The sobriety helped. As he stood there on the road, watching the wreckage burn, he realized: I have real power now. He could afford a better car. A car he deserved.
He had married Helen out of college. At 35, she had started to show her age, while Victor was still the fresh-faced frat boy she first remembered. Why can’t I find a woman who doesn’t grow old, he asked himself. His eyes wandered, but never his hands. He was proud of that. Every time he’d tell Helen about a beautiful girl he’d seen, he’d kiss her and say “but I love you, and you’re here”.
Victor doesn’t really understand why Helen left him to take up with an investment banker. Her family was old money, while Victor made it on his accomplishments. He’s better than those guys. Stronger, smarter, better looking. Right?
The banker drives a nice car. He pulls up in front of Helen’s house - his old house, Victor tells himself - and honks twice. Helen comes running out. She dresses better for him than she ever did for Victor. What did he do to deserve that much effort, Victor demands of the ghost of Helen that still haunts him. Why didn’t you show me that much attention? And in his imagination, Helen’s ghost apologizes and tries to make amends, and Victor magnanimously forgives her. And then he gets angry, because the real Helen just keeps dating this rich jerk instead of coming back to him and begging forgiveness like the ghost in his mind has done. And Victor’s watching them drive off, because he can’t let this go.
One day he’s following them in his convertible. They’re driving along the winding seaside highway. And Victor does it. The banker’s car skids, goes over the edge. There’s plenty of metal in the body, enough that Victor could push it. A few seconds later, he’s remembering what just happened, and he asks himself what did I just do? Suddenly he’s lost sight of the chain of reasoning that led him to do it. Suddenly he realizes the woman he loved was in the car he just sent over a cliff. Suddenly the ghost of Helen is all he has.
There was a private detective following him, he learns during the trial. Helen was going to take out a restraining order against him. She’d found out he was following her around somehow and wanted proof. The detective’s got photographic evidence. The prosecutor can prove Victor has enough power to push a car over the edge. The tire tracks are all wrong - the car didn’t turn, it’s clear that some outside force was at work. The forensics experts have charts and graphs. Victor can only sit there in stunned silence. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Two counts of voluntary manslaughter. Victor hears a lot of Latin that day. He says a lot of things in court, most of which he doesn’t remember later. I’m going to be in the papers, he realizes. Then he remembers that he used power to do this. They’re going to make a comic book villain out of me.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. This isn’t what he deserves.