“It takes an amateur 30 minutes to kill a man with a hammer where it would only take a professional under a minute,” this he explained to me in the Charity Shop after we picked her out.
The hammer shook in my hand. The weight of it magnified the gravity of the situation. My damnation and salvation.
The steady beat of feet spurned my heart into uncontrollable fits.
She was behind the door.
It was time to turn the boiler on. Sam is breathing like a rapist. I could hear her sighing and choosing a key.
A key slid into the lock.
I gripped the hammer.
The lock turned and the door opened.
I stood, hammer ready.
“No. No. Stop! Stop!” Sam grabbed my hand and pried the hammer from my grip. Patiently and calmly, he lifted a finger in the air and I watched as it descended. “Here,” his finger rested at the point between where Mrs Pickering’s eyes should have been.
“One good, hard….” he held onto Mrs Pickering, “Hold her!”
She was fighting, or trying to. Somewhere between the now and unconsciousness she held on. Her hands scrabbled for purchase on the wooden floor, fingernails breaking.
Sam handed the hammer to me. Flecks of frothy blood began to spout from the gash where her mouth had been. I brought the hammer up, then down. The contact was sharp and quick, like hammering a nail into a wall. I remember putting my wedding photographs on the wall yesterday and this image seemed to help. It eased me out of the situation for a bit.
“Good.” I could hear Sam. He sounded pleased.
He gripped my hand as Mrs Pickering lay, perfectly, mannequin still. He shook and I could feel my knuckles crack.
My stomach ached, but nothing came out.
“I told you not to eat anything before your first, didn’t I?” Sam said and I sensed he was smiling. I held out both hands, their bloody images shook through my tears.
We burnt the store. I mean we razed it to the ground. I tried to tell Sam about the apartments, but he just grinned. Smoke ran out from the cellar where we lay her out, dowsed in lighter fluid. The smoke ran quicker then orange flames followed their companions up the walls and the interior.
It was an old building so the occupants, didn’t have smoke alarms fitted.
“Wait a while,” Sam said, half singing to a tune in his head.
“The people – there are people up there.”
“Wait for the cries,” he said. “It’s music.”
Very soon, one cry erupted and this infected the others. The hive of occupants were calling out and screaming.
“Only one exit. That’s a breach of Health & Safety.” Sam said.
The night became a heaving ball of heat, its core the building. It pulsed and spat with the fat of its occupants that roasted like cockroaches in their homes.
We walked away from the inferno amid the guttural howls choked with smoke and pain.
“Remember to give your wife and children a kiss goodnight. Tomorrow you go solo.” Sam left me as the blue splashes of light came to play on the horizon.
The late night whirled as I ran home. Stars that judged me, the moon chastised as they brought an uncanny fulgent light to my world.
Cynthia crunched on her cornflakes, her braces scraped off the spoon. I remember smashing the old woman’s teeth out; the chock, chock sound the hammer made.
“Did we have a party last night?” Sarah asked patronising me for the second night being late with her back to me. I smiled and I could picture her sailing down to the busy road outside after throwing her, head first, from the balcony. Her mouth is arching high and wide in her mouth in a howl of despair as the consequences of freefall reach her brain. Her image, was slow in my mind then crashed into a mayhem of car horns and blood.
“Hell-looow. Anybody in there?”
“I had a few things I needed to catch up on, darling.”
“Burning the midnight oil with your new boss?”
I smiled. “You could say that.” She stirred Damien’s porridge, the thin slender back of her skirt travelled down to her knees.
Damien rode in on his tricycle and it was then I knew he was the antichrist. He’d been at the biscuits with melted chocolate around his mouth. Whorls of worms like wires worked their way into his face as the shadow of the morning day graced him in darkness. He looked to me and gave me a cheeky conspirators’ grin. I blinked away the lines from his face and smiled back. I reached for his hair and pulled back my hand, a black blob of congealed slob still on the back of my hand.
“Some party. Your clothes went straight in the wash,” the inference of infidelity in her voice, unmistakable.
She turned her head to me, the swathe of hair like a silk scarf nestled over her right shoulder and down to her breast. She looked at me, waiting for a reply.
“I got chased down by some lunatics.” She nodded to this and turned the TV on with one, quick prod of her finger.
The scene on the TV struck like a match in my head; an ignition of phosphor and ozone, rubber and plastic, blubber spitting and skin crackling.
“It is estimate that over 30 people are to have died in the blaze and firemen are still trying to tackle the blaze. What do you make of it, Gloria. Gloria?”
The woman on the screen was crying, but the camera still focused on her before the image switched to the weather.
“That’s only down the road,” Sarah says to no one in particular, still stirring the porridge. “Shit!” She burnt the porridge.
I smiled and headed on out shutting the door behind me and straightening my tie.