In This House of Sinners

Did someone miscount, miscalculate, pull
the wrong straw, assign you a number
that’s odd or outdated? I’m looking at your
dossier and everything seems in order.
Help me here. Was the gun a .357 Magnum,
and did you fire it? It appears that bullets
took flight after Despair and Jealousy. One
passed, with due speed, through Sabrina’s
aorta. Death was instantaneous. Doc. #1788
says, in fact, that you dragged your missus
out of the bedroom in her pink PJs, leaving
a brushstroke—a lattice of violet inkblots.
You laid her out like a washerwoman,
tampered with, called 911 like you’d come
home from Holy Communion only to find
her body. We couldn’t help but laugh.
Our hot line lit. But what about ballistics,
powder burns, body cooling, muscular
flaccidity, one thumbprint? Here, we
have the timeline: shades for black eyes,
long sleeves after I’m sorry, those I’ll
never do it again
bruises. That Jack Pyke
Skinning Knife scared the shit out of her.
Got it all in Technicolor, audio, with every
You Bitch, Whore. Forget those tiny spy
cameras. We sat with you on the toilet,
closer than Scott’s tissue. Before her lover’s
pickups, the cheap motels, six-packs, heels
on the dash, you were already boiling.
The flames took over. We loved how you hid
in the folds of tapestries, treaded oil in her
Peugeot. Man, you were the air’s greatest
trapeze swinger, sea-gull, slug. It’s all
recorded here: the maps, Quaaludes, hide-and-
seek, dark corners, in triplicate. Frankly,
you weren’t too smart. Not that it matters
now. In any case, it’s all beyond incriminating.
If you want to talk to the hologram of your
wife wailing, accusing you, be my guest.
Sure, you can pursue this, buddy. But
things could get far worse. You’ve seen
and felt what’s here. Already, the soles
of your feet are peeling. Believe me, in
the lower pits it’s hot enough to melt steel,
2,750 Fahrenheit at least. Why didn’t you
get it? There’re no secrets, perfect crimes.
You should have had a boys’ night out,
got drunk. Now, it’s a wrap. You could
have been working here beside me at
the front desk, handling the proverbial
bullshit. I am innocent. This has to be
a mistake.
This first-tier cubbyhole is
nobody’s picnic. Only coal-fueled boilers,
no water, ventilation. But it beats
going back down in that damn elevator.

—Isaac Black