Elham’s Suitor

He’s sobbing again

Saba Khan, Dream House II. 2015, acrylic, glitter, crystals, graphite and beads on paper pasted on stretched canvas on board. 12 × 9½". Courtesy of the artist.

The Colonel’s head falls through the basement window but his shriveled-up shoulders get stuck in the window frame. Crassus looks at me wide-eyed, ears perked. 

“Let’s go check it out.”

Crassus runs up the stairs two by two. The Colonel’s lying facedown in his white jersey pajamas and kaftan robe. The prehistoric slippers are still on his feet. Crassus circles him, reluctant to get too close.

“Colonel? Sir?”

I feel like my own voice is coming from somewhere far far away. I don’t know what or where to touch. Crassus circles the body over and over again while issuing something like a whimper. I pull the Colonel’s arm out of the kaftan. Damn that’s cold. I should take his pulse. 

His carnelian ring knocks around his spindly finger. It feels like a bunch of bones wrapped in paper. Touching his skin sends a shiver up my spine. I let go. What’s the point anyway? Pulse or no pulse, what difference?

Suppose he has a pulse, as in he’s alive. Then what, I run outside and scream for help so someone comes to save him? What moron would go out of their way to save a dinosaur like this? The man’s the same age as Dear Uncle himself. Move over My Uncle Napoleon, there’s a new guy in town.

Maybe some such moron does in fact exist. But me, I don’t have the energy for all that yelling and screaming. I’m not cut out for that type of work. How am I supposed to explain what this bitch’s head is doing hanging through the window? Crassus is back in his usual spot stretched out in the rose bushes; seems like we’re on the same page. According to dog logic he must think the Colonel’s either watching TV or working on his tan. The old man’s bony, hairless legs stick out of his pant cuffs. His cracked heels look like Mesozoic fossils. Lord, what will I do with the body?

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