The phone rang at ten minutes until four. I was afraid to answer it. In ten minutes my eight hour shift was done and I would get to go home. When the phone rang so close to the start of the next shift and the employee wasn’t there yet it was frequently to say they wouldn’t be in.
“West Eighteenth Seven Eleven” I answered with trepidation.
“Hi.” It was my boyfriend. “I was afraid this was going to be Rod telling me he wouldn’t be in tonight.”
“No it’s not. I need you to come over to my house as soon as you get off.”
“Okay. Can I go home first and change my clothes?” His voice sounded off.
“You have plenty of clothes to change into at my house. You don’t need to go home first.” I could tell something was very wrong.
“Alright I’m almost off. I’ll be right over.” I couldn’t imagine what was wrong but he definitely sounded shook up. Just then Rod walked in the door.
“Sorry I wasn’t here sooner. My car wouldn’t start.” Rod looked pretty stressed out.
“It’s alright. I still have five more minutes of my shift left. I’m just happy when someone gets here so I can leave. I don’t care if you’re early just that you show up.” I sincerely meant that. I had more than one person not show up for their shift before. I had to work an extra four hours one time before the owner finally came in to relieve me. Rod had been working there as long as I and he had always been reliable. “Well I need to get going. My boyfriend just called and wants me to come over. I don’t know what’s going on but it sounds like something’s wrong.”
“Let’s change tills and you can leave.” He grabbed the cash drawer and counted the money into it.
“I’ll see you tomorrow night.” I grabbed my purse and headed out to my car.
Greg’s house was only a fifteen minute drive from where I worked. I parked in the driveway and walked up to the house. Greg met me at the door. Our friends Larry and Debbie were sitting on the couch. They looked tired and stressed out.
“Come in.” He grabbed me by the shoulders and looked me in the eyes. “Bill killed himself.”
I felt a wave of shock come over me. “What do you mean?”
“He’s dead. He shot himself in the head a couple of hours ago.” Greg looked terrible.
“What happened? How do you know?” I felt numb.
“I was there when it happened. Come in and sit down.” Greg grabbed me and guided me into the living room. He held me and I started crying.
“How did it happen?” I was overcome with a feeling of dread.
“It will be on the 5 o’clock news I’m sure.”
Larry and Debbie looked really freaked out. They were sitting on the couch holding each other.
“Last night we were all over at Bill’s house across the street. He had already rented it to Larry and Debbie, but you already know that. He had moved in with me two days ago, but you already know that too. There was a pay per view fight on and Larry had rented it and Bill and I were over there watching it with them. When the fight was over Bill said he needed to get something from my house and he left.”
Greg continued to tell me the story.
“About ten minutes later there was a knock at the door. Larry answered it and there were two policemen standing there.”
“Is this Bill Snyder’s house?” One of the policemen addressed Larry.
“Yes it is. I am renting it from him.” Larry looked over at me.
“Is Bill here?” They looked around the room for Bill.
“He was but he is staying at Greg’s house across the street right now and he just went over there to get something about five minutes ago.”
I went to the door. “Bill is staying with me. Do you want me to go get him?”
“Which house is he at?” They both were looking across the street at my house.
“The one with the Camaro parked in the driveway.” I pointed to my house.
“Does that Camaro belong to Bill?” One of the policemen asked.
“Yes it does. I can go get him for you.”
“If it’s alright with you we would prefer you stay here. Do we have your permission to go over to your house?”
“Yes but I’ll go with you?” I was getting a little worried by the way they were acting so I walked across the street to my house. The policemen followed me. When I opened the front door I could hear the sound of a gun being cocked. The policemen heard it also and they each moved to either side of the door. I was getting worried about what was going on so I carefully entered the house.
“Don’t come any closer.” Bill had a gun in his hand and he had it pointed at his forehead.
“What are you doing? There are a couple cops here that want to talk to you.”
“I know. They are here to arrest me. They don’t want to talk.”
