As the World Turns

“I’m in love!” – I think I am – I know I am !

None of my former relationships could stand the test of time. Infatuation and lust gave way to personality clashes and quarrels, at the root of which was usually money. I’m an artist; a pretty good one I believe; I work hard at it, but so far commercial success has eluded me.

But my life has changed in the past couple of months. Like I said: I’m in love. Fortune seems to be on my side for once. The object of my love and adoration is a real lady; rich, pretty and head over heels in love with me. There is just one minor obstacle to our final happiness – she is married to this overweight, middle aged businessman. The marriage is one sided. He is so deeply attached to her that any thought of letting her go is ludicrous.

“My dear,” said Angie, putting her manicured index finger on my lips, “he would much rather die, than give up the love of his life.”

We were lounging around my brand new apartment, sipping peach daiquiris and contemplating the future.

“George, my darling, let me tell you the story of my husband. That way you will understand what I mean that he would much rather…not hear of our plans for the future, which sadly enough would not include him. It is a happy story and a sad one all at once, but that’s life. C’est la vie, mon cheri.”

Angie has a very interesting way of detaching herself from the problems around her. That’s what makes her so clever. She can deal with problems and people like they were puppets or riddles to be solved. She does not get emotionally involved in other people’s lives: “…except, of course, when I fall in love!” as she so aptly puts it.

She told me the story of her relationship with her husband like it concerned somebody else’s life and not her own. My bijou had a very good sense of humour and a very positive outlook on life.

I particularly loved her voice. It was deep and resonant, and sexy. Just listening to her melted my heart like ice in the sun. I would have done anything, anything at all that voice asked of me….

“Dan Brunner was a successful, middle aged businessman. He earned his money as a toy broker; in other words he bought and sold large amounts of toys. Although he and Bernice, his beloved wife of fifteen years, never had children (much to Bernice’s grief and Dan’s joy) he had a very shrewd idea of what kids liked and disliked. Maybe that was because Dan himself was still a little boy at heart. He spent a lot of his spare time with his model trains in the basement.

Since Dan had amassed a considerable fortune over the years, he figured it was time to enjoy life. Bernice always thought that life’s only real joy was in raising children and since she knew for certain that she was never to have any with Dan since his sperm count was below what it requires to be a potent father, she also swore off sex. She never derived much joy from that sport and Dan, on the other hand, was of an age where sex became more and more important. Before too long, this major problem began to build itself into a minor volcano, ready to erupt at any time.

Instead of approaching problems head on, Dan preferred to avoid direct confrontation. He was by nature a bit of a wimp, so he solved that particular crisis by acquitting himself a mistress (easily accomplished with the help of some of his business associates).

His new playmate was Angie DuBois, and she proved to be a bit of a drain on Dan’s pocketbook. Angie was no cheap slut, as she herself put it. She came from French stock, was very pretty and she had a taste for the finer things in life.

“Mon cher,” as she fondly called Dan, “mon cher, I like very much to be your special friend but special friends are dear and hard to come by in this alienated world. Don’t ever forget to look after your petite Angie for she loves you very much, and I would like so much to have that Porsche.”

“Don’t you worry, my little angel, your wish is my command,” Dan sighed.

“You’re such a sweet man, mon cher.” Angie cooed like a little kitten.

Dan was in seventh heaven. He was totally infatuated with his French jewel. He fulfilled her every wish and whim and in turn she showed him a world of sensual pleasure he had never dreamed of in his wildest fantasies. He wanted nothing less than to marry her. He excused this wild notion with the simple reason that it was also good business to marry Angie since she already cost him a lot more than his wife did with all her charities.

“If I could move in with you I would be so much happier than I am with Bernice, please, Angie, would you marry me?”

Dan pleaded with Angie like a little boy would with his mother for a special toy. He absolutely had to have her, if not he would most certainly throw a very bad tantrum. Angie, of course, had expected a proposal like that anytime and she liked Dan and his money well enough to accede to his wish.

“But mon cher, there is the small problem of Madame Brunner, n’est-ce pas? What are you going to say to the poor woman?”

