I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I have been drawn to gobbling up articles about the “Black Widow” recently appearing on the internet news sites. There is something about tabloid-type journalism that has a perverse appeal. When it appears in a CBC news report I can read it without the humiliation of picking up a copy of the National Inquirer at the grocery store check out. I do look at the front pages of these journals as I stand in line at the checkout but half the time the headline is about a younger celeb who I don’t know.
A recent headline had Queen Elizabeth distressed because she had learned that Prince Philip had an affair with Zza Zza Gabor. One woman also reading the headline at the counter commented ” Who hasn’t?”
The “Internet Black Widow” is a PEI-born woman in her late 70’s who seems to have made a career of picking up lonely well-to-do older men. Shortly after they marry her she becomes their heir, cleans out their bank accounts, drugs them with benzodiazepines and has even dispatched two of them in one way or another. In the late 1980’s she drugged and then ran over her then husband, was tried and found guilty of manslaughter and spent some time in Kingston’s Prison for Women. She gained some celebrity there, claiming to be an abused wife who killed to protect herself – although two people watched her back over her semi-conscious husband and then run over him again. She was featured in a National Film Board documentary (When women kill) and also the subject of another CBC documentary in 2005. She surfaced again last month.
Her story reminded me of an experience I had while working in Bosnia a few years ago. I was at a barbecue dinner at the home of one of my friends, a young Serbian fellow who had acted as my translator for the previous few years. There were six of us for the dinner, including one of my friend’s neighbours named Vito.
Vito was an lively and curious 50 year old man who talked non-stop. Most of the conversation was in Serbian and although I could pick out words and phrases I could not follow this guy’s jovial chatter which, at times, had the others laughing and shaking their heads in disbelief.
Suddenly Vito turned to me. My friend translated his onslaught roughly as follows:
“Say, I think I know a woman who would be great for you. If you like, I can introduce her to you.
Her name is Nevus Titsiani. She lives in Zagreb with her mother. She is an attractive woman, maybe ten years younger than you. She is well-educated – speaks three languages – and financially independent.”
I told him it was OK, I wasn’t really looking for someone but thanks, anyway.
“She has been married four times. Her present husband is in jail in Italy so that would not present a problem.”
Bonus, I thought.
“Her other three husbands died. One fell out of a boat in the Adriatic when they were out fishing. The second one died in their bathtub – electrocuted or something.” He leaned closer and winked. “The third died while they were having sex.”
Bad luck. For her. Or for her husbands?
“If you want, I can call her right now. I have her number here on my phone.”
He started fumbling with his cell phone, looking for her number.
It was hard to dissuade him from calling this woman and bringing her to meet me but eventually I convinced him that I was not keen on being the next man on her list of unfortunate lovers.
When I read about the Black Widow, it triggered this memory and I wondered if, in fact, Vito had been ready to refer me to the Croatian Viper!