Buttons With Tea

Boasting bits of blood cascaded down the remarkably agile silver blade, embedding itself within the folds of his skin. The tall man stood firm to the ground, though he could not feel his legs. He wondered why breathing in and out seemed, at that moment, a great imposition since he had performed the act several times before. Why then, was he so nervous? He had planned out every detail with absolute reverence. He took such delight in his work. After all it was part of his vision. How could he not allow himself the euphoric invigoration that commonly followed?

The tall man took two steps towards the kitchen table. His legs were working. His mind had told them to move, and they did. Surprised by this, he looked down at his other hand which hung lifeless and bare. He told it to move. It did. He took it up with the white linen table cloth that hung off the edge, almost to the ground. With his left hand lying beneath he placed the silver object above. His right hand pressed the blade on its side, swiping from top to bottom, removing as much blood as he could.

He looked back at the body. How tedious and irrevocable his deed had been. It was almost as if he felt sorry for the poor fellow. But he knew that these men brought it upon themselves. They were all hungry, despairingly desolate for their supposed needs.

The man lie there, eyes open, lost without expression. The man walked over after placing the blade within his jacket pocket and crouched down beside him. He reached out with his bloody hand, firmly gripping the man’s collar button. Rubbing it between his fingers with an angered force he changed its color from a pearly white, to a deep red. Once he was satisfied he pressed the edges between his thumb and forefinger uprooting the stitches well over an inch into the air, while they did their best to preserve their home.

A knock at the door.

The tall mad ignored it, slitting the throat of the carefully needled white thread as the button came free. He rose to his feet, slowly walking around the man’s lifeless body so as not to disturb him. After all he knew it was of great disrespect to meddle with the corpses of others.

He walked back to the table, lifted up his cup and began to drink. The warm sweet tea drifted down his throat with a delight that was quite unexpected to him. It gave off a wave of emotions which ticked at his brain like a forgotten audacious memory from when he was a boy.

A second knock.

The tall man looked towards the door as if it had betided him in some bothersome fashion. He finished his tea and set the cup back on the saucer, clanking the two together until the one settled in with the other.

With his bloody hand he placed the button in the cup and watched as the remnants of a once sturdy sugar cube held up the intruder as long as it could. The button accepted its fate, sinking beneath its quickened demise till its face could be seen no more.

A third knock.

The tall man grew worried, then settled himself within the comforting words his father once gave him.

“Be consistent. Consistency is key to any situation in life. It‘s what separates the good from the great, and I want you to be great,” he said aloud.

The tall man’s steps echoed out of the kitchen, and towards the front door. The tile clocked against his heavy weight as if the sound could only be heard once his foot had lifted up again.

He reached the door and stood in front of it for a moment, neatly adjusting his collar.

A forth knock.

“Hello. Is anyone home?” the voice asked from beyond the door.

Stains of blood crept along the tall mans buttoned up shirt, and at the collar, permanently staining the ribbed edges that bent and pressed against his neck. The blood was still on his hands, dripping as if falling from a gaping wound beneath his right cufflink. Still the tall man stood proud, putting on a smile as he eagerly opened the door…

 

…Two Days Earlier

 

“In other news, alleged accusations made on a former college student have been lifted due to the courts lack of evidence for further prosecution. The assumed suspect Jacob Faustus, who was pointed out, a day after the crime at the Sit n’ Sip coffee shop, had this to say in an interview,” the newscaster said on the TV screen.

            “Apparently people were saying it was me because I looked like the guy. Tall, dark, and handsome. I mean that’s how I always describe myself,” he said with a smirk before continuing, “But really, there are hundreds of guys who look like me on campus. Look…similar to me, and I think that’s why the killer chose this coffee shop to commit his crime. We all look the same around here,” Jacob said as his face was displayed on the screen before the picture switched back to the news reporter.

 

“Good morning Hugh!”

“Good morning Ambrose. Did you sleep well?”

“Yes. Yes I did. I took your advice actually. The heating-pad did wonders for my back. I’m feeling much better now. Thank You,” Ambrose said as he walked over to the kitchen table.

“Yes, of course. Anything I can do to help a good friend,” Hugh said as he brought two cups to the table.

