7. Arnotine Ferucand (8)

They were ready to leave at five  p.m. Two first-class seats had been reserved and that was a good thing, since the fat woman would not have fit into a coach seat. Ryu was worried, in fact, about getting her onto the plane. The desk clerk, whose name was Clément, was getting ready for a change of shift when Ryu and his oversized guest re-entered the lobby. Clément grudgingly checked them out. Ryu had just steered the large woman out the front door to where the rental car waited when he paused and turned back to the lobby. He had forgotten something. Leaving his charge for a moment—she seemed somnambulant under the low-slung sun—he headed back into the hotel, a new bounce in his step. He squinted at Clément when he returned to the front desk to alert the clerk to the oversight. Reaching into his pocket—Clément thought for a tip—Ryu withdrew the knife that he’d retrieved at the hounfour—he wanted to use it at least once in Haiti—and thrust it into the desk clerk.

The knife, handmade for Ryu in Kyoto, was special. It was long and thin like a letter opener and therefore left only the smallest of entrance wounds. Unless there was a scuffle Ryu’s victims generally didn’t bleed, made no mess—at least not on the outside. But inside, oh, that was a different story. In Ryu’s superbly trained hand that narrow blade angled up and around like a skinny whisk, scrambling various organs. Hemorrhaging internally, his victims died quickly. When he pulled the knife from the desk clerk, Ryu finally smiled. He wiped the blade on a pocket-handkerchief kept crisp and white for that purpose. He felt happier, lighter, as he left the lobby the second time, but that joyful feeling did not last.

The hippopotamus was nowhere near the car. For a moment, the sickening feeling of failure gathered and coiled in the pit of Ryu’s stomach, but he thrust it away, redirecting himself into action. He backtracked, and for a third time, Ryu entered the lobby.

They were the first thing he saw when he walked through the door—the angle was perfect and it would have been impossible not to see them—the tiny feet in the red tennis shoes. They were peeking out from behind the front desk. Ryu walked over to the feet to find their possessor recumbent, a beatific smile on her face. And leaning over her, quite alive, a tiny red stain just next to a button right where the stiletto had entered, was Clément.

“Time for a change of apparel,” said the insuperable desk clerk in perfect Japanese. A dazzling smile piano-keyed its way across the bottom half of his face. He brushed himself off and straightened, noting the nametag pinned to his chest. To Ryu’s credit, he did not even flinch, though a dark curtain seemed to have fallen before him.

“Wouldn’t want our trip home to be as unpleasant as the ride to Port-au-Prince.” Clément looked down at his shirt where the knife wound had left a bloody dot the size of a ladybug. “Eeew,” he said as he buttoned his blue blazer over it. “Nasty stain. A gin and tonic in First Class will get that right out. Well, come on Ryu, we don’t want to miss our plane.”

—DEAD LOVE/Chapter 7.8/Arnotine Ferucand is Dead


  • boldlow

    Now that's what I'm talkin' about! Another twist n turn (of a knife, of a scene) and voila, we got ourselves some surprises, a little drama, a little humor. I love it. Ryu's gettin' his in Haiti and the ghoul remains untamed…and Sept is just around the corner. yeah.