Wednesday, August 25, 2010

You Don't Know Who You're Dealing With, Do You?

I’m behind the clock and I have to deliver. I take a left at the crescent, down the hill, gathering speed, crouched behind the bars, a devotee at the church of aerodynamics. What was it old Kev Schwantz used to say? “See God, then back off….” Many people want me to die. Some for good reason, others for no reason at all. They all have their chances and I don’t always make it hard for them. It’s the way of my kind. The roads are quiet and I open her out, feel the power throb through the bars, the hum and rumble of the engine and road surface, the trees at the side of the road pressing down on me, accentuating the sense of speed. My mother had warned me about this sort of work, but nights like this always made it worthwhile. A gravel driveway leads me to the door of a large white building. I park the bike and extract the package, checking my flanks for possible attacks. I press the doorbell and wait…….. “You’re late! Let me check this stuff.” “It’s not very hot, is it? I asked for Meat Feast, not Pepperoni!! And I said no bloody pineapple on the Special! Jesus! you people! Take it all back, I’m not payin’ for this crap……….” The door slams, but I know he’s bluffing. I wait for the lights to go out then post it, bit by bit, through his letterbox. He’ll thank me in the morning………..

The Weekend Went Much As Planned

I told her I couldn’t meet her anymore, I told her that it was over. She dropped her head so I couldn’t see what was in her eyes. Tears? Yes, probably tears. She was sobbing, but almost silently, for which I was grateful. If you didn’t know better you would have been forgiven for thinking she was merely staring at her coffee. I got up to leave, not having bought anything, as I hadn’t anticipated that it would be anything other than the briefest of meetings. I stopped on the way to the door and looked back. She was still sitting with her head bowed. I walked back to her and she looked up at me through smeared mascara and grimy tears, a pleading look on her face. I put some coins on the formica table, to pay for the coffee. I’m not completely heartless, she’d get over it in a day or two, just as I would. They say she had been hanging from the branches of the tree for two days when they cut her down. I was out of town on the day, much to my relief. The post-mortem found she had been pregnant. Terrible. To do that to an innocent life, sheer selfishness, only adding weight to the belief that I was right to curtail our dalliance. It would never have worked, though I still wonder to this day whose offspring she was carrying............

Please Keep To The Left

Susannah. On my mind again Susannah..... The roof came in on us a long time ago Suz, but you still hook up in my head when I need you least. It's not a bad thing, but you're obscuring my view honey...... Eyes down on the escalator again. Glass and steel and feet. The unholy trinity. The sound of children pulls me back to reality and a shiver runs down my spine. They're heading down the way into the Metro. I relax and I return my gaze to the figure in front of me. A tall gent with fair hair, a grey raincoat and a battered brown briefcase fidgets in front of me. Behind is an elderly Indian woman carrying what looks to be a months shopping in a thin blue polythene bag, stretched to translucency and defying gravity. Neither looks like they'll make it home intact. Subconsciously I move my hand to my left pocket and back again. Safe. Hidden. They'll never know. To a detached viewpoint, we all crest the rise as one. From where I stand, the horizon never seems to come. Suddenly I catch sight of the shiny station floor and with my last ounce of will I switch my mind off and wait. I see the shoes. It's all I need. Grey espadrilles, white socks....... Pop Pop!! Then I'm at the station exit before anyone knows what happened. Susannah. On my mind again Susannah. That one was for you, wherever you are......

