The Storytellers

The facts as they knew them were these:

The carpenter was dead.
This was not in dispute. They had his body, as was necessary, and in it was not a spark of life. He was, in death, not a particularly beautiful corpse: his moles stood out in stark relief against the emptiness of his skin. He had bad teeth, a broken nose, skin pitted and craggy.

The pelican was dead.
Bloody at the breast, bloody at the beak. Shreds of heart still stuck to the bill. Its wings were broken, its neck askew; the ornithologist thought convulsions, but couldn’t be sure. The carpenter’s lips too were red with blood.

The warehouse had burned.
They had found the bodies in the ashes. The ashes were still hot; the bodies were cold and unfeeling, cold as clay, cold as a metal pole in winter. The biologist had taken some of the carpenter’s hair, some of the pelican’s feathers, and tried burning them, without success. The fire was clearly intentional: they had, in fact, a suspect in custody. She admitted the arson, but denied knowing anything about the bodies.