Mr Miller

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: True Confessions  |  House: Booksie Classic
A man on the edge of insanity.

Submitted: May 16, 2013

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Submitted: May 16, 2013




Mr Miller



I’m offered coffee but refuse on the grounds that I hate the fucking stuff.

Start from the beginning, he says. His whiskers are neat across his top lip.

Here’s what I tell him.

The bells woke me up, I say.

He looks up at me, this whiskered man, and I can tell by the involuntary squint in his left eye and the swift raising of his unusually thin eyebrows that I’m already going to have to elaborate.

Church bells; opposite my apartment, I say. St. Andrews. It’s the church that Hornchurch was named after, I add rather pretentiously. Every day they rattle them off, I continue. Weddings, funerals; it seems to be a popular place. Sunday of course is the worst. Murder it is. It has me up from the moment I wake, I say, enjoying my own nonsensical witticism. I’m in an unexpectedly good mood although I have a slight tingling sensation running through my lips, a sharpness, which is exaggerated through the saliva that washes over them as I unfortunately slide my tongue out of my mouth as a matter of habit. But it’s only uncomfortable, nothing more.

Do you know the worst of it? I ask him. I actually wait patiently for a reply which doesn’t come and I feel surprisingly aggrieved at this man’s lack of response, even though, deep down, I’d like to carve out his tongue.

He’s scanning the pages in front of him and quite pompously gestures for me to carry on with an arrogant wave of his penned hand. I’m convinced he has regretted this action though as he tilts his head, like a child will in the instance of getting a stern telling off from their mother, and asks me, with politeness rarely seen in this part of the world, would I please inform him of the worst of it.

I will, I say with a moulded grin sculpted refreshingly onto my face. They don’t ring to a tune, a song, I say. It’s just meaningless chimes, out of key and just, well, shit, in all manners of the word. Poor choice of word, shit, but I just couldn’t come up with a better one and he’s looking at me as though I’ve gone down a notch in his estimation. Well, fuck him.

I went over there once, you know, to have a quiet word to the priest or what have you, I say. This old boy, the priest or what have you; well he told me I should give it a go. He said I could come and watch them practice on a Tuesday evening and have a go, yeah that’s right; they do it on a Tuesday evening as well. There’s always football on the Tuesday, Champions League of late too; we’re into the latter stages; it’s a punishing array of unsynchronised drones during such an evening; that along with the cheers and jeers from the fella next door who seems to support every team that happens to be on the tele. Although that has stopped now.

Campanology it’s called. Did you know that? I ask. He underlines two words with two thick lines and murmurs a weak ‘no’.  Ding dong, ding dang. No fucking tune to it.

He scratches the side of his face like he’s got a rash or something and tells me to move on which, frankly, in all honesty, I appreciate, as I wasn’t sure on which particular path I was travelling down.

Well, they woke me up, I say. I had this young sort next to me. Sarah? Scarlett? Not important, I say with indifference to the matter. However, I get the strange feeling that this whiskered prick in his cheap suit and cheaper haircut has a different principality on the issue of importance; one that I will never truly understand or wish to in fact.

He gazes into my eyes. Hazelnut. Perhaps he wishes to begin a relationship with me. Perhaps he only wears that silver band around his finger as he’s existence is a shallow and lonesome one; one in which he feels the necessity to get through it, is to live the sham of a lovers spouse. I pity this man so much that I wish he would shove a gun to the back of his throat, smashing through his teeth and blow his fucking brains out. Or he could simply walk about in the wrong neighbourhood and have somebody do it for him.

She’s oblivious to the noise, I say. Sleeping like a baby. Apart from she’ll occasionally let out a small puff of air from her pursed lips, which I’ve never seen before, and it gets me thinking if I have any sleeping habits. Not important, I say.

I performed the usual routine; threw on the jeans and tee I had on the night before, bit of brekkie, you know how it goes. He looks up at me as if I’m wasting his time. The son of a bitch. Does he think I enjoy this? Does he think that I want to be here, sitting here, in this stale, off-white room? The smell of burnt coffee beans swamping my nostrils. Is that what he thinks?

Weetabix. Four, I say, as if this is a key piece of information. You know, the old criss cross in the bowl. Touch of sugar. He looks across the room, straight past me and does something with his eyebrows, a kind of voluntary flicker and I hate him for it. No, sorry, I say. This is all wrong, I say. I rattle my head from side to side like a twisted jack in the box.

