Killing the time

Killing the time

A Story by Ella
"

A loving husband seeks to make his wife's dream come true by giving her a child through an adoption agency. Unfortunately the wait is a few years, so he proceeds to murder the others on the list.

"
Killing the time
Ella Sterland


“We will contact you when there is a significant shift in the list, but presently you and your family are number 158. Please refrain from making contact, as we have many clients to attend to.”


***


I’ve grown so accustomed to these dreary mornings. I hit the light switch. The lights started to flicker. It always took a few minutes for them to function before fully illuminating the room. My half-awake brain feels the same.

Everything in these early hours seems so wan, so tedious: the worn, speckled carpet, the beige walls, the sickly blueish-white light in the bathroom -regular and tedious, never anything interesting. Nothing was worth my attention in these early hours. Everything was dull, almost as dull as the copious, overused razors in Jennifer’s body care drawer. She appreciated it when I took the liberty of cleaning out the draw for her -maybe one day I should put the razors in the bin.

It was too early for the birds to have started chirping so I tried to keep conscious of how much noise I made, even if Jen was a heavy sleeper. Jen’s razors were designed to be refillable, so the blades pop out pretty easily -what an incredibly stupid decision that was, someone was bound to get really hurt. It only took about twenty minutes and two easily patched cuts in my thumbs to gather and sharpen seven blades. I needed seven because that’s the ideal amount for slicing up the inside of a throat, leaving the victim to drown in a flow of their own blood without passing out too early, or too late. Mr. Brian Boston had a very large throat that complimented his corpulent stomach, so he would foolishly swallow the blades before realising they were not, in fact, indigestible pieces of peanut honeycomb or slightly undercooked macaroni. Come to think of it, I could just as easily spray the raw blades in some sort of oil and he would probably inhale them like a dog that hadn’t been fed in days, desperate for any hint of oily fat to subdue its hunger. I'm told that it’s better to be safe than arrested, so the blades will have to be carefully cut into small pieces and baked into an apple pie, just in time for Mr. Boston’s afternoon tea.

Some may think that this is an awfully precise way to murder somebody, why not just stab them in the neck? Three finger spaces below the hairline to slide a blade between two spinal discs would easily sever the spinal cord- but isn’t that just so overdone? During my observation from a nearby booth, I had listened to the fat man babble about nothing while he gobbled down his lunch. Between wet smacks of his lips chewing down sloppy food and swigs from his champagne, Bulging Boston chortled about eating his grapes so fast he might choke. I hope he finds it just as hilarious when he starts to swallow, not grapes, but razor blades that will swiftly lacerate the inner wall of his larynx and suffocate him in a seemingly endless river of blood. Well, I’ll still think it’s funny.

Reluctantly retreating to our small breakfast table, I filled my stomach with enough bland cereal to last me until lunch. Looking down at the lumpy pale slop on my spoon made me miss the days when Jen felt eager to make pancakes; it was a habit of hers to make pancakes when she was in a good mood. I glanced towards our answering machine: its little light was happily blinking back at me, excited to show me that someone had made contact and left a message of upmost importance. After a deep breath in and out, I tapped the button and put the phone up to my ear.

“Good morning!” Jen’s voice spoke through the muffled filter of our phone’s pre-recorded message. “Oh wait it won’t always be morning will it ha! Well good morning or evening to whoever has contacted the residence of Rede and Jennifer Logason. I’m sorry but we mustn’t be at the phone at the moment so um please leave a message after the sound of the tiny truck backing up!”

Beep

"Good afternoon Sir, this is Kumar from-"

Beep message deleted

As devoted as he sounded, I did not plan on wasting my morning listening to Kumar proclaim the wonders of a product that from this day forward I will not be able to live without and, because I am so utterly valued (along with ten thousand other people on the call list), I will get a special discount on said product that is so ludicrously deluxe I would be a complete fool to ignore its profound value and necessary presence in my life. Even if Kumar had called for another reason, I felt no desire to listen to it.

Very few people call us anymore. Eight years ago, in the car-ride home from the agency, Jen and I joked about walking through the door to the blinking answering machine light proclaiming that there was a child all packaged and stamped, waiting for us, ready to be picked up. That hadn’t been the case. But life went on like the b***h that it is.

