Translator of Kill
Ryan Daley
wherein Jeb and F. Scott Espectaculo, called to the crime scene, discover Leonard and investigate the body before taking it to the morgue

Oh predator, my predator had been scrawled next to Leonard’s body. The dropped dictionary. A harsh dismissal of every other word until you get to P-r-e-d-a-t-o-r. All that knowledge, wasted. And for what? At first Jeb thought it was paint.

“Nope. It’s nylon based. Not scrubbable, not matte.” He paused, thinking about all the words before m-a-t-t-e.

 “Not Dick Blick,” F. Scott Espectaculo added.

“And from the thermometer reading, this body’s never been so comfortable.” Scott looked up from his watch— the putty knife in his other hand— as if telling time over Thanksgiving dinner. F. Scott was paused, contemplating when he had last felt comfortable. He couldn’t recall.

His thoughts were interrupted by: “I couldn’t care less if it’s nylon or Dacron. Put the knife down first. This sprawl has a ripe n’ healthy pallor compared to that last scene,” Jeb flashed.

“True. True,” F. Scott’s voice trailed off, as if thinking of his first time.

“Benjamin Moore?”

“Let me jog your memory. Come on, it’ll be a moment’s exertion.”

“Sure—”

“You did it standing up. Nor did you have any time to establish lasting contact.”

“Nor—

“We were at the bagelmart, the east side of town, see, and the parking lot had piled up with cop cars, too thick for any criminal action,” Jeb added.

“Al sur. Al norte. Why does the direction ‘north’ have a definitiveness that ‘south’ lacks. It’s riddled with more secure nationhood. The authority used to keep that balance stationary are well thought of, unlike in the south. In the south no one with a uniform is trusted: They make arrests the moment you utter the word ‘Kill!’ Remember, without the funny hat?”

“Yeah I do. And once the persistent Shriner with the cap gun quit bothering us, his hatful of seasonal sprigs symbolizing God-knows-what plant, ran around, owning the place, pinching everyone’s nose and chuckling, ‘I’m a Jesus fish, I’m a Jesus fish.’ 

“Remember?” Jeb looked at F. Scott imploringly. Jeb stopped.

“You have a piece of something right there.” Points. 

Jeb pointed at his face: “Here?”

Espectaculo looked up from his watch. Two ten pm. It read Jueves, August 23.

“There, yes. It’s gone. But shit! I’d almost forgotten to ask. Wasn’t this guy head of some international crime get-together happening in town that week? I tried to get tickets— figured it’d be a great place to meet people we’d later bust. You however, said not to be hasty. Him?”

F. Scott’s voice had been ascending in pitch since wasn’t.

“You can’t tell that from his suit. Gee, you’d think they’d know where to shop. This is obviously faux.”

This last comment came out, nearly a shriek, a soprano. 

“But in this case, a very interesting case indeed, the perp must’ve gone straight 90s vintage to find this mix. It’s rare. They use it in racing stripes,” Jeb huffed.

“Well then, for starters, we should get to the bottom of each word’s roots.”

“A stellar plan,” Jeb broke in. “To get some idea of what and who we’re dealing with.”

“To kill: I kill. You kill. He/she/it/one kills. They kill. We kill. You all kill.”

“That’s great F. Scottie ma’ boy. But where’s the meat? Where’s the etymological hook-up?” Jeb, frustrated, asked.

“Probably in the same family as cuore, or heart. With a real family-building feeling and tone,” F. Scott said, not taking his own eyes off the chest cavity, his cleaning aimed at making a tidy little space for accepting that this was happening. He scarcely wanted to say it: M-u-r-d-e-r.

It’s rare that bodies both living and dead come with clear objectives. But a murdered corpse comes with a clear objective: Find the bastard who done it.

“The word just makes your insides ache.”

Espectaculo knew the word. Of the words he knew, murder happened to be nearest to Murcia. He had wanted a vacation there. To sunny Spain. To fill his heart with wine and bulls. Shaped like an almond, smell of punch. They raise the gate and your heart falls into your stomach, big as a celebrity you’ve heard about your entire life, there’s a bull packing speed with each closing foot between him and the matador. Things were calmer in the north, aside from the bombings, of course. Again with the north…The voting had gone to the north. Eventually, Estremadura had won out. Scott would have to wait until much later to gaze at the snarling, windless bulls. The matte blood, a distinct disengagement with reality; so rare to spot matte on fur and see it still moving. He wasn’t much used to living contexts. Bulls are not like humans. The living objective of the bull is apparent: It stands a few feet away, waving a cape.

Tyrannicide was certainly not to be ruled out either. Set upon by whom he called dogs; that unstoppable violence from income disparity and even poorer statesmanship. Scott thought of the balance and stability required for marksmanship, and the word’s relation to diplomacy. And then there were The Joneses. But murder? Snuff the Joneses? Scott hadn’t heard the expression in years.  

“It seems unlikely that he just stepped out for a cigarette and bam! In this outfit. He eats a bullet. In this weather? You’d hear the sound. This part of town is dead. The gray of it, I’d lose my appetite for just about eating anything. I don’t know why we’re here.”

“To put the fixings on this body and ship it to the basement guys,” Jeb said. “With better degrees.”