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You pull up slowly to the curb outside your house. It’s a four room ranch-style with a fenced in backyard and patio in a quiet, family-oriented neighborhood.

It’s not much, but it’s yours.

You’ve been able to make small investments since you purchased it a year ago. Modernized the kitchen. Tore down a few walls to improve the flow and make it “open concept.” Painted enough accent walls to never want to pick up a paint brush again. A top of the line hot tub installed on the patio, where you’ve enjoyed your fair share of wine and cocktails with friends since its installation.

But, upon pulling up today, there is something new you never expected.

In the driveway, and on the front lawn, a fleet of police cars, lights flashing.

You consider briefly that your house has burned down, even though the evidence right in front of your eyes shows you the structure is still standing. There is no smoke. No fire. No cherry red fire trucks.

Then, you immediately think your house has been burgled. But what would they steal? Your television? Your Peloton? How does one discreetly break into a house and steal a 60-inch television and cumbersome exercise bike? Your neighbors would’ve called the police if they saw strangers carrying all your large valuables out the front door. That’s if they were home.

But someone had to have called the police. And something clearly was wrong.

And then you see it. The coroner’s truck.

You suddenly find yourself hyper-focused on the details. The thrumming of your car engine. Carly Simon on the radio, “You’re So Vain” having just started when you lowered the volume knob when you observed the chaos around your home.

Your front door is wide open. Men and women in uniform and sanitation suits walk in and out without any regard for the fact that this is YOUR house and you haven’t given them permission to enter.

You recently painted the door a bright teal and fastidiously screwed your address numbers in a perfect diagonal line under the peephole. Law enforcement walk in and out, and you can see the scuff marks and chips on the freshly painted door they leave in their wake.

Your leg starts to cramp. You’ve been holding the brake pedal down this entire time. The force with which you hold it, you’re surprised you didn’t push it through the bottom of the car onto the asphalt. You throw the car into park and then sit, frozen with inaction.

There’s a coroner in your house. There are cops.

Who knows who else has been called and currently tromping around the hallways, the rooms, your spaces.

You step out of the car and head towards the lawn. You realize for the first time the yellow caution tape they have put up. You always thought it was something they did on Law & Order for dramatic effect.

As you walk towards the door, a clearly inexperienced officer, with pimples and braces, attempts to stop you from crossing the barrier.

“I fucking live here, you… you… child.”

He looks perplexed, absently reaches for his gun with his left hand, and then backs away, unsure what to do.

You know you look crazed. You walk determinedly to the open front door.

It seems those involved in the steady stream of traffic are occupied elsewhere for the moment.

You don’t step in, but you peek down the entry hallway.

And that’s when you see it.

The crimson blood stains on the newly polished hardwood floor.

The chalk outline.

The world melts around you.

The only sound you hear is your own heartbeat, pounding incessantly in your ears.

And the one problem with this entire scenario.

You don’t live with anyone else.

Eric Mochnacz

A wizard of pop culture. A prince of snark. A delightful addition to any dinner party.

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