Where do I begin, Detective

Letters From My Fathers – Chapt. 2 (Mark Ford Brady)

Bobby took the letter from his father and brought it into his bedroom, carefully tucking it away in the top drawer of his bureau. He went back to the living room and took the box from the coffee table and carried it back to his spare room, replacing it in the corner.

He glanced around the room, looking for anything else that might catch his interest and help him pass the time. And that' s when he saw the notebook. His "birthday gift" from Mark Ford Brady. He remembered back to the day that Alex had (very grudgingly) given it to him. She hadn't wanted to upset him any more than he already was after the loss of his mother and his brother's non-attendance at her funeral. But she also knew Bobby well enough to know that he'd be angry with her for not passing the killer's notebook along. She knew he'd find it fascinating.

He carried the book back to the sofa –having stopped at the fridge for another beer along the way, and settled down to read. Mid-way through, he came upon an envelope with the words "Detective Goren" meticulously printed. Once again retrieving his pocketknife, Bobby carefully slit the top of the envelope, removed the folded paper, and began reading:

Where do I begin, Detective? Where do I begin, my son?

"My Son." Strange how those words overwhelm me with a sense of pride –and comfort, while I'm sure they overwhelm you with totally different feelings. Don't feel guilty or bad for feeling the way you do. God knows you're entitled. I'm sure you realize that we human beings all share at least two things in common: (1) none of us asked to be born; to be brought into this world, and (2) none of us could choose the parents we were born to. If we were capable of that, I'm sure that a schizophrenic and a serial murdered wouldn't have been on the top of your list for "mom and dad." (Please forgive my sardonic humor).

Imagine my surprise when I learned from my oddball prison mate, Wally Stevens, that you had befriended him. It was then that my long-suppressed curiosity and desire to know you –or at least see you, was roused. It was then that I put my final plan into action; using Wally to lure you to the prison for a visit; to tell you about the photo album (a treasured compilation of my "work") hidden in the attic of my childhood home. I knew you wouldn't be able to resist. I knew you would have to meet with me. I knew I would finally come face-to-face with my son, as a grown man.

The last time I had seen you, you were a little boy –3 or 4 years old. I came to the house to pick your mother up. We were going away for the weekend. I knew she had called me out of spite –wanting to get 'revenge' against her husband (the man you called Daddy) for once again choosing a weekend at the track, filled with booze and 'loose' women over staying home with her. I didn't mind being her 'rebound' date. I was eager for any chance to be with her.

I don't know what my beloved Frances might have told you about me –about us.

We were young when we first met. So young. She was beautiful and vibrant and sexy. Boys at the swim club would line up for a chance just to talk to her; to be seen with her. But she chose me. We shared fun days and exciting, passionate nights. Your grandparents never approved of her relationship with me. They warned her that I was a rogue; a flirt –that I would break her heart. I wanted to show them that I was serious about her; that I was mature and responsible. So I joined the military service. Frances adored me even more in uniform and, hence, (luckily for me) even more, not in my uniform.

When I learned I would be stationed in Germany, I asked her to marry me; to come with me, but your grandparents forbade it. So, she promised that she would wait for me to come home. Her deluge of letters and postcards that first year almost made our separation bearable. But, eventually, mail from her tapered off. She said she was just busy, but I knew better. I knew how women were.

Imagine my disappointment –my anger and rage, when she finally found the courage to send her "Dear John" letter to me. When she found the nerve to admit that she'd been cheating on me with another man –that she planned to marry him. I was furious; consumed by jealousy. You're a good detective, my son. Do you remember questioning me about that photograph? The one of the pretty girl standing on the quaint, cobblestone street in what you guessed was Germany? You were right. It was in Germany. I took that photo the day after I received your mother's letter. It was because of the rage that she ignited in me that that poor little fraulein had to die. My very first victim –a cherished memory. I wonder if the police in Germany ever found her body? . . .well, that doesn't matter now. Anyway, your grandparents were wrong: It was I who had my heart broken by her.

