“I’m appalled to have to say it. Spyro Leandrou...my husband...had Patrick killed.”
Elaine gasped. For a few seconds she couldn’t even speak, but then it didn’t make any sense at all. She must have misunderstood something. She finally said, “Excuse me?”
“Spyro Leandrou had Patrick killed, Elaine. Your poor father didn’t commit suicide in prison. He was murdered there!”
The room suddenly seemed to turn sideways, and Elaine felt like she was in the funhouse at an amusement park. “My dad was not ‘killed’ by anybody, Kathy.” Her voice wavered. “He hanged himself in his prison cell...”
Her voice trailed off—Kathy was slowly shaking her head.
“He died in jail, that much is true,” she said. “But it wasn’t suicide. It was murder. Spyro paid someone on the inside to do it. I don’t know who—a prisoner, a trustee, a guard—somebody.” Kathy paused. “I know it’s a terrible shock to you, but it’s the truth.”
“That just doesn’t make any sense,” Elaine snapped, thinking more clearly and now even angrier than before. Had her mother lost her mind in these years they hadn’t seen each other? “What could your Spyro possibly have to do with my father? If you met him two years after Patrick died, like you said—”
“There’s another reason Spyro’s name may sound familiar to you, Elaine. He was a friend of Patrick’s. They graduated from Peabody High School together. His nickname was Spider. Remember? I don’t think you ever saw him in person, but he used to call for Patrick on the phone.”
The synapses in Elaine’s brain started firing like a fireworks display, making rapid connections.
Yes. Spider, one of father’s buddies. Now Elaine remembered the man with the deep voice calling when she was just a child, asking to speak to Patrick, many times. He never left a message.
“Spyro is the one who sold the construction materials that your father pilfered on the job,” Kathy said. “He did it through his father’s business, Mikos Corporation. It was a legitimate company back then, run by Spyro’s father, had a good reputation around Pittsburgh. When Patrick was arrested and the police found out about his pilferin’, Spyro was afraid he would talk in exchange for...what do they call it, a plea bargain? If that happened, Spyro was afraid he would go to jail, too, and his family’s reputation would be ruined. They’re all Greeks, very conservative, ‘pillars’ of the community. Ugh! So he paid someone to get rid of Patrick.”
Elaine grabbed her mother’s arms. “Who was it?” she demanded. “Who killed my father?” Elaine was suddenly out of control—it was all she could do not to shake Kathy like a rag doll until the woman’s teeth rattled.
Kathy tore herself free of Elaine’s grip. “I don’t know his name!”
Elaine stood there for a moment, shaken to the core by all she had just heard. And then she realized she could not believe a word her mother was telling her. Why should she?
“How do I know any of this is true?”
Kathy gazed sadly at her daughter. “Honey, do you really think that your father would have killed himself and left you all alone to fend for yourself? He would have at least left you a note…”
Kathy was right about that. He hadn’t left a suicide note.
“He loved you more than anything else in the world, honey. You know that. He loved you more than life itself.”
Elaine swallowed hard, willing herself not to cry. But she was still far from convinced. “If this is true, how did you find out about it?”
“Slowly. I pieced it together over a period of years, after Spyro and I were married. I didn’t know he was such a big-time criminal at first, and he actually wasn’t, not at the beginnin', before he got into all his international dealin’s. A few months after we moved to Greece, a man showed up at our villa, askin’ Spyro for money. Spyro paid him off and he went away. When I asked who the man was, Spyro shrugged it off and said he was just an ‘unhappy client’ with some sort of business grievance, but it seemed fishy to me. Well, a couple of years later, the same man showed up at our villa again. This time I listened through the wall of the library and heard him threaten to tip off the Pittsburgh police about some crime that happened a long time ago, anonymously, but Spyro handled him very calmly. Spyro said, “There’s no need to make threats. How much do you need?’ and the man said, “How much is it worth to you not to fry for the murder of your best friend, you piece of shit? Contract killin’ is first degree murder and punishable by the death penalty in Pennsylvania, in case you didn’t know.”
Elaine’s eyes widened.
“Well,” Kathy said, “I was so shocked by this I nearly fainted on the spot. Spyro paid him off that time, too, and he went away again. I didn’t know what to do. At that point I knew that my husband was not only involved in a murder, but involved in the murder of my first husband! Can you imagine? I considered flyin’ to Pittsburgh and goin’ to the police, but then I started thinkin’ about evidence, and the fact that so many years had passed by. I also thought about what Spyro might do to me when he found out.” Kathy hung her head, breakin’ eye contact with Elaine. “I’m ashamed to say that I did nothin’, just lived in fear and misery for a few more years, hopin’ and wishin’ it all wasn’t true.”
“So you’ve actually seen this man that you say Spyro paid to kill my father?”
“Of course I’ve seen him! Twice. I told you, he came to our villa, in person, to blackmail Spyro.”
“What does he look like?”
Kathy thought back. “Tall, almost as tall as Spyro, who’s six-three, black hair. Very handsome. Unusually handsome, I would say, like a movie star. Chiseled features, ice-chip blue eyes...and he has this big dimple in his chin, what do they call it—a cleft. That really stood out on him.” Kathy paused. “But he looked kind of rough. Weathered. Like he’s had a hard life, maybe had spent some time in prison.”
“Did he speak with any kind of regional accent?”
“No...not that I noticed. Not a Southern accent, if that’s what you mean. And not like Pittsburgh people.” She looked at Elaine with even more desperation, terror in her eyes. “I think Spyro knows I heard that part of the conversation!”
“How would he know that?”
“Because I think that bitch housekeeper of his, Fenia, told him. She’s his cousin. Everybody who works for him in Greece is part of his family.” Kathy looked like she wanted to grab hold of Elaine again, but knew better. “That’s why I took the papers from his safe! I have to protect myself from him, don’t you see?”
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