Love Thy Neighbour

Entry by: Mac

24th June 2016

It really is difficult to justify my love for you when I am standing over your corpse and it was me who rendered you lifeless – and not by accident, I might add. But, you see, it was the only way to keep you. And keeping you for the rest of our lives – or, in this case, yours – was always my stated intention. Two questions remain unanswered, one practical and one emotional [even spiritual, though I’d find it hard to argue that in front of a jury of my peers]. Funny really, the only person I can discuss this with is you and you’re in no position to help me think it through. Still, those two questions: what to do with the body [OK, your body if you want to personalize this] and how did we ever get to this position anyway. I don’t mean me standing over you – though, in one sense, I suppose I do mean that – but this position where you’re dead and I’m responsible. Directly and intentionally responsible. Oh, I really did love you … still do; always will. From the early days of passion until the geriatric days of cucumber sandwiches and reminiscing about bygones and what-ifs, I had intended to quietly demonstrate that you were the love of my life. The latter are off the agenda now; we shall not grow old together. Nor shall we laugh at the impotence of age and the onset of arthritis. Well, you won’t – I might.
I’d like to keep you close to hand, though indoors is out of the question for all the obvious reasons – there is no cellar. And you will look distinctly less pretty as time goes on and bits drop off – sorry to be so indelicate.
I have rather hastily responded to the precipitous situation I find myself in by developing a changing, reactive near-plan to deal with you. More precisely, the consequences of you. The DIY store has proven to be a boon: artificial turf to line the shed walls and floor will, I hope minimize the impact of your malodorous state on the neighbours. I care about them, their well- being, insofar as it affects me. I can’t say that I love them, as Jesus exhorts, but then all my love has been for you.
Yes, I have decided to keep you in the shed: outside the house but still sheltered from the elements. As parts of you become detached I shall collect and store them in an empty paint tin. I have considered binding, like a latter day mummy but I need to see you. Yes, I need that. I am not sure how I shall react once the rictus grin becomes your facial expression of choice … well, necessity. And your eyes staring – I have opened them because they were always so beautiful. I did everything possible for you because of those eyes. I have undressed you and positioned you in a casual, reclining position because seeing you naked is the most natural thing in the world for two lovers, and it reminds me of the mornings waking up together. As your deterioration progresses, will your balls drop off, I wonder? And your penis: will it atrophy? Will it gradually become detached and then fall to the floor? I could read up on all this, I suppose, but I am squeamish.
Janice Thorngold has been asking about you at work. For almost a week nobody noticed you were missing: that’s how insignificant you are – except to me. I said nothing, pretending not to hear. Like everyone else, she knew we were friends – casual friend was our preferred disguise – but nothing more. Nobody was aware that we had been living together for almost eight months and lovers for a year before that. You couldn’t stand the thought of people seeing you romantically involved with someone like me. No, I was your older friend you had coffee with, sought advice from, said farewell to each evening along with other colleagues … and then met me two blocks away just outside the supermarket car park. Except when it was raining, which it did rather a lot this last winter. Then I had to pause as I passed you in the doorway and casually offer you a lift, the kindly senior colleague showing concern for our young foreign intern. And in the mornings, I’d drop you close to the supermarket so that you could walk the rest of the way.
I have a solution for your hair – more precisely for its gradual disintegration and disappearance. I shall cut it – shaving would render you bald and that has never been an appealing look as far as I’m concerned. So: cut it close and save it in a plastic bag … save it forever. But why stop there, I asked myself. So I took the scissors to your pubic hair too, being careful not to disturb your formerly sensitive regions. How strange that I can touch you there and you do nothing, where previously the slightest touch and you would begin to tremble excitedly. So … cut and bagged. And then your armpit hair – oh, how I loved those dark, deep patches of hair that contrasted with your sallow skin tones; now that was a sight that could set me trembling.
“You usually give him a lift in,” said Janice, toward the end of her morning of intermittent enquiries. She is beginning to turn into an amateur sleuth. “And take him home.” It was true; we’d gone from casual, near clandestine pickup and drop-off to blatant, out-in-the-open lifts. A clear signal of companionship.
“Yes … well, he lives not too far away from me – on my route. So, what with all the rain this winter, we fell into the habit.”
