Three women got out of a late model car in front of South Park Funeral Home, dressed as if they were about to attend a Junior League luncheon. One was a beautiful blond with alabaster skin. Another was a statuesque brunette with striking Mediterranean or Mexican features. The third, tall and erect with unnaturally blond hair pulled back into a black bow, walked slowly between them. All three were dressed for success, their breeding evident in their bearing. The woman in the center was more tentative. The other two women were there for her, her closest associates, her employees, her friends. Clara Harris had come to see her husband David.
Her lawyer, George Parnham, had arranged a private viewing for her, the new widow. The viewing would be away from the rest of the family, and considering the circumstances, the decision was a prudent choice. Joining them later for the wake might be awkward--Clara Harris had killed her husband. For this wake, there would be just the four of them, the three women, and the man lying cold and dead, his corpse battered and broken by the wheels of a $40,000 luxury car that had been turned into a 4,000-pound killing machine.
This was Clara's time alone with him. It would be her only opportunity to tell him, "I'm sorry."
She had tried before, wailing, "David, look what you made me do," as he lay dying on hard asphalt warmed by the relentless Texas summer sun.
The two women took the arm of Clara Harris as the trio walked through the front door of the mortuary and were greeted by a representative of the funeral home. Slowly, tentatively at first, they were escorted to a small viewing room. On a stand outside was the name of Dr. David Harris in white plastic letters pressed on a black background. Clara Harris gripped her friends' hands, preparing to look at the now-lifeless body of the man she loved.
The three walked slowly to the expensive coffin sitting upon a catafalque, its lid raised. There, Clara looked down at the man she had killed just hours before. He did not look like the handsome young doctor she had married ten years ago on Valentine's Day next door to the Nassau Bay Hilton. Her murder weapon had done far too much damage to the body for even the most skillful mortician to mask with the oils, paper, wax, wire, and makeup that are the tools of the undertaker's trade.
"David," the murderess gasped, collapsing in uncontrollable sobs, cradled in the arms of her friends. The idyllic life the couple had shared was now over for Clara Harris. David's was not the only lifeless body in the room--Clara too had given up her charmed existence as a beauty queen, wife, mother, and doctor after succumbing to sudden passion the night before when she had been momentarily out of control.
The realization that Clara Harris intended to commit murder came home quickly to 16-year-old Lindsey Harris, sitting in the front seat next to her.
"I'm going to hit him," Lindsey later testified thatClara had said as she aimed the Mercedes at her husband. "She said it like that was going to happen."
"No!" screamed Lindsey, who was spending the summer with her dentist father.
"She stepped on the accelerator and went straight for him," the high school senior remembers.
Lindsey looked into the eyes of her father as the Mercedes came barreling toward him.
"He was really scared because he was trying to get away and couldn't," she said.
David's hand reached for the front of the hood, leaving his last living fingerprints there as if by will alone he could stop the machine. The automobile struck him, sending him flying through the air as his daughter watched.
"Clara had no expression on her face," Lindsey said as the woman circled around and ran over him--some would claim as many as five times.
"I felt the bump," she said, knowing that the car was rolling over the body of her father. "I knew it was him and I said, 'You're killing him.'"
Lindsey was able to distinguish between the hard, unyielding bump of tires on the concrete curb of an esplanade separating the hotel parking lots, and the softer bump that the auto made as it rolled over soft tissue and brittle bone.
"The bump over the median was different from when she was going over my dad," she would later testify.
When the Mercedes rolled to a stop, Lindsey Harris opened the door so that she could help her dad.
But first Lindsey remembered "I went around and hit her."
Clara then ran to the body of her husband lying on the ground next to a curb. Lindsey remembered bitterly what she saw next.
"She kneeled down and said, 'I'm sorry, so sorry, I am so sorry. It was an accident," she recalled.
"She wasn't sorry, she had killed him!" Lindsey said.
