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End of Life by Glen Batchelor

© Glen Batchelor

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End of Life

Ian pulled hard on the cigarette, enjoying the crackle as the tobacco tip glowed brighter and sucked the smoke deep into his lungs; if Tracy could see him now. Thirty six he’d been when they’d kicked the cancer sticks together and he was fifty six now. He’d managed to live eight years longer than her but four years fewer than his Dad. The smoke smacked the back of Ian’s throat and he spluttered. Christ, that tasted awful but he’d persevere. He had twenty years of nicotine to claw back and he’d succeed – unless the cancer took him first.

Dad had been sixty when it had taken him but two years of that you couldn’t have described as living.

He pictured it now – Dad, nowt but skin, sinew, teeth and bone; yellow pop-out eyes. No, his eyes hadn’t been getting bigger; it had been his face shrinking. The cancer eating him, or rather Dad was eating himself because he couldn’t – wouldn’t – eat food, couldn’t bear the thought of food. “I’m not going to starve to death, am I?” he’d said. Ah, the irony! Ian drew once more on the cigarette, inhaling with care this time.

There was a knock on the door. Connie barked and he told her to shut up. He ignored the knock and took another swig from his whisky bottle. He’d told Tracy back then to make sure he never went like that. “Just give me a load of pills,” he’d told her. But she wasn’t here to do that because she’d been raped by the Brandhall Mob and years later taken her own life.

The knock came once more and, doing her duty, Connie barked again. And Ian ignored the knock again. But the caller was insistent. Ian rose with reluctance from his armchair, setting his glass down on the coffee table. He shut Connie in the living room and entered the hall, then opened the front door to be greeted by Sharon. He didn’t know her surname even though they’d lived opposite each other on the same street for over twenty years. He'd said hello to her on one occasion and she’d turned her face away. She would never get another chance. He’d always thought of her as reasonably attractive and slim, but that was from a distance. This close up she looked like a potato gone bad, her skin loose and the creases inlaid with grime.

“Yes, can I help you?” asked Ian with a patience he didn’t feel.

“Your dog chased my cat today,” she was almost shouting. “We keep our dog on a lead. What if your dog had got hold of my cat in front of my fucking kids?”

Ian was confused. Connie hadn’t been out of the house on her own that day and anyway, Ian was unhappy at being shouted at and accused of something on his own doorstep.

“Your fucking kids? Are they old enough to fuck, and should they be fucking each other? I’d be more worried about that than a stupid cat. FYI my dog hasn’t been out today, lead or not, so do one. And have a wash while you’re at it.”

Her jaw opened and closed like a flapping letterbox before uttering an erudite “Fuck off". Ian closed the door on her. He never did like that woman, not even from a distance and even less so close up. She’d be back. Her family had a reputation on the estate. If there was a fight in the street she’d be involved, her and her multi-pack family, each child with a different father. Fact was everyone was scared of her, even her various partners.

Ian wasn’t sure how long he had left to live. Oddly, he was more worried about Connie, his collie cross, and who would look after her. She was eight years old and would probably outlast him. His dad had existed – because it had been merely an existence, not living – for two years after his diagnosis. Ian knew no one who would take Connie and she’d pine away in a dogs’ home, he was sure. He should have her put down, that would be the kindest thing but apart from missing her left eye through glaucoma she was perfectly healthy. He took another swig of whisky and pondered on having her euthanised, and then taking his own life. That would be the kindest thing to do, for Connie and himself; he had no intention of starving to death – or starving out – like Dad.

Ian didn’t feel like he was dying. Apart from the ache behind his stomach and back he felt pretty normal, for a man of 56. He hadn’t eaten today, except for a handful of peanuts and yesterday he’d managed an apple. He remembered bringing his dad fish and chips, who wouldn’t want that, hungry or not? Dad had managed a bite of cod without the batter and that was all. The rest got binned because, all of a sudden, no one felt like eating after that.