A couple of years later, I was discharged from the Army and headed home. I found out, from some old friends in the neighborhood, where you mother was living and I watched her for days. Coming and going, doing her wifely errands while dragging around that brat of hers –your half brother, Frank. I knew that look on her face. She wasn't happy. But she was still beautiful and sexy and those feelings I had for her were stirred once again. So, one day, I arranged to 'accidentally' run into her at the supermarket. She was frightened, at first; afraid of my reaction to her 'situation.' But, when I hugged her and kissed her cheek, I knew she still had feelings for me. She gave me her phone number and address (as if I didn't already know). She told me that her husband wasn't very handy around the house and asked if I'd be willing to come over and help with some small chores, like fixing a leaky faucet or putting up some shelves in the pantry. I saw through her excuses. She wanted me. I was only too happy to oblige.

So our affair continued. We seized every opportunity to be together and, trust me, there were many. Her husband was always away, gambling, drinking and whoring.

The night JFK was elected was electric. And what better way to celebrate. Your mother looked so pretty –smartly dressed in her hounds-tooth suit and black clutch bag. She insisted on having that pillbox hat – just like Jackie used to wear. Did she tell you that I bought that hat for her? Probably not. She had saved up just enough money by cutting back on groceries –and stealing from her husband's pants pockets while he slept off one of his hangovers. Anyway, she always bragged about getting that suit 'for a song' at Gimbels, but it was I who bought her the matching hat. I tried to be good to her.

And it was on that night that you, my son, were conceived. A night of celebration and passion. Maybe not fueled by 'love' exactly, but there was no denying the chemistry between us; the attraction, the lust. I'm sure that many babies have been conceived under worse circumstances; don' t you agree? When she told me of her pregnancy I knew you were mine, try as she might to pass you off as her husband's. She had told me that her husband hadn't touched her in weeks. Why would he need to, after all? He had plenty of whores to fulfill his needs. Yes, I was sure. You were mine.

Our affair continued. Whenever her husband wasn't around, I made sure I was. We talked of plans of being together; fantasized about her leaving her husband and marrying me; running away together. I would gladly have taken your mother and you and started a new life as a family. I would've even accepted that brat of hers, Frank, if it meant I could have the two of you. That's how much I loved her.

But, as fate would have it, plans of our happy family were not to be. It was on that fateful weekend when you were just a toddler that your mother broke my heart for a second time. No matter how hard I tried to convince her –beg her—to leave her husband, she refused. She didn't want to disappoint her parents with a failed marriage; didn't want to take Frankie away from his father; didn't want the stigma of being divorced. It probably sounds ridiculous in this day and age, but back then, things were different. When I realized that she'd been stringing me along again, using me to exact her revenge on her husband, I became furious. She tried to fight me off; tried to defend herself, but my rage couldn't be contained. But, unlike my little German fraulein, I couldn't bring myself to kill her. I still loved her.

So, when I left our motel room that night, that was the last time I saw her.

I thought of her often over the years. It was thoughts of her that stirred my anger –fueled my desire to kill, again and again. I can't tell you how many times the image of her face –those big doe eyes—flashed before my eyes as I strangled the life out of those women; mere surrogates taking the place of your mother, allowing me to vent my anger and rage at her.

So you see, it was all her fault. She made me the man that I became. I used to wonder why I feel no remorse for my actions; for the families I destroyed; the lives I smothered out. No. No remorse. I guess that makes me a psychopath or a sociopath –however you want to label me is fine.

I do, however, have regrets. Regrets for the life I could have had; the father I could have been if she'd given me the chance; regrets that I never got to know you: the son I had, but really didn't.

Good-bye, son.


Your Father, Mark.

A shudder ran down Bobby's spine. He remembered back to the interview cell at the prison – how he attacked Brady and had his hands around his throat – the sound of Brady's voice, seething and taunting: ""Do it! You have it in you!"

Bobby's stomach clenched and turned. A groan of disgust escaped his throat as he got up from the couch. He ripped the letter into shreds as he walked to the kitchen garbage can. "I'm nothing like you, you sick bastard."

He shook the thought of Brady from his mind –at least for now – reached for the receiver of the wall-phone in his kitchen and dialed.

"Yeah, Lewis. I changed my mind. I'll meet ya' at Q's in an hour."