“Afar off the towers of Florence. And she wandered as though in a dream o’er wavering seas of barley touched with crimson stains of poppies. All unobserved he came to her. There came from his lips no wordy protestations such as formal lovers use. No such eloquence was his, nor did he suffer from the lack of it; he simply enfolded her in his”—forensic analysis of her vocal cords would later show she had been reading aloud from the book “Torrents of Lust” by Philip Roth, which now lay, pages rumpled, bound in red morocco leather, on the Persian rug. The onionskin leaves had gold edges; a narrow strip of burgundy silk dangled from the spine.
On the floor beside the book was a framed Hokusai print with its glass shattered, a women’s engagement ring with a large pink diamond, the gold band engraved with the words “Fox News: Fair and Balanced,” a smoldering stick of incense from the Spice Islands, an African mask carved from ebony wood, several Jack Chick tracts, an open box of Wheaties, and a Nambu Type 14 8mm pistol, two spent shells next to it, still muzzle-hot.
The note, written in purple ink on an empty Big Mac box, lay on the tufted velvet cushion of the settee: “Dear Arthur, I have run out of napkins, so I have decided to take my life. Goodbye forever, Eileen. P.S. Please continue to provide my Toy Story 3 action figures with counseling. Their insurance will cover it. They need so much love, especially Woody. He’s a strict Jungian, you know. P.P.S. Now that I’m dead, feel free to put your feet up on the coffee table, even if you’re wearing shoes, and to watch TV during dinner. In fact, I now realize I was being a bitch about that all these years. P.P.P.S. Remember to buy more napkins.” The i’s had been dotted with hearts so as to make everyone think the note had been written by a women.
On the credenza across the room, several cut-glass decanters sat on a silver tray, along with an open stainless steel cocktail shaker, swizzle sticks, and a spoon. Next to the decanters was a single empty low-ball glass; its twin lay on its side on the floor, green liquid soaking into the rug. Scrawled with a fingertip in red paint across the marquetry front of the credenza was this ominous message: “Why did George Clooney declare, as he lay dying after being gunned down by assassins whose identities are still unknown, that his death had been ordered by “the 72 who rule the world”? Why did Hitler send a secret expedition to Antarctica, an expedition that ultimately traveled no farther than the suburb of Wannsee on the outskirts of Berlin? The answers to these and other mysteries—revealed at 11!”