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Authors: Amy Tintera

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BOOK: Listen for the Lie
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Listen for the Lie Podcast with Ben Owens

EPISODE FOUR—“THE AMNESIA DEFENSE”

Reporter (news broadcast):
Breaking news tonight—a local wedding took a tragic turn when one of the guests, twenty-four-year-old Savannah Harper, was found dead in the woods not far from the festivities. A second young woman was found wandering nearby, also injured in the apparent attack, and is currently in stable condition at the hospital. Police are asking that anyone with information …

Savannah was pronounced dead at the scene after Gil—the jogger—found her. The coroner later determined that she died from a blow to the head. Two blows to the head, actually. Someone hit her with an unknown object twice, and then left her there to die.

Lucy was initially thought to be a second victim, not the perpetrator. She'd also suffered significant injuries.

However, police found no evidence of a third person at the scene. An autopsy showed that the scratches on Savannah's arms were from Lucy's fingernails, and the bruising appeared to be in the shape of Lucy's hand. When witnesses began to come forward with what they'd seen at the wedding, the narrative around Lucy changed.

I spoke with Nina Garcia about what she saw between Lucy and Savannah that night.

Nina:
             A bunch of people saw Lucy and Savvy fighting at the wedding, yeah.

Ben:
               What do you mean by fighting? Can you describe what you saw?

Nina:
             I came out of the bathroom and Lucy and Matt were making out in the hallway. Savvy looked
pissed
.

Ben:
               Savvy looked pissed about Lucy kissing her own husband?

Nina:
             Yeah. And Savvy, like, cleared her throat, and they stopped. Then Lucy tried to say something to Savvy and Savvy let her have it. I couldn't hear what she said, but it was super tense.

Ben:
               You didn't hear anything at all?

Nina:
             No. And I didn't see it, but I heard that later, when Savvy and Lucy left together, Savvy was still angry. People saw her yelling at Lucy and slamming her car door. There was clearly a situation happening there.

Lucy has insisted, from the very beginning, that she has no memory of Savannah's murder. In fact, she claims to not remember anything from the night of the wedding at all.

Here's Colin Dunn again, Savannah's date to the wedding.

Colin:
            Yeah, Lucy says she doesn't remember anything after leaving her house that day. She doesn't even remember arriving at the wedding, I guess.

Ben:
               So, what does she remember? From what you've heard.

Colin:
            She remembers getting in the car with Matt to leave for the Byrd Estate. But then nothing else? I didn't even know amnesia was a real thing. I thought they made that up for TV.

Ben:
               It's a real thing.

Colin:
            Weird, man. Anyways, yeah, they had me go talk to Lucy a couple days after she got out of the hospital.

Ben:
               Why?

Colin:
            They were like, trying to get Lucy to remember what happened that night. Matt had told her some stuff, but he was really wasted. I can hold my booze. My memory was all right.

Ben:
               Were you okay with that? With going to talk to her?

Colin:
            Yeah, whatever. I felt bad about—well, you know. The whole thing with that woman in the car. That wasn't cool.

Anyways, I went over to the Chases', because Lucy was staying with her parents. I asked her to tell what she
did
remember, and she said, “We met in the parking lot and we all went in together and found our table,” and I was like, “No, we didn't.” And then she just started sobbing, which was really weird.

Ben:
               Sobbing?

Colin:
            Yeah, so apparently someone else had seen Matt and Lucy
talking to another couple in the parking lot, and they'd thought it was me and Savvy. They'd told the police that, because at the time, they were trying to put everything together, so it was all important, you know? But that person got confused or was like also wasted or something because we actually got there later. Lucy and Matt were already sitting at the table when we walked in.

Ben:
               That upset Lucy?

Colin:
            Like, for real upset. Totally freaked me out. I thought she was going to pass out or something. Kathleen and Don told me later that Lucy had said she remembered walking into the reception, with Matt and me and Savvy. Like she had created a whole new memory around the bad information? I think everything went to shit after that. Lucy couldn't tell what was real and what she was creating to try and remember.

Ben:
               Did you believe her, when she said she didn't remember anything?

Colin:
            I don't know, man. She was putting on a hell of a show if she was lying. I sort of believed her after people told me that amnesia wasn't just a TV thing.

The thing I don't really get is—wouldn't she remember
something
eventually? Like after the head injury healed? That's suspicious to me, man.

Something stuck out to me during my conversation with Colin—he said that he went to see Lucy just two days after she got out of the hospital. He went there specifically to try to help her re-create the night her friend was murdered, which seems like a huge amount of stress to put on someone who just suffered a head injury.

In fact, not many people talk about Lucy's head injury at all. It's been reported that she suffered a “moderate traumatic brain injury,” which is actually a very serious injury. I spoke to a doctor who preferred to stay off the record since he never treated Lucy Chase, but he confirmed that yes, amnesia is a real thing that happens with brain injuries. In fact, it's not that people who have suffered a brain injury
forget
what happens, it's that their brain stopped making memories at all. The memory doesn't exist.

So, to answer the question that a lot of you have been asking—yes. The amnesia defense
is
a real thing. Given the extent of Lucy's injuries, it's possible that she really doesn't remember what happened that night.

But is that the truth? And why is everyone in Plumpton so convinced she's lying?

