Calloused, bruised and cut. Waking up in the middle of the street, he finds a lamppost still flickering at three in the morning. The only light in town, the moon having taken off from its shift. Guided by voices of faint hope, he bleeds his hands some more to shake off the excess. The body lying next to him is out cold.
Going through the pockets of a dead man is a cold thing indeed, having lost its warmth and more so after a few hours. For a pocket outside the outside, it's not the same as gutting open a yeti to sleep in its innards. That takes skill and a deft hand and foolishness of being in the snow relying on the kindness of native beasts to coddle your cockles.
A switch knife, buttons, lint and a few ducats. Nothing more, not even an ID. John Doe, a frequent visitor to the city's morgue will be checking in again shortly. "That's a C sharp," they'll say of Doe. Sclerotic. Twisted by growth, ignored by the family doctor. Left with a lump, right by no one.
Turning the body over he finds a book. Hardcover. That's why the rabbit punches didn't land. The dust jacket falls off, showing some trite by Richard Dawkins. Either the geneticist or the one writing fiction. They're all the same.
You can't walk into one of the few remaining book stores without them trying to be part of "the conversation". Most of which includes jamming in all kinds of biographies and other controversial works into the fiction section. Everyone with a name tag is a conceptual comedian. "It's meta," they'll say. Failing even that.
"You and me pally," he says to the body, "we're gonna be friends one day. And we'll laugh about this." He sits there, reading a few lines against the flickering of the lamppost, waiting for the police to arrive.
When they do he's already gone. It's his blood, but not on his hands.
Yes, officer, there was a fight. No, officer, he was still alive when they both collapsed. Yes, officer, they seemed to know each other. No, officer, I don't know either of them. Ask the streets if they could talk. All I do is shine the light.
Written on Thursday, 31 January 2013