July 23rd 1997
"They were coming."
Andrew felt a sudden peace overcome him. Right before the power had been cut, he saw a report featuring his memorable yearbook photo, and the award he won when it had been published to his graduating glass. It figured, that was honestly his proudest moment in this sad excuse for a life.
"Most likely to be remembered."
He remembered himself as a child, young, hopeful, and truly believing he was special. He saw himself, age ten, looking at this news report, seeing that black and white photo of himself as a teen. Seventeen, craving attention, handsome, outrageous, and behind that wide grin, so much pain. He looked at himself as a child, sitting side by side with him, in awe over his expression watching the news, wanting so badly to wrap his arms around him and not let go. This was a boy who had been molested, lied to, and set up for failure. Once the power was cut, he vanished. Andrew looked up at overhead fan, slowing down to a twirl before stopping completely. He faintly heard the choppers overhead, as well as the loudspeakers and S.W.A.T and F.B.I outside. A strange chemical smell lingered in the air, as Andrew knew he couldn't allow himself to be captured. The biggest tragedy was that he as much as he wanted to blame others, he let his mental illness go untreated, as well as what had happened to him as a child. He believed in his father's lies, and made his very own abyss that he allowed himself to become swallowed up by. He had so many opportunities and wasted them all. He had been healthy, handsome, and couldn't have done anything.
Instead he lied, and let that darkness take over him. He let that rage take hold, and murdered very well six people. Jeff, his best friend, and very well the man he could never have but always wanted. A man who had been born with honor, and was one of the first to see through him. David, the love of his life. The man he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, to start a family with, and to die with when he was old, knowing they had spend their life's together, making every moment count. Lee, a man he inspired to be, and was jealous of his success, and outraged at his lies of staying in the closet, even though he could have doe anything he pleased. He found him sad, and a total waste. The man who he stole the truck from. William he believed his name was? He hadn't thought much about him, but his last words of wanting to see his family haunted him. Just bad luck having crossed his path. Crystal, who he believed hadn't been connected to him since there hadn't been any news coverage. He had tried scanning the few newspapers he could get a hold of, seeing any story about a woman raped and beaten to death. That was his first thing he searched for when he broke into the sailboat a few days ago. She was another sad story of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He felt sorry for her, and barley remembered much about what happened in the condo.
She had been the only woman he had ever been with, but the actual sex part was a blur. All he remembered was thinking of David, and actually feeling heartbroken earlier at the bar when she talked about what her father. He knew he was gay, but Crystal was different. She had dark features, and actually reminded him of himself in a strange way. He was sorry he did the things to her the most since she had been decent, and kind to him, and that stupid necklace still was tucked away in his backpack. He couldn't understand it, but why couldn't he stop thinking about her? He wished he hadn't of met her, and wished out of any of the people he killed...she was the only one he could take it back with. Versace had been the biggest hit. He was everything he inspired to be, and wanted. He had been rejected, and knew all because of that one man, his very own name would never be forgotten. He did wonder, all those years ago, what could have happened if he hadn't been left on that stage? No, this was it. He was going on his own terms...
He sat on the bed and scooted up. He heard the sound of breaking glass downstairs, and heavy footsteps. He calmly took his glasses off for the final time, folded them on his nightstand, and carefully took the gun. He opened his mouth, placing the barrel into his mouth, and tasting the metallic oily mass against his tongue. He glanced over at his reflection, looking at this sad sight. "I'm so happy right now..." He remembered when he truly believed the darkness began all those years ago, being left on that stage. That would be his punishment in death for what he did, being left, rejected, and alone in the darkness. But before he pulled the trigger, one tiny thought flickered through his mind.
"She's still alive."
He closed his eyes, and let on single bullet end his sad destructive life. Not knowing, he was leaving a son behind.
The bell rang at St. Paul's high school. It was early June, and students in their uinforms all hurried down the front stairs of the main building. Girls in navy blue and red plaid skirts and button down blouses, boys in navy blue blazers, and red ties. Everyone talking, backpacks thrown over shoulders, I-Pods and headphones blaring. Some children and teens headed straight to the bus line, or towards the rear parking-lot. Among all the teens, walked a handsome seventeen year old. He wore his uniform, thick brown hair combed back, and styled, mirrored sunglasses shielding his round light brown eyes, and thick eyebrows. He had a golden tan, and at first sight anyone who knew the real Andrew Cunanan when he was that same age, would have done a complete double take, believing this was him. Several young co-eds, batting their eyelashes, smiled and followed behind him clutching their books.
