A Secret Grave 89: Fall Guy


Roy was able to let Janet know that when he returned to the greenhouse after taking her home the two men were gone. He went to bed without telling anyone about the break-in because he wasn’t supposed to be out in the first place, and certainly not with Janet. He lied to protect her and ended up getting in real trouble with his father.



Kemper Military School – Boonville, MO, Robert Stinnet,  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/


For weeks Janet lamented about Roy taking the fall while she continued with her easy school girl life of homework and friends, shopping trips to Niemans for dresses, excitement over a new haircut or first pair of heels. She couldn’t tell her mother the truth – she couldn’t tell anyone, not even Victor, and it nearly broke her heart. This was right around the time Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated and somehow she couldn’t help but conflate the two incidents: the horror of the civil rights leader being shot down and the men in suits prowling through Dr. Leonard Gottlieb’s greenhouse with flashlights and then trashing the place, probably to cover up what they were doing. The injustice of it all! It was because of that – the guilt she felt over her secret rendezvous with Roy and the big lie of omission they had to tell to protect themselves – that she eventually went to law school, though it was a career she discovered she didn’t like and dropped in favor of going into the travel industry.



Three unidentified men (cropped), City of Boston Archives, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/



Dr. Martin Luther King Preaches His Last Sermon, Memphis, Tennessee, April 3, 1968


I stopped her at this point in the story. “What do you think the guys who trashed the greenhouse really wanted? What were they doing there?”

Janet fiddled with one of her earrings. She was a very pretty woman. As a girl in her teens and twenties, with white blond hair, green eyes and a splattering of freckles across her fine nose, she must have been drop dead gorgeous. “Well, I eventually did tell Victor about it and we both agreed. Those men were looking for something very specific. Dr. Gottlieb had rare medicinal plants in that greenhouse and the men must have stolen them. But looking back on it, the savage way they trashed the place seemed like a warning, a fuck you, as well as a coverup for something way more sinister than it seemed at the time.”

That gave me pause. “Can you be more specific?” I asked.

She looked at me and smiled. “Victor and I did our own little break-in. It took a lucky twist of fate but we managed to get into Dr. Gottlieb’s study or office or lab or whatever you want to call it. And we learned some stuff in there.”


To be continued…


Cover photo ~ http://thoughtcatalog.com/avolyn-fisher/2014/06/we-should-all-learn-to-take-the-blame/

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