Chichi took a long deep breath and answered her therapist’s question. “Yes, I killed them all.” She looked out the window of the shabby diner where she agreed to meet her therapist, Dr. Binder, at twice his hourly rate.
“This is what you drug me out at dawn for?” asked the doctor. “You’ve always dodged my questions about the first two tragedies, and after all this time you want to come clean about them and your most recent ex-husband?”
Chichi nodded in agreement.
Her therapist looked annoyed. “A verbal yes or no will do, otherwise I’m in no mood to play games. Tell me the whole story, without leaving any stone unturned, or I’m going back to bed.”
“Yes, okay. But Doctor, I have to trust that as my therapist, you will not breathe a word of this to anyone. Or… you’re next.”
“First of all, I don’t like being threatened by my clients, especially after hours. Second, as your psychologist, everything you say to me is in complete confidence.”
“I’m so sorry, Doctor Binder.” Chichi tried not to sound patronizing, annoyed at the reprimand and some young bimbo she’d just caught nodding a greeting to her Doctor as she walked by. He mumbled what sounded like “Hailey” and nodded back to her. The blonde looked like late thirties and must have been another of Binder’s patients. Chichi mentally commended herself putting that together. The attractive woman paused down the aisle just long enough to kill a few undead on her way out. Nobody else seemed to care.
“I just have to tell somebody, and if you can’t tell your shrink, who can you tell? Do you think I enjoy being in this filthy diner?”
Chichi looked up, annoyance splashed all over her face, at Nora who returned the annoyed glance as she proceeded to fill both coffee cups to the brim, purposely spilling a few drops on Chichi’s hand.
“Owww!! Watch it, you ingrate. I could sue you and this crappy diner for burning me like that!”
“I’m so sorry, ma’am,” said Nora sheepishly. She mentally scolded herself for acting on such a ridiculous impulse.
“Let’s just not let it happen again. Besides, you probably don’t have any money and wouldn’t show up to court to pay the medical bills for my burn anyway. In life you pick your battles.” She shifted her glance. “Right, Doctor?” Chichi said as Nora scurried away.
“That’s right. You may call me James if you like. I think we’ve known each other long enough for that.”
“Okay, Doct… James.” The doctor flinched a little when Chichi touched his arm. “Start from the beginning, and don’t leave anything out. My rates are not cheap and you’re…”
“…Only as sick as my secrets?” Chichi chimed in.
“Yes, precisely,” said James. “You have been listening during our sessions.”
Chichi nervously dabbed her unburned hand with an ice cube in true drama queen fashion. “Well, I haven’t been totally honest with you during our weekly visits. My childhood was not as extravagant as I made you believe. In Guatemala, I was treated like a princess as a young girl, that’s true. My grandfather was a top government official, so we had the servants and villa in an upscale neighborhood. But my father fell in love with a poor woman who was an idealist, with big dreams of moving to America. My mother tolerated life in Guatemala for a while, but when I was about five, she moved us into a dump in Fresno so that she and my papa could get to work on making my sisters and me legal citizens, claiming it would be such a better life. Oh, how I hated her for that. How my father would stress out over the bills in front of us. As I grew into a woman, I swore never to fall for a dreamer. During my teenage years, I discovered how easily I could control men. It was a game to me, jewelry, drugs, clothes. Whatever I wanted, as long as I left the guy wanting more of me.
But that grew boring. I wanted more than just jumping from guy to guy, as I began to learn of the finer things in life. Pancake makeup was my best friend and could wipe away any heritage. My paperwork listed me as a Caucasian and I embraced that little INS mistake. At twenty-one, I had acquired a taste for engagement rings. The winning man would of course have to fit the financial profile I had developed for potential suitors, in order to ensure his ability to provide me with the finer things in life. It became my obsession to marry a man who was ambitious.
His name was Fabian; he was one heck of a bass player. The first time I heard him pluck at that instrument, something stirred inside me. Nice dresser, too. Not much by way of looks, but I could tell by his shoes and watch that he had enough to take care of me for a while and I was right. My first husband certainly knew how to play the stock market as well as his strings.” Chichi smirked a little before she continued. “But the prenuptial eventually led him to a tragic end…”
Chichi’s therapist almost didn’t want to ask the next question, however, reminded that she had gotten him out of bed at this obscene hour, decided now was indeed the time to address the matter. A matter which he had dared not address in their countless previous sessions.
