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Brown Box Confessional

Some things can't be washed away

By Kenneth BouttePublished 3 years ago 8 min read
Brown Box Confessional
Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash

Brown Box Confessional

Ever since I could remember, I’ve loved the shower. Not a bath where you’re sitting in your own filth, but a shower. Blood, dirt, perfume; you can wash off anything in the shower. Can wash off your sins too if you’re in there long enough. The hot water caresses my body and strips me of all the unwanted. It all rolls off my skin and swirls down the drain forgotten, and discarded. Stepping out, I’m as new and as naked a babe. But in truth, a fogged reflection of a monster stares back in the mirror. The monster is covered in bruises and scratches from last night’s endeavor. Even putting on my best smile the evil still remains.

“I hate you!” comes muffled through the tiled walls in the bathroom. The thud of a door slamming is soon after. The couple down the hall are fighting again. Everyone in the apartment complex has grown used to their antics and have basically summed it up as ambient noise. He’ll shower her with gifts and the sounds of make-up sex will saturate the halls and the cycle will repeat in a day or two.

I drown out the couple’s shenanigans with the television as it blares something about my latest exploits. “The body of 23-year-old Megan Sutton was found in Gilmore Park last night. The police are still no closer to finding any suspects in this string of murders. If you have any information blah blah blah.” It’s an oversimplification of my work but it’s a form of publicity none the less. Taking a life is an art form. There’s an order to it, like taking a shower. You wouldn’t wash your ass then wash your face, would ya? There’s proper procedure to all things in life, even in murder. To sum up my work last night in a 3 sentence monologue is deplorable. I turn from the dribble on the channel 8 news in the hopes to find more appreciative news coverage. Puppies, weight loss, and traffic! It’s ridiculous that my deeds are drowned out by a 7- day weight loss program!

My sights are set to Crash Coffee and Doughnuts. It’s directly across the street from Gilmore Park and with the cops busily buzzing around I’m sure to be all anyone is talking about. Dressed in attire acceptable to receive my People’s Choice award, I race to the door. What’s this…a box? A brown paper box lay outside my door in the hall, yet no one is here to claim it. “Hello?” I ask to the empty surroundings. Yet the box is the only one to return my call. “Hey don’t ignore me!” it’s four corners yell from the floor. It’s no bigger than a throw pillow and weighs at most 5 pounds. It’s organs thud against its shell as shaking it only adds to the mystery. I didn’t order anything. Yet the small object assures me that I’m the rightful owner. My eyes scour the small container for the shipping label. I can’t believe what I’m reading! At the sight my hands are weak. The box slips from my fingers and crashes to the floor. Air escapes my lungs and my heart follows suit only to be caught in my throat.

This can’t be happening!

This can NOT be happening!

Surely my eyes deceive me. A mirage, an optical illusion, something! This has to be a lie. I read the box again, but there it remains. Written in permanent marker in the king’s English.

“I Saw You”

These three words strike fear into my bones. I quickly gather it into my apartment and lock the door. Someone saw me? Someone saw ME? My apartment begins to tailspin like water down a drain. This is impossible. Someone saw me; are they watching me now? I leap over the sofa and quickly shut the blinds, race into the kitchen and swing the curtains shut. I’m alone. “I’m still here…” the box whispers refusing for its presence to be ignored. It stares at me. Gawking, and mocking me with those three words. I pour myself a glass of water to calm my nerves but my shaking palms can barely take handle. “I don’t believe this!” I yell throwing the glass against the wall. The box just laughs at me from the table. “No, this must be some kind of a joke!” A knife quickly becomes my ally to end this distasteful humor. Together we split the box at the seams and…

My legs instantly lose purpose. Feet slowly drag me away from the contents. I crash into the end table knocking it over and shattering the lamp it once held but still can’t get far enough away. I’m backed into the corner but my feet keep scrambling to give me distance. How could this happen? The events from last night replay over and over in my mind. The minor details are so foggy to me. So diluted in her screams, so forgotten by her blood on my skin I can’t be sure. My thumbs move as fast as lightning on Facebooks search bar. Megan Sutton, born in Burpe, and a bunch of other useless information. Her pictures are all I need. “Hehehe!” I hear the box laughing at me for being so untrusting. But still, I need to be certain. I slowly approach the box comparing photo to contents…

There it is.

Staring me in the face.

The same Fendi crossbody Megan is seen with in countless photos stares up at me from a cardboard prison. The phone falls from my clutches and my fists make their way through the drywall. “How?” the words fall from my lips with the dead weight of blackmail. “What do they want?”