That indeed was a major problem, one that didn’t sit lightly with Dan. In fact, it bothered him night and day. He rehearsed numerous ways of how to break the news to her, how to explain his situation. He even stood in front of their bathroom mirror, trying to act out the proper way, but all to no avail. He knew Bernice well enough to foresee that she would be horror stricken at the unexpected news.

“Bernice would never understand,” he complained bitterly one night to Angie, cradled in her lap like a little boy. “Common sense, reason and rationality don’t mean anything to Bernice. Tradition, loyalty and a high standard of morals are her strong points.”

“Give it time, mon cher, you will find a way. A way that is best suited to make all of us happy.”

In time, as was Dan’s nature, he found a way around that problem, without having to confront the righteous and shocked indignation of Bernice. He decided that it would be in everybody’s best interests if Bernice died a peaceful death.

It was certainly a lot cheaper and less messy than a humiliating divorce that could drag on for years. Indeed, it was a happy solution for everybody. Bernice would be relieved of all physical and mental anguish; Dan would be free to wed his beloved jewel and Angie, who loved Dan and adored his money, thought that anything which would improve her future was a step in the right direction.

“Are you sure, mon cher, that this is the best way to our happiness?” Angie wondered with mock seriousness.

“Yes, my angel, I thought of every other possible way and there is just no other alternative. That way Bernice will get to heaven where she can be happy forever and all her wishes will be fulfilled.” Dan sounded very convincing.

“It is so sweet of you to think of Bernice’s happiness before your own, mon cher.” Angie said reassuringly.

She supplied Dan with all the emotional help he needed. She nibbled his ears and her tongue unfolded a world of forbidden secrets for him. There was no doubt left in Dan’s mind that he was doing the right thing.

The moral side of the delicate issue conveniently resolved, there remained only the technical aspects of the enterprise to be worked out. Dan and Angie sat up night after night devising and discarding various plans of action but they all lacked one or more essential ingredient.

“It has to be simple, painless and fool proof, so the two of us can enjoy a future of happiness together.” Dan repeated this phrase over and over and Angie never contradicted him. It was for Dan to solve this riddle and for her to stand beside him when the time came.

“A car accident, of course, is the most common cause of death in modern society, people die by the dozen every day on the roads of this country. Who really knows how many of the so called accidents are actually premeditated murders?” It was thus that Dan argued and Angie could find no fault with his reasoning.

“A car accident it will be, mon cher. But how do you make sure that poor Bernice will be sufficiently dead and not only horribly maimed and disfigured?”

It was an aspect of the problem which demanded Dan’s undivided attention. After lengthy deliberation he came up with the logical solution.

“There is only one way, my little angel. Bernice has to be dead before she has the fatal accident, that way there will be no risk of causing her unnecessary pain.”

“You are so clever, mon cher, and so thoughtful, but how are you going to kill her and then have her drive a car?”

It took Dan a while to find the answer but he did solve the details to his satisfaction. Finally he had a master plan, a blueprint for murder, although they would never allude to it as murder, it was definitely a mercy killing in their eyes. This was the final plan that Dan sketched out for Angie, who got up to fix them both a gin and tonic and then sat down beside her lover to hold his sweaty palm while he elaborated.

“Bernice is going to be my dead passenger, only recently dead and looking very much alive. I’ll drive downtown in my usual way, stop for gas at my usual station. Bernice never said a word to Mike, the station attendant, before and she certainly won’t this time. It will be sufficient that Mike will see her sitting in the car, quiet and stony faced as always. About a mile past the gas station is a tight left hand curve, safe to drive at about 40 mph. Bernice is simply going to fall out of the car right there and smash against the iron railing. Good enough to kill a corpse. It has to be at rush hour, 8 a.m., to ensure a lot of witnesses and hopefully provide the chance of one or more cars running over Bernice’s carcass. May she rest in peace.” Dan downed his drink in two gigantic gulps.

The reality of what he was about to do slowly began to sink in. It took all Angie’s special talents to sooth and comfort Dan until he was sure of himself once more. Angie could always make him feel like a new man again.