Connie came and sat by his chair, looking up at him with her remaining brown eye and thumped the carpet with her tail. Seems she is hungry at least, thought Ian. He got up and went to the kitchen to fix her some dinner. He opened the fridge and took out the can of Chum which was left over from yesterday. He scraped it into her dish while he looked at the fake car number plate. He’d ordered that online from some place in Scotland. In England you had to provide a registration form to get one but in Scotland it was more relaxed. His half-formed plan was to go out with a bang, not a whimper, as they say. Maybe that bang was to be shot by the police while trying to strangle the Prime Minister. He wouldn’t be remembered for anything else; that was for sure. He had no kids, his parents were both dead and he hadn’t seen his sisters in years. And then there was Tracy who’d gone too soon, by her own hand. She’d never got over the rape – gang rape – all those years ago. He’d only thought she had because she never talked about it anymore. It wasn’t ‘til it was too late that he realised the reason why she couldn’t talk about it.

Connie’s ears pricked up as she looked away from her bowl of Chum, a split second later there was another knock at the door which he knew would be coming. He took the stairs two at a time then stopped halfway up to lift down the sword from where it hung on the wall. It was from the First World War and his dad had bought it from a neighbour for a fiver, too many years ago now to remember. Dad had kept it in his loft and forgotten about it. Ian trotted back down the stairs while the door banged some more and he pulled the sword from its scabbard. He placed the unsheathed blade behind the door before opening it.

Before him was one of Sharon’s sons, Ian didn’t know his name and had never wanted or needed to. He was a skinny kid, around twenty years old with a downy growth of beard, a sniffy nose and wearing the chav uniform of hoodie and jogging bottoms.

“What?” said Ian. The kid’s mother and various other members of her family stood behind him.

“Go on Tom, do it. He won’t touch you or he’ll have me to answer to,” said his mother.

“Yes, Tom. Do it,” urged Ian. “Do what your mother tells you, big boy.”

Tom sniffed and turned to his mother.

“Go on; hit the bastard, soft lad. He won’t hurt you.”

“Tom, don’t listen to the hag,” Ian advised, “because I will hurt you unless you turn around and get the fuck off my doorstep, now.” He said it quietly so Sharon couldn’t hear.

Once more the boy turned to his mother and said, “Mum, he said he'll hurt me if I hit him.”

“No,” said Ian, “I said I’d hurt you if you don't get the fuck off my doorstep.”

Sharon stepped forward and gripped Tom’s arm, pulling him away. “You threatened my son--” she started. Ian punched her square on the nose and her head flew back, she stumbled from the step and fell to the tarmac of the drive. Tom rushed to her side as she scuttled backwards. “You… you…” She pushed Tom’s helping hand away and he shouted at the rest of his family.

“Come on you lot, get him! What are you waiting for?”

Ian chose that moment to duck back into his hallway and snatched up the sword. “If that’s what you want,” he said, brandishing the sword. He stepped towards Tom who backed away. Ian then laid the blade on Sharon’s shoulder.

“You are going to be so sorry--” she started.

“I already am. Not for thumping you, though. You’ve had that coming for years, you lowing bovine. No, I’m sorry because I’m dying, got cancer you see. So there’s not a lot you can do to me.”

“Fuck there isn’t,” said Tom. “Your house is going to get torched, with you in it, or not.”

“Do your worst,” said Ian. He pointed at the CCTV camera. “Cops will know who did it. Now can you please get your chav arses off my drive?” He retreated into the house and slammed the door.


That had felt good. He felt better than he had in weeks, months. He even felt well enough to eat a fried egg sandwich the following morning. He knew though he couldn’t stay in this house now. He’d made his mind up. He was going after the Brandhall Mob.

He made a cosh from a short length of hose pipe filled with sand, bandaging the ends with electricians’ tape. It was a very simple yet effective weapon and easily concealed. Pepper spray was illegal in the UK but he’d googled the recipe and made his own. He’d take the sword, too. He’d changed the registration plate on the Romahome, packed a few clothes and other essentials and headed in the direction of Birmingham.


