I loved you, Raymond.
“KATE!” he screamed as she ran to the bridge’s railing and without a moment’s hesitation, flung herself over the side.
There was nothing he could do except move to look down and see her falling, falling, falling silently until she landed spread-eagled on the river’s surface, dying instantly.
“No, Kate!” he cried in grief and disbelief, “No, no, no…”
His eyes snapped open as he came awake. He put his hand on his face and wiped away tears. He sat up and listened for a few moments, but couldn’t hear Dembe. Good, maybe I didn’t yell in my sleep. He turned to look at the clock on his nightstand. It read five thirty – five. The image of Kate falling was still fresh in his mind, so he knew sleep was behind him for the time being. He got up, threw on his bathrobe and slippers and padded downstairs to the kitchen.
He got a K – cup and made himself coffee. He sat at the kitchen table, took a sip and grimaced. He was glad for the sunshine streaming through the window; it countered the darkness in his soul.
He wasn’t surprised to hear footfalls on the stairs. Dembe walked into the room, patted Red’s shoulder in greeting and then got a bottle of water out of the fridge. He leaned against the sink and took a long drink before looking at Red. After a few minutes he stated, “You dreamed about Kate again.”
“I’m sorry if I disturbed you,” Red replied. He rubbed his forehead with his thumb and forefinger. “I live a violent life; I have for years. One cannot live like that and harbor regrets. I hadn’t regretted anything I’ve done. Until Kate. Not a day has gone by since that day in the woods that I haven’t wished I could turn back time. When she said, ‘I loved you, Raymond,’ before she jumped it was a reminder, a fact, an accusation and a judgement. She did love me and I, her. And I shot her down like a dog.”
“Raymond, I don’t know what to say.”
“Because there is nothing to say. I let my anger and my feelings of being betrayed get the better of me and because I did that, I set into motion a series of events that culminated in Kate feeling like she had no other recourse but to commit suicide. I backed her into a corner.”
Dembe sat at the table. “Raymond, you offered her peace. She wouldn’t accept it.”
“If our roles were reversed, I don’t know that I would have accepted it, either.” He turned his chair to face Dembe. “I want to tell you something: I will never, ever harm you.”
“I know, Raymond.”
Raymond slid his chair closer so that he could embrace the man he considered not only his brother, but his son as well. “I wouldn’t blame you if you had doubts,” he said. “After everything that’s happened, I just wouldn’t blame you. I love you, Dembe, and there is nothing you could do to change that fact.”
Dembe kissed Raymond’s cheek and whispered, “I love you, too, and I want you to know that I will never do anything behind your back. You will always know where I stand on any issue. There will be no secrets between us, my brother.”
Raymond broke the embrace and leaned back in his chair. “Good, because we need to figure out how to go about rebuilding my businesses. Kate was extremely thorough. It won’t be easy.”
“I am with you for the long haul, Brother.”
“Excellent. Let’s get started.”