A few preliminaries were necessary. Dan simply took a hammer to the door mechanism until it wouldn’t work properly anymore. The door now only stayed shut when the safety button was pushed down. Perfect. Dan explained every detail to his jewel, who always listened attentively when it concerned their plan. That way Angie could ask all the right questions so that Dan could find the right answers.

Dan took the car to the garage, had the problem looked at (he cited vandalism as a cause) and since it wasn’t an emergency and the part had to be ordered, he got an appointment for the next Thursday. This was Monday. Four days. Surely enough time to dispose of poor Bernice. He tried the door a couple of times around the said curve and it flew open every time. Dan had a string attached to it so he could pull it closed before it tore off the car. He had thought of everything, thanks to Angie that is.

How to kill Bernice? This part of the plan was the hardest. Not technically but emotionally. Dan dreaded the thankless task but knew that he just had to follow through with it. He was committed by now. Angie sensed his last minute doubts and in her subtle way was able to pick the shreds of doubt and the pangs of guilt from Dan like they were weeds in a garden.

“Mon cher, it is best for Madame Brunner to be in heaven, you are doing her a big favour. We both know that she is not happy in this world and she will be especially unhappy if she finds out about your little angel, who loves you very much.”

Thus strengthened, Dan went home to share one more night in the same bed with Bernice. They kept up the appearance of a normal relationship by sharing the same bed.

Dan couldn’t find any sleep that night. He was tossing and turning, and by six o’clock in the morning he couldn’t stand the suspense any longer. Bernice was lying on her side, blissfully snoring away. Dan aimed for her temple and bashed her head in with a sock that he had filled with fine sand.

“Hit as hard as you can,” Angie told him, “otherwise she will not die.” Dan took her advice to heart. There was no doubt: Bernice was dead.

For the next hour and a half Dan was very busy. He had to dress Bernice. A nauseating job because he kept glancing at her caved in head. That wasn’t the worst though. The worst was the smell emanating from Bernice. When people die suddenly, all their muscles relax and everything left inside flows out. One messy detail neither Dan nor Angie had thought of.

Dan pinched his nose and did what he had to do. He couldn’t clean her up completely because that would make the coroner suspicious. He finally had her dressed, only her head remained.

He had been careful enough not to hit her in the face but still Bernice’s head looked like a watermelon that had fallen out of a third story window. He put one of her favourite hats over the hole after he stuffed it full of cotton to stop the fluid and the brain from leaking out. He had to remember to remove the cotton before the accident. Dan was sweating bullets by now. This whole thing wasn’t as simple and clean as it sounded lolling in Angie’s lap.

Next he threw the pillowcase and empty sock into the incinerator, made sure everything was spic and span, as it always was in the Brunner household. Bernice had always been a meticulous housekeeper. Satisfied that everything looked neat and clean, he carried Bernice to the car that was parked in the adjacent garage. He sat her in the passenger seat, which proved to be a bit of a chore. She was already beginning to stiffen a bit which made it easier for her to balance but not so easy to bend her hips and knees. There was no way to use the seatbelts otherwise she would never fall out. He leaned her head against the door and thus kept her from flopping over. Now it became a race against time. Rigor mortis was another unconsidered variable in their flawless plan.

Dan had worked hard for the past couple of hours and he sweated profusely and his stomach was all in knots. He knew he should eat something but the thought of food revolted him. Instead he popped a couple of Rollaids.

All according to plan, Dan stopped for gas, casually told Mike, the attendant, that Bernice was going shopping downtown. Mike even nodded a friendly hello to dead Bernice.

At exactly 8:10 a.m. on that Thursday morning, Dan’s Buick le Sabre reached the curve. He leaned over and pulled up the manual door lock after he pulled the wad of cotton out of her head. The door tore open, Bernice flew out, hit the railing, fell back on the road and got rolled over by a big truck and thus killed a couple of times over.

The cause of death was ‘death by accident’; Bernice’s remains were incinerated and a simple service was held three days later and grief stricken Dan Brunner took a two month leave of absence.

“I can’t stay around here. Everything reminds me of poor Bernice,” he snivelled to his associates who had nothing but sympathy for Dan.

His doctor recommended a trip abroad, “…to get away from familiar surroundings which can only aggravate your present state of mind.”

