© Jo Hewitt THE TEAL MANGO, 2013
Officer Ruiz had called for backup. Elliott sat cuffed in the squad car while the police did some preliminary questioning and the CSI team started collecting evidence. There wasn’t much but a bullet wedged so deep in the plaster and lathe wall that they couldn’t budge it. Margo had convinced them to let her and Clark stay to clean up when they had asked her to also leave. She promised them that they would leave the seating area untouched.
A couple hours later, Margo told Clark, “Why don’t you head on home. I’ll finish up.”
“Sure,thanks,” Clark replied.
Margo let him out and locked the door behind him. It didn’t take her long to finish. Margo went to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. Not many things get to her anymore, but today did. Elliott could have killed Paul. He could have killed anyone today. She looked around the kitchen and in resignation forewent the making of tea. She just wanted to get as far away from today as possible. Instead of taking the front staircase, she went up via the narrow backstairs behind the kitchen.
She had made some changes when she had acquired the house. There were so many rooms. She created a suite with a kitchenette for herself on the second floor. There were still plenty of bedrooms left, including the third floor. She went to the kitchenette, deciding to make her tea there. She opened the cabinet door with the crystal knob and removed the old copper kettle that had belonged to her great Aunt Edna, the tea, and a green and blue porcelain cup with an insert to hold the tea leaves and a cap to keep the tea hot while it steeped. She filled the kettle and put it on the stove to boil. While the water was heating, she took a quick shower to scrub off the trauma of the afternoon. The water was ready when Margo finished. She poured the water over the leaves, gathered the tea with a few crackers on a tray, and headed off to her bedroom.
It was barely dark but seemed much later. The house, everything, seemed colder than usual. She set the tray with the tea and crackers on her night stand and crawled under the covers, draped a shawl around her, and leaned back into the pillows behind her back and head, holding the tea in the hands of shivering arms, sipping and then hugging it tight, to warm as quickly as possible.
She was frazzled and tired but couldn’t sleep. She set the cup down, picked up the book on her nightstand and randomly opened it.
S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse A persona che mai tornasse al mondo, Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse. Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero, Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.
“If I thought my reply were to one who could ever return to the world, this flame would shake no more; but since, if what I hear is true, none ever did return alive from this depth, I answer you without fear of infamy.”
— Dante, Inferno
(Never return was right. He would never return.)Let us go then, you and I, When the evening is spread out against the sky Like a patient etherized upon a table;
(The last time-when they pulled the sheet back-so she could see his face-what remained of it.)Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets, The muttering retreats Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells: Streets that follow like a tedious argument
(The never ending arguments…)Of insidious intent
(The dirty dealing, the cocaine, the financial scandal…)To lead you to an overwhelming question … Oh, do not ask, “What is it?” Let us go and make our visit. In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo. The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes, The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
(The first shot was meant for her. It missed and shattered the pane on one of the French doors that opened up to their balcony.)Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening, Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains, Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys, Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
(He was at the edge of the balcony, backed into and leaning over the railing. She was close. Not close enough to stop him from turning the gun on himself, pointing it toward his head and pulling the trigger. Close enough to be covered in the spatter of his blood, drops and drops that drowned out her screams.)And seeing that it was a soft October night, Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.
(His body almost seemed to float in slow motion as it headed toward the ground, lightened from the load of mental torment. Then-thud. The sidewalk crumpled it in a heap and left it there as it moved down the block.)And indeed there will be time
(What time?)For the yellow smoke that slides along the street, Rubbing its back upon the window-panes; There will be time, there will be time To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
(Seeing his face over and over in nightmares-the dark face of the night.)There will be time to murder and create, And time for all the works and days of hands That lift and drop a question on your plate; Time for you and time for me,
( There is no more “you and me”.)And time yet for a hundred indecisions, And for a hundred visions and revisions,
(Revisions? Another version of the ongoing torment of “what if?”, of “if I had only done something differently”, if I had only seen it coming, if, if ,if, if,if…)Before the taking of a toast and tea.
(Damn you, Peter! Damn you, Elliott for shooting that damn gun!)In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo.
She could feel the dampness of the pages of the book. It slid to the floor as her chest heaved to a stop, her tears on her cheeks the only warmth she felt. Her body crumpled under the cold blanket of blood drenched memories; she slumped into a cold sleep.