I wait for them to answer. The music roars in my head. And I forget just why I taste, oh yeah, I guess it makes me smile….I raise my fists, I pound and I hammer and I yell….I found it hard, it’s hard to find….oh well, whatever…nevermind….Finally she opens the door just a crack and finds me standing there, and I have succeeded in dragging myself into an impossible and unbearable state of grief, and rage. I pull the headphones down, and I watch her blue eyes grow big, and round, before I kick the door from her grasp and push violently past her to reach the hallway. She swings around, clawing at me, trying to pull me back out. “No! No!” she hisses at me. “He’s here! He’s here!!”
“I know,” I tell her, and I slam the door shut on all of us. I look around, bouncing on my feet, feeling the knife up my sleeve digging its tip into my skin. I feel bigger and taller than ever before! I feel like my chest is all inflated, and puffed out, all pumped hard with muscle and threat. “Oi!” I shout out, and spread my legs, claiming my space in the hall. “Oi! You sick fucking bastard get down here!”
My mothers hand flies towards me, panicked and talon like, grasping and digging into my arm, pressing the cold steel knife against my skin, her face horrified. “Danny no! No! What’re you doing? He’ll kill you!”
I ignore her. I face the stairs. “Oi fuck face I’m talking to you! I’m down here!” I hear a noise on the landing, and then he appears, he slides into life. His feet are bare. He is wearing a black silk dressing gown. There is a steaming mug of coffee in one of his hands, and his expression is murderous as he stares down at me. I stare back in triumph. I bet he wasn’t expecting to see me so soon again!
“There you are you sick motherfucker! Come on then!”
He starts down the stairs. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m here to end this,” I nod at him, running my tongue over my dry, cracked lips. I can feel the desire for violence pulsing behind my eyeballs and I like it. I wonder if this is how he has felt, so many times before. “Guess what?” I ask him. “I’m not gonna’ take your fucking job! I was lying to you! I’m here to end all this!”
“Danny please stop this, Danny look at me,” my mother is pulling desperately at my clothes, and my arm. “Please don’t be silly, please just go, go!”
“Kay, you better pick up the phone and call the police,” Howard tells her coldly. “Look at him. He’s on something.”
“What? How do you know?”
“His eyes! Look at his eyes!” Howard barks at her. “He’s out of his mind on something! Call the police!”
“I told you last night,” I say, grinning at him. “I told you I was gonna’ call Jaime.”
“Last night?” Mum shakes her head and lets go of me.
“Yeah last night,” I say, keeping my eyes on Howard. He has reached the second to last stair. “Didn’t he tell you about last night mum? You want to know what went on last night when he got hold of me? Here, check some of this out!” I use one hand to push back my jacket and my t-shirt so that she can see for herself, and I hold it there long enough for her breath to draw in sharply. She backs off from both of us, towards the lounge doorway.
“Oh my god Lee what have you done!”
I drop my jacket back down. “Go on Lee,” I hiss at him. “Tell her then, tell her everything you did to me last night! Let’s see what she thinks!”
His eyes look smaller than ever. They are gleaming back at me, like two perfect shiny marbles, sparkling amidst the reddening blaze of his face. His head drops low, as if preparing to charge, and his top lip curls when he speaks. “Kay,” he says slowly. “I am very serious honey. Pick up the phone and call the police. He’s high on drugs and he’s dangerous.”
“What did you do to him you bastard?” she screams back at him.
“Go on then tell her!” I shout, my hands knotted into tight fists, the palm of the right one growing hotter against the end of the knife handle. “Tell her how you found out where I live! How you’ve been hanging around making threats trying to get me to deal drugs for you! Tell her how you came last night, and smashed my dog into the wall, and then put me in your fucking car with my hands tied up! Tell her then! Mum, look!” I thrust one arm towards her, yanking up my sleeve, not taking my eyes from Howard’s raging face. Mum steps forward, examines the crusty rings of red around my wrist, and then she stares slowly up at her husband, her lips stretching back in disgust.
