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The Eyeless Child
It was a quiet neighborhood. A neighborhood where little, plump kids peddled away on trikes in cul-de-sacs. It was adorned with two story houses equipped with basketball hoops in driveways with ugly, yet convenient minivans. It was a neighborhood where kids grew up to be car salesmen and sectaries at the local law office in town. It was like many neighborhoods and ordinary in nature, but the visit of Detective Andrew Wilcox was anything but ordinary.
His car, an arrogant, black Mercedes-Benz, sat idle in front a quaint two-story home. He had the door open, but still sat in the seat with his long legs protruding onto the sidewalk. A cigarette was pressed to his humorless lips, made so by his dour expression. He was young for his job at twenty-three, yet looked the part in his ominous suit and important, navy tie. He was quite attractive with his light, green eyes and curly, brown hair, but women tended to shy away from him because of his coldness. He preferred it that way. He was a stolid man who refused to let his emotions rule him.
A smoky exhale left him as he savored a last pull of nicotine before dropping the near stub to the sidewalk. He stomped it out with the boot of his stiff shoes. He sighed, a despondent sound. There was nothing he hated more than house visits. No, he took that back. He hated weepy woman more. He would be facing both in a few short moments. Now bereft of his cigarette, he no longer had an excuse to stall. Scrupulously, he stood from the car with the posture of a kid trudging into school on a Monday morning and slapped the door closed with his palm.
Quick and easy, he decided as he walked stiffly toward the front door. He would go inside, ask a couple questions, and leave. He could be back at the office by noon where he would spend the rest of the day with ink smelling papers and in the comfortable confines of his desk chair.
The door was painted a bright white against the peachy color of the siding. There was mat at his feet that gave him and unwanted WELCOME in bold, pink print. Beside it was an oval shaped stone with The Measly Family painted across it. He frowned and jabbed the doorbell with his thumb. Uneasiness crept into his bones as he stood there, waiting. The emotion unsettled him for its close counterpart was fear, and that was something that the detective never dwindled in.
The door opened to show a middle aged woman by the name of Amy Measly. She had a pleasant face with soft line framed by tight ringlets of curly blonde hair. It gave him the impression of her with curlers in her hair, a green facial mask smeared across her skin, and an eye mask settled over her nose; a woman who cared about beauty. She smiled at the detective with carefully painted lips. “Hello?”
Detective Wilcox was taken aback by her pleasant smile. It wasn’t what he had been expecting. Where were the tears? Where was the broken heart? He studied her face, searching for signs of distress and sleepless night, but found that she appeared happy. It disturbed him, but he found relief in it as well. After all, he hadn’t brought any tissues.
The woman stood there with the door ajar, waiting. She cleared her throat politely. In turn, he cleared his throat uncomfortable. He hadn’t been aware of himself gaping at her. It was unusual for him to be rendered speechless by someone. He didn’t like it.
“Good morning, Mrs. Measly,” he finally found his voice. “I’m Detective Wilcox from the Charlotte Police Department. I’m here to discuss the matters concerning your son’s death. I believe we have talked on the phone.”
“Of course. Of course,” chirped Mrs. Measly. She extended her arm to open the door wide. “Please, do come in. And call me Amy. Mrs. Measly makes me sound so old.”
Detective Wilcox entered the house and found himself in a living room made up of varying shades of beige given that the couch, the walls, and even the rug were all neutral, brown tones. It made the detective feel as if he had stepped into a colorless world. That wasn’t the only thing he found off. It was overwhelming clean with its dustless furniture, glistening floor, and the tea set on the coffee table speaking of meticulousness positioning. The only unkemptness came from the corner where an old dog lied curled in a bed, tongue lolled out of its mouth.
“Please, have a seat, detective.”
Detective Wilcox sat down rigidly on the couch, already wanting to leave. “You have a nice house, Mrs. Measly,” he lied in a very unconvincing matter. He found it completely too formal. It was more of a room to admire than to live in.
The woman beamed at the comment, no intimation of catching him in his lie. It was then, having her stand before him, that he noticed her dress. It was too bright for the occasion at a cheerful shade of petal pink. The skirt billowed around her lower half in a series of frills and a diamond necklace glimpsed her neck. Instead of looking opulent, the outfit made her appear child-like. No, not child-like. She was a woman guised as a doll.
