Douglas knew he
was going to murder his girlfriend before he met her, but he did
not know why.
afternoon, Douglas was sprayed out over the sofa, his left hand
scratching his balls, his right, sporadically dipping into a
large packet of economy crisps. He carelessly flicked between
channels, until he arrived at the news. He considered switching
it over, but the flashing red caption 'breaking news' drew him
in. It read: 'Meaning of life - finally discovered.' Douglas sat
up, but his hand continued to rummage around in his underpants.
He increased the volume of the television.
A bony looking
man, surrounded by journalists and flashing lights, smiled
awkwardly at the camera and started to speak. His name was Doctor
"I can confirm
that after several tests and strong evidence, that life is in
fact a repeated cycle. Once we have died, we are immediately
reborn and the pattern repeats itself. In other words we never
control what we do," he said.
An air of
excitement reverberated around the Doctor. Douglas watched with
wide-eyed anticipation, shoving the crisps into his mouth.
"How can you
prove it?" A journalist asked.
smiled and pushed his glasses up.
"At this current
moment we cannot release any further information because it is
still early days," he said. This announcement is met with an
enormous groan. Douglas shook his head.
nutters," he exclaimed and switched the television off. Douglas
screwed the bottom of the crisp packet, leant back and poured the
excess crisp crumbs into his mouth. Some do not succeed in
meeting their target. Douglas swallowed the remains, dropped from
the sofa and clambered up the stairs to his room.
bedroom door open, Douglas traipsed in and collapsed onto the
"I should really
be doing more than this," he muttered.
his eyes, his arms dropped down by the side of his mattress and
his fingers poked under the bed. They grazed an object, which he
did not expect to be there. He opened his eyes, rummaged under
the bed without looking. His arm pulled out a recordable DVD in
its case. Douglas opened the container and examined the contents,
trying to find some trace of what might be on it. There was no
evidence. He jumped from the bed and ran down the stairs.
Kneeling down in front of the television unit, he shoved the DVD
into player, pushing it shut with his hands. He opted to watch
the action unfold from where he was sitting. He sat upright when
the image appeared. It was him.
need to know what I'm about to tell you," he explained, "I've
killed your girlfriend. I didn't mean to do it, it just
at the screen, his mouth wide open.
"I'm telling you
now Douglas, please don't do this," he continued, "I cannot live
with the guilt and I'm about to stop that but you have an
opportunity to avoid this situation." He reached into his pocket
and pulled out a photograph of an attractive looking
remember the face." Douglas then produced a gun from his other
pocket, pressed the barrel firmly against his temple and pulled
the trigger. The sound of bullet piercing skin caused Douglas to
jump. He reached over and repeatedly pressed the eject button on
the DVD player. Snatching the disc from its jaws, Douglas threw
it at the wall. It remained in one piece. Douglas clutched is
stomach. His breathing increased.
deep breaths, he slowly composed himself.
A couple of
years later, the contents of that DVD lingered in his memory but
he worked every day to suppress what he saw. Should the thought
of it enter his mind he would immediately try and think of
something else. Life around him and his own existence had
ridiculing of Doctor McGovern's news conference, there were areas
of society who believed his so-called discoveries. This resulted
in people desperately trying to change their lifestyles. Those
who considered themselves overweight stuck to strict exercise
regimes. The bachelors and the spinsters sought each other out
and married in an attempt to avoid a lifetime of loneliness.
Douglas, who had often searched for some form of meaning himself,
found a job, in an office, with stacks of banal paper
assigned a task of transferring several boxes of paperwork from
the basement to the third floor. As the lift was indisposed, he
was forced to rely on his skinny arms.
The first two
trips were fine but by the third, his arms were shaking from the
pressure of carrying and walking. He kicked the next box, putting
his foot through the side.
there?" A voice said.
at the thought of someone witnessing his mild act of aggression.
When he turned to see who the bystander was, he wanted to vomit.
It was Maria.
ain't you?" Maria asked, holding her hand out. Douglas
"I'm Maria," she
continued. Douglas shook himself out of his panic and
reciprocated the gesture.
said, "you made me jump, feel like a bit of tit you seeing me do
Maria smiled and
waved her hand.
"Don't be so
silly," she explained, "I know what it's like. Listen, I thought,
seeing as no other sod as bothered, you might like to go for a
spot of lunch."
Douglas tried to
swallow, but his throat was dry.
"You don't have
to pay," she explained, "just down the pub, you know, couple of
pints and a pizza or something."
The lighting in
the Queens Arms pub was dim. Douglas thought to himself how
deserted it was for lunchtime. There was only what he assumed
were the regulars, the elderly men who supped on their one pint
of Guinness for a ridiculously long time, pondering their own
"If we both get
bangers and mash, we can go halves on the price," Maria
explained. Douglas nodded. He watched as Maria slid into a booth
and he cautiously moved in opposite her.
