New Stories for October 5th, 2015
Today, I was an accomplice to murder. I took not just one life, but three, all in a matter of minutes. It started out like any other early January morning—black and cold with a cranky, relentless siren screaming at me from the nightstand. I fumbled with the snooze button, but in the end, settled for knocking the meddling clock off the nightstand and falling out of bed onto a pile of dirty clothes. I dodged stray toys on the way to the bathroom and barely made it there alive. That was nothing. The real trouble began just
as I was getting out of the shower. There I stood, shivering and naked when a knock on the door sounded the alarm in my head. Wrapping myself in a towel, and bracing for the worst, I cracked open the door. There she stood, warp-eyed, disheveled and shielding her eyes from the glaring lights. I knew what she was going to say just as her words slithered into my steamy sanctuary. I didn’t however, have a clue what poison I was about to deliver.
“Mommy,” came the concerned whine, “The tooth fairy didn’t take my tooth, and she didn’t leave any money under my pillow.” Just as I suspected–the tooth fairy! Couldn’t she ever get it right! This was the second time she missed a pick-up.
Diana was completely out of ideas and Halloween Night was only hours away. She hated the mass-produced junk at the pop-up stores that took over empty buildings in her town. They were a reminder of all the small shops that had shuttered in the drawn-out death of economic downturn. She preferred to spend time finding all the perfect components for the perfect costume, even though usually nobody but she knew the attention to detail. This year had been a failure. Time and money had been stretched and her creative well was a couple drops from dry. With a sigh, she resigned herself to plastic and one-piece getups two feet too short. At least with her long black hair, she could easily accessorize herself into a witch. Since she had determined this would be her last Halloween trick-or-treating, to say she was disappointed would have been an incredible understatement.
She turned her bike down the block that lead to the Halloween store when her chain suddenly snapped, almost throwing her over the handlebars. As she hopped off to assess the damage, she heard faint music coming from somewhere nearby. Diana quickly swiveled her head to try and pinpoint the origin of the fairly eerie music-box tune and wheeled her bike to the next shop up. Trenshaw’s Treasures. Huh. She hadn’t heard about the new thrift shop. It was definitely worth an investigation.
On Thursday morning, Mr. Mitrovic’s body was found hanging in the stairwell. He secured one end of the blue half-inch polypropylene rope to an eighth floor banister post, and the other end around his neck. I’m not going to tell you he was a good man, because I don’t know if that was true. And I am not going to tell you I am sorry that he’s gone either. I never really liked him when he was alive, so why should I feel any different now. We lived across the hall from each other for six years, I in apartment 8A, and Mr. Mitrovic in apartment 8B. He made the entire floor smell like boiled cabbage, and he listened to the Art Bell radio show at full volume.
The police came a few hours after the body was found. I stood in my doorway to watch. I had never seen anything like it before, but it was what I imagined a failed trapeze act to go like. The police officers, dressed in their black uniforms, stretched a big net across the middle of stairwell on the sixth floor, just below where the body dangled. Then one officer took a serrated knife and cut the rope from above, leaving the part of the rope that was tied around the banister. When the body hit, the net enveloped the weight, forming a cocoon. Police officers lowered the mass down to the ground floor.