“See? It’s not as easy as it looks, honey,” the elderly matron said to me tartly, giving a narrow glance at my handiwork.
I grunted. I wasn’t in the mood to give her any sign of my struggle. My hands, usually so precise, fumbled and flailed because of the thick rubber gloves covering them. Sweat trickled from my neck and down my back, acting as glue and fusing my shirt to my skin. I silently worked at the task at hand.
“I remember when your brother first started,” she fondly started to recall. “Such a quick learner, that one. Had a good head on his shoulders too.” I sucked in a breath through my clenched teeth as I pulled with my hands. A resounding snap was heard in the silence. She’s testing you. She’s trying to provoke you. Focus on what you have to d-
“…so different from your parents, but I guess one of you had to turn out like them.”
A tremor ran through me and I snorted, my head turned up. “I would guess Mom, Dad, and Mick would have more in common since they’re all dead. And I’m not.” I threw her a lazy smile, but my grip tightened from the tension thrumming through my arms. The matron huffed and turned her head to glare at the cracks in the walls. The silence resumed.
“I’m not sure how much you’ve heard of me, ma’am,” I spoke quietly. “I was a sheltered child, as you probably know. But…” I dragged the knife across the stainless steel table, letting its shrill screech amplify as the seconds ticked by, “…that’s not to say I don’t know anything about this life. And I would feel it was most unkind,”
My other gloved hand gently caressed the back of her hand, moving it in soothing circles.
“…to have my career be prematurely judged when it has only just begun.” I could feel her fingers twitch reflexively and smiled complacently when I heard the hitch in her breath.
“And what a fine beginning it has been.” I stated jovially, “I believe I’ve found what I was looking for.” I let go of the matron and stepped back admiring my brother. “It was so gracious of you to let me look at the body, Linda. I hope to keep up the amiable relationship that you once had with Mick.”
I carefully extracted my hands out of the gloves and threw them uncaringly down at the table with a splat. “Who knows? Maybe even strengthen it.” I motioned for her to take the body away and she hurriedly did as she was told, the blood on her hand shining garishly under the lights.
The matron shot up quickly. Her lips were pinched and her eyes looked demurely at the floor. Like a puppy waiting to be reprimanded, I thought wryly.
“You may have taken liberties with Mick after he coerced you into this side-job, but question my authority again and I will slowly pick and prod at your life until you will one day find that you have nothing to live for and no other way to live except to lick the dirt off my shoes as I bash them over your face repeatedly until the bones break. Do you understand?”
I smiled widely and turned to grab my coat off the chair nearby. “Wonderful. I’ll send you your payment in sections as we had agreed upon in the next few weeks.”
I turned around and began my trek back to the others. Playfully, I raised my hand in farewell, calling out “And do ask your daughter where she got her collared blue dress – the one with the lace at the bottom. It looks so lovely on her petite form and I think I’d like to get one to wear for service next Sunday.”
Linda’s muffled cries were cut off as I shut the door behind me. The crisp air was a welcome relief to my fevered skin and I took a deep breath.
I pinched the bridge of my nose and exhaled.
It was too easy being the bad guy.