Posted tagged ‘fortune telling’

The Reflection of Delaney Weis

June 13, 2012

“The jerk had nothing to say to me, he just sat there like an idiot,” Delaney pours out over her beer, between sobs as the bartender patiently listens.

“Considering you walked in on him and the other woman was still there, what’s there to say?” he offers his candid words to her, knowing she won’t hear him.  “He’d already made an ass of himself,” he shrugs, “What could he possibly say?”

A woman rushes in and taps Delaney on the shoulder before taking the stool next to her at the bar, “Sorry, I rushed here as soon as I could but that meeting dragged on and on!  You know how long-winded Spartan can be.”

Delaney’s face plants in the beer stein, leaving nothing exposed but her forehead and red scraggly hair, hanging dankly to her shoulders.  “What can I get you?” the bartender asks as he does a million times a day, and sounds as much.

Samantha points to the beer in Delaney’s fist as the bartender nods and gets to work filling a mug.  “Tell me what’s going on,” she urges her to recant the horrible details, but this time to someone who isn’t dishing out idol talk.

The final swig goes down smooth and cold as Delaney shudders in response, “There isn’t much to say other than I just walked in on my husband screwing some other bitch.  Right in my own bed!  Where am I going to sleep now?  Certainly not with Brian!”  Her shoulders begin to shake uncontrollably as she breaks down sobbing as if her world is crashing in around her. 

The bartender sets the mug down in front of Samantha and she takes an appreciative swallow.  “That’s good, thanks,” her attention goes back to her girlfriend who is staring at the counter like a zombie.  No expression on her face, which Samantha has come to realize is a sign of shock; the reality isn’t really soaking in all the way yet.

“What can I do?” she offers as she sets her hand on her friend’s back, playing with the locks of wet hair, “And how did you get wet?”

Setting her beer on the counter for the first time since Samantha showed up, she begins to laugh, but it cut short by coughing and choking.  Beer sprays over the counter and onto the bowl of pretzels sitting nearby.  “Are you okay?” the bartender asks, grabbing a towel to wipe the beer off the counter.   The women look at him and he quickly removes the pretzels and goes to the other end.

“I got wet when he followed me outside and we started talking,” she begins.


“Yes, just before I pushed him,” her voice gets quiet before she finishes, “and he shoved me back– into the pool.”

Not being able to prevent herself from laughing hysterically, Samantha throws her arm around her friend’s shoulders, “Let’s go to my place.  We’ve got to get you into something that won’t give you pneumonia.”


The street is bustling with people when Delaney stops suddenly.  “Are you okay?” her eyes are directed across the street.  Propped up against a dilapidated building is a sign that reads Mystical Tarot and Palm.

 “Let’s try that,” without awaiting a response, Delaney’s crossing the street.  A car honks at her and she receives the finger as she continues her journey unfazed.  Samantha jogs after her arriving breathless.

“Are you kidding?” she breathes, “Please tell me you’re kidding!”  The wind blows her dark hair across her face as she catches her breath.

“What have I got to lose?” Delaney can’t help but laugh as she smoothes her hair with her hands before opening the old door, paint peeling around the glass windows and a squeak that could shatter a dog’s eardrums.  Cobwebs float past them as they enter the shop.  Red and black cotton cloth drape across the walls with stickpins at the top. 

“Did I ever tell you your taste is awful?” Samantha nudges her, whispering.

“No,” the giggled reply returns, “Maybe my bad taste is what’s wrong with me.  A real friend would say something.”

“I’m just teasing you,” Samantha exclaims, “You know my world revolves around your needs and whims!”  Both women are laughing when the curtains at the back open and an old woman appears.  A dark lacey shawl embraces her shoulders and her curly black hair tucks behind her ears, exposing her dangling gold earrings. 

“She’s a hundred years if she’s a day,” Samantha whispers, “at least you look better than she does.  That’s a bright side.” 

Embarrassed, Delaney gives her a little shove as if to quiet her, but the woman doesn’t seem to hear.  As she emerges from the shadows, her appearance is even older, but her voice is smooth and sweet.  “Why do you come here today?” she asks, peering into each of the middle-aged women’s eyes.

But Delaney doesn’t know why she is here.  Perhaps to hear that the dirty secret she’s uncovered is not true.  Her shoulders sink and so does her gaze, right to the floor.  At this response, the old woman holds out her hand and says, “Come with me and let us see what we can do for the pain.”  The hallway behind the curtain is long and has a variety of articles stacked against the shelves from books, to trinkets, and even voodoo dolls.

