The Close Reading Killer
“Pathetic fallacy...,” the man breathed as he strode through the downpour around puddles gaping like holes into another world, “...when the weather reflects action unfolding.”
Around him, children whined as their mothers pushed raincoats at them to wear over polyester capes and jeweled gowns, and fireworks spluttered in the distance. He stopped at a house guarded by three jack-o’lanterns, crouching to extinguish the light behind their toothy grins to discourage trickor-treaters, and eased open the front door.
“Trick... or treat?” he whispered in the empty doorway. Reaching his hand into the pillowcase he carried, he answered the question by withdrawing, instead of candy, an ornate penknife. A very old memory of his favourite professor teaching him tricks for analyzing a text flashed through his mind. He had come to perform a close reading tonight, and this was his writing utensil of choice. Following the smell of baking pumpkin and cinnamon emanating from the kitchen, he slipped inside.
When he emerged later, he relit the jacko’-lanterns and reflected on what he had learned about his text. The way the heart had beat in iambic pentameter beneath his bloody fingers. The uneven last breaths creating enjambment and caesuras. Bones varying in length like lines. He had positioned one leg so it extended into the foyer—a synecdoche for a trick-or-treater to discover. The death was a story told in limited omniscient; no one would ever know that he had been the one to take the body apart in order to understand it.