Pedro Ponce


The victim is not deaf to the soundtrack. She is not blind to the audience leering over popcorn cartons. She knows. As she unlocks her door and steps into the darkened kitchen, as she turns on the lights and shuffles through the day's mail (mostly bills she will never have to pay), she knows. She's about to Get It. She sets down her purse and makes her way to the bedroom.

She sheds her clothes, ignoring the scattered whistles coming from the theater seats. She covers herself in a short silk robe. The flimsy material is too slight for the weather where she lives, but she knows the rules. A sudden scraping sound gives her an excuse to look out into the middle distance at the eyes watching her. She cannot let them see her look. Whatever fear she feels can register only briefly, for as long as it takes her to realize that the scraping is just a tree branch pressed against her window. Later, there will be the shadow behind the shower curtain, the thrust of a knife through the belly, the slow sinking to the tiled floor. For now, she must arrange herself into a blank, doe-eyed calm. She steps out to the living room for a cigarette.

The soundtrack swells with tortured strings and computerized shrieks. She must sit through it all, just another night at home on the sofa. Her friends at the office are home, too, with husbands or boyfriends, or else out at the bars. She desperately wants a beer. But there is no time. She looks over her shoulder and parts the curtains behind her. Beyond the frame, where the audience can't see, the paramedics have already arrived. A police car idles beside the ambulance. She sees the detective inside yawning as he waits for the screams that will signal his entrance.

She turns back to the dimly lit living room with what the audience takes to be a bemused stare. But she is actually looking squarely at the killer. He sullenly taps his watch while standing at the aquarium. The ridges of his clown mask are softened by the blue-green light of the tank. She takes one last drag on her cigarette and breathes it out in a narrow white funnel. Her satisfied smile is obscured as she vanishes down a darkened corridor.

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