My Words, My World

First drafts – A few pages in the large wilderness of the world of writing

Archive for the category “murder”

The end of his tether

He’d often wondered about his tether and the end of it.  Until he picked up a dictionary only a week before he hadn’t known what a tether even was.  Now he knew and now he thought he’d reached the end of it.

He was glad it was winter.   He didn’t mind the cold and the snow and, in happier times, he’d always been an enthusiastic skier.  In happier times.  Yes, he thought, he didn’t mind the winter with its snowy peaks, white crystal frosted fields and the smell of mulled wine in the market square and steaming paper cups warming hands in the cold.

He looked out of a window to the outhouse.  The cold.  The cold was good.  It killed off many of the pests that hung around in warmer climates or even down in the valley, although now other pests had found him and disturbed his peace.  Footprints and a strange indent in the snow crossed the yard, as if a sack of firewood had been dragged.  Yes, he’d reached the end of his tether, and the bodies mounted up in the outhouse.

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TomTom club

“At the next roundabout, take the second exit.”

“What? The map says go straight ahead. What is she on about?”

She. The TomTom. Faithful navigational servant, and maybe on the blink.

“So, should I go straight or turn?”

“The map says go straight. I think she needs an update, I’ll plug her in when we get back indoors.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, sure.”

Down to third and the roundabout was rounded.

“Go back and take the first exit.”

“Oh, she’s insisting today. Must have her funny week.”

“Go back and take the first exit.”

“That’s not funny Joe.”

Natalie was right, it wasn’t; especially as she’d been suffering for the last few days but I just wanted to find a hint of humour in the situation.

“Go back and take the first exit.” The metallic feminine voice was beginning to grate.

“Sorry baby, just kidding. Shall I turn her off?”

“No. What if the map’s wrong, or the road’s new?”

“Nat, this road was made when Kennedy was still banging Marilyn. If anything, the TomTom’s wrong. Technology eh?”

“Go back and take the first exit.”

“Joe, I’m gonna turn round.”

“Either you drive, or I will.”

“At the next roundabout, take the third exit.”

“Why the third?”

“She wants us to go back on ourselves.”

“So…?”

“So, just drive. Nat, it’s a short-cut over the hills.  It was probably just an old sheep-herder’s route years ago and they came along and stuck tarmac on it.”

“Take the next left turn, proceed for 200 metres then take the next left turn and proceed for 4 kilometres.”

“Must be the sun, it’s got to her circuits.”

“Stop it Joe, I don’t like this one bit.”

Now Nat’s voice was beginning to grate. Two hysterical women in one car and one wasn’t even human. Breath whistled between my teeth as my shoulders slumped in the seat. The road narrowed and continued its ascent as the sun did the opposite, and sank with reluctance into the sea which glowed in late evening shades behind us.  Trees arched over the road and the light retreated. Nat switched on the beams.  Soon the last traces of the sea fell back behind the folds of the land as we climbed further into the hills.

“What’s that sign? Slow down Nat, how fucking freaky is that?”

STAY WITH THE SHEPHERD! badly hand painted in black on an old whitewashed door which leaned against a rotting fence post.

“Homemade cheese and a little wine thrown in most probably, I wonder how much he charges, my stomach’s beginning to…”

“Turn round and continue for 7 kilometres.”

“That’s it, I’m switching it off.” My hand reached out.

“No! No Joe, don’t. I don’t want to stop here either, in fact I want to turn round now.”

The last word was final, and I knew the tone. Nat was pissed off and I understood her.

“Turn round and continue for 7.5 kilometres.”

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and gave in.

“You win Nat. Turn round and let’s get out of here. I want some civilization and a pizzeria.”

The car slowed and nosed into a small track which narrowed into a small dirt track barely wide enough for a car. Either side in forgotten fields lay the rusted hulks of old and battered cars.  The place looked like a breaker’s yard, an auto graveyard.

