CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Word Count: 1139
Show us where you live.
The early hours of Sunday morning found Conrad Ecklie cleaning. A tight, compact double shift on Saturday had left his body tired, but his mind still kept going. He had tried reading, had tried television, had tried lying in bed and counting backwards from one hundred in Greek, but even the soft whisper of his voice and the harsh but subtle inflection of his secondary language, could not make his mind slow. This wasn’t unusual, though, because he never slept much, not with all that he had seen and done. All the horrors and the pain, never went away, no matter how much he ignored them or thought them unimportant, in the past, best not to be discussed. He never slept much at all, and because he had accommodated himself to little sleep over many years, he already knew what he could do when he couldn’t be still, when he couldn’t think normal thoughts or have normal reasoning running through his mind.
He started at the front door, facing it and directing his head upwards, looking for cobwebs. He turned and walked along, looked to the right, to the hall cupboard, and saw that it too, was free of dust or the left behind remnants of the presence of vermin or insects. He dusted the inside of the cupboard for a few minutes, standing in the cramped space, mind blank, muscles straining to perfect tautness.
Along the same wall as the cupboard door, but nearer the front door, was the door to his childhood bedroom. The plane hung above his bed, the window facing out to the front garden, his bed opposite the door, shelves above it containing a random but neat assortment of books and old toys, things he could probably sell now, or near when he died, to earn himself a nice bit of money The toys from his childhood might not be worth much, but there was an old toy tank, a small set of tin soldiers, things, relics, from years passed by, from dead relatives who had had no one else to leave them to but his parents. He dusted the shelves, carefully wiping a thin layer of dust off some of the toys. The writing desk under the window received the same treatment, as did the set of draws next to it. He looked at the small cupboard placed to the left of the draws, almost touching the desk, almost so close to the wall with the windows that the door wouldn’t have been able to be opened. The room was small, his old clothing miniscule, the bookshelf pressed against the end of the bed, its back against the wall, seemed to help to surround the desk, to make it seem smaller than small. It had once seemed huge to him.
Ecklie turned to the guest bedrooms next, untucking quilts and shaking them fluffy, as he had just done with the quilt on his old bed. Two bedrooms he dusted, except the second bedroom, the one on the right, at the end of the hall that peeled off to the right, after the front door, was more like a study and bedroom combined. His father’s study, a previously forbidden placed with a bed to the left, pressed into a corner, a desk against the windows near the bed’s end. If he looked hard enough out those windows, he could see kitchen door to the left. He had wondered always, how his father had known to come greet him, when he snuck in so quietly from walking around the block, that he couldn’t be heard. It was a simple enough thing to understand now, and yet, his mind didn’t respond, it just processed what his eyes saw. Filing cabinets to the right, opposite the bed, filled with old papers, preserved by the still, cool air and impenetrable silence of his world. Family records, old documents, his birth certificate. Things he didn’t want to look at, but had read nonetheless over the past decades, all the same.
Coming out of the study, the man looked left, to the guest bedroom he had departed from, and then further in that direction, to the bathroom he hadn’t yet cleaned. This too, merely required dusting, and not even that, but either way, he padded through it, steps as soft as the rarely falling snow, and finished that part of the house.
The lounge room was a large, open space, an abrupt end to tiles that waved into a shock of soft carpeting, a couch shoved against the front wall of the house, bordered by two windows. A couch with a rug over it, to hide the stains, a television in front of it, plentiful bookshelves that huddled around the kitchen as if in conversation.
Further, to the other side of the house, the laundry, the main bathroom, and against the front wall of the house, another room, his room, his parent’s bedroom, his wife’s bedroom. A bed that had stood a murder, had stood three absences and still continued to live. A door to the adjoining bathroom that he had just visited.
In the kitchen, the man ate a small, early breakfast, numb, blank and understanding of the fact that, anyone looking at him, watching him, do such menial tasks, so early on in the day, would find him lacking in reasonable thought. He didn’t really care.
The kitchen now was cleaned, plates and cutlery were put away and the kitchen veered right, around a corner to a door that lead to the outside, and left to an entryway declared by an archway, a lack of a door to transition from kitchen, to empty space. Entryway was dusted, and the door led outside, to the backyard, to neatly kept plants and grass, and nothing much.
An archway, and nothing much, the two terms summed up his house. His house, now, shared by no one and rarely visited by anyone at all. The same house he had lived in since birth, had lived in for decades and decades, upon years and three deaths, three, individual, horrible, occurrences.
When people asked where he lived, if he didn’t like them, he told them a house, and if he needed to, he told them the address. It was an easy to forget place, stuck in time in a way that went largely unnoticed by all those unconcerned, and most of those who visited. When he died, it would pass on to someone else, and probably be torn down, replaced with something new and functioning, were old spilt blood wasn’t scrubbed away, yet left in place, turning to dust. One day, where he lived, would be a happy place again, but such an occurrence, certainly wasn’t going to happen anytime soon, if he had anything to say about it. Which he most certainly, did.