A little ditty about revenge.
I've spent a lifetime planning out your destruction.
Sitting across the smooth, glassy table from each other, eyes locked, the thought resonated inside my skull. The sirens of a dozen firetrucks, the bells of a thousand church bells chiming midday, the ringing echoes of nearby explosions in some previous life. The reverberation was nearly deafening, if silent.
My right fist clenched, unclenched. Clenched again. Hovered an inch above the table, as if tensed to strike. At this critical juncture, I felt the pressure starting to overcome my usual calm demeanour. This wasn't working out like I had planned.
A trickle of sweat down the nape of my neck. Suit collar unseasonably warm against my skin. Uncomfortable dampness in regions that normally stayed dry in this kind of circumstance.
Clench. Unclench. The repetition was almost soothing, had not it not been a terrible tell to my opposition. My teeth ground to a stop, the pressure nearing a lockjaw diagnosis. Left eye twitching, ever so slightly. By sheer force of will, my palm flattened against the polished oak tabletop. Knotted muscles unbunched, relaxing ever-so-slowly between my rigid shoulder blades.
Calm. This is your opportunity, now take it.
"Mr. Douglas?" came the call from the far end of the elongated boardroom table. I felt vaguely like I should be tossing half-eaten scraps to dogs in the middle of a medieval trestle table, and yelling for the serving wenches to bring me another flagon of ale. The surrounding company was enough to justify my meandering thoughts.
Both attorneys glanced as each other. Opposing council raised an eyebrow at his counterpart beside me surreptitiously, obviously thinking that I was too distracted to notice. He'd pay for that, too. The bastard was probably counting how many dollars he'd earned in my not-so-subtle stalling for time.
I rose, straightening my suit jacket and vest. I'd worn one of my best, a $3,500 Armani piece that was the current darling of my collection. This was the time to show what pull I had, the weight of my words, and if it meant an overt display of wealth, then that's what I'd do. Everything was calculated, precisely crafted to work to my advantage. If I crumbled now, it would all be for naught.
The judge looked at me, silently ushering me to continue with my statement. The deposition had slowed to a halt as I'd gathered my wits, but now was my chance.
Deep breath. Relax.
"Your honour, if it please the court, I have a statement to make before we go any further."
The judge glanced at me as I said this, arms crossed against his chest.
"Mr. Douglas, we're all busy men here. Please, make it brief."
Another deep breath.
A glance across the table at the interloper.
Now was my chance. An entire lifetime hinging on this moment. Since childhood, he'd been my tormentor, my abuser, my most detested foe. He'd taken girlfriends, cheated on assignments, stolen jobs, set me up to take the heat for things he'd done. I'd forgiven him, publicly. But the hatred seethed in me, and this last transgression topped them all. He wasn't coming back from this one, whatever it took on my part.
My wife sat there coolly, still as a mouse under the roving gaze of an owl on the hunt. My eyes grazed over her voluptuous curves for a moment as I considered what I had to say. She looked beautiful, as ever. And untouchable.
Then he reached over and casually put his hand on her bare thigh, in plain, obvious view. Thumb and forefinger dug dimples into her porcelain flesh, almost cruelly, possessively. She winced. A crooked grin stole over his craggy, ruggedly handsome features.
And something inside me snapped.