Brian felt that the moon was unusually bright as he glanced at the pool shimmering in the silver glow of the moonlight.He lit a cigarette and sank back into the easy chair. “The pool looks inviting , do you want to take a dip?“, Esther asked as she refilled her drink.
He shook his head.”But don’t let me spoil the fun, the pool is all yours” , he added.
“Ah…nothing is fun when you do it alone” Esther sighed and took another sip from her glass.
Brian shrugged.An uncomfortable silence followed. Esther leaned backwards and closed her eyes.
“Tell me about your ex husbands…?“,Brian said after a while.
“What about them?” , Esther sounded amused.
“What were they like?“
Esther smiled showing her perfect teeth. “Well, they were all just a bunch of boring men.“
“Like me?” he raised his eyebrows.
She laughed.” No Brian, what makes you say that. I haven’t met a soul as interesting as you are“
Hah, as if she had not said the exact same phrase to each one of her dumb ex husbands, he thought while trying hard not to look smug.
“How many were there?” he asked again.
She closed her eyes for a minute before answering.”Six, there were six of them.Six unworthy men, six grave mistakes of mine“
“So, I am the seventh!“, he muttered to no one.
“Oh no Brian!” Esther exclaimed. “You are not. I insist, please don’t degrade yourself“
He tried to smile, but ended up with a awkward constipated look.
“I don’t like that look on your face, Brian! Please believe me..you are very special” Her tone was too fierce for his liking.
He waited for an explanation, but nothing followed.
“And all the six died unexpectedly?” He tried to hide the quiver in his voice.
“Yeah, it was quite unfortunate” Yet,she did not sound very unhappy about it. He waited again,but she did not offer any elaboration.
“How did the first one die?” her silence did not discourage him.
“Riding accident, fell off the horse back, hit his head hard and kabooom….dead…” Her face was unreadable.
“And the second one drowned?” He asked again.
“No, that was the third one.Second one died of drug over dose.He was an addict “, she took the last gulp from her glass,tore her eyes off the pool and slowly turned to face him.
“And the fourth?” he asked,looking away.
“Ah..I see that my dead husbands have caught your fancy” Esther laughed as she fixed a drink for him..
“Now where were we?…yeah, the fourth one.He died in a car accident.Yeah, that fool was dead drunk! Head on head collision, never stood a chance“.
He took a few urgent sips from the glass she passed over.
“The fifth one committed suicide, for reasons that I still haven’t comprehended.” She continued, her eyes still fixed on him. “It was all very hard on me Brian, very hard.Pills, therapies, alcohol….nothing helped, nothing comforted me.My life was all messed up, that was until I met you“.She paused for a minute, waiting him to respond.
“I am sorry..” Brian muttered when the silence became eerie.
“Sorry that you met me?” Esther laughed again. Her laughter sounding like the tinkling of a wind chime, sweet and spooky at the same time.
“No..no..” Brian added quickly..”not that..I am sorry that you had to go through all those“
“Oh honey…relax…I know..I know what you meant…I was just kidding..”she smiled and added slowly.”Sometimes you take things way too much in to your head.”
Those words sent a chill up his spine for no particular reason.
She refilled her glass, took a sip and continued.
“And my sixth husband…he had it coming. I had warned him a bunch of times that he had to be careful with the company he kept.They found his body below a bridge, throat slit open. I know for sure that his brainless,reckless friends had croaked him over some silly arguments, though I have no proofs against them” She fell silent again, her eyes fixed at the bright round moon.
Brian gave her a side wise glance. The way she referred to her husbands only in numbers disturbed him,as if they were not human beings at all, as if they were something lesser, something unimportant. How could she be so casual about their death, did it even effect her? Even though she had emphasized that the string of events had broken her, he had a hard time believing that.
Esther-the strong, bold, independent, wise Esther. Could she love anyone but herself?Did anything matter to her? Its been only three months since they had married, but Brian had started seriously doubting his decision.
They had met at a camp site eight months before. The whirlwind romance had ended up in a sudden marriage. Before the marriage, he never had a clue that she was filthy rich. But when he found out, he couldn’t believe his luck. Brian had never been financially sound, let alone rich.A beautiful, rich wife with a hell lot of personality, he believed that he had struck jackpot.
The initial ecstasy had soon paved way to suspicions. As days passed, Esther perplexed him even more. She was a complex layer of mysteries, shady and unusual.And yes, six dead husbands ! It did not sound much of a coincidence to him.And yes, then he heard people talk, about the possibilities and motives.
“Seems like you are lost in a world of your own” Esther’s words woke him up from his thoughts.
He gave her a reluctant smile.
“They are dead Brian. Dead and forgotten. As I said, I had been too hasty to make my decision.I was blind in love. They never deserved me.“
When he did not respond she continued.
“I know that you have been hearing rumors.People have been very unkind to me, Brian. If I had a hand in any of those deaths, do you think I would be roaming scot free ?All of those deaths were thoroughly investigated, if the authorities had even a piece of evidence against me….“, her voice trailed off. After a minute she rose from the chair and made her way back to the mansion.
Brian wanted to believe her. But the more he tried to swallow her version of stories, the more confused he became. He knew he couldn’t live like this.He had to get away, far from Esther. But the thought of leaving the luxuries his new life offered him did not appeal to him at all.How could he go back to this old frugal life? He knew what he had to do, act before Esther decided he had lived enough. He had to give her a taste of her own medicine. But it was dangerous. He knew how hard it would be to cover his tracks after he did what he thought he should do.
He needed a plan, he needed a plan without any loop holes.