A short story in three parts for the Mother’s Day weekend.
Tile Street, because if anything happened it happened there, late, early hours of the morning, a cold December, not a soul to be seen, just a quiet Lucozade-lit road that Keith drove along to where an hour since he’d bashed Redman over the head with a brick. He crossed the railway line and pulled into the disused coal wharf that would in time house dozens but was for now a fresh and shallow resting-place for one.
He stopped the car, gathered his thoughts, turned off the engine and got out to crunch the icy puddles and find what he came back for.
Earlier that night, Keith sat quietly in the corner of the Lion, monitoring his pint because he was always near fucking potless, watching and listening to three men at the bar. The first, an Englishman called Derek, was regaling a Scotsman called Willy and yes indeed an Irishman called Michael, with stories. The stories were nothing of import or value but rich in fantasy, such as when Derek slept with a prostitute in Amsterdam, the first of hundreds he’d since had fun with.
“Does your wife know about all these assignations?” asked Michael, seemingly in awe.
“Of course she doesn’t!” exclaimed Derek, “And it’s going to stay that way or your life’s not worth living.”
“I’m saying nothing anyway,” assured Michael, knowing secretly that if there was a secret to be kept, he was the last person to keep it.
“Me neither,” agreed Willy, knowing secretly that if there was a secret to be kept, Michael was the last person to keep it. From his quiet distance Keith took another sip, knowing secretly that if anyone was going to tell Derek’s wife he used prostitutes it would be he, Keith. But not tonight. Tomorrow perhaps? No the day after, which happened to be a Sunday when Derek’s wife would as was her wont go to church and pray for those less fortunate. It would have to be Sunday because he was to observe the rule of four victims that with good reason he’d written for this journey of destruction, starting with the next person who darkened the door and then in order he deemed fitting and respectable…
By the time Keith had ordered and half-imbibed his second cider, the three men at the bar had been joined by Redman, a bigshot American who’d come across the pond in the Sixties and made his living training racehorses, several of which had been big winners including The Derby and The National. It was no secret in the town that Redman was rich and the house that stood on the edge of it was as ostentatious as the man himself, flashing his loud suits, shiny jewellery and money around the pubs on a regular basis. It was Redman to whom Keith had gone about four years ago for a job, having been laid off when the coal wharf closed, and been turned down, the first in a long line of rejections that kept growing until the day he finally gave in. It was not the rejection so much as the manner of it.
“You want me to hire you?” Redman had said, “A man looking like he crept out of the garbage? Who’d scare the horses so much as look ’em in the face?” And then he’d laughed and told Keith to be on his way.
Now, Keith was with his pint, watching and listening as Redman joined the three men purporting to be his friends, wafting a wad of twenties and telling them he’d had a good week, and deciding that yes, this was the man who was to be first past the finishing post…
Two hours later, he was in the living room of the small terraced house he shared with his mother, making a cup of tea and four pieces of toast. Taking these from the cramp dark kitchen into the living room and placing them on the settee to cool, he then took the bundle of money from his pocket and placed it behind the clock on the mantlepiece, then fished for the bracelet he’d gone back for. Appreciating the cold smoothness of its platinum, he then flicked at a dried map of blood spotted on his coat, picked up the three darts from the sideboard and threw them hard into the board on the back of the door. Thunk, thunk, thunk. Then he plucked one dart from the cork and with it pinned the bracelet into treble 20, smiling at his reinvented game of killer.
By now he was tired and hungry and all of a sudden felt the cold. Clicking on the gas fire which he knew would take ages to turn from pink to orange, he returned to the settee to eat. Just then, there was the sound from the floor above – thunk, thunk, thunk.
“Coming,” he called, but didn’t get up.
Thunk, thunk, thunk.
“I said alright!”
He knew he’d have to go up, but not yet. First, because for Keith everything even his mother had to be taken care of in order, he’d try to enjoy his supper.
To be continued…