Splendor

 

*This is a work of fiction inspired by actual events but not intended to recreate them.*

I was never a petty man before I met Natalie.  But her grace, the way men looked at her, her fame, they led me to places I never would have gone otherwise.  Afterwards, I wished that I’d never come to Hollywood.  If I’d never met Natalie I never would have turned into this person.  You can’t imagine what it’s like to be a man and have everyone want your wife.  To watch her kiss other men, watch them touch her, and not be free to object.    

Natalie was a woman who bought yachts but didn’t learn to swim.

Chris was asleep below, passed out as a result of too much wine.  We’d all had too much.  I wish I could tell you that I planned this out, that I was cool and calculated like a movie star is supposed to be.  I’d asked her to a peaceful night on deck, it was innocent enough.  We’d had Chris with us for over a week and we hadn’t gotten a moment alone.  That seemed to be our challenge throughout our marriage.  At least I was never alone with Natalie.

As we talked she kept mentioning her last film, about her scenes with Chris who had played her husband, about the publicity she was going to need to do for it and how she might as well be away from home for a while.  It wouldn’t make sense to stay home when she was going to be so busy.  I can’t tell you that I remember the entire conversation.  But I can say that after several minutes I ceased to hear her voice.  All I saw was the batting of her eyelashes as I tried to look behind them, into her mind.  But all the while she talked, flicking her cigarette as if I had not changed.  As if I wasn’t trying to peel the flesh off her face with my eyes so that I could see underneath.  See how she really felt about me.

I curled my muscular hands around her neck and her voice dropped away.  In movies they have you simply place your hands around your costars’ neck, not actually squeeze.  You could bruise them or hurt them, and they couldn’t gasp.  In real life there is no long, drawn out scene with wheezing and the exchanging of meaningful glances.  She went down so fast I didn’t realize what I’d done.

It’s sick that the first thing that struck me was the irony of it all.  Her whole life Natalie had been terrified of drowning.  More than anything in the world.  She rode horses bareback, she drove north of 90 MPH on a regular basis, but when it came to swimming she never got in the water.  And she still hadn’t.  The woman had been afraid of drowning, died on a boat, and still had never gone swimming.

Below deck, I heard Chris yawn and turn over.  Without a second thought I untied the dingy and lifted Natalie’s lifeless body into it.

When asked about Natalie later by the various journalists that knocked on my door, I said that she was an exceptional wife and mother and that she was in a better place.

The End

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