October 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
I’m a killer.
No ifs, no buts, that’s the short and long of it. A killer.
I hang my head in shame every night and worry myself to sleep, though I rarely sleep these days. The Family could find me at any time, and I have to keep Frankie safe.
Frankie’s a charming kid, you’d like him, but he can also be a real pain in the backside. I suppose that’s kids for you, though. And I knew all that before I decided to take him on. It’s a big thing, looking after a ten year old, you’ve no time for any life of your own. But if I didn’t watch out for him the Family would get him. And we can’t be having that, can we?
I pulled into the motel car park just after ten-thirty pm and left Frankie in the car while I booked a room. Nasty places, motels. I don’t know what it is about them, I just find them creepy. And this one was no exception. Clean enough, but with an air of guilt that won’t go away. And I know all about guilt.
“Room for me and my son, please.” That’s all I asked for, and she looked at me like I was some kind of bug. God knows what she thought, I don’t even want to guess. But that just shows what kind of people they get around here.
“There a TV in the room?”
“That’s extra,” she told me. So I said OK and paid extra. Everybody wants extra.
“There a bar?”
“Cross the road. Pig & Whistle.” Charming lady. I went back to the car.
“Hey, Frankie…” But Frankie was flat out, so I carried him to the room and put him to bed. I sat for a bit and flicked through the channels, but nothing was on. Nothing good, anyway. I was dying for a drink.
I looked over at Frankie’s bed for a while and decided it’d be okay if I nipped out for a swift one. I thought about waking him up to tell him but I just sneaked out instead.
The bar was fine. Nice atmosphere, but a bit overdone with the pine. Still, better than all the chrome you seem to get nowadays. All the new pubs, at least the ones where I live, are like a flashback to the eighties. The eighties were terrible and just because they happened over two decades ago doesn’t make them any better now.
I ordered a pint and a cigar for later and surveyed the room. Theme pubs, they’re worse than eighties bars. And they all seem to play the Eagles. Ah, good old modern uniformity, you can go anywhere in Britain and not feel lost.
The barman rang last orders so I decided to get another one in before heading back.
It was then that I saw Val.
There I was, sitting at one end of the bar, glass half-raised to my lips, and there she was, at the other end, looking straight at me. Her stare sent needles through my guts and I stopped breathing. Her beautiful red lips were set firmly together and I forced myself to look around the room.
They weren’t here a minute ago, but they were here now. Seven of them. I had to get out quick. But my legs were frozen and I hadn’t started breathing yet and I was sweating and needed the toilet. Blood pounded in my ears and all of a sudden I let out a gasp and ran for the door.
I couldn’t go back to the motel. I wouldn’t have time to get in, get Frankie out and escape in the car so I had to take a risk. It was possible they didn’t know where we were staying, so I had to lead them away. A long shot, but all I had.
My thoughts were all scrambled as I ran and a million voices jumped into my head, all shouting for attention. I had no time to listen. No time to ask how had they found me, no time to think. Only time to run.
It hurt, running. My chest tightened and my throat became sore as I gasped lungfuls of cold night air. Instinct kept me going. I knew, without thinking the words, that I had to run in the opposite direction and double back somehow and hope they hadn’t found the boy. I was fast, they would never catch me. No one ever can.
I looked back. They were crossing the road! They knew! I would have to go back and try to fight them off, though I knew it would be all in vain. Seven of them. What could I do? Some of them would have to die, like before. There was no way I was going to let the Family take Frankie. No way.
I launched myself across the road and was hit by a taxi.
Next thing I know this big fat guy with a messy beard is leaning over me. “You okay?” he says. “You just ran straight in front of me.”
I know I did, that’s why I got hit. I told him to go away and dragged myself to my feet. I hurt all over and there was a screaming pain in my left shoulder that worried me. I started for the motel and fell over onto my side. I cursed the ground and carried on, staggering like a drunk. I heard someone yell for somebody to call an ambulance and another voice telling me to come back, I could be hurt.
Well, I was hurt, but I’ve been hurt before.
I ignored the agony as best I could and made it to the motel. The receptionist was stunned as I ran past and looked like she wanted to say something, but I ignored her. I got to my room. The door was open, light pouring out and a shadow pasted on the corridor wall.
I had no weapons, I had nothing, and I had no time to think.
I burst into the room, pushing aside big Malcolm and yelling. Then I stopped in my tracks as I saw the body of Frankie lying on the bed. He wasn’t right, somehow. The Family members all turned to stare at me.
“You killed him!” two of us said. The other one who said it was James, Frankie’s older cousin, and he was saying it to me. I didn’t understand. I studied his bearded, lean face and went for him, hands around his throat.
We fell to the floor, scuffling. He tried to prise my fingers away but I was too strong. Other hands grabbed and pulled at me and then something heavy hit me on the temple.
I found myself against the wall and the pain came rushing back. The pain was in my head and everything became fuzzy. They were talking.
“What do we do?” Big Malcolm asked.
“Well, what do you think we do?” This was Val, her voice filling the room like a lovely Angel of Death. Sweet death.
“Val’s right,” said James. “We can’t let this lunatic carry on.”
“But he’s family!” Malcolm protested. I always liked Malcolm.
“I’m sorry, Malcolm. But look what he’s done now.”
They were going to kill me, I knew. I couldn’t remember any more, everything was muddy and hurt. James spoke again.
“Two of you get him, I’ll take little Frankie. I don’t need to tell you to keep out of sight. We’ll get back to the farm and take care of business there.”
I felt big hands lift me up and I saw James kneel beside Frankie, holding his head. “I’m sorry, little Cuz,” he said to him, “I’m so sorry.”
And they took me back to the farm for the final time.
© Copyright Chris Young October 2011