Upstairs

by Cooper Young

There was no sign on, over, or around the door–a door you’d never notice if you weren’t looking for it. It looked like a back entrance to either the french bakery or the tax office. It wasn’t hidden, but you’d never care enough to notice it was there. It wasn’t the sort of door that registered.

Unless, of course, you already knew about it. Unless you were expected.

“You’re early,” Sergei said, sliding the wine list in front of me. “Your little club. I thought they come at nine.”

“I am. We do. Conundrum Red.” He took the list back.

He brought the wine himself this time instead of sending the odd-aged-for-a-waitress, overdressed woman who usually serves me. His daughter, maybe. “The papers say someone tried to throw a body off the bridge.”

“Are you sure he didn’t jump? People jump all the time.”

“Strangled first.”

“They’re sure?”

“Sure they’re sure. They’re the police.”

“Was there a rope around his neck?”

“No.”

“A rope mark?”

“No.”

“Then how do they know?”

He shrugged. “Didn’t say. Maybe the bone.”

“What bone?”

“My brother was a mortuary assistant. He told me once that there’s a bone just here,” Sergei said, pointing to the upper part of his throat, “that snaps when you choke a man. Broken bone, strangled man. Easy enough.”

“Maybe so.” Cold like the river, like the rain yesterday, washes over me. The hyoid. That’s what he means. The goddamn hyoid bone. I couldn’t remember it existed last night. Why can I remember what it’s called now? It’s just one thing after another today. Irony after irony.

“Everyone coming early?”

“Just me. I needed to think about some things before the meeting starts.”

He took the hint and stepped back. “What is it all about?” he asked before he left.

“Sorry?”

“Your little club.”

I shook my head, watching cars go by in the street below us. “Just a little social group. People with a common interest. Nothing special.”

A Note: Written for Trifecta: Week Eighty-two.

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