I see Betty stirring in bed. She will soon wake up. I see her slightly moving form and am aroused again. She is beautiful, the most beautiful thing I have ever touched, and soon I will have enough money to make the next big move in our relationship. I am sitting by the bed, waiting for her to wake up, envisioning what I will do with the money I will get.
But my fanciful mind is arrested by the doorbell.
When I come to the door, I see Winsome pacing around outside the door. I am instantly happy on seeing him. My dream is coming true! I gladly open the door to him.
“I made a mistake,” he sputters as he comes in. “I made a terrible mistake.”
“What mistake?” I ask.
“But the good news first. Soon I will be here with the legal documentation. The Grange House and all their fortune passes on to you.”
I want to do cartwheels right there, but I check myself. There is no way I can explain to him how I planned for getting this news all along, so I just play dumb. Whatever his mistake is, he can go to hell with it. I do not care. My mission is accomplished.
“That’s a good thing, isn’t it?” I ask him snidely. “And to think—everything comes to the adopted son! The act of charity went too far, don’t you think?”
“Oh, but that’s the point!” he exclaims. “That’s the whole point. You are not the adopted son.”
I look at him incredulously.
“I am such a bad lawyer for depending on my assistants to do the paperwork. Eddie for Edmund, Eddie for Edgar… He kept on saying Eddie all the time, but my stupid, stupid head could not make the difference. Pig-headed me! You, Mr. Edgar Grange are the true-begotten son of Mr. Theodore Grange.”
I keep quiet, waiting for him to go on.
“It’s your brother, Edmund! He was the adopted son. Theodore Grange was indeed your father, not his.”
While Winsome is just walking out of the house, while I am still reeling from the shock, the cops come to the house again. They do not need to knock for the door is ajar.
“We have come to hand over the possessions of your brother Mr. Edmund Grange to you,” one of them says, proffering me a box. “Would you please sign here?” I mechanically do the needful.
Dispatching Winsome and the policemen, and holding the box of my dead brother’s belongings, I go up to the bedroom. Betty is still not fully awake.
I start investigating the belongings. As I remove one article after another, I feel the reality of losing my brother overcome me, regardless of how distant our relationship was.
And, rummaging through his possessions, at the bottom of it all, I see the letter.
It has been badly opened, probably during the investigation, but it is still all here.
I unfold it and read it one more time.
The payment is due.
And I don’t know how or why, but I feel a very strong feeling stirring within me. Suddenly, in a trice, it is like my hands aren’t mine, my feet aren’t mine. Like an automaton, I get up and go to the bathroom, where I know I keep a pair of scissors. I take them in my hand.
Through the open bathroom door, I can see the sleeping form of Betty. So innocent and ignorant. I almost feel pity on her. And then, I see myself in the bathroom mirror in front of me.
The letter is on the bed, but it faces me, stares at me, mocks me. I am lost in it. And even as I am seeing it, lost in its yellowness, I feel a strange force taking possession of me.
It comes to me like a snap, and then there is nothing.