Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

||| |||

News & Features » December 2017 » “A Body Appears” by Douglas Cole

“A Body Appears” by Douglas Cole

Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.

This week, Douglas Cole paints a grisly scene . . .

A Body Appears
by Douglas Cole
Pacific Northwest

Ah, those eyes. You look into them, and you still see the fire, at least for a little while. If the body’s been dead more than a couple of days, maybe not. But early on, there it is. I’ve seen it a few times, when the eyes are open. Like this little figure of a person is inside there looking out. Then, again, it might just be me.

“What do you have so far?” I asked Charlie. The picture guys were done, now, so we could move around a little. The forensic guys were still coming, and once they started their routine, we’d have to stay out of the way. That’s just how it is. 

“The call came from a neighbor who saw someone running out of the garden. We arrived. The body was where you see, front door open. The neighbor couldn’t give us a description. We have two officers going door to door right now.”

“This is the spot, huh?

“End of the line. Looks like he was stabbed in the neck.”

The body was on its side, on the couch. Like he just lay down to watch television. I could see it still there in the eyes, a storyline trying to be told, that surprise, that strange moment, body violated in this violent way, unreal, unsure what to make of it, so he simply walks into his home and lies down, a normal impulse in an abnormal moment. You’d be surprised what people do. I’ve seen it before. Like they go on auto pilot, move towards the familiar, like they were just sick and needed to rest a moment. Then gone. I could see the stab wounds in his neck. Maybe there were more. We would have to wait for the forensics.

“How many wounds?” I asked Charlie.

“Looks like two, three.”

“And the front door?”

“Open when we got here.”

“He was outside when he was stabbed.”

“Looks that way.”

Charlie’s a good cop. I’ve worked with him many times. I like him. He’s worked for this neighborhood for almost twenty years. People like him. He’s smart. This is his home, like mine. He doesn’t get emotional, but he isn’t deadened to the work, either. He has a calm demeanor, whenever I work with him, and that’s calm-creating. That’s a good trait. But I never feel like he treats any of this as just routine. I appreciate that.

“So,” I said, trying to get a preliminary picture, “he gets stabbed outside, maybe on getting home? The killer takes off, and he comes in and lies down here . . . and that’s it. Doesn’t look like he had time or energy to do anything else.”



“Mmm . . . he’s still got his wallet on him. Nothing in here looks touched. Doesn’t feel like it.”

“No. It doesn’t. Okay.”

I looked into the eyes again, and there he was, that little man, there looking back at me with a face like my face.

“He live alone?”

“Looks like there’s a girlfriend or a roommate. There’s mail over there on the counter, but she has a different last name.”

“Yeah. Okay. A partner, maybe. Anyone contact her yet?”


“Contact info?”

“Just the name on the mail.”

I looked at the mail, two stacks, one for her and one for him. His name was Jim Duncan. Her name was Angeline Cavalia. His mail was made up of local theater announcements, pizza coupons, voter’s guide, bills, a few journals wrapped in plastic: Rattle, Slipstream, Poetry Northwest. She had a Blick art supply flyer, bills, a UW extension catalogue. Here we go, I thought, as another set of lives began to unfold before me, the strange and brutal intimacy of investigation.

“Well, we better get ahold of her right away,” I said, thumbing through the mail, looking around at the pictures on the wall: a nude woman print by Edvar Munch, a golden tree in a green field, oh, many, many little things to examine and ponder. “She doesn’t need to come home to the shock of this.”

“We’re tracking her down, now,” Charlie said.

“Good. Good,” I said, and I turned to scan and absorb the room, to pick up what I could from the disturbed, nile insect air.


DOUGLAS COLE has published four collections of poetry and a novella. His work has appeared in anthologies and in the Chicago Quarterly Review, the Galway Review, Chiron, the Pinyon Review, Confrontation, Two Thirds North, Red Rock Review, and Slipstream. He has been nominated twice for a Pushcart and Best of the Net, and has received the Leslie Hunt Memorial Prize in Poetry and the Best of Poetry Award from Clapboard House. His website is douglastcole.com.


Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Dec 11, 2017

Category: Original Fiction, Mondays Are Murder | Tags: , , , , ,