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The Killing Willows

"Cloaked Imposter"

By K.H. ObergfollPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 5 min read
1
The Killing Willows
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Dark clouds brewed solemnly overhead when the coroner van pulled into the gravelly drive followed by two police cruisers and a black unmarked car.

It was a somber moment, one where the breath draws itself from your very lungs and paralyzes you with dread—knowing what will inevitably come next.

Heavy knocks echoed down the hall. It was a moment Janet Moringsdew never would forget as she stood wishing everything could go back to the way it was before. Blissfully unaware.

It was, after-all, her fault. If only she’d done as he said, if only she’d listened.

But alas, there he stood smiling as he always had. A look of callous indifference gracing his otherwise calming features.

Her husband.

He wasn’t the same refuge he’d always been. He’d changed, transformed.

He was a monster she could barely stand to look at but there she stood, fiercely loyal by his side evermore.

By Matt Jones on Unsplash

“Steve Moringsdew,” a drab, flat voice inquired, barely taking his eyes off the stapled papers in his roughly-calloused hands.

Yes.”

“We have a warrant to search your property, including your cars.”

Steve said nothing, instead giving a knowing, sure smile as he calmly took the papers and invited them in.

“The reporters will be next, I presume?”

The audacity—of course, her husband could be such an arrogant asshole when he wanted to be.

But he wasn’t half-wrong, this would be the story of centuries, the talk of the town and Janet Moringsdew had no clue how depraved her husband’s darkness would become. She had no idea how close to danger and death she was in her quilted pink sun-dress and lace-up wedges. Both recent gifts from her husband.

He could be quite the charmer when he wanted to be. It was what attracted her most to him so many, many summers before.

By Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

“Right this way,” Steve Moringsdew obliged, giving a slight nod as he led them to the living room as though they were interested in a cup of tea or small talk.

“Janet, Janet,” his voice hissed, dropping a noticeable octave as he roused Janet from her captive fear.

Her lips clenching, drawing instead into a receptive but shaky smile.

“Get these fine gentlemen whatever they would like.”

“That won’t be necessary,” the man with the papers interrupted— “if you both don’t mind taking a seat. My partner would like to talk to you about three missing women.”

“Of course, of course. How silly of me, there are more important things at hand.”

Janet could feel her blood boiling into the very tips of her cheeks. He’d done it now; these fine gentlemen might not be able to see it but she surely could. Her husband wasn’t just a narcissist anymore, no. He was a noble narcissist—and it would seem he found his manners all of a sudden; hiding the blatant tyrant he was behind closed doors.

Janet almost scoffed out loud, the sight of her husband waiting hand and foot for some sort of pony show was amusing but deep down she knew he was panicking. The irony of such a brutal, selfish man feigning interest in someone other than himself made her want to vomit, or laugh—whichever came first.

By Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

“Janet, please take a seat,” a younger detective’s gentle voice directed before turning his attention back to her husband. His watchful eyes never leaving Janet’s gaze as he spoke.

Janet instinctively knew he was talking to her when the words fell onto the room in blanketed silence.

“As you know, a few of the neighbors and towns-folk have been talking. We have a coroner on loan to come in and help with the searches but I don’t think we will find anything. What do you have to say about that, what are your thoughts on what could have happened?”

“I don’t, I don’t know,” Steve replied almost instinctively as though he was an innocent child incapable of hurting a fly— “I don’t know if I should be honored or worried that you’d come to me, entrust me with my insight. It’s rather humbling but I haven’t the slightest clue.”

Janet sat unwavering in muted silence as she listened to the clicking clock over the fireplace nearby as she clutched tightly to the armrest. Time couldn’t pass quick enough. She knew her husband would be expecting her help later that night and it would take her hours to prepare both mentally and physically for what would come next when the air was knocked out of her for a second time.

Mrs. Moringsdew, Janet, that is a lovely dress you are wearing—compliments of your husband I presume?

The young detectives voice cut into her like the gnarly shards of a broken glass. Janet neatly flattened the ends of the hem—it was answer enough.

His attention turned back to her husband.

Steve—who killed her? The girl found hanging under the lonely Willow-tree? Isn’t that her dress, the one your wife is wearing? Rumor has it that the Willows are your favorite spot; quite a beautiful place no doubt. A hotel worker spotted you a few weeks back in room two-sixty-two with a lanky brunette—Carla Marie Sheffield. You know the girl—piercing blue eyes, blonde-frosted curls. Pink summer dress just like this one, an exact replica if you ask me, maybe even one in the same… But that girl isn’t missing, she is dead, murdered. We have her at the morgue and truth-be-told, she looks an awful lot like your wife Janet. In fact, the other three women who are missing also favor her…is that a coincidence?”

He paused for effect.

“Or maybe you are taking out some sort of anger on these women that you can’t with your wife…will we find the three girls in a similar state as Carla? I’m sure we will get some sort of useful DNA from the scene and match it to something here; a carpet strand, a stray cat hair, maybe even a speck of sweat.”

That seemed to be the last straw.

Steve Moringsdew leapt up from his seat on the couch.

“I will not have you accusing me of such heinous crimes. I love my wife and believe me, I had nothing to do with any of this. You are barking up the wrong tree. I have no involvement with three missing women or a dead girl…. you aren’t going to pin any of this on me." He managed to remain quite calm considering the reddened hue his face and neck turned as he practically spit the last few words out.

"I love my wife. I love my wife dearly, leave her out of this, I won't have you playing mind-games with her."

The young detective smiled as his partner stepped in as though to quell the growing contention— “no worries Mr. Moringsdew, we were just wrapping up…”

“Janet, ma’am please take good care of yourself, you don’t want to end up the next woman he decides to get rid of.”

Janet Moringsdew gave a sly-smile, nodding her head ever-so-slightly.

They would never know the truth, who the real killer was, no one would, and by the time they did she would be long, long gone, though not to lie under the shade of her husbands favorite Willows.

By Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Mystery
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About the Creator

K.H. Obergfoll

Writing my escape, my future…if you like what you read—leave a comment, an encouraging tip, or a heart—I’m always looking to improve, let me know if there is anything I can do better.

& above all—thank you for your time

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