"Carson? So what time is the big interview tomorrow?"
Carson smirked, shrugging as if it wasn't a big deal.
Two of the girls smiled, still following him as he made his way into the parking-lot.
"God, you are so lucky! I bet you're in for sure!"
Carson raised his eyebrows as he dug his car keys from his pocket from his slacks.
"Well I guess we'll see..."
Waving goodbye to them, one told him to text him later, he climbed into his Civic he was currently paying off, and got behind the wheel. Starting it up, he saluted to the girls who were clearly drooling over him, smirked, and peeled out before clicking his phone on, and starting up a playlist.
Crystal was currently going over paperwork in her office in the condo she had lived in for the last twelve years. Damon and her had gotten back together roughly a year after he first showed up. It took awhile, but Damon said he was working at an art gallery which was less than an hour away. He knew she needed time, and would want her distance, but he truly had missed her, and had instantly fallen in love with Carson. It started off with a few visits a week, usually him coming over to help with the baby. It took months before Crystal truly opened up about their past, separation, and finally what happened to her in Florida. They took things slow, and finally they decided to try again. Carson loved Damon, and Damon adored Carson. He didn't see him as a reminder of what had happened, or another man's son. Damon loved that boy more than life itself, and truly was exactly the kind of father figure Crystal wanted for her son. He never got angry, he was always patient, understanding, and took constantly joy in this little boy.
When she told him about her arrangement with Mary Ann, he listened, and even though he didn't completely agree with her sending the photographs, he saw where she was coming from. He did agree they needed to put their foot down with there not being any more visits. Mary Ann did write to them roughly around the time Carson was entering the first grade, asking if she could come see him? Both Damon and Crystal agreed it would only confuse him, and they waited to see if this would become an issue. In the end as dissapointed as Mary Ann was, she didn't press the issue. To Carson, Damon was his father, simple as that.
When Carson was eight, they moved to Arizona when Damon got offered a new job. It was hard, leaving the valley, since Crystal truly believed this was where she had officially started over. She said her goodbyes, but knew it was for the best since in the last three years a few reporters had been showing up, trying to ask questions. She knew she couldn't hide forever. She knew she just needed to do what was best for Carson. It was truly haunting how much he looked like Andrew. Even some mannerisms reminded her of him. Carson was a sweet little boy who, filled Crystal and Damon's life up with happiness. Memories of him as a toddler, dressed in overalls, his thick brown hair, his almond shaped eyes, his big grin, and that adorable little laugh of his. Crystal still remembered him blowing them kisses on his first day of preschool, and how Damon had to drive them to get coffee since Crystal couldn't stop crying. She remembered him sitting across from her and her reassuring her that he was going to be fine. It was only three hours. Still, Crystal remembered looking across and seeing Damon's eyes starting to get misty. Crystal and Damon did everything they could to give Carson a happy childhood. Thousands upon thousands of photos were taken of Carson's first steps, first time in a pool, at holidays, or dressed up as a puppy for trick or treating. Photos of his first days of school, at daycare, playing in his backyard, learning how to pain with Damon in his studio, or grinning that wide grin of his playing while with his friends on his birthday. He made friends easily, and was a typical happy go lucky, active, smart, funny, and carefree kid. Max, Cora, and Gina still visited for holidays, and the neighborhood they lived in had great people, where Carson made a ton of friends. Damon and Crystal loved each other, and helped each other each day, both agreeing that they were very lucky. Crystal never took one single day for granted, and often would fall asleep beside her husband, knowing down the hall was her healthy and happy son, and all was right in the world. When Carson was in grade school, Crystal finished her degree, and continued working as a hotline councilor, even volunteering hours at the crisis center downtown. Damon continued teaching art, and Carson breezed through school, as years began to pass full of pool parties with neighbors, movie nights of the three of them laughing together on the sofa, and love making between Damon and her. It was a simple happy life, and Crystal knew unlike Andrew's other five victims, she had been lucky. Every once in awhile she would see articles on Donatella Versace, and thank God this woman gave her another chance at life.