What? he says. There’s tension in his eyes. Hazelnut. Several lines, scars of his lifetime, indented into his forehead squeeze closer together and cause him to age considerably. I imagine this man to be no more than forty by the way he conducts himself, but he’s physical appearance certainly does him no justice in the slightest. His meagre moustache, like a trouser zip under his bulbous nose generates five added years immediately. I could tell when he and the others first laid eyes on me, that they were jealous of my beard. It’s a common occurrence and these men are still only men. There is a need for manliness in this day and age; a desire to have the upper hand over your fellow testosterone fuelled creatures. My beard trumps this charlatan’s pencil drawn moustache and that’s really what this is all about. This is what it really comes down to. I was always going to be the one on this side of the table; the pages facing the wrong way beneath me; the pen in the fingers of the other man; I never stood a chance. And he, this man before me, this man with a pen in his hand, on the other side of the table; this man knows that.

Cheerios. I had Cheerios, I say. I ran out of sugar, so I put the weetabix back and, yes, I had Cheerios. I wipe my hand across my forehead; my other hand follows. Phew, I say.

Could you get to the reason why you were meeting Mr. Miller please, he says, more directly, yet less convincingly. Sounds like he’s got a bit of a cough on, this boy. A very throaty voice. There’s a singer that sounds just like him but I can’t quite pull out the name. It’ll come to me. He ran up on stage when kiddie fiddler Jackson was singing something or other for a bunch of kids, of course, and he pulled down his trousers, right there in front of everyone, think it was live too, this guy, thick glasses, bit funny looking, well he shows his pasty white arse to the fucking nation, apparently as a form of protest for something or other. No doubt the boy got himself laid after a stunt like that; they always do, the weird ones. What did whiskers ask me? Oh yeah.

Yeah, sorry, just thought you wanted it all, you know, from the beginning, I say. I smile a weird sort of smile, distinctly dissimilar to my usual facial gestures. I can’t see it of course but I can feel it; the edges of my mouth being pulled in different directions, slanting across my face, and I immediately regret it and rein it back in. Be professional. I think I’ve gotten away with it. He’s flicking through those papers; his eyes are down.

Ok, I say and continue. This bird; this bird, well she’s lying there with her thin bicep over her breasts; well, she stirs for a couple of minutes, just shuffling about the sheets and what have you, then when she finally opens her eyes, with immediate effect, she becomes a twittering fool, a twitching, agitated thing.

What do you mean? he says.

What I mean, I say, is that she was rattled. She obviously had it in her head that she was in her own place and when she realised that she wasn’t, she got all shaky, real anxious like. She started barking off something about her bag. Like I had it or was hiding it from her, something like that. I pointed it out to her; it was right next to the cow. She started rummaging through it like she was a weasel or something. No, a badger. Really getting in there. I start mimicking what I envisage to be a badger burrowing, my hands scraping at the imaginary soil, pulling back the dirt. I give the guy a forced chuckle which he doesn’t reciprocate. Fucking derelict.

So then she’s getting me a little anxious too, I say. I’ve not got a clue what she’s looking for; could be a fucking magnum in there or something. Pow pow, I say.

You know a lot about guns? he hastily asks.

Only from the movies pal, I say. Who hasn’t watched a Clint Eastwood film?

I haven’t, he says, brushing one of those cheap pens you find in banks against the bristles of his chin, as if this confession doesn’t warrant a grotesque judgement on his part.

Sickening hatred for this man washes over me in an awesome wave. I keep my composure as best I can and try and brush off this prick’s sorry existence. I feel myself twitching, like the bird in my bed; think it’s my neck though, just under my ear, it’s hard to pinpoint, but it soon settles and I ask for a drink of water.

He shouts, just, with his phlegm riddled throat and a young guy, no older than thirty, a faggot I think with a tidy side parting brings in a plastic cup of water. I down it in one which I’m impressed with and ask for another, just because I can.

Are you ok? he asks, but asked in a way that he has to ask the question and not that he wants to ask the question which doesn’t make me want to answer the question, but I do, in a way.

Ahem, I say, giving a forceful nod that I wish would connect with the bridge of his nose. That was essentially a fuck you and I’m pretty sure he picked up on it as he scribbles something down on his piece of paper; something that may indicate me as a threat, a threat to somebody but not him; he thinks as he’s on the other side of this table that he is safe and out of reach and I agree for now that I am a threat to no one, not even me.

