Well, he had done it. He had committed murder and gotten clean away with it. It wasn’t actually murder. He had killed a person but not a body. Damn he was good. Really good. Unfortunately no one would ever know just how good he was. That was what made it all so perfect.
Theodore. Yes he liked that name, Theo. He could play God and create life, his life, his new life. Theodore Smith, Theodore Acturo. Yes a name people would forget as soon as he said it. Good name. Theodore sat back and sipped his drink. He had never liked fruity drinks before but they were growing on him. He had been at this seaside village for almost a week now and he was in no hurry to leave. After all no one knew him here and no one he had once known, knew he was here. He chuckled, perfect.
Two of the local villagers looked at each other and then at this strange man. This strange, rich man. They didn’t care that he drank alone and laughed, sometimes out loud. He paid his bills quickly in cash and he never haggled. They hoped he would stay a very long time. Theirs was a poor village that rarely got visitors and certainly never rich ones. This man who had arrived with little luggage and no answers had paid for their lack of curiosity.
Theodore Acturo smiled to himself. He thought of what he had left behind and shook his head. Twenty years of bending to the whims of a tyrannical boss who just happened to be his father-in-law and that harpy he had married. Once upon a time he had loved her but she became more demanding and more unpleasant to be near with each passing year. She wasn’t even satisfied with children. They had three children, each more selfish and cruel than the next. It must have been in the genes.
Almost three years ago the man, who was now known as Theo, had tried to commit suicide and failed. That had been embarrassing and had become fodder for his wife and her father. They never failed to put him down, call him a loser and they used the suicide attempt as the proof. He couldn’t even get that right. His own children seemed to be disgusted with him. He began to doubt himself. He had no siblings to go to for moral support, his own parents were dead and his friends were actually her friends and he knew they would side with his wife. He was lonely. He wanted this life to end.
There had been an advertisement in the local paper about sailing lessons. Their home was near a large lake and he had often seen the sail boats out on the water. He envied them their freedom. The wife was always telling him to get a hobby . . . maybe this would satisfy them both.
So he took the lessons, convinced the wife that owning a sail boat would make her friends envious and started his plans. The man who was now known as Theo was meticulous. That was his greatest strength: planning.
Twenty one months of doing without lunches, not buying himself that extra coffee on the way to work or that beer with the boys on the weekend, meant he had accumulated a sizable amount of cash hidden in a secret place. There were also the cheques he had cashed without telling Her. A fair chunk of money that no one else knew about, was his. Then he waited.
It was almost two months before the weather was right. He dutifully kissed his wife good bye, packed himself what appeared to be a very sizeable lunch and left to spend the day sailing. There were warnings out that there could be a storm brewing later that afternoon but he assured everyone he would be back before it became dangerous. He was not.
“The tattered remains of a small sailboat called ‘Getting Free’ were located early this morning. There was no one aboard.”
It hadn’t been easy. He was a strong swimmer but even he had a difficult time getting ashore. At least he had made it before the storm had hit. The next few weeks had been awkward, it was difficult staying out people’s way until he could put some distance behind him.
And in that few weeks he also learned what was like to be homeless, he met people he had never seen before, never even thought about. What courage did it take for someone to survive on the street where crime was everywhere and life was not as valuable as a loaf of bread?
He was a man who had always had food on his plate, a roof over his head, and clothes on his back. It was difficult to remember that he was only a few yards away from people that lived as he once had. Here was true freedom. These people answered to no one. They woke when they wanted to and slept when they wanted to. They were not concerned with the correct dinner utensils or what the latest styles in fashion were. Some of these people were here by choice. Some were here because of a catastrophe in their lives. He knew his presence here was temporary but he knew he would never forget the lessons that he had learned. Strangers had taken him in and shared their meagre portions with him without question. He also knew that if these strangers decided to kill him and take his possessions no one would ever know. But they did not.
The man who is now known as Theo used his money sparingly. If it were known that he carried a large amount of cash then he would become a target. His plan called for him to traverse an entire country with no one recognizing him. He cut his hair, grew a beard and wore clothes he would never have worn before. He was not the same man. He was becoming free. He had planned well, the weather was with him, and finally he achieved his destination. On the map it was nothing more than a tiny spot, it didn’t even have a name. It was simply classified as a village, population 372.
He still had hurdles to overcome. He had to find a place to live that would not attract attention. Here everything was so inexpensive he could have a villa to himself. But first there was something he needed to do. If he was going to live in this tiny village then he would have to contribute to its welfare. These people were poor, almost starving, he could change that. He could once again play God and save these people. And he did. Slowly, quietly Theo made changes in the tiny village. Better seeds and equipment for the farms, a school, a doctor. These were a proud people but they accepted his help to save them and in doing so they saved him.
Theo sighed, he had built a small house overlooking the water and he lived the life of a hermit. The villagers came to see him as their protector, sent from God. So they jealously guarded his privacy. This was the life he was meant to have, the life he deserved. The other life, the one with her was the dream, the nightmare. Here he would live a long and healthy life. Even if his life ended today, he was at peace. The crazy white man closed his eyes and relaxed.
About a mile and a quarter inland from the sea is a beautiful promontory. It overlooks the harbour and no villagers will venture near it. They jealously safe guard the very knowledge of this place. Not even the goats that roam free on the hillsides will go near it. There is no barrier, no marker to set the small area apart from any others, but no creature will dare to get close. All the villagers know the story but no one will speak of it. But that poor village has a new well and all the homes have wooden floors where there once was only dirt. The children have new clothes and full bellies where once they cried from hunger. Their parents no longer stoop from the strain of their lives, there is almost a festival atmosphere in the air. The village has changed and no one will speak of it.
THE CITIZEN GAZETTE
By T. Acturo
A prominent business man died Thursday after almost 3 months in a coma. Dwayne Jeffries was 48 years old at the time of this death and he leaves behind a wife and three children. Mr. Jeffries was a Managing Controller for a local business owned and operated by Dumont Callingworth, father to Mrs. Jeffries. The funeral for Mr. Jeffries was held at the Peaceful Garden Cemetery and was well attended by almost 400 people.
Sources reveal that Dwayne Jeffries attempted to commit suicide with prescription drugs and while he did fail to die, the ending result was a comatose state. Police have revealed that there was no suicide note but foul play is not suspected. According to his family Mr. Jeffries has been depressed for several months. Other sources speculate . . . .