“You’re an animal,” she tells him. “And I want you out. I want you out now!”
He does not even give her a glance. He takes another step down and looks me up and down with his piercing eyes. “You better think again mate,” he warns me. “Because if you do anything stupid, you’ll be going to jail.”
“Yeah I know that,” I reply. I let the knife slide down to my hand, I grip hold of it and pull it out and show it to him. “I don’t care. There’s nothing can happen to me that’s worse than what you’ve done.”
“You’re wrong,” he nods at me calmly. “Jail is not a nice place Danny. Jail is full of men like Jack, you know.”
“I don’t fucking care!” I scream at him, and I am dancing from one foot to the other now, and my rage is black and blinding, pushing tears of hatred into my eyes, as spit sprays from my lips. “I know what he did, you fucking filthy bastard, I know, are you happy now? Are you happy you’ve ruined my entire life and turned me into this? Yeah, I just pretended I was asleep, pretended I was dreaming, and you knew, you knew though, you fucking shitting bastard, you knew!” I stop. I try to swallow. There is a massive lump stuck in my throat, and just behind it, an endless scream of pain that I do not want to give into. I have to keep it back there. I have to concentrate on now. On doing this. Howards eyes are searching my face carefully. They dip down to focus on the knife, and then rise back up again.
“Call the cops Kay, I am serious for gods sake, look at him! He has a knife! He’s lost his mind!”
“Because of you!” she bellows suddenly, losing control and rushing for him with her hands raised. “Out! I want you out! Just get out!” She punches him in the middle, knocking his coffee from his hand and then she rains blows down upon his chest and stomach. He takes a slight step back in surprise, and then pushes her away from him and knocks her wildly to one side with a blow from his fist. The force of the blow sends her down to the floor, where she lays in a crumpled and silent mess, half in, half out of the lounge doorway. Keeping his eyes on my knife, Howard steps down, and uses his foot to push her still body into the lounge. He rolls her right in and then closes the door on her and faces me, puffing out his chest, flexing his hands, and smiling faintly.
“Well that shut her up didn’t it eh? Just you and me now little man.”
I wrap both of my hands around the knife handle. “Yeah and you haven’t won, do you get that?” I hold the knife up, and waves of repulsion shudder through me, one after the other, and I lick my lips compulsively, and blink away the sting of tears in my eyes. “Because I’m never gonna’ do what you tell me do to, so you can never win! All that shit last night? Total waste of time Lee, ‘cause it didn’t work!”
“Nice speech,” he responds, with a slight yawn. He gestures at me then, with both hands, beckoning me forward. “Come on then, no time to waste, what you waiting for? Show me what you got you fucking little coked up shit stain! Oh yeah, I know what you been up to, I can see it in your eyes! It’s written all over your face!” He shakes his head at me sternly. “Bad move.” I step forward stiffly, tightening my grip on the knife handle. My palms are sweating, polishing up a dangerous grease. He smiles and gestures again. “Come on then, come on Danny, come on then pal, come on mate.”
I lurch forward suddenly, but I don’t thrust the knife at him, I take him by surprise by swiping at him with it instead. I hear him cry out in pain. He had put up an arm, either to grab me, or shield himself, and the knife has slashed into it, and a spray of red hits the wall behind him. I try again, launching myself at him, but this time he is too fast, he knows what is coming, and he reaches for me, and grabs both of my wrists. With a roar of pain and fury, he swings me around, and I hiss in pain when my back slams into the wall, but I hold onto the knife, I still have the knife…
“You fucking little shit! You little shit!” His voice is a storm inside my head, crashing and screaming, and he gets my wrists pinned to the wall, and then the monster is back, the monster is right fucking there, and upon me, and his face is sweating and fuming just an inch from mine, and his eyes bulge in the sockets. I glance at the knife still in my grip, and I see the red rolling down his arm and onto mine. He pulls my wrist from the wall and then slams it back again. “You fucking shit you stabbed me! In my own fucking house!” He is banging my wrist against the wall, again and again, until my hand goes numb, and I cannot hold the knife any more, and I feel it slip from my throbbing fingers, and it thumps down onto the carpet. I look down at it, and then I look up into his glinting eyes. “Well that’s that over with then,” he tells me. “You pathetic little cunt. And now comes the part where I am forced to kill my drug-crazed step-son in self-defence.” His eyes are smiling along with his upturned lips and he cocks his head at me. “Are you ready? Are you ready to die now Danny? One last chance and you fucking blew it. Now you are going to die. And so is she.”