In your own time, he says, not even having the decency to look at me but clearly attempting to hurry me up. I yawn a ridiculously over elaborate yawn and am actually pretty embarrassed by it, and quickly apologize, and make up an excuse, although I’m then embarrassed by the excuse, and attempt to squirm my way out of the situation and back into my story with a series of coughs and splutters and a swig of my new water.

So as I was saying, I say, my arms flailing in circular motions around by body; I’m not knowing what to expect of this girl, she’s all a bit all over the place, you know. Anyway, her arm eventually crawls out of the bag, and jittering like a spastic, she walks straight over to me; I’m sitting there eating my Cheerios remember, and she, dressed in my bed sheet of all things, draped over her like a fucking KKK member or something, well, she comes over to me and whispers something in my ear.

The lights in here are brighter than the other rooms. I can’t even stare into them directly. I prefer the lights in the other rooms. In the corridor they were much less vibrant, much less obtrusive. There was a grey moth on the wall. It had not an ounce of desire to travel into the buzzing cylinders of light in the corridor. I watched that moth while the men stopped to talk about things I cannot recall with other men that I cannot remember so well. It fluttered and sprang off of the wall many times, but settled back down on the very same or similar spot it had left. Its brittle wings were mottled in various shades of greyish brown which sparkled in flight through the reflection of the ceilings lights. They are a curious creature. It saddens me to see a moth hurl its gentle body into a flame or electric light. The frazzling disembodiment of such a creature is wretched to me. I wish they would just fly away.

So she whispers something in my ear, I say.

I need some coke, she says. Please, she says, hissing at the end of the word. Her whole face was buzzing around my ear; her head was all over the shop, as if her string had been pulled and she had been let go to appease a playful dog. I tried to get her to sit down but she was having none of it: swatting away my hands like flies she was. She looked like a completely different person to the girl I picked up the night before. Don’t get me wrong, I had had a skin full, but I mean she really looked something different. Eyes fuller, but dark and with thick rings around them. A bit like she’d been smacked about a bit. A one two to the eye socket. He dots down with his pen when I finish that sentence and gives me a look. I know what he’s thinking. This guy. This fucking guy. I try and play it cool, as cool as I can under these circumstances. This fucking guy.

I don’t even allow myself to get caught in this web he’s trying to tangle me up in. I tap my finger on the table, next to my water and watch as the shallow ripples drift outwards and disappear into the white plastic sides. Then I take a sip and put it back down while keeping my eyes fixed on his, just so he’s aware that I’m not to be played with. He lowers his eyes and I’m pretty sure he’s searching for something to focus on just so he can avoid me.

So I gave her some, I say.

You gave her what? he immediately comes back with. Is this guy a having me on? Is he trying to fuck with me? Or is he just not able to keep up because he’s a gormless cunt? I give him the benefit of the doubt and settle on the latter.

I gave her cocaine, I say. She wanted it and she looked pretty messed up, so I gave her some, you know, to calm her down. She had a real strange way of doing it too; a kind of ritual I guess. I was about to sprinkle it out onto my coffee table when she grabs my arm and rips the packet straight out from my fingertips. Then, sitting down, still in this Halloween costume that she’s adopted, she licks her finger and dabs it into the packet. She takes out a small sample of the stuff and then she kind of purses her lips, you know the duck face look, as if she’s about to shove her tongue into the mouth of someone she wants to fuck. Well, she just presses the coke lightly onto her lips, spreading it down, real smoothly like, and like a lizard, I kid you not, she swipes it off with her tongue. Then she shakes the rest of the bag, watches as it slides down the sides and dumps it over a magazine that’s been left there; think it was a Four Four Two. I’ve got a subscription, I say, oddly proud at this confession. Without asking, I say, she rips out a page and rolls it up into a makeshift straw, before snorting the stuff. It kind of made me wish that I had a bit of a routine, a kind of cool way of doing it.

Ok, he says. But it’s not ok. He’s shaking his head real subtle like. I don’t think he knows that he’s doing it but he fucking well is and I can see it and I don’t like it. He’s thinking ‘what the fuck has this got to do with anything?’ and I’m only getting myself into trouble by telling him this stuff, but, this is the reason I went to see Mr Miller that day, you fucking dick.