Stephanie pauses to take in the effects as she gingerly reaches out to touch one of the dolls.  Without turning to acknowledge her, the woman warns, “Be careful back there.”  The guilt overcomes her as she drops her hands to her sides and does a double step to catch up. 

The room they stop in is dark blue and bare, other than a small table in the middle with one chair on one side and two on the other.  “Please, have a seat,” she croons to them as she sits herself, adjusting her skirt around her legs.

“I don’t know if we can afford this, really,” Stephanie starts up, “We don’t even know how much it is.”

Raven’s eyes peer at her from across the table, wise, old and untrusting, “The cost is $25 for half an hour.”

“Can you squeeze it into a half-hour?” Stephanie teases her friend who replies, “I only have one question. And that is, is my husband ever coming back to me?”

The gypsy’s eyes become dark caverns on each side of her long, straight nose and her mouth tightens into a line.  “No, he will never be yours.  Only a fool tries to control another, when she can only control herself.”

The silence is deafening as Delaney stares at her hands in her lap. They nervously wrinkle up a tissue she has taken out of her purse.  “It’s because I’m old and ugly now, isn’t it?”The emotions are too strong as she finally breaks down and blubbers like a baby.  “I’m useless!” she wails pathetically, not sounding at all as the mature woman she is supposed to be.

“No,” her friend rests her arm across her shoulders, “You’re just too good for him, that’s all.”

“That is what we always say when we don’t fit the bill, isn’t it?” the old woman contributes, receiving admonishing glances from both before muttering, “I just say it how I see it, that’s all.”

“This obviously isn’t a good time to be here,” Samantha says, spinning toward the door, “C’mon Del, we’ll come back after we get you cleaned up.  That’ll make you feel better anyway.”  With that, she heads through the doorway out of the room and into the store.

“Wait,” the old woman sings handing Delaney a petite hand mirror.  Delaney holds it up and admires the bone-cut flowers and the ebony finish as she twists it around to see the face.  Black streaks of mascara stream down her cheeks over her splotchy make-up.  She looks utterly disgusting.

“Thanks, I needed that,” the sarcasm drips from her lips as she tries to hand it back, “Besides, I couldn’t afford it anyway.”

“This is not a mirror of what is, but a mirror of what can be,” the woman begins to hum and pulls an envelope from her pocket, handing it to her.  “The instructions are here, but you must read them privately,” she motions with her hands, “All of this is private.  Understand?”

“I’m not so sure I do,” she begins but is cut off by Samantha calling her name from the other room.

“Go,” she repeats, “Go be jaw-dropping and eye-popping now.”

Without looking back, Delaney hustles to join her friend as she nears the door to exit.

“She is too weird for me,” Samantha tosses over her shoulder as she leads the way out of the store, “Let’s get out of here.”

“Yeah, let’s get out of here,” she quickly tucks the mirror into her purse she’s been hiding casually beside her leg.


The drive is quiet before Samantha reaches over to turn the radio on, hoping the music will at least pad the tension, when suddenly Delaney shouts, “Oh my God, that’s her!”  Her eyes are glued to a woman entering a corporate center in business attire, she’s speaking on the phone and laughing.  “Let me out here.”

“What?  You can’t be serious!”

“I am not kidding,” and her hand on the door handle says she’s very serious as the door pops open before the car even stops.  Running as fast as she can, she falls in behind the woman and walks briskly, following her inside.  A few minutes later, she reappears, smugly beaming as she lifts her sunglasses up to wink at her friend before climbing into the car.

“What was that about?” confusion is evident as her friend pulls away from the curb.

“Nothing,” she tries to straighten her hair with her fingers, “I just wanted to see where she works, that’s all.”


When they arrive at Samantha’s apartment, she gives the rundown, “Okay, you can stay here as long as you want, so never feel rushed, okay?”  The door opens and the lights come on as Delaney breathes a sigh of relief.  Tossing the keys they jingle as they bounce across the counter and Samantha heads to the bedroom.  “I’ll get you some clothes to change into and you can go ahead and use the shower, but I don’t need to tell you that.”

When the bedroom door closes, Delaney moves out to the balcony to have a glimpse of the city.  The cars move smoothly below and the airplanes are just as smooth overhead, while the birds make up the middle.  Her girlfriend comes out of the bedroom in a pair of scrubs and a tunic, and hands her a pair as well, “Figured we’ll be in for the rest of the night, so got you some comfy clothes.”

