The Whisky Blot
Journal of Literature, Poetry, and Haiku
I love simplicity. Life can be very complicated and stressful but if we made things simple, everyone would be happier. I have a flat with a subsidised rent; a steady job as a warehouse packer; my rent and bills paid by direct debit and enough money for a pint or two each week. I’m walking distance from work so don’t have to worry about commuting and I have access to all the books I need at the local library. I love routine. It gives me stability.
There is an outdoor gym nearby and I go there every other day to keep fit and it doesn’t cost a penny. I can’t do as much as I used to mind you. I’m no spring chicken, but for my age I’m not too bad, even though I am small in size. I’ve got used to being without family so that doesn’t bother me anymore. They cut me off years ago.
I don’t have any real friends but I don’t mind. I’m used to spending long periods on my own and who needs friends when you have all the books you can read; a roof over your head; food on the table and money for the occasional drink. This is what keeps me level-headed. I haven’t needed therapy or medication in years. Mind my own business and stay out of trouble. That’s what keeps me going. At least it did until I met Henrietta.
We met in the park while I was resting after a bit of exercise. She just sat next to me on the park bench and started talking. I had seen her in the park a few times but never thought I would get to know her. She looked like she was in her late teens although it’s hard to tell these days. Young enough to be my daughter, that’s for sure. She seemed genuine. At one point she even rested her hand on my knee. That’s a good sign, isn’t it? She had a lovely, warm smile.
We met in the park regularly and she offered to cook for me. I’ve never had a woman cook for me since I was a kid. I invited her to my flat and shortly after entering, after having a good look around, she used the bathroom. When she came out, she looked different. A bit nervous.
The doorbell rang which surprised me as I never have visitors. Before I could react, she opened my front door and a group of young guys came in. Henrietta obviously knew them quite well the way they greeted her. They all seemed so tall. What are kids eating these days to make them so big?
They were not friendly like Henrietta. They didn’t even acknowledge me. After a brief time looking over the flat, they started moving furniture around. I was confused and stunned into silence. As I was watching them do this, I turned to ask Henrietta what was going on but she had disappeared.
I finally asked one of them what was happening and he was very rude to me. He used bad language and told me to go to my room and stay there until he said I could come out. He then produced a gun from the small of his back and told me if I said anything, he would shoot me. I don’t like violence. I know what the effects can be. I did what he said and went to my room.
When he called me, he informed me that they would allow me to continue to live there but the flat now belonged to them. They would use it for business and I was to stay in my room at all times until they had all left. He warned me what would happen if I told anyone or decided to inform the police and I believed him. He made me give him my spare set of keys. His friends were calling him Topper.
Things changed. They were no longer simple. I was still allowed to go to work, the library, the park and have the occasional drink, but I had to depend on Topper to know when it was ok to be in the flat. Even on those occasions, I had to stay in my room.
Lots of people kept ringing the doorbell and drugs were being sold and consumed. I noticed the familiar smells. It was mainly men that came, but sometimes there were girls too. Often, when I was in my room and Topper was there with his friends, I heard lots of screaming and moaning. Sex sounds. Really disgusting.
My whole life was turned upside down as I had lost control. I had been in bad situations before but I thought those days were behind me. That’s when I started to get headaches. I knew from the distant past what that meant but I was no longer on medication. I needed a release. I started thinking about coping mechanisms I had used before when I finally realised what I needed to do.
On my day off work, at a time I knew Topper and his friends would not be at the flat, I took my favourite knife from the kitchen and checked it was still razor sharp. I remembered years ago, after serving 22 years, telling the parole board I had learned my lesson and had genuine remorse for the lives I took. They acknowledged I was a different person and no longer a threat.
I know how to cut people. I’m very good at it. I know exactly where and how to cut to make the end come quickly for them. I’ll go in hard and fast. I’ll wait for Topper and his friends to arrive. My head is starting to clear. I’m feeling better already.
Tom Matthews is a London based writer of short screenplays and short stories. His work has been published in Literally Stories magazine. Wrote the screenplay for short films The Spice of Life and The Right Candidate. Has won screenwriting awards domestically and overseas, including festivals in Berlin, New York and Los Angeles.
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