TITLE: The Red Cross Knight
GENRE: Literary Fiction
Seven minutes and thirty seconds before curtain-down, Patrick Winters committed his first murder of the night. He held a woman in his arms, and around them music flowed, a violin straining forward with vibrato and retreating to a quivering sigh, the accompaniment to a kiss of kisses. As the violin faded, finally out of breath, Patrick's hand made a quick movement. In the silence, the woman fell back without a cry, a red stain already spreading on the bosom of her gown.
There was no more music for a long time.
When Patrick lifted his face to the mezzanine, a thrill passed through the hypnotized Manhattan audience at the sight of the first tear that ran down his cheek, catching the silver gleam of the spotlight. Nobody noticed when the music started again, but then he was singing to it, his tenor quiet and low:
One blood, one flesh
One knife, one death-
A dagger glinted, and he stabbed himself to the heart and yielded up the spirit without a sigh. The hero was dead, but patrons in the more expensive seats could see that his body still trembled, for the performer was crying. He wept until the curtain fell over his body with the mournful note of a cello.
His tears were not less genuine for being an exact science. He knew to the second exactly how long he should weep; he could have counted the tears, night after night, and would not have been more consistent.