Millie Harris walked the slow walk of a mother's grief as she entered the modern Christus St. John Hospital. She and her husband Gerald had taken a call from a woman named Gail. There was panic in her voice. The woman put the couple's granddaughter on the telephone, sobbing.
"There has been an accident, come quick," she was told by Lindsey Harris. As the call progressed, the elderly woman and her husband, tall, dignified Gerald Harris Sr. learned at that moment that their son was breathing his last breaths, breaths more like gasps, making the gurgling sound that he had made for the past thirty minutes struggling to take in air, fighting the blood that filled his lung.
The assault upon David came as a surprise, a shock, a nightmare in late July. There had been trouble between their son and his wife, but this sort of end to their marriage was totally unexpected. What had happened? There were so many unanswered questions as the two had rushed to the hospital. St. John's is one of two major medical facilities that serve the area around Clear Lake and its principal industry, the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. When she got there, the hallway outside the emergency room was still packed with patients, nurses, doctors, EMS, and members of the Nassau Bay Police Department, all there for one reason--the recent death of Dr. David Harris, prominent owner of Space City Orthodontics in nearby Clear Lake City.
Millie and Gerald supported each other as they were taken into the emergency room. There, on an examining table, lay the crushed and battered body of their son, theend result of a silver Mercedes having rolled over him, crushing and grinding his bone and tissue beneath the automobile's low-slung frame, which was elevated only six inches above the asphalt parking lot.
Life had passed from David Harris only minutes before, but the apparatus used in the vain attempt to save him remained attached. The plastic breathing tubes were still inserted into his body while intravenous fluids in clear tubes were connected to needles inserted into veins, yet the fluid no longer flowed. The couple looked at the son who had been born to them in Newport, Arkansas forty-five years before, now lying dead in the impersonal and public indignity of a hospital emergency room.
David Harris had arrived at the hospital at 9:34 p.m. At 9:48 he had been pronounced dead by an attending physician, likely moonlighting from his day job as so many young doctors now did to pay for their lifestyle.
A paper was put before them to sign. It was an acknowledgment that the lifeless form before them was indeed their son, David L. Harris, of Friendswood, Texas. Now finished with the duty of getting the proper documentation in order, the representative of the county morgue left the couple alone with their son. Minutes later, the body was transported to a building on Houston's south side to be sliced, diced, and dissected in a postmortem that would later be used in the State of Texas' attempt to place Clara Harris behind bars for the rest of her life.
As David Harris lay dead on the hospital table, witnesses remained at the scene being interviewed, as police wrote down their recollections. Some said that they had seen the man hit once, others as many as five times. Still others said that the Mercedes had come to a stop and then backed up, rolling over the body a final time. As wildlydifferent as the witness accounts at the scene were, one thing was an indisputable fact, Clara Harris had killed her husband.
Also at the scene, a woman named Julie Knight picked up her friend Gail Bridges at the Hilton parking lot to take the shaken woman to the hospital.
At 1885 Old Spanish Trail, Houston's morgue lies south of one of the world's great medical complexes, the Texas Medical Center. The cluster of buildings just to the north boasts names like De Bakey, Cooley and M.D. Anderson, names that are household words in the world of treatment for heart disease and cancer. Miracles happened there on a daily basis. But the morgue was a monument to failure, a utilitarian tribute to the science of finding out what exactly had gone wrong to cause the death of every person brought there.
Thousands walked through the building's front doors each year. The female guard had seen it so many times, on so many faces. They were all the same, Black, Hispanic, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Native American. It was always the same. The faces of the bereaved were drained and almost as lifeless as those of the clients who would soon be the subjects of dissection inside, all in the name of justice, fact, and science.
Some were teary, with wisps of moisture around eyes that were blue, brown, black, and hazel. Others were loud, while others were as quiet as the autopsy room itself. The bereaved would be escorted to the family room, a formal seating area where they would await a representative of the morgue, who would escort them to the laboratory where the corpses were kept, each giving mute testimony to its last hours as a living thing.
