“Come in,” said Mr. Wilhelm.
Chantal opened the door and walked in, holding both coffee cups in one quavering hand. She handed one to me. I accepted it with a bubbly, girl-specific thank you routine. Then she moved to Mr. Wilhelm’s side of the desk and handed his drink to him.
“Thank you, Chantal,” he said, taking a sip. “One more thing.” Mr. Wilhelm stood up, just barely pushing the chair back, and lifted the paperweight off the stack of envelopes. He handed one to Chantal. “Does this address look right to you?”
“Um…” she said, closely inspecting it, “I think so.”
“Take your time,” said Mr. Wilhelm.
Chantal studied it again. “Mr. Wilhelm, I don’t – ”
In a fraction of a second, he arched his arm back, swung it forward, and smashed the paperweight straight into her left temple. It made a sound like a huge water balloon dropping on pavement; but instead of water, blood spattered everywhere. Chantal banged her head on the side of the desk as she dropped to the floor, cracking her skull. Dark purple blood gushed from what had to be a burst artery. (My best guess, the middle meningeal; I Googled it later.)
She lay on the floor, twitching for a few seconds, blood gurgling in her throat. The blood vessels in her eyes had ruptured, flooding them with red. Her skull pierced her skin from the inside out, releasing torrents of blood. Soon she stopped twitching, stopped choking, stopped blinking. She died with her eyes fixed on me, as if I had anything to do with it.
Now I know why Mr. Wilhelm chose red carpet.
He watched her for a moment, then lost interest. Instead, he turned his attention back to me.
“You know, I’ve done my homework on you, Tess.”
“August 30th, 2011.” He pulled several sheets of paper, all stapled together, from the now red-stained portfolio. “You were administered a psychological evaluation by a certain Dr. Francis Genevisi, Psy.D.”
“I thought those were confidential,” I said.
He raised an eyebrow. “Do you really think that’s going to stop me?”
I said nothing.
“Why don’t you read the highlighted section?” He handed me the papers.
I sighed. What else was I going to do? “’The data describes Tess as being highly sensitive, at times argumentative, suspicious, and at times rejecting emotional ties,’” I read. “’Overall, the data reveals, as indicated above, a significant level of psychopathology both of an acute nature as well as of a characterologic nature.’”
The second I finished, he ripped the packet out of my hands so quickly that I got a papercut.
“Characterologic?” he mused. “I didn’t even know that was a word.”
“They’re psychiatrists,” I said. “They make shit up all the time.” I pressed my thumb over the small cut to stop the minor bleeding. At least it didn’t hurt.