Enid Krause nee Engler had made her way down to the embalming room where he lay
waiting for her. She paused on her way to dither over some emails and, he noted with approval,
to check out Kijiji for vintage GTO’s. Next, she mucked about with the coffee maker, juicing up
her brew with two bags of pre-packaged Columbian. This, he noted wryly, was not the wisest
thing to do when one’s hands were already shaky. It was apparent to him that she liked her booze
as much as he did, and if she were to play around with sharp things, she stood a good chance of
facing him sooner, rather than later.
“It is here that you must speak to her,” the lamp intruded, muddling his thoughts and
destroying his pleasure. He did not like this popping in and out at will inside his head. He hoped
her powers were limited to audiences in the basement, but not so—she was a body trapped in a
house she did not choose, yet her spirit travelled, permeating the mind at will. “If you want to
move on, it must be so. Put things right, mein Schön.”
He frowned at her use of ‘Schön.’ It was his term of endearment, yet she took it for her
own, as if her right to trample him escheated once he agreed to do her bidding.
Make amends. Sure. The Holy Moly Book of Hooey said so, but to which place would
he go thereafter? The land of milk and honey, where everyone ran around in bed sheets? Or the
other place, where no amount of sunscreen would help? “Neither,” the lamp said confidently, her
words ironic, because she was a lamp and obviously hadn’t been anywhere. “To your purpose,”
she said, twisting him in the direction of Enid, who muttered under her breath as she fumbled
with her earrings.
He grinned, longing to see what she would do next: Fraulein Engler was obviously
struggling over his dramatic return, and for good reason. They had not parted on the best of
terms. She wept sentimentally in the coroner’s suite—woman’s tears—much to her colleague’s
chagrin, and now she was dragging her feet like a shotgun bride. Walking alongside her, he
thought about theatres and floorboards and actors moving from mark to mark, their steps mapped
out strategically on the floor with sticky tape. “This is why people spend so much time and
money on make believe, Mächen,” he said. “It’s so much better to watch.”
Enid managed to get past the door that separated the O.R. from Weibigand’s outer hall,
where she was greeted by the buzz and hum of a big fan that would keep his stink off of her.
He concentrated on the noisy traffic that was her brain: like car tires spinning, rubber burning, a
lonely heart hammering, and an incomprehensible fear. He was in despicable shape and it would
take every ounce of skill to bring him to heel.