She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf. Her face was expressionless, her eyes were blank. It was almost like gazing into a gulch. Her hair was well groomed, not a strand out of place. Her makeup was impeccably flawless that it made her look like a porcelain doll that had just stepped out of a horror movie. Her composure was admirable yet it looked like she had been through the mill. She inhaled the overpowering fragrance of freshly ground coffee beans that permeated the air. The smell of the “magic beans” was intoxicating. There was nothing better than relying on the aroma you love to release an exceedingly generous amount of pheromones into your system.
Her eyes quickly darted around, scanning the couples and people seated sipping on lattes or mochas, some people were having a quick bite before heading home after work. Even though the café was full no one bothered about her presence. She glanced down contemptuously at her Yves Saint Laurent handbag for a fleeting moment.
“Elena, I will be coming home late tonight. Don’t wait up,” Brad’s bass voice boomed from the kitchen as he grabbed his leather briefcase off the kitchen counter and swung his laptop bag carelessly on his shoulder.
Elena ignored him. These were just hollow words that were repeated day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. She had grown immune to those late nights, weekends “with the guys”, not showing up an entire night. Thankfully the children were in boarding school. They wouldn’t have to see the tears while she sat in front of a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, nursing a crystal tulip glass before her. Sitting in that large mansion alone every night was not as easy as she made it seem. The loneliness slowly shattered her mental equilibrium but it didn’t show on her face.
She had been with Brad for twenty years. He fell in love with her the moment he saw her walk down their college corridors. She stood out in a crowd with her “devil may care” attitude and confidence. They were in different departments but he had made it a point to introduce himself to her during her first year. He went on to becoming an affluent businessman and she was a stay-at-home mom.
Their marriage was a social affair. He treated her like a princess. There was nothing that she could possibly want from her Chanel handbags to her Gucci shoes. She was always well turned out. Brad loved having her on his arm at the social dinners and at the elite cocktail parties. It was quite evident that she was his trophy. She had always been his prized possession right from the moment they started dating. He was equally striking with his V shaped physique and height that resembled a beanpole. She had to admit they made a handsome couple, and even passed their mid-forties they still made heads turn.
She tried to figure out where they went wrong or more likely what went wrong. She always did what was right. She kept the house exactly how he liked it, cooked his favourite meals, and maintained her looks so that it concealed her age. Was it the excitement of cheating or the excitement of doing something wrong? It was all blurred. Somewhere down the line Brad decided to start dating another woman. Elena knew who she was. She was younger than Elena by an entire decade but not as tall or pretty. Elena’s beauty was enigmatic and still made men dizzy with infatuation.
Elena gritted her teeth in anger trying to figure out why Brad would choose to go scurrying after such an inexperienced “plain Jane”. She knew she looked far younger than her forty-five years, her skin was flawless; her hourglass figure could send any woman into a frenzy of jealousness. Her legs were shapely and athletic.
Violence had seeped into their loveless marriage. Whenever Brad was home he would pick a fight on imaginary issues. She didn’t use the right softener when she laundered his clothes, the vegetables were not cooked the way his mother made them, her car was parked at a slight angle and he couldn’t get his car out, the dog had greeted him with muddy paws all over his Versace suit. Yes, he had a very vibrant imagination; she had to give him credit for that.
Brad knew that Elena was aware of his mistress and he couldn’t help wondering why she had not filed for a divorce taking all his assets with her. He was even ready to let her have it all, his entire estate, his fleet of cars, and his business. Heck! He would even pay for the best divorce lawyer if he had to. Elena maintained her composure and decided to see how long the two of them could play this game of cat and mouse. Six years went by and they were still playing the same game. He was violent behind closed doors but in full view of the public eye he made sure he came across as the world’s greatest husband. His manners and suave personality made it all very believable.
Elena had toughened up over the past few years. She had been going for Muay Thai classes to keep her mind and body sane and fit. She planned a secret weekend out to surprise her estranged husband. Perhaps it was her who needed a break away from the prison she used to call home. Maybe she should go on a road trip and catch up with friends in nearby states or fly out to meet her parents who lived in the other end of the country. She bought herself plane tickets and got ready for her break. Brad could handle the food since he did that anyway despite of her cooking all his favourite food. She was definitely going to take a break from the manor and its sprawling, well-manicured lawns. She wouldn’t even miss the place.
She informed Brad well before the day. He told her that he wouldn’t be able to take her to the airport because of his work overload. She translated that excuse to “You know I’d rather spend that time with my mistress than drive you to the airport”. She yawned to let him know that she knew what he was implying.
The day of her departure turned out being a stormy one. She got a call informing her that her flight was canceled and her money would be refunded. She was pleased about it because she would now get a chance to see what her husband was really up to. She staggered upstairs to the attic and hid her bags there. She set up a makeshift bed and bid her time. This was one time she was exceptionally pleased about concealing cameras around the house and linking them all to her laptop. She had to make sure that she was safe since she was alone most of the time.