“Can I offer you something to drink?” She asked in her pitchy voice that had a way of raising the goose flesh on the detective’s arms. What was with him? Why was he feeling so warily? “Orange juice, water, sweet tea…?”
“Coffee,” he said. “Black.” He would need the augment of caffeine to keep up with her uncalled enthusiasm.
“Alright then.” She bobbed her head, but her hair didn’t move. “I’ll be back in a jiffy. Make yourself at home. Rocky, there, will keep you company.” She motioned to the dog with a jut of her pointy chin before leaving the room, humming.
The detective couldn’t shake the feeling of disquiet; it was a heavy cloak over his shoulders. If it wasn’t for the picture of a smiling eight year old boy on the side table next to him, than he would have sworn he had entered the wrong house. He leaned forward to get a better view of the framed image. It was always odd to see what the victims looked like when they still had breath, life, and dreams versus the pale things they became when he arrived at the scene. This boy, Logan Measly, had a mop of blonde hair, a face freckled by the sun, and eyes that matched the sky behind him. It was the blue iris that the detective lingered over. It was what brought a metallic flavor to his tongue. Fear had the most peculiar taste. Beside it, in another frame, was a man in his late twenties.
“That’s my husband.” Detective Wilcox, a man of few fears, jumped at the woman’s sudden chirp. From a white, ceramic tea pot, she poured a steaming stream of black liquid into a tea cup that had been sitting on the coffee table. She then handed him the small cup before she sat herself elegantly onto the remaining space of the couch. “He died before Logan was born. I was in my first trimester of pregnancy.”
“Ah,” was all he could think to say as he scowled down at the dainty cup in his hands. He was finding the situation stranger and stranger as his time in the Measly house progressed. He took a sip and found the brew to be unbearably bitter. He spit it back into the cup and sat it back on the tea tray. “Thank you for the cof-”
“Logan looked just like him,” Mrs. Measly interrupted. “He had his father’s eyes.”
Eyes. He didn’t understand how she could use the word so sparingly.
“And how did he die? Your husband, that is.” The words were out of his mouth before he had the sense to stop them.
She, with a tea cup halfway to her mouth, tilted her head to look at him. For a second her eyes flashed and she opened her mouth as if to say something. Instead of speaking, she took a sip and smiled a megawatt grin. “Isn’t this nice, detective? It’s like we’re having a tea party. Oh, how I love tea parties. When I was a girl, I used to put parties on for my dollies. I would dress them up and I promise you that we were the best of friends. My dollies and I.”
Detective Wilcox pulled at his collar, loosening it from his throat. “Mrs. Measly, I understand you have gone through a traumatic event. Losing your son must be very hard for you. I want to help you. I want to bring justice to his death. The only way I can do this is by your own assistance. I need you to tell me everything that happened the night Logan disappeared. Who was around? What was the weather like? How was your son acting? Anything could be important in solving the case.”
She looked at him with blank eyes. Something had changed in her in the past few moments. Her shoulders, which had been rod straight the entire time, now slumped inward. Her fingers gripped her knee, knuckles bulging beneath her skin. The crescent moons of the end of her nails were stained a dark red. Finally she had become the person the detective had thought he would have met at the door.
He dug a sheet of paper from his pocket. It was some notes he jotted down before he left the office on the case. He read it verbatim. “September 14, an eight year old boy was found in a box in a dumpster. No stab wounds or signs of conflict. Autopsy reveals C.O.D is poisoning. Both eyes had been enucleated.”
“Logan and I used to have tea parties. I would dress him up and it was so, so fun. I felt like a little girl again, you see. But then he told me he wouldn’t do it anymore. It broke my heart, it did. My dollies, they’re my friends! They can’t betray me. They can’t leave me!” She got up in a flurry of movement and paced to a chair where two dolls had been sitting undetected. They were the size of toddlers with curly blonde hair framing their glass heads. She hugged them to her chest, squeezing them. “They can’t! They can’t! They can’t!”
Detective Wilcox stood and walked toward her. He peered into the two faces of the dolls. Their lips were painted pink, their nose a fresh cream, and a circle of color for both cheeks. Their eyes, however, were not painted. Two sets of sky blue eyes looked back at him. A heavy understanding settled over the detective.
“Yes?” His voice came out a strangled gasp.
“I forgot to tell you earlier that I find your eyes exceptionally beautiful.”