Five scenes from unfinished films

Broken glass behind a blue curtain

Seven sets of feline eyes align, following movements through the blinds. Seven tails thrash against a windowsill and take flight when the glass explodes with a crash.

A shadow slipped through a shattered window, scattering shards in a semi-circle. The evidence assembled in the afternoon light traces a path around the room. An oval ashtray lies in broken eggshell halves. A half-drained bottle of whiskey rests on a tabletop where two tumblers mirror its yellow label in traces of amber liquid.

Her coral-tipped fingers are splayed among ivory strands of thick carpet pile. Long and lithe, they point toward the piano. Its keys are painted a vivid shade of red.

The fragrance of the petals of the yellow orchid

Water swallowed the crime like a child eating chocolates without relish or decorum. A mist persists amidst the hum of a late summer evening. The silver movement of dragonflies agitates the air around a stretch of swamp framed with lichen-limned branches.

A miasma of green rot depresses the air. An unseen walker is betrayed by the soft crackle of wet leaves and collapsing sodden wood. In the water, a dark shape wrapped in cloth sinks beneath the algae-strewn surface. A panoply of jewel-toned frogs erupts from the perimeter. They shriek, splash and are erased by the murk.

Viscous mud oozes and seethes into each footprint left by the retreating figure, erasing its passage. A stray silver hair is caught by a thorny branch. A copper ring falls and is speared by a thick-stemmed palmetto blade. A slow procession of ripples spreads outward from the tip of the uneven shape vanishing in the pond and golden flags bob their heavy heads in the lazy current.

The unheard cries of the woman on the staircase

The third murder could not be averted.

Three to a room, girls in flannel gowns weave their whispers into a cloak that shields their anxious forms for as long as they maintain the murmur. Dusty cones of light ascend from each pink pot-bellied lamp, forming comforting sprays of gold on floral wallpaper.

A plastic record player sits on a lacy bedspread alongside a stack of slick black 45s in parchment-colored sleeves. The music scratches the air with faint fingers. They never hear the rattle of the doorknob or the slow retreat of steps down the hall. A black glove is found lying on the wooden floor in the morning.

Branches clatter against a half-closed window with the same rhythm as a heavy form tumbling down a flight of stairs. The low but sudden call of a golden brown owl sounds and as it fades a siren begins its slow and unsteady wailing.

Eyes like emerald ostrich feathers

Two sets of sharks' teeth form ranks on a chessboard made of malachite and white jasper.  He chooses for a queen the glass eye his uncle wore after the war, its emerald iris blind to the bludgeoning he half-beheld beneath a bridge one winter night. Two figures grappled at the edge of the water. One lumbered away in wet lamplight.

Her queen is a wasp trapped in amber, stolen from an elaborately locked glass case in a collector's neglected attic rooms. Its delicate insect form is repeated in the sharp angles of her wrists and elbows and her cinched waist which bends as she moves across the table to make the next move.

A glass bottle tumbles to the floor and breaks as she slashes the air with a razor concealed beneath the notched fossil she used as a bishop. As red syrup pools on the chessboard, winding its way among dark green and pallid squares, she advances mantis-like toward his collapsed figure, her bootheels soundless on the plush carpet and long gemmed fingers flexing with anticipation.

When she leaves the room an emerald fire flashes from his left eye socket and crimson lines make ragged paths across his weathered cheek.

The silver-tongued lizard with a key of gold

The tangled shadows of magnolia trees slide across the walls of the empty gallery in the failing evening light. As the moon rises they pick up the journey again in the other direction.

In the silence of the locked museum the tail of her gown winds around the corner and she slides toward the south-facing window. A shining spindle poised on a marble base hovers before the dark glass. In the daytime the room offers a view onto an acre of dark foliage and honeyed blossoms perfume the air with soporific spice.

She seems to melt into the floor as she kneels before the mirrored statue. Her gloved hand snaps a latch concealed at the base. Her face is veiled but violet eyes cast alert backward glances as she removes a golden cylinder from the base and folds the secret door back into place.

A second set of gloves appears in the warped silver surface of the statue. Thick leathered hands surround her throat and her cries die on her lips. The precarious spindle topples in the throes of their struggle, shattering the still air with the din of alarms and exploding glass, spattering the clean white floors with glass-riven flesh.