“What’s the matter with my old friend? Has he gone soft on me again? We are responsible for the world celebrating that poor boy. Now tell me, who can make a statement like that?” He tipped the bottle, and without letting it touch his lips, poured much of its contents down his throat. “Hmm, there’s nothing like an ice-cold beer. This is wonderful. Try it, Paul. It’ll make you feel better.” He looked around and laughed. “Isn’t this a perfect place for us to talk? I heard some people complaining about it this morning, said it was too rural for them which of course made me realize how perfect it’d be for us and our little chat. And the old lady doesn’t know any English. It’s like we’ll be talking Pig Latin for God’s sake.”
“So what do you want to say to me, Jeremy? You’ve gone to great lengths to do this so just say it.”
“Oh, Paul. What’s happened to the man you once were, the one that I found so intriguing? Do you know that I loved you like a brother? But now, I look at you and wince at what you’ve become. Why? After all those years of our studying and preparing for this day, what made you become pathetic now? No, Paul. Don’t look at me that way. I’d really like to know your answer.”
“I don’t know if I can satisfy you with an answer. Bottom line, we’ve become monsters, Jeremy. Maybe we always were, but to take the life of someone we’ve gotten to know, someone sweet and innocent is monstrous. I still want what you do, but there has to be another way. Emma…” He choked on the sound of her name, and couldn’t say anymore.
“Paul Paul Paul.” The man laughed. “You are not the same man I met all those years ago. Nothing has changed but you. Can’t you see that? I don’t know why, but somehow I knew this might happen. Do you remember the knife, Paul? You went to so much trouble to get my prints on it, so why haven’t you used this little insurance plot against me? I mean, you have the power and yet you’ve become such a wimp. You can’t make a simple call, the call that could destroy me. All this time, you thought it was keeping me in line, but now you won’t even use it to save Emma. Could it be that you feel the same as I do after all? That together, we are one? Without me, perhaps you believe you can’t survive. None of us could have imagined life without the other back then, so it only makes sense that we’ve become more attached after all we’ve been through the last couple of days. Now, I ask you. Who is this monster you talk about? Me? You? No matter what your answer is, it is us. We are us now, Paul.”
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