His office was on the third floor of a building in Dublin city.
I sat down on the other side of his desk. He handed me a notebook and said, ‘Please write his particulars there.’
I wrote down my brother’s name. He had been for dead six weeks. Most nights I woke up wondering how does a body decompose within that time? He had been a nurse. I used to love the way he was so gentle with hurt people, as if they were animals he couldn’t help loving.
The suicide detective’s name was Leon and I had heard about him from a mourner at the funeral.
‘He doesn’t do anything illegal,’ she insisted. ‘He makes up a future for your dead loved one from the clues you give him.’
It was a strange thing to do. But I wanted to be strange for a while.
I held the handwritten pages of my brother’s past and his leftover future.
Joseph, aged 16, brought a near-dead cat home and nursed it back to life.
That bit was true. I had watched him place his delicate fingers on the cat’s torn legs and on the edges of its worm-congested gut. My brother had some sort of love in him passed down from a dead ancestor of ours. One of those mad ones whose lives were short and never really there anyway.
Joseph, aged 27, had a sudden re-occurrence of childhood melancholy after job loss then wife loss. I skipped that part. I went on to the made-up end.
‘It’s like a prayer what he does,’ the mourner had purred at me.
My brother woke up. My brother sat for a long time and listened to the air inside his room. He remembered that he had a twin sister, plus others and a family that loved him. He remembered the cat. He remembered the first dead human body he had ever seen. Then he made some cocoa like in the old days. Then he rang me. Then I came.
‘Consider it an inverse Gestalt practice,’ Leon said.
I stared at his clear handwriting then I stared at his office walls and floor. They were dirty. The room was very cold. A spider crawled along my instep, up my calf and turned about on my knee.
My mother crawled into the bath and she did not come out for a month. My father continued to work yet he was shrinking every day. My siblings did normal things to survive. I burrowed next to anyone I could find.
So I kissed Leon’s cheek.
‘Oops,’ he said. Then he smiled from the corners of his mouth.
His sheets were very clean, and he was very warm; and I burrowed deep.