Chapter 1: The Shadow
It’s Tuesday, May 2, 2017, the evening is drawing to its end; and I’m lying in bed—contemplating, strategizing. I have a meeting tomorrow morning—9:00 a.m. Sharp. Having spent thirty-plus hours on this Gates deal, I haven’t slept well in days—weeks, actually. I’m anxious and damn near exhausted. I roll over. 1:29 a.m. reflects off the window pane. I jerk backwards, focus my burning eyes at the ceiling, and lay there for hours staring at, nothing really.
My eyes blink, it’s now 3:00 a.m. Visions of flaming dollar bills are fleeting through my mind—burning one by one. It’s haunting. Soon Raines, my ex-wife, will be eagerly depositing them into her bank account. It’s been two weeks since she up and left me. You’d think I’d be devastated, but I’m not. The blissful, bountiful love we once shared had gradually turned into a cruel world plagued with agony and torment. Bit by bit, it faded into an endless cycle of unhappiness; until one day, the last thread of promise snapped. And our marriage just sat there—like a deserted and crumbled shack neglected, all alone on an island—hopeless.. . . . rotten . . . and decayed. It was gone. I was gone. And I had been gone for years.
Looking across the room, an old picture of Raines and my seventeen year old son, stare back at me. I am overcome with hate, so much that I even despise the very air I breathe. That picture now stands there as a reminder of how my relationship with my son was devoid of commitment. I get up and yank the picture off the wall like a twisted army sergeant with too much damn pride throwing it full force across the room. Tiny pieces of glass shatter across the floor. I don’t care.
My callous feet tread over the broken pieces of glass and into the bathroom, bellying up to the countertop propping my palms on the sink. I flex the muscles in my arms until they strain slowly looking up into the mirror with a methodical stare. A loathsome face of a tall brown-haired man reflects off the surface of the glass. I don’t even recognize him. His chiseled jaw-line with two day stubble clenches with anger demanding a forced and perilous respect. The longer I stare into those cold-hearted green eyes, the more I see the epitome of this man’s heartlessness.
Life has been one big mind game I’ve been playing—or should I say winning—for years. Whether it’s just in my mind or if others want to play the game too. I know what makes the world turn: money and only money. I see things for what they are. And it’s money, my friend. I make phenomenal investments for all my clients, add an appeasing smile, and the world gives me back just what I need. And it’s all pretty simple.
Not too many people understand me, but that’s alright. I ride my own waves of the sea, no one else’s. And I know how to balance every wave. When the sea is rough, and everyone has ascended their sails, I jump into the ocean and swim, just to confuse people. And when the waves are calm again, I sneak out of the sea as if I never jumped in. I’m tricky like that. Some may call it cunning; but I like to call it slippery. Life is slippery. Come on, it’s a long, slimy, slippery slope. And justifiably, everyone is entitled to sip their own cup of tea, while they glissade down the slope, with whatever flavor they prefer. I like mine pleasantly tart with a touch of rude. And I don’t like to waste time, I get straight to the point. Some people may like to stop to smell the roses, but I don’t. I own the roses.
I walk over to my bed, open my laptop, log into my bank account and move every penny out from our joint bank account and into my personal business checking. My lips curl into an arrogant smirk. I always win.
The clock shines 4:06 a.m. I fall back into bed, but something is off.
And then it happens.
I hear a faint buzzing sound in my ear. Like that of an angry bee stuck in a jar. And the room begins to spin. Faster and faster, it spins. My heart flutters and skips. My blood vessels constrict. Adrenaline starts to pump like an oil gusher. I try to get up, but I can’t move my arms or legs. Am I paralyzed? I gasp for air as the room suffocates me. The air begins to cook. It’s boiling. Sweat rolls down my face. Something is happening! Something is coming. I am not sure what it is . . . all I know is that its strength is massive.
What is this? Some kind of shadow forms in the corner of the room! It’s dark and unearthly looking. Like a lion stalking his prey, it begins to slither along the wall, coiling and twisting. Oh god, it’s creeping towards me! My gut churns. With a blink of an eye, it strikes, lifting me off the bed and slamming me face down to the floor like a pancake on a griddle. I am somehow able to wiggle my hands and feet so I crawl underneath my bed, but it follows me. It claws at my skin, leaving gashes, and seeps through the open wounds and into my veins, sucking me inward into a tiny ball of defeat. Nothing can cease this aggressive onslaught. For the first time in my life, I’ve been overcome.
Time stands still. I lay motionless, in a fetal position, face down on the hardwood floor and underneath my bed.
As I relinquish myself to its dominion, my whole life turns inside out and back again. And all of the realizations that I have chosen to suppress weave through the shadow exposing themselves…. waiting… watching… knowing…and inevitably rear their ugly heads like internal sovereign monsters filled with disdain and torment gripping my soul in a chokehold. Ever so carefully, they unclench their fists and invite me to an evil yet peaceful sleep.
And under their command, I fall into a deep sleep.