The Flanagans of Fairfield County, Connecticut - Chapter 12
Guy Buggit usually took his breakfast at a bar a few blocks away from the union office. His wife Petal was a stay-at-home mother, a housekeeper more than anything that cleaned and prepared meals for their children as well as Guy when he wasn’t spending his wages at the bar.
Petal and Guy had three girls together - Grace, Ellen, and Silver in that order. Oftentimes Petal wasn’t even sleeping in the same room as her husband, opting for the sectional in the living room when Guy’s snoring got really bad. Before the children Mr. and Mrs. Buggit’s relationship was one which consisted primarily of drinking and physical abuse.
They would hurl glassware and anything within reach at one another. Petal would apply layers of makeup when she went to her gin rummy league on Wednesday nights to hide the black eyes that Guy would give her. She had thought plenty of times about leaving him, but when Grace came along the two of them had no choice but to stay together. They were devout Catholics after all, and a divorce was simply out of the question during that time in America. When the youngest Silver was born, the fighting was no longer physical at all. Guy and Petal barely spoke to one another, waging their war on each other mentally.
Petal would sit the girls down at the dinner table when Guy would opt out of the meal for the bar and be honest with them.
“You know where your father is tonight, girls? He’s drinking away your college tuition at the bar, Grace. Ellen. Silver. Just remember that when he comes home smelling like a goddamn brewery.”
Guy was a loyal union man, a longshoreman that worked grueling hours on docks up and down the coast of Connecticut. In the 60’s, the salary of a longshoreman wasn’t exactly lucrative, but it wasn’t nothing either. Through the union he was paid a livable wage, enough to feed his family as well as supplement his drinking habit which, as he got older, began taking up more and more time before and after work.
He didn’t care for his girls all that much if he was being honest with himself. One boy. That’s all he had ever wanted. He longed to have a little more testosterone around the house but Petal couldn’t even do that. If he wanted to take his breakfast (a raw egg in a glass of beer) at a bar it was nobody’s business but his own.
And that’s how the Buggit’s were for ten or eleven years. Guy and Petal stayed out of each other’s way and Petal more or less raised the three girls on her own. Most of the locals in Guilford over a certain age can remember the day that Petal killed herself.
Guy was pulled out of the bar midway through his third beer of the evening and told that the police were at his home and looking for him. Having no idea what was happening, he hopped in his truck somewhat annyoed and sped home to find his middle child Ellen on the stoop.
She had discovered her mother in the basement of their home, hanging from a rafter with a homemade noose around her neck. In the official police report Guy had mentioned how strange the scene outside his home was. Grace and Silver were hysterical, and neighbors crowded around the edge of their lawn, craning their necks to try and figure out what was happening, but Ellen had been different.
She wasn’t any older than 10 at the time, and even though she had found the body in the basement she looked surprisingly calm. Almost aloof to the entire situation. Ellen’s sisters had a hard time recovering after their mother’s death, falling into dead end jobs and marrying men similar to their father but Ellen? Ellen was resilient.
She graduated suma cum laude from the University of Connecticut about a decade after Petal’s suicide, and eventually married a promising young man by the name of Terry Flanagan. Detective Lang did not yet know that Ellen Buggit and Ellen Flanagan were one in the same when he had completed his initial interview with her, but he’d soon find out from quite possibly the most unlikely source in all of Connecticut: a rookie cop by the name Beaufield Nutbeem.