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Chapter 38

As he had done so many times before, probably a dozen times by now, the Mastermind watched Alex Cross and his family.  Love equals hate, he thought. What an incredible equation, but so true, absolutely true. It made the world go round and it was a lesson Alex Cross needed to learn. Christ, he was such a rucking optimist. It was infuriating.
If anyone had cared enough to carefully study his past they would have discovered the keys to everything that had happened so far. His personal crime and murder spree was one of the most daring in history. It had lasted for over twenty-eight years. He could count the mistakes he’d made on one hand. The keys were right there for anybody to see:
Narcissistic personality disorder.
That’s where it all began. That’s where it would end.
A grandiose sense of self-importance.
That was him, all right.
Expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements.
Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, or ideal love.
Interpersonally exploitive.
Yes, indeed. He lived for it.
Lacks empathy.
To put it mildly.
But please note, Dr Cross and others who might wish to study the long and winding trail - this is a personality disorder. There is no psychosis involved. I am an organized, even obsessive, thinker. I can work out elaborate plots that serve my need to compete, criticize, and control. The three Cs. I am rarely impulsive.
Questions you should be asking about me:
Are my parents alive? Answer: Yes and no.
Was I ever married? Answer: Yes.
Any siblings? Answer: Oh, absolutely. Note bene.  If I’m married, do I have any children? Answer: Two genuine American beauties. I saw that movie by the way. Loved Kevin Spacey.  Adored him.
And am I attractive, or physically flawed in some minor way?
Answer: Yes and yes!
Now do the homework! Draw the love and the hate triangles in my life. Doctor. You’re in the triangles, of course. But so is your family - Nana, Damon, Jannie, and Alex Jr. Everything you care about and think that you stand for is right there in those beautiful triangles, wrapped up in my obsessions.
So unravel it, before it’s too late for both of us. Not to mention everybody you care about in the world.
I’m right outside your house on Fifth Street, and it would be so easy to barge inside right now. It would have been easy to kill you and the family at the Smithsonian, the’Smitty7, as your daughter calls it.
But that would be too easy, too small, and as I’ve been trying to tell you—
The phone in the Mastermind’s hand was ringing, calling, reaching out to touch somebody. Patiently, he let it continue.  Finally, Cross picked up.
‘I have a grandiose sense of’self-importance,”the Mastermind said. settled back into my duties in Washington, where I took some abuse from my detective pals about how much I seemed to enjoy working with the Federal Bureau lately. They didn’t know that I had been approached about becoming an FBI agent, and was actually thinking it over. But I was still drawn to the mean streets of DC.  I had a decent week on the job, and when another Friday rolled around, I also had a date. It had struck me a long time ago that the best thing that had ever happened to me was being married to Maria and having two great kids with her. It’s not an easy thing to play the dating game at any age, especially when you have kids, but I was committed to it. I definitely wanted to be in love again if I could, to settle down, to change my life. I suppose that most people do.  Occasionally I would hear my aunts say, ‘Poor Alex, he doesn’t have anyone to love, does he? He’s all alone, poor baby.’ That wasn’t exactly true. Poor Alex, my butt. I have Damon, Jannie, and little Alex. I also have Nana. And I have lots of good friends in Washington. I make friends easily - like Jamilla Hughes. So far, I haven’t had trouble getting a date either. So far.  Macy Francis and I had known each other since we were little kids growing up in the neighborhood. Macy went on to get a couple of degrees in English and Education at Howard and Georgetown. I went to Georgetown, then Johns Hopkins for my doctorate in psychology.



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