Dan eagerly complied and took a trip to Europe. A week later he was in Nice where he picked Angie up at the airport. Right away he moved her into his luxury suite at the Ritz as his common law wife. Two months later he married her in a small chapel in St. Tropez and brought her home as his lawful spouse, much to the surprise and consternation of his friends and associates. But Angie was such a lovable bird that Bernice was soon totally forgotten (may she rest in peace) and Angie was forthwith known as Mrs. Brunner. Everybody concerned was very happy.

This idyllic situation lasted several years. Thanks to Angie’s insistence that they deserved better than to live in an luxury apartment, Dan bought a nice little villa on the outskirts of town “…not the suburbs,” as he was fond of pointing out.

It was and still is a sizable estate, consisting of an acre of beautifully manicured gardens, (Angie’s pride and joy) a large lawn adorned with some magnificent blue spruce trees, a kidney shaped swimming pool at the back of the colonial six bedroom house and a large flagstone driveway leading up to the front of the house. In order to look after the large house and the grounds and last but not least to keep food on the table, Dan had to hire two servants. Since Angie was a terrible cook (she had other advantages) Dan had to look for a gardener as well as a housekeeper who was also a cook.

He was very lucky to find a German couple who made a career out of being servants. “Like that we will always be surrounded by luxury,” was Helga’s line of reasoning and Hans was always happy to agree with Helga. They made very reliable servants and Angie was finally happy which in turn made Dan happy.

Of course, all these added expenses demanded a higher income, for which Dan strove with vigour and determination to achieve. From toys he branched out into women’s garments, from garments into cosmetics. To be successful demanded a lot of time, time away from home. Dan was very prosperous, but that took its toll.

He got older, he developed high blood pressure, his hairline was receding, his once trim gut grew into a sizable paunch from too many cocktail lunches. Looking into the mirror drove him to drink more, which resulted in Dan becoming a successful alcoholic, an accepted condition to which most of his peers succumbed.

“When the cat is away the mice will play.”

Angie was still somewhat young and beautiful. She turned the heads of many a man when she strolled down the street in her self-confident, sexy way, with her wavy blond hair resting on her bare, tanned shoulders and her deep, blue eyes usually hidden by a pair of expensive sunglasses. Angie had become a lady with class and taste. That much was obvious, even from a distance.

She was now married to a middle aged, fat millionaire who was always away from home. Angie spent many a lonely night in their king size waterbed and she finally decided out of pure boredom to enjoy herself once again. She started going out to the clubs and the bars and she liked the people she met. One night she got acquainted with George, yours truly, who was about her age, divorced, reasonably good looking and instantly devoted to Angie.

This was the end of Angie’s narrative. We both laughed, kissed and made passionate love on my new velvet, burgundy couch, a present from Angie who spent a lot of time at my apartment, right downtown, where she now spent most of her otherwise lonely evenings.

First we were lovers, then we became friends and after awhile it only was natural that we contemplated and dreamt of a life together, not in secret, but openly as husband and wife. There was only one person in the way of our happiness.

It was a beautiful day in early May when Angie complained to Helga and Hans that the passenger door on her T-Bird didn’t lock properly anymore.

“No big deal,” said Hans, “bring it to the garage and have it fixed.”

Angie made an appointment for the following Tuesday. Dan was coming home for the weekend and Angie told Helga that she was going to drive him to the airport on Monday morning.

There was a terrible accident on the way to the airport. Dan Brunner fell out of his car in the tunnel that crossed under the river. It was a horrible mess and the traffic backed up for two miles.

 

* * *

Angie and I have been living together for five years now. It’s not a happy relationship anymore. Angie, my angel has developed into a very sizable woman, mostly thanks to Helga’s excellent cooking and boredom.

Last month I met Candice. We both belong to the same tennis club and we took an instant liking to each other.

“Do you have to play tennis everyday?” Angie is always nagging me lately and she is treating me like a little schoolboy. She is not a happy woman anymore and sometimes I think that she would be better off dead. I wonder how much longer I can endure living with her. Divorce is out of the question. She would never let me go. There has to be another way. Life is really very simple. It’s all a matter of choice.

Not the End

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