Quinton, or Birmingham Nice Part was an area in Warley. Tracy’s dad had been a builder, her mother a Funeral Directors' assistant, hence their upper working class semi-detached property in the region of Bearwood. Ian sat now in the caravan area of his Roma with Connie, outside his in-laws' property. He only remembered one of the rapists’ names – two rapists in reality but to Ian’s mind watching and not helping was aiding and abetting. He opened his laptop and connected to 4G internet.

David Brewer, that’s who he was after – the watcher who had stood by while the others did the evil deed. He’d take him out first, get the names of the others, then search and destroy.

All those years ago when they’d just met, he remembered it as if it had been mere months. Ian and Tracy had been at her parents’ house. They’d both been in the living room, playing and dancing to 12” vinyl singles – Blue Monday had been one – on the in-laws' record player. The music centre was a gimmick and when you danced the needle would skip across the surface of the record like a skimming stone across a lake. He’d taken Blue Monday off to put on a less jumpy vinyl when there had come a noise at the window, like a pebble being thrown against the pane. They’d shrugged and ignored it, until it came again.

“Shh,” he’d said to Tracy. “I’ll go upstairs and have a look out. Probably kids having a twat about.”

There had been a group of five, three lads and two girls. It had been dark so Ian and Tracy could only make out one of the faces.

“Who are they? Do you know them?” he’d asked.

“Come away from the window,” she’d answered. He could tell she was scared. Her cheeks had reddened and she been shaking. He'd done as she'd asked but then they’d started shouting.

“David Brewer, I couldn’t see the others,” she’d said, her head down.

He’d remembered the name ever since. “Are they friends of yours? What are they shouting?”

“Don’t listen. They’re just bullies I knew at school.”

“Bullies, eh? Well, you aren’t at school anymore.”

He’d run downstairs to the kitchen and pulled open a utensil drawer, grabbed the biggest knife he could find, but she’d stopped him.

“No, don’t.” She’d pulled on his sleeve. “Please, leave it, Ian. They’ll go away.”

“Yes, they will, or they’ll answer to this.” He’d raised the knife.

“No, Ian. They know where I live. This is my parents’ house and that out there is just a small part of the Brandhall Mob.”

“Brandhall Mob? How pathetic; men acting like kids, or kids trying to be men.”
“You can’t fight them all.”

She’d been right, thought Ian. They had gone away, and he couldn’t have fought them all. But if he’d known then what he’d come to know later, he would have taken them all on. And now was the time to make up for it.

For a small price you can find the exact place where someone lives on the Internet, right down to their flat number. It didn’t seem right, thought Ian but it suited him and his current needs. 63 Ridgeacre Court, Rowley Regis. Sounded posh but was a block of high rise flats on a sink estate, according to google Earth – thirteenth floor. He made his way to the driver’s seat and put the post code into his sat nav. Just over two miles away. He drove.

He pulled up in the block’s car park and yanked on the handbrake. Gazing up he counted out the storey Brewer lived on, then made his way to the main entrance, leaving Connie in the van. The block had controlled entry so he buzzed the concierge.


“Meter reader,” Ian said and was buzzed in. “Unbelievable,” he said to himself as he entered the building. Outside number 63 he paused. He was nervous and he had a tenseness in his gut which had nothing to do with his cancer. But, he reasoned, what did he have to fear? He was dying, and he was going to take some people with him – people who didn’t deserve life, not like him and not like Tracy. He took a deep breath and pulled the pepper spray from his pocket, then knocked. After a few moments Ian heard shuffling footsteps and knew he was being watched through the spy-hole.

“Who is it?” asked a distant voice.

“Meter reader.”

“Fuck’s sake, the meters aren’t in the flats, they’re in the cupboard next floor down. You should know that.”

“I don’t have a key,” explained Ian, the spray can getting sweaty in his hand.

“See the concierge, then.”

“He’s not here, I can’t find him anyway.”

There came more cursing though Ian couldn’t make out the words then, “Alright. Hang on; I’ll go find the key.”

