I've made a few award-winning short films and I always have a script on the back-burner, but I am excited to venture into the world of fiction novella. Something I have pricked my pen to in the past but never really took seriously. With that in mind, I hope that my work is entertaining and leaves you wanting more.
DEATH OF A HOARDER
People are so fucking predictable, like infants sitting near plug sockets or photos from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Yet, we are not so much birds of a feather as we are sheep overdosing on the opioid that is life, and it turns us into slender hard-backs, only to have the pages ruffled by consumerism’s needy little fingers. Most of us are written in 12pt Times New Roman with the covers wide open, some are penned in alluring calligraphy but a thumb lock on each side, others are mostly pictures with the odd four letter-word scrawled in crayon. Take Nathan for example, pumping iron on the balcony opposite my flat and grunting like a gorilla mid-coitus. There’s a netball stadium next to our apartments, that’s right, they get a whole fucking stadium. The girls train Thursdays at 7 and at 6:45 caked in chalk, drowning in his own muscle, he exhibits himself, mostly to crabby Londoners since the net ballers hardly glance at him. Nathan is the tourist handbook of human beings: not only does his body look like a road map, but you’ll often find him in foreign people’s pants, and he knows the way to the nearest hotel. Or at least until his girlfriend intervenes. 6:57, she slaps him on the shoulder and forces him inside, with the promise of some of that gorilla-style coitus. They say cheaters never win… no, that’s not right. They say cheaters never prosper. That also makes no sense. Well, how about this for a saying? Cheaters never stop. Plus, for a man facing 40 with a predatory appetite of his own, he gets rather hot under the collar bone when Shannon replies to texts coming from the next block. That’s his girlfriend. Talented kisser, poor choice in one-night stands.
They moved in years before I did. An omniscient old lady outside the block told me that. During a hellish argument that exploded from their apartment. They have broken that record since then with any of their 4 subsequent fights. I’d rather be back on the streets of Kiev shooting Russians than trying to settle one of their disagreements. All they seem to argue about is their compulsive desire to make love to any other slam piece with big tits or shoulders the size of bowling balls. Married with poor espionage and ending with what I first assumed was one of them lobbing a plate at the other’s head. It is in fact an exercise weight falling from the balcony and shattering a paving slab. That happens every time on the same stone. It will happen again, in 5 minutes and 21 seconds, that’s strange because exactly a week ago was when I began this whole charade, minus a few hours. Out of water at a party hosted by some millionaire, I had a carnal intimacy with Shannon that night. The best sex I’ve ever had. She was easy to please, I practically screamed my pickup line at her over the thundering pulse of drum and base and it consisted of a single word,
“Hair! Curly!... it, it’s good!”
“Er… Thanks! Do I know you?”
Awkward pause, only a matter of time before she excuses herself to the bar. Hence, I beat her to it.
“You like Gin!?”
It’s her favourite.
“Yeah… I do!”
She smiled, and we continued our journey over a glass of Unicorn Gin and tall anecdotes before diving under the expensive silk sheets of our host. Sex is a lot more intoxicating when there’s an ulterior-motive. That being the guy in this photo I’ve been holding for the past 20 minutes while sipping my Pinot Noir.
Ronan Wilkes lives in the same block as Nathan and Shannon. He’s a hoarder, I remember a time when that used to mean that his house was a dump. A hoarder is a person the military hires to manipulate residents into signing away their freedoms, in return for a shiny white hat and a semi-automatic. A necessary evil considering the lunkheads that currently season the front lines. Yet understandable why my client would skim his picture through the bottom of my door, along with a gold slider. I may have twisted the arm of destiny on this one a little, but I’ll get to that later. I have typed out a text to Shannon that reads, “I can’t stop thinking about your perfect body.” Ronan’s fate, sealed by sleazy romance, gives me a nefarious joy, akin to spitting in a child’s ice cream. Should I add some kisses? It’s enough to get Nathan’s veins bulging, but I like the added authenticity.
A couple more seconds… send. With that, I start the clock. 4 minutes 43 seconds and counting. Wilkes would have finished his round at the common. If I’m one second out, he’ll be on the wrong slab and that’s that, I’ll have to put up with the gaping hole in my roof. I guess I could sleep with more blankets or something.
Life is cruel and uninspiring. Like an anti-climactic, lazily written kitchen-sink drama. At every beat, you’re told what happens next and if you are looking close enough, nothing will ever surprise you.
Nathan and Shannon agreed to remove the passwords from their phones as an effort to become more trustworthy partners, they’ll be slouching together watching some true crime documentary (which are scarce these days). Her phone pings, he’ll hulk it out of her hands and read it, 4 minutes and 5 seconds later he punches the wall. The vibration causes the leg of his bench press to slip through a gap in the balcony. Like the five times prior, a 20 kg chunk of steel nosedives 50 feet to the ground. Except in this case, instead of hitting the paving slab, it will hit Ronan Wilkes on his way home, crumpling the poor sod. Provided he doesn’t stop to cuddle a cat or some shit. Cheaters never learn is more accurate now that I think about it. Oh wait, here it comes… any… second… SCKRLPP!