We had eight clocks in our kitchen (not because we are clock enthusiasts, but because we happened to have a lot of clock-wielding appliances), each one faintly glowing 6:27, or 6:28, or the oven which said 5:28 because we were too lazy to learn how to use the clock on the oven. Jen had a severe caffeine addiction which, when unattended, gives her a migraine and a grumpy attitude. This meant our small kitchen bench was home to a 'Super Expensive Coffee Makertron 2000’, an absurd machine which seemed to spend more time crowding the bench space and flinging flecks of ground coffee than actually making coffee. Needless to say, it did make good coffee (which is something I’m often reminded of when I suggest downsizing to Jen).

I knew the warm smell of Italian ground coffee beans would suffice in motivating Jen to eventually depart from the snugness of the covers, so I left for the day leaving a single kiss on her cheek, and a steaming cup of liquid alarm clock on her bedside table.

The air outside our house was thick and cold, and looking at the ground I could see the morning dew coating my boots in a thin layer of moisture. What I would do to go back inside and sleep in with Jen.


***


Dorothy Clarke was a woman of fifty-four and, contrary to what most may think, that silly number simply motivated her to become a more shiny and toned beast at the gym five times a week. Her obvious physical advantage over my scrawny and pale physique meant I would need to approach her at a different angle. I never liked using poison; it did the whole job and didn’t take a lot of time on my part. What a boring way to kill someone. Still the thought of her supernaturally strong senses feeling my approach, and her swift movements in placing me in a headlock where the life and masculinity drained from my soul was enough to convince me to alter my preference on this occasion. I still had quite a lot of radionuclide polonium in a draw somewhere after Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, and I accidentally exchanged drinks in the foyer of the Russian Parliament Security committee meeting, but that wouldn’t affect Ms. Clarke’s body for a number of months and I did not intend on waiting. Cyanide was always a popular choice, but this growing popularity means CSI teams can spot cyanide poisoning after barely being acquainted with the victim. Besides, it really wasn’t very creative. What I really needed was something that made sense to already be in this woman’s body. Botulinum Toxin seemed a perfect choice. Botox had become worldly recognized as the cheap fountain of youth for wrinkled bags wanting sleek baby skin. What is less well known, and deliciously ironic, is that the main component of Botox, Botulinum Toxin, is also the most acutely lethal toxin known to mankind; I guess beauty is pain, with the off chance of death.

Botox was a common tool body builders used to control sweat and stop odd facial lines when posing, and a body builder like Dorothy Clarke would have certainly used this trick if it meant improving her performance. One gram of BT would wipe out ten million people; one pound, the population of the world. After placing a single drop of the substance in her steamy after-work out coffee, I watched as the vapours tickled her nose; maybe they would be the last to ever do that. I heard she was found a week later in her apartment, tragically killed by an accidental, but fatal, Botox overdose. People should be more aware of the consequences when using these kinds of products.


***


Jen was twenty-one when I met her; her life was filled with dreams and aspirations that she hoped would change the course of reality, but she never found anything that would still be interesting in a week’s time. We met at a small bar gig for a friend she insisted on supporting; I’d just finished dealing with a video store manager who gave me a faulty copy of a DVD. As she tapped her foot out of time and sung out of key I saw a companion for life, her hazel hair bounding along with her body the way waves crash against cliffs, inconsonantly. She was so careless, I was completely drawn to her.

The first thing Jen ever said when I finally had the courage to talk to her was "Have you got enough to buy me one or are you all out after the five it took you to come over here?"
She didn't look at me at first, but I could see that she was smirking.

***

Mrs. Ferguson’s petite body fit nicely into the wheelbarrow. When topped with a small mountain of dirt, no one thought twice when I unloaded her into an empty grave in Lavinia city cemetery. One last shovel and she would be covered.

***


“I hope you are aware that your parents are repulsed by me,” My black dress shoes trudged along the path leading up to the door, and I found it difficult to fix my tie whilst balancing the obscurely shaped gift Jen had insisted on bringing- a lamp? A pot? Why?
“They are not repulsed by you…you just…they just don’t…you’re just a little different to each other”
“Yes, just like how cookies and wasps are ‘just a little different’”
“And you’re cookies right?”
“Cookies bring happiness, and your parents are like vicious, relentless-"
The abrupt opening of the door almost resulted in the smashing of the precious obscure-shaped thing.
“Hello my beautiful princess! And…Rede.” -subtlety at its best.


***


“We will contact you when there is a significant shift in the list, but presently you and your family are number 129. Please refrain from making contact as we have many clients to attend to.”


