Death at an Interview

Hiding the body was not even close to the hardest part.

No, I simply stuffed the corpse under the desk, easy as one, two, three. He wasn’t very stiff yet, and I knew he wasn’t liable to start smelling for a good while longer. Like I said, easy, but I needed to buy myself some time to figure out my next move.

Now I know what you’re thinking. It’s not like that at all. I didn’t kill the professor. I had never even met the man before today. This is all just a big misunderstanding. All because I didn’t know what to do when I walked into what was meant to be my interview for an adjunct professorship of psychology at Tenson University to find Dr. Shaw slumped face down on his desk, the handle of his mug with deep black coffee in the bottom still clutched in his bony, liver-spotted fingers.

I panicked. That’s all.

And when there was a knock at the door, I couldn’t very well let it go unanswered and leave the visitor asking too many unwanted questions.

I scanned the desk, eyes landing on the leather-covered planner sitting on the left edge of the desk and flipped it open to this week. Jotted below my name and two o’clock appointment time was “2:30 p.m. Melanie Brown.”

I cleared my throat. “Just a moment, Ms. Brown,” I announced in my most authoritative tone.

“Dr. Shaw?” the woman asked when I opened the door and invited her into the office with a sweeping gesture.

Had she not looked up Dr. Reginald Shaw prior to her interview? What sort of idiot didn’t at least take a cursory pass using a quick internet search? Such behavior was hardly considered stalking these days, and clearly the world was not a very safe place, I mean, the evidence of such was crammed under the desk as we spoke. Obviously her sense of self preservation was lacking. I veiled my thoughts behind a placid smile that was all lips and no teeth.

“Welcome, Ms. Brown,” I said, and so the ruse began. “Shall we get started? Please have a seat and make yourself comfortable.”

I didn’t very much want to take a seat at the desk with the dead body underneath taking up all the legroom; the seating arrangement was worse than an overseas flight in economy class.

Beyond the desk stood an easel with rorschach inkblots on large cardstock posters.

“We shall begin here, Ms. Brown,” I announced, strolling to stand next to the easel. This interview was for a position as a psychology professor, after all. “You may begin when you are ready. Tell me what you see.”

“Most see a bat or a butterfly, but I always see two little pigs with cute little snouts and large ears.”

“Hmmm. You don’t see the two ravens, Ms. Brown?” I asked. The heralds of death were all I could see at the moment. What was this nonsense about pigs?

“Well, now that you say so, I suppose, Dr. Shaw,” she replied. Her brow wrinkled, and I could see she thought this was some sort of test in addition to the more obvious one being conducted.

I tossed the poster aside. “Next!”

“To me, this one looks like a ballerina doing a pirouette in a tutu,” Melanie said. “Most people see two humans facing one another.”

“They do look rather like two monks, or more like they are conceiving some dastardly plot,” I said.

“Are you experiencing a Freudian slip, Dr. Shaw? I wonder if I should be worried,” Ms. Brown laughed, the sound more nervous than playful.

I never meant to take it this far, but there I was. And I couldn’t stop there.

“Enough of that. Coffee or tea?” I asked, plunging ahead.

“Sure, I’ll have some coffee,” she replied.

I grabbed a clean mug and made her a quick cup using the Keurig on the side table amidst a multitude of texts and piles of both graded and ungraded essays.

“Cream or sugar?” I asked.

“No thank you.”

“Just like Doc—I mean, I like it,” I said. “Now, where were we?”

Melanie took a sip of her coffee. “Freudian slips?” she asked.

She clearly thought I was a nutcase already. “Right. So why do you want to work at Tenson University, Ms. Brown?”

Melanie opened her mouth to answer, but no words came out. She clutched at her throat and threw me a positively evil glare.

Good lord, not again, I thought.

“It really wasn’t me!” I insisted as Melanie sucked in a final breath and sagged in her seat, eyes still pinned accusingly on me.

Clearly, the coffee was the culprit. I didn’t need to be a chemist or a forensic expert to figure that out.

I checked my watch and then the planner on the desk. I had another fifteen minutes before Wessley Finagain arrived at three o-clock. I also had another body on my hands, and I was running out of places to stash them.

I grabbed Melanie under the armpits and dragged her from the chair, toppling it in the process. Upon closer inspection, it appeared she would fit quite nicely with Reggie under the desk. I stuffed her head in first between the good old professor’s legs and then I shoved her lower half in for good measure, tucking her feet to either side of his elderly shoulders so her pumps rested by Dr. Shaw’s ears. Then I replaced the first card of the rorschach test back on the easel, righted the chair, and generally tidied up. Dr Shaw’s office was really quite a mess.

When Mr. Finagain arrived, I brusquely invited him in.

“You don’t look much like your photograph, Dr. Shaw,” he said.

That simply would not do. How would I ever escape notice if I was found out too soon?

“Coffee, Mr. Finagain?” I asked. “It is a bit of a long story.”

“Oh, don’t mind if I do!”



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