Fuck, I think it worked, sounded juicier than the norm. Well, I hope that was him because, by the looks of it, that pond of blood and pile of mush next to a headless suit could well be anyone. What a sad coincidence, the best way to get you want in this city and not get caught wanting it, is if it’s God’s fault. You can’t arrest a guardian angel, nor can you pay one. Though there’s practically a camera on every crack in the pavement, I’m sure they could catch an angel doing deeds of the Devil. As unlikely as it may seem, the last time I saw a private eye was during an incident in 2044, almost 30 years ago. That means I’ve been doing this for 25 years. Maybe I should get a bottle of Champagne or a pack of Marlboros to celebrate. Do they still make those?
Nathan and Shannon’s worst ever fortnight is soon to start, opening with a 6th hellish argument and ending in a trial for involuntary manslaughter. Whatever they go through, at least they’re not going to be bored shitless like me. I wish I could see what’s in store in my life for a change, I’d love a fortnight of misery every once in a while. Tied to a chair and waterboarded under a lightbulb dangling from a string, or held at the edge of a tall building by my jacket, life and death separated by a man’s grip on my lapel. I can fantasise all I like, but my humdrum week starts with a knock on my apartment door, 48 seconds after I turned Ronan to bolognese.
It’s moments like these where I realise that having one of those spy hole things would be useful. At least I have a chain. After almost 3 minutes of caution and sliding locks, I open it to where the bolt will allow, revealing an expressionless older gentleman. Not even an ounce of impatience. I could learn from this stone skullet, as I’m sure he could read my nerves from the moment he flashed his police badge in my face. I’m too confident in myself; I didn’t close the door and dive out of the window like a segment from an 80s cop show title sequence. Instead, I disconnected the chain and politely ushered him in with an obligatory offer to make him a cup of tea. He ritualistically declines, not saying a word. 4 minutes and 32 seconds since I made bolognese. That has to be some kind of response time record. I know the police are good these days, but I didn’t realise they were that good. Wait... am I a suspect? How does he know I did it? Except from the picture resting on my balcony table, there’s no reason to… oh boy. Every pore on my skin opens like poking holes into a water balloon. I don’t think I’ve ever sweated this much in all my life. My beating heart was, albeit, grateful for his first words,
“You saw what happened?”
Thank fuck for that, I’m a witness. Unfortunately, as any mob bosses or primary school teachers I’ve ever interacted with would tell you… I’m a terrible liar. With that in mind, I graced through my response with a simple,
This guy’s eyes are piercing as shit. Like I’m already in the courtroom standing trail for leaving jalapeño pretzel pieces scattered across the carpet, or for the scent of my damp walls dyed-in-the-wool of my living room. What an embarrassing reason to go to jail that would be. Crimes against personal hygiene. I know for a fact I’d be an outstanding detective, I’d sign up tomorrow if catching criminals wasn’t so monotonous. Not nearly as stem-winding as the TV makes it seem, the inspector standing on my spent floorboards is testament to that. The job has bone-dried him of all investment in living a day past 50. At the same time, he sure is a master of suspense, because from being in my house for over 6 minutes he leaves it until now to drop this bombshell,
“Mr McGuire, you’re under arrest for the attempted murder of Officer Wayfarer on 4th June. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”
Possibly I’m not as good as I thought I was, or I would have seen that coming. I mean, I wasn’t exactly subtle when I created that aforementioned hole in my roof with a shotgun round and a thunderclap of adrenaline. The same thunderclap that I’m using right now to beeline for the balcony, I’m 40 feet high; I’d suffer minor injuries if the dumpster’s lid is open. It also gives me a chance to get rid of that photo of Ronan. I was being optimistic, as a quick zip of pain in my shin and the momentum of my beeline sends me face-first into a more embarrassing reason to go to jail than a dirty carpet. Nailed by a sniper on the opposite block 30 floors up, I would kick myself for not seeing that coming, but my leg is a bit fucked right now. Less than a second after I hit the ground, officer saggy cheeks is onto me like a starved leopard, cuffing me and picking me up with what feels like the strength of a hundred men. Handcuffs are colder than I imagined and really uncomfortable.
They say the hardest prisons to break out of are the ones without locks; I guess that makes me feel better, even if it is another, completely eyewash saying.
If ever I wanted irrefutable proof that everyone but me exists as part of some cruel, but subtly ironic, kitchen-sink drama, it is this. An officer of the law arriving at my apartment, 48 seconds after I indirectly pulped Ronan, for something that happened 4 months ago. Now that’s a real coincidence.