And then there were two


Apparently, this is how it works: once the police and the medical examiners have done what they need to do at a crime scene, the fire department sends a rescue truck to clean up.

So a truck pulls up in front of my house, and the men get to work. One takes a spray bottle of something from a door on the side of the truck, others uncoil the hose, another pulls down a broom.

I can't see what they're doing, can only hear the chugging of the water and the low growl of the engine, with indistinguishable voices occasionally calling out above the din. After a while one of the men pulls the hose about 30 feet down the street, and another follows, carrying the broom, which he holds out for his colleague to spray off.

When the truck pulls away, the grey steps are grey again, all traces of red gone; the sidewalk in front of the house is wet and clean.

And on the porch are two doormats, where until this morning there were three.

He was French

I got up from the table this morning to refill my coffee cup and noticed that a police car had pulled up across the street. A pair of policemen knocked on the first door of the three-unit building across from mine and said something to the young woman who answered, though I couldn't hear what.

Within a few minutes, there were more officers milling around, and a truck full of firefighters; by the time I stepped outside around ten to 9, there was crime scene tape tied to our front gate.

I called out to one of the policemen to ask what had happened. He walked over to me, pointed to the third door in the house across the street, and said there was a deceased person inside, and blood on the steps outside, and thus it appeared that the death was "not due to natural causes." (Some might call that an understatement.) He asked if I'd heard anything last night; I said I hadn't, and had turned in early. The officer handed me off to one of his colleagues, who took my name and contact info, saying that a detective might need to contact me.

By the time I did what I had set out to do--gone to have Josh notarize something for me, gone to the post office, walked home--the street was clogged with vehicles from the Medical Examiner's office, and neighbors were crowded in front of my house, outside the boundaries of the crime scene tape but close enough to watch the proceedings. I chatted with them for a few minutes, then came inside and sat on the sofa so I could watch and listen.

He was French, they said--or spoke with a French accent, at least. And a law student. He seemed both cute and kind of geeky. Dan said he seemed fairly young, perhaps in his mid-30s, and certainly didn't appear to be the type of guy who'd be connected with any sort of criminal element. He just seemed sort of quiet.

I watched the medical examiners bring a gurney to the foot of the front stairs, then drape a white sheet on the front porch. I watched them hand things over the railing to the officers below, who put them in brown paper bags and labeled them with markers. And I watched two men carry out the body of this man--young, French, law student--wrapped in a white sheet through which red stains were spreading at both his feet and his head, watched them wrap the body in the sheet laid on the porch, and tie its ends, and carry this sad and sorry bundle to the waiting gurney.

And then I noticed the blood on the steps and the railing--the incongruous smears of red on otherwise grey surfaces, a literal stone's throw from my own front steps.

The neighbors with the Afghan hound report that they heard loud music last night, though it seemed to be coming from Hayes Street. Dan reports that he was up until 3 working in his living room, in front of the windows, and that he neither saw nor heard anything. Bridget was up at 6, and nothing caught her attention, either.

We take for granted the fact that we live on a street where a young, quiet law student doesn't meet his end on his front steps, barely fifteen feet from a street lamp.

No. Correction: we took it for granted. Now what?


Not quite a tautology...

...but what is it?

From the insert accompanying the Rhinocort Aqua budesonide nasal spray my doctor gave me yesterday:


[Caps original.]


Don't you mean Roma?

At Rainbow on Monday, I filled my cart with largely virtuous products, determined as I was to make myself well by tea, plenty of fresh produce, and other ostensibly health-giving foodstuffs. (That determination went right out the window when I woke up yesterday morning still ill, at which point I made an appointment with Dr. Moser that has scored me antibiotics that will kill off whatever weird sinus infection has made a home in my head. Said antibiotics cost me about $10 a pill, so they damn well better do something.)

Anyway. Rainbow.

I browsed through the Traditional Medicinal teas (which remind me so much of the Jed, though that's a story for another time) and settled on the one that looked most relevant to my woes and also least likely to contain anything that would give off the flavor of licorice. (Yes, I probably wouldn't actually be able to taste it, but it's the principle of the thing.) Into my cart went the Gypsy Cold Care.

When I got home, I made myself a cup. This stuff has a 10-minute brewing period, so I had plenty of time to read the box. Then I started thinking about the name: Gypsy Cold Care. And it occurred to me that if Traditional Medicinals were really the forward-thinking, globally aware, culturally savvy company they seem to be, wouldn't they call it Roma Cold Care? Isn't that what gypsies now prefer to be called, their traditional name having been sullied by negative stereotypes?

Hop to it, TM. Your culturally sensitive bona fides are in the balance.


Allergy Information

Let me start by noting that I know food allergies are (quite literally, sometimes) a deadly serious issue, and that therefore there's a lot to be said for the practice of labeling packaged foods with information about their contents and how and where they're processed.

That said, I was bemused to read the label on a container of cashews the other day--and, mind you, this was a container of nothing but cashews, as in "Ingredients: Cashews," full stop--and discover that there was an allergy information panel alerting potential consumers of these cashews that the package, in fact, CONTAINED CASHEWS.

I'm sure there's either benevolence or litigation behind that warning, but it sort of highlights the idiocy of how we do things here in the good ol' US of A sometimes. Have we sunk so low (again) that our product labels not only have to warn us not to dry our hair whilst in a full bathtub or a running shower and to be aware that the beverage we're about to enjoy is extremely hot but also that our packages of 100% cashews contain cashews? One might've hoped we'd have gotten beyond that point by now.