“How would you like it this morning, with milk?” Ambrose asked as he picked up the carton, still standing, placing his left arm along his jacket so it wouldn’t reach the table.

“Yes, always, but first…” Hugh said as she stood in front of Ambrose, giving him an eager look.

“Yes. How could I forget?” Ambrose said as he placed the carton down, and turned towards him.

“Buttons, then tea,” Ambrose said as straightened himself up while Hugh buttoned and adjusted his collar.

“No, no, no. Remember, buttons with tea, for good luck. My father always said that if a man buttons another man’s collar before he goes off to work it‘s good luck. But only if it‘s followed by a full cup of tea. You know how the English are about their tea?” Hugh said smiling as he finished.

Ambrose stood there with a state of confusion before he spoke.

“Yes, how do I look?”

“Fine, fine. Now it’s your turn,” Hugh said as Ambrose buttoned and adjusted his collar.

The two then took a seat at the table.

“Milk, sugar,” Hugh said placing each condiment within reach of Ambrose.

“You first, I’ll get the toast,” Ambrose said as he got up from his chair without moving it, and walked over to the toast, where the bread sat, propped in an upright position.

“Butter?” Ambrose asked.

“Mmmhmm,” Hugh nodded, leaning across the table to grab a hold of the milk, holding back his jacket so it wouldn’t touch the table.

“Anything interesting this morning?” Ambrose said as he made his way back to the table, two plates in hand, setting them down first.

“Quite interesting,” Hugh said as he began stirring his tea.

“Yes,” Ambrose said eagerly waiting his response as he returned the milk and sugar to the side of his cup. He then took up the metal tongs and gently placed to cubes into the array of browns and whites that intertwined themselves with the stirring that followed.

“The serial killer strikes again, apparently,” Hugh said.

“Not this topic again, and always during breakfast, why?” Ambrose said as he raised the cup to his lower lip. The steam could be felt before he allowed the two to touch, and he hesitated at his realization. He looked down for a moment as if he were having some sort of memory, but Hugh’s voice took him away.

“It’s not safe anymore!”

“What’s not safe?” Ambrose questioned.

“The world.”

“Well I could have told you that. It’s simple logic. As long as there’s power to be had they’ll be someone waiting to take it. It’s the way of the world, our world,” Ambrose said sipping his tea.

“But these killings. They haven’t gotten any solid evidence or DNA as they’re supposed to, with these things, nor do they have a solid description of the man. How to they plan on solving the case?” Hugh asked as he picked up a piece of toast and quickly examined it. The butter had been build up too much to one side and he noticed. It concerned him. He looked back at the accused, watching his mouth open and shut while the steamy like smoke shuttered his lips with anticipation.

“Too much,” Hugh said.

Ambrose swallowed hard, accidentally.

“Too much what, power?” Ambrose suggested placing the cup back onto its saucer.

“No, the butter. Too much on one side. You have to learn to blend, or people will hardly be able to believe that your parents came from Hertfordshire,” Hugh said using his other piece of toast to flatten it out.

“They didn’t. They only lived there for most of their lives. Well, now my mother will be living there for the rest of hers. She was smart,” Ambrose said as bit into his own piece of toast which Hugh noticed was perfectly buttered.

Hugh sneered.

“Smart yes,” Hugh said looking away then back again, “Smart for leaving such a man.”

“A man with little remorse for those less fortunate,” Ambrose said before swallowing.

“Difficult doesn’t quite put it does it,” Hugh suggested.

“No. But let’s not talk about him. I have tried too hard to get away from that man. Now that I am, I want him to be the last person I discuss,” Ambrose said as he picked up his tea and leaned back in his chair. With one leg across the other he felt settled, and ready for conversation.

“He may be disagreeable. But he’s still your father. You should invite him over. Tell him to come and visit,” Hugh said.

“You should know me better than that Hugh. Let’s change the subject. He’s not coming,” Ambrose said, continuously sipping his tea.

Hugh sighed, feeling a bit frustrated with him. He then with his left hand lifted his jacket off his breast, reached inside with his right arm, and pulled out an envelope. Hugh placed it out in front of Ambrose. Ambrose immediately took it from him, carefully looking it over.

“What’s this?”

“It’s from your father.”

“But why would he?”

“Why not?”

