A fictional theory of Agatha Christie's missing days
A bell signaled class had come to an end, and the students grabbed their rucksacks and shuffled off to the next class. Aggie sank into her chair, rubbed her temples. Her husband still hadn't responded to any correspondence, and no one had seen him for months. It was as if he had disappeared from the face of the Earth. Many of her relatives had joked it was a mystery only she could write. Her eyes darted around the classroom, her hands making a tent.
"Agatha...." An official-looking man asked walking into the classroom.
"I'm sorry, this is my break. If you need office hours, you can make an appointment."
"I'm not here for University business. You are married to Archie Christie, aren't you?" The Man walked further into the classroom but kept a comfortable distance. "He was found." He took off his hat and placed it over his heart. "I'm sorry ma'am. Your husband was found dead in a motel in London."
Aggie straightened her back, narrowed her eyes. "I'm sorry, but you must be mistaken. My husband was nowhere near London. Even on business. He hated that city."
"His body was positively identified by his mother, Ma'am." The Man moved closer to the desk. Aggie knew that he was looking at her to see if she would give anything away. "There's something else that you should know."
"Why are you telling me about someone I don't know?"
"Your husband was murdered. Someone killed him." Aggie tilted her head, wondering why he felt the need to specify to her what murdered meant. "You should get back to Berkshire and talk with your family."
"Sir, my family is gone. My husband decided he wanted to be with another woman, so he and I were in the process of divorcing. My life is here now, and this is where I intend to stay."
The Man turned on his heel and left the classroom. Aggie slumped back in her chair. Archie was dead. She should have been sad about the development. Yet, all she could manage was a sigh of relief. After a few minutes of reflective silence, she went into her office. She dialed the number for her divorce attorney, a breathy woman answered. "Finnigan and Associates. How may I help you?"
"Edna, get Joe on the phone. I have some news for him."
After a long pause. "This is Joe Finnigan."
"You've heard about Archie, I presume?"
"You've heard as well?" Aggie asked genuinely confused. How had word gotten back to her lawyer before her?
"Yes, Agatha. You do know that you are the top suspect, don't you?"
"They always suspect the spouse, no? I have nothing to worry about because I am not guilty."
"True. Still be wary of police until you are cleared." The dial tone in her ear told her that her attorney had hung up on her. His words rang in her ear, she was a suspect in the murder of her husband.
The next novel she was writing caught her attention, "The Husband's Murder," it would not be wise to send it to her publisher. If the authorities were made aware of the contents, they would certainly use it as evidence to prove her guilt. With a sigh, she picked up the manuscript and hid it in the drawer. She was relieved that she had another to send to them. Best not to hurt her chances of a contract renewal, especially now that she was a widow.
After she left the campus, she took a walk through the woods. The falling leaves signaled that summer had ended and fall was rearing its ugly head. Aggie's head spun, forcing her to step to the side and lean against a tree.
When she closed her eyes, all she could see was a forest, but it was tinted in yellow. She opened her eyes and managed to keep the scream that had been building inside of her. There would be police waiting for her, of this she was sure. Authorities in England would want her to be extradited so that they could question her. Now was not the time to have a mental break down or worse, remember what happened during the days that had disappeared from her memory.
There was a police car sitting in front of her house, as she had anticipated. Aggie smoothed down her skirt, sucked in a deep breath, and marched towards her house. The Officer stepped out of the vehicle when he saw her. His face was etched with lines that suggested his career had been a long one. "Mrs. Christie, I presume that someone has contacted you about your husband."
"Yes, one of your colleagues informed me earlier of my husband's demise. As I told him, we were going through a divorce, and I am sure that he has named someone else to help with everything that is needed."
"Excuse me, ma'am?" The Officer took a step toward her, pulled out his wallet to show his badge. Aggie scanned it quickly and recorded his name as Bell. "Nobody was sent from my precinct to speak to you. Are you sure he was an officer?"
