Wrote this quite a while ago. Like the idea but not sure I like what I’ve written.
Please have at it with sticks.
I push the button and wait for the chaos. Two shapes dart past the frosted glass of the front door. The gate buzzes, releases and swings open. I have just enough time to close it and turn around before I’m enveloped in a three way maelstrom of children and dog.
I fend off the dog with one hand, low five my son with the other and shuffle forward bearing the weight of a three year old blonde haired limpet on my right leg. She slides off me just before the steps.
“Yucch Daddy! Why are you all sweaty?” Her nose wrinkles.
“I’ve been running my love, that’s what happens.”
She gives me a serious look and then starts laughing. “StinkEEE Daddy!” She runs inside yelling and giggling.
This morning I woke up in bed with an old man’s hand.
Not a severed hand from a different, older man.
Nothing as sinister as that.
No suggestion that I was, in some way, being sent a warning message from some aging mafioso masquerading as a perfectly normal member of the Twilight Valley Nursing Village who, for reasons best known only to himself, had given up on the cranial end of horses and settled for lopping off the hands of his fellow residents before depositing them in the beds of strangers under cover of darkness. There was a suggestion far back in my family tree that there was some sort of Italian connection to my heritage but even so the link would be tenuous at best. It’s not like I’m the direct descendent of Guiseppe “The Limp” Panettone or some such.
The hand, I confess, was my own.
Right now. Right at this very moment. The moment we are sharing through the medium of a page and the words it contains a man is washing blood from a nine inch blade. His hands are shaking and not just from the chill of the brown water that alternately dribbles then vomits from a rusting tap.
The bathroom is stark. You know the type. Single, naked bulb throwing diseased shards of light into your brain, alive with a frequency on the ragged edge of your hearing. The floor tiles might be white under the patina of despair, shit and god knows what else. The ones on the walls are much the same but with more graffiti to hide their shame. The mirror above the sink keeps showing the same re-run of a man washing a knife. He looks familiar but he’s changed. Hollowed out. He has no idea why he is cleaning the knife but he doesn’t stop.
Joe was a simple man.
He liked them young, naked and scared.
Joe had a simple method.
He used duct tape, fear and a walk in freezer with ten inch walls and an industrial strength door.
My first story for the then-fledgling Literally Stories – hope you enjoy it…
I know you’re watching me.
My eyes don’t work like they did in my twenties but I can still see you pushing up against my kitchen window, gawping. I should’ve pulled the curtain before I sat down but no matter. The glass could do with a lick but you can see the bars through it just like the others. And you can see me clear enough.
I can’t make out your faces but I’d say there’s at least one fat useless tongue lolling around on a weak useless chin while you figure this out. Speaking of weak and useless I guess one of you’s been smart enough to call Cheyenne? I should’ve taken her key back months ago but no matter. She’ll be right along in her good sweet time to put you out of your misery. Hers is just about to start. Not that I give two truthful shits about you or Cheyenne. You can take that to the bank as my Jerry used to say. By the end it was all just a bunch of wet mumblings but I still knew his words. You don’t stay married for thirty seven years without learning a few things. You could’ve learned a few things yourself Jerry. Like if you want to stick that excuse for a prick somewhere dark and warm you make damn sure it’s not gonna grow teeth and make you lose half your face. Sure as eggs is eggs there’s always a price.
You can take that to the bank.
“…but mum I really want a spaceship.”
“Ben! For the last time we’re not here to…” A man’s voice cut me off.
“You won’t find flashing lights and electrickery here young man.”
Startled, I looked around the toy shop. “Hello? We were just looking for…”
“A present. For a party.”
He walks slowly across the floor to where she is sleeping. A pale sliver of moonlight gleams through a gap in the curtains to form a silver pool on the bedroom carpet. Beneath the surface a loose timber lies in wait, ready to creak out a warning for a misplaced footfall, but he is on familiar ground and steps around the wooden sentinel with barely a pause.
She does not wake at his approach but she is no longer fully bound by sleep. She tosses her head from side to side as if trying to shake a bad dream loose before dropping back in to an uneasy slumber. His pace quickens. His footfalls keep their silence.
“We’re going to die here.”
“No. Use me. Let me help.”
“I can’t. I won’t do it.”
“It won’t be as bad as you think.”
I have no idea what inspired this or where it came from.
Maybe I should have worn a hat.
Or a steel bucket.
There’s a spot down by the lemon tree where the ideas grow. I planted them there you see. Not through choice you must understand. (un)Happy accident. The ideas bounce around in my head for a while and if I don’t write them down somewhere they break through the walls of my skull and take root.
I was digging through some files earlier and came across a story I had completely forgotten about. I must have written it about seven years ago and once I got over the initial horror of some of the crap writing I had a lovely wave of memory as I recalled where I was and what inspired the story (when you read it you might not immediately conjure up words like “lovely”. You might start with “arrest this freak” or similar.)
What I really enjoyed was being able to read a story from years ago and to apply the things I now know about writing (not that there are many) to it. I wasn’t quite brave enough to put it up here without an edit but I’ve tried to be as minimal as possible when weighing in with the red pen of justice.