The scene opens up as the camera pans over the living room of a home. There are crushed beer cans and wedding photos scattered all over the floor. As we pan up behind the couch, we see the back of Thaddeus’s head as he watching his wedding video for the umpteenth time this evening. He’s obviously upgraded from beer to harder stuff, as a bottle of liquor sits on the coffee table, open and half empty. A smoldering cigarette sits in the ashtray next to him on the couch.
“Thaddeus, do you take Betsy to be your lawfully wedded wife…”
The words of the minister echo through the darkened room.
Thaddeus (voiceover): We know that love isn’t eternal, but we still make the promise to love one another forever. There are only two ways to keep this promise. To make a promise for a shorter amount of time or to end one’s life sooner than expected.
We see Thaddeus finish a shot and then walks over, and he begins to push a barstool to the center of the room. He gingerly places one foot on the stool and then lifts himself up onto it where a noose hangs, hung perfectly at neck level. He turns to look at the video when the minister finally allows them to kiss.
As they finally touch lips on the screen, a tear slowly rolls down his cheek as he reaches for the noose and slowly pulls it over his head.
Then he knocks over the stool.
Thaddeus snaps awake, sitting up quickly in his bed, and he glances around. He’s a little confused at the moment, as if unsure where he is, when he looks over to the other bed in the room, seeing it made up nice and neatly.
At the foot of his bed, his suit and tie are all laid out, ready for him to put on for another day at work.
He breathes a sigh of relief.
Moments later, he buttons up his vest as he walks down the stairs to the living room. “You woke up early?” he says to Betsy, who is at the stove, preparing breakfast as she does every morning. She stirs whatever is in the pot on the stove, “I wanted to cook breakfast for you today,” Thaddeus says as he walks up to the counter.
“I made you some oatmeal,” Betsy tells him as she stirs and stirs. Not instant, always cooked from scratch. “I hope that’s okay.”
Thaddeus pours himself a cup of coffee, “Of course!” He takes a drink and then sets his mug down, “Let me take over for you at least,” he says as she offers the spoon to him, and he begins to stir.
“Let me get the brown sugar,” she says as she moves behind her to the cabinets.
Moments later, she serves him a bowl of oatmeal. There are some smaller bowls of fruits and sugars for him to season to his taste. She places her bowl in front of her as she sits across from him, “Eat it while it’s warm,” she advises. “It’ll clump if you let it get cold.” She slides a bowl of nuts across to him, “Try these pine nuts. They’re very healthy for you and can improve your blood circulation.”
Betsy always dresses impeccably from the moment she wakes up. Long skirt, blouse buttoned to the neck, and something nice in her hair. This morning, she has a large ribbon that ties her hair back into a ponytail.
Thaddeus adds some nuts to his oatmeal and takes a bite. “It’s really great,” he tells her.
Betsy seems to be pleased to hear that. She’s been hoping he would notice, but since he hasn’t said anything, she leans in a little and asks, “Do you think I look a little different today?”
Thaddeus isn’t very perceptive as he immediately answers, “You look more beautiful today than yesterday.” Perhaps flattery will work.
Betsy giggles and shakes her head, “Silly. Look, I had my nails done yesterday.” She holds them up so he will take notice. “Do you like them?”
“They look great,” he tells her.
After he finishes his breakfast, she walks out to the foyer, opens the closet, and pulls out his dress shoes. There are actually multiple shoes in the closet, each one with a specific label. “Dress shoes.” “Running shoes.” So forth and so on.
As she starts to give him his shoes, she sees his running shoes sitting on the floor. She reaches down and picks them up, “Could you at least put your shoes in the closet when you’re finished with them?” she asks.
Thaddeus acts so shocked that he hadn’t put those shoes away. “I’m so sorry! It must have just slipped my mind.” He slips on his dress shoes as Betsy puts away his running shoes. “I’ll remember from now on,” he promises, probably not for the first time. “Would you like to come to help out at the restaurant today?”
Betsy shakes her head, “There’s plenty for this housewife to do right here in the home. It’s my job, and I’m happy to do it.”
He grabs his briefcase and walks to the door, turning back, “Oh, before I forget. Can you reconsider what we talked about last night?” he asks. “About the loan….”
Betsy doesn’t offer an answer or so much as a word to him. Just looks at him with a straight face.
“Never mind then,” Thaddeus says.
There is a graphic that tells us that it’s 8:00 am as Betsy follows Thaddeus down the front steps on the home to his car, “Will you be home late again?” she asks.
“Hm?” he says as he turns back to her, “Oh, don’t wait up for me.”
“I always wait for you. Besides, there’s something we need to discuss this evening,” she tells him.
Their attention is distracted by the couple across the street. It looks like Sierra is heading off to work herself while Emmy is seeing her off. “Drive safely,” Emmy tells Sierra as they kiss. “I’ll have dinner waiting when you return.”
“Don’t skimp on food to save money,” Sierra reminds her.
Emmy nods her head, “Come home early.”
“I will. We can share a bath again tonight, okay?” Sierra suggests as she reaches for Emmy’s hand and gives it a squeeze.
“We will see,” Emmy teases her.
Sierra smirks at her wife, “I wanted to give you that massage I owe you.”
“How about you stay home from work today?” Emmy asks.
Sierra leans in and kisses Emmy again, “I’ll be home soon.”
As Sierra gets ready to leave, they notice the couple across the street looking at them, and they wave. Betsy and Thaddeus wave back.
Thaddeus kisses his wife on the cheek and walks into the garage to get into his car. Sierra is the first to drive off, and Thaddeus gets into his car and finds his neck is itching. He pulls his collar to the side to see that it’s red, and he gives it a scratch. He reaches into the cup holder and pulls out a bottle of allergy pills, and takes one.
After giving his neck another furious scratch, he starts the car and pulls out of the driveway. Betsy is watching him from the steps as he drives off.
From her window, Emmy watches the wife across the street wait on the stairs until her husband has vanished from view.
At 9:30, Thad is preparing to open the restaurant as he runs down the daily specials to his staff. Thad has developed his restaurant into one of the premier eating spots in the city. His specials aren’t called that because they are priced cheaper, but because he only makes a small, certain menu each day, and those are the only dishes available to eat for the customers who arrive. It doesn’t dissuade anyone from showing up as his meals are always five-star quality.
As he announces the dishes, Mary will give them the details of each dish so the serving staff can properly annunciate the day’s meals to the customers.
As the restaurant opens, the food is being cooked. Customers are being served. Thad is hand making each cup of coffee, pouring the water into a filter that sits on the cup. Thad’s passion beyond cooking is making the perfect cup of coffee for his customers.
“That’s a nice tie,” Mary tells him. “Your wife has good taste,” she says as she hands off a plate of food to a server.
Thaddeus grins at her, “Thanks.” He finishes the cup of coffee, but instead of allowing the server to bring it to the table, he insists on delivering it himself.
The restaurant has long been closed, and Thad is checking on his coffee beans in the restaurant’s basement. He buys them bulk and roasts them himself. He pulls out a sample and gives them a sniff. He’s pleased but knows they need a bit longer.
Just then, his phone alerts him. He picks it up, and he’s reminded of payment due to the bank soon. This is what he needed the loan for, but his wife would have none of it when he brought it up a couple of days ago. He needed this money, or this restaurant was going to be done for.
He finishes up and locks up the restaurant.
Thad walks the parking lot to his car and gets in. He lets out a deep sigh, seemingly not eager to go home just yet.
Slowly, a pair of hands creep across his shoulders from the back of the car. He’s started at first, but then the hands squeeze down, and Mary leans across the seat.
“You scared the shit out of me,” he tells her.
Mary chuckles as she begins to reach for his tie and loosens it up, “I don’t get to dress you, but I can certainly undress you.” After the tie is loosened, she unbuttons the top button of his shirt and then leans to kiss the side of his neck. Thaddeus closes his eyes, enjoying the moment.
She stops kissing when she sees the redness on his neck, “Are you taking your medicine?” she asks with concern. He reaches for it in the cup holder and holds it up, shaking it in response to her question.
“God, how can you live that way?” she asks with a touch of disdain. “You break out with the slightest touch of that woman.”
“I take my medicine,” he answers. He turns to look at her, “You are my medicine.”
Thad leans in, and the two begin to kiss.
Betsy seems to be in a daze as the kettle begins to whistle. It blows for a bit before she snaps out of her daydream and pulls the kettle from the stove. She pours some water into a mug of powdered cocoa and stirs it up.
She seems a little agitated that Thad isn’t home yet.
Thaddeus throws Mary down on the bed, and the music plays as the two begin to get intimate.
Betsy walks down the hall to the bedroom, sits at her night table, and looks at herself in the mirror before reaching for her brush and slowly begins to brush her hair.
Mary rolls over on top of Thaddeus, straddles him, and slowly pulls the nightgown over her head.
Betsy’s brushing seems to become preoccupied as her mind just doesn’t focus on the task at hand. She almost looks sad as she finally gives up and sets the brush back on the table.
At 10:44pm, Thad lies on Mary’s bed, drinking from a bottle of water. He finds a pair of panties behind the pillow, “Don’t you ever clean up?”
Mary is over at the mirror, putting some cream on her face, “Oh, I’m not so desirable now because my apartment is a little messy?
Thad scoots from the bed and rushes up behind her, and wraps his arms around her from behind, “I happen to desire you very much,” he says as she lets out a squeal. He lifts her up and carries her back to the bed, throwing her down onto it. “I feel more like a man when I’m with you,” he tells her as he pins her down onto the bed.
“Disgusting!” she squeals out as she pretends to try and fight him but ends up wrapping her arms around his neck. “You’re so damn naughty,” she teases him.
Thad gets a little serious, “What if we just left everything behind, ran off, and found a quiet place to live our lives?” he asks her.
Mary chuckles as she rolls him over and climbs on top of him, “She isn’t going to give you the money, right?” She leans down and kisses him on the corner of his mouth.
“It’s just us,” he explains. “We can find a place and start over.”
She pushes herself up onto her knees, still straddling him. “You want to start over? At your age?”
He sits up, “What? You think I couldn’t start over?”
Mary pushes him back down, “Of course not.” She climbs off of him and sits on the edge of the bed, turning away from him. “You think you failed because you weren’t talented?” She turns back to him. “Do not start over. Just think about this. Without that woman, everything would be yours. The house. The money. The restaurant. Everything.” She gets up off the bed and walks away as Thad puts his hands behind his head and sighs deeply.
Mary opens the drawer to her nightstand and pulls something out of it. She seems to debate something to herself before she turns back around. She holds up a small packet.
Thad’s eyes go wide, and he sits up, “Is this…?”
“The toxin,” Mary tells him. The packet seems to contain some powder. “Once it enters the body, within twelve hours, she’ll have vomiting, diarrhea, and bleeding. The toxin will continue to infect the cells of her body, and within two days, she will die of organ failure. It’s nearly impossible to detect, so it’ll look like she died of a serious illness.” She holds up a needle, “Inject it into the bottle of wine. You’re already sleeping in separate beds, so all you have to do is claim to have been drunk and didn’t notice a goddamned thing.”
She places the packet and the needle into his hand, “The morning after she’s dead, call the cops, and the rest is history.”
Thaddeus looks down at the deadly items in his hand.
At 11:20 pm, Thad is back at the restaurant. He walks down into the wine cellar and finds the perfect win for this plan. One she would never suspect.
