While cleaning out my cupboard today, I discovered the stock of cheap fiction with even cheaper characters, which had sustained me in my Deutsch lectures in school. Looking over them, I felt remarkably nostalgic. No Shaw or Hardy or Austen had ever given me the vicarious thrills which these novels with their sleazy characters and entirely predictable plots gave me. This was written as a tribute to the Spicy Mysteries and the Dime Detectives, although it turned out to be an inferior imitation of something pretty dubious in the first place.
I have tried to include all the standard elements in such stories – the sensational (if macabre) start, the obvious clues, the presence of a corpse, the digressive “atmospheric” preoccupations that S.S. Van Dine laments about, the morbid ratiocination of the narrator and the eminently predictable and ridiculous end. Warning : This part was a spoiler but the article is going to spoil your mood anyway, so what the hell…
I had killed her. It wasn’t the first time I had killed but the now-familiar feeling sent the blood to my head and made me slightly dizzy. I felt insanely happy and foolish at the same time. I stood there holding her dead body, contemplating the evanescence of the tangled mess that we euphemistically call life. There would be more, but now was not the time to think about it. It was a moment to be savoured.
It began around two-thirtyish at night. I was sitting in an easy chair next to my window looking at the odd car or rickshaw pass by while being overtaken by its own shadow under the series of sodium-vapour lights which lined the street. A tom-cat, with white socks that shone under the brilliant yellow light, was sitting on the wall which separated the garden from the street, with the serene complacence exhibited only by felines. He had somehow contrived to look dignified while licking himself clean which I found incongruous, yet impressive. He concluded his ablutions and sat there erect with a majesty which reminded me of the geometric but oddly realistic paintings of the ancient Egyptians. It was about then that she came in the room. I had never really comprehended the nature of instant and unreasonable irritation which many experience and some betray but at that moment I knew exactly what it meant. I cast a futile glare at her which she ignored entirely. I gave some more subtle indications that she was unwelcome. It was of no use. She epitomized the infuriating single-mindedness of her sex. She was here to stay. I looked at her with cold disdain and opened the door, waiting for her to leave. With an intimacy which astounded me, she went and perched her dainty little body on my bed, waiting for me to come closer. The message was clear. She had needs. I had to fulfil them. After the deed was done, she would leave. This was outrageous! Not only was she was intruding on the sanctity of the moment, but also taking me for granted – the cardinal sin. I felt righteous fury bubbling up inside me which was not unlike that of a primal God who demands instant subservience and wreaks havoc when it is not forthcoming.
I had offered her a reasonable option. She refused to take it. She had to die.
I did the deed with my bare hands with as little emotion as that of a bus-conductor tearing out tickets. Looking at the blood on my hands, I couldn’t help feeling suprised that such a frail body could have held so much blood. I felt sated and closed the window. I knew I was going to sleep soundly that night.
Damn, I hate mosquitoes*.
*In mosquitoes, only the females drink blood.