The disembodied voice of the news woman floated into my consciousness as I stared at the hat on my porch. Knowing what was underneath, I found myself frozen with indecision. Pick it up? Call the police? Slice my own miserable throat? Was that what it was meant for? But it was bloody already. He was watching me from across the street. I was suddenly aware of the outside world, the darkness, the breeze. I wondered if his head was cold. This was no time for rationality. An uncontrollable urge to laugh rose like vomit in my throat.
“We have been told that there were no witnesses at the scene, but neighbors recall overhearing an argument between the victim and a man sounding like he was in his mid to late thirties only an hour before her body was found. Certainly not much to go on, but police are hopeful that a thorough search of the apartment will turn up some evidence.”
Shady Hollow, why did that sound familiar? Struck by a sudden lightheartedness, I grabbed the hat and put it on, gave it a little tap even to secure it on my head. I grabbed the knife too. The whole thing was probably just a prank the neighbors were playing on me. I stepped back inside the house, slamming the door behind me. The knife was kind of cool too, a Bowie or something, with a white bone handle. I felt so good all of the sudden, like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
“Now, we have been told that police to plan on speaking with the victim’s former son-in-law. Apparently they were estranged after the death of her daughter and grandchildren. Police have not yet released the man’s name.”
James Randall Malcolm. The knife blade struck the wood floor, gouging the wood. I stared at a picture of my mother-in-law, surrounded by my wife and two daughters on the screen. Not estranged, she hated me. She tried to have me arrested on manslaughter charges for not getting the brakes changed in the mini van. The police of course argued that my wife was just as capable of driving to the mechanic to get them changed as I was so charges of any sort were, ‘not going to happen.’ She had then tried to file a civil suit, but it never got to court on the grounds that she also, carrying a driver’s license, could have taken the mini van to get the brakes changed but failed to do so. It was an accident. I will always blame myself. This weird laughter though, as I watched her picture on TV, was welling up inside.
There was a knock at the door. I suddenly realized I still had the hat on my head. I threw it down and stared at it on the floor. Maria had called me every Saturday since the accident happened, at the exact time it happened, to curse me. I was kind of glad she was dead.