The headline jumps out at me as I walk towards the counter. ‘Another hooker murdered’! I glance down the article and see that she is named in the first paragraph, meaning that despite knowing her name they have chosen to refer to her simply as “a hooker”. Like it’s some sort of consolation. ‘We’re reporting murder and death but don’t worry, it’s not anyone important it’s just a hooker’. I shake my head as I hand the money to the cashier and ignore her worried stares.
Catching a glimpse of myself in the window as I leave I can vaguely understand her concern. The bags under my eyes are huge, black rings and are unfortunately made even more prominent by the paleness of my skin. I rake a hand through my dirty hair, pull up my hood and cross Byres Road in the direction of my flat.
As the hustle and bustle of the West End’s busiest street dies off behind me my thoughts drift to him. Truth be told my thoughts tend to centre around him most of the time; his eyes, his hair, his smile. I think how he hasn’t smiled as much recently and clench my fists. It’s completely her fault. The tramp he was living with. I hate her.
I pull on latex gloves as I approach my front door. I push my keys into the lock and as the door opens the smell hits me. I slam it violently behind me and lock it quickly. Leaning against the door, worry settles in my stomach like a bad meal and for a moment I think I’m going to be sick. I squeeze my eyes closed and inhale deeply.
I lurch my way towards the bathroom and splash water on my face. Raising my eyes to the mirror I sigh and for the second time in an hour I think how fucking awful I look. How in the name of God is he ever going to want me looking like this?
With this in mind I drop my carrier bag on the floor, flick the shower on and undress. The hot water pounds off my scalp and my skin tingles as I stand under the stream. I trail a gloved finger across the fresh scars on my arms and winch as the soap stings the open wounds. Sometimes it’s hard to remember why this whole thing came to be but then sometimes I’m positive it’s just down to fate. I turn my head up to the stream and close my eyes to the needles of water now hitting my face. I stand like this for a long time and feel some of my worry ebb out as if being washed down the drain.
Eventually I step out the shower and towel myself dry. I pull vaguely clean clothes out of the rucksack sat in the corner, pushing my dirty clothes and towel inside once I’m dressed. Dragging a brush through my hair I catch sight of two fiery, red scrapes on my neck and curse under my breath. Another war wound.
The walk to the kitchen involves hauling myself over a rolled up carpet in the hallway and slip sliding over some polythene that seems to have come loose from the straps holding it in a roll. The newspaper in my carrier bag bumps against my thigh as I make my way.
Eventually entering the kitchen I grab a bottle of vodka that’s sitting on the worktop and place it to my lips. It’s not a good sign that I no longer feel the burn as the liquid passes down my throat. I gulp down another mouthful and rake the back of my hand across my mouth. I take off the damp gloves and throw them in a charcoal coloured pan on the counter. I pull on new ones and set fire to the ones in the pan, taking another mouthful of vodka as I watch the latex curl and burn.
As they turn black like their fallen comrades, I place the bottle back on the counter and quickly scour the newspaper for news that she might have been missed. She hasn’t been. I smile and make my way to the back bedroom. The smell is stronger here as I approach the door. I take a deep breath and enter the darkened, stuffy room, my inability to open a window evident in the heavy air. I glance at the bed and tilt my head to the side. If it wasn’t for her pallid sheen she would look like she was simply sleeping. Although the cable ties carving deep grooves in her wrists might betray a certain unwillingness to be here.
As I close the door her eyelids flutter slightly.
“Eh you should be so lucky love. It’s still me.” This answers sets her off and she begins to strain at the ties and writhe on the bed. I bring a hand off her cheek with excess force and glare at her.
“Is there some reason you seem incapable of understanding the two things that I told you to do? I would have thought losing a toe would have convinced you not to scream or make a fuss.”
Her lips quiver as she whimpers and turns her face away from me. I feel bile rise in my throat, brought on simply by how much I despise her and I realise that this really needs to end today.
I find the power button for the cd player and turn up the volume until it drowns out the faint drone of traffic outside. Her doe eyes widen in surprise at the sudden blare of music and it’s almost as if she knows that things are about to get much worse for her. As she pushes up the bed with her heels trying to get as far away from me as possible, the cable ties dig deeper into her infected wrists and ankles. She winches as blood seeps between the plastic and her bruised, green skin.
I pick up the large knife sitting on top of the dresser and wipe it against the bed sheets to get rid of the crusted blood left over from last week’s lesson. Seeing the blade she screams into the shirt I’ve just stuffed into her mouth, her tears mixing with the saliva dripping out her mouth. Her neck cranes away from me as I approach the side of the bed, ironically giving me perfect access to her throat.
