Murder Cabinet


Swan, Madeleine (Burning Bulb Publishing, July 2013, ISBN 9780692245200)

I got the Murder Cabinet at Vincent Raux Second-hand Furniture on Clayton Road. Inside the shop it looked like any other sheet metal filing cabinet. It had four working drawers, less rust than the Carpentaria, and smelled no worse than the shop itself. They kept it against a wall. That should’ve tipped me off. I didn’t behold the stain until I got it home.

A wide, blotchy stain streaked down the back. Thickest and blackest at the bottom, it thinned into a carmine cracklature at the top. As Colin expressed it, you could never quite convince yourself you looked at something other than blood. From another room you could laugh that your imagination must’ve got the better of you, that next time when you looked, you would just see brown paint. But when you got there, you couldn’t shake the impression that you saw blood.

Had someone beaten a man to death against my filing cabinet? I phoned the police. I avowed that I now felt rather foolish, no doubt the stain just looked like blood, but perhaps they ought to take a look just in case.

Two policemen came to inspect the cabinet. They ran their gloveless hands over the stain, taking their time, and got up close.

“This feels like blood,” they pronounced.

When I phoned the police station the next day to find out if I could clean the cabinet yet one of the policemen told me that they’d gone to see the sales guy at Vincent Raux, who had said he didn’t remember where he’d gotten it, whereupon the investigation terminated.

I still have the cabinet. And someplace some murderer still wakes up nights wondering if they’ve found it.


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