brought Diego home from school and told his his father was on a long
business trip. The boy, young as he was, sensed he was being
deceived in some way. He made his mother promise that she and his
father were not getting divorced as the parents of one of his school
friends. She promised.
was up late that night scrubbing pots and pans. Jackie called her
and in between a chain of cigarettes commented on her doing this
nearly at midnight. While she didn't say so, Vanessa was
symbolically cleansing herself of the Fourth Deadly Sin. Jackie
asked about Diego and Vanessa began crying. She had lied to him
because she could not say the words 'Your father is dead,” knowing
that she had provoked the death.
He brought it on himself for putting your lives at risk.”
did not help Vanessa, who also feared further police interrogation.
More than that, she was afraid the police would want to talk to
you have to do is calm down and everything will go well.”
said than done.
they talked about this Katia was busy disposing of Nicolás'
medications. She poured them down the bathroom sink drain and
disposed of the prescription bottles.
stared at Lorenzo's portrait thinking “I hope you are being roasted
in hell. We were supposed to live happily in Los Angeles. All your
promises were lies. You were supposed to satisfy me as a woman, you
jerk; you did exactly the opposite. I curse the day I became your
wife and bless the day I disposed of you forever.”
spat on the portrait; it landed on the eye. It did not seem to have
occurred to her that to maintain the lie she had told the police she
would have to live with that portrait for the foreseeable future.
Vanessa woke up in the middle of the night to check on Diego. She
silently asked his forgiveness for taking his father away from him
but she did it because she loved him so much. She stared at the bed
she had shared with Julio. It was likely she would have a sleepless
following morning as she drove to the police station Vanessa spoke
over her cell to her mother-in-law, Isabella, to deliver the news.
She explained that no bodies had been recovered and that this
situation often made recovery difficult. Isabella cried
hysterically, first denying this could be true and then insisting
upon seeing the body. Vanessa remained as calm as she could until
she ended the call.
Kuri was discussing the case with her colleague, Lt. Patricio Bernal.
He was a tall, handsome dark-haired man with a fair complexion. The
weekend was coming up but the investigation would continue at full
pulled into the parking lot and took a deep breath. She told herself
to be calm so they wouldn't suspect anything. Then she got out and
walked inside. Kuri and Bernal escorted her to the room and began
asking questions immediately.
are things going?”
was a little confused. She had expected to see Borgetti but Kuri
told her that there were more detectives assigned because they wanted
to expedite the investigation. She escorted her to a room. Bernal
followed them in and closed the door. He had a copy of her first
statement, which he said they would review. He read out her name and
age and those of Julio and Diego for confirmation, then began the
me, how was your relationship with your husband?”
does that have to do with this?”
not here for conversation,” he said, leaning forward. He and Kuri
nodded to each other and he took the seat opposite Vanessa. “Your
husband boarded a yacht that exploded. You were a witness to a
suspect he was murdered?”
can't exclude any line of investigation.”
course. It's just that I'm not used to these things.”
was your relationship with your husband? That's what I asked you.”
were married for twelve years, almost thirteen.”
you noticed any sudden change of behavior?”
nothing. Everything was the same.”
was the same?”
briefly flashed back to the night Julio stood at the window with his
pistol. She had removed flowers from the vase and carried it to
Diego's room. The child was sound asleep there was no intruder.
were a happy family. Julio and I rarely argued. We had few
remembered but did not speak of an argument about how he often left
her alone because he was always working. He went on about money and
getting ahead and she argued that Zacharias could also be working
harder. When he tried the old, typically male argument “You don't
know anything about business” she countered with an accusation of
adultery. He told her that this was insane.
worked long hours like any other man of affairs, but that didn't
affect us as a family.”
you and your husband never argued?”
but I was very annoyed with him. He would take long trips without
be in touch. Please don't leave town.”
worry. Call me if there is anything.”
did not know that Commandant Borgetti was watching from the other
side of a one-way window. She left.
