Sadie Sullivan became Sadie Caldwell on October 17, 2009.
She and Anthony Caldwell had exchanged their vows in front of nearly 150 of their closest friends and family members amidst the redwoods in northern California.
Then, Sadie was an office manager for an e-commerce start-up; Anthony was a contributing writer to 17 blogs and cheapie publications.
Sadie filled her resume with her experience; Anthony filled his with heart.
Anthony had always made around half the salary as Sadie; but she’d always known his success would ultimately be her undoing.
Their marriage contracted with elation and tension. Ups turned to downs; downs turned to ups.
Up until September 23, 2016, when the cold muzzle of a .45 slid between Anthony’s lips and opened an escape hatch for its bullet in the back of his skull.
The 150 friends and family who witnessed the Caldwell union didn’t think much of the suicide, Anthony being the artistic type he was. Passionate, tragic. It wasn’t expected, but it wasn’t a surprise, either. Even if he’d just stepped into his greatest splash of success with a book deal inked with one of New York’s leading publishers.
The publishing house of Killion and Wade had commissioned Anthony’s novel INTO THE RED earlier that July. INTO THE RED was a story of a young couple navigating marriage with a deepening hatred for each other.
The ink on that deal dried just two weeks before Anthony fellated that .45
Here, five weeks after his death, Sadie sat in the offices of Killion and Wade.
Anthony’s relationship with Killion and Wade had been partially forged by Ron Forrest, one of those 150 at the wedding who’d known Anthony for nearly two decades. Ron worked as an editor at Killion and Wade, and happily oversaw the progress of INTO THE RED.
Ron entered the office in which Sadie waited. In his hands, a bound, hard copy of INTO THE RED. He presented it to Sadie.
“For you, Sadie.”
Sadie had to admit to herself she was impressed by this work of accomplishment by her late husband. This book was real, and it was heavy, and it was responsible for the seven figures in her once-joint bank account.
“There’s a dedication to you. In the back.”
Sadie eyed Ron with a smile. She was touched. She opened the book.
And immediately regretted doing so.
On the back page was a picture. A printout of a photo taken from a camera mounted in a corner of the Caldwell’s living room.
A photo that showed the .45 in Anthony’s mouth; the butt of the gun wrapped tightly in Sadie’s hand as she pulled the trigger.
His success would be her downfall.