Monday, February 6, 2012

Dead Man

The dead man lay on the floor of the shop. The blood pooling around his head pushed back the drying smears of dirty water left by crowds of winter boots. A salt and pepper mustache perched over his cakey, molded lips, which hung open to the side. The pupils of his eyes peeked flatly through a slit under their lids. His plaid coat was zipped almost to the top and the grubby knobs of his fingers curled just beyond the sleeves. Somebody had killed him.

We had only come to get something to snack on, cookies or crackers, maybe some juice. We passed him and took a good look. Strange to see a dead man in such a public place. The assistants were gathered around him, waiting, gripping their mops and clipboards. They had phoned already, the police would arrive soon so they could start cleaning everything up.

We didn't want to disturb them. We paid silently in acknowledgment of the inconvenience and went out.

Two hours later, they had moved him off the floor and mopped the spill. He lay in a shopping cart packed with bags of ice, his mud-spotted legs flopping out over the edge. The police had come. They were mulling around taking notes and crossing their arms, putting their hands on their hips.

We had run out of dish soap and it was annoying to leave dishes in the sink. It was sunny, anyway, nice for going out. We stepped around his cart. The ice was a good idea, kept him fresh.

Near sundown, we wanted a cake. We were surprised to find him still resting there in his cart. The ice had melted and left a pinkish puddle on the floor. They had caught the killer and chained him to a bar in the corner. He paced and muttered. The police talked into their radios. We locked a bag into the bin by the counter and went to browse. There were always many cakes to choose from. We picked one with cream and layers of flaky crust.

The clerk was eying the killer when we reached her. I had to clear my throat to get her attention so we could pay. “Sorok, shest” repeated the killer over and over. We took the bag out of the locker and went home with the cake.

I suppose they've taken him out and it's all cleaned up by now.

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