Thief

Written by: Laura Breidenthal

Black garments fall to the floor
Boots off, cane leaned against the door
Top hat lifts, welcoming them all

A bottle of ketchup in hand. . .

“Hello there,” He says to no one in particular
Some eyes stare upward, looking frightened
Pants slip off, skin tightened
“They don’t even smell yet…”
They will soon, I bet

I stand there like a board
In the shadows on my tip-toes 
I am caught…and yet, I’m not!
Us morticians tend to see some interesting things
But not anything like this. . . 

Black hand falls on the still, white faces
Brushing against squeaky leather. . .rubbing flesh
Gloves slide off to the ground
I watch in disbelief without a sound
Getting on the table with emaciated twins
Feeling wind on his face as the death cart spins
Slitted wrists rubbed with fingers in the crusted blood
Smiling, he removes his hood
Over them. . .ripping off their clothes
Nose to nose. . .that so-called Eskimo pose
Knife protrudes in view. . .entering within
Then the real blade comes out, and the smell begins

Why the hell am I watching all of this? 
Had I not come for one thing?
I was just on my leave when I heard the rustling
How used to the dead I am
To even the sad, lone mourners, grieving in their roam
My heart is stone cause it can’t bear to be alone
Futuristic comforts and funeralistic empathy 
So well respected am I by the honest town folk
No one would suspect a thing
I didn’t suspect a thing

But now, here he is and I am watching
So stuck in the moment, simply gawking!
I’m gagging too—hm, that’s new. . .
Does he find it kinky, sneaking into an old mortuary—
Imagining them screaming, squirting ketchup everywhere? 

I do think of calling
As the blade moves in and out of them
But my clouded eyes only stare. . .
I clutch onto the diamond necklace, 
Imagining the dead, insipid flesh that once touched it
And now how the cold chill of THIEF wraps around my neck
They  whisper it as he takes them all in
Thief. . .thief. . .tHiEf. . .THIEF!!!!!

Yes, surely she wanted the damn thing buried with her
But how would she care? 
Hah! ‘Old Mrs. Longbottom’ now ‘Ms. Ketchupbottom’. . .
Would my sin be covered by this sick tormentor of the dead? 
Handling those old, wrinkled fingers
The smell of sweet and salty tomato lingers
Thief. . .thief. . .tHiEf. . .THIEF!!!!!

He was stealing nothing from them
The dead cannot fight
Cannot possibly feel
Why then, does the glare gleaming in the dead woman’s eye
Seem so real? 
He was stealing nothing from them
The blame is all on me
Strangling my neck