Red Orchids Ch. 05bybluefox07©
"As with the previous two chapters, these final two installments are actually one chapter split in half for the sake of an easier read. Thanks again for all your support."
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It was shortly after two in the morning when the doorbell to Henry's apartment began ringing repeatedly. Henry bolted upright in the dark of his bedroom and almost fell out of bed as his legs flipped to the side of the mattress. The sheet caught around his ankles and he thought he might fall to the floor and break a hip. At age fifty, it wasn't out of the realm of possibility. He grasped the bed and steadied himself as his heart pounded in his chest.
"What the hell?" he rubbed his eyes and looked at the ungodly hour burning brightly in the LED display of his alarm clock. He staggered out of the bedroom and through his living room, catching his leg on the corner of the couch. Henry cursed and hobbled on until he reached the front door. Through the peephole he saw the funhouse mirror image of Mark Gordian looking back at him. Henry sighed and braced his head against the door.
"Oh God," he groaned and shook his head, "What did I do to deserve this?"
"Henry!" Mark called through the door, "Henry it's me! Open up!"
Henry debated whether or not let him in. This was, after all, the man who had been essentially blackmailing him for years now over his voyeurism of Ellen Gordian. Mark had spelled out the conditions of his silence first half hour after the incident involving his "self-gratification" at Ellen's expense. Mark had used Henry to carry on with his affairs and all the time, even as he cheated on Ellen and disgraced her. And while all this happening, he still acted as though he were offended by Henry's act. It was as though Henry's indiscretion was more hideous and unforgivable than a husband cheating on his wife.
"Henry please!" Mark called and knocked on the door.
"Shit," he grunted and opened the door.
"Henry!" Mark pushed his way in and closed the door tight, locking it behind him. Henry was surprised to Mark looking not only very pale, his usually dark Hispanic features turned a ghostly white but also to see that his eyes were pried open as wide as dinner plates. He looked around the room, as though trying to see if Henry were alone. Marks clothes were rumpled and disheveled as he paced the living room.
"Mark," Henry rubbed his eyes, "It is two in the morning."
"I'm in trouble," Mark said flatly.
"I knew that already," Henry commented dryly and thought of his confession to Ellen. That was his ace in the hole. Mark had been threatening to tell Ellen about the incident, and that was what had kept Henry in line for so long. But now that Ellen knew, and that she wasn't mad about it, Henry had some room to maneuver. He asked, "What is going on? You look like shit."
"You remember that waitress from the Starlight Café?" Mark looked at him wildly, "You remember how I told you about the chef from Alessandro's?"
"Yeah," Henry frowned and felt a draft across his feet. He hugged his bare chest and sat down on the couch, his gray sweats warm and comfortable.
"The waitress I was fucking is the one who died a little while back," Mark told him, "She was killed right after we talked that morning."
"You mean the morning you threatened me and then proceeded to fuck your prize student for an hour in your office?" Henry clarified.
"Henry," Mark sat down, his voice breaking, "The chef, Emma... Oh my God, Henry."
"She's dead," Mark whispered, "Someone cut her fucking head off."
Henry felt his blood go cold, "What?"
"They're both dead," Mark exclaimed, "And both are connected to me! What am I going to do!?"
Henry looked at Mark, "Call the police."
"I can't call the fucking police," Mark shouted, "They'll suspect me."
"Did you do it?"
"You mother fucker how can you even say that?"
"Hey," Henry shot back, "Two women you've been sleeping with have been killed. One way or another they're going to connect you to them. You think not going to the police is going to help? What the fuck is wrong with you?"
"I didn't do it, Henry," Mark raised his hands peacefully, "I'm sorry I yelled, okay? I'm sorry."
"Mark," Henry shook his head and ran his fingers through his white hair, "Call the police."
"I can't do that, you don't understand."
"Is there more to this?"
Mark knew if he revealed he had slept with not one but two murder victims just days prior to their death, he would be exposed. And if they checked his phone records from the office against Alicia and Emma, it would look even worse. And then if the cops dug any further and found the numbers he had called to price a hitman for Ellen, he would be in even deeper. It was all falling apart around him, his whole life completely screwed thanks to some asshole that wanted to ruin him.
"What if the killer goes after me next?"
Henry replied, "What if the killer goes after your student fuck buddy? Or Ellen and Maddie?"
