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Contemporary Crime Drama

“And so I am moving on, letting go, holding on to tomorrow...”


There are moments in life when you stare at yourself in the mirror and see no reflection. It is then the questions arise. What am I doing here? What have I done? The intimidating interrogation follows, until it ends in a simple, three word exclamation, who am I? A puzzle, an unsolvable enigma. The one affirmation you still seem to own is your own present existence. When the blade cuts your cheek and the blood trickles down your neck you feel alive, and you cling to that truth. I am alive. And even that is a volatile, fleeting statement incapable of truly reassuring you. It’s your fear. It is the animal fear of losing your own sanity. But perhaps, unbeknownst to you sanity was never an entity you possessed. Perhaps, you were irrational and delirious the whole time. The absurdity of this story lies in the fact I do know what I did, even if I have now lost sense of time and place, and my identity is deliberately being eroded through this enforced isolation. It’s me, the mirror and the four walls that surround this claustrophobic cell. 

They weren’t meant to find out. I brought the punishment upon myself. I betrayed my secret. It was supposed to be perfect

Perfect. 


*


When my parents heard I was applying to medical school they tilted their heads in disbelief and laughed. They didn’t think I would make it far, and already saw my failure in the tedious and time consuming applications and exams bound to balk at my path. Teachers beamed with pride and were diligent with the information and help they provided me during the process. 

“ So you want to be a doctor?”

“Yes, I suppose I do.”

When the question of specialty emerged I evaded it with quick intellectual agility. The excuses of youth and future weren’t scarce in my vocabulary. I had the right word for the right occasion, and if my parents persisted and pestered me in their attempt to understand my decision, I was able to leave them satisfied, daydreaming about their son’s future success, once they were convinced my abilities matched those sought for by the prestigious universities. 

I plastered my common app essay with delicately sewn lies and rose tinted, fantastical embroidered phrases of my scholarly journey, spicing the narrative. I lavishly praised and painted myself as a most humane, compassionate and understanding person. Somebody who would one day make the perfect doctor. The array of extracurricular activities were neatly piled up and enhanced my already mentioned talents and capabilities. The exams and interviews I passed with flying colors, proving wrong those who doubted me, the college acceptance letters beginning to arrive in quick succession, and to my amazement, once summer established itself, I had a myriad of universities who were eager and willing to welcome me as a new pawn of the future generations of American doctors. I was felicitated by all. 


“You are now en route to med school!”

I learned to fake my excitement, because to begin with I wasn’t keen on plunging myself into the long years of anatomy exams, chemistry and pharmaceuticals, or anything to do with med school. Well, almost nothing stirred my curiosity or motivation. Except for the goal I had in mind, the path to reach that goal was inevitably through medicine. Tortuous as it could be, I paved, dug and leveled the terrain of my journey in college, being sociable, fraternizing with my classmates, dating, studying, concealing the yawns and sighs when faced with boredom. I survived med school as a result of that goal. I obsessively pursued it,and no obstacle was too powerful, no failure too fatal, no distraction too tempting. But throughout I was always reserved, always measuring my words lest the wrong one should betray my ambitions, withdrawing into my own world afraid should those around me penetrate into my inner thoughts. 


“Are you sure you don’t want to become a general practitioner - like your uncle?”

I turned my head towards the window to avoid seeing the shock so clearly drawn upon their countenances. The disbelief making its appearance again. 

“Why, David?”

I am obliged to answer their questions. Yet, how can I? They wouldn’t understand. They cannot understand my motives. 

“It came to be. No big deal.”

I shrugged my shoulders and walked out the room, not even bidding goodbye. What I didn’t mention was that it had been my dream, ever since I was a child. Perhaps they knew and were embarrassed to admit their son wasn’t like the well behaved, normal albeit sometimes naughty children he played with. And whenever the teachers asked their students what they wanted to become as adults, my response was ready:

“I want to be an astronaut!”

I am not sure I know why I affirmed that. 

*

Scientists and policemen agree on the fact there exists no perfect crime. They are mistaken. Speaking in the present tense blurred the possibilities for rectification in the future, and for a detailed analysis of the past. The gigantic lists of unsolved cases are proof enough to this consistency fueled by the most brutal aspect of human nature. People, men and women are trying, investigating, anticipating, in the meantime allowing politicians and children to naively indulge in the lies of the newspapers

*

 And this is how I landed my dream job. Forensic pathologist at St Joseph’s Hospital, guarding and inspecting the state of California. In charge. Employed by the federal government. 


“Unfortunately there’s quite some work around here”

Unfortunately. Why would he say that? Was he distressed about my complaints? I was ravenous for work. Desperate to find myself finally working. All the better for me if the area was not a tranquil one. What was so unfortunate about that?


