“I had gotten away with it. I had gotten away with my crime, my secret, my sin. And I slept fine; I had no problem with a heinous soul. No guilt riddled my mind or weighed me down, not one ounce. I had no regrets. And I thought that it would stay that way for a long while, in life and in death. I thought that all my wishes would have come true, that everything would have fallen into place. Of course, I had known it wouldn’t turn out perfectly as planned; I had my precautions. I just never thought, not once, that it would end like this.”
THE REGRETS OF AMONTILLADO
“Stepping away from my masterpiece, I wiped my hands against my trousers, a satisfactory grin plastered onto my face. I observed the thin, white dust come off my hands effortlessly to cling to and stain my black pants, not even bothering to try and get the chalky dust off. I would get rid of these pants later on, anyway.
Removing the dust stain from my mind, I turned towards my lantern, almost out of its bright flame. I watched the dimming light source, sighing slightly in annoyance. What a bother. I held the lantern high above in front of my face so I could see where I was going, squinting slightly against the darkness. I could feel my thin boots sinking into the dampness beneath me, and believe me, it wasn’t a great feeling. I trudged across the stone and muck, under the rock that hung from the top of the cave and over the rock that stood like thinning columns against the floor. My feet collided with skulls and bones way past their time, and the cold sensation in the large caves sent chills down my spine.
It took much less time to get back up to my abode than it was to get down to Fortunato’s death bed. I didn’t have to deal with an ignorant, selfish drunkard this time. That problem was taken care of.
My feet lightly tapped against the stone stairway, feeling the warmth of the celebratory night come closer towards me as I made my way up the stairs. The night was still young, and I wanted to continue on with my plan, but I couldn’t. Not yet. If I made any action towards my next step I would be suspected, and all of my hard work and ingenious planning would go to waste. I needed to be patient, wait until Fortunato’s mistress would miss him, and know that he was gone.
I removed the wooden plank that blocked the large wooden door, setting it aside, and opening the door to the warm, Italian night. A large smirk grew across my lips, and I laughed heartily at my success, a hand resting across my stomach as my laughs racked through me. My humor was undefined, as most used to put it. I like to call it mysterious.
My shoes scraped against the stone as I headed towards my own quarters, a grin not leaving my face as I removed my festival attire. The mask, and then the cape, and then my boots. At least it wasn’t a jester outfit. I guess what a person wears to their death could tell a lot about them. I only re-learned the obvious from what Fortunato decided to dress himself in. That he was just a joke. And not a funny one, either.
I lay myself to bed, my eyes slowly closing, not wanting this eventful day to end. But then again, the sooner it ended the sooner I would be able to confront the lovely Mistress. So I decided that it would be for the best to sleep, to wait it out. And that was just what I did.
Days had passed. I wasn’t sure how many; I’m not one to count days or, then again, care what day it is anyway. I could have been certain that it was about a week, maybe less. I never could quite estimate time. My plan was finally ready to fall into place. All the chaos was forming together, and all I had to do was turn it into a simple peace. It was time.
I had awoken bright and early from my quarters. Today was the day. I dressed myself in my finest clothing; made sure I was looking dapper, – as usual – and readied myself. I rehearsed it over and over along the days of patient torture, and then, standing there outside of my lovely home, I knew I was ready.
The town had gone into hell looking for him, the ungrateful man, the ignorant man. Ignorant beyond utter belief, beyond even such a brain of a worm. He couldn’t even raise himself past a worm. That title was too forgiving and boastful for a man as detesting as him.
After Carnival, it only took a day for the people to find that their famous wine expert was missing. Gone into the world of the unknown, gone into my own wine cellar! The town searched for him unto days upon end, not once thinking to ask me, his ‘beloved friend.’ As if! My cellar was left undisturbed; even I hadn’t trespassed into the old burial ground since Fortunato was left to die. The mistress, the beautiful mistress, was the most hectic out of all the townsfolk. Aw. She actually loved him; the poor woman. But alas, my heart ached for the woman that had left me so long ago.
Walking my way through the search parties that were still fruitlessly searching for him, I groaned slightly. This was becoming troublesome. Why they had cared for a man such as him, I would never know.
I searched for my young love, heading straight towards where I knew she would be. We as a couple had been acquainted with the area, and we loved it and stayed there with each other each day, the calming scenery of Italy calming and relaxing the two of us. I frowned as I visualized the area in my mind, hating it as well. Where Fortunato decided to come along, where Fortunato decided to take my mistress, where Fortunato decided he would ruin my life and send it into chaotic turmoil.
As stone turned to smooth grass, I walked up the small hill towards the still ever growing tree, standing tall and proud, green leaves waving through the breeze as if they would never falter or break. But they would, eventually. Just like Fortunato.
I noticed her there, sitting against the wooden trunk, her hands in her lap. She was grieving, still! I was baffled at how long it was taking her to get over his death. He wasn’t a great man, anyway. I sat beside her, my back against the wood, watching her jump at my sudden appearance.
“Hello,” I greeted, giving a small smile.
She only nodded in greeting to me, glancing up into my eyes for a brief second, until turning away to pull at a piece of grass. A silence stilled us and made the situation almost awkward. But I wouldn’t let it slip away from me that easily.
“I knew fate would bring us together,” I breathed, examining a ripped piece of grass between my fingers, “I knew we were meant to be.”
The woman looked up, shocked, into my eyes, and I smiled at her. She didn’t like that.
“You’re acting like a murderer, Montresor.” She mumbled, her eyes narrowing. “You’re acting as if nothing happened. Fortunato is missing, Montresor, and I’m grieving! I cannot believe that a man as gentlemanly as you would say such things.”
No. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
“Such words aren’t accepted in my eyes as a gentleman, Montresor. Fortunato was a gentleman. You just speak the words of a crazed man.”
It shouldn’t be happening like this. It shouldn’t be ending like this. She should be coming to me for comfort, and fall in love with me! How much time did she need to grieve?
“Montresor,” she began, looking away, “You’ve disappointed me.” Without another word she stood, trudging down the hill and away from my shocked self.
Rejection. She wasn’t supposed to reject me. I twitched, feeling my hands start to shake. Fate was supposed to be kind to me, she was supposed to be kind to me. Rejection. I stared down at my shaking hands, not even registering my sight. It was over. It was all over. It wasn’t supposed to end like this. I wasn’t. It couldn’t have happened.
I twitched. I stared at nothingness. I could feel my mind start to crumble, my once genius thoughts turning into nothing but mindless babble.
I slowly stood, my legs shaking as I took the long trek back to my home. My feet ached, my heart ached, my head pounded. I didn’t even remember going back home. I stumbled down into the cellar after fetching myself a piece of paper and feather, trudging through the stone and cold and damp. I drowned myself in the same alcohol I had downed Fortunato in, still trudging onwards. I could feel a terrible cough forming in my lungs, my chest heaving with the effort to keep moving.
I stopped in front of the newly made wall, recent, dust just starting to cover the plaster. I plopped down in front of the wall, my back leaning against it. My mind became hazy and empty, but even through it all I forced myself to write.
And here I sit, bathed in guilt and rejection, insanity coursing through my veins and a deep contemptuous feeling boiled inside me. It was all over. My mistress had rejected me. I now felt my regret.”
Montresor released the feather in his grip, feeling himself shaking with the effort to sign his note. It was all over now. With rejection on his mind, Montresor felt a cough coming on again, and drifted into a sleep. A guilty, regretful sleep from which he would never awake from.