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Bad News

Bad News

A Story by steve

A short story.

                                                      Bad News

The pub had the same regulars in most nights, while they laughed and argued in equal measures.  It was a good atmosphere, apart from the odd fight which only occurred once in a while, thankfully.  The landlord’s name was Jeremy and he’d been running the place for nine years.  It was his livelihood.  Over the years his trade had suffered, because a lot of people couldn’t afford coming out as much as they once did.  It seemed a shame really.  With a smile on his fifty something face he welcomed everyone into his friendly home.  Then one day everything changed.  It was hard to explain, but the best explanation Jeremy could come up with, even though it sounded completely insane, was, an evil never seen before had swept across the land causing certain folk to murder at random.  Yes, there had always been crime, but now more horrifyingly, the majority of people causing these atrocious acts were of all ages and genders.  One day they would be fine, the next psychopathic killers with no motive of why they’d done it.  This petrified Jeremy very much.  Even the costumers popping in telling jokes while enjoying a nice cold pint, he would observe with distrust, not knowing if they would be the next person to become ill from this awful disease, that had caused terrible paranoia throughout the land.
One blustery day old Graham turned up out of the blue. 
Jeremy was shocked to see patches of red on his clothes, as he proceeded to the bar with a dazed expression.  Nervously, he said, “Hello, mate.  What do you fancy?”
Graham looked up laughing.  “Just the usual, Jeremy.  Sorry about the way I’m dressed.  Bloody animals bled on me again.”  He sat down on a stool.
Jeremy felt relieved.  “Running a farm isn’t easy, I guess.”  He handed him a pint and Graham seemed very pleased indeed.
He took a sip, then answered, “I’m getting too old for this.  By the way, any more random murders?”
Jeremy felt a pain in his chest, once it’d subsided, he replied a little out of breath, “I see it on the news all the time, but so far nothing in this region.  What do you think is causing it?”  He really needed an answer, worried as can be.
The old boy seemed bemused by this, before saying, “It’s not happening here because this is a place full of good, honest people.  So, my advice is, don’t worry about it.  Please don’t worry about it.”  He took another swig, slight concern in his body language.
Jeremy noticed this.  Maybe he needed to be stronger, but what a terrible life to live, not knowing if you were going to be the next victim of this devastation.  “You’re right, mate.  I’m concerned about nothing really.  As you say it hasn’t happened here yet.  So, who cares.”
“The best thing to do is concentrate on things that make you happy, and hopefully the demons which are causing this misery will leave us alone.  Do you understand, mate?”  Graham seemed serious while he said it.
Jeremy nodded.  Don’t think about it, keep it out of your mind, then it won’t cause you any trouble.  “Thanks,” was all he replied, while making his way to the other side of the pub to collect empty glasses.  Peering at the clock just above him it was five minutes after twelve.  In an hour more people would turn up, which was a good thing really. Positive thinking.  All of a sudden his chest felt tight.  He needed to sit down and catch his breath.  Without warning the door leading to the toilets slammed against the wall, like someone had pushed it with all their strength.  He looked up.  No one was there.  “What the hell,” he muttered.  It couldn’t of flew open by itself?  Unless someone was hiding in the corridor playing a sick prank.  He got up reluctantly.  He still didn’t feel right as he proceeded to the end of the bar.  None of the windows were open to cause a draft.  Well, that was one theory to why it’d occurred.  “Who’s there?” he asked.
From the open door a bird flew towards him causing him to fall hard onto the floor.  Jeremy now had trouble getting up. 
Graham ran in.  “Are you okay, mate?”
How embarrassing, he thought.  “Could you help me up, please.”
“Yeah, sure,” was all he answered, helping the landlord to his feet.
A few seconds later Jeremy gave Graham a pint on the house.  “Thanks again.”
Graham seemed happy as he downed the first pint, then took a huge mouthful from the second, which caused him to burp loudly.
Both laughed.
Once he’d downed three more, the old boy stumbled out of the pub saying his goodbyes.  For the rest of the day not a single customer, apart from a homeless chap in his sixties who Jeremy let in on occasions, especially in winter months, also giving him a free hot cup of tea, which the older chap appreciated very much.  After he’d left Jeremy went upstairs to watch TV.  On the news another awful murder had happened.  This time it was only up the road, twenty miles from here.  Jeremy grimaced.  Then with utter fear, he realised it wouldn’t be long for this devilish plague to unleash its evil onto this small town, and with it only chaos would ensue.