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
LUCY

I think we should break up.

I see Nathan's text as soon as I wake up. It was sent at two in the morning Texas time. Midnight in California. I wonder whether he was drunk.

Why????
I laugh as I push
send
.

I wonder what finally pushed him over the edge. Maybe he made it to the episode about my cheating with Kyle. He could excuse murder, but he drew the line at my cheating on my husband.

It's only six in the morning in Los Angeles, so I don't expect a response right away. Or ever, maybe.

Mom's gym agreed to let me use her pass while I'm in town, and I get on the treadmill, until
run run run
is the only thought going round and round in my brain.

Nathan hasn't texted back by the time I get home and shower, but Matt has.

Every part of my body tenses when I see his name on my screen.

Hey. Meet me for lunch. Please?

I want to ignore it, like I ignored every single other text he sent me over the years.

But I think of Ben's request. Of Grandma's request. Of Savvy.

I was never good at convincing Matt to do anything, but maybe things are different now. Maybe I'm different now.

Maybe I'm just an even bigger idiot.

Sure
, I reply.

Matt's waiting in the booth of the Mexican restaurant when I arrive, scrolling through his phone. He looks up and smiles when he spots me walking toward him.

A waitress passes me, holding a tray of sizzling fajitas. Oh damn. Those hot plates could do so much damage if pounded into a human skull. I'd have to be careful not to burn myself in the process, though.

“Let's kill—”

Nope. No. I do not have the energy for the voice right now. Let's focus, brain.

Matt stands as I approach, and he's hugging me before I can react. He smells familiar—a hint of cedar in his aftershave, mint from his Tic Tac habit.

I avoid looking at him as we pull away, because I'm repeatedly bashing a fajita plate into his face.

I slide onto the red plastic, noting that Matt has a margarita in front of him and has ordered one for me as well. I'm not a huge fan of day drinking, or of salt on the rim of my glass, and he knew both of these things at one point. I'm not sure he cared back then either.

My phone buzzes, and I nudge it out of my purse to see that Nathan has replied to my last text.

We're just going in different directions.

I guess that's fair. I'm possibly headed to prison, and he is headed back to the dating apps to find a new girlfriend.

Another text pops up.

I'm sorry. I'll pack up your stuff. Tell me when you want to come get it.

I drop my phone back in my purse and look up at Matt. Ex-husband in front of me, ex-boyfriend texting me to pick up my shit. I am positively on fire.

“Thanks for coming.” Matt intertwines his fingers, sliding them across to the middle of the table. He clearly remembers that I like his hands.

“Sure.” I take a tiny sip of my margarita because I actually would like to take the edge off this day, and because he'll comment on it if I don't drink it. I'm good at avoiding pissing off Matt.

Mostly.

I carefully put my drink back down. It's a colorful Mexican tile table, the type that might topple your drink if you put it down on the edge of one of the tiles. Matt hates it when I spill things.

“How are you doing?” His brow is furrowed in concern. “It must be hard, being back.”

“It's all right.”

“Are you listening to the podcast?” he asks.

“Yeah. I'm in touch with him, actually. Ben.”

He stops with his margarita almost to his lips. “What?”

“I ran into him at the diner. He asked for my help.”

“Your … help?” He says
help
like it's the weirdest thing he's ever heard in his life.

“Yeah, he wants an interview. I figured what the hell?”

“Are you serious?” He puts the margarita down. It wobbles on the uneven tiles.

“Yes.”

“Lucy, that is not a good idea.”

“Why not?”

His eyes widen slightly, like I should already know the answer to that question.

Because you murdered her, Lucy.

“He's not on your side,” Matt finally says.

“No. He's not.”

“Then…?” He's exasperated. I'm very familiar with this emotion from Matt.

“No one's on my side. But he doesn't seem to be on anyone's side, so that's really the most I can ask for.”

He lets out a long sigh and takes another drink of his margarita. I'm still getting used to his shorter hair. It's cropped so short I can see his scalp. Something about it makes him seem hostile. His scalp is angry.

“He said that you didn't do an interview.”

“Of course not.”

“I don't care if you do one. Just, if you said no because of me.”

“Jesus, Lucy, of course I said no because of you.” His exasperation is growing. “
You could show a little gratitude, dammit!
” he had screamed at me as I stuffed my clothes into garbage bags. I still don't know what I was supposed to be grateful for. I guess that he wanted to stay married, even though he thought I murdered my closest friend?

I can't muster up any gratitude for that, even now.


I have an idea!
” the voice yells.

“I think you should do it.” I dip a chip into the salsa and pop it in my mouth.

“I literally can't think of a worse idea.”

“I'm doing an interview. Kyle's already told the whole world that you were cheating on me. You don't want to share your side?”

“I wasn't cheating on you.”

“I HAVE AN IDEA!”

I manage not to snort-laugh, which is a real accomplishment. “Then you
really
should do the interview and tell Ben that.”

He leans back in the booth, working his jaw in a way that used to
make me nervous. I pull the napkin off my silverware and imagine stabbing the knife in his eye.

“You know what? Fine.” He's got me now. That's his “I'll show her” tone. “Tell Ben to call me again. I'll do it.”

BOOK: Listen for the Lie
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