Some were there because of bar fights gone bad, othersbecause a marriage had withered to violence. And a portion were there because they had died a natural death, but died alone. In such cases, Texas law demands an autopsy.
It was a place where cops and lawyers came as well, to watch the grizzly business of finding the cause of death for later use in a court of law.
The waiting room was made for grief, filled with the type of elegant furniture that is found in upscale funeral homes. Duncan Phyfe chairs and tables were neatly arranged, a lamp gave off subdued light for the grieving relatives who formed a steady parade for their brief moment in the room before being escorted to see the battered, often mangled body of their loved one.
The cops bypassed this room. There was no need for the niceties of grief when they did their business.
Just outside, the routine administrative business of the morgue was conducted by ten clerical personnel, sitting at their desks in a large room with plate glass windows. Through those windows, the clerks observed the macabre procession of mourners as they came and went from the family room. To them, the parade was routine. Most didn't notice the coming and going at all.
There would be no need for the room for David Harris. It was the other visitors to the morgue who counted now. Police detectives would watch his autopsy, photographing it in full color to be presented to a jury someday in the pristine surroundings of a Harris County courtroom.
There are no niceties in recesses of the morgue. Here death confronts the living in shades of gray and red. The smell of urine and feces permeate the place from the bodies whose organs have shut down, loosening the sphincter muscles of the bowels. The body of David Harris was worse than that of most murder victims. The orthodontist whose office bespoke cheerfulness and hygiene in everycorner would have been appalled at what he had become in such a short space of time. Death had not come neatly to him. The shutter of the police camera clicked, recording the indignity of what was left of David Harris.
Death came with the rush of 4,000 pounds of iron, steel, and plastic, hurling him twenty-five feet through the air and across a parking lot onto asphalt after the first strike by his wife Clara. Three more passes by the Mercedes running over his body finished him.
At St. John's, David died lying on his back in the pants, shirt, and belt he had worn that day.
When his body was brought to the morgue, a tracheal tube was still in place in his mouth, a cervical spine collar still in position to prevent the possibility of further damage to the neck, and electrocardiogram pads and defibrillator pads remained stuck on the chest and abdomen. A chest tube remained inserted. Intravenous catheters were still in place, ready to administer life-giving fluids where there was no longer life.
Dr. Dwayne Wolf looked down at the body bag before him, about to see another in a long line of the cadavers that had become his world. He was the veteran of 1,500 autopsies, hundreds of them homicides. His current work load was one to two autopsies per day.
The forensic pathologist was a graduate of Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, a town more famous as the location of Spindletop, the early 1900s oil patch that ushered in a boom of prosperity for Texas that hasn't stopped to this day. After his 1986 graduation from Lamar, Wolf studied at Galveston's University of Texas Medical Branch and earned an MD-PhD, and served residencies and fellowships at Brown University in Providence, Miami, and then back in Galveston, finally landing a job as medical examiner in Mobile. After two years there, Wolfwas in Texas again, working at the Houston morgue as deputy chief medical examiner under controversial M.E. Dr. Joyce Carter.
Wolf is an overachiever whose very body language exudes an aura of superiority, and a disdain for the lesser beings he is compelled from time to time to tolerate. Frequently as part of his job, he is required to take the witness stand. His testimony is complex, difficult for juries to grasp as he speaks using the scientific terms of his trade. As a witness, he is also difficult for prosecutors because there isn't a humble bone in his tall body, not even a humble whisker on his bearded face.
He looks like a tweedy college professor when he enters a room. Wolf speaks that way as well, knowing that he, and he alone, is the authority on what he is about to describe. The autopsy room is his domain, the witness stand is his podium, and the courtroom is his lecture hall.
