Monday, May 11, 2009

Chapter 13

It seemed as though an hour had passed since it had all begun. She was sure that it was probably only minutes. Five minutes? That would be typical with this sort of incident. Twenty minutes? Everything was moving so slowly. Opening her eyes, she focused on her hands, splayed out in front of her. Was that blood? Glints blinked back at her. Glass shards. Some were darker than others. Mirror shards? Both? She noticed there was dirt under her right index fingernail. She blinked and refocused on the nail. Yeah, dirt. How had she not noticed that before? And after such a recent manicure appointment.

Brushing her hair back from her face and holding it there with the same tainted finger, she raised her head and turned slowly back and forth to look around. The lights were still on, bright to her eyes. She brought her hand forward to shield her vision from the distracting dancing dots in front of her. There were more glass and mirror shards everywhere around her. What the hell? Scanning the room, her eyes darted around, stopping at a blackish lump on the floor. Her eyes settled on a figure - on him?

He was still there in the room. He was lying on the floor near the shower. She squinted at him. Was he OK? Had he gotten knocked out from the shaking? Was the earthquake an omen? Should she have quit while she was ahead?She started to crawl over to him. Immediately, she felt warm air coming down from above. She looked up. The air blew her hair around in a matted, damp swirl. Hesitating only briefly to control her fly-away strands, she continued forward. She kept thinking about a couple panes of the domed skylight being shattered. Was that the glass on the floor? She looked back behind her and saw that the vanity mirror had been shattered as well. She shuddered as the air goose-bumped her skin and she kept crawling towards him.

When she had almost reached his side, she stopped. He was awfully still. She placed her ear to the floor and, from that angle, watched his chest for breathing. Tentatively, she reached out, grabbed his shoe, and shook it. Nothing. She shook it harder. Still nothing. He must’ve really knocked himself out. She watched his chest again. Nothing that she could see. As she pulled herself up next to him, pain seared through her ankle. She gasped and grabbed her leg, pulling it close to her body. Her ankle was tinged with purple and blue and already swollen. She had to have twisted it when she fell. How had she fallen? Gingerly holding her foot, she shimmied her way up to his head and shook his shoulders. Still no response. She laid her head on his chest. No heartbeat that she could hear.

As she lay there on him, she smelled something burning. What could that be? She looked around the bathroom with her eyes focused, the dancing spots faded by this time. Nothing. Was the estate on fire? She turned her head sharply towards the door. Where could it be? Would she be able to escape? She wouldn’t want those Brats to find her there. She listened again. Strangely, there were no alarm devices going off and he had a ton of them for every conceivable situation be it a simple burglary to World War III. Malfunction? Not likely in this house. Would it have gone off for a quake? Yes, he would have thought of everything, she was sure. So, then why did it smell like burnt hair?

She ran her hands through her own tresses, searching for embers or crispiness. She pulled the longer lengths in front of her face for inspection. Nothing. She turned her attention back to him, tying her hair up in a knot to keep it out of her eyes. She put her head to his chest again. Still nothing. Always nothing with him! Did she know CPR? She pulled herself up slowly, very aware
of her ankle, and positioned herself, as she had seen on ER, to attempt to do CPR. At this new angle, she looked at his face assessing whether or not she wanted to put her lips to his. Could she shake her hygiene issues in an emergency? As she moved in for the first trial breath, the stench of burnt hair became stronger. A mark caught her eye at the left of his temple, above his ear. She turned his head and shrieked, putting her hands straight to her mouth at that instant. The high pitched sound reverberated on all of the hard surfaced walls, escaping only through the shattered, custom-made glass panes of the dome in the ceiling. Smoke wafted from a perfectly round, scorched hole in the side of his head off-gassing the stench of hair and skin.