That is the reason I went to see Mr Miller that day, I say, making sure to exaggerate the ‘That’. He gulps his coffee down as though he hasn’t had a drink in days and tells me, not asks me mind you, tells me to explain.

Well, I say, the coke that I gave her was the last of it. Me, being the good Samaritan that I am, allowed this poor thing to have the last of my coke. He nods like one of those Churchill dogs that you get in the back of an old bird’s car. Real loose like.

 So you were meeting him in order to acquire more cocaine? Is that right? he asks, knowing full well that that’s right. I can see that he’s already written the words ‘TO ACQUIRE COCAINE’ on his little sheet, so I don’t even bother answering the patronising cunt. But I look at him and I’m pretty sure he knows that I’d happily cut his arms off.

Ok, he says. Was he your usual supplier?

No, I say quicker than I had meant to.

Who was? he asks. He waits for a sufficient answer, wiggling his pen in between his fat fingers. Fuck, I’ve only just realised that he has massive fucking fingers, like iced buns they are. The pen is tiny in his hand. They are totally disproportionate to the rest of him. Even his arms are of average size, no thicker than mine, certainly.

I don’t know, I lie.

You don’t know who supplies you with cocaine?, he asks. He doesn’t wait for me to reply and shakes his head and smiles and scratches the tiny pen across the paper which irritates the fuck out of me, but I don’t let on and just continue to sit there and act the way they want me to.

Can you tell me why it is you went to Mr Miller for drugs then? he asks with inquisitive pertinence.

Yes, I say. This pleasant thing back at my place, I say. Clearly an addict. She had used the last of hers the previous night and had used the last of mine that morning, so we were at a slight inconvenience, do you understand? He nods. She recommended this Mr Miller you speak of as a well to do kind of guy selling at quite an irresistible price so I opted to give this man a visit at his dwellings and pick up a couple of grams. I made her write the address down on the back of my hand. I turn my palm over and read the slightly smudged and now faded address.

Ok, he says, consciously nudging me forward with my account.

Ok, I say, mimicking his tone of voice. I decide not to tell him that me and this Scarlett, this Sarah had sex before we left and I’m not sure why as it was tremendous. He’ll soon find out I’m sure.

It was totally unexpected which made the experience overwhelmingly more satisfying. Only once before, having struck a homeless man to the side of the head with a claw hammer, and leaving him to release his bowels; his shit and piss merging with the reservoir of blood that had spewed out from his wound have I felt the same breathless exhilaration.

Once she had sucked up all of the coke she could muster, she began a trance like comedown, flowing through the apartment like water along a stream. She sat back on the bed, the sheets curled around her thin white body. Her breasts bare to see, to admire. Her arms and legs, wiry and free. It was as if the coke had released her from hidden chains. She was liberated I feel. She ushered me over without words or gestures. Her eyes told me that she wanted me. Her natural position on the bed lured me into her. We struggled for domination; two animals, thin skinned mammals, warm blood flowing through our veins; our hands rubbing each other, slapping at our cool skins in the morning sunlight. She clamped onto my bottom lip, her teeth ripping the flesh from me as she flew her head backwards into the wall. My sheets printed with crimson; a good colour. Her limbs became loose through her calming state of mind. A good girl. We made love over and over again. It was a pleasure. Afterwards, I left her to sleep.

I cleaned myself up in the shower. My lip was bloody and sore and I let the blood flow down my chin, my neck, my chest, my stomach my legs, my feet; down the drain as the warm water gushed over me. In no rush, no sudden craving to surge me forward, I masturbated. I began thinking of Sarah, of Scarlett, of her pale skin, soft and malleable in the next room. Her neck as I curled my fingertips around it. Then of a woman, much older than me at the time of our knowing one another. I had met her in a London bar and had made love to her in a lonesome street. I pictured her fingers as they broke off in my hand. Then to a sudden flash of Raymond, my old professor. His dark, thick tufts of hair. I think I still have some. His gentle but commanding voice. The smoked salmon appetiser, the roasted lamb shank. The copious red wine. It was a bitter merlot but I enjoyed it none the less. His hands over my body as I lay there motionless, unable to extrapolate any reasoning, any sense behind his apparent need for me. Then I finished off thinking of a girl who hands me leaflets outside of the bakery in town.

Whiskers is telling me to take my time.

Take your time, he says. The clock is indicating that we’ve only been in here for seven minutes. I’m pretty sure that that’s incorrect.

