This act is the final piece for me.
On reflection, this has been a mottled jigsaw of a fragmented life. A heart tarnishing, anguish ridden spaghetti of grey paths to nowhere, guarded by a host of divisive personalities. Months and months of meticulous planning; has transported me here. If you had asked me at the start if this was possible or if I thought I could have gotten to this point, I would have said no. Sometimes human resilience and innate ability to push forward is truly amazing. We are capable of amazing and disgusting things, in equal measure.
Its cold out here this morning, a bitter wind torments my exposed flesh and in a bid to fight it off I am fully layered, boots on, ski thermals, gloves the lot. Today is March 12th and it’s unusually cold. Bitter, inhuman cold and my mood matches it well. Whilst this may have started many years ago, this final act commenced two months ago. The early morning sun is low and on the horizon; it forces my eyes down.
I quickly turn my back, like a scolded animal to avoid further mind pollution. My eyes are instantly burned and require the shield of their lids to protect them.
Where I used to work, in what now seems like a former life, we had a tool that was used to plan and plot radio and broadcast transmission paths. Next time you’re driving down the motorway and you see a huge mast lassoed to the Earth by guy ropes, with a glut of varying antennas attached, that’s probably one of ours. In order to get that structure built, you start by planning where it should go and you take into account factors like trees, hills and buildings which can halt or distort the transmission. You search for a high vantage point, with limited blockers on cheap land, owned by desperate people. That’s where you build your structure. This enables you to reach the maximum amount of people possible with the transmission signal.
This tool, GuideME, shows a virtual view of the whole country and you pinpoint areas of interest and input the height of the potential mast with all of its antennae; it then works out the area it will cover (and thus the population your transmission will reach). In the normal world, this is a powerful piece of kit which saved hundreds of man hours driving around the country, trying to find suitable residences for the structures. However, it also allowed me to find a remote and isolated location. There was not a house, a building or anything more than a single track road within 50 miles of it. Now it’s the epicentre of my rage, now that my tectonic plates have broken the surface and my inner volcano has started to spew.
Last night’s Jack dragged my fatigue into a restless sleep and eliminated his sobbing, which was still audible from where I collapsed. When the starter pistol went off and this race began, a man crying would have halted my progress. There would not have been a way past it, I would have ceased what I was doing and tried to help whoever was leaking tears. My interior has evolved from a fragile egg, to a crude grenade and I am about to pull the pin
Words are dripping onto this page, so there is an explanation for all of this. I don’t want to go down in history as a murderer, as someone who took away the life of an innocent man. My story needs to be told, my actions need to be accounted for and there needs to be a written record. People will judge me. The same peer group that passed judgement on him, will ultimately pass it on me. Fate would probably see that we are tried the same, with the same charges against us. Absurd. His punishment was light, subdued in a way. Mine was on a par with the Mariana Trench. It’s important that I set the scene and hand over some of the background information, but it won’t drag on like the court case did.
Years ago I was married. We were inseparable, we were young and we were fortunate. She worked in the city, long hours, it all seemed important then, but not so important now. I travelled and planned other people’s days so they could improve communications for our Britain. We weren’t changing the world, but we weren’t harming it either. The finer details are irrelevant now and let’s face it, there is no point anymore. We were two puppies, in the huge beautiful city of London, with cash and a plethora of parties to attend. Our weekend consumption was not always legal, but it wasn’t over the top, we were young and we enjoyed ourselves – we were no different to thousands of others.
He worked as a cleaner in her office, kept himself to himself (god this sounds like the Sun), there were a few rumours about his personal life, but nothing major. She found a note on her desk one morning with handwriting so crude a child would have been embarrassed. Cutting to the chase, it asked her to call a number if she wanted to start an affair. We talked about it and we agreed that we should ignore it. She felt a little threatened, but I didn’t think it warranted further action. The incident was logged with HR and nothing came of it. Hindsight is a tremendous and all-knowing beast, I wish I could go back to that point in time.
