Arthur Flemington, his hair once silky and chestnut brown now in a mess of waves and curls, sat on the edge of his bed, lonesomely staring at the carpeted floor with hollowed eyes, eyes that he so desperately wished were filled with passion. He observed the twisting and turning patterns of the carpet, leading his eyes up and down the complicated creation that sat beneath him. Every curl and detail lead to another, pulling him into a hazy lull of disappointment and hopeless nostalgia. Swirling the glass of brandy in his withered hand, Arthur intently gazed at his bedroom door, the color of Greek marble. Something about that door, the fine gold detailing and embellishments, called to him like a siren in an ocean of churning waves. It beckoned towards him like it was pulling him into an enchanting trance, one of fixation and transcendence.
He stood up, clenching to the wooden bed frame with a fierce grip, as to make sure he would not stumble over once more in a heap of depression. Slowly but surely, Arthur made his way to that door, that door that called to him in a come hither way, like a prophecy was being fulfilled. With a great excitement he hadn’t felt in months, Arthur grasped the doorknob, stopped by a strange disturbance.
Laughter rang in his ear, and no ordinary laughter, the laughter of a sea of people, huge triumphant smiles etched into their faces. Arthur distinctly remembered those laughs, hearing each and every one as clear as diamonds, he recalled the night of June 6, 1926, exactly a year ago, a night of booze and harmless times, when people truly cared for him. He reached back into the cavity of his mind, falling down a corridor of memories, stretching back for years and years, until he finally saw that night in splendid color.
The walls of Arthur’s bedroom dripped like wet paint, melting away to reveal the ballroom of his Hyde Park estate, a lit chandelier hanging over a crowd of people like a beacon. This was it, June 6, people were packed in his very own house, dancing and laughing, drinking booze, and having the time of their lives! It was enchanting, mesmerizing, seeing the figures of a life long gone play out in front of him like a scene in a Hollywood movie! He remembered the life he used to lead, one of extravagance and endless fun, throwing parties every other day with bountiful firework displays and champagne that flowed like a chocolate fountain. A wave of nostalgia and misery hit him as he stood there, observing the scene, a thought of where he was in his life now, sitting at his bedroom while his wife was miles upon miles away. It all brought Arthur down, seeing his past life of never-ending fun, that was until he heard a familiar voice behind him, a voice so familiar that it sent running chills down his back.
Arthur spun around to be greeted by himself, standing with his beautiful wife, Rosalie, hanging on his arm affectionately. The old version of Arthur astonished him, his hair done in smooth luxurious waves, a smile as pristine as pearls, all decked out in a put-together suit with a yellow tie. He was amongst a crowd of partygoers, a fair group of people he knew as well as the back of his hand, all conversing with each other just like how remembered from the good old days... “Have you seen what they’ve done with Coney Island?” Arthur asked the group with a content and confident grin, “Rosalie and I went down there last weekend and it was beyond anything else I have ever seen!”
“I’ve been down there,” chimed one of the partygoers, “It was nothing short of disappointing,”
“Well, I’m sorry to hear so because we had the most amazing time!” Arthur gleamed, “It was a nice day, you know, just me and the finest woman this side of the Mississippi!”
“Arthur, there’s no need to tease me like that,” Rosalie said with a blushed face, “You know, he does this all the time. Trying to make me blush by saying the most ridiculous things...”
“Ridiculous?” Arthur spouted, “I don’t find it ridiculous, I meant every word!”
“You two are perfect,” another partygoer stated, “Living your lives together in such harmony. I wish I had that with my wife,”
Arthur chuckled and looked back at Rosalie, her brilliant eyes exciting his soul beyond belief, “That’s what they all say, isn’t it?” He took a quick swig of his remaining brandy and planted a tender kiss on Rosalie’s lips innocently, causing her face to lighten up with simple joy.
“Does anybody want a drink?” Arthur asked, turning to the crowd of people with a wide smile plastered onto his charismatic face.
“Get me a martini,” a certain man from the group said with a vacant expression, “And get this fine lady one too!”
Arthur grinned, “Of course, Cecil, anything for you!” He turned around and approached the bar, hanging over it with such a certain suavity, like he knew that he looked like the smoothest and most confident man in the room, yet he was so caught up in his pure satisfaction, he didn’t notice what was happening right behind his back.
The group disbanded, just leaving Cecil and Rosalie, stirring in the awkward silence. “So...” Cecil said, swaying back and forth on his toes, “How’s Arthur been holding up?”
Rosalie took a long smoke from her cigarette and looked at Cecil dead in the eyes, the previous innocence she had with Arthur gone with the wind. “He’s holding up per usual I’d say... blabbering on and on about some dumb old book he’s reading,” She took another smoke and paused, looking off into the distance blankly, “You know, I wish I could have some sort of excuse to get the hell out of here for once. I feel like a prisoner, trapped with my husband. I don’t know, maybe this is some sort of torture method to drive me insane by being married to the man with the least self-awareness on Earth...”