“What happened to him?”
Chichi looked around nervously as if the whole diner hung on every word. Satisfied that no one but the doctor was in earshot, she took a chance with her secret burden. “I killed him. It was those darn twins of his. Grown men who actually guarded their father’s finances with an iron fist. If something happened to Fabian, the boys were next in line as executors. They never liked or trusted me, so all three had to go.”
“So how did you manage to knock off all three?”
Chichi grinned. It was a grin that gave the shrink sitting across the table from her a cold shiver down his spine the way it always did in therapy.
“Lucky for me, Fabian’s mansion had natural gas appliances. After the three of them had too much to drink one night after dinner, I clicked the oven burners back on and blew out the pilot. Earlier that day I fiddled with a few of the wires in the garage door motor. When I came back from getting a fresh bottle of port at the store, the house had filled with methane and my garage door clicker blew the house to bits. Just as well, I didn’t want to live there anymore and figured Jewish Lightning was the way to go. Homeowner’s insurance check proved to be a nice little addition to my inheritance.”
“What about the police report? Cops aren’t stupid. You had quite a motive.”
Chichi chuckled. “You’ve diagnosed me as ‘a sociopath with a side of great acting ability.’ You flatter me so. I read your notes that day one of your crazy patients came busting into the office during my session and you had to escort them out. As you know, being questioned is like doing a lap around the pool for me.”
James did see her point. How dare she look at his notes in the office! However, scolding Chichi about it now would just put her on the defensive and the doctor was finally at the point of breakthrough with her. Perhaps after getting this out of her, she’d show a little remorse. Perhaps not.
She broke his train of thought. “The Medical Examiner put Asphyxiation as cause of death for all three men. I’m glad that’s how Fabian went, but it would have been the cherry on top to find out his boys had suffered a little. They were the ones who told their dad about my affair with the pool man. I sure do miss Raul after his drowning. But he was clingy and poor.”
The doctor’s train pulled back out of the station. Textbook sociopath kills three, now make that four, and only misses her fling with the help. James decided not to ask about Raul. He buried his contempt for this woman as best he could. “So that triple homicide must have set you up quite nicely.”
“Don’t say it like that!” Chichi boiled over, getting up as if to leave. Perhaps she did have a conscience somewhere beneath all that evil. Time to switch gears.
“Sit down. I was only stating facts.”
Chichi composed herself and sat. “Yes, I would have been financially set after the… Accident. But along came Steve. I should have taken it as a big red flag that we were so much alike. I fell in love with his good looks and charm. He didn’t have a pot to piss in and didn’t seem to care that I was now wealthy. This made me want him more and I let my guard down as he bled me dry. His body was recovered off the slopes of the Autobahn. Thankfully, his car was not. I did a really sloppy job on those brake lines.”
Although Chichi had protected the details of each ex-husband’s demise up to this point, Doctor Binder was familiar with the dynamics and story of each of her three husbands. He went for broke, hoping this information would provide them both with the closure they needed as therapist and patient. With any luck, he would refer her to someone else and never have to look at that twisted smirk again. “What about bachelor-number-three? His name was Brody, wasn’t it?”
“You certainly are worth your rates with how you really listen to me. Yes, Brody. This guy may have been a keeper. Presentable looks, wealthy family. He was a soldier who was a little eccentric but treated me like royalty. Everything was going well even when he got deployed a few times, but the war in the Middle East was just too long for me to wait. There were a few men in my life that got me through the lonely nights. Brody was always wiring me his paychecks to make sure I had enough. Shortly after he finally came home, I just became tired of being the clingy housewife. Even while he was out there in his ‘slop’ as he often called the war, a part of me wanted him home in a body bag so I could get on with my life. We had a wonderful insurance policy for just such an occasion. But he was lucky out there, I guess. Not so much when he got back…”
Nora passed the table out of a sense of obligation and Chichi screamed at the girl as if she were hard of hearing. The server jumped at first and couldn’t help rolling her eyes as she followed the order to fetch more pie.