“Thanks,” she takes the clothes and heads into the bathroom.  With the door closed behind her, she sets her purse on the counter and removes her clothes.  Her purse is open and she sees the envelope the strange woman gave her sticking out of the top.  The envelope feels cool to the touch as she removes it and peels it open, taking the paper out and unfolding it.

It’s a notice stating that the rightful owner of the mirror is the one in possession of it and that no one else is ever to attempt the use of it–the consequences will be deadly.  Whatever that means, Delaney thinks as she smiles, a mirror threatening death.   She continues as she quietly reads the rest of the note;

                Whereupon the first light hits following a cleansing

                The mirror reflects a whole new you whose life is n’er ending.

                Use the mirror sparingly to make a blossom flaunt

                To be too young and beautiful will only come to haunt.

Not knowing what that could possibly mean, she glimpses at herself briefly in the ebony mirror and sees a Delaney from about a decade ago.  But the bathroom mirror reflects the tear-stained face of a desperate woman as she sighs and climbs into the shower, wishing she could repeat the trick mirror’s revelation.  It isn’t long before she exits the shower feeling rejuvenated.

The terry cloth wrap smells fresh and clean, allowing her to feel revitalized.  Delaney puts on the scrubs and she wipes the mirror off with a towel, hoping her face appears as fresh as she feels. 

“You okay in there?” Samantha raps at the bathroom door, and it pops open, “Wanted to make sure you don’t need—” The sentence stops mid-air, just as her jaw does for even shaking her head and blinking her eyes doesn’t change what she’s witnessing.  “My God, you look great!” she exclaims.

“Do I?” cocking her head in sarcastic disbelief, she feels mischievous.  “Can I borrow your car tomorrow?”

“My car?” she asks and is given an awkward silence to which she counters, “Of course, but why can’t you use yours?”

“You can use mine, if you want to,” Delaney offers, “I won’t be that long and I’ll make sure to fill your gas tank before I bring it back.”  She pauses before adding, “Free tank of gas!”

“Okay,” she gives in, “I’m sure I don’t want to know what you’re doing, but it doesn’t have anything to do with Brian, does it?” 

“Brian?” she smirks, “Why would I want to see that jerk?”


The following day with Samantha gone to work, Delaney steps into the restroom, looks into the little mirror and takes an invigorating shower.  She imagines she’ll look better when she gets out, but she is stunned at how breathtakingly stunning she is.  From the original forty that she was yesterday, she looks to be in her late twenties now. 

Arriving at Kauffman and Law, the office she visited the day before, she strolls in wearing a classy outfit from her friend’s closet. “Hello,” she approaches the receptionist, “I’m looking for Kitty Allen, is she here?”

“Um, you mean Katrina Allen?” is the response, “Can I tell her who is calling?”

“Of course,” she casually tosses her hair back over her shoulder, “Dee-Dee.  She’ll know who I am.”

The receptionist picks up the phone and announces who is calling and after a moment, “I’ll send her right in.”   Setting the phone down in its cradle she smiles, “You can go into that door on the right.”

Clearing her throat, she pauses as she approaches the door and then enters.  “Hello, Ms. Allen,” she greets her target with a widespread grin.





“How did your day go?” Samantha asks as she sets her purse down on the end table and heads into the kitchen.  There’s a clattering of dishes as she unloads the dishwasher.

“Oh, it was okay…” and her cell phone interrupts before she rummages through her purse to grab it.  Glancing at it for a second, she says, “Excuse me,” and moves out to the balcony closing the door. 

After a few moments, she returns and cheerfully grins, “I have a date!”

“A date?  Are you crazy?” Samantha stares hard at Delaney as she rushes past her into the bedroom to grab an outfit before slipping into the bathroom.  Shortly after, Samantha hears the water come on and Delaney mumbling and laughing.  Straining with her ear against the door, she cannot determine what she is able to pick up, so she decides to make dinner for one.

When the door opens and the steam comes rolling out, Samantha is indulging in her movie and doesn’t remove her eyes from the screen.  Her bowl of macaroni in hand she asks, “Leaving?”

“Yes, I’ll be back before you know it,” and the waft of perfume follows her out the door in the brief moment it takes her to disappear.