“How do you know? Talk to them. You are planning on going to court tomorrow. You aren’t doing anything wrong. Put the gun down.” I was getting worried about the way Bill was acting.
“You don’t understand. You need to leave.” Bill was still holding the gun to his head.
“Come on. You don’t want to kill yourself. Why don’t I call one of the counselors at Serenity Lane? They helped you before didn’t they?”
“They aren’t there this time of night.”
“Well then we can wait until they are there in the morning.”
“Okay. But don’t come any closer.”
I sat on the floor of the living room and tried to talk Bill into putting the gun down. The two policemen waited out in front of the house. I yelled at them that Bill was going to turn himself in to Serenity Lane in the morning. I made small talk with Bill all night long. It seemed like the night lasted forever. I was hoping Bill would go to sleep but he didn’t.
The morning came and I called Serenity Lane. I told them I was coming in with a former patient that needed their help. I told them Bill’s name and hung up. Bill walked to my car that was in the garage. He was still holding the gun to his head. I drove the car the fifteen minute drive to the drug and alcohol clinic. When I pulled in the parking lot I saw S.W.A.T. team members lurking around the back of the building. I figured they would shoot Bill when he got out of the car. I tried to wrestle the gun away from Bill but he was too strong. A shot went through the floor boards and then a shot went through the roof.
I gave up trying to get the gun. Bill got out of the car and sat down in the grass next to it with the gun pointed to his head. I walked up to the building to talk to the police to try and get them to back off. They immediately grabbed me and handcuffed me to a pole. They walked up to Bill and talked him into lowering the gun. Just as they got close Bill picked the gun up and shot himself in the head.
“They took off the handcuffs and told me to go home.” Greg finished up the history of Bill’s suicide.
I felt sick to my stomach. I knew that there had been a possibility that Bill had been guilty of the crimes he was accused of. I was told he was by his boss Rick and his wife Diane, who were friends of mine, right after he was arrested.
Rick was the president of the company Bill worked for. Rick’s wife, Diane, was well known for being a gossip. My roommate, Erin, and I both were their friends and were invited over for dinner a couple of days after Bill was first been arrested for the crime he called Greg about and had us feed his dogs and cat while he was in jail.
“Did you hear about Bill getting arrested?” Diane had asked me after I got seated on the couch.
“Yes I did, I went over to his house with Greg last night to feed his pets after he called and told Greg he was in jail and he thought he would be released the next day. And he was.”
I didn’t tell Diane that I had noticed his house was in a total state of disarray. There were empty bottles of beer all over the place and girlie magazines spread all over the house, he obviously hadn’t planned on having anyone see it like this. I wondered where his girlfriend Jennifer was. I couldn’t imagine him having his place look like that with her around. “Do you know why he was arrested? Greg thought Bill said it was for threatening someone?”
“It was. He pulled a knife on a woman that works with him and his buddy Dana, she works directly under Rick. Apparently she dated him a few times a several months ago. Supposedly she told Dana that she’s pregnant with his child and if he didn’t take responsibility for it she said she would make his life miserable. Dana told Bill all about it and that he was afraid she will ruin his relationship with his fiancée. He never told her about the times he had slept with the other gal. Bill followed her from work to the store and got in her car and threatened her with a knife if she didn’t leave Dana alone. She started screaming and jumped out of the car and ran. Bill ran away but the cops came and found him hiding behind the store and took him to jail.”
“That’s weird. Why would he do that? Dana isn’t that good of a friend.”
“I don’t know but the police came to talk to Rick about it today. He found out Bill is a registered sex offender. They wouldn’t tell Rick what he did before but if I were you I would stay away from him.”
“Trust me I won’t! That really scares me. I don’t want to around a man who threatens women.”
The next day I called up Greg. “Did you know Bill is a has been arrested before and is a sex offender?”
“Who told you that?”
“It was Bill’s boss’s wife, Diane. You met Rick and Diane at Bill’s parties.”
“I remember them. How does she know?”