the hell was that about?” Kuri asked Bernal. “That woman is in
mourning. Why did you treat her like this?”
was lying. The questions were to prove it. Only that.”
stopped his underlings from arguing. “You always make something
out of nothing. If you have nothing concrete, treat these women with
consideration and respect. Is that clear?”
always try to probe for the truth.”
have to learn to manage that.” He turned to Kuri. “When do we
see the other two?”
one hour we see Jackie Acosta de Rivera and in two hours Katia
Millaán de Lombardo.”
advised them to avoid the press because there was no official word to
give them. When he left the room Kuri gave Bernal a look and a tap
on the head for emphasis. She agreed with their boss.
the offices of Transportadora ZZ, Zacharias Salivar was waiting for
Julio Zamora. He was becoming increasingly impatient. Julio's
secretary said there was no answer at her boss's home or his cell
phone. He yelled that he didn't want to see her until she located
and Vanessa met in the wood near the bridge on the border of Encino
Blanco. Jackie drove up in Lorenzo's garish yellow car. He had
never allowed her to drive it so doing so now was part of her victory
was a jerk, so what can you expect?” Vanessa said to her. “He
called you ugly and fat. Forget it all.”
how I feel. I swear I'll get over it.”
arrived on her bicycle. Vanessa advised them that Bernal suspected
all of them.
do you know he suspects us?” Katia asked.
don't know but I sense it. We have to keep a low profile. I got
nervous because I was lying. I hope he believed what I said.”
didn't you tell him Julio was a neurotic jerk? If they investigate
enough they'll know it's true.”
Katia asked. “Did you tell them everything about Lorenzo?”
knew he hit me. It would have pleased me to tell them that he
threatened to kill me if I tried to divorce him...” [not
sure of the rest of this]
just say only what's strictly necessary.”
agree. We know nothing, we heard nothing about the explosion.”
It will be alright,” Jackie said. “I'll go back to work. I'll
travel. We can do whatever we want.”
want to do something for me,” said Katia. She touched her long
black hair. “At least change my look.”
you want to look better,” said Jackie. “And sell our houses.”
now is not the time for all that,” Vanessa said.
questioned Bernal about his aggressive interrogation style. She
wanted to make sure they could work together properly in this
investigation. He considered his confrontational style to be
effective in the past. Rico, another detective with a fine physique
and thick hair, told him that it didn't fail until their boss
was selling her husband's expensive Rolex watches and some of her
jewelry, including her wedding and engagement rings. The jeweler
said he would pay well for them. This haste was not well considered
on her part.
morning after a full moon some forensic divers returned saying they
found very little evidence of the wreck. The currents were making
the search difficult. However, there was just enough to make a
report to the department that the explosion was due to a bomb. When
this report was read in the station Kuri watched Bernal's expression.
like that, don't you?” she asked.
It's just that this makes it a triple homicide. I like when my
instincts are right. Borgetti doesn't believe in them. Rita, my job
is to get to the truth and trap the ones responsible.”
two of them called on Vanessa at her home later.
we have evidence that the explosion wasn't an accident.”
mouth hung open like that of a newly-caught fish on a hook. She
became dizzy and the detectives led her to the hassock. Bernal sent
Kuri to the kitchen for some water. He asked for Julio's computer
and other electronic devices that could help the investigation.
of course, but whom do you suspect?”
talk about that later after we have more information.”
your husband have a computer in the house?”
he had a laptop because he sometimes worked at home, but mostly he
worked in his office.”
Bernal and Kuri were going to follow up. Vanessa said she would hand
over the cell phone. She also mentioned that Julio's secretary had
called looking for him but she had said nothing. Kuri also bagged
the address book from the table with gloved hands.
your husband have any enemies?” Bernal asked.
none that I know of.”
the husbands of your friends?”
don't know either.”
looked at her carefully. After they left Vanessa took her laptop
outside with a cup of coffee and her cell phone. She texted the
others “It's urgent we see each other. The police were at my
answered “I'll be there as soon as I've shown a house.”
replied “I'll wait here.”