Nat stuck the car in reverse and manoeuvred to turn round, her eyes wide and accusing when she glanced at me. She ground into first gear and started to accelerate. Through the open windows came a bellowing roar and from the trees burst an old tractor. A wrinkled grey-bearded man with angry eyes sat atop of it.  He turned the machine to face us and it stood in the road, . The road back was now blocked. He revved the machine, and its engine rose and fell, rose and fell as the old man continued to just stare at us.  He pointed at the sign and something akin to a grin, demented and evil, crossed his face in a second and was gone, replaced by the stare, red eyes burning.  He flicked his beams to high, its lights pinning us as the mechanical shovel began to rise then fall, rise then fall, like some masticating prehistoric nightmare.

“Joe?”

“What the…?”

“Joe?”

The metallic TomTom voice broke in.

“I told you to turn around.”

Nat screamed.

Hospital food

He looked out the window at the peach dawn lighting up the sky as the last shreds of the night’s storm disappeared.  He had turned off the light so he couldn’t see the room’s reflection.

The towelling dressing gown hung on his sagging shoulders and he pulled the belt tighter around him; looking at the sky made him feel cold but he liked to stand at the window and watch the dawn break; God knew he wouldn’t see many more.

Below, an ambulance pulled out of A&E with its lights blazing and sirens blaring; too late, he thought.  The ambulances were the only constant as wave after wave of suffering was deposited at the entrance of the A&E.  There were no more beds; only the lucky ones had beds. The rest were left in corridors; some didn’t even have a stretcher to lay on.  He was extremely lucky, he had a room to himself; now.

The hospital now had no more space.  It also had no more food.  It probably had no more doctors; none had been round in 3 days.  A staff nurse had brought the tray of food yesterday; he’d heard her tired breathing bubble in her chest on the other side of the door.  This morning’s medications hadn’t arrived, and now probably wouldn’t ever again.  He pulled the dressing gown tighter around his thin frame.

He was hungry, very hungry, but he’d only eaten half the food they’d left him the night before.  The other patients in the room hadn’t eaten any of theirs.  He looked at the two still forms lying in their beds, their faces still covered by their pillows.

He’d made sure they hadn’t.

Keep her well hid

They were sitting in the corner, I guess looking for a little privacy but they came to the wrong place if they wanted that. The tables were too close together for one thing, and besides, everyone had to pass by that table to go to the toilet.

She was angry, upset, pissed off. Choose any adjective you want; she looked ready to stick her cocktail stick and untouched olive where the sun don’t shine, his sun at least.

I arrived after being dragged around the shops for two hours and I’d run out of patience and my credit card out of, well…credit. I put Lucy in a cab, with bags, they were all hers anyway, and made my way down to the King’s Head. Football was on the TV and I wanted, no, I needed a pint or two and anyway, I was busting for a lash. I nodded to the barman, asked for a pint of ale and made my way to the Gents. That’s when I noticed them.

He had his hands out in front of him when I passed, and, relieved at being relieved, I made my way back with less haste and he still had his hands in front of him, like he was praying or testing for rain or something. Whatever he was doing was having no positive effect whatsoever; maybe he’d run out of credit too. I got my pint and made my way to a little table, a little way off to the right of them, with one of those retro Heineken mirrors on the wall next to me and I could see them in action, as well as hear them.

“You were a twat Paul.”

“I know love, I don’t know what happened, it just happened.”

He’d chatted up, touched up or ballsed up by the sounds of things. Typical bloke, I know how you feel mate, I thought. I went back to the football, trying to concentrate on the game which was slower settling than a pint of Guinness. The ball was pinging about all over the place, no fun to watch but I watched it anyway, it certainly beat the hell out of shopping. A free kick got my attention but not for long.

“Where is she? Where did you put her?” Her? This made my ears pick up a bit. I pretended to watch the football.

“Behind the allotments near the railway embankment. There’s some old garages there and I left her there.”

