A rich man is stranded in the middle of a new town when his car breaks down near a shabby, old house. He approaches it to ask for help and is surprised at finding the most recent photo of his wife, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances five years ago.
Screeching from underneath, the Aston Martin sputtered and shook before its tires halted under a flickering street light. The towering mountains loomed in the distance, scanning the forlorn scenery as Edwin Lowe, 33, kept twisting the ignition key. “Damn! I shouldn’t have taken you out today,” he grumbled, banging the steering.
The woods nearby started to grow dark as the sun swiftly buried behind the monstrous oak-brown trees. Edwin was stranded in the middle of nowhere in a town he’d never visited before. He’d blindly chosen this spot for a weekend adventure, only to regret it big time now after his car broke down.
The piercing cry of crickets shrilled through the frosty air as Edwin pulled his overcoat closer to his body and got down. The whirling wind and the woody-earth scent of the decayed tree moss gave him goosebumps. He opened the car bonnet and grouched, kicking the muddy turf. “Great! The battery is dead…Now, what??”
The grim town stood still with nobody in far sight he could ask for help. Then, he spotted a shabby house with dim light glowing through a window just a few yards away. Thin fumes of chimney smoke and a faint smell of chicken broth convinced him someone lived there, although the rest of the town looked ghosted. Edwin knew this was his only chance to find help and marched toward the house…
“Why’s nobody outside? Weird!” Edwin grumbled, treading past the decaying houses parading the dim-lit street. Arriving on the broken doorstep of the dingy house, he blew hot air into his frozen palms and adjusted his voice before banging on the door.
“Anyone there? Hello, anyone home??”
There was no answer. He could hear vessels rattling inside and knocked again. This time, he banged harder and louder.
“Officer, check out the date on the photo … My wife is still ALIVE! We need to find her!”
He saw a shadowy figure moving through the sliver of light under the door. The old, wooden door slowly creaked, and an older woman answered, coughing between her words.
“Hey there… I’m from a nearby state. I was passing through when my car broke down. I’d be grateful if you could give me some water to drink. I need to find a mechanic and make a call to fix my car, and my phone battery is dead. Could you please help me?”
The door slowly opened, a dangling piece of wood scraping against the concrete. An older lady stood in front of Edwin, her feeble legs supported by a walking stick.
“Come in, young man,” she said, guiding Edwin to a stuffy living room. Dusty boxes, old, broken chairs, a lampshade, and a couch crowded every nook and corner. The millionaire he was, swimming in dollars and dollars of wealth, Edwin wondered how people lived in shabby homes like this. He shrugged his shoulders and followed the woman inside, thankful she agreed to help.
“I’m Doris…Doris Wright. I live alone here. Don’t mind about the mess! I’m cleaning my house, and it’s taking time. Guess I’ve become old and lazy to do everything by myself!” Doris laughed under her breath. “Please sit, young man. Do you want some tea?”
“No, I’m fine, thanks, Mrs. Wright!”
“No, you’re my guest. So you have to drink something,” said Doris, disappearing into the kitchen with a smile flickering across her wrinkles.
Edwin couldn’t refuse the kind old lady. He sat, tapping his feet on the wooden floor, and scanned the house with his curious gaze. Suddenly, a loud rattle of something smashing on the floor, followed by Doris’s screaming, startled him.
Edwin bolted into the kitchen and saw the lady had dropped the hot teapot and cups. Her shaky hands had lost grip on the heavy tray.
“Careful, Mrs. Wright. Wait, let me pick the cups…careful not to step on the ceramic shreds,” he said, and as he approached to pick up a broken cup near the fridge, he was startled at seeing something under the fridge magnet. It was a picture of Doris with Agnes, his wife. Shockingly enough, Agnes had mysteriously disappeared without a trace five years ago, but the photo seemed to have been snapped last summer, according to the date on it.
Edwin was reeling from the shock of the terrifying discovery. He quickly plucked the photo off the magnet, staring at it for a good whole minute.
“What is her photo doing here? Oh my God…this is unbelievable,” he shrieked, fear and anxiety flowing through his nerves.
