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The Luck of the Draw

by LaVerne Zocco

Dan Jankins, District Attorney, swung his old, black leather chair around to face me. “Well, Sherman, what have we got here? I sent you over to the holding jail yesterday as the court psychiatrist to see John Rogers, the man who pulled off the Butterfly Case. He kidnapped a girl and held her prisoner for two years. She was an artist. When she asked him to buy her a putty knife to use on one of her canvasses, she waited until he left her alone and she cut her wrists and died. Now, all I want to know from you is, is he crazy or is he not crazy?”

I knew what he wanted. He wanted me to tell him the man was crazy; he would put him in an asylum indefinitely and think of the case no more. I was afraid I had to disappoint him.

“Dan, I interviewed the boy and he told me all that happened. Just the fact that he kept her imprisoned for two years and was capable of accomplishing that says to me he is not crazy. If he were crazy, he would not have been able to formulate and carry out such a plan.

“He is guilty of forcible and unlawful confinement, which led to the girl’s death. His grievous error was to buy that putty knife and give it to her, not foreseeing that she might decide to use it on herself. That is a terrible circumstance. His robbing the girl of her freedom allows you to convict him on the imprisonment charge, but the putty knife is incidental.” What else could I say?

“I think you’re right, Sherman. Just give it to me in a written report. I’ll need your testimony when the case comes up. By the way, what did he actually say about what he did?”

I felt a little anxious. “He seems to be a nice enough chap; slim, blond and rather handsome. He said it all began with a thought. He needed a woman. He thought how easy it would be to kidnap one and keep her all to himself.

“He did so and took her to a place no one would find her. He kept her chained up while he was at work during the day, and at night he would unchain her and try to explain to her why he had done it. She was highly resistant: she would cry and carry on. She tried hard but could not talk him into letting her go. I guess it actually drove her crazy in the end.

“I will send you my report along with the tape recording I made. And you can depend on me for testimony. If you need me further you know where to find me.”

* * *

I was happy to be free for the weekend and drove out to my cabin in the woods. The afternoon traffic was terrible as it always was. As I drove, I wondered what Kathy was doing at that moment and each thought gave me great anxiety and great happiness.

My remote cabin in the woods was always a joy for me. I remembered when I first brought Kathy to it. At first she was a little resistant, but after a while, knowing I had saved her from life on the streets, she came around.

I thought of John Rogers and his putty knife. That would never happen to me or Kathy. It had been nine months now, and I could always count on her to be there. She was like a trophy to me.

I looked on the passenger seat of the car and touched each of the presents I had bought her. Her favorite perfume, the pack of playing cards for her rounds of solitaire. The beautiful, soft Angora sweater for the nights she said were growing chilly. She would like that.

In the dark woods, the cabin looked unprepossessing, but inside it was luxuriant and roomy. It was all done in knotty pine, with furniture to match. I think that was what caught her attention at first: the sheer luxury. The out-of-doors was lovely too. I had planted lovely flowers all around the front door, and I carried her over the threshold when I first brought her there.

It had been easy to kidnap her. Just one girl walking down the street in the dark of night when no one was around. I came up behind her and threw a blanket over her head. Then I struggled to get her into my car and drive away with my prize. She was like a butterfly, so fragile but so lovely.

And she was no trouble, except in one way. It nagged on me what she said at night. But I never answered her, for my mind was always on keeping her. Even now her pleading made me unhappy; but she was my Kathy, my butterfly.

And now I gathered up the gifts and walked into the cabin.

She was napping on the sofa and I tried not to make any noise for fear of waking her. She was dressed in a robe and her slippers had fallen from her feet. Then she heard me. She rose, wiping the sleep from her eyes, and tried to walk over to me; but chains held her fast.

“Careful my love. I’ll remove them in just a moment.”

“Are those for me? “ she asked.

“Yes, my dear, all for you.”

She sat then and let me come to her. She took each gift in turn and looked them over and over. “Sherman, my dear, they are lovely.”

I loved it when she smiled. “What have you been doing all day?”

“Nothing. Just waiting for you.”

How could you deny such a woman, who knew all the right things to say? There was no way I wanted to spoil it.

But then she began again. “Sherman, when are you going to marry me?”

And that was when I finally decided to marry my butterfly. “Tomorrow.”

“And we’ll move to town?”

“Yes, love.”

For the first time she said, “Then take these chains off and come and kiss me.”

I knew she’d come around in the end.

That night I carried her body out to the woods and buried it amongst my other butterflies, as I call them. Tomorrow I will continue my search.

Copyright © 2013 by LaVerne Zocco

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