The arterial spray isn’t as dramatic as they would have you believe in the movies and for some reason this makes me laugh. I meet her eyes as they struggle to register exactly what has happened to her, she searches my face for an inkling of remorse for my actions and sees none. I smile at her as her eyelids flutter closed and her body stills. My bloody reflection stares back at me from the mirror above the bed and my lips curl up into a sneer.
It’s finally done, she’s finally completely gone. Nothing is stopping us being together now. He’ll be relieved too.
Or will he? An inkling of doubt creeps into my head and suddenly the reflection doesn’t look so smug. What if he actually did love her and she wasn’t simply someone keeping him away from me?
I feel the air leave my lungs as I drop the knife and stumble backwards. I stop as my heel hits the skirting board and I sink to the ground, my back pressed against the dirty wall. I take a deep, shaking breath and put my head between my knees.
Of course he loves me! How could he not feel the same way I do? That would be impossible. I would be crazy to love someone so deeply who didn’t love me back, right?
I glance at her body lying on the bed, her blood pooling around her. Even in death I am jealous of her thinness and her girl-next-door beauty. I acknowledge the fact that I am jealous of a dead girl with a snort as I begin to stand up, pushing myself off the wall and towards the bed.
I won. No arguments now, no pitying looks as they walk by me on Buchanan Street arm in arm - him avoiding my pleading eyes and her trying to hide her smirk.
I quickly dart out the room and grab the polythene from the hallway, pulling it along behind me and placing it at the side of the bed. I roll enough out and tip her body off the bed onto it. She lands with a thud, and makes a kind of squishy noise as she settles back onto her back.
This makes me laugh. I don’t know why.
I roll her up in the polythene, wrapping it round her body and then vertically over her feet then her head so that she is fully covered. I fasten several belts around the polythene shape that was my rival and then look at myself in the mirror again.
Briefly the dark smiled etched on my face makes me feel slightly sick and I don’t know why. I search my face for signs that something is wrong but deep down I know it isn’t, I’m just wired about seeing him.
I pick up the knife, walk round to the other side of the bed and see the lifeless face of my flatmate staring up at me. Poor girl didn’t know what she was in for when I answered her ad to rent out her room. I press the knife into her hand, ensuring that her fingertips are pressed firmly on the handle. I turn the cd player off as I walk past and immediately silence fills the room, interrupted only by the traffic sounds of the real world outside.
Turning my attention to the dead tramp wrapped up on my floor, I grab her bag clad head and drag her down the hallway to a trunk that’s lying by the front door. I fold her body inside, knowing it will fit as I’ve previously forced her to get inside to check it was the right fit. I tuck the note into one of the straps and make sure it’s visible.
“Ding dong the witch is gone.” My voice comes out all high and excited as I pull on my jacket and scarf. I take a final walk through of the flat, collecting my rucksack from the bathroom, checking that there’s nothing of me left behind. The irony that he did this when he kicked me out our flat is not lost on me. The room I’ve called home for the last few months is stark and bare and the rest of the flat has been wiped clean and bleached so there’s no trace of me having ever been here.
When the police are eventually called to the flat because the stench has become unbearable they’ll find my flatmate’s ‘suicide’ note on the trunk explaining how she couldn’t live with the voices anymore and then couldn’t live with herself after killing an ‘innocent’ so had to end it. Due to the lack of rental agreement or evidence the police will never know I even lived there. Sure I guess they’ll work it out eventually, after all they always do on CSI don’t they? But me and Jack will be long gone.
The thought brings a manic grin to my face that’s still there after I’ve made it back onto Byres Road. I drop my last pair of latex gloves into a skip outside a restaurant and make my way towards his flat. I draw curious glances, probably because of my seemingly euphoric state. I reign in my excitement but quicken my pace.
In half an hour I see his front door and I feel the excitement bubble back up inside me, like when you drink fizzy juice too fast and you can feel it in your chest? I push open the security door, which is never locked, and climb the two flights to their flat. Taking a deep breath I knock lightly and listen for him approaching the door.
I stiffen at the sight of his face falling when he sees it’s me at the other side of the door. He can’t have been looking forward to seeing her? His eyes look red as if he’s been crying and I wonder if that’s because she disappeared and didn’t tell him.
“What do you want?” He snaps.
“Are you not pleased to see me Jack?” I’m almost breathless as I wait his answer.
“Not really, no”
“Why notttt?” The question comes out as a hiss as I feel my excitement being replaced by rage. I know his lips are moving in response but all I can hear is the blood rushing in my head and ears. I brace myself on the doorframe and he looks at me disgustedly.
“I said… you should leave”
“I’m not really sure I can Jack. Maybe you should let me come in”
He opens his mouth to respond but I’ve taken a step inside. I was scared that I might have to do this but what choice do I have? He cannot be with anyone else. It’s simply not an option. My hand is already wrapping itself round the other knife in my pocket as I take my second step in and he takes his second step back.
After all if he doesn’t love me, then I must be crazy right?
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