Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Folklorist: YMCA murder

The newspaper reported that a woman’s body was found yesterday in a trash bin in the men’s locker room at the downtown YMCA. She was not identified. The police are investigating the death as murder. The article gave few details. It said the death was “grotesque,” which isn’t a detail but a teaser. The piece consisted of three short paragraphs among a list of briefs that ran along the left column of the local section. I might have missed it except for the headline: “Body found in unlikely place.”

Where does one expect to find a body? A morgue, of course. A funeral home. A cemetery. I can’t think of anywhere else. But the headline worked. I read on. The story must have come in late, for surely they’d have made a bigger deal of it had there been time.

I rarely read crime stories. Frankly, I’d prefer not to know. That’s selfish of me. But I can’t worry about everything. I’m perfectly aware that crime happens. Why would I want to know more? The stories seldom change: once you’ve read about one robbery, b&e, assault, rape, or murder, the next is much the same. For the reader. If you’re the perpetrator or victim, it’s different. Usually I’m neither.

How in the world did he do it? I assume given the location that the murderer was male. But then I’d have thought a victim there would be a guy as well. Did the murderer kill first, take the body to the locker room, and leave it? If so, why risk discovery carrying a body around? Or did the murderer kill in the locker room, but then what was a woman doing in the men’s locker room?

I shook my head and returned to a wire story in the front section about Muslim women in New Mexico, of all places, covering their faces in public. Strangers worried the women were terrorists because they couldn’t see their faces. Strange what people find to get worked up about. Would a woman in a burkha more likely carry a bomb than a man in a suit with brief case? In New Mexico? Better to hide in dungarees and boots.

After breakfast I grabbed some tools in the basement, clicked my tongue for the dog, and we went out to the yard to weed and trim. That was your job. Since you left it falls to me. I don’t mind. I rather like doing it. Gets me out. Beats TV. Something’s started eating the roses. The black-eyed Susans are coming on. The yarrow is wide and yellow. I’ve never seen bigger or more numerous blossoms on hydrangeas.

The dog lay beneath the forsythia and watched the street. Then she flopped over on her side and slept. She’s getting old. I’m getting old. Are you getting old? After a while I put down the tools and sat in that old wooden chair you used to like. I’ve put it on the edge of the porch where I can sit and watch the street. I like that. Sit. Look. Notice. Today I noticed the way a bough of quince in front of the porch bent slightly as a sparrow lit on it, and the way it bent again when the sparrow left, as it took flight. There’s a nest deep in the bush and I watched the same sparrow, or pair, come and go for an hour. I tried to work out why the bough would bend when the bird was lifting off – was it the sudden absence of weight or was it the bird pushing off – but I couldn’t get it and let it be.

Interesting how much movement there is in supposedly inanimate plants.

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