|Had it all been worth it? Death On The Nile fanfic
Author: ancienteyes PM
What if, in Death on the Nile, the murderers had got away with their crime? Alternative scenario about their life afterwards, and how they deal with the consequences of what they have done.Rated: Fiction T - English - Tragedy/Angst - Hercule Poirot - Words: 2,784 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 1 - Published: 07-27-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8363705
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Jacqueline reclined on a luxurious rocking chair on the balcony, surveying her newly and dearly bought kingdom. Beyond the beautiful garden was a narrow strip of forest leading to the sea. The white roses blushed crimson as the last vestiges of sunset washed over them, while in the darkening sky the moon was becoming visible. It was a magical time of the evening, and it was a time that sent the chilling remembrances of her dark past running through her.
She had everything she had dreamed of - a quiet and luxurious life with the man she had loved so fiercely. The luxury had not been so important to her, but it had been for him, and she had done what she had to do to keep his love. The quietness, on the other hand, was a must for both of them: not only because of the unsavoury reputation they had earned and the failed attempts that had been made to bring them to justice, but also because both of them were inwardly broken, and took solace in the company of nobody but each other.
A tear ran down Jackie's cheek as she thought of her once dear friend Linnet, the unfortunate victim of their plot to get rich. Linnet's betrayal had made it so much easier to help Simon to dispose of her - although she knew that she could never have been the one to shoot the unfortunate woman in her sleep. There hadn't been any tears at the time, though - only ecstasy as she and her lover had each achieved what they had desired. She thought of the murders she herself had committed to cover up what he had done - those two poor interfering women who had got in the way. Louise had always seemed rather shifty and had desired money and freedom, like Jackie and Simon had. The crazed Salome Ottorbourne, on the other hand, had worn her heart on her sleeve and would not have contemplated blackmail. Jackie felt a pity for the novelist that had taken a while to emerge after the thrill of the dangerous circumstances under which she had shot her had passed. She had been quietly brooding in her cabin, and had instantly got the message of mortal danger when she heard her stricken lover shouting unusually loudly from next door. She had hardly been conscious of what she was doing when she had darted into Pennington's room to steal his gun, rushed back, and shot Mrs Ottorbourne squarely in the forehead. Still in an automaton-like mode, she had dropped the gun and bolted back into her cabin.
The detective, Hercule Poirot, had of course not been fooled. He had presented his entirely accurate conclusions, but the lovers had stood together and put up a denial act that could not be broken through. It was fortunate for them that Simon had worn a pair of gloves when he fired the gun, meaning his fingers could not be tested for grains of gunpowder. As the two of them had left the Karnak, Simon had kept his head down, but Jackie had exchanged last look with the Belgian detective as they left the boat - a mutual look of sadness, farewell, almost of apology. He may not have brought them to the gallows, but he had convinced enough people of the truth to take the gloss out of their already pyrrhic victory. In the time since she had picked up her pen again and again to write to Mr Poirot, to unburden her soul, but she could not bring herself to do it.
Simon had wanted money desperately - and at last he had it. But she could see that it had not done him any good. It had been an addiction for him, and the desire for it had fed upon him as a life-destroying drug does. But what he had done to obtain it had broken his spirit even worse than it had his leg, which had never quite healed after his self-inflicted wound, despite the best efforts of the doctors who had operated on him shortly before he left Egypt. He still loved her, but she could sense that he also resented his disability, even though he never spoke of it. Now he would never be able to ride a horse or engage in sports as he had always wanted to. His love for her was constant, but it had never been equal to hers for him, and never would be.
Now he lay sleeping beside her, his lame leg resting on a large cushion, his face pale and unemotional. Nobody but Jackie could see the turmoil that he experienced every day, even surrounded by the serenity of the evening, by their wealth, and by her love. After the initial thrill of their success, both Simon and Jackie had started to doubt whether it had all been worth it.
