Ireached into my coat pocket for my inhaler and took a deep whiff. When I'm tense, my asthma kicks up. Tonight Roxie's apartment (my apartment since I'm paying the tab) seemed hot and airless. It's in a seedy part of town and it doesn't match her blonde slenderness, but it's the best I can afford on a broker's income without arousing Martha's suspicion.
"You're not going to wimp out on me are you, Jake?" Scorn rasped Roxie's voice and she twisted the diamond solitaire I'd given her as if she might yank it off and throw it at me. "You promised, Jake. Tonight's going to be Martha's last night on earth. You promised! I'm through waiting for you. So relax. We've planned everything perfectly. Once your wife's dead you'll inherit a bundle. You'll be rich. There'll be no more of her drinking or her whining. You'll be your own man."
"You're right, of course, darling." I dreamed of our romantic nights together. And she was right. It had to be tonight.
Martha and I were due at a holiday party that night at the club-- a surprise celebration for someone. I planned to go home from Roxie's, kill Martha, then take a shortcut route to the club. When I "discovered" Martha's body after the party and called the police, the party guests would swear I had been with them all evening. They'd understand Martha's absence at the club. Our friends were used to her alcoholic ways. They'd sympathize when I said she was feeling indisposed.
"Yes, darling, we've planned it well. Martha's death will be my present to you." I took another whiff on the inhaler. Then I left Roxie and headed home.
Our house is in Bel Air. Split-level. Three-car garage. When I pulled into the horseshoe drive, a car was leaving from the side entrance. A delivery car. That didn't surprise me. Martha was always ordering some fool thing. I went in the front door, bracing myself for her familiar greeting: "Did you bring me a present, Sugar Daddy?" How I hated those words! But they were my fault. I usually brought Martha a small gift when I came home, thinking I could bribe her to stop drinking. It did no good, however. But I could usually avoid her in the evenings by working in my den.
Tonight she stood in the solarium tucking something into the pocket of the new dress she had selected especially for this party. Even party attire couldn't hide her mousiness. Brown hair. Dumpy figure. Every day I had only to look at her to remember that I'd only married her for her money.
Now I could hardly breathe. I had decided against shooting her-- too noisy. And a knife might spatter blood, incriminating me. Strangulation was the only safe way.
Martha hurried toward me. As usual, she hugged me, then still standing close, she reached into my coat pocket for her gift.
"Did you bring me a present, Sugar Daddy? You wouldn't forget a present on today, would you?"