The first thing he did that morning was pick up a photograph of his wife.  “I miss you, sweetheart,” was all he said, knowing soon things would get back to the way they were.  He just needed to be patient. 
By ten Jeremy had changed the barrels, also cleaned meticulously all over the place, hoping he’d have more business today.  Because yesterday was the worst day he’d ever known for punters coming in.  Usually a Thursday would be a good day.  Oh well, he thought.  Another day, another dollar. 
Dead on twelve Michael strolled in with a smile on his face.  He was a tall chap with a bald head, and being a gym member he was healthy looking and handsome with it.  Women adored him and who could blame them.
“Hi, Mike.  What do you fancy today?” Jeremy asked.
Michael slammed both hands down onto the bar.  He seemed twitchy, like something wasn’t right.
Jeremy’s chest tightened..  This wasn’t good.  “What do you want?” he asked again.  Still the other man didn’t answer.  He observed him walking to the window while glancing out at nothing.  This unnerved the landlord very much.  Oh my God, this was it.  Then the murder that occurred last night replayed in his mind.  The woman screaming as the camera zoomed in on her forty something face drenched in blood.  Supposedly her son of seven had attacked her with a knife, because she wouldn’t let him play on some game console.  It was barbaric.  Within moments she’d died while her son looked on with a smile on his face.
This memory alone caused the landlord to smack the bar with his fist, before yelling, “Do you want a f*****g drink or not?  If not, then piss off.” 
The huge man turned to him, aggression on his face.  “What did you just say to me, you prick?”
What, why are you acting so weird?  “Look, Mike.  You’re a good customer.  With all the strange stuff going on, I’m paranoid as hell.  Do you get it, mate?” Jeremy pleaded, scared for his well being
“Prick,” was all he replied, before smashing the door with his fist.  Then he left in a furious mood.
Jeremy began to cry, what the hell was up with him?  Then a memory of his daughter came into his mind.  He adored her so much.  He had an idea.  He decided that moment to close the pub and pick her up from school.  But first, he would ring his partner just to make sure it was okay.  Jeremy couldn’t wait because he hadn’t seen her for about two weeks.  Megan, I love you with all my heart.  Being her father was the best thing he’d ever done.  Joy was felt.


He slammed the mobile down onto the bar.  What a b***h.  What did she mean when she said he was a paranoid freak who needed professional help, what the hell?  Thinking back to the customer earlier and all the stuff happening on TV, made him more compelled to ignore her and pick his daughter up, to hell with it.  If no one else cared, why should I give a s**t.  Still a little annoyed he closed the pub.  Then with haste proceeded towards his land rover which was parked nearby.  While heading up the road he swore he saw Graham carrying a bag of dead chickens into one of the fields.  Daft old brush, he thought, laughing to himself.  Then the aggressive man was seen as he made his way up a narrow path.  Jeremy decided to teach him a lesson, and honked his horn while giving him the finger.  That felt good.  And in a few minutes he would see his daughter.  Life couldn’t get any better.  At that moment Jeremy was on top of the world.