She kept her mouth covered and peered closer, curiosity overcoming shock. The sharp smell of cauterized flesh caused her to gag and she fell back onto the floor, willing herself not to retch. Once more, searing pain from her twisted ankle shot up her body and made her heart beat faster as adrenaline rushed down to the injury. She willed herself to breathe and calm down.
He wasn’t knocked out, he was dead! She looked around the room for a weapon. Surely, this was a gunshot wound. Who would shoot at him? Well, anyone and everyone. They were lined up behind her and she was in line behind many others for sure. How had anyone done this?

She looked up at the skylight and instantly freaked. Had someone shot him through the skylight? Were they still there? Could they still see her? Were they watching her right now? Had an earthquake really happened? Holding her ankle, she dragged herself as quickly as she could into the open plan shower stall. Fuck, the tile was cold! She waited. For what? An attempt on her life because she had been a witness to his murder? Where was her cell phone? Her bum had gotten cooler. The cold had also made her ankle feel better as well. She slowly crept out again on all fours, looking this way and that, and moved towards The Body. Whoever was around surely had to be gone by now. When she had reached his side again, she opened his jacket and felt him up for a gun, a wire, even a camera. He wouldn’t have agreed to this meeting with nothing up his sleeve, literally. Roughly, she frisked him all over and then riffled through his pockets. He was already stiff. Even more so than when he had been alive, if that was possible. She pulled out some cufflinks and an old business card, which she recognized immediately. Finding nothing more, she straightened him up as best she could.

She needed to get out of there, now. Gingerly standing up, favoring her injured ankle, she took stock of herself. Hair was fucked up, proof provided in what was left of the shattered mirror. The dress was ruined, but the shoes would do for now. What was missing? Clutch. Fuck! Clutch. She looked around the room for the bag. Spotting it in the tub, she picked it out, shook the glass off, and shoved in her souvenirs. Pausing in the center of the room, she focused on their two highball glasses, still on the vanity, surprisingly still intact. She rinsed them out in the sink, running the water for a good while. The less evidence that she had been there, the better. The Brats would have a field day. Shit, were they there already? Surely they would’ve gotten some silent, secret alarm at their “stations”. Listening intently for footsteps, voices, or phones ringing, she paused, holding the glasses up high. Hearing nothing, she smashed both against the floor, highball glass shattering and mingling with the existing mess. She stopped and listened again. Still hearing nothing, she tiptoed, as best she could with a swollen ankle in high heels out of the room and down the hall to his office.

Opening one of the French doors, she crept inside and closed it quietly behind her. Covering her head with a scarf from her clutch, she limped to the opposite wall, deftly pushing open the concealed panel behind velvet drapery. The night sky was queerly lit. The search lights must have come on, scanning the blackness for unwanted “ghetto birds”. She stepped through and limped down the patio path, daphne bushes perfuming her escape and erasing the stench of burnt hair that lingered in her nose. The coldness from the tiles was wearing off and her ankle began to throb painfully. She reached the corner of the house and stopped to peek into the car turn-around. Her car was still there, alone. She looked this way and that, habitually subconsciously aware of the cameras. She stepped forward and then stopped abruptly, remembering to also check for security and the Brats. Where were they? Not like them to not come running to their master’s call. That was weird, but fortunate for her tonight.
Unlocking her car door manually, she silently slipped into the driver’s seat. Keeping the door open, she put the car into neutral and pushed it towards the front gates with her good foot. Obediently, the gates whooshed open and she coasted out onto Mulholland Drive.

Feeling safe at last, she brought her foot in, shut the door, and started the engine. She checked her breathing, hand to her heart. She looked out the windshield – left, right, forward. She checked her rear view. The gates had closed. Still nothing, no one. She listened for sounds other than her car. A bright light tripped her eye up at the top of her windshield. She craned her neck to see, afraid it was a ghetto bird and she’d been spotted. A bright, full, harvest moon hung in the sky, an illuminating witness to this past hour of her life. That damn dentist office magazine had been right – the second in two years.

No comments:

Post a Comment