Bill Kitcher


I buzzed, then turned and looked up and down the street as you do when you think you’re guilty of something.

There was no response, and I buzzed again. The silence was weird. I knew Jane was home. She’d just called me. I stepped back onto the sidewalk and looked up at her apartment window, as if I thought I could see into her apartment and see what she was doing. That was two things I’d done that weren’t me. The thought flashed through my mind that I would start yelling, “Hey, everyone! I’m a material witness!” Things apparently go in threes. That wasn’t the third thing I did that made me look suspicious. It was the suitcase.

I went back to the apartment entrance and buzzed again.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me. Who do you think it is?”

She buzzed the door open, and I went upstairs.

The door of Jane and Jon’s apartment was open, and I went in. Jane was failing to close the zipper on a suitcase. She looked up at me. “Close the door.”

“Well, of course,” I said. “What the hell happened to your face?”

There were a few cuts, and bruising had started.

“What the hell do you think happened?”

“No, I mean, you know… What was it this time?”

“Same shit. He was drunk, went over all the same shit. About having a kid. Me workin’ at the Crown and workin’ late all the time. Shit, I gotta work. He’s not bringin’ in a lot of money. And Mom and Dad don’t like him. Same old shit.” She paused. “And you.”

“Me? What do I have to do with this? Never mind. Is he dead?”

“Yeah, of course he’s dead, you asshole! I told you that!”

“All right. Calm down. Have you cleaned up?”

“I think so. Go in the kitchen. Check everything.”

I went into the kitchen. The floor was clean. No blood on the cabinet doors. None on the counter. Without thinking, I looked in the fridge and the oven. I didn’t know what I was expecting. Everything looked OK. There were three large knives on the draining board. I looked at them carefully. There were spots of blood on one of them. I ran the hot water, took the J-cloth hanging over the faucet, wiped the knives, dried them with a musty dish towel, looked at them carefully again, returned them to the knife block, put the J-cloth and dish towel in my pocket, took out another J-cloth from the cabinet under the sink, smeared it with dish soap, rinsed it, hung it over the faucet, found another dish towel in a drawer, wiped the clean counter with it, and threw it on the draining board.

I went back into the living room. Jane was sitting on the couch, staring at nothing. I looked around, saw no evidence of what she’d done. She’d told me she’d killed him in the kitchen, and I believed her. I hadn’t been sure she would remember exactly what she’d done, but I was now convinced.

I sat beside her and looked at her. She didn’t react.

And then a thought hit me like lightning at the top of a tree. “So, where’s Jon?”

She looked at me, then nodded toward the suitcase.

“Jesus,” I said. “We gotta get it outta here.”

“No shit, Sherlock.”

“That was a lot of work,” I said. “Good job.”

“My work experience at that butcher shop helped.”

I laughed. That was funny.

I went over to the suitcase and tried to move it. It was really heavy as you can imagine when it’s full of a flabby two-hundred-pound man.

I checked the bathroom and bedroom. Everything looked sloppily normal. I went back to the living room.

“Get that and give it to me,” Jane said, nodding toward a bowling ball bag in the corner.

“What’s in there?”

She just looked at me.

“Jesus,” I said. I picked it up and gave it to her.

Jane murmured, “I couldn’t fit all of him in the suitcase.”

I dragged the suitcase to the door. Some blood oozed out of it, and I wiped it up with the J-cloth and dish towel I’d had in my pocket. I opened the apartment door. No one was in the hallway. I pulled the suitcase to the stairwell. Jane followed me with the bowling ball bag after locking her door. This was definitely the third stupid thing.

A stairwell. How the hell was I going to get that downstairs?

Turned out that wasn’t a problem. Jane pushed the suitcase, and it bounced down the stairs to the front door. I followed it, wiping away blood spots as I went.

Jane opened the front door, and I dragged the suitcase down the walk to the street. I struggled to keep it upright on its four flimsy wheels. A good Samaritan came along and asked if I needed help.

“No thanks,” I said.

“That looks heavy,” he said. “What’s in it?”

“Dead body,” said Jane.

The Samaritan laughed, and shuffled away.

“Now what?” I said.

“Bus station,” said Jane. “Throw it on a bus, take it as far as it goes, weigh it down with rocks, throw it into a river or preferably a lake, and hope for the best. Jon had told everyone he’d always wanted to go to South America. Maybe this time he did.”

“Shit, you have this worked out.”

“For at least five years. You know that.”

“Not the details.”

Jane leaned toward me and kissed me on the cheek.

“You’re an asshole,” I said, and laughed. Going to the bus station was possibly the fourth, or maybe the fifth, stupid thing. I’d lost track.

After a while, we reached an empty garbage-filled lot where homeless people sometimes hung out around a barrel fire when it was cold. Jane took some newspapers out of her pocket, crumpled them up and threw them in the barrel. Then she found some discarded scraps of wood and threw them in too. She took out of her pocket a can of lighter fluid, squirted it, lit a match, threw it in, waited for ignition, then threw the bowling ball bag in after it. She watched it for a moment with a look on her face I couldn’t identify.

Further down the road, we rolled the suitcase into the bus station, a grimy rundown place as bus stations have completely become in the twenty-first century now that there aren’t that many of them left anymore.

We put the suitcase at the end of a row of beaten-up vinyl seats. Jane went to buy the tickets. I went to the bathroom. I splashed water on my face a few times but it made no difference.

When I returned to the waiting area, the suitcase was gone. I looked around for Jane, and she was standing at the entrance, looking outside. I went over and joined her. Out in the parking lot, some guy was dragging the suitcase away as quickly as he could.

“Well, there’s a thing,” Jane said.

She stepped outside and I followed. We watched the guy open the back seat of a car. He picked up the suitcase and threw it in. He was obviously in good shape. He got in the car and drove away.

We stood there for a while. Then she said, “I wonder if he’ll be able to work the zipper.”

Jane lit a cigarette for the first time I’d ever seen her have a smoke. She looked at me. She said, “You’re a good brother.”

“Thanks. You know I’m adopted, right?”

“I still have two tickets to nowhere.”

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