“So, have you not heard from him … or wondered where he is if you give him lifts all the time?” Her tone was turning rather hostile, certainly indignant. I have to confess it rankled; how dare she?! And, quite frankly, I wasn’t ready for it. This is the problem with having no clear plan, nor attendant contingency plans, before you start something. I was caught on the back foot and simply replied with the simplest, easiest thing I could think of. “Well, I don’t give him a lift every day. I pick him up when I see him. Leaving here, I saw him every day … at the door. Coming in depended on whether he was standing at his door waiting.”
She sniffed rather off-handedly, I thought, and walked away. By the end of the week more questions were being asked and so HR rang him several times; his number was in their records. There was an address on record too and some discussion ensued about whether someone should go round. Janice reported this to the entire office like some official news bulletin. Turning to me, she asked if I’d not thought to call at his house.
Why did I not sit down one evening and work out a full post-execution plan, make use of some project management tools? No, instead I sat in the shed all evening, taking care of you, keeping you company, tidying you up with each new sign of disintegration … and all the while, playing Bach to you. We loved listening together – through that long, wet winter.
There are maggots around your orifices; I keep removing them. I have also taken care of the seepage – scooped it up and buried it in the vegetable patch at the end of the garden. I thought you’d appreciate making your contribution; you always loved vegetables. It also means I can preserve your dignity - to an extent, at least.
It’s Monday. Janice has insisted the police be informed. They’ve sent someone round to gather details, including the address on your file. They’ll send an officer to investigate, and discover that you moved out of there months ago with no forwarding address. Case closed.
“The police are here again. They want to speak to you before they write him off as a missing person,” she said rather tersely. “I told them about the lifts … and you knowing where he was living now.”
“I’m just popping out for half an hour,” - I tried to sound casual and accepting; “Pharmacy. I’ll pop by HR when I get back. Glad to offer any help I can. It’s worrying, isn’t it?” And I smiled sympathetically. I drove home, exploring as quickly as possible all of the side streets on my route, trying to identify a suitable address for you; somewhere I would have easily diverted to in order to pick you up if it was raining. Nothing too out of the way.
When I got back there was a summons waiting for me: go to HR immediately. Why had they not simply written this off as a missing person? Some young chap who decided to bid farewell to his world and find a new life, new adventure? It’s what young people do, isn’t it?
I explained my brief, shallow relationship with you as lift provider and casual friend … and the address of a place that I was pretty sure was empty. “If it was raining, I’d drive by there in the mornings – he was always stood outside. No, I never ever saw him actually leave – from the front door, I mean,” was the full explanation after they’d visited the place and found that it was indeed empty.
It’s been six weeks since … well, you know what happened. You were the focus of events. Five since Janice began asking questions; four since the police became involved. They won’t let it go because you are a foreign national. At first they were worried about a terrorist connection but Japan is low on the list of terrorist suspects. Your beautiful skin tone has deteriorated to the colour of sludge from a sewage pipe and I have had to reinforce the cladding on the walls because of the smell. Your cheeks have sunken too and the rictus grin is developing. I found a rat trying to crawl into your rectum last night.
The police came round in the early part of this evening and had the gall to ask about the nature of my relationship with you. It seems that, despite your obsession with keeping yourself to yourself, someone knew you from your previous address – a shared house. He knew you were gay, liked older men. The policeman in charge was given to idle conjecture and was considering the possibilities.
We – that is to say, I – find the present situation entirely your responsibility. You announced your return to Japan, to a boyfriend I’d never ever heard of and …. That was it. You wanted the safety and comfort of him. You’d had your years of fun here, first at university and then in the last two years of freedom and employment, during which we met, and now … time to go home. No thought at all for my feelings. That was maddening but the real rage came about when you dismissed us as merely fun. And I was a kind and helpful friend. I felt deep and lasting love; you described us as “friends with benefits” – an odious term. Strangling you while you slept meant that I could gaze upon your fragile beauty as the life leached from you in short gasps and fitful spasms. You opened your eyes seconds before the end: they showed fear and then there were tears and then … nothing. I like to think you were about to say “I love you, after all”. A vain hope, but one ever present.
The judge asked the arresting officer if I’d said anything upon my arrest.
“Yes, your honour – he said he’d made every effort to line the shed walls".