My legs and torso are bound by a series of buckled leather straps. The mask lets me breathe but I’m unable to call for help. My arms are secured at the elbow and wrist. The only thing my hands can reach is the combination lock dangling at my waist. I click it shut. We are go for launch.
Now I close my eyes, and I focus. Calm… focus. I remember shaking his hand. That’s key—it doesn’t work without some past physical contact, I’ve never figured out why. She introduced us at the office Christmas party she dragged me to. He seemed like a nice enough guy. I remember joking that the two of them would make a good-looking couple. Just as funny now as it was then.
Focus! Remember the handshake… remember the face… focus on the face… find the face… there. I have it. Now turn it around. A familiar wave rushes through me, and when I open my eyes I am no longer bound to my safety board. I am sitting.
“Hey, are you okay?” she asks, her hand on his forearm. “You looked like you were about to pass out!”
Candlelight. Dinner table. Steak, baked potato, broccoli, red wine. A man cooked this. How romantic.
Working the body is always an awkward proposition during the first minute or so. So I don’t stand up right away. Instead I look at her and smile his smile.
“Yeah, no, I’m fine. I’m just… I was somewhere else for a moment. I’m sorry, I really am fine.” She withdraws slightly at the sound of his voice, so I take her hand in his and offer a chuckle she doesn’t quite return. She looks concerned. I remember that look well.
I stand, gingerly, and step behind her chair—his smile still in place, her eyes following, then closing. I stand behind her and place his hands on her shoulders, kneading them lightly as she purrs with approval. I bend slowly, wrap my arms around her, and embrace her from behind. His cheek against hers, I can feel her smile. She has closed her eyes. I whisper.
“I love you.” She breathes in, deeply. Happily.
I take the steak knife from the table and drive it into the left side of her neck, tearing it across her throat as hard as I can. She thuds to the table and drains. I prefer not to watch. I toss the knife onto the table and wipe his hands on his pants. I have the luxury of not worrying about the crime scene.
I slip him into his jacket, mindful to avoid any glance at the wall mirror next to his coat rack, and walk out of the apartment, down the stairs, and out through the foyer into a light flurry of snow. I turn right. It takes less than two minutes to find a police officer. I grin and hold out red-stained hands.
“Hi! I just killed my girlfriend.” I casually turn and put his hands behind his back. As the handcuffs tighten on his wrists, I close his eyes and think about my room, hard. I feel his knees give out.
The light is familiar now. My arms and chest ache where he fought the straps. Ow… I guess he made quite a go of it. Not surprising, having suddenly found himself here, bound, unable to speak. But still… ow. I expect he’s not enjoying the cuffs. I dial the combination, release myself from the straps, strip off the mask, and dismantle the safety board from the wall bracket.
As I stow the board away in the attic, I begin rehearsing for tomorrow’s performance.