The next morning, we got up early, loaded up our stuff in our backpacks, and hopped back on the bikes for some more biking. They were mostly trails I’d been on dozens of times over the years. I made a resolution that sometime in the next few months I was going to take a trip up north and find some new challenges, some different terrain, and just see how good I did against the northern territory. I’d always loved pitting myself against nature. There was just something animalistic and primal about it.
We headed out of the desert and started the ride home a few hours later. It had been a pretty good trip. I always valued getting away from everything with some good friends. Jane had been almost happy about staying with the boys for a few days while I went away. She was still flirting with me and pretending not to. It was a game she was playing and I was well-versed in it. I’d seen women doing the same thing to friends of mine. Very few ever had the guts to try it with a man like me. That was the wealth factor. Most women were too intimidated by it to ever try to play me that way. It was too easy for me to say “No thanks” and move on. When it came to women I had nothing to lose and little to gain. They all knew it and I loved the power that my money gave me over people. Life wasn’t supposed to be that way, but it was and no one could ever really deny it no matter how hard they tried.
It all made me laugh to think about.
When I got back to the house I was expecting a warm greeting from Jane and the kids, but to my surprise the house was empty. I checked around but I was alone. After not finding any notes I double checked my phone to see if Jane had sent me any messages. She hadn’t.
Had she taken the boys somewhere and forgotten to mention it to me?
I sent a message and then grabbed a beer from the fridge. A second later I heard a buzz, like a phone receiving a message. I checked my phone but nothing. I hadn’t received anything, but I’d distinctly heard it. Did Jane leave her phone here when she left?
I walked into the living room to see if there was another phone around.
Instead I found Jane sitting on the couch by herself. She looked amazing. She was wearing a killer looking dress, red lipstick, her hair was done up nicely, and she had an almost angry look in her eyes. It was turning me on something fierce.
“Well, hello,” I said.
She didn’t move a muscle, not so much as an eye twitch. If she was playing poker, she had the best poker face I’d seen. And the sexiest.
“What’s going on? Where are the kids?” I asked.
“Sit down,” Jane said. “I have something to… discuss with you.”
She chose her words carefully, giving each one a lot of thought. I was instantly alarmed and very curious as to what was happening. As I sat down to play along I began to get the sinking feeling that I was not going to like what Jane had to tell me.
“Ok,” I said. “I’m seated. Now, what the hell is going on?”
“So, you want to know what is going on, Ted?” I asked.
I laughed a little bit as I reviewed the plan in my mind. It was like some stored movie image in my head. I saw him here, I saw myself telling him everything, and then I saw him crumbling before me. It was all planned out step by step and it was going to be glorious. I’d waited so long for it…so long. As I thought about how much time had passed since this bastard tried to end my life and take my world away, I couldn’t help gritting my teeth. I wanted to rip his flesh off his bones.
“Yeah…” Ted said. He was getting annoyed now. Good.
“You don’t’ recognize me at all? I guess, they did a better job than I thought.”
Ted looked me over for a second. “What are you talking about? What kind of game is this?”
“It’s only a game if you have a chance of winning. I assure you that you have no such chance.”
Ted took a sip of his beer. “Look, if this is about me hitting on you, I understand—”
“This has to do with you destroying my life!” I yelled.
“What are you talking about, Jane?”
“Jane? Oh, yeah. I’m still not quite used to that. You see people who really know me, who are really close to me—they call me… Leia.”
At the mention of my name Ted’s eyes froze wide in his skull. He did not move a muscle. The look was perfect, priceless. I would never forget it if I lived a thousand lives. It would be permanently locked in my head.