Andrew Kozma

You have been murdered.
      This you know, but you want to keep it on the down low.
      But it's messy. It's a mess. It being your body. Not to mention the clothes, the carpet (but you wanted to get rid of it anyway, reveal the nice hardwood beneath), and the bloody footprints, handprints, and the decorative spattering now lacing the walls.
      You decide to paint the room red. You take all the plastic grocery bags you've been hoarding against Armageddon and a shortage of said-same and use them to dispose of the bloodied clothing, the cut-up carpet, and the bits of your flesh no super glue will hold back in place.
      It's easy at first. The blood and gore is covered up, is cleaned from your body, the open wounds filled with putty and painted over with flesh-toned Clearasil. You've checked yourself in the full-length mirror and couldn't tell that anything was wrong, even knowing where the wounds were, and had to poke them to prove to yourself that, yes, you had in fact been murdered. It didn't hurt so much as create a small mess, blood leaking through the putty and staining your shirt, your favorite shirt that you'd worn to give you confidence, now in a plastic bag with the rest of your life.
      Tonight is the party you've planned for months, and guests are already arriving. What can you say to them? I've been murdered. They fill the house with noise and movement. You keep the upstairs securely locked. Your closest friend from childhood discretely mentions a smell. You put a roast in the oven. You take hamburgers from the freezer to defrost.
      You're there in the kitchen checking on food, your untouched beer on the counter, when you notice the small group of people around you fall silent. One asks if you are alright.
      You have always hated him.
      There is a rough grinding as you straighten back up from looking through the oven's window. "The roast is doing fine," you say, but it is close to burning. Your smile causes everyone else to smile in return, in alleviation of awkwardness, even though you have not answered the question, and until this moment you have not thought about internal wounds. The rough grinding was a broken rib.
      You have been covering wonderfully, preoccupied with the party, but now you can't help but inventory your injuries: a twisted ankle, bruised and probably crushed wrist, bruised temple, dislocated knee, broken rib, punctured left lung, and bruised hips. There is no pain, just an awareness of wrong, and the only wavering of your smile comes not from thinking you will give away the injuries in an unconsidered reaction, but from a suspicion that the injuries will show despite your attempts to push them back into obscurity. Someone might notice the broken end of the rib pushing against the skin or that one side of your chest is flatter (they're probably too kind to mention something so indelicate).
      But then there's the fear. Someone murdered you. This fear, granted, is not as immediate as it would've been if the situation was that someone wanted to murder you. At this point, your murderer should no longer be thinking about you, should assume, rightfully so, that you are dead, and so what point in killing again?
      You inspect everyone for evidence. Many people have dirty fingernails, a black residue close to the quick that could be dried blood. A dress covered in red spots. A tie-dyed shirt. None of this helps ease your mind—you know as well as anyone the deceptive power of a shower, a fresh paint job, a new outfit.
      The atmosphere grows oppressive. People are still arriving and smoke from the kitchen is causing people to talk. You smile, glad for the excuse to remove yourself from the party proper.
      In the kitchen, you turn up the oven as far as it will go and step out the kitchen door into your backyard. The barren garden beds look like graves. Someone has been turning over the soil or stray dogs have found a way through the fence. It has begun raining, but you don't notice until, looking down at your hands, a finger seems to dissolve. It is only the make-up, but the make-up is all you have.
      A voice behind you says that the roast is on fire, that they're going to throw water on it, that the food for your party is ruined, that everything smells like smoke, that everyone is wondering where you are, that you look forlorn in the rain, that your hair is plastering itself down, that you look like a drowned rat, that beneath your rain-soaked clothes wounds are growing visible, that the wounds are bleeding through the fabric, that they will wait for you inside.
      They wait for you inside.







As with poems I write, this story started from the first line and everything else spun out from there. You have been murdered. Taking this at face value, what do you do next? 1) It's not a sentence you expect to hear. & 2) There's not much you can do about it. & 3) What else do you have to lose?