An hour after I had got off the phone with David, I found two policemen at my door, with an austere look on their faces that told me that this was not a social call. They flashed their badges at me, which the impression their uncomfortable uniforms made on the eye rendered unnecessary, and crossed the threshold without waiting for an invitation – one, no doubt, of the very few perquisites of maintaining law and order in the city.
"David Dedalus is dead. He fell down the stairs at 4.23 PM today, and died."
"How can that be? I spoke to him just an hour ago. No, the coffee is just for me." One of the guardians of the law had been glancing at the single cup of coffee I was pouring with covetous eyes.
"He died soon after he had hung up. So soon that we have reason to believe that foul play was involved."
The logic of this statement eluded me, and I said as much.
"People don't fall down stairs after getting off phones, unless some malevolent force be at play."
"And you think I was this malevolent force?"
"Indeed we do. So we are here to arrest you."
This seemed to me incredible. The only person I had ever murdered was my husband, and the only other person whose death I was directly responsible for was my gardener, an equally dim-witted man with a much finer physique whose job it had been to provide bored old widows like me with something to stare at. He died when I called out to him, drawing his attention away from the rose bush he had been pruning with a pair of astonishingly sharp scissors.
"Also for your refusal to cooperate in this investigation."
"Policemen, this is ridiculous." I thought "officer" was too grandiose a term of address for these obviously inept youths.
The taller of them uttered a four-letter expletive – "clld", an obscure Welsh word of whose existence only a few transcendental degenerates were aware. Its meaning was so horrifyingly foul that it could not be expressed in any known language. The story is that the word appeared in a dream to a Welsh priest on the night before his execution. He hissed and spat it (for one does not "utter" Welsh words) at the executioners as he was being dragged to the gallows, filling the hearts of the theretofore eager spectators with a diarrhea-inducing fear. That it should be uttered in a home by someone whose job it was to be a paragon of morality appalled me.
"Clld. That is my name. When you arrive at the precinct tomorrow, I want you to seek me out. Also, just so you know, I do engage in the practice of exacting sexual favors in exchange for clemency. This is my business card – you know, for my other job."
He handed me a hand-made business card that was so over-decorated with little floral patterns that the name underneath it was almost impossible to decipher. I could only make out his surname – "Clld" – and would have doubted my ability to read, had the person himself not hissed and spat it.
"Needless to say, you may not bring your husband."
"My husband is dead."
The shorter policeman coughed softly at this point, intending, perhaps to draw the larger one's attention to some detail he had missed. Unfortunately, this caused something in his throat to enter his windpipe, and after a few minutes of thrashing and gasping, he was dead.
"Be sure to wear leather, unless you want to be charged for this, as well."
"I will see you tomorrow. Good day."
The policeman tripped on his way out, and died.
"Clld," I hissed and spat.