He spins me away from the wall and hurls me into the floor. He lifts a foot quickly, rams it viciously into my ribs. I cry out, as the sharp pain echoes through my body, and I try to crawl towards the kitchen. He is silent in his attack. Like so many times before. I have been down here before. Me and the carpet, old friends. He takes his time and considers where to aim each kick, and then he lashes out with no mercy. He follows my crawl towards the kitchen, and he lifts his foot and brings it down on me, again, and again, and again. I am being broken up. I push myself forward, and every time I try to get my hand down to the waist of my jeans, or down to my boot, to reach the other knives. I feel the ice cold smoothness of the kitchen tiles beneath me, and it is easier to crawl, and when he stops kicking me for one magnificent moment, I am able to free the small knife from inside my boot. I grip the handle, tug it out, conceal it underneath me, slide forward, further into the kitchen, breathing harshly, dimly aware of the feeling of collapse within me. I close my eyes and try to find the courage I had before, the anger, and I hear his feet padding in there after me, and there is another kick, right up my backside, and I choke on the pain, I curl up on it, and I clutch the knife tightly.
He steps over me and kneels down next to me. I am lying with my arms underneath my body. My hand aches from holding the knife so tightly. “You sorry little bastard,” he is telling me softly. “You’re more of an idiot than I thought you were…fucked up completely now, haven’t you?” I can feel him sliding his fingers slowly through my hair. “Coming to my house, cutting my arm…thinking you can beat me. I told you last night, didn’t I eh? There won’t be any more chances now. You’ve fucked up big time. And to think, I was actually looking forward to us working together. I actually believed you. We could have been like father and son Danny. Oh well.” He grips my hair, lifts my head from the floor. “No one can say I didn’t try to warn you.” His fingers tighten in my hair, and he rams my head, back down into the floor. I feel it bounce up, then down again. I muffle a groan and splutter, as my mouth and nose explode with blood. He pulls my head up again and blood oozes from my nose, dribbles in thick clots from my mouth… “No one can say I didn’t try to help you…so many times, but you wouldn’t listen would you boy? You didn’t want to know, did you?”
He slams my head into the floor again. For a moment, I cannot see. I think my eyes are bleeding. Or my head has split open and the blood has washed down over my eyes. I feel unconsciousness wavering close. I feel him pulling my head up again, and I think no, no, I am not gonna’ die like this, I am not gonna’ die with my head in pieces on his fucking kitchen floor, and I tell him this, but the words don’t come up properly. Howard pushes his face closer to mine. “What did you say? What you trying to say?” I open my mouth and blood pours out, but I look up, I stare right into his eyes. I move my lips, push out words he cannot not hear. He moves closer. “What did you say?”