***


I understood the concept of sharing interests and hobbies with other human beings, however I never saw it as something necessary for survival. Friendships evaded me for most of my childhood and this transposed to my adulthood quite fluently. At one time or another, I had been invited to take part in the gathering of burly alcoholics in a single room where one shouts profanities at airheads on television who throw oval shaped balls at each other, whilst frantically sprinting towards posts and occasionally sending fellow airheads into comas. I could never quite grasp the attraction towards watching this happen. Sport evidently evaded me as well. If I couldn't share allegiance to sport with fellow men what would I share with them? There's only so much I could say about the art of burning someone alive without my peers feeling the need to vomit and call the police.

‘Robin’s B’day BBQ’, as described on the invitation, was Jen’s way of forcing social interactions into my life. Robin was Jen’s younger brother by two years, but with a seven and four-year-old running around between his legs it was safe to say he had a head start in prolonging the family legacy. Whatever that was. The barbecue was a rowdy event and I distracted myself trying to figure out why there never seemed to be a shortage of sausages.

I did not fancy making small talk with any relatives or friends of the family -they being the boring shallow kind- however I did have a hearty chat with one of Robin’s neighbours, Sven, who was a butcher (who apparently provided the never-ending sausage supply). From travelling and researching around the world, Sven had learnt a number of interesting skills; like how one might dry-salt and smoke reindeer as a part of Swedish traditional cuisine, or perhaps marinate kangaroo fillets in garlic and rosemary and enjoy with a side of mashed potato like a true Australian. There are also apparently forty-four ways to cut a cow for consumption-of which Sven sells thirty-nine-and after finding out that I was quite the butchery enthusiast, Sven graciously offered to give me a class.

Maybe I should have been more specific, but again, I didn’t want him to vomit and call the police.


***


Goodness he was incredibly loud when he screamed like that; he was screaming the whole time, but he changed into a higher, more screechy pitch when I sliced his cheeks and nose with the grater. Maybe he was fond of them and didn’t like seeing bloody face flakes all over the floor.


***


“Reeede?”
“Yeeeeessss dear?”
“You love me right?”
“You know what? After two years of marriage and forced jogging and catastrophic meatloaf and tear-filled romantic comedies and Christmas with your parents I don’t think I do now that you ask” I smiled as she poked her tongue out at me.
“I just mean, because I think we should… I don’t know… take it to the next level?”
“You mean like… like sharing a bed?” She whacked me with her bag
“I mean like little us’s”.
“Honey, I think people call them children, and if that’s what you want then I want it too”.

I remember she made pancakes that day.


***


“We will contact you when there is a significant shift in the list, but presently you and your family are number 107. Please refrain from making contact as we have many clients to attend to.”


***


Howard Goldstein was very much of the macho-variety and would have hated to have anyone learn how utterly terrified he was of snakes. Unfortunately for poor Howard, ‘Bertie’ the deadly Saw Scaled Viper, found comfortable residence in one of his jumpers. Thankfully, Bertie was returned safely to his cage at the city zoo, but not before he had a bite to eat.


***


The morning welcomed me with eight-degree air and feet trails in the grass where people had disturbed frosty front lawns. During the last few years the town had regularly experienced winters of this kind of intensity, so people were more prepared and jackets were sold all year round. After climbing the four flights of stairs it took to get to my office -damn broken elevators- and eventually settling into my desk chair, I had a hard time concentrating on what the day had in store for me. Hours passed and still I had not done anything to enrich society or deepen my metaphorical footprint on the world. In short, I had simply spent the day battling computer games -which really should be more realistically beatable. When it was still twelve degrees at lunchtime, I thought it time for a coffee; a hot something in my hands would be extremely welcome. The wind whistled softly past my ears as I made my way outside into the cool air. It was difficult to hear beyond the whooshes and wails of the wind, so the only evidence of nearby conversation was the quickly vanishing misty clouds of speech from the cold lips of bystanders. Even amidst the cold weather, people were still eager to rush about their daily activities. A significant blast of warm and coffee-tainted air rushed to my pores once I pulled the door open to the café.

“Morning Mr. Logason! Skinny decaf soy macchiato?” Vanessa beamed.
“Good Morning, it certainly is cold isn’t it? Yes please. Thank you for not laughing at my drink preference."
"Ha, well I do wonder why you don't just get a hot chocolate!"
It made sense that someone as sweet as Vanessa worked at a coffee shop; no one wants bitter coffee from a bitter woman. Her hair was darker and shorter than Jennifer's, but it accentuated the contrast of her rosy cheeks to her violently green eyes. Vanessa was an intelligent young girl. I hated to see her waste away; wiping latte spills off counters.

