Fiction: Interview 6.9.22

By Kirstyn Petras

Notes/transcription of interview recorded 6/9/2022 with Connor Dodson (CD), husband of Lily Dodson. Upon arrival, Connor appeared disheveled; white dress shirt wrinkled, blue jeans, and scuffed shoes. Set him against the not quite as black backdrop, might need some lighting work in post to make him look more awake.

Interviewer: Ashley McKay (AM)
Notes/transcription: John Hardin (JH)

CD: So, I just speak into this? Look over… where do I look?

AM: Towards Justin’s camera to your left can you – yes, can you just shift so you’re slightly at an angle, yes. Justin, that look good? Great.

CD: And I speak into?

AM: The microphone on your shirt will record you at a normal volume, no need to try to aim or speak louder or softer. We’re just having a conversation; we want you as relaxed as possible.
CD: I don’t know if relaxed is a word I’d use for this situation.

AM: I understand. Would you like some water, coffee?

CD: No, thanks. That’s alright. Let’s just, let’s just get this over with.

JH note to prod team: We tried to get him in makeup, but he showed up late and didn’t want to. Waved off Angela when she tried to at least get some powder on him. Maybe it’ll look better?
More sympathetic if there are bags under his eyes.

AM: Sure, sure. So, as you know, we’re creating a documentary about— 

CD: About Lily, yeah. There’s already been one.

AM: Right, from Discovery, I know. But with the recent death of—

CD: Suicide.

AM: If you prefer, yes, suicide, of Julian Glass—

CD: You know there was a Placebo song called Julian? He was called a suicide then too.

JH note: Might need to cut that but should check the song out. Maybe it’ll fit in somewhere, if rights aren’t too expensive.

AM: I’m not familiar, no. But, given recent developments, we think the time is right to—

CD: To talk about what that coward did?

AM: Eventually, yes. I want to hear all about your thoughts on him. But first, I want to go back. I want to talk about you and Lily.
CD: Me and Lily?

AM: Mr. Dodson, did you speak with John regarding the concept for the documentary?

CD: I don’t….  honestly the past couple of weeks have been a blur.

AM: Entirely understandable. Are you sure I can’t get you a coffee?

CD: Yeah….  yeah. Alright. Yeah. A coffee.

AM: Absolutely, John, can you?

JH: Sure.

CD: Thanks.

JH note: Recording from 12:24:54 to 12:26:45 has a coffee cup in frame

AM: So, I think John spoke to you about what the goal of this documentary was. The other one examined the crime itself with a pretty narrow focus, and we’re looking at the bigger impact, and a longer time frame. We’re paying closer attention to Lily’s life, rather than Julian’s. From when Lily was a child through her marriage to you to her death.

CD: Oh.

AM: Is that still okay with you?

CD: Yeah, yeah, it’s fine. I thought you just wanted me to say what I said at the trial again.

AM: I definitely want to get into what you talked about during the trial, and the trial itself. But first, tell me. How did you and Lily meet?
CD: How did we meet…. oh jeez. Okay, so it was…. 20…. God. I should know this. 20….  Fuck how old am I? Oh shit. Shoot. Can I swear?

AM: Don’t worry, we can edit it in post. We might need a higher MPAA rating anyway, depending on how things go.

JH note: Will make list of every time stamp of swear words stronger than damn

CD: Oh, good. Thanks. I’m not always… it’s hard to self-censor when I’m talking about… other interviews have had some issues.

AM: Well, don’t worry about it here, your comfortability is most important. We can adjust our end.

CD: Thanks. So. Ok, yeah so Lily and I met in 2006, I was 29 and she was 27. We met at my buddy Ryan’s wedding. She was a bridesmaid, and I was a groomsman and they made us walk together. It was a little cliche but… it was ‘06. There wasn’t really… there weren’t any of these apps, you met people through friends. Blind dates. At weddings.
So, she… God, she was pretty. The dresses they had to wear were this… it was like an icy blue but with bright pink flowers. I’m sure there’s a picture somewhere. It was bad. And I had to wear this ice blue tie with a pink boutonniere. And we’d obviously talked a bit during the planning and prep but during the reception we were sitting together, and she told me my boutonniere was crooked, and she reached over and fixed it for me. And I remember her hand against my jacket, and I was like… well. I asked her if I could get her a drink, she reminded me it was an open bar, and that I was welcome to wait in line for her but… but she wanted a dance instead.

