I’m nervous, it’s the first date I’ve had in at least five years. I don’t get many ‘likes’ on the dating website. Well, I wouldn’t, would I? With my face and head covered in tattoos including the satanic pentacle, my numerous piercings and my teeth ground to sharp, little points. Not many women would look at my photo and think ‘fancy that’ would they? But Jen is different; she sent me a ‘like.’ We started to message each other, progressed to texting and eventually spoke on the ‘phone a couple of times. At the end of our last ‘phone call, she asked.
‘Are we going to meet then, or what?’ It’s not what I want. Sitting alone in my room, I went on to the website to have someone to chat to. Like all women, she wasn’t satisfied with that. So here I am sitting on the Preston to Oxenholme train, mouth dry, clammy hands. I need to change at Oxenholme to get to Kendal, and then find the pub where we’re due to meet. The carriage is virtually empty, dusty and dirty. I stare out of the grim, smeary window, watching the landscape flash past me. The rhythmic swaying of the carriage and the clickety-clack of its wheels are soothing. I try to concentrate on these sensations rather than the squirming of my stomach.
No hitches so far, I made the connection to Kendal with no problems, and am now walking to the Duke of Cumberland. She’s already there, leaning against the wall, one knee bent, foot raised, sole flat against the brickwork. She’s watching the evening traffic go by, a serious expression on her face. She’s taller than me and skinny. She has long dreadlocks, which are tied back from her forehead with a colourful headscarf. Long earrings concocted of beads and feathers dangle from her ear lobes, she has multiple necklaces slung around her neck. Every now and then I can see her nose stud, glinting in the fading light. Denim dungarees over plaid shirt, and maroon Doc Marten’s on her feet. Not the chosen attire for most women on their first date.
Grandma: Not much of a lady is she?
Dan: Better than a poke in the eye with a blunt stick, mate.
Her face lights up as she sees me walking towards her, she has piercing blue eyes. We already know quite a bit about each other. I know that she has had her kids taken away by social care because of her drug and alcohol abuse, she knows that I live in an offenders’ hostel.
Together we go into the pub’s dingy interior and find a table for four. There are two wooden benches either side of it, the thin cushions barely thick enough to protect the bones of our bums.
‘What’ll you have?
‘Half a pint of hobgoblin, please.’
Grandma: Demon drink, Joseph.
Dan: Just a pint Jo, it’ll calm your nerves.’
I know that I shouldn’t. I know that it messes with my medication, but I’m thirsty and need something to relax me. So I order a pint to go with Jen’s half. I carry the two drinks back to our table, careful not to spill any, and slide into the pew opposite her. I take a grateful gulp of the amber liquid, and almost immediately feel some of my tension slip away.
She asks me about my journey, and we make idle conversation. I already know that she lives in a static caravan, but didn’t know that it’s on farmland. I’d assumed that it was located on some form of trailer park.
‘So do you work?’
‘Sort of. I help out on the farm, and clean at the local paper mill factory. In the summer months I clean the caravans on the site near Kendal. I’ve done that for the last couple of years. I make enough to put some aside, to tide me over the winter months. You?’
She’s finished her half, so I offer her another. I’m surprised to see that my pint has gone too.
‘No, you sit there. It’s my round.’
Grandma: You don’t need another.’
Dan: One more won’t do any harm.
She comes back to the table and places a pint in front of me. I start on it straight away, and it feels like liquid gold slipping down my throat. We continue with our conversation. She tells me that she sees her children once per month. I tell her that I’ve been inside for burglary (almost the truth). It’s getting dark outside, and I can tell that the time is getting on. Her glass is empty again.
‘You ready for another?’
‘No, daren’t have anymore, I’m driving. Made too many mistakes like that in the past.’
‘Ok, S’pose I’d better head off then.’
‘Do you have to go? I was wondering if you’d like to come and see my caravan.’
Dan: Go for it.
I know that I shouldn’t. I should just walk to the station, and catch the train back to Preston, and go back to my room in the hostel, but I’ve had two drinks, and it’s so long since anyone has shown any interest in me. So together we leave the drab atmosphere of the pub, and walk to a side street, where she’s parked her ancient fiat van.
‘Here we are.’
Grandma: Brazen Hussey.
As we travel out of Kendal into the countryside, Jen keeps up a commentary about how she loves living in the countryside, and how she’s found her inner peace.
Dan: Load of bollocks.
We travel through a small village and then turn into a narrow lane, barely wide enough for the van to pass through. The road is climbing upwards; we are heading up into the hills. Eventually, Jen turns through a gateway into a drive, a few yards down, she pulls off onto a grassy verge, and I can see her caravan. It’s set in its own plot of land and is small, even in the fading light, I can see that it’s shabby.
‘Here we are.’ About 500 yards further down the steeply sloping drive, the lights of the farm house are twinkling. Jen leads the way and throws open the caravan’s door. Immediately, I smell the unmistakeable aroma of weed.
‘Make yourself at home.’ I sit on a small couch, covered in a crocheted throw, and look around at my surroundings. There are school photos of two teenagers, presumably Jen’s kids, a feathered dream catcher hanging at one window, a built in unit filled with glasses, mugs and books, drawers below the shelving, a small tv in one corner, cheap coffee table by the settee and an unlit gas fire. Jen disappears through a door and returns with two tins of Tennants. She hands me one.
Dan: Better and better.
Grandma: You should go home to bed.
‘Do you mind if I have a fat one?’
‘No, go ahead.’
Dan: Not like you to refuse a smoke.