“You f…”.

“Do you want some more drinks?” It was the barmaid, taking their empties from their table. He said yes, she said nothing so I guess she either nodded or shook her head, there are only so many things you can communicate without words. The barmaid plonked the glasses on the bar and poured a lager.

“It won’t be for long, it was like a temporary measure, you know. I didn’t have the time.”

“You could have done better than that. She’ll be found in no time Paul. What the bloody hell were you thinking?”

“Shh…, she’s coming back.”

The mirror told me she’d folded her arms, a frown that looked furrowed with a hand-plough creasing her forehead. She looked at her phone, he looked at her. The barmaid put two glasses down, it was a nod then.

“I’ll go now, after this drink, alright?”

“Yeah? Well, I suppose it will be dark in half an hour, won’t it?”

“Yeah, it’ll be alright, you’ll see.”

Who was she? What had she done? What had he done to her? I had a hundred questions and didn’t know what to do with the information I’d heard.

“I hope you’re right Paul, she’s been in the family for years.”

“She’ll be alright Trish, really. Who’d want an old car like that anyway?”

************

I entered a competition recently where I had half an hour to write on one of three subjects given.  I chose “a conversation” and out came the above.  While I was writing I didn’t know who “she” was but as the minutes ticked away I decided I wanted to write something that didn’t involve death or murder, and as we English-speakers have a penchant for talking about our cars as feminine, the little ending came to me.  I submitted with one minute left and received a ‘commended’ so it was ok. 

Hemingway once said “write drunk, edit sober” – when you only have half an hour to do both, which do you chose? 

Flash Fiction Friday 146: Colours frozen in time by Chris Farley

My ever present and never diminishing thanks once again to Morgen.
I’m still unsure as to whether I should be disturbed about the fact that I sat in a pub looking at a tattoo and invented this story around it…

MorgEn Bailey - Editor, Comp Columnist/Judge, Tutor & Writing Guru

Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the one hundred and forty-sixth piece in this series. This week’s is a 436-worder by Christopher Farley.

Colours frozen in time

The tattoo was the first thing I noticed; it was beautiful. She sat opposite her friend drinking Belgian beer from a huge glass and I saw it as I walked past, making my way to the men’s room.

Her thin, white arms poked out from her even whiter t-shirt, then a waterfall of colour burst from the sleeves of the t-shirt. Three lotus flowers, red, green and pink, one on top of the other. But oh, the arm. How could something so pale and delicate suffer so much pain? I returned to the bar and pretended to look at the game on the big screen. Her friend rose from the table and headed for the toilet.

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

“Sorry, I couldn’t help…

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The dark kitchen

Another tip of the hat to Morgen Bailey and this time her poetry prompts. “the dark kitchen” immediately took my fancy and this time I had it down in less than a third of the allotted time.  Once again, thanks for that Morgen.

The Dark Kitchen

The dark kitchen
The darker drawers
The still darker knives,
Each telling their story

The darkened oven
Black from the roasts
The un-cleaned fat
That spat; and sizzled.

The dark old woman
Dressed all in black
Black widow in waiting
Black venom giving

The death-grey husband
Now ever in the dark
Her dark kitchen her web
Her poison pernicious

The dark pantry
Away from the light
Locked in tight
Opened only at night
When all is black

Story A Day May day 4 – I do it for you, baby

I’m a day behind – there’s nothing I can do although this was half-written yesterday. Life gets in the way sometimes and certain people and things cannot be refused. I aim to be back on track by tomorrow evening…promise!

************

‘You have pen and paper in front of you, and an hour to produce an award-winning competition piece. Today’s prompt is “The empty chamber”.
There comes a time when you lose control of your dream and it takes control of you. It doesn’t happen often, at least not to me. This time though it’s worse; this one’s really got me.