“I said fuck you…” I roll my body to free my arm, and thrust at him with the knife. I feel it sail through silk, through flesh, and jar against solid muscle. I slam it right in, I get up on one elbow, shoving it in, ramming it through, get in, get in, get in there! I push until the blade has disappeared inside of him, and his flesh is eating up the handle and then I let go and I move back, I move away, watching. Howard falls back so that he is sitting on his ankles. He moves in a slow and clumsy fashion, as if he is half asleep. His mouth has dropped wide open, this massive chasm of disbelief, and his eyes rage huge with pain and shock, and his hands lift up and flutter hesitantly around the knife handle that protrudes from his chest. I am on my hands and knees and I crawl backwards now, away from him. I turn slowly, and reach out to the handles on the kitchen drawers. I use them to pull myself awkwardly up to my feet, and I grip the counter with both hands, as the room sways and dips beneath me. I put my hand to the waist of my jeans and pull out the third knife, the largest knife. I hold it out in one hand, and look back at him, sat there.
Oh what will I become? I start to laugh. He is sat there, drooling thin streams of blood and panting heavily, with his hand resting on the knife handle. His face has gone completely white. I start to smile. “Look what you done!” he half screams, half gasps. “Look what you done to me! You fuck!” I narrow my eyes at him. I want to tell him how much I don’t give a shit. “Call an ambulance,” he splutters. “Call a fucking ambulance!”
“Not yet.” They are only two small words, but they change everything for him. He looks like he is going to cry. I wave the big knife back and forth, and I move forward. Suddenly, I cannot feel the pain any more. None of it. It has all gone. Believe me. I have never felt so alive. I laugh and my shoulders shake with it, and I stare down at the man on his knees, and I feel ten feet tall and loaded with power. “Look at this one Lee,” I say to him, moving the knife slowly through the air. “Where do you want this one, big man?”
“You’re insane,” he grunts at me, and his head slumps forward, his chin crashing into his chest, his eyes fixed manically on the knife. His big smooth forehead is gleaming with sweat and fever. “They’ll lock you up….idiot…throw away the key!”
I laugh and step towards him. “I told you, big man, I don’t care! I’d rather be their prisoner than yours. I’ll get out at some point.” I smile and lick my lips and gaze down at the blood soaked man before me. I have never seen him look weak before. It is like his entire life is flowing out of that hole in his chest. “I’ll still be alive,” I tell him, and the thought is wonderful and delicious and tingling in my mouth. “I’ll be alive, and you will be dead. And when I get out, I promise you this, I will go and piss on your grave.”
He sucks air up into his nostrils with a noisy, gurgling sniff, and his mouth is a screwed up hole of agony, as he wraps his hands around the knife handle. He grits his teeth, and he wrenches it free, releasing a wailing, hissing scream. Fresh bright blood pumps freely from the wound. I got him a good one alright. He reaches for the counter, as I did, and he grips it weakly, and starts to pull himself up, and I look on, watching curiously. His face is deathly white, and dripping with sweat. The knife dangles limply from one hand. “It’s not over yet….” he mutters at me. “I’ll be the one…pissing on your grave…”
I think differently. I don’t think I’m gonna’ let that happen now. Not now. I lurch forward, jabbing at him with the knife, sticking it right into his side before pulling it back out again. He throws back his head and howls. It’s not easy, I think, stabbing someone. Especially not someone with so much fucking muscle. I stick him again, just to keep the momentum going, because I know he could overpower me in a single second, and that would be it. Game over. But this is my game. This time. He slips back down to his knees, one hand pressing into his side. He stares at the wounds, and then he stares at me as if he just cannot believe it, and his movements as he sinks back down, they are juddering and stiff, and his face is a frozen mask of horror. I kick the knife from his hands, and now he has nothing. He has no one. He is all alone. He is at my mercy. I am king of the fucking world! I grin down at him excitedly. “Well look at this Lee!” I sing out in ecstasy. “Who’s the strongest now Lee? Who’s the biggest? Why don’t you tell me eh? Is it me, or is it you? You know what I’m gonna’ do now big man? I’m gonna’ make you regret everything you ever did to me!”
