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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 TWO—“SHE WOULD NOT HESITATE TO CUT A BITCH”

When Lucy moved back to Plumpton after college, she moved to a neighborhood referred to as “the Block.” The Block is actually several blocks that form a square. It's an area within walking distance of the main downtown strip, which had once been run-down, a spot that hadn't kept up with the rest of Plumpton's growth.

About twenty years ago, they tore down many of the old homes and renovated some of the old ones. It quickly became a popular spot for young, well-off couples to buy homes, and is now one of the most exclusive areas of town.

Matt and Lucy bought the Hampton House, which caused a stir in the neighborhood. I spoke with Joanna Clarkson, who was one of the first people to move to the neighborhood, with her husband.

Joanna is a whirlwind of a woman, bustling around her bright, enormous kitchen, trying to make me snacks before I can finally get her to sit down and talk to me.

Joanna:
          Hampton House was this big, beautiful house built in the early twentieth century. It was turned into a museum in the seventies, which shut down in the nineties, and then was boarded up for years, when that area went downhill. When they started redoing the area, they didn't tear that house down. They gutted it and turned it into this gorgeous, charming home. Wraparound porches and huge windows … have you seen it?

Ben:
               I dropped by there earlier, actually.

Joanna:
          It's so nice. I think there was some talk about turning it into a bed-and-breakfast for a while? But I guess those plans changed, and it was sold to Dale, at first—he was the mayor. He and his wife lived there a few years, and they put it on the market right when Matt and Lucy were moving here. There were multiple offers, but Dale chose them because of Lucy.

Ben:
               He knew her?

Joanna:
          He knew her parents. Everyone did. It just felt right that
it should go to her, considering her family's history with the town. I remember thinking that Lucy really lucked out, marrying a guy who came from money. She never would have been able to afford that house otherwise. People thought that Lucy lucked out in general with Matt, actually.

Ben:
               Yeah? He was well liked around here?

Joanna:
          Oh yeah. Are you kidding? People
loved
him. And it just … it goes to show, doesn't it?

Ben:
               What?

Joanna:
          Men. I'm sorry, hon, don't take this personal, but with Matt and Lucy, it really seemed to prove that men only care about looks. Because Lucy, well, she's beautiful, but …

Ben:
               But?

Joanna:
          Well, I guess you don't have to be nice when you look like that, do you?

Ben:
               She had a lot of friends, though? By all accounts, she was pretty social.

Joanna:
          I guess.

I also spoke with Nina Garcia, who was one of Lucy's best friends in high school. Nina is a nurse at a nearby hospital, and she's still wearing her pink scrubs when I arrive at her home, her dark hair falling out of a clip.

Nina:
             Sorry, twelve-hour shift. I'm scattered. What were you saying?

Ben:
               Were you surprised when Lucy moved back after college?

Nina
:              No, not at all. Lucy's family, on her mom's side, has been here for like … ever. Like I think they were one of the original families who settled here. And even though she wasn't the cheerleader type like Savvy, she still embraced small-town life. She said we were a cool small town, like Stars Hollow.

Ben:
               I don't know Stars Hollow. Where is that?

Nina:
             From
Gilmore Girls
, Ben. You need to brush up on your early-2000s television.

Ben:
               I will get right on that.

Nina:
             Except with more wine. We're Stars Hollow, but with more wine and cowboy boots. Anyway, Lucy and I grew apart
a little in college—we went to different ones—but I was excited when she texted me that she was moving back with Matt after the wedding. She said he'd fallen in love with the town when they visited her parents, and he wanted to open a brewery/restaurant thing. Thought it would be perfect, since we have so many tourists. Figured he could get the husbands who weren't into wine. Didn't work out, I guess. It was only open a few years.

Ben:
               So, you two reconnected when she moved back?

Nina:
             Ehhh … sort of? I mean, that was the plan. But we had both changed, and it was kind of hard. I was about to give birth to my first, and she wasn't even thinking about kids yet, so we didn't really have a lot in common. And my ex was … well, he preferred for me to be home. And then Lucy started hanging out with Savvy and some of the women in her neighborhood. The friendship just fizzled. High school friendships don't always transfer to adulthood, you know?

Ben:
               Sure.

Nina:
             And Lucy and Savvy … they had one of those intense, obsession-like friendships, you know?

Ben:
               I don't.

Nina:
             I guess it's mostly women who do it. But sometimes you meet a girl who is just, like, your soulmate. Not in a romantic way, but in a friend way. Which can almost be more intense. You could tell that Savvy and Lucy were in one of those intense friend-soulmate relationships.

