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Fiction #363
(published January 3, 2008)
Baroque? No!
by Louis Khor
Things had happened. A crime had occurred. And it looked as if squishy kisses and eager waving wasn't putting the seams back together. Everything had been ripped apart; the insides, all white and clumped, spilled out.

The scene of events had been cordoned off. There were flags, and poles, and ribbon-tape jabbed into the felt, thrust through the fur, of the material surroundings. As if this were an archeological dig through a corpse. The crowds of onlookers shuffled towards the lights and sirens, pressing up against the road-blocks and parked police vehicles.

After all, this was not New York, or LA; not Chicago—not even Baltimore. This, here, was Murder City: where the number of red names on the homicide tally, disproportionate to the city's size, was already in triple digits for the year. The metropolitan skyline was dominated by the central lighting tower—that cast the central business district into shadow. Philips tested light bulbs there. Perhaps it was only called Murder City because of the bureaucracy—that it seemed you had to squeeze the life out of someone to get things done. But prophetic names just work out that way.

The first thing the fuzz did as they surveyed the scene, walking around it, taking it in, was to cock their heads to the side and scratch. The first patrol on the scene had been struck by a vague sense of unease. And even before the detectives completed their assessment, they felt deep in the soft core of their beings that something was not right. Perhaps it was the chalk marks that no one in authority had been responsible for. Maybe it was because what you expect at the center of chalk marks is a body, and here there wasn't one. Off to one side, those in uniform put their heads together and talked quietly amongst themselves. Best they could figure, some deranged criminal genius was toying with them—fucking with their heads, bringing them to the verge of tears. This psycho maniac hadn't the decency to let the crime scene investigators to do their job and circumscribe the thing that would begin the mystery, our beautiful corpse. Instead that crazed, murdering son-of-a-bitch had drawn an outline of his own: around nothing.

Nothing but the knife sticking out of the asphalt, jabbed upright in the centre of the body-shape; fake fur and excess new material caricaturedly arranged around the slit incision. As if our cackling maniac had decided that this would all be funny. It must have taken meticulous care to communicate through chalk, the texture of fur in tracing those long, sinewy ears; ears that sprang from the top of the absent, abstracted (only represented) body.

And so the fat detective waddled towards the short detective, and into the focus of the tripod lights. Lights that created a perimeter of clarity within the swallow of the alley. This unflinching illumination brightened—however momentarily—the shadows cast by the surrounding buildings. The fat one continued scratching at his seams beneath the long trench coat, flicking tobacco off the expansive white patch on his furry, protruding belly. As he hopped the last few steps forward on his haunches, his elongated snout seemed to nod or bounce—the mass of his body below expanding and contracting.

"Another bunny stabbing?"


"What is it with these damned rodents? Always with the fucking knives."

The short detective was still; his face impassive, and pointed, like a rat's. Arms outstretched to the side, palms open (like they were constantly wearing oven mitts)—he stared—until he snapped back.

"Hey—-bunnies are people too you know. And get the fuck back, you're gonna get ash all up inside the lines."

"Put a sock in it. And anyway, this is a bear neighborhood—a teddy bear country—so I'll talk about bunnies the way I talk about fuckin' bunnies."

"You think the Feds'll get interested in this crazy bastard now? Lieutenant's eyes've been buggin' out. Even more than usual."

"Well, when they stop stroking and hugging one another. I hope we get the hot one this time."

"So what we gonna do now?"

"I'm gonna go look on the roof. There's always something to see from the roof. It'll give me a new perspective on things."

"Yeah. Sure."

"Fuck, though."

"Yeah, fuck."

These two, among the best detectives available in the city on short notice, had begun to analyze the scene—scribbling in the margins of the page—careful not to disturb the markings of that heinous motherfucker; out of respect for the families—and the enormity of the crime—that absolutely nothing should be disturbed.

And so the detectives fall out of the narrative, like snakes from a plane, and we hear of them no more.

