Fog slowed my progression and wrapped my car in murkiness on an evening I needed to be home on time. The premature darkness that bound itself with foul weather deepened as I passed a mom-and-pop charter boat business that looked like it had no business.
One more mile.
Triangular patches of streetlight glow guided me – but only on my left. To my right was a rusty breakwater containing Fox Creek Canal. Atop the metal barrier was a forlorn, long, chain link fence which served as an unofficial “keep out!” message to Detroiters who wished to enter “The Pointes.” That was one of the quirks of Wayne County, Michigan – its patchwork of historically affluent mini-mansions and majestic buildings which shared uneasy borders with burned out storefronts, rentals, foreclosures and residents who lived paycheck to paycheck. To say it was a line of disunity, of controversy, minimized the uneasy truce between these islands of inequity.
Even though this was a short cut, it was foolish to choose Alter Rd. on a night like this. I knew better. Fox Creek Canal, south of Jefferson Avenue was eerily quiet on the best of nights. It always seemed cryptic, which may have been one reason it served as a primary entry for booze from Canada during prohibition. The almost-two lane road without shoulders gave off a claustrophobic tension, especially when bordered by the rolling grey mist.
Rain dotted my windshield. I turned off the radio to reduce distractions but a creepy sensation in my neck redirected my attention to my rearview. A quick check confirmed my fears. I had company. Headlights too close, too determined to be nothing. The pursuer mirrored my speed changes. For the next two blocks I tried in vain to glimpse details of the vehicle and driver.
My side street appeared and I hastily turned left onto Essex, hoping to prove myself wrong. Who was behind me? What did they want? How long had he followed? There was a dip near the bend in the road ahead and I hoped, when combined with the night precipitation, that it would conceal my tail lights long enough to lose him. I was fully aware of the danger of this maneuver but - the alternative?
I nearly careened off Essex onto our brick driveway making another sharp left onto the lawn, and took cover behind our tall, thick hedge. The ignition was extinguished. I waited. Listened. Watched. The night silence contrasted with the tambourine in my chest.
My husband, Al, was late getting home - again.
I remained motionless for what felt like an eternity and watched the dreamy mist drift over silhouetted streetlights. I was tempted to dash into the house but didn’t want the dome light to come on.
The same headlights emerged through the gloom. It was an old car with at least two occupants who paused at each driveway, clearly looking for someone. Their rough muffler confirmed it was the same vehicle. I was glad my car did not have much reflective chrome. They glided by slowly without stopping, presumably without seeing me. The glow of their red taillights faded and soon the mist swallowed them completely.
This wasn’t the first unnerving event in recent weeks. There had been drunk dials around midnight by the same man who, over a two week period, asked for some woman. He spoke in a slow, southern accent refusing to give his name. His words were slurred and his mood irritated. His breathing was audible, as if half awake. Why did he call us repeatedly? Then there was the stranger out front who stopped to ask “Is this where Dr. Alan Canty lives?” while I was gardening a few days earlier. The driver seemed friendly enough. And the last thing I recalled was finding three dry cigarette butts under our kitchen window after days of rain. Whose were they? When these experiences were viewed as one it appeared something destructive, something far-reaching was coming. Al, on the other hand, was strangely dismissive of these worries, which only compounded my worry.
A LIFE DIVIDED
Betrayal comes in many forms. In my case it was through murder, court testimony and bank statements. This memoir is the candid truth of a perplexing story that made national headlines about a nightmare under my own roof. But, as much as it's my story-it's yours.
We've all had moments when the rug has been ripped out from beneath us. Times we've questioned our previously unquestionable beliefs, as we felt the weight of our world descend. Time seems to stop in those moments, along with our ability to breathe and think clearly. It's as if we had the wind knocked out of us, and we are left feeling absolutely alone with no idea where to turn.
Maybe you're going through one of those times now.
These devastating and defining moments take many forms: the loss of a family member or close friend, the end of an important relationship; an accident that results in a life-altering injury; verbal or physical abuse; deception by someone you trust or love; eviction, or crimes such as robbery, blackmail, assault or kidnapping.
These life-changing incidents, and others, are more common than people realize. That's because, despite how often those who endure them appear on news or talk shows, most traumatized people keep their experiences private. And, those who go public are usually too traumatized and too close to the events, which have only recently happened, to be very insightful. In addition, beyond the sensational aspect of such stories, they aren't exactly "water cooler talk". It drains energy and invites pity. Plus, those who've gone through great hardships often don't believe anyone can understand what they're going through.
That's why I wrote this book.
One difference between this memoir and others chronicled as "true crime," is that I'm not a detached journalist who simply "documented the facts." Another is that I'm a psychologist. So, I've told my story from the inside - from a personal and professional (psychological) standpoint. My writing isn't academic or clinical, and it's easy to understand. I've also taken more time than most to process my experience before writing about it...
Insight and healing don't happen in an instant. In some cases it takes a lifetime. My hope is that this memoir of true crime will help you overcome the dark days in your life-in the least time possible.
We've all seen stories about tragic events unfold in the news. But we merely get a glimpse of the grieving families in the background, hear a few plaintive words, and then the victims quickly disappear from the news and our minds. However, that's never the end of the story.
It's the beginning.
So, my story isn't just a report of a family ripped apart by a spouse who led a secret life. It is the story of everyone who's ever been blindsided by suffering. It's a story about living, loving, and surviving. It's a story about the resilience of the human spirit.
Leaving the cocoon of my redacted life was nearly as scary as living the heartbreak you're about to read. I have written the book in a style that will allow you to see what I saw, smell what I smelled, and hear my thoughts as best I could recall them. In addition, I've drawn from court documents, newspaper articles, interviews, photographs, and video from the evening news. I also revisited the locations where this story unfolded - twice.
While this memoir is-at least initially-gloomy, the message interwoven is that the circumstances you find yourself in today do not determine your tomorrow. They're merely you're starting point. And, though it can be hard to believe at first, they're an opportunity.
There is always hope.