Title: That’s Why
Fandom: Mary Higgins Clark
Summary: A serial killer’s thoughts as he is in the process of attempting to dispatch one of his victims.
Author’s Notes: I’m travelling off the beaten path here with a fic based on a novel by Mary Higgins Clark titled ‘You Belong to Me’. This story will obviously contain SPOILERS for the identity of the killer in that novel.
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Mary Higgins Clark and publisher Simon & Schuster. I’ve just borrowed them for the purposes of this story. I am making no money from this story.
I may be mad,
I may be blind,
I may be viciously unkind,
But I can still read what you’re thinking.
Why -- Annie Lenox
There are two sides to Alex Wright. One is the side that is usually on display: the public, dignified face of my father’s gift to the world, the Wright Foundation. (The Wright Library; Wright Museum of Arts; Wright Center for the Performing Arts).
The other side is one only a handful of people have seen, and they are all dead now. That is the side I hope to put away very soon, at least until I have completed my mission.
The Alex Wright known to the public normally eschews large functions, which allows me a certain amount of anonymity. I detest the ‘eligible bachelor’ classification. Those that travel in these rarefied circles of the wealthy elite respect me for my practiced aloofness, which is exactly the impression I desire to attain. For who would ever connect the quiet and reserved head of one the largest philanthropic foundations with a serial killer?
I’m not one to ‘toot my own horn’, but I’m responsible for much of the family foundation’s growth in the past decade. I sign away millions of dollars in grants and charitable contributions to ‘worthy causes’ on a regular basis. Millions.
But I can touch none of it myself.
Those millions – nay – that billion the Foundation is now worth is my money. Or at least it should have been mine. But my father’s second wife, Gerie, convinced him to immortalize himself. She convinced him that by starting the Foundation, his name would stand forever. Money that should have been mine is money I routinely sign away.
That’s why I wanted to kill Gerie.
Gerie. From the moment my father married her, I hated her. I daresay she hated me, too, since I tried unsuccessfully to persuade my father not to marry her. Clearly, the old man was going senile. How else could he have married someone thirty-five years his junior? They met on a cruise, and she claimed she was a lonely widow. But could he not see that she was a conniving gold-digger?!
I was blind with rage that she had the audacity to pass away before I could carry out my sweet revenge against her, before I could rid myself of her on my own terms. Her insidious campaign against me meant that my rightful inheritance evaporated before my eyes.
Now I work to purge Gerie’s sins. Gerie, whose wiles duped my foolish father into marrying her; just thinking about her girlish tendencies makes my blood boil.
I’ve spent the last five years of my life searching for Gerie. She’s always easy to spot on the cruises I take when I’m on the prowl. She’s always alone, and she’s always lonely. That’s how I found Veronica, Regina, Constance, and Monica. However, I’m not fooled by that façade of loneliness. All these women, like Gerie, adopted this front to ensnare people like my father. And for that, they all deserve to die.
There has been one snag in my plans for pinning down the last victim that will complete my mission. That person is Dr. Susan Chandler, a clinical psychologist and host of an advice radio show. She’s bright, attractive and interesting, but it won’t be enough to save her. Susan has brought this on herself. She should never have used her radio show to start investigating Regina’s disappearance. Because of her curiosity regarding what happened to Regina, Susan has made things very complicated for me.
Once Susan is dead, of course, I won’t have anything to worry about. And she’ll be dead very soon. In fact, I’m tingling with anticipation as the moment I kill her swiftly nears.
Susan doesn’t know I’m here, waiting in the supply closet of her office. I caught a whiff of her perfume as she passed by, her arms loaded with the already opened package of photographs she sent away for from Ocean Cruise Limited. She thinks she’ll find the face of Regina’s killer somewhere in those photos. Well, she’s half right.
I’ve got everything here that I need: Rope, duct tape, a paperweight from her desk, and my favourite – the long plastic bag that will become her shroud.
Susan is now scrutinizing the photos. I know she’s looking for that one picture that was taken of one of my attempted victims – a picture where I happened to be in the background. She won’t find it of course, since I’ve already removed it. I can hear her flipping through them. She must be getting frustrated by now.
That’s my cue. Silently, I slip out of the closet. Behind her now, I can see her bent over the desk, hundreds of photos scattered about.
I hear her exasperation as she says: “Why, of all of them, is that one missing?”
And I have a ready reply: “Because I have it, Susan.”
Her breath catches in her throat as she spins around in surprise and shock, and I slam the paperweight into the side of her head. Susan drops to the floor unceremoniously and is down for the count.
Quickly, I get to work. I straighten her out, and dim the lights. Ideally, I like to have candlelight for this part of my mission, but it’s not possible this time around. I grab a cushion from one of the couches and place it under Susan’s head. I can allow her to be comfortable, for now. I bind her with the rope, wrapping it all around her body so she’s almost completely immobilized. As I do with the others, I’m also going to tell Susan why she’s going to die. I want her, like I wanted the others, to understand my logic.
Ah, she’s shifting about slightly, and I hear her sigh softly. She’s starting to come ‘round.
So, I start revealing to her why she’s now going to join Constance, Veronica, Monica and Regina. I tell her about Gerie’s treachery.
I know what Susan is thinking. She thinks I’m insane. She thinks she can see in my eyes glints of madness. She is a psychologist, after all. But she can probably never understand, even as I try to explain it to her. I explained it to all of the women who belonged to me, but I doubt it ever really sunk in, you know?
She’s now trying to convince me not to kill her, but nothing is going to prevent me from accomplishing my mission. I’m going to exorcise my demons. I’m going to rid myself of Gerie’s deceit.
The phone rings, and I stop dead in my tracks: it is that pathetic shrink that was on her show when Susan dared to bring up Regina’s case. Hmm…he actually sounds very concerned about her.
He leaves a message that he’s on his way. Too bad he won’t get here in time.
“It’s time,” I say to Susan. Swiftly, I pull the bag all the way over her face and head and I seal it.
Her eyes are wide with fright. My only regret is that I won’t be able to stick around to observe my favourite part: watching as the plastic begins to stick to her mouth and nose as all the air still left inside the bag is slowly depleted. Normally I watch as that final struggle begins, as I have with all my victims. As I watch them, I imagine I’m watching Gerie gasp for breath. I picture Gerie’s eyes bulging, and eventually glazing over in death.
I tell Susan that she’ll expire long before that shrink who’s so interested in her can get to her. Ten minutes at least. I let her know that was how long Regina lasted. Just figured she’d like to know, since she was so terribly interested in Regina’s fate.
I shove her under her desk, just in case someone happens to peek into her office. I turn off the lights completely and lock the door, as a final precaution. If that shrink actually does come out here, he’ll most likely think Susan has gone home for the night.
I can’t wait to hear the news tomorrow, headlines screaming that ‘Popular Radio Host Found Dead in Office’. I’ll be long gone by then, off to eliminate my final victim, who just happens to be Susan’s ‘lonely’ sister, widow Dee. I don’t think she’ll be lonely much longer, and my revenge will be complete.