The following is the official transcript of the testimony from the lead detective, Detective Lashmont, on case 100616.
This man barges into the precinct, screaming, hollering, hooting—I think someone may have even tooted. Officer Humphry, probably. And this man makes the most outlandish, outrageous, out-of-his-mind claim.
‘I’m here to report a crime. For someone stole my heart right out of my chest.’
That’s what he said. Honest to God, that’s word for word. Verbatim, as my wife likes to correct my lack of conciseness. They’re the same number of syllables, but whatever.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Because we all thought that same thought: No way. Not possible. I’m starving.
Don’t let that last one trouble you. We’re no cannibals. I’m only including that third thought for accuracy’s sake. It was lunchtime. I’m trying to recount the event as specific and to the truth as I can, that’s all.
I say to the man, ‘Guy, you’re nuts. You’re beyond nuts. You’re a wicked, wicked prankster who’s just winding us up. Go back to work. Go back home. Go back to wherever you came from because no one stole your heart.’
‘They did. I can prove it,’ he said.
‘How so?” I asked.
By this time, the rest of those around stopped what they were doing and began listening intently to what this man had for proof. Because his claim wasn’t some broken-hearted, it’s-Valentine’s-Day-and-I’m-alone type of nonsense. He was stating, explicitly, that someone had excavated his heart from within his chest cavity. Not a commonplace claim. Yet, it was one he could easily prove. So…
The man slipped his arms through his coat sleeves, folded the coat over the back of a chair—I think it was Detective Abrams’s chair—and unbuttoned his shirt to reveal a red-raw, still-seeping-blood scar tracing up to his collar bone. It was gruesome. If this man had moved the wrong way, his wound would have opened and burped a smell so foul, forcing the entire room to double over in sickness.
However, since we’re all cops, we swallowed it down. And since we’re all detectives, we did some deduction stuff. Maybe it’s a wound from something else. Maybe this man is a talented make-up artist. He’s just pulling a fast one on us to test out the viability of his art. Maybe this man’s just a crazy man. One of those masochists who likes to pee on people, or something like that.
As I said, though, his claim was easily proven or disproven. All we had to do was check to see if he was telling the literal truth or not: if he had had his actual heart removed from his body.
I grabbed his right arm—no, it was his left arm—and pressed my index and middle fingers against his wrist, checking for a pulse.
A second passed.
Ten seconds and the only thing I could feel were the grooves of his tendons.
I checked his other wrist. I checked both sides of his neck. I even pressed an ear against that stitched-shut hole in his chest and nothing, no pulse, no heartbeat. Which meant—he was telling the truth. For someone had stolen the heart right out of his chest.