“Because he doesn’t care. That’s why not.”

“He must have had a change of heart then, and recently to. Maybe it was your mum,” Hugh suggested.

“My mother couldn’t have anything to do with this. That man listens to no one.”

“I’m sure he listened to her once or twice. They had you after all,” Hugh chuckled allowing himself to laugh.

“Oh shut up!” Ambrose said as he reached into to his jacket pocket.

“Hmm, I seemed to have misplaced it, he said upon further inspection. The object he was looking for was gone. He stared back at Hugh.

“What?” Hugh remarked in all innocence.

“I seemed to have misplaced my letter opener. Might I borrow yours,” Ambrose asked.

Hugh reached inside his jacket pocket and pulled his out. The blade shined in a light that came pouring down from the ceiling, it’s reflection veering off into different directions across the room.

“This looks like mine.”

“It’s not.”

“It is!”

“It’s not.”

“You took my letter opener.”

“No I didn’t. Look there, at the bottom, my initials. H.W.” Hugh said pleading his case.

“Since when do you keep your letter opener in your jacket pocket? I‘ve never come across someone in my entire life who keeps it there; which is precisely why I do,” Ambrose reverberated.

“I thought it was a good idea, that‘s all.”

“You mean you thought you‘d steal the idea?”

“There no need for trifling; let’s see what’s inside,” Hugh said changing the subject, “Read it aloud.”

Ambrose looked back at Hugh amazed by his increasing exasperation.

“Alright,” he agreed, shaking the paper in his hand a couple of times, while clearing his throat.

 

Dear Ambrose,

     This is your father. I’m, writing you to with what I would call a well over due admission of guilt. I am your father and I love you. I know that I have been hard on you all of your life but I know, that by now, something good must have come of it. I had high hopes that you would have wanted to take over my business, but was utterly displeased when I found out that you had taken up writing. It was the last thing your mother told me before I left. Although I am unhappy with your decision, I feel that this has come about due to my yearly absences in your life. I am coming to see you in hopes of persuading you into seeing things my way.

The right way.

     Your Father…

 

     “That’s it? He signed the Letter, your father,” Hugh asked.

“Of course. He would never put his name on something he truly didn‘t believe. Admission of guilt. He’s just trying to get me to feel sorry for him. Besides, it isn’t even hand written,” Ambrose said tossing the letter onto the table.

“I wish my father were more like yours,” Hugh said as he quickly picked up the letter, steadily reading through each line in his head.

“Why would you wish such an awful thing upon yourself? You were just saying how even you though him to be difficult man,” Ambrose said straightening himself up in his chair, legs apart, feet firmly planting on either side. He then leaned forward, raising an eyebrow to Hugh’s silence.

“What is it?” Ambrose whispered.

“I don’t know. It’s just that if my father would have pushed me to become anything great at all, I would be, now,” Hugh said folding up the letter and placing it back into the envelope before slipping it beneath the rim of Ambrose’s saucer.

“Why would you say that you‘re not something great? We’re writers. We make our own time schedule and we answer to no one. We can write anywhere, at any time. Who wouldn’t want that?” Ambrose asked.

“I would like some stability with my job, and better pay,” Hugh said sipping his tea making sure the two didn’t make eye contact.

Ambrose got up from the table as if her were about to put another question to Hugh’s doubts. His words failed him, so he began pacing instead.

“What if you let me be your editor?” Hugh asked looking up, cup in hand.

“No.”

“Why not?” Hugh asked.

“We’ve been through this. It’s unnecessary have to go through it again.”

“But your father…” Hugh said stopping himself.

“What about him?”

“He asked me to be his editor, recently.”

“For the company? You wouldn’t?”

“I would, and he asked.”

“You mean he asked and you said yes?”

“No. I said I would think about it.”

“Well you’ll just have to write him and tell him no. There must be a return address on the envelope. You can send him a letter straight away saying that you,” Ambrose said when he was interrupted.

“I said I would think about it. I would rather be your editor and if you would just let me…” Hugh said when he was interrupted.

Ambrose held the letter in hand, clenching it with a force, he was unaware of.

“You can’t be my editor. Your opinion is not fair. All you do is praise me.”

“Only because you’re good.”