By 11:30, he’s pulling into an alley. Mary had gone to the trouble to liquefy the powder into a vial for him. He draws the liquid into the needle and then reaches for the wine. He struggles as he pushes the needle through the cork and then watches as a single drop of the liquid drops into the wine bottle.
“Are you really going to do this, Thad?” he asks himself.
Thad pulls into the garage and checks his hair in the mirror, hoping it didn’t look like he just had sex, but then he notices the GPS. He reaches over and formats the SD card to hide whereabouts for the evening.
He reaches over, grabs his briefcase and the bag with the wine bottle in it, and he exits the car. He walks out of his garage and sees a strange car parked across the street. A large bald man is sitting at the driver’s seat, and once the man realizes he’s spotted, he starts his car. He drives slowly by Thaddeus, and the two look at each other for a moment before the car speeds up and disappears around the corner.
“That was fucking weird,” Thaddeus says to himself as he closes the gate and walks up the stairs to the front of the house.
He steps into the foyer and, before going into the house, takes a deep breath. He starts to open the door and says, “I’m home…” when his eyes go wide, and he drops the bags onto the floor.
He takes two steps backward and stares at the floor, which is covered in blood.
There’s a lot of blood, and it looks like a streak of blood moves towards the door.
Thad looks terrified as he looks around the room to see if there’s anyone there, as he struggles with what to do next. “Honey?” he calls out as he carefully steps around the puddle of blood on the floor. “Betsy!” he yells louder, concern on this face.
Suddenly, he bursts into action as he runs towards the stairs, flies around the corner, and hurries to the second level of the house. He’s calling her name as he rushes down the hallway and pushes the door to the bedroom open.
The bedroom is empty. The beds are still made. Everything is in its place.
He rushes back down the stairs and looks out into the backyard, but again, nothing is there.
Thad is careful to step around the blood as he goes into the kitchen area, reaching into his jacket pocket to pull out his phone. He calls his wife.
It immediately goes to voicemail.
He slowly lowers the phone, but his eyes catch something on the counter. He slowly walks towards it, and he finds a card. He pulls it up, and it reads:
“Prepare five million dollars. Call the cops, and your wife dies. -N31”
The letters on the card are printed, perhaps off a computer printer. It’s not handwritten.
He glances around, but his eyes go back to the card, focused on three words. Your. Wife. Dies.
His eyes move from the card to the blood, the bag with the bottle of wine in it. As his mind processes it all, he comes to the realization that someone has done his job for him.
He doesn’t have fucking five million dollars.
As a slow smile turns into a grin on his face.
Sitting in a police car, Alex turns to JC and shakes her head. “Why aren’t you answering your wife’s calls?” JC seems more preoccupied with playing some crush game on his phone as he sends his wife’s call to voicemail.
“I’m working, alright?” JC tells her. “Mind your business.”
Alex shakes her head, “If I ever get married, I’ll never be like you.”
“What?” asks JC scoffs, “You don’t want to become like me? Get married and see. Being married is like doing a jigsaw puzzle every single day.”
“Adam-12, we have a report of a kidnapping.” The dispatcher rattles off the address.
“Shit,” JC says as he reaches for his seat belt, “A fucking kidnapping? I thought our night was about to be over.”
Alex grabs the handset, “Dispatcher, we’re on our way.”
Alex pulls out into traffic, and they head towards the address.
Some time later, the house is designated a crime scene. The bloodstain has been outlined in tape. As JC and Alex walk into the home, an officer leads them over to the couch where Thad is sitting, “This is the victim’s husband,” she says.
They pull out their badges, “I’m JC Thrund, and this is my partner Alex Shlock. We’ll be taking charge of this case. Try not to get too worked up. We will do our best to get your wife home safe and sound.”
As the detectives put on gloves, JC first notices the happy wedding photos on a corner table. He then walks around the bloodstain and to the table where the card sits. It has been designated with a number for identification. He reads it over and looks up at Thad, who follows them over. “What’s N31?”
Thad shakes his head, looking concerned, “I’ve no idea.” That much is definitely true. “I’m more worried about the part where they say they’ll kill her if I call the cops.”
Alex shakes her head, “They want money. They’re not going to do anything if they think they’ll get money. Have you prepared the five million dollars?”
Thad shakes his head, “This just happened.”
“Can you raise the money?” asks JC.
Thad nods his head, “Yes.”
Alex seems surprised, “You can prepare that much cash?”
Thad nods his head again, still looking very solemn. “Yes, of course.” Technically, he doesn’t have that much, but his wife has that in her personal account. With her out of the way, he can get that money from her account.
“Give us the bank information, and we’ll send word to the bank in the morning to get it ready,” JC says, assuming that Thad’s first desire is to get his wife home safe and sound.
“Okay,” Thad says as he wanders off to go find the information, returning moments later with his wife’s bank book. He hands it over to Alex, and she browses through it to find just over five million dollars in the account.
“Is anything missing from the house?” JC asks.
Thad shakes his head, “No.”
Alex asks, “Is anything out of place?”
“I haven’t noticed anything,” Thad tells her.
JC is staring at the bloodstain on the floor, “There’s a lot of blood here. Sure seems like she lost quite a bit. But I don’t see any sign of a struggle to indicate she tried to fight her attacker. Statically speaking, kidnappers are usually…” he pauses as he and Alex exchange a look, causing Thad to look nervous. “Someone close,” JC finishes as he walks into the kitchen. He finds two mugs in the sink. He holds it to check the temperature and then brings it up to his nose and sniffs inside. “Cocoa.”
They find it interesting there are two used mugs in the sink. Alex looks up at Thad, “When was the last time you saw your wife?”
“This morning,” Thad explains. “When I went to work.”
“Was she acting differently this morning?” JC asks. “Anything different about her at all?”
Thaddeus thinks about it, then he remembers. “She was very happy to have gotten her nails done.”
Alex writes that down in her notebook, “I hate to ask, but have there been any troubles? Money or perhaps, another man?”
Thaddeus recalls the conversation this morning about the loan but doesn’t mention it to the detectives. “Nothing that I can think of.”
JC nods his head, “Are these cups in the sink for guests?”
“No,” Thad explains. “They are for my wife and me.”
“So, you drank cocoa with her this evening?” asks Alex.
Thad shakes his head, “No. I haven’t been home all day.”
JC motions for an officer and hands them the two cups, “Let’s check these for fingerprints.”
“Who could she have had cocoa with then?” Alex asks as a follow-up.
Thad wonders if he’s become a suspect and gets a little defensive. “How am I supposed to know that? I came home, and my wife was not home, and there was all this blood and that fucking note.”
“We’re not accusing you of anything. We’re just trying to get to the bottom of what happened,” JC explains. “You called 9-1-1 at midnight, so where did you go after work? Your restaurant closes at 9, right?”
This is starting to feel more like an interrogation to Thad. “On Fridays, I stay late to roast coffee beans for the next week.”
“You were alone?” asks Alex.
Thad nods his head, “Yes.” His eyes widen as he realizes something, “Are you trying to establish my alibi?”
JC nods his head, “Routine questions, that’s all they are. We have no suspects at the moment. I apologize if it seems we’re accusing you of anything. We just need to get as much information as possible.”
Thad nods, “I left the restaurant after I finished with the roaster.” He doesn’t mention his stop on the way home at Mary’s apartment. His attention is diverted, though, when an officer pulls the bottle of wine out of the bag and begins to look it over.
JC notices his distraction and his eyes fall on that officer with the bottle of wine too. He slowly walks around the counter and to the officer with the wine, “Let me take a look.”
The officer hands him the bottle of wine, and Thad walks over, “I had bought that wine for my wife and me tonight.”
“Oh, you two drink wine together?” asks JC.
“On occasion,” responds Thad.
JC seems okay with that answer. He places the bottle back into the bag and hands it over to Thad, “Here.”
Thad starts to take it, but JC pulls it back, “Oh, I should ask. Was there some special occasion you were celebrating that you bought wine?”
Thad is starting to stress out. He knows if they investigate that wine, they could very well find the poison inside. “No. We just hadn’t had any in a while, so I wanted to share some with her.” He knows he has to get control of this situation, and so he starts to look panicked. “What is going to happen to her?” he cries out.
JC hands the wine to him, “We’ll get your wife back, and you can celebrate with her then.” Thaddeus reaches for the wine, and when he tries to take it, JC holds onto the handle of the bag, and the two stand there for a moment before JC finally releases it.
Thad looks a little uncomfortable, not sure exactly what to do, so he takes the bag and walks to the stairs, climbing up. He doesn’t see that JC and Alex are following him up the stairs.
Thad bursts into the bedroom, closing the door behind him, but it immediately opens, and the two detectives walk inside.
The room is flawless. “Doesn’t look like anything happened up here,” Alex says as JC nods his head, then turns to Thaddeus.
“Tell us about your wife. What is she like?”
Thad is silent for a moment as he thinks about that question. Finally, he answers. “Every minute of every day is planned out in advance. There is an order to everything, and everything has its place. She doesn’t believe in excess. She keeps only what she needs. If I’m honest, there’s so much she could teach me.”
“Does she go anywhere during the day?”
“She does an hour of yoga every morning. She occasionally has some of the neighbor wives over for coffee.” Thad turns his sad eyes to the detectives. “You ask me what my wife is like. I can only answer by telling you that she is flawless in every possible way. I honestly never deserved her.”
JC nods his head, “When was the last time you called her?”
Thaddeus thinks for a moment, “I don’t think I had any reason to call her today at all.”
Alex and JC exchange looks, and then Alex turns to Thad, “You may as well get some rest. We’ll finish up what we’re doing and then start our investigation.
As the two detectives walk out of the bedroom, Thaddeus glances down at the poisonous wine in that bag at his feet.
“I feel bad for him,” Alex says as they reach the stairs.
JC puts a finger up to his lips, “Did you see his expression? Calm. He was very collected. He didn’t call his wife all day. He bought wine for them to drink together even though he didn’t come home until almost midnight, and they sleep in separate beds.”
Alex smirks, “Sounds like you.”
“Have you called your wife?” Alex asks.
“Shut the fuck up,” JC snaps. “No one really knows what goes on in someone else’s marriage. Check the calls on both of their phones, check bank records, and see if there are any cameras in the area.”
Alex starts to protest, but JC just walks off.
Thaddeus stands at the bathroom mirror, puts a spot of toothpaste on his toothbrush, and begins brushing his teeth. He grabs a glass, puts some water in it, and begins to swish his mouth. He glances to the side to see his wife’s sink, still in pristine condition.
As if out of spite, he walks over and spits the contents of his mouth into her sink. If she were there, she’s quickly clean it up and give him a look.
He walks over to the toilet and sets the seat down. He’s about to sit to use it when suddenly, he lifts the seat back up and unzips, and the sound of his urine splashing into the bowl is heard, again, intentionally defying her.
In the shower, he has a large smile on his face as he scrubs his hair with shampoo, the water sending the suds down his body to the drain.
Walking out in his robe, he rubs a towel over his head and then drops the towel on the floor. He walks between the two beds, stopping to look at the photo of his wife next to her bed.
He takes a deep sigh and then just falls onto his bed as he looks up at the ceiling and just smiles.
“I finally have freedom,” he thinks to himself.
Moments later, instead of going to sleep, he has already drunk several beers and tossed the empty cans around the floor.
“I’ve called the cops. Even if she doesn’t come back, the money is gone,” he says and then drinks the rest of the can, tossing it to the side.
Something catches his eye, and he spins around, thinking it might be her, but there’s nothing there. He’s starting to get a little creeped out.