The black Mustang pulls to the side of the road, half a block from her house and she walks to her house, her keys in hand.  She wants to be prepared to unlock the door as soon as she gets there.  There on the couch is her husband, Brian, sitting with a fire going and a glass of wine in his hand.  There’s a glass on the table half-full of wine as well and the house is remarkably clean.  Rare, considering she hasn’t been home for a couple of days.

“Hello, Brian,” she announces herself from the doorway positioned behind the couch he’s sitting on.

“What are you doing here?” he asks, irritably without giving her the courtesy of a glance, “I told you I have plans this evening when I called you, specifically telling you not to come home.”

“She isn’t coming,” she laughs, rounding the couch to position herself in front of him, “Well, she won’t be here either.”

“What do you mean?” he lifts his eyes from the wine and allows them to land on her, “And what the hell happened to you?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” she pauses, shifting her weight from one foot to the other, “Do you like?”

 It seems like it’s been forever since she’s felt as young and vibrant as she does now, with her twenty-year-old body that she rotates around for him to get a better look.  It’s apparent he’s definitely interested as he watches and his eyes scan up and down on her firm buttocks, high and tight breasts and sculpted waistline.  “You think I’m jaw-dropping and eye-popping, don’t you?”

Without a moment to spare, he sets the wine glass down and stands to rise above her.  Delaney grins with the feeling of just winning Prom Queen until she realizes he’s passing her and approaching the front door.  “Are we going out?” hope glazes her words as they fall from her full lips and she licks them for extra effect.

“I’m not, but you are,” and with a single motion he opens the door and pauses before going out and quickly closing it behind him.  This sudden change in venue perplexes Delaney as she stops to listen for an indication of what could be happening.  

The voices she hears pique her curiosity and she stumbles to the window to see who his guest of honor with bad timing is.  Sure enough, it’s his stupid little Kitty Kat, the big-shot executive at thirty-something.  Straining she can hear the kitty becoming upset because he’s actually turning her away, but he doesn’t give her a reason, he just says he’ll call her.  Perhaps he is considering kissing up after all, she supposes with a devious chuckle.  Let the games begin!  And her suspicions seem reality as Kitty stomps back to her car, licking her wounds before backing out of the driveway.  Delaney is relieved she parked down the street, but has no idea where she got the notion.

Quickly, she bounces onto the couch as the front door opens and Brian comes back into the room.  “That seems to have gone well, don’t you think?” she giggles, patting the couch next to her for him to sit down.

“You need to leave,” sternly he stands with his hands on his hips, “I’ve got some sorting to do.”

“Sorting?” sarcastic disbelief enters her voice, “What type of sorting, you spineless worm?  It’s obvious, isn’t it?  I’m the one you married and as far as the body goes…”  Her hand smoothes down her leg, emphasizing it before she giggles.  “There should be no contest, Brian.  It’s a no-brainer, dear.”

“You aren’t getting any bonus points for the crap you’re pulling now, I suggest you get your purse and get out before I lose my cool and toss you out.”

Delaney snatches her purse off the floor and strides to the door, casually, even though the static is thick enough to stop a big rig at freeway speeds.  The smile never falters as she turns to face him at the door, “You know you want me, Brian. Both of us do.  Besides, this is my house too and I guarantee if I walk out that door tonight, you aren’t going to have a place to entertain your girlfriends.” 

Reaching past her, he seizes the doorknob and as he begins to turn the handle, she grabs him and begins to kiss him.  At first, he allows her to kiss him before she reaches down and begins to tug at his zipper.  This agitates him as he struggles pushing her away.  “Delaney, you have changed and I don’t like it.”

A cloud moves in to hover above her head, eyes flashing as she firmly jerks her knee up as hard as she can.  Grasping his crotch, he doubles over.  As his head comes down, her knee comes up and nails him in the nose, causing blood to explode from his face as he topples over backwards.  Before she realizes what she is doing, Delaney loses control.  She pushes her body down on his dazed body and straddles his shoulders, laying into him.  Even when he loses consciousness, she continues.


“Hey, how did it go?” Samantha asks as she hears the door open from the kitchen.

“It went,” Delaney’s voice drones in a non-emotional tone.

The dish in her hands drops, crashing to the floor in a million pieces as she circles around to see her friend.  Delaney is standing with messy hair, a bloody face and red-spotted clothes.  “Oh my God,” she blurts out, “Are you okay?”  The distance between them seems larger than it is as she runs over to give her friend a hug, but she doesn’t see her friend’s wry sneer.

