His image was framed in the Palladian glass window, a ghastly reflection that was too entrancing. He thoughtfully contemplated what his next move would be. He stood motionless comparing his likeness to those meandering through Jackson Square and inferred, by what he saw alone, he was far superior to them all. None compared to him in a physical sense- certainly not by class- that he was sure of. By all rights, he was superior to everyone in this city, and one day, in the near future, he would be controlling them as he should be doing now.
Gripped in the profundity of mirrored eyes, his mind drifted to his many accomplishments, everything he had to gain, everything he had to lose, and decided that he was nowhere close to giving up the good fight. Not only would he own the hotel, and many others, but he would own the people too. They would be answering to him one day. With that thought, he took a moment to relish in the realization of what was to come and he smiled, greedily. He observed the transforming reflection of his face as pensive melted away and all he saw was all that he felt, electrified. He really was the handsome, powerful man that the women in his circle would stand in line to whisper to him, when given the chance. He really did deserve everything that he desired, he admitted aloud.
As things were now turning out, the universe had already begun to change the order of things, and from where he stood, the winning side was his side, he wouldn’t argue that.
William Addison Richerson concluded that he could not have been more pleased with the outcome of his wife’s death if he himself had been the one to pull the plug that kept her traitorous heart beating.
Thinking of her essence, and it fading away, he felt himself becoming thick and hard- painfully hard- and suddenly the need to relieve the throbbing pulse overrode every other thought. With his urges controlling him, he stumbled to the darkest corner of the vacant room where he wouldn’t be noticed should someone step into the room.
With her death certificate in hand, he unzipped his pants, quickly pushing them to his ankles, letting free the agonizing pain. He kept his eyes focused on the written words while his legs shook uncontrollably, protesting under the weight and unnatural movement until his knees buckled, forcing him to slide down the corner of the shadowed wall, sweating and trembling. Intensely possessed by the truth of the document, the need to touch his self any further was no longer required. With the sweat soaked document gripped his hand, he discharged his vile excitement while rough cries purged from the depths of his trembling body, finally, escaping through his strained throat. His body was tense and tingling, yet nimble and unfeeling. He felt like he was hovering outside of himself- he gave that a second’s thought, then crumbled in sick ecstasy to the floor.
Moments later- hours later, he didn’t know…time eluded him, and while he tried not to care, the anxiety from the experience was knocking. Rising from the holes in his crazed mind were misty thoughts that he found himself trying to latch on to, to bring him back, and as they began to form, the reason he was there- hiding out in one of the hotel’s rooms- became definite and unmistakable. He was there to fight for what was his, to confront his father one final time.
The significance of getting the old man on his side was now on the forefront. He needed him, more than anything, to understand that the hotel was his birthright, not his daughters. Jane-Anne would become nothing just like her whore of a mother, and no way in hell was he going to allow his fool of a father to give Jane-Anne what was rightfully his. Never would he stand by and except that. Never.
Blooming with anxiousness from the gap in time, he righted himself from the floor and began to move, began promising himself over and over that he would win this last, final round at all cost.
He wished that his recent late wife, Josephine, would stop her incessant haunting of his mind, though. She was still trying to dominate him with her whispering and laughing at his expense, like she knew something of his future that he didn’t know. William’s head jerked about- right, then left, then forward- making a sweep of the room in search of something to get Josephine out of his head, anything to keep his mind in the present. He needed tangible, something to hold him steady.
It dawned on him, a simple thought. Why didn’t he think of it before? He bucked at the idea that even dead, Josephine was still trying to control him. How dare she? When alive, she actually believed she could ruin him…ruin him of all people! Oh! At times she nearly succeeded, too; she made a fool of him on a number of occasions in front of his peers and business partners, drunk and flaunting herself around the city with their friends. But she would never get that opportunity again. Death and darkness came for her, he thought, and in his opinion, was too kind. But now…game over, he won as he knew he would.
The doctors said she miscarried from placental abruption, and her blood loss was too great. If only he’d found her sooner, they said. If only he’d gotten her to the hospital a few moments before he did, they could have saved her. He chuckled as he recalled his performance of a man grieving the loss of his wife, and how every nurse and doctor on the floor rushed to comfort him, and while giving the performance of his life, the only thing that he really wondered was if she’d suffered much. He hoped desperately that she did. He recalled the way she screamed his name, begging him to help her. The terror on her face made him tend to believe that she was in pain-cowardly little bitch, he thought, she never even asked about the baby…always thinking of herself.
He memorized his exact movements from that night, circling her bed, stalking and watching, as she thrashed about, pleading for him to bring her to the hospital. “William, I beg you, don’t do this to me, don’t do this to us.” he recalled her cries with a bit of delight. He knew she was lying and only thinking of herself. She didn’t care about him and when he tired of hearing it all, he leaned over and grabbed her pretty, soaked face, squeezing it with one hand as hard as he could. The urge to break every bone was so great that it almost caused him to make a terrible mistake, but by the sheer grace of God, he was able to force himself to stop. Had her face been marred with bruises, the medical staff would have had reason to meddle in his affairs.
That night, Josephine’s pain lasted for hours while William patiently waited for her time to come. The moment the pain took her away, he casually drove her to the hospital, and while her death was slow and inconvenient for him, he thought, it was worth the wait in the end. The memory of Josephine’s death was precious to him and he’d remember those hours and final moments with her for the rest of his life.
He snarled giving rise to another memory- Josephine’s lover. Hopefully he, whoever he was, suffered, too. It was just too good, life’s little favors, he thought, the little extras you don’t think to ask for, but you’re given anyway. Maybe the man would be tortured over Josephine’s death for the rest of his life. Oh how he prayed that was the case.
There was nothing about her death that William would change. Well maybe a tweak here, and a tweak there, he admitted, but for the most part, he was grateful for what the universe gave him. Truth was; the on-going battle with his wife was now over and he triumphed: the victor, the champion, no wait…he thought, he would think of himself for what he was, Conqueror.
William leaned against a dressing table that was covered with plastic sheeting. He smiled wickedly as he pictured himself attending lavish parties and soirees with as many different female companions that he deemed worthy. He would enjoy the life of a single man again. A wealthy single man, he corrected.
He decided the time to speak with his father was now. He was so enthralled with himself that he almost skipped as he went along. He refused to believe that his father would choose William and Josephine’s first child, Jane-Anne, and one who would soon be orphaned if he had his way, over his own son.
He knocked on the door to his father’s office and waited for his acknowledgment. Completely focused on his money and hotel, he scarcely heard Jack Richerson speak, what momentarily would be one of the last things he’d ever say to his son, “Enter, William.”