He had been laughing that morning as he buried Richard. Always dig the hole first, his father once joked. With Julie, he’d had to dig the hole after she was dead, while she was bleeding into the earth and flies were gathering. This time, he’d dug it early, once he knew that Rory was going to the opera with him. The same week he brought up her new clothes. Contradictory, he knew – new clothes for a dead woman – but the romantic in him held into the thought that she might change her mind and see him for what he was: a man who would love her and protect her to the end.
He had planned to bring Rory up next week, but that was really a non-issue. What was a few days? With Richard dead, no, with Richard “missing,” and with Ransome out of town, Rory could stay a few extra days. It would give her the chance to learn what life could hold for her.
“I’m going to picnic with her today, just as you did once,” he said, looking down into the pit at his friend’s body, admiring the raw marks where the cord from the window blinds had cut into Richard’s neck. Funny how easy it had been. Looping the white cord and twisting, tightening. You can’t win if you can’t breathe. Another one of his father’s quotes, though this one made Alex’s own throat tighten, remembering how often he’d heard that phrase and how often his father had proven it. But now he was the one winning.
“I’m going to make love to her, just like you wish you had. If she’s nice to me, I’ll let her be my wife. If she’s not, well, this is a big piece of property, isn’t it?” A few more shovelfuls of dirt and Alex paused again. “I’m sorry I didn’t have a gun handy. I meant to, that’s what she wanted, but this was the spur of the moment. You know how that is, don’t you?” He watched the dirt fall onto Richard’s face.
When he finished, he stood back to study the new grave and was pleased with the results. Tucking his hands in his pockets, he curled his right hand around the cord from the blinds in Richard’s studio, reminding himself to put it in his box with the other souvenirs when he got home. First, though, he decided, he needed a shower. It wouldn’t do for people to see the dirt under his nails.
Few people outside of the Webster family knew about the small cabin several hundred yards from the main house. It was the original building on the property, a good century old, but updated enough that he could shower and change before returning “from the grocery store.” Updated enough, actually, for one to live there rather comfortably during hunting season – or to keep a guest tucked away quite nicely.
The cabin had been his second stop, the grave his first. One couldn’t go grocery shopping with a body in the trunk. Thank God she’s so damn trusting, he thought as he drove to the store. Too bad she’s so damn trusting. The thought made him laugh a bit. Women like her, beaten down by one man, tended to lean toward those who would make decisions for them. He could control her easily, no doubt. She might have the professional world in her hands, but her personal life was a mess.
There were moments when he thought perhaps he was over the edge, but killing Richard had simply been unavoidable. Rory had wanted it anyway. She’d written it.