Cut up, was the body was on the sofa. Where it had been left. Its leg was bent at the knee and turned slightly outwards. An ankle dangled over the edge of the seat, the arch of a bare foot just grazing the fibres of the carpet.
There were tights that started at the hem of a silk dress: ripped in places, the mesh dark and stuck with static to the material of the cushions.
The dress itself was bunched slightly at the armpits, the arms flung up overhead, fingers tangled up all limp in stray knots of hair. There was a necklace of small geometric jewels that looked expensive, The chin had tilted back. As the head lolled limply at the edge of the sofa, the necklace slipped down in a heavy line to pool at the end of the throat. The white rocks shone brilliant against the blood, highlighting the deep divot of red that started below the jaw and curled all the way around the base of the neck.
Blood stained the chair and splattered up the wall in wide, ocean spray arches. It was on the bottom of the body’s feet, and in tacky little stalagmites that bridged the distance form skin to carpet, and skin to cushion, and fingers to face. Red webbing of blood held the whole pose together – at the centre of it, the face was unrecognisable.
That’s how they placed it.
The hotel door opened, and a lover stepped into the room, a bottle of champagne tucked under the arm of his dressing gown. He was talking at first (something about the concierge) and the words keep going for a little second even after he faltered in his stride. The body’s eyes, open and unseeing, reflected the shape of the lover’s mouth as he drew short and stuttered into silence. The bucket hit the carpet with a thunk, and the contents hissed. Ice scattered over the floor; one bit rolled to a stop at the edge of the growing pool of red.
Back at the lover, as he sank to his knees. His hands were clasped in his lap, fingers interlinked, clenching and unclenching.
On cue, a maid walked by in the hall, and as she did, duty inspired her to hover at the open door, and at the guest just visibly crouched a little way past the doorframe.
She smoothed the pinafore of her skirt and stepped in.
She saw. She screamed.
The scream went on long and changed key, rose, and then fell swiftly short with a strangled breath. The maid coughed and gagged and smacked her gloved hand against the bottom of her face and held it there to keep anything else from escaping.
In the silence after, they could all hear the blood dripping steadily from the body’s hands, and feet, and face, onto the carpet.
The lover looked up at the maid, face a sick, transparent yellow in shock. He matched the champagne bubbling between his knees.
“I didn’t do it,” he said to her.
The maid slowly took her hand away from her mouth and swallowed but said nothing. She stood there with one foot tucked behind the ankle of the other, an arm picking at the cotton of her costume. She stared down at him, eyes slightly glazed.
The room was silent but for the dripping.
Slowly a little crease appeared between the man’s eyebrows. A flicker of movement in his cheek, jaw clenching. The maid felt heat rise to the surface of her face.
“I didn’t do it,” he said again sharply, and nodded imperceptibly up at her.
The maid closed her eyes.
From the doorway, someone cleared their throat loudly. The lover sighed and rolled his eyes and sat back on his haunches, gesturing to the darkness edged against the far wall.
The maid opened her eyes, still blushing, and found people edging closer out of the shadows into the room, some of them arms folded, some of them smiling reassuringly in her direction.
“Um. Line?” She said, shivering slightly in relief.
The lights came on, and the grand hotel room shrunk into a small square of carpet and plywood. A faux place sat in the middle of a colossal grey studio.
Someone called out: “Cut.”
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