Elegance can be such a simple thing. One of the world’s richest women sits before me dressed in a black cashmere turtleneck sweater and maroon skirt. That’s it. Expensive pearls are the only hint of wealth. The string of identical white spheres draws attention from firm breasts, which nicely plump the front of her sweater. She wears no brassiere...it is not needed.
She slides open the flat writing drawer on the top left side of the desk, turns and leans back in the chair, raising her legs to place her booted calves on the surface. Her athletic but feminine gams fill the knee-high coverings of soft leather. Her form is obviously the product of many hours of exercise...or labor. Mrs. Fenwick is beguiling with a shapeliness she chooses to cloak.
She positions herself so that to look at me she turns her head slightly to the right. To look at Henry she merely needs to glance to the left.
We perfunctorily introduced ourselves after her fascinating explanation of Henry’s...shall I term it, jewelry? I plunge into the purpose of my visit.
As an experienced interviewer I know I can segue into the subject of Henry at any time. I decide to get over the potential ‘speed bumps’ first, then later lead into this amazing display of Mrs. Fenwick’s feminine power and control hanging erect and helpless from the brass pipe.
“We preliminarily assembled various background information, Mrs. Fenwick. What strikes me, I guess would strike anyone, is that in going through the limited material there are unexplained circumstances concerning the death of your husband. Wealthy, relatively young, recently overcoming cancer at the time of his demise...yet it appears he killed himself.”
“Please call me Carlotta, Joan.
“It was never concluded that his death was a suicide. The official coroner’s report reads ‘accidental death with contributory causes’.”
“But he was found hanging by a rope in a room locked from the inside.”
Mrs. Fenwick smiles then laughs softly as she gracefully pulls her legs back and stands.
“You need to have a basic understanding of the male anatomy.”
She steps to Henry’s side and turns toward me.
“You see how firmly and proudly he stands?”
I nod. Henry is indeed firm and his erection has not wavered since the nurse pulled away the stool.
“An interesting male phenomenon. Much of his weight is held by the thick neck collar. It appears severe but is actually lined with fur and foam padding, allowing him to hang like that for hours. In relieving the spinal cord of pressure there is an unexplained release of endorphins that seem to directly affect the penis. Many males enjoy various forms of suspension. Direct tension on the neck is the most rigorous or most pleasurable depending on one’s viewpoint. We’ve also stimulated the prostate gland in Henry’s case, but the point is that hanging can be a particularly erogenous activity for males.”
“So your husband was attempting to stimulate himself?”
“That is one theory. Attempting to achieve one last erection.”
“But he was only 42. Surely there were many more to be had. You’re a very charming woman...”
Mrs. Fenwick cuts me off, not wishing to listen to my patronizing addendum to a point I’m sure she has heard many times.
“Harry’s cancer was of the testicles. They were removed the year before. He was having difficulty adjusting. The coroner nicely sealed his report to preclude embarrassing publicity concerning details deemed unrelated to his death. I am sure you’ve seen where the autopsy photos of certain celebrities have been published by the tabloids, and you’ve seen what they printed about Harry with little real information. You can imagine what they would do with actual photos and other superfluous details.”
I am stunned into silence not knowing what to say. But I maintain my journalistic rigor.
“One theory, you say. There was another?”
“Yes. That he indeed hung himself as a result of deep depression. Though initially accepting his fate as a neutered male, he had, at the time of his death, encountered extenuating circumstances.”
“And...” I encourage augmentation.
“Just a week before Harry’s death he learned that the original cancer diagnosis was false. His glands were in fact perfectly normal at the time of removal and he was castrated in error. The theory is that he could not accept the irony...living a life of wealth and privilege but as a eunuch, altered as a result of a clerical mishap.”
Mrs. Fenwick looks directly at me as she resumes sitting with a wry smile. She finds the subject matter morbidly amusing.
“And there’s more,” she adds.
I pause letting her gather her thoughts.
“Found in the room where he was hanging there was a postmarked envelope containing a copy of a cancelled treasurer’s check in the amount of $200,000. It was made payable to the doctor who misdiagnosed Harry’s cancer. Certain investigators intimated that for reasons unknown the doctor may have been bribed. But such was offered as a theory and it could not be proven. The doctor refused to discuss Harry’s case citing professional ethics. He now resides in Nicaragua where extradition for such ‘white collar’ crime is not permitted, particularly when merely alleged. Therefore no pressure could be applied and the investigation of the second theory went no where.”
I am too astounded to write. I look up. Mrs. Fenwick is still smiling.
“Did they trace the source of the payment?”
“There was obviously no return address on the envelope. The check led to an arcane bank trail set up by the perpetrators which was lost somewhere between institutions in Costa Rica and the Cayman Islands. With hundreds of millions of dollars being illegally transferred by drug lords each day, the chances of successfully tracing down a mere $200,000 some eighteen months after the fact are minimal.”
“Any clues or thoughts about who would arrange such a thing?”
“Perhaps a wealthy conniving woman, Joan. Men don’t think about seeking revenge in such a sexually deviant manner, so purposefully aimed at what a man prizes most. The plot has an ironic female tinge to it. Don’t you think?”
Yes, it does, I have to agree. How many times has a girl friend half seriously confided to me in a jealous rage that she would ‘like to cut his balls off’. Mrs. Fenwick continues.
“Suppose it was in a woman’s interest to ensure that someone like Harry could not have offspring, for example. That the flow of wealth in various trusts set up many years ago is deliberately designed to bypass the spousal partner and ensure that the bulk of the old family money goes only to descendants... except of course when the couple are childless. That forebears were paranoid about a descendant marrying a social climber...a parvenu seeking nothing other than fortune. Would it not be in that woman’s best financial interest to remain barren despite the husband’s strong desire to have heirs?”
“You had your husband castrated?”