Standing over the bed, he watched the erratic bursts from his lover’s neck slowly subside. Leaning closer, he saw the light leave her eyes and captured the moment in his mind like a polaroid.
Reaching for his smartphone, he began posing her body like Hollywood starlets who graced past magazine covers. He took great pleasure in orchestrating his art, capturing images from numerous angles. Minutes later, he put away the smartphone in one jacket pocket and removed a folded letter from another, placing it in the center of a nearby writing desk. Taking out a pen, he placed it in her hand before returning both to the desk. Pleased, he began gathering his clothes.
Suddenly, he heard a noise and froze in place.
On full alert, he slowly made his way down the hall. Thinking he heard another sound, he stopped. The only noise came from a splashing fountain next to the pool in the backyard.
He continued to creep down the long hallway to the rear of the house. Light from the moon cast long shadows on the marble floor. Stopping, he scanned the room until his eyes landed on a door in the corner of the great room. It was open several inches. He stepped outside to scan the grounds.
Still on alert, he returned to the master—checking the hallway clock en route. It was 4:26 a.m. and he had less than an hour to finish.
Picking up his pace, he returned to the master, finished dressing, and thoroughly wiped down the entire suite. Next, he made his way to her home office which was an adjacent control room lit by dim lights. On one wall was a bank of small screens—each one connected to a camera that monitored her property.
The control panel clock read 4:44 a.m.. He had two stops before home.
Entering a password, he tapped a series of keys—erasing the computer’s hard-drive and shutting the system down. Satisfied, he turned off lights and quickly made his way to the kitchen, placing dishes in the dishwasher. As a final precaution, he wiped down anything he recalled touching and was about to leave when a thought bubbled up: her cell phone.
Looking in the kitchen, dining room, and office, he became frantic and returned to the bedroom to scan her writing desk, dresser, and bathroom.
Checking his watch, he saw it was 5:02 a.m..
Passing back through the house swiftly, he checked the bar, great room, and library.
Snapping his fingers, he recalled seeing her purse on the foyer table. Removing her phone from the purse, he swiped the screen.
With his mind racing, he returned to the bedroom and placed it in front of her face.
He found and erased specific photos, deleted several texts, then returned to the bedroom for a final touch. Retrieving and placing the bloody razor in her hand, he wrapped her fingers around the handle.
Her bedside clock read 5:21 a.m..
Finally, he took a souvenir from his pocket, placed it in her other hand, and closed tightly. Admiring his handiwork, he took one last photo, then leaning over, whispered, “Sweet dreams, love.”
Gathering his things and her remnants, he exited the back door and moved swiftly through the pool area before closing the gate and making his way down the driveway. At the end of the street, he spotted his rental.
Reaching into his bag for keys, he did not see a speeding car rounding the hairpin curve behind him. Looking up at the last second, he was momentarily blinded by high beams and stumbled backwards as the car swerved, narrowly missing him.The engine’s throaty roar and a blaring song punctuated the air as the driver downshifted into the next curve before disappearing into the night.
Passing through several beautiful and exclusive neighborhoods in the hills above Los Angeles, the man in black blended into the awakening traffic halfway between the murder scene and his home.
Miles away in a nondescript strip mall, he pulled up to a dumpster in the back. It was a procedure he had rehearsed earlier in the week. Double-checking for wandering eyes, he saw none. In fact, the only thing of note was a sign on the metal bin confirming pickup service in a couple hours. He tossed all bloody evidence and cleaning supplies in the oversized bin, then quietly disappeared.
Several dozen blocks later—in another string of repetitive shops— he approached a Goodwill dumpster. Its large mouth yawned open, waiting to devour a deposit of clothing. Thanks to the more-than-ample population of homeless in the neighborhood, he was confident all remaining items would disappear quickly and without a trace.
Once home, he poured a drink, slid open a wall of glass, and approached the pool which clung to the side of a cliff.
His eyes reflected the light shifting from night to day as he savored a vintage Scotch.
He replayed each step of the deed, meticulously analyzing the orchestrated chaos. Confident everything went as planned, he finally relaxed.
Staring into the Pacific, he inhaled the cool air, lifted his glass, and whispered, “Cheers, Mum.”