Who pulled the rug out from me when I wasn't looking?
Dan stood in an alleyway, and before him lay a female form, once a living human being, but now a pile of skin wrapped in rags, and the blood glowed against the snow. The gun dropped from his hand, into a pile of rubbish that had washed up against the soot covered bricks seeking refuge from the icy wind that poured down the hill.
"Too far, too far." Daniel took flight into the bitter winter that surrounded him.
There was no escape. Each corner he turned, he saw her, flying backwards, blood fountaining from her chest, each drop suspended for an eternity, each one an accusing eye watching him.
The wind kicked up and an old newspaper crossed his path. It rustled and the edges were burned, showing it as a refugee from some bums' trash-can fire. Dan kicked at it as it blew by, but it caught on his foot. The wind plastered it down, and it became glued by the blood that still sat on the toe of his shoe. He bent and pulled it free. The headline read "New Highway Plan Meets Resistance", and all Daniel could feel was a horrible emptiness welling up, threatening to pave over everything that had come before, leaving him a flat stretch of asphalt stretching for miles and miles, with long clear flat stretches that would be coated in fog when the sun rose each morning.
"Hey buddy, can you spare a dime?"
"No! No, fucking no!" Dan stumbled back from the bum that had just appeared out- perhaps the same bum that had set fire to the newspaper that was clutched in Daniel's hand. "Go away! Go away!" The noise of the cars crescendoed, and the colors became hypersaturated and fed off of each other until everything was washed in colors so beautiful you had to close your eyes and make them go away.
The next thing Daniel remembered was standing in front of a nearby bar. In the small grass strip that was called a park stood the bum, his face lit in a ghastly mask, disfigured by the flames that were leaping from his shopping cart which stood in the center of the park, an altar to some pagan god, and a burnt offering that would be pleasing to the Lord.
"The contrast is most delightful." An artist stood beside Daniel, paintbrush in hand, his arms covered in bright colors up to the elbows. A scar graced the left cheek, and his face was strangely asymmetrical, as if he was a teddy-bear that had been crushed by too many late night huggings. The artist looked familiar, and the scar was disturbing, Daniel remembered earning himself a scar in the same place in a car accident.
Because, after all, Daniel was the artist, the paint was smeared on his arms, and the pain was smeared onto the canvas that sat before him, and Daniel, to his knowledge, had never been in that alley and had never watched the bum's shopping cart burn.
"Mr. Steenburgh, please, tell us again where you were on the night of the fourteenth."
Two policemen sat across the table for them, Jack Sprat and his Wife as Daniel saw them- one was tall and so thin that Daniel could see the paint peeling on the walls through him, and so pale that he was perfectly camouflaged for sneaking into or out of a hospital. The other was a gigantic black buddha, spilling over the chair, welling up across the top of the table.
Daniel leaned back in the chair and looked down at his hands. They were still covered in paint smears, orange against black tattooing his skin with a four year old's crayon interpretation of fire. "I was painting. In my studio."
The buddha nodded slowly, sage and wise, but the man spun from silver wire leaned forward with menace dangling from his teeth. "Yeah, and what interesting paintings they were. What was that? One murder scene, and a painting of a bum's shopping cart catching fire. And what do you know- we have on our hands a murder case straight out of your painting and arson- straight out of your painting."
Daniel stood in his studio, the empty canvas before him a menace, a void that simply wanted to consume him. The visions that he was doomed to create would become manifest- or perhaps he was painting actual events with some sort of mental imagery. Or worse yet- perhaps he was insane, and in his madness, he slipped out to commit crimes and then would return to paint them. Each work was a blur in his mind, the process of creation taking his body over, shutting his mind out, and leaving him standing in his small studio, hours or days later, shaking with exhaustion.
The buddha-cop stood, frowning like a gigantic blackbird considering a carcass for lunch. Jack Sprat pursed his lips and cracked his knuckles loudly. "Am I being charged?"
"Charged?" Jack Sprat laughed and it was like knives being thrown against a blackboard. "We've got two crimes, and you've got paintings of them that are more detailed than our crime scene photos. What do you think?"
What did Daniel think? He certainly wasn't feeling anything- he wasn't afraid or intimidated or thown by the good-cop/bad-cop routine. "What do I think? I think you're holding me and interrogating me until you can get me to slip up and admit something. You can't place me at the scene- and the paintings could just as easily have been thought up when I was standing in the crowd at the crime scenes. You've got no witnesses, no evidence aside from my knowledge of the crimes, which really were no secret to begin with."
When Daniel returned home, many many hours later, uncharged, but most certainly watched and tailed and a serious suspect he fell on the couch and cried. The girl was sitting on the couch, beads of blood floating in the air before her. The bum sat before Daniel's fireplace, warming his hands. They weren't there in the police station, but really, was Daniel? The cold reason that he had shown during the interrogation wasn't him- Daniel would just as soon break down into tears when someone accused him of taking the last muffin- to be accused of _murder_- it boggled him.
And it worried him. No one could prove that Daniel had done these things, but the scary thing was that Daniel couldn't prove he _hadn't_.