This does contain a small amount of gore, although it isn't very graphic. Nothing worthy of upping the rating, but I thought I should warn you all the same.
I had never expected to be cleaning out somebody else's desk. Most certainly not Ripley's. He was the sort of man that everybody hated; he was blunt, harsh, and didn't take any crap. He definitely wasn't a man you wanted as your boss. Especially if he has a reason not to like you. I'm not quite sure of his reason, but he didn't like me. Perhaps it was that I so often showed up late for work, or lost the files from cases, or forgot the on the kitchen table. Maybe it was that my desk was never clean, you could not make sense of my offices, and my work was always sloppy.
I don't think it really matters anymore. He isn't around to dislike anyone anymore. Now he's gone, and I'm not sure if anybody really cares. I'm not quite sure why I care. But something about me wonders: why did he take that case. He could have sent anyone else from the company, he was the supervisor, but he decided to handle this one personally. If he hadn't, it would have been somebody else.
I never realised how unglamorous being a private investigator is. There's no gun fights and late night stakeouts, mostly just following middle aged men around to reassure their paranoid wives, and the occasional spray painted car that the police can't be bothered with. It's mostly office work. And when you die in the line of work, there's no parade, no public mourning, not even the tiniest bit of grief from your co-workers. You're just put in a box marked handle with care. I guess that was meant to be some sick joke.
The police actually came looking for help. Strange, I know, but they couldn't handle this case. Ripley decided to take it on himself, rather than bossing everybody else around. Nobody had expected what had happened – heck! Most of us pitied the poor little psycho. Ripley was not a man you wanted to be on the bad end of. We were all in a state of shock when we saw what had happened.
The box was delivered in the early hours, sealed with duct tape and marked 'fragile – handle with care'. There was no name on it, just the address of the building. It was the secretary who opened it. Poor woman. She was the one who found him, hacked to pieces and shoved inside that little cardboard coffin. The one who found the bloodied not with the shredded remnants of a man. From what I've been told she screamed, so loud it could be heard floors above, but I don't know, I myself wasn't there. I would never be in that early.
It was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle for the coroner, trying to tell limbs apart and one chunk of severed flesh from another. It was hard to believe that it had ever been a man. DNA confirmed it had been Ripley in the box, who hadn't been seen since two days before its delivery. It was just as quickly confirmed who was responsible from the note. Anybody could have guessed, but the confirmation might have helped had anybody been concerned for him.
I haven't actually seen the note, and most of it was illegible through the blood, but from what I've heard it was more or less just taunting. He developed a reputation for it, the nut job, taunting the police and playing games with them. It was like cat and mouse, with him always the cat. It's almost scary, at times, that there are people out there like that. But it reminds me why I took this job. Because I couldn't get into the police.
I don't mind when people talk about it. When the guys say they want to congratulate him, the 'great' Fox Kennedy, for doing that to Ripley. I liked him no more than the rest of them. But that doesn't stop me thinking about it, how much he must have suffered at the end, in those last few moments. I wonder what he was thinking, if he knew how little people would care. Whether he'd wish for a family so he would be remembered, or was grateful he'd no one to leave behind.
Ripley didn't like me, and I never liked him. But to some degree, you have to respect the man. The police were all too frightened to take on the case; I doubt anyone in the office would have wanted to, either. He knew how dangerous a man he would be taking on, but he did anyway. Perhaps he knew how little he had to lose. So that's why I'm cleaning out his desk for him, putting everything in little cardboard boxes so much like his own. Marking them 'fragile' where necessary. Like some sick joke.