After another few minutes of shuffling and muttering the footsteps returned and Ian braced himself for the door to open. Soon as it cracked open Ian shoved the door back and sprayed the pepper into Brewer’s startled eyes. Brewer wailed, staggered back with his arms flailing. Ian followed him, shoving him further into the flat and closed the door shut after himself. He pushed Brewer down the corridor and into the living room before pulling out the length of hose pipe. While Brewer was still blind Ian clubbed him on the side of the head, watching the man’s knees buckle before sinking semi-conscious to the floor. Ian then brought out a length of washing line and tied Brewer’s hands behind his back while the man whimpered feebly. Ian walked into the kitchen, trying to find a cup or glass to fill with water. The kitchen was like a scene from war-torn Beirut, there wasn’t an area of clean surface to be seen, neither was there a clean item of cutlery or crockery. And the stench made him want to retch; the walls running with sticky nicotine had something to do with that. He had to make do with a dirty mug. ‘To the world’s best daddy’ the mug bragged. I don’t think so somehow, Ian thought.

He emptied the cold black coffee down the sink and filled it with cold water, marched back into the living room, pulled back Brewer’s head and threw the cold water in his face.

“Fuck! What’s happening? Who are you?” asked the captive shaking his head and struggling with the rope. “I ain’t got no money. Look around. I ain’t got nothing!”

“What’s happening?" said Ian. "I can answer that. Who am I? I can answer that, too. I don’t want money but you do have something I want.”

“Tell me what it is and you can have it. Then get the fuck out of here. I know people…”

“Now you’re talking. That’s what you have that I want. I want to know some people that you know.”

“Will you get to the point?”

“Right. I can tell you’re in a hurry. My name is Ian Taylor.”

“Never heard…”

“You wouldn’t have. I’m not from around here. I’m married… was married to Tracy Taylor, nee Beardsmore?”

Brewer’s ears pricked up at the name. “Tracy? Yes I remember her. So what’s your ex got to do with me?”

“She’s not my ex, she’s dead,” Ian said with a calmness he didn’t feel.

“Is this where I start going 'boo hoo'?”

Ian clubbed him on the opposite side of the head. “Yes, go ahead and cry,” said Ian, “because you’re going to have plenty to cry about.”

Brewer was already crying, at least there were tears running down his grime-caked face.

“You were there when they…“ Ian hated that word – raped – because it put awful images in his mind. He wanted to remember good things about his wife. “When they attacked her,” he finished.

“When who –“ Brewer started but Ian raised the hose causing Brewer to flinch. “OK, OK. I was there but I didn’t do nothing.”

“That’s exactly what you did do – nothing. You could have stopped it. You could have reported it.”

“They’re the Brandhall Mob! You don’t stop the Brandhall Mob; you don’t report the Brandhall Mob. I was scared! Don’t you get it? They’d have killed me, and they’ll kill you.”

“I’m not scared of dying.”

“Well that’s great for you, but I am,” said Brewer.

“I’ll kill you if you don’t tell me,” said Ian. “But if you do tell me who the others were they won’t kill you because I shall kill them first.”

Brewer's face seemed to lighten with relief at Ian's latest words. “OK, but If I tell you, will you let me go?”

“Oh, yes. I’ll let you go, Simon,” Ian replied, thinking 13 floors down would be quite a fall. He couldn’t trust this pile of shit not to warn his fellow mobsters and anyway, Brewer was just as responsible for Tracy’s death.

“Matty Burke and Martin Eadon,” said Brewer finally. “Now can you untie me?”

“Where will I find them?”

“Perry Hill Tavern. They’re in there most nights.”


Ian walked quickly past the small crowd which now gathered about the crumpled body of Simon Brewer. He wasn’t noticed. He settled into the driving seat of the Romahome and turned to Connie who’d stuck her head into the cab and was now licking Ian behind his ear.

“Let’s get something to eat eh, girl. I’m starving.”


