Home > The Kind Worth Killing(11)

The Kind Worth Killing(11)
Peter Swanson

But it wasn’t off. We did get married. Not a week later but a year.

“Do you think she was playing me from the beginning?” I asked Lily. The plane had taken off, and we were in that peculiar bubble known as air travel, between countries, speeding at a terrifying velocity at ice-cold heights, yet lulled by fake air and soft seats and the steady purr of engineering.

“Probably.”

“But the way she approached me . . . the way she brought up how rich I was right from the beginning. It seemed like a joke to her, like something she would never say if she were trying to land a husband.”

“Reverse psychology. Bring it up right away, and she looks innocent, somehow.”

I was silent, thinking about it.

“Hey,” she continued. “Just because she used you doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have feelings for you, that you don’t have a good time together.”

“We did have a good time together. And now she’s having a good time with someone else.”

“What does she get out of Brad, do you think?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“What’s the angle? She’s risking the marriage. Even if she gets half, she probably won’t get her dream beach house that she’s building. Being with Brad could wreck it for her.”

“I’ve thought a lot about this. At first I thought she was in love with him, but now I don’t think she really loves anyone. I think she’s bored. She’s obviously done with me, except as a source of income. She’s not going to change, and she’s still young and beautiful enough to hurt countless people. Maybe I really should kill her, just to remove her from the world.”

I turned toward my neighbor but didn’t look her in the eye. Her arms were folded on her lap, and I saw goose bumps spread along the exposed skin of her arms. Was the airplane making her cold, or was it me?

“You would be doing the world a favor,” she said, her voice quiet enough that I had to lean toward her a little as I raised my eyes. “I honestly believe that. Like I said before, everyone is going to die eventually. If you killed your wife you would only be doing to her what would happen anyway. And you’d save other people from her. She’s a negative. She makes the world worse. And what she’s done to you is worse than death. Everyone dies, but not everyone has to see someone they love with another person. She struck the first blow.”

In the circle of yellow from the reading light I could see flecks of many different colors in the pale green of her eyes. She blinked, her papery eyelids mottled with pink. The closeness of our faces felt more intimate than sex, and I was as surprised by our sudden eye contact as I would have been had I suddenly discovered her hand down my pants.

“How would I do it?” I asked, and felt goose bumps break out along my own limbs.

“In such a way that you don’t get caught.”

I laughed, and the temporary spell was broken. “That easy?”

“That easy.”

“Another drink, sir?” The flight attendant, a towering, slim-hipped brunette with bright pink rouge, was holding a hand toward my empty glass.

I wanted one, but turning my head toward the attendant had caused a sudden rush of dizziness, and I declined, asking for a water instead. When I turned back, my neighbor was yawning, her arms outstretched, finger pads touching the back of the soft seat in front of her.

“You’re tired,” I said.

“A little. Let’s keep talking, though. This is the most interesting conversation I’ve had on a plane.”

A prickle of doubt passed through me. Was I just an interesting conversation? I could hear her talking to a friend the next day: You’re not going to believe this guy I met at the airport . . . Freak told me all about how he planned on killing his wife. As though reading my thoughts, she touched my arm with her hand. “Sorry,” she said. “That sounded flip. I’m taking this seriously, or as seriously as you’d like me to take it. We’re playing a game of truth, remember, and truthfully I don’t have a moral problem with you killing your wife. She misrepresented herself to you. She used you, married you. She took the money you earned, and now she’s cheating on you with a man who is also taking your money. She deserves whatever she gets as far as I’m concerned.”

“Jesus. You’re not kidding.”

“I’m not. But I’m just someone you don’t know sitting next to you on a plane. You need to decide for yourself. There’s a big difference between wanting to kill your wife, and actually doing it, and there’s an even bigger difference between killing someone and getting away with it.”

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