Some say it’s the car or the wheel, best ever invention I mean. Penicillin, saved millions of lives you know, some people’d choose that. Television, what about that? Everyone loves the telly, don’t they? Mobiles phones? Mobile phones? What about them?
Cordless drill, best invention ever.
Need some DIY doin but no leccy? Cordless drill. Need to drill in your shed and the cable won’t reach? Cordless drill. What about in the loft, no juice up there? Yep, cordless drill.
Now when I gets a call from Four Fingers Jerry at two in the morning, I kind of knows he don’t want no shelves putting up. You see, there’s two problems with Jerry. First he’s actually got three fingers and a thumb, but Four Digit Jerry wouldn’t sound right would it? Second, he’s a right evil bastard. Psycho Jerry they used to call him, not to his face mind. But ever since that accident, it’s Four Fingers Jerry.
First met him when I did some grouting for his Mam. I mean I’ve seen him about and that, but we never spoke. He was in the year above me at school. Started his empire at an early age. Ran a protection racket. Not unusual for school kids I know, except his had a difference, he was collecting from the teachers. Anyway, at his Mams, he was well impressed. He’d never seen a cordless drill before. I gives him the full demo, showed him what it could do, even put a shelf up to show how easy it is. He couldn’t believe it. ‘Gives me an idea,’ he says. ‘Maybe I might have some work for you, something extra like.’
Now, Four Fingers Jerry ain’t the kind of man you turn down. Plus I needs all the work I can get after what those bankers have done and all that. So I drove to his lock up. Dead tired I was, hadn’t got any sleep. Probably shouldn’t have driven either, had a couple of jars down the crown earlier.
When I gets there, his Jag’s parked outside. Pristine it is. He don’t go for no foreign cars. Likes it made in England. Very patriotic man Jerry is. I walks up to the unit and knocks on the door. One of his knuckle scrapers opens the little hatch and I could see two brown eyes peeping at me.
A bolt twisted somewhere inside and the door squeaked open. I waited until the knuckle scraper nods me in. Inside it’s like a car repair workshop. Cold and brick lined. Couple of hydraulic ramps in the middle. The smell of oil and grease ain’t recent. Don’t reckon a cars been repaired there for months, years even. As I walked through, I noticed the heavy chains hung up and the recently white washed wall behind it.
Four Fingers Jerry’s stood by one of the ramps with another knuckle scraper. Seeing me, he walks over, smiling. My heart was in my mouth a bit, I mean, you don’t wanna get on the wrong side of him. Whatever he wants me to do, I’m gonna do it.
‘Chris,’ he said. ‘Welcome to my workshop. I got a job for you.’
I nodded me head, trying not to look him in the eyes. I also tried to not stare at the stump where the finger’s missing, but it’s real hard not to.
He explained what he wanted me to do. Construct a little jig from metal and wood to fit over the top of the hydraulic ramp. I kind of knew what it was for but you can’t say no. You just can’t say no.
So now I’m stood here, next to the frame of metal in the middle of the ramp. There’s holes for chains in the wood section that runs crossways. Drilled em with the cordless drill. Made it an job easy. The other part of the jig, the part on the floor, it’s like one of those medieval stocks. Just for the feet mind. Cut the holes, rounded them out then smoothed them off. All with the drill. All with the cordless drill.
Jerry’s nodding at me saying I’ve done a good job, it’s just what he wanted. He asks me if I want to be the first to try it. I laughs at him. You got to haven’t you. Except he ain’t laughing back. His eyes have changed. Like daggers of hate they are. The knuckle scrapers are walking over, they got pieces of chain in their hands.
‘No Jerry.’ I shakes me head, but he’s just staring straight at me, evil flooding from his face.
The scrapers grab me. I try to resist but they’re like mules. One of them punches me in the stomach. Feels like he’s punched a hole right through. I’m badly winded, struggling for breath and the two scrapers are bolting my feet together in the stocks.
I’m still struggling for air as they pull my arms up. My belly’s killing as I straighten, feels like it’s on fire. They wrap my hands in chain and lock them in place to the cross bar.
Jerry’s walking towards me now. His face’s turned to pure hate. He takes a few blows at my face. I can taste blood and my jaw don’t feel straight. Me eyes starting to puff over but I can still see him. Still see the hate.
He walks to the control box for the ramp. Starts it up. I tries to say no, please don’t, but my mouth won’t speak. He raises it a bit. The slack goes in my arms. I’m stretching as far as I can. My ankles are hurting and my back’s in agony. He moves it a bit more. I scream. Really loud scream. My back feels like it’s gonna break.
Jerry starts talking. I can’t really hear what he’s saying but I soon get the drift. That shelf I put up for his mum. It fell down, didn’t it. I’d been cutting costs, using Poundshop rawlplugs and screws. Fell clean off the wall. The jar that’d been on the shelf fell too, smashed on the carpet, the dust inside went everywhere. Except that dust, it weren’t really dust. It was ashes. Jerry’s Grandma’s ashes.
He picks up my cordless drill. He’s struggling to use it cos of his missing finger, but he’s determined. He starts it up, an inch from my eye. I try to move but I can’t. My back’s killing. I can feel bones crack every time I twist my head.
Jerry moves in with my drill towards my eye, but, it starts slowing down. The battery’s dying. It grinds to a halt as he tries it again and again clumsily with his stumpy hand.
He shakes his head and turns round. ‘We’ll be back later when it’s recharged,’ he says, walking away.
Reckon that’s the worst thing about cordless drills. The battery always runs out halfway through a job.
Charlie Wade lives in Derbyshire and has written two novels. Some of his short stories have been published online and his story, Pleading and Bleeding, will be in Out Of The Gutter Issue 7. He’s currently writing a new book and he occasionally blogs at http://spiesliesandpies.blogspot.com/