A Utah Woman

. . . who tried to hire a hitman to kill her ex-husband was sentenced to prison on Monday — a three-year-to-life sentence.” The Salt Lake Tribune, 30 October 2018

“The prosecutor said human life meant nothing to her. ‘She is cold,’ he said. ‘She is calculating. And she only exists to serve her own interest.'”

“The Utah woman was a beneficiary on three life insurance policies taken out on her ex-husband.”

“‘I think it’s time that this sociopath is held accountable and not allowed to play any more games with the court.'”

KSL NEWS, March 9, 2018: “WOMAN on trial for criminal solicitation. . . .”

“‘. . . no, she didn’t even blink when the verdict was read. She just stared straight ahead until she was taken away back to jail.'”

“‘I don’t know how easy it is to get away with this stuff,’ she said in a recorded conversation, ‘I just don’t know. . . . He cannot walk out of there until he’s as dead as a doornail. . . . And I really don’t give a damn if he takes her [the ex-husband’s wife] out too.'”

When she says this last sentence in KSL TV’s film clip of the trial, I recognize the precise intonation, the discriminating enunciation. This is not some Utah woman convicted of a bizarre crime, this is the woman whom I loved and learned from during my second year in college.

From my Immortal for Quite Some Time:

October 1970, Provo, Utah

The lights go down and the play begins: “Years ago, bloody years, a governor named Georgi Abashwili ruled this damned city. He was as rich as Croesus.”

They skipped Brecht’s prologue set on the Soviet collective farm! I whisper.

This is BYU, she whispers back.

The mother leaves her child. The servant girl saves the child. A stagehand walks aimlessly across the stage.

Alienation effect, I whisper. The top of her foot grazes my calf.

The war ends. The mother returns and wants the child she abandoned. The judge suggests a Solomonic solution.

The warm foot again. And again.

May 1971, Northwest of Moab, Utah

Will you marry me? I asked. She looked at me quizzically—and said yes.

I borrowed my roommate’s Pontiac GTO, an aging but full-throated beauty. We drove from Provo to Farmington where I asked her father for her hand in marriage. My father embraced her warmly. . . .

June 1971, Provo

“When I’m loving you more than I can stand I have to get you something and a book is all I can think of. As you grow with the contents of these pages and others I will be with you always.” She inscribes the Anchor paperback of Kierkegaard’s Either/Or with her love. I mark two early passages:

One ought to be a mystery, not only to others, but also to one’s self.

Every individual, however original he may be, is still a child of God, of his age, of his nation, of his family and friends. Only thus is he truly himself. If in all this relativity he tries to be the absolute, then he becomes ridiculous.

July 1971, San Francisco, California

We lie spooned in her single bed. I’m not ready to be married, I say. It’s too soon, I say. This won’t work out in the long run, I say. It will be better for both of us, I say. Get out of my bed, she says.

That sparse account hardly does justice to our relationship. She was a senior economics major, smart as all get out, teaching a beginning economics class on her own as she finished her degree. I read all of Steinbeck while we were engaged, started reading philosophy, found my way from a pre-med curriculum to a major in German literature, learned, under her tutelage, what pleasures our bodies were capable of.

When we split up she took over the payments on the new Toyota Corolla we had bought together and went off to make her fortune. I heard at one point that she had bought a truck, an oil tanker she hired someone to operate. She would, I figured, flourish in one business or another.

Five or so years ago, she sent me an inquiring email. She was wondering about me as I had, over the years, about her. Her first question was whether I was happy at that point in my life. I responded that life is too complex to answer that question with a yes or no. I asked about her life and she said she had married and had a daughter who was now an adult. I told her about my children. She had divorced and remarried. I had divorced and eventually remarried. She wrote a long account of her expertise in some kind of foreign affairs, maybe related to economics (I wish I had kept the email). She had been called in as a special advisor for the Clinton administration, she said, top secret questions that required her total invisibility. We exchanged emails about Freemasonry, which she said she had studied extensively — both the fraternal organization and the Mormon connections to Masonic ritual — and claimed to have unlocked some of the important esoteric keys. I told her I had resigned from the Mormon Church and had written a book about Freemasonry and the German novel. The important Freemasons, I wrote, the ones with real influence in American politics (Washington, Franklin, etc.), saw their ritual as a purely metaphorical means to improve character and not as esoterically charged. And that was the end of the email exchange.

I look at a still photo from the TV footage and recognize the long curve from her nose to her upper lip, the almost round ear. I knew that talented and thoughtful woman intimately. I look at the photo and grieve. That is not some Utah woman. That is a woman I loved.


About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at http://works.bepress.com/scott_abbott/
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4 Responses to A Utah Woman

  1. Michaela Giesenkirchen says:

    Wow, Scott. Wie im richtigen Leben. Funny how in German “real” life is the “right” life. This woman’s wrong turn must have something very unreal about it for you. Like two sentences with bolded elipses between them which do not seem to come together in any comprehensible way.


  2. Alex caldiero says:

    What a cold in silence. That is, a co in ci dence. Too too damn close for comfort. Definitely some angel watching over yu.


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