The investigation into my late husband’s files was not really my idea. It began as part of an innocent question on my part. When the investigators spent hours delving into our past and present lives I willingly participated no matter how invasive the line of questioning. Of course, they first suspected me as many times a spouse does arrange to have a partner murdered rather than divorce them. So I was asked if I was possibly involved with someone else. Or did Max have a lover somewhere I might be aware of. My response was too laugh which the investigators did not like. I thought they might arrest me right there and then for my unorthodox manner.( She doesn’t ACT like a grieving spouse. Cuff her.) However, the hours of investigation revealed only two people with a deep and abiding commitment to each other. Rather than apologize they moved on to another topic. Work. Could the assailant be a hired assassin, a coworker,or a disgruntled client? Once again, I laughed. How could I possibly know that? If I considered the possibility that Max had disturbed or disgruntled clients roaming Arizona I surely would have encouraged him to stay home and hire armed guards. And no, his coworkers all respected them. He had never fired anyone is his life. He was soft with people. Not a mean bone in his body. If anything, he shielded his workers and took the blame himself. Workers came to the firm and never left. My question to them was this, ” Many of his files were government litigation. Do you think he discovered something which ultimately was big enough to kill for?” “I think you should be looking at the cases ” I told them. The answers might be in the case files. You must speak to Marla. If anyone ever spooked Max Marla would know. She is the heartbeat of the firm. Everything passes through her desk, she is a huge micro-manager of details. Marla was taking Max’s death very hard. She wanted to quit the firm. The detectives had a difficult time scheduling an appointment. Her grief was so raw she broke down at any question. I didn’t think it was possible but it is conceivable that Marla respected Max even more then I did. She was inconsolable and on a very long leave of absence so the firm was a disaster area without her. I stepped in only to keep the firm going until the partners could figure out a plan for what to do. I acted as office manager and it was rather comforting to be there with everything else in my life gone. What was I do, lie in bed all day? No. It seemed logical that I would be there as I was part of the trust and had a say in the future of the firm. Suddenly, the employees watched me with a concern I had never noticed before. I tired to reassure them that I was there to help the firm and if anyone didn’t like it I would leave as soon as we found a competent office manager. I was not there to spy or judge them. I just wanted to ease the transition. But in truth, I was there to spy and I did stay late to search through files for potential answers to questions. Why was Max killed? It was not a random robbery or fluke but a well orchestrated execution to prove a point. I felt sure that Hardy or Byrne would never spill the beans. To tell would be like signing their own bullet. They knew it was bigger than them and their days were numbered if anyone linked Max demise to the cases, so they thread lightly on any subject even vaguely related. It was up to me to find the smoking gun. I started with all the current cases, working my way backwards. After a few weeks, the police lost interest and other than a poster seeking information , they considered it a cold case and no longer wasted scarce resources trying to interview the staff. I called them from time to time offering information but it was just noted and abandoned. One day I was snooping in the E file for energy companies when I noticed something suspicious. One company name was listed over and over and over again. And yet it was not a client I had heard of. And when I looked it up on the Internet database, the address did not seem to exist. Bingo. InFAX. A phantom New Mexico energy provider. My hands were shaking as I held the file. What should I do with it? What does this mean? I studied the names in the folder and made copies of the file before putting it back. This file was going home with me. I did not feel safe staying there to do my research. I grabbed the copies and attempted to walk nonchalantly to the car garage. I stopped and opened my compact looking in the mirror to be sure no one was following me. I carefully and deliberately applied my lipstick and then I cautiously opened the door. Every move was an effort to keep my composure from crumbling. I slowly pointed the car out and slipped the key in to life the guardrail unto Figueroa St. It was deserted as I stopped nervously at a red light. I contemplated running it as my nerves were that exposed. But instead I adjusted my mirror and convinced myself that I was going to be fine. The light turned and I drove up the ramp to highway 110 North. I was too freaked out to head home. I was going to visit Cheryl and maybe stay the night. She was still single, still in Pasadena, but in a bigger apartment. A few times over the years I had happily lent Cheryl rent money as I considered her like a sister. “Come to me anytime” I said. ” Get the larger apartment so I can stay with you if Max ever turns me out into the street. ” She laughed and we agreed to stay close no matter what happened. Cheryl was the only person I could ever trust to protect me in 2005. ” Cheryl,” I called out. ” Eden!” She was shocked but happy to see me. When we met up she hugged me and I said can I stay the night? Of course, she said, my casa your Casa. Inside, she took my coat and said,” Tea?” She made me a cup and offered me some of her take home Chinese. ” No