The following morning, the knocking on his bedroom door jars Thaddeus awake. JC doesn’t bother waiting to come inside as Thaddeus struggles to get to his feed. Before JC can ask his question, he notices the beer cans scattered all over the floor.
Thaddeus follows his gaze and then quickly says, “I had a hard time sleeping. Beer makes me sleepy.”
JC nods his head, “I can understand that.”
A few minutes later, JC and Thaddeus are sitting across from each other at the dinner table. There are still some officers milling about the living room.
“You should know, it’s a good possibility that the blood on the floor belongs to your wife. The blood type matches, but we want to run a DNA test just to be certain.”
Thad listens with wide eyes.
“I need to ask about the matching mugs. With so many other mugs in the house, is there any reason you can think of that she would use your matching mugs with a houseguest?”
Thad shakes his head, “Honestly, I don’t know. We normally use those between us,” he says, answering truthfully.
Suddenly, the doorbell rings.
Both JC and Thaddeus rise from their chairs and start for the door, but JC grabs his arm and tells him, “Just act naturally.”
Thad walks over to the doorway and pokes the video screen, and the images of Emmy and Sierra appear.
Moments later, Thad walks down the steps and meets the two at the gate.
Emmy asks. “This was delivered to our address by mistake.” She hands over an envelope.
Thaddeus accepts the envelope, “Thanks so much. I’m sorry for the trouble.” He flips the envelope over, and printed in the bottom corner is N31.
“It’s not a problem at all. Seems important, so we thought we’d bring it over. Is everything okay?” she asks.
Thad’s heart is pounding as he sees that typewritten on the envelope, “I’m sorry, I really must be going. Thank you for bringing this over.” He scurries back up the stairs and into the house.
Emmy and Sierra look after him with odd expressions on their face.
Thad bursts into the house and hands over the envelope to Alex.
One side of the envelope has the address of Thad’s house, but she flips it over, and everyone sees the N31.
Moments later, Thaddeus is now wearing gloves. The envelope is sitting on the glass coffee table in the living room, and everyone is either seated or standing around. JC gives Thad a look and then nods his head.
Thad reaches down, drawing the flap of the envelope up. He reaches in and draws out the paper inside. It’s folded, so he slowly flips it open, and his eyes go wide when he reads, “You called the cops. You brought this on yourself. I’m just going to kill her.”
Below that is a smear of something red.
Thaddeus’s hand is shaking as he hands the letter over to JC, who reads it. Thad happens to glance down and sees something bulging in the envelope. There’s something else inside. He picks up the envelope and dumps it upside down.
Then the item falls onto the table, which causes Thaddeus to jump.
It’s a fingernail.
A bloody fingernail.
A bloody fingernail with two gems glued on. The same gems that Betsy showed him the morning of the previous day. He stammers as he points, “My wife… that’s my wife’s fingernail.”
That’s where the blood on the letter came from.
Thaddeus had wanted her dead, but not this way. Not like this. Panic sets in, and JC looks at him, “Listen. If they kill her, they won’t get the money.”
He looks at the detectives, “What if they really killed her?” There a real tears in his eyes as he looks back down at the bloody fingernail on the table.
Mary is starting to get concerned. She hadn’t heard from Thad all night and all morning. There was nothing on the news. Part of her wonders if he chickened out giving his wife the poison.
On top of that, the staff was here preparing to open the restaurant, and he’s not here. He’s never late. She sits with her phone in hand, text message up, but decides she better not text him just yet.
“Your boyfriend hasn’t called?” Kasey asks as she comes out of the kitchen. Mary is still clutching her phone.
Kasey nods to her phone, “Seems like you’re waiting for a text or a call from someone special. You look pretty nervous. On top of that, you look like you didn’t sleep at all. Eyes are a little baggy.”
Mary rushes over to look at her eyes in the mirror, “God. I had a hard time falling asleep and then kept waking up. I’m so damned tired.”
“You might want to touch up the makeup a little before we open,” Kasey grins.
Mary scowls at her playfully, “And you better get back in the kitchen before the boss gets here.”
Kasey nods and starts to head back to the kitchen but can be heard asking, “Where is he anyway? He’s never late.” Before she disappears, the phone rings on the wall. She stops to answer it, “Oh, hello, boss. Wait? What?”
Mary gets curious, and she slowly moves towards the phone.
“Your wife was kidnapped?”
Mary’s mouth drops open, and her eyes widen.
Alex is flipping through some pages and sets them down, “Phone records are normal. Nothing at all there that’s even remotely suspicious.”
Alex and JC are back in the car.
“She’s a housewife who does normal and boring things,” Alex shrugs.
JC sighs and reaches for the door, “Well, I guess we gotta go out and ask the neighbors if they saw anything.”
As they get out of the house, the first neighbor they see is Emmy. For some reason, Emmy is looking up at Betsy’s house.
“Excuse me,” JC asks, startling Emmy out of her daydream. “Sorry to intrude. We’re with the police.”
They flash their badges.
Emmy’s eyes go wide, “Oh! I see.”
“We have some questions if you have some time,” Alex says. “Have you seen anyone or anything suspicious around here the past few days?”
Emmy doesn’t mention that when she saw them the other day and hugged goodbye, Thad’s facial expression went from pleasant to disgust.
“Did something happen?” Emmy asks. “I typically find that being nosey about someone’s private life can often get you hurt.” She smiles at the detectives and turns and hurries back up the stairs to her house, leaving the two detectives very confused.
JC is very confused at Emmy’s words as Alex drives them back to the precinct. Alex must be thinking the same thing because she asks, “What exactly did she mean by we’d get hurt.”
“Fuck if I know,” JC answers.
Alex glances over at him, “The husband was full of great things to say about his wife,” there’s a secondary implication in that statement that JC picks up on, and he just scoffs.
“That makes him even more suspicious if you ask me. When a wife is kidnapped, it’s normally very difficult for a husband to talk about her. The way he was talking? It was like he was prepared to say those things.”
Alex changes lanes, “Perhaps his wife is perfect.”
JC looks over at her, “You get married, and then we’ll talk. Mysterious and perfect wives are only found in fiction novels.”
Speaking of JC’s wife, Crystal is shopping at the supermarket. She has all but given up dressing to impress anyone after looking after twin boys who are now tiny little monsters. Her flip-flips shuffle along the tile floor as she pushes the basket down the aisle. Her hair is tied up in a ponytail, strands that didn’t get tucked in, fluttering about. She grabs a few things from the shelf add places them in the basket. She tugs at the loose blue sweatshirt that is a few sizes too large.
She walks by a sample tray and takes not one but two samples, eating then as she moves on. In fact, she hits every sample booth, eating her fill with free food. She grabs a coffee from a four-pack and cracks it open, and begins drinking it as she shops.
Walking by the televisions, she stops as she sees a new story about Betsy and her disappearance. Something about this story really draws her interest.
Once the story hits the news, the police chief sets up a task force to speed up finding the kidnapped wife. Soon the police are swarming the residence of the kidnap victim. There is no need to hide her disappearance.
Reporters and cameras are all gathered across the street to try and get the latest on this hot story. Outside of Thad’s residence is almost like a circus.
JC and Alex push through the crowd and climb the stairs into the house. Social media is booming with comments about what may have happened to the disappearing bride. Most of the comments suspect the husband has something to do with it.
Inside his bar, Johnny rises from his stool, walks over, and turns on the radio, which is talking about the kidnapping.
“The kidnapper is asking for a huge amount of money. But later, he told the husband he would kill the wife because he called the police.”
As the story continues, Johnny lights a candle on the bar.
Thad is pacing back and forth across his bedroom floor. He stops to look at himself in the mirror. After everything that has happened, it’s a wonder he can even look at himself in the mirror.
Suddenly, his phone rings, and he picks it up to see who’s calling.
Little Lydia walks out of the restaurant, places a “Temporarily Closed” sign on the window, and locks the door as she walks back inside.
“What the fuck is going on?” Tamika asks into the phone, glancing back to see Lydia coming back inside, now regretting using the profanity. She pulls on a jacket. She’s just seen the news about her sister-in-law on the television, and she’s very distraught.
As Lydia steps into the kitchen, Tamika listens to Thad on the phone, “Is there anything we can do? I’m shutting down the diner, so let me know if you need us to come.”
“You don’t need to shut down the diner. The cops will deal with it,” Thad tells her over the phone.
Tamika isn’t having that, “Hell no! We’re coming over right now.”
“Listen, just go about your life. There’s nothing for you to do here.”
Tamika is nearly in tears. She is super close with Betsy, and this news is devastating her, and she feels like she should do something. “What if something goes wrong?”
“You think I’m not upset about this? I’m stressing the fuck out here, Tee. Listen, I can’t do this right now. I’m hanging up.”
Tamika hears Thad hang up and plops down into a kitchen chair as Lydia walks over and sits across from her. Tamika begins to cry. She quickly wipes away her tears and looks at Lydia, “Everything will be alright.”
Lydia is also getting a bit choked up, “Auntie Betsy will come back, right?”
Tamika has no clue. “What if she doesn’t?” she says, bursting out in tears again.
Lydia hops down from the chair and hurries around the table to hug her mother tightly.
Meanwhile, JC and Angel are supervising the inspection of Thad’s car, still sitting in the garage. The crowd outside has grown so much that traffic is blocked from those who need to drive by.
Alex gets a call and answers it, while JC looks on curiously. “Are you shitting me right now?” she says to whoever called. “God damn.” She hangs up the phone and turns to JC, “Apparently, our victim received a giant inheritance recently.”
JC nods his head, “That explains the five million dollars in her account.”
“Not the five million,” Alex tells him. “Apparently, she received 500 billion dollars when her father passed away. She is probably the richest person in the city right now.”
“Wait, what?” JC says with a confused look on his face.
“Our victim was formerly Betsy Carmichael.”
JC’s eyes go wide, “Wait. The Carmichael family. As in Carmichael Industries, Carmichael Foods, Carmichael Health…”
“So forth and so on. Correct. She was their only daughter. Her mother passed a few years ago, but her father passed in January. When he passed, she inherited everything. She doesn’t have much to do with the day-to-day running of the corporation, but she is fucking filthy rich.”
JC snaps his fingers, “I knew there was something off about that guy. He’s not after the five million, but the five hundred billion dollars.”
Alex is scrolling through some information sent over to her on her phone, “It seems Thaddeus and Betsy met when Thad worked for the food subsidiary. Here’s the funny thing. While she technically is filthy rich, all of the corporation profits go to various charities.”
JC is now completely confused, “What? Say that again?”
“The story is that she took ten million dollars, resigned her position as CEO, and started her own business. There is only five million left from that initial ten. That’s all there is left to inherit if she dies.”
“That’s the money they used to open the restaurant?” JC asks.
“Correct,” Alex responds as she keeps reading, “The restaurant is bleeding money. It might be a popular spot, but they’ve gone through five million dollars of the ten. They haven’t started turning a profit yet. Thad is behind on his loan payments and may lose the restaurant.”
JC shakes his head, “But they have five million dollars sitting in the bank. Why take out loans for the restaurant?”
A couple of hours later, the detectives lead Thaddeus from the home and down the stairs in front of the press and the world. Questions are throwing out by the press, hoping for a soundbite to use.
“Is your wife alive?”
“Did you have her kidnapped?”
“Are there any leads?”
Thad pauses before the crowd, “Of course, my wife is alive. If anyone knows anything about her disappearance, please come forward.”