Is that clock right? Working properly? I ask.

Yes, he says bluntly. I don’t believe him.

My wrists are beginning to hurt and I can feel myself squinting in discomfort every few seconds. I need to control myself I little better.

So, I left her to sleep, I say.

Sleep? he repeats, once more removing his gaze from the pages beneath him.

Yes, I say.

Hmm, he says. I ignore this method of riling me up into an elaborate confrontation of the so called facts. Go on, he says.

I will, I say.

Jarvis Cocker. That’s the guy, the singer. Is he actually a singer? I’m not so sure now. Think he was a member of a band anyway. But, yeah, that’s who whiskers sounds like at any rate. A raspy voice, probably better sounding than his own. I expect he hates himself for that; having a superior voice when he’s at his weakest. I know I do.

I got to his place about noon I think, I say, looking back up at the clock as if this will give me some indication. There’s a fly somewhere in here but I can’t see it. I think I saw it once as we entered the room but now there’s just the gentle hum of its wings every so often. The flickering of its brittle legs as they rub against one another. There are no windows in here.

He scrawls the ink across the page and I watch as his hand swirls and flows in a systematic sequence, probably having never changed the motion since he was a boy.

He strikes me as being a sickly child; bitter about his monthly ailments that left him incapacitated in his small room while the other children, out running amok, shunned him for the normal outdoor adventures.

He would have had a great deal of comfort and kinship with his over protective mother no doubt, who smothered her boy and several times had the thoughts to make a literal attempt with a pillow or a hand. He can probably remember a time in fact; a time deep in his past that wakes him up some nights in a state of terror and sweat; a time when blackness groped his small frightened face, and the sound of somebody crying, a woman of refreshing familiarity could be heard whilst you struggled to breathe; a heartbreaking sound that you hear in your dreams or when you put your hands onto human flesh and the blackness overshadows them as it once did you.

His father was of course a drunk, no question about it. He probably stayed for the first few years of his son’s life, dragging his feet in from the local public house, stinking of cheap ale and cheap women, and beating the living day lights out of your poor, helpless momma. He probably watched as she was thrown into the kitchen sideboards, slicing her plump hips with the blades of stray knives that she’d used to carve the chicken, and telling her, if she wasn’t so grotesque in her appearance, then he wouldn’t resort to fucking the neighbours. I expect he urged himself to rush out from the jail like banister, as he peered through the narrow gaps on the stairs, and take a stand against this brute of a creature. But with his father’s thick, solid hands, he would be swatted away like an annoying insect, back up to his room in a river of tears, and blood streaming from the tip of his nose. He would hear the thudding of his mother as she’s flattened across the dining table, where you eat your meals, your chocolate sponge that you were so fond of. She would be helpless, incapacitated, as you were, you weak, pathetic child. You would pray for her to fight back, fight and win; dismember the man; the man she married, once loved even, maybe.

I got to his place about noon, I say. Again he scribbles this down. He flips over a page and I can see the upside down image of the man they call Mr Miller. A bulbous man with thick black hair. A well fed man.

My mind is wandering. I can’t control it.

And then it happened. The large black handle placed so perfectly to your side. Your shoulders, your arms; the arms you wrapped around me every day of my life in the hope of keeping me safe and well, were pinned to the table. You only struggled for a moment. You gave in too easily, too quickly. Maybe you liked it, got off on it. No, no you couldn’t have. Please. You couldn’t have. You breathed in the bitter fumes of his breath as he towered over you and dug his claws into your skin. The blade, sitting perfectly to your side.

I could see a thin slice of the glowing moon through the kitchen window from the staircase. I could hear you whimper. I could hear him grunt and roar like a beast. I was ashamed of you. So weak and helpless. A rag doll, flung about in the teeth of a dog. Stand up. Please. Stand up. Fight. Fight. He is nothing; a shadow on our lives. We are one.

She has let him crawl inside her, taken her body as his own. His thin, blonde strands of hair overlap in a messy embrace on top of his balding scalp. From here, her face is gone, swamped by his.

My body is rigid yet trembling. My feet move softly and make no sound across the floorboards. The moon is full from here; a perfect orb in the blackness of the night sky. There are no stars out there tonight. Maybe tomorrow. The knife sits perfectly to my side.

There is a moth on the window. I wish it would fly away.


© Copyright 2018 Terry Walker. All rights reserved.

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