thanks.” I was still shaking. So frightened of anyone overhearing our conversation, I couldn’t bring myself to speak the words so I wrote them down on a pad. I think I know who killed my husband. I have the file of a company called Infax in my purse. Then I gestured for her to not say a word. ” Edie, you need to rest. Everything’s going to be OK” She pulled out the spare bed and we didn’t speak again. I am not sure she believed me and in the morning I changed into a spare outfit I kept in the car for emergencies. ” Where are you going? ” She asked me. ” Back to the office? ” Edie, do you think that is wise?” ” I think it is the only thing I can do Cheryl. I go to the office every day these days. People will miss me.” ” Of course,” she agreed, but she looked confused. ” I’ll call you, Thanks! ” And I close the door. It occurs to me that this was a very bad idea to expose Cheryl to danger. I quietly go to my car and decide it might be better to take the bus. Let them tow me or ticket me I don’t want to get back into that car right now. I call AAA to pick it up on my cell phone pretending that it is disabled. I tell them to drop it at the nearest car repair shop and I walk to the bus stop. This will cover Cheryl and myself if anyone is watching. It was a simple car repair issue that led me there last night. Not my fear of being alone after I discovered a fatal flaw in the files. At the office, I pretend that everything is fine, I stop to buy donuts and coffee for everyone. We all smile and greet each other. But something is different in my smile. I feel they know that I am bluffing my way through the day. I am unnaturally cheerful. It seems vaguely hysterical. I try to calm down and allow myself to stop smiling. Please get me through the day. Where will I go after that? I call everyone into the office and I tell them I would really like to start training a replacement. If Marla is still sick, we will have to bring in a temp. If Marla decides to retire, she may need to make the temp a perm hire. Does anyone object to that plan? When will this all happen? An associate asks. As soon as possible I say. It’s no secret that I am not a superwoman like Marla. I am here until all hours of the night and the files are still not organized. I fear I am not talented at office management and I only wanted to help us survive…I find myself starting to get teary eyed. “I need to leave this firm in order to have the time to grieve. I am sorry I just need time to find myself and to recover. ” From the corner of my eye I see someone pick up a phone to dial the temporary agency as I head for the bathroom. I open the door and sit on the counter. It worked. No one thinks this is related to the file. It is stress, pressure, grief. But not the file and the search for truth. The secret is safe and no one suspects I was here to spy. I open the vanity mirror and take out an aspirin. We stock aspirin for constant headaches. But then I reconsider and put the container in the trash. Ever since I found the file I don’t trust anyone or anything. I have this nagging suspicion someone might want to kill me and I have no idea where it might come from. I am just as vulnerable as the other partners in the firm now. I know the secret. There is a huge conspiracy to hide something very big within the government. When I return the office is quiet, sombre and respectful. I man the phones for about an hour until a temporary arrives. I show him how to connect the lines to each office and he responds that this phone is easy. He does this for a living. I smile. I am relieved. He says his name is George Garcia and he goes to law school in the evening. He will be happy to file the paperwork that has been stacking up since we are short a paralegal. “Wow! It’s like you fell out of heaven!” I tell him. I stay with George for awhile just to show him the ropes and then I walk out feeling free. I will check in with them tomorrow I think before I leave the state to show my concern for the office. I need a fresh computer to start my search for truth. I buy a laptop at Circuit City which I will dispose of once I find the information I need. I consider going home and searching our home computers for information but that is way too dangerous and besides the police made copies of all the files. There is so much to do. I have to get American Express checks and money. A cell phone that can’t be traced. I need to pack and bring enough clothes for at least six months. I need to transfer my cash and disappear. And my head feels like a jack hammer is pounding from inside. I will myself not to get a migraine. I realize I am hungry and stop to eat on automatic pilot. The enormous weight is bearing down on my chest and I cry for Max wondering if this is how he felt for years and couldn’t tell me. When he was alive,I snuggled close to him and tried to distract him from his troubles. We laughed and avoided all discussion of the office. But I never guessed it was a secret this big. I think about the day we left for Arizona searching my mind for anything unusual, any trace of fear in Max that he was in grave danger. Did Max know he was holding a huge secret in his files that could blow open a scandal bigger than Watergate or anything else our government has ever harbored. I replayed those days in my mind and either Max was a great actor or he didn’t know the extent of the cover up. I just don’t think Max knew, but something he said or did got him killed. Maybe he took the blame for someone else in his usual style. Perhaps that is why Marla won’t come back. She knows. It made me sick to think someone else in the firm knew it and was walking around pretending to be innocent. I never wanted to see them again. I would notify the estate that I wanted to cash in on my share in the partnership and