At 11:28 a.m., on the morning of July 25, 2002, the autopsy of David Harris began as Wolf opened the body bag to reveal the battered corpse of the orthodontist. The body was of average size, stood 5'9" and weighed 164 pounds at death, he observed. The lifeless man had arrived still dressed in the dark pants, gray Jockey underwear with the brand "Jockey" on them, black socks, and black dress shoes he had worn to the Nassau Bay Hilton the night before. The clothing was cut and torn because of the trauma of his death and the resuscitative attempts of emergency personnel who had tried to save him.
Wolf retrieved a pair of broken eyeglasses from the bag, needed now only for evidence to be used later at the trial of his killer. The pathologist noted that part of a hairpiece was still in place and blended with the stubble on his shaved head of dark hair with shades of gray. The forensic psychologist made a mental note of the possiblesignificance of this vanity. Under the toupee, the top of David Harris' head revealed multiple rows of scars, indicating that the prosperous dentist had undergone pricey hair transplantation.
As Wolf continued his examination, he noted both normal and abnormal appearances of the body--the pupils were normal, all of the fingers and toes were present, and there were no needle tracks which indicated that David wasn't an intravenous drug user. Wolf also noted that the dentist, like most American men, was circumcised.
Wolf noted severe trauma to the upper body. The chest was asymmetrical, crushed from the impact that had caused his death.
Harris' head was a mess with a 3 by 4 inch zone of contusions around his ear, or at least what was left of it. There were more traumas to the chin, deep cuts on the scalp, and a large gash to the back of the neck. Wolf observed that the jaw was broken and teeth were missing. Methodically, the pathologist dictated his observations indicating sixteen separate cuts and abrasions on the head and neck.
Five more cuts and abrasions marked Harris' back, with another two on the rear of his left leg. Those corresponded with the damage done in the front of the same appendage.
The attempted resuscitation of David Harris in the emergency room of St. John Hospital was doomed to failure, Wolf observed. The chest was crushed, with ribs broken not only on the front, but also on the backside of the body. While the right lung was intact, the left lung had been destroyed, with multiple fractures from ten broken ribs. Part of the heart was severed from the rest of the organ.
David Harris also had a broken back at the twelfth vertebra, as well as a broken pelvis.
Both arms showed evidence of multiple cuts and abrasions, although neither was broken. Nor were the legs, although, like the rest of David Harris, they were a mass of gaping wounds and red meat.
Clara Harris clearly had intended to inflict as much damage as possible while methodically running over her husband again and again. She was largely successful, but Wolf's examination showed that she had left the brain undamaged as he removed it from the skull casing and examined it in minute detail. The brain that had absorbed twelve years of grade school and high school, four years of college, dental school, and a residency, not to mention countless memories, was intact and undamaged by the impact of the Mercedes.
Not so the tongue. David Harris had bit it as he was hit by the automobile.
Wolf observed that other organs had escaped the trauma inflicted by Harris' wife. The liver, gallbladder and alimentary tract were intact. When he opened the stomach, it was revealed that Harris chewed his last meal very well and hadn't had a drink before he died.
Harris' urethra was separated from the urinary tract. His testes were intact.
The spleen had escaped the trauma of David's final moments, the left adrenal gland had hemorrhaged, but was still intact.
Wolf's autopsy was complete as his assistants took Harris' fingerprints and palm print. A detective from the Nassau Bay Police Department, Teresa Relken watched as she and a helper photographed the proceeding. The dentist's clothing, eyeglasses, and hairpiece were bagged as evidence.
As the body of David Harris made its trip to the morgue, his daughter Lindsey Harris returned to the mansion with her uncle and her father's friend, dentist Robert Blanchard, in David Harris' gray Suburban. The three had retrieved it from the parking lot of the Hilton where the orthodontist had parked it when he had arrived earlier that evening to meet Gail Bridges. Now, riding home in her father's SUV, there were so many memories--trips to the lake, learning with her father how to play the piano, talks about her future, and her hope that she would someday join his practice as an orthodontist herself. "I love him to death, I miss him so much," she reflected as she rode with the men, quietly sobbing, alone in her thoughts. She would later relate those thoughts to a jury.