AM: Did you dance?
CD: Do you remember any of the wedding songs from that year? For some reason a lot of my friends got married at the same time. It was that… what was it… the music video with the guy laying on the ground… “Chasing Cars.” That was it. That was Ryan’s wedding song. And then Tim… his was something by Rascal Flatts. A couple did that one song by Tim Geiger, “For You I Will”. Point being. It wasn’t a great musical time for us to dance. I got her a drink instead.

AM: Then what happened?

CD: I told her……I told her….

JH note to tell prod team: pause for 12:28:43 to 12:28:49

CD: I told her I would dance with her when I could choose the song. I told her I’d dance with her in my hotel room.

AM: What did she say?

CD: She stood up, and I thought she was done with me. I thought that was it. But she came back a bit later with a bottle of wine she’d grabbed from behind the bar and said, okay. 

AM: So, you went up to your room? This was in a hotel?

CD: The wedding was in a hotel, yeah, in St. Louis. And we went up together and, I didn’t have an iPod, we didn’t have smart phones yet. No Spotify. She poured us wine and I pulled up YouTube on this old Dell laptop.
AM: What did you pick?

CD: Well, at that moment, I’d been caught. I didn’t have a plan. I put on “Hollaback Girl.”

AM: You did not.

CD: I did, I am sorry to say. But it sort of worked. She was standing in front of me ready to go, and then burst out laughing when it started to play. I tried to pretend I was serious and keep the laptop away from her, but eventually she started going through it and we just sat on my bed talking and playing music and getting closer and drinking and laughing…. well eventually she said I did owe her a dance, and the only romantic song I could think of was "You and Me" by Lighthouse. And I couldn’t… can’t really dance but… she just laid her head on my chest, and we swayed back and forth. At the end of it, she just looked up at me, and I took my shot, and I kissed her. I’m not going to lie and say it was some magical movie moment where I realized I never wanted to kiss anyone ever again but… but it felt different, you know? Like it felt… right. Good. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but that was what it was. I asked her to give me her number, and said I’d call her. It didn’t take long before we started dating.

AM: How was it? Those early months?

CD: I know everyone in these interviews, anyone who’s ever the “victim” right, all anyone can say is how they lit up a room. All anyone can say is how loved they were. And that always felt so fake to me. I guess….  she wasn’t sunlight in the way people think of it, right? She was sunlight the real way. The fire way. It feels good but it can burn you. It’s warmth but it’s fierce.
It’s dangerous. The people she got close to she would do anything in the world for. But if she didn’t care about you, she didn’t care about you. If she didn’t like a friend of mine, or a girlfriend of a friend of mine, she wouldn’t hide it. If she didn’t like something I did, or was doing, she wouldn’t hide it. It was refreshing, in those early months, I’d never met anyone like her before. But it’s… it can be a lot. It got to be a lot.
AM: Did you ever consider breaking up?

CD: We did break up, a few times. I’d get tired of it and tell her I was through. But we always ended up back together.

AM: Her brother told us that she initiated several attempts at breaking up, but that you had always fought to get her back.

JH note: See if we can cut that expression at 12:32:01

CD: You talked to her brother already?

AM: Yes, we’ve done a few interviews already.

CD: Oh. I didn’t….  yeah, her brother and I didn’t really get along, though, I guess. We both said we were done more than once. She’d get me back; I’d get her back. It was symbiotic.

AM: Sure.

CD: Her brother never really liked me, him and his dad, both very overprotective. Her mom liked me a lot. But yeah. We went through it for a while in the beginning.

AM: What made you keep fighting for the relationship, do you think? What kept drawing you two together?

CD: Well, that’s something about fire, isn’t it? It can be very enticing. You want to keep looking at it. You want to be near it. She had something almost witch-like about her. Or siren-ish, or something. Pulling you in. Never letting you go. She knew what she was doing. Knew I couldn’t walk away. 