With that statement, he’s placed in the back of the police car.
“What’s our boss going to do?” asks one of the waitresses as she watches the news clip on her cell phone.
Kasey is refilling some of the salt and pepper shakers, “All we can really do is pray,” she suggests.
“Why are we not getting the restaurant ready to open?” asks Mary as she comes down from the upstairs office. “Without the boss, we need to work a little harder to get things ready.”
“You don’t have to worry about it,” Thad says as he walks into the restaurant to everyone’s shock. “Please continue to work hard to keep the restaurant going.
Mary catches something out of the corner of her eye as she notices the two detectives coming in behind Thad.
Moments later, Mary goes over the day’s menu. Thad is at her side, but he’s been out a couple of days, so he lets her continue to run the show. Watching from a distance, JC and Alex scrutinize the action of every employee there.
After the meeting breaks, Mary walks over to where the detectives are followed by a server carrying two plates of pasta, “We had the chef make up a plate for you both. You must be hungry.”
Alex is ready to dig in, but JC holds up his hand, “We cannot accept gifts while on duty,” he informs her. He glances up in time to see Thad disappearing up the stairs into the office.
Mary shakes her head, “There’s no violation with this gift. It’s lobster alfredo and costs much less than the amount considered a gift.”
Alex has heard enough as she digs into the food while JC slowly puts the pasta bowl down onto the table. He looks across at Alex, putting food into her mouth, “Enjoying yourself?”
She gives him a thumbs up.
Thad walks out of the office restroom and is startled to see Mary right there with two glasses of champagne. “I was almost touched when I saw you cry on TV,” she says as she tries to hand him a glass. “Congratulations,” she says with a grin.
Thad’s eyes go wide, and he bolts over to the door, peeks outside, closes the door, and locks it.
“Isn’t this what you wanted?” Mary asks him, confused. Again, she offers him the glass, “Take it.”
Thad finally takes the glass as Mary walks over and sits down on the couch. Thad takes his glass and sits on the coffee table in front of her and, in a hushed tone, tells her, “The kidnapper wants five million dollars exactly. Who could it be?”
Mary drinks from her glass and shrugs her shoulders, “Is that even important? Look, whatever happened, the result is the same. You get out of your sham of a marriage, and I don’t have to face your wife ever again.” She takes another drink of champagne.
Thad starts to take a drink but then quickly sets his glass on the table, “What if something goes wrong?”
Mary shakes her head, “It’s going to be just fine.” She leans in to kiss him, but he puts his hands on her arms and pushes her back. “What the fuck? You can’t be worried about that woman. Don’t be. Luck is on our side. And what the hell is with that face?” she asks him as she moves next to him and puts her arm around his shoulder.
“Did you do something wrong?” she asks.
Thad turns to look at her, “Me? Not we?” He remembers a couple of nights ago when she gave him the toxin.
“What? No!” Thad says as he pushes the packet and the needle across the bed back towards her.
“What are you going to do then? You thought marrying her would make you a wealthy man, but what has it really done? She’s emasculated you. You don’t own the house, the car, any bank accounts. You don’t have shit. The only thing you own is your goddamned cell phone. She’s kept you all locked up in a little cage, keeps you fed, and tosses a few pennies in your direction every now and again. Is this really how you want to live, Thaddeus? Goddamn, get angry! Or are you just another fucking pussy?”
Thad knows that what she’s saying is true. His eyes fall once again to the packet of poison.
Thad looks up at her, “Why haven’t you asked me?”
Mary is confused, “What are you talking about?”
“The poison. You didn’t even ask me if I poisoned the wine.”
Mary rolls her eyes, “Because it’s not even an issue right now.”
Thad clearly isn’t thinking straight as he sighs, “Do you really think she’ll die?”
Mary shrugs, “I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”
“What if she comes back?” he asks.
Mary has had enough talking about that woman. She gets up and straddles Thad’s lap as he sits on the couch.
“What are you doing?” Thad asks, eyes wide in terror. “Those detectives could come at any minute!”
Mary shrugs as she leans in to kiss him, “Who cares if we get caught? Look, I gave them both food before I came up here. We have some time.” She starts to kiss his neck.
“Dammit, we can’t do this right now,” Thad insists, though he really doesn’t do anything to push her away, so she leans in, and they begin to kiss.
“Seems like the staff here is like family,” JC comments as he looks at some pictures on the wall. There’s one with JC, Betsy, Mary, and the rest of the staff, all standing in front of the restaurant.
Alex looks up from her food, “Well, that makes sense. They almost spend as much time together as they would with their own family.” JC’s plate of food hasn’t been touched.
JC turns to look up the stairs, “How long have they been up there?”
“Long enough for me to finish my plate,” Alex says with a smirk as she holds up her empty plate.
JC stares at the plate for a moment, then looks back up the stairs. Something isn’t right. He walks towards the stairs and gingerly creeps up, one step at a time. At the top of the stairs, there’s space with additional tables for seating, but the office is off to the back. He starts to go around the corner towards it when Kasey walks by with a few bottles of wine in her hand, “The bathroom is downstairs if you’re looking for that.”
JC shakes his head, “I was looking for the office. Wasn’t it on this floor?”
Suddenly, Thad walks out of the office towards them just as Kasey is about to point it out. “Did you enjoy the food?” he asks. Kasey heads down the stairs.
JC nods. “Yes, thanks.”
Thad nods his head and then heads down the stairs. JC starts to go down but pauses and instead walks towards the office. As he reaches the door, he slowly turns the handle and cracks open the door to peek inside. When he sees that no one is there, he closes the door.
We see that Mary has ducked down behind the desk.
“Miss Mary will be in charge until I’m able to return,” Thad informs the staff as they continue their preparations. “This is the delivery list. Please make sure she gets it.”
“She’s right there,” one of the staff points out. JC glances up in time to see Mary coming down the stairs. He knows he didn’t see her up there a few moments ago.
“You focus on getting your wife back,” Mary tells Thad. “We will keep things running here.”
Kasey nods, “We got this, boss.”
Everything about this case just eats at JC in the wrong kind of way.
The detectives drop Thad off at his house, and as Thad gets out of the car, ignoring all the reporter’s questions, and walks up and disappears into the house, JC rolls down his window and watches the husband go inside. “Something not right with this case.”
He then realized something. “When he came out of that office, there’s was the scent of a woman’s perfume on him,” he says out loud.
Alex’s phone rings.
“What? We’ll be right in.”
“What is it?” JC asks.
“The blood on the fingernail is an exact match to the victim.”
JC nods, “We knew that would be a possibility.”
Alex nods, “They also found her blood in the back of his car.”
Meanwhile, across the street, Emmy is looking down at the chaos happening on her street. She has taken a keen interest in what’s going on.
After getting the full briefing, JC and Alex return to Thad’s house and ask him some hard questions. JC lays out a photo, “We found these footprints at the scene. It looks like someone tried to clean them but was in a hurry and missed some. This footprint size is the same as yours,” Alex points out to Thad, who looks down at the photo again.
Thad is starting to see where this is going. He reaches for the photo, “Are you saying these are my footprints?”
JC leans closer to him, “Where are your sneakers?”
Thad gets up, and they follow him to the foyer. He knows those aren’t his footprints. He throws open the shoe closet only to be surprised when his sneakers are missing. He starts looking at all the shelves on the floor and then around the closet, but his sneakers are definitely missing.
Suddenly, a thought comes to his head, “Someone is trying to frame me for this kidnapping. But why?”
JC and Alex stand there, waiting for him to say something, when Thad’s phone begins to ring. He pulls it from his pocket. He sees it’s Mary and asks, “Can I answer this?”
Thad excuses himself and hurries back inside, running up the stairs to his bedroom.
“Have you watched the news?” Mary asks.
Curious now, Thad runs over, grabs the remote, and turns on the bedroom television. His neighbor, Emmy, is being interviewed.
Interviewer: You’re close with the victim, aren’t you?”
Emmy: We’re very close. We’re almost sisters. We share advice all the time.
Interviewer: Have you noticed problems between the victim and her husband?
Mary’s voice is heard over the phone, “Did you hear that?”
Emmy: I think she may have suspected her husband was having an affair.
Thad turns the TV off, Mary’s voice is heard again, “I thought you said no one knew about us!”
Thad doesn’t even know what to say to that, so he just says nothing.
“Did you tell the cops?” she asks.
“Of course not,” Thad finally says.
Mary gets serious now, “You better stay alert. I’m not going down for this. Besides, you have the wine. What did you do with it?”
“What? The wine?” Thaddeus is looking right at it on the table. “I have it right here.”
“Why do you still have it?”
Thad doesn’t say anything.
“Did you put the poison in it?”
Thad keeps staring at the bottle, “You said for me to have a toast with her.”
Mary is beside herself, “Why are you still keeping it? God damn!”
“It’s not like she drank any of it,” Thad tries to defend himself.
“If the cops find it, it could be attempted murder, you idiot!” Mary snaps at him. “Do you understand what I’m saying?”
Thad’s eyes go wide. Of course, he never considered that. If they confiscate the wine and test it, they’d find the poison.
“Get rid of the fucking wine, right fucking now.”
“Right,” Thad says and hangs up the phone. He grabs the wine and starts looking for some way to open it.
Funny that downstairs, JC and Alex were watching the same newscast when Emmy mentioned Thad might be having an affair.
JC didn’t want to be right, but “I fucking knew it. That guy’s a total scumbag. Let’s find out what he has to say for himself.”
Thad finally gets the cork out of the wine bottle.
JC is walking up the stairs towards the bedroom.
Thad is dumping the contents of the bottle down the shower drain.
JC is walking down the hallway that leads to the bedroom. Alex is right behind him.
Thad turns on the shower and starts trying to get the red liquid down the drain.
JC knocks on the bedroom door.
Thad uses a towel to push the rest of the water down the drain.
JC knocks again and then opens the door, and the two detectives walk in. Thad is nowhere in sight. “Sir?” he calls out.
Thad has climbed out his balcony window and lowering himself to the ground outside the house.
JC and Alex walk towards the bathroom.
Thad walks down the stairs to his house. Reporters see him and begin to shout towards him. He starts to run down the street. They try to follow, but he manages to outrun them.
Jerry, the same bald-headed man from the car a couple nights ago, is standing there watching him.
About an hour later, Thad is standing across the busy business street. He looks across at the big sign that reads simply, “Pawn Shop.”
Inside the pawnshop, Jackson has an eyepiece and carefully examining a string of pearls.
The woman on the other side of the glass is impatiently waiting for him to finish his examination, and she’s tapping her fingers on the marble counter.
Something shiny catches Jackson’s eye as the pearls don’t seem to interest him. He sticks his head through the hole in the glass that separates him from his customers and begins to inspect the two diamond rings on her fingers.
The woman finally sees what he’s looking at and removes the rings, and slides them over.
Jackson obviously doesn’t have any air conditioning as the woman begins to fan herself. “Can you hurry, please?” she asks him.
Finally, Jackson nods up at her and smiles, “Deal.”
“Fine, please hand them over,” she says.
Jackson pulls back, reaches for an envelope next to him, and hands it over to her through the glass, collecting his earnings jewelry from her.
The woman takes a deep breath and breaks the seal on the envelope. As she goes through the pictures, she grumbles, “That’s bastard.” There are pictures of an older man with a much younger woman, and they appear to be very close.
Thad opens the door and walks in, and the woman, not wanting anyone else to see these pictures, gathers them up quickly and hurries out the door, covering her face with her hand.
