Stocking feet hushed against marble and the gun a cool weight in his pocket, Anton crept down the hall, indistinct thumps and shuffles meeting his ears as he approached the study. The heavy door opened a bare inch at a time on its silent, oiled hinges, releasing a puzzling blast of toluene. He put his eye to the crack and stifled a gasp at the sight of Cletus surrounded by the detritus of Anton’s library.
Shredded paper drifted across the floor like snow and ash. Cletus’ face lit up in childish delight as a manicured fingernail scratched across the fading mottled cover of Ekins’ Loves of Medea and Jason, a deep gouge forming in its wake. One brawny, bronze hand slapped the book open with a sickening crack across the spine, and the other wiggled a path across rows of garish nail polish. It settled on a fluorescent pink.
Anton burst howling into the room as Cletus dribbled the viscous fluid over the pages, drawing the gun as he ran. Dropping the bottle and raising his hand, Cletus backed into the luminous rainbow of color refracting through a stained glass window. Glittering dust motes haloed his strapping form, but his self-aware smirk perverted the beauty into something ugly and misshapen. “Lex talionis,” Cletus said. “See, I learned something from you nattering on all these years. You take something I love, I do the same.”
The gun was heavy but his heart was light, light as his empty pocket. His palms sweated on the grip but its knurled contours trapped the wetness. He spread his feet and bent his knees in what his trainer called the ‘athletic stance.’ Ironic, in the circumstance. “Would you like to see what I’ve learned from you?” he asked.
Giddy from polish fumes, in a white rage from his beloved children’s desecration, he pressed the trigger until he felt a slight resistance, in his finger but no longer in his heart. At the last Cletus’ cow eyes and sheep brain processed the sincerity of Anton’s intentions, but too late, too late. Anton jumped, always startled by the discharge, but stood still as stone as Cletus stumbled forward and collapsed into the desk chair.
“Professor Plum shot Colonel Mustard in the library.” Face expressionless, Anton slipped the gun into his pocket. He retraced his steps along the hall and down the stairs. He knew a man who knew a man. The house could be ashes and snow by morning, and he could be far away.