“Do you know her?” Doris chimed in.
“Mrs. Wright, how do you know this woman? Was she here with you last year? Do you know where she is now? I need to find her immediately. Please tell me…where is she now?”
Tension melted into Edwin’s body. Beads of sweat rolled down his neck, Agnes’s face on the picture staring back at him ruthlessly as he recalled that fateful evening she disappeared.
Five years ago, Edwin’s life was any man’s envy. It was beautiful, like paradise, and one-of-a-kind that could turn even the happiest of couples into green-eyed monsters.
Edwin and Agnes were together for five years. But in recent times, their relationship was on the rocks. Edwin hoped to sort out the issues and even bought his wife’s favorite Swiss chocolates to surprise her once he returned home from his business trip. But when he arrived, he found his house in a mess, as though somebody had broken in.
His favorite glass ashtray was in bits and pieces, with cigarette buds scattered around. The ceramic vases and TV were broken. The cord to the landline was disconnected. Dark wine drops of crimson blood stains were spilled on the rug as though someone had a fight and got hurt in a do-or-die situation.
Edwin found out that nothing, not even a pin from his house, had been robbed. The money in the safe locker was the way it was kept. All the jewels were in place. Nothing was missing from the house except for Agnes. She was gone without a trace.
Fear trickled down Edwin’s spine as he shakily took his phone and rang his wife. “Come on, pick up…pick up.” In a flash, he bolted upstairs after hearing the phone ringing in the bedroom.
Edwin slammed the door open and found Agnes’s phone lying on the floor. Her nightgown, the stilettos she recently wore on their dinner date, a soaking wet bath towel, and her perfume lay scattered. Edwin hoped this was not one of her ugly pranks and searched for her everywhere.
“Babe, I know you’re hiding somewhere. It’s not a joke, okay? Fine, I give up…you win. Now come out. Stop doing this.”
He anxiously lifted the long curtains, hoping Agnes was hiding behind. He checked under the bed, behind the couch, and even outdoors. But she was nowhere to be found.
Edwin’s hope of finding his wife started shrinking as time grew. His heart began to race as he rang all her friends, asking if she was with them. But no, she wasn’t.
A daunting fear crawled up Edwin’s gut every time he passed across the blood-stained rug. “Something terrible must have happened here. But what?” He panicked. Time was running out, so he immediately called the cops. Ten minutes later, a loud police siren broke the silence outside Edwin’s luxury villa.
“What time did you come home?” officer Kevin Walker interrogated Edwin.
“I was on a business trip, officer. I arrived at 6:30 today evening.”
“When did you last see her?”
“We went out for dinner two weeks ago…’twas her birthday. Then I left for a trip to Paris to meet a client.”
“When did she last call you?”
“Did she sound nervous? Did she tell you something…about going somewhere? Meeting a friend? Party or something?”
“No, officer. She didn’t tell me anything and sounded happy about something. I even asked her what it was, but she refused to tell me anything. She told me she couldn’t wait to see me soon. I told her I’d be returning today. And when I came, she was not home. I’m scared. Please find my wife, officer. I’m sure somebody kidnapped her for money.”
Officer Kevin and his team suspected it could be a kidnapping case too. A cop stayed behind with Edwin to monitor any suspicious call he might get from kidnappers for a ransom. But as time swelled by, Edwin did not get any such call.
“If it wasn’t for money, then for what? And who could’ve done this? Oh God, where’s she? Agnes, please, come back. I’m scared,” Edwin broke down into tears.
It was day four since Agnes had disappeared, and the cops could not find a clue about her. Then, officer Kevin decided to approach the case from a different angle, and his suspicion immediately fell on Edwin.
“The man goes on a business trip…he comes home and finds his house in a mess. Not a dime goes missing. His wife disappears into thin air…she leaves her phone…and there are blood stains on the rug…What if he’s spinning the truth around, faking a kidnap, trying to distract us? What if he murdered his wife??” Kevin pondered.