She, who is the central figure of this story, brandished her .38. She let the light glint off it—illumination like the warning reflections on the broad side of a sword. For a moment she looked haggard, and old; and I seemed to see her as a pristine knight. Stepping forward, she was surrounded by a mystical glow, engulfed by blue flames—with the vestments of holy purpose wrapped around her naked form. She understood what had to be done. This place would be set to rights. She would reconfigure its fundamental purpose, shift its monstrous predilection. The world would be transformed, once again. She would come to know herself the way we know her now: as the angel of beating wings, the beacon of virtue—the harbinger of cataclysm.

Oh, and she was made of plastic, was blonde. Her legs went all the way down to the ground (though her thighs did not meet)—and she wore black (bureau approved) pants-suits. Basically at this point I should interpose a picture of Rachel Nichols when she was on The Inside . Only, as I mentioned, made from plastic.

Of course it's an anomaly—what do you expect? I know most people (like you and me) are made of batting and fur; and have plastics circles (sometimes buttons) for eyes, but she's special, don't you understand? Just as the Maker made all of us, so created was she—a kind of avatar, and a savior—a courtly warrior lady whose example breathed new life as Lazarus once did. And she walks the earth as an example, making us humble in our aspiration.

But just as our enemies rose from barbarism, and with their heathen uncleanness vex us still, we must never but be instructed by these instruments of our Maker. We hear the Word that is sent us: hate the heathen that schools us through our defeats—glorify Its Emissary. Do the heathen abate before the waves? Do they flinch at the specter?

She pierced layer after layer of the crime-scene, her badge like a warding symbol—her knightly emblazoned credentials. Having waved her way through, she now stood at the center of things. With her jacket open, her stance revealed the A-framed cleavage of her white dress shirt, her hands resting lightly on her trousered hips. On her left breast, as per new directives, was stuck a cheerful, pink, flower-edged tag:

"Hi! I'm a Special Agent with the FBI. We're here to help."

She had heard of the Lieutenant in charge—all eyes, they said.

"Ma'am, don't worry, we just want the bastard caught. No one's getting territorial here. We'll give you all the cooperation you require."

"Bastard? Yeah, I'm up here."

"Sorry, ma'am—for the language—we don't tend to get ladies of. . . stature in this neighborhood."

"I mean, you have a suspect in mind?"

"Not so's I can say, or lay my finger on, but I've been keeping peeled for any relevant info—this isn't the first bunny we've found this way."

"What bunny?"

"Why the bunny that was stabbed here."

"I don't see a bunny, do you?"

The bunny shaped chalk marks gaped, like a mouth, go ah.

"Of course ma'am, not to be obtuse, but what else is there to be?"

"Something more sinister, my spudly friend."

"Lady, I may just be a county potato, but I know serial pathology when I see it."

She returned to the Federal Building, having left where she'd come from. The security cameras caught her walking in, as if in a kind of absent haze, holding a file up against her chest and wandering through the lobby. The tapes show her passing the security checkpoint and riding up to the 6th floor. Later you see her walking slowly down a brightly lit corridor and then through her department's bullpen, before getting to the corner office of her immediate superior. Still hugging the file, she noticed where she was, looked up at her boss, and handed over the file. None of this made the Supervisor of Violent Crimes dizzy—like a schoolgirl, or otherwise.

"Shouldn't you be at the scene of the crime?"

"What crime?"

"Young lady, sweetheart, have you fallen on your head?"

It seemed that however hard he tried, the agent in charge of the VCU would never overcome the initial impression he left on others. Put politely: that his suits would never, in some bonafide sense, fit him. And really how could they? With his culled-together limbs and the bolt through his neck. And the flatness of his head, that could never fully be explained, except by the suggestion of a metal plate, and lightning. The name stenciled on the door read: Supervisory Special Agent Frank Stein, Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"Sir, that wouldn't be an appropriate question for me to answer."

"You're going to be funny right now?"