She still thought about Andrew. It wasn't hard since Carson was the spitting image of him, there was no denying that. He sprouted up tall, was tan, smooth skin, thick hair, and the same exact eyes. It was uncanny. Once when Carson was in middle school, playing with a huge Lego set they had gotten him for Christmas, all scattered out on the living room carpet floor, Crystal and Damon were lounging on the sofa watching TV, when 20/20 came on with a re-run on Andrew Cunanan and his murders. Instantly Crystal felt her heart freeze up, as Damon and her glanced at each other, as Damon quickly changed the channel, while Carson continued to play blissfuly unaware. That night after Carson went to bed, Crystal and Damon shared a few beers on their porch swing on the back deck. They talked about ever telling Carson if the truth came out? They wanted to be honest with him, but both of them knew Damon in all manners speaking was Carson's father. Still, the truth very well might come out despite Crystal denying she had ever met Andrew.
There were still a few books that mentioned her name, as well as a few TV specials that featured the waitress that was sexually assaulted the night before Versace was shot. Did they really need to tell Carson, this wonderful smart boy that his biological father was a crazed gay psychopath who raped his mother and got her pregnant? A man who killed five men, including one of the most famous designers in the world?
They decided to wait until he was older.
But that talk never came.
The same year Mary Ann passed away, having received her promised monthly photos of Carson. Any letters, asking about him, or wanting to meet him were ignored. When she did pass, Crystal received a brief letter from Regina, Andrew's sister who unlike his other Elena, or his brother Christopher, refused any interviews or comments on his brother's murders. She lived in Chicago, and barley spoke with her family. She wrote that her mother had passed, and she found all of the photographs of Carson, either framed, in her tiny apartment, or saved in a shoebox. She wrote to Crystal the photographs would no longer be needed, and she thanked her for being so kind to her mentally ill mother. She wrote that she knew in her heart her brother had in fact sexually assaulted someone, and told her she deeply respected her choice in raising the child, who looked very handsome, as well as happy. She told her she was sending all of the photos back (which she did in the package that came along with the letter) That she didn't want it getting in anyone's hands, as well as her siblings. She didn't want the world to know that Andrew Cunanan had a son. Crystal counted herself lucky that there was one decent person in that twisted family.
Then two months following, Damon died. It was sudden, and very unexpected. One second he was walking down the driveway to grab some bags from the farmer's market, the next he had dropped on the payment in a slump. Crystal ran out after dropping off the first armful of bags on the kitchen counter, and eyes widened the second she opened the glass door. She ran to him, before yelling for Carson who had some friends over in the pool. The boys all circled around, wearing their swim shorts, hair all slicked back from the water, before Carson ran over.
Crystal called 911 on her cell phone, but despite the paramedics best efforts, Damon died. The shock hit her and Carson like a ton of bricks, and that week surrounding the funeral, Max, Gina, and Cora all flew out and stayed with them. Carson took it very hard, and even spoke about how lucky he was to have such a wonderful man for a father during the services. Crystal felt as if her heart had been torn out. Damon had been her first love, and had returned, and had raised her son as if he was his. He had given her all those years of happiness, and she still clearly remembered nearly eight months after he first came back, how Cora had been watching Carson, and the two of them decided to spend the night together. She remembered him hovering over her, being gentle, as she tried to relax, knowing if she thought about that night back in South Beach, she would never be able to move pass it, and ever have any relationships let alone a healthy sex life. This was the first time she had been with a man since the rape, and she knew if it was ever going to be with anyone, it needed to be with Damon. He took his time, was gentle, slow, and made sure they stopped whenever she was getting too overwhelmed. By the time they had finished, Crystal had come herself, and instead of being dirty or ashamed, she actually felt good. That night they fell asleep in each other's arms, but not before she admitted the medication she was on to block these intense dreams and visions she had of Andrew. She laid on Damon's chest as he stroked her hair and listened, before telling her he didn't think she was crazy. That he understood, and gently brushed some of her hair away from her face.
Smiling, Crystal stared down at him before thanking him, and laid her head on his chest, listening to his heart. The same heart that gave out for such a healthy young man. She was devastated, and now alone. After the funeral, things slowly settled down, but any second moment Crystal kept expecting to see Damon walk through the door, or call down from his studio, dressed in his jeans and black T-shirts. Always smiling, joking around, and making her feel like the luckiest woman in the world. Damon had a huge life insurance plan, more than enough to pay off, and keep their house. Crystal knew once Carson was in college she would downsize to an apartment since this place was much too big, and held too many memories. Carson was doing good despite what had happened, and returned back to school. Most nights, they would sit, trying to make small talk over dinner, trying to ignore the empty chair now that s at at the table. Carson asked Crystal if they could keep Damon's art studio for a little while. He just didn't have the heart to throw anything out. Crystal hugged her son and said of course. They kept some of his clothes, and donated the rest. Then one afternoon, three months following Damon's funeral...Carson was going through some stuff for a yard sale they were planning on having, for the rest of Damon's things they didn't want to keep, or donate. He found his birth certificate. Crystal was on a call in her office down the hall, her headset on, finishing up a group meeting call, when Carson appeared in the doorway.
