The Perplexity from a Place Abroad, Round Four

The Perplexity from a Place Abroad
Round Four
Rand Burgess

There I was, standing over Dixion’s ghostly body as the last droplet of blood evaporated. Just outside the window a dove cooed in the metallic purple of sunset. The mask was whispering again, secrets I should not know. Moreover, as promised the crude translations were hidden in the undercarriage of Dixion’s box spring and easily retrieved. I cannot entirely account what became of the corpse after swiping the formula, other than what appeared in the newspaper.

You’ve got blood clot gumdrops buddy, they’re waiting here just for you a’whole bag of them with your name on it pal.

He was getting closer, I could almost feel the toxicity of yellowed fingertips and water logged eyes running down my already anxious spine. I sloshed the container in my fist and found it to be a little louder, a little heavier than before.


He looks a little busy kiddo, maybe you should curl up, read a book by the fire like old times, eh?

I slid the jiggling script to Beckman, who blindly absorbed it and returned a scrap of aged parchment in its place. I wanted to ask how many more, how many had known. Instead, I grabbed the note and read the name silently to myself, exaggerating the vowels, making familiar phonics strange. The effigy had paralyzed some but not all the facial muscles needed for articulate speech. Either way the condition of my voice was far removed from itself, being more of a struggle than it was worth.


Fredrick howled when I clubbed the groggy publican on his way home from an unusually busy night. I can’t be certain if it was because of the mask, or because he knew who was underneath, but it happened none-the-less. The bottle waxed gluttonous in my palm as it drank the scene clean, filling up only a fraction more. As it did so the mask grew luminous in the alley, casting a pallor of the bizarre and criminal on brick walls. After, I dug at the fringes, trying to peel away the farce, but still I couldn’t manage the seam from skin. Still it wasn’t enough

Uh-oh. I don’t quite think you’re ready for the big leagues son, best you leave it to the older generations to handle.


Beckman was face down in his work when I returned, the rusted silver of a knife hilt sticking out from his damp back. There were no broken doors, no evidence of struggle, not a speck of conflict for logical deduction. But old Rudolph hadn’t just been murdered, rather he had been thoroughly emptied of his fleshy contents.

From the far corner of the room, just beyond the visibility of the desk lamp wafts the hazelnut poison of rich cigars. And it wasn’t that the smell was foreign that troubled me, but that it was so far removed from its natural context.

“Well then, from what I can tell it seems the package arrived safely and even on time. Can you imagine that? I sincerely hope you didn’t reimburse that poor excuse of a sea captain?”


Round Five of “The Perplexity from a Place Abroad” can be found here.

This portion of “The Perplexity from a Place Abroad” (c) 2014 Rand Burgess