Mark felt his stomach sink. If Ellen died, it would be no great loss. But Maddie, his little baby girl in harms way because of him? And what about Shannon? And Marlene? Mark wanted to crawl under a rock and die, "I have really fucked up."
"Who is the student you've been porking?"
"Marlene Henson," Mark sighed, his chin in his hand, "She needed a good grade in my class for a scholarship."
"And you decided to help her out," Henry said.
"You know, Ellen could always find out what you did if you want to get smart," Mark warned.
"Call her," Henry picked up the phone from the end table and pressed the call button, "Give her a buzz and tell her."
Mark looked doubtful, uncertain as to what he should do.
"I told her," Henry took a deep breath, "I told her everything this morning, including what I did. So fuck you, Mark. I'm done playing this goddam game."
"What?" he hissed, "You fucking told her? What the fuck is wrong with you?"
"I realized it was time to face the music," Henry said, feeling his confidence and dignity return, "That's what happened. I couldn't live with you as a warden anymore."
"You've ruined me," Mark marveled in complete disgust, "I come to you for help and you totally fuck me."
"You fucked yourself," Henry stood up and slammed the phone on the table, "You had gold in your hand, you stupid asshole. Ellen is the perfect wife and Maddie is the perfect daughter and it wasn't enough for you. You want me to feel sorry for you? You want me to help you out of this jam? Fuck you."
"You don't want this to get ugly Henry," Mark met his eyes with a glare that smoldered with more than just hate, "You want to play rough? Fine Henry. We'll play rough."
Henry got the distinct impression Mark was about to hit him. He stepped back and said, "So what then? You kill me? You beat me up? What Mark?"
Mark stared at him, trying to reassert his dominance.
"For a man who is worried about being pinned for murders he didn't commit, you seem awfully to quick to resort to violence," Henry said.
Mark took a deep breath, "I am not going to take the fall for this."
He thought of the red orchids that the police had found with Alicia and the one he had found with Emma's decapitated body. Marlene always left a red orchid for him whenever she wanted to meet him. Mark almost staggered back as he realized the truth. He cursed himself for not having seen it sooner. The suspicion was all at once upon him and his laughed to himself. It was Marlene. That bitch was a lunatic out for blood, and Mark had practically given her permission to set him up for a fall.
It had to be her.
"Marlene," Mark whispered, "It has to be Marlene."
"What are you talking about?"
"The red orchids..."
"She killed them," Mark said more to himself than anyone.
"Mark," Henry said, "Marlene was with you that morning. How could she have killed Alicia?"
Mark frowned, "She had a partner?"
"Even if she did, how did the partner find out who you were with?"
Mark felt like screaming. Henry had a point. There was no way anyone could have known Alicia was phone fucking him that quickly and then gotten over to her apartment. The police said she died minutes after Mark had hung up the phone. He rubbed his temples. Mark felt like crying.
"How did they find out about Emma?" Henry asked.
"No one could have known," Mark said quietly, his voice defeated, "I didn't tell anybody her name."
"Look," Henry said diplomatically, "Let's go take you home and we'll talk to Ellen about all this. Just come clean, Mark. Maybe we can figure this out."
Mark though for a moment. Even if Ellen did forgive him for what he had done, and even if he was cleared as a suspect the fact of the matter was that he would still be with Ellen and he wouldn't get any of the inheritance he so desperately wanted. He would be back to square one. Mark felt his world slipping away from him as his well-laid plans became a chaotic wreck of crushed hopes and dreams. He looked at his hands and then had a thought.
The idea formed in his mind, deeply dark and malicious as his desperation gave birth to a brilliantly bold plan. Indeed, no one could have known about Alicia or Emma in the time it took to commit the murders. In light of that, he would be a prime suspect. The police would theorize he had a partner as well and come after him. Someone was trying to frame him, of that he was certain. So Mark began to consider passing the buck on before it was his turn to pay.
What if Ellen had known? What if Ellen had found out about his infidelity? What if she had gone crazy with jealousy and picked off the unsuspecting mistresses one by one until she finally came to Mark himself. It was possible she could have known about the orchids if she had been listening in on his conversations. It was plausible she followed him to Alicia's house or even to Emma's, thus she would know where they lived. It was entirely possible that Ellen Gordian was a killer. And even if she wasn't, if Mark could set her up to take the fall then he would not only have his money, but he would be rid of Ellen and free from any suspicion.
Desperate times certainly called for desperate measures.
