My Brother's Wifebyjack_straw©
...And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" And Cain replied, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?"
I sat at the table watching as the 12 persons who had decided my fate walked back into the jury box.
One female juror looked at me and smiled, but the rest avoided my eyes and kept their faces devoid of any expression.
"The defendant will please rise," the judge intoned when they had all taken their seats.
I stood up then, along with my attorneys, while the jury foreperson – a middle-aged black woman – handed the bailiff the sheet of paper with the verdict. He, in turn, walked to the bench and handed the paper to the judge. He read it, refolded it and handed it back to the bailiff, who returned it to the possession of the jury.
During this interim, I took a moment to look around the courtroom. Behind me, I saw Cindy, the woman I loved and who loved me. She smiled and held up both of her hands, each of which held crossed fingers.
I looked at my lawyers, who had, I thought, conducted a very effective defense on my behalf. One of them smiled and clasped my hand to reassure me.
And I looked across the aisle at my mother and my sister, who did not smile. I wondered what was going through their minds at that moment. How conflicted were they by this case? I hadn't spoken to either of them in well over a year, so I had no way of knowing.
You see, I had killed my brother. That fact was uncontested. I shot him to death one night after he had broken into my home. As far as I was concerned, it was self-defense. He'd been armed with a baseball bat and he had threatened me repeatedly in the previous months.
The prosecution, however, had said I had lured him into an ambush and shot him in cold blood. And, since he was a person of importance, a prominent business owner and a state representative, they had mounted a vigorous prosecution against me.
All of this flashed in my mind in but a moment's time, then my attention was jerked back to the present by the voice from the bench.
"Has the jury reached a verdict?" the judge asked the foreperson.
"Yes, your honor, we have," the woman answered.
"In the matter of the People vs. Scott Luke, how do you find?" the judge said.
"We, the people, find the defendant, Scott Luke..."
Her name was Cindy Duncan, and I fell in love with her from the first time I saw her. I soon found out that the feeling was mutual, something I suspected right from the start.
We both just looked at each other with an, "Oh my God!" expression, and I could feel the tumbling of my stomach and the nervous hesitation that accompanies such occasions.
There was never any doubt about my feelings for her, and I soon made a vow that I would wait for however long it took, but that someday she would be mine.
There was just one problem, and it was a big one. She was my brother's fiancée, and I was meeting her six weeks before their wedding, just prior to a bridal shower my sister was hosting in her honor at my parent's home.
In the days leading up to their wedding, I could see the confusion on her face as she wrestled with the decision of whether to go through with it. But by then she and her family had put too much into the wedding for her to back out, so she married a man she didn't love.
Cindy is such a decent person that I truly believe she tried her best to fight the attraction between us, at least for awhile, tried hard to be Gordon's dutiful wife.
But I was under no such obligation. I never felt the least bit guilty about being in love with my brother's wife and I never wavered in my desire to have her for myself.
If that sounds incredibly selfish, well, read my story, learn about me, my brother and Cindy, then decide for yourself. This is going to take some telling, so bear with me.
To say that my brother and I didn't get along would be a gross understatement. Oil and water, that's what we were. In fact, more than one person dubbed us Cain and Abel, and which of us filled which role depended on whose side you were on.
Our father, Gordon Luke, Jr., inherited the family's textile factory that had been founded by his grandfather late in the 19th century. It is a matter of record that Father saved the business, and the economy of the mid-sized city in which it's located, and where I grew up.
He completely renovated the factory and got the company involved in the retail end of the business, setting up stores at dozens of outlet malls from coast to coast. In the process, he took an already considerable fortune and multiplied it manifold.
The problem was it pretty much cost him any real chance to be a father, at least to me. See, I was the middle child, with all the baggage that comes with it.
Gordon was the golden boy, the family namesake, and he was the one that got most of the attention from our mother. She came from one of the area's oldest and most prominent families and she's about as snooty as they come.