I dance out in front of him. I pull back my foot and boot him right between the legs. I watch him go down, like a sack of shit tumbling. I see his eyes roll up into his head, before he cracks it against the floor, and then he collapses sideways, curls up, hands between his thighs, rasping breath struggling from his pursed lips. I step closer, sensing his weakness and relishing it. “Gonna pay you back now,” I say to him. “Look at you now, not such a fucking hard man now are you? Fucking evil cunt!” I slash at him with the knife. Once. Twice. Blood flies up into my face and I wipe it away. I hear a noise in the hallway, this groan, this utterance of grief and horror, but I ignore it. Howard can only moan and shiver on the floor. I think, I should have done this years ago! What the fuck was I waiting for? Why was I such a weakling? Why didn’t I fight back before?
There is a puddle of deep ruby red growing larger around him. I take a risk and stand over him, one leg on either side, and I think about every time he did that to me, pressing his foot onto my chest, or my neck. Bastard. “Do you regret it yet?” I ask him. I peer down into his screwed up face. I want to locate a glimmer of regret in those beady dead eyes. I kick at his head. Once, and then again, and again. It is like a rock hard football between my feet. I roar at him with the knife. I am slashing through silk to reveal torn up skin and bloody curls of flesh, and blood that just keeps coming. So much blood. So much. “Do you regret it yet?” I am screaming. Everything is insane. Blood soaked, and insane. There is a great black noise bellowing inside my head. “You like that do you? How does that feel you fucking bastard!”
“Danny no!” She is screeching at me. I am dimly aware of her. She is inside my brain. I keep kicking and slashing. I can’t risk leaving it undone. What I came for. What I wanted. “Danny no! No! No!” She is there now. Pulling at me. Wrestling me away. I stand my ground, but I am growing weak. “What have you done? Oh god what have you done?”
“Say sorry!” I am calling out to him, but he does not listen, he does not speak. “Say you’re sorry to me!”
“No Danny, oh no, please no, what have you done?” She has her arms around her middle and she wrenches me away. She is pulling, and yanking, and shaking me awake. I let her lead me away. I give in to her. I am shaking my head. I am laughing and sobbing and stumbling away from her, and wondering if I will wake up soon. “Oh god Danny!” She is wailing at me. “What have you done?”
I turn to look at her. “I think I killed him.” She was kneeling down beside him, the edge of her cream dressing gown draped in the puddle of blood. She looks over at me. I lean back against the far wall, next to the door. “I came here to end it,” I tell her. “I did it didn’t I? I killed the fucker, didn’t I mum?”
She is feeling for his pulse. Then she pulls violently away from him. He does not move. He does not make a sound. Silence swallows the room as we stare at each other. She walks towards me slowly, her eyes huge, her head low, her hands shaking uncontrollably as they reach for me. She finds my arms and grips them. She stares into my eyes. “I have to call an ambulance,” she says. “When they come Danny, I want you to tell them you did it in self-defence, do you understand? You defended yourself.”
“Did you check his pulse?”
I roll my eyes and walk past her. I walk back to where he lays and press two fingers against his neck. “What are you doing?” she screams at me. I straighten up and head back to her.
“Checking. In case you’re wrong. He’s dead though. Yeah, he’s dead.” I stumble past her, out into the hallway. She follows me out there. She watches as I pick up the phone from the table.
“Gotta’ call the cops,” I tell her. “Don’t need an ambulance if he’s dead…Just need the cops to come get me…Tell em to take me away..I’m done. It’s over.” I am breathing hard now, my chest is rising and falling too quickly, pain coming in sharp waves every time I suck air in, and every breath I take does not seem to be enough to fill my lungs. I drop the phone, suddenly overcome with a sick, dizzy feeling. My knees buckle. I find the bottom stair and drop down onto it, lowering my head into my hands.
“You have to do it,” I whisper hoarsely. “I don’t feel good…You have to do it..Call them. Tell them to come and get me.”
“Don’t say you did it,” she is hissing at me. She is at the front door. Pulling it open. “They’re already here.”
“Oh. That was quick.”