As the woman flees, Jackson peeks through and sees Thad, “Well, if it isn’t the famous husband! What brings you here?”
Thad is looking for a way to get into the room that Jackson is in, “How do I get in there?”
A few seconds later, Jackson opens the door, and Thad comes inside. Jackson puts the jewels in his safe and locks it up as Thad takes a seat. When Jackson turns around, she sees the picture of himself, Tamika, and Lydia. Making sure that Thad isn’t watching, he places the photo face down on his desk.
Jackson then walks over to a small fridge and pulls out two beers. Joining Thad, he gives him one. As they crack open the beers, Jackson just blurts out, “Did you do it?”
“I didn’t do it!” Jackson explains to his brother-in-law.
Jackson isn’t sure he believes him. His look says as much.
“I came here because I need your help,” Thad explains.
“Which part?” asks Jackson. “The kidnapping? The affair?”
Thad sets his can of beer on the table, “I just told you I didn’t kidnap her! God damn! Seriously!”
Jackson is trying to read Thad. “So, you are having an affair?”
Thad is about to protest, but he just doesn’t have it in him, so he sighs.
“See? That’s why everyone thinks you’re a suspect!” Jackson explains.
“I think I’m going crazy,” Thad explains. “They had footprints, but my shoes are gone.”
Jackson leans back and takes a drink from his beer, “You’re not going to get away with it. You just can’t.”
Thad doesn’t want to go to jail. “So, what do I do?”
Jackson is silent for a moment, “It’s much harder to prove truth than to fake it.”
Thad sighs. He knows he’s doomed.
Standing up and walking to the window, poking his finger through the blinds to see who’s down on the street, “The only thing we have left going for us is to find the real culprit.”
Suddenly, Thad remembers the two mugs in the sink. His wife must have had cocoa with someone that night. “It has to be someone close to her,” he blurts out. “She even used my mug.”
Jackson snickers as he moves away from the window and walks back to sit on the couch, “You have mugs with names on them? Perhaps she grabbed it by mistake?”
Thad shakes his head, “You have no idea what she’s like. Everything is done with meticulous precision. There is order in everything she does.”
“Perhaps she has a lover, and you didn’t know about it?” asks Jackson.
Thad couldn’t even imagine that. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be a man.”
“Wow. For someone who’s having an affair, you’re awful naïve. You can cheat, so she can cheat too, you know?”
Thad considers it, then shakes his head, “No. She’s not that kind of person.”
“I’m a private investigator, goddammit. They always say the other can’t possibly cheat, but they do,” Jackson explains. “One thing you have to keep in mind. Everything is possible.”
Thad starts to consider it.
“Perhaps an ex-boyfriend or an old colleague?” Jackson is back, looking out the blinds into the street below.
Thaddeus is racking his brain trying to come up with someone, but in the end, he shakes his head, “I don’t think there’s anyone like that.”
“There’s someone who’s been there for a long time,” Jackson says, distracted as he watches the street.
Jackson motions outside the window. Thad gets to his feet, and he pokes a finger through the blinds enough to pull them down a little to get a look.
Jerry is out there, trying to look inconspicuous, but Thad recognizes him right away from that drive by the other night.
“He’s not a cop,” Jackson has already deduced.
Jerry is leaning against a street post when a hand suddenly grabs his shoulder, and as he spins around, he’s face to face with Thad.
“Let’s talk,” Thad says. “Why are you..”
That’s about all he gets out when Jerry pushes Thad’s hand off of him and starts to run down the alley.
Thad starts to run after him.
They run down a few alleys and back onto a street. Jerry leaps over a turnstile, and Thad is right behind him.
Jerry keeps looking behind him to see how close Thad is to him and then runs up some stairs and across an overpass. He cuts down another alley only to slow down when it becomes a dead end.
Thad grabs him by the jacket and pushes him against the wall. “Who are you? Why are you stalking me?”
Jerry doesn’t even fight him as Thad keeps him pressed against the wall. “Calm down, man.”
“Calm down? You’re trying to frame me for my wife’s kidnapping. Where is she?” Thad demands.
Jerry just smirks, “Oh, yes. The wife. Do you really want to know?”
Thad pushes him again, “God damn you. Tell me right fucking now.”
Jerry shrugs, “Just ask me what you want to know.”
Thad’s eyes go wide, and he releases the man. He realizes this man knows everything. “Is she alive?”
Jerry scoffs. “What would you prefer the answer be?”
We pick back up a month ago when Betsy ran into Jerry. A few days later, they met at a coffee shop.
“I was shocked at first and then started blaming myself,” Betsy admits to Jerry as they sit across from each other. “Maybe I pushed him into her arms.
Jerry continues to explain to Thad, “Did you ever think that your mistress has ulterior motives?”
“What were you doing at my house that night?” Thad asks Jerry, remembering when he saw him drive by.
“I was following you.”
Thad grabs him by the jacket and shakes him. “What for? To frame me? You wanted to talk to me about my affair, but you approached my wife. What is your ulterior motive? You may have fooled my wife, but you don’t fool me.”
Jerry lets him grab him for a moment and then pushes him off. “I was following you out of concern for her. I’ve never so much as laid a finger on your wife. But you, you fucking asshole! What kind of man sees his mistress when his wife is missing? You are the worst kind of trash. Even now, you only care about yourself and getting your dick wet.”
Thad knows he’s right.
“Your wife told me that she’d be better off dead. So, you must have been responsible for all of this, and here you are pretending to be innocent. Fuck you, you piece of shit.”
No. This is all wrong, Thaddeus thinks to himself. He grabs Jerry again, “You already had some scheme hatched up when you approached her, didn’t you? A quick way to make a buck and then turn around and frame me.”
Jerry grabs Thad by the jacket, “You’re not worthy of her.”
They stand there for a moment before each one releasing the other. Jerry scoffs and starts to walk away.
But then he stops, “By the way, I wasn’t the only one following you that day.”
Thad hadn’t even realized it, but in his subconscious, as Jerry drove by him that night, driving on the other side of the road, he did see Mary drive by. How had he not even registered that until now?
He turns to ask something, but Jerry is gone. Thad leans up against the wall, wondering what the fuck is going on with his life right now.
“He must be guilty. He ran away,” Alex suggests as they watch Thaddeus’s great escape, all recorded by the press outside.
JC shrugs, “He’s still not answering his phone?”
“It looks like he shut it off. We can’t even track him now.”
JC watches the tiny screen as Thad runs down the street and disappears.
“Where did you go, Thaddeus?”
JC leaves the house and walks down to the corner convenience store. He glances up and sees a camera on the outside of the store.
A few moments later, he has a bag of chips and a soda in a basket and carries it to the register, his police badge hanging out.
“Fine. But don’t take all day,” the cashier tells him.
We see JC sitting in the store’s back office, watching the camera footage of earlier that day when Thad ran off. He pops a chip into his mouth, then quickly stops the recording.
Thad got into a taxi in front of the convenience store.
JC walks back to the house, stopping by the police car. JC is eating from his bag of chips, and he glances inside the passenger side and sees Alex sound asleep.
He tosses a chip at her, and she snaps awake.
It takes Alex a moment to remember where she is.
“Any word?” JC asks.
“We called his parents, but he hasn’t contacted them. Also, nothing from his sister’s restaurant,” Alex reports.
JC nods his head as he grabs another chip, “He’ll be back. Whether to get money out of her account or to get her inheritance, he’ll be back.”
“Do you think he’ll run off with his mistress?” Alex asks.
That thought hadn’t occurred to JC, but it was a damn good one.
Everyone is out of the restaurant, and Mary has locked up. She turns to the others, “Thanks for your hard work today.”
As everyone scatters, someone is watching Mary as she walks down the sidewalk.
She walks into her apartment building and up the stairs and starts to put her key in the lock to her place when a hand touches her shoulder. She spins around in fear, “Oh my God!”
The door to her apartment opens, and she and Thad go inside. Thad looks out into the hallway before closing the door.
He takes a couple of steps in and then turns back to Mary, and she walks up and hugs him tightly. “You know you can’t be here now.”
Thad pushes her away, “Are we going to be okay?”
Mary nods her head, “Of course. Just stick to the plan.” She walks into the kitchen and places her purse on the table. She’s tired.
“The plan?” Thad wonders out loud.
He walks into the kitchen after her, “Mary? Why did you follow me that night?”
Mary’s eyes widen. She hadn’t realized he’d seen her. She turns around, all smiles, “Why wouldn’t I? I was worried about you.
We see Thad get into his car that night, and Mary is watching him from the doorway to her apartment house.
She followed him to the store where he purchased the wine.
She followed him to the alley, where he injected the wine with the poison.
She followed him to his house, where he carried the bag of wine from the garage up to the house.
“You didn’t think I could handle it?” he asks her.
Mary gives a little pout and approaches him, “Of course I knew you could handle it.” Then she grins, “I didn’t realize things would get so messy.”
“How are you laughing right now?” he asks, getting angry. “Someone is trying to frame me as the kidnapper!”
“Listen,” she tells him. “Calm down.” She walks over to the mirror and starts to remove her earrings. “Honey, that’s not the point right now. We need to focus on getting the five million or the rest of the inheritance.”
She places the earrings in a bowl on the desk and turns to him, “Think about it. If she comes back alive, there’s nothing for you. Not a damn thing. So, we need to have a backup plan just in case she is rescued or released.”
Thad listens to her words, and he gets very serious, “What if she were dead?”
Mary grins, “Then the five million will be ours. For the time being, we need to act concerned, with a touch of sadness.”
Thad is almost sure that Mary had something to do with Betsy’s kidnapping. She starts to walk by him, but he grabs her by the shoulders and asks, “But, how did the kidnappers know to ask for just five million dollars? It’s the exact amount I need to pay off my loan.”
Mary shakes her head, “Those loan sharks you used for your last loan? Is it possible that they went directly to your wife, and when she didn’t give them the money, they took her? Doesn’t that make the most sense? You owe five million, they tried to collect.”
She finally moves past him and grabs a bottle of water from her fridge.
“Besides my lender and myself, you were the only one who knew that I owed five million dollars.”
Mary finally realizes what he’s insinuating, and it makes her laugh. Laugh out loud. She turns to face him, “If I were to kidnap that bitch of a wife of yours, why in the fuck would I give you poison to kill her?” She’s no longer laughing. In fact, she’s a little pissed.
“You need a scapegoat. I’d be an easy mark to frame as a kidnapper, then you’d have the five million all to yourself,” Thaddeus explains.
Mary smirks at him, “This didn’t dawn on you earlier? Just now catching on?” She starts to walk by him, but he grabs her arm and pulls her hard to him.
“Tell me the god damned truth,” he says to her angrily.
“The fuck?” she says to his face. “Now you want to play the good husband? It’s too late for that now. Thankfully, someone solved this for you.” She cozies up to him, “Remember, we’re accomplices in this now. You can’t get rid of me now.” Mary chuckles. “If I were her? I’d pray for my death about now, ashamed to be your wife.”
She pulls his hand off of her wrist, and they stare at each other for a long moment.
Thaddeus has heard enough. He heads to the door, but she stops him. “Listen, I don’t know what you’re thinking right now, but this opportunity is for us. Get that money. Do you really want her to come back? Do you really want to hand over five million dollars to some kidnappers?”
“What is so hard for you to understand about this, Mary?” Thaddeus exclaims. “Someone is trying to frame me for this kidnapping. I’m going to jail if I don’t find out who this is.”