The shower water runs and I can’t bring myself to get beneath it. I can’t wash myself of the this. Hours pass, and I can only cower near the toilet waiting. Waiting for next package, or blackmail message. Waiting for the police. The police! That’s it! What’s that number they always want you to call? I can call and see how much headway they’re making on the case. I spring to the sofa and flip to channel 8, they’ve got to replay the number again- “Hey is 303 or 305?” a male voice says from the hall. I mute the television and listen closer to the voice mentioning my apartment number.

“Uhm I thought it was 428.”

“No, 428 is after this down on Bleeker! The purse box guy! The box guy is 303 right?”

“I think it’s 303…Shit, I left my notebook in the car. I’ll run down and double check.”

I shutter between the seat cushions every time they mention apartment 303. So the blackmailers finally decided to make contact. They’ve let me stew for long enough! Through the peephole a uniformed officer is just outside my door. SHIT! The cops are the ones who did this? I’m so fucked!

“Hey…I uh think I’m the guy you’re looking for.” I whisper to the officer from a small crack in the door. “You the box guy?” he says with a thick accent of indifference.

“Yea… I’m the box guy.”

“So you wanna do this in the hall or you wanna let me in?” I open the door and invite the muscle head cop inside. The uniform being a size too small is surely only to intimidate me even further. He’s the muscle behind the operation, that much was clear. But he’s calm and level headed. My voice cracks with every syllable while his is firm and authoritative. This isn’t his first shakedown. He definitely has the upper hand but I don’t have to give him the satisfaction. The officer takes a long look at the disarray inside. He studies the destruction and chaos, undoubtedly judging how much he milk me for. The desperation in my eyes is clear as day.

“Geez man, looks like that box put you through it. I’m officer St-”

“I would prefer if we kept names out of this.”

“Ok, suit yourself…”

“So, what’s this gonna cost me?”

“Just getting your statement. Ain’t gonna cost you nothing…”

“Figured as much. Then who do you want me to kill?

“Kill?”

“Oh, right you’re probably wearing a body cam. Who do you want me to take care of?”

“Listen pal, I think you have the wrong idea-“

“Just tell me what’s it gonna take for you to get rid of the everything tying me to Megan Sutton! I just want this to go away!” His eyes widen and he takes a step back, as if in shock at my willingness to cooperate. I stand firm in my words waiting for his demands to wash myself from this nightmare. His partner chimes through on the radio “Hey Stanley where you at man? The box guy is 30-” and he quickly turns it off. Stanley walks around me, sizing me up. Getting a full 360 degree view of the man he has at his mercy. Finally, he speaks.

“So that was you that killed Sutton?”

“I think we both know I did. I got your package, no need to play dumb about it now. Just tell me what it’ll take to make this go away.”

“I got an idea. Why don’t you put your hands behind your head.”

“Aww come on man! Is this a show of power or something? You already have the upper hand.” I reach for the box on the table and he quickly draws his weapon. He’s aimed into my chest and there’s a ferocity in his eyes. My hands reach for the ceiling while sheer panic sets in. “I thought we could have worked this out. I mean what was the point of sending me the purse?”

“Sir I didn’t send you shit. You called us about someone stealing a box and I was here to take your statement. Now if you move again, I will fire!”

He ushers me to the hall in handcuffs, and meets his partner walking out of apartment 305. “Stanley, what the hell man? The box guy was 305!”

“You won’t believe this, this guy just admitted to killing Megan Sutton.”

“The Gilmore Park girl?”

“Yea! He said we sent him a package or a purse or summin. Then came right out and tried to bribe me to make it go away.”

“A purse? Wait, a Fendi purse?”

“Yes!” I cry. “Was it you? Were you the one that sent it?” My eyes turn to the second officer to redeem myself and fulfill my part of the blackmail. My ears eagerly await his orders. But he offers no words, no comfort, and no terms. The cold steel tightens around my wrists as he slowly steps into my apartment. Moments later he returns moments later with the object of my demise and knocks on the door of 305. A young man answers the door with heart shaped balloons overflowing in the background. There are rose petals at his feet and I love you streamers hanging from the ceiling. “You found it!” he shrieks “Oh my God where was it?” he quickly sets it aside another box and wraps a bow around them both. Together the two packages read “I saw you looking at these.” Make-up gifts for the toxic relationship down the hall. Once the officer explains I had the box the whole time, the young man admits he was carrying a lot and must have dropped it on his way to his apartment. It just so happens to be sheer coincidence Megan had the same crossbody. In the back of the squad car, I long for the shower. Longing for the water to wash away the officers laughing, to wash away the awaiting prison sentence, to wash away that infernal brown box.

-End

Short Story

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    KBWritten by Kenneth Boutte

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