The heartfelt congratulations I received from my parents at my graduation had mutated into a slim and barely audible phrase of encouragement. They were probably happier about this newly found independence which would sever our ties than about the job itself. 

But now that I was an active personnel (outside) the crime scene of the Californian panorama, part of my goal had been successfully achieved. It was satisfactory. I was ecstatic. No longer was I a mere passive reader to the endless forensic science books I used to borrow from the library, I was one of them, an actor and character in my own invented thriller. I was where I had wanted to be, far from the living, surrounded by unresponsive bodies, breathing and choking with the veil of stillness, the immutable spell of Death. It was an opium to my soul, a nightmarish sensation as I gazed longingly into the glassy irises of those who came to me. Eyes staring into an infinite region barred for the living, the gruesome brushstroke of their final moments placidly contagious, a poisonous weed to their remains. What I witnessed during those years is indescribable, I cannot find the words, I cannot write down the visions that persecuted me in my sleep, only the consciousness of my own mortality induced me to forget and forgive.

 I was soon lauded as one of the most efficient pathologists, my brain, in the shape of a Rubik’s cube, needed patience and observation, formulas and knowledge – the case then easily solved itself, it was the imminent result. Illusory and temporary comfort provided to families who wept the irreversible parting of the dead, unmarked graves for the nameless ones.


That is, things were perfect until one day they began to spiral out of my control. Then I was able to peek through the dark holes of my profession. And that was the day they brought my father to the autopsy room. Unrecognizable at first, I prepared myself with the same unnervingly calm attitude to face this upcoming deed, this new dispossessed cadaver, bones and flesh, that rested inert, battered, broken, its body and clothes bloodstained, its face deformed. No, I didn’t recognize him. I had read the news, the news of a crime which had stood for several weeks at the centre of town gossip. The police were competent at finding the body, but the assassin had regretfully escaped their hands. This case was now mine, belonging to me, at the mercy of my investigations, mine to accommodate the scattered pieces of the jigsaw, mine to continue learning. I didn’t receive any calls. My mother, with the onset of the barely perceptible symptoms of dementia, spent her days alone, hidden in her own childish fantasies, rocking to and fro, brain locked in distant memories. 


Manner of death: Assassination

Cause of death: Internal bleeding.


He had been found in a ditch. Disposed of into a forced fetal position. Two children were the ones to alert the police. He was dead by the time the body was recovered. And had been dead for approximately one week. One week. One whole week. Last time we spoke together was marked on my phone as May. The calendar signaled September. 

An attempt to suffocate him was made, but he succumbed to his wounds three days after he was abandoned to die, like an inanimate beast. Internal bleeding. My father

Our last conversation repeated itself like a broken radio in my mind, gnawing at my conscience, creating an abyss between myself and everything else. 


“Thanks Dad, I will”

He didn’t hate me.

You weren’t meant to die, Dad. 


I lacked the strength to step onto my childhood home, to see my mother. I would let her live, I would allow her to live with the reassurance that my father was returning home, one day. That’s what I told her when I called. But she wasn’t listening anymore. 


Father had no enemies. I had to find his murderer. He was a kind man. He was normal. He was just another man. The man you watch sipping his coffee with strict punctuality in the café next door. The man you see outside the school gates, eagerly awaiting his son’s arrival. 


I didn’t tell anyone. I was paralyzed with fear. I didn’t report his disappearance. No one did. 


The subsequent days lost meaning. I began to leave work early, and wandered around the streets, with no precise direction, eyes closed, running, slowing down, staring numbly at the ongoing activity of the city. Until there came the day when I didn’t show up at work. I didn’t leave my home. I slept the time away, unaware of anything, barely feeding myself, in a state of somnambulism. In this unbreakable mist I made the decision of consummating the second half of my goal. The perfect crime. However, this time I was going to be the victim.

*

The day he told me his plans I was startled. At first I believed he was joking, and jested with him. I was dismayed and concerned for his safety when I conceived he was determined, and delusional in his words. Regardless, I was naive enough to expect he wouldn’t go through it. To be truthful, he didn’t. I kept a vigilant and discreet watch over him. I maimed his intentions. And I escorted him to the psychiatrist, to the hospital. He was deemed wild, dangerous. I left him there, a pitiable sight. A ghost, a haunted person. He collapsed into an armored mutism. At this stage I wonder if saving him was the right choice. Perhaps it was, perhaps it wasn’t. It is all fictitious. Nonsensical. Absurd. But at least, I wrecked his mission. There would never be a perfect crime. 


September 03, 2021 19:43

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