"I wouldn't have missed it for the world," he had said to her more than once. Now that he had a fortune and a beloved wife to share it with, what was a lame leg and a bit of darkness in the past, he tried to assure her. Yet she knew that he was not convinced of his own words, but was trying hard every day to believe them, and the effort was wearing him out further. This was the only barrier he had to save him from the inevitable moral despair that would come from facing his soul.
After Simon's inheritance, they had waited many months, each spending much time alone. Simon could hardly walk, but Jackie had visited him in the evenings when nobody was around, and he gave her money to keep her sustained. Finally they had married very quietly in a small church, and avoided publicity as much as they could. It had been bad enough for Simon's nerves seeing a picture of himself in the paper under an insinuating headline, telling of the suspicious circumstances of Linnet's death and how her grieving husband had come into her large fortune. Now they could hardly go into the street without attracting uncomfortable looks from the people around them. Once, when Jackie had gone out walking, she had partly perceived and partly imagined the people on the street deliberately moving wide of her with barely concealed horror on their faces - "Here comes the murderess who loved too much".
After the wedding they spoke less and less of the past. Even though Jackie sometimes longed to talk freely about it with her partner in crime, when she tried, Simon would shut himself off, change the subject or react with defensive anger. There was, of course, an additional weight on his soul: not only for what he had done, but for the fact that his mindless greed had necessitated Jackie sacrificing her moral integrity so that his plan would work. There were times when he could not even bear to look his devoted wife in the face, and certainly not when the ordeal that had made them sadder and wiser was mentioned.
Gently Jackie unwrapped her sleeping husband's arm from around her shoulders, and kissing him, she rose and went indoors. As she heated up the water to make some tea, her eye fell on her container of sleeping pills that she took regularly now. She remembered all those years ago, when her father had taught her how dangerous they can be in large quantities.
She could end it all now, for both of them - just a few too many tablets ground up in the hot water. Enact the justice that they had narrowly escaped. It would be so much easier than the hangman's noose - she and Simon would just go to sleep peacefully and happily on the balcony, wrapped in each other's arms, and never wake up again. What did it matter having wealth when it had cost them so much? Of all the possible wounds theirs were surely the most incurable of all. She could wipe out their hopelessness, their disrepute, their feeling of being hunted, their ill-gotten gains...
Their love for each other...
She had killed already and this was the result. She remembered how much she had longed to confess to Poirot how afraid she was of herself, and how dreadfully easy it was killing people. It would have been a burden off her soul. But the weight had remained, and she had borne it with stoicism. Now that her hot passions at that time had cooled, she knew she could not kill again. Wiping out life never resulted in happiness. Besides, it would be cowardly, and who knew what would be waiting on the other side? She and Simon had made their beds, and now they must lie on them.
She suddenly stopped in the middle of preparing the cups and teapot on a redwood tray. An idea had struck her, and was slowly forming in her mind. There was indeed another way out, and she wondered that neither of them had thought of it before! There was only one obstacle: could Simon be brought around to it?
Simon had just awoken when Jackie set the tray on the marble table in front of them. He smiled at her, but behind the smile was an overwhelming brokenness that she had grown all too used to in the last months. She poured the tea into two cups, then took her place again beside him. Instinctively he put his arm around her again, and she leant against him. How was she to begin? Was this the right moment?
Whether it was or not, she took a deep breath.
"Simon," she said, "We can't go on like this."
He turned to look at her. "What do you mean?"
"I have always known that it's love that matters most to us most. We have been enjoying the money of a woman we murdered, but look what it has done to us."
He was visibly upset. "But isn't this what we always wanted?"
She took a deep breath again. "I used to think so, Simon," she said. "But look what it cost us, and you."
"If you're talking about my leg, it was worth it many times over," he said, reiterating the sentiment that he had so often falsely asserted.
"But there's something else too," she said. "It's eaten away at us. I can see it in you too. Look at us - haunted on the outside and the inside. Money that we had to kill for is a curse, Simon. It is tying us down and stopping us from moving forward. When I was following you and Linnet around on your honeymoon, Monsieur Poirot told me that I must bury the past and move forward. I ignored him, because I thought he did not know of the true situation between us. I think I may have been wrong."