Crystal turned in her chair, and instantly saw something was wrong. Carson never looked like this. She held up her hand to show she only had a few minutes left. Wrapping it up, she finished, and signed off, before slipping her headset off a few minutes later. Turning, she rubbed her palms against the material of her slacks, and looked at her fifteen year old son. She honestly couldn't believe her little boy was now a young man. He had been so wonderful following Damon's death, and just the other night, she checked in on him before bed asking if he ever wanted to talk she wanted to let him know she was here. She missed his father just as much as he did. The two had always had a very open relationship and were close. Carson of course went to Damon for the "talk" and other things, but somehow Crystal loved their little talks late night at the kitchen. Carson even admitted he went to a party where some of the kids were smoking weed. He told her he was curious about it, but didn't try it. That was Carson for you, always open, always trying to make the right choice.
At this exact moment, she knew something was terribly wrong. He showed her his birth certificate and the fact under father, there was no name.
"Mom, why isn't dad's name on this?"
Crystal knew she could have made up any number of lies, instead she sighed, feeling completely heartbroken. Looking at him, she knew she couldn't lie a second more. She just wished Damon was sitting beside her for this.
"Baby...that's because he wasn't your biological father."
Crystal had finished telling Carson everything. Her laptop open in front of them with whatever she could bring up on Andrew. She sat there on the downstairs sofa with Carson, frightened that he was going to scream, or tell her he hated her. She waited after pouring her heart out, telling him everything. She told him about how his "father" Damon was her first husband, their marriage when she was very young and separation, which resulted in her moving down to her grandmother, who had sadly passed away five years ago, to Florida. She talked about the night she met his real father at the bar she worked at, how he had lied, and both had gone back to her condo she was living in. She knew this must have been horrible to hear from his point of view, and told Carson how this man...who's name was Andrew Cunanan. He raped her, and then nearly beat her to death leaving her for dead. She told him that he was mentally ill. That following his death and murders books had been written about him. He was a pathological liar, was openly gay, and had a history of mental illness. She told him about what she had learned about him, and then the five murders, including Versace, who was murdered the morning after he had attacked her. She told him about how he had killed himself, and then her finding out she was pregnant with him a few months later in the hospital.
"Why didn't you get an abortion?"
He asked, staring at her, no tears, just questions. Crystal meanwhile fought to keep hers away.
"Because it wasn't your fault baby...and you weren't his, you were mine. I was in the hospital for a very long time, and I was lucky enough to have my surgeries paid for. Somehow knowing I was pregnant with you gave me strength. Helped me fight and not give up."
Carson took the laptop and looked at it for awhile before finally he sighed and looked across at her.
"Did dad know?"
"Yes, we got back together when you were just a baby. I was lucky to have so much second changes, including him. He wanted to sit down with you in a few years and tell you everything. He loved you so much Carson, and besides a few vague rumors...nobody knows. I made sure of it. I turned down interviews, offers, anything. The man who got me pregnant was a very sick and unstable man. The only good thing that came from his sad excuse of a life was you. Now don't you think for one second you are a madman's son. No, Andrew Cunanan didn't have a son. Your father Damon did. He was your father. You are a good person, and NOTHING I mean NOTHING like him."
"I look just like him..."
He muttered looking at the computer screen. That's when Crystal saw the tears. Staring at him, Carson nervously chewed on his lip.
'You must feel sick whenever you look at me..."
Crystal's heart broke when she heard this, and hated Andrew Cunanan all over again.
She started to cry, and lifted her laptop placing it on the coffee table before gathering her only son in her arms. He began to sob, as she wrapped her arms around him, and held him tight. She rubbed his back as he sobbed against her like he did when he was a child whenever he skinned his knee, or was sick.
"Listen to me..."
She pulled him back and firmly held him by the face, as tears gushed down. She sternly made him look her in the eye.
"I kept this from you because I thought you were too young. Andrew Cunanan was a sick unstable man, but you aren't like him baby. I've always looked at you with nothing but love, because you honey are what saved me."
It was now Carson's turn and gather his mother in his arms and hug tight.