I would usually talk to Vanessa as she went about her baristarial duties, however I decided to people-watch alone instead. After collecting my Skinny decaf soy macchiato, I took my seat in a booth next to the window and watched as the wind rushed through the trees. A few minutes into my observation of the outside -collars were up umbrellas were down- I noticed that when my breath fogged up the glass, it revealed an artwork of six small flowers. A child must have drawn on the window as they sat in this same booth to escape the brutal cold. I imagined them, probably a girl, kneeling on the cushion of the booth, red-cheeked and frizzy-haired from the cold, happily breathing life into six small flowers. Maybe her parent smacked her hand, told her to stop, and told her someone would now have to wash the window because of her small, grimy artwork.

I awkwardly motioned a wave to Vanessa. It was already 1pm. "I best be getting back to work…"
"Okay, enjoy the rest of your day!"
"Will do..." I paused briefly. The bell attached to the door rung as I opened it to leave "... Happy birthday, Vanessa." A broad smile came across her face. She was 19 today -maybe 20.


***


Walking back to work I spotted Kylie Matherson taped to the pole. The poster stated she’d been missing for 17 days, which was odd because I was sure I slit her throat only 16 days ago. I guess I’m not the forensics expert though.


***


“I’m sorry to say this, but Rede, I’m afraid you are infertile.”



I felt pure emptiness inside of me. I could only look at my wife, watch her mascara paint her cheeks. Watch her heart break. Wonder if she was thinking about leaving me for someone who could give her what she wanted.
"Is that it? Is there any option for us?" It was hard to keep my desperation from exploding all over the room.
"I’m sorry, I understand how confronting this must be for you. I assure you, we can’t do anything more through our clinic, however I could suggest a donor? Maybe an adoption program? Again we are incredibly sorry that your pregnancy journey with us has had to end here"

He didn’t look sorry. He looked practiced.


***


"We will contact you when there is a significant shift in the list, but presently you and your family are number 92. Please refrain from making contact as we have many clients to attend to."


***


I wondered if she would have made a bigger splash had her legs been unbroken. Tracy’s body sunk quicker than I had expected. I’m glad I had taped her mouth shut and tied her hands behind her back. It really was much quieter.


***


My desk was an uncomfortably organised and immaculate environment. My pens sat next to the never-been-used stapler, which sat next to the hole puncher, which sat next to the rulers, which sat next to more pens; each perfectly parallel or perpendicular to the last inanimate object. A tall pile of paper work towered over everything, each document more ‘urgent’ than the last (my boss was unaware of the boundaries of human capacity). Each pencil had half a centimetre of lead point, ready to write down Mr. Dewildt’s address or times when Mrs. Fiona Burkswood was available. My chair was grey, the walls were greyer, the carpet was kind-of black with the exception of some scraps of paper and squashed staples �"maybe the stapler wasn’t quite so never-been-used.

There was no colour for my wandering eyes to focus on; each day there was only the calendar to gaze at, lying to me each month about the reality of the season. I saw no wondrous mountains in March or dazzling lakes in June. Those places did not actually exist. October’s ‘deep sea adventure’ picture stared back at me with its impossibly bright coral and friendly fish. This ‘beautifully wondrous holiday diving experience’ picture contrasted swimmingly with the almost completed page of dark red ‘X’s on each passed day, that made it seem as if I was counting down to something. I was really counting up. Today we hit three thousand.

Three thousand days ago today; that was the day Beatrice, the adoption agent, told us that Jen and I were a good-looking couple, that we wouldn’t be waiting long, that she liked us and she never tells that to her clients, that we would have a bundle in our arms in two- three months tops, that we could get our hopes up. Jen’s hand was holding mine, and although her face gave the illusion that she was calm and professional, the fingernail scars in my palm told a different story. As we waltzed back to the car, she had an incredible surge of pure joy and excitement, more than I had ever seen in her, and more than she was going to show for a while. The first few days were tainted with kisses and pancakes. After the first month, it was reading manuals and baby clothes shopping. After two years it was smiles, more or less forced, and nervous ‘not yet!’ responses to her friends having their second child.

Eight years later and I haven’t had pancakes in a long time.


***


“We will contact you when there is a significant shift in the list, but presently you and your family are number 79. Please refrain from making contact as we have many clients to attend to.”


***


After securing his ankles tightly to the chair legs and making sure his hands were strapped behind him, I proceeded to slice him across the lower half of the abdomen. I was glad I had put a tarp down because it proved quite messy, with the innards and organs lazily spilling out all over the place. I had always wondered what would happen if you fed someone their own intestines, and seeing how it was all quite literally laid out in front of me, I thought why deny a chance to educate myself?