“No!” she tells him. “The priority is the money!”
Thad has never seen this side of Mary before. “It doesn’t matter if it’s kidnapping or the poisoned wine. I’m their number one suspect. I have to find out who kidnapped her.”
Thad is walking. Just walking. He’s not sure where he should go at this point. He can’t go home. He can’t go anywhere they might suspect to look.
He walks down the sidewalk with sirens flare up behind him. He ducks around the corner and pretends to be drunk, puking as the squad car drives right now.
Then his cell phone rings.
Thad pulls it out of his pocket, “Tamika.” He angrily answers it, “Why do you keep calling me?!” he snaps.
“Uncle? It’s Lydia.” Thad immediately feels bad for snapping at her. “Aunt Betsy gave me something.”
That perks him up.
Thaddeus arrives at the restaurant but sees the “Temporarily Closed” sign taped to the door. He doesn’t realize that Alex is staking out the restaurant.
“He’s here,” Alex tells JC on the phone. “He’s going inside the restaurant.”
Thaddeus does go into the restaurant, and as he walks in, Tamika is preparing chicken for the next day. She stops what she’s doing as she sees him walk in.
And then she picks up a whole chicken and throws it at him, “You bastard!”
“Why are you throwing raw chicken?” Thad asks, but he doesn’t get much more than that as Tamika begins to smack him on the arm and the back.
“What the fuck did you do?” she asks him, emphasizing each word with a smack, driving him around the kitchen island.
“If you’ll let me….”
“I can’t even look at you right now,” Tamika says as she grabs him by the jacket and pulls him to a chair, and pushes him down into it. “You’re just a common cheater. My brother is a cheater. Are you a kidnapper too?”
‘No!” Thaddeus shouts.
“Is she alright? Tell me everything right now, or I swear…” she raises her hand.
“I don’t know anything!” Thad shouts. Tamika is in tears right now.
“We’ll never find you as nice a wife as Betsy,” Tamika cries out.
Thaddeus is confused, “What are you talking about.”
“She would come down often, help out in the kitchen and make sure that Lydia was well taken care of. She would serve customers, take orders, prepare food. Anything. She knew I couldn’t afford to hire help, so she would come and make herself available,” Tamika explains. Things had finally calmed down, and they were sitting at a table as Tamika tells him all of this stuff that he never even knew about his own wife. “She talked so highly of you. She told us you were working so hard. How you were an honest man. She knew that your restaurant would be a success and she was always praising you. She’s a great wife.”
Thaddeus never knew any of this. He looks across the table to his sister, “She really said those things?”
Tamika just shakes her head, “That and so much more. Our stove went out, and your wife had a new one delivered that same day. She even came down to make sure they installed it properly. Look, every other store in this district has closed due to skyrocketing rent prices, but somehow we can stay open. There can only be one explanation. I only found out recently that she talked to the landlord, asking him to keep our rent the same, and she would pay the difference.”
Thaddeus isn’t even sure what to say at this point.
“You never call or visit, so we never see each other. I see Betsy more than I see you. She’s more of a member of this family than you are.”
As if the words weren’t hurtful enough, Thad glances up and sees a picture. His sister, his niece, and his wife all smiling, staring back at him. Obviously, at one of Lydia’s birthday parties, which he never attended a single one.
Suddenly, he is snapped out of his daze as Tamika is smacking him again on the arm, “If you were my husband, you’d already be dead. There’s only one way for you to atone for your bullshit actions, brother. You better bring her back alive.”
Thad has had enough of being berated. “I’m trying to find her. I want to find her too.”
Tamika just shakes her head, tears streaming down her face. “It’s driving me crazy not knowing where she is,” she says as she wanders off.
Thaddeus just sits there. If he wasn’t already feeling like shit, he most certainly is now.
Thad turns around and looks into the face of his niece, Lydia.
Shortly after, he’s following her up the stairs and into her bedroom
Lydia picks up a stuffed dinosaur. “I hope Aunt Betsy comes home soon,” she says. “I really miss her.”
Thad is so clueless, he doesn’t even know how to comfort a child.
Eventually, Lydia sets the dinosaur down and walks over to her desk. She pulls open a drawer and removes a pencil box. She walks over and offers it to Thaddeus, who drops to his knees to accept the child’s gift.
“This is what I’m supposed to have?” he asks.
Lydia is very brave right now. “Aunt Betsy told me that if she died before you that I should give this to you. She made me promise. Even though I believe she’s still alive, I think it’s probably time to give this to you.”
As Thaddeus holds the box in his hand, Lydia removes the top. She reaches inside and produces a key, and hands it to Thaddeus.
The key itself seems rather ordinary, with no particular markings on it. Thaddeus reaches out to take Lydia’s hand, “Thank you.”
“Aunt Betsy’s still alive, right?” The girl begins to cry now. “She didn’t die, right?” She’s sobbing now.
“Of course, Aunt Betsy is alive.” He draws the girl in and hugs her to him. “It’s going to be okay. Everything will be alright.”
Jerry is somewhere, sketching a portrait of Betsy. It’s mostly finished, but he keeps touching it up.
As we pan past the easel, we see the bare back of a woman.
“Where did you go?”
“Why did you leave?”
“Are you guilty?”
The questions are thrown at him as Thaddeus walks up the drive to his house. He ignores them all.
Jerry continues to sketch.
The figure behind the drawing is too blurry to really make out who it might be.
Thaddeus walks into the house with a purpose. He goes upstairs and into his closet. He holds the key in his hand.
First, he starts with luggage to see if the key fits any luggage in the closet.
When it doesn’t fit, he turns around and sees a drawer with a lock on it.
The key slides right in.
He turns the lock.
He slides open the drawer.
There is a notepad and a very sparkly black box.
He lifts the box from the drawer and removes the lid.
Inside is a bankbook and a USB flash drive.
This bankbook is identical to her bankbook, but as he flips open the document, instead of her name at the top, his name is at the top. He flips the page again, and the balance is the same as her book. Just over five million dollars.
Underneath the bankbook is an envelope, which he opens. There’s a letter inside.
He begins to read.
“To Thaddeus. I have written this letter which cannot be delivered. I had hoped that one day I could properly convey my feelings. I am afraid that what I won may someday hinder you. I believe in you. What I’ve left you is not my inheritance but a display of my trust in you. Love, Betsy.”
Tears are streaming down Thaddeus’s face as he reads the letter. There’s something else with the letter. A coaster. He remembers it well. On the day he proposed marriage to Betsy, she wrote on the coaster her promise to him that “not until death will they part.” Then they used the wine to stamp their thumbprints to the coaster to seal the promise.
It was the same brand and year of wine that he poisoned the other night, hoping to kill her.
He would watch as she poured a little of the wine into a small dish. She would then place her thumb in the wine and press it to the coaster underneath the promise.
He would follow, doing the same, swearing that same promise to her.
For the first time since arriving home two nights prior, Thaddeus breaks down and begins to cry.
“Apart from Betsy and Thaddeus, no other fingerprints were found in the house,” Alex explains as she and JC walk down the corridor at the police station.
“Really, that only means one thing,” JC says with a sigh. “It’s not possible to go around erasing a single set of fingerprints from a crime scene. Where is that bastard?”
Suddenly, his phone rings, after checking who called, he answers. “What? Are you sure? Got it.”
“Let’s go,” JC tells Alex.
“Where are we going?” she asks.
JC starts walking back the way they just came, “Thaddeus just got home. Let’s go arrest him.”
Moments later, a reporter’s wet dream as Thaddeus is recorded being led from the home in handcuffs. The officers bring him to stand in front of JC and Alex.
“Thaddeus. We found blood in your trunk that belongs to your wife. With this evidence, we are placing you under arrest.”
Thaddeus struggles, “Wait, there’s something wrong here. I didn’t do this.”
As they fight with him to get him into the back of the squad car, a voice yells out.
“I have a delivery for Thaddeus Pride.”
A man on a bicycle rides through, lifting a letter over his head.
JC starts towards the messenger, but Thaddeus breaks free and beats him to it, snatching the letter. He finds N31 stamped on the back and hands it over to JC.
Everyone is back inside the house now, as JC opens the envelope and empties it into his hand.
A USB drive.
The drive is plugged into the side of Thad’s television, and the screen comes to life.
The sound of a woman is crying, and the camera slowly shows her feet. As the camera pans up, we can see that it’s Betsy. She’s wearing just a nightgown, as she might be wearing in the evening when she was taken.
Betsy’s eyes drift upward and stare right into the camera. The side of her mouth has a small scab, indicating she may have been hit, and it looks like her hands are tied behind her back.
JC is watching Thad, whose face is showing terror right now.
In the background, the news shows Thaddeus begging the public for any information leading to her being found.
“This had to be taken today then,” Alex notes.
“Right,” JC says.
Thaddeus is starting to break down seeing his wife like this. Tears are running freely down his face. “She’s alive!” he cries out. “She is still alive!”
Then the screen goes white.
Then words begin to type across the screen.
“Prepare five million dollars, non-consecutive notes in large black bags. Bring it to the Starlight Hotel, 10am tomorrow. If I see any police, I’ll kill your wife.”
Suddenly everyone in the room is looking at their watches.
“We have less than thirteen hours,” Alex notes. She turns to JC, “Is it even possible to put together five million dollars with non-sequential numbers in this amount of time?”
Thaddeus isn’t worried too much about that. He lifts the remote and rewinds the video, and watches it from start to finish, bawling his eyes out as he sees the condition she’s in. “Betsy.”
Suddenly, as if he has an idea, he stops crying and rises up to his feet, dropping the remote on the floor. He walks through the cops and out the door, running down the stairs.
The reporters all come to life as camera flashes begin going off.
“The kidnappers,” Thaddeus starts. He knows this is the best way to get his message across to as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. He catches his breath and begins again, “The kidnappers have sent a message. My wife is still alive. He is asking for ransom money. I have the money, but he’s asking for non-sequential numbers on the money. I have to get it within 13 hours. Tomorrow morning, I will go to the bank and withdraw the five million dollars. Then I will ask that anyone within the sound of my voice bring me all the cash they have. I will exchange my money for your money. Please, come to the bank at 6am. I have a limited amount of time to get this done. Please, I beg for your help. Please help me save my wife.”
The cops rush down and begin to pull Thaddeus back up the stairs as he continues to plead to the cameras for help, shouting out the name and address of the bank he’ll be at.
Thaddeus is dragged back into the home, “Why did you do that?” shouts JC.
Thaddeus now has a plan, and he’s determined to see it through. “The kidnapper wants non-sequential bills. This is the only way to get that.”
“Let’s get one thing straight,” JC tells him. “You are still a suspect in this case.”
Thad points to the television, “I’m obviously not the kidnapper. I was on the television when that was recorded. I was standing right outside of this house.”
JC shakes his head, “Perhaps you have an accomplice, like your mistress.”
Thaddeus shakes his head, “It’s not me.”
“Listen, we can use fake money to get your wife free. Why did you have to go out there and do that just now?” Alex tries to interject.
Thaddeus has had enough of being their suspect. “My wife’s life is in danger, goddammit. I will find a way to save her life.” He walks past the cops to the stairs, climbs up a few steps, and realizes he’s just so exhausted. With a heavy sigh, he just sits on the stairs, unable to go up any further.
The news is broadcasting on the television, showing Thad’s plea to the public for help, while an unknown individual is watching a copy of the video from the USB drive on a laptop.