Ben:
               An intense relationship usually has pretty serious ups and downs. Did they fight?

Nina:
             I don't really know. I didn't hang out with them much.

Ben:
               I've heard that Lucy has a temper. Did you ever see that?

Nina:
             I mean … I don't know. Would people say she had a temper if she was a man? They'd say she stood up for herself when it was needed.

So that's what I'm going with. Lucy wasn't afraid to stand up for herself.

CHAPTER NINE
LUCY

I don't realize it's Saturday until I step into the grocery store. I have no sense of time without a job.

But, apparently, it's Saturday, so the entire town of Plumpton is out shopping for groceries. There are two large grocery stores in town, but the other one is shitty and gets whatever produce was left over.

Still, I should have gone there.

Because, from the moment I walk in, I can tell that people recognize me.

No one in Los Angeles has ever recognized me. Pre-podcast, I was only famous to a tiny murder-obsessed corner of the internet. There are far more exciting people to see in Los Angeles. A guy from one of the cop shows shops at the grocery store near my house. No one is going to notice a maybe-murderer when the dude who has been looking mildly annoyed by his gorgeous partner for eight seasons is squeezing avocados in the produce section.

But there are no avocado-fondling actors in Plumpton.
I
am the biggest celebrity in town.

I push my cart past a large bin of toilet paper, trying to pretend that a woman with a helmet of gray hair isn't openly gawking at me. I wonder whether I should know who she is. I've tried my very best
to block out all my memories of the people in this town, except for Savvy. Savvy is the only memory I want, ironically.

Mom made a list—some general stuff they need like eggs and bread, plus a few things for the party. I push my cart through the aisles as fast as I can. Mom didn't put buttermilk on the list, but I grab it anyway, hoping it will encourage Dad to make biscuits. And chocolate sheet cake. If I have to be here, I'm at least going to eat some of Dad's food.

I pile the food into my cart, grab several bags of candy (sugar is my main weakness, unless you count my inability to stop murdering people in my head), and make my way to the very long checkout lines.

“Lucy?” The baffled, familiar voice rings out loud enough for at least half the store to hear.

I try not to wince as I turn to find the source. Nina Garcia stands in the next checkout line over, her mouth literally hanging open.

“Wow. Hi.” She plants her hands on her hips, which are a bit wider than last time I saw her. She's curvier all over, actually. She's the sort of woman who looks nice in those dresses that cinch at the waist. I look terrible in those dresses. Like a stick wearing a sack.

“Hi, Nina.” I try to smile. I haven't seen or spoken to her since before Savvy died. If I'd run into her two days ago, I might have still been bitter about that.

After listening to the podcast, I'm finding it harder to hold a grudge. And I'm usually so good at holding grudges. It's one of my best talents.

“Well come here, girl, give me a hug!” She steps forward and wraps her arms around me before I can react. Her long, wavy dark hair smells like fake coconut.

I don't know what to do with this friendliness from Nina. It could be a Texas thing, I guess. The fake-friendly “pretend everything is fine even though I hate your guts” thing that Texans do
didn't apply to me last time I was here. But maybe five years is too long to keep up that level of hostility. Texans are nothing if not polite (to your face).

But on the podcast Nina actually didn't sound like she hated my guts. She wasn't passionately defending me, but she wasn't throwing me under the bus either. There are plenty of high school stories she could have told that would have made me look terrible.

I don't know what to do with that. I'd be much more comfortable if she'd shouted “
I hope you get hit by a truck!”
at me from across the store.

But hugging? Hugging is weird.

I pat her on the back and try not to look uncomfortable as she pulls away.

“I heard you were coming to town but I honestly didn't believe it.” She points her finger up and then down my body. “You look great, by the way. How's Los Angeles?”

“It's … good. You know, sunny.”

“Oh, I bet. I visited there once. Did the whole tourist thing, saw the handprints and all that.” Her eyes flick to something behind me, and I turn to see two women staring at me. One glares when our eyes meet.

She's standing next to a rack of scissors, and I imagine ripping the plastic off and jamming it into her throat.

“If you slice it like this there's so much blood, let's kill—”

Shit. The voice is back. Shit.

I'd hoped that by pretending it wasn't happening, the voice would fade away again. It had been so quiet since I left Plumpton.

“Let's kill—”

“How's your mom doing?” Nina asks. “I heard it was a bad break.”

I turn away from the hostile ladies, and the voice quiets. “She's good, I think. You know how she is.”

“I sure do.” She laughs. The woman in front of her moves for
ward, and Nina pushes her cart up and then turns back to me. “Are you just here for your grandma's birthday or…?”

“Why else would I be here?”

She looks flustered. “Oh, well, I just thought that with Ben back in town … you know about him, don't you?”

My stomach dips to my feet at the mention of the smug podcaster. I take a swift glance around, like he might be lurking.

“Yeah, my mom told me he was around.”

Nina chews on her lip, and then looks relieved to move her cart forward again. She leans around the rows of snacks and lip balm. “Let's get together soon, okay? I'll call the house. You have to come by, see the kids.”

There's no way she actually wants me to see her kids. I am not child appropriate. She really is just being polite this time. “Sure.”

She smiles. “I'll talk to you soon, Lucy.”

Listen for the Lie Podcast with Ben Owens

EPISODE TWO—“SHE WOULD NOT HESITATE TO CUT A BITCH”

I spoke to many of Lucy's former friends and people she grew up with, and a theme emerged in our talks.

Jill:
                Lucy had a temper. She would not hesitate to cut a bitch.

That's Jill Lopez. It was actually her wedding that Lucy and Savannah attended the night of the murder, a fact that she doesn't appreciate me bringing up.

Jill:
                Yes, it was my wedding. And yes, I'm pissed at Lucy for ruining that memory for me forever. I didn't even know her all that well. I shouldn't have invited her, but my mom wanted to invite like, all of Plumpton.

Ben:
               But you knew Lucy well enough to know that “she would not hesitate to cut a bitch”?

Jill:
                Everyone knew that.

Ross Ayers, a high school classmate, personally got a taste of Lucy's temper.

Ross:
              See that? Right there?

Ben:
               Your nose?

Ross:
              That bump? That's Lucy. She broke it senior year.

Ben:
               She broke your nose?

Ross:
              Yep. I wish I could have testified at a trial, tell everyone how crazy she was. I wasn't even the first guy she hit! She decked a dude at the CVS a few months earlier.

Ben:
               What happened? When Lucy hit you, I mean.

Ross:
              We were in the parking lot after school—me and some friends—just hanging around, waiting for our rides, when Lucy comes out. Lucy sees me and she just totally freaks out. This chick has murder in her eyes. Some guys nearby had just come from playing basketball, and she snatches the ball out of their hands and chucks it at me. From like only a few feet away. Hits me right in the nose. Then she screamed something—I don't even remember what she
said—
punches me
, and leaves. Well, no, she didn't leave. A friend dragged her away.

Ben:
               Why did she do that? Had you two interacted before?

Ross:
              Barely! Some in class and stuff, but I don't think we'd ever even had a conversation. She just lost it. I don't know why.

I then spoke to Emmett Chapman. Emmett was one of Lucy's closest friends in high school.

Emmett:
        Lucy and I were friends … forever? I can't actually remember school without Lucy. Back in elementary school our teachers would make us line up alphabetically, and Lucy was always right behind me. Chapman and Chase. And she started sticking up for me all the time, so we became friends.

Ben:
               Sticking up for you?

Emmett
:        Yeah, I was bullied a lot in elementary school. I was tiny and just an easy target in general, so I dealt with a lot of shit. But Lucy was always kind to me. She wasn't afraid to be loud. I was such a shy kid. She yelled at people for me.

Ben:
               So, she had a temper? I'm hearing that a lot from people.

Emmett:
        Um, I don't know if I'd say that. No, I wouldn't say that.

Ben:
               Did you guys stay in touch after high school?

Emmett:
        Yeah. We both went to UT, but we didn't hang out as much after freshman year. We just fell in with different crowds and did our own thing. But we both came back to Plumpton after graduation, and we became good friends again. I actually hung out with Matt and Lucy all the time, with the woman I was dating back then. They were our couple friends.

Ben:
               Were you friends with Savannah too?

Emmett:
        Yeah, definitely. Not in high school, but later, when we all moved back, yeah.

Ben:
               Were you two close?

Emmett
:        No, I was better friends with Matt and Lucy. But Savvy was always really nice to me. Savvy was nice to everyone.

Ben:
               How would you describe Lucy and Savannah's relationship?

Emmett:
        They were close. I don't know what else to say. People always seem to want me to uncover some big hidden secret, or say that I could tell they secretly hated each other, but I didn't see any of that.

Ben:
               What did you think, when you heard that Lucy was the prime suspect in Savannah's murder?

Emmett:
        I was shocked. Never in a million years did I think Lucy would hurt Savvy.

BOOK: Listen for the Lie
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