I was 23 months younger than Gordon, then we have a younger sister, Karen, who is three years my junior. Whatever attention my father devoted to us kids was lavished on Karen. Father did eventually take to Gordon when it became obvious that they were two peas in a pod.
Gordon toed the family line, and he was the one who got involved in the business. Karen went to law school and became the company's legal eagle. They were both content, eager even, to fall into the avaricious corporate culture that was my father's stock and trade.
Me? I didn't get squat when it came to attention from my parents. That was actually fine with me, once I got used to it. I was always different from Gordon and Karen, different from anyone in my family, and it suited me and my personality to be left alone.
I've always marched to the beat of an entirely different drummer. While my brother and sister were boisterous, aggressive – even pushy – I was quiet, introspective, and I had absolutely no interest in the family business or the family's money.
From a very early age, I had a gift for working with my hands, and one of the few indulgences I got from my parents when I was growing up was my own workshop, and any sort of tool I wanted.
At the same time, I became engrossed in music and learned to play the guitar at an early age. Like every teenager, I went the rock-and-roll route for awhile, but when I was 17 I discovered bluegrass, fell in love with that style of music and submerged myself in the whole subculture.
As a result, I chose to combine my two passions and began to make instruments for a living. I spent four years as an apprentice to a master craftsman in the Tennessee mountains, and I learned well.
As it happens, I managed to develop a nice business as a craftsman. I still play, and I periodically travel to street fairs and other events to market my work.
I handcraft every single piece, and over the years I've made a slew of guitars – acoustic and electric – banjos, mandolins, balalaikas, even a few violins and violas.
One thing I did get from my family was a drive to succeed and a strong sense of perfectionism. When I take a consignment to produce an instrument, I always take great care to make sure that instrument is as flawless as I can possibly make it.
I've never gotten rich at my chosen profession, but I live comfortably enough, plus I'm doing things I love doing. Or at least I did until the state decided to try me for the death of my brother.
Of course, none of this gets to the heart of why my brother and I couldn't get along. Simply put, he was a bully and I was a rebel. And that conflict goes back as far as I can remember.
Gordon was always bigger and stronger than me, and he beat up on me regularly until I nearly bit his ear off one time defending myself. That happened when I was 13 and he was 15.
Gordon left me alone then, sort of, and we reached an uneasy understanding. I think he was already angling to be a politician, and I guess his calculating mind figured that it wouldn't do to be seen publicly as a bully.
But he never really lost his hot temper, and that was what finally cost him his life. I would be lying if I said I don't ever get mad, but my temper is cooler, more controlled. I'm a pacifist by nature, but I'm also a realist, and I'm no pushover.
I did use my name to get a bank loan for the materials to build my own home, a two-bedroom log cabin in a rural area outside the city. I did a lot of the framing and log work myself, although I did contract out the plumbing, electrical and decorating.
Because of where I lived, and because of my association with a country style of music, I became something of an outdoorsy type. It's a lifestyle that suits me and my temperament.
And it's reflected in my appearance. I finally grew to be about 5-10 – still well short of Gordon's 6-2, but tall enough – plus I developed an interest in aerobics and a passion for hiking, all of which gave me a lean, wiry physique.
I used to have really long hair, but I cut it several years ago, and now a full beard is my only concession to a counterculture attitude.
Unlike me, Gordon did everything he was supposed to do. He got excellent grades in high school, went to college, including graduate school, then moved into a mid-level position in the company. It was just assumed that he'd take it over when Father retired, and that's what happened.
Father had a bad heart, and he retired fairly young, then he died when I was 31. By then, Gordon had become the company president, and had begun to get active in politics.
He apparently met Cindy while he was in his first job. She worked in the accounting office and he quickly set his sights on her. I doubt if he ever loved her, but she definitely looked good on his arm as a trophy wife.
Quite simply, Cindy is gorgeous, a tall redhead with big expressive eyes. She also has a wonderful personality, warm and caring, but she's fairly shy. I never quite understood what she saw in Gordon, but then I'm biased by my lifelong dislike for my brother.
