Microfiction by Rimli Sengupta – Closet • Table • Bookcase
The murder victim is a married woman; the prime murder suspect is her husband.
There is a part in the newspaper story where the father says, “My daughter was lying lifeless, wearing a shirt I had never seen before. I instantly knew there was foul play.”
I cannot feel much empathy for the murdered woman because I am entirely struck by a father who is familiar with every shirt in his married daughter’s closet.
Or so he thinks. Maybe the foul play he talks about is not the murder at all. But the betrayal. The knowledge that there were other people
his daughter was also buying shirts with. That there might have been a closet he didn’t know about. Or two.
The morgue doctor said: “I try to diagnose everybody on the street. It’s happened to me once where I used to see somebody repeatedly, we must have had a similar work path. Then he ended up on the table. And it took me a little while to realize that that’s who he was.”
And I thought: we never said hello, but there had been some eye contact and nods. One time he had helped me dive into the subway car just as the doors slid shut. That’s when I had noticed the tattoo on his left wrist: a winged Orca in mid-breach. Like a sea-plane about to take off. If I hadn’t seen the tattoo I might not have been able to identify him at all. A nude corpse on my table looks very different from a clothed subway rider.
The morgue doctor continued: “There was this one guy—when doing the autopsy we were opening the bowel and we got to the right colon and I came across this piece of paper. He had written a woman’s name over and over and over and over and over again, like 200 times. And then swallowed it and then died.”
And I wanted to say: the piece of paper was intact, which tells you that there was no time for any digestion. He had folded it down and rolled it into a minuscule tube; the sharp ends were probably a challenge for his gag reflex. Because of the tight folding much of the paper was still dry. The writing was unhurried and there were five different pens. Not sure if he ran out of ink or if he had deliberately wanted variey, like you do when signing an important treaty. I know all this because I kept it. The piece of paper.
But the doctor had already put the heart in a formaldehyde jar and screwed the lid shut.
His blog entry read: “I have ten acres of pasture, so I hope to be buried here at home. My coffin is standing upright in my library, with shelves screwed in now, holding books. The shelves will be easily removed when the time comes, and a lid screwed on.”
It occurs to me that the farmhouse is old; the beams are infested with borers. They call out to each other at night, especially in the library. Some are in the bookcases, for sure. Books or dead flesh, the borers don’t care.