I, like you no doubt, let my passions intertwine with my dreams. The things that I want in life, the things that are tangible, doable, reachable – they become my dreams. I don’t dream lottery wins, a Rolls Royce or a mansion on a hill, I dream in words, in black and white, created by me for me, usually. This time it’s different.

Mr Farrow, Martin to his friends so he remains Mr Farrow to me, teaches afternoon writing classes at the local college. He’s good, I’ll give him that. He’s published; he wins things, people look up to him. Last year I started his creative writing class, in the hope of a little dream realization; I was working a couple of bars at the time, keeping myself busy at night and staying at home during the day; perfect.

Except my days now are empty, with only words to fill them. My live-in partner, Shareen, left me months ago, calling herself a victim of my obsession. I’m not jealous, I just like to know where she is, who she’s with, what she’s up to. In addition there was my writing. At first she thought I was a novelty, someone to show her friends – a writer. I write all the time but I’ve never won anything. After a time she saw that as a reflection on me and saw my lack of success as a trigger for my obsession with her. She’s wrong. I will win, I know this time I’ll win and win big too then that’ll get her back, that’ll teach her. She’ll want me then. My name and my fame, she’ll want that.

‘Just fifteen minutes left now, you should have closed your story and now be reading through, editing where necessary. Polishing till it shines – this is the big one.’

I sit there looking at Martin, at Mr. Farrow, and sight the barrel on him. I hope he’s written for his life, there only one empty chamber.

StoryADay May 2014 (day 2) – My fridge, my end?

I know, I’m late but there was no way of doing this yesterday, work gets in the way sometimes. “Magnetic words” – that took some thought and alas…this is all I came up with. Roll on to Day 3

**************************

I can feel my heartbeat, my temples are thumping; a bit like the sound of a washing machine on slow spin at the end of its cycle. My stomach cramps, or rather alternates between cramps and butterflies that flutter by. I need to step away, I need to get a grip. What is going on?

I woke up, splashed my face and made my way to the kitchen, no changes from my usual Sunday morning habit of making myself a pot of tea and preparing a plate of digestive biscuits and placing both on the little coffee table, spreading out and opening a book. This morning however I awoke early; thunder trounced my head and lightning tried to sear its way through the blinds and the rain hammered on anything it touch. A perfect day for reading, I thought, pouring the first cup from the pot. Then, without taking either opening a book or switching on my laptop, I step over to the fridge.

I, now, you, why, see, kill

It’s been a week now. Last Sunday morning I awoke, made my tea and started to read when a whispering noise made me look up from my book. I didn’t see anything; at first. The words, they rearranged themselves, on their own. There’s no one else here except me. There hasn’t been since last Saturday, except now I think she’s come back. Or she sees why I did or else…I’m going to see why she will.

Walking Out

The wall clock ticks off time as I sit in the pre-dawn darkness, a small white table lamp throwing faint shadows on the wall every time a bug goes near it.  I turn in the revolving office chair and look out into the darkness, trying to gather what kind of weather awaited my day.  I don’t want rain, I’m sick of it.  Every night for the last two weeks the only sound that has accompanied my dreams is the hard, flat beating of water against the hard, flat roof above my head.

I sit with my hands in my lap.  I look down at them, now almost devoid of colour, intertwined and wrestling with each other, a habit of mine.  I want to feel the sun on my skin, warming it, burning my face and reddening my neck.  Of all the things I miss the most, the sun is in my top two list.  The other is Lizzie, my daughter, the only family that has come to see me during the last 6 years.  I see the sun when I see my daughter, all beaming smiles, overflowing long, dark curly hair smelling of apple-scented shampoo and with wrinkles of laughter around her eyes; always pleased to see me.  Together we’ve sat and planned this day when I would finally walk from this cell and now, finally, that day has come and I sit at this wooden desk, scarred from a hundred cigarette burns and awaiting her arrival.  Even the guards had treated me differently this morning, maybe even those hard-noses appreciate the importance of today.