The cops then arrived at Edwin’s house with a search warrant and rummaged through every nook and corner, looking for clues.
Officer Kevin’s suspicion grew stronger after finding Agnes’s diary in her cupboard. He flipped through the pages, looking for hints, when a particular note penned on March 11, 2013, drew his attention.
“Today was hell. We fought again. Edwin talked about divorce for the first time. My heart broke. But nothing hurt me more than when he said our marriage was a terrible mistake. He rained curse words on me. Edwin thinks I’m good for nothing. He calls me a leech feeding on his happiness & money. I’m scared he will leave me. I love him. I want to live my life with him. But it looks like he’s not happy with me anymore. What did I do to deserve this? I want my husband back.”
Kevin sat on the bed, flipping the pages further. Next. Next. And next. He kept skimming the leaves, but there was nothing suspicious until seeing another note Agnes had written on April 3, 2013.
“Why is my life turning into hell? Edwin, why are you hurting me like this? Today, I tried to convince him to adopt a baby. I told him I wanted us to be parents. But he refused again, saying he is not ready to father someone else’s child when he is perfectly healthy to have his own. His words hurt me like a sharp knife slicing through my heart. Even I want to be a mother & bear a child. But my health…I didn’t ask for this. I cannot go inside my body & fix things. I’m infertile, but that doesn’t mean I’m a rock. Even I have feelings. He’s treating me like I don’t exist.”
The cop kept reading. This time, he was particularly interested in the note she’d written on June 6, 2013.
“I was sure Edwin was hiding something from me. I was sure he had a mistress. And today, I got my doubts cleared. I saw him with a young, pretty brunette. They were dining at the restaurant. They even kissed. Oh, how disgusting it was. I felt like throwing up. I took my phone to click a picture of them, but by then, they were done kissing. I didn’t get another chance to catch them together as Edwin saw me in the restaurant. I confronted him, but he lied, saying she was his colleague. He never allows me to touch his phone & even if he does, I’m not able to find anything suspicious. He’s too smart. His chats & inbox are always empty. He’s just not leaving a hint about his affair. And I understand why. Coz if we divorced due to his fling, I would get half of his money & Edwin wouldn’t let that happen.”
Officer Kevin sighed, a sinister grin spreading across his face. He was partially sure about Edwin being the murderer. He kept reading, looking for more hints as to what could’ve happened after Agnes confronted Edwin about his affair.
“I knew it…I saw this coming,” Kevin uttered, tapping the diary with a confident stare. On August 8, 2013, Agnes had written her last note, two months before she disappeared.
“Today was a dark day in my life I wish to forget. We had a terrible quarrel & he slapped me. He headed for his golf club, but I ran upstairs & locked myself in my room. He kept banging on the door, asking me to open it. He screamed, saying people were killed even for much less money than I would get after the divorce. I’m scared. I want to run away, but he won’t let me do that. I want to get a gun to defend myself. I don’t know what to do & I don’t have anybody to ask for help. Should I inform the cops? I’m sure Edwin will find a way out using his influence. I’ll act normal around him but for how long? What if he kills me someday? I’m stupid even to think Edwin would do something like that to me. But after what happened today, I’m so scared & confused.”
Convinced Edwin was the murderer, the cops searched his house again and found a pool of clumsily washed blood stains concealed under the mat on the kitchen floor. Forensic experts arrived on the scene and tested the blood samples and strands of hair on Agnes’s hairbrush. It was a match!
“Where did you hide the body? And how did you kill your wife?” officer Kevin interrogated Edwin.
The cop, not even in his 15 years of service, had seen a case like this, so he was hellbent on solving it at any cost.
“Officer, please believe me. She’s lying. I admit I had an affair with Maya, my new secretary. But I didn’t kill my wife. And I wasn’t going to divorce her. I love children and have always wanted them. But Agnes constantly refused. She had a health issue, and she couldn’t conceive. But I was always open to adoption. She used to fight with me whenever I talked about having kids,” Edwin told Kevin.
“Young man?? Are you alright?” Doris jolted Edwin to the moment. “Here, drink some water.”