It turns out the victim dies of blood-loss before they are able to start swallowing themselves.


***


This adoption process was continually proving to be more of a burden than an exciting new chapter of life. It didn’t take an extraordinary amount of time for me to see that even the loveliest and most free-spirited of people can find themselves confined and weak in the face of constant waiting and constant disappointment.

Being a mum was undoubtedly her dream, and my infertility being in the way of that broke my heart each day. I watched her crumble a bit more with each phone-call-less month. I watched her lose herself. Her mind was deteriorating. Her anxiety was taking over, "Rede? Rede I'm dying Rede, please… Please Rede, Oh God I'm dying my chest Rede I can't breathe… What’s happening?... I… I can’t… I can’t breathe!"

People often talk about a super-human strength found when someone of great importance to them is threatened, like stories of mothers lifting cars off their children, or mothers fighting polar bears threatening their children
-maybe mothers have some secret. Instead, I found myself filled with a surge of incredible weakness at the sound of my wife choking on the air around her. It felt like each time anything happened to her I could only watch, I had to watch. There was so little I could do.


***


I saw nothing alluring in the idea of a safety-less metal monster raging down the highway, filled with a dozen or so head-phoned humans oblivious to their very possible impending death. Unfortunately, the inability of my car to start led me to the bus stop, waiting to be picked up. I did not like public transport; I often felt the fare was as much, if not more than, the petrol it would take to get to my destination without actually dropping me directly at my destination.

Despite the four spaces of uninhabited bench room available to sit on, a pink-shawled woman fussily shuffled over as I sat an easy metre away from her. It is often the most paranoid who have nothing to worry about. Why would I go out of my way to murder Ms. Pinkshawl?

As the five or six people who had joined Ms. Pinkshawl and myself fumbled around in their purse or pockets scavenging for lost change, I could only be relieved that this process was not a regular part of my day. The mobile billboard proceeded to pull up against the curb and thus the unspoken race of getting on the bus first and selecting the best seat began. I lost.

Not having the luxury of drowning the world out with music blasting in my ears, I became subject to the constant hum of the vibrating bus. There was little to distract me from jolting and swaying around on the bus, and it made me anxious about how safe we would be in the event of even a small crash.

It was apparently necessary for each street to need at least four bus stops because, God-forbid, someone would be forced to walk a hundred metres. As we pulled up to the third bus stop on Jefferson Street -do we really need three?- a tired looking woman motioned for her two scraggly blonde-haired children to find an available seat. Not having headphones, it was hard to ignore the dispute this woman had with the tyrannous driver, who refused to excuse the sixty-five cents the poor lady lacked. I decided it was my duty to help. As I tapped her on the shoulder she was startled at my touch and became angry at the handful of change I held out to her,
“I don’t need your f*****g charity, mate” she growled, “Oi, Kate, Rob, get your f*****g arses down here. We aren’t going anymore.”
I guess I didn’t know how to react. Those children looked as if they hadn’t bathed in weeks.


***


“We will contact you when there is a significant shift in the list, but presently you and your family are number 71. Please refrain from making contact as we have many clients to attend to.”

***


He trembled, sweat soaking his clothes and dripping from his fingers
“What- what are you going to do to me? Are you- are you the man who kills people by carving a swan on their neck?”
“What the-” my forehead crinkled at the lunacy, “that’s ridiculous, I can’t tell you enough how cliché this profession is becoming. Honestly, why are they so obsessed with leaving clues and being caught?”

I wasn’t very good at swans, so I carved a fish instead.


***


“I called her… I called Beatrice.” She looked upset with herself.
“Did she tell you anything new?”
“She said we are now number 64"
“Well, we are closer than last time…”
“Mmm”

Jen had lost a lot of weight; even now she was just twiddling her spoon around her fingers instead of eating. When she talked I could see her jaw line poke against her cheek. Her hair was thinner, she was thinner. This was so exhausting.