Vanessa,” said Zacharias, who was standing behind her.
out of my house,” she said, standing.
want to see Julio.”
started shoving him back as he repeated his demand.
don't want to be rude to you,” he said.
I don't know what was going on with you and Julio but it's over.
Julio is dead.”
smiled. He was even uglier for that.
went inside the house and she followed.
is here. The police took everything.”
that in the office?”
it's not in the office. The police would want that laptop.”
they would. But if it's not in the office neither is it here. What
the hell is it with the computer?”
playing your little game.”
game. Julio didn't need to tell you. Everything was arranged.
There's no need for these histrionics. I'm not an idiot. Julio is
is dead. So are Lorenzo and Nicolás. They all died on a yacht.
You just found out later than I. You think there's a miracle? Julio
was sure you would show up at the beach house.”
know you're lying and I'm fed up. This whole trick of the explosion
was so he could disappear.”
trick? To cause three deaths?”
and Nicolás don't matter,” he shouted. “I need to speak to
Julio and you're going to tell me where he is.”
told you and if you don't believe me ask the police. Now get out of
well. I'm going to search your room.”
stood in front of him.
not going anywhere else. Get out of my house or I will call the
You're not doing anything. You're intelligent. You know this is
very serious. If Julio returns from the dead his life isn't in
danger but I can't say the same about yours and Diego's if you don't
change your attitude. And you know what I'm capable of.”
came home at that very moment. He was early. Vanessa suggested that
he play in the garden.
Diego,” said Zacharias. “Do you know where your father is?”
on a business trip,” said the frightened child. “But we don't
know when he's coming back.”
Zacharias said, ruffling the boy's hair. “We hope that will be
soon. Right, Vanessa?”
soon as Zacharias left Vanessa called Jackie, who was shopping and on
her way to a travel agent to book a cruise.
can't go anywhere until the investigation is over,” Vanessa told
worry. There was a deal I couldn't resist. I'm not leaving for six
here now and I'll explain. Quickly!”
Jackie and Katia arrived Vanessa told them about Zacharias' visit.
Jackie said to have the police take care of him and to forget about
it. However, since the explosion was proven to not have been an
accident this was not going to work. Katia suggested that Vanessa
tell the police that Zacharias had been there with a pistol, which
would not be a lie. She should have been more concerned with the
discovery of the bomb. They had all been sure that it would not be
did call the police about Zacharias. Katia checked on Diego, who was
playing in his room. Jackie gave her usual mantra to be calm. None
of them had anything to do with Zacharias' crimes. Vanessa became
more nervous. “A killer helping the police. Please!”
use that word, please,” said Jackie.
are all killers. We killed our husbands.”
the last time I want to hear that,” said Jackie. “We have to
give up our feelings of guilt. It was them or us. They were swine.
They made our lives hell. Get them out of your heads.”
it's that easy,” Vanessa said, sarcastically. “'It was them or
down, you two. We're all moving on together.”
joined hands in solidarity.
police were meeting with Zacharias at eight the following morning.
They also arranged to go to the other husbands' homes and offices.
Kuri asked if anyone was up for a beer but none were so she decided
to go home for the night. Just as she was out the door Bernal saw
the group photo of the three couples on the internet. Kuri ran into
Rico outside as he arrived at the station.
night Vanessa fell asleep on the couch and was awakened by Diego the
following morning. Jackie awoke in the middle of her king-sized bed
after having slept well, saying to the absent Lorenzo that she slept
very well without him. She reflected on her interrogation
and I met in Los Angeles. My mother had married a Californian so we
lived there. In the beginning it was very good until we were married
for six months and moved here.”
when did the problems begin? Because it says here that he abused you
physically,” said Bernal.
psychologically, but as I told Commandant Borgetti we decided to give
it a second chance. If things didn't work out of course I wouldn't
want him near me. But not dead.”
there a problem with his ex-wife or his son?” asked Kuri.