In fact, Gordon was quite handsome, with a jock's physique and a charismatic personality. He could – and did – charm the pants off anyone when he so chose, and I learned that he did, quite often.
Of course, there was also the family's considerable fortune that I'm sure played into Cindy's relationship with Gordon, and the family's prominence in the community.
Cindy was 25 at the time, and had dated some, but not as much as you might think, and she says her family was eager for her to reel Gordon in when he started showing interest in her.
Her family isn't poor, but they aren't rich, either, and the prospect of Cindy marrying into the Luke family had a lot of appeal. And she was willing to go along, until she met me. Then it wasn't quite so clear-cut. I was 23, I had just set out on my own and I was bedazzled by her looks and her charm.
She and I have so much more in common than she had with Gordon. We have very compatible personalities and we have similar tastes in music, politics and activities. Once we got to know each other, it didn't take long for her to realize that she'd married the wrong Luke.
Because of her, I declined opportunities to move to Nashville and California, where my business might have grown tremendously. I wanted to stay close to home, so I could be as near as I could to her, and be a part of her life.
After three years of marriage, Cindy had their first daughter, Sarah, and two years later, she had the other girl, Mary. Then she had her tubes tied, because by then she realized that she didn't want to bring any more of Gordon's children into the world.
Fortunately, the girls take after their mother in their looks and their personalities, and they are the most precious things in the world. Cindy proved to be a wonderful mother, a stay-at-home mom who seemed to strike the right balance between love and discipline.
I have no idea when Gordon started physically abusing Cindy. He was always being cross with her about something or another, and I do know he drank quite a bit. But I didn't really associate that with abuse until I happened to visit the house one day, and she had a slight bruise on her cheek.
Before you get the wrong impression, I was there legitimately. Because I'm handy with minor home repairs, I was always the one Gordon and Cindy called when there was a problem. Gordon never had the time or the inclination to do that kind of work, so he'd get me to do it because he knew I'd do it for almost nothing, and do it right.
I always did what they asked of me, and I never once made a pass at Cindy when she was home alone, although, Lord knows, I was severely tempted.
On this particular day, I was dropping off a couple of bags of concrete for a repair I was going to do in a few days on their back patio, and I noticed that Cindy was real quiet, real down. Then I saw the bruise on her cheek. I asked her about it and she just turned away. That's when I knew.
By then, they'd been married 11 years and Gordon had already won a seat in the state House of Representatives. He was very conservative, and his family-values platform found a receptive audience in the suburban district where they lived.
I asked her again about it and she mumbled something about accidentally running into a door, and that it was nothing to worry about. I didn't buy it for a minute, but I let the matter drop, because it was clear she didn't want to talk about it.
However, it wasn't long after that incident that I happened to be at the bar of a downtown hotel meeting a client about a possible job when Gordon walked in with some blonde.
He didn't see me, and I watched him ply this young woman with several drinks, then leave with her in the direction of the elevators.
So in addition to beating up his wife, he was also cheating on her. I did a real slow burn over that. Here was a woman that I absolutely adored, with two beautiful daughters, and he was acting like, well, like the Gordon of old.
This time, I worked up the courage to call Cindy. I told her what I had seen, told her that I knew he was hitting her and told her that if she ever needed some place to go, she could call on me, any time, day or night.
"Scott, I ... I appreciate you," she said softly. "But you know how he is. I can't leave him. He'd never stand for it. And you know, too, that he has powerful friends. Please, don't get mixed up with our problems. I can handle it."
"Cindy, you're just as much family as he is, maybe more to me," I said. "And the girls are my nieces, as close to my own children as I'm ever likely to have. That makes it my problem. And Cindy, I love you. I always have and I always will. When you're ready, I'll be there. I'll always be there."
"Scott, I ... I love you too," she said. "I'm glad I have you in my life."
