56 Wiping his Hans

Hans felt he’d better be the first to hear the story. Peter would have to tell someone, any concept of discretion an unknown. Just how he’d managed to keep quiet about it for two days was a mystery. Always assuming he had been quiet.

“Did you kill him?”

Chapter 56 Wiping his Hans

“No. It wasn’t like that.” Peter whined. “Everything went wrong. He said he couldn’t swim so I said I’d show him. I got the TV for us to watch. I completely forgot to bring towels so I had to come back up here after I left him in a chair. When I found him drowned I ran, is all. I was scared.”

“How did you even know he was dead?” Hans challenged.” Did you even try to save him? Jump in to see?”

“He just looked drowned. And I really did think he was dead. You know, like on TV shows where somebody drowns, face down with their arms out…” Peter trailed off. Hans slumped over, cupping his head in his hand for support, as though it were too heavy to hold up any other way. “But you won’t turn me in, you never would. Hans? You’re too good to do that to me.”

“Peter, I …”

“It’s true. I didn’t have to spend any time at all with Rusty before you were looking amazing to me again. And R…, well my new roommate, all he ever talks about is how to get more money, especially from me.”

“Peter, look.” Hans murmured into his now praying fingers.”It’s just not going to work for me with you, not any more. You’ve now done all three of those three really bad things. You’ve lied to me, cheated on me, and stolen from me. And now, this. How could I ever trust you? I can’t believe you didn’t at least try to rescue him. Too many things are unraveling for me to ever take a chance like that with you.”

“But what will happen to me?” Peter whimpered.

“Nothing more, if I can help it. Just in case the cops ever get the idea to come in here, we have to make it like he never was in here.”

“But what will happen?” Peter fretted again.

“A quandary. My quandary. Not yours.” Peter was glad to hear this, though he scarcely knew what a quandary was. “Tell me where he was and what he could have touched. Anywhere you can remember. Now think!”

“I’ve already cleaned out my car, just in case.”

“I was thinking more about in the building.” Hans tried to unclench his teeth as he spoke.

“Okay, then. As we came up from the garage, I was watching him and opened everything myself because I knew the way, he didn’t. Anyway, he had his hands in his pockets, I remember, because he was jingling coins or something, like he was nervous.” Peter prattled on. “Once we were in here, he sat down just there in the chair and drank beer straight out of the cans. I threw all that stuff away down the chute later, plus his clothes, because I knew the trash collection was early Monday. The squealing used to wake us up, remember?” Hans nodded his agreement that the garbage was in fact collected early Monday morning but gave no indication that this was a shared and treasured memory.

Garbage and recyclable common chute receptacles on a condo floor.

Garbage and recyclable common chute receptacles on a condo floor.

“You threw away everything? Everything he brought with him? His clothes? Everything he used?” At this point in his rendition, Peter opted to omit any mention of his thieving of the contents of Rusty’s pockets but raced forward with his report. “I even checked under the furniture to make sure I didn’t miss anything. You’d have been so proud of me!” At this, Hans wordlessly retreated to the kitchen and treated himself to a refill. He assumed that Peter had not brought Rusty all this way just for a swim. He didn’t want to know the rest but the worst was undoubtedly yet to come.

“Why were you here?”

“It was Rusty’s idea.” Peter was at full throttle. The intrigue would tumble out now, at this invitation to tell all. “He never said why exactly but he mentioned he wanted to get inside this building. I told him I knew a way in and he jumped at the chance to come with me. When he got here though, he got all annoyed. Kept going on about wanting to see out from the roof, and went all snarly at me when I said we couldn’t. By then, it was already dark. So, I suggested we swim, and then stay overnight,” Peter avoided the look Hans shot at him then, “so he could see out from the solarium very first thing in the morning.”

“Weren’t you worried you’d be seen, or recognized?”

“Not at first. I mean it was kind of fun, sneaking around. But he turned so nasty. Maybe it was just the beer talking.” Peter made another attempt to wheedle his way back into Hans’ good graces. “He was by himself in the bedroom while he changed for the pool. Oh, and he didn’t hold on to the stair rail going down to the pool either ’cause he had a beer can in each hand. I did try and clean up afterwards Hans, I really did try. I don’t want you to think I’m totally selfish.”

“So we’ll wipe clean, and vacuum the whole place. While we’re at it, we’ll sort through the rest of the stuff, like I wanted to do with you in the first place, so you’ll touch as many things as you can lay your hands on. You are here visiting me this evening, if anyone ever asks.”

Peter didn’t really want to clean everything again; he’d already done it once. Hans was in such a bossy mood. He thanked his lucky stars that he’d not taken anything else away, like those snifters, as he’d thought of doing on his way out on Sunday night.

As Hans worked his way through the unit, new reproaches kept forming on his lips but he held his tongue. It wouldn’t do any good, only interrupt their progress. Peter was more subdued than usual. Why start anything at this point? Peter was devious, always had been. Hans realized he was gulled into playing at deception, too.

“Was it that hag from across the hall?” Peter blurted into the silence between them. “She was the only one I saw.” Peter read the non-response as a confirmation of his guess. “She’s blackmailing you? She saw me here, pretended not to see me, took a picture of the car, and is holding it over you?” he guessed out loud. He thought to himself, what a vicious, bitchy, witchy thing to do. He said to Hans, “What a vicious, bitchy, witchy thing to do! What does she want from you Hans?”

“I’m not admitting anything about it to anyone. Keep your guessing to yourself, please.”

“Be that way then. I’m only trying to help.”

“I think you’ve done enough already. If you could just this once keep completely quiet about this, not just promise but actually keep quiet, it may all go away.”