Author: davidseven PM
A love triangle of a different sort.Rated: Fiction T - English - Mystery/Drama - Words: 1,952 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 1 - Published: 01-22-09 - id: 2625281
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I read somewhere, I don't recall where, that the word that fills people with the most dread is "shark". I find that interesting. Not that people are more afraid of sharks than say death, or snakes, but that the single word, "shark" has the power to conjure up such strong emotions, even in the absence of any real threat. What is it about words that we let our emotions be so controlled by them? We call ourselves evolved, and would think ourselves enlightened; but call a man a fag, and see how he responds.
I know a little something about words. Where I grew up they were always around us. From a young age my brother and I were immersed in a flood of words beyond our understanding, and left to either sink under their weight, or learn to navigate the seas. We both managed to keep our heads above water.
I always wanted to be a writer, while James was content to be a reader. Yet it was him who won all the prizes at school for English, and had all his stories in the school magazine, and once even in the local newspaper. He had all the teachers, and our parents, fooled. He didn't love words as I did, as I do to his day. He approached words as something to be mastered; as if, by sheer will, a man might tame them and make them do his bidding. He pinned words down to the sheet, running them through with his pen like butterflies, dissecting each one, as if by pulling it apart he could prove his mastery over its savage nature. But he never loved any of them, not as I did.
Even now he has all the critics fooled. They call his latest work "a masterpiece of ingenuity by the greatest wordsmith of our time." A 'wordsmith?' That's him all right. He works the words like a smith works metal, with no consideration for its feelings, or desires. I read his masterpiece. The content wasn't bad, but the way he tortured those poor words. It was painful to see. I had to stop after the first chapter.
That's when I decided he had to die.
It was not an easy decision, but I knew that there was no other way. If I thought he could be persuaded to abandon his writing it would have been a different story, but that was not at all likely. He had made more than enough money from his first two books that he didn't need to keep writing; but that's not how James thinks. He didn't do it for the money, but neither did he do it for the love of it. He drew no pleasure that I saw from writing, only the pleasure of being known as a writer. He revelled in the publicity, and the accolades, leaving the poor words he had so abused to suffer in the background. Had my writing been as acclaimed as his, I would have given all the credit where it was due. No, I knew he would never walk away from all of that, and no word was safe while he was around, so he had to die - but how?
I considered my options very carefully, as well as whether I could deal with being caught. I decided that any risk was worth it to ensure he would never be able to commit further harm; but an ideal situation would leave me free, and uninvolved. I began to consider my options, seeking a strategy that would be of benefit, and achievable.
The most pressing concern was how to actually end his life. Escaping undetected was something I was confident I could achieve, but the actual mechanics of ending another human's life were a little out of my arena. I didn't own a gun, and wouldn't begin to know how to acquire one that could not be linked back to me. I was also less than certain that I would have the stomach for anything confrontational. He may be a literary philistine, and cruel to those around him, but he is still my brother. I could not imagine that stabbing him, or applying a bludgeon would be as easy as the classics would have us believe.
So I waited, and pondered.
The final straw came when I received a press release at work. James was working on his new novel; I had to act quickly, but how? I needed some device that would allow me to end all of our suffering, without requiring me to be present. Something that I could justify in my own mind as being expedient, but also allow justice to be served.
Finally it came to me; I would take the matter out of my own hands, and place it elsewhere. I would make him the master of his own destiny, with a little help from fate; and me.
Together with the press release, the newspaper where I work had received an invitation to a fund-raising event, where James would be talking about his new project. I managed to persuade my editor to send me to the party, even though it is not really my area.
As the evening drew closer, I started to refine my scheme, and even began to appreciate its brilliance. There would be no way to link it back to me, and in fact it might not even work. That was the genius of it. If he did in fact die, it would be at his own hand, and with nothing more than a slight push from me. No way to connect it to me, and since I did not know for sure whether the plan would succeed, I could go about the planning and implementation without any feeling of guilt. I was not planning a murder, just pushing events along to one possible conclusion.