AM: When did you decide you wanted to marry her?
CD: A few years in. We’d had the discussion, well, she’d told me, really, that we either needed to get serious about settling down or she would find someone who was. Said there had been enough time for me to decide if I was ready. I was 32. I thought I’d have kids at some point, and I didn’t want to be too old. We loved each other. It made sense. That’s what you do when you love someone.

AM: Some people don’t.

CD: Some people. I’m not some people.

AM: So, you proposed. How was the wedding?

CD: It was good, it was big. She’s— she had — a lot of family. Big, big family. Lots of friends. I didn’t have as many people on my side, but it was okay. Her family was Catholic, you know. Lots of kids.

AM: Ah, sure.

CD: But her parents and my parents chipped in. Open bar. Probably why I don’t remember much.

AM: Do you remember what was it like, seeing her come down the aisle?

CD: I thought this was about her murder, not about… this.

AM: This is a part of it. Trying to paint a full picture of her and her life.

CD: Right, yeah okay….  well she…. she was beautiful, but Lily was always beautiful. Always, always, always. We didn’t write our own vows, or anything. We couldn’t get married in a Catholic church because I’m not Catholic. We had a pastor my mom knew do it. She wasn’t super happy about it, but there wasn’t a lot we could do. The pictures were great. And then we moved into my house in Evanston.

AM: Where were you working at the time?

CD: I was a project manager, and Lily had just finished up her law degree and was starting out at a firm in Chicago.

AM: You supported her through law school?

CD: No. I mean, we dated when she was in school. But I didn’t support her, financially, at least. I mean I’d cover dinners more often than she did and I’d go to meet her in the city after work rather than her coming to me because she was studying but, yeah, she was just starting school when we met but that was all on her.

AM: So how was that transition for you both? In the suburbs, newly married, building your careers?

CD: I mean mine was basically built. I’d worked with the company for a while, but then I was laid off and we were surviving on Lily’s salary. I didn’t think it would happen, we got through the ‘08 crash okay, but. Then Lily was nervous. She was always nervous. Working all hours of the day and night. And I thought, I mean….  look I was home, you know? And I thought we could spend more time together. She could be a little supportive of me trying so hard. Of me losing….  but she was just so in with her work. And she snapped at me once. Said it wasn’t her job to take care of the house and me and the money. It was a fight. A big fight. She moved in with her parents for a while.

AM: For how long?

CD: A few months. She calmed down. I finally got a new position. She never got the stuff from my house. Never gave back the ring.
AM: When did you reconcile?

CD: Beginning of 2011.

AM: Did they say why? Why the layoff?

CD: Well, it was the market and, and people were worried about Obama and, listen. I thought this was about Lily. What does that have to do with—

AM: It’s fine, we’ll move on. How did you two keep the relationship going? Did you ever try couple’s counseling?

CD: No. Hell no. Damn, I shouldn’t have done this.

AM: Done what?

CD: This. It’s stupid. Talking about her past. Talking about us, talking about… before. It doesn’t matter, does it? She’s gone. What does it matter if we tried couples counseling or not?

AM: It’s just to–

CD: To paint a full picture, yeah, yeah. Listen can I get some water?

AM: Yeah sure, John—

JH: On it.
CD: Thanks.

JH note: Water bottle in frame 12:36:03 to 12:40:21

CD: We didn’t do the counseling thing. Lily was very concerned about appearances and didn’t want anyone getting the wrong idea about our marriage. Any lawyers. They prey on those counselors. They’re all in bed together. And fuck, we didn’t need it. We figured it out on our own. I got some flowers, and she cooked some fancier dinners and, that’s it. We were back to normal. Well, normal enough. She kept pushing off having kids, and that was always a sore point. She kept nagging me about me spending more time with the guys than her. I said if she was ever home that might make a difference.

AM: Is it easier, to remember the bad, do you think? Rather than the good times. Hold on to the moments you were bitter, so it doesn’t…

CD: No, wait what? No. I’m not being bitter. I’m just telling you what you wanted. Giving your full picture. I told you; I never got it when people pretend that victims were bright beaming fucking happy pills 24/7. No one is perfect. Lily wasn’t perfect. She definitely wasn’t perfect.