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Testing The Water

There was an odd smell I couldn't quite place as I entered the main room of the club. From the doorway I saw two pairs of legs sticking out of the gap the end of the bar. The legs were tangled and moving furiously around each other. I figured that maybe Harry was a little frisky since he split with Dora, had asked one of the barmaids to come in and "help with inventory" 'You tryin' to screw the cleanin' lady again Harry, ya sick fuck!' I hollered. No answer. I moved in closer, the grunting and scuffling more audible now. They sounded like they were really attacking each other. I stopped about thirty feet from the bar and decided this was not something I needed to see. I was about to turn and leave them to rut like fiends, when a distinctly un-female voice roared in pain. Then a choking, gurgling noise and a handful of laboured breaths....... Silence. 'Ok, not good' I thought. This wasn't the sort of thing you associated with harmless employer/employee slap and tickle sessions. I ran to the bar and peered over. Harry was crouched over the motionless body of a guy with long greasy hair, a goatee and blue denim jacket. 'Ok, now that's kinky' I said with a raised eyebrow. Harry looked up at me, sweating and dishevilled and laid a bloody knife on the bar top. It was what he used to cut the lemons for drinks. The body the knife had just been removed from was that of Bobby Cain, a psychotic small time pimp and dealer who maintained his foothold in the underworld with periodic acts of wanton, if localised violence. He had been a great deal of trouble to us in our enterprises in the past few months and was never willing to accept that we had no interest in cutting him in on what we had going. It looked like Harry had finally put this particular deal to bed.
'So, I see ya iced that fucker at last bro" I smirked as I ran my fingers absently about in the blood from the murder weapon . Harry stared balefully at me.
'Fuck yr comedy routines you ugly cocksucker, just get me a bucket of warm water and some towels so I can mop up what's left of Huggy Bear here.'
I did as I was asked, I could tell he was in no mood. Mr Cain's absence would not go un-noticed for too long, too many folk were dependent on him, and I'm not talking about his clientele or his girls. The cops cut him enough slack in return for info on some of the bigger fish in the pond. I had a nasty feeling Harry & I were about to graduate.......
'Oh, and a couple of laundry bags too. We're gonna have to cart this fucker off and give him a proper burial.....'
'How do you give a piece of shit like that a proper burial?' I asked
'Well,' continued Harry with a tone of rising impatience, 'we put him in the back of the van, drive upstate for a few hours, and then dump the little bitch in the deepest, darkest lake we can find, complete with enough ballast to make sure he never re-surfaces.
'Do we have a.........'
'The boat will meet us at 8pm. Any more questions?'
I was impressed. All sorted and the body wasn't even cold. It looked like it had all been planned, apart from my appearance. I hadn't been due in that day and it made sense that as few people be involved as possible. I was here now though and I fancied a bit of a trip out of town. Upstate was nice at this time of year, though the idea of sharing a van with a dead body didn't fill me with joy. Harry sat at the wheel of the van, the engine turning over gently while he stared trance like into the alleyway. I climbed in and immediately realised just how tense he was. After about a minute, we hadn't moved and I noticed his hands were gripping the steering wheel so tightly that they were almost devoid of colour. I prised his hands off the wheel and opened the door for him.
'This ones mine, you've done the hard bit' I assured him as he climbed wearily from the vehicle.
The map was in the glove compartment and the cell phone would ring and three men would set sail for a new world in the dead of night. Poor Bobby wouldn't be making the return journey of course, we were dropping him off at his very own 'pool party for one'.
I'd heard he wasn't a very good swimmer..................

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Unsent Letters From A Dead Man Pt 6

Parts 1-5
In the darkness we lay, two rigid forms staring into the void and barely touching. Only thin sheets on a night like this, cool at first, but soon clinging like cobwebs to our bodies, a different sort of discomfort. There was only the sound of the clock on the wall as it plucked it's way through another minute, like someone patiently trying to light a cigarette with an empty bic lighter. Forever. It barely filled the void of silence. I considered reaching out to the battered old boom box at the side of the bed and flicking on the World Service at low volume, hopefully to listen to a discussion about the mating habits of Barn Owls or a documentary about cheese. It never got that far. Elaine rolled over and I felt her against me for the first time that night. It felt good. "Umm....I spoke to your brother today......" I ventured, unable to hold it in any longer She returned to her original position. "Jim, I don't have a brother" she said after a short pause, with an air of mild annoyance and confusion. This was awkward. I wasn't exactly sure where to go next with the topic, but I ploughed on regardless. Like Magnus Magnusson, I had started, so I would finish. "It was random. I was in a pub, The Stables I think, hiding from the rain and he came out of the kitchen cross eyed with rage, saw me, threatened me with a knife and told me to stay away from you unless I wanted to aquaint my balls with the meat slicer in his kitchen." "Not very good at following orders, are you?" replied Elaine, with the slightest glint of a smirk in her voice." "Yeah, my mother realised early on that the best way to keep me out of harms way was to tell me to talk to strangers and always play near water. Anyway, what I really want to know is how he knew who I was..."
Elaine sighed wearily. "Ok. First up, if he's who I think he is, he isn't my brother. I used to work with him and we were fairly friendly, but it got to the point where he wouldn't leave me alone. It was quite charming at first, but it got creepy quite quickly. I got out, but I'd keep seeing him in odd places, keep feeling his hand on my shoulder in bars and clubs. He seemed to mean no harm, just felt very protective towards me, so I let it go. My guess is that he saw us together in town, and when you happened to pop into his workplace for a swift half, he went a wee bit mental"
I looked quizically at her, eyes adjusted to the darkness now and picking out the trace of her facial features in the dim light from the street that managed to work it's way through my curtains. It sounded like a fairly plausable story, though just a little too perfect and rehearsed. I decided not to bring up the pregnancy issue the bar regular had mentioned. That way madness lay. At the very least, madness could wait until a more opportune moment to be prodded into service.
"Any more of these crazies from your past you haven't told me about yet?" I asked wearily.
"Who knows....." she trailed off.
There was a brief silence. I assumed she was gathering her thoughts.
"It's an occupational hazard for gorgeous Irish barmaids", she sighed, before turning to me, licking my cheek, turning over again and drifting off into a seemingly deep, snore laden sleep.
God knows we weren't normal.
I liked that though, it felt like good form. Most of all, it felt like reason enough to keep on going in a world that looked like it wanted me to give up and crawl into a corner as soon as was humanly possible.