DEATH IN A RED CANVAS CHAIR
The white commercial van drove slowly down the driveway to the left of the elementary school and pulled to a quiet stop alongside the gate leading to the soccer field. The gate was unlocked; he’d made sure of that the night before. The driver looked around, saw no one, then scooted across the front seat. Before exiting on the passenger side, away from the field, he pulled a blue ball cap snugly down on his head, tied a scarf over his mouth and nose, and pulled on heavy rubber gloves. He walked to the end of the van and surveyed the field. Small boys were swarming a soccer ball, flailing and kicking until it extricated itself from the beating and rolled down the field toward the far goal. Parents, predominantly mothers, stood on both sides of the field and cheered their progeny on.
Was she here? He scoured the sidelines. Yes! There she is – on the far side. The object of his interest was a tall woman with thick, shoulder length auburn hair, standing on the side lines at midfield, dwarfing the diminutive blond standing next to her.
He waited until the hive of boys surrounding the ball had moved to the far end of the field, then opened the van’s rear door and took out a canvas folding chair. He unfolded it and reached back into the van to pull a plastic tarp aside. The stench, which had been bearable while he was driving with the windows open, hit him with an intensity that caused him to gag, but he held his breath and managed to drag the soft, decaying body from the van floor and ease it into the chair. He quickly lifted both to the far side of the van and closed the door. From one of his pockets he pulled a straw sun hat and placed it on the body’s head. Sunglasses from his other pocket were forced over the swollen tissue of the face.
Waiting patiently until the action on the field focused the parents’ attention once again on the far end, he quickly picked up the chair with the body and carried them around the front end of the van, through the gate and out to the field. He deposited them at the near end but far back from the goal. After straightening the body and adjusting the hat, he quickly walked away, glancing back at the field only once he’d reached the van. Good, no one’s looking this way, he thought as he climbed into the driver’s seat and turned the key in the ignition with a shaking hand. God, I hope she finds it. But even if she doesn’t, I know she’ll get involved. She’ll find the killer. He made a careful circle of the parking lot and drove away, as slowly and quietly as he’d come.
What once had been a vibrant being slowly collapsed into the canvas chair, dripping water and decay, gazing at the soccer game with dull, unseeing eyes.