Sam's Middle Eastern friend, a woman named Tamar*. Helena had met her before at a birthday party. The interaction was forced to the point of being strange. Helena sat at the house while Tamar fiddled around in another room, and Tamar's husband made strained small talk with her. It was as if Helena was there for another reason she did not know. Helena after some time felt very uncomfortable and left against the wishes of her host and later to the chagrin of Sam. During Helena's usual volunteer meeting later, Helena asked a mutual acquaintance about the couple. Their response was somewhat shocking news. Tamar came to America a few years ago as a foreign national wife to an American citizen. The man who married her died of unnatural causes just after the time frame for her to become a natural citizen had opened. Upon the man's death, Tamar inherited a large sum of money from him and the man I had met was either her second or third husband. Had Sam set up a meeting with a possible killer for Helena? Helena was alone in her thoughts as even she was unsure of how to take that interaction. After all, men die in their prime in alarmingly convenient circumstances for their recent bride all the time, right? The cops would have looked into it if it were suspicious, well unless she was a member of their swingers club. How did Sam meet her again?
The day of the trial came, but not before Naya cleared out each bank account of every elderly family member she had to finance the slickest lawyer in the south. By then all of the news outlets had forgotten about the once pregnant Naya, whose child had not only been born by then but was a toddler at that point. Naya had joined a church after making bail and played the part of a woman who simply had been wronged and was, in fact, an upstanding pillar in the community. Naya had all but succeeded in changing her image of the drunk who shot at the ceiling at her old job and tried to punch out men when she had had one too many. Helena thought that the trial would take weeks to complete, but it was a brief few hours. Deliberation was even shorter. Naya was guilty. The evidence against her was far too damning for the court to ignore. Her sentence, on the other hand, was far too lenient to ignore to Helena. Naya's punishment was time served, which was a few weeks from when she was originally arrested when Sam paid her bail those years before and 10 years probation in the town where she had committed her crime. Sam was overjoyed, while Helena was horrified.
It was then that Helena knew she was right to worry that all courts were tilted to favor some over others and that Helena would always be on the side of the others. She knew that she was right to assume massive corruption in her small town and that she must stay on as a servant to appease the men who have absolute authority over her. To those outside of this, they will never know or understand why there are people like Helena out there, why they act so powerless. For those people are the lucky unnoticed souls, those who are free to move about in their own lives. People like Helena know that they are ignorant of the reaches of corruption because they are people who would not understand that they have nothing anyone wants to take or are free from the grips of those with power. Do you think Sam could get away with having Helena killed? He already got away with selling numerous ghost guns. The police threw out the reports for him. Helena knows not to take her chances and to quietly move along. In truth, justice may not exist at all because it is an illusion of a concept and nothing more when it is not practiced.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.