P.I.’s

June 2, 2010

posted and written by caroline picard

P.I.s : after the death at camp

When the investigators came, they came in dark suits with dark sunglasses and pencil thin moustaches. One was fat, the other thin. They wore ties. Leather shoes. They wore hats that shaded everything but the tips of their noses. They smelled like old hallways in houses with kerosene lamps. When they arrived in their old Cadillac, the wheels pulled up the camp drive, squeallingly, and stopped abruptly in front of the main office. They stepped out. You could see their socks, mismatched, when their pants rode up as they stepped out the car, their socks disappeared when, erect again, they brushed themselves off and, with a degree of curious formality, bowed before walking into the main office. The screen door flapped behind them.

They lived in the second-to-nearest town—brother’s to the camps’ proprietor, he preferred not to get the police involved. The investigators interviewed everyone. The thin one chewed his pencil while the fat one took notes. They asked questions with an irregular and uncoordinated rhythm, often interrupting or talking over one another. The thin one sweated and the fat one took off his hat, wringing its brim as though under some great stress. The fat one had perfect shiny, short hair. He kept a comb in the inside pocket of his coat. When he smiled, which was often, his teeth looked mean. He had short teeth and his smile showed more gum than tooth.

If the thin one wasn’t chewing on the erasure of a pencil, he was chewing on his own tongue. Against the pallor of his yellow-hued face, his tongue looked dull and mauve. A thick piece of meat—a blue clam, or the foot of a mussel. Often he rolled his tongue over, to chew the underside, as though it were more tender and thus more pleasant. Often you could see the thick blue veins that ran under his tongue. Sometimes you wondered if he might one day puncture that vein.

The palms of his hands, meantime, were exceptionally red in comparison to otherwise jaundice hue. The tips of his fingers, elsewhere so nimble and fine, were clubbed and bulbous and he often pinched his nose with them, before snorting, softly, and swallowing.
The fat pat his stomach between questions and made regular mention of his gout, referring to it in passing remarks as though it were a spouse or, perhaps, a very dear and rascally companion. Despite the failure of this device, it was, apparently, intended to give his interviewees a false sense of security. To distract them.

The investigators came every day at ten a.m. They carried Styrofoam coffee cups and regularly refilled them in the main camp office. The thin one carried extra creamers in his pockets—these he seemed generous with having always brought enough for his companion. They were cousins, he said, and had been friends since before he’d known better.

Someone (an artist) said he saw them holding hands on a walk to the camp pier and someone else said she hoped that was true because no one deserved to be lonely and they seemed like they could easily be lonely sorts. After speaking to them for over an hour she came out of the spare bunk where interviews were conducted, spat on the ground by the fire and stamped her feet. “I hope they are lonely,” she said. “They deserve to be lonely. I hope they die lonely lonely deaths and I hope they never find Maguire, not ever.”
They seemed to hang around waiting for a subsequent death to occur. More and more, they strayed from their verbal inquiries and scoured the campground looking, it seemed, for something—another body. They could be seen turning canoes over, canoes that had been left upturned on the beach in the night. They started nosing through the laundry room. When the camp went on a field trip, Max (who came back early, he forgot something) found them searching peoples’ rooms.

They stared without blinking into the eyes of their interviewees and sometimes stopped the interviews to sharpen pencils. They ate in the cafeteria with the other campers and once came to the bonfire in the evening so that no one wanted to talk about anything not anything anything anything at all.

No one, absolutely no one at all liked to talk to them.

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