When they arrived, Lindsey noticed something strange as the three pulled into the garage. An old suitcase sat by the door, as if someone was about to take a trip. Next to it was a garbage can filled to overflowing with clothes. She looked down as she walked to the door at the clothes and recognized them as those of her father.
The house was filling with people, stunned by the sudden death of David Harris broadcast on the 10 p.m. news.
Convulsed with grief, Lindsey was also hammered by fear because she had been a passenger in the car that had killed her father. She had helped her stepmother "key" the Lincoln Navigator owned by his lover, an act of vandalism. Clara was now in police custody undergoing hours of interrogation.
"I was so scared, I thought we were going to get in trouble," she later remembered.
But her fears were not so great that she didn't notice something strange.
"They were sad, but they didn't act like Clara had done what she did," she said.
Lindsey remembered the frustration she felt just hours before as she helplessly watched her father die.
"I felt so bad that I couldn't help him," she said. "I felt so mad that I couldn't do anything. It was terrifying. I knew that she was killing him. I knew that he wasn't going to be okay. I was only given sixteen-and-a-half years to spend with him. I knew that I wouldn't have any more than that. It was a terrible way for a person to go."
Anger filled her as she thought of what she had witnessed Clara do when the car had stopped.
"She got out and she went over to him and called him baby as if nothing had happened."
Lindsey wanted to be alone, but before going upstairs to the room that had been specially built for her in the mansion, she went back to the garage. She lifted the old suitcase and carried it up the stairs.
"I felt he was there with me," she said.
Houston's Telephone Road begins in the city's seedy east end; an area that saw its best times during the 1920s and has been in decline since. The four-lane street heads south in a straight line to Hobby Airport, a quick shot that will bypass the traffic on Interstate 45 if a traveler is late for a flight. Of course, that traveler will have to pass the used car lots, greasy restaurants, and loan sharks as it cuts through lower-middle-class white neighborhoods, brown ones with their high wrought iron fences and red, white, and green colors of the flag of Mexico, and the black ones dotted with neon signs that announce, "Quick Cash."
The street continues to arrow straight across Loop 610. Then the neighborhoods improve as the social strata of allthree ethnic groups moves up a notch. Finally, Telephone Road reaches Airport Boulevard and Hobby Airport sprawls to the left.
The street relentlessly continues its course south after it crosses the intersection. Its east side is covered with a half mile of hangers that parallel Hobby's runways, first used as a municipal airport in 1938 when it was briefly named for the city's most famous aviator, Howard Hughes.
Across the street, diners, used car lots and prairie face the relentless 24/7 facility.
Here, the bustling city of almost 3 million thins out and the street begins to become a highway. Now it takes on the more distinguished name, Texas Highway 35 as it begins to hug the coast, its sometime concrete, sometime asphalt pavement pointing in the direction of Corpus Christi. It quickly becomes a street again, crossing the Sam Houston Beltway, the penultimate ring that circles a city fifty miles across in any direction.
Yet Highway 35 has one last fling at the tawdry side of society as it points south. On the right, a half-mile past the beltway, sits ethnic Houston's answer to the upscale Galleria shopping mall in the city's uptown district. Cole's Flea Market attracts thousands each weekend as vendors hawk everything from power tools to sugary confections made in the colors of the Mexican flag. On Houston's hot summer days, the mall's canvas roofs shade snow cone vendors and merchants who sell slices of tropical fruit to the thirsty.
The nature of the street changes abruptly a half mile away and the crowd gathered inside the clean walls of South Park Funeral Home reflected the contrast of different ethnicities living near one another. The 300 attendingSaturday's services for David Harris were lily white Anglo or Hispanic to the person as they sang "Amazing Grace" in the funeral chapel filled to overflowing.
Friends, relatives, customers, high school chums, old girlfriends, entered the chapel after filing past photos of the deceased in happier days. Mostly the crowd consisted of members of the Shadycrest Baptist Church of Pearland, Texas. It was a close-knit group of very good people. They had come to say goodbye to one of their own.
