The hardest thing about moving to a new area is finding a new group of friends to socialize with. I don't have a problem meeting people, but my wife has always been very reserved, and has not taken quickly to new people. So, as I have done in the past, I let her meet the neighbors, and select the ones that she wanted to be friendly with. We had gone to a number of outdoor parties that various folks had held over the summer, and Janice, our neighbor across the street seemed to be the one that my wife liked best of all.
So, I began to gradually do things with Janice's husband Bill. Bill would probably not have been my first choice as a new best friend, but we did have a love of old cars in common, and I began to help Bill with his restoration of an old Mustang convertible.
What I couldn't tell Bill, or Janice, or even my own wife for that matter, was that my hobby was glasses - no not drinking glasses, but rather the kind people wear to correct their vision. I am also into old optical equipment, but I don't have much space to hide things. So, most of my collection was in a storage locker, which fortunately I had been able to rent in the same set of storage sheds that we had rented a large one to store our overflow of goods from our other house. Anytime my wife sent me over to get something for her, I would make an unscheduled stop to check out my collection. And whenever possible I would also make up an excuse to drop by to check on things myself. I have a pretty good collection of ladies glasses with high minus lenses, and I was always on the lookout for new glasses to add to my collection. Actually, I also spent a lot of time wandering around the area looking for ladies that wore high minus glasses, but it is difficult to find anyone wearing the stronger prescriptions, and I hadn't yet spotted anyone in the area
One afternoon while Bill and I were working on the Mustang, we decided to knock off and go into the air-conditioned house for a beer. We went through the front door, and I stopped to look at an old roll top desk that sits to one side of their living room. Usually the roll top was closed, but today it was open, and I spotted a pair of glasses in one of the cubbyholes. I wanted to get a closer look, but wasn't sure how to go about it, so I just commented on how nice the old roll top looked, and that it was even nicer looking open. Bill jumped at the opportunity to show it to me, and while we were looking I casually removed the specs from the cubbyhole. My heart raced, as they were most definitely a very high minus pair. They were about 15 years old, and had a fairly large eye sized pair of drop temple plastic frames. The lenses were myodiscs and I knew right away that they must be quite strong, but I didn't think I should put them up to my eyes to check the strength, so I just put them back. I commented that they were a pretty strong prescription.
"Yes, they are." Bill said. " They're my wife's."
Well, after that I looked at Janice from a different perspective. I had spotted the telltale look of contacts on her before, but unlike glasses contacts give no outward signs of their strength. I had to be very careful though, as I couldn't bring up the subject of glasses or contacts, or even vision without attracting the suspicion of my wife. A few times I had done just that over the years, and she was a bit suspicious - to the point where she had even pointed out a lady wearing a fairly strong pair of glasses in a mall one day. She had done it pretty casually, but I knew that she had noticed over the years that I seemed to give ladies with thick glasses more than a second look. So, I felt that I had better keep quiet about anything relating to eyesight, or glasses for Janice.
But it certainly didn't stop me from hanging around at Bill and Janice's house though. Bill and I were making great progress on the Mustang, due in part to all the hours I was putting in hoping to see Janice wearing her glasses. But all my hanging around, and hoping were to no avail. It seemed that Janice avoided the wearing of glasses at all costs.
The more I got to know Bill, the less I liked him. He was very sarcastic towards people, and some of his comments he made to Janice bordered on being abusive. Even with me, a supposed friend supplying him with free labor, his sarcasm was hard to take. Finally I had enough, so I decided that it wasn't worth putting up with the comments in order to eventually see Janice in glasses. I didn't say anything - I just slowly stopped going over to his garage. And on the few nights I did drop by, I found that Bill was getting even harder to take than before.
One day Janice asked me why I hadn't been over for a couple of weeks. I just said that I had other things that were more pressing, but she pressed me for an answer, to which I told her that I would rather not say.
" I think it's because he is an abusive S.O.B. and you just couldn't take it any longer." she replied.
