The phone rang at 3:14am. Constance rolled over and sighed. She stared at the LCD screen. His number. She pulled a warm hand from under the covers and crossed the cold air to the receiver.
"Where are you?" she asked flatly.
He gave his location and she hung up. She kicked of the covers and rose, already dressed in anticipation. It had been two weeks. She grabbed her camera case and packed duffle. She caught a cab to the address and kept the receipt for the fare.
The door was forced open, so she slipped in quietly. There was a single light on, upstairs. She walked up and found the room. He was sitting in an armchair in the corner. His face was in shadows. The body was splayed apart in the center of the room, on top of a leather shag rug that was an offensive shade of purple. It was a woman. Her chest was cleaved open, her lungs spread outside and the heart removed. There was little blood--as always, this one was exsanguinated as the method of death. The carving came later.
Constance set up her camera and started shooting in the low light without a flash. No need to attract attention. She steadied herself for the long exposures.
"I've changed, you know," he said slowly.
"No you haven't," said Constance.
Constance paused and licked her bottom lip. She tried not to look at him.
"How so?" she asked, playing along.
"This one taught school. Worked with kindergartners."
"Is that so."
"Yes. Much better than the 'ladies of the night'."
"Why would that be? Everyone needs to make a living."
"Don't try to be so egalitarian. These things make all the difference."
"We're all the same on the inside."
Constance turned off her camera and pulled out the memory card. She put the camera back in it's bag, then hesitantly walked to him and handed him the card. He took it slowly, making sure to brush her fingertips.
"Thanks," he said.
She retreated to the duffle bag and zipped it open. She took out the saw and set to work on dismembering the body. She started with the head, since it was the most difficult. The arms and legs were next. She double-bagged the intestinal tract. All the time she worked, she felt his eyes on her. She took out each bag and distributed them each to a different garbage can in the neighborhood. Pickup would be in a few hours. As always. She returned and spot-cleaned the leather carpet, wondering why anyone would purchase such an item.
She went into the bathroom and washed her hands. The decor included seashells. The towels were white with navy piping. She vaguely considered popping open the medicine cabinet, then dismissed the thought. Better not to know. She cleaned up dots of water on the mirror, then turned off the light and returned to the main room.
She fished the cab receipt out of her pocket and handed it to him. He took it slowly and read it, then returned it to her.
"Time to go," she said quietly.
"The payment will be in your account in the morning."
"Of course. Time to go."
"I always hate leaving," he said. He stood slowly, his joints audibly creaking. the ziplock bag in his hand sloshed. He shoved it further under his jacket. "Of course, there's always this," he said chuckling. "My takeaway bag. My consolation until the next time."
"Uh-huh. I just worry someday it will be my heart in that bag."
"I'm not that reckless," he said, with a slight turn of hurt.
Constance reached out and patted him on his arm.
"Time to go," she said, then picked up the duffle and the camera bag and descended the stairs, her back to her brother.