David Spencer came home to find his roommate dead.
The end of all things in the universe, no matter how important, how grandiose, how trivial or how pointless, can best be described as either nauseatingly compelling or intensely dull. Lights extinguish quickly – often by necessity. A broken bulb does not stay lit for long. Neither does a flame, exposed to the wind and left to blow out, to end in a moment. So many things ended in moments.
It was simple, really. A house stands for an hundred years until an antique fire spits a lonely spark too far. A ritual of the flesh continues to be practised until, quite suddenly, the recipient objects. A meal is shared by family until a member starts working late and, week after week, the same meal is postponed.
A man walks into his apartment and ceases to live.
It was nine in the evening when the police finally arrived. David Spencer sat on a crate for four hours waiting for the call he'd made at five, that dangerous threshold between afternoon and evening, to finally make a difference. He'd spent the time mulling over what had happened. It was simple – David's room mate, Richard Moss, had come home. His keys were on the kitchen counter. A window was slightly open – the same window Richard had, every day, crossed over the living room floor to open. David had imagined him breathing in deeply, letting the rush of air hit him, the smells from the Asian restaurant across the narrow alleyway lapping over him like a wave. Next would have come the letter opener. It moved every time, but Richard never used it. He picked it up, went to open his mail with it, and then proceeded to slide a finger under the flap and tear down the side, gently replacing the letter opener. He'd received it as a gift from a well-to-do friend for a house warming and continually attempted to make good use of it. To date, David had estimated that Richard had failed to use the letter opener nine hundred and sixty two times, the only use of it for any purpose other than scenery being the use of it as leverage in a failed attempt to fix a drawer three months previously. Richard hadn't reached this stage. Normally, he would have picked up his mail from the box downstairs before riding the elevator up to the sixth floor, where he would have opened the front door, walked over to the window, placing his keys on the bench as he walked, taken in the air before finally reaching down to pick up the dull blade in a vain attempt at checking his mail.
Two things were wrong with this scenario. David had grabbed Richard's mail on his way up. The mail came at two in the afternoon. The examiner the police had brought decided that his death had to have happened between three and four. He'd been surprised that it was so specific and narrow a time frame, but was pointed to Richard's broken watch. It was an old model, and like so many cliché murders before it, had broken in the fall.
Murder. Richard Moss had been murdered. David had to let it sink in all over again every time he started to think about it. Richard didn't appear to have any enemies, and a random home invasion all the way on the sixth floor of a secured apartment building seemed illogical. A male detective approached him, a mix of sympathy and ambivalence in his eyes. It resembled the expression a person has when they don't like the present they've been given. Forced, the product of overexposure and social requirement.
“Now, we're going to have to take you with us. In the eyes of the law, you're a potential suspect.”
David nodded and stood, the detective ushering him outside, into the hall, and likely into a police vehicle.
The examiner turned to the male detective. As he turned, David could see the man's bald spot. It lay unusually far back on his head, reminding him of that oldest of old wives tales. The ME scratched it with his hand. The detective shot David a dirty look as he attempted to stifle a laugh.
Death had always been weirdly amusing to David Spencer.