“Where was I again, Doctor? I feel like waiting for that server in the parking lot and slitting her throat.”
“Chichi, control yourself. What an awful thing to say.”
“Well, she started it Doc . . . I mean, James.”
Sociopath isn’t enough for this woman Binder thought. Chichi is now showing new signs of delusions. James mentally scolded himself for not picking up on this sooner. Or maybe she was just getting more dangerous as her condition seems to be worsening.
“You are in control of your reactions to others; no one else. Now please continue.”
“Fine,” Chichi said with a little girl’s pout. “The war wasn’t tough enough to kill Brody.” But the VA Hospital gave him enough meds for me to do the job. Even though he filed for divorce and we were legally separated, I was still technically his caregiver. I kept the house and would go over to his crappy little apartment to give him his regular doses, then added more to his food. Even though he wasn’t supposed to drink while on that particular medication, I kept the place fully stocked with his favorite beer. Only a matter of time before he went into a coma and his body shut down. The physician’s findings led him to believe Brody was overmedicated, but that was easily explained away along with the gun. Even though he did talk of suicide often, his family didn’t buy it. Fortunately for me, they could never prove a thing. Accusations held on a string.”
“So, you had a hand in that as well? He did file for the divorce before his accident.”
She flashed the grin again. “Of course. I drained our accounts and hacked into his life insurance policy, putting myself back on as beneficiary.”
James felt like he just passed a kidney stone. He winced from the experience, but let it finally go as he took a long gulp of his beverage. “You sound like a person that has been hurt in life and wants to take that hurt out on everyone around you…”
Chichi seemed to be hanging on every word her confidant was saying. Could it be this gentleman was the one? He was handsome in a distinguished way and she was sure psychologists made a pretty penny. “Go on, James.”
“It seems that you are without an escort in your hectic life and I’d like to help you with that.” James reached into his pocket. “I know from the time we’ve spent together that you are very drawn to jewelry.”
Chichi was now ecstatic. Marrying Doctor James Binder would be just the cushion she needed while in this holding pattern. She wasn’t sure what kept the life insurance policy check she was waiting for at the expense of dead soldier Brody. They paid their premium every month and she was used to a certain lifestyle.
Anyway, this new sucker would do nicely until she drained him dry and moved on to the next pigeon. This would be after the good doctor’s untimely death, in a simple matter of her planning as soon as she got bored with him.
What he produced was stainless steel. The police force in this town was cheap, regardless of the revenue collected in hotel tax for unsuspecting tourists. Jim brought his own handcuffs, as he did not want this greedy soul sucker to squeeze out of the standard issue, nickel-plated Government Issue cuffs. He splashed the cuffs across the table and produced his trusty forty-five underneath, tapping her leg with it. Chichi’s eyes widened and her jaw dropped in confusion and shock as she tried to digest the unpleasant turn of events.
“The good news is Brody is still alive. His family provided my agency with enough details to send you to a lovely facility, one with Government Issue, resort-style accommodations and around the clock staff. Chichi, at long last, you will be taken care of for the rest of your pathetic life, as we do not have the death penalty in this state. Now put on those bracelets, one size fits all. I bet you’ll look dashing in them.”
On their way out and over the sobs of a charged murderer with an opposing airtight testimony recorded by wire against her, Jim stopped in front of the two police rooks he recognized at the entrance. He cleared his throat, as they looked up, astonished. “I’m the educated chap, as you all pointed out, so allow me to dumb down my vocabulary in a way that you hicks will notably remember. I outrank all you rookies. If ever I pass through these parts again, you BEST recognize that and show me the proper respect.”
Special Agent James T. Binder, with his Doctorate in Criminal Psychology, exited Anodes Diner with his prisoner in tow, tipping his waitress Nora generously. James knew his ulcers would start to clear up after this long, in-depth cover assignment and longstanding debt to Corporal Frank Brody paid in full.
Nora scratched out additions to her textile claim on the only handy parchment she could find lying around her station, a coffee-soiled napkin. She would storm the fashion industry with a bold new market, justified penance for sending her back to this dead-end job in her nowhere hometown. Delusions of grandeur flooded through the server like the roaring ocean that kept her up at night. Yet, until the time Nora’s next endeavor presented itself again, there was…