“I’m okay,” Delaney informs her with the same passion as before.  Samantha moves into the kitchen to gather paper towels in bundles.  She turns on the water and drenchesthem before returning to aid her friend.  Delaney sits motionless, gaping at the sliding door that leads to the balcony.

The blood comes off quite easily, except for the clothing that needs to be thrown away.  “You probably should hop into the shower for the rest,” she suggests, “Will you be okay?”

“Yes,” she replies, “I will be back in a second to tell you what happened.”  The guest remains in the restroom for the next half hour.  When she returns to the living room, she is very fresh and of course, appearing as young adult.

“Wow,” Samantha responds with astonishment, “What is going on with you?”

“Whatever can you mean?” her shock seems to have worn off and sarcastic humor replaces it.  “Could you be talking about the new and improved Delaney?”

“You don’t look like a forty-something anymore, but someone who can’t see an R-rated movie without a parent’s permission.”

“Oh that!” she rotates to give her friend a clear impression of focus, “It’s a surprise!”

“Go sit down and I’ll get us something cool to drink,” Samantha instructs her as she returns to the fridge to grab a couple of beers.  But then she glances at her friend and exchanges them for bottled lemonade.

“Okay, what is it?” she takes the cap off and takes a swig, “How are you doing it and what happened today?  Was it some bizarre party or something?”

The silence is what one would hear in the middle of a desert with the warm air beating down and the wind turned down low.  “He’s dead.”

The bottle barely makes it out of her mouth as Samantha chokes a bit before wiping it with her hand. “Who?  How? What are you talking about?”

“Brian.  He’s dead,” she takes a drink and swallows for several gulps before lowering her bottle.  “I killed him.”

“You what?” in resounding disbelief, her eyes open wide in horror as she watches her friend raise the bottle again.  “Why?”

“An urge,” her head cocks a bit, “Although I’m not really sure why I had the urge.”

Samantha rises from the couch, unsure of whom she’s dealing with or if there is room for discussion.  “I think you need to leave now.”  She walks toward the hallway.

“Why?  We’re friends, aren’t we?”

“I love you, or at least the old Delaney I’ve grown up with, but it’s only been a few days since I’ve seen her and I don’t know who you are.  I think this breakup must have set you back somehow.”  Backing toward her bedroom door, she goes inside and says, “You need to leave now because I can’t help you anymore.”  The door closes and a voice seeps through it, “You need to leave, Delaney, please.”

After a few moments of thought, Delaney sets her lemonade bottle down and rises to walk down the hall.  Hesitating for a moment, she knocks and says, “I need to tell you something.  It’s a secret, but have to tell someone.  It’s about getting younger.  And it’s why Brian’s dead.  If you can’t help me, no one can help me.  You’re the only one I have right now, Sam.”

The door creeps open and Samantha slowly emerges, following to the couch before sitting a safe distance away.  Her instincts are alert as she searches the room for anything she can use as defense, until Delaney takes a mirror out of her purse.  “The old lady we talked to the other day gave this to me so I could be young again,” she holds it out, but when Samantha goes to take it she pulls it away again.  “I’m sorry, I can’t let you hold it or something bad will happen.”

“Something bad will happen?” she repeats, chuckling uneasily, “Hasn’t something bad already happened?”

“Yes, that’s why I need your help,” she replaces the mirror in her purse, and zips it securely, “I don’t know what to do with it.”

“What comes to mind for me is starting at the beginning by taking the mirror back,” she offers, “Perhaps if she truly is magic, she can undo what has been done, right?”

Delaney’s mouth twists to one side and her eyes look up to the ceiling, “You mean bring Brian back like I never killed him?”

“Yes,” she smiles, feeling reassurance, “And then change you back too, so your thinking is clear again.”

“You mean change me back the way I was, all old and everything?”

“There is a price to pay for our wisdom, right?” a grin spreads across her face as she scoots closer to Delaney, taking her hand in her own.

“I suppose you’re right.  Let’s go!” Delaney pulls her hand away and stands up.


The car is moving at a reasonably good pace when Delaney announces she’s not feeling well. “Can you pull over for a second, please?” she asks.  “I feel nauseous.”

Without a word, Samantha pulls to the side of the road and Delaney high-tails it over the embankment.  Her friend watches her disappear into a thicket of trees at the base.  The radio is a nice deterrent to the day’s events as she turns it up to sing along with the upbeat tunes.  Several songs later, she realizes she is still alone and her friend is nowhere around.  Flipping the button to lower the windows, she leans across the car and yells out the window, “Delaney!  C’mon, let’s go!” 