***


The open grassy paddock was such a visual contrast to the thicket of trees that surrounded three of the four perfectly straight edges of the only park in town. The fourth edge looked out onto the busy main street of Lavinia with its poster-decorated telegraph poles and cracked paths. The park was in such contrast to the trees it was as if a giant rectangular-footed monster had just treaded on a forest -ridiculously out of place. I had heard that there was a wedding the day before at this park; this was not unlikely as people tend to want an outdoor, fresh-aired theme to their symbolic coming together as one, no matter how brutally cold it may be. You could tell some form of celebration had definitely occurred with the amount of lazy pollution around one end of the park. Small red bottles of bubble mixture stood out against the grass and napkins blew around in the wind -I hope the artistic photos were worth the turtles you just killed. I couldn't be too mad at their naïveté; I was once them. I would call myself an expert at married life; most couples would only experience it for two or so years before plunging into having children, but no Jen and I were smart. Marriage undisturbed by children for ten years has given Jen and I a plethora of priceless knowledge. Yes, knowledge that was definitely worth ten years of married life with no children. Absolutely worth it. Every excruciating bit.

Smack bang in the middle of the park was a brightly-coloured metal jungle gym. Being winter, the colourful gym was abandoned as the metal was too frightfully frosty for the young fingers of children. Upon close inspection you could see which were the most popular attractions of the gym: the bright blue monkey bars showed signs of erosion where Tarzans had swung back and forth between them, climbing on top to assert their territory and dominance. The slide had a few dark rubber streaks down it where race-car drivers had broken down the slope during their high speed races. The fireman pole had paint chipped off all over it as dedicated firemen had slid down it to save lives. The binoculars had chipped paint and grubby finger prints from the pirates who used them to inspect the high seas for treasure or sharks. Many FBI agents had swiftly flown through the air on the flying fox, ready to spy and jump on any danger (provided they were tall enough to reach). But by far, the most adored part of the playground were the swings. What child doesn't want to fly? Little shoes on little feet would shovel chunks of bark into the air and their bodies would shortly follow. Once tamed and pinned back hair now danced in the rushing wind, smiles climbing on faces as it was impossible for them not to. There was no need for imaginary adventures when you were able to fly (although other children would dart back and forth between the swings, like some adventurous whip-wielding fedora-wearing archeologist).

Not today though. Only the wind played between the metal.


***


“Hello Rede speaking?” The only thing I could hear were gasps for air, as if someone had almost drowned “Who is this?”
“I can't... I canth see its blagh everyther- everything is black… I'm dizzy, I'm dizzy Rede…” she was terrified
“I’ll be there in fifteen minutes. You will be okay”
“Oh god my legs I can't- I can't stand Rede I'm dying Rede. Please I'm going to die.”
“You aren’t going to die, I’m right here, just hold on.”
I found her on our kitchen floor, curled up in a fetal position with her sweat- coated hair draped over her face. Her instability was getting frightfully out of hand, and I needed to be working faster.

I admire Jen for not openly blaming me for being the chasm between her and her dreams.


***


“We will contact you when there is a significant shift in the list, but presently you and your family are number 50. Please refrain from making contact as we have many clients to attend to.”


***


The only person who used the city pool at 4am every morning (or any morning) was Melissa Tuckwell. She was given special provisions by the council to use it in the early hours of the morning, because of her particular devotion to backstroke and butterfly. Who would have thought that a loose electricity cable would fall into the pool water, sending millions of tiny shock waves across the pool before poor Melissa could beat her personal record. They found her at 8am (when the pool was meant to open): a lifeless, limp body floating around, swimming cap still perfectly hugging her head.


***


“So what kind of tomatoes did that article say we need to be eating?” I squinted while holding a ‘Roma’ to the light. I speculated whether or not deficiencies could be detected in tomatoes by holding them to the light. At the lack of an answer I looked towards where Jen was standing. Was standing. Within a few minutes she returned.
“Sorry… ah we needed someth- bananas. Potassium. Good source of potassium.”
Stuffing her hands deep into her pockets, her eyes darted around.

She had not collected any bananas.


***


“We will contact you when there is a significant shift in the list, but presently you and your family are number 42. Please refrain from making contact as we have many clients to attend to.”


***


It was convenient that Thomas Peterson and Louise Dunn work in the same office building. Well they worked in the same office building.


***


I had some business that required my temporary attendance at a local school. Business, mind you, which did not require the murder of anyone; I simply had to drop off some paper work. I had not been to a school in a very long time; memories of pre-exam stress and post-knuckle-sandwich pain flooded my thoughts. I had always felt as if school campuses have one distinct scent: a mixture between apple or blackcurrant juice and an over application of body spray (which I guess is better than a shower-less smell).

A sudden bell sounded and doors lining corridors opened abruptly. The hall soon filled with uniforms, and children were rushing about in a completely disorderly manner. Small students wore bags so much larger than themselves that while they were scuttling along I almost expected them to crawl inside them like turtles. Within ten minutes, everyone was safely inside classrooms, faint screeching came from sneakers late for class, and loose science homework floated gently to the ground like feathers. The hall was quiet again.