Not long afterwards, photos started to appear in her locked drawers. Drawers that only she had a key for and contained papers that not everyone was privy to. They were photos of couples engaging in after watershed activities – same male, different young girls. Various positions, different places, same conclusions. Girls who looked broken on the inside, polluted and filled with a poisonous past trying to escape. In all of the photos, they were posing for the camera with smiles that masked fear and hatred, it was clear a good time was not being had by all. Dark circles enveloped their eyes, lips curled with a secret meaning rather than to radiate happiness and stares that shouted “I hate you Dad/Uncle/Boyfriend”. His face never surfaced in them. He was just out of shot, hidden or scratched out. Care had been taken not to expose any part of him which could later be identified. There wasn’t a hand showing a ring, a visible tattoo or facial feature to recognise later on.
HR was involved again, but the thin elastic band of my patience had snapped and I wanted to get the police in. This was looking serious and we ached for a quick resolution. It became the company secret, swept under the carpet like dead skin cells and forgotten about, entangled with the rest of the waste and debris that cluttered society, ignored like a distant aunt. No one wanted to acknowledge it, discuss it or investigate it further. Behind the scenes in our personal space, I raged like I had never before. Normally calm and collected, I became distracted and curt. Nothing else happened, like a school yard bully it went away, it grew bored and moved on – so they said.
Then my wife didn’t come home.
I knew something bad had happened straight away. There was no way she wouldn’t come home without letting me know, without phoning ahead, without some form of warning. Throughout all the years we had been together, all the parties, the drunkenness, the mayhem, we always found our way home and into bed or at the very least to a phone to explain where we were. At 2am I phoned her office, her friends, her colleagues, her family and the same response was swallowed by my ears –“sorry we haven’t seen her”. The police weren’t much help as the clock needed to tick a little longer, a little louder before they would get involved. Seconds passed like hours. Each intake of breath felt like rubble flowing into the pit of a swollen ocean of stomach acid. When unsuspecting people are taken away, their loved ones say “I knew something bad had happened” and I completely agree with that statement.
I never saw her again. Those brown eyes never smiled at me again. Those hands never reassured me again. That love never permeated my flesh and produced an extra beat again. My temper was never in check again. Our world became darker.
Her body was found in the huge red office bins, down in the basement. Stuffed inside like household waste, awaiting collection. When I see one now, my mind drifts, my fists clench and my teeth grind. He was looked at first. Priors tarnished his history like oil identifies a cars un-healthiness. His DNA was all over her, open and shut said the detective, who had more important things to do. Maybe more time could have been taken to find more facts, delve a little deeper, search some more. Hindsight beats me again, whilst I am down.
A tsunami of tears and grief and hate and desperation and pain destroyed my world. My brain map dissolves, loneliness becomes an unwanted lodger and the bottle becomes my accomplice. To my absolute horror, he denied it. Despite his past, the evidence and innate, deep down feeling that we all knew it was him, he wanted his day in court. What should have been a quick case, open and shut said the detective, would become drawn out. So our lives became cards dealt to the jury and our poker faces would come out to play.
In court, everything we had ever done started to pour out, every stone was upturned, and every “friend” had a story they wanted to share. 15 minutes for them turned into an insurmountable expense for us. We were now on trial. We became the accused. There were moments where I thought my mind had left me and I existed only in a nightmare. Swiftly, the realisation bit into me.
Friends were lost, family members excused themselves, judgements were made and I quietly exited my life. A toot became an ounce. Affection in public became scandalous. Partying hard became standard operating procedure. Chance meetings were long term acquaintances. Our former lives were decapitated from the jerking torso of reality. My taxi picked me up, it was called Jack and I escaped from the party, one last time. When all the stories had finished, even I was sickened by the life we had led. When people were summing up, I was drunk and unable to take in what was being said, my eyes were fixed on the back of his head, but my mind had drifted off somewhere blurry. The verdict was read out and I didn’t take it in, the word guilty was hissed and I just walked out through all the noise, the questions and a fog of people. A week later at the sentencing hearing, technicalities came into play and bargaining meant he would be out in 7 years. Her life meant 7 years. Our life meant 7 years.
Repair work on my life would never happen. It developed into the chore you never got round to.