Before she arrives I have to have another interview with the warden.  While I sit looking at my white, continuously wringing hands he comes in, his hands resting on his thick, brown leather belt and trying to smile.  Yes, today they all seem happy for me.  If smoking were still permitted inside the building I think he may have even offered me a cigarette, hell, possibly even a cigar.

“So Mr Onfray,” he says, trying to wedge himself between the wooden arms of the chair and not doing a very good job, “your last day.  I guess it’s a stupid question but I want to ask how it feels.  How do you feel Mr Onfray?”

My hands stopped trying to strangle themselves and I look him in the eyes.

“It’ll be the last time my Lizzie sees her daddy in these prison blues, Warden.  I’m thankful for that.”

He raises an eyebrow and one side of his mouth, which I take to be a smile, and nods his head, his bulging neck doing its best to escape his shirt collar.

“I guess you’re right,” he says.

After all, how many men had he seen walk out of here, their last meal served at noon no longer weighing heavily in their stomachs.

That long, last walk.

Sound Travels

In the cold January air flame and smoke disappear

but the sound goes on forever. 

The pistol crack; the victim’s gasp,

dead before his wide-eyed head smashes against the pavement;

the screams of the passers-by;

the shouting policemen holding them back;

the wailing ambulance;

the knock, apologetic, on the door;

the crying, desperate,

left without a husband and father;

the monotone of the priest;

the 12 clicking heels take the coffin;

the sobs of the veiled

and the final, definite scraping of soil,

thrown from shovel to grave. 

The shot was still ringing out.

The Train Window

I was still breathing deeply and out of breath as the train left Milan and entered the countryside.  My heart was beating like a hammer on an anvil.  Did I really just witness someone killed?  Did I really see those men take a life?  Did those men see me as I ran for the safety of people and the station?  I was too far away to do something and hopefully to far away to be considered a witness, at least by those men.  Who were they?  What had the dead man done?  I relax into my seat, breathing under control and look out of the train window.

The flat, still-green farmlands speed by my view at about a 100 miles per hour; la Frecciarossa – the Red Arrow – is the train taking me across the northern Italian plain.  The vineyards; with vines now stripped of their fruit and displaying their autumnal dress.  Shades of green, red, yellow and brown fill my view: The window view.  Like the mother whose son has upped and left home, bearing the weight of the grapes is now a memory for the vine, which will soon be bare for the coming winter.

The low pylon wires running parallel to the track, powering the great train on its way, keep me company but spoil my view of the pale blue sky, slowly suffocating under fat, moist, grey clouds from the east.

The tilled earth of the northern plain, the soil, freshly turned, contrasting with the green, showing brown but somehow…clean.  The appearance of a hard job done well, of a tidy desk left in its place after a day at the office.  For the farmer it is his desk.  Where is that farmer now?  Enjoying the fruits of his labours?  Probably not; it’s a little early to get on the wine but I appreciate his spotless fields.

Now I’ve left the fields and entered a town.  Grey, monotonous concrete destroys any view I might have had.  It’s strange how grey feels so dismal, especially concrete, even in the sunshine.  If I can’t see out the window then I prefer the black of night, at least I can use my imagination.  God forbid it rain; there’s nothing more depressing than a miserable, wet winter’s day, with the light failing early and the concrete, sodden and cold, both to the touch and eye.  But it ends.

The fields have returned.  In the sunshine the fields come to life, even in the autumn.  The sunshine brings animation, inspiration, motivation even.  Motivation to keep moving; to follow the sun.  To not allow the autumn sun to set forever on another year and be followed with a violent sadness by the arrival of winter.  The sunlight flickers continuously from the flashing shade of the pylons and I shield my eyes.  Then relief comes as the train enters a tunnel, if I remember rightly it’s a long one.  I continue to stare out of the window.  The train roars through and I can’t hear myself think, so I don’t: I just stare, waiting. 