"What do you
think about this whole meaning of life thing?" Maria asked.
Douglas sat back looking around with his eyes, concerned there
might be some form of hidden camera watching.
"I don't know to
be honest," he replied, "I mean, they haven't proved it have
"That is the
beauty of the whole thing though," Maria laughed, "that is the
genius, they don't have to prove it do they? I mean they say
they've evidence to prove it but they're not allowed to show
he enjoyed watching her speak. He had stumbled upon a rarity, a
person with something to say.
"So you don't
believe in it then?" Douglas asked.
Maria shook her
she exclaimed, "load of old bollocks ain't it? It's just an
excuse for people to do what they want."
dumped two plates of what Douglas assumed was food, onto the
"There you go,"
the barman muttered before stomping off.
delicious," Maria said, "the fact that it only took five minutes
to cook athree sausages is a sure sign of quality."
Over the next
few weeks, the pair shared secrets, exchanged anecdotes and
continuously made each other laugh. Every night Douglas would
dream about Maria, frustrated at finding his ideal woman but not
being able to act upon it. Unfortunately, it was a situation
Douglas was losing control of.
"You ever going
to ask me out or what?" Maria asked one day over a pub lunch.
Douglas stared at her, he knew what he wanted to say, the knots
in his stomach tightened even further and his palms were
Douglas said, "I want to say yes but I can't." Maria's look
dropped into the pile of mush on her plate.
like that," he continued, "I wanted to say yes, I wanted to ask
you out, but I can't do it."
Maria lifted her
head, making the conscious effort not to look at him.
"I'm not gay or
anything like that," he explained, "but if I ask you
out...listen, I need to show you something. It'll explain this
whole thing. I mean it could jeopardise our friendship, but I
really need to tell someone about it."
Her head moved
to look at him. Douglas watched as she examined his face for
traces of the truth.
"Is this some
sort of sick joke?" Maria asked.
"Please, I'm not
trying to be a perv or nothing."
Maria arrived at Douglas's flat. When Douglas answered the door,
he was surprised that her choice of clothing was not that casual.
He ushered her in and led her through to the lounge. She perched
on the end of the sofa.
"Before I do
this, it isn't a windup of anything like that," Douglas
Maria stared at
him before switching her gaze to the screen. Douglas pressed
play. When his image emerged, he watched Maria's reaction. He saw
how the look of shock increased the further the DVD went on. Once
the ordeal was over, the room was engulfed with silence.
"I found it
under my bed," Douglas said, "just after that whole meaning of
life thing was put on the tele. I've been wanting to show it to
someone for ages but.."
bastard," Maria said.
Douglas tried to
swallow, but his mouth was like a parchment and he was unable to
form any saliva.
"Maria, this is
for real, I didn't make it up, you've got to believe me," Douglas
begged. Maria stood up from the sofa and walked quickly towards
the door. Douglas ran over and grabbed her by the arm but she
shook it free.
Douglas pleaded, "please listen to me, I've been wanting to tell
someone about this for ages."
"Don't touch me,
don't talk to me, just leave me alone."
Douglas made one
last feeble attempt to stop her but she turned and stamped her
foot on his toe. The force of this act of aggression allowed
Maria to wriggle free, yank the door open and slam it behind her.
Douglas slid down the wall and held his head in his hands. Tears
started to flow.
"What have I
done?" Douglas whimpered.
himself up from the floor and walked over to the television set.
He stared at the frozen image of himself. He surged towards the
screen and threw it onto the floor. Sparks and little pieces of
metal flew above him.
He watched as
the mini fireworks display gradually fizzed out. He started to
cry once more before collapsing onto the sofa. He buried his face
in his hands.
to move on with his life, but was eventually forced to resign
from his job. The sadness of not being allowed to speak to Maria
swelled inside him. He wanted to meet another girl like her, but
his search proved fruitless. Until he met Rochelle.
In his head, he
knew Rochelle was the poor mans version of Maria. She bore a
slight physical resemblance but the sense of humour was different
and the spark that Douglas once knew was never to be present in
this relationship. Douglas accepted he was never going to be
happy. He decided to end it. He purchased a gun and was ready to
extinguish his life that same afternoon. Unfortunately his
turmoil was about to increase.
collapsed in a chair when he heard this news. Rochelle's face was
covered with delight and joy. Douglas was unable to share
"I'm sorry, but
I can't do this anymore, I didn't want to drag you into it."
Douglas pulled the gun from his pocket and held it to his
"What the hell
are you playing at?" Rochelle asked.
over to stop him. She was a little taller and able to grapple
with him until his grip became too loose. The gun fell to the
floor, a bullet firing from the barrel. Douglas watched in
disbelief as Rochelle collapsed to the floor. An air of calmness
passed over him. He bent down to pick up the gun. He entered his
bedroom and pulled open his top drawer. Inside were a video
camera and a picture of Maria.