The divorce was a long time ago and we almost never saw her.”
about the son?”
had no relationship with him but thought that Lorenzo should visit
him and e-mail him.”
slammed his hand on the desk and asked another question.
sorry that Lorenzo ended up this way.”
offered her a glass of water, which she declined.
had pulled her hair back into a pony tail. At that memory she
touched the ugly scar on the back of her neck. She took a photo out
of the nightstand drawer and looked at it. Another person might have
thought it was from happier times. She took out her lighter and
burned it to send the memories to hell.
was in the bathroom she had shared with Julio. She briefly smelled
his favorite cologne.
Borgetti watched from his favorite perch Bernal was questioning
Zacharias, asking why he believed that Julio Zamora had faked his
death. He said he could not believe that Zamora was dead. Kuri told
him that despite there being no news in the media, it was true.
Zacharias denied having threatened Vanessa and Diego. He had simply
refused to believe that Julio Zamora was dead.
were you when the explosion happened?”
Transporting merchandise out of the country.”
because you were working you could not have set up the explosion?”
you suspect me?”
seems very convenient that you were working rather than at the beach
house. And nobody saw you?”
We don't have enough drivers and didn't have enough for that
weekend. There are documents for the border crossing.”
don't doubt that. Don't doubt that we will investigate that.”
Palazuelos was sitting in her office waiting for information. She
was an attractive, mature woman, rather like Marilyn Monroe would
have looked had she reached her fifties, but a little harder. She
was informed by Victor Martinez, her assistant, that Zacharias was
not in his office. No official confirmation of the death of Julio
Zamora. She told him they may have to make other plans but to
continue to try reaching Zacharias.
was tearing Julio's office apart looking for the laptop when he found
a loose ceiling panel. He stood on the desk and lifted it to feel
around, but found nothing. Julio's secretary knew what he was
looking for but knew nothing of the laptop's normal whereabouts. She
suggested that it could have been on the yacht but still couldn't
believe that her boss was dead or that it happened in this manner.
She told him that a pharmaceutical company was trying to reach him.
The phone rang and she answered it. Zacharias dodged the call from
CMA CGM an employee told Bernal and Kuri that Lorenzo had been honest
and hard-working. At times there were occasional problems with drugs
but he didn't connect it to Lorenzo. When Kuri mentioned allegations
of violence the man said they had never had a problem with him. He
suggested they go to the office to check records and archives.
when Bernal and Kuri left they talked about Lorenzo's apparent split
personality. Kuri said this was nothing unique. However, they had
seen a document for exported goods signed by Zacharias Zaldivar.
Borgetti would now consider him a prime suspect.
for you it's still the widows,” Kuri said.
three black widows gathered again. This time it was because Katia
had received a call regarding the remains. All that was found of
Julio was a shoe. In order to get death certificates they would need
to identify the remains. As difficult as this would be they would
have to see this through to the end.
the station Bernal slammed the evidence bagged shoe on the table in
front of Vanessa. Kuri told them that the search for the body was
much longer?” Vanessa asked.
eager to prove he's dead?”
down, ma'am,” Kuri said.
have a son who thinks his father is on a business trip and I can't
keep that lie up for much longer. Do you think he will understand
why I couldn't tell him what happened to his father?”
why our commander issued the press blackout until the whole family
grateful that no one knew who would say anything but it will be very
difficult when the press knows and publishes anything.”
know. But for now we can only issue death certificates for the
others when the bodies are identified.”
went on to explain that the bodies were burned. One would be
identifiable from dental records and the other would need DNA
testing. They had received both sets of dental records. This was
necessary to start closing the investigation.
three women were escorted into the morgue. Katia identified Nicolás
and Jackie identified Lorenzo. Now they would officially be declared
widows. However, Vanessa would not be due to lack of a corpse. Kuri
suspected it would be unlikely to find a body that had been swept
away by the tide.
it wasn't a corpse that had been swept away. On a shore somewhere
Julio sat drinking from a green coconut. He had burns on his face,
arms, and legs.
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