The Close Read­ing Killer

The Coast - - THE CITY - —Te­gan Samija

“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.

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