“Only because you’re my friend, or at least I thought you were. Going behind my back to do business with my own father. I might have known,” Ambrose said as he began to laugh.

Hugh looked back at him in fear, knowing that his feelings didn’t match his current actions.

Hugh pushed his toast aside, knowing he would not be able to eat once the confrontation had subsided.

“Aren’t you hungry?” Ambrose questioned.

“Yes. Well maybe not now.”

“But you will be, after a while?” Ambrose continued.

“I am, sure of it.”

“What will you do about my father’s proposal?”

“I haven’t accepted it yet. I’ll let him know when he arrives. This letter was send five days ago, he should be here, either later today or tomorrow,” Hugh said.

“Over my dead body. I’ve spent too many of my years trying to keep this man away from me. He’s probably the reason I haven’t gotten any returned phone calls from the people I’ve already interviewed for the editing position,” Ambrose said.

“Surely you can’t blame him for that. It’s impossible for him to know any and every one you’ve interviewed so far. How many has it been in the last two weeks?”

“Five. They were all good. Not one called me back. It’s him, and now this is only further proof of his capabilities,” Ambrose said as he walked back to the table, leaning his arms over the back corners of the chair.

“Won’t you at least think it over, just once more?”

“And if I don’t? You’ll go work with my father? How would you? That means that you would be moving back to England. When where you going to tell me?” Ambrose asked.

“I wasn’t. I mean I didn’t,” Hugh said stumbling over his words.

“I can’t believe it. And here I thought you weren’t hu…” Ambrose said stopping himself.

Hugh’s stomach grumbled. He looked over at his toast. With the tips of his two fingers he slowly brought the plate back in front of him, and took up a piece in his hand. The crumbling bits of bread starred back at him, still scared from the edges of the knife that had so innocently wiped the cold butter across its face.

“You’re just like him. Maybe you should have been his son,” Ambrose said angrily as he stood up again.

“Come now Ambrose. You know there’s no way we could stay in this nice house without good money. Neither of us make that much writing these short stories for the paper, and you know that’ll soon die out to, just like everything else,” Hugh said.

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore. I have another meeting in an hour. I guess I’ll be putting out a new roommate add as well,” Ambrose said throwing the letter back onto the table.

“I’ll be going out, a little later, to pick up a few things from the market. Do you need any…” Hugh yelled while Ambrose slammed the door before he could finish his sentence.

“I suppose…not,” he continued as he proceeded in finishing his breakfast.

After the kitchen had been cleaned up with everything in its place Hugh made his way to the front door. He reached out for the knob. He stopped. Frozen in thought, he suddenly had the feeling that he had forgotten something, and immediately felt along the outsides of his pockets.

“Wallet. Where is it?” he said out loud.

Hugh turned towards the stairs when he noticed an unfamiliar object, half way up.

“What’s that?” he though as he made his way over to the black stranger.

He reached down and picked up what he realized was a black shirt that had been rolled into a ball, left behind.

“We’ve been here for a year now. I should think that Ambrose would have gotten use to the fact that he no longer has his maid. Hmm, that is unless he thinks I’m expected to take on such duties. I think I will move back,” Hugh thought to himself as he came to the second story pivoting in the direction of Ambrose’s room. He had, momentarily forgotten why he had gone upstairs in the first place. He tried hard to remember. He couldn’t.

“Walking backwards. That should do it,” Hugh thought as he carefully took one step behind the other, continuing on down the stairs with his right hand firmly clenching the railing so as not to fall backwards.

“What was I doing?” he asked himself.

With his left hand, Hugh had the shirt well within his fist. He decided to let it go a little, letting a sleeve show its face. The silky cloth escaped down his arm. It gave him a sense of warmth. He watched as it pleasantly held his attention for a few seconds. The dips and folds sashayed across his forearm begging to be seen.

“Wallet,”” he realized.

Hugh quickly went up to his room. He stepped inside and pulled his wallet from the smooth surface of his desk. He looked back to his hand. The shirt was still there. His footsteps creaked and cracked as he walked across the carpet, out of the room, and down the hall.

Ambrose door was slightly cracked. Hugh pressed against the wood but the door pushed back.