With this I had to confess that this was part of it, and she then unloaded herself onto me. Things were very unhappy around their house most of the time, and she was seriously thinking of leaving Bill. However, all her money was tied up in his company, and she just didn't have any extra funds she could use to get started in a new life.
I suppose that this is where it all started. But what really put things in motion was the unfortunate death of my wife in a tragic car accident. After the funeral was over, Janice spent a lot of time with me, as I tried to get my life back in order. It was only natural that one of us would suggest that maybe the wrong person had died. And, after all this time, I can't remember who brought the subject up, nor does it really matter. So, we spent all the time we could trying to work out a plan to eliminate Bill from the equation.
From the time I was a small child, I have devoured mystery novels with a passion. And, I knew that there is a common theme in each and every one of these novels that didn't suit me at all. I cannot remember even one novel that ended with the murderer getting away with it. In the end they all were caught. But, knowing this made my resolve even stronger. We made hundreds of plans, but they were all rejected. The one we liked best was for Bill to accidentally drown in the swimming pool. Unfortunately Bill was a strong swimmer, so we would either have to spike his drink, or just plain get him drunk, as any form of drug would be found by an autopsy. And, since Janice had the best motive for wanting to get rid of Bill, we decided that I was going to have to be the one to get Bill drunk, and push him into the pool. Janice would be away with a close friend to provide her with an alibi.
So, we had reached a bit of a quandary. We had decided what we were going to do, and we had a bit of a game plan. But, I just didn't seem to have the stomach for the task.
I was sitting out on my side deck when I heard the sirens. The ambulance arrived first, and was followed by two police cars right behind it. The ambulance attendants jumped out with all their gear, and headed towards Bill's back yard. I wanted to go over there so badly, but I decided that I had best remain where I was, and just watch. Soon a body was carried out on the stretcher. At least, since the object on the stretcher was covered, I was pretty sure it was a body. But was it Bill? Or was it Janice? Did he finally hit her once too often, and a lot too hard? Or did she seize an opportunity to do the deed? I had all the questions, but at the moment none of the answers.
I could no longer contain myself, so I walked across the street to their house, and rang the bell. A policewoman came to the door, and I introduced myself, and asked if there was anything that I could, as a friend and neighbor, do. As I was speaking with the officer, Janice came to the front entrance, and advised the officer that we were close friends, and I was welcome to come in. Janice and I were left together in the living room, and between sobs she told the story of how she came home to find Bill floating face down in the pool. I consoled her as best as I could, all the while thinking that she was crazy to do this herself. And, it was evident from the treatment that Janice was receiving from the police that were there that she was being considered a prime suspect in her husband's death. I finally excused myself, and Janice walked me to the door.
As I was leaving Janice whispered. " I didn't do anything. I came home and found him in the pool."
Sorry, but I didn't believe that anymore than the police would. However, a couple of days later, after the autopsy, it was discovered that Bill had had a brain aneurysm, and had in fact died while Janice was with friends for lunch.
So, our planning was all for nothing, and after the funeral we could now decide if we wanted to further our relationship. Of course, we had to wait for a decent period of time, so we waited six months before we started to date.
Janice was good company. It also didn't hurt that Bill's life insurance had paid off with a very substantial amount. And Bill's partners in the business had had partnership insurance, so they were able to buy Janice out. She was now very well off. But I was getting frustrated. It was now almost a year since Bill had passed away, and I had not been able to get even a tiny glimpse of Janice in glasses.
Finally I could no longer contain myself. I told Janice that I was definitely attracted to her, but that I knew she wore contacts, and I wanted to see her wearing glasses.
" But" she said, " I have such a low prescription that I don't even have a pair of glasses. I mostly wear contacts, and if I don't want to wear them, I just go without."
I had a hard time comprehending this statement, and I had to ask, " What about the pair of glasses that are in the old roll top desk?"
" Oh " she laughed, " Those were Bill's first wife's glasses. She had very poor eyesight."
( with competent editing by A.J.)