The woods are quiet and the only sound is the cars passing by them on occasion until Samantha puts the windows up, turns the car off, and tucks the keys in her pocket to search for her friend.  “Delaney,” she continues to holler for her, “Delaney, come on!”  The trees swallow her up, leaving her car abandoned–for now.


The drive back to the apartment is a short one with the radio blaring and the windows down.  Delaney adjusts the mirrors as she drives down the road and the seat suits her height.  She takes the elevator up to the floor of the apartment and inserts her late girlfriend’s key, admitting herself inside.  She’s as giddy as a schoolgirl, but her thoughts are not as innocent. Making her way inside to safety from the eyes of the world, she hums.

The lights come on to reveal the contents of the apartment and for the first time, she sees the lamps and knick-knacks positioned around the living room.  Not just sees them with her eyes, but also really notices them in detail.  The lampshade’s intricately detailed trim of gold resembling a mountain range and the post is shapely, like a young woman’s body.  The energy running through her body is extreme as she holds up her hands to look at them clearly defining each crack and wrinkle, each cuticle and hangnail.

The small crevice and every minute detail of hair follicles seep into her eyes while she rolls them over to see the palms.  The red blood is drying now and turning a crusty dark brown she notes.  What she needs is to take a shower and rid herself of the stink and grime of the past hour.

The bathroom mirror reveals a girl, no longer a sexy and attractive woman full of estrogen, but a young high school girl, preparing for womanhood.  Her hair streams down her back, to her waistline in riveting reddish-gold streaks, shining as bright as a new penny.  Her eyes are bright green and huge, like a cat waiting to pounce on a mouse, and her smile is warm as it invites someone to educate her. 

The closet has a plethora of clothes for her to wear, sexy and inviting, but too large to fit her tiny body.  Her attention settles on a T-shirt and a skirt with an elastic waist.   Not the sharpest attire, she notes, but they will keep her from being naked.   Tying the shirt up in a knot above her navel, she decides it at least looks better that way.

When she closes the closet door, she sees something that makes her heart skip a beat.  On Samantha’s dresser is a conglomeration of photographs in a variety of frames.  Delaney strolls over to take in the details of each one and sees Sam’s mom and dad smiling at the camera with the ocean behind them as they stand on their boat.  But then she sees one of Samantha and her, arm in arm on their wine tasting tour in California last year.  Another one of the two of them together at last year’s marathon.  That was a trial, she remembers as she smiles. Her memory kicks in, flooding her with more memories of her and her friend, her and Brian, and her family as she grows up.   Shaking her head, to dismiss the joyful laughter of her friend, she tips over onto the bed, but it will not go away.

The laughter continues to get louder as she begins to scream, holding her ears and standing to fall into walls running down the hallway.  She searches for her purse, holding her ears even tighter and screaming to drown out the noise.   She knows what is necessary to stop the madness.


The police officers arrive outside the apartment’s door, “Is this the place?”  The other officer looks at the notepad in his hand and nods, before knocking.

They pause and the first one says, “I don’t hear anything.”  They knock again and command the door open by the people inside, but this receives no response.  Drawing his gun, the second one motions the other to stand back and prepares to kick the door.

“Hold on,” the first officer tells him and reaches over to try the knob.  Surprisingly the door swings easily open on its hinges to a quietly abandoned room.  Nothing is out of place in the living room and the kitchen is clean.  They do their routine check throughout the place and finally the first officer calls to his partner, “Jepson, come here quick!”

When the second officer arrives he cannot move, much less talk, as he drops his gun to his side with knees so weak he fears he will collapse.  On the bed is a body in a T-shirt with a knot at the waistline, and a skirt wrapping around two wrinkly legs resembling dehydrated jerky.  Her face shows two empty eye sockets and a gaping chasm where her mouth should be.  The nose is barely there and the arms are just as lacking of moisture, resembling cold French fries from yesterday.  One officer squints to see the long gray hair sticking out from under the decomposing body like discarded straw.

“What do you make of this?”  the first officer asks as he bends over to pick up a shard of glass from the floor among many splinters.  A rounded handle is nearby, black and shiny with pieces of bone scattered among the carpet strands.

“I’m not sure what to make of it, but we’ll have a heck of a time identifying the body with fingerprints.”