“Apparently the police came and talked to Rick about what happened with Bill and Julie. They told him that Bill has been arrested before and he is a registered sex offender. They wanted to know if Rick knew anything about anything about what was going on between Dana, Bill or Julie. That is when they told Rick about Bill having a record. I don’t want to have anything to do with him.”
“I’d like to talk to Bill first. It’s kind of hard to believe that he would do something like that. I think you are overreacting.”
“I admit it seems out of character but I don’t have any tolerance for people who commit sex crimes.”
“I think we should find out the truth first.”
“Where are we going to find that out? Do you really think Bill will tell you the truth about something like that?”
“I don’t know but I would like to give him a chance. I have known him for years and have never seen him do anything wrong, ever.”
I understood Greg’s reluctance to think Bill was guilty. He has never done anything bad or weird for the four years we have known him. I went over to Greg’s house the next night. After we had dinner he brought up the elephant in the room.
“I asked Bill about what the police told Rick. Bill said that he used to be a serious alcoholic and did some really stupid things but he was never in jail. He said that he had a party one time and there were minors at it. He said that no one would admit to being at his party so the police were mad because they couldn’t prosecute him. He said they harass him occasionally when they feel like it. I believe him.”
I didn’t think that sounded right but I let Greg think what he wanted to. I still planned on having nothing to do with Bill. A couple of nights later I was visiting Greg and Bill came over. I didn’t say anything to him. He had just come over to borrow something of Greg’s and didn’t stay long. He was acting the same as he always had, and it made me wonder a little bit about whether he was being falsely accused.
I had known Bill for most of the four years I had been dating Greg. He lived directly across the street from Greg and he was the only neighbor of his that was close in age. At first he had just been someone we visited with in the front yard but then we started inviting him to our barbecues and him and his girlfriend Jennifer became good friends of ours. When we went to Mexico for two months last winter he came over and took care of the yard and watered the plants. He had a key to the house so he could come over whenever we needed him to.
Not long after Bill was arrested Greg ended up going out of town to work for a month and as usual Greg had Bill keep an eye on the place when I wasn’t around. One night I went over to Greg’s house to get away from my roommate and the party that was going on at our place. I was in bed reading a book in bed when I heard someone unlock and open the front door. I had forgotten that Bill was watching the house.
When he came in I yelled at him to him that I was there. I had parked in the garage so he didn’t realize I was staying there. I came out of the bedroom and he was the same old friendly Bill I had always known so I told him to stay and visit. We had a nice conversation and he went back to his house. I was starting to think Greg was right about Bill and that even though he screwed he wasn’t the dangerous criminal that the police were trying to make him out to be. Otherwise he would still be locked up right?
Greg came back to town and I told him that I had changed my mind about Bill’s being dangerous. The time was drawing near for Bill’s court date and he told Greg that he was sure that he would end up being put in jail because of what Dana’s girlfriend had been telling everyone. He said he believed the police were still mad that he didn’t do any jail time from the case from ten years before and that they would like to make sure he did this time. It was starting to look like a bit of a set up.
Greg’s friends, Larry and Debbie, had been renting a house a couple of streets away and the house had been for sale while they had been renting it and it finally sold. They were frantically looking for a place to live. Bill offered to rent them his house because he was so sure that he was going to do jail time. He said he would like it if they would live in his while he was in jail so he didn’t lose it because he wouldn’t be around to make the mortgage payments. He admitted he had been drunk and doing drugs again when he had threatened Dana’s girlfriend. He was pissed off that she was trying to ruin his Dana’s life. The sex had been consensual between her and Dana and he didn’t think it was fair for her to screw Dana over. If he hadn’t been drunk he would never have done what he did as he knew it was none of business. He was upset because Dana was so stressed out that he had been talking about suicide.
Bill asked Greg if he could stay at his house while he waited for his trial so he could rent his house to Larry and Debbie. He said even if he didn’t get convicted he would still rather rent them his house and live somewhere else that was cheaper since he no longer had a job. All he needed to do was find places for his dogs to live. Greg told Bill it was alright with him. I hadn’t been staying there much since I wasn’t really sure what to believe about the whole situation. I had always had a place that I rented with a friend which was close to where I worked that I had always spent at least a couple of nights a week at. I just changed to spending most of my time there after the incident with Bill. Greg’s house was his to do with what he wanted.