And for Mark Gordian, these were desperate times.
"Henry," Mark swallowed, feeling his heart race with an unnatural adrenaline, "You're right. Let's go find Ellen and tell her everything."
Henry looked surprised. "Really?"
"Yes," Mark looked at his shoes, his face soaked with guilt, "I see now. I get what you're saying. Will you go with me?"
Henry wasn't sure for a moment, but then said, "All right. I'll go."
Mark smiled appreciatively as Henry got dressed in the bathroom. As soon as the shower turned on and Henry was in, Mark slipped down his hallway and to Henry's bedroom. The closet door opened easily and Mark searched frantically through the top shelf of the closet. He went as quickly as he could without leaving a mess searching for the key to his impromptu miracle. It was only five minutes later, after having searched the closet and dresser drawers that he felt under Henry's bed and found the cool steel of the sig-9mm handgun.
Mark grabbed one of Henry's socks from the dresser, a black dress sock made of a thin fine material, and picked the gun up. Using the sock as a glove, he checked the magazine of the gun. The weapon was fully loaded. He smiled to himself and knew there was no turning back now. He gently placed the gun in his coat pocket, being careful not to leave any of his prints on the weapon. He stuffed the sock into the pocket with the gun and then hurried back to the living room.
"Hurry up, old man," Mark paced the living room, circling the couch, "Time's short."
Ellen Gordian woke up from her sleep both feeling sore and sick. The tequila shots had battered her stomach hard, but nothing compared to the pain in her vagina and in her ass. She felt as if though she had been fucking it rough with a well-hung guy for hours. She looked around and discovered that not only was she naked, but also that the large, ten-inch long flesh colored dildo from the back of her bathroom closet was lying next to her. The rubber penis looked at her with its artificial eye, seeming to wink at her knowingly. She made to reach for it, both confused and ready to vomit and then was surprised again when she discovered her hands and feet were tied to the bedposts.
"What is this?" she croaked.
Then she felt a shock of terror as she realized Maddie was nowhere to be seen. Her baby girl wasn't with her, and that meant whoever had tied her up was free to roam with Maddie. Ellen struggled against the leather bonds imprisoning her, teeth gritted and head pounding from the beginnings of a wicked hangover.
"Shannon!" she called out. The last memory she had was of coming home to find Shannon in the living room... and someone else, a girl with her. Ellen cried, "Shannon help!"
"Mrs. Gordian?" Shannon replied from the doorway. Ellen craned her head around to see the nanny in the entrance to the bathroom. Shannon was also naked, stripped bare and tied up. Ropes bound her to the door, wrapping around its width. Her heavy milky breasts were circled and tied with the ropes, as though someone had thought to be sadistically decorative. The bathroom light was on and illuminated her bondage.
"What happened?" Ellen asked, "Where's Maddie?"
"Oh Ellen it's terrible," Shannon wept, her red hair hanging in her face as her chest heaved, "Marlene has gone crazy."
"Marlene?" Ellen frowned.
"My daughter," Shannon cried, "She's going to kill us."
Ellen pulled on the leather bonds, "Why? What the fuck did we do?"
"I don't know," she shook her head, "Oh Ellen, what are we going to do?"
"We gotta figure out how to get free," she said, "That's the first thing."
Ellen looked down and then added, "Why are we naked?"
Shannon looked embarrassed, "You don't remember?"
"You and I, we uh," Shannon hesitated, "We, well, were intimate tonight."
Ellen's mouth dropped open, "What?"
"Marlene started giving you a back rub and then one thing lead to another..."
"Not both you and Marlene?"
"Oh my God," Ellen moaned, "Did we?"
"Yes," Shannon said timidly, "But it was wonderful Ellen, it really was."
Ellen wanted to scream. She wanted to scream and kick and beat the hell out of everyone and everything. It was all coming back to her now as memories and faded images of going down on Shannon came to her. She could remember Marlene licking and suckling her sex. She could even remember Shannon using the dildo on her now. Ellen rolled her eyes and sighed.
"I was that drunk?"
"I didn't mean to take advantage," Shannon apologized, "I am so sorry."
"We'll worry about it later," Ellen cut her off, "Does your daughter have my baby?"
"I don't know," Shannon said, "I haven't seen her since she tied me up."
"Shit," Ellen hissed and then asked, "Where the fuck is Mark?"
"I told you, remember? He went out to see a friend."
"A friend," Ellen remembered, "He went to see another woman."