Ian begrudgingly tossed Connie a piece of cod in batter. He was still hungry and Ian had rarely eaten a whole portion of Cod and chips before. Killing seemed to have given him an appetite. He scrubbed the grease from his meal onto his already grimy jeans and popped open his laptop. Opening Facebook he searched for Matty Burke, who was going by the name Mathew, at least the only one living in the area was. Ian memorised the face, which wouldn’t be difficult given he was sporting a mustache. Martin Eadon was also there, seems almost everyone was on Facebook. Ian would just deal with Burke first. He found the Post Code for Perry Hill Tavern an inputted it to his GPS.

The pub was an uninspiring grey building with faded paintwork and a car park littered with fallen leaves, crisp packets and the odd shopping trolley. Ian drove a few hundred yards further down the road and pulled in. He’d done his work for today. For now he was going to open a bottle or two and smoke a few fags then sleep off his fish and chips.


In the morning he drove to the nearest supermarket with toilet facilities. He had running water in the Roma but it was cold and it was easier to use Tesco’s water than heat some up in the van. Besides, he could breakfast at the supermarket as well. That had been the plan but after completing his ablutions he found he’d lost his appetite again, more than that the mere aroma of cooking fat made him want to upchuck. He fed Connie and then took her for a walk, and by that time it was nearing midday and the pub would be opening. He’d sit and read the daily newspaper and watch who came and went from the pub. Ian wound down the window and lit a cigarette while he read about Brexit, a subject which he knew would never affect him as he’d be long dead by the time it happened.

He sensed movement from the direction of the pub; the landlord seemed to be opening up and Ian glanced at his Crane sports watch – 30 seconds after the hour – punctual enough. He folded his paper and exited the van. If he was first in he wouldn’t be the one which everyone’s eyes fell on. Leaving Connie in the van he walked into the bar and ordered a pint of Banks’ bitter then found a quiet corner and sat down. He sucked the froth from the top of his glass and looked about. It was unremarkable; a pool table by the window, a fruit machine by the gents, and a dartboard the other side of the window. Not the sort of place you brought someone you wanted to impress, put it that way, Ian thought. He wondered if Tracy ever came here in her younger days, then decided he didn’t want to think about that. He opened his copy of The Mirror and tried to read but the door swung inwards, emitting a face he knew, a face that caused an icy finger to trace between his shoulder blades. At the same time warmth filled his cheeks as his anger rose.

Ian drank his pint and quickly walked to the bar where the barman and Matty were speaking in hushed conversation. Ian could make out a few words.

“Not again,” said the barman.

“Ah, go on, Gez. I get me dole check on Thursday,” argued Matty.

“Yes, and I won’t see you again until it’s all spent. I might have given you the impression that the Perry Hill Tavern is a charity, but I assure you that was the wrong impression,” he said, levelling a forefinger at Matty.

Ian placed his empty glass on the bar, hard enough for them both to know he was there.

They both turned. “Same again?” asked Gez while Matty gave Ian looks which might cause cancer.

“Yes please,” answered Ian. He noticed the claret and blue of Matty’s shirt. “Villa fan?”

Matty became less hostile, “Yeah, you?”

“Only for the past five decades,” said Ian. He hated Villa, he was Sky Blue all the way himself but Villa were rivals and he knew as much about them as a proper fan would. Matty looked confused momentarily, as if working out how long five decades was, or maybe even what a decade was.

“That’s sure long enough to know the good times and the bad times,” said Matty eventually.

“Mostly bad, the last three,” said Ian.

“Yeah, I’ll drink to that. Or I would if I had a drink.” He turned his cancer look on Gez who was placing Ian’s drink on the bar.

“You still here? Cos unless you find some money from somewhere you’ll be staying dry,” he said to Matty.

“I’ll get this,” said Ian, “Can’t have a fellow Villain going thirsty.”

“Hey, top bloke!” said Matty.


While Matty was taking a leak Ian emptied a few more tots of vodka into Matty’s glass. Getting him pissed was like trying to saturate chalk, thought Ian. Someone who could have been Martin Eadon had come into the pub and waved at Matty, but Matty was too engrossed with his new Villa fan friend.

