New York City
Rain pounded the pavement outside my apartment. It coated the living room window in sheets of water that turned the trees and the building across the street into a dream-like mirage.
I was half-lying on my love seat, my legs resting on one arm, my shoulder blades on the other. Beside me on the coffee table was a cup of hot chocolate.
Sitting on my belly, highlighted by the white tank top I was wearing to accommodate the steamy temperature of the room, was the old-fashioned key I’d stolen from Jim Kohn after I killed him. It was so beautiful, it hardly seemed like a security device. The intricate loop at the top, the long skeletal look of the body, and the simple shape of the key itself had the look of a sculpture rather than the toothy utilitarian appearance of a modern key. There was something about it that made me feel it was symbolic, not an actual key to open a door or a fancy box.
I hadn’t been able to resist the urge to take it. Slipping it off his ring was so easy. I did it almost without thinking. The size and shape of it among a few normal keys and the remote device for his car was startling. The beauty of it didn’t fit him at all. He wasn’t a fanciful guy as far as I could tell. His house was a classic colonial home made of off-white and coffee-colored brick. It was unlikely it contained a dank, locked basement or a dark, dusty attic filled with relics, whispering buried secrets or hiding tangible wealth. In my survey of the rooms on the first and second floors of his house, I hadn’t seen any old-fashioned armoires or cabinets that might be opened with such a key.
There was no rational explanation for why I’d taken it. Curiosity? Yes. Something to remind me that I’d taken and retained the upper hand with him? Maybe.
The last time I’d risked taking something from a man I’d killed it became an albatross. But a key was a thousand times easier to keep hidden than a telescope.
For the most part, I’d taken the key because it was beautiful. It spoke of the past when everything was designed with an eye to beauty over the utilitarian — buildings, the surface of streets, and even keys.
Maybe, it was a lot more than curiosity that made me take a few extra seconds to slide it off his ring. If I could find a way into his house, discover his secrets, I could keep the upper hand with him after death. There was something very satisfying about that.