The fish caught my bait. Poor old Inspector. Is he a halibut, by any chance? Or a squealing fox? A squealing fox on the end of my rod. The hard old rod. Ready and poised. I put the glass of water down and follow the two figures out of the door, and then follow them down the road, which is slick and wet, and my shoes don’t have much grip, so I slide, but still I follow, down the alleyway, past the dance studio where little girls feet are slapping the floor, past the Italian restaurant where pizzas are flapping, and down, down to the river, not near to the market, but close to the water.
There they are, my big friend and the little inspector, and I wonder what details, what tidbits, my big friend is tickling into Mr. Rodney’s ear, I wonder how many times he can say I know who killed Mrs. Crew, I wonder if he is saying it now, and I draw closer, and closer, so close that I can smell the smell of the big friend, and I can smell Mr. Rodney’s sweat, and I can almost tell what it is, and then I can, as I take that one step closer, it smells like fear, excitement and fear, like someone on a roller coaster, like someone drawing close to a killer, perhaps too close, close to the red, hot boiling sun, the red, hot boiling sun of my fist.
This man is not who I thought he was. My kidneys are hurting. His face is too gnarled. His hands are too big. The empty spot in the bed beside me.
Your killer, says the man, is closer than you think, and there I am, beating myself up inside. He’s the killer. He’s stood right in front of me, but I stand silent and study his face. It’s not the same face. His mouth is not gaping at me, his hands are too large, his hair is too short, his chest is too wide.
Your killer, he says, is very close, and he leans into my ear, and I lift it up to him, and his breath is hot, and sickly, it smells like vomit, and it makes my ear tingle, and he says, Your killer, is so very close.
So very close.