Stay away from the body. You’ll only muck up the crime scene. Forensics. You wouldn’t want your DNA mixed in with the blood, the brains and the teeth when they send it to the lab. Get yourself implicated in something you had nothing to do with. What were you leaning over him for, anyway? CPR ain’t gonna help that guy; he needs a priest. Or a magician.
I knew him from around the neighborhood. Good guy back in school, but got all messed up later. Not drugs; crazy messed up. Had problems, inappropriate behavior. Directing traffic while naked inappropriate. They put him on meds and he got better, except for shaking and sweating and staring at fixed points in space like he was trying to burn holes through them. Then his sister died and he went all-the-way-never-coming-back nuts.
Yeah, his sister. He had a twin. They dressed alike in grade school, Batman and Batgirl on Halloween. He played basketball in high school and she was a cheerleader. We always said she could have gone in the game for him and no one would know the difference. Boy couldn’t shoot for anything. Couldn’t go to his left, either. After graduation, she went to community college while he stocked shelves at Kroger. They were still at home with their folks. Then she got a sore throat at Christmas and was dead before New Year’s. That’s fate laughing at you, right there. Little buddy, wandering around, would take her non-existent hand when he crossed the street. Just like in grade school.
Damn it, man, you stepped in it. And here come the cops. Finally.
About the writer:
Robert Penick’s work has appeared in over 100 different literary journals, including The Hudson Review, North American Review, and The California Quarterly. He live in Louisville, Kentucky, with his free-range box turtle, Sheldon. Penick edits Ristau: A Journal of Being. In 2018, he won the Slipstream Press chapbook competition.
Image: “Falling” by Els Baekelandt. Gouache and watercolor on paper. 21 x 29.7 cm. 2018. By permission.