Two guys wearing plaid jackets hung back in the shadows and listened to a distant song.
The melody was familiar and a little catchy and it began to rain.
Their jackets were immaculate and the drops fell more and more heavily as they stood there.
Finally the tune stopped as abruptly as if someone had cut a wire.
The older of the men, who had a grey beard that was neatly trimmed at the edges turned to the younger one and said ‘love songs make me want to kill’.
He was six foot and well muscled.
His companion was broad and had a jaw that looked like it was set in concrete.
‘It’s bitches’ music’, he said, withdrawing a toothpick from his mouth and inspecting it. ‘They’re all the same, they want romance and a little money on the side.’
‘That’ll be right Al.’
‘How bout we do what we came here for?’
‘Hank I think that’s a fine idea.’
He pulled a silver Smith and Wesson from his pocket and cut a small nick into its custom designed and ornately decorated handle with a razor. Then he stepped out into the dimly lit street followed by Hank.
Their jackets looked like they were stained with blood not rain.
They walked to a pick up and drove a few miles and stopped at the edge of some property.
The metal enclosure of the vehicle seemed like a cage within which they scarcely moved.
‘The usual?’, Al said.
‘Sure. It seems to be our signature.’
‘See the quarry?’
Hank pointed up to the silhouette of a woman at the window of a large house.
She was removing her bra and a man in casual slacks and a T-shirt was watering plants in the garden below.
She pulled the blind down as Al and Hank got out.
Hank lit a cigar and blew its blue smoke into the hot night air. Then they walked through the luxuriant garden past the small waterfall and stood behind the man for a few moments until he smelled smoke and turned.
‘What do you think you’re doing? This is private land.’
‘We’re here to kill you and fuck your wife’, Al said.
The man was about to say something when Hank pulled a curved dagger from his coat.
It was a graceful gesture that formed an arc and neatly sliced the man’s neck apart. Two metres of blood shot from the wound and showered Al’s pants.
‘Look at what you’ve done’, he said, as the man dropped to the ground and Al began kicking him.
He did not stop kicking him until his head was unrecognisable and looked like a burst melon.
Then they entered the house by the back door and walked upstairs where they found the wife in the bedroom.
She was lying naked on the bed beneath a large fan.
It was a hot night and she was sweating.
Al held her down while Hank raped her then they took it in turns, one of them applying the leather bind they used to stifle their victims’ screams until she was not moving any more.
Then they watched as she crawled across the floor, trailing blood.
Al stood there as Hank rummaged through drawers and found the safe behind a picture of a lake with a woman swimming in it.
‘That a picture of you bitch?’, he said, pulling her head up by her golden hair.
He paused and laughed at the mess she and Al had made of her.
‘What’s the combination?’
She told him and he removed the money then he reached into one of the drawers and threw a tampon at her.
‘Clean yourself up whore.’
Al stood there smoking and turned on the radio.
‘Things can only get better’ was playing and he started laughing before her shot her head off.
He held the gun tight against her skull and pumped the trigger repeatedly until she was more neck than head.
Hank started laughing.
‘Now that’s what I call giving head.’
‘She’s a generous bitch’, Al said.
The only audience to their laugher was a small boy who stood in the darkened hallway clutching a blanket.
He stared at his dead and violated mother until dawn rose and he called the police.
During the entire time he had witnessed her torture and murder he had kept his thumb in his mouth.
When the emergency services arrived they found he had bitten through it.
Al and Hank had been touring the States carrying out this routine for a year when this happened.
Al and Hank had grown up in homes.
Two destitute children who had known only abuse they learned hatred young and fed on its poisoned stem until they became as savage as their abusers.
Hank had been running a small porn shop when he employed Al and they used to sit and talk after hours about the things they’d like to do.
Then one day Hank made two announcements.
‘I’m selling up’, he said. ‘I’m going on the road to do some killing, maybe a little rape too.’
Al was picking his teeth and looked at him as he inspected the result of his excavation.
‘Fuckin right. Wanna come?’
Al shrugged. He pulled a strand of red meat from the pointed wood.