***


Peering down to the ground I picked up the small trodden-on cigarette on our front step.
“Jen?”
“Hey, how was your day?”
“Was someone here?” Holding up the cigarette, I could see her chewing her bottom lip.
“Ah yeah… The TV had some trouble so I called. This guy came ah Tony or Hugh or something. I told him he couldn’t smoke inside.” She didn’t look me in the eyes.

I was not overly protective of Jen; I knew how much she loved me, I knew that she could have left and she didn’t. I was smart enough to not take that lightly. When I was younger my mother was murdered. Some psychologist types would suspect this detail in my adolescence sparked my own habit of murdering my peers; this would have made more sense had it been a person and not her own failing body who killed her. Years of two-packs-a-day smoking gave a nice home to Lung Cancer, and my mother didn’t live to see me turn fifteen. Psychologist types would see that her bad habit did not create mine.

Considering my experience with cancer at such a young age, you could imagine my offence at seeing my own wife smoking and partaking in the percentage of 1 out of 13 smokers destined for a life plugged into tubes and tanks in order to live. Of course she was smoking, she didn’t need to sit me down and confess her bad habit for me to be sure. I have basic deductive skills.


***


“We will contact you when there is a significant shift in the list, but presently you and your family are number 36. Please refrain from making contact as we have many clients to attend to.”


***


She must have had a bad day; she had taken about fourteen shots, (seemed quite a record for the bar, and the tender looked quite pleased). She was wailing about, hands full of drink. Her eyes were bloodshot and her blonde hair was in a large ruffled mess. Camille was going to be murdered tonight, however I resisted the urge. I’ll let her have a better day. Besides, she might kill herself before the night is over.


***


I had not yet confronted Jen about her bad habit of destroying her lungs. It was true she had been having fewer attacks since she started smoking. I would confront her, but not yet.


***


“We will contact you when there is a significant shift in the list, but presently you and your family are number 24. Please refrain from making contact as we have many clients to attend to.”


***


"Hey what are you-"

BANG

His body tumbled to the ground in a heavy heap like a wet towel lazily thrown in the wash. The sound of the bullet blasting through his skull resounded through the alley, bouncing against the filthy walls and kicked-over trashcans. A dark crimson pool surrounded his head as most of the blood was pouring out of a large hole in the back of his skull, but a few drops trickled down the grooves of his face. Putting my hands in my pockets I sighed, as I walked away -I wonder what we should have for dinner.


***


A young girl was crying in the shopping centre and instead of comfort and love, her mother greeted her with a smack on the bum and a “BE QUIET, PEOPLE ARE LOOKING.”


***


“Hello Jennifer and Rede Logason? It’s Beatrice from Sunshine Adoption Agency. We have some exciting news for you and your family, please give me a call as soon as possible. Thank you.”


***


It took a while for us to react. Beatrice looked as if she was not sure if we had heard her, so she repeated herself.
“The family who was ahead of you on the adoption list has just suffered a loss in the family, a sudden heart attack,” �"that’s strange, I didn’t give anyone a heart attack- “Fortunately for your family, this means that you are at the top of the waiting list and will receive a child from Ethiopia within the fortnight.”
Jen had never been religious, and I had never seen her pray in her life, but in that moment she closed her eyes and thanked someone, and then the tears came out like a bubbling volcano that had been waiting to erupt.


***


The plastic airport chairs were uncomfortable to sit on, but Jen didn’t seem to notice, she probably wouldn’t have even noticed if there was a terrorist attack or if a plane suddenly crash-landed. Her eyes were completely transfixed on the wide, busy corridor leading down to gate 32, where passengers from flight G394 from Ethiopian Airlines were just starting to trickle through. A voluptuous woman in a blue lady’s pantsuit waved in our direction, her other hand firmly steering a pram towards us. Jen sniffed and stood up, her glistening eyes reflecting the flashing lights from the general airport busyness.

She had waited so long for this.


***

































Patrick’s spotty red gum boots stood out vibrantly against the black jumper I insisted he wore; I could not expect a child of only three to have much understanding of what was happening anyway. Some ostentatious red boots wouldn’t change the circumstance, it would only stop his socks from getting soggy from the puddles forming over graves as the rain lightly patted down. I was familiar with this place, I had brought many bodies to their final destination here -no one had thought twice about the patchy grass over where Mrs. Ferguson’s body was. I knew the best spots to get away with murder; I knew the best spots to bury them afterwards. I knew that more flowers grew on the western side during the summer months. I knew that Jen appreciated flowers.

