Married to a Murderer Short Story Mystery with Romance by Alan Russell
Married to a Murderer
by Alan Russell
Page 1 of 3
Danielle Deveron thought of herself as an outmate. She liked the
expression, because in the word there was an element of outcast, as
well as the notion of being mated. It was accurately descriptive, she
thought, of those carrying on a relationship with a prisoner.
Not that Danielle thought she had much in common with other
outmates. Most of them she considered pathetic, women with no
self-esteem. As she saw it, their relationships with prison inmates
offered them little more than a perverse nunnery. Danielle was sure
her situation was different. Her wealth, reputed to be in the
neighborhood of fifty million dollars, was only a part of what
Danielle believed distinguished her from the other outmates. Perhaps
she'd read too much Fitzgerald, who insisted that the very rich "are
different from you and me." Or perhaps she was just being realistic.
Her money had brought Danielle to the prisoner. Helen Bernard had
been the inadvertent matchmaker, guilty Helen who'd always been
somewhat ashamed about her own vast wealth. Helen believed it was her
duty to sit on philanthropic boards and work for the betterment of
society, and was always dogging Danielle to become involved with one
do-gooder organization or another. Usually Danielle escaped such
duties by writing a check. In the end that's what they always wanted
anyway. But on this occasion Horse-face Helen had piqued her
interest. She had wanted Danielle to accompany her on an afternoon
outing to San Carlos Prison.
Prison. Not some luncheon, or fashion show, or gathering of
serious looking people talking about addressing some pervasive wrong.
Danielle had never been to a prison before. And what truly intrigued
her was that Helen was scheduled to meet with a murderer. In her
thirty years on the planet, Danielle had never met a murderer. She
had dated the gamut of males, including poets, stockbrokers, race care
drivers, royalty, near royalty, surgeons, CEO's, and even a junior
senator from the state of Colorado, but she had never spent any time
with a murderer (or at least with anyone who boasted of having made a
killing in anything other than the Market).
What did they see in their first look? There was an immediate
attraction for both of them that went beyond the physical. Clay
Potter had been on death row for a dozen years. He was thin and pale,
had sunken cheeks and a consumptive cough that caused a lock of his
long dark hair to fall up and down on the bridge of his nose. There
was a scar running along his right cheek. His arms, exposed to his
elbows, were a canvas of tattoos, displays mostly of naked women, but
his painted ladies, even in their exaggerated forms, disappeared in
the presence of Danielle. Preternaturally pale, her milk complexion
set off her dark lashes and blue eyes. Her pressed, shoulder length
golden hair, glittered.
Gold, he thought. The hair, the woman. She personified his
dreams, and his fantasies of wealth. He had always had visions of
what it must be like to be wealthy, and had pursued lucre, Jason after
the fleece, Jason willing to fleece, or worse. Clay's problem was
that he had never been able to distinguish fool's gold from the real
The attraction wasn't one-sided. Clay didn't have the looks of
the pretty boys Danielle usually associated with, but there was
something about him that beguiled. She remembered attending a party
replete with movers and shakers. There were familiar faces
everywhere, household names from the entertainment industry,
superstars from the sporting world, but the person that drew the most
murmurs and looks was a mobster. "He's arranged murders," were the
Clay had done more than arrange murders. He had committed them,
Danielle thought, though as might be expected, he still proclaimed his
innocence. His pronouncement was made to the two women without any
enthusiasm, words from a tired old scripts, words that had been
uttered too many times to audiences that never listened or believed.
Anyone who works in the criminal justice system knows that most
inmates proclaim their innocence as a matter of course. Though
lock-up wasn't anything new to Clay, he tried to explain to Danielle
and Helen that murder was.
"I've always been a B & E man," he said, explaining that meant
"breaking and entering." It was just his bad luck to have broken into
the wrong house. Everything had been quiet, he said, too still. It
was one of those Hillsborough mansions, the kind where there should
have been noises. He had been cruising the neighborhood, looking for
some easy pickings, when he stopped at this one house. "Just a
feeling," he said. He said his suspicions should have been aroused by
the off-line burglar alarm, but he had encountered lots of homes where
people had deactivated their systems just because they didn't want to
be bothered with them.
"I'm an opportunist," Clay said. Was he warning Danielle? "I
take advantage of circumstances."
He told them how he quietly went through the house, relieving it
of rare coins, stamps, jewelry, and silverware. He took his pickings
from the den, dining room, and family room. Clay said he was not a
confrontational thief, wasn't the kind to hold a gun on the occupants.
He liked his houses unoccupied, and he began to wonder whether anyone
was home. He decided to sneak a peek into the master bedroom, and
that's where he saw the blood and what looked like bodies.