Saturday 12 – Sunday 13 October 2013
Through the skylight and stained glass windows, twisted light formed patterns on the floor, equalling and, in some cases exceeding, the beauty of the art works hanging on the walls, and decorating the halls of the Rossini Gallery. Wade Aitcheson smiled as he studied the paintings in the Carmel Room, each one a prized acquisition that he’d personally overseen and made. No other room in the gallery appealed to him the way this room did, and every day he made a point of spending time in it, revelling in the joy that particular room brought him.
He stopped in front of his latest acquisition – a garish piece in reds, oranges, and pinks, and created by a local artist who, it seemed to Wade, no one but he understood. Certainly the board of the gallery had failed to appreciate or understand the greatness that Wade saw in the young woman, and Chief Executive Officer, Dorothy Piner, had definitely grasped a-hold of the wrong idea, implying that Wade had designs on the artist.
‘Jesus, Dorothy,’ he’d snapped when Piner had pushed him for a reason for purchasing the painting, ‘she’s a kid.’
‘Precisely, Wade, so you need to keep it in your pants,’ she’d replied.
‘I have no intention of, of . . .doing whatever it is you think I’m capable of doing.’
‘Oh please, Wade, don’t insult me by playing the offended party. We both know exactly what you’re capable of doing, and how often you’ve done it to up and coming, impressionable young female artists. And a few well established older ones too.’
It was true that he’d had relationships with artists in the past, but it wasn’t as if he intentionally set out to form anything other than a business relationship with those women. He just had one of those faces that made people feel comfortable to be around him, and comfortable to disclose everything about themselves. And Wade was not one to disappoint, making himself approachable and available to whomever needed to chat. Still, whatever had happened in the past with women was not going to happen with this artist. It couldn’t happen with her.
He moved along to the next painting, also by the same artist, leaned in close to the piece, and examined her signature. Erica Keen was pristinely painted with a steady hand in the bottom right hand corner of the piece she had called Storm Wind. It was hidden amongst the blue, green, and purple swirls that could have been mistaken for hideously malformed peacock feathers. Wade didn’t think that this was one of her best pieces, but it was better than a lot of the pieces by better established artists that the Rossini Gallery had bought, and Keen’s pieces were considerably cheaper too.
Wade drew his gaze away from the painting and looked at his watch. He was already fifteen minutes late for the anniversary dinner that Nora had made him promise he’d be on time for, and by the time he’d make it home he’d be closer to an hour and a quarter late. She would make him pay for being late; her silence would be the price. He pulled his cell phone from his jacket pocket and selected his home number. It rang several times before Nora answered.
‘Hey honey, I’m on my way home,’ he lied, ‘but I’m caught in traffic at the moment.’ Wade expected her to reply but there was only silence on the other end of the line.
‘Nora? Are you there?’ he asked. Again, he was met with silence. ‘Nora, come on, you can’t answer the phone and then give me the silent treatment.’
‘Nora can’t come to the phone at the moment, Wade.’ It was a voice that Wade was not expecting.
‘Who is this? Where’s my wife?’
‘Like I said, Nora can’t come to the phone right now. But don’t worry Wade, while you’re still stuck at work because that’s where you choose to be on your anniversary, looking at all those new acquisitions, I’m here, at your house, entertaining your wife. Well, maybe entertaining is too polite a word for what I’m about to do to her. The entertainment is more for my benefit. I really don’t think she’s going to enjoy a single second of it.’
‘What the hell?’ Wade said, fear rapidly rising within him. ‘Who are you?’
‘By the time you get home, Wade, Nora might never be available to come to the phone again.’
The call was disconnected before he could press any further for an answer.
Wade dialled 9-1-1, and while he waited for an operator to take his call, he ran from through gallery to the foyer.
‘Dave, I need you to lock up tonight,’ he yelled as he passed the veteran security guard, who responded with a nod and a wave.
‘Late for your anniversary again, Mr. Aitcheson? Can’t imagine Mrs. Aitcheson will be too pleased with you,’ Dave called out. Wade stumbled to a halt, and spun around on his heels.
‘How’d you know it’s our anniversary, Dave?’ he asked.
‘Read it in the society pages of the paper today, sir.’
As Wade turned and ran for the parking garage, his call to the emergency operator was put through.
‘What is the nature of your emergency?’
‘I think someone is going to kill my wife . . . ’
. . . To be continued . . .