He parked the vehicle at the side of the road, away from everyone else.  Getting out he dialled her number, knowing school had ended five minutes before.  His palms were sweaty.  He was nervous as hell.
All of a sudden, she answered, “Hello.  Who’s that?”
He could see her leaving the front gate.  Her red bag draped over one shoulder.  Her mobile held to her ear.  “It’s your father, sweetheart,” he replied.
“Mum said I wasn’t allowed to see you for a little while, because she said you were having problems,” she said.  “What did she mean by this, dad?”
Without thinking he kicked the side of the land rover.  Then calming himself down quickly, answered, “I rang your mum and she said it was fine for me to pick you up.  I haven’t seen you for a few days and I miss you.”
“I miss you too,” was all she said, seeming happy.
He watched her brush a hand through her hair while smiling.  At that moment his heart melted for her.  The little love of his life.  “I’ve missed you so much, pumpkin.”
“Bless you.  So where are you, dad?”
He waved to her and she saw him straight away.  She placed the mobile back into her school bag, then looking both ways, made her way across the now quiet road.  She stood about five foot two with the prettiest face you’d ever seen, and the longest black hair which blew slightly in the breeze.  They cuddled.  He kissed her left cheek.  “So, how’s my princess?” he asked, happy to see her again after so long.
She gazed at him, before answering, “I love your eyes, daddy.  Because you’ve got the same eyes as me.”  She giggled.
Jeremy kissed her forehead tenderly.  “You mean the world to me.  You do know that, don’t you.”
She laughed.  “Yes, I know.  But let’s get home.  If not, mum would worry.”
Suddenly something changed inside of him.  “Your mother is an evil woman, who wants to keep us from seeing each other.”  The moment he said that guilt consumed him.
She backed away from him.  “Mum said you were taking pills because you were ill, what’s going on, daddy?”  Tears fell from her eyes, not knowing what to make of any of this.  “Is it true, dad?”
He turned away from her, ashamed.  He began to cry.  “I’m so sorry, darling.  When you were a kid I promised you I would be the best dad in the world.”  He turned to her, regret rushing through him. 
She took two steps towards him, before saying emotionally, “I’ll never give up on you, daddy.  But you need to tell me everything.”
He fell to the ground.  His hands over his face.  “I messed up, my love.  And do you know when I realised it.  The moment you didn’t trust me any more and backed away, fearing me.  I’m so sorry.”  He was in turmoil.
Two arms cuddled him.  “I will never leave you, dad,” she cried.  “Be strong for me, please.”
He removed his hands, then glanced up at her.  “Promise me that you’ll never abandon me, as not seeing you would destroy me, my beautiful daughter.”
“I promise,” was all she answered.
A short distance away a woman stood, her arms folded.  “What the hell are you doing?” she asked abruptly.
Both looked up surprised.  “Oh, hi, mum.”
Jeremy needed to explain.  “I messed up, Felicity.  I just wanted to see our daughter.  You haven’t let me see her for sometime now.”
“And why do you think?” she said.  Still seeming far from happy.
“Oh that,” was all he replied.
Felicity came closer.  “You know why I wouldn’t let you see her, don’t you, Jeremy.  So stop playing silly games.  If you like, tell her why.”
His daughter peered at him, before saying, “Just tell me, dad?”
Jeremy didn’t know what to do.  “Do you think this a good idea, Felicity?”
Felicity bent down so she was the same height as him.  “I want you to tell her.  That way we can start afresh, but I need you to be honest with yourself.  You know I still have strong feelings for you, this is why I need you to tell the truth.  Please, do it for her if you won’t do it for me.  I beg you.”
Jeremy needed to come clean.  “When your mum left I started suffering from depression.  And through this I began experiencing panic attacks.  I went to the doctors one day and they gave me pills saying I was suffering from intense anxiety, which can cause severe paranoia.  I felt so ashamed that’s why I didn’t say anything to you about  it.”
“It doesn’t matter to me,” his daughter said.  “Because I love you, and people that love each other need to stick together.”  She placed a hand on his shoulder, before looking up at her mum.  “So this is the reason I haven’t seen dad lately?”
“Tell her,” Felicity ordered.
“So what aren’t you telling me?” his daughter asked.
Jeremy knew it was all his fault.  “About two weeks ago I stopped taking the pills.”
“Yes, you bloody did, didn’t you,” Felicity replied.  “Next thing I know he turns up at the house, thankfully you wasn’t there, darling.  And all he did was ramble on about murders on the news and how he believed it to be a plague sweeping the world.  At this point I had a feeling he wasn’t taking his tablets any more, and told him he couldn’t see you until he sorted himself out.  Isn’t that right, Jeremy?”
“Yes,” was all he answered.  Then at that moment he realised what a complete idiot he’d been.  “I’ll start taking them again, Felicity.  I promise.”
She seemed happy by that reaction.  “And if you stick to it, then there shouldn’t be a problem.  Do you understand?”
He understood.  “Thank you,” he said.  “And hopefully I’ll see you soon once I’ve sorted myself out.”  With that, he got into his vehicle and taking the journey slowly through the tears, made his way back to the pub.


The paranoia had vanished within days, thanks to the magic pills.  He still watched TV but stayed away from the news, knowing it wouldn’t do him much good.  Then one Saturday night when there were a few in, two unexpected visitors appeared.  Slight nerves on their faces as both made their way to the bar.  Jeremy was over the moon.  “Oh, it’s so good to see you,” he said.  “And yes, Felicity, I feel a lot better now.  I promised I would make the effort.  I still can’t believe out of pride that I made such a stupid, immature, decision, when I know there are people out there who care for me.”
His wife seemed happy.  “You know what I like, love.  And Megan can have a half if that’s okay with you.”
“Fine,” he replied, getting them their drink.  There was two other bar staff on so when he got time he headed to their table, and chatted for a few minutes to his family.  At this moment in time things were improving, and a little hope was felt.  Thinking too much while he sat on his own upstairs, probably caused his problems in the first place.  But everything was okay now.  All he needed to do was take his tablets and be a good boy.  Easy.
Another crowd walked in surprising Jeremy.  This was the busiest it’d been in months.  Through the window he noticed empty pint glasses sitting on the damp bench.  About an hour ago rain had fell.  “I’ll be back in a minute.  There’s something I need to do,” he said, giving his little girl a peck on the cheek.  
“Okay, dad,” was all she answered, before taking another sip of drink.
Outside it was chilly, but high above in the star glittered heavens a full moon shone with all its glory.  It looked so beautiful.  For a few seconds he took in the wonderful sight.  Seeing the staff were busy at the bar he decided to pick up the four glasses, then head back in pronto.  Through the glass he saw his daughter smiling while she waited for him to return.  Their eyes met.  Under her breath, she said, “I love you.” 
“I love you too.”  He gave her a wink.  Then he made his way in as he whistled a tune.  What a wonderful life, he thought.  And as the door opened to a room full of happy customers, he knew deep down it couldn’t get any better than this.

                          The End

Dedicated to Marie, my mentor.                         

© 2015 steve

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Added on September 23, 2015
Last Updated on September 24, 2015
Tags: Bad news, Jeremy, Graham, murder, daughter, landrover, plague, blood, pub, pint, beer




Hi, I hope you enjoy my short stories. I've been writing for sometime now, and thoroughly enjoy it. To be honest, I find it quite addictive. Even when I'm at work I am thinking about the next story.. more..

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