He gulped the water quickly and asked Doris about Agnes. Afraid the old lady wouldn’t reveal the truth, he lied to her.
“She was my ex-classmate. We went to the same high school but lost touch. I’m so happy to see her after so many years. Where is she now? Do you have her number or something?”
“She told me her name was Maria. She rented a room in my house for a while. She was a lovely young girl who reminded me of my granddaughter. Maria told me she was afraid of her evil husband and had to escape from him after he planned to kill her. That poor thing! She vacated last year, telling me she was going somewhere. She never came back and never called. She left her number with me, but I was too busy to reach out. And even if I did call her, she never answered, and all my calls went to her voicemail.”
Edwin was tormented beyond belief. He started suspecting something was still fishy about Agnes’s mysterious disappearance.
“Mrs. Wright, thanks a lot for helping me. I’ll meet you someday if I visit,” he said, unplugging his phone from the charger. “Can I have that photo and Maria’s phone number?”
Edwin then greeted Doris goodbye as he left her shabby house with two clues that could help him connect the dots.
He got his car fixed and left the town immediately. “If she’s still alive, why didn’t she come back to me? Did she frame me intentionally, then?” Edwin muttered. “But why would she do this in the first place? I didn’t even want to divorce her. Why did she write like that in her diary? Am I still missing something?”
Edwin sped past the street-lit road into a cloud of mist rolling over his car. He couldn’t find a valid reason to forgive or forget what Agnes had done to him.
Edwin was trapped in a puddle of problems five years ago when his wife disappeared. Though he avoided landing in jail as her body and the murder weapon weren’t recovered, rumors had already spread around town like wildfire that he had murdered Agnes.
His reputation was ruined, especially after the case details reached the front page and screen of the media. Edwin was all over the news for a really long time. His friends and family turned their backs on him, afraid they would be in trouble for even talking to him. To make things worse, investors withdrew from doing business with him, so he was forced to sell it.
Edwin started drinking to find peace, but in vain. Nothing brought him out of his shell until he harbored a passion for vintage cars. He collected five of them and went on trips to new places every weekend to forget his grief. Those long drives, with nobody beside him to talk to other than his reflection in the rearview mirror, were some of the only few things that healed him in the last five years.
At some point, Edwin started living with the assumption that Agnes was indeed dead. But now that he’d discovered she was still alive, he decided to find her and know why she’d ruined his life. Upon arriving back in his hometown, Edwin hurried to the station to meet officer Kevin.
“Well…well…look who’s here! A murderer from five years past,” Kevin wickedly laughed, taunting Edwin. “Have you come here to confess to your crime? I think your conscience has grounded you. Go on…tell me everything…my ears are all yours! How did you kill your wife? And where did you hide her body? Did you bury it? Or burn it? Or did you cement it within the wall of your home?”
A wild wave of laughter filled the station. Edwin appeared like a blatant joke, especially after he managed to escape a jail sentence for a murder mystery that still shook the town.
“Officer, I found something…about my wife,” Edwin chimed in, his stern voice bursting through officer Kevin’s wild laughter.
“I was in this new town today evening…My car broke down, and I found this photo…”
Kevin jumped off the table he was sitting on, his boots slamming hard on the polished floor.
What is it?” He grabbed the picture from Edwin’s hand. “It’s your wife’s photo. And who is this old lady?”
“Officer, check out the date on the photo,” Edwin interrupted.
Kevin froze in shock. He looked at Edwin, the photo, and then at Edwin again.
“I found this number. It’s Agnes’s, and she was with an old lady last year. My wife is still ALIVE! We need to find her!”
The cop immediately fetched his team, and Agnes’s phone location was soon tracked. She was in the nearby state. Her photo was immediately faxed to the station in that city, and eventually, she was taken into custody.
Agnes was brought back to Edwin’s hometown and presented in court. The mysterious disappearance and murder case of Agnes Lowe reopened. People and media flocked to the court, curious to know what had happened to her and why she suddenly vanished without a trace.