AM: Ok, she–

CD: She would wake up in the morning with hair piled on her head that looked like a giant bird's nest. Like she could have rolled out of bed and just walked on stage as the bird lady from Mary Poppins. And sometimes if she was working late, she’d forget to brush her teeth, just kick off her heels and collapse in her suit on the bed, and get makeup stains all over the pillow. And then complain that her skin wasn’t clear, as if it wasn’t her fault. And she’d have all these bottles over the sink. Everywhere. The bathroom just smelled like her hairspray all the time. When she died that was when everyone else figured it out. They all thought it was a perfume, but it was this hairspray she used every day. And her niece had some at the funeral and I thought… I thought…
AM: Here you go.

CD: I thought it was her, walking towards me. I turned my head, thinking she’d just walked in. I forgot where I was. I just smelled her. And I yelled at her. I didn’t mean to, but I started shouting at Bella. That she had no right. No right to.

JH note: CD’s face/sound obstructed, crying into/using tissues, 12:37:21 to 12:38:01

CD: I tried apologizing to her, after. Lily loved Bella. Loved all her brother’s kids, took good care of them. Babysat and helped them with homework sometimes. Took them shopping around the holidays.

AM: Yes, in her will she specified college funds for Bella and Mark. She must have really cared for them.

JH note: See if we can cut that expression at 12:38:22

CD: We were better off than her brother and his wife. So. You know. She did what she could. He was lazy. And would always, always complain about me. God knows what he told those brats.

JH note: Wait until interviews with Bella/Mark to see if ‘brat’ comment should be cut.

AM: Why do you think he complained about you?

CD: Like I said, he and her father, they never liked me. Didn’t think I could provide for her. Or would care for her. Didn’t think I was good enough.

AM: That had to be a lot of pressure.

CD: Wasn’t pressure. I just didn’t see them.
AM: Surely you had to, sometimes? If Lily was helping out with the kids?

CD: Nope. That was Lily’s choice. I didn’t have a lot to do with it.

AM: You said she kept pushing off having kids, why was that? If Lily loved her nephew and niece so much?

CD: I told her that I wanted kids. That we could be building our own family. But she just kind of looked at me and said, what makes you think we can handle kids? She wanted to focus on her career. And I had my job. She wouldn’t have left her firm to raise a kid. I told her she’d be a great mom, but she said she wanted her career established first. Wanted savings. Wanted to get the next promotion, the next big case. Eventually it was too late.

AM: So how would you describe your marriage during that time? You reconciled, but there was still tension with her family, and it sounds like she was spending more time with them without you. How did you handle that?

CD: I mean. I didn’t like it. I told her I’d rather she spent the time with me. She said she wasn’t hanging around the house for me to not be there either. I said I only went out because she wasn’t there. It was a stupid game of chicken. She could have just come home.

AM: Were you happy? Being together.

CD: What?

AM: Were you happy, being with her? It sounds like you went through various periods of discord but were able to reconcile. There had to be something that kept pulling you back. Were you happy with her?

CD: I…  Well. She was my wife.
AM: Did you love her?

CD: Did I love her? She was my wife.

AM: I know. But sometimes people fall out of love. Did you love her?

CD: I. Yes. Yes, yes of course I loved her.

JH note: Maybe do that line as a voice over. Or cut it.

AM: So how did she meet Julian?

CD: Halloween. 2017. She was taking Bella and Mark trick or treating. Julian was the dad of one of their friends. They ended up all going together because her brother was on call at the hospital. She was supervising with her sister-in-law, and Julian and his daughter was there too.

AM: Did she meet him before or after she moved out?

CD: What?

AM: We heard she had moved things into her brother’s house at some point.

CD: No. No. Whoever told you that is wrong.

AM: Okay. So, did you ever meet Julian?

CD: Yeah, the kids were tight with his kid. Like I said. One barbeque or something he was there. I didn’t like him. From the first moment I saw him, I knew there was something up with him. Lily went right up to him and gave him a hug. Started chatting like they were the best of friends.
AM: Were you invited to that barbeque?

CD: What?

AM: Liam said Lily hadn’t invited you to the barbeque, but that you came regardless. Did she invite you?