On the fateful night, I arrived early for the event. James was surprised to see me, but accepted my explanation of being sent to cover the event without question. The newspaper where I work is not so large that we have a full entertainment section, and all the staff-members take turns at covering such events. In fact he seemed almost glad to see me, thinking perhaps – and with reason – that I had requested this assignment. Although he could never know, nor I am sure appreciate, my motives.
As the evening wore on, he became progressively more vocal and apparently inebriated. Very few were surprised, it was his custom. Few knew the truth. James has worked hard to create an image for himself as an old-fashioned novelist: Banging out each new piece over an antique typewriter; fuelled by vast quantities of Whiskey and French cigarettes. While I have no idea whether he uses the antique torture machine, or torments his victims with a computer, I know that the Whiskey is a lie. James can't drink, he never could. Since young, he has had a poor tolerance for alcohol. At parties and book launches he professes to only drink the finest champagne, and will not touch the 'cheap stuff' provided by his host. In actual fact the glass that his assistant keeps topped up for him contains nothing more lethal than grape juice. The drunken author routine was part of his act. He loves the opportunity to get drunk, and be rude about people, secure in the knowledge that they will all take it in stride as merely the drunken mutterings of a literary genius.
What James could not possibly know, what he would never have expected, was that I had contrived to substitute his usual bottle of grape juice with a less innocuous brew. As the evening wore on, his act became less of an act, and more of his involuntary response to the unaccustomed alcohol. And no one was any the wiser. To all except his assistant, he was his usual drunken self, and to her, he was merely putting on the same show he had done countless times before. No one except me saw anything different about the great James Anderson that night.
For my plan to succeed, there were a number of variables, many beyond my control: James may realise he was getting drunk, and take steps; he might pass out before the night was out, and sleep it off; he may make it to his car, but arrive at home safely. The chances of him making it to the end of the evening, driving home, and being involved in an accident were remote. So remote, that I could safely put it out of my mind, and enjoy the evening. I had a brief qualm about anyone else that he might injure on the roads that night, but after bringing to mind the appalling way in which he raped those innocents in his last novel, I decided that the sacrifice was worth it.
Just as I was beginning to have doubts about his ability to stand much longer, James obliged my expectations by taking a tumble. Landing on his backside, he seemed at a loss to understand where he was for a few moments. Helped back to his feet by a few bystanders, he seemed confused about what had happened. Sensing that he might be near to passing out, or realising his own level of incapacity, I decided it was time to take a more active role in the future.
'Come James,' I suggested, 'Lets get you home.'
He did not put up much of a fight, and let himself be led out to where his car awaited him.
As I helped him get into the driver seat, I briefly contemplated his hands upon the doorframe. In a bygone era I might have achieved my purpose by doing some inadvertent damage to his hand. A true writer would work through the adversity, but I doubted that James would have the fortitude. Love could make people do amazing things, but greed and pride were only a hindrance. Sadly, in today's technological age, a damaged hand would not only prove no problem, but would probably improve his image. The brave writer, dictating all to the faithful secretary. We must have his latest book.
I carefully removed his hand, and placed it on the steering wheel. He looked up at me, possibly for the last time.
'Little brother. I envy you, did you know that?'
Having no response, I helped him with his seatbelt, which he seemed in no hurry to fasten. The irony of this gesture was not lost on me, but I couldn't bring myself to leave it. Habits and customs are strangely powerful things.
'I have to work so hard at my craft, that I never really get to just sit back and enjoy books anymore. I wish I could just read again, instead of being trapped by all this' He waved his hand around vaguely, presumably to indicate the invisible trappings of his success.
'I really wish I could be you for a day, and just enjoy it all again.'
Then he drove off to his fate, whatever that may be. I returned to my house, to wait for the call.
His latest book will be coming out next month, but he let me have an advance copy. It is dedicated to his new wife, Jennifer. She was a nurse at the hospital, and he credits her with giving him the will to write again, even though he's never seen her face. He dictated the entire book to her from his wheelchair.
I couldn't read it without shedding a tear.