Investigating the murder of one “Mr. Huff-N-Puff”


“Where should we begin?” You ask.

You look at me
with pupils darker than black holes.
They are grave hangouts for the monsters
kicked out of the closets:
too evil even for solitary confinement
under a child’s mattress.

The fluorescent backlight casts
shadows across your eyes,
as if they are hiding a Jeckyll inside.

At least I hope there’s a brighter side to you,
for who likes the ‘bad cop’ routine
without the good guy to keep him on a leash?

“I’m innocent,” I explain, struggling against my handcuffs.

“You mean he deserved it.”

You move your hand lazily along the wall,
stopping to play with the dial on the two-way mirror:
a game to make me sweat.
But I’m no novice at interrogation;
what really makes me nervous
is that you have no reflection.

I confess.

“I saw him eating a little girl.
What would you have me do?”

“Leave him be.
You’re not a Fairy Tale creature.
Not a magical being.
You’re not even a protagonist.

You can’t just hijack/run into
a story when it’s convenient and kill the villain,
it’s against our constitution.
Read article three, section thirteen
if you need reminding.”

“I’m familiar with our laws,
but I couldn’t bear to see her
mauled to death.
So yes, I intervened.”

“There is a reason for our rules.
We’re not barbaric like our crazy readers
who kill creatures for convenience,
beating them to death
with their second amendments.”

“But it was just a thick-headed wolf,” I interrupt.

“Everyone should have the freedom
to choose a happy ending
without the interference of idiots from another story.
What were you doing in the woods anyway?”

“Just dropping off my kids
to play in the forest.
Hansel and G will be worried sick about me.”

“We’ll retrieve them;
maybe they can even bail you out.
But they should get used to feeding themselves;
when the trial is settled,
you’re going to be locked away for a long time.
So long that they’ll say ‘Once upon a…’
to refer to your incarceration date.”

“But I still don’t see why killing an oversized doggie
was such a big deal,” I mumble,
kicking at a table leg.

“We have on good authority
that the wolf was going to rehab;
he was going to fix his bad habits
and kick his addiction for little girls.

He had already completed step three
of a 12-week program,
and his peers said the treatment
made him less Big and Bad
and more like a puppy.

His sponsor told us
that his trip to the forest
was step five on the path to recovery;
he needed to apologize to the little girl
for eating her grandmother.”

You took a sip of something red
that appeared suddenly
in your left hand.

“You’re just a Lumberjack,”

“Woodsman,” I corrected.

“Who put his plaid shirt where it didn’t belong,
axing first and asking questions after.”

I said nothing, staring at the floor
and hoping you would be gone when I looked up.
You weren’t.

“Little Red, on the other hand,
was on the run from the police
for a string of particularly violent robberies.

She would sneak into people’s pantries,
stealing the sweets she found
and selling them to the witch
in the gingerbread house.

She carried a knife in case she were ever detected;
why do you think her cloak was so red?

We found her wicker basket at the scene of the crime.
In it was a loaf of breadcrumbs.”

The door to the interrogation room opens,
and you glide toward the exit.

You pause at the threshold of the cement cell.
“There are no innocents,” you tell me,
“Only Morals.”

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