…into oblivion

“I was right,” Sailor said slowly, softly, “He did follow us out.  And he knew what was happening with Harlin, and he got jealous.”  She turned to Epson, who was busy jamming some notepapers deeper into his trouser pocket.

“Where’s Upi now?”

“He went on with his life….desolate as it was.  Went home to his garret in the U-district, made himself rice, smoked a cigarette, said his prayers, and went to bed.  He got up a couple of hours later and showered, cleaned his apartment, drove down to the water.  He tossed his rifle into the choppy black waters of Lake Union and went to work.  They’ll never catch him.  The police don’t know who either of these men are; no one’s looking for them.  Besides…Upi has no criminal record; he’s fastidious.  It will be as if it never happened.”

Sailor and I held each other.

“He could have taken a pistol and been gone…click-click…crack!  And he meditated on suicide with the hard muzzle of a Glock to his temple.  He imagined it vividly, over three hours of exquisite stillness, leaning his naked, hulking mass forward onto the plastic lip of his tub, his elbows resting there, one hand to his head, the other hand with a gun.  He internalized it, reflected on every minute detail…from the blood spray and Ajax on the shower wall to the distant, unemployed cousin whose reading of household circulars would be momentarily interrupted when he learned, by phone call, of Upi’s death.  But he never pulled the trigger.

“He will do nothing, now, but work, pray, meditate….and live in humble simplicity.  He will become no one.  He may move to an industrial city, and work in a coffee shop there…without pretense, without romance.  And, ultimately, he will vanish.  He will vanish into oblivion.”

Sailor moved even closer, so that our bodies were touching.  We knew that perhaps our lives had been saved by an act of murder.  There was an emotion that came with this piece of knowledge; it was small, and hard, and bitter, like a cold smooth stone lodged somewhere in the body.

Sailor spoke.  “So he’s stopped looking for us, Upi..?”

“Yes,” said Epson brightly, matter-of-factly. “He satisfied himself.”  Then he turned his head, crawled to the far end of the hollow, and opened the small wooden door there. Light spilling out from the hollow revealed a tunnel marked by cage-like sconces containing darkened bulbs.  The distant sound of a roaring crowd poured softly forth from the dark hole of the tunnel.

“Come along now!” said Epson, “They’re waiting for you.”  He clicked on the lights by way of a switch obscured by shadows, and scuttled into the hole.

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