Qu’est-ce, that’s all Blanche remembers hearing after the gunfire, which could have been the start of Qu’est-ce que c’est que ça? or Qu’est-ce qui m’est arrivé? But maybe it was an English word after all, it occurs to her now, that choking guttural, then a final hiss in the dark: kiss, is that what she heard? Could Jenny have been asking for a kiss before all the life spurted out of her? But Jenny had never asked Blanche for any favors— not a shirt, not a dollar, and certainly not a kiss. “One final point that troubles me, Miss Beunon,” says Coroner Swan. “You told Detective Bohen that you were crouched down, untying a gaiter, just when, outside the window, the murderer was aiming the gun?” She bristles; crouched down, that sounds deliberate, surreptitious. Could he be implying that she was in on the plot? “I didn’t know, did I?” As if Blanche’s body could have been expected to feel the danger coming. People have no idea of the things that don’t happen to them— the lives they’re not living, the deaths stalking them— and thank Christ for that. Hard enough to get through each day without glimpsing all the hovering possibilities, like insects thickening the air. “Does it not strike you as more than a little coincidental?” Blanche shrugs rudely. Coincidences happen all the time. Fate touches one fingertip to the spinning top and knocks it over.
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