I do not look up from my hands. I can hear the sirens, many many sirens, wailing into the street outside. The door opens, and footsteps hurry inside, and I can hear my mother weeping and babbling, and voices talking and shouting. I hide behind my hands. I am not here anymore. It doesn’t really matter.
People are running past me. Calling for help. Speaking into radios. Crackling. My mother sounds far away, and weeping, weeping. Behind my hands my vision swims in and out. My head is in a world of exquisite pain. I glimpse life through my fingers and find a sombre, watchful face looking back at me. That guy. Heaton. How funny. You’re in the soundtrack to my life, I want to tell him, but I don’t, because it does not make sense. “What happened here Danny?” he is asking me.
The darkness rushes in on me, and I bury my head in my arms on my knees. “I killed him,” I say. I breathe out, slowly, steadily. I feel my body relaxing into something, into nothing, into no one. Is that what happens when you take a life? You die inside. My limbs are turning into soft jelly. They can take me. Bend me. Yield me into whatever they want. “I didn’t fall off my bike,” I am telling him as he sits there. “I didn’t.”
I fall forward, and he catches me. “Need help over here!” he yells out. I feel them taking my pulse. I dip in and out of life. I want to sleep. “Hospital,” someone says.
“Might be wise. Head injuries.”
They pull me to my feet. I open my eyes and look around. “I killed him,” I say again, in case they did not hear me the first time. “I came here to kill him. Okay?” A wave of nausea washes over me, and my ribs are screaming, but I can smile. Someone is pulling my arms behind me. Reading me my rights. There is an argument. I loll against the door frame. I am laughing.
“Don’t be ridiculous, what are you doing? Look at the state of him!”
“There’s a man in there, knifed to death. He just said he did it. I am only doing my job.”
“We don’t know what’s gone on here.”
“Look at this!”
They are pulling at my wrists. I want to tell them that I do not care. Put the cuffs on me. Arrest me. Do it properly for fucks sake. Take me out there. Take me out into the bright sunlight, and I will be free. I am limp, like a ragdoll, soft and boneless. “I killed him, I killed him, I killed him,” I hang my head, stare at the floor and chant for them. “I came to kill him, I brought three knives, and I killed him, I killed him.”
They had hold of me now. They moved me on. They were still arguing. Muttering. Hissing at each other in scorn and anger. Whatever. Fuck it! “I’m recording what he said,” someone is grumbling. “He said he did it.”
“Yeah I did!” I laugh at him. “I killed the bastard! Yes! Thank fuck!”
We go outside. It is a morning, bathed in gentle heat. Everything has that soft orange glow to it, as the sun rises up from the ocean. I can hear birds singing. I let them move me along. I watch the ground moving beneath my feet. I do not lift my head until I hear them calling out my name. I can see them on the pavement. There they are. Anthony, Michael and Lucy. There are police officers everywhere, holding them back, stringing up tape, talking into radios. Squad cars rolling in, one behind the other. I squint, the sun is in my eyes. I can see Lucy, and she is nodding at me, just nodding, and I can see she has my letter, grasped in her hand, and in it, I asked her to forgive me, I asked her to understand, I hoped I would see her again one day. Anthony is holding onto Michael. He is struggling against him. He is torn up. He doesn’t understand it. “Why’re you arresting him for?” he is bellowing out at them. “What’re you taking him for? For fucks sake!” I see them all and I wish I had the strength to call out to them, but I don’t. I want to tell them not to worry about me anymore, I want to tell them that it’s over, I ended it, and I will be back one day. I am pulled away, led over to one of the ambulances. The darkness falls over me again and I feel myself going down, and down. It swamps my mind and my body, it is too thick to claw my way back out of. I feel a numbness spread through me, and I welcome it. I see the floor of the ambulance rushing up towards me, and people are calling out my name, and I open my mouth. “It’s okay,” I tell them. “I’m okay.”