CD: Of course, she invited me! We’d just had another fight, and I’m not surprised she told her brother something stupid, something wrong. I don’t think she expected me to still come after that but, I was trying to make up with her. Make her happy. And then fucking Julian was there, and I saw the way he looked at her. The way he touched her. The way he talked to her.

AM: Did you confront them?

CD: No. I confronted her. Told her I knew what was happening. She denied it, said he was a friend, that I was crazy. Said I didn’t have anything to worry about and that if I was that concerned about other men looking at her that I….

AM: That you?

CD: That I should look more often. Which was ridiculous. 

AM: What happened next?

CD: I, well. We kept fighting but. We were working on it. And I guess. I don’t know. I don’t know if I want to be here. I don’t know if this was a good idea.

AM: Do you want to take a break?

CD: Yeah, no, just. 

JH note: Pause/water break 12:45:11 to 12:45:23
CD: Sorry. Okay. Yeah, they started their. Their thing. She told me she was babysitting the kids and didn’t want to drive home so late. That she was working late. Nothing that she hadn’t said before it was just… more often. And I tried to tell her, tried to tell her I wanted to try. That we’d take a vacation. That we could reconnect. She said, okay. But it wasn’t really enthusiastic. She didn’t stop. She was too…  He sunk his teeth in her, you know? Bit down deep and poisoned her.

AM: Literally.

CD: Literally, and he turned her against everyone who’d ever cared about her. Whoever loved her. She was mine, and he took her from me.

AM: Did you ever confront her about the affair? Did either of you suggest divorce?

CD: I tried, but no, no divorce. She was mine. Mine for life. That’s what a marriage is. That’s what I reminded her when she left before but now, now he was in her ear. Now he was telling her. And if she’d just stayed with me… if she’d just….

JH note: CD’s face/sound obstructed, face in hands, 12:48:25 to 12:48:35

CD: It feels like so long ago, and yesterday at the same time. It’s hard. And now that fucker, that fucking coward, is dead. He chose an easy out. He doesn’t have to live with what he’s done. He’s gone. And now we have to, I have to. I have to live every day knowing. And he won’t ever suffer again.

AM: You were a key witness in the trial, you gave testimony because you saw her health deteriorate. You told her to go to the doctor.
CD: I saw her, saw her every day, and she was getting so, so sick. I took care of her. I made sure she ate and always had her tea. I thought I saw her coming back to me. I thought we would be okay. And maybe that’s why he did it. Maybe that’s why… because he thought he was losing her.

AM: Was she still going to see him during that time? The defense team claimed she stopped when she got sick, and that the heavy metal levels in her blood were inconsistent with the time he claimed they spent together.

CD: They found the fucking pills at his place, though, didn’t they? She wasn’t working late anymore but that doesn’t mean… they both worked in the city. Worked until she collapsed and couldn’t… until they had to call the ambulance for her. And then. Well. Then it was too late. It was too late, and he’d finished what he intended to do. I wanted him to rot. I wanted to know that he was buried alive in that tiny little cell in the middle of fucking nowhere, wanted to know he would never step outside of that cage for the rest of his life. Turn old and gray and know he was still there. Dying a slow, slow death. And he took that. Took it away. Made a shiv and stabbed his own throat. Apparently he’d tried before. They had him on suicide watch, and he figured it out anyway. Couldn’t handle it. Couldn’t handle the guilt of what he’d done to me.

AM: Done to you? Or done to her?

CD: To me. To me! That fucker took what was mine and couldn’t handle the price he had to pay because of it. He can burn in hell.

JH note: CD’s face/sound obstructed, head in hands, pulling hair, swearing 12:51:45 to 12:52:01

CD: It was never going to be enough. No matter what I… No matter what he did. It was never going to be enough. I shouldn’t have done this. I shouldn’t have started talking about this. I hate talking about this. I hate him. I hate it. I…

AM: Do you need a break, more water?
CD: No. I don’t need a fucking break. I don’t need a. I don’t need —I need her back. I need Lily back. I need her back in my house with that fucking hairspray. And I need him gone. I need him to never have existed. I need him to have never….  He tried to take her stuff out, you know. At one point. Tried to sneak in and take some of her things out of the house. But I know. I knew what he was doing. He stole her key. He had her books. She had these classic books I found at a vintage store; I gave them to her for our third anniversary. She loved them so much. And he was taking them. Had them in a fucking Target bag. And I saw him, saw him in the house, in my fucking house, taking my wife’s things. Taking things I’d bought for her. I told him to never, never come near the house again. To never touch my things again.