Matty returned, his words slurred, his legs not as supportive as they should be and collapsed into his chair. “Anyway, why haven’t I ever seen you in here before?”

“I don’t live in the area. I’m visiting relations – funeral.”

“Anyone I know?” But before Ian could reply Matty continued, “I’ve got one of those coming up. Old school friend got killed yesterday.”

“Killed, you say?”

“Murdered – unless he managed to tie his hands behind his own back and jump off the thirteenth floor.”

“Wow, that’s gruesome. Anyone know who did it?”

“No. Fuckin’ cops are clueless. Couldn’t catch a lobster in a fish tank.”

“Jesus. I’m glad I’m not the one who had to shovel that mess up,” Ian said.

“Yeah, too right,” said Matty, taking another large swallow of his drink.

“Listen. I’m going to get off now. Don’t want to be staggering in to the in-laws’ house pissed as a prince.”

“Well, if you’re going that means I’m off too.” Matty tipped the remainder of his beer down his throat. Matty rose shakily to his feet and Ian gripped his arm.

“Hope you haven’t got far to walk,” said Ian.

“Any distance is too far in his state,” shouted Gez from across the room to which he received a rigid middle finger from Matty.


Outside, their breaths colluded with the cold night air to form clouds of mist. Ian wasn’t sure of his next step and decided to play it by ear.

“You said you were here for a funeral. You didn’t answer me when I asked who’d died,” said Matty.

Ian gripped the cosh in his pocket. “You didn’t give me chance. You were telling me about your dead friend. It was my wife’s funeral.”

“She was from around here? What’s her name? I might know her.”

“I doubt it. She wouldn’t voluntarily have associated with scum like you,” said Ian, in a matter-of-fact voice.

They continued to walk. Matty was silent, computing Ian’s words. Eventually he said, “Scum, who’re you calling scum?”

Ian laughed out loud, “Just pulling your plonker, Matty. Lighten up, mate.”

Ian stopped walking, his hand tight on the cosh. He looked around, making sure they weren’t being watched, then faced Matty. “Her name was Tracy, Tracy Taylor.”

He carried on walking.

“No, doesn’t ring a bell,” said Matty.

“No, it wouldn’t. That was her married name. It was suicide. Funny, the word suicide is still associated with a crime; sort of like murdering yourself. They used to try people for attempting to ‘commit’ suicide, do you know that? She didn’t murder herself, though. You did that.” He said it again in a matter-of-fact way which didn’t click with Matty.

“Do you hear what I’m saying, Matty?”

“Um, what was that?” he slurred.

“In a way your friend murdered himself,” Ian continued, “What he did, or in his case, didn’t do, when you raped Tracy Beardsmore, my future wife, led to his death. Therefore it was self-murder – suicide. Do you understand where I’m going with this? Would you like to write a suicide note, Matty?”

“Tracy Beardsmore? Hey, I did know someone called that, from fucking years ago. You married that? She was a right--”

The cosh caught Matty on the chin, breaking his jaw. His hand went up to hold it, pushing it into a strange angle. “Erwahwaer…” he tried to say something but the words remained in his broken maw.

“Shut your rapist mouth. Why should I believe a thing of the gutter over her?”

Matty let go of his jaw and took a swing, which Ian dodged with ease, then countered with a blow to the back of Matty’s head with his cosh. Matty fell to his hands and knees, barely moving. Ian hit him again and Matty fell to the ground this time, not moving at all. Ian hit him again, the vision of his dead wife foremost in his mind. He kept hitting the back of Matty’s head until the image was gone and there was little left of the rapist’s head to hit. He wiped blood and fingerprints from the cosh and tossed it to the ground beside the body.


Ian got back to the van, got in and started up. Connie was pleased to see him. Her long wet tongue like a slice of ham was licking him behind the ear as he drove. She must be hungry too, he thought. Christ, he could literally kill for roe and chips. There’s a chip shop, he thought. Know Your Plaice, not a bad pun but he couldn’t think of one better at the moment. He pulled in at the side of the road, exited the van and entered the chippy.

