The crash had come in the midst of night. It was late and he tilted his head forward from the covers that rode up as far as his chin. Another loud bang and his mind raced to find consciousness again and he vaulted from the bed into the play of shadow and vague streetlight that rested about the doorway to an equally unlit hall. The heart in his chest racing several feet ahead of him as he raced to the small gun safe and played the long practiced melody with his trembling fingers. The motor coughed as the lid jolted open and his hand rummaged for the hilt of the .45 caliber automatic that he had mostly held but never fired. He caught the shadow of a large man restlessly turning its head to orient itself in his lounge. He felt the grip of his own fear holding back the utterance. “Halt!“, he managed to rasp dryly. The short barrel of the weapon now waist high pointing towards the intruder of its own accord. The sharp report of of it barking twice as the target crumbled and collapsed as suddenly as a tree felled. “Oh my God!“, the man yelled to himself repeating it mindlessly several times as he watched the figure before him tremble for a second before falling permanently asleep. An unreasoning terror buried itself into his chest as the thought of his fate now cast to one of eternal damnation struck him. He had killed someone. The realization brought the sulfurous sting of cordite immediately fully into his nostrils. He gasped as he pictured himself in handcuffs behind bars. The automatic still hovered unsteadily before him. The guilty forefinger having retreated from the fast start taken upon the trigger. The terrible gravity of the instrument pulling it down to his side. He found himself trembling as he looked about where he could set it down but not your lose sight of it with the dun of shadows. He could still see about the room as brilliantly illuminated by those two sudden flashes. Two frame from a movie frozen in his mind’s eye. One of the figure in the overcoat in the middle of the room slightly bent hands clenched. The next frame torso twisted and reeling backwards from the force of the hollow point slug. He had thought he had heard the sound of broken glass?
Had it been several minutes? Or perhaps an hour that he had stood frozen in place not quite sure what to do. The first step forward seemed to take him from what had now become his entire life wrapped up in the sense of past tense. All his experience as who he had thought he had forever been and would have turned out to be had been swept into a refuse bin. He was now someone else. The figure lay collapsed face forward buried in the shards of what has been his large round glass coffee table. Though it was impossible to make out details his mind still could imagine the flesh of what had been a face torn and bloody and near to unrecognizable . The insinuation of the corpses presence and the destruction of its fall a grievous form of undeserved insult. He noticed the intercession of a column of light coming from the door ajar off to his left. The possible stigma of stranger eyes surreptitiously falling on him standing before the corpse culpable and condemned propelling him to close off any possibility of outside intervention. The front door of his unit was still upon its hinge though the area surrounding where the lock had met the jam was shattered. He took two steps forward cat like carefully peering down each direction finding nothing more than the same dimly lit causeways routinely illuminated as always. “The holiday weekend?“, he thought aloud, “No one might have heard because everyone was away!” “Goddam it!“, he barked furiously to himself. He was already thinking like a criminal! How could he explain and unregistered gun in a city that was hysterically insane about their simple fact of their possession? He didn’t even know who this stranger was or why the fool had blundered into knocking his door down in the first place? The notion of an inflexible municipal code seemed to weigh more heavily than any responsibility to vindicate the fact of this interloper’s unwelcome presence in his domain. It was not enough to say that the man had broken in and he had shot him.
He looked down to see his own hands passing across each other in a wringing motion. The door knob of his entry was bent slightly sideways above the battered crescent where a partial imprint of a man’s foot had left its mark. “How to erase that?”, the man’s mind rushed! He swung the door carefully back and forth examining the jagged edges of the portion of the splintered jam. He slipped inside and tested the fit of the door clearing away some splinters to set it as tightly closed as he could. A kitchen chair was dragged over to leverage itself underneath the doorknob to secure its closure. Not secure by any means especially as it had been at the commencement of this whole incident. The mind of the man began to turn in stages to the reason for this scenario and possible explanations as to why it had been visited upon him? He trundled over to the crumbled figure looking to see if the hands had dropped anything. An unregistered weapon of some sort that might betray an equally enigmatic mission to explain his presence in the tenant’s world. The man did not feel safe enough to turn on a light but went to the desk drawer and pulled out a small flashlight. The term generic seemed most fitting for the deceased’s attire. A gray wool overcoat covering a plaid wool worsted sports coat. The trousers completely nondescript the evidence of their age being the shiny reflection of the seat of the pants and knees. The Oxfords scuffed and worn each sole evidencing a the degradation of overuse. Though he stood hunched over the corpse directing the flashlight to these various details there was a gulf of hesitation to touch the corpse. Carefully he nudged the body with the ball of his foot. Then he kicked it still not eliciting a response. The mass of the thing resting totally inert and unaffected by the man’s irreverent gesture. What to do? Call the cops? “Yeah sure!“, he spoke to himself cynically. Was there anything he had to hide? Drag the corpse out of here and dump it somewhere! “Yeah?“, his voice chimed in as if in the role of his own adversary, “And if you get caught in the process?”