AM: He mentioned, in the trial, that you had threatened his life.

CD: He broke into my fucking house! Did I say I’d handle it if he didn’t leave? Yes. But that’s my right. And knowing what he did, I should have followed through. Should have killed him then. Self-defense.

AM: Do you feel guilty about that? That you didn’t take more action when you could?

CD: What? Fuck. No. It wasn’t my fault. I did what I could do. I got her away from him. I took care of her. I got her everything she could want, and she repaid me by leaving me alone, living in her fucking office, and being a whore for that… for that… It wasn’t my goddamn fault that she couldn’t keep her legs closed and died for the devil. It’s not my fucking fault that she didn’t come home.

AM: I thought you —

CD: Not my fault that she betrayed me. No. No. That was her fault. He killed her. He fucking killed her.

AM: What happened, at the hospital? You were both there.
CD: I got there first. And I saw….  She was so small. Her skin was like paper. And she couldn’t really see me. She was so out of it. She didn’t know who I was. She told me to get out. Didn’t know that it was me. And he showed up, and. I told him to get the fuck out. I told the doctors not to give him any information. That if anything had happened to her it was because of him.
Because he was responsible. I was her husband; any information would only go to me. And they believed me, they weren’t stupid about it. Didn’t cause problems. Told me it was arsenic. Told me it was small doses over a period of time. Told me….  told me there was nothing they could do. That it was too late. And then she… then she was gone.

AM: Then police began to investigate.

CD: The doctors told the police I’d said if anything happened it was Julian’s fault. They questioned him. And they said that they could prove it wasn’t him if he just let them search his home. He looked so numb. Like he didn’t care about anything. Looked at me like I was a ghost. Or a monster. Don’t know which. He let them search, and they found what they were looking for. Found orders sent from his IP address. It was more than enough. He tried to say… tried to say a lot of things. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered after that. I thought he would finally pay.

AM: He was arrested, then.

CD: Pretty immediately, yeah.

AM: Did the police ask why you suspected him?

CD: Him trying to fuck my wife wasn’t enough? His destroying my marriage, trying to take away….  that wasn’t enough? It felt like enough.

AM: But, if he wanted to start a life with her, why kill her?
CD: Because I was getting her back, I told you, I said that she was coming back to me. She was mine. Again, and always. Anytime we split she always came home. And she was coming home. And he couldn’t take it.

AM: I think, from the court transcript, Julian tried to say the reverse, of that. That she was leaving, fully, and that you couldn’t handle that.

CD: Well, that’s what the guilty person would say, isn’t it? But where did they find the pills, huh? Where did they find her tea?

AM: Didn’t you—

CD: And where did they trace the order to?

AM: But the tea—

CD: They didn’t need to look beyond that. He didn’t cover his tracks. He did what he wanted to do. He destroyed us. Destroyed me. And it doesn’t matter they convicted him. Because now he’s fucking dead too.

AM: He left a note. Julian. Left a suicide note.

CD: I’ll bet he did.

AM: Do you want to read it?

CD: Why would I want to read it?

AM: Because he talks about you.

CD: Of course he fucking does. Fine. Give it to me.
JH note: CD reading note 12:54:43 to 12:56:10

CD: Are you fucking serious? That coward, that useless pile of maggot feed, that pathetic ballless sack of shit, wasted his last moments on this? On this. To tell the world that my wife loved him. That he can’t bear his daughter thinking he took her stepmom away? She wasn’t her fucking stepmom, and she wasn’t his to love. Ever. To do anything with. She was mine; do you understand? Mine. And he thought he could take her. Thought he could sneak her off in the dead of night. Thought that he could convince her to leave me and play mom to some snot spewing parasite who couldn’t add two numbers if they fucked and multiplied in front of her. And now it’s so tragic, it’s so sad, it’s such a shame, because his life is wasted and he was still so young and they’ll immortalize his words, just like you’re doing right now. You’ll pretend like anything he has to say is worth more than the dirt on my shoes because he’s dead. Because now he can’t speak to you himself so you can see what a moron, what a jackass he really was. But I knew.
And she thought I wouldn’t see it. Wouldn’t realize.