“Why is it…Oh,” he said noticing another shirt, there, just at the bottom of the door, as if thrown from afar. He leaned down and picked it up freeing the door of its limits. He walked in an instantaneously took in the aroma of red apples and mint. He remembered that Ambrose always smelled this way. It was pleasant to him.

“Look at this mess. How can a man who is so colorful in language and etiquette be so muddled at the same time?”

“I can barely stand a cluttered mind let alone a distasteful room,” Hugh said as he continued to walk around gathering shirts and pants that had been discarded across the floor. Once he had each one on the bed he proceeded to fold them. The shirts were lifted carefully, up at the collar. He used his long fingers to spread out the shoulders, thereby pushing them back with his pinky fingers, clamping the two together, then folding the rest in a zigzag which made it look as if they were on display at a department store.

Hugh took up the last one in his right hand. It was a baby blue shirt with pearl like buttons. Continuing to hold it up in front of him, he looked past it, momentarily watching his reflection in Ambrose’s six foot mirror that stood a couple of feet away.

“I’ve never seen him wear this one?” he said aloud.

Hugh quickly unbuttoned his own shirt, beginning at the top, and lay it aside on the bed. He slipped his right arm in. His fist came through as the tips of his fingers slowly emerged as if they had been exploring a new land. Hugh felt the silk clinging itself to his forearm. The experience brought on an invigoration he was unfamiliar with, greatly aware that he wanted more.

“Now the left,” he thought himself as he shrugged his shoulders allowing the shirt to settle onto its new home. He had wondered several times before, and on several occasions, what it would feel like to put on one of Ambrose’s shirts, knowing that he had always enjoyed the finer things in life.

“I’m sure his father paid for this to,” Hugh said aloud slightly smiling, as he began buttoning the shirt at the bottom. The silent whispers of the cuff against his stomach reassured him of any doubt, wishing he could assume Ambrose’s place in the world.

“What sort of problems could he really have? He has a father who loves him. A father who pays his way, and has been paying his way his entire life. He could have gone into business. God knows he would have excelled, certainly,” he continued as he neared the top of the shirt, “But no. He wanted to be a writer instead, instead of taking over his father’s million dollar company. He has been rebelling for too long. Just think of what I could do with that sort of money,” he said aloud when he reached the top button and hesitated. He starred back at his reflection in the mirror, hands ready at the sides of his collar, though they could not move without instruction. His lips had given it.  But his brain hadn’t yet allowed the command.

“Your future is never certain. Sometimes it must be taken from others,” he whispered then continued, “That’s what mother always said,” as the tips of his fingers reached the bend at the neck. The collar all around had the strength of the great wall, keeping his neck from escaping. With button in hand he brought the last two together and it was complete. Placing both hands, flat against his chest, he proceeded in straightening out what wrinkles where left. His left hand ran along the front pocket when he realized an unevenness to it. He broke his concentration and looked down, revealing its contents.

“Paper, and a button. This must be the extra button that usually comes with the shirt. But this one‘s dark blue,” he thought for a moment holding it in his left hand.

“Sit n’ Sip, coffee shop. That was from yesterday,” he said while looking over the receipt a couple of times.

“I’ll put it back,” he thought placing the two back where he had found them.

A knock at the door.

Hugh swiftly turned around as if someone had entered the room. When he realized it was the front door he hastily unbuttoned the shirt, folded it, and placed it atop the others. He rushed to the doorway, with his own shirt in hand. He stopped and starred back at the mirror.

“I’ll just tell him that I was looking for something. Thought it might be in his room. Maybe he picked it up by accident. That’s what I’ll tell him,” Hugh said as he flung his own shirt on and shuffled down the stairs. He had just been able to button the collar when he reached for the handle, eagerly opening the door.

He stood, out of breath.

Outside the street was empty. The trees came and went with the passing breeze that Hugh could feel the moment he opened the door. It was cool and cloudy, yet no one was there. Hugh swallowed deeply as if he had escaped a great misfortune. Just then, as he was about to close the door, he noticed a white envelope lying on the doormat. He leaned down to pick it up, and went back inside.

The envelope was bare and unsealed. Hugh lifted the flap and pulled out a small letter from inside.

