The pound of rancid flesh hung high from a piece of string. Open-mouthed, the gaggle of children froze beneath it, looking up. From my corner, up in the rafters of the decaying building that had once been a family home, I breathed a stream of hot air down onto my upper lip. Disturbed day after day by the marauding youngsters, I got no peace. For my solitude to continue, I knew I must draw these dementors into a trap, and so I set one.
Driven from my job as I had been driven from every job, I had moved out from my shallow end terraced house next to the cemetery and out to the edge of town where the aftershocks of the failed steel industry were easy to see. Grass had grown over tarmac and ivy weaved its way up chimneys. Nature was busy reclaiming the land that had been stolen by avarice and ambition.
Ambition – that delusion after which we all chased like innocent puppies running towards their mother for feeding time. That bubble in which we all lived, for which we all lived, keeping up hope even after to government decimated employment sectors one by one; ship building, coal mines, call centres, the steelworks. Bit by bit, our traditional as well as our modern jobs went, followed by the vocations of teaching, nursing, firefighting and policing, all swamped with unnecessary bureaucracy, regulation and targets, the joy sucked out of even the hardiest. All that was left were cafes to prop up the elderly and their care workers.
Bit by bit, I moved my books and my record collection into the crumbling Barrett house, my belongings hidden by the long grass and low, heavy branches of the front and back garden. Bit by bit I rescinded ownership of my dull, immaculate home for this one in the wilds. I could get a tenant any time. Plenty of homeless families would be grateful for my one up one down, and I was sure two homeless families would rub along well inside its four walls.
For I was going Gaugin and the only welcome visitors in my new home were the ravens who sheltered here beside me. I had stolen a sign from an addict’s front door which I hung with a short length of flex from the frame where there used to be a plastic door declaring, “No stupid people beyond this point”.
Yet the little bastards still came. Often, they were the snot-nosed, ragged-clothed, under-nourished urchins bred from chain-smoking, pyjama-wearing, turkey-twizzler eating dullards who didn’t know which cousin however many times removed had been the benefactor of the sperm. Sometimes, though, just sometimes, the rotters who disturbed my peace and sanity were the tanned, well-fed ones in their brand new trainers and vacuous craniums who came seeking adventure. Now that the summer music festival scene had folded, camping in buildings such as mine were the only source of adventure for them before they went back to Mummy and Step-Daddy.
I’d tried scaring them, I’d tried asking them to stop coming to my home. They laughed at me, called me names, sprayed a can of pop in my face. I had no alternative.
Astrid had said, ‘Blinky, just move, Just go. Don’t let them get to you.’
That’s what she always said. Move. Go. Don’t let them get to you.
But it was Astrid who left. She said she couldn’t take it anymore. She’s married to a banker now. Married to a banker. But at least she can pursue her painting. She exhibited in Leeds last year. When she was with, she was always scratching around for loose change to put in the water and electricity meters.
Don’t let them get to you. Go. Move. Well I have rights!
I have rights.
They forced my hand. I have rights and it’s time everybody knew it.
I feel vindicated. When those little brats moved forward towards the piece of rancid meat, to take hold of it, to examine it, when they stood on those floorboards – the ones I had fixed so they would tip, tipping the children down through to the basement, down onto those spikes I had spent many pretty hours sharpening with relish – yes, when they flayed, screaming, impaled on those spikes, I felt no guilt, I felt vindicated.
They were taken from this perilous world, a hellish existence. They had no future; the government and petty, chain-smoking, pyjama-wearing layabouts had seen to that. There was nothing left for them to enjoy; no libraries, no music festivals, no jobs and no love. I had spared them from all of this, and now I can live in peace, until the next gaggle of urchins darkens my door.
This piece was written in a writing group where we were given several words to weave into a story. This draws on my recent experience in the workplace and walking around dull streets in an area where industry has failed. It would be easy to drop out of society, but I will keep going and trying to make the world around me a better place. Unlike this fella!