We stood in a shaft of light through which small flecks of dust and goodness-knows-what fell… probably small flakes of discarded skin. Light was further thrown off by the grubby fingerprint-smeared glass that diffused it.
“Look!” She said, holding up the shrivelled body of a fly with her tweezers. “Can’t you just tell that Stan killed it; just from the look on its face?”
“Who is Stan?” I replied, knowing very well who she was alluding to.
The monk was a well-known taxidermist, but even he would surely not stoop to the stuffing of a dried fly? And why would he leave the carcass out to dry on such an exposed windowsill. It betrayed a nonchalance that Stan definitely did not possess. It could have been blown off its rack and hoovered up without a second’s thought. Or worse perhaps, a competitor-taxidermist could have crept in and up to the windowsill late on the night of a full moon. He would have spied the prepared beast and added it to his exquisite cache of naturally occurring corpses – ones he might have gathered from the lane or even found among the weeds and long blades of dry grass in the front lawn. It just didn’t add up…
“I don’t think it was Stan.”
“I thought you didn’t know who Stan was.”
She was all over my little slip up. Now I would have to give away all the secrets. I was not a good person to have secrets. I was even worse at keeping them for more than an instant. They preyed on my mind day in and day out and they grew to such epic proportions that nobody could have been asked to harbour them. But, even the most practiced secret-keeper would have spilled their guts when faced with her Inquisitorial stare. I paled and stepped back quickly.
“Oh. Did I really say that? I meant ‘Which Stan?’ I know two Stans you see…“
We both knew that was unlikely. Who in their right mind names a child ‘Stanley’ in these times? There was a time when the name might have had some panache. But that day had gone, along with impossible crinolines, pencil-thin moustaches and the appellation ‘Mistress’. My goose was cooked!
This was a true disaster. I am a vegetarian. I shouldn’t be talking about cooked geese. And who has geese any more for that matter?