A side view shows that whoever is watching the video is in a hotel room, indicating that this must be the kidnapper.
The twin boys are running around in their pajamas, throwing a ball around in the apartment.
Crystal’s eyes are glued to the television as they have been most of the day, watching news coverage of the kidnapping. She’s become obsessed with it.
One of the boys throws the ball way over the other one’s head. The ball bounces right on the dining table where Crystal is trying to eat.
“Hey!” she yells at them. “If you want to play ball, go outside!”
The boys look confused as they look out the window, “At night?”
The other one chimes in, “Besides, you don’t want us breaking other people’s windows.”
Crystal whines a little and sighs.
“Mom! Throw the ball to me!”
Crystal reaches down and picks up the ball. “Why’s it so late all of a sudden, and where is your father?!” She throws the ball, but instead of going to her son, it knocks over one of their wedding photos, breaking the glass as it falls to the floor.
The boys’ mouth drops open.
“Well, fuck,” Crystal mutters under her breath.
“It was kinda weird. I was told to go to the subway to a specific locker number and open it up. Then I was told to take whatever was in the locker to the address. There was even some cash in there for a tip.”
The police are interrogating the delivery person who brought the USB drive to Thad’s place.
“You didn’t find that at all suspicious?”
“I mean, a job is a job.”
For the next few hours, police spend time going over video from the camera facing that particular locker. We can see Jerry on the video walking to the locker and putting the money inside, then just moments later, the delivery man walks up and opens the locker.
“Isn’t it rather inconvenient to do this during heavy traffic at the subway?” Alex asks.
JC shakes his head. “Not heavy traffic time. This was the exact time we went to arrest Thaddeus.”
Thaddeus is at the bank at five in the morning, putting neatly stacked bills into a duffle bag. He had to call in a favor to get the bank to open this early, but he didn’t have much time. Even if people show up to exchange money at six, that only leaves him about three hours to get five million dollars exchanged, leaving him an hour to get to the hotel.
JC and Alex are there. They aren’t yet buying Thaddeus’s innocence in this kidnapping. If he’s guilty, he’s putting on a hell of a performance.
At six, people are starting to arrive, and the money exchanging process has begun.
Thaddeus, Tamika, and Lydia are all there. Another officer is helping as well. They have money counting machines to make sure they exchange dollar for dollar.
As money begins to exchange hands, JC is keeping a close eye on the entire process. Something still doesn’t feel right.
Jackson is watching the news coverage of the money exchange.
He leans back in his chair, “So much money…” he says softly to himself.
Ideas are starting to form in his mind.
“I am praying that your wife will be safe,” a female voice says to him.
Thaddeus looks up and looks into Mary’s eyes. She’s wearing a long black coat and a cap that covers her eyes. She hands him over some cash. Thaddeus accepts it. “Thank you,” he tells her.
“I’ll be going now,” she says and walks away. Thaddeus realizes she also passed him a note.
JC finds this interaction odd and watches as Thaddeus walks away from the table and opens the note.
“I’m watching you. Do not forget our pact.”
He starts to fold it up and turns to find JC staring at him. Startled, he explains, “She wrote a note to cheer me up.”
JC isn’t buying shit.
The money has been exchanged and is being placed into a large garbage bag. When the bag is halfway full, they drop a GPS device into it and then put more money on top of it.
“From now on, we’ll communicate through this device,” Alex explains as she fits an earpiece into his ear. She hands him a smartwatch. “This will help us track you if something goes wrong.” Thaddeus nods as he places the watch on his wrist.
JC adds, “You have to go alone. Just act natural as best as you can.”
The money is placed into the passenger side of his SUV, and he walks around to get into the driver’s seat.
“Can you hear us?” JC’s voice is heard through the earpiece. JC and Alex are in their squad car.
Thaddeus nods his head, then realizes they can’t see him. “Yes.”
“Don’t do anything stupid. We’ll be watching you.”
Thad turns on the vehicle and drives out of his garage. While he drives across town, the cops follow the signal provided by the GPS, keeping a safe distance behind him so as not to be seen.
Thaddeus pulls into the hotel’s parking lot and drives right into a parking spot alongside the building. He hurries out of the SUV and rushes around to the other side, grabbing the garbage bag and dragging it through the hotel that seems very crowded today due to a wedding reception.
An undercover officer sees him go by with the bag, “He’s here,” she says softly into her mic.
Thaddeus has no clue who he’s looking for, but as he glances at the watch, it says 10am right on the dot.
Suddenly, he hears ringing. He drags the heavy bag as he searching for the phone and finds it taped underneath one of the benches in the hallway.
Once he picks it up, the ringing stops. However, there is a note attached. He rips it off and opens it up.
“What does it say?” JC says into his intercom.
Thaddeus reaches up and taps his earpiece, “It tells me to wait for it.”
Suddenly, another sound of ringing is heard. People come alive inside the hotel as a remote-controlled car comes zooming down the hallway. It stops and does a circle and then heads off in a different direction. Thaddeus begins to drag that large garbage bag of cash after the tiny car.
One of the undercover cops reports, “Thaddeus is chasing a toy car.”
“What?” JC asks. “Come again? Do not let him out of your sight!” he screams into the microphone.
Alex has been watching the map, following the GPS inside the money bag.
Meanwhile, the car suddenly does a u-turn and drives right between Thad’s legs, zooming back the way they just came and then makes a sharp turn, heading outside.
We see off in the woodline that Jerry is nearby, but he doesn’t appear to be the one controlling the car.
The car flies off the steps but lands funny and flips over onto its back.
Thaddeus finally arrives and grabs the car, finding yet another note.
“30 minutes. Riverbank park. Sit down on the bleachers near Gate 1.”
As he sits there, suddenly the fire alarm for the hotel goes off. The wedding attendees begin to exit the building, causing quite a bit of commotion.
Outside, JC hears the alarm, “What the fuck is that?”
Thaddeus realizes this was his moment to get out, so he blends into the crowd and rushes towards his car.
“Thaddeus! Thaddeus! What’s going on?”
An undercover reports in, “A fire alarm went off. Thaddeus has already exited the building.
Thaddeus is throwing the bag of cash back into the passenger side of his SUV while JC continues to try to get him to report in through the earpiece.
Thaddeus backs out of the parking space and drives away from the hotel before responding, “The note told me to go to Riverbank Park. To sit on the bleachers near Gate 1. I’m heading there now.”
Alex picks up her radio and reports, “Taskforce, the location of the drop has been changed to Riverbank Park. I repeat, the location of the drop has been changed to Riverbank Park.”
As the cops try to leave, they are blocked in by the wedding attendees, who are all trying to get away from the hotel, but they are finally on their way to the park after some delay.
Riverbank Park is a softball field for the junior leagues, and there is a game practice ongoing. The stands are practically empty this early morning, perhaps just a few parents of the children waiting for the practice to finish.
Thaddeus already is a good distance from the cops because of the delay. Alex continues to monitor the GPS, “He’s going to get there way before us.”
JC yells into the mic, “How soon can we get a team over to Riverbank park?”
“Five minutes,” comes the response.
“Fuck!” shouts JC, “This was the plan all along.” He turns to Alex in the backseat. “Where is Thaddeus now?”
JC turns to the driver, “Drive faster.”
Thaddeus pulls into the parking lot as close to the ballpark as possible and gets out of the SUV. He runs around the car, opens the door, and pulls out the bag of cash.
He hurries over to the stairs and starts to go up.
Meanwhile, a few minutes behind, an unmarked police car pulls into the parking lot, and two cops get out and run up the stairs.
We see the two cops walking through the stands and taking a seat.
Suddenly, another phone rings.
“There’s another phone,” reports one of the undercovers.
It’s now 10:30.
Thaddeus is carrying the heavy garbage bag, struggling to make it as he walks through Gate 1. He can barely hear the alarm in the distance as he hits the stands and follows the sound of the alarm.
He finally finds it taped to the bottom of a seat and yanks it off. He tears the note from the phone, though we don’t get to see it this time.
“Goddammit!” he mutters.
“What’s going on?” asks JC into the microphone.
“New instructions,” Thaddeus explains.
“What are they?”
Thaddeus answers and then reaches up, turns off the earpiece, and shoves the note into his pocket. He gets up and starts to drag the bag back down the stairs.
He runs like a demon through the entryway and onto the concourse.
“The kidnapper has changed the drop again. We are going to the shipyard, southside entrance,” Alex relays the information.
They watch as Thaddeus drags the garbage back down the stairs and throws it into the passenger seat again.
Thaddeus pulls into the gravel parking lot of the shipping yard and once again grabs the bag of cash and runs with it into the shipping yard. He runs down the ramp that leads him onto the docks and turns to the right.
He runs past several boats tied to the pier until he gets to the very end of the dock. He sets the bag down and looks at his watch.
He looks around, waiting for another alarm.
JC and Alex have arrived at the dock and have a good watch on Thaddeus as he waits for whatever comes next.
Thaddeus hears a sound. A whining sound.
He finally spots the drone incoming. The drone is carrying a large net.
JC can see that Thaddeus is looking at something, lifts up his binoculars, and then sees the drone.
Thaddeus picks up the bag and cautiously approaches the drone as it lands on the dock. There’s a note attached to the drone.
“Put the bag in the net.”
Thaddeus begins to look around. He doesn’t see anyone, so he taps the earpiece. “I’m going to put the bag in the net.”
“Go ahead. We have the GPS in the bag,” JC reports back.
Thaddeus places the bag into the net and then rises up, taking a few steps back.
“I repeat, the drone carrying the money is heading south. Everyone, follow the signal!” JC yells into the microphone as the driver begins to head that way, while Alex gives directions from the back seat as she monitors the screen.
The drone flies another the river, going under overpasses as it carries five million dollars in a plain, black garbage bag.
Thaddeus is left standing there on the dock. He doesn’t seem all that concerned at the moment.
After quite the trip, the drone finally begins to land at Starfish Park.
“It’s finally stopping. Everyone to Starfish Park!” JC yells.
The drone lands in the middle of the water park.
By the time JC and Alex arrive at the park, several undercovers are already there, acting casual.
The drone is just sitting there.
An elderly, homeless man starts to approach the drone with a shopping cart.
“Someone is approaching,” comes across the intercom.
“Everyone move in!” JC yells and gets out of his car.
The homeless man is apprehended with quite a struggle, but Alex goes right to the drone and looks into the bag. She pulls out fake money.
JC sees it and goes over to look as well, “What the fuck is this?”
The black garbage bag is not full of cash, but just pieces of paper, cut into money-sized portions.
JC lifts up his microphone, “Thaddeus? Are you okay?”
Thaddeus is still at the dock. He answers with a simple, “Yes.”
“What happened?” asks JC. “What the fuck is going on?” he yells now.
Thaddeus walks up the ramp back to the parking lot to where his car is.
“There was a swap,” JC is still trying to get some answers.
Thaddeus just lets out a sigh.
“Don’t you move from that fucking spot,” JC demands, obviously pissed off now.
Half an hour later, Thaddeus is still standing next to his car when the driver pulls into the parking lot.
JC barely waits for the car to stop when he opens his door and storms out of the car. He runs over and grabs Thaddeus by the jacket, “You said you wanted to save your goddamned wife!”
Alex tries to intervene and slowly pulls JC off of Thaddeus.
“This is you!” JC spits out. “This is all fucking you, you fucking dodgy motherfucker!” As the driver and Alex pull JC back, JC points his finger, “You took the money! You took the fucking money!”