A wave of disgust came over him. Anger clouded his vision. He took two steps back and collapsed in his easy chair staring at the freshly deposited lump of clay in the middle of his living room. “I have to think this out!“, he repeated to himself. A stillness about the scene that defied time and eternity providing the mental amphitheater within which to hold court for the decisions that would inevitably remold his future existence in a manner that was so totally unexpected. The mystery of the motive of this stranger in picking his doorway amidst all others coming to mind. What secret enemies did he unexpectedly possess? What splinter group considered dangerous to the underlying powers that be did he belong to? Was this a simple mistake? A chance mistake on the part of the victim who may have transcribed an address wrong? Had he given an unpardonable slight to another? A man? A woman! The impetus of the motive now lost from the figure before him might provide the key to unlock the dilemma of how best to proceed. One by one the mental picture of each of theses shadowy presences cycled through his head. Repeating and repeating until his head began to ache. He looked over to a side table and saw the central instrument to his dilemma? The .45 lay upon the flat surface with its barrel pointing towards him. The sound? The sound! Why had it not brought anyone to his door to inquire? Some entreaty to the police to investigate? How long had it been? Minutes? Hours! Would there be a knock at the shattered ‘presido’ of his front door and a unsympathetically gruff voice demanding entry?? Should he call a lawyer? he could hear his own heart beating in his ears. How could he erase the evidence? There was the body and the challenges of removing it without anyone noticing. The shattered glass of the coffee table and the blood. The carpet would never look the same. A telltale stain leading immediately to a suspicion of wrongdoing by the unit’s owner. He looked back over his shoulder to the front door. The first rays of morning light reminding him that there was an undisturbed top lock. If the incident had gone undetected by the outside world thus far then perhaps there were alternatives?
If he waited and simply did nothing sitting there and was discovered there were possibilities as well. The body undisturbed the crime scene untouched. Would he even have to be here? Perhaps, if no one had seen him he could cop to have not having been home. The gun could be left here cleaned of his fingerprints. Maybe impressing one of the corpses upon it? Make the bed and leave the apartment through the back stairwell and go somewhere for a day or two leaving the door ajar! But who could wreck that plan? He had no apparent friends in the building. Yet could there be someone that he might not been aware of who would have kept mental track of his comings and goings? He opened his eyes looking up from the two sets of finders that had been furiously rubbing them deeply into their sockets. It was all so, “If this or that, then the following!” All of it leading back to the same conclusion of that crumpled interloper. Would that he could singly open the window and tumble his frame outside to the pavement below! He looked over to the windows that stood opposite over a block a way. The same ones that were now blinded by the rays of the early morning sun. The reelected brilliance suggesting that no one format hat direction would be able to notice much in his direction. The mad idea gripped him that he had nothing much to lose in any case. Immediately he was on his feet going to the gun and wiping it thoroughly within and without with a cleaning solvent. The automatic now expunged of its owner’s fingerprint identity, he shoved it in the back of the corpse’s belt and throwing the window open as wide as possible. The holiday weekend had left the street deserted save for a couple of distant taxis passing indifferently on the next block over. Summoning some deep level of unholy obsession he grabbed the body around the waist and manhandled it forward head first over the sill. The inertia of his effort powered by the built up rage of his despair sending it over the edge to tumble down arms and legs flopping into empty air. The window of his apartment was down and shuttered as the impact of the thing sounded far below as a distant dull thud. Seven stories up his blinds were now drawn as he bagged and boxed the remnants of the table’s glass. He decided that he would shred the rug into small pieces dumping bleach over it then sealing the box up with packing tape. The two packages could be taken down to a remote location and dumped in the trash.
How might he explain the door? He wondered? Then it hit him. He would make up the bed to be on the safe side and report an alibi for the damage to the management on Monday morning that he had gone out the previous evening gotten drunk and not finding his key broken in himself. It was only in the light of dawn had he realized that he had acted too precipitously and provide the compensation for the damage. It might work he thought. At this point it didn’t matter. No one could directly prove anything one way or another and any inquiry format he authorities would like any other stormy incident in his life come and go. It was up to fate and destiny anyhow if he survived this mess. It was better to continue with this craziness and see it all the way through keeping his mouth shut and saying as little as possible. The boxes under his arm he walked to the stairwell and proceeded down the seven flights to the ground floor and back entrance out into the alley carrying his parcels. By the time he returned some half an hour later walking slowly down the sidewalk and working mightily at looking as unconcerned as possible a small crowd was gathering. He continued up to the front entrance of the building carrying a paper cup of coffee munching a half-consumed danish before the melee. A couple of squad cars were haphazardly parked in both pointed in the wrong direction on either side of the street the occupants of same various tasks of fending off pedestrians from the crumpled mass on the pavement. The wail of a siren of an ambulance approaching from afar building as a man in plain clothes was scribbling down an account by a middle aged woman. Her tiny barking dog endlessly at the end of its leash. “So you say you were walking your dog and you came up on the body laying here and there was no one else on the street?“, the detective droned as he recited from his note pad. The building’s doorman greeted the man inside as he walked unaffected to the elevator. “Bad business Mack!“, the burly man scowled shaking his head before the controlled feint of his opposite’s blase expression. “I told the management that too much has been going on in the neighborhood with gangs and shootings!” “Maybe this character on the roof?” “I hope we don’t get sued!” The man nodded with vacant sympathy as the doors to the elevator opened. “Yeah!“, he turned and offered! “You can never tell what someone will do next!”