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When the color reached the edges, we all knew who did it, but it was too late.
Deep in the pile of the beige carpeting was still the impression of all of our knees, imprinted in a darker color than the rest of the living room. Some of our hands were stained. We had all been kneeling, all in a circle, around the growing blotter of stain, which now was reaching toward everything that we didn't want discolored. For now, some of us were standing over our knee impressions while others rummaged through the kitchen looking. Nothing could stop it, let alone remove it, at this point.
Claudio, a 3M chemist by trade, was useless. We all knew it was his fault, for bringing her here, and now, the only one who should know how to help was busy calming her down.
MAybe it wasn't her fault, maybe she didn't kno0w it would go off, like that, in that direction. But it did. And she'll have to pay the consequences---no one was going to give in to her crying for pity. And Claudio should know better.
When the door bell binged the kitchen rummaging stopped and those at the edges with paper towls stopped squeegeing. It might be them, looking for their stuff. no one made a noise, and even she stopped the blather of apologies in the back bedroom. Them a thump, like the stranger on the other side of the door couldn't bother to knock with knuckle, but rather a flashlight or some other useless tool that could never remove this stain.
HE said hello, a noise that was useless as his flashlight or pocket knife or whatever he brought to be uselss.
"Hello," HEllo," and agin the thump and still no one moved.
It was still spreading. It was good that Juan thought to put some of the evidence in the bathtub and the liquid then would drip into the drain instead of here, in this room, the most public of all rooms where no amount of furniture could be shuffled to hide what we'd done. No, this would forever remain like a constant reminder that she came and didn't know and the whole deal went to pot.
What did we know. She shouldn't have pulled the trigger, is now what I thought. Of course it would go off. And to hit MAris like that, square between the eyes.
The door thump stopped. Everyone came to the stain, gathering around again.
Claudio bolted from the bedroom, a stainless steel bucket in hand. some liquid sloshing in it's bottom. HAd he done it, had four years of chemical science and interviews at Dow and Pfizer finally paid off? Is this the stain remover to end all our worries.
"HEy, guys, that knock at the door scared the shit out of me, where can I put this bucket."
Of course---uselss as ever.
Then---the knock, the knock again, and a turn of the doorknob. Juan dove to cover the stain, like his 250-lbs. body would be enough to cover it, to cover all our guilt.
Then, like ever, we were relieved. It was Martin, and he had with him in a bundle under each arm enough stain remover to clean it all, toi sop this growing blood stain like so many Brawnies.
It would be a late night, but by morning the stain should be gone. The blood only a distant stain on or consciousness.
Date Written: January 25, 2005
Average Vote: 2.75