"He was dressed like an officer, but he did not introduce himself as one." Aggie felt the world begin to spin again. She closed her eyes and tried to steady herself. "It's been a long day, and I found out my cheating husband has been murdered. Is there something I can help you with?"
"I understand you have had a long day, even a bad day. I certainly don't mean to add to it, but you do need to come down to the station with me. Interpol has a few questions to ask you." She tried to process the information. Interpol wanted to talk to her. She was officially a suspect, something that she knew but it was still hard to believe. She held her wrists out for Bell, but he shook his head. "You're not under arrest. They just want to know what you know about your husband's business dealings."
He opened the car door; she ducked in. When he slid into his seat, he turned on the siren and made his way to the station. The ride there was quiet as Aggie contemplated what was happening. They only wanted to speak to her, she wasn't a suspect. At least that was what they wanted her to believe. She would tip them off about the mistress, which would give them the motive they were looking for. Even though she was divorcing Archie, thus far it had been very amicable. At least to the public. Her best defense was that she was in the United States, which is was the reason they had yet to arrest her. Bell led her through the back, avoiding the swarm of the press that had been tipped off she was being brought in. Two Interpol agents stood when she entered the room. "Hello, why am I here?"
"Right to the point, Mrs. Christie. We are trying to understand your husband's many business dealings. They seem to be very convoluted. And there is more than $100,000 missing from his bank account."
"Have you talked to his mistress? Nancy Neele. He asked me to dissolve our marriage because she was pregnant with his love child, and he didn't want bastard children."
The other agent shifted uncomfortably in his chair and shot a glance at his partner. Silence filled the room until finally, he spoke. "Mrs. Christie, Nancy Neele was found dead. She was in a hotel room in London."
Aggie's ears perked up, she gave them a curious look. "The same room that my husband was found in?" The agents looked at one another, from the expressions on their face, Aggie deduced that something wasn't quite right. "Another agent or someone came into my classroom today and told me that my husband's body had been found in a hotel room in London."
"Excuse me." The first agent left the room. Aggie smoothed out her skirt again and began to wonder what was happening. The other agent returned and the mystery deepened. "Mrs. Christie is indeed correct. Archie Christie was found dead in a London Hotel room, about two hours ago."
"What's going on here?"
"Mrs. Christie, it seems that your husband has been involved in an assassination. The gunman was found and accused Nancy Neele of hiring him to murder your husband. His fee, $105,000, almost the exact amount that had been taken out of his account."
"This is all very overwhelming. Why would someone want to kill my Archie?"
"It appears as though they had broken up. She thought he was cheating on her, at least according to the officer I spoke with." The agent stood and walked over to Aggie. "I guess we had you brought in for no reason. My deepest apologies for that and for the loss of your former husband."
Ice was warmer than the agent. He roughly helped her out of the seat and hustled her out of the room. Bell greeted them and agreed to escort her back home. The ride was silent as Aggie allowed her mind to drift to what had unfolded that day. When Bell opened the door to let her out of the car, she curtsied. "I know it's polite to allow you to come in for coffee or a nightcap but I am emotionally exhausted and do hope that you understand."
Bell nodded and got back into the car, taking off without looking back. Aggie went inside the house, closed the door, and fell back on it. Her mind wandered back to the day she had set her plan in motion.
She had drunk a bit too much moonshine and had decided that it would be better for her to be a widow and not a divorcee, the latter had more of a scandalous ring than she preferred. After asking around, she had found a gentleman who dealt with the underbelly of helping people. Once he understood her request, he explained what she would need to do; withdraw the money from Archie's account, have Nancy killed, and then have Archie's body discovered.
Since she had already accepted the position with Yale, there was no way for anyone to connect her to the crime. He gave her a dose of phenobarbital. The made her imagine being in the woods, that made everything yellow. Many Doctors prescribed it to clean the minds of their patients.
A picture of Archie was tilted to the right on her wall, she walked up to it. "You thought that you would get away with leaving me for her, but you should have known better. I warned you what would happen if you cheated."