Larry and Debbie rented Bill’s house and moved in. His trial date was five days away. He moved into Greg’s spare bedroom. I went over to Greg’s house two days later while Greg was gone to a union meeting. I had some things still at his house that I needed the next day. Bill wasn’t there and I went ion the house and got the things I had come for. I was sitting on the couch when Bill walked in the door and he came in and sat down.
“Hi, how are you?”
“Fine, how are you?”
“I’m not very good actually. I did some stupid things when I was drinking and doing drugs ten years ago. I’m sure I’m going to be put in jail on Wednesday for doing something even stupider. I got drunk, after so many years staying sober, and made someone think I was going to hurt them.. The police have been trying to send me to jail for ten years and it looks like they are going to get their wish.”
I was trying to be unbiased. “So you didn’t do anything wrong?”
“I did something wrong, I stupidly threatened Julie for trying to ruin Dana’s life. He told me he was thinking about killing himself and I believed he might. I was drunk and did some coke, I shouldn’t ever have started drinking again but I did. It doesn’t really matter what I did. The police want me to go to jail.”
He was extremely emotional. What he did was dangerous and stupid but he sounded pretty convinced that Dana was not doing well. He wasn’t trying to hurt the gal but was just trying to get her to back off and not try and ruin Dana’s life.
“Would you go out to dinner with me tonight? I really want to have one last dinner at the Valley River Inn before I go to court. I really love their food.”
I have always tried to trust my inner voice and it told me I had nothing to worry about. I felt Greg was right, “Sure I’ll go out to dinner with you, but I’m driving.”
“Fantastic, I will buy you whatever you want.”
I drove Bill and I to dinner at the very nice and expensive restaurant. We had a great dinner and a nice time visiting, just like we always did. He told me how freaked out he was about the prospect of going to jail. He asked me to stop in the park on the way back to Greg’s house and I did. We watched the teenage kids ride around on skateboards for a while. Then I took Bill back to Greg’s house and since Greg was still at his meeting I went home.
Greg had just finished telling me what happened in the parking lot of the drug and alcohol center. I was trying to process what had happened. The man I had known for four years who had always been a kind and understanding friend was dead.
Larry, Debbie, Greg and I went to the golf course bar and drank and danced our grief away. The next morning I went outside and grabbed the morning newspaper from the front porch of Greg’s house.
“Man kills himself at Serenity Lane” read the headline on the front page. I started to read the article. “Local man shoots himself after a standoff with the police” is the secondary headline. “Police went to the home of Bill Snyder to talk to him regarding a claim by a prostitute that he had kidnapped her the night before and raped her. He taped her mouth shut with duct tape and left her tied to a pole alongside the road sixty miles south of Eugene in the small town of Curtain. A motorist noticed the woman and called the police. The woman described her assailant as being a man who drove a 1969 blue Camaro that had fur on the dash. Police had recently arrested Bill Snyder in connection with an attempted kidnapping case and the car fit the description of Mr. Snyder’s car. The police went to his house to question him about the case but he was waiting for them with a gun.”
I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Bill’s car was one of a kind. There were a few blue 1969 Camaro’s in town but I had never seen one that had fur upholstery on the dash other than Bill’s. Bill kidnapped the prostitute the same night I went out to dinner with him. I felt like someone punched me in the stomach. Greg and I went in to the bedroom that Bill had stayed in for the last few nights. Greg put the few personal items of Bill’s that he had in the room in a plastic bag. I took the sheets off of the bed and I felt something under the mattress.
I pulled out a pad of paper and it had a list with five items written on it,
“Duct tape, Rope, Plastic bags, Lye, Shovel.”
I never heard who Bill gave his two dogs to the day before Larry and Debbie moved into his house. I was afraid I found out what happened to them but I will never know for sure.