After I hung up, I sat back and considered my options, and realized that I didn't have any. As much as I loved Cindy, as badly as I wanted her, I wasn't going to entice her into adultery.
I had too much respect for her and too much respect for myself to do something like that. Engaging Cindy in an adulterous relationship would have put me on Gordon's level, would have made me no better than him.
If there was one thing I always prided myself on, it was the fact that I considered myself morally superior to my brother. Perhaps that sounds arrogant, but it's the way I felt. I have a rather flinty sense of propriety, at least where relationships are concerned.
Because of my feelings for Cindy, I never tried to establish a meaningful relationship with another woman. It would have been dishonest of me to profess feelings I didn't have for someone other than Cindy.
Oh, I did have a sex life. Among my circle of friends and acquaintances in the music business, there were several women that I had sexual relationships with, but those were always kept strictly physical.
Many of them were divorcees who had been burned by love and just wanted intimacy without commitment. That was fine with me.
I finally decided my best course of action was to hire an investigator – quietly – and gather as much dirt on my brother as possible. I needed it in case something should happen, and I'm very glad I did.
I also talked to Gloria Miller, a friend who was a lawyer. I told her about a "friend" who was in an abusive relationship and asked where she might go to escape her husband. I didn't say who it was, only that her husband was prominent and powerful.
From Gloria, I got the name, number and address of a domestic abuse shelter in the city. That was really all I could do for Cindy. That and wait.
The problem, from Cindy's perspective, was that she needed to protect herself financially, and Gordon had systematically cut her off from independent sources of income.
He refused to let her have a job, gave her a very miserly allowance and she said he'd structured his assets so that they weren't legally considered community property. I'm not sure how that worked, but the gist of it was that if she divorced him, she'd get very little out of a settlement.
Moreover, she was worried that Gordon would contest her for custody of the girls, which was a travesty. Gordon had very little interest in his daughters – he'd wanted boys – but they made a nice photo-op when it came time to run for public office.
Indeed, the way she saw it, Gordon had cleverly set it up so that she'd be financially unable to care for her daughters in the manner befitting what he considered to be their station in life, and thus he'd win custody by showing himself to be the more fit parent.
In fact, I was more of a father to those girls than he was. I was the one who was there for their recitals, their soccer games, their school functions. And I was often called on to baby-sit, which I did gladly. They're wonderful kids, I love being around them and they love their Uncle Scott.
I'll admit, my motives weren't exactly altruistic, since those occasions afforded me a chance to be with Cindy. Still, I remembered how indifferent my parents had been with me, and I was determined that Sarah and Mary would have one Luke male in their lives who acted like a daddy.
So it was that over the next 18 months I watched and waited.
I watched heartsick as the woman I truly loved descended into depression. It seemed like Gordon was crushing her radiant personality by his constant abuse to the point where she rarely smiled.
I also waited while I gathered information on my erstwhile brother. I learned that he had a steady mistress in the state capitol that he saw when the Legislature was in session, and that she apparently didn't mind sharing a bed with strange pickups – male and female – that they would encounter when they were out and about.
That got me concerned for Cindy's health, but as it turned out, I needn't have worried. Cindy told me later that over the last year or two of their marriage the closest she came to having sex with him was the occasional blowjob.
I knew it was only a matter of time, but I wasn't prepared for the suddenness of it when she finally reached the breaking point. Actually, Gordon pushed her past the point of no return on a stormy night when he came home after drinking quite heavily.
I would only pick up bits and pieces of what happened as time went on, but near as I could figure, he came home drunk, wanted sex, she refused and he beat her up. And I mean he did a real number on her this time.
All I knew was that I was awakened out of a dead sleep late one night by someone pounding on the door to my cabin deep in the woods. I looked at the clock and it said 4:27. I was curious about who it could be until it hit me quite suddenly.
The only person I knew who would be banging on my door at that time of the morning was Cindy, and if that was the case, it meant trouble.