"Humanius est deridere vitam quam deplorare."
The following plea is solely made up of the truth, for what else does a condemned man have to tell?
I sat and watched the kids scamper past me on their way to recess with Mary Barton bringing up the rear.
Not one to talk much, I nodded my head in salutation. Mary smiled kindly, as always, and exited the school.
I rolled my trashcan into the first floor storage closet and shut the door. The sounds of joy rode the spring breeze into the school and filled my ears. I walked to the window facing the playground and gazed at their merriment. I watched Mary Barton play with the children as if she was one herself. The only adult amongst the children, Mary stood out like a princess in a fairyland. Not only her beauty, but also her glow enticed even the most loyal husband.
"I bet she's a knockout in the sack."
I turned to see David Lewden looking over my shoulder. I shuffled out of his way and without acknowledging his comment, walked to the stairway. David positioned himself in front of the window to get a better look at Mary. I watched the lustful glare of David Lewden and wondered if I to watched Mary in the same obvious ways. I had no time to concern myself with such things for there were floors that needed sweeping.
The buses had long carried the children to the places the go after school when I heard the bloodcurdling screams of Mary Barton. I rushed to her second floor classroom and found I was too late. She lay naked on the floor in a pool of her own blood. David Lewden stood above her with his pants about his ankles and a bloody chair in his hands. He stared in at the lifeless body with dread. Mary remained beautiful even after such a violent death. Her beauty penetrated my heart and soul. (Half in disgust of her demise, and half in wonderment of such beauty.)
"It was an accident," David wept to me.
Some accident. A chair never struck anyone in the head enough times to kill them and was still considered an accident. It was cold blooded murder anyway you looked at it.
"Help me Frank," David begged. "I had to do it, she was going to tell my wife."
I gazed at him colder than a January night. He cowered at my anger. I slowly unscrewed the handle from my broom, and when I was finished I raised it high overhead to serve swift justice for his horrific deed. His demeanor soon changed.
"Go ahead," he scowled. "Then they'll really believe it was you that did this."
I must have given him a look of bewilderment because he seized my weakness and turned it into his opportunity.
"Yeah that's right Frank. Who do you think they're going to believe? A well respected teacher who is happily married with children, or a lonely janitor with nothing but his mop and broom to keep him company."
This thought struck me deep and painful. He was absolutely right. I had never done anything wrong, but I was far from respected by others. A stupid janitor was all they saw, and this was all "lady justice" would see. After a short deliberation with myself, I conspired with the devil.
"What do you want me to do?" I asked.
He raised his head to the sky and searched for the answer. Then like God himself responded, he smiled fiendishly and said, "The playground is to be paved soon isn't it?"
I nodded in agreement for the schoolboard had finally allocated the funds to pave the yard and build a respectable place for the children to play.
"Then after dark, we bury her deep in the center of the playground and eventually she will be sealed in by the asphalt."
It was a sick and twisted plan but the genius of it made me smile.
"Let's get to work then," David said as he dropped the chair and pulled up his trousers.
We worked feverishly to avoid being discovered by any prodding eyes. We carefully wrapped Mary in several trashbags to prevent her from dripping blood over the rest of the school. When she was bagged, we carried her to the basement and propped her up in the supply closet. Next, we had to clean her classroom, and I must say for an educated man, David, could clean with the best of them. Then we had to wait. Wait until the town rested, and we could implement the final phase of our atrocious scam.
Things still had to be prepared for our finale. The best place to bury her had to be decided along with whom would do the digging and who would be the lookout. (David volunteered to dig being his fault and all.) We talked little in the eternity it took for the curtain of blackness to fall upon our stage of deceit.
Having rained the previous day, the digging was extremely easy. It was only eight-feet, but it might as well have been halfway to China. I have never been so nervous in my life. Every car that passed off in the distance seemed to be searching for us. With the hole finally dug, and Mary buried within it, we had only one more detail to complete. (Ridding ourselves of her car.)
David figured he could drive her car to Drumer Lake and push it into the lake. I would follow in his vehicle and pick him up when he had finished.
The job was completed just after midnight. The ride back was silent except for a quick phone call by David to his wife, explaining that he had gone for a couple beers and would be home soon. (Love you, bye.)
The relief of being finished with our treachery was rudely interrupted when we came to stop in the school parking lot. A trail of clumped dirt made its way from Mary's resting-place to the scene of our wicked deed. Fearing a nosy onlooker found her and was reporting us to the police, David opened his glovebox and produced a gun. (More digging.) We snuck around to the back door of the school like thieves and entered the alien blackness. I flicked on the light switch to no avail. The power was dead. Something stirred in the darkness. The moon cast its ominous shadows, giving us only quick glimpses of movement other than ours. Someone was definitely in the school with us. We could hear the pitter-patter of feet on the cold bare floors and feel the coldness our unwanted guess emitted.
"Who's there!" David called out into the blackness. No reply.
David was jerked to the floor. His scream was first muffled, then nonexistent. I fled. Fled for my life. I reached my car out of breath and frightened. I never intended to go back into that school. That is until David Lewden's words flooded my brain like high tide.
"Who do you think they're going to believe?"
This in mind, I rummaged through my toolbox and found a flashlight. With all the bravado of a first time soldier, I marched into St. John's Elementary school. The first thing my beam of light struck was David's feet. Someone, or something, had begun dragging him towards the back door.I walked the flashlight up his body. (This is the point I do not expect you to believe.) Mary Barton, actually the corpse of Mary Barton, was dragging David to the front door. She had not yet begun to decompose, and strangely enough was still very beautiful, although dirty.
She paid no attention to me while I watched her work. I followed her, with the unconscious David Lewden in toe, to the site of her premature burial. When she reached the site, she threw David in ahead of her and climbed in on top of him. She haphazardly raked the mound of dirt on to them. (I too must admit, I helped in the second burial.) When it appeared that she could not cover them adequately, I shoveled and pack dirt onto them.
Two weeks later while digging the foundation for a swing set, the bodies of Mary Barton and David Lewden were discovered. The county coroner said the cause of death for Mary Barton was blunt drama to the head. In the case of David Lewden, it was determined to be death by asphyxiation.
David Lewden was correct in so far as knowing who would inevitably take the fall for such a hideous crime. (Maybe he had that in mind the whole time.)
I beg of you honorable Governor, spare me from the chair. I had nothing to do with the murder of Mary Barton, nor the gruesome suffocation of David Lewden. I was singled out because dead men can't talk. The circumstantial evidence against me was overwhelming, I know, but I plead my innocence before you and our almighty God. Mary Barton saw it fit to take swift justice. Will you?
Franklin J. Wright