These were the people closest to David and Clara Harris. They were the ones who came to the church socials the couple sponsored at their Friendswood, Texas, mansion. Now they were gathered in the large auditorium of the funeral home to pay final respects to the man who had played drums to accompany the church's lively choir.
The congregation filed past pictures that showed the prosperous life David had left behind, a life filled with the things a successful orthodontics practice can bring if it is located in one of the nation's most prosperous regions. David was pictured relaxed with his loving children, with his guitar, in family gatherings. The photograph of David's prized Corvette sat on a credenza with the other photos, yet no person was seen in the picture.
Each guest had been handed a funeral notice, reminiscent of church bulletins handed out before services at Protestant churches throughout the South. On its front, printed in soothing pastels of brown, blue, and white, a dove winged its way heavenward, a burst of sunlight shining through to illuminate its flight. Inside the flyer, the two most important days of David's life were announced as a "Service of Thanksgiving." Those dates were the dayhe was born on November 4, 1957, and the day his wife of more than ten years had hit his body with her silver Mercedes.
The gathering sang staples of the fundamentalist service of Texas Baptists. "In His Presence," and "Written in Red." All of the service was carefully orchestrated to provide comfort to David's grieving family, to give them the promise of the hereafter for him where they would eventually all meet again. This was the service Rev. Steve Daily was ordained to deliver before he would lead the cortège across the street to the waiting cemetery of the South Park Funeral Home where David would be laid to rest.
And there was preaching of the gospel, the kind that stirred men's souls, be it at a revival, in a tent, in an auditorium, or under a tree. Nobody can preach like a Baptist minister.
The coffin was open, and some walked to the front of the chapel before the service to take a last look at their friend. His body looked at peace in the subdued lighting of the funeral home, hardly the broken, crushed, and bloody remains that had been transported to St. John Hospital, then later to the office of the Harris County medical examiner.
Sixteen year old Lindsey had looked at the body of her father briefly at the funeral home. It was so unnatural in appearance, she thought. It didn't look like him at all.
Patriotism wasn't forgotten either, but it was a loyalty not to nation but to a school, the vaunted University of Texas that David had so proudly attended. On the open lid of the coffin, soon to be closed over him forever, the burnt orange emblem of the Texas Longhorns had beenattached. The deceased had attended the venerable Austin institution for two years after sojourns at the University of Houston and the small Alvin Community College south of Pearland.
Across the street, a handful of reporters stood watch as the services continued inside the funeral home. The media contingent was small for the funeral of a celebrated Houston murder victim. It was Saturday. Only weekend news crews were available to cover the story. An employee of the business and its cemetery instructed the reporters that if they so much as left the shoulder of the highway they were standing upon, they would be arrested. His instructions were to keep the media at bay so that their intrusive cameras didn't disturb the serenity of the service. To reinforce the warning, he stood about fifty yards away speaking to a Pearland cop.
David Harris went out in true Southern Baptist style, celebrated in one of the denomination's notoriously long services, honored by a funeral that lasted one-and-a-half hours. Shortly before ending, a young girl was escorted from the church, broken by emotion. She was driven away before the casket was rolled out of the service by the funeral director and lifted by the pallbearers into the waiting hearse. Parked in front of the hearse leading the morose parade to the cemetery across the street was a dark green perfectly restored 1953 Chevy pick-up truck. The Baptist preacher, Steve Daily, who led the parade of mourners across the street, drove the truck, his prized possession. David Harris would be deposited into the gumbo soil of Southeast Texas forever.
One person was missing from the service. Clara Harris was out on $30,000 bond for the murder of her husband. She had said goodbye the night before.
She was, however, given the bulletin passed out at the service, its comforting words meant for a grieving widow.
