The wilted lilies drooped. They had been splendid, erect specimens only two weeks ago, yellow as perfect bananas. Now they suffered from sustained July heat and mirrored the dispirited mood he felt at work… at home… at life.
The humidity brought sweat to his forehead moments after hitting the pavement. Fine… all the better to focus his mind and crowd out mental clutter.
He labored past the lilies—his balky ankle was barking already—and his face drank in the cool of the water vapor from the sprinklers dousing the lawn in front of Ye Olde Yacht Club’s mansion entrance. The shade of the grand maples blocked the searing sun and he enjoyed the moment’s respite. Mind-clearing? Sure. But a bitch on his joints.
The Boxster’s dimming parking lights presaged its dying battery; the driver had left the door ajar in a testament to too much vodka.
A hipster’s skinny black tie lay ruined and plastered to the blacktop, soaked in the muddy sprinkler runoff.
A broken beer bottle, a bent fork, a dirty linen napkin; they’d all be cleaned up by the staff within the hour. He connected the single high-heeled spaghetti-strapped sandal, broken and unpaired, to the tale of the muddy tie. He pondered a mental picture of the drunk couple fumbling their way to the Porsche: she clawing at his tie as her heel broke, he pawing at the car door as the valet ordered them up an Uber.
His slow pace took him round the club’s circular driveway and back to the arc of lilies and lawn. The drive sloped downward to the metal gutter drain that emptied to the Great Lake 200 feet on the other side of the mansion. The flow was loud and steady and belied the fine and gentle sprinkler mist. As he neared the grate, the water echoing in the drainage system below, the sunlight glinted, locking his attention. Another moment and the light changed angle. The sight froze the jogger in his steps.
Sticking out of the grating was a braceleted, female hand, blued, bruised, and separated from the arm that had supported it for the 25 years of the shoeless woman’s life. A wet and scrawny rat munched on the bloody tendons that trailed from the once-delicate, now decrepit hand.