The Only Living Witness: The True Story Of Ted Bundy
The Story Page 17
That fall, Ted had the great good fortune to be named Art Fletcher's official driver. Had he remained in college, Ted would have been starting his junior year. But he had been so traumatized by Marjorie and his collapse in Chinese that he was still two years away from being able to successfully resume his studies.
He was still a virgin, too, and might have remained so indefinitely if sex had required him to make the first move. However, one night while away from Seattle on campaign business he drank himself into a near stupor at a GOP official's house in eastern Washington. When Ted drank, he often got drunk. That night, he had to be taken to someone's home to sleep it off. As he remembers the night, he was installed in a downstairs bedroom, only semi-conscious, when the lady of the house gently crawled into bed beside him, stripped him of his clothes, and relieved him of his virginity. His role in the seduction was entirely passive.
Politics is a seasonal business. After Art Fletcher ran a close second in the November election, his driver was thrown back on his own resources. During the campaign, Ted had watched how people get along, and had acquired by rote some of the social skills he could not come by naturally. He had matured into a slim, even-featured young man with clear blue eyes and an ironic smile. He took meticulous care with his appearance and dressed with a casual, studied tweediness. The clothes he couldn't buy he stole.
All the elements of the mask were now coming together, forming a seamless facade. Bundy took a temporary sales job in a Seattle department store, one from which he had shoplifted and where he learned something new about himself he had a knack for chatting up the women customers. He could sell them anything. He saved up some money, sold his '58 VW, and headed once again for Philadelphia. He hoped that he could start school again there, in his grandfather's town, and away from the physical reminders of his days with Marjorie.
He spent the first half of 1969 at Temple University with mixed results. A special urban affairs project was never completed, but he did moderately well in theatrical arts classes. Ted learned a little something about acting and make-up. He also bought a false mustache. By now he had made yet another realization about himself: his face lacked any single characteristic that stood out above the rest. Like the personality he was creating, his face could be anything he wanted it to be. The mustache, combing his hair differently, gaining or losing a few pounds, growing a beard all changed his appearance dramatically. He could, when he wished, be as anonymous as he wanted. He had, as one of his judges later observed, "the face of a changeling."
Ted Bundy returned to Seattle in the summer of 1969 and took a room at Ernst and Frieda Rogers's house, one of several University District rooming houses where single people usually students could find an inexpensive place to stay. The Rogerses took an instant liking to him. Ted was polite. He kept his room clean and tidy. He was happy to run Mrs. Rogers to the store or to help Ernst with jobs around the house. He seemed like a gentle person to Frieda. She would remember the time they had coffee together in her kitchen. An outsized fly began to buzz around them. Frieda started to swat it, but Ted jumped up, exclaimed, "Don't kill it!" and chased the fly out the window.
He lived around the corner from the Sandpiper tavern, a college beer joint where he had some success in picking up girls. On the last night of September 1969, he walked into the Sandpiper and sat down at the bar. Across the crowded dance floor sat Elizabeth Kendall (pseudonym), twenty-four, an appealing medical secretary and divorcee out for an evening of fun with a group of her friends. Ted finished a pitcher of beer at the bar before he found the courage to approach her. As he recalled the occasion, Ted walked over to her and asked for a dance. "I'm sorry," Liz replied. "I can't dance." On most nights, that would have been enough to send Ted Bundy into a funk. "For my somewhat tentatively developed ego," he explained to me, "it was always a less than pleasant experience for someone to say that they didn't want to dance. I never got over that."
Emboldened by his beer, however, Ted was brave enough to ask one of Liz's friends to dance. She said, "Sure!" and rose. Moments later on the dance floor, Ted noticed Liz now was dancing, too. He flashed her a wolfish smile and said, "Well, you really can't dance, can you?"
Liz found Ted very charming.
According to her, he introduced himself as a law student and said he was working on a book about Vietnam. She didn't necessarily buy the business about the writing project, but Ted was so good-looking and smoothly confident that by the end of the evening, she recalled, "I was already planning the wedding and naming the kids." She took Ted home with her that night.
Both had drunk a good deal; they slept together clothed. In the morning, her daughter, Joanie (pseudonym), was up early demanding pop tarts and chocolate. Ted was delighted by the little girl, but Liz made it clear that he should leave, and he did. But he couldn't get Liz out of his mind. She had struck a chord in Ted. He idealized her as he had Marjorie, but there was also something about Liz something he couldn't quite articulate, that made him feel he had known her all his life.
The daughter of a successful Utah doctor, she had gone through an early and painful marriage that left her with a distinct distrust of men. She also had a jealous streak, exacerbated by insecurity and Ted's later philanderings. Knowing nothing of mature love and respect, he could only seem to be something, or someone. For Liz, he had created the Ted Bundy who wrote books and went to law school. In truth, he was a dropout and working as a legal messenger when they met. Like a child, he couldn't foresee the consequences of his living out this fantasy, just as he could not see how his own babyish behavior had cost him Marjorie.
It wasn't three months after he met Liz that they began to discuss marriage. They took out a license and talked to her relatives about using their home for the ceremony. When he could no longer sustain the charade, Ted stunned Liz by theatrically tearing up their marriage license on the pretext it was too soon and sudden for them to marry. A short while later, he confessed his true station in the world. Liz forgave him.
Liz saw as much of Ted at this time as did anyone. They made love several nights a week, went on day excursions with Joanie, visited his family, telephoned each other constantly. Yet even she did not penetrate the mask. In love with Ted dazzled by him she rationalized away his lies and appears to have handled his petty cruelties by responding in kind. When Ted hurt her by ignoring her or made her jealous by seeing other women, she hurt him back. Liz dealt with Ted at his level.
In retrospect, it seems improbable that a woman could be quite so utterly gulled. But she was not alone. His mother detected nothing. The stores from which he stole detected nothing. His Republican friends the scores of campaign workers and elected officials detected nothing.