Patrick gleefully made every effort to splash in all the puddles in close proximity. His tiny hand would tug on mine as he jumped and bounded about. I didn’t have the heart to tell him to stop and that his behaviour was inappropriate; it was a blessing that someone was happy. Patrick’s early life had been filled with many tall towering adults and he was very used to faces fading in and out of his life. He was very used to not seeing people ever again. Patrick and Jen were only friends for two years, of which Jen was in hospital for one and a half. It could have been their skin colours, or their heights, or maybe their creative differences -Jen liked clean white walls whereas Patrick insisted on crayon decorated-, but their friendship never quite flourished. He would never know how much he meant to her, he would never know how much he completed her when I couldn’t. He didn’t need to know at the moment.

It turned out it was not the Lung Cancer in the end, it was the treatment.

The party gathered and everyone hung their sad faces. Some people came wearing black but there were the blues and yellows and pinks from those who didn’t own black raincoats. I’m not sure why it was so customary to wear so much darkness; Jen probably would have appreciated the bright colours anyway.

The local preacher made his sermon, he spoke of death and life and where you go afterwards and where you don’t and why we all need to go to church every second day and how lovely Joan must have been -Jen, you idiot. Only two people spoke besides me; people were eager to get out of the rain. There was lots of sniffling, not so much out of sadness but from the brewing colds from being in the rain. Everyone looked more upset about standing in the rain for fifteen minutes than about Jen, which was evident when faces lifted at the announcement of ‘hot beverages and slice down at the seminar room after this’.

‘This’.

Patrick was crouched closely to the ground, intently inspecting the blades of grass and loudly updating me whenever they made any movement.
"Tha grah as beedles wokin n it! Luk luk!" He pointed
"Ah, I see Patrick. Thank you." I smiled down at him before picking him up and bringing him to my level. I made a mutual ‘I don’t know what he said either’ glance to the woman next to me.

Some men in dripping suits lowered the mahogany casket into the hole while complaining under their breath that the dirt was turning into mud.
"Wast wast in der?”
“There isn’t really anything in there Patrick.”

People slowly trickled away after they felt like they had stared intently enough into the hole Jen was put in. The churchman asked if I ‘needed a minute’ which I told him I did. This day came as a shock to nobody. There had been so many hundreds of hours in hospital beds and waiting rooms-not so many hundreds of hours in the gift shop-that everyone had already mourned Jen’s passing before it even happened. Patrick suffered the most; he must have completely beautified at least fifteen colouring books with all the time spent waiting. There was not a lot more waiting to be done.

I let myself cry for a moment; it wasn’t necessary for my mind to continually dwell on what had happened, but in this moment it was appropriate, it was expected. I did not babble. I did not grossly bawl and wail and make a fool of myself. I simply didn’t barricade it. I kept myself composed; I didn’t want poor Patrick to feel anxious. I was not a volcano waiting to erupt; I was a man standing amidst mud and graves, watching soft rain and shovels of sludgy dirt fall onto his wife’s coffin.

Patrick wriggled about, wanting to be let down. After I had lowered him onto the floor his tiny hand picked up a tuft of grass, and proceeded to toss it down into the pit. Looking back at me for approval, I assured him I was grateful for his help.

It was no lie to say I had done everything for her. I had done everything for her. I didn’t know what there was left to do…for anybody.

I squeezed Patrick’s hand lightly, and after looking down towards the hole in the ground where she would lie for the rest of time, I turned and walked away, hoping the hole in my heart wouldn’t be there forever. Patrick and I made our way down to the seminar room where the rest of the ‘loved-ones’ were getting warm, ready to have tedious conversations with tedious people who would ‘miss her so much’.


***


“Have you heard of The Heights preschool and primary school? It’s supposed to be the most prestigious in the country. I heard Karen Baker moved house just to be considered.”
“I heard children learn basic algebra earlier than any other school in the country.”
“I heard the waiting list has almost two hundred families on it.”

Two hundred eh?


































© 2014 Ella


Author's Note

Ella
This is my Extension Two English major work for year 12, please enjoy and lemme know how it is

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Added on October 30, 2014
Last Updated on October 30, 2014
Tags: Murder, adoption, love, family, psychopath, killing, list, waiting, patience, black humour, satire, funny, dark

Author

Ella
Ella

Sydney, Australia



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