A Place for Everything


He hadn’t meant to kill her. It was an accident. But how many times had he told her, “A place for everything, and everything in its place”? Was it his fault if she didn’t listen? If she didn’t put things back where they went and he lost his temper? How could someone live with a person who wouldn’t follow simple instructions? It was barbaric! How many times had he said to her “Put the shoes away according to the days of the week in which they are worn” or “Make sure my shirts are arranged according to color from lightest to darkest”? Were these such impossible tasks?

And now, now he had to clean up the mess. He propped her up in her sitting chair, blood collecting and pooling on the tile floor beneath her. First things first though, he must make sure the house was in proper order before letting on that there had been an accident. It wouldn’t do for someone to walk in and see the house in disarray. Not one bit.

He started in the kitchen, pulling down dishes, rewashing and reorganizing so that everything was exactly where it needed to be. He scoured the oven and the refrigerator, and when he was done using the sink he scrubbed it so thoroughly he could see his reflection in the stainless-steel basin. He swept, and after he swept he mopped, and after he mopped he dropped to his hands and knees and forcefully washed the wood until it gleamed in the fading sunlight. He polished the cabinetry and rubbed down the granite counters until not a speck of dirt or dust remained. Satisfied, he moved on to the living room.

Anarchy and disorder reigned as he was forced to fluff pillows and dust tables and arrange cushions. Really! What did that woman do all day long? This house was a catastrophe! He chased dust rabbits out from under the furniture and again crept along on the floor until it shined to his satisfaction. The moon, rising in the night sky, was of no concern to him as he cleansed the windows and vacuumed the drapes. This was going to take him a lifetime!

He planned on moving to the bathrooms, but one look at the state of the study made him reconsider. The desktop was cluttered and unorganized, the books were not arranged appropriately and he cringed at the thought of what monstrosities awaited him in the corners and crevices of the room. His stomach protested at not having dinner, but he ignored it, eagerly aligning books by genre, wiping dust from the covers as he returned them to the shelves. The moon began its descent, but he continued on, bleary-eyed and sleep deprived.

The bathrooms, he would do the bathrooms then return to clean up the body and the mess surrounding it. He rubbed the faucets on the sink and tub until they sparkled, grabbed a spare toothbrush and used it to remove dirt and filth from between the tile lining the shower and was on his knees cleaning around the toilet when he heard a knock at the door. “It must be the neighbor’s. No one would be at our door at this hour.” But the knock came again. Picking himself up of the floor he staggered down to the door and cracked it open.

The morning sun momentarily blinded him, forcing him to squeeze his eyes shut. When he opened them he noticed a uniformed policeman staring at him. “Can I help you officer?” he croaked. He looked down at himself. He was filthy, covered in dirt and grime, dust and gunk. He tried brushing himself off as the officer spoke to him.

“Sorry to bother you sir, but we had a call about a disturbance. Is everything okay? The report indicated there were loud noises and yelling throughout the night.”

He smiled at the officer, perhaps it was a little too friendly as the officer’s tone changed. “Do you mind if we come in and have a look, sir?”

“Not at all. I’ve just been cleaning. Perhaps that is what the neighbors heard,” he said as he opened the door to allow the officer at the door, and another one just behind him to enter the apartment. “Please remove your shoes, gentlemen,” he requested, still grinning like a mad man. “I finally have my home in a state in which I am satisfied. Can I offer you tea or coffee?”

Both officers asked for coffee as they perused through the apartment, looking for signs of disruption or struggle. As he prepared the beverages, he couldn’t help but admire the efforts of his hard work. With each room pristine and perfect he returned to the living room, coffees perched politely on a small silver tray. He sat on his couch, blissful, and engrossed in the tidiness surrounding him as he waited for the policemen to complete their inspection.

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