    

Dear Ambrose,

     I had come by this morning, but received no response at the door. You must be out. I’ll be attending several meetings throughout the day about the company, and the progress I‘ve made towards the future. That being the future I hope to pass on to you. I’ll check back tomorrow, around noon. You can’t avoid me forever.

     Your Father…

 

     Hugh smiled.

“He’ll never accept. Then I‘ll take the editing position and become the son he‘s always wanted,” he thought.

Hugh turned towards the kitchen and walked in. The letter was still on the table. He placed the other propped up beside it, knowing that Ambrose would take notice once he returned.

He walked back to the front door, and paused.

“That letter was typed, just like the last one. But how would he know he wasn’t…” Hugh thought.

His curiosity grew with the strangeness of Ambrose’s father having a readymade typed letter, just in case he hadn’t been there when he arrived. Hugh had known him to be a careful, well organized man, but was unaware to what extremity. Still, he found it strange.

“Maybe he has been here since the first letter arrived. Maybe, Ambrose is right?” he wondered entertaining the thought for a moment, “No, he couldn’t be,” Hugh continued when he suddenly remembered his original task.

“Groceries, yes. I’m off.”

Hugh walked out the door, firmly closing it, once outside. The house waded back and forth as the slam shuttered the newly built walls.

All was quiet.

 

…The Next Morning

 

“In other news, the alleged serial killer, known most recently for killing a man at the Sit n’ Sip coffee shop just yesterday, strikes again at a nearby restaurant. This time the owner was able to get a good description of the man, who he says, claimed to be meeting someone. The 29 nine year old male was later found stabbed to death in a bathroom stall. Michael Fatemi, a regular customer of Botalli’s Italian restaurant, who also witness the man enter the establishment, had this to say in an interview,” the newscaster said on the TV screen.

“He was…well dressed. He carried himself with a business sort of demeanor, constantly checking and straitening his suit. Most businessmen do this rather unconsciously, but are quite aware of the fact that their image is everything. He was tall and lean, having little muscle, from what I could tell. Black hair, swept back. No noticeable marks on his face…and a big smile. He was smiling for most of the conversation held with the young man who sat across him at the table. The taller man did most of the talking while the younger man ate. The younger man ordered several plates of food. He must have been hungry. Either that or he had assumed that the taller man would be picking up the tab,” Michael said jokingly getting a little sidetracked.

“The two continued to talk while the tall man sipped water out of a thin wine glass. Then the younger man excused himself to go to the bathroom. The tall man followed. That was all I saw,” Michael said as the interview was displayed on the screen before the picture switched back to the news reporter.

 

“Good morning Hugh. Did you sleep well?” Ambrose asked as he walked in the door.

“No. Not very well,” Hugh said still standing at the sink, rinsing cups.

“I slept better than I ever have, I think. It must be the heat,” Ambrose realized as Hugh brought the cups to the table.

“I’ve decided,” Hugh said aloud without making eye contact as he stood in front of Ambrose.

Hugh reached up to Ambrose’s collar and proceeded in buttoning it while straightening out the rim.

Ambrose searched for Hugh’s eyes but they refused to comply with his wishes.

“Why won’t you look at me?” Ambrose asked as he reached up to button Hugh’s collar.

“I told you. I’ve decided. I’m going to be your father’s editor. I’m moving back to England, today,” Hugh said frightened of his own words.

“What happened to your shirt? The button is gone,” Ambrose said looking confused.

“I don’t know. I put it on this morning and I realized it wasn’t there. I came down and started breakfast and haven’t had a chance to change it. I’ll do that now. Serve my tea, with milk,” Hugh demanded as he walked out of the room.

Ambrose cleared his throat and pulled at his collar as if he had gotten hot. He looked down at the cups, empty and smooth. After taking up the tea pot he placed the same amount in each, slowly adding the milk in a symphony of overwhelming creation that crashed all the way down at the bottom. Both cups had turned a light brown, still steaming. He felt his heart begin to race, when Hugh’s footsteps drew nearer. He waited.

“I’m guessing you read the note?” Hugh asked, taking his seat.

“I did.”

“And…”

“And what? What do you expect me to do about it? I have a meeting at 12:00pm. I won’t be here when he arrives,” Ambrose said as he took his seat at the table.

“Alright, we’ll I’ll be here. I’m going with him.”

