Death Is A Slow Languid Yellow With Just A Hint Of Cerise | Iain D Chalmers

Just cause you’re special doesn’t mean you’re bulletproof.


Death is a slow languid yellow with just a hint of cerise

Iain D Chalmers

Audiophile File Award


‘The sound of the gunshot was mauve.’

The fingers of the policeman opposite paused momentarily on his computer and I could see his eyebrows knit together.

‘Mauve? Did you say mauve?’

I nodded my head softly.

‘It was spiky, small and round; but definitely mauve’

The policeman looked up at me and I could see the puzzled expression on his face.

‘I’m sorry miss, I don’t quite get you. Are you saying the gunman was wearing something mauve? I was asking you the sound the weapon made.’

I had met people’s responses like this all my life, always that look of incredulity and disbelief; always that element of doubt lurking behind their eyes as I explained.

‘Sorry, I am not trying to be funny, I have this neurological condition called synaesthesia. It’s when my senses get mixed up.’

He looked blankly. ‘Senses?’

I nodded ‘You know, senses? Smell, touch, hearing that kind of thing. They get mixed up in my brain’

He sipped his tea slowly and continued to stare at me. He looked as if he didn’t know if I was being serious or taking the piss. I gave him the usual spiel I had given a thousand times before.

‘With some people, their senses get intertwined. Numbers can evoke a colour, or touching objects conjures a specific a taste in the mouth. In my case I hear things in colour. It doesn’t happen all the time but usually when I am caught by surprise, just like now when the man fired the gun, I heard a small spiky ball of mauve.’

I could see the policeman floundering a bit but he seemed to believe me.

‘But the actual gunman. Did you see him.’

‘As clear as I see you here and now’.

The police were genuinely impressed with the amount of detail I was able to give them. I explained I had just got of the Number 18 bus, the same bus I use every day. I walked along the street a little and stepped out between two parked cars intending to cross the road. I glanced through the windscreen of the car beside me just in time to see the driver raise his arm and fire a gun through the open passenger window. I glanced behind me to see a man jerk backwards with a neat bullet hole in the centre of his forehead, a red spray of blood showering the wall behind him. I was too surprised really to be frightened. After he fired the shot the driver calmly placed the gun on the passenger seat and turned and stared directly at me. He revved the engine impatiently, and as I stepped back and he sped off down the road.’

I was at the police station all afternoon before they released me. They took my address and promised to contact me if they needed further clarification.

The following day, it was all over the papers. The victim was a high ranking foreign national and it was clear it was some sort of hit. I had witnessed an assassination.

Although the whole episode was unsettling I felt remarkably calm as I travelled home that evening. It crossed my mind that the gunman knew I had had a clear look at him but he would be well away by now.

I thought about what the newspapers had said, about it being a professional hit and all that, but I felt safe enough. It’s true that I always travel the same way to work every day on number 18 bus but hundreds of people use that bus every day but there is no way he could ever find me, but perhaps I would take a different bus to work tomorrow, and vary my route a little just to be on the safe side. I stepped up to the front door and inserted the key into the lock thankful to be home.

The knife must have been very sharp. It sliced through my throat quickly and efficiently making a soft whispering sound. The gunman could never afford to have any witnesses identify him, after all, he was a professional.

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