Elena knew she was safe in the attic because Brad was confined to the kitchen, their bedroom and the attached bathroom. It was almost as though none of the other rooms existed for him. Even his office that opened out into the emerald lawns overlooking the summer gazebo meant nothing to him.
Elena covered the tiny windows with thick blankets and made sure no light could be spotted from the outside. She had stocked up the tiny antique cupboard with tinned foods and basic essentials. She typed in her password to link up to the cameras and in a few clicks she could see the entire house and all the rooms. She swapped between scenes. She just needed the important areas. Brad was not due to be home until much later that evening.
She did not have a long wait. Brad was home earlier than expected and he was not alone.
“I should have known he would bring that tramp along and let her sleep in my bed!” Elena fumed and turned up the volume on her laptop after plugging her headset in.
“We have to be careful and cover our tracks,” Brad said. “She has to be somewhere in this house. I called up the airport to check on her flight and I was informed that the flight was canceled. She does not have anywhere else to go. Please don’t do anything rash.”
“You don’t do anything rash,” the thirty-five year old woman retorted. “What if she is here and watching our every move? Do we follow through with our plan?”
“What plan?” Brad was confused.
“The plan to eliminate…,” his mistress replied in a nonchalant tone.
“The weapons…,” he trailed strategically.
“Are taken care of,” she ended his sentence.
Elena had been expecting something like this for a long time now and was well prepared for the day. She rummaged in a trunk for her gun which she had kept loaded and ready. She had hidden a gun with an attached silencer in their bedroom and one in the kitchen. No one knows the kitchen better than the lady of the house. She groped around for a dagger. She knew how to throw the knife to hit the target exactly where she wanted to. She tucked the dagger in the band of her skirt and gripped the gun so tightly her knuckles turned white.
“Let’s split up,” Brad suggested.
“I’ve never been here before. I wouldn’t know where to go,” his woman hissed.
“Fine, in that case we’ll just stick together,” he sighed agitatedly.
“Do you know where she can be?” she asked him.
“We’ll check the bedroom first,” he suggested. “Come on.”
Elena quickly changed to the camera in the bedroom and waited for them to enter. Brad looked under the bed and checked the bathroom.
“She’s not here,” he stated.
“Captain Obvious!” she smirked.
He smiled. He loved the way she kept him feeling younger than his years whereas Elena was just a reminder of how much older he had gotten. He tried to forget about his graying hair and receding hairline. He felt much younger than he looked.
“Let’s go,” he said.
Elena had not installed cameras anywhere else after the bedrooms on the first floor. She had no choice but to switch off her computer. Without waiting for it to go off, she slid it beneath an old wooden trunk. She slipped off her pumps and crept to the door. She knew that she would have an advantage if she was caught behind it. Her heart pounded like a train on a track. She thought it was going to burst out of her delicate frame. She knew that her estranged husband had a gun with him but she was not certain about what weapon the other woman had.
She heard the knob on the door open slowly.
“Elena, I know you’re in here,” her husband crooned, tantalizing her. “We’re right next to you. Come out, come out wherever you are my darling.”
He stepped into the attic hesitantly, signaling to his girlfriend to stay back. Elena slowly lifted the gun. He opened the door and switched on the light.
“She’s not here, let’s go,” the woman whispered quite audibly.
“There’s nowhere else she could have gone,” he said. “We checked all the rooms, remember?”
“We didn’t check the garage,” she pointed out, agitatedly.
“Go check the garage. I’ll meet you there,” he said and without warning he slammed the attic door shut.
Elena aimed at his head and pulled the trigger. He fell flat on his back. He was dead before he hit the floor. The mistress heard the thud.
“Brad?” she called opening the door. She found herself face to face with an enraged Elena.
“Hallo there! I’m Elena, Brad’s widow. Pleased to meet you,” Elena’s smile was psychotically sinister. “Fancy you dropping by to see me. You must be Leigh.”
Leigh charged at her, brandishing a kitchen knife she had found on the counter. Elena grabbed her wrist and twisted Leigh’s hand behind her back forcing her to drop the knife. She pulled out the dagger and stabbed Leigh in the jugular vein. Leigh collapsed to the ground. Elena then fired a shot straight to her head.
“Nice to meet you too darling,” Elena snarled.
She retrieved her laptop, handbag and shoes from their hiding place and stepped out of the attic. She locked the door. She knew she had enough time to dispose of the bodies and the car in the estate. She wrapped the dagger in the blue silk scarf that was slung over her handbag and headed downstairs. She got into her car and drove to her favourite coffee shop. She parked her sedan neatly in the only vacant spot there and got out of the car. She straightened her skirt before reaching out for her handbag and scarf. She walked in and ordered a coffee. She found an empty table by the window, grateful that she had a splendid view of the breathtaking sunset. She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf.
“CUT!” the director yelled jubilantly, grabbing the clapper board from his assistant and slamming it with a burst of enthusiasm. “…and it’s a wrap, pun intended!”
Not everything is what you think it is or what you assume it might be. Sometimes life is nothing but a mere illusion.