God, that had been hard work, he said under his breath. He’d waited nearly 20 minutes for chips as they had to be cooked from scratch, and all the time he’d been salivating like a bloodhound and now the chips were so hot he could feel them burning his hand through the chip paper. If he was going to get this ravenous every time he killed someone he’d have to start making sandwiches beforehand.

Ian opened the rear stable door to be greeted by Connie and he opened the bag of chips immediately for them to cool down. He picked up the battered roe which was marginally cooler and ripped it apart, giving half to Connie. Two down, one to go; Martin Eadon, say your prayers.


He awoke with a thick head. Whisky never had suited him but it helped him sleep. Connie placed her paw on his nose and he laughed. That felt good. He’d had no reason to laugh in such a long time. His backache had returned – part of the cancer, and the itchy skin too. He felt queasy but that could be down to the whisky but he wasn’t hungry either, but that could be something to do with the greasy meal the night before.

Martin Eadon would possibly be the most difficult. He’d recognise Ian, and there was little doubt Eadon would know of his friend’s death so Ian wouldn’t be able to enter the Perry Hill Tavern. He’d waited a week to let things cool off. Two friends dying in consecutive days was already a coincidence and Eadon may have been on high alert. Ian hoped that after a week with nothing unusual happening his third target might think his two friends’ deaths were a coincidence after all.

It was Saturday night. Eadon hadn’t shown up last night but Ian knew not everyone wanted to go out to the same pub every evening and he hadn’t seen him go in today, but he’d seen him come out a few times to smoke a cigarette. Ian timed the gap between each cigarette and it was around 45 minutes each time.

Ian checked his watch; 35 minutes. He peeked through the curtains to make sure he wasn’t being watched. He put on his baseball cap and picked up his sword. He pulled it from the scabbard and exited the van, giving Connie a pat on the head before he left. There was a dark recess where the bins were kept. He wheeled one of the bins out and hid behind it before checking his watch once more – it was time for Eadon’s fag break.

Ian heard the pub door swing open; heard someone cough, clear their throat and spit. He peered from behind the recess; yes, it was Eadon. Ian silently pushed away the wheelie bin and stepped out, the sword at his side. He walked forward and Eadon looked up at Ian’s approach.

“Martin, isn't it?” said Ian.

“Oh, alright. Hang on, didn’t I see you with Matty the other week, the night--”

Ian raised the sword and thrust it into Eadon’s throat. Eadon dropped his cigarette, his eyes wide as he tried to speak, gripping the blade with both hands. Ian used both of his own hands to bring more pressure on the sword, forcing it further into Eadon who dropped to his knees, his wordless mouth opening and closing.

“You killed my wife, you and your friends!” Ian seethed. “You raped her and she took her own life. Now I’m going after your family!”

He stood a few more moments, letting the horror of his words sink in to the dying man’s brain. Eadon’s eyes closed and his hands let go of the blade. Ian placed a foot on Eadon’s shoulder and tugged the sword free. He had no intention of going after Eadon’s family, they weren’t to blame for the sins of their father. No, he'd let them live.


Back at the van he shared a sandwich with Connie. As usual he was ravenous after his latest kill so he made himself another sandwich. What would he do next time his appetite faded, he thought?

“There're plenty of nasty people out there, Connie; a never-ending supply, starting on my very own street.”


It was 10.30 in the morning on bin collection day. Gez carried two black plastic bin bags by their necks like throttled turkeys. It had been a quiet night again and, as he often did, he wondered why he carried on with the pub. But he knew why, because he was now in his 60s and really didn’t have the energy left to do anything else. If he was forced to close down he’d be happy. That might give him the kick up the arse he needed to maybe do something else. He stopped and dropped the bin bags when he saw the wheelie bin had been disturbed. Kids messing around or one of his pissed up clients puking up behind it he supposed. He made to push it back but something was in the way, something big and heavy. He peeked cautiously behind the bin. There was way too much blood and he wondered how much you could lose and still be alive.

“Martin?” said Gez, reaching for his phone.

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