I had never particularly liked the old man. Still, I liked him more than the suit who stood across the body from me. He wore a hat so I couldn't see his eyes to know if they were looking at me or the crumpled heap of a man.
Glancing down at the beggar, I noticed his eyes, small white orbs. Dead to the world, but I could not help the feeling that they were staring at me. To divert myself from this fearful thought, I wondered exactly what would be done with him. A dead body, even one belonging to a homeless person, would attract attention. The murderer seemed to be thinking along the same lines, for he bent and extracted his knife from the corpse.
He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket with a flourish and wiped off the blood with one swoop. The knife was then carefully restored into his coat and a lighter withdrawn. He set the handkerchief ablaze, watching it crumble to ash. Strangely, not one speck was left on his startling white gloves.
He then did something that I thought was rather peculiar for a murderer. He left his calling card in the man’s weather-beaten jacket. Tipping his hat to me, he walked away with a quick stride.
I stared after him for several long moments, pondering his almost gentlemanly behavior. Stranger than that, was how he went to the trouble of burning the napkin and cleaning his knife, yet he left his calling card, and me, the only witness. I glanced down at the body once more, then scurried inside the apartment building before anyone should see me.
My parents were asleep and I did not care to disturb them. I laid in my bed, turning on the television. It was on a crime show that had just started, the victim freshly dead. I flipped through the channels, not wanting to think about the scene outside. I stopped on a sitcom, harmless gibberish. The flat tones soon lulled me to sleep.
I didn’t sleep well that night. The man and his hat loomed through my dreams. When he was not there, the old man stood accusing me, stating that it was my fault. My fault that he was dead, but what could I have done? I did not cast him from his house, to make it so he had to beg. I did not urge him to reach out and ask for change from a man who would stab him for it. His cries became feeble until they were blessedly silent.
Even then, I was still punished. A quiet chuckle rose from the killer’s throat. His hat covered his eyes and for some unknown reason I could not stand not seeing under it. I maneuvered subtly to see under it, but he would turn away, proclaiming it was not proper. Finally, he grew weary of avoiding me. A gentle sigh passed his lips as he swooped his hat from his head and bowed in a most elegant fashion. Then he looked up at me and I almost screamed out in horror. He had the eyes of the homeless man. They stared blankly at me, not seeing.
The nightmare awoke me. The light was just peeking in from outside while the TV blared on. I had forgotten to shut it off. I was leaning forward to do so when the story on the news caught my eye. They were talking of a homicide. I began to sweat but comforted myself with the thought that there were many, especially here. It was in vain, as I soon realized when they flashed the man’s picture.
I did not recognize him at first. In the picture he was clean shaven, his clothes fairly new. A smile lit up his face. This, I think, was the object of his appearance that made him hardest to recognize. In all the years I had passed him, walking to school and other places, I had never seen that look upon his face. It was him though. As surely as his body lay cold, it was him.
I was frozen, my eyes would not move from the pretty newscaster’s face. The volume was low, so I turned it up, not wanting to miss a word. “There is no evidence leading to the perpetrator. Only a single business-type card was left in the man’s jacket. We have been informed by police that the statement, ‘It’s rude to stare,’ was engraved onto it. This matches up with several other recent homicides.
“There seems to be no link between all of these individuals. However, many of them can be connected to the homicide before and after them. Along with the card, police have used this information to reach the conclusion that the perpetrator kills the witness of his crimes. Families of the victims have backed this up, with statements that their deceased loved ones seemed reserved and quiet before their untimely deaths.” She rambled on, but I had stopped listening. I had heard all I needed to. Tremors shook my body and my eyes rolled to the left and right, already watching for unseen enemies.
Sense returned after several long minutes in which my terror almost devoured me. Their proof was not solid, of that, anyone could see. There may be no danger to me at all, I reasoned. There was still a part of me, though, that was fearful. I determined to always be in company. I thought I would be safer this way. I would also be in the presence of my best friend who my affect for was great. For who else would sit with me so long?
That is how I came to be sitting with my aforementioned friend, a week after the incident. We sat across the room from each other, turned to our studies. At least, she was. My eyes traveled constantly to her, preferring the sight of her to the tiny print of my book.
It was a dreary day, the sun had not shown his face once. Rain hit the roof, two floors above us. It had been mostly light, but at this time it was becoming heavier. I pitied anyone outside on this dreadful day.
A great crack of thunder made her look up, “I would love rainy weather if it were not for the noise. Don’t you agree?”
My face grew hot for I had been gazing upon her when she turned her eyes on me. I rushed to answer the question, desperately trying to cover up my deed. My mouth had barely opened however when her eyes grew wide with something like fright.
At first, I did not understand. With my brow wrinkled, I started to ask her what was the matter. It was then he pressed the cold, sharp edge to my throat and whispered in a polite, gentle voice.
“I do apologize for interrupting, but it’s rude to stare.”
The word count is 1,156 which is just over the minimum limit. I feel that this story is just the right length however. I rather like the voice of it, it fits in with the theme. Plus, I've been wanting to talk like that ever since I started reading Wuthering Heights. Feel free to let me know what you think. I'll have a review up soon.