Edwin hired a lawyer to fight his case, confident the world would see him differently at the end of the hearing. The nail-biting moment started when the lawyer called Agnes to the witness box.
“Your Honor, Mrs. Agnes Lowe, wife of my client Mr. Edwin Lowe, disappeared on October 9, 2013. Nobody knew what had happened to her. Then, my client, Mr. Lowe, was suspected of murdering her. He could not be arrested or sentenced to jail as the body of Mrs. Lowe, and the murder weapon were not found. The case file was closed, with Mr. Lowe as the prime suspect in Mrs. Lowe’s death. Your Honor, she is Mrs. Agnes Lowe, my client’s supposedly ‘DEAD’ wife. She is ALIVE and standing right here in front of our eyes!”
Agnes was then asked to confess the truth. She understood she could no longer hide anything and cried bitterly. Everybody in court was on the edge of their seats when Agnes finally started to speak.
“I moved to Los Angeles last year after renting a small apartment under fake documents. So for some years before that, I kept switching places, renting random houses. And I last stayed with an old lady named Doris Wright.”
“Mrs. Lowe, can you tell us what happened on October 9, 2013?” Edwin’s lawyer chimed in as the entire court’s curious gaze shifted to Agnes.
“I saw my husband with a young woman some months back. They were kissing in the restaurant. I was sure Edwin would soon divorce me and not give me a dime from his money.”
“According to our marriage contract, I would get half his money only if we had children or if he cheated on me. I am infertile, and I couldn’t conceive. I lied in my diary about my husband not wanting to adopt children. Actually, I was against it and even refused when he proposed the idea. And when I caught Edwin kissing his mistress, I decided to confront him at home…and I did, hoping he would admit to his infidelity.”
“Then I tried to persuade him to confess about cheating on me. But he didn’t. He was acting smart. I even told him about seeing him with a woman, but he fought me off, saying she was ‘just a friend.’ I was mad…and upset, but I acted normal. I knew he would head for a divorce soon and not give me a dime from his money. He was playing smart with me, so I decided to outsmart him by ruining his life. I plotted a plan, and this is what I did next.”
“The week he was away on a business trip, I searched the internet for ideas. I faked my own death by drawing my blood using a syringe. I then smeared the blood on the kitchen floor. I wiped it off with a wet cloth, leaving mild stains to make it appear like a murder scene. I purposely left hair strands on my brush coz I was sure the cops would look for clues and get the forensics involved. Then I wrote a diary with fabricated incidents on different dates as strong evidence. I loved Edwin and was always loyal to him. But when he cheated on me, I was afraid he would soon leave me for his mistress and kick me out with nothing. I didn’t marry him for money…but I wanted to teach him a lesson before he could even think of abandoning me. That’s all, Your Honor!”
Sweat, tears, and anxiety cloaked a startled Edwin’s face. He shakily marched to the witness box to testify further.
“Your Honor, I did have a fling with my secretary. ‘Twas a mistake. I terribly regret it. I’m ready to pay half of my money to my wife now,” he uttered regretfully, guilty to meet Agnes’s eyes.
“Mr. Lowe, you shouldn’t be ready to pay half of your money to your wife. You are OBLIGED to pay her for betraying her and for breaking your marriage contract!” the judge announced.
As for Agnes, she succeeded in teaching Edwin a painful lesson for cheating on her. She also managed to get half of his money after the divorce but had to taste the bitterness of her lies. Agnes landed in jail for faking her own death and for forging the documents.
What can we learn from this story?
Truth cannot be concealed for long. It unravels in surprising ways, giving liars a taste of their own deeds. Edwin hid his affair from his wife, Agnes. She, in turn, decided to ruin his life by faking her own death. Ultimately, both of them tasted their own medicine when the truth unraveled five years later.
Do not jump to a hasty conclusion without comprehending the facts. When officer Kevin read Agnes’s diary and found blood stains in the kitchen, he concluded Edwin had murdered her. He lived with this assumption for the next five years until Edwin accidentally found Agnes’s picture in a shabby house and found clues she was still alive.
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