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Queen of Swords: a novel

Chapter II – Death

I always knew she murdered my father. Does evil have a smell? Only eleven percent of people can detect the odor of cyanide. Almonds. But I am one of the eleven percent. I guess I have a nose for evil. Something about Charmian twitched my nostrils from the beginning. Charmian! That name is fake like everything else about her – nails, hair, eyes, breasts; fake, fake, fake. And my poor idiot father, who raised me to know quality and to seek it out, to insist on value, to treasure worth and reward effort – said he didn’t give a damn about Charmian’s past – who or where she had been.

Didn’t care that she was forty years younger! Or was it what was left of his dick that didn’t care? My older sisters were much more pragmatic about his dick of clay. They had husbands, children, they were grown and gone. Out of the house. In fact they said all men had clay dicks. McKenzie says every man’s ideal woman is a Vegas stripper. Darby says hookers work hard and earn their money just like everyone else. McKenzie says old men are a lot of work, and Darby says Dad treated Mom like crap and karma is a bitch.

I don’t remember. I was still little when she died. I took his side, always. He was the fun parent, giver of candy and prizes. He pointed out to me how logical he was and how stupid she was; why should I ever join her team? Dad and I read hero books; Beowulf, the Iliad, Genji, Gilgamesh. He encouraged the highest aspirations. I was the son he never had and didn’t need, because he had me. Then came the stroke. He needed help. No biggie, basic assistance. He didn’t want to help from me; he said I had my own life to live. I should have worried more when he hired Charmian. She was totally unqualified.

She was dangerous. Anyone could see. Every layer I’ve peeled back is perfidious and I don’t think I’ve hit bottom yet. I learned it from you, dad. You were so demanding, such a skeptic. My father was a doctor, a teacher, a diagnostician. Whenever I say my last name everyone asks, any relation to Dr. Quantreau? His whole ethos was to look beneath the surface – never settle for the obvious – take full note of signs and portents. Intelligent people have the obligation to educate themselves until they understand what they’re up against.

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m going t catch her and expose her. After they married he kicked me out of the house – she kicked me out – and he had no protections. I thought I had more time. When nobody was looking she finished him off.

I didn’t tell my sisters. I should have seen it coming. felt too guilty. So it’s up to me to do the dirty work. But is it really “dirty work” when it concerns someone you love? Dad, the raging unbeliever who taught me how to make the most of every second we are given, was tricked into lapsing gently into the dark night. How could you have disappeared so completely from the lovely earth you taught me how to savor? Exactly as if you had never been here at all.

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