“You shouldn’t. You know he’s an evil man and he’ll take you right down with him. He’s dishonest and one day he’ll end up in jail. He knows it. I know it. But most importantly, you know it,” Ambrose said calmly.

“But if you took it over you could turn things around. You could make the company good again, and benefit well beyond what you could ever make as a writer,” Hugh said as he got up to get the toast that had risen from twisted metal caverns, taking a moment to breathe.

“I didn’t become a writer for the money.”

“Clearly!”

“I do it out of love. Sure I’ve been privileged most of my life with money, but then what does money matter to a person. I have to do what my soul tells me to, and it tells me to write,” Ambrose voiced with a hint of optimism in his speech, taking a plate from Hugh once he returned to the table.

“I hate to be the one to tell you this Ambrose. Without money, you’re no one in this world. No one at all. People only worship the rich and talented. Even though you may have talent, you still don’t have money. Is that how you want to end up, alone with nothing but your pages to comfort you?”

“I won‘t.”

“You seem sure of yourself.”

“I am. All I’m saying is that people shouldn’t live for money.”

“Why not? Money brings people happiness,” Hugh said as he began eating his toast, which he had perfectly buttered himself.

“How do you mean? Money isn‘t everything, not everyone feels that way.”

“You would say that, being fed with your own silver spoon, you’ve never know what it’s like to struggle with anything. I never once saw you appreciate your wealth. All the things you were given, and not one thank you to your poor father.”

“Because I never wanted it. I never asked to be born under such a man. You don’t know my father, otherwise you would know better than to work with him.”

“He’s told me how you’ve treated him over the years. We’ve spoken, a lot more now, since you left,” Hugh said.

Ambrose finished his second piece of toast when he noticed that Hugh’s second was calling out to him. He reached out and snatched it faster than Hugh could react to stop him.

“What are you doing? You can‘t just take food off of others peoples plates. You had your own,” Hugh asked angrily.

“Well…you weren’t eating it,” Ambrose said as he daintily took a bite before continuing, “Besides, you’re leaving today, which means that I can go about the house as I please from now on, eating whatever I want when I want,” Ambrose said.

“But I’m still hungry,” Hugh shouted.

“It is, for that precise reason that I believe you should leave.”

“You don’t have to get angry. I’ll be going. Besides, your father should be here at any moment,” Hugh said as he got up from his chair taking his cup with him.

 

“In other news, police investigators have just released some important evidence from the crime scene of the alleged serial killer. Black hairs were found which did not match the victim’s body, and police officials say that now they have something to start with,” the newscaster voice was herd in the momentary silence between the two.

 

The water came crashing down towards the middle part of the sink from the high spout. Hugh quickly pushed the cold metal bar aside so that it wouldn’t splash onto the counter. He checked the water with his hand, waiting for change.

“I will go. I’ll make something for myself, back home. No more writing nonsense,” He thought to himself once the water reached an appropriate temperature.

Ambrose got up from his chair carrying the two plates that had held toast. Crumbs could be seem all over, as if it were a purposeful design.

“Here. Let me help you,” Ambrose said as he handed them over.

Hugh reached his left arm over his right to take them from him. The TV newscaster continued as he rinsed them and put them off to the side of the sink.

“The police official say the serial killer targets men in their twenties. The last two victims being 27 and 29.”

“Could I borrow your letter opener, once more? I still, haven’t been able to find mine. I have a few letters,” Ambrose said cordially asking the favor as he pointed over at the table.

“Of course,” Hugh responded and with his right hand reached into his jacket pocket to reveal the object.

Ambrose took it and left his side. The news reporter continued;

“The killer apparently stabs his victims several times in the neck then cuts off the top collar button, and takes it with him. Officials can be sure of this since they haven’t found the missing buttons at any of the crime scenes.”

Hugh had been listening quite intently when the mention of buttons caught his attention. He looked over at the TV, then at Ambrose who was standing beside the table, reading one of the letters he had opened. Hugh looked back at the sink and his cup that had been waiting for its turn with the water. Tea waded at the bottom. His stomach had gotten too upset too quickly, for him to finish. Although he knew it would be bad luck. The mention of the buttons on TV came back into his mind. He remembered the shirt he had put on earlier, and how that very same button had been mysteriously taken away, as if it were cut, with little effort in hiding the evidence.