Cecil looked at Rosalie curiously, “I understand how you feel... the man was a bore in college and I can see that he still is,” he mentioned casually, “Maybe I can take you to my suite at the Plaza Hotel in New York... I basically live there anyway, ”
A fire lit in Rosalie’s eyes as she stared off, a night of recluse away from her sorry husband, spending his days talking on the telephone, smoking out on the porch, and reading the same old book by Harley Thimbleton in his parlor room. She could escape from this sad reality of hers, escape into the night with a certain Cecil Gates, his state enticing her. “That doesn’t sound half-bad...” she said with a subtle smile tugging at the corners of her lips, “In fact, that sounds like a wonderful time! And just to clarify, when you say that you’ll bring me over, it’ll just be us two? Alone?”
The Arthur of present-day, still stuck in this strange flashback, watched in horror... was this truly what happened on that night one year ago? Why on Earth had his mind brought him here, to observe a party from so long ago, the party where he lost Rosalie’s faith without even knowing it. “Rosalie!” he tried to shout out in despair, “Rosalie, listen to me!” No response, as if nobody could hear him in this memory of days long gone. He couldn’t stop his little darling from running off with the affluent Mr. Gates, he was powerless in this memory, for it was just a flicker of the past, something that cannot be changed.
“Of course we’ll be alone... I wouldn’t imagine it any other way, Mrs. Flemington,” Something caught the corner of Cecil’s eye, Arthur approaching with a swing in his step, a butler with slicked black hair following him with a tray of drinks.
“Where did everyone go?” Arthur asked.
“I guess they just lost interest,” Rosalie looked back at her husband, the innocent glow of her face once again returned, “Now, did you get us our drinks?”
“I wouldn’t forget, now would I?” Arthur exclaimed, “I’d like you to meet my loyal butler, Cecil... his name is Francis but we just call him by Carmichael,”
“And why would that be?” Cecil inquired with a curious hint.
“It’s his last name, now you were the one with the martini, weren’t you Cecil?”
Cecil nodded his head and accepted the drink, taking a gentle sip of it. “Rosalie and I are going to talk to the Worthingtons,” he announced, “So, I’ll leave you to it,”
Rosalie exited with Cecil, batting her eyelashes for him without a single notice from Arthur, who had begun to engage in conversation with his butler, standing at his service attentively. “I wonder what those two are up to...” Arthur took a drink of whiskey and set it down on a stand, eyeing his wife and a dear friend of his escape to another wing of the house, far away from the Worthingtons, “I wonder about her quite often, you know... she’s always off somewhere doing her own little thing. Rarely do I get to talk to her, but I so wish to do it,”
“I’m sure she wouldn’t mind engaging in conversation with you, try talking to her when you have the chance,” Carmichael suggested, “It might save what’s left of a dying marriage,”
Arthur burrowed his eyebrows in frustration, “What are you implying, Carmichael?”
“Nothing, sir, it’s just that you haven’t been very intimate with her...”
“You wouldn’t know that, we’ve been very intimate actually. As Harley Thimbleton quotes in the Definements of Destiny, ’Assumptions are the silliest of things, especially when they are about other people. We oftentimes make such assumptions about people at first glance, but one does not truly know every fact and detail about a single person until they are married,”
“Then I suppose we should marry,” Carmichael quipped, grinning at the slightest.
“I’m not a homosexual, Carmichael, if you want to find one, you’d better talk to Mr. Adler,” Arthur smugly took another drink from his whiskey, letting it overcome his body with a jubilant and inviting feeling. “Yet, I am merely joking... now, dearest Carmichael, if you can, find what those two are up to, I’m curious,”
“I wouldn’t want to intrude on her business, sir, it’s her privacy,”
“I don’t believe I stuttered, Carmichael, I would like you to see what they are doing... I can’t just stand around all day with my wife off with some other man! I’m sure you’d understand...”
“With utmost respect, sir, I firmly believe that...”
“You know, there is a quote Mr. Thimbleton said that I find quite truthful at this moment,” Arthur interrupted, “One’s purpose is meant to be fulfilled, that’s why they exist. Butlers are born to be butlers, maids are born to maids, we all have a structure in society for a reason! Now, isn’t that right, my boy? I would suggest that means that you go and listen to my orders or I’ll deduct from your salary,”
Carmichael gave Arthur a scornful look and hurried off, just leaving Arthur behind, leaning against the bar with a smug look in his eyes, watching the party go on. He was proud of who he was in that very party, yet disdainful, for there was always an ounce of self-loathing in Arthur.
Suddenly, the walls once again contorted and twisted, beginning to reveal Arthur’s bedroom, devout of color or excitement.
A loud sound from down the hall stirred Arthur from his state, deciding to turn his attention the door once more as he heard frantic running footsteps approach it. The door swung open in a sudden movement, revealing Carmichael with a flustered face and sweat dripping down his forehead.
“Carmichael, what is it?” Arthur was in a panicked state, his hair in a mess, and his face pale as paper. He could tell something was up and it was most certainly not good.
Carmichael took a second to straighten himself up, his face still bright red and his eyes darting about in an anxious manner. “We received a telegram from the New York Police Department,” he started, “Rosalie’s dead,”
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