Now two years had passed. She had offered Carson therapy, even by Jessica who still phoned every month, but he said its wasn't needed. He felt relieved he knew the truth, and no matter what he found out about Cunanan, Damon would always be his father. Crystal watched his closely, and any digging he did on his father, she never noticed. After that, they didn't talk about it. Now two years later and Carson was a happy, handsome, and very popular teenager, looking more like Andrew than ever. He was applying to colleges, and had his heart set on one school upstate. The thought of him leaving home scared Crystal, but she knew it was perfectly normal. She had just started dating again, nothing too serious, and spent her time working, or trying to help anyone who was a victim as she once was. She missed Damon, but couldn't believe that time truly was helping as best as it could.
Carson had on and off again girlfriends, and his prom photo with a pretty girl named Courtney sat framed on her desk. Carson had tons of friends, and was truly enjoying his senior year as best as he could. Still, it haunted her how much he resembled his father. Just the other night Crystal sat up working, reading glasses on, highlighter in hand downstairs with the TV on mute. Carson came down in his boxers to grab a bottle of water, and for a brief second Crystal felt her heart leap in her throat when she saw him. He looked just like Andrew. She had been on a weekend retreat for hotline councilors just a few months ago, and she was away for a few days. She had teased Carson not to burn down the house if he had any parties before hugging him goodbye. The trip brought her to San Diego. She spent the next two days at the hotel where the retreat was held doing her trainings, before she headed back to the airport. That's when she remembered something. Less than twenties minutes later she arrived at Holy Cross Cemetery where Andrew was buried. She parked, and knew it was in the mausoleum. Slipping her sunglasses up on her head, she silently walked inside, faintly hearing organ music. Walking, her low heels clicking, she wandered around, looking at the marble crypts, before after about ten or so minutes she finally found it. He was buried right beside Mary Ann. She stared at his name, with two dates and sighed. This was it, just like everyone else. She stood there looking up, before glancing in both direction. Nobody seemed to be around. Sighing again, she spoke in a low whisper.
"Hello Andrew. I just wanted to let you know...I forgive you. That necklace you tried to steal from me...I cashed it it years ago and used the money to donate to girls who have been assaulted like you did to me. I had a happy marriage, and loved him very much. He was a good man, a million times more than somebody you could have ever dreamed or lied to be. He was our son's real father."
She felt tears of ranger start welling up in her eyes.
"Carson looks just like you, but he's smart, and pure, and good hearted...he knows about you and he's disgusted. He's going to work hard, and find success...something you could never do. To think...in another fifty years or so...you'll nearly be forgotten, just known as the sad psycho who murdered a famous man and nothing more. I just wanted to let you know I forgive you. I raised our son with a wonderful man...and I'm never looking back..."
She sighed, glaring at the marble, before wiping her eyes roughly.
With that, she turned, and walked away, slipping her sunglasses on, and walking out into the sunlight. All the while, Andrew, or the ghost of Andrew in her mind that had been blocked away for so long stood by his crypt, helpless, watching Crystal go, trapped and heartbroken.
Carson was dressed in cream colored dress slacks, a button up shirt, and navy blue tie, and matching jacket. His hair was styled backwards, and he looked handsome, as well as perfectly calm. He smiled rising from his seat to go into the dean's office. Once he was settled, the dean, and his assistant smiled from the other side of the desk. The dean held up the stack of papers.
"Mr. Martin, I must have, we have many candidates every year applying to our school, and between your grades, and references...we are very impressed."
Carson gave a handsome grin before the dean smiled, lacing his hands together, and looking at him.
"So, tell me about yourself."
"What would you like to know sir?"
"Well, let's start with your parents?"
For just a fraction of a second a tiny flicker danced across Carson's big brown eyes. He smirked.
"Well, my mother lives downstate, she's a crisis councilor. She's worked in the field since I've been born."
"That's very impressive, and your father?"
Carson kept a straight face.
"He's passed away."
"Oh I'm so sorry."
"Yeah, before I was even born."
"I'm sorry, and what did he do?"
Carson continued staring before a small smile began to turn up on his face.
"He owned a sugar plantation down in Philippines with my grandfather before they sold the company after his death."
The dean looked even more impressed.
"Really?! You don't say! A sugar plantation. How amazing! Did you ever visit?"
"I only saw photographs, but it was quite beautiful."
"It must have been!"
"Oh yes sir...as far as the eye could see."
With that Carson smiled, and looked exactly like his father Andrew Cunanan. The same lying soul who had flashed a smile to a cocktail waitress nearly eighteen years ago, and hid his lingering and building madness.