It’s then I notice in the window a shape behind me, blacker than the tunnel wall.  A man; standing…also waiting.  In the reflection is that a knife I see in his hand?

The Snowball Effect

I’m sat next to my brief.  My shirt’s the same one I had on yesterday but I’m sure no-one notices.  I have the same, now well-rumpled suit I’ve been wearing throughout my trial; well, they’re not exactly going to let me out shopping at Armani for the day are they?  My shoes are pretty clean though, which is more than I can say for my defence.

The jury has retired for verdict.  My heart is pumping blood at a normal rate around my body.  I’m calm.  What else can I be?  I just look ahead.  I don’t want to see anyone.

They think I killed them all.  Sometimes I think I killed them all.  Sometimes however I believe I only actually killed just one person that day.  For his death they just need to decide whether it was premeditated.  How do you define premeditated?  How long does an action have to be considered and thought-out before becoming premeditated?  5 minutes? An hour?  A day?  I know I didn’t leave the house that morning to walk the dog through the woods, which are separated by a noisy motorway, with the intention to kill someone.  By the time I came home however I was a guilty man.

The prosecution have made a meal out of the fact that I’ve shown no remorse.  I’m not an actor; I can’t show what I don’t have.  Anyway, what came after was an accident, with no intention whatsoever.  However, they don’t see it like that.  They don’t seem to understand the metaphorical snowball effect and all that.  If I hadn’t have rolled that little snowball from the top of the mountain, there wouldn’t have been an avalanche in the valley below, so to speak.  I can sort of see their point, the trouble is they can’t see mine.

Memory can be a bastard.  Why can’t I remember someone’s name from one day to the next yet the filing cabinet of the mind throws out memories from years ago without warning and just at the wrong moment, like when I saw the kid on the bridge.  Some of you might remember this.  I do.  I was a teenager during the miner’s strike back in ‘84 but I still clearly remember how shocked I was when some miners dropped a kerbstone from a bridge at a passing taxi taking a scab to work.  It left me cold then and leaves me cold now.  What a horrible way to die.

So when I saw that kid hoist up to his waist a broken lump of wall, I flipped.  He was so intent on choosing his target that he didn’t see me come down the footpath, pick up a fist-sized flint and step on the bridge.  The block was resting on the handrail of the bridge, against his stomach while he chose his victim. Then I saw what he was waiting for; an Esso petrol tanker was making its way down the slow lane.   I had to stop him.  I threw the stone.

I guess the truck driver saw the kid’s intention as I heard the air horn blare below me.  Too late.  The stone hit the lad in the head.  The lad’s legs gave way as blood poured from his temple.  The brickwork tipped forward with the momentum, his grip didn’t loosen.  Both concrete and kid were gone in a second.  I heard the truck’s brakes howl.  Have you ever noticed how a car’s brakes will squeal in an emergency stop?  A 38 tonne truck’s howl and what a God-awful noise it is, I can still hear it in the long nights in my cell, when sleep evades me.

I felt, rather than saw, the movement of the jack-knifed trailer as it separated from the cab and passed at speed under the bridge, swatting cars like summer flies.  It then hit the central reservation, flip on its end and over, and explode into the oncoming traffic.  The force of the blast rocked the bridge and knocked me to the ground.  The dog came off worse.  She scarpered into the trees from where we’d come from but when I finally found her she was dead.  Internal injuries I suppose.  I cried then.  I showed emotion then.  The families of the 14 that never made it back home that night wouldn’t give a toss about that but then again, why would they?

The jury’s back.  You 9 men and 3 women: penny for your thoughts?  Why am I asking?  It’s the judge that wants to know if they’ve reached a verdict.  They have.  He nods his head slowly.  Putting on his small, wireframe glasses he tells me to stand.

My lifetime freedom for an accident.  I guess the 3 seconds it took me to pick up that stone counts as premeditated.

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