I sank lower, I drank harder. My bitter edge pushed me into a life I shouldn’t have known. My satnav failed, my destination was unknown. For the first time in my life, I didn’t know what I was going to do. He had taken away my driving force and my stability. As I wandered from pub to club, to card game, to casino, the inevitable fighting following as my hollow frame mingled with the unsavoury elements. Clearly I wasn’t cut out to be a fighter, I had never done so in my life. At first the cuts and bruises served as a weird form of self-harm. I could focus on them and see them heal, so I could go out and do it again. During the months after the verdict the emotional upheaval I went through was internal, invisible and nocturnal as I drunkenly stumbled into a cold and empty bed. These wounds I had were on the surface and my emotional pain seeped into them and healed them. Over time I started to sober up during these fights and I wanted to get better, I wanted to win. I began to approach these fights as I used to approach life, I wanted to succeed.
The decision was made; I had to learn to fight. I travelled to soldier training centres, I focused, I trained, I got lean, I survived on nothing but hatred along a journey towards vengeance. Karate, Kung Fu, Boxing, every night I had a class. Every morning I was in pain, but I began to like the pain as it reminded me what I had been through. No bruise will ever feel like waking up without her. As I got better, I got meaner and thoughts of retribution swept over me. Ideas and scenarios formed in my mind.
In reality, planning started a long time ago. Knowing when he would be out, knowing the tools I had at work, it all started to come together. I befriended a probation officer who also liked to fight; we met at a boxing club locally. Soon I figured out what happened to those newly released, where their half way houses were and I made a move to get to know them. It was easy to make acquaintance with those who spent their life struggling and within a short space of time, I mooted the idea of action against the man who changed my life. They had already sold their conscience for things that no longer mattered, I was prepared to pay over the odds and my newly formed reputation for violence would ensure their silence. It was a new me, I wouldn’t have been in the same postcode as these people previously, but now I was happy to see them. Happy to plan. Happy to scheme. My life had a purpose again.
In space, no one can hear you scream – a timeless tagline. The next chapter of my life carries a twist on that. In this space of society, no one wants to hear your screams. My wife had a death in service scheme and because she was killed on their premises, the payment was high and quick to reach me. Like a crack addict, I swapped something of what mattered to me with something that meant nothing to my new friends. Two men grabbed him off the street a couple of days after he was released to the same halfway house I had watched. He became a statistic. A crime no one wanted to investigate. Thrown into the back of a van, blindfolded and beaten, he was driven way out here and dumped for me. The farmer who owned this land died four years ago and his rich son didn’t want anything to do with it. The market was flat, no one wanted to purchase a run-down piece of greenfield land which would never get planning permission. It overgrew, it gathered moss and fell into a state of disrepair that I could relate to. I installed several things and I now had my own stage, for which this drama will unfold.
Turning, I now faced him and my rage depressed the clutch and I found second gear. I wanted one last look before his end. Yesterday had taken it out of him. His eyes were swollen shut and would never see again thanks to the meat tenderiser that I used to smash him about the head. I can tell you that the human head looks odd without a nose, but it is fairly easy to remove with a pair of tin snips. Knowing that he wouldn’t be telling this story to anyone else, relentless facial pounding had left him with battered lips and a few less teeth. A diesel generator was loaded with fuel and raced over night, I hooked up an industrial drying fan used by painters and placed it in front of him. The force of it mixed with the unusually cold night, dried out his face and the urge to lick his lips never left him. Damage to his neck and I presume his windpipe, meant he constantly struggled to take air in and keep himself alive. If he’d died during the night, I probably wouldn’t have minded.
This morning his wake up call was a bottle of Pernod poured over his head, his screams hit an octane level I wasn’t familiar with.
Whilst I spent my time travelling and training, the main aim was to remove my inner feelings. I am talking about the ones that stop you doing things you know are wrong. Not once have I enjoyed hurting someone, but over time, it stopped bothering me. Cries for mercy fell on deaf ears and my own eyes no longer feared seeing the pulp I could leave behind. Life was not intended to end up like this for me. My hand was dealt differently. Life for me, commenced as a late night bridge game with friends and the sweet consumption of expensive wine. Now at its conclusion, it was a high stakes poker game, mixed with cheap acrid liquor, where you gambled with everything you had and even things you hoped you had. All in or bust.