‘Sure. Nothin better to do.’
They say the devil makes work for idle hands but whatever devil accompanied them on their long reign of terror was as indifferent as the insect world to human suffering.
They conducted their raids on houses with no trace of emotion whatsoever.
Al wore a permanent look of amused curiosity at the human suffering he was the accomplice in, while Hank tried at times to summon the ghost of some feeling he once knew but could not name.
One evening years later they sat and drank whisky at a crumbing motel at the edge of a small town in Mexico.
Every time they entered a hotel room they would remove the mirrors from the wall.
That evening the sky felt on fire.
Over 100 degrees of burning July heat.
‘Why do we do this everywhere we go?’, Al said, staring out of the window at the fireflies that bombed the violent night.
Hank had his boots up on a table and stared straight ahead of him.
‘Take the mirrors off the wall?’
Hank rarely looked at Al any more but on this occasion he stood and removed his boots before walking up to him and saying ‘don’t you get it?’
‘I’m askin you.’
‘We’s the mirrors, you an me we’re the same. Why would we want to see double?’
‘There’s gotta be a new way.’
‘What’s wrong with a little cuttin?’
‘I’m tired of the way the women look at us ain’t you?’
‘What did you think Al? You’d meet a nice girl and settle down and marry?’
‘We’s dog meat boy.’ Hank waved his cigar at him. ‘Likes of you an me we’s not fit. Remember those homes and all the things they did to you in there? All that money for abusing kids. So we take our revenge right? Like we discussed, we screw the wealthy wives of bastards who coin it in and we kill em. After that there ain’t no road back to a normal life. We live in the savage world of men boy, world without end.’
‘Think all men are like us?’
‘Deep down, sure, they just don’t know it yet.
‘I need to make it more exciting.’
‘Ain’t it good when those bitches piss themselves? See the humiliation in their faces? They would look down their noses at us if they passed us in the street in their designer outfits. We’s just trash to them. But this way we get to have them and kill their men. I’d say that’s a fine life.’
‘This town feels like a dead end.’
‘Everywhere’s a dead end man. That’s why we do what we do.’
‘We stayin here?’
‘We do some killin and move on.’
‘We been here longer than anywhere else Hank.’
‘Where’s that waiter?’
‘Don’t you think we’re drawing attention to ourselves?’
‘Why should we be?’
‘Two men in a room that’s nowhere?’
‘Scared of somethin Al?’
‘What are you sayin? That because we stem the tide of our nightmares by giving them to other people, that because we rape women and kill em we’re faggots?’
‘You still scream at night Hank.’
He removed his cigar and stamped it out on the tiles and looked out at the fire flies.
‘What are your nightmares Hank?’
‘That I ain’t killed enough people.’
‘Yours screams are real.’
Hank turned and looked at the face of the only person he had ever held as a constant in his scarred world and he felt the same unsettling hatred he’d begun to feel every time he did.
‘I recall the way they held me down and stuck their dicks in me, that bitch nurse watching and what she put me through in bed afterwards.’
‘She ran it?’
‘She ran the abuse of small boys and their ritual humiliation at the hands of men who paid her for organising it. She enjoyed humiliating small boys and torturing their souls.’
‘What did she look like?’
‘Can’t say as I remember.’
‘She was blonde.’
‘Like all the women we rape?’
Hank shrugged and lit another cigar.
‘That’s the way it goes.’
‘So we kill her over and over again.’
‘Don’t you get it Al? This is about power, we had ours taken so we take it back.’
‘By killing the symbol of some nurse who’s dead.’
‘Oh she’d dead all right, pity.’
‘I wanted to catch up with her and rape her over and over again. Used to lie awake thinking about it, so when I discovered one of the boys she abused came back for her and hacked her into so many pieces the police didn’t even know what they were looking at I felt angry.’
‘Yeah. I wanted to do it. I wanted to do worse to her. I needed to. That was the biggest sense of deprivation I’ve ever known and so here we are.’
‘Here we are. You and me. Different homes, same story, save for a few details and the places you can find our scars. But sometimes I think maybe I could have took a different road.’