Grandma: Good boy.
I jealously watch as Jen opens a drawer in the unit and pulls out the paraphernalia to make up a roll-up: small green ball of hash, grinder, cigarette paper, and expertly constructs her reefer. She sparks up, and I begin to inhale the familiar herby smoke.
‘Oh go on then, I will join you.’
Dan: That’s more like it.
She passes the kit over to me, and continues to smoke, as I make up my joint. Soon we are both solemnly enjoying our smokes. We sit side by side, inhaling deep into our lungs and breathing out. As we share another, we get to the chatty, humorous stage, talking over each other, giggling and playfully slapping each other’s thighs.
Baphomet: Time to pay your dues.
Dan: Leave him alone.
Baphomet: Silence, little man.
Baphomet: Kill her.
‘I need a leak, where’s your bathroom?’ Jen indicates the door she came through with the tinnies, and says.
‘Through there, through the kitchen and the door’s straight in front of you.’
I stand up, and go through into the small toilet. A towelling dressing gown is hanging on the back of the door; I pull the cord out from its loops. I flush the toilet, and go back into the kitchen and caste my eyes around. Nothing of use lying around, so open a small drawer beside the sink. There, a long carving knife, just what I need.
Baphomet: Do it.
Back into the main room, Jen is still sitting, contentedly puffing at her spliff. She turns as I return, and eyes widen in surprise as she sees the knife in my hand. I throw the cord over her head and round her neck, and begin to tighten it, but she struggles, and she’s strong. First, she tries to pull the cord away from her throat with her fingers, but realising that this isn’t working, she turns and attempts to jab her cigarette in my face. She’s trying to get up, to stand. I twist the cord even tighter, and I can see the terror in her eyes. I attempt to stab her chest with the knife, but it’s blunt and won’t go in. She’s on her feet, gouging at my face with her hands, kicking out at me. Tighter I pull the cord, and then turn sideways on to her and with all my might ram her with my shoulder, so that she staggers. The sofa is knocked to one side, the coffee table falls. I can hear the sound of breaking glass and crockery as we fall into the wall unit. And still she fights on, squirming and swinging her arms. If I’m not careful, I’m going to lose this. With an almighty effort I try the knife again. I thrust it towards the softer area of her stomach, using it more like a hammer than a dagger. The denim of her dungarees resists, but then it tears, and I can feel the knife pierce her flesh.
There’s blood, lots of it, and I’m not sure when she actually dies. Certainly, she falls to the floor, but her eyes are still staring at me. I search around me for something to smash across her skull. The tv, I pick it up and throw it, crashing down onto her head. Then, bend and lift it off. There are fragments of glass in her hair, and splinters of wood across her face, but still she stares.
Baphomet: Her heart.
I go into the kitchen, in search of a sharper knife, and find a smaller one, which appears to have a keener blade. Back to where she’s lying. I roll back the bib of her dungarees, rip open her shirt. It’s the first time, I’ve seen her without clothes. We never got into sexting or the exchanging naked pictures thing. She’s not wearing a bra, and lying there her chest is almost flat, just two small mounds with tiny chocolate button nipples. I stare fascinated at the opaque, whiteness of her body. The red slash on one side of her stomach makes a startling contrast. There’s a twitch of interest in my groin area.
Baphomet: Her heart.
I try to slice open her rib cavity with my knives. They cut her skin and layer of fat, but make no impression on her ribs. I decide to go upwards, through her stomach. I make a large incision in her tummy area, and begin to pull out body parts.
Baphomet: Intestine, wear it as a neckless.
I wind the purple-pink, slimy tube loosely around my neck several times, letting it droop onto my chest until it breaks. I match Jen now, with multiple loops of necklace. Finally, reaching deep into her body I locate her heart. It takes some pulling, but eventually the blood vessels holding it in place release their grip, and I have it in my hands. Blood running through my fingers, down my wrists onto my forearms
Baphomet: Eat it.
I take a bite. It’s surprisingly chewy, almost leathery and still warm. I keep munching, more blood spurting out with each bite, until at last I’m finished.
She’s laying there, gaping hole in her body with random bits hanging out, those blue eyes staring at me. I decide to fix it, and decisively gouge at one with the smaller knife. A trickle of clear jelly spurts out. I keep stabbing and wriggling the knife, until all that remains of the eye is the black hole of the eye socket.
Dan: Man, look what you’ve done.
Grandma: Just look at the mess you’ve made.
Dan: Take the van and leg it.
Grandma: Clear up this minute.
And so, I redress Jen covering the gaping hole where her stomach once was with her dungarees, reposition the couch into its original position, and put the coffee table back onto its legs. I even go into the kitchen and find a dust pan and brush to sweep up the broken crockery and glass. Finally, I drag Jen onto the sofa. She’s heavy for such a thin woman, but by putting my arms under her armpits, and using one knee to help lift her, I eventually manage it. I sit her up, as though she’s been there all evening. I’m exhausted now. I suppose it’s the mixture of the protein that I’ve just devoured, the hash, alcohol and physical exertion. I sit beside Jen, and doze off.
Yoo hoo! Jen. I’ve got some eggs left over from the market. Do you want them?’ A voice wakes me. It’s the farmer’s wife. I realise that I am covered in dried blood, I can smell the tinny odour of it. Beside me on the sofa sits Jen. She is listing to one side, and her remaining eye is staring, fixedly at the caravan’s door.
Dan: Better run, mate.
Baphomet: Get the knives
A knock on the door and it swings open….
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