Simon did not react immediately. Slowly he withdrew his arm, clasped his hands and closed his eyes. She could see tension in his face.
At length he spoke again. "Jackie," he said, his voice tight, "I am afraid of what you're trying to suggest, and I don't want to talk of it now."
"Yes, Jackie, I know what you sacrificed for me." His voice rose. "Isn't the best thing not to waste that sacrifice, and to enjoy what we have gained?"
"Money and wealth and a beautiful house are only part of what we have gained," she said. "Think about it, Simon. We have gained experience - we know what it is to have money, to kill for it, and to undertake danger together. In a way we have learned things that nobody else has. That's worth far more than money isn't it?"
"Just give me some time," said Simon with a sigh. Jackie nodded resignedly, not sure whether she had got through to him. The two of them sat in silence as the last vestiges of dusk disappeared.
At length Jackie made a move to rise, but Simon reached out to her. "Jackie, I love you," he said. "I love you," she whispered back.
Three months later, a letter from Egypt arrived on Hercule Poirot's desk.
Dear Mr Poirot,
You may be surprised to hear from me after so long. You don't know how many times I've wanted to write, but have held back because of my fear. Your conclusions about the murders of Linnet, Louise Bourget and Salome Ottorbourne were of course entirely accurate. I know you know that already, but thought it fitting that you hear it from me personally.
I loved Linnet, but after she went after Simon I really wanted to kill her, and to help Simon to the money that he had never been able to enjoy. I am telling the absolute truth when I say that everything I did, the planning and the killing, was done out of love for him. He made up his mind to kill Linnet for her money shortly after meeting her, and I was terrified, because I knew he would never succeed. That's why I had to get involved. I even suggested to him that perhaps he should forget me and live with Linnet, but he said he couldn't stand her, and didn't want to live with anybody but me. I know how little I deserve to live, and how foolish I was to disregard your advice to me at the time. It still wasn't too late to turn back, but I didn't.
As you may know, Simon passed away recently. Apparently some kind of blood clot had been building in the side of his head for some time, and it burst while he was asleep. I knew that the stress of what he had done was getting to him, but I never thought it would be so sudden. Poetic justice, I can hear you saying. You know how much I loved him, and that day when I woke up to find him so cold and lifeless beside me, it felt like losing some of the remnants of my soul. Certainly all my childish illusions were shattered. Well, at least we achieved our false happiness for a few months.
I know you told me to bury my dead and move on, so that is what I am doing at last - better too late than never. Recently I sold up and I have arranged to give all of Linnet's fortune away. It took going into the deepest depths to make me realise that we were both chasing shadows. I hope that I can finally do some good to ever so slightly make up to those whom both we and Linnet have wronged so dreadfully. The money will help the orphaned Rosalie Ottorbourne and her husband in their future together - a much brighter one than mine, Miss Bowers will be able to live the life she would have had but for Linnet's father; Doctor Bessner will be able to improve his clinic. I hope that it will be of assistance to you too Mr Poirot, you who was able to penetrate our disguise but not our bluff, and who gave me such loving advice that I could not receive. Will you receive now what I am giving you?
I have returned to Egypt permanently now, where I will live quietly serving in a temple on the Nile. Somehow it seems fitting. I will of course be poorer than ever and have very little contact with the outside world, but I will make a new start: no more murder, no robbery, no betrayal or ill-gotten inheritance, just dedication and honest work, and possibly the closest thing to redemption I can manage in this lifetime.
So, there you have it. If you still want to take action against me using this letter as a written confession you are of course free to do so. I have nothing to hide any more. I never resented you for turning so many people and even the police force against Simon and me - on the contrary, it was exactly what we needed to come to where we are now. Naturally I don't expect you to wish me well with my future, but I am hoping against hope that you might, as I do you.
P.S. Don't mind so much - about me, I mean. No matter what happens to me and what has happened, I feel that it has all been worth it.