"Would there be a better time, sir? For me to be funny? Because I could come back."

The director would keep talking—"You're suspended," "Say hello to those bitches on The View." But while he did, and in between the words, and the shouting (and the hoops, and the fire)—her attention was being drawn somewhere else. She felt herself like blinking. She saw—in the distance beyond the room, past the edge of the city into the wilderness around, beside some trees, on the edge of the clearing green—something startling. There was a tiny man, a midget really, stamping his feet. For a moment she felt as if she could feel his little beard trembling, his lips about to burst, his foot thumping. And the earth, opening up, to swallow him whole. For a long while after, the thumping of his feet would remind her of porn.

What she had uncovered did not surprise her—she had not closed her eyes and put her left foot in. The more she turned things around in her mind, the clearer it became. The pattern of events, of visionary happenings—was simple, as if she should forget.


How could these things signify anything other than what they meant? Thoughts flooded her mind. Nemesis, Oracle, Sandalwood Box. Then darkness. In between. These things were what's next.

But knowing was not enough. Sacraments call out for consecration and anointing. There would be no Codex without seeking.

She was running. Relieved of duty, literally (if you will) suspended—if only in time—she ran. Ran out of a desire for exhaustion and the absence of loss; or, perhaps, just to get the sight out of her head. To end, bent over, panting the will from her body. She ran as you never think to see women run—just short of fleeing in terror (in Juicy Couture track suits)—with a set of face and feature held rigidly in place. Shivering as it kept still.

She stopped running.

It's difficult to conceive of the golden-haired Unicorn as he occurred there, standing stately on all fours—looking as if he had his chin in his hoof, nodding his head upwards. He recognized her expectant look, and visibly sighed. If elegant majesty did such things, you might have suspected him of rolling his eyes.

The golden-haired Unicorn spoke, "Waddup, shorty?"

"Excuse me?"

"And to answer your question, no, I—am not purely mythical."


"Yes the horn's real."


"Bite. Me."

But he would come to deal with her eyes looking at him, eyes that belonged to pilot season in Hollywood, making demographics swoon. And she stood there; not really steely and squinting in a way that didn't blink, but regardless—making it work for her. In context, his long pause and hesitant response wasn't a surprise.

"You're not—Diana, are you?" he said, suddenly nervous; abruptly like a skittish colt, with a party favor horn and a bad golden dye-job. "That bitch crazy."

How do we get from one point to the next? Where are we going, where being led? We turn and we tilt, and we lift our shoulders to our ears, and our palms to the sky. And the sky delivers unto us hideous monstrosities: that leapt from the trees—with claws, in place of furry paws—crouched and screeching.

They were a pair of hairless, jammy-coloured enforcers, and they stood ready to descend upon her. They wore masks of a cat, with whiskers that swept and swung. So what if these minions of the Unicorn hid beneath their skinned anonymity? Uncovered flesh that stretched with such lewdness over muscle and bone? She remained unperturbed; all there was going to be was uncoiling, and riposte.

The Unicorn lunged at her, as his minions closed in.

She gently rolled his horn with her palms, drawing his eyes with the vaulting spectacle of her—her foot tapping the left enforcer where the chin just has that groove, fit for sharp-toed shoes; the right enforcer, at the end of the dismount, heel in the teeth, ball in the nose. At the end of that one movement, punctuated by muzzled ringing double-flash—one clutched a limp jaw; another, its dripping face; the leapt golden equine frog, his front left kneecap.

So there he was, shot—white heat unconstrained now by the thin gauze between inside and outside. "My fucking Little Pony, huh?" She stood, and stepped forward. She looked down at him lying there, holding himself. He looked up and imperceptibly nodded. She saw, and imperceptibly recognized. There was a congress of recognition, and no more petty talk. Life is inimical to life itself. They knew—she knew—what had been discovered. She would be going beyond the oaths she'd sworn, she would begin the quest that called. Into wilderness outside.

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