Hugh continued to dump out his cups when he noticed a small object fall out form inside. Once the water had a chance to wash over it he could see that it was a button. It was light pink, in accordance with the shirt he had first put on this morning. He picked it up with his right hand as his heart began to race. He was sure. It was the missing top button to his collar.

“My button…” Hugh said when Ambrose snuck up from behind and placed his left hand over Hugh’s mouth. He had used such force that Hugh quickly gave into his attack as he watched the blade of his letter opener come from a high point in the air, then back down and into his throat. The first stoke felt crippling, the next nauseating as he began choking on his own blood. Hugh’s eyes watched his attacker throughout. Ambrose could feel every bit of the blades break through the untouched precious white skin at his neck. He was surprised at how easy it had been. He said nothing and continued his deed several times again, until his body no longer jerked in his arms.

Hugh’s eye’s stayed open. His soul finally escaped. Ambrose, now carrying complete dead weight, let the body fall, so that Hugh lie still on his back.

Boasting bits of blood cascaded down the remarkably agile silver blade, embedding itself within the folds of his skin. Ambrose stood firm to the ground, though he could not feel his legs. He wondered why breathing in and out seemed, at that moment, a great imposition since he had performed the act several times before. Why then, was he so nervous? He had planned out every detail with absolute reverence. He took such delight in his work. After all it was part of his vision. How could he not allow himself the euphoric invigoration that commonly followed?

Ambrose took two steps towards the kitchen table. His legs were working. His mind had told them to move, and they did. Surprised by this, he looked down at his other hand which hung lifeless and bare. He told it to move. It did. He took it up with the white linen table cloth that hung off the edge, almost to the ground. With his left hand lying beneath he placed the silver object above. His right hand pressed the blade on its side, swiping from top to bottom, removing as much blood as he could.

He looked back at the body. How tedious and irrevocable his deed had been. It was almost as if he felt sorry for the poor fellow. But he knew that these men brought it upon themselves. They were that sort of man who were always hungry, despairingly desolate for their supposed needs.

Hugh lie there, eyes open, lost without expression. Ambrose walked over after placing the blade within his jacket pocket and crouched down beside him. He reached out with his bloody hand, firmly gripping Hugh’s collar button. Rubbing it between his fingers with an angered force he changed its color from a pearly white, to a deep red. Once he was satisfied he pressed the edges between his thumb and forefinger uprooting the stitches well over an inch into the air, while they did their best to preserve their home.

A knock at the door.

Ambrose ignored it, slitting the throat of the carefully needled white thread as the button came free. He rose to his feet, slowly walking around the man’s lifeless body so as not to disturb him. After all he knew it was of great disrespect to meddle with the corpses of others.

He walked back to the table, lifted up his cup and began to drink. The warm sweet tea drifted down his throat with a delight that was quite unexpected to him. It gave off a wave of emotions which ticked at his brain like a forgotten audacious memory from when he was a boy.

A second knock.

Ambrose looked towards the door as if it had betided him in some bothersome fashion. He finished his tea and set the cup back on the saucer, clanking the two together until the one settled in with the other.

With his bloody hand he placed the button in the cup and watched as the remnants of a once sturdy sugar cube held up the intruder as long as he could. The button accepted its fate, sinking beneath its quickened demise till its face could be seen no more.

A third knock.

Ambrose grew worried, then settled himself within the comforting words his father once gave him.

“Be consistent. Consistency is key to any situation in life. It‘s what separates the good from the great, and I want you to be great,” he said aloud.

Ambrose’s steps echoed out of the kitchen, and towards the front door. The tile clocked against his heavy weight as if the sound could only be heard once his foot had lifted up again.

He reached the door and stood in front of it for a moment, neatly adjusting his collar.

A forth knock.

“Hello. Is anyone home?” the voice asked from beyond the door.

Stains of blood crept along Ambrose’s buttoned up shirt, and at the collar, permanently staining the ribbed edges that bent and pressed against his neck. The blood was still on his hands, dripping as if falling from a gaping wound beneath his right cufflink. Still Ambrose stood proud, putting on a smile as he eagerly opened the door.

“Hello father. Won’t you come in?”

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