That time we lived next door to a murderer, 1982 Part 1

On one or two occasions I have changed a name or two but as it says at the outset, this is a “mostly true blog.” The following is a true story, with as much veracity as memory will allow. The names can be researched in places such as Rahway State Prison (NJ) and Pinellas County, Florida. This is the story of that time we lived next door to a convicted murderer.

I hope you were young and in love once so you can relate to the extreme fondness we had for our first apartment, our first home together sans roommates. We had both lived in situations loaded with drama, unwanted noise and endless compromise.

At $205 a month, including water and electric, we were happy there was a living room large enough to house our beautiful new queen-sized water-bed, a wedding present from Rob’s parents. We had no heat but on the occasional chilly night we just turned up the temperature on the bed. We were friendly with the landlord, a sportswriter for the Evening Independent, the evening edition of the St. Petersburg Times, who would later get me my first job there. Later he would circuitously get jobs for my pretty girlfriends.

Our apartment was sparse. Orange shag carpeting augmented the Tye-dyed curtains I made from sheets. These hung from furring strips added a cozy, bohemian effect. A small forest, maintained by hubby, shared the kitchen faucet with a used washing machine; this was the Gulf of Mexico and  something was always needing a drink.  The ability to do our own laundry was one of the first things that separated us from our childless peers, although we did not begin our family just yet. And as far as laundromats were concerned, I would have used a washboard to avoid having to go to one.

Our apartment and the main house flanked  a tiny apartment that made ours look like the Taj Mahal.  A fisherman and his wife lived there in the  winter months and in the summer a single tenant would occupy the space. The space was too tiny and too cramped not to know your neighbors, but an extra friendly guy named Ed was the handiest neighbor ever.

We first met Ed when he came over and offered assistance after witnessing Rob struggling with a chest of drawers. After finishing the labor, he brought over a pot of deliciousness which was our introduction to chorizo. I felt hesitant to accept this meal from a stranger, but he fed me a forkful and suddenly he was no longer strange. In the weeks following we often traded leftovers or borrowed a green pepper or two.

My hours at the newspaper were erratic at best, and it was during a rare quiet afternoon home, there was an extra firm knock at the door. Our friends generally just walked right in, so a knock was startling. By the time I got to the door there was a louder, more insistent knock.

This was the first of three visits we would receive from, I kid you not, Detective Hod Hutch. He handed us his card and I was still staring at it, suppressing a giggle, and wondering if I was going to go to jail.  Authority has always sparked paranoia, routine traffic stops  dissolve me to  clammy, crying messes. He quickly assured me that it was not us he was interested in, and would we mind answering a few questions?

To be continued….

This post is in response to the challenge “Cliffhanger…”

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