John Doe



The glasses lay where they always lay. Vintage, brown-framed, and bearing several small cracks that whispered carelessness. They had the signature of the seasons of the seasons past scribbled faintly on them. They were lightly coated with the dust harmattan exhaled and had splatters of rust only August’s humid breath could have produced. The glasses lay on Agent Daniel’s antique mahogany shelf, just beside his French Art Deco marble mantle clock. They were all part of the eclectic mix of collectibles he had bought over the years. The pathological hoarder also had a brass lantern from England, a pair of voodoo drums from New Zealand, a wooden jug he knew not the origin of amidst several other curio in this shelf, but the item with the most unique story remains the glasses. It was the only item,to begin with,which Daniel never talked about. For he was the type to never miss an opportunity to tell you how rare or expensive one of his acquisitions or another was.

The curious spectacles have been in that same spot for about three years as most other things in the shelf and indeed the office have been. No one dared move Agents Daniel’s anything even by an inch (he was the kind of man to know the exact location of his primary school notes and the very thing he’d be doing at any given moment of any day). This, Anna had learnt the hard way just the day before. This was just her second day as the new janitor. The lovely middle-aged woman had received a screechy reproach for rearranging his table. She only hoped today would be better.

Daniel’s fastidiousness stopped just at the edge of the cliff that bordered insanity. But the same trait was probably what had gotten him to the position of the head of Special Investigations Unit of the Central Bureau of Intelligence. An office that had come with many pleasant benefits and less significant ones like the glasses.

They were retrieved from the scene of the mysterious car crash that happened on the evening a lone bank robber escaped the pursuit of the police. All the only eyewitness on that lonely street saw was a glimpse of a stocky man in glasses trying to gain control of his car as it zigzagged into a pole and erupted in flames. The only thing left of the fire was the right lower limb of a man and glasses which were virtually unscathed. The case was buried along with the remnant leg (labeled John Doe C32 at the morgue) of the never identified accident fatality at the interment the state organized for such casualties. Everyone knew who the accident victim was and couldn’t shake the feeling of served justice. Everyone except Daniel. Only he had suspicions which everyone also knew must have originated from his quirkiness. He then kept the glasses as a memoir or penance to himself for failing to unravel what only he conceived as a mystery. Others simply thought he was mad and there was nothing he could do to prove them wrong.

The evening of that day (Anna’s second day as a janitor) she got more than she wished or could have even hoped for. Inspector Daniel apologized for the severe scolding he had before served her and even added a cherry on top of that cake by complimenting her and offering to buy her dinner. The dinner offer she obviously gently declined. She couldn’t even consider it. She was already in enough trouble with Michael at home. She even got the job to stay away from him during the daytime. Oh how she wished she could glaze that feeling. It would have made for the most beautiful portrait. It was long since she was last paid a compliment or even apologized to. Her husband Michael’s tongue was only fluent in two languages: complaints and the insults. She wondered sometimes if all veterans were like that. That he was in the military before they met was one of the few details she knew of his hazy obscure past. He was very skilled at answering questions whilst not giving out too much information. He knew that art like a sculptor knows his clay especially when it came to questions about why they were that wealthy. 

Staying at the office for that night didn’t sound like such a bad idea any more. At least it would have kept her away from Michael’s constant nagging about one thing or another. The most recent was the pain his prosthetic leg was causing him. He lost his leg in the last war he was in. But she couldn’t stay here, the man she had fallen in love with needed her. Especially now that she was gradually literally becoming his eyes. As Anna stepped out of the roomy reception of the CBI headquarters that evening, she wondered to herself why Michael never replaced his glasses after the war.


Courtesy of Quills Club

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