The Witness by Rani Jayakumar

“Me can’t do it,” Sendil said. 

“I can’t do it, you mean,” I replied, exasperated with his English. 

“You maybe can, me can’t,” he insisted. 

I sighed. “Try again,” I said, in my most patient voice. 

“Too scaredy,” he said, shuddering. 

“It’s okay,” I soothed. “From the beginning.” 

“Okay,” he nodded, shaking out his hands and shoulders. 

“First, he put cloth on my eyes.” He demonstrated behind his head. “Very tight.” 

I nodded, encouraging him. “Then he take my hand. We walk to darker place. Cold, down steps I think.” He shivered again. 

“Keep going, you’re doing great,” I said. 

“Then I hear sound of machine, click, and he sit me in cold metal chair,” he said, his voice lowering almost to a whisper. “He slam me down,” he mimed, his hands gripping an invisible person’s arms. 

“Yes, good, what next?” 

“Then…” 

He hesitated. 

“Then machine get louder. Whirrrrr! Then sound of door open.” His body leaned back involuntarily, reliving the fear. 

“Sound of machine closer, closer to me, but I hear people come in, shouting stuffs. ‘Hands up,” “Drop it,’ like that.” His arms flailed uselessly. 

“And then?” I asked, knowing what was coming. 

“Too late, he saw me.” He winced in pain. 

“He sawed your arm?” I confirmed. 

“Yes, yes, see, in arm,” he cried, showing his heavily bandaged arm, where the doctor had expertly reattached bones and tendons. “He do this, terrible man with smell of bad fruit.” 

“Bad fruit?” 

“Yes, smell like fruit with fungus, strong.” His face contorted in disgust. But now I knew which chemical to look for. 

“Thank you,” I said. “I know that was hard, but now we have a lot more to go on.” He nodded sadly, and limped out of the station, unaware he helped catch a killer. 


Published in Issue #17

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