The tale proved to be interesting, at times intriguing; both Matthew and I were quite enamored by the brush that painted the luxurious portrait of the devilish Mr. Fleuric, although Matthew was more suspicious of the character, while I retained a fancy for the unknown acquaintance.
At length, Jude concluded his story. More than an hour and a half had lapsed according to my wrist watch, but neither Matthew, nor I, would be content to depart until we discovered the entire reason behind the mentioning of Mr. Fleuric, and his indirect involvement of my pitiful, yet eventual, defeat.
"He was incredible; the whole get-up was lavishing. Anyway, after sharing a few drinks with the guy at his marvelous masquerade party, we were having a private conversation in a master chamber rivaling heaven itself - I mean, you would have to see it to believe it, John.
"Anyway, I admit I was more than tipsy at the time; the conversation had taken a strange turn because of my condition, and soon we were discussing the most prominent story in the news."
Matthew interjected with an inquiring tone, "Are you referring to the scandal involving-"
"The same one, Matthew. He was well informed; educated even, the subject was little more than a trifle to this man."
"And?" I admit that my patience had begun to exceed its limits, but the consumption of alcohol was to blame for the abruptness, as well as the fresh stings of financial loss.
"And," replied the charismatic fellow sitting opposite of me, counting every last dollar that was owed to him, using a tone that seemed to mimic my own, "he had posed an alternate ending to the scandal. Perhaps the guilty party wasn't as guilty after all, and a certain luck was on his side-"
"Wait, when were you having this conversation?"
"Haven't you been paying attention, John? Matthew, make sure he doesn't drive home tonight." My friend nodded in silent agreement. "Anyway, we were discussing the scandal three weeks ago."
"Yes! Somehow this Mr. Fleuric had guessed the outcome of the trial; predicted the damned thing even."
"That doesn't mean anything, Jude. He was either innocent, or guilty. The odds are at a draw." Matthew was quick to act upon his suspicions, and at first he appeared unimpressed.
"It's not that simple, Matthew. It's as if he knew exactly what was going to happen. Weeks after the party, the scandal concluded precisely as he claimed it would. Every detail; every account. This may not be convincing you, I can see it in your eyes, but John's attention is still focused on the ending, which I am getting to. Anyway, the two of us, that is Mr. Fleuric and I, rendezvoused for some sports betting. I was staying at Bay 101-"
"What were you doing in San Diego?"
"You mean San Jose, John. My God, how many drinks are in you? Matthew, make sure you drive this one home; I don't trust his senses."
Matthew silently nodded his head again, sipping on more bourbon, hiccupping as he did.
I was beyond certain that I was intoxicated in more than the usual fashion. Was my tolerance beginning to wane? Was the bourbon stronger tonight than all of the others before? The answers didn't matter. I was out of my senses, because my curiosity for Mr. Fleuric burned within me, using the alcohol as the fuel for the flames.