I been freezin me bollocks off waitin for him to tell me. Freezin me fuckin bollocks off. He better not let me down. Not now. Not let me down. That’s a laugh. He’s spent his whole life fuckin doin that.
I stroke his hair, wet with snow.
‘Have you had a good life?’
It keeps on fallin, this snow, ticklin the back of me neck as I’m bent over him.
I lean into his face and ask him again. Slower, like I’m carvin the words out of a mountain.
‘Have you had a good life?’
He turns his head sideways and coughs up a load of blood.
A good life. I mean, what is that? Really. Something you feel inside? You know, a feelin that you’ve done the job you come here for? Is that it? That feelin when it’s like you can hear the whole universe singin? Or is havin a good life down to everyone else? The outside. How much people love you and whatever, is that a good life?
He’s tryin to talk and his voice is thick like an old woman chewin toffee. Thick and gurglin. But there ain’t no words comin out. He ain’t got long. If he don’t tell me soon I ain’t ever gonna know.
He stares in at me with his black eyes. Gulps and licks his broken lips like he’s gonna tell me. He might as well cos he knows he ain’t got much left. And I reckon that’s the only point you can make that sort of judgement anyway, you know, if you’ve had a good life.
Right at the end.
He’s sort of mouthin the words he wants to say but I don’t get none of it. And there’s tears come in his eyes and blood and dark all down his chin.
Then his eyes glaze over. Just like that.
He never did say nothing about the good life thing. I reckon I know what he would’ve said, mind, cunt that he was. And if he had, if he had’ve done, said he was sorry for what he done and that he’d always loved me and all that, I would’ve twisted that blade right up through his throat, right up through his fuckin throat.
I stand up weary and drop the knife in the snow. Pull me head back. And I let the snowflakes fall onto my face and into my eyes and into my mouth and they float down inside me, drift down, till all the dark I got’s covered up with this sort of ice-cold blisterin beauty.
I can’t feel the dark no more. None of it. But the ice-cold what’s covered it up, it burns.
It burns so fuckin much.
Bio: Ian Ayris spends most of his time trying to catch the voices and see the colours, and it is a most tiring pursuit. He has been fortunate enough, however, to have over twenty published short stories to his name. These stories can be found online in such places as Thrillers, Killers ‘n’ Chillers, Beat to a Pulp, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Curbside Splendour, Waterhouse Review, A Twist of Noir, and Pulp Metal Magazine. There will be further stories appearing in Yellow Mama, Voluted Tales, Powder Burn Flash, and A Twist of Noir. He has been published in print in each of the four Byker Books Radgepacket collections and two Static Movement anthologies, plus the upcoming Out of the Gutter Issue 7.
Ian lives in Old Blighty with his wife and three children, just outside London. His debut novel ‘Abide With Me’ is to be published in 2011 by Caffeine Nights Publishing.