A cardboard box containing his effects; I rifle through. I’m sure I’m holding a ration tin; hefty and still full. It’s vintage WWII if I dare put any detail to my assumption. ‘Property of’ it reads on one side, the words attempting to protrude through the heavy green paint that covers them. Property of what? I flip it over to read the rest but the old man’s stirring gives me a start. So I slot the box quickly into my knapsack and feel a belated buzz from the thievery.
He’s supposed to be dead, damn him—an hour now since his pulse has been zero. I didn’t kill him; no, natural causes took this cantankerous old fool. If anything I prolonged his life; doing my duty in the face of his verbal abuse. My nursing skills are much appreciated in this low-paid industry you know. As such, I always pay myself a little bonus when folk such as these pass to the other side. They’ve no use for their knick knacks and the relatives who cast their elders here are so undeserving.
Ahh, it was but one of those last gasps. I sigh myself and it sounds uncannily the same as that which I’ve just heard. Corpses have a life of their own you know, and lots of gas! Yes, I thumb his neck, his pulse is still zero. Anyway, the gravel on the drive that leads to this building is being crunched under tyres; the doctor has arrived. A death certificate will be issued, my old nemesis will be wheeled out all flat like and neath the blanket of dignity. And I’ll be off home, my shift’s over. I’m going to let my curiosity get the better of me mind before I turn in. I’ll open the tin by way of its shiny button, heck if the insides are worthy, I’ll stay up late and list them for sale online.
“We’ve got a dead nurse spread over the apartment walls,” the police sergeant informs his inspector as he proffers a see through evidence bag. “Tin coleslaw in here, shrapnel to use the right word. I’ve done some of your work for you sir; look—pieced this together.” He thrusts the bag closer to the inspector who moves away a little and pulls his reading glasses from widow’s peak to bridge of nose. A squint reveals: ‘Braithwaite Landmines, Property of the Ministry of Defence’.”
Plot seem familiar? Well yes, it did for me too and I wrote this in the complete belief I was being original. I unearthed the seed of the subliminal plant four weeks after writing this.