JC finally shakes free of the other two officers. Alex shakes her head, “When did you do the swap?”
Thaddeus doesn’t answer. He pulls out the note. The note he received at the ballpark with instructions that he didn’t tell the police.
Alex snatches the note and reads out loud, “On our way out of the park, switch the black bag with the black bag in the first trash can at Exit 7 as you go by. Ensure you remove the GPS from your bag and place it into the new bag. In 30 minutes, go to the southside entrance of the shipyard. Do not tell the police about the swap, or your wife will die.”
As Alex reads, the scene flashes to Thaddeus doing just that. Stopping at Exit 7, taking the lid off the first trash can. He opens his bag, digs through the cash to find the GPS, and ties the bag back up. He removes the bag from the trash can, removes the trash bag, drops his cash bag into the can, and replaces the lid. He then drops the GPS into the new bag and starts to run towards the exit.
“The bag from the ballpark is gone,” comes the announcement over the intercom.
JC finds all of this just laughable. He chuckles and shakes his head, “So, you had an accomplice come get the money for you. You put on quite the show. I really thought you were concerned for your wife.”
Thaddeus just reaches up and removes the piece from his ear, and hands it to JC. “I’m going home to wait for my wife to return.” Thaddeus walks over and gets into his car, and starts to drive off.
Angry, JC throws the earpiece at Thad’s car and shouts, “Fuck you, shithead!”
That night, JC has pictures laid out on the glass board, trying to figure out this crazy case. He’s never seen anything like it. He’s certain that Thaddeus is behind this entire thing. Perhaps even with his mistress.
He is almost certain that it’s Mary, his assistant from the restaurant.
He’s almost certain she was at the money exchange.
He’s almost certain she slipped him a note.
It’s 8:15pm, Thad is pacing at home. The whole day has gone by without anything to show for his effort.
An officer is waiting there as well, just in case his wife does come home.
In anguish, he sits down and rubs at his temples when the front door opens, and JC and Alex walk in. Thaddeus is to his feet instantly to go meet them. “Is there any word?”
Alex nods, “We received an anonymous tip.”
“What? What tip?”
JC seems almost pleased as he tells Thaddeus, “Someone reports that you injected something into a bottle of wine in an alley.”
Thaddeus’s mind immediately goes to Mary, who has been acting shady ever since this all began.
“Who? Who said that?” asks Thaddeus.
Instead, Alex hands over a piece of paper, “We have a search warrant to search this house.”
As Thad reads the search warrant, his house is suddenly swarmed by cops.
As the cops begin to gather everything from trash to bottles of wine, JC approaches Thad, “Where’s that special bottle of wine?”
Thad knows that he dumped it down the shower drain. “That night, my wife disappeared, I couldn’t sleep, so I drank it.”
JC doesn’t believe him. “That’s funny. I thought you were saving it to drink with your wife?” He walks over and inspects each bottle of wine, empty or full. He doesn’t find the bottle he saw the other night.
“You said you drank that bottle of wine, but the empty bottle is nowhere to be found,” he says to Thad, who is starting to look guilty as fuck.
Thad just shrugs, “I drank it. I don’t remember what I did with the bottle. It should be here somewhere.”
JC just turns and leaves the room. Thad springs into action as he pulls the empty bottle from a drawer and looks for a good place to stash it.
“Thaddeus,” JC says as he walks back, catching Thaddeus holding that empty bottle of wine.
He walks over and takes the bottle from Thaddeus, “I guess you remembered after all and were going to bring it to us.” He starts to leave but turns back, “If your wife is really coming home? You might want to clean this place up. She’s going to hate what you’ve done to it.”
“In regards to the kidnapping, the police has executed a search and seizure on the victim’s residence and are bringing out lots of bottles of wine…” the news reporter begins.
Mary’s eyes go wide, and she runs over to sit on the couch to watch.
“It’s looking as if the victim’s husband is once again the prime suspect in this case.”
Mary’s eyes grow even wider in horror as she slides off the couch to the floor.
“What this a case of a love affair between the victim’s husband and another woman trying to gain the payoff in an inheritance plot?”
Mary cannot even believe what she sees right now. “Fuck! Fuck!” she screams.
“What did you put in the wine?” JC asks Thad. They are sitting across from each other at Thad’s dining room table.
“I’m not sure what you mean,” Thad explains.
“Did you receive something from your mistress?”
Thad scoffs, “There’s no mistress.”
As if JC was expecting that answer, he pulls a picture from his pocket and places it on the table.
It’s a picture of Mary.
“You poached her from your wife’s company when you started your restaurant. From that moment on, she’s been your lover, correct?” JC asks him.
Thad shakes his head, “She’s an employee.”
“Is that so?
Earlier that night, JC and Alex visited Mary’s apartment complex and talked to a security guard. They showed him a photo of Thad.
“Have you seen this man before?
The security guard nods his head, “He comes here often. Apartment 302.”
“He said you’d been to her apartment nearly every day for the past couple of years,” JC tells Thad.
Thad has nothing to say.
JC pulls out another piece of paper. “We checked her financial record. She purchased a very specific plant extract. It can be used to make poison. Did you know that?”
Thad is getting a bit nervous now. He reaches down and picks up the receipt, glancing at it briefly to make sure the cop wasn’t lying to him. When he sees the information there in black and white, he lays it back down.
“I don’t know anything about that.”
JC turns to Alex, “Do you have that?”
Alex nods and produces a piece of paper. It had been crumpled, but they’ve smoothed it out.
It was the note that Mary passed him at the money exchange.
“I’m watching you. Don’t you forget our pact.”
“You two planned this all along, from the very beginning, didn’t you?”
Alex sets a laptop on the table and turns it around to face Thad.
“Or did she just cheat you?”
Alex hits the play button, and it’s a video from the ballpark. Mary is wearing a long black overcoat with a black cap. She moves from pillar to pillar, sneaking around.
Mary was at the park. She tries to stay hidden as she watches Thaddeus grab a large black bag from his car and run into the ballpark. She also sees all the cops arriving as well.
She goes inside.
Alex pauses the video on a picture that is clearly Mary.
“You called on the entire city to come exchange money. For her, didn’t you?” JC points to Mary on the screen.
Thad is trying to find some way out of this. Mary was not supposed to be there. How she even knew to go there, he has no clue.
“There’s some misunderstanding here,” Thad tries to explain. “I went to that ballpark to save my wife’s life.”
JC isn’t buying this shit, “Save her? How can you save her after you’ve killed her?”
“If I wanted to kill her, why go through this charade of kidnapping her? Wouldn’t I just kill her and get it over with? What’s my motive to go through all this drama? It makes no sense.”
JC slaps his hand down on the table in anger, “That’s your fucking alibi? That’s what you got? It makes no sense? Really?”
“It really looks like Mary betrayed you. She has the money, right?” Alex asks.
“Look, I’m married too,” JC interrupts. “Let me give you a piece of advice. Don’t live like this. Let’s go.” He starts to stand up.
“Listen, detective,” Thad says as he also stands up. “I really do want my wife to be alive.”
JC shakes his head. “The kidnapper has his money, so where is the hostage? If he had freed the hostage, we would have known about it.”
“Can we please wait here until she comes back?” Thad asks.
JC has really had enough, “Listen. I’ll give you this. You’re a really good actor.”
“Actor?” Thaddeus asks. “I beg of you. Please allow more time for the kidnapper to contact us.”
JC sighs and glances at his watch. “Fine. We’ll stay until midnight.” He starts to walk away but then remembers something, “By the way, once we find the poison in the wine bottle, we’re placing you under arrest. Even if your wife comes back alive, you’ll still go to jail for attempted murder. Your selfish life will be over.”
Thad is left standing there, knowing full well his life is probably over.
Mary is in a rush to pack her things as she stuffs some clothing into a bag. The clock says 9:00 pm.
“Goddammit,” she mutters as she gathers as much stuff as she can.
When the bag is as full as she can get it, she grabs her purse, her phone and rushes out the apartment door.
Mary hurries down the stairs only to be greeted by a slew of reporters.
“Is it true you are having an affair with your boss and helped him plan the kidnapping of his wife?” one reporter asks.
She’s stuck. “No, we just work together.”
A phone is shoved in front of her face, “Can you explain this photo?”
It’s a photo of them together. She is standing behind Thad, with her arms around him, and both are smiling at the camera.
Fuck. She tries to push past the reporters when a police car pulls up.
She stops immediately.
An officer gets out of the car and approaches, “You are a person of interest in the kidnapping of Betsy Pride. You’re going to need to come to answer a few questions.”
Johnny is cleaning a wine glass at his bar.
There are only two customers at the bar, both watching the news broadcast of Mary’s apprehension.
Johnny’s phone begins to buzz.
He answers it and listens to whoever is on the other end before finally responding. “Congratulations.”
After a moment, he smiles and answers, “Of course, I’ll wait for you.”
Johnny hangs up the phone, setting it back under the bar. He walks over to his two customers and apologizes, “It’s time for me to close up. Take your time, finish your drinks.”
Thaddeus is wringing his hands as he sits at the dining table. The clock says 9:52.
Then the clock strikes midnight, Thaddeus hangs his head. He had really thought she’d come home. He really thought she would be back. He wanted that so much.
JC and Alex walk over. JC makes a show of looking at his watch. “It’s time to go.”
Thaddeus rises from his chair. “May I at least put on a change of clothes?”
JC nods his head.
Thaddeus walks by them and heads up the stairs.
The two customers have left, and Johnny reaches over and lifts the needle from the record that playing, turning off the sound system when there’s a knock on the door.
He glances up.
He walks around the bar and to the long entrance corridor and walks towards the door.
He unlocks the door and opens it up to see a large cooler sitting on the step.
We are where we started at the beginning of this episode.
Thad is sitting on the couch in his bedroom, watching wedding videos.
There are crushed beer cans and wedding photos scattered all over the floor. As we pan up behind the couch, we see the back of Thaddeus’s head as he watching his wedding video for the umpteenth time this evening. He’s obviously upgraded from beer to harder stuff, as a bottle of liquor sits on the coffee table, open and half empty. A smoldering cigarette sits in the ashtray next to him on the couch.
“Thaddeus, do you take Betsy to be your lawfully wedded wife…”
The words of the minister echo through the darkened room.
We see Thaddeus finish a shot and then walks over, and he begins to push a barstool to the center of the room. He gingerly places one foot on the stool and then lifts himself up onto it where a noose hangs, hung perfectly at neck level. He turns to look at the video when the minister finally allows them to kiss.
As they finally touch lips on the screen, a tear slowly rolls down his cheek as he reaches for the noose and slowly pulls it over his head.
Then he knocks over the stool.
The sound of him knocking over the stool is heard downstairs as JC looks up and then to Alex.
They burst into the bedroom to find Thad hanging there.
“Motherfucker,” JC screams as he and Alex work together to get him down from his noose.
They lay him on the floor, “Call an ambulance,” JC demands as he begins CPR.
However, we see another ambulance.
This ambulance has arrived on another scene where they find Betsy Pride. Her face has been beaten.
As they carry her towards the ambulance, her hand falls down the side, and we can see where her fingernail was removed, and a scab has formed.
“Wake the fuck up,” JC shouts at Thad as he smacks him across the face a couple of times.
Betsy is loaded into the back of the ambulance. Her head is not covered, so she must not be dead.
JC is still giving CPR to Thad, trying to revive him.
As Betsy lies in the back of the ambulance, we close in on her face.
She keeps her eyes closed, but…
… she smiles.