16 September, 2010


To whit, to whom shall the first and foremost fly?
Which lair, which share shall the last and rearguard try?

It started thus on an airtight day, during the new moon of a brisk and chirpy night. Two goggled men stood posed to fight, by the dolphin fountain in the day's half-light. On the parkbench sat she, a severe face with equally well-controlled expression. At present, it wore the mask that stated boredom.

"Well?" she called, her voice piercing the night breeze and killing it, like a butterfly pinned to a board. "What are you waiting for?"

One of the men relaxed and turned to speak, his expression shouting his reluctance and yet admission that he was royally screwed. But as he opened his mouth, the other man took the opportunity and lunged like a slavering dog. A squeak. A dull thump and a crack as the head bounced on the concrete. Once. Twice. Then rested.

"Finally," the woman rolled her eyes and flicked a finger at the victor. "Go finish the job and this time, don't mess up."

The man bowed, removing the goggles that blurred his vision and hurried away, shoulders sagging. What would his mother say when she found out what he had done to his brother? Away flew the goggles into the vacant air.

Snorting in disgust, the woman shook a droplet of silver liquid from a glass bottle onto the body. Then checking her jewelled watch by the light of a yellow streetlamp, strode in the opposite direction to which the man had gone, heels clicking out a rhythm. Fa-tal, fa-tal.

A wisp of smoke arose from where the silver liquid rested upon the flannel shirt of the deceased. A crackle. A flicker of flame. Ka-whoosh and the body burst into flames, the fire reaching up higher and higher into the sky, singeing the lower branches of the nearby plum blossom tree.

All good citizens remained indoors. The curfew was there for a reason and no man in his right mind went out or even looked out the window at this time of the night - or was it day? One could never tell exactly which it was. Only the regulated clocks told them when to rise for the 'day' and when to rest for the 'night'. As such, the barbecue went unnoticed. People just thought it was their neighbours burning dinner again.

A lizard crawled out from beneath a nearby bush to bask in the glow of the unexpected fire. Fizzles and pops of spitting fat made it scuttle back undercover. Warmth at the price of being cooked was not worth the trouble. Just as suddenly as the bonfire had started did it die down, leaving a patch of scorched concrete and greasy flakes fluttering in the breeze that had resumed its course the moment the lady had left.

"Where?" demanded the constable, irritated that he hadn't yet had the chance to down his extra strong cup of black coffee. No sugar.

"Here. Right here where the blackened ground is, sir," hunched shoulders and lank hair wished they were back under their bed covers.


"Preliminary reports state that there was a potential cremation of a body here last night."


"The locals wish to know whether you will investigate," the overgrown boy-man tried to hide deeper within the collar of his coat.

"No point. Just add the case to the pile already on the desk. We wouldn't find anything," the constable was already striding back to his car, wanting to get out from beneath the almost empty sky as soon as possible. Who knew when it would fall on his balding head? This secret fear was alleviated by earnest stretching of his legs to take up as much ground as they could with each step. He was a tough man. A busy man. Everyone knew that.

"As you wish, sir," the boy-man clicked a few more photographs of the area, knowing he'd been dismissed. Might as well process the scene properly, just in case anybody ever bothered to come back to this case. A glimmer caught his eye.

Flicking the torch light clipped to his belt, he knelt beside the rosemary for a closer look. Goggles? Using a glove, so as not to get his own fingerprints on the potential piece of evidence, he carefully shook it into an evidence bag. The boss would want to get a close look at it.

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