God hath not promised Skies always blue, Flower-strewn pathways All our lives through, God hath not promised Sun without rain, Joy without sorrow Peace without pain,
But God hath promised Strength for the day, Rest for the labor, Light for the way, Grace for the trials, Help from above, Unfailing sympathy Undying love
About five miles away, the peace of a quiet neighborhood had been shattered by the invasion of a constant parade of weekend news crews not assigned to the funeral. Since the story had first broken in the local and national press, journalists covering the story had learned that Harris was not alone when he was murdered and had been with another woman when his wife found, confronted, and killed him. Now they knew her name. The world of Gail Bridges, once a housewife in the quiet enclave of South Shore Harbor, changed radically. The lives of a small circle once close to her would change as well.
Gail had played a dangerous game with her life for the past two years, alternating between attempting to presentthe image of a devoted mom, pillar of the local Methodist church, and wife of a prominent businessman. Now, the two-story brick home in Clear Lake City was being photographed for the nation's newscasts. Still photos would appear on the pages of grocery store tabloids.
Neighbors remembered how others in Clear Lake had gone about their business when another family had been thrust into the news just the year before. A few blocks away from the home of Gail Bridges stood the one story Mediterranean dwelling where Christian fundamentalist Rusty Yates and his wife Andrea once lived. She was internationally famous for drowning their five children in a bathtub and was now spending a lifetime in a Texas prison, her shattered mind racked by memories of how she'd killed the kids to save them from hell. Rusty was contemplating a divorce from the wife he had stalwartly stood beside during her month long murder trial.
During the Yates ordeal, the neighborhood suddenly filled with news vans and satellite trucks. Reporters walked on the closely cropped St. Augustine grass to the front doors and brazenly rang doorbells asking neighbors if they knew the family that had been struck by tragedy. Some responded, others gave the media a cold reception and refused to cooperate with them, refused to answer the most rudimentary questions about the woman and her children who had moved into the neighborhood just months before.
Like the Yates' home, Gail's house looked normal and lived in. Reporters walked to the front door and rang the bell, but nobody answered, even though the house was occupied. Other news crews pulled into the driveway and photographed the pool area with its lawn chairs and blowup toys awaiting another July frolic by a mother, her children, and their friends.
The home was supposed to be a refuge from the turmoil of the past two years which had resulted from the breakup of the marriage of Gail and her prominent insurance broker husband, Steve. It was a place to get away from the constant rumors that had swirled around the lake about Gail and the ambiguous relationship that she so publicly flaunted with her best friend Julie. Long before the divorce was final, many in League City speculated that the wife of the quietly politically active State Farm agent had a female lover whom she had met at church. The rumors, Steve believed, had hurt his business.
It is possible the truth or falsity of the rumors would never be resolved. Gail and Julie had both vigorously and publicly denied them. Now, caught up in the turmoil caused by the death of David Harris, all of the rumors would fly out of the box again. And this time the rumors could no longer simply be denied. Because whether they were true or not, the rumors had become an unavoidable factor in the tragic events surrounding David Harris' murder and in the nationwide attention generated by the high-profile trial of Clara Harris.
But persistent rumors were not Gail's most immediate problem. Gail was scared, more scared than she had ever been in her life. For days, a vengeful woman who desperately wanted her husband back had threatened her. She knew that Clara Harris was out of jail, free to come for her. She had seen the rage Clara exhibited when she confronted David, a rage so fierce that it would result in his death. Gail was frightened, and so was Julie who had been with her since the murder. Always tightly wound, Julie was now completely undone by the intrusion into the world of her friend Gail. Their former husbands were trying to take their children away from them and now this had happened. Both women were on edge and completelydistraught as the press relentlessly invaded their neighborhood, the one safe place they could come to escape the ugliness of small town gossip.
Julie Knight panicked when a blond reporter came to the door of the home. The two women whispered so as not to alert the woman that they were at home as she persistently rang the doorbell again. Julie looked at Gail, and then dialed 911 to report that Clara Harris had come to the home of her friend to finish the job that she had started only nights before when she'd killed David with her Mercedes.
Copyright © 2004 by Steven Long.