Ballad of Otis McLillac

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Two young men meet in the woods. One wears a tracksuit and burberry cap and carries a flick knife. The other wears a frockcoat, waistcoat and Spanish leather boots and carries a Bowie knife and antiquated Colt pistol. They despise one another on instinct and neither of them are prepared for what the meeting will bring.

Submitted: February 05, 2007

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Submitted: February 05, 2007

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Three Buckinghamshire chavs were cycling home after hanging out around the city one day when they came across a strangely dressed wayfarer in a frockcoat with a top hat. As he cycled past, one of the chavs spat in his direction. The wayfarer turned and shot this chav a look and the chav, who had only been looking for pretext to start an argument, found it in this look. He came up and spoke to the wayfarer, flanked by the second chav, the third a few feet ahead on them still on his bike. Their conversation was somewhat brief because he didn't understand a single word the wayfarer, whose sentences were long and intricate, had to say. Seeing he couldn't hold a conversation with the man and would prove nothing to his friends by fighting him, the chav by way of summary said "Take a walk." The wayfarer smiled and said "Funny thing. The garrulous chav is no rarirty, but the practical one is." The wayfarer threw back his frock coat and picked up a bowie knife by his side, moving forward and grabbing the chav by the neck as he did so. He put the knife under the chav's chin and pressed hard enough to draw blood. The chav screamed instinctively and stopped himself when he realised what he was doing. "Get on your bikes and go away, the both of you," the wayfarer said to the chav's friend, "or I'll kill your friend and we'll see if you could handle the situation any better alone than paired with him." Still too amazed to judge with his full faculties, the second chav did as he was told. He and his companion got on their bikes and rode away, leaving their friend alone in the woods with the wayfarer, blood pouring down his shirt and a knife poised to tear in to his throat. The wayfarer placed the knife, still bloody, back in its scabbard by his side and took a Colt Dragoon from inside his coat pocket. "You stupid motherfucker," he judged curtly as he knocked the chav uncoscious with a blow to the head.

The chav awoke tied to a bay mare riding three miles in to the woods. The blood stain was still fresh. Considering whether to say "Oh God," the first utterance that occured to him, he presently began to weep, moaning like an infant as his eyes welled up. He saw the wayfarer leading the horse. At first he didn't hear the wayfarer talk but after a while he tried to focus on his words as a way to calm himself. "I've been walking around this country for a long time. I was born in this part of it but I've been away since my Dad died. I prefer the North: it's an inspirng place to be, a beautiful place, and there's lots of wide open countryside. A man can get lost if he wants, like Robin Hood and his boys back in the day. I've been moving between Lincolnshire and Yorkshire for a while with a group of other guys. We did all kinds of stuff, we robbed trucks and factories and department stores, Vodafone shops in the day, Ikeas in the dead of night, once we robbed a train." He smiled then. "A group of five guys who I rode with for near as many years, each of them killed by police just outside of Manchester a few days from here except for one I had to kill myself at his request, the last he'll ever make to me. I got away myself, through the back, and I've been walking back here, and all the way my Colt burning away at my leg, punishing me for not drawing it and killing the motherfucker who gave the order to shoot my friends on account of a bank we robbed without hurting a soul. Didn't even get the money they died for: left every penny in that room along with them. I've been walking home. I'm not thinking about anything except getting home. And I'm feeling right bad, my man, worse than I've felt for a while."

The wayfarer led the horse to a lake and pushed the chav on to the ground. "I'm Otis McLillac and you're going to kill me," said the wayfarer, "with knife or gun as you choose." The chav looked at him in amazement. "You're just the person to do it and you know why," said McLillac. The chav responded in amazed and profane blurts and splutters that he wasn't doing it: he didn't have the words to say why, but McLillac knew why. He didn't want either the moral responsibillity or the possible repurcussions or the murderer's nightmares he'd heard tell of. So McLillac said "Don't run from me" and opened his saddlebags and took what he needed to make a fire and set up camp. The chav didn't assist him, wasn't sure how, so he stood and watched and when McLillac had some coffee going he offered the chav some and they sat by the fire. The chav took ten minutes to think of what to say and when he did say "What are we doing here?" McLillac said "You're going to stay with me for a while. There's no point in you running from me: that scratch on your neck will heal up if you let it, and you know how anticlimactic the story you tell your friends will feel if you get loose from me this early in to our aquaintance." The chav drank coffee for a time before he asked McLillac what he meant he said that he was just the person to kill him.

"I saw you in Camden Town except you had a beard, I saw you in Chesterfield except you were a little taller. I've seen variations of you everywhere: I always knew you'd be the one to kill me and that's all there is to say on that. This aside, you're the man to kill me because all you feel is hate and false confidence. Consumate the hate and render the confidence hard-earned and stealthy for a time to come." The chav had no response, so they drank in silence for a while.

McLillac was looking in to the fire when he said, "When you first work out that you can't depend on anybody and that nothing is permanent, not your friendships nor your skills or beliefs, you feel so powerful. You think that from now the world won't be able to deceive or hinder you. It turns out that knowing it just makes you feel more helpless. You've got no understanding coming to you: you've got no power coming to you."

The two of them slept by the lake, McLillac with his weapons plain at his side. The chav lay there for three hours before he fell asleep and when he awoke at dawn McLillac was lying there with his eyes open. The chav sat for another hour staring at him before he made his decision. He crept over to McLillac and took up his pistol. McLillac smiled. "Colt Dragoons. Elegant. I would like to have been shot dead with a Walker Colt, but that's the way of it." He closed his eyes, still smiling. The chav tried to cock the gun and found he needed two hands. Using the same for the trigger, he found that his hands shook violently and that his bullet only narrowly met with Otis McLillac's head, but met with it nonetheless for that, leaving his sleeping bag marked with dark crimson and his face at once drained of colour but his smile stubborn.

The chav left the knife where it had been in Otis McLillac's scabbard but put the Dragoon in the belt of his trousers. He took up Otis McLillac's horse and made for the highway: he knew nothing of geography and would have to ask for directions to the North when he came across somebody.


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