In my pocket, I find earplugs and rip open the packet, squashing them between finger and thumb and housing them inside my head. I remove the tape from his arms and release him from the chair. He drops before me and his hands try in vain to diminish the pain in his face. He resembles someone praying before me, head at my feet. Prayers will not save him now. Raising the butcher’s hooks I hold in each hand above my head, I bring them down with all the force my body will allow and they locate their target, deep inside each shoulder blade. His mouth snaps open as he unfurls and reaches towards the stakes in his back. His screams have widened the existing incisions on his lips, causing blood to fly from them and settle on my chest. My strength is now a match for anyone’s, as I managed to lift him into the air. Without hearing it over the screams, I feel bone shatter as I bring him down and propel my knee into his already broken face. Releasing one of the hooks from my grasp, I drag his carcass across rough concrete about 100 yards to a deep open grave, which has a backpack next to it. Taking one last look at his face, his mangled face, no feeling of satisfaction washes over me as I thought it would. If anyone cared for this man, they would not recognise the mess I have left behind.
My job now was not judge, not executioner, not the condemner of his soul, these characters had acted in his play already. My role now, was garbage man. Removing this stain on humanity was my final act. I spit into his mess and try to dislodge the hook, to no avail. I yank and pull and put my foot on his chest to try and rid him of the cold steel in his shoulder. It finally yields and surrenders its position in his flesh. To my surprise it brings with it a shoulder blade and an arm, the force throwing him into the grave and me onto the seat of my pants.
The hook soon finds its way in there too, as I regain my footing and stand up, looking down on him. Picking up the backpack, I manage to overt my gaze from him and into the bag, where my eyes lock onto the 10 plastic boxes which accommodate the Larder beetles. They look almost like flies, but without the wings. Dirty little things in deep brown, with a strip of rusty yellow horizontally across their backs, filled with a couple of black spots. Entomology 101. My eyes move back over to him and I can see the final twitches of life escaping him. His physical ruin, equals the defective soul it houses.
He must have dragged her body across the basement floor.
I wonder how he found the strength to raise her into the bin?
What did her normally excited brown eyes look like, devoid of life?
Did she scream and beg to be left alone, like he had?
Am I the same as him?
I empty the packets of beetles on top of him, one by one, so much confetti for the damned and pulled the gun from the bag. Making my way a few feet from him, I sit down but leave my ear plugs in, knowing that his sobs haven’t abated and I start to write this all down. Right now, I feel no satisfaction, no smile creeps upon my lips. Despite the silence in my head, I know he has started to moan as those flesh eating bugs gorge themselves on him. My final wish is that it takes hours for them to consume him and he is aware of every bite until he succumbs to an end I take no pleasure in creating.
Wednesday March 12th was the day we met. I was nervous and excited in equal measures. For three months prior we lived in a tech bubble, communicating daily, having not yet discovered each other in person. Whilst waiting in a bar for her to arrive, I went over a few lines and played with my phone. The corner of my eye caught her walking in and I played it cool, not noticing her until she stood next to me. She wore flat shoes, classy flip flops, bright and colourful like her persona. Her black dress shirt fitted her well and she oozed sophistication by brushing her hair from her big brown eyes. Right then, right there, she had me. My whole future changed in an instant. Everything I wanted to say poured out naturally and I soaked up her words like they were the first I had ever heard. Her eyes, her smile, even her hair shone and pulled me in. We talked at a frantic pace for hours, our world stopped as yours continued to revolve. Eventually the bar was starting its closure and we moved out and continued to talk on the street, whilst waiting for a cab. Her cheek brushed mine as we hugged goodbye and her inviting fragrance left itself on me as her departing smile left an unfamiliar warmth I would crave until my parting breath. That night I slept with a full smile as I knew that I had found the person I would spend my life with.
For a long time after she was gone, I thought I was incorrect. Now I know I will find her again.
Time evaporates as I take my final breaths. I am done here. I can’t write the next few actions, so I will tell you what I am about to do. I will hold the last ever picture of her in my left hand and gaze at her one last time, still bewildered by her grace, her beauty and her decision to choose me. I will hold the gun against my head. I will say “I love you” out loud for the last time. I will pull the trigger. I shall await my judgement. I will leave this life, knowing things that aren’t supposed to be known, seeing things that I shouldn’t have seen. A proud man years ago, has been replaced by a man fuelled by animosity and driven by retribution. Let down by society, I have caved in and consented to it finalising my metamorphosis. Pride replaced by loathing.
This act is the final piece for me. I no longer exist.