AM: Wouldn’t realize what?

CD: She said she wanted to leave, and I said I’d only sign papers if we gave it a real shot. Said that if she stayed, really stayed with me, and we really tried, and she still wanted to leave, that I would let her leave. Because she never would. Never could. Not really. And then she was getting sick and said it was so nice to have me taking care of her but that it was too little too late. Like all the years were for nothing. The last 14 years were meaningless. That she could throw them away. I should… I can’t…. I told her she wasn’t going anywhere. I followed her. Saw her going to his place. She told me she would try but she didn’t try. He was there. Making her follow him. Making her… and I saw them together and I had proof of what she was doing, and I wanted her to pay and I wanted her to suffer, but I just wanted her back home.

AM: Connor—
CD: Don’t— I shouldn’t have done this. I know I shouldn’t have…. I just… he’s just took the easiest exit out and what do I do now, knowing he’s free? Knowing he’s gone? And they’ll look at that and wonder why he would still insist she loved him. And they’ll do what you’re doing and investigate again. Look into it all over again when it’s the past and the past is dead just like they’re dead.

AM: You’ve done interviews before, though. He tried to appeal. The investigations didn’t go anywhere.

CD: See but that was before he died. Before you started asking questions and God, what am I doing here? Why…. I just wanted her home.

JH note: CD silent, AM looked at me and we agreed she shouldn’t say anything 12:58:21 to 12:58:39

CD: How much, is too much, do you think? Do you think he maybe just wanted to hurt her? Not to kill her. Just to hurt her. And then, she’d take stock. Evaluate. If she wanted to be with him or me. Take the gamble. Gamble fails. And then you up the dose. Then you see what happens. And again. Until it’s too late. There’s no time to evaluate. No time for anything. It’s a white sheet over her face and doctors saying sorry. It’s police saying they’re searching. Police saying it’s over. Trials and cameras and pleas and interviews but it’s still an empty house. An empty bed.
Dishes in the sink and counters covered in grease but you don’t want to eat anyway. You don’t want to do anything but sit on the couch, in that spot where she was and pretend you can still smell her there. Pretend she’s coming back. Just out at work late. Just out with the family. And she’ll come back. And she’ll come back, and come back, and I, he, I repeated it over and over and said she’ll come back and then it’s funeral arrangements and flowers and cards and sympathy and police are there again. Police are saying there’s a trial date. Then you wait. And you sit. And you rot. And you sit on that couch and say it’ll be fine, fine that she’s not here, because Julian was responsible, not me, not me, for making her leave. For making sure she never came back home. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t my fault. I just wanted her home.
AM: Mr. Dodson?

CD: But now he’s not rotting, and they get to be in the ground or in the sky or burning in hell but together. It was fine when we both didn’t have her but now, he does. Now he has her forever.
Gets to be with her forever. And I’m still here. And I’m still rotting. I shouldn’t have done this.

AM: Do you want some —

CD: I don’t want water. I don’t want coffee. I want to raise him from the dead so he’s still here. I want him to know what it’s like to live without her because I have to live without her. Because I watched her leave a thousand times. Because I didn’t drink enough to make sure I died too.

JH note: 13:02:23 AM cannot speak. CD looked at her, not at the camera. Realized what he’d said. Resumed 13:02:45

CD: I know. I knew. I shouldn’t have done this. I don’t want to do this, anymore. But I suppose, maybe it’s too late to say I want to take a break, now, isn’t it?

Kirstyn Petras is a New York-based fiction writer but primarily identifies as caffeine in a human suit held together by hair spray and sheer force of will. She has been published in Punk NoirHoosier NoirAlien Buddha Press, and by City Lights Theatre Company. Her debut novel, The Next Witness, was released in May 2022 by Cinnabar Moth Publishing. When not writing, she trains contortion and aerial hoop. She is also the co-host of Dark Waters, a literary podcast exploring all that is dark, dreary, and wonderfully twisted.