Ellen leaned back against her pillow, letting her head rest gently. Her nipples were hard and poking out from her full breasts. Her skin was cold and she felt completely exposed. Even worse, she knew that while she was here on the verge of some horrific death from a woman she didn't even know, her husband was out there fucking around on her. She found that she very much hated Mark for what he had done.
"I hate him," Ellen said as her eyes stung with tears.
"I'm so sorry," Shannon nodded as she struggled against her ropes.
Mark and Henry arrived at the house shortly after Ellen had woken up and found herself tied up. The two men stepped out into the humid evening air, Henry dressed in a white shirt, blue jeans and boots. Mark was still in his dress shirt and slacks, his overcoat oddly out of place in the still humid summer morning. But he didn't dare removed it. The gun was resting comfortably in the pocket, waiting for the opportune moment.
"Something's wrong here," Henry shook his head.
"Let's go in," Mark said. The door was again unlocked, and Mark figured that Ellen hadn't gotten home yet. He wondered if Shannon would be asleep in the bed, still naked and sexy and ready for him? He imagined there would be time for a quickie if Ellen was still out. Henry wouldn't mind waiting downstairs. Henry didn't have to know. But when he entered the living room and found Marlene Henson sitting on his couch, dressed in tan cargo pants and a tight green fitting tank top, her legs crossed and one of her sneakered feet bouncing lightly to an unheard song, Mark had to agree with Henry that something was definitely wrong.
"Marlene," Mark said, his astonishment unchecked and pure.
"Mark," she smiled, her full red lips cocked in a wicked half grin. Her red hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail, a strictly utilitarian hairstyle. Her greens eyes seemed to drill right into Mark's head, their emerald radiance undeniable and full of purpose. She said, "Welcome home."
"What are you doing here?" he asked and looked up the stairwell, "Ellen could be home any moment."
"Henry," she ignored Mark, "So nice to finally meet you."
"You have me at a disadvantage," Henry said tentatively.
"Marlene Henson," she smiled again and stood up, her perfectly curved figure wickedly alluring in her form fitting faded green top. Her huge breasts seemed to be ready to explode out from the fabric as she walked, their braless bouncing and jiggling hypnotic even to Henry. Her nipples were hardened into points, creating stress lines across the tight fabric.
"You can't be here," Mark went over to her, "Something terrible has happened."
"I know Mark," she said and patted his shoulder.
The room seemed eerily quiet as Mark watched her walk into the kitchen. He thought of the red orchids again and then of the gun in his pocket. He smiled and followed her as Henry stayed put in the living room. Mark's mouth felt dry as his bowels became hot and loose. He noticed the empty whiskey bottle, the one he had thrown into the bushes on the kitchen counter. Beside it was the chalice, the one he and Ellen had shared at their wedding and the very same one he and Shannon had used to capture his semen earlier that night.
"What is going on here?" he asked.
Marlene positioned a single red orchid beside the whiskey bottle.
Mark placed his hand over the pocket of his coat as he began to sweat.
"You killed Alicia," Mark whispered, "You did it somehow."
Marlene laughed, "I most certainly did not."
"But the red orchids were found with Alicia and with Emma..."
"Emma?" Marlene frowned, "Oh, your friend from Alessandro's."
"How did you know?"
Henry listened and felt his face go numb.
Marlene looked to Henry and asked, "Henry?"
"Don't you ever get tired of this guy?" she jutted her thumb at Mark.
Marlene walked over to Henry and stood not more than a few inches away from him, her pale skin glowing in the lamplight. He was acutely aware of her large breasts nearly pressing against him and he fought to stave off the erection forming in his jeans. Marlene obviously knew how to turn men on with just a look, because the simple cock of her eyebrow and the tilt of her lips made Henry feel hornier than he ever had in his life.
"Henry," she whispered and put a hand on his chest, "You've been around for awhile. Hasn't it been difficult knowing the woman you love is so whole-heartedly committed to a prick like Mark?"
"Just a goddam minute," Mark interrupted and that's when Marlene reached behind her and pulled a gun out from behind her back. She leveled it at Mark's head faster than he could follow. She had once been an object of desire for him, a purely sexual distraction that he could think of no other context for. From the moment she had shown up at his office door to the last time they fucked, she had been a living aphrodisiac. But now that Marlene was holding a small silver plated pistol in his face she was suddenly much more of real person to him