‘Why this one? So soaked in blood?’
‘Too late to back out now. This is about revenge.’
‘Sometimes I think you’re the devil.’
‘Does the devil wear plaid?’
‘If he does it don’t look as tired and worn as yours.’
He looked at the back of the chair on which Hank’s jacket hung like a ruined flag.
‘There’s a whore out there’, Hank said, ‘and she’s waiting for us.’
‘We kill her and we move on, we been here too long.’
‘You frightened of something Al?’
‘We never been caught. We keep moving.’
‘We go out tonight and we leave tomorrow.’
‘Been getting some funny looks.’
‘Back to the gay thing again?’
‘No. Not that.’
‘One of the waiters.’
‘What about him?’
‘I dunno. I get the sense he suspects us, knows something.’
‘How could he?’
‘Yeah well, we’ll keep an eye on him.’
‘You know Hank, revenge is full of pitfalls’.
‘What you talkin about?’
‘Sometimes I think it’s a mirror.’
‘There ain’t no mirrors in our rooms.’
‘You take revenge for something that happened to you you’re killing a symbol and some part of yourself and that thing may have its own allies who come after you. If you mean to kill something you need to kill its offspring too.’
‘Like the Nazis?’
‘Like the Nazis. They wanted to wipe out an entire race.’
‘It didn’t work did it?’
‘No it didn’t Hank.’
Hank poured them both a whisky.
‘What if you’s justified?’, Al said.
‘What if that person you take revenge on deserved it?’
‘His kids may not feel the same way.’
‘Everyone’s pitching their own shit?’
‘No one cares for nothin save what affects them.’
‘We like doin this though don’t we Hank?’
There was a knock at the door and the waiter entered with a tray of food that smelled rank in the night air.
He was a young man whose face seemed to hold some suffering and he held his head down and did not look at the two men.
He placed the tray over on the table and held out his pad for Hank to sign.
Hank scrawled his name on the white sheet and looked with curiosity and contempt at him.
The waiter raised his eyes and held Hank’s stare, a fact that did not go unnoticed by Al, who stood by the door watching this.
Very few people could look for any length of time into Hank’s eyes.
A firefly bombed into the window and Hank looked over at the pane of glass and back to the waiter.
He dropped his eyes.
‘How’d you lose your thumb boy?’
‘There are no accidents.’
Al thought the waiter was removing cutlery from his pocket as Hank stood there staring at him. But it was not cutlery.
He pulled a gun from his coat pocket and shot Hank straight through the head.
The gesture was so gentle it was unreadable.
Brain matter flew across the room, landing on Al, who was reaching for his weapon when the waiter fired again.
He walked over to Al, whose chest was pouring with blood.
‘This is for my mother’, he said. ‘You raped her and I watched as a small boy.’
‘Don’t you need to do worse to us?’, Al said.
‘No. For I live among men and the company they keep.’
‘Don’t you even want to torture us?’
The waiter looked down at him as he lay there and said nothing for a while.
Al searched for his image in the waiter’s eyes but all he could see were the fireflies at the window.
The waiter raised his gun and shot Al cleanly through the head then he walked out into the night.
He drove home to his wife and family.
Richard Godwin writes dark crime fiction, and he lets it slip the net like wash into horror.
He writes plays and black satires.
His work has appeared in many publications, places like A Twist Of Noir and Pulp Metal Magazine. You can find links to his stories on the magazines page. Stories of passion turning on the edge of a razor, and the lies people tell themselves falling apart at the edge of nowhere, while men and women wander a wasteland looking for their souls.
His play ‘The Cure-All’ has been produced on the London stage. It is a dark satire about a group of confidence tricksters using the New Age to rip off their greedy venal customers. His works in print include ‘Chemical’, in the Anthology ‘Back In 5 Minutes’, released by Little Episodes Publishing in February 2010, and ‘Doll’, in ‘Howl: Tales Of The Feral And Infernal’ by Lame Goat Press in March 2010.
His first crime novel ‘Apostle Rising’ is about to be published and will be released for sale onto the market at the beginning of 2011.