take the money overseas. I would leave the country if I had too but I wouldn’t stay another moment in the company of cowards and murderers. The next day I call in to the miraculous temp George and he assures me everything is fine. ” Fine, I repeat his words. Will you tell everyone that I will be unavailable for awhile while I go on a spiritual retreat?” I was leaving the house by midnight and on my way out of state with no clear plan or idea of who I could trust. This was how I ended up in Sedona and wandering the hotels from there to Phoenix trying to understand what was at stake. While pretending to be on a personal mission for growth I was actually searching the file for clues I soon realized I could never return as the world was changing and America was on a point of no return. Someone had sold the country to our enemies and Infax was the key to laundered money for political campaigns to place key politicians in our highest branches. . Who do you blow the whistle on when the government is infiltrated from top to bottom with ringers? This was not to be a mainstream movement. I needed to be far far underground and so that became my mission to find some rational uncorrupted minds to sound the alarm. I wondered if anyone would even listen after I pulled the alarm? Would they assume I was crazy with grief? A new age lunatic? Was this the early signs of schizophrenia. It would be so much easier to just pretend I didn’t Know this but the box was opened and the genie was out. In the meantime I settled back into the pristine waters of the Phoenix Phoenician and did laps around the huge pool. This was absolutely the biggest pool I had ever encountered and the physical exercise was refreshing. Soon this luxury would be far behind me as I slid into the unknown. In the meantime, every night I searched the computer for links to Infax. Why place the company in New Mexico? Were there political forces at work there? Laws that allowed them to hide? I tried to put myself in the mind-set of someone building a slush fund for evil and the answer became obvious. Roswell. The Defense. Santa Fe. The labs there. They were going to pretend that this “Energy” company was actually a deeply veiled Military secret to develop a new energy source with alien technology. Why not? The old shell game. While people were out chasing UFOs and looking for military aircraft in the sky, the despotic government to come would be pouring money into political campaigns to put their candidates in office with large donations from INFAX. If the company was investigated, the press relations team would hint that this was a military secret shielded by those classified laws. It would throw the press and citizen journalists onto a completely wrong track barking up the UFO tree. Meanwhile, the candidates were groomed and presented as agents for “change.” Benevolent forces that wish to give every citizen of the world peace, the freedom to roam, and no one will ever be hungry again. Trading on America’s collective guilt and good nature the candidates were convincing them that this was “all good” to let down our guard, destroy all our weapons and sacrifice our personal freedoms so that other people might live and prosper. I could just see the slogans: We are working on a pollution free energy source, better than solar, electric, nuclear, oil, gas, coal, and it will be cheap. We will liberate the world. INFAX. And of course, it was all a mirage. There was no energy source and Max or someone in the firm discovered that. It occurred to me that if I could find the passwords or hack into our firm’s accounts I could search the financial records for trips to New Mexico or unusual financial transactions. I wondered if I called Hardy or Byrne or our accounting firm for the password whether that would raise suspicion. Probably. Just too risky. In fact, that might have been what got Max killed. Someone was accepting bribes to falsify information or use the firm to help launder money and Max may have discovered it. That makes perfect sense. I suddenly remembered a phone call several weeks before where Max sounded angry and concerned. He was in the other room but I heard an unusual sound to his voice. It was raspy and tight. At one point he groaned. But I did not make out the words. God I wish I had been a snoopy kind of woman. I wonder if I searched our home phone records if there might be some clues and fortunately I had our mail forwarded to a box office in Phoenix. So I began sorting the phone bills, the bank records, our credit card bills into piles. The answers could be there. Strangely enough, the deeper I got, the more refreshed I felt. The veil was lifting from my eyes and I could see the past and the future coming clearly into view. I had been Cher, Dolly, Loretta, Barbie, and now I was going to be Cassandra, the wild and crazy prophet who warned Americans that the forces of evil were at work to destroy their liberty. Would some people believe me if I could show them proof? It seemed inevitable that this house of cards would collapse and that the law firm of Hardy and Byrne would eventually be indicted. Which meant that I would come under scrutiny. In fact, with my odd disappearance and my stint as office manager, fingers might point straight at me. Records might be doctored. Money switched into our personal accounts to frame me. I would have to check every document carefully as I dissolved my part in the firm. The fact that I wanted money at all might trigger accounting alarm bills, audits, all kinds of things no one wants. It occurred to me, that by virtue of being Max’s widow I was already in a